Sunday, February 5

Weekend Leftovers

OUR story so far: at the end of the 1970s, with the inherent contradictions, internal infirmities, and lunatic and nuclear-fueled grandiosity of its post-war self-congratulation period in tatters, after Vietnam and the unconscionably tardy recognition of Civil Rights, the predictable ebb of the economic hegemony we had enjoyed since the rest of the developed world had been reduced to rubble in the 40s, with gas lines reminding a small percentage of the populace that there really were repercussions for stopping the Marshall Plan West of Suez, and for finagling the creation of the State of Israel for a temporal domestic political advantage, without regard for the rights of anyone who happened to have lived in the region for the previous millennia or the history of the Great Game; with those same gas lines convincing the majority of auto-Americans that brown people needed to be taken down a peg by one of those irresistible military interventions, like the one that had worked so well for us in Indochina; with a Republican President having disgraced himself, his collection of stooges, flunkies, and brownshirts, his party, and his country by, well, being a Republican and acting on it, Good Old American Know-Who stepped to the fore, and a coalition of corporatepeople whose privilege depended on the US taxpayer paying to defend it, the few paranoid Nixonites who'd escaped prison, and disgruntled Americans who wholeheartedly supported civil rights for all Americans, but didn't want their children showering with Negroes in public school, found in Ronald Reagan the man who would restore to America its glorious fictional Morning, and to the wealthiest among us their Gilt-given right to exploit people, provided they didn't reference skin color while doing so. Any more. Or not obviously.

Strange as it may seem, thirty years of insisting that our problems weren't real has somehow have failed to solve them. So that in the first and possibly only quarter of the 21st century, USAmerica has a wrecked economy, a much bigger oil habit, the finest, most competent, and best equipped military machine ever to be thwarted by a nation of goatherders, and has pretty much finished shipping all its manufacturing jobs to Asia while putting everyone who used to fill those jobs in prison. And we achieved all this by the simple expedient of believing that the more you cut taxes the more revenue you raised, and that anything Liberals believed was designed to cut America to Her knees.

I'm not telling you anything you don't know. Nor is it a revelation that the one group which has actually benefitted from all this is the one which started out with all the money and power in the first place.

And one of the things they've done is see to it that their idiot progeny became Important Social Observers, the way their role models in the vibrant British aristocracy used to send their own mental defectives into the Church.

Which brings us to Megan-Jane McArdle-Galt, notable non-genius, Senior Fucking Editor at a once respectable publication, and former possessor of the world's least-imaginative nom de plume since the invention of cuneiform.

I don't read her, if that's what one calls it. I saw her once or twice in her guise as Ayn Rand's adoring and maybe-a-little-too-interested-in-the-terms-of-the-Will granddaughter, which left me astonished to find she'd gotten a real job writing, if that's what one calls it. And which led, eventually, to my shocked discovery--I've been blasted twice by household current and once by a faulty lawn mower sparkplug wire, and shocked is an accurate description--that she was, in fact, in early middle age, and not a fourteen-year-old whose wealthy and connected parents thought she was precocious.

So I was waiting for a couple days for the inevitable Susan G. Komen Says It's Sorry That You All Misunderstood, and…

And, wait, was this not the four thousandth recapitulation of Iraq War II? Did not everyone with any sense and a minimum of healthy skepticism know exactly what was going to happen here? And that the credulous majority, including Senior Fucking Editors at a once respectable publication, would immediately take the thing at face value? All that anyone needed to know was Komen's size, administrative pay structure, and its history of derisible litigiousness to know that a) the original story was the sort of diaphanous hubristic bullshit unique to Our American Colossi, b) it would be contradicted, and probably twice, within eighteen hours, before c) likely being denied altogether, with standard non-apology apology and standard non-active course of action. Knowing that Nancy Brinker once held the Shirley Temple Chair of Applied Protocolistics in the Bush II administration was just a little paint on the lily.

…and somehow I wound up clicking on Megan-Jane. This, specifically, which led me to go back--of my own volition!--for That and The Other.

All of which confirmed the age-old journalistic wisdom of not letting anyone with no writing talent exercise it more than twice a week.

Anyway, somehow I ran into the erstwhile Ms Galt's first mental pretzel, which requires exactly 60 words, not counting the long quote from the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, before we got:
Though I'm pro-choice, I...

Which of course meant that Megan-Jane was about to thoughtfully disprove her own claim so the rest of us didn't have to bother.
Though I'm pro-choice, I don't share the outrage that was roiling my Twitter feed this morning.

Okay. So I realize that catching Megan-Jane in a contradiction or a rhetorical inadequacy is like collecting Bushisms for Slate. And this would be a perfectly consistent position, provided that anyone out there had been arguing anything like the opposite.

But, one: as with the Republican party, absolving yourself from the requirement of knowing what you're talking about, rather than trying to sound how you feel, doesn't make you exempt. And, two: no one said you had to be roiled because you support, or "support", reproductive freedom. Just as no one said Komen had to support Planned Parenthood. Besides, Komen is wealthy, and poor women are poor, so we all knew which side your natural sympathies fell on.

What upset people--people who constitute a considerable portion of Komen's donor Rolodex--was the transparent excuse that Komen had changed its bylaws to exclude any organization under investigation, which a) meant Planned Parenthood, exclusively, and b) meant "any two-bit cracker Congressional headline seeker, or state or local Christofascist. could sever that link at any time." This was a political act by an arrogant behemoth designed to placate people who are actively trying to supress a Constitutional right. One which, by the way, you claim to support. It didn't have to roil you. But if that claim means anything at all it should have at least made you understand where people who objected loudly to the decision were coming from.

Let's say this again: whether you think it's justified or no, Komen has a board which gets wealthy from its donors; and if you do think that's none of the donors' business you might at least expect that it do something like this with a reasonable amount of intelligence. The fact that Komen has a "right" to do something doesn't make it above criticism; the fact that the people making that decision earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year yet are completely tone deaf being a prime example.

Planned Parenthood has been a brave, and often lonely, defender of legal rights, often for the most under-defended of our fellow citizens. Someone who is Pro-Choice But..., and has missed that fact, hasn't paid enough attention to the issue, or the politics of the issue, to have an opinion worth noting.

We later got this:
I'm tempted to credit shifting public opinion, but polling about abortion has been pretty stable over the last 15 years. It could be a shift in the donor base, or the board itself. Or perhaps it's a more subtle shift in opinion. While most people think that abortion should be legal, most people don't support the current state of abortion law; polling seems to suggest that the majority either wants abortion to be illegal in all cases, or legal only in the first trimester--and even then, possibly only in the case of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. A majority of people polled say that abortion is morally wrong. And pro-life identification runs neck-in-neck with pro choice.

which would sew the package up tidly; one cannot be "pro-choice" in this environment and simultaneously report that "the majority" wants abortion restricted to the first trimester without pointing out the absurdity of the idea, legally, ethically, and rhetorically. Else one is not pro-choice, merely unwilling publicly to oppose abortion in all cases. It's like being a Vegan for the duration of your stay at some hipster bar.)

And the thing was capped, less than two hours later, when her Randian sense that somewhere someone of Wealth was being dissed was fully awakened by the sun moving to the other side of the solarium. Megan noted:
But more broadly, the worry about charity overhead has gotten completely out of hand. I've heard from more than one frantic foundation fundraiser who can't raise a dime for overhead--everyone wants their money earmarked for programs.

Maybe someone should alert Komen. They could earmark the money they send to Planned Parenthood. Oh, sorry. That money's fungible.
To start with, Planned Parenthood spends about 16% of its annual budget on . . . overhead and fundraising. Now that they know, how many of the people who were angry about Komen's overhead are going to also withdraw their support from Planned Parenthood? I suspect the number is zero, but I could be wrong.

I'm guessing that the number of people Megan expected to click that link was also zero, since it took you not to the proof of her claim but the cover sheet for the report.

But seven or eight pages of diligence later one discovers what one already knew suspected all along: that the addition of "overhead" to fundraising costs was designed to get Planned Parenthood closer to Komen's numbers. And that Megan McArdle talks shit.

Komen's fundraising expenses are 7.5% of revenue. This is apparently considered acceptable by the sorts of persons who rate such things. Planned Parenthood's is 4%.

What Komen has been questioned about are its Administrative Expenses (especially the amount paid to its upper echelon), which run 11.8%. Planned Parenthood's "Management and General Support"--your guess is as good as Megan's as to whether the two are congruent--is 12%. But Planned Parenthood operates health care clinics across the country. Komen raises money.

Should a reasonable person expect their operating expenses to be so similar?

For that matter, should Megan?


R. Porrofatto said...

So in one place she writes:
A majority of people polled say that abortion is morally wrong. And pro-life identification runs neck-in-neck with pro choice. In that environment, you can see why an organization that does not itself have a mission to support abortion access would want to pull back from funding Planned Parenthood, even for related services.
In other words, a textbook political decision.

Later she writes:
Just as it wasn't surprising that they [Komen] might want to gently[!] disconnect themselves from the abortion rights movement, it's also not shocking that once this issue became political, pro-choicers mobilized faster and harder than pro-lifers did.

I think it's easier than finding Bushisms for Slate.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I was shocked and stunned, meself.

map106 said...

Well, Dog, your city hosted a Super Bowl that the Giants won, so surely the taxpayer money wasn't wasted.

Fiddlin' Bill said...

Having made the effort at this late date to actually watch "The Fountain Head, a movie written my Ms Rand and starring to of the top actors of the day, I was amazed to find that it was so rediculous as to be unwatchable. And I like Cooper and Neal. How amazing and absurd that Ms Rand retains such credence. But then, the election of Ronald Reagan as our President was about as absurd as anything occurring in my lifetime, at least not counting the tragedies of Vietnam and the assassinations of the Kennedys and King.

Fiddlin' Bill said...

apologies for the typos in the above--I was distracted by the replays of Eli's big moments.

KWillow said...

I watched the first half-hour or so of Fountainhead... WAY over the top Freudian imagery, and Jezuz, such STUPID characters.

So I switched to Teletubbies. I like Po.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Brinker's compensation was $417,171 last year I wonder what it will be this year.

scripto said...

...the finest, most competent, and best equipped military machine ever to be thwarted by a nation of goatherders...

So beautiful you made me cry

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reading the scribblings of this brainless cow, so I don't have to. Also, too, I am firing off a message to the editors of the New York Times. They need to fire Douthat and/or Brooks and hire YOU immediately. You sir, can pilot a keyboard and make sentences that sound purtier than a French whore. (Apologies to Mel Brooks etc., it's just irresistible to steal that line.) Keep up the good work, sir!