Political Animal


February 01, 2012 4:04 PM The Koch Brothers Pity Party

By Ed Kilgore

Need a quick boost to your blood pressure? If so, I strongly recommend that you read the Wall Street Journal op-ed today penned by former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who holds a bizarre pity party for his law clients the Brothers Koch.

Doing everything in his power, short of shaking his jowls and making double V-signs, to evoke memories of Richard Nixon and incongruously attach them to Barack Obama, Olson claims the president and his sinister henchmen have placed Charles and David Koch, innocent “private citizens,” at the top of an “enemies list” of people to be defamed, harassed and destroyed in the pursuit of he president’s re-election. He also compares the Kochs to the victims of McCarthyism in a passage that would have greatly amused the Kochs’ late father, a founder and mainstay of the John Birch Society.

How could this happen, Olson wonders, to these productive citizens, employers of many thousands, and generous philanthropists? Here’s the thing:

Their biggest offense, apparently, is that they also contribute generously to nonprofit organizations that promote personal liberty and free enterprise, and some of those organizations oppose policies advocated by the president.

I bow in admiration to the craftsmanship with which Olsen turns the Kochs’ vast, unprecedented empire of political agitprop, special-interest lobbying, and campaign skullduggery into a wonkish set of policy preferences.

This is a blog, not an encyclopedia, so I do not have remotely the space for a documented analysis of the scope, reach, power, and sheer viciousness of the Koch’s many political projects, but would refer you as a starting point to the 2010 New Yorker profile by Jane Meyer, and this illustrative quote:

Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

On issues ranging from climate change to health reform to tax policy to corporate regulation, in venues far and wide from Congress to state legislatures to Tea Party rallies to every foot of nearly every campaign trail, the Kochs have become an omnipresent force in right-wing politics, and a big factor in the polarization of the country. With the collapse of campaign finance rules, their ability to wield influence with little or no accountability is becoming almost unlimited. Even if you agree with them on every conceivable issue, the idea that they are cowering victims of the big-bad-bullies in the White House has to make you just burst out in derisive laughter. If I, God forbid, were a Koch Brother I’d fire Olson instantly for making me look so weak and feckless.

But that’s how they roll at the opinion pages of the WSJ. It’s just shameless.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Danp on February 01, 2012 4:16 PM:

    Their biggest offense, apparently, is that they also contribute generously to nonprofit organizations

    I could mention George Soros, but whenever someone says "he hates me because I love babies", there's a whole lot of truth missing.

  • Robert on February 01, 2012 4:21 PM:

    "It’s just shameless."

    It's just propaganda. The bigger the wrong, the bigger the lie needed to hide it. This one is of course a real whopper.

  • j on February 01, 2012 4:22 PM:

    Just read a sad story about the fracking activist in Pennsylvania who died last night, people in his town are dying and have been found to have dangerous chemicals in their blood, many have been told they will get lukemia in 2 years. I think the Kochs probably are tied to the fracking industry.

  • dalloway on February 01, 2012 4:29 PM:

    And why do criminals like the Kochs want you to believe government is the devil incarnate? Could it be because government is what enforces the, um, law?

  • kindness on February 01, 2012 4:36 PM:

    Let's compare them shall we Danp?

    George Soros spends money to benefit those who are least able to lobby for themselves.

    The Kochs spend money to help themselves and their fellow 0.001%.

    Your call who is better. I know I pick Soros any day.

  • Rick Massimo on February 01, 2012 4:43 PM:

    Next time someone says mean things about me, I'm gonna have my lawyer write a piece in the Wall Street Journal about what a great guy I am.

    I mean, that's something anyone can get, right?

  • Rochester on February 01, 2012 4:55 PM:

    Ted Olson isn't all bad. Just saying.

    There's a cherry-picking nature to Ed's posts that Steve never succumbed to.


  • merl on February 01, 2012 4:56 PM:

    Yep, I bet George Soros is laughing himself sick.

  • June on February 01, 2012 5:01 PM:

    Amen, Kilgore. The underbelly of our society that is the Koch Bros. can't be exposed enough - they are literally corporate criminals. The Bloomberg expose on them was basically met with yawns, or as I noticed on "the street," with a careful aversion of the eyes away from the Bloomberg magazine cover, but it is really worth checking out. Can you imagine how the GOP would exploit what's in this article if the Kochs were utilizing their billions on behalf of a Democrat?

    Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales

    'In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.

    “I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all....” '

  • cintx on February 01, 2012 5:02 PM:

    I read this blog on my Blackberry quite often and it take seriously 2 minutes for a page to load. Why do I have to go to a new page to read three freaking paragraphs? Just wonderin'...

  • Peter C on February 01, 2012 5:08 PM:

    Olson is very free with the accusations but utterly fact-free. It's an opening argument without any of the rest of the trial. Two hundred years ago, this sort of thing would have resulted in a duel. That was back when 'honor' was something valued by both sides. Clearly, we have a new paradigm.

    Now all we need is David Brooks lamenting a lack of bi-partisanship.

  • merl on February 01, 2012 5:10 PM:

    Hey rochester, now would be a good time to read another blog if you don't like this one.

  • smartalek on February 01, 2012 5:23 PM:

    One of the better ironies of the Publicans (a 'verse that has hypocrisy as its most central and essential organizing principle) is that Soros has probably done more than any other single person -- including Saint Ron of the BibleCake -- to promote freedom in the former communist-bloc.

  • Peter C on February 01, 2012 5:34 PM:

    Theodore Olson was W's lead attorney on Bush v. Gore, by the way. I'm just cherry picking, of course ...

  • jjm on February 01, 2012 6:25 PM:

    I'll never remember the stone-cold face of Ted Olson as he discussed his then wife's (they were separated) death aboard the 9/11 flight that crashed into the Pentagon. My response: "The terrorists are nevert going to believe how cold their American victims can be." Obviously he mourned her, but by g-d, he wasn't going to let one little tiny emotion show.

    The very fact that someone of Olson's stature is being compelled (or paid?) to defend the Koch Brothers and to have all take pity on them (!!???) shows that their actual power to act the eminences grises behind the scene is declining. THAT would be a great day for America.

  • TCinLA on February 01, 2012 6:55 PM:

    Where did all these lower Slobbovian wingnut hairballs come from? We used to be pretty much hairball-free here.

    Want to bet "Rochester" is some white supremacist southerner, hiding behind the name of Jack Benny's partner? That kind of fuckwit thinks doing such is a "goof" on all the lib'ruls. I remember about 10 years ago when "Huey P. Newton" was running around till he got called on his b.s. and disappeared.

    So how's about it, "Rochester"?? Y'all?????

  • Redshift on February 01, 2012 7:05 PM:

    Ted Olson isn't all bad. Just saying.

    There's a cherry-picking nature to Ed's posts that Steve never succumbed to.

    Perhaps you could point me to the place in the post where Ed says that Ted Olson is all bad. It's entirely about an op-ed, and doesn't talk about the author at all, except as an author.

    You may want to look up the actual definition of "cherry-picking."

  • rea on February 01, 2012 7:22 PM:

    Olson not all that bad? Yeah, he's been in the news for representing a couple of good causes--kind of a "man bites dog" sort of thing. But, his first claim to fame was as a leader of the Arkansas Project, making his present complaints about a supposed "enemies list" a little rich . . .

  • chi res on February 01, 2012 7:28 PM:

    Ted Olson isn't all bad. Just saying.

    I don't know. My mom told me that whoring was a really bad thing. And just because a whore works for headlines instead of cash doesn't make it right.

  • exlibra on February 01, 2012 9:08 PM:

    Want to bet "Rochester" is some white supremacist southerner [...] -- TCinLA, @6:55

    Alternatively, he could be a single-issue "lefty", who wants to pick his own cherries (or wants his cherry picked). IIRC, Olson did some pro bono work against Prop 8 in CA (in tandem with a Dem, whose name escapes me), which got him a hero status with parts of the LGBT community.

  • RalfW on February 01, 2012 9:51 PM:

    As is so often the case with bullies, they are really panty-waists when even 1% of their venom bounces back on them.

    They're cowards. That's why they hide behind their piles of cash and their dozens of important-sounding think tanks and other tax scams designed to get them the Nth degree of influence.

  • Charles Lemos on February 02, 2012 12:47 AM:

    It isn't "liberty" when it comes at the expense of the commons. It's an assault on the rights of all now living and those yet born.

  • SecularAnimist on February 02, 2012 12:12 PM:

    The Koch brothers are not just any old ultra-rich oligarchs using their wealth and power to corrupt the government and then use the power of corrupted government to make themselves richer and more powerful.

    The Koch brothers are literally destroying the capacity of the Earth to support human life.

    There is really only one word for them: monsters.

  • Robert Barrows on February 02, 2012 10:50 PM:

    Tired of all those nasty political ads. Check out a song called "Run For Office." Politicians will hate this song...the people will love it! Here is a link to the song on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/run-for-office-single/id472383078