Thin Skinned Billionaires 0, Activists 1

It has been a busy couple of weeks for the Koch brothers. Whether they are whining about the New Yorker attempting to have them punished for writing about them, bitching about Obama nailing bin Laden, or their various day to day nefarious activities, they have had their hands full and their mouthpieces have been busy defending their honor. Here is something else they no longer need to worry about:

A lawsuit against a group of anonymous environmentalists who created a satirical press release claiming that Koch Industries would help fight climate change was dismissed Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Dale A. Kimball.

The anonymous environmentalists known as Youth for Climate Truth were defended by the Public Citizen Litigation Group, who said subpoenas associated with the lawsuit violated the First Amendment rights to anonymous speech.

“We’re gratified that the court affirmed our clients’ First Amendment right to engage in anonymous political speech and rejected Koch’s baseless legal theories,” said Deepak Gupta, one of the Public Citizen attorneys defending the activists. “This lawsuit was nothing but a well-financed attempt by Koch to bully its political opponents into submission. The court was right to stop this lawsuit in its tracks.”

In stark contrast to the viewpoints usually expressed by either of the Koch brothers, the fake press release announced that the company would “restructure its support for organizations that undertake climate change research and advocacy” and stop funding groups “whose positions on climate change could jeopardize America’s continued global competitiveness.”

The press release was emailed to a number of news organizations and included a link to www.kochinc.com, which looked similar to the company’s actual website.

Koch Industries brought the lawsuit, alleging that the fake press release was a trademark infringement, cybersquatting, unfair competition and a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The company sought to identify the activists by sending subpoenas to Bluehost and FastDomain, which hosted and registered the website.

Sorry, libertarian wankers. The rest of us still have the constitutional protections that you Galtian douchebags pretend to cherish.

This was little more than an attempt to out the pranksters so the usual suspects could do their countertop inspections, and the court told them to gtfo.

80 replies
  1. 1
    wvng says:

    That made my day. Thanks for posting.

  2. 2
    General Stuck says:

    I guess some frivolous lawsuits are more of less frivolous than other frivolous lawsuits. There is no “libertarian” philosophy. All of it is meant to decoy the heist.

    If they ever try to out me, I will just have to make public the Koch bros sex tape with antelopes.

  3. 3
    MTiffany says:

    Sorry, libertarian wankers. The rest of us still have the constitutional protections that you Galtian douchebags pretend to cherish.

    They don’t pretend, they just believe that free speech and other constitutional protections cost a lot of money; therefore only the rich should enjoy those privileges (not rights, mind you) because they have proved their moral worth by amassing great wealth.

  4. 4
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    What’s really funny about this is that the Koch brothers tried to take down people who made them sound like they cared about our country and the environment of the world.

    Shorter Koch Boys: “You made people think we actually care about the United States and the environment.”

    So they tried to sue them.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Ash Can says:

    Courtesy of roshan in the last thread, this reporter is likely to be the Koch Bros.’ next target. (The gist of this story: The Koch Bros. are bribing/blackmailing Florida State University to teach the kind of “economics” the Kochs want it to teach. And FSU is going along with it because, well, big donations are more important than peripheral details like education, don’tcha know. Besides, who’s going to step in and halt the sell-off of a state school’s economics department? The governor?)

    ETA: Arguingwithsignposts beat me to it.

  7. 7
    celticdragonchick says:

    Guilford College accepted a 10-year, $500,000 grant from BB&T, along with the following strings: an upper-level interdisciplinary course requiring the assignment of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” in its entirety, and the commitment of the college to annually (until the year 2019) give a copy of the book to every student who majors either in business or economics when that student enters his or her junior year.

    What. The. Fuck.

    This is my school. I am a senior at Guilford College…and that interdisciplinary course is what I am taking next semester.

    Oh hell no. I am going to make this very, very embarrassing for the school this fall.

  8. 8
    dmsilev says:

    @celticdragonchick: Condolences.

    Maybe you can do a term paper on “The verdict of the free market: The complete and utter failure of the Atlas Shrugged movie”

  9. 9
    Redshift says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:
    From a St. Petersburg Times article on the same subject:

    A separate grant from BB&T funds a course on ethics and economics in which Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is required reading. The novel, which depicts society’s collapse in the wake of government encroachment on free enterprise, was recently made into a movie marketed to tea party members.
    ___
    “If somebody says, ‘We’re willing to help support your students and faculty by giving you money, but we’d like you to read this book,’ that doesn’t strike me as a big sin,” said [David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences] of the BB&T arrangement, which the bank has with about 60 schools.

  10. 10
    fhtagn says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    Maybe we could raise enough cash for an annual grant to FSU for 10 years on the condition that they have a bookplate inserted into each copy of Ayn Rand’s glibertarian wank-fest saying:

    “There are two novels that can transform a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large chunks of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel. The other is a book about orcs.”

  11. 11
    celticdragonchick says:

    @dmsilev:

    I appreciate it.

    Guilford College is about as left wing as a school can get(it is a private Quaker School dating from 1837 with a history of pacifism and had been an actual stop on the Underground Railroad). I am stunned that the school would consider this arrangement. I will be very, very vocal about it.

  12. 12
    celticdragonchick says:

    @fhtagn:

    This.

  13. 13
    slag says:

    @Redshift:

    “If somebody says, ‘We’re willing to help support your students and faculty by giving you money, but we’d like you to read this book,’ that doesn’t strike me as a big sin,” said [David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences] of the BB&T arrangement, which the bank has with about 60 schools.

    Do the Kochs get to leave the money on the nightstand as per tradition?

  14. 14
    geg6 says:

    @dmsilev:

    Oh, hells yes. I’d be talking to every fellow student in that class, getting them to write a take down of Ayn Rand, Mr. Andrea Mitchell, objectivism, and libertarianism for every single assignment. Every. Single. One.

  15. 15
    Poopyman says:

    @celticdragonchick: Yeah, and they sold out cheap. For $50K a year? Peanuts.

    Guilford is one of Mrs. P’s schools. It’ll be interesting to see what she says, especially the next time she gets a fundraising letter.

    Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing about some pushback!

  16. 16
    celticdragonchick says:

    I am emailing this to a number of faculty members right now…

  17. 17
    gex says:

    @slag: Yup. And if you complain, you get the free (pimp) hand of the marketplace slapping you upside the head.

  18. 18
    Poopyman says:

    @fhtagn: @celticdragonchick: It would be better if you had attributed the quote to Rogers at KFM.

  19. 19
    fhtagn says:

    @slag:

    David W Rasmussen.. no relation of Scott W Rasmussen, one presumes?

  20. 20
    Teddy Salad says:

    Sad day for the Funding Fathers.

  21. 21
    Loneoak says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    I teach ethics and it is my learned determination that it would be entirely appropriate to crowd source your papers to the BJ commentariat in that course.

  22. 22
    geg6 says:

    @Loneoak:

    Heh. Indeedy.

  23. 23
    Culture of Truth says:

    weasels

  24. 24
    fhtagn says:

    @Loneoak:

    I am sure we could write one, or several, on “Ayn Rand: Medicare Moocher”, “Ayn Rand: Soviet Agent”, “Limp Kochs: the Randian attempt to bring ignorance to the FSU curriculum” and so forth…

  25. 25
    slag says:

    @gex: I guess if you’re going to get pimp slapped, it’s probably a little less humiliating for some people if the hand is invisible. As good a summary of libertarianism as I’ve ever heard, now that I think about it.

  26. 26
    Poopyman says:

    @Culture of Truth: Do you mean the Koch Bros, BB&T, or the colleges they bought?

    (“Yes” would be an acceptable answer.)

  27. 27

    @celticdragonchick:

    Oh hell no. I am going to make this very, very embarrassing for the school this fall.

    When it is convenient, you might do well to consult an attorney so you can line up all your ducks in a row before you go out to battle.

    And good luck. And keep us informed.

  28. 28
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    The Florida State football team had a reputation that made them known as the “Crimi-noles”, so now they will have a business school with that rep, memo to investors, if your company has a future FSU grad, RUN!!!!

  29. 29
    Xantar says:

    Wait. So you’re telling me there are some freedom of speech rights besides the right to donate as much money as you want through a corporation?

    Well knock me over with a feather.

  30. 30
    Mark S. says:

    David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences, defended the deal, initiated by an FSU graduate working for Koch. During the first round of hiring in 2009, Koch rejected nearly 60 percent of the faculty’s suggestions but ultimately agreed on two candidates.

    Wow, I doubt they would have done this if it was something really important, like their football program. But this is the best part:

    Rasmussen said hiring the two new assistant professors allows him to offer eight additional courses a year. “I’m sure some faculty will say this is not exactly consistent with their view of academic freedom,” he said. “But it seems to me it would have been irresponsible not to do it.”

  31. 31
    geg6 says:

    OT, but I got a kick out of this video. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....r_embedded

  32. 32
    Loneoak says:

    “If somebody says, ‘We’re willing to help support your students and faculty by giving you money, but we’d like you to read this book,’ that doesn’t strike me as a big sin,” said [David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences] of the BB&T arrangement, which the bank has with about 60 schools.

    I’m not sure if I can articulate a case for this being a ‘big sin,’ but it is very odd. I’ve never heard of such a thing before. Of course corporations and wealthy donors have successfully bought entire research agendas of public schools before, paid for chairs and had at least implicit control over who gets those positions, run internships programs, etc. But I have really never heard of a donor saying ‘here’s a disproportionate pile of cash for making your students read this pedantic novel.’ I’m not sure if it is more or less offensive than buying off a research agenda—it seems so inconsequential, yet control of curriculum is almost sacrosanct for faculty.

  33. 33
    NonyNony says:

    @Redshift:

    A separate grant from BB&T funds a course on ethics and economics in which Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is required reading. The novel, which depicts society’s collapse in the wake of government encroachment on free enterprise, was recently made into a movie marketed to tea party members.

    I’m okay with this[*], so long as the instructors make a point of underlining just what unethical douchebags every one of Rand’s “heroes” is.

    I mean you’ve got the guy who commits a terrorist act of slaughtering innocents in a trainwreck before “going Galt” and the guy who lights his oil field on fire so no one else can use it when he “goes Galt”, among others. Clearly this is the textbook on ethics that everyone should be using in their classroom – the negative examples in the book abound.

    ([*] Note that “I’m okay with this” is not intended as a factual statement – this is bullshit, the university should be ashamed of itself and the president who made this “deal” should be mocked incessantly for whoring out his campus for a handful of money.)

  34. 34

    I’m so glad these jerks are getting the bad press they deserve.

  35. 35

    1001 uses for a dead novel(in its entirety)

  36. 36
    Walker says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    It is possible that course will take the book apart and make it look like the shame it is. Have you talked to faculty that you trust about the course first?

  37. 37

    Ordinarily, I’m not in favor of book burning, but …

  38. 38
    Triassic Sands says:

    The Koch brothers are misunderstood humanitarians. Deep down their champions for the little guy. Only when You Tube gets a heartfelt “leave the Koch brothers alone” video will the balance in the universe be returned to a healthy state.

  39. 39

    @NonyNony:

    another idea for a paper, comparing and contrasting going galt, with going saddam, going stalin, et al.

  40. 40
    fhtagn says:

    I wonder whether we could print a version of Atlas Shrugged on soft, absorbent paper with tear-off lines? That way, students might get some use out of it, and FSU could issue a copy to everyone on campus with a clear conscience.

  41. 41
    dr. bloor says:

    I suspect Rasmussen’s appointment as a Dean is a classic example of getting kicked upstairs.

  42. 42
    phantomist says:

    But Denham says BB&T’s decision to accept $3.1 billion in return for giving the federal government preferred stock “doesn’t change” the belief by John Allison, its CEO, in the philosophy of Ayn Rand that champions free markets and paints government as the nemesis of capitalism.

  43. 43
    Martin says:

    Heh. Boehner wants the wealthy to pay for their own Medicare premiums. Dude, that’s a Democratic proposal, and it’s a tax increase. Obama should call him up and say ‘sure, let’s do it – right now’.

  44. 44
    celticdragonchick says:

    Mailing I just sent to faculty all over the school…
    **************************************************

    It is reported today that far right wing Koch Brothers ally BB&T just gave $500,000 to Guilford College. Strings are attached….

    The ideals of the university call for academic freedom, the search for truth, the right to be led by the data wherever they go, open debate of all sides, faculty control of the classroom, a strong role in governance in academic matters, and the right to speak out without reprisal or fear of having your emails demanded by someone whose politics differ from yours. (The people who requested the emails of a Wisconsin history professor should be punished by forcing them read the entire batch.)

    Recently a number of corporations have focused on universities in order to further a political ideology of free markets and diminished government regulation. They are less interested in creating new knowledge than in getting their message out and improving their bottom line.

    The pursuit of unbiased information and the projection of an ideology are two starkly contrasting goals and can meld only if one of the parties compromises on some basic values.

    Two of the more visible corporations making substantial contributions to universities are the Koch brothers and BB&T. The brothers are owners of the second-largest privately held corporation in the U.S. and are much in the news because of efforts to influence public policy, elections, taxes, environmental issues, unions, regulations, etc. BB&T is a large financial services corporation that frequently teams up with Koch.

    Both corporations have worked out agreements with colleges and universities across the country, many of them being controversial. George Mason University received over $23 million from Koch brothers foundations to hire seven libertarian professors, subjecting the college to the charge that the university had been “bought.” Guilford College accepted a 10-year, $500,000 grant from BB&T, along with the following strings: an upper-level interdisciplinary course requiring the assignment of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” in its entirety, and the commitment of the college to annually (until the year 2019) give a copy of the book to every student who majors either in business or economics when that student enters his or her junior year. Meredith College faculty rejected a $420,000 “gift” that the college president had negotiated with a BB&T foundation on the grounds that the college needed to retain control over course curricula. Incidents of this latter kind abound, but fall far behind the number of instances in which the corporations have gotten the traction they wanted with the schools.

    I regard this as an attack upon the independence and academic freedom of this Institution. Blatant propagandization from any source is unconscionable, but even more so when the propagandists leave their money on the nightstand when they are done with us. Please join me in protesting this grotesque “donation” and the prostitution of our academic freedom.

    Sincerely,
    AnneMarie Dickey

  45. 45
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    A separate grant from BB&T funds a course on ethics and economics in which Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is required reading.

    Here’s the FAIL: “ethics and economics”. Atlas Shrugged?

    They’d be far better off reading The Wealth of Nations for actual ethics and economics, not a total dearth of the former and utter fantasy about the latter.

  46. 46
    fhtagn says:

    @Martin:

    Just imagine the effect on the Kochs of reducing oil subsidies and making them pay for their own Medicare in the same year. The moochers-in-chief aren’t going to like that one little bit. TWO concealed tax increases, and by their own(ed) side.

  47. 47
    jcgrim says:

    The Kochs and their corporate cronies (public/private partnership schemes) are not going away but are spreading their poison across every area of US public commons. The Kochs ignored faculty recommendations and are directly involved in hiring professors at Florida State University:

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/b.....es/1168680

  48. 48
    handy says:

    Judge Dale A. Kimball

    Some of you geeks should find this name familiar. This is the same U.S. District Court Judge who told SCO to stuff it in the crucial phase of its multi-pronged legal attack on Linux.

    I like this guy even more.

  49. 49
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Loneoak:

    I teach ethics and it is my learned determination that it would be entirely appropriate to crowd source your papers to the BJ commentariat in that course.

    Will do.

  50. 50
    Nicole says:

    @celticdragonchick: Well, for what it’s worth, I’ve read Atlas Shrugged, and while I’m really, really sorry you have to go through that, I will say that having read it makes the blogs, posts, etc. taking jabs at it even funnier because I get all the specific references. Kind of like how suffering through the Twilight novels was worth it to me for being able to better appreciate the snark attacks on it (props, by the way, to whichever balloon-juicer mentioned the Sparknotes blog on Twilight. So many lulz!). So, pointless for your education, but useful later as a pop-culture touchstone.

    Small consolation at the moment, I know.

  51. 51
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    When it is convenient, you might do well to consult an attorney so you can line up all your ducks in a row before you go out to battle.
    And good luck. And keep us informed.

    Thank you. :)

  52. 52
    piratedan says:

    I thought they had a word for this back in the 50’s….. payola

  53. 53
    The Moar You Know says:

    But Denham says BB&T’s decision to accept $3.1 billion in return for giving the federal government preferred stock “doesn’t change” the belief by John Allison, its CEO, in the philosophy of Ayn Rand that champions free markets and paints government as the nemesis of capitalism.

    @phantomist: Please engrave this on a shovel and then beat CEO Allison in the face with it repeatedly. Thanks

  54. 54
    Corner Stone says:

    And as usual, Dave Weigel is still a glibertarian asshole:
    The Kochs Invade Florida State University!
    He’s basically selling it as more of the he said, she said variety instead of the abomination it actually is:

    “But what if you can challenge the authority of those economists by saying this one or that one is just a shill for Charles G. Koch? Oh, sure, he’ll be matched by lots of other economists who don’t have any particular lucre convincing them that Murray Rothbard was right. But raise a couple of questions and you discredit the source.”

  55. 55
    Triassic Sands says:

    Typos suck. So does my typing this morning.

  56. 56
    Loneoak says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    FWIW, I don’t really like the shaming of sex workers in metaphor form. They deserve dignity, too.

  57. 57
    alwhite says:

    Actually, if the fake press release did not make it clear it really wasn’t from the Koch whores themselves I think the activists went a bit too far. Not that I am not thrilled that the courts would not allow them to use their wealth to crush descent only that there should have been some semi-obvious indication that the statement was parody.

    $500,000 for 10 years? not only is that school a whore its a darn cheap one at that.

  58. 58
    Culture of Truth says:

    I was responding to the initial post and the Koch Bros. use of the judicial system.

  59. 59
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Loneoak:

    I suppose so, but we are prostituting ourselves nonetheless.

    Point taken, though.

  60. 60
    Poopyman says:

    Well really, what’s the big deal? Just doing the same thing Soros and all the others on the Left are doing.

    Oh wait ….

  61. 61
    Mark S. says:

    @alwhite:

    I don’t think it would be entirely clear to someone reading it that the press release was a parody. On the other hand, I don’t really see how Koch was harmed by it. It’s written in such neutral corporatese that I can’t see anybody getting worked up about it. It was a pretty odd prank.

    I’m probably not making a lot of sense. It would be like if I made a fake letter by Exxon saying how committed Exxon is to the environment. No one would take it very seriously, but most people wouldn’t automatically assume it was a parody.

  62. 62
    Citizen_X says:

    @celticdragonchick: Kick ass, girl! Get them Quakers riled up. I cannot imagine that they would take this news cheerfully.

    And this makes me wonder about taking this idea nationwide:

    Meredith College faculty rejected a $420,000 “gift” that the college president had negotiated with a BB&T foundation on the grounds that the college needed to retain control over course curricula. Incidents of this latter kind abound, but fall far behind the number of instances in which the corporations have gotten the traction they wanted with the schools.

    Why not publicize and promote the schools that rejected offers to whore out their curricula and faculty, and shame and denigrate those that took the cash? The latter are eagerly destroying their reputations; let’s make that fact known and shameful. Let’s, instead, funnel students towards the schools that defend their integrity.

  63. 63
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Citizen_X:

    Kick ass, girl! Get them Quakers riled up. I cannot imagine that they would take this news cheerfully.

    I’m a’ workin’ on it!

  64. 64
    Stillwater says:

    There is no “libertarian” philosophy. All of it is meant to decoy the heist.

    People with a very narrow vested interest in certain outcomes invoke libertarianism as a theoretical underpinning of policies that would otherwise be understood as transparently prejudicial.

  65. 65

    @celticdragonchick:
    Of course, if you really wanted to cause issues, you would contact alumni, other donors and whatever governing body oversees the school.

    The faculty may oversee curricula, but the big wallet alumni can make more noise.

  66. 66
    celticdragonchick says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Thanks for the tip.

  67. 67
    Culture of Truth says:

    Now that we know the academic integrity of Guilford is sale, we’re just negotiating over price…

  68. 68
    AnonGuest84 says:

    The Koch brothers, now into their 70’s, having discovered that even 20 billion dollars in inherited wealth a piece cannot buy true happiness have decided to spend the rest of their existence on earth attempting to prove that what it will buy is misery for the other guy. Otherwise, what good is all that money?

  69. 69
    GregB says:

    It looks like these miserable pricks will spend their twilight years tilting at windmills and railing at subordinates about the injustices visited upon them and maybe eating a hamburger or two with a loogie placed on a patty by an angry caddy, butler, or chef.

    At least this environmental group of pranksters was able to drink their milkshake before one of the Koch boys was able to grab a bowling pin and beat them to death.

    Enjoy your retirement you scumbag plutocrats.

  70. 70
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @celticdragonchick: You know, I’m normally opposed to burning books, but a nice bonfire of unwanted copies of Atlas Shrugged might make me change my mind.

  71. 71
    Calouste says:

    So if there is an assignment to be written, how about a comparison between the government mandating the study of the works of Mao in communist China* and the “free market” mandating the “study” of Rand in the US?

    *) I’m sure there are a few dozen examples to chose from, including Lenin, Caeucescu, and a few cases in central Asia.

  72. 72
    celticdragonchick says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    I was thinking of something a little more in-your-face, although I don’t want to say too much in this forum.

  73. 73
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @AnonGuest84:

    The Koch brothers, now into their 70’s, having discovered that even 20 billion dollars in inherited wealth a piece cannot buy true happiness have decided to spend the rest of their existence on earth attempting to prove that what it will buy is misery for the other guy. Otherwise, what good is all that money?

    Since one of ’em got cancer, they’re huge cancer research funders now. And they decry any government cuts in cancer research. See how that works?

  74. 74
    Ozymandias, King of Ants says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: This.

    There was an incident at my alma mater recently where a disgruntled student started a Facebook page called “University X sucks because . . . ”

    Sent the administration into fits. I thought it hilarious.

  75. 75
    max hats says:

    But Reason says the Kochs are pro-free speech! Clearly, there is an error here, because those Reason guys are completely on the up and up.

  76. 76
    alwhite says:

    @GregB:

    Remember daddy dearest was a major funder of the John Birch Society – spreading hate, ignorance and misery is an old family tradition in the Koch family!

  77. 77
    alwhite says:

    That reminds me – do either of these useless sacks of Siberian sheep dip have genetic waste running around to follow in their hoof prints?

  78. 78
    Calouste says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    It’s not like funding cancer research now that you already have it is likely to going to benefit you much. Research takes time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kochs pull the cancer research funding if whichever one that has it goes terminal and there hasn’t been a miracle cure invented by Prof. Dr. J Galt in the meantime.

  79. 79
    Niques says:

    @Calouste: The way I heard it, they have a research facility themselves . . . so they’re not only funding their own pockets, but encouraging the gubmit to do the same.

  80. 80
    Julie says:

    @Loneoak: I’ve heard of the opposite happening, but this is first for me too.

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