Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Sunday, October 23, 2016

How The Right Is Paid To Say The Right Has Reformed On Prisons

The middle class.

Every Megan McArdle post is an archaeological dig. The deeper you go, the more information you gather. Finally you find the skeleton in the dank trench of McArdle's mind, which invariably belongs to the tribe of Koch.

McArdle addressed prison reform recently in an interview with Steve Teles, and we see that as McArdle goes, so goes the world, if the world is the Kochtopus:
One of the heartening developments of the last few years has been the emergence of a serious movement for prison reform on the right. These people are not simply coming over to the left-wing side; they have their own ideas about de-escalating mass incarceration, and an increasingly serious commitment to doing so.
The reality is far different from McArdle's fantasy, as Charles Pierce said recently while discussing McArdle's heartthrob, Paul Ryan. For decades, the Republican party pumped law and order to feed anger and fear, and is now suffering the consequences.
No, the prion disease cannot be stopped nor, increasingly, can its symptoms be ameliorated. Watch carefully, because by next January, they will be telling you that the biggest damage to the Trump campaign was wrought by Access Hollywood, and not the half-understood Heritage Society nostrums the Trump campaign embraced because its candidate didn't know any better. Exhibit B can be found in Friday's New York Times, in which we find deep sympathy for Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, as he wanders through his own personal ideological Gethsemane[...]
The Heritage Society will come up again.
"Criminal-justice issues?" Those are already dead in a Republican electorate that reformed itself into a defense committee for brutal cops; their untimely passing was noted by no less a star than Tom Cotton, to The Washington Times:
Asked why he thought the movement on the reform package is dead, Mr. Cotton said many lawmakers think releasing more people from prison will increase crime rates across the country. "It's deeply divisive within the Senate and the House as well, in part because there are a large number of senators and congressmen who do not think criminals are victims; they think criminals are criminals," the Arkansas Republican said. "Not many senators or congressmen want to be responsible for the murder or rape of innocent civilians out on the street." Noting that the prison population is already on the decline and recent 2016 crime data from major cities is pointing to an uptick in violent crime, Mr. Cotton said he worried that the country "may be at the leading edge of new crime wave." "The truth is you cannot decrease the severity and certainty of sentences without increasing crime," he said. "It's simply impossible. The bill's sponsors rarely speak of this trade-off."
It should be noted that the principal author of the bill that Cotton sang into its grave was Chuck Grassley, Republican from Iowa, the very man who invited Cotton to speak there last week. Who's the party going to listen to there?
So no, the right has not reformed on criminal justice. Which leads us to the next question: who is Steve Teles, and why is he claiming the right has reformed on reform? From the Johns Hopkins website:
Steven M. Teles (, associate professor of political science, came from the University of Maryland, where he was an associate professor of public policy, and from Yale Law School, where he was a visiting lecturer. His areas of specialty include social policy, law and public policy, and political analysis. “I’m slightly out of the mainstream of regular American political science. I don’t do game theory or highly quantitative work,” Teles says. “I’m interested in the role of ideas. I do qualitative work in archives. Hopkins has got to be one of the best, if not the best, departments outside the mainstream of ordinary political sciences. It’s extraordinarily exciting to work with so many people I respect whose work dovetails with the work I do.”
Teles earned his PhD from the University of Virginia and completed postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University’s Center for American Political Studies and Princeton University. He is the author and co-author of several books including The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement (Princeton University Press, 2008), in which he charts the success of the conservative legal establishment. His research for the book included accessing the private archives of the Olin Foundation, the Federalist Society, and other organizations. “I was interested in things other people weren’t—where does the organization of a movement come from and what are their challenges?” he says. He is currently at work on a number of projects, including a book on political analysis and policy design. Teles’ non-academic interests include skiing and discovering the best ethnic restaurants in the area.
Mr. Telnes is an independent thinker.
Teles’ central interest is in the interaction of public policy and processes of organizational genesis and change. How do movements create new kinds of organizations, how do funding processes influence the kinds of organizations that are created, how do those organizations take (and change) positions, and how do all these actions eventually influence what government actually does? He attacks these larger theoretical questions by talking directly with political activists and funders (among others), and digging into organizational papers. He has written for a number of popular publications, but his most important civic involvement today is as an editorial board member of The Washington Monthly, where he also contributes most of his non-academic writing. He also gives talks to Federalist Society chapters on a fairly regular basis, which gives him a chance to meet conservatives across the country and, he hopes, build some bridges to them.

Mr. Teles discussed our country's "kludgeocracy" with Clinton administration tea cup poodle Ezra Klein a few years ago, revealing that the government is interfering with the free market, to the market's detriment. He also has found that the government is preventing the free market from rewarding innovation and hard work by redistributing wealth upwards for the rich. In fact, most of America's ills are due to our refusal to let the free market do its magic unencumbered.

His interests are many, and he wrote a book called "Prison Break: How Conservatives Turned Against Mass Incarceration, which describes how anti-statism has turned the right soft on crime. In his interview with McArdle, Teles mentions "a huge group of conservatives who are part of the "Right on Crime" movement." From here on, it's a well-worn path back to the usual suspects, far-right wing billionaires.
"Right on Crime is a project of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank.[3]
Of course it is.

So who is the Texas Public Policy Foundation?
The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) is a conservative think tank based in Austin, Texas. It is a member of the State Policy Network, a network of free-market oriented think tanks.
Heavens! A network that reaches out to every state, or at least every one that might be useful? That sounds very organized and very expensive.

The State Policy Network was founded in 1992 by Thomas A. Roe,[14] a South Carolina businessman who was a member of the board of trustees of The Heritage Foundation.[15]
In 2011, Mother Jones reported that SPN is largely funded by donations from foundations, including the Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation, the Castle Rock Foundation, and the Bradley Foundation.[15] A 2013 article by The Guardian said that SPN received funding from the Koch brothers, Philip Morris, Kraft Foods and GlaxoSmithKline.[24] Other corporate donors to SPN have included Facebook, Microsoft, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and Comcast.[33][34] Between 2008 and 2013, SPN received $10 million from Donors Trust, a nonprofit donor-advised fund. In 2011, the approximately $2 million investment from Donors Trust accounted for about 40% of annual revenue.[35]
 Yes, conservatives have changed the way they think, moving from law and order to prison reform. Those crowds chanting "Lock her up!" to Hillary Clinton really meant "Put her on soft probation!"

It's going to be interesting to watch the elite's servants on the right retreat further and further into their fantasy of a reform-based, winning Republican Party. The reality will be a shrieking descent into madness as the alt-right-curious purge the party of Ryan and everyone else that lost the election for them.


Downpuppy said...

Hates math + Loves "Free Markets" = Shill

mccamj said...

If the prison population declines in a year when any statistic on crime can be shown to have increased obviously we have released criminals into the wild. So we can't do that.

If the prison population doesn't decline in a year when any statistic on crime can be shown to have increased obviously we need to incarcerate more people.

If the prison population declines look for a statistic about crime that can be shown to have gotten worse.

If the prison population doesn't decline - well keep up God's work!

I understand that people can be afraid of crime and violence. I just wish I didn't have to hear or read Tom Cotton. Guys like Telnes are everywhere.

Dr.BDH said...

"The reality will be a shrieking descent into madness as the alt-right-curious purge the party of Ryan and everyone else that lost the election for them."

Yes. Ryan will be re-elected, of course. For some reason they love him in Janesville. But assuming the Republicans keep control of the House, I expect the wingnut caucus to vote him out of his Speaker's chair in favor of some true believer, like Gomert.

DocAmazing said...

It's worth noting two things: first, the Kochs are invested in Corrections Corporation of America, the private-prison people; second, the donor class is aware that there is a nonzero chance that the next big financial-services blowout will result in Someone Who Matters being hauled before the bar, so they're trying to reform "nonviolent crime" ASAP before they get charged with one. (Please note that their formulations often cast much drug-related crime as "violent" because someone somewhere in the production and distribution chain Had A Gun.

gromet said...

"Ethnic" restaurants! He's out there "discovering" them, like a modern-day Columbus!