Je suis confus

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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52 Responses

  1. Saul DeGraw says:

    Here is what I think of all these issues:

    1. There is a seeming need for political boogey-men.

    2. Political boogeymen are great for fundraising. NPR Planet’s Money ran a few stories about political fundraising. One Democratic congress person said that he rakes in more money from going negative and talking about all the evil things Republicans do or the Koch brothers do than when he writes something upbeat and positive about his accomplishments and good things happening in the district. A Republican congressperson said roughly the same thing. David Wiegel spent a few weeks mocking the Democratic Party for making big hey of the Koch Brothers and then saw that the Koch Brothers work really well for Democratic fundraising and that only 40 percent of Americans know who they are but a majority of those 40 percent really dislike them.

    3. The Republicans have Geroge Soros, Saul Alinsky, Al Sharpton, and the “gay mafia.” The Democratic Party has the Koch Brothers, Michelle Bachmann and random state senators prone to outrageous comments as boogeymen.

    4. The trick is that people can look at the opposition and see how X is used as a boogeyman but not the other way around.Report

  2. Kolohe says:

    It’s the same exact argument as “If liberals want higher taxes, why aren’t they cutting an additional check to the US Treasury on April 15?”Report

  3. Kim says:

    I fully support their “tax evasion” — seriously, did we expect them not to try and use the law for their benefit??

    I do not support most of what they stand for. Rather vehemently. I know someone who worked for them in the past, and he’s got absolutely nothing nice to say (and what he does say is far from repeatable).Report

  4. Mike Schilling says:

    It doesn’t matter what X is; people as wealthy as the Koch brothers will find a way to turn it to their advantage. But, you know, they worked hard to inherit that much money, so it’s all good.Report

  5. zic says:

    I have observed countless instances of corporations opposing laws, only to turn around and use the rule-making process as an opportunity for regulatory capture.

    Some of the time, it may just be making lemonade from the lemons.

    But there’s some good percentage of this that makes me think the initial opposition was simply a way to distract/hide the intent of regulatory capture, too.Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to zic says:

      This isn’t regulatory capture in the least bit, though. We’re talking about $1.4 million out of a $5 billion fund. The criticism isn’t that Koch Industries isn’t or, all other things being equal, shouldn’t be eligible for the subsidy, which – it should be emphasized – benefits KI employees, not the Kochs personally. It’s that people who were critical of the ACA shouldn’t accept its benefits, even if those benefits flow to their employees.

      The ThinkProgress headline might as well be “Koch Industries Does Right Thing for Employees, Accepts ACA Benefits. For Shame.”Report

      • zic in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        You are potentially right (and doing the right thing is pretty awesome).

        But: to make a case for or against regulatory capture, you’d have to examine the kinds of influence the Koch’s exerted on the law. Because even as they fought against it, I’m pretty certain they also expanded resources to make sure it was shaped to their liking, too.

        /and I did not mean to imply this was/was-not regulatory capture, so much as that it’s common to see businesses lobby against laws during the legislative process and then lobby to gain advantage from those same laws during the rule-making process. This always seems worth pointing out because most folk only think of the legislative process and don’t have much understanding of the other side — where legislation is turned into a workable set of rules; and that’s where I see most regulatory capture happening.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Here is some regulatory capture for you.Report

      • zic in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Food industry is really bad.

        Giant factories get the rules written for not-much-more than a home kitchen all the time.

        I hope, in a parallel universe, there’s some other me happily at work on a book about child safety seats — car seats. Because they got big just when it became profitable for US car manufacturers to sell minivans and SUVs instead of compact cars. If that’s capture, and all those families bought bigger cars (I know we did,) think of all the gas that burned. But think of the children. My understanding that during this time, car seats in Europe didn’t enlarge. They must not love their kids.Report

  6. Jim Heffman says:

    If the government is going to take your money without your consent and use (some of) that money to offer a benefit, then why shouldn’t you take that benefit? It’s what you would have used the money for anyway.Report

  7. Michael Drew says:

    Where’s the claim that the position of anything Koch-fnded should be dismissed out of hand because the Kochs (sometimes) benefit financially from causes they oppose?

    I read the piece; I didn’t see it.Report

    • The piece insists that the causes the Kochs support just so happen to be causes that benefit them financially. I’ve seen the claim made in comments around these parts on a good number of occasions, and it’s not exactly hard to find the phrase “Koch-funded” used as an argument against a given study or position. It’s also implicit in the various “astro-turfing” attacks made a couple of years ago – the claim being essentially that the opposition to the ACA was just “astro-turfed” by the Kochs to benefit the Kochs’ bottom line.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I asked about the “opposed” claim. I don’t see the claim that because the Kochs opposed ACA but have benefitted from it, every position of any entity they support should be dismissed out of hand in the pier you linked to document that claim. Is it there or not?Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        …But even on the more usual “funded” claim – that people say that anything that the Kochs fund should be dismissed out of hand – you’re saying that anywhere we see the phrase “Koch-funded” used in a negative light, that is by definition a claim that the item should be dismissed out of hand? I accept that that claim is made plenty. But every time the phrase appears? It’s prima facie evidence of a claim that the thing in question should be dismissed out of hand every time it appears? It couldn’t in some cases be a claim that it should be treated with somewhat heightened skepticism?Report

      • It’s not directly in there. I’m mostly just trying to point out the absurdity of this line of attack on the Kochs and how at odds it is with the narrative that’s been so carefully developed and pushed over the last several years.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Understood. I don’t think it’s that absurd to point out the interests of people who mobilize vast resources to shape political debate myself. I think it’s more significant to point out when advocacy seemingly advances interests than when interests seem to (or seem to turn out to) conflict with advocacy, but I think the latter is interesting as well.

        What’s absurd is indeed to overdo it and say that someone’s interests make their advocacy out-of-hand dismissible. But that’s why I’m pointing out that the article you link doesn’t do that. It’s fair to point out, especially if all that’s done is to point it out, not make excessive claims about the upshot. It’s context about the modern political economics of communication, and it’s only hyperbole or absurd if it’s hyperbole or absurd. And that piece is not hyperbole or absurd.Report

      • Kim in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        No, astroturf just means they funded it. WHY they funded it is immaterial.
        Santelli helped their bottom line how, anywhichway?Report

  8. Kazzy says:

    If the Koch Brothers don’t want me to hate them, they should appeal to free market principles to secure my affection. $3M would be a good starting point.

    (Note: I don’t actually hate the Koch Brothers.)Report

  9. zic says:

    Slightly off topic, but a good place to ask:

    The Tribune is spinning off it’s publication division.

    This has some history, including the LA Times and Chicago Trib being on the auction block and the Koch Broths. trying to purchase, and the city council threatening to use pension plan investments in protest.

    I would very much like to discuss this, if anyone with local and with a legal knowledge (hint hint hint) would like to dedicate some time here, I’d be much obliged. Do we know who the potential shareholders might be and FCC control over that ownership? And what are the the city council’s rights to use pension investments as a political lever here?Report

    • StevetheCat in reply to zic says:

      The newspapers are being spun off as an independent entity – spun off to die!
      Tribune is keeping the valuable properties (tv stations) and sticking the newspapers with more debt to boot.
      I wouldn’t worry about ideological control of the newspapers.
      Tribune Publishing will be bankrupt in 5, 10 years max.Report

      • zic in reply to StevetheCat says:

        So they’re pulling a Romney.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to StevetheCat says:


        Why should they let a money-losing division drag down the rest of their business?

        And if someone else thinks they can make money off the newspaper division and wants to invest their money to give it a try, why shouldn’t Tribune take them up on their offer?

        I don’t get what there is to snark about here.Report

      • zic in reply to StevetheCat says:

        On the one hand, yes.

        On the other, loading them with crippling debt beyond their current operating costs might cross some ethical line that bears examining.

        Additionally, newspapers and journalism serve a public benefit, and that might have some bearing on that ethical line.Report

  10. zic says:

    On some level, isn’t this Warren’s, “You didn’t build that,” argument?

    It’s certainly a luntzed™ term, no different then ‘liberal elite media’ or ‘welfare queen,’ or ‘tax and spend democrat.’ Usually when I read it, I give less import to the argument, it indicates lack of thought and talking point.Report

  11. trizzlor says:

    I thought the narrative was that anything that is “Koch-funded” is inherently evil and should be dismissed out of hand as corporate astro-turfing because (unlike George Soros, who’s totally ok) they only give money to causes that benefit them financially.

    The argument I’ve heard (e.g. here) is that the Koch’s talk about being against cronyism of all sorts but devote substantially more energy to advocating against social programs rather than against corporate cronyism. Basically, they’ve inverted the old theory that libertarians should Cut taxes from the bottom up and welfare from the top down.. As the linked post notes, it’s completely unimaginable that Republicans would shut down government over corporate-welfare they way they did over the perceived health-care welfare of the ACA. I think it’s a point worth making that if someone claims to be for the free market but focuses on dismantling only the cronyism that benefits the least powerful (and not him), maybe he’s not really for the free market.Report

  12. Nob Akimoto says:

    I think for this to be confusing, you’d have to check if the Kochs benefit more from the lack of an ACA than they do from all the subsidies they’d get from it. That is since they can’t have A, they’ll take B instead of C. But for the confusion to last, it would have to be that B > A in a substantial fashion.Report

  13. Brandon Berg says:

    When the facts change, I change my mind rationalization. What do you do, sir?Report