Update on the Kochs and the ACLU

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On Friday, in response to a post from Jonathan Chait, I noted that two philanthropy/society publications had reported a $20 million donation from Charles and David Koch to the ACLU to help overturn portions of the PATRIOT Act. Chait responds to my post here.

Since that post went up, I've been trying to confirm the donation with the Koch people, with the ACLU, and with the authors of those two publications. David Patrick Columbia of New York Social Diary, responded via email to say he can't remember the source of his report, though he did say he's certain that his source was not David Koch or George Soros (who was also named in the report for having given $10 million to the ACLU). I'm still trying to reach the editor of Faces of Philanthropy, which also reported the donation on its profile page for Koch, along with the additional detail of the specific provisions of the PATRIOT Act the donation was intended to help overturn.

I'm also still trying to get confirmation one way or the other from the ACLU or Koch. There does appear to be no notice of the donation on the ACLU's website.

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  1. So any speculation on why the Koch’s and/or the ACLU would want to hide the donations?

    Also any speculation as to why two philanthropy/society publications might want to lie about the Koch’s donations?

  2. Efforts to prove to the left that the Kochs are anything but Satan incarnate are futile. However, you would think Reason could get to the bottom of the ACLU contribution. Not that it matters one whit to Chait.

  3. This is part of what I love about Reason. A completely intellectually honest update on a story that provoked a lot of comments. I do hope everyone who commented on the previous story reads this quick update.

    1. Why? Because he’s seeking to prove someone’s work that he used in his article? You seem to think this is a failing in the discussion or argument rather than a progression.

      lol rather…

      1. I think he was praising Reason, not burying…

        1. and the sheeted dead
          Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets

        2. I do hope everyone who commented on the previous story reads this quick update.

          That’s a jab, not praise.

  4. I like how the left pretend that you must be “far right wing” to be against Mccain Feingold. What a bunch of bullshit.

    1. Why does my s key not work sometimes…..

      1. The Kochtopus hates s and has installed a keylogger on your machine to randomly delete them. Soon, you will become so frustrated you will cease using the s and you will have become an unwitting pawn in the Kochtopus scheme to extirpate the s from our written language.

        1. Don’t you mean the Kochtopu?

          1. Kochtopi. Everyone knows there’s more than just the one.

            1. Koch, just like “Octopus”, it’s a non-latin word, so the plural “Octopi” is incorrect. The preferred usage is “Octopuses”.

              Therefore, the plural usage of the Koch brothers should be Kochsuses.

              1. That doe-n’t make any fucking -en-e what-oever. They -tole the “-“, remember?

                1. I’d like to solve the puzzle, Pat.

              2. Kochtopodes

            2. Well, sure, they are brothers.

          2. I refuse to be a pawn in their twisted scheme!

            They don’t pay me enough for that.

            1. How about a knight or a bishop?

              You can’t be a castle.

    2. Shorter Chait: economic liberty doesn’t count.

      1. Or, see Spencer @4:02PM.

  5. I think Chait’s argument is a poor one. He points out that he is sure that economics are the underlying motive, not individual liberty. However, these cannot be divided when the issues revolve around tax money and government finance and policy. Economic policy against free trade, for example, as stupid as it may be is really- at its base- a policy against the freedom to hire who you want or do business with companies that you prefer. Policies that support government labor unions are really policies against smaller government and such things as school choice that these unions use tax money (in the form of member salaries paying dues) to fight against.

    So, the arguments for economic liberty are, and must be, tied to those of personal liberty. I fail to see any convincing arguments to the contrary.

    1. Bartlett had some good points.

  6. I like how the Koch’s opposition to Feingold is held up as some sort of betrayal of their libertarian principles.

    McCain-Feingold is the worst violation of free speech rights in at least a generation. Any libertarian should be happy to see its co-sponsor out of office.

    1. Yet his Republican opponent is much worse on liberty issues.

      1. Economic liberty issues are liberty issues.

    2. Feingold also has done zilch to end the Drug War, and if one considers gun rights to be a “social issue” (it’s certainly not an economic one) he disagrees with Koches on that.

      Since the left’s argument (such that it is) seems to have shifted to complaints that the Koches support more socially conservative economic libertarians than economically liberal social libertarians, it’s important to point out that there really aren’t any viable candidates who are social libertarians at this point. (Other than the Pauls, who are also economic libertarians.) You can’t fault the Koches for failing to donate to candidates that don’t exist.

      1. That’s a good point. Even if you are a libertarian who puts more importance on non-economics stuff, the democrats don’t offer much.

        1. I don’t think that’s fair. The thing is with the social issues, we do live in a pretty free country. The only issue of real significance to people’s lives are the drug laws. Things like gay marriage are more symbolic than anything. It’s not like gay relationships or gay families are outlawed.

          And as far as the drug war goes, it’s sticky politically. You might have small majorities here and there that support legalizing pot, but most people don’t want to legalize anything harder than that. So any real change in the status quo isn’t politically realistic for a Democrat that might support such a thing.

          After all, you don’t see Ron Paul putting forth bills to end social security do you? Does that mean he’s not an economic libertarian? Of course he is. But pushing for something like that isn’t worth the political capital. Dems are in the same position with the drug laws.

          1. The GOP successfully pushed the law which lead to all those dubious dietary supplements being otc. Most Dems were dead-set against it because that shit wasn’t “FDA -proved safe and effective”. Progressives still work to roll that back.People often focus on mj and “harm reduction” when they think legalizing drugs.This is not a libertarian position. Conservative ideology is more in line with letting people take shit without much government regulation.
            Politically, legalizing psychoactive drugs is a third rail for either party (WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN OMG!!1!). Outside of libertarians you have a handful of “pro-legalization” folk on the right. Outside of marijuana (with regulation and taxes!) there are NONE on the left.

            1. Let me amend that, there are new-age/hippie alternative medicine enthusiasts who trend progressive.That and civil liberties (of which I’ll argue are one and the same) where there is actually common ground among libertarians and elements of the right and left to offer some hope of a “fusionism”. Some “libertarians” fail on this because they are “pro-science” statists.

              1. Fuckin’ fusionism, how does it work?

                No really, how does it work?

          2. The only issue of real significance to people’s lives are the drug laws.

            Far more people are affected by “enhanced” airport security theater than the drug laws…and the current iteration of “enhancement” is an Obama innovation which no Democratic politicians have spoken out against.

            In any case, Zeb’s point isn’t really refuted by what you’re saying; on the few issues where Dem politicians may be decent in their heart of hearts, they’re utterly unwilling to actually do anything about it.

            1. And of course, gun rights would logically be classified a social issue, though that logic generally gets ignored to preserve the perception of libertarians agreeing with liberals more than conservatives on all social issues.

  7. There does appear to be no notice of the donation on the ACLU’s website.

    Given the fact that the Kochs are treated like political Kryptonite by the left, a $20 million donation may not be something the ACLU’d want to advertise, methinks.

    1. it is a “very progressive group and they have always maintained that you represent the blackest element of social retrogression in the country, so it would embarrass us, you know, to have your name on our list of contributors, because somebody might accuse us of being in the pay of Hank Rearden.” oops… the Koch bros.

  8. “… if you’re a wealthy person of any sort, you have an interest in opposing rich-to-poor transfers of all types, ….”

    This is the core of the left-wing delusion that you’ll never overcome, Balko — that wealth transfers through government are in anyone’s interest (I’m choosing to ignore the fact that
    Chait doesn’t distinguish between forced wealth transfers and voluntary ones — presumably he is talking about forced wealth transfers… i.e. theft via government).

    It’s a belief that is economically illiterate, socially detached, and politically foolish. Can you really reason with that kind of willful self-delusion?

    1. But, but … social contract!

  9. Reason regrets the error.

    Thank God, I thought I was going to have to cancel my subscription… again!

  10. What’s most bothersome to me is the constant reliance on people instead of ideas. This was pretty clear in Wisconsin: You can’t necessarily demonize Wisconsin taxpayers, so let’s bring in the Koch brothers. And let’s not forget the lefty political operative who worked very hard to cement the Koch name in the whole mess. So then we have to spend time reviewing clips of how the Koch’s fit into the landscape– not by their ideas– but by people like Bush, Nordquist, Lindsay, or Feingold? We don’t always know what each of these people thought, but we know we hate George Bush. And we get some choice gossip about how these various parties got along with or didn’t get along with the Koch’s. And those relationships stand in for ideas.
    Libertarianism becomes something vague that you can’t pin down– something plagued by unrealities– except in the cases where it has somehow been co-opted by the self-interested rich. No real discussion of the libertarian position on anything like Citizen’s United or why it aligns nicely with a belief in freedom of speech. Just more academic– scholastic, really– dissection of ideas that make for a very inconvenient mirror to many liberals.

  11. From the comments:
    And Jonathan you are far too kind to libretarians. Your general politeness is giving respect to a juvenile idealogy that if actually followed would lead to the suffereing of untold millions, and actual starvation in America.

    Somalia!!!! People will die if the government doesn’t tell them how to live!

    1. I tried to comment on that site, but I’m not subscribing to that publication just for the joy of breaking up their sessions of preaching to the choir.

    2. Of course, nobody ever brings up the fact that it was the 30 years of socialism that destroyed Somalia.

  12. LOL, those Koch dudes sure are full of themselves.

    http://www.complete-privacy.eu.tc

  13. They link to Adam Serwer who points out that the Kochs funded Russ Feingold’s opponent.

    That part right there tells you all you need to know.

    The Koch’s care mostly about electing Republicans, not about civil liberties.

    It was a nice effort on the part of the Reason folks, but alas, the Koch’s aren’t who you wish they are.

    1. The Koch’s care mostly about electing Republicans, not about civil liberties.

      These are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Feingold opposes free speech.

    2. “They link to Adam Serwer who points out that the Kochs funded Russ Feingold’s opponent.
      That part right there tells you all you need to know.
      The Koch’s care mostly about electing Republicans, not about civil liberties.”

      Non-sequitur.

    3. That part right there tells you all you need to know.

      Something tells me you need to know a lot more than you think you do.

    4. Which fits perfectly into the left’s view of voters as sheep. They don’t lose on ideas, they lose because they were “outspent” or some such nonsense.

      The left got their asses kicked the last election cycle, and it wasn’t because of money. It was because the majority of voters did not support the Dems agenda. This would have happened if the Kochs gave money to a candidate or not.

  14. I’m confused about what the left’s beef with the Kochs is at this point; they seem to have moved the goal posts to the 45 yard lines. The ones who are actually bothering to make an argument have left behind the notion that the Kochs were a shadowy cabal controlling GOP politics — Chait implicitly notes that he now doesn’t believe libertarians are paid to believe as they do — and now are content with saying that the Kochs are right-wingers.

    1. It isn’t a beef with the Kochs. It isn’t the Kochs at all.

      It’s a reason to ignore the actual discussion about pensions and budgets.

  15. A couple reasons why libertarians might be even more disinclined to support Democrats than Republicans:

    1) The Democrats are terrible on civil liberties to the point of being almost indistigushable from Republicans, especially when they’re in the party in power. The little support they muster is so brazenly opportunistic that it results in absurdities like the recent rounds of PATRIOT Act reauthorization votes in the House, where the introduction of a Republican majority resulted in a massive increase in the number of Democrats voting against it vs 2010. Chait uses Feingold as an example of a pro-civil liberties Democrat, but even he voted for the 2010 reauthorization.

    2) It is possible to have a successful political career as a libertarian or quasi-libertarian within the Republican party, but almost impossible to do so within the Democratic party. The libertarian faction within the GOP is tiny, but it does exist and is influential enough to get the attention of the rest of the party establishment at times. Where are the Democratic equivalents of the Pauls or Johnson?

    I’m not saying libertarians should forge any permanent alliance with the GOP – backing the Bush-era Republican party would have been even more counterproductive for libertarians than backing the Democrats now – but the Democrat’s wishy-washy at best support for civil liberties has provided fewer opportunities to reign in the state than the GOP’s occasional spurts of fiscal discipline.

    1. The libertarian faction within the GOP is tiny, but it does exist and is influential enough to get the attention of the rest of the party establishment at times.

      Yeah, I’m sure if libertarians help push enough tax cuts and help gut enough environmental regulations, your republican buddies will be totally with you when it comes to ending the drug war. That makes sense.

      1. To clarify, republicans only support libertarians when they already agree with them. The libertarian pull on the GOP consciousness is zero.

      2. “Yeah, I’m sure if libertarians help push enough tax cuts and help gut enough environmental regulations,”

        Sounds good to me.

  16. While it was impressive to see the way the Reason team mobilized to protect their meal ticket, I wish they had left Balko alone. He’s their best guy and didn’t deserve to be dragged into this.

  17. This is not a question of Left Vs. Right, it’s a simple question of Reliable Reporting vs. Rumors. The New York Social Diary is not a “reliable source” for news reporting and to claim you “can’t remember” who the source of the story is makes this item a rumor, not a factual report.

  18. in that his source was not David Koch or George Soros (who was also named in the report for h

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