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The Left’s War on the Kochs

The most extraordinary story in the news these days is the all-out assault that the Left is mounting against Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Enterprises. A day doesn’t go by–hardly an hour goes by–without some new attack being launched against these two lonely libertarians.
Why? Simply because they are rich–their company is one of the best-run and most successful in the world–and conservative. The Left is trying to drive them out of politics and, more important, to deter any other people of means from daring to support conservative politicians or causes.
Understand, the Left has nothing against rich people participating in politics. Most rich people who are politically active are liberals, and the Democratic Party gets much more of its support from the wealthy than the GOP. George Soros is only the most famous of a battalion of sugar daddies who fund every left-wing cause. But the Left wants a monopoly. They want wealthy people to be barred from political participation unless they toe the liberal line. Hence their increasingly vicious attacks on the Koch brothers; they are trying to make an example of them.
I wrote last night about a story in the New York Times by Eric Lipton that tried to convey the impression that the current turmoil in Wisconsin is all about the Koch brothers, even though they are from Kansas and the $43,000 contribution by the Koch Industries PAC that has the Left riled up represented a whopping one-tenth of one percent of the money spent on Wisconsin’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
I noted one curious fact about Lipton’s article: he interviewed Tim Phillips, who heads Americans For Prosperity, a group that has tens of thousands of donors nationwide but also receives funding from the Kochs. Lipton quoted Phillips more than once; those quotes were inoffensive. There was just one inflammatory statement that Lipton attributed to Phillips. What was interesting was that Lipton didn’t actually tell us what Phillips said; note the absence of quotation marks:

Even before the new governor was sworn in last month, executives from the Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown, Mr. Phillips said in an interview on Monday.

Phillips vehemently denies saying any such thing. Given that Lipton paraphrased Phillips rather than quoting him, any curious reader would wonder: what did Phillips actually say?
That’s what I wondered, anyway, so I sent Eric Lipton this email:

Eric, I believe we have corresponded before, but it has been quite some time. I have a web site called Power Line where I do political commentary, along with two co-authors.
I am writing about your article in Monday’s paper called “Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute.” You quote Tim Phillips of Americans For Prosperity in a couple of places in your article, but I was struck by the fact that the most controversial statement you attributed to him was not a quote: “Even before the new governor was sworn in last month, executives from the Koch-backed group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown, Mr. Phillips said in an interview on Monday.”
As you probably are aware, Mr. Phillips denies making any such statement to you. Since you didn’t put the statement in quotes, it apparently was not exactly what Phillips said. So my question is, what record do you have of the interview with Mr. Phillips? Did you record it? Did you take notes? If so, would you be willing to share your notes or recording with me? As you may know, the statement you attributed to Mr. Phillips has attracted a good deal of attention, and it would be worthwhile, I think, to determine what record you have of what he actually said.
Thank you.
John Hinderaker

So far I have not heard from Mr. Lipton. I will publish his reply if and when I receive it.
There is a humorous coda to this part of the story. A goofball left-wing web site called Think Progress seems to have assigned one Lee Fang to the Koch beat, full-time. Judging from his photo on the web site, Fang appears to be a high school student.
lfang.jpg
But give him credit: Fang evidently noticed that the absence of quotation marks in Lipton’s account was a problem, so he supplied them:

Tim Phillips, … current president of Americans for Prosperity, a front financed by David Koch, told the New York Times that Koch operatives “had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown.”

To be fair to young Mr. Fang, it is possible that in his school they don’t get to quotation marks until 12th grade.
A more serious problem with Think Progress’s commentary on events in Wisconsin was pointed out by Daniel Halper in the Weekly Standard:

[T]he Center for American Progress goes on … to indict pretty much every major organization, company, or individual who ever gave to Walker–and even some of the organizations that gave to organizations that supported Walker. …
But there is, oddly, at least one major corporate donor to the Walker for governor campaign that the Center for American Progress has given a pass. Walmart, one of only two corporations to fall in the top ten list of donors to Walker’s campaign, has never been mentioned in connection with Walker by the intrepid Googlers at the Center for American Progress. Not even once.
Coincidentally, Walmart has been, and by every indication continues to be, a major donor to … the Center for American Progress. John Hinderaker notes this connection in his own post at Powerline, picking apart the shameless hypocrisy of the corporate-funded Center for American Progress’s attacks on corporate money in politics.
You’d think Walmart, with its long record of hostility to unions (which just maybe has something to do with the million-plus jobs the company has created), would be a top target for the group. Or could it be that the Center for American Progress reserves its ire for individuals and entities that do not contribute to the Center for American Progress?

That is, of course, what is going on. The Left is corrupt from top to bottom. If one were to single out the single most corrupt aspect of American public life, it would be this: Democratic officeholders give away the store to public employee unions–at the taxpayers’ expense, of course, not theirs-so that the unions can in turn kick back a portion of their collusive spoils to those very politicians in the form of campaign contributions. It is this corrupt relationship that threatens to bankrupt many of our states and municipalities. As Michael Barone summed it up:

In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.

That is precisely correct. And the Democrats don’t want any competition. Hence their increasingly bizarre war against the lonely libertarians, Charles and David Koch.
UPDATE: Dan Blatt of Gay Patriot adds what I think is also a valid point: the Left’s war on the Koch brothers reflects liberals’ inability to understand conservatives, and what motivates them.

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