Criminal Justice

Lefties Bash Lefty PAC for Bashing Kochs on Criminal Justice

David Brock's awful group tries to slime the Koch brothers as criminal-justice opportunitists; actual liberal reformers leap to their defense


David Brock, at the Clinton School of Classiness. |||

On Thursday, American Bridge, which is a Democratic super-PAC founded by once-righty/now-lefty political attack dog David Brock, released a sneering online flier titled "The Koch Brothers' Criminal Justice Pump-Fake," attempting to dissuade gullible liberals from believing that the two most influential long-term funders of libertarian causes and organizations are really sincere with their latest efforts to roll back government overreach on criminal justice.

So, for instance, we learn such alleged facts as that the "Origins Of Koch Interest In Criminal Justice Reform" was "97 Indictments For Environmental Violations Prosecution Against Koch Industries," and that the "Purpose Of Koch Interest In Criminal Justice Reform" is "Good Press While Advancing Their Financial Interests." Boilerplate political demonization (with multiple links to Wonkette), none of it surprising to those who have followed the career of David Brock, or who have tracked mirror-image righty demonizations of philanthropist-turned-political-financier George Soros. Politics makes people stupid, etc.

But then the man bit the attack dog. Liberal groups who have collaborated with Koch organizations on criminal justice are snapping back at American Bridge. Buzzfeed has the details:

Sure beats that "green jobs" racket. |||

"I hope they hold onto that report and frame it," said Van Jones, a progressive organizer and former Obama administration official currently leading #Cut50, a prominent bipartisan criminal justice effort. "They can frame it right next to the picture of Obama signing a bill by Christmas and keep it as an object lesson in the downsides of division and also the incredible possibility in a democratic system for ideas to breakthrough."

It's a weird turn of events, but the unsurprising conclusion to the drug war collision course: progressives and libertarians, led by the Kochs, agree that the tough-on-crime policies of the 1980s and '90s need to change, from mandatory-minimum sentencing to the use of criminal records in hiring. President Obama even praised the Kochs this week, a week in which he commuted the life sentences of 46 drug offenders and advocates say big changes could really be coming. […]

For Democrats trying to get bills passed in Congress, the timing of the American Bridge attack was a head-scratcher. Progressives credit Koch-backed efforts inside the GOP with bringing old-school tough-on-crime Republicans to the bargaining table with advocates, seen as the key to getting a legislation done and sealing another part of Obama's legacy.

"It doesn't make much strategic sense," said one Obama administration ally. "Who fucking cares why they're doing it if Republicans can point to them when they're supporting reform?"

This dead-ender sleazebaggery is nothing new for American Bridge. Back in 2012, as former Reasoner Mike Riggs reminds us today, the group attacked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) for—wait for it!—"oppos[ing] additional funding for anti-drug enforcement efforts," and also opposing "funds for high intensity drug program in 2000." 

Fortunately, as Jacob Sullum pointed out this morning, criminal justice reform has so much bipartisan grassroots momentum right now that even Bill Clinton and Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) are getting on board.

(David Koch is a Reason Foundation trustee.)

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    1. *hands ILWTDO a cigar*

    2. Yeah but what did you do with it?

      1. Wrote something quickly to beat Fist at getting the first one.

    3. Brock looks like he subscribes to the Larry Miller Hair System.

      1. I was thinking that he looks like he should be telling us about ancient aliens.

  1. There once was a man named Dave Brock
    Who obsessively talked about Koch
    But the idiocy
    Of his left Pee Aye Cee
    Got him yelled at by Dems, to his shock

    1. Excellent, but delete “Dave” for better rhythm.

      1. I ain’t see an edit button that i can press, holmes.

        1. I used the wrong tense….

  2. At risk of dropping a dookie in the punch bowl, how is Brock’s skepticism of the Kochs support for criminal justice reform fundamentally different from Dalmia’s skepticism of marriage privatization because socons are now supporting it?

    Or aren’t we supposed to talk about that?

    1. It isn’t different. Both Dalmia and Brock have an axe to grind against people they don’t like. So they will use any mental gymnastics at their disposal to villainize them for it- even if that means they lose an ally in the pursuit of a preferred policy.

      In a sense, I can kind of understand this, even though I don’t agree. If you allow the “wrong” people into your tent, you are always at risk of those people co-opting your larger goals. Mothers Against Drunk Driving was originally targeted at reducing drunk driving deaths, but as a part of that goal they allowed in a bunch of Neo-Prohibitionists who have now co-opted the cause for eternity.

      Brock and Dalmia both fear that a short term win will give legitimacy to the Kochs and SoCons. Criminal justice groups, whose priorities aren’t on changing culture but on fixing a broken criminal justice system disagree with Brock. But since his goal is different than that- removal of Kock-like thoughts in culture and politics- he is willing to let Criminal reform slide in the larger battle.

      1. Kock-like thoughts

        MIND RAPE!!1!!

    2. Because you know Dalmia is the most popular contributor here, and nobody ever calls her out for anything, let alone in the comments of the story you’re referencing. You’re right, we don’t talk about that. Ever.

    3. I think the only person defending/agreeing with Dalmia in the comment thread is GKC, and he definitely isn’t doing it because SOCONZ.

      She’s getting skewered for it, and rightly so.

    4. Nobody gives a shit what Dalmia thinks, so it’s irrelevant. You did notice that a different person wrote this article?

  3. I read Brock’s book on Anita Hill, which I thought was interesting and pretty convincing in arguing exactly how all that happened. (In short: Hill was harassed by someone else, years later a friend thought it was Thomas, that misperception got to Democrat operatives who leaked it to hurt Thomas, and then Hill lied on the stand for political purposes.)

    Then Brock switched sides, and with the fervor of a new convert, became a complete Team cheerleading hack.

  4. Somebody should tell David Brock that the Kochs are in favor of gay marriage.

    1. And they support, like, most PBS shows.

      1. I almost went with PBS. Or medical research and museums and theaters, etc.

        If the Kochs support at that cosmo stuff, are progressives going to have to turn paleo?

        1. There really were people calling for a hospital to reject the millions that the Kochs donated.

          1. and the NAACP scholarship fund

            1. One thing about progs:

              They’ve never seen a sacrifice that they aren’t willing for other people to make for their cause.

        2. Since the progressive program, if enacted in its entirety, would have the “unintended” consequence of returning mankind to a pre-industrial tribal warfare situation, that’s as good a term for them as any.

        3. As I noted below, it is about priorities. Some people want to see improvements in our world. Others want a new world where the Kochs don’t exist. The former welcome any help. The others want the Kochs driven from their homes with sticks.

  5. My god, a story with Van Jones… and he’s *not* the worst person in it?

    I don’t know what to think.

    I do think the alt-text swipe at him was apropos, just to remind us he’s still a mega-creep.

    1. I was going to post that. Kudos on the snarky alt-texts, Matt.

  6. Principles trumping principals? I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you! Shocked!

    /no sarcasm

    1. /no sarcasm

      double inverted sarcasm to be exact

  7. It’s almost as if proggies care less about the end result and more about the who and the why.

  8. Van Jones speaking words that aren’t scuzzy lies and which don’t spin around the room like flying monkeys?

    Who am I supposed to hate here?

  9. “American bridge”? Sounds like a scientology front.


  10. … but … but … KOCH!

  11. Credit should go to the guy who is responsible for this, for dragging all of these fuckwits kicking and screaming into supporting this. Rand Paul. Without Rand, you wouldn’t be hearing about this at all.

  12. For a group called “American Bridge” they sure are doing a bad job reaching out to the other side.

    1. I think its more for throwing people off of, myself.

      1. No, no, no. It’s a dental bridge, one that they can remove to make it easier to fellate their Top Men.

  13. shouldn’t Brock be gathering explosive rocks? Vaal can’t feed itself.

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