Monday, January 31, 2011

(Update I, II, and III with video) "The billionaires are coming: Obama's richest enemies to hold summit"

UPDATE III: "Koch Brothers v. the Left in Palm Springs" (Nancy Goldstein-The Nation):
There’s a good chance that readers of this page already have some idea who David and Charles Koch are, and what’s happening [1] this weekend, as the sugar daddies of the Tea Party throw a little party of their own in Palm Springs. Invitees include a pack of their billionaire friends, plus prominent pundits, Republican Party officials [2] and lawmakers, a number of whom benefited from hefty Koch contributions [3] this last campaign cycle.

Together they’ll strategize how to get rid of every regulation or politician that stands in the way of wealthy people becoming wealthier; namely, taxes, healthcare reform, environmental and financial protections, Obama and what little remains of the social safety net. Citizens United will undoubtedly energize the annual end-of-weekend ritual when all the donors—40 percent of them new [4]—whip out their checkbooks to underwrite these adventures in subverting democracy with an eye to their bottom line.

But there will also be, for the first time in the soiree’s eight year history, media attention [5], including a fair number of prominent bloggers, a panel discussion [6] including such luminaries as Robert Reich and Van Jones and a demonstration organized by Common Cause [7]. That’s actually pretty great, as Kert Davies [8], Director of Research for Greenpeace [9], reminded me. For years one of the Koch brothers’ greatest achievements was the fact that no one knew who they were or what influence they had in DC. MORE...

UPDATE II; "Protesters target Koch brothers at desert retreat, 25 arrested" (Reuters):

About 1,000 chanting protesters rallied on Sunday outside a California resort where conservative lawmakers and business executives met for a political strategy session hosted by billionaires Charles and David Koch.

About two dozen police officers in riot gear lined up in front of the Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in the upscale desert town of Rancho Mirage to keep the protesters away from the gated entrance.
Common Cause earlier this month asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether two U.S. Supreme Court justices who have attended past political retreats hosted by the Koch brothers should have recused themselves from a landmark campaign finance ruling last year by the high court.

The two justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, sided with the court's 5-4 majority in the Citizens United decision that lifted many of the restrictions once placed on campaign contributions by corporations and labor unions.

"The Kochs fund some of the sickness that has plagued our country, especially over the last 10 years," protester Diana Wu told Reuters. MORE...

UPDATE: GreenpeaceUSA with video (02:09):
Greenpeace today flew an airship with a banner reading "Koch Brothers: Dirty Money" over Rancho Mirage, California as oil billionaires David and Charles Koch convened their latest secret political strategy meeting. The aerial message to arriving attendees of the meeting highlighted the Koch Brothers' ongoing use of their vast oil profits to push a polluter agenda through campaign contributions, lobbying, and funding fronts groups and think tanks.

"Rightwingers, Wall Street chiefs and industrial magnates will discuss Barack Obama's 'anti-business' stance at Rancho Mirage, California." Photograph: Alamy

Ed Pilkington (Guardian-UK):
Amid great secrecy, about 200 of America's wealthiest and most powerful individuals from the worlds of finance, big business and rightwing politics are expected to come together on Sunday in the sun-drenched California desert near Palm Springs for what has been billed as a gathering of the billionaires. They will have the chance to enjoy the Rancho Mirage resort's many pools, spa treatments and tennis courts, as well as walk in its 240 acres away from the prying eyes of TV cameras.

But the organisers have made clear that the two-day event is not just "fun in the sun". This will be a meeting of "doers", men and women willing to fight the Obama administration and its perceived attack on US free enterprise and unfettered wealth.

As the invitation says: "Our goal must be to beat back the unrelenting attacks and hold elected leaders accountable."


But this year's reception will differ in one important regard: it will have an opposition. For the first time, a coalition of progressive and liberal groups has formed to try to counter the power of the Koch brothers.

The anti-Koch gathering will be staged down the road from the Rancho Mirage. It will hold its own – open, as opposed to secretive – panel discussion and a rally designed to highlight what its organisers see as the pernicious impact of the Kochs on the democratic process.

"We want to raise public awareness of the harmful influence of corporate money. The Koch gathering embodies all that we consider damaging to our democracy," said Mary Boyle, of Common Cause, a campaign group that has spearheaded the opposition. MORE...

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