We generally follow Ronald Reagan’s injunction to “always fight up, never fight down.” Consequently, we critique liberal politicians and leading Democratic Party newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post, and rarely pay attention to the left-wing web sites that blight the landscape. I will deviate from that practice for a moment, however, and comment on a web site called Think Progress.
Think Progress is a creature of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-wing organization headed by John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff and the head of Barack Obama’s Presidential transition team. Through Podesta, CAP is closely connected to the Obama administration. It is also part of the George Soros empire. CAP is funded, quite lavishly, by rich liberals like Soros, Peter Lewis, Steve Bing, and Herbert Sandler. It also receives donations from companies, including Wal-Mart. (Why would Wal-Mart fund far-left activism? Reportedly, because CAP supports Obamacare and Wal-Mart believes that inflicting Obamacare on its smaller rivals will represent a competitive advantage.)
What is remarkable is how little liberal billionaires get for their investment in CAP and similar organizations. Talent, apparently, is in short supply on the left.
Think Progress has a number of branches, of which, for the moment, I will mention just two. The first is the “Wonk Room.” One might expect the Wonk Room to be a home for sophisticated and technical discussion of public policy issues–wonkishness. But no. Today’s Wonk Room features a post by one Igor Volsky, who is offended that, because of the recent federal court ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional, Alaska’s governor has declined to implement it. The headline on Volsky’s piece reads: Alaska Gov Sean Parnell Cowers To Ruling Of Unelected Judge, Refuses To Implement Health Law.
Apparently the “wonks” at Think Progress are unaware that all federal judges are unelected, and that since Marbury v. Madison, it has been the practice of public officials to “cower” before their constitutional rulings. Certainly when unelected judges held, for example, that there is a constitutional right to consensual sodomy, liberals not just expected but demanded that public officials “cower” before their judgment. Whether Obamacare is unconstitutional is a topic for another day, but the fact that federal judges are “unelected” has nothing to do with the merits of that issue or of Governor Parnell’s decision. Deferring to the constitutional judgment of the federal courts is not “cowering.”
Next we have this fevered piece, by someone named Lee Fang, titled: “How John Birch Society Extremism Never Dies: The Fortune Behind Scott Walker’s Union-Busting Campaign.” I have no idea who Lee Fang is, but I can tell you this: he was born too late. His paranoid style would have fit beautifully with the John Birch Society, circa 1964. There is no parallel, nowadays, on the right, but you can still find that kind of conspiratorial thinking on the left.
You really have to read the whole thing to get the flavor–take two aspirin first–but here are some excerpts:
Much of Walker’s critical political support can be credited to a network of right-wing fronts and astroturf groups in Wisconsin supported largely by a single foundation in Milwaukee: the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a $460 million conservative honey pot dedicated to crushing the labor movement.
The Bradley Foundation gave out a total of $38.7 million in 2009, to a large number of causes and organizations, some conservative, some non-political. What is odd about this is Fang’s reference to the Bradley Foundation as a “conservative honey pot.” George Soros, not to mention other liberals who donate to CAP and Think Progress, is a much bigger “honey pot” than the Bradley Foundation. Glass houses, stones, etc. Fang continues:
[T]he organizations lining up to support Walker are financed by Bradley cash:
The MacIver Institute is a conservative nonprofit that has provided rapid-response attacks on those opposed to Walker’s power grab. … The Bradley Foundation has supported MacIver with over $300,000 in grants over the last three years alone.
The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute is a major conservative think tank helping Walker win support from the media. … The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute is supported with over $10 million in grants from the Bradley Foundation.
Bradley gave the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute $1,475,000 in 2009.
As ThinkProgress has reported, the powerful astroturf group Americans for Prosperity not only helped to elect Walker, but bused in Tea Party supporters to hold a pro-Walker demonstration on Saturday. In 2005, the Bradley Foundation earmarked funds to help Koch Industries establish the Americans for Prosperity office in Wisconsin. From 2005-2009, the Bradley Foundation has given about $300,000 to Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin (also called Fight Back Wisconsin).
Bradley gave the Americans for Prosperity Foundation $20,000 in 2009.
So Mr. Fang poses as a muckraker exposing a nefarious web of high finance. What is bizarre about this is that he himself lives on the largesse of billionaire liberals. According to SourceWatch (linked above), CAP took in over $28 million in donations from rich liberals (and companies like Wal-Mart) in 2008. These figures dwarf the paltry sums about which Fang pretends to be indignant–$20,000! $300,000! That is no coincidence. The big money in politics these days, especially the big money from the rich, is on the left. If the Bradley Foundation is a “honey pot,” then what sort of pot is paying Fang’s salary?
From here, Fang goes on to spin more conspiracy theories. He relates the history of Harry and Lynde Bradley, as filtered through far-left eyes, and exults over the fact that Harry Bradley was on the board of the John Birch Society. (Remember the title of his post?) Harry Bradley died in 1965. But once Fang is on to the John Birch Society, he doesn’t want to let go:
He joined candy manufacturer Robert Welch to be one of the charter members of the John Birch Society (along with JBS board member Fred Koch, the father of Koch Industries executives Charles and David Koch), and financed other right-wing firebrands.
You may wonder, why the gratuitous Koch brothers reference? After all, Fred Koch died in 1967. No reason, except that Think Progress has recently been on a vendetta against Charles and David Koch and their company, one of the most respected in America. This is just a casual smear that he threw in, apropos of nothing in particular. Whatever you think of the John Birch Society, it had nothing at all to do with this week’s events in Wisconsin. Fang concludes:
Gov. Scott Walker’s current fight to crush labor rights in Wisconsin is the fulfillment of Harry Bradley’s John Birch Society dream.
There is definitely some dream-fulfillment going on here, but it isn’t Harry Bradley’s. What is the sum and substance of Think Progress’s expose? Governor Walker’s position is endorsed by a majority of Wisconsin voters, as well as several conservative groups, some of which have gotten modest amounts of support from conservative philanthropists. In what world is that some kind of scandal?
Certainly not in the world of Think Progress, which is entirely a creature of the billionaire left. One curious feature of today’s left is its obsession with “astroturf.” There is a reason why lefties who work for billionaire-funded web sites like Think Progress constantly talk about astroturf: it is the world they live in. They are paid by rich liberals, and the demonstrators who are bused in to left-wing protests are generally union members who are paid to attend. No one on the left does much for free. So lefties find it hard to understand that ordinary citizens (“Tea Partiers”) will turn out at rallies without being paid, that conservative voters vote on principle, not financial self-interest, and that conservative activists act out of conviction, not because they are subsidized by a sugar daddy. Failing to understand that conservatism–unlike liberalism–is a movement of principle, not self-interest, they are constantly looking for the elusive, non-existent money trail.
I recently experienced an entertaining example of this phenomenon. A local columnist who covered media for the St. Paul Pioneer Press went to work for a web site called MinnPost, which is funded by liberal sugar daddies. The site seems mostly to publish the work of former Star Tribune employees. Anyway, this reporter referred to me as “one of [Bill Cooper's] high-profile investments.” Having no idea what he was talking about, I emailed the MinnPost reporter to ask for an explanation. Bill Cooper is the Chairman of TCF Bank; I am slightly acquainted with him, but we do not move, let us say, in the same social circles. I got this response:
If what you’re saying is that Bill never had any involvement in either the creation, development and support of Power Line, I guess I’ll take you at your word. Although I must say that assertion has its doubters.
In reply, I assured this reporter that no person or entity has ever provided any material support to this web site. We have been in the black since we started taking advertising in late 2004. And anyway, I don’t get the point. What material support would be necessary? We make a good living practicing law, and engage in politics out of conviction, for free–or, better yet, for the few bucks we make on advertising–in order to help make a better world for our children, a motivation that liberals apparently find mystifying. Liberals are always hot to follow the money, except to where it really leads–their own paychecks.