Monday, January 31, 2011

All Koched Up: The Left Takes On Private Citizens

For whatever reason, the wealthy Koch Brothers have become part of the Left's designated Enemies of the People list, along with Sarah Palin, Rush, et al. It seems to have started with this article in the New York Review of Books, but really took off when Jane Meyer wrote a widely read New Yorker article on the Kochs' depredations. Over the weekend, the Kochs held one of their invitation-only meetings of high powered conservative activists and money men. You know what that means: release the hounds, er, mutts:

Twenty-five people were arrested for trespassing Sunday as hundreds protested outside a strategy session of conservative political donors at a resort near Palm Springs, authorities said.

The mostly peaceful demonstration had been arranged with authorities, but some protesters crossed the street to the entrance of the Rancho Las Palmas Resort where they were met by deputies in riot gear, Riverside County Deputy Melissa Nieburger said. They were arrested without a struggle, booked at Indio Jail and released.

Sunday was the second day of the four-day, invitation-only conclave of about 200 wealthy conservative political activists. It was organized by brothers David and Charles Koch, whose Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries is one of the nation's largest privately held companies.

The brothers have held similar conclaves in the Palm Springs area and Aspen, Colo., for years, but this conference was met with increased scrutiny. Liberal groups have targeted the brothers for criticism because of their funding of the fight against global warming laws and their financial support of Americans for Prosperity, an organization that has worked closely with tea party groups.

The group did not say who was attending the conference, and reporters were not allowed inside the resort, but the strategy sessions in years past have included radio talkers Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, according to The New York Times.

There is one word for this: Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmme!

Left unmentioned in the few articles about this display is that the protests were preceded by a "panel discussion" which included Robert Reich, Erwin Chemerinsky, and, uh, Van Jones. Also unmentioned is that the protests (and panel discussion?) were organized by Peter Dreier who not only worked for the 2008 Obama campaign, but also figured prominently in Stanley Kurtz's muckraking "socialists in America" Radical In Chief:

Last year Big Journalism chronicled Occidental College professor Peter Dreier, who served on the Obama campaign’s urban policy task force and as an adviser to ACORN, using his position with the university to recruit operatives for the “battle with conservative ideas” (new tone, anyone?). According to an email obtained by, Dreier is at it again, this time drafting activists to protest a meeting headed up by conservative businessmen Charles and David Koch.

He also encourages people to attend a panel discussion before the protest featuring, among others, UC Irvine Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, U.C. Berekely Professor and former Obama adviser Robert Reich, and Van Jones.

The easy bit of snark would be to say sarcastically that this is part of all of the "new civility" we are hearing so much about.

Still, this is serious enough to warrant a little more than finger wagging. We've been hearing a lot about right wing violence during the last two years. But, most of that violence was in the form of citizens showing up at "meet your Congressman" events and yelling at their representative. Has there ever been a Tea Party protest at, say, George Soros' last progressive fund raiser? Is there even an easy method by which your typical "teabagger" could even find a George Soros fundraiser? And, how did Dreier and co. find out the time and location of this invitation-only Koch Bros. event? (a mole working at the Rancho Las Palmas?)

What about these protesters? It looks like the usual crowd of Code Pink and International ANSWER types who have been features of the last 10 years' worth of left-wing "grass roots" protests. These are hardly the sort of spontaneous protesters you could equate with Tea Partiers. They were bused into Riverside County, the classic sign of astro-turfed pressure groups. Van Jones is one thing, but aren't Robert Reich or Erwin Chemerinsky at least a little embarrassed to be part of this display, even if they were only acting at the "panel discussion" level?

The left is at war with the decent people of this country. They don't even like it when conservatives gather together to discuss issues among themselves.

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