The Koch brothers are whining again. They claim to be misunderstood. Nice guys, really. Their libertarian views (which are a lot like Mitt Romney's views about the 47%) are good for everyone. Since Koch never did anything wrong, he assumes there much be a great liberal conspiracy to attack him and blacken his reputation.
KochFacts.com states that a conspiracy began in May 2010. The proofs he offers for this claim are few and those few are debatable.
- Charles Lewis began a study with his students at American University that, says Koch, “repackages nearly every false and misleading attack leveled against Koch over the past couple of decades.”
- Barack Obama began “calling out” conservative groups in his speeches.
- The IRS began targeting tea party groups for special scrutiny, as well as groups that sought to educate the public about the Bill of Rights or desired to make the country a better place.
- Austan Goolsbee publicly accused Koch of not paying taxes.
- An internal Media Matters for America memo laid out that organization's and its allies' three-year plan “to initiate actions that promote progressive thinking and policies in the media.”
- Democrats and other activist groups began fundraising efforts on the backs of Koch.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. None of these items suggests any secret plan or conspiracy to attack Koch.
- The study by Charles Lewis and his students is thorough academic study of Koch Industries and its influence on Conservative organizations. The study uses public IRS forms to trace where Koch donations had been made. This is frequently difficult because Koch has set up an elaborate thicket of groups that conceal where contributions came from and where they went. The clear takeaway from this study is that Koch does not want the public to know what it is doing with its money. Koch attacks this study because it was funded by liberal organizations. The authors gave Koch notice of its publication, but Koch refused any comment.
- Barack Obama began calling out conservative groups that opposed Democratic candidates and ideas in an election year. There has never been any evidence that Obama orchestrated any sort of conspiracy. Many of these groups had been making personal attacks on Obama for years, forcing him to distance himself from longtime associates, calling him a socialist, claiming he was unwilling to accept conservative ideas, questioning his birth certificate. It would have been remarkable if Obama had not called out conservatives for baseless and irrelevant attacks. Koch was one of the primary funders of such attacks through its numerous charities/front groups. Social Welfare Groups (501(c)(4)s), which are supposedly non-political, gave $254 million in political contributions in 2012. Much of the money was funneled through Koch's Americans for Prosperity Group.1
- One IRS officer targeted political groups for audits, but these were not just conservative groups. The IRS also targeted progressive groups. While none of the conservative groups failed to achieve tax-exempt status, two progressive groups did. The right-wing noise machine has morphed this problem into a bigger deal by claiming that all investigations of 501(c)(4) groups are politically motivated, but the IRS has an obligation under the law to determine whether a group is primarily political in nature or not. The right-wing has an issue with the IRS about how it should apply its regulations, but the problem is a bureaucratic one, not a political one. No evidence has ever connected the White House with these investigations.
- Austan Goolsbee did not, apparently, have access to information about Koch's taxes. His comments indicated that Koch paid no corporate taxes because it is organized as a pass-through entity, such as a limited liability corporation (LLC) or a partnership. He was only guessing about this,however, and Koch subsequently revealed that it was organized as a regular corporation. Koch here implies that Obama was using confidential tax information to attack his political enemies. The only proof of this is an off=hand remark by an employee.2
- The great power at the heart of this conspiracy is a relatively small non-profit called MediaMatters.org. Koch states that MediaMatters engages in politically motivated attacks against groups that the left and its allies disagree with. He publishes an internal memo from MediaMatters that describes its mission to “initiate actions that promote progressive thinking and policies in the media.” But the MediaMatters memo describes no illegal methods. Their primary method is to take video clips from right-wing spokespersons and post them on a web site. They do not use ad campaigns against them, although they do ask advertisers to stop sponsoring these persons or programs. MediaMatters takes their own words, which may be inflammatory, or bigoted, or merely false, and publishes them. This method has made MediaMatters the object of Koch's anger, but it is not contrary to the First Amendment. These spokespersons have access to microphones and tv cameras. Their problem is that their words themselves are toxic. Furthermore, Koch appears to believe that MediaMatters plan “to initiate actions that promote progressive thinking and policies in the media.” is somehow insidious. I don't get it. Koch has been saying how much he loves free speech, yet here he attacks his rivals for speaking in defense of their own values.
- Koch is whining again. Democratic groups are raising funds on “Koch's back”. He makes it sound like he suffers personal pain whenever someone raises a dollar by invoking his name. He doesn't understand that his opinions and actions are actually hateful to progressives. His environmental views are considered by many a major threat to the survival of the planet. He blithely comments that he doesn't feel one way or the other about global warming. But failure to take actions to limit global warming is not an option. Not believing that global warming is happening and that his companies are having a big effect on it is not an option.
Koch has proven nothing about any liberal conspiracy to attack him in his article. He attempts to do so by associating the times of the events in the story with each other. Things that happen at the same time are not causes of each other. Furthermore, several of the events—IRS investigations, Charles Lewis study, Media Matters—have little or no relationship with the President or the Democratic Party. One of these “conspiracy” events consisted of an off-hand remark by a Cabinet member.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Koch wants us to believe there is a vast anti-Koch conspiracy. He has to provide some evidence for that if he wants us to believe it.
An alternative explanation is that Obama recognized the nature of his opponents and began attacking them. People hate and fear the Kochs both because of their words and actions and because their secrecy is troubling. For the most part, the Kochs actually did the things they are accused of. People have easily seen through their attempts to deny responsibility by claiming that some other “unrelated” group was responsible.
Make no mistake about it, the Kochs are the one percent. They fear and loathe the 99 percent and will attack them whenever they can. Many of the problems that beset America right now can be traced to the no-compromise, no-prisoners attitude of the Kochs.