Wow, what a great year to work as a political cartoonist in California, especially if you're also a columnist.
Back in January, a California state senator name Rod Wright was convicted on all eight counts in his trial for voter fraud and perjury. Just a few weeks later, another state senator from California, Ron Calderon, was indicted on two dozen (!) counts of bribery, fraud, money laundering and other charges.
Then in March, as if on cue, yet another state senator from the Golden State suddenly found himself surrounded by police and lots of unwanted media attention. This time it was Leland Yee, who was accused of brokering a deal to sell shoulder-fired missiles and other weapons from Filipino jihadists to an undercover FBI agent.
Oddly enough, it wasn't until Yee's arrest that this apparent pandemic of corruption in the California state senate caught the attention of Los Angeles Times cartoonist/columnist David Horsey -- since all three of the politicians embroiled in scandal are Democrats. Odder still, Horsey decided that the third scandal in as many months involving Democrat state lawmakers meant it was time for him to condemn -- wait for it -- the Koch brothers!
Don't take my word for it, look back at Horsey's work since the start of the year. You'll quickly notice a pattern -- Horsey's scorn appears largely reserved for conservatives and Republicans. As President Obama returned from vacation, for example, he faced Republicans "still frozen in contrarian disagreement with everything he does and says."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is "desperate to escape his image as a bully." The Florida theater killing, as Horsey saw it, was yet more proof that "guys with guns are primed to shoot." Meanwhile, "wacko birds" -- Horsey's charming take on tea partiers -- threaten GOP prospects for winning the Senate.
After a few obligatory cartoons on the Sochi Olympics and the frigid winter as evidence of global warming, Horsey flogged the familiar dead horse that the 2009 stimulus plan would have worked, sigh, if it only been that much more massive. Horsey also opined that conservatives harbor an "odd admiration for Vladimir Putin" (translation-- they're secretly gay), delighted in friction between Mitch McConnell and Kentucky tea partiers, wondered if Obama would be "a better leader for France than for the U.S.?", and worried that Democrats are facing serious "Obamacare blowback" in 2016.
What you will not find in Horsey's cartoons and columns from January through March are the inconvenient names of Rod Wright and Ron Calderon. Alas, continuing this pattern of omission after Leland Yee's arrest would have been too conspicuous, even for Horsey. So he finally weighed in, on April 1 fittingly enough, with a two-panel cartoon showing a generic "state legislator" on the take. In the top panel, the shady pol is taken a wad of cash from an "undercover FBI agent" with a paper bag over his head. In the lower panel, the same shady pol is accepting cash from the same guy, only this time he's labeled "anonymous big money donor."
"Is the welfare of the Bear Republic more threatened by a few legislators who receive illegal bribes or by an entire breed of politicians who take legal campaign donations from unnamed billionaires with an ideological agenda?" Horsey asked. One need not be a weatherman, to borrow from Bob Dylan, to see which way this man's apologia is blowing.
"Hundreds of billions of anonymous dollars" flood the political process year after year, Horsey complained, often from groups with "benign" appealing names such as Americans for Responsible Leadership, Americans for Job Security, the Center to Protect Patient Rights, Moms for Apple Pie and the Flag.
"That last one I made up," Horsey wrote -- just before undercutting his premise. "The other three are real organizations that poured money into California to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown's measure to raise taxes and to support an initiative that would have made it tougher for labor unions to spend money on politics. In both cases, the big money lost (emphasis added), but voters still do not know where the money came from."
Here's where the nefarious Koch brothers make the transition from haunting Horsey's dreams to appearing in his column. "The best guess is that the three front organizations were funded by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who have spread their fortune far and wide to back right-wing candidates and defeat unions, environmentalists, liberals and anyone else who might get in the way of their business interests."
Horsey elaborated on Twitter when he tweeted a link to the cartoon and column, writing this in the tweet --
#Leland Yee may be a bad apple, but donors like the #KochBrothers produce a bad harvest.
Got that? It's really the Kochs to blame for this "bad harvest" of sleazy Democrats.
Just wondering -- if campaign contributions from wealthy donors are legalized bribery in all but name, why do so many politicians still get nailed in bribery stings? I mean, what's the point if you can get the lucre legally?
Funny thing about the Kochs that you'll never hear from the likes of Horsey -- Koch Industries is ranked 59 out of 156 at OpenSecrets.org's list of "Heavy Hitters" who donated to candidates, parties and PACs from 1989 to 2014. Of the 58 donors ahead of Koch, only 12 are solidly Republican.
Meanwhile, over on the left, San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer has given more than $550 million "to fund liberal infrastructure in the United States -- pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-gay marriage, pro-drug legalization, pro-union and pro-government-funded media as well as anti-faith, anti-death penalty and as anti-conservative as they come," according to a 2010 MRC report on George Soros as "Godfather of the Left."
Heaven forbid that Steyer ever face charges after being targeted in an FBI sting. But if he ever did, Horsey would somehow find a way to blame the Kochs instead. After all, it isn't wealthy donors who are corrupting our politics -- it's only wealthy donors who are also conservative. And anyone with a cartoonish view of politics is keenly aware of this.