Monday, January 31, 2011

Stimulus-funded sheriffs guard Kochs from protesters

The mainstream media actually sent reporters to cover the rally against the Koch brothers' annual secret meeting in Southern California yesterday. The New York Times  typically explained the union-busting billionaires's event as "liberals" protesting "conservatives." (Note to the mainstream media: you don't have to be liberal to be alarmed by the concentrated economic power of billionaires and corporations). 

If you haven't been following, the Kochs, two of the world's richest men, hold a secret meeting every six months with their billionaire friends to plot their political strategy. The Kochs are especially dangerous because of their radical opposition to any governmental safeguards to protect workers or the environment. They've spent at least $100 million trying to have an impact on the courts, the Congress and public opinion -- with remarkable success. Until recently they've kept their influence hidden. Lately, news and blog reports have exposed them and their secret meetings. On Sunday, 1,500 protesters rallied outside the lavish resort where they held the latest get-together.

Here's what the Los Angeles Times reported:
The protestors waved signs condemning "corporate greed," chanted slogans and surged toward a line of helmeted police officers at the entrance to a resort where billionaires Charles and David Koch were holding a retreat for prominent conservative elected officials, major political donors and strategists.

The New York Times offered these details:

Sport utility vehicles with tinted windows shepherded attendees in and out of the complex, and two dozen Riverside County sheriff’s deputies in riot gear, their batons out, guarded the entrance to keep out anyone not registered as a guest.
What the Times neglected, and ThinkProgress noticed, was that the Kochs' meeting attendees were guarded by law enforcement officers who owe their jobs to President Obama's stimulus -- which the Kochs opposed! Lee Fang reported
The Koch gathering was highly guarded by a phalanx of police officers, a helicopter, and even a no-fly zone around the resort. David Dayen, who chronicled much of the demonstration, reported that the city of Rancho Mirage contracts its police force from Riverside County sheriffs. Ironically, Koch’s front groups lobbied aggressively to kill some of the funding for the very sheriffs who worked tirelessly to ensure safety at the event.
The Kochs like to call themselves "libertarian" and advocate for small government. What they really like is small government for everybody else. According to the Observer, the Kochs use free federal land to graze cows; entered into a joint venture with Venezuelan and Italian state-owned companies to build a fertilizer plant; cut down timber on federal lands for a pittance to make paper (you might want to think about switching from their Bounty paper towels); bought a plant that makes ethanol, which is heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers; and built pipelines after the government forcibly seized private property for them.

And that's just for starters.