Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, October 3, 2011

More Memories

The crimes of Koch Industries are finally making some news. Since we are revisiting the past today, let's take a look at Megan McArdle's defense of The Brothers Grimm against accusations of supporting supposed grass-roots tea parties behind the scenes.

The question is whether, as [Yasha Levine and Mark Ames] basically asserted, Charles Koch masterminded a vast attempt to create the impression of popular support for a project in order to apply political pressure, while hiding his involvement through front groups that manufactured wholly imaginary popular support.

As far as I can tell, FreedomWorks a) isn't funded by Charles Koch and b) hasn't hidden its involvement. Their central thesis does not jibe with the facts available to me. Indeed, it seems deeply weird, because getting tea and a hundred or so people together in front of a government building isn't exactly an expensive endeavor. Last I heard, the DC operation was borrowing the megaphone they used, and getting the tea for free from some tea company.

This doesn't mean I endorse what FreedomWorks does--I frankly don't know enough about the organization to have an opinion on its operations. It merely seemed to me that their specific charges about the tea parties were insufficiently backed up with specific facts. Playboy has published some great journalism in its time. The ratio of speculation-to-evidence in the Levine and Ames piece was thus disappointing, especially since it was rapidly taken up as gospel truth by substantial sections of the lefty blogosphere.

Perhaps Yasha Levine and Mark Ames have some hard facts--or hell, even an untrustworthy anonymous source--who can substantiate some of these claims. If so, I wish they would provide them. Or at the very least, stop hurling unsubstantiated accusations at anyone who dares to point out the weaknesses in their case.

Of course McArdle was wrong, which is especially embarrassing since her husband is a former Koch rat-fucker and evidently lied to her by omission regarding the Koches' fake grass-roots activity.

Full disclosure: It's pretty much an open secret in DC, but given the content of the article I'm discussing, I think I ought to mention that I live with Peter Suderman, who once worked for Freedomworks. Other than giving me the name of the right employee to email to make inquiries (no word back yet), I haven't asked him about his former employer, and he hasn't told me anything. I debated whether to write about this, but since I'm not actually defending Freedomworks, I think it's kosher.

McArdle wrote five posts denying Ames and Levine's Koch articles and her live-in boyfriend, her "soul mate" and the love of her life, said nothing, evidently preferring to let her look like a fool rather than admit the Koches paid for fake grass-roots campaigns.


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like Megan is making the "Sgt. Schultz" defense: "I know nothing, nothing" about the Tea Party....

Anonymous said...

she and her followers really take offense at any suggestion of meg's kochwhoring. usually by pointing out how unfair the soros meme is. but that won't stop them from invoking soros going forward.

Batocchio said...

Do you think Suderman really lied to her, or she always knew, and just thought it'd be a good piece of propaganda to use on her groupies?

Alternatively, if he did lie to her to cover his own ass even at her expense, and she later confronted him, as he stood there holding a copy of Atlas Shrugged - don't you think that was the moment she truly fell in love?

(Well, what passes for it for glibertarians.)

aimai said...

In what way is she not "defending" Freedomworks in that original post? Because she refused to do the least amount of due diligence? Is she not writing the blog post itself because it is based on sending out emails to Freedomworks which have yet to be answered, and fucking a former Freedomworks hack who doesn't talk to her? Is that what "not defending" means? That refusal to perform her goddamned journalistic function means that anything goes?

I'm trying to think what that would look like in another profession but I'm at a loss. I sold your rotten meat in my diner but because I didn't tell you the meat was good to start with I'm not at fault?


Susan of Texas said...

I think she knew and didn't care, then made up excuses to justify the fact that she didn't care as long as the money kept rolling in.

Unfortunately for her, because she lied to everyone/herself she opens herself to accusations that her husband lied to her. She can't tell the truth so one of them will have to look like a liar, and we know which one she picked.

Susan of Texas said...

Aimai, yes, she certainly is defending them. She's so twisted into knots by her lying that she probably couldn't think straight if she tried.

Maybe--it's like a lawyer who throws his client's case because the plaintiff is paying the lawyer, out in the open and not under the table. And everyone accepts it because that's how things are done. The person who can pay off the most lawyers wins.

Which is kind of how the legal system can be at times as well. Lots of people can't afford to sue anymore because they can't afford to pay lawyers and their staff for discovery, investigation, experts, serving papers, and filing fees.

Millionaires and billionaires buy journalists and we can't afford to pay enough journalists to counter their lies. Worse of all, everything hinges on people's willingness to accept facts that they don't like, and people don't seem to want to do that.

atat said...

It's almost as if she really believes that the solution to the conflict of interest problem was to remain as ignorant about FreedomWorks as she possibly could.

"I haven't asked him about his former employer, and he hasn't told me anything."

"This doesn't mean I endorse what FreedomWorks does--I frankly don't know enough about the organization to have an opinion on its operations."

Susan of Texas said...

Her idea of conflict of interest is fascinating, in a horrifying way. She believes that announcing a conflict of interest cancels that conflict. Remember that for authoritarians, public obeisance to the tribe's rule is the same as obedience to the tribe's rules. Actually following the rules is besides the point. If you are caught you confess and your sin joins the enormous list of things authoritarians won't let themselves think about or let each other talk about. Religion is very useful to authoritarians.

McArdle believes that it doesn't matter if you have a conflict of interest if you admit you have a conflict of interest. Admitting it seems to mean that of course you can't be biased because you are not hiding your self-interest.

This implies McArdle thinks that self-interest is a positive thing. Gratifying her self-interest is both a religion/ideology (she's a High Priestess of Randism) and psychologically gratifying. It becomes a vicious circle in which her emotional needs reinforce her political beliefs which reinforce her emotional needs. It is very difficult to break the bond between the two; this is why politics becomes life or death to some people. They are not fighting for political leadership, they are fighting to satisfy emotional needs.

McArdle also implies that she is and always will be acting impartially and fairly, which is why she thinks conflicts of interest will not sway her. We all want to think well of ourselves and McArdle wants to think well of herself very, very much--the greater the insecurity/pain, the greater the need. Therefore she must defend herself whenever she is questioned and subsequently repress the entire experience. Finally she rationalizes any criticism by telling herself that everyone is just a jealous or mean and their remarks are void and null.

It's exhausting to be authoritarian.

Batocchio said...

atat and Susan, you're hitting on an important aspect of her game. Like Bush, McMegan cloaks herself in deliberate ignorance – although unlike Bush, she presents herself as an intellectual. And the weird thing in this episode is she trumpets her deliberate ignorance. Yes, she likes to pretend that announcing a conflict of interest somehow negates it, but normally, she likes to pretend to be smart.

Facing off with Taibbi a while back , she tried to say, 'no one can truly know whether Goldman Sachs did anything wrong,' but Taibbi declared he had indeed read the report in question. (Boy, did she look peeved.) Somehow, McMegan knows when people should be condemned, but she also knows that no one knows anything when her side deserves reproach. Why, asking her own boyfriend a key fact about his employer is a mystery that passeth all understanding. And if McMegan doesn't know, why -- no one can!

Kathy said...

Reading Susan's remarks, and the replies given her by arglebarble & others is a splendid example of conservative "argumentation" (not to be confused with:

Their method looks to be both instinctual and learned... a lot of blibber blabber full of unsubstantiated "facts" Government doesn't work!, vague "opinions" based on nothing perceivable, and a whole lot of repetition. Plus, last-but-not-least: imperviousness to outside input.

Arguing with arglebargle or her acolytes is like shouting at the TV, except you can throw things at the TV.