Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, September 10, 2010

For Your Viewing Pleasure

We think we know why Megan McArdle was on a bit of tear yesterday, especially in relationship to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities graph: Brad DeLong corrected one of her errors and it set off a little party in the comments. McArdle makes a special guest appearance in the comments as well. Go, enjoy! We will have more later, after our work is done.

ADDED: Paul Krugman also corrects McArdle. If McArdle keeps this up she will overplay her hand and destroy her marketability. If she is fired she'll just be replaced by a lower-paid, younger, slightly more clever version, but maybe some day the people who hire the shills will become pariahs as well.

24 comments:

Clever Pseudonym said...

Of course, Brad De Long misunderstood her point...

Susan of Texas said...

Naturally!

She can't let this go. It's too important to her image of herself. This will not end well.

(For her. I'm finding this very entertaining.)

aimai said...

Too funny. I went to college with Brad. The very thought of Megan coming on to this thread to try to move the goalposts is unbelievably funny. She's practically a cartoon version of herself. I guess I'm thinking wile coyote.

aimai

NSFW said...

Hee hee hee. (Not McArdle related, but still under the general rubric of idiotic punditry from the best 'n' brightest.)

Susan of Texas said...

Her feet are still moving, yet the ground is very far away....

Downpuppy said...

Krugman didn't really correct her. It was more a Point & Laugh.

Susan of Texas said...

Why should we have all the fun?

Anonymous said...

But Very Smart People and Serious People are saying it everywhere!

Clever Pseudonym said...

If the comments in that thread under De Long's post didn't actually make Megan cry, she will once and for all prove that she has no heart. People were brutal...and she just keeps coming back for more. It's almost embarrassing that she doesn't know when to give up and crawl under a rock.

aimai said...

Holy Shit Megan doesn't know when to quit. I don't think its her, actually. I just don't think she has the stomach for that much humiliation. I suspect that the husband has been hauled in, like Malkin's husband, to pick up the slack. I'm looking forward that thread hitting the triple digits in comments.

aimai

Clever Pseudonym said...

I keep thinking of that scene in Cool Hand Luke where Luke and Dragline are fighting in the prison yard -- the one where Dragline clearly has Luke beat, but Luke just keeps getting up for more, until he's so weak he can barely pull himself off the ground. Dragline feels so bad he finally walks away and refuses to fight him any longer, with Luke protesting until his last breath.

jp said...

Wow, Clever Pseudonym, it never occurred to me to think of *Cool Hand Luke* as the inspiration for the Black Knight in *Monty Python & the Holy Grail*! (Arms & legs cut off, yelling, "It's just a flesh wound!")

And either way, good analogies for MMcA forced to admit, you know, facts & stuff.

aimai said...

Well, my coup de grace won't post at Brad's. Darn. There's something about McMegan that really ticks me off and I think I finally found the words for it. Here it is. Its like killing flies with a laser cannon, as Miles Vorkosigan says, a bit of overkill but sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do.

Downpuppy is correct, Megan announced at some point that she would vote for Obama, but apparently forgot to register, or to get up that morning. Also, Megan certainly claims to be a libertarian, at least at those moments when Republican is socially awkward to gag up. But her arguments, of course, are no more libertarian than they are logical. Libertarianism is the well known cloak under which policies that favor property owners and rich people are transformed, alchemically, into something that unemployed rubes from the heartland can vote for with some excitement on the theory that one of these days their ship is going to come in, landlocked though they may be. Its actually not very much of a defense of Megan's writing to say that she poses as a Libertarian, and sometimes as a Democrat, but that all her posts end up somehow proving a Conservative or Republican thesis. That's just to say that she lies about who she is, and why she writes what she writes, because its part of her shtick.

I take Megan seriously because I take seriously the notion that the more educated classes have a duty to the country, and to everyone else in the country, not to use their education and their social position (such as it is) to lie or to deceive. Megan claims to be one of the elite, and certainly by birth, privilige, and education (though we have to take that on faith since she shows no sign of having benefitted intellectually from the education she claims to have received) she belongs to the top quarter of the country. Doesn't being one of the elite carry with it some kind of duty? Some kind of show of respect for facts, history, research, scholarship?

I've got no quarrel with an actual conservative--Daniel Larrisson comes to mind--or a very serious libertarian--but Megan is neither. She's a shill, and a hack, and her entire function (as well, apparently, as her personal pleasure) is in selling lies and sewing confusion so she can afford the trappings of the position she thinks she is entitled to. Its funny, of course (if you like dramatic irony), that she is probably paid peanuts to get up every morning and try to skew the public discourse in a way favorable to her masters. I have to believe that her salary at the Atlantic, given what she does for it, could be bettered if she tried to find honest work shoveling real manure in a zoo. But perhaps that level of responsibility is beyond her. Perhaps it doesn't sufficiently exercise her talents for mendacity--a woman who lies about her own self published employment history, claiming to have "chosen" her career in "public service" when she has already told her readers that she was downsized from her real job as a professional money grubber and only fell downward into the Atlantic gig--isn't really going to be happy unless she has a human audience for her fabulations. Still, her money, and Suderman's (I mean, of course, Dick Armey's and later Koch's) keep her in Pink Himalayan Salt and that seems to matter a great deal to her.

On balance I think we owe it to ourselves as a people, and to all Megan's readers, never to let her get away with these shoddy, lying, deceptive little posts. Megan is to economic writing as the Tea Party is to politics. She's a wholly funded subsidiary of corporate interests masquerading as grassroots/self organized. Like the Tea Party she isn't fringe, she isn't epiphenomenal, and she's not a mild irritation. However tedious, clumsy, self dealing and self revealing she is she is also very dangerous because as venal and stupid as she is?--what she's doing to her readership is worse.

aimai

nate said...

Well, it sure posts like heck here! Am I wrong that I have trouble reading attackerman, yglesias, and even Ezra Klein knowing that they're personal friends with McArdle?

It seems petty, but when I read Ackerman's tweets from the wedding, I didn't just throw up in my mouth a little.

Batocchio said...

aimai, don't forget that she claims to be pro-choice, yet parrots pro-life arguments all the time, while ignoring even standard pro-choice arguments and rebuttals. (Hilzoy's posts dissecting McArdle on that and on health care are classics.)

I backtracked through all those posts to read them all, if a bit quickly - and it's both pathetic and unsurprising that even if McMegan had been correct, her point was almost completely irrelevant. CBPP wrote a very solid post on Social Security. Their chart at the end was to underscore the hypocrisy and deception of the supposed deficit hawks who are fighting like hell both for expensive tax giveaways to the rich and cuts to Social Security. That's what made McArdle, inept class warrior princess, spring into action. But even if CBPP's numbers were significantly off – not by a McArdletude, but off – their implicit charge of bad faith would hold up.

It's not just that McMegan is evil, or a liar, or well-paid for being so, but that she's so damn inept at it all.

CLBetley said...

DeLong, Krugman, and commenters in both blog threads have covered the technical issue of why McMegan should just throw in the towel on this one.

Arguing from authority is an McMegan fallacy, but it should be noted that the CBPP report authors have decades of experience in both budgetary accounting and the specifics of Social Security finance. They have doubtless forgotten more about the topics than McMegan can hold in the memory of her 9 digit calculator.

KWillow said...

aimai: If it's worth saying, it's worth saying 3 times!

I think ArgleBargle's shtick is being not only an "expert" in financial matters (but she spent her house downpayment on an expensive wedding and 2 week honeymoon!) but also she is one of the Right's few "intellectuals", speaking from an educated and supposedly high-class viewpoint. A sort of less reactionary, female, Buckley.

Except its all a lie. Just like all the conservative bloggers, with their gun collections to prove what manly warriors they are, tho they never fought in a war.

pseudonymous in nc said...

aimai:

I think the reason that McArdle's rise up the pundit ladder particularly rankles is that it implies three things.

First, that she is as much of a nitwit now as she was when she was swinging her metaphorical 2x4 at dirty hippies seven years ago.

Second, that she has been rewarded specifically for being a useful nitwit with the ability to gather a coterie of sycophants and softballing peers.

Thirdly, that there is clearly nothing that will arrest it other than for her to recant her nitwittery.

Her role as a defender of privilege and wealth means she is a made woman. She is Teflon. Her innumeracy, her capacity for bullshit, her ridiculously narrow worldview, her fundamental callousness: none of these things is sufficient a liability to make her position untenable.

We've watched all this in real time. McArdle has proven that "stupid in service of the powerful" wins the big prizes, and that is an indictment of political media in the US.

Anonymous said...

My apologies for the triple post. As far as I knew there were no posts at all and I was very surprised this morning to see that they had posted like kudzu. I like seeing myself in print but this was embarrassing.

aimai

Substance McGravitas said...

Thanks for the DeLong post. Extraordinarily entertaining.

nanute said...

I've never seen anyone violate the Abraham Lincoln rule with such consistency. "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

Anonymous said...

I think, on reflection, that one of the things that bothers me most about McCardle and the way she's treated is that its the precise reverse of the way liberals are treated. McCardle has been shown up, time and time again, on small points that are really big ones. Look at this example. She doesn't know what present value is? And, digging deeper, she doesn't know that securities securitize? If Molly Ivins (blessed be her name) or Eugene Robinson or any other of the three liberal pundits in the universe were to make a single error like that they'd be hounded off their pages in a New York Minute. The part would stand for the whole. But with Megan somehow she treats the whole thing like a kind of illegitimate nitpicking. I feel as though the more of these you can point to the more her loyal readers (and, apparently, her friends like Kleinman) act like pointing them out is just kinda rude and shows how petty you are. Look at some of those responses on Brad's thread. What about the guy who pointed out, as a defense, that Megan poses as a libertarian but actually sells the conservative line. You'd think that would be problematic--it would be problematic for someone on the left--but not for Megan.

aimai

Smut Clyde said...

Commentary at Tbogg becomes incivil:

Froley September 10th, 2010 at 3:42 pm
I suspect there will be some anger shopping at Zabar’s this weekend.

fish said...

Am I wrong that I have trouble reading attackerman, yglesias, and even Ezra Klein knowing that they're personal friends with McArdle?

Yglesias, the chunky Megan?