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January 2011, Week 5

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Palm Springs Weekend

By Sharon Kyle
L.A. Progressive
January 28, 2011

http://www.laprogressive.com/progressive-issues/palm-springs-weekend/

In case you haven't heard, there is going to be a big
event this weekend in Palm Springs, California and you
are invited!!!

The billionaire  Koch brothers, David and Charles, are
hosting their bi-annual meeting of right-wing
billionaires. Odds are you're probably not a right-wing
billionaire and maybe you haven't heard of the Koch
brothers.

These are the guys that are known for their support of
the Tea Party through their foundation,  Americans for
Prosperity. Many believe the Koch brothers are pulling
the purse strings of  Congress. Although their meeting
roster is secret, enough is known to raise concerns
that their influence is a dangerous threat to American
politics and climate progress. Their meeting will be
held at the Rancho Mirage Resort in Palm Springs on
Sunday, January 30. But unless you're one of their
ring-wing billionaire buddies, you probably haven't
received an invitation to that meeting.

Here's what you're invited to attend -

In response to the Koch brothers meeting, a coalition
of progressive groups, including Common Cause,
CodePink, California Courage Campaign, and Ruckus
Society, has organized a rally counter-protest and
that's where you come in. If you want to go to this
rally, all of the information you need can be found on
the Common Cause site. Click here to get the details.

Here is what  Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common
Cause has to say about the event:

    Bob Edgar Palm Springs WeekendI've never met
    Charles and David Koch, or most of the other
    business executives and political activists who'll
    be socializing and strategizing about our country's
    future with them this weekend in Palm Springs. But
    I've read enough to know that they're hardworking
    entrepreneurs, with firm convictions and a
    determination to advance them.

    That's fine. There's nothing wrong with making a
    lot of money or spending some of it on political
    activism. Nor is there anything wrong with the
    Kochs inviting people who share their ideas, or any
    other ideas for that matter, to get together for an
    exchange of views.

    What's troubling to me, what's led Common Cause and
    other groups to call public attention to the Koch
    conclave and convene an alternative forum near
    theirs this weekend, is the Koch's use of their
    considerable resources to advance public policies
    that will enhance their bottom line and endanger
    the rest of us and our country.

    Thanks to some good journalism, particularly on the
    ThinkProgress website and in the New Yorker
    magazine, we know that the Kochs and many of those
    joining them have invested millions of dollars in
    groups like the Cato Institute, the Heritage
    Foundation and the Federalist Society.

    Through those groups and others, the Kochs and
    their network seek to eliminate laws that give us
    breathable air and drinkable water but which have
    cost the Kochs millions of dollars in fines. They
    work to discredit the scientific consensus that
    pollutants from manufacturing operations maintained
    by Koch Industries and other firms - even with
    clean air laws in place - are dangerously warming
    our planet. And they sponsor public events aimed at
    defeating cap-and-trade legislation, which would
    make Koch Industries and other companies pay for
    the air pollution that they create.

    Of special concern to me, as the leader of an
    organization formed 40 years ago to fight for
    government that is open, honest and accountable to
    every citizen, is the Koch's effort to dismantle
    campaign finance laws that since the days of
    Theodore Roosevelt have served as a check on
    corporate power.

    Thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United
    decision last year, encouraged and then embraced by
    the Kochs, corporations and other special interests
    were able to pour more than $300 million into the
    2010 elections.

    More than $130 million of that came from secret
    donors, often using front groups like the Koch-
    founded Americans for Prosperity.

    That money is an investment in our democracy,
    calculated to give the people providing it and
    their companies a voice loud enough to drown out
    the concerns of everyday Americans. And like
    investors everywhere, the people and firms behind
    the money want a return, perhaps here in the form
    of tax breaks or the repeal of some of the
    regulations that cut into the Koch's profits.

    At the very least, Americans need to know who those
    investors are and how much each has put into our
    political system. We need to know when some of
    them, like the Kochs, meet with the politicians
    their money helped to elect and with judges whose
    legal opinions made their donations legal.
    Otherwise, we'll be none the wiser when the
    politicians all that money helped elect begin to
    provide the return.

    A final thought. I read in some conservative
    journals that concerns about the Kochs and about
    corporate involvement in politics are driven by a
    desire to muzzle conservative voices. That is
    absolute nonsense. The Kochs and all who share
    their views should speak up, as long and as loudly
    as they care to, about public policy. But they
    should be required to do so openly, like the rest
    of us, and they should not be allowed to use their
    corporate economic clout to drown out other voices.

    That's why I'll be in Rancho Mirage this weekend. -
    Bob Edgar

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