This weekend, hundreds of activists rallied outside a conservative retreat in California hosted by the Koch Brothers, some of the biggest donors to the Tea Party and libertarian causes. Police in helmets held back the protesters, who were chanting about "corporate greed" as conservative donors and lawmakers met inside the Rancho Mirage resort, the Los Angeles Times Rich Connell and Tom Hamburger report. The activists were angry about the Supreme Court case Citizens United, which allows ends limits on the amount of issue advertising companies can fund.Charles and David Koch were recently the subjects of a long New Yorker profile by Jane Mayer detailing their extensive political fundraising, dubbed in liberal circles the "Kochtopus." The Kochs have fought laws to limit greenhouse gases, President Obama's health care overhaul, and Tea Party rallies. Their retreat was focused on cutting the federal deficit and other economic issues. Meanwhile, a protester told the times that "we cannot have democracy unless everyone has a voice," a protester told the Times. The Kochs, and other corporate political donors, are drowning out regular voters, she said, because "their voices are louder." Whether you agree with her, and her methods, seems to have a lot to do with political affiliation.
- Misunderstanding Free Speech The New Republic's Jonathan Chait sees that one law professor attendee called the protests "an open assault on rights of association." Chait calls this argument "ridiculous ... To protest a group is not to threaten that group's right to associate." He notes that the man making the argument, Bradley Smith, "is a former member of the federal Election Commission and the leading Republican voice on campaign finance law. Smith seems to uphold the view that not only do corporations have a right to spend unlimited funds to influence the political system, with no disclosure to the public and no public funding for opponents, but a further right not to have anybody gather to protest their activities."
- What's That About a More Civil Debate? Hot Air's Ed Morrissey explains what he objects to in the protests: "(a) they're wrong on the merits, and (b) the blatant hypocrisy on display." Protesters were "calling the Koch's Nazis ... The evil of Naziism wasn't in holding political conferences, and all that charge shows is how ignorant and unintelligent the person is who makes it. ... The best remedy for all of that is to take pictures and use free speech to show just how moronic this display and Koch paranoia really is."
- The Kochs Are No Big Deal, The America Prospect's Jamelle Bouie writes. Sure, the Kochs donate a lot of money. "But for actual elections, I'm not sure that it has a hugely measurable impact. Any given candidate's fate has more to do with fundamentals--economic performance, presidential approval -- party affiliation and the composition of her district than it does with outside money or the endorsement mostly anonymous organization." Thus, Bouie's "not sure if it's wise to treat the Koch brothers ... as boogiemen"
- Yes, The Kochs Matter, Monica Potts
counters, also of The American Prospect's. "I agree with Bouie that, in the micro, the Koch brothers
don't have much of an impact. Face-to-face campaigning and local issues
play a big role in each district, and the national tides can only swing
those races to a degree. But I do think that on the macro issues the
Koch brothers hold a lot of sway," in terms of influencing public opinion on health care, for example.
- Media Misses Democratic Advisers Who Participated, Jim Hoft writes at Gateway Pundit.
Do you suppose if Dana Perino, Karl Rove and Condi Rice organized radical mobs to shut down highways and disrupt liberal conferences it might make a few headlines? ... Top Obama campaign bundler Jodie Evans from Code Pink attended the protests this weekend. Evans, who raised nearly $100,000 for Obama, was also a top activist with the Gaza flotilla terror group that attacked the IDF in May 2010. Evans was arrested yesterday outside the conservative conference. ... he protests were organized by former Obama adviser Peter Dreier. A panel discussion was held before the protest by organizers featuring, among others, UC Irvine Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, U.C. Berekely Professor and former Obama adviser Robert Reich, and former White House Green Czar Van Jones.
- Yay for Any Media Attention, Libby Spencer writes at The Impolitic. Spencer is "thinking it's a tiny step forward that a 'lefty' protest is being covered by the major media who found it easy to ignore hundreds of thousands of peace protesters only a few years ago."