Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders scolded the crowd at a Minnesota State Fair Q&A on Saturday for cheering on the death of billionaire philanthropist David Koch. An audience member was given the microphone to ask Sanders a question and began with, “Yesterday, oligarch David Koch passed away,” which prompted applause from his fellow audience members. “And we’re going to be dealing with his pollution and the radicalization of his politics. He’s made a killing off of the misery of other people, and I want to talk about retroactive justice,” he continued. “How would you follow up for the victims of folks who are coming down in the future generations?”
Sanders, however, wasn’t pleased with the cheering. “I don’t applaud, you know, the death of somebody. We needn’t do that,” the 2020 Democratic presidential contender said. He continued, “I think what we can say is that the Koch brothers and other billionaires, because of this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, have been able to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to represent the wealthy and the powerful, and the fossil fuel industry, which is where the Koch brothers made a lot of their money.” Note how quickly the rhetoric reflex takes over after his lukewarm admonition to the crowd. But Sanders’ lukewarm admonition is still better than brazen hostility. The incident comes as Koch’s Friday passing was met with celebration from some liberal activists. HBO’s Bill Maher gladly joined in, rejoicing on Friday’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher.”F–k him .. I’m glad he’s dead,” Maher said. He hates Koch because Bill loves people so much.
But bless CNN, they actually dialed back the rhetoric and presented a more balanced (nuanced?) portrayal of the Koch organization. “The Koch brothers were best known-and vilified by Democrats–for their role in politics, and they used their vast wealth to build a sprawling array of think tanks, foundations and political groups to spread their small-government, free-market message. In some elections, the Koch network rivaled the spending and scope of the national Republican Party, and analysts view their activism as helping to have fueled the Tea Party movement. The organization already was in midst of transformation when David Koch stepped away from his formal roles. The Koch groups now are called Stand Together and have made more investments in philanthropy and policy issues, such as K-12 education. David Koch was most active in Americans for Prosperity. In June, Americans for Prosperity announced four new political action committees and said it would wade into primaries to help incumbent politicians, including Democrats, who side with Koch on trade, immigration and other issues.
But in the era of President Donald Trump-whom Charles Koch pointedly declined to support in 2016-the network has undergone a significant shift in focus, upping its commitment to work across party lines on top priorities, such as promoting free trade and creating a path to permanent legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the US as young children. Their activism made them villains to Democrats; then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, once denounced them as ‘power-drunk billionaires’ out ‘to buy the country.’ But it also put them at odds with Trump, who called them a ‘total joke’ last year after Charles Koch and his top lieutenants publicly criticized the administration’s trade policies.”
So can anyone explain to me why folks like Bill Maher, who hate Donald Trump, also hate the Koch brothers, who are at odds with Trump?