Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, June 3, 2016

Cashing In On Death: The Megan McArdle Experience

I have been thinking very carefully about the way I cover the McArdle waterfront and I am deeply ashamed. For far too long over many, many times I have called her as dumb as a stump and now I greatly regret my insults and accusations.

I should have emphasized her corruption above all else, even to the exclusion of all else. I have been far too kind, helping alleviate McArdle's guilt by admitting that she isn't very bright, doesn't understand most of what she reads, and is too incurious and unprofessional to find out the facts. The truth is that she's a malevolent force for evil and one should never let that fact be mitigated in a misguided attempt at fairness.
Can we talk about climate change like civilized adults? Yesterday, I wrote a column asking that question. The response from the internet suggests: "no."
The only discussion we need to have is the one where we decide what we need to do immediately. Anything else is treason on a global scale. McArdle doesn't care what happens to the planet or its poor or, basically, anyone but herself. She is getting rich off of telling people that industry must be allowed to ruin the planet for short-term profits and will happily see everyone else suffer as long as she can have more money to spend.

McArdle wants the rest of the world to indulge in the greatest sin they could ever commit and sentence their descendants and planet to devastation. She wants us to sell out our grandchildren so she can continue to profit from the wingnut welfare circuit. We are hereby ordered, for McArdle's personal benefit, to watch islanders relocate, coastal cities flood, and Indians die from heat by the hundreds right now and see infinitely worse catastrophes in the future--and do next to nothing. Why?

So a spoiled rich girl can get richer.

Multiply that by thousands more spoiled rich kids, sycophants, and sell-outs, all typing their little fingers to the bone, hoping to forestall any consequences for their actions long enough to cash in on the circuit as well. And let's not forget the endless litigation from "public service" organizations, designed to stymie any attempts to save our world. They are paid by the same sources and are just as important. An Army of David Frenches, quivering to defend the Constitution from those who wish to keep it from being corrupted by racism, greed, and religious zealotry.

French pays for his children's private Christian education with that money. It keeps him from having to get a real job, where you are expected to make money for the firm and bring in new clients and spend 10 hour days at a desk pouring over paperwork, or on the phone. Wingnut welfare also extends to his wife, who can have it all by ghost-writing moral lectures for serial unwed mother Bristol Palin while staying home with her young kids. It sure beats working for a living.

Nothing else matters to them. Their world begins and ends with them and their wants and needs. People are dying now and a lot more are going to die in the future from climate change and they can't even begin to envision any circumstance in which they would give an iota of a fuck.

However, nobody on the wingnut welfare circuit can admit they are being paid to lie. They can lie forever, as long as they are not weak enough to admit they are paid ratfuckers. Because they want to preserve and increase their personal wealth, they must use every tactic at their disposal to cover up their crimes against humanity.

A common tactic that the people waging (and winning) the war on behalf of the rich often use is  demanding civility from the losing side. They have all the power, after all. The poor have none. Why should the rich have to listen to the common clay's whining and complaining? One simply tells them to shut up, in the politest way possible, of course.

The elite are envied and feted by the poor, surely the poor will obey the rich when they point out that defending yourself is very impolite. The rich have beautiful manners and everyone wants to be just like them. They don't have to raise their voices to get people to do anything, they just give a cool, quiet order. It's lower class to fight back.
I pointed out that climate activists have a lamentable tendency to slap the "denier" label on everyone who does not consider global warming to be catastrophic and urgent, even if they are completely on board with the basic argument that human CO2 emissions will warm the planet by some amount. This is a purely political attempt to delegitimize dissenters and rally supporters. It is also largely ineffective, and absolutely terrible for the public policy discourse.
McArdle actually thinks she can concern troll liberals into giving in to the oil and refinery companies, into letting people suffer and die while they do nothing but sitting on their asses watching Game of Thrones.

She thinks she can make meaningless concessions to reason and reality while undermining them into uselessness, and she thinks you are going to sit there and let her lie to your face. She thinks she can manipulate liberals' sense of fairness, acceptance of dissent, and respect for an intellectual process to get them to abandon facts, fairness, and reason.

She doesn't have to be good at her work and she usually isn't. It is in posts like this one that we see the real Megan McArdle shine through: Greedy, self-obsessed, petulant, condescending, snide and arrogant. She doesn't give a rat's ass for the public policy discourse. She's paid to pollute it. She and the rest of the propagandists don't get to pretend they are real boy and girl activists, intellectuals, and journalists, and they get no say in whether or not people trying to save their environment will listen to them. They are scum and they should be treated like scum.
I was careful to note, as I wrote, that I am not really myself a "lukewarmist" on climate change; I’m less skeptical of high warming projections than they are, and more importantly, I think that even a relatively small risk of catastrophic warming -- say 1 percent -- is worth ensuring against. It is not the conclusions of the climate activists that I disagree with, so much as their methods of advocating for them. I’d rather see fewer vilifications and more extended debate.
McArdle thinks that if she pretends to give a little, she'll get a little. She doesn't know about global warming and doesn't care. She's just doing a job, which is extending the debate into forever and leaping into action a week from never. To ensure that the gravy train never ends, she wants you to stop calling her a monster so she can get back to being one.

Then he blocked me. You will correctly infer that I was also inundated with other interlocutors on social media and e-mail. Many of them were respectful. Others were … less so. At worst, they suggested, I was a paid shill for fossil fuel interests. (Not so. I accept no pay from anyone other than Bloomberg.) At best, they said, I was a fool who was giving aid and comfort to the enemy. My editor was thusly chided for the column: “shame on you for publishing it, especially if you have children.”
McArdle doesn't care if we believe what she says about her sources of income. She has lied about her sources of income for years.

Declaring that she isn't paid by anyone else is vague enough to hide a multitude of actions. Ever? Now? This year? Pay or donate? What about all the other sources of income she's had over the years, not including her day job?

When McArdle says she "accepts no pay from anyone other than Bloomberg" she could easily mean she donates her time or efforts in the expectation of future profit or out of ideological bias. For instance, Cato hosted an appearance by McArdle to peddle her little book. She wrote the lead article for Cato's discussion on income inequality last year. (Spoiler: she's for it.)

She's scheduled to speak at the "Cato University Summer Seminar on Political Economy" in July. This year she spoke at the libertarian Niskanen Center, stuffed with ex-Cato staffers. Are we supposed to believe that she was not paid, in money or in kind, for any of her extracurricular activities?

What about the American Enterprise Institute, AEI? Here's a talk on poverty, a "book forum" on her book, a "vision talk," and a speech on the pursuit of happiness." Did she do it all for free, paying travel expenses out of her own pocket?

Although she says she does not, McArdle often references such ideological think tanks in her work; they have a symbiotic relationship. And we are not even getting into her connections to the Institute Of Humane Studies, which is related in detail here at the Shame Project.

We know that she belonged to a speaker's bureau and gave talks across the country. Her work is syndicated in multiple newspapers. She published a book (a re-hash of her columns) and went on a book signing and speaking tours to increase sales. She received money from that over the years. There are undoubtedly activities that are unpaid (for example) but it is impossible to believe McArdle's overly broad statement. It's deliberately nearly meaningless.
Look, I understand the bunker mentality that has beset many climate-change activists. Climate skeptics have their own set canards about how climate activists are all crypto-communists and authoritarians looking to force their political views on the world. Too many glibly dismiss climate models entirely because of their high degree of uncertainty, rather than grappling with the downside risks that these uncertain models suggest. In particular, Republican politicians, who have considerable policymaking power, have eschewed making the difficult case that whatever warming will occur is not worth taking radical action to prevent, and instead have resorted to throwing snowballs on the Senate floor.
McArdle carefully does not mention the millions of dollars poured into maintaining our oil-based economy and foreign policy, or the choke hold the oligarchy has on the nation. She reduces the argument to a matter of partisan preferences, the better to drown the argument in rising water.  This omission is journalistic negligence and completely dishonest.
This is understandably frustrating if you think warming is apt to be catastrophic. And the long years of hurling increasingly angry imprecations has radicalized both sides to the point where it’s hard to imagine having anything constructive to say to the folks on the other side.
One side is trying to kill both sides. The denialists should be booted out of public discourse but their masters are too powerful.
I also understand that the climate-change folks get tired of being asked to lay out, yet again, why they believe what they believe. Just yesterday, in fact, I was asked, in re my opposition to Obamacare, if I just didn’t care whether people went bankrupt and died. Since I dove into health-care writing around 2007, I have been asked that question -- well, it can’t really be a hundred million times, can it? But it sure feels like it. I’ve written the answer to that question many times. I’m tired of answering the same (stupid) question. It's a variation on the recurring "Why are you a terrible person?"
We know why she is a terrible person. She takes money to screw over everyone else.
There are stupid people in every policy argument. But I have never encountered a debate where all the stupid people are on one side. And you do not enhance your own side’s reputation for cleverness by dismissing your worst opponents' worst arguments; you win by engaging with your best opponents' best arguments.
This is why I will no longer call McArdle stupid instead of a lying propagandist. It's an excuse for dishonesty. We don't care what that simpering propagandist has to say and her reduction of this terrible situation to a game of winning the dinner party is disgusting.
The name-calling, divisive "debate" around climate change is not just bad science and bad public policy making, but as I noted yesterday, it’s not even good political tactics. If either side could point to a lot of progress and say “Yes, it’s unsavory, but it works” -- well, I still wouldn’t like it, but I’d have to concede that it was effective.
We will overcome and silence the denialists to save ourselves and our world. It's the only way to make them go away. Any half-measures will just encourage them to think they can get away with being liars.
But throughout decades of increasingly angry delegitimization of the skeptics, decades in which the vilification has actually increased in volume even as most of the skeptics have moved toward the activists on the basic scientific questions, the net result in public policy has been very little.
A scientific approach would be to acknowledge that advocates' initial hypothesis -- that name calling will advance the cause -- has failed to be borne out by the experimental evidence. And to start looking for another hypothesis for how to move forward on climate change.
We know how to move forward. Over the corrupt careers of the lying propagandists.


Kathy said...

"A scientific approach would be to acknowledge that advocates' initial hypothesis -- that name calling will advance the cause -- has failed to be borne out by the experimental evidence."

Now THAT'S what a perfect example of a Conservative STRAW-MAN. Huge, bristling with aggression, with a scary mean face and dressed up in a costume of cast-off idiotic Talking Points.

I ask Megan, WHO, exactly, was it hypothesized that calling skeptics names was a good way to establish a "debate" on climate change? No one I know.

The reason the experts and scientists warning about climate-change are shouting and calling you "skeptics" names is not in hopes of "winning" a debate, but because THERE IS NO DEBATE about climate change. IT IS HAPPENING, NOW.

No matter how brilliant (you think) your rationalization that the world is Flat and only 5 thousand years old may be, its still not not a subject to be debated. The planet is billions of years old and it is round. And you are not smart, you're a craven lick-spittle.

OBS said...

That was all terribly uncivil of you! More, please.

Free Range Steve said...


Kathy said...

Susan you deserve a Nobel! Or Pulitzer, but Nobel has more $$$ attached, which you highly deserve!

jp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JP said...

Great takedown, Susan.

The English prof in me is struck by the styling of this little paragraph, truly a marvel of obfuscation. To an undergraduate, I'd say something like: Try saying what you mean, not its opposite; tell the reader what you are instead of what you "are not really yourself"--especially when the referent is a word you've just made up. Find a strong antonym to replace "less skeptical," so that your meaning is clear, and stop interrupting yourself with "I thinks" and parentheticals, which make it hard to follow the meaning of your sentence from beginning to end. But in Megan, these are not writing flaws, but strategies.

**I was careful to note, as I wrote, that I am not really myself a "lukewarmist" on climate change; I’m less skeptical of high warming projections than they are, and more importantly, I think that even a relatively small risk of catastrophic warming -- say 1 percent -- is worth ensuring against.**

Nelson said...

"If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."

Robert M. said...

Ooh, that was a low blow.

Hit her again, harder this time.

mccamj said...

another good job

Susan of Texas said...

Thanks, everyone.