Koch Derangement Syndrome

Now that George W. Bush is no longer in office, the Left needs a villain. As noted by many, mass movements can succeed without a God, but never without a devil. The Republicans have their devil in Obama but the Left is desperately scrounging around for theirs. For a while, Sarah Palin was filling that role but she’s gotten so silly even the Left is having trouble getting worked up over her. Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain come in for racist invective, but they’re not mainstream enough. Romney, Daniels, Christie, Nikki Haley, Jindal, Pawlenty — these guys are too bland and/or too competent. No, they need someone who feeds the conspiracy-addled brains and open-ended paranoia that comprise the base of any political movement.

They need the Koch brothers.

I’ve addressed the Left’s obsession with Koch before. Suffice it to say that this the screaming about them is the rankest sort of hypocrisy. The Koch Brothers do not conceal what they do — the infamous webs of “corruption” that are drawn up like Jim Garrison on meth are the result of looking at public disclosures and statements from Koch industries. And, of course, the people who vilify the Kochs have no problem with George Soros or any of the other millionaires and billionaires who frequently fund Left Wing causes, including the ones currently hyperventilating about the Kochs.

The Koch Brothers have come in for some more bashing because of the juvenile prank pulled on Wisconsin Governor Walker last week (which, as I’ve pointed out, was meaningless). Supposedly, the fight between Republicans and unions in Wisconsin is a result of the evil influence of Koch.

Except … Walker and the Kochs have never met. Except … that the money they donate to politics is dwarfed by what unions contribute. Except … that even the supposed dirty deal to sell power plants to the Kochs is not happening.

And the ultimate joke is that Kochs support numerous causes that the Left hold near and dear (supposedly). The Kochs are anti-war, anti-torture, anti-war-on-drugs and anti-Patriot Act. They’ve donated tens of millions to science and the arts and the largest recipient of their political largesse, by far, is that notorious Right Wing Fascist organization — the ACLU. They given the eeeevil ACLU $20 million — more than they’ve contributed to all political candidates combined — specifically to fight the Patriot Act.

Now it is true that the Kochs have almost exclusively supported Republicans for office, mostly to fight climate change legislation that would affect heir energy interests. To the Left, their failure to support Left Wing candidates to support their more liberal agenda on social issues and civil liberties is a glaring problem. If they really want to fight the Patriot Act and stop the war, why don’t fund Democrats?

Well, probably because the Democrats don’t oppose the War, haven’t done anything about the Patriot Act, keep ramping up the war on crime and have no interest in pulling back the war on drugs. As I’ve said about a million times, the idea that the Democrats are some bastion of sanity on crime and civil liberties is complete bullshit. Their record on civil liberties — all civil liberties — is terrible. And they have not just embraced the excesses of the War on Terror, they’ve expanded them. Glenn Greenwald has a new piece up about how the Obama Administration is tracking down and jailing every whistle blower they can get their hands on. They want to look “forward not backward” when it comes to things the Bush people did. But they’re digging up whistle blowers from five years ago to throw in prison.

If I want to support free markets, I might fund Republicans (although their support for farm subsidies, tariffs, ethanol, etc. belies their supposed free-market credentials). But if I want to support civil liberties, I’m not giving a penny to either party. I’ll give them to people with an unwavering interest in liberty and an army of lawyers to fight in the courts.

A number of people are speculating that this whole Koch business is, in fact, a dress rehearsal for 2012. The campaign against them, like the protests in Wisconsin, had benefited from White House support. And the Democrats simply luuuv to play the “we’re standing up against evil rich people” card even as they sell the country completely down the river to their particular groups of rich people.

We’ll see. This sort of thing plays well among people who obsess over politics. But among the general public — the vast majority of whom never watch Fox News and wouldn’t know a continuing resolution if they fell over one — this is just more Washington insider bullshit. It might rally the “base”, but it won’t help much with the ballot box.