It used to be that only a small number of people had heard about the billionaire Koch family and the "Kochtopus" (those persons and groups funded by or otherwise linked to them). Now, because of the standoff between Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and public employee unions in that state, that's all changed and the Kochs are fast assuming the role that George W Bush played for the Left (and George Soros plays for the right).
Sure as night follows day, various sources are rushing to defend the Kochs. But, oddly enough, all those defenses fail to point out two key items on the Koch's agenda:
1. In the 90s, the Kochs were one of the major forces behind NAFTA (link), and today the Kochtopus advocates for other free trade agreements and for free trade in general. The base of the tea parties might not take too kindly to knowing about that.
2. If the Kochs supporting NAFTA wouldn't make the teaparty base happy, then make sure they never find out that various members of the Kochtopus support loose and even open borders. See the entries on the Cato Institute, Reason Magazine, and Dan Griswold (from CATO) pages for starters. In fact, Griswold was the "inspiration" (per Margaret Spellings) for George W Bush's anti- and un-American guest worker scheme.
Bush wanted to open the U.S. labor market to the world in a massive H1B-style scheme that would have sent formerly middle-class wages closer to world levels, and Spellings specifically named teachers and nurses as those who would have to compete against low-wage workers brought in from abroad.
Nowadays, the Kochtopus' support for loose/open borders no doubt plays a major role in why the teaparties have largely ignored the immigration issue despite how it's more vital and more fundamental than spending and most other issues.
Immigration is also the issue where the leaders of the Democratic Party, the far-left, and union leaders are weakest and could easiest be discredited. In fact, the Service Employees International Union even paid someone linked to the Mexican government to agitate illegal aliens inside the U.S. Yet, no doubt because of the Kochs and those like FreedomWorks (also part of the Kochtopus), the whole wider issue of immigration is off the table.
Here are some of the Koch defenders who've ignored those two issues:
1. Someone using the name "epistemicfail" posted "STOP THE KOCH BROTHERS. They are trying to end the War on Drugs and increase civil liberties" at Reddit (redd . it/frrth). Whether the author is a pothead or someone linked into the "Kochtopus" isn't clear, but I suspect the latter. It's a cute attempt at a bribe, like a lawyer trying to engender support for a criminal by highlighting how they like cats. It's probably just a coincidence, but a former Reason Magazine employee named Julian Sanchez used the phrase "epistemic closure" to refer to closed-minded rightwingers.
2. The Reddit post linked approvingly by Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine who says, "I don't know who epistemicfail is, but the whole thing is totally worth reading".
3. Doug Mataconis of Outside the Beltway links to both of the above, adding little:
For more on Doug Mataconis, see the link (vulgar language warning).
4. Glenn Reynolds links to Gillespie:
5. John Hinderaker of Powerline hasn't linked to the Reddit piece yet (there's still time). However, he offers several pro-Koch posts in his stock pompous-but-empty style:
A day doesn't go by--hardly an hour goes by--without some new attack being launched against these two lonely libertarians... Why? Simply because they are rich--their company is one of the best-run and most successful in the world--and conservative. The Left is trying to drive them out of politics and, more important, to deter any other people of means from daring to support conservative politicians or causes.
He does have a point about the Left only liking the rich donating to political causes when they're on the liberal side, and he does have a point that people shouldn't be dissuaded from donating to political causes. However, he doesn't point out why everything isn't gravy and why some of his readers shouldn't be so fond of the Koch agenda.
6. Dave Weigel offers his own fan post to the Koch brothers:
He fails to note that he used to work for the Kochtopus' own Reason Magazine, he pretends that concerns about Koch influence only started recently (rather than having existed for decades and involving both the brothers and their father), and, of course, he highlights only the liberal-friendly aspects of the Koch agenda:
They have, for decades, bankrolled libertarian think tanks and programs, and they help put on conferences where conservative ideas are spread. Among the ideas they end up spreading are drug legalization and opposition to the Patriot Act. The Tea Party was the first movement funded in part by the Kochs that really took off.
UPDATE: Powerline gets a reply from the New York Times' Eric Lipton: powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/02/028470.php It boils down to how you define "showdown"; wouldn't trying to restrict union power necessarily involve a confrontation of some kind?
And, others defending the Kochs include:
* Mark Steyn: steynonline.com/content/view/3767
What's happening in Wisconsin is all about money: budgets, shortfalls, obligations, perks, pensions, privileges - and the burdens of the beleaguered productive class that pays for it. In a story awash with money, the Koch brothers are the least of it. They're certainly billionaires, and that's a lot of dough. Of it, what they inject into the political process is little more than a rounding error.
I don't know whether Steyn is part of the Kochtopus, but that "rounding error" certainly seems to have bought the Kochs a lot of friends.
* Sean Parnell (not the Alaska governor) from the Center for Competitive Politics offers a fan post at Washington Examiner (owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz):
Parnell's blub "Sean Parnell is the president of the Center for Competitive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group dedicated to protecting First Amendment political rights") fails to note that he used to work for the Heartland Institute which is part of, you guessed it, the Kochtopus. There's that rounding error again.
* David Harsanyi offers his own version of the "rounding error" (denverpost.com/opinion/ci_17476151):
The libertarian Kochs are super rich and gave less than $2 million to Republicans in the last election cycle, which mathematically speaking amounts to nothing.
Thu, 02/24/2011 - 19:57 · Importance: 4