Washington Monthly: Koch Brothers Plan Ahead

October 20, 2010- I realize there are plenty of liberal Americans who genuinely fear a right-wing conspiracy, featuring right-wing zillionaires who meet in private resorts to plot, scheme, and shape agendas to undermine the public and boost their own profits.

But what's that old joke? You're not paranoid if they really are out to get you?

A secretive network of Republican donors is heading to the Palm Springs area for a long weekend in January, but it will not be to relax after a hard-fought election — it will be to plan for the next one.

Koch Industries, the longtime underwriter of libertarian causes from the Cato Institute in Washington to the ballot initiative that would suspend California's landmark law capping greenhouse gases, is planning a confidential meeting at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa to, as an invitation says, "develop strategies to counter the most severe threats facing our free society and outline a vision of how we can foster a renewal of American free enterprise and prosperity."

The invitation, sent to potential new participants, offers a rare peek at the Koch network of the ultrawealthy and the politically well-connected, its far-reaching agenda to enlist ordinary Americans to its cause, and its desire for the utmost secrecy.

Though the story only touches on this briefly, these are the same Koch Brothers who are helping buy the midterms for Republicans this year, and who are apparently so pleased with themselves that they're ready to plot future successes.

Also note, this isn't just about partisan politics, though it's obvious the Kochs and the cohorts are intent on boosting the GOP. It's also about, as the invitation to the confab puts it, "review[ing] strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it."

Yes, these nutjobs actually use language like this, even when they think no one will see it.

And what are these policies that must be crushed? Addressing climate change, repairing our dysfunctional health care system, and a regulatory system that looks out for workers and consumers.

It sounds a bit like a Dickensian cliche — powerful fat-cats will huddle in secret at a posh resort, dining on fine cuisine while being waited on hand and foot, to complain bitterly about how rough they have it, and while plotting on how best to destroy those who might interfere with their already-huge profits. Indeed, Charles Koch says in his invitation that "prosperity is under attack" by the Obama administration. Of course, Charles Koch is worth more than $21 billion, and given Wall Street's returns last year, he's probably seen his wealth grow considerably since the president was sworn in.


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