Guilt By Association



Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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126 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.Report

  2. Avatar notme says:

    Meh, the $25 million would have been better spent buying elections and denying climate change because that after all, is all the Kochs doReport

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    So the way to wage political view warfare is to donate to causes you’re sure will result in other doner/supports being so outraged as to cease all further support? Score!Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Pity that doesn’t work with supporting Israel.
      (note: not actually upset at Zionists taking money from people who want them to be destroyed in the War to End all Wars).Report

  4. Avatar Chris says:

    Politically, this country has lost its ever-lovin’ mind.

    Earlier today I saw people saying they wouldn’t go to Franklin BBQ ’cause the President went there.

    Ever lovin’ mind.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      If I refuse to go to Franklin, arguably, the only person I’m hurting is myself. (Do they do burnt ends? That’s the best part, right there. With the spicy beans.)

      It’s easy for me to see the AFSCME as the bad guys because I’m pre-disposed to that anyway. As such, I’m wondering whether this is one of those things where they were the union hardest hit by the Not Hobby Lobby decision and they’re acting stupid due to being in the absolute wrong head space.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        When the AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) took a substantial donation from Coca-Cola, there was a huge outcry because many in the membership felt that the alliance was detrimental to the purpose of the AAFP, which was the public health.

        I keep trying to fit that into the framework of this, but I’m having a lot of trouble doing so. I suppose if the AFSCME believes that the UNCF’s mission extends beyond sending African-American kids (and adults, maybe) to college, and towards the liberal project more generally, then I can sort of make sense of it. Taking this as the case, it takes an awful lot of squinting and head-tilting to see this as something other than an admission that their alliance with the UNCF was one of political convenience rather than more lofty ones.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Great point, Will.

        If the UNCF stops sending African-Americans to college and starts sending Koch relatives and friends… well, yea, that is obviously going to be a problem. But if this money allows the UNCF to do what it does better with little going back towards the Koch brothers other than appreciation from the UNCF and those it serves, I struggle to see really objecting. I mean, I guess on principle it could be argued that the UNCF is allowing the Koch brothers to garner some positive PR by accepting the money but, A) why is that necessarily a bad thing and B) even if it were a bad thing, I think it’d be far outweighed by the hundreds of kids who are going to get a college education who might otherwise not have.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        it’s NEVER about the positive PR. It’s ALWAYS about the strings attached. The Kochs could have given a fully anonymous donation (‘swhat we do, after all).Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Oh yeah, I get that Franklin and the college funds are different things, much more serious than swearing off BBQ that you probably don’t want to stand in line for 5 hours to get anyway. I was just amazed that it was the second instance of this sort of inane guilt by association that I’d seen yesterday, and it struck me that, as I believe I’ve said before, we’re fucked.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        The late and oft-lamented Scaife actually contributed to the Clinton’s foundation.

        I’m not sure if that says “we’re not quite so fucked” or just “Bill can talk a salmon out of the sea”Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        You got evidence that the donation had strings attached?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “You got evidence that the donation had strings attached?”

        The fact that you can’t see any strings is all the more proof that they exist, come on bro this is like basic Conspiracy Theory reasoning here.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Nevermind, I see the link below.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I ain’t never said one goddamn thing about the Kochs which wasn’t the truth as I know it.
        Now, I may be wrong, but I ain’t gonna lie about folks for no reason whatsoever.
        You ain’t worked for ’em, have you?
        Kindly shut the fuck up about Conspiracy Theories.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:


        Kindly shut the fuck up…

        You first. The sooner the better. We’re all better off when you’re quiet.Report

      • Avatar notme says:


        Sure the donation could be anonymous but then Harry Reid would be complaining on the Senate floor that the Koch’s hate black people and don’t share their money. I’m surprised he hasn’t said that already.Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Some money has koodies on it.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      BBQ can’t have kooties, though. Especially BBQ declared the best in the country last year.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        But it’s liberal BBQ!

        I’ll only eat there if they let me open carry!Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Is it that good? When we were there, we refused to wait in the line despite staying right across the street. I hate lines.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        “I hate lines.”

        For a small fee, I can place you advantageously in one…Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        It’s freakin’ Texas. Yes, they’d let you opencarry. Hell, you’d probably get high fives (assuming you were wearing a holstered pistol, and not a rifle. Rifles in cities are weird. And I don’t care if it’s legal to hunt in the city, like it is here.).

        It is freakin’ WEIRD wandering around Austin. Having the person next to you say, “Folks are awful jumpy in this neighborhood — most of ’em have guns.”Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The brisket is really, really good. The ribs suck.

        The line is now up to about 5 hours, though, and the brisket ain’t 5 hours in line good.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Also, for any of ya’ll coming to Austin anytime soon, there is better brisket. I will be happy to tell you about it if you agree to buy me some. 😉Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

        You can order ahead for Franklin (which we did a month ago). No one who actually cares about brisket will do anything BUT order ahead, really.

        La Barbecue, John Mueller, and perhaps Terry Black’s all have comparable brisket. La’s is probably the best flavored of them, but I find that their sauce doesn’t measure up.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Yeah, you have to order it 2 weeks in advance, right? We did that once, maybe back in January.

        La Barbecue is good, but they piss me off with the pricing (I like to get brisket sandwiches for lunch, but theirs is tiny and more expensive than Franklin).Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Well, that tears it. Looks like it’s brisket sandwich for lunch.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        The line is now up to about 5 hours, though, and the brisket ain’t 5 hours in line good.

        Even if at the end of it you can vote?Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

        La also has an ever expanding line that will, eventually, make it just as unbearable a destination as Franklin. (And again, I find their sauce to suck, which to me is a deal breaker.)

        Also, brisket feels a little played out. Innovation is kind of neat to see like how Live Oak or Mickelwaithe work on their rotating offerings, or Sam’s does mutton.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        brisket feels a little played out.

        Gah. Austin even has meat hipsters.

        “Yeah, fried chicken used to be OK, you know, but have you tried fried ostrich?”Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Austin didn’t even know what fried chicken was until Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken got here.

        Now we just need Prince’s Hot Chicken, and we’re solid.

        (Right now, I can’t eat either of those. Ugh.Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

        Glyph, it’s okay to be jealous of Austin’s vast varieties of brisket, but the reality is that when you see it on EVERY bbq place’s menu and there’s so many mediocre offerings, you get the impression that innovation’s not going to be coming from there.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @nobakimoto As usual, I was mostly just screwin’ around – and yeah, things can reach saturation point – but when it comes to BBQ, ‘innovation’ isn’t necessarily what I want. I want tradition, honed to perfection.

        As an aside, has anyone ever noticed that there’s generally an inverse relationship between the cleanliness and the deliciousness of a BBQ joint? My favorite pulled pork sandwich anywhere, ever, is served in a highly-questionable place that I have no idea how the Health Department hasn’t shut it down ten times over (I suspect bribery).

        Maybe it’s the insect legs that give the sauce its flavor.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

      If The Game of Cootie is to be believed, it is spelled “cooties”.Report

  6. Avatar greginak says:

    If AFSCME wants a worthy charity to not take a pile of money they could offer to replace the Koch’s money. They can make their statement, show their dedication to this good charity and, most importantly, not screw over the kids that could be helped by all that filthy lucre.Report

  7. Avatar Kim says:

    Strings Attached. I’m not sure what they are, but I’m kinda curious.
    Oh, here we go:

    Is this a takeover? Not quite, but it’s pretty damn close.
    UNCF, you’re selling yourself cheap.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      Didn’t Cato end up losing itself through something similar? Or was it Heritage? Or was it some other set of shenanigans?

      *shrug*. I don’t know if I (were I so important) would pull my support entirely due to the Koch’s donations, but if I were the UNCF I’m not sure I’d accept their donation either given those strings.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      The selection committee requirement is definitely non-trivial.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The argument from that article is that the money will have strings attached. It does not, however, say what those strings are.

      The research I’m doing seems to indicate that the strings are these:
      The agreement between the UNCF and the Koch organizations specifies that, for the scholarships, “an advisory board consisting of two UNCF representatives, two Koch representatives, and one faculty member from an existing school will be created to review scholarship applications and select recipients. Recipients will be selected based on their academic achievements as well as their interest in the program’s fields of study.”

      As strings go, that doesn’t strike me as a dealbreaker.

      But I am one of those white libertarian types.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I’d put it as “worth watching”, and honestly just watch.

        But the UNCF used to be totally controlled by the Rockefellers’ men. So, um, I can see where folks might be a little more sensitive to “selling out.”

        Personally, this just screams “greenwashing” to me (“whitewashing”?), of some rather evil people. Which means it’s probably less nefarious than it looks.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        Jaybird, the assumption is that Kock money has strings attached.

        Second, it’s not ‘Guilt By Association’, but ‘Guilt By Being Paid’.
        If you hang out with Joe, that’s one thing; if Joe writes you checks, that’s quite another.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Jaybird, the assumption is that Kock money has strings attached.
        It’s not an assumption, it’s spelled out. Whether you think they’re significant strings or not is a matter of judgement, of course, but that they exist is spelled out in the article.Report

  8. Avatar Barry says:

    From (

    “In many ways, the playbook deployed by the Kochs today through myriad organizations resembles a more sophisticated (and expensive) playbook of the John Birch Society back then. Even the recent announcement of the Kochs to give a $25 million gift to the United Negro College Fund (with strings attached requiring the recruitment of free market African American college students) echoes that past. “Report

  9. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I agree with @jaybird that the AFSCME could offer a counter gift, although if this is accurate, they would be hard pressed to match the gift.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      If they don’t have cash (and, hey, sometimes one doesn’t), then they should offer something like in-kind services. Opportunities to the front of the line for new graduates. If there is *ANYTHING* that I can think of that would give libertarian antibodies, it’s a union job.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Very true. What better way to counter the potential influence of the Koch brothers gift & committee slots than by further engaging with UNCF students, rather than withdrawing.

        Unless, of course, you are pretty sure you can’t have a greater effect by working with students directly than the Kochs can have by deciding where money goes, because, you know, what you have to offer is crap.

        But who are we kidding, this isn’t about students, it’s about signalling. The Kochs, strings aside, are signalling that they care about the UNCF mission & want to be involved. The AFSCME is signalling that they can’t be adults and work with people they disagree with in order to provide better futures for young people.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I think you and I disagree strongly on the people who are adults.
        I don’t consider running a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to be adult behavior,
        but maybe that’s just bloody me.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Oh please, Right Wing Conspiracy, blah blah blah…


        Wait, didn’t you just yell at @jim-heffman up above to, and I quote:

        Kindly shut the fuck up about Conspiracy Theories.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        You realize you is talking about a dead man? Arkansas Group be ringin’ any bells?
        Yeah, It ain’t exactly funny, all that stuff about Vince Foster and all that, now is it?

        Geez, I was just Quoting Hillary. It was Ironic, or it was until you missed the joke.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        It’s not a joke, at least not a good one, if I have to find the punchline on conspiracy blogs & websites.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        wikipedia’s got you covered.
        Decent chap, for a libertarian.
        (and yes, the Arkansas thing was still immature and unmannerly)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        The Kochs, strings aside, are signalling that they care about the UNCF mission & want to be involved.

        But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?Report

    • Avatar notme says:


      The union can always raise dues. Isn’t that what they do?Report

  10. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    The point of the Koch’s gift was to give the AFSCME a chance to show what they mean when they say “we support opportunities for minority professionals”. It turns out that what they mean is that they don’t actually mean it.Report

  11. Avatar zic says:

    My MIL passed away, and my sweetie spent last week there; this week away teaching, and next week we have to return to help settle her estate. So no lawn mowing. I cannot do it, and so he asked me to have it taken care of.

    There are lots of small businesses that provide this service locally. One gentleman, in particular, is a fixture of the neighborhood, always working his butt off. Drives around in a truck covered with Jesus and Romney political stickers. So I hired him. He works hard, and despite his political preferences so obviously displayed, I didn’t want to be doing this very kind of thing. (And this was a very deliberated decision, sort of an up-yours action to some of the scathing I’ve been reading by Dreher.)

    I wish I felt as free to express my atheism as my new lawn-mower man is to express his religiosity. I suspect if he knew the truth, he would not work for me.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


      His loss. I’ve always found Christian money spends just as easily as any other. Despite my irreligiousness, I’m always happy to work for the faithful.

      The nice ones offer cookies & lemonade, even if it does come with a meaningless prayer of thanks.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      Sorry for your family’s loss. My condolences.Report

  12. Avatar DRS says:

    As a professional development officer (fundraiser to you), I can state with quite a bit of certainty that donations with strings attached – ANY strings attached – are unlikely to be accepted. Hopefully. If a donor supports your org’s work, then conditions should not apply. (This is not the same thing as designating a gift to a specific are like research or scholarships or equipment needs.)

    It’s one of the myths that I’ve run into at many orgs that wealthy people are just waiting to give money so that they can order people around and make you change the mission or stop doing what you’re doing. I point out that donors are more likely to ignore orgs they disagree with entirely. Think about it: if you suddenly became insanely wealthy, would your first thought be “Ah ha! Now I can donate to the Food Bank and force them to reject canned goods!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Of course not.


    That two Koch representatives should have any place at the table when scholarship recipients are being considered and selected is way the hell over the line and I believe the UNCF should have rejected the donation rather than agree. Bad form, UNCF.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      Ah, hush. Don’t bring reality and common standards into it. It takes all the fun out of things.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      As of last year, UNCF had $200M+, so a donation of 12.5% their nominal assets is pretty nice.

      One thing to consider, and maybe @drs can comment on this, is we are only getting part of the story. Are there other details regarding the terms & conditions that constrain the Koch influence? Is that common?

      Unless the details of the gift are subject to open records, we may never know.Report

      • Avatar DRS says:

        Not sure what you’re asking here: do you mean the “strings” aren’t as bad as they seem? I don’t see how: maybe something like “Koch reps can sit at the decision-making table but we’ll ignore them and make fun of their ties”. Really bad decision-making on the part of UNCF.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Actually, yes.

        I’ve been on plenty of academic committees where certain people were there, and officially on the committee, but only as a formality/courtesy. Hell, I’ve been the guy who was only there as formality (mainly because the committee needed someone to advise them on technical matters, so I was appointed, but outside of the technical feasibility of something, my input was given zero consideration).Report

      • Avatar DRS says:

        “…an advisory board consisting of two UNCF representatives, two Koch representatives, and one faculty member from an existing school will be created to review scholarship applications and select recipients.”

        MRS – This doesn’t read like an invitation just to be in the room. This describes the composition of a decision-making committee. I too have organized and participated in meetings where donors or special guests were invited to witness or observe. That kind of thing is covered under donor stewardship. This reads differently.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        I’m still not sure that overall it would be a bad thing for the UNCF mission, but I will accept your judgement regarding the unusual nature of the concession.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Bad form, UNCF.

      This is foreign to me. I read the story and I think “Bad form, AFSCME.”Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Why wouldn’t you? I’d gather you don’t work with the finances of charitable organizations, and the story mentions the strings the Kochs required, but made no mention as to whether such things were common — or commonly accepted. (Indeed, all I know about such things is what DRS just said, which seems to make sense to me. I’ve only donated to charities, never run one or handled fundraising)

        It’s not a hit piece, it’s just journalism as it’s routinely practiced — it’s missing important context, probably because the guy or girl who wrote the copy just had a few press releases and no real context either.

        The days of people with domain knowledge covering a given beat are long over.Report

      • Avatar DRS says:

        There’s plenty of bad form to go around, Jaybird.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      This is curious to me. I work in independent schools and donations matter a ton. I’ve never been in the development officer (I mean, I’ve physically stepped foot in the office, but I’ve never been a part of it… you know what I mean) but I’ve had many people make it fairly clear that big donors generally expect certain perks to go along with those donations. They may not be in the form of an official string attached or even a wink-wink-nudge-nudge quid pro quo. Rather, they feel empowered by their elevated stature in — their elevated worth to — the institution and, as a result, often attempt to leverage this. It might be something small (e.g., “I want Susie to be in Mr. Smith’s class instead of Mrs. Jones’s class”) and the administration can respond in a number of ways, but that expectation seems to be a fairly common thing, with the hammer being dropped by ceasing or limiting future donations.

      Does this not fit with your experiences?

      Important to note that, per an essay I wrote a few months back, this isn’t necessarily an awful thing. Giving Susie’s parents their preferred teacher in exchange for refurbishing the library or being able to accept three more full scholarship students is a bit unseemly but I’m not sure if the alternative is necessarily better in a practical, on-the-ground level. The issue becomes one of principle and precedent, which isn’t nothing, but it all gets very convoluted very soon.

      So, to bring it full circle to this case, let’s assume that the Kochs do get some sort of influence over the candidate pool. While I would agree with @chris that that is non-trivial, if their influence is limited to decisions on 2 or 3 kids but an extra few hundred kids go to college who might otherwise not have, I don’t know if that is the word thing in the world for the UNCF to have done.

      Also of note, I’m not one to assume everything the Kochs do is evil. It is entirely possible that their involvement in the process improves it. (OH GOD! THE FLOGGING!!!)Report

      • Avatar DRS says:

        No, Kazzy, that has never been my experience. Perhaps I just lucked out by working for ethical bosses but I doubt it. I gave this example to my boss and a former boss, and two existing colleagues and three former ones: all of them were amazed and slightly horrified.

        I would respectfully suggest that the knee-jerk defense on this site of the Kochs has less to do with them than with not agreeing with leftists about something. In this instance, if the Kochs wanted this requirement, then the Kochs were flat out wrong. I don’t know why some people are so invested in absolving them of this.

        Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve worked at places where donors expect their plaques and their thank-you letters from the highest possibly socially prominent person involved with the charity. They get invited to fancy events and all that. So what? Why is it so hard to tell the difference between that stuff and what the ANCF deal involves? The nicey-nicey stuff doesn’t involve the way the org is run – can people not get this distinction?

        For one thing,think of the precadents set. Does every wealthy donor get to request involvement in organization decisions? Seriously, once you open the door to this nonsense it’s going to be hard to shut it again.Report

      • I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with requesting a seat at the table when it comes to how to administer such a sizeable sum, especially if, as has been suggested above, the seat at the table is limited only to the administration of the donated funds. The deviltry lurks in the details, of course. But so far it doesn’t seem presumptively wrong, at least not to me.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        University donations over a certain size almost always come with strings, but no university is going to take money if one of those strings is, “Donor gets a vote on who gets accepted to the school.”Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Now wait, I thought the seats were solely on the committee that decides how the $25M is to be spent, not how the org is run. Did I mis-read something?Report

      • University donations over a certain size almost always come with strings, but no university is going to take money if one of those strings is, “Donor gets a vote on who gets accepted to the school.”

        Does that apply to scholarship granting institutions? What if the “donation” is reconceived as a “partnership” in which those fronting the 25 million get a couple of votes (but apparently not a majority of the votes) on who gets that 25 million?

        I don’t know really what the strings are in this case. But if they’re limited in that way, I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. Now, if there are more, or different strings, or the two Koch reps argue repeatedly for vetting the applicants political affiliations and sympathies in some sort of right-wing purity test, then I’d have a problem with it.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Well, that is why I often struggle with how independent schools handle big donors. Putting their name on a building? Eh, pretty inconsequential in the long term. Giving their kid the lead role in the play? Don’t like it but arguably not the worst trade off. Change the math curriculum? Eek.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Scholarships are tricky. I imagine it’s not uncommon for scholarships not administered by the college or university to have major donors on selection committees, though I can’t say for sure.

        Let me be clear: I am not saying the money in this case should have been turned down. I don’t know, and let’s be clear, ya’ll don’t know, what was going on behind the scenes in this case. The inclusion of Koch people on the committee makes me think there might be more to this than meets the eye. If not, and people boycott a scholarship organization because of its donors, that’s crazy.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Having just watched the first season of House, I saw that Chi McBride donated 100,000,000 to House’s hospital and, in exchange, they made him Chairman of the Board.

        This, of course, all ended in tears.

        But it wasn’t presented as absurd prima facie.Report

      • @chris,

        I guess we’re mostly in agreement, then.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        this may be over the usual lines.
        But at least it’s not trolling…
        (Strangely enough, some people continue to troll after they’re dead).Report

  13. Avatar Creon Critic says:

    Looking at the letter ( ) AFSCME’s president sent to the UNCF, he actually highlights other reasons for severing the relationship. Saying in part, we, the union, have a commitment to civil rights and social justice and that the UNCF’s leadership’s engagement with the Kochs runs counter to that social justice commitment.

    A situation not dissimilar to Will Truman’s description of the American Academy of Family Physicians and Coca-Cola donation upthread. Specifically pointing to, among other things, the UNCF’s president’s attending a Koch sponsored summit where Charles Murray also spoke, as well as what he views as the Koch brothers’ history of supporting voter suppression efforts. To me, the two Koch members on scholarship selection boards is a rather large step in a questionable direction.

    AFSCME says they will continue to work on the issues UNCF works on. And I can see why they’d say given the UNCF’s newfound association with the Kochs, the UNCF isn’t the right vehicle and instead they would “work directly with historically black and other colleges and universities, faculty members, student organizations, and other allies to make internship, scholarship and job opportunities available to students of color”.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

      You don’t get it, Creon. This proves the Koch Brothers are our real heroes and always, unions and liberals are the real racists.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Well, I wonder at the morality underneath everything.

        Is it deontology? Well, no. We’re not saying “it’s good to donate to the UNCF” or “it’s a qualified good to donate to the UNCF with a handful of strings (listed here) attached.”
        Is it utilitarian? Well, no. We’re not saying “it’s good to donate to the UNCF if it will end up helping your ideological bedfellows but at least it’ll end up helping African-Americans go to college who otherwise might not have been able to go.”

        It’s “the Kochs are bad to the point where it’s bad that they donated to the UNCF and if someone who used to work with the UNCF says ‘I will not work with the UNCF because they work with the Kochs’, then that’s perfectly understandable.”

        What is that? Some kind of essentialism?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        No, it’s that they are all offended that the Kochs are being allowed to donate $25M to a cause they want to remain “pure” & unsoiled by dirty, right wing conspiracy money.

        I’m sure if the Gates donated $25M & asked for two seats on the committee, it’d all be fine.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Oy…look I think AFSCME made a stupid move. But the animus against the Koch’s isn’t really hard to see. And i don’t even mean, “oh they are bad ol’ right wingers.” I’m sure the UNCF already takes plenty of money from other conservatives. The Koch’s are seen at the forefront of some things that go beyond just being conservative. I think most pertinently is the voter disenfranchisement aimed at minorities and young people. I think the AFSCME letter led off with that very complaint. Heck some of the people who get the Koch money might have a much harder time voting due to some of the stuff the Koch’s are pushing. And again i’ll say i think this was a bad move by AFSCME; ham handed and not savvy at all.Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic says:

        There’s a particular line in the letter that captures the conflict very well, from AFSCME’s point a view anyway, the engagement of the UNCF’s leadership with the Koch’s is seen as “a profound betrayal of the ideals of the civil rights movement”. If AFSCME genuinely believes the Koch’s help fund voter suppression and other efforts than run counter to the civil rights movement, then speaking at Koch events and lending the UNCF’s credibility to Koch philanthropy is indeed questionable.

        And even questionable to the level of withdrawing AFSCME support and donating energies through other means. That’s the principle: there are some speakers with whom one doesn’t share a stage. AFSCME has identified the Kochs as one of those speakers. Obviously, there is disagreement on the part of the right and libertarians that the Kochs’ behavior warrants the response. But in terms of outlining the morality, it is pretty straightforward.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        PS…Yahoo News says the union gave 50-60 k per year to the UNCF which isn’t loose change, well maybe to the Koch’s, but not to the rest of us. The UNCF isn’t going to sweat their loss however, that is for sure. The union has bought themselves a lot of bad publicity over this over a small amount of money for them.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        I’m certainly not cheerleading the Kochs (although $25M, even if the Kochs do influence some of the gifting decisions, can help a lot of kids get to college who might otherwise never go – greater good and all here), but I think the AFSCME is doing the exact wrong thing. Perhaps the UNCF leadership is bending rightward, or something (as Creons reading of the letter may imply), but taking their ball & going home is not how you get things done, or resist change in a undesired direction.

        Although I suppose it could be a strategic withdrawal a long time coming, and the acceptance of the Koch gift was just the final straw. But the manner it which this one done…

        It smacks, loudly, of sour grapes & makes the AFSCME seem petulant.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        Taking your ball and going home isn’t going to help, no. But taking your ball and going to a different park? That’s often the best way to handle situations like this.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The Kochs are *SOOO* bad that they can make the UNCF bad.

    That’s kinda awesome.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Lex Luthor has nothing on BuyingPeopleOffMan.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      @jaybird , the Koch’s are a prime example of a phenomenon I’ve noted here before. I have no doubt that the brothers, at heart, truly embrace libertarian values. David Koch ran for veep in 1980 on the LP ticket. But like every other libertarian I’ve ever met, current company possibly excluded, when forced, generally by political reality, to choose between Dems and Reps — and therefore between social/civil liberties and economic liberties as they see them — they’ll turn hard right every time. Oh, they talk a good game about the evils of the drug war, military adventurism, the security/police state and all the rest, and they make noises about changing the Republican party from the inside, but by supporting the Republicans with big bags of cash they make their priorities clear.Report

      • @road-scholar

        That’s a very important point. Before I started reading Volokh Conspiracy and Positive Liberty several years ago (and eventually found my way here), most of the libertarians I encountered in person or saw on tv (or at least those who were open about being or identified as libertarians) were of two types:

        1. The local libertarian party candidate, who took views that really came out as extremist. At best, they were just tone deaf to how the way they made their points sounded to those who weren’t already on board. At worst, they really were nut jobs or were counting on the votes/contribution/future support from nut jobs.

        2. The “self-made” business person, where “self-made” can be defined variously as “pulled themselves up by bootstraps from really dire situations but had benefited in the past from some direct or indirect help from government” to “got an MBA with tuition paid for by their parents and now have a good job in finance,” and anywhere in between. Those types tended to adopt the attitude of “if I could do it ‘without help’ why are all those other people whining.”

        I really don’t want to bait all libertarians as like that. At least not any more. I really respect the views of James, Mark, Jason, Roger, Jon Rowe, D. A. Ridgely, and a lot of others I’m probably forgetting at the moment. They’ve brought me around to a lot of their positions. I’m not a libertarian, but I’ve changed from someone who was vaguely “leftist” to someone who know considers himself “neo-liberal.”

        But I do think libertarianism has an image problem. I don’t know what the solution is for that. They could change the name of their ism to disassociate themselves from the whackos. But 1) the whackos would probably migrate over to the new label; 2) it’s not completely or always fair (but it’s sometimes fair) to hold people responsible for statements/deeds of other fellow travelers; and 3) the whackos, in terms of their ostensible beliefs, often in the broad brush strokes, do have a certain family resemblance to the libertarianism I sometimes find so inviting and simply changing names won’t necessarily do much.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        I believe we had this discussion in the past, and without going into it all again, it essentially boils down to this: The GOP/conservatives give us a seat at the table, even if they don’t really listen to us. The DNC/liberals won’t even let us in the room, despite the fact that there are more points of agreement between moderate libertarians & moderate liberals, than there are with moderate conservatives.

        If someone can give me examples of main stream democrats that are arguably libertarian in flavor, I would be willing to reconsider, but so far, only Ron Wyden really strikes me as even approaching that bar.

        Also, articles like this certainly don’t help libertarians feel welcome in the big left tent.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        There is something odd about slamming the door in someone’s face , then complaining that they went to the neighbor’s for dinner.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Richard Mellon Scaife is a libertarian who has chosen to support Democrats over Republicans… (not always, but sometimes).
        The Kochs are NOT libertarians, and anyone who says that they are hasn’t worked for them.Report

  15. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    @mad-rocket-scientist , @james-hanley : Maybe it’s because I’ve been driving all day and my brain’s a bit blurry, but I’m having a hard time grokking where you two are coming from.

    MRS, you complain that there are no libertarian-leaning Dems in Congress. Are you looking for someone to be the equivalent to Ron Paul? If so, that’s hardly fair given that Paul (both of them actually) are more or less true-blue libertarians running as Republicans for strategic, politically pragmatic reasons. (As in, wanting to actually get elected.) I would point out that conservative Dems, unlike liberal Republicans, actually still exist in Congress. There’s also such a thing as the DLC — pro-business, free-trade, market-oriented types. Plenty of pro- second amendment types as well, particularly from rural and western states.

    Hanley, when the hell have doors been slammed in the faces of libertarians? More to the point, perhaps, when have you ever actually knocked? What, pray tell, short of actually adopting libertarian economic positions, would count as welcoming to you? Remember, as mrs pointed out, moderate libertarians and moderate liberals already agree on as many or more topics than either of us agree with conservatives.

    So where am I actually wrong?Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      This DLC? Never heard of them before today.

      And yes, how many true blue libertarians have been given a place on a Dem ticket?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        MRS, I mentioned a while ago that even tho liberals and libertarians might be able to agree on some limited, specified set of outcomes, the reasons each side justifies them by would make an alliance unpossible. What do you think of that hypothesis now?

        I mean, libertarians, almost definitionally, hate liberals. Maybe it goes the other way as well, but that’s not as clear to me. I just know that ideologically the two things are like oil and water.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Jon Tester’s been pretty damn libertarian. He’s running in Montana, though, which really likes libertarians.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        libertarians, almost definitionally, hate liberals

        That, my friend, is a very bold & broad brush to paint with. Weren’t you one of the people who just got done admonishing @james-hanley about doing that exact same thing? I dare say that in practice this is utterly untrue. Now replace ‘liberal’ with ‘progressive’, and you start getting closer to an actual hard conflict of philosophies with something approaching animosity from the libertarian side. Unless, of course, you want to claim that the modern liberal has been effectively captured by the progressive movement, which again, is very bold statement to make.

        Still, if the goals align, but only the path to reach them is different, I honestly can not, for the life of me, see a reason why an alliance is not possible, except that ideology is the enemy of effective public policy (but then, I was one of the few people here who thought Tod was doing solid yeomans work on that front).

        Now seeing as how moderate libertarians are almost universally mocked & ridiculed by the left (that New Republic article is one such example, although any time spent in the comments of FireDogLake, Daily Kos, Balloon Juice, Mother Jones, etc will make my point), I have to wonder if this whole liberal/libertarian hate is a chicken-egg problem, or if some liberals need to review the definition of “tolerance” again, because it doesn’t include a qualifier of “only agrees with me”. I think one of the few reasons this site hasn’t devolved into an echo chamber is because the admins are active when it comes to keeping the joint civil.

        But I can be convinced that I’m wrong. Here is a good example. Rand Paul just introduced a bill into the Senate, called The REDEEM Act (does congress have a team they call upon to torture the language until it spits out a catchy ancronym, just curious?), which he did with NJ Democrat Cory Booker. It’s a good bill, meant to reduce the damage the criminal justice system inflicts upon low level, non-violent, & underage offenders. I will be very curious to see how many R’s & D’s co-sign this & vote on it (assuming it ever makes it out of committee).Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        This DLC? Never heard of them before today.

        Back in the early 90s, it was the main group trying to push the Democratic Party to the center. You might have heard of one of its chairman who stepped down from that position to run for the presidency, fella name of Bill Clinton.

        When the Right WIng Noise Machine isn’t calling the other guy a Kenyan Muslim America-Hating Pro-Terrorist Illegal Immigrant, they cluck that he’s abandoned DLC principles for straight-up Marxism.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:


        I guess the only way to settle this dispute is with wagers placed on future outcomes. My wager is that liberals and libertarians don’t, in the future, become allies. My bet is bragging rights.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Accepted! What’s our time frame?Report