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The scariest thing I've read today

beckspread.jpg

Are you seriously trying to tell me that the Koch brothers think the way to radicalize "private equity and hedge fund executives like John Childs, Cliff Asness, Steve Schwarzman and Ken Griffin; Phil Anschutz, the entertainment and media mogul ranked by Forbes as the 34th-richest person in the country; Rich DeVos, the co-founder of Amway; Steve Bechtel of the giant construction firm; and Kenneth Langone, a founder of Home Depot" is to sit them down in front of Glenn Beck? I'd consider that invitation an insult.

And no, I am not yet ready to entertain the possibility that they might be right. Because if that's what our economic titans consider incisive analysis, then even gold isn't a safe enough asset. That's a world where pointy things and bottled water become the investment of choice.

Update: Think Progress has a fuller list of attendees.

Photo credit: Nikki Kahn-The Washington Post.

By Ezra Klein  | October 20, 2010; 11:01 AM ET
 
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Comments

--*[T]he Koch brothers think the way to radicalize*--

That should be "one way", Klein, not "the way". It makes a difference.

And for Glenn Beck's faults, he at least talks about freedom, liberty, and personal responsibility, unlike you, who routinely subordinates such things (to the point of invisibility) in service to an ever-expanding, increasingly totalitarian government sector armed with the expediency of liberal ignorance.

Posted by: msoja | October 20, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Actually, I don't find this scary at all and it changes my opinion of Glenn Beck somewhat. Let me explain. I've always taken Glenn Beck to be the Rush Limbaugh fan that actually believed the stuff Rush is saying. Rush doesn't believe a word of what he's saying. That's his genius. He rails everyday against the great liberal satan, but deep down he just doesn't give a crap either way. As long as he gets his.

Glenn Beck always struck me as being earnest. And that made him particularly scary to me. What's that saying about people who go to bed at night and dream versus those who walk around in the daytime and see their dreams? I always took Glenn to be the latter. But now hearing that he's sitting down with these people makes me think differently. This isn't going to be a seminar on how Obama is a Nazi. This is going to be a seminar on how to activate the people who are inclined to believe that Obama is a Nazi. Wherein Glenn Beck has his Frank Luntz on.

Posted by: klautsack | October 20, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

msoja - Well, in Obama's defense, he is only a totalitarian dictator because the Tides Foundation has implanted a chip in his brain. It's not his fault. Blame Woodrow Wilson.

Posted by: klautsack | October 20, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

--*I'd consider that invitation an insult.*--

Look down your nose all you want, Klein, but here's what you are:

"There are words to describe this, but 'bright' is not one of them. This meritocracy has created an 'elite' without merit. In everyone's eyes but its own."

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/They_re-not-elites_-they_re-just-wrong-1264114-105284578.html

Posted by: msoja | October 20, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

--*[I]n Obama's defense, he is only a totalitarian dictator because*--

... he is so disposed, just as Klein would be were he to find himself in the big shoes. They think they're smarter than everyone else, looking down their noses at half the country, when they really know next to nothing beyond pushing words around in a semi-coherent fashion.

Posted by: msoja | October 20, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

msoja- So you're telling me the Tides Foundation had nothing to do with it? Now who's the naive one? You sound like one of those elites.

Posted by: klautsack | October 20, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

You are too young to remember the 70s, but I'm not. It's like a Bizzaro version of them. In the 70s, the left dominated public discourse and institutional control, but in reality it was rotting out--the same old bromides that nobody found useful, a noisy minority that dominated public views and discussions, etc. Now, the right has no new ideas, or even good old ideas, and the bankruptcy is starting to show.

Posted by: ciocia1 | October 20, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Good arguments as always, msoja! Your opponents hate liberty and puppies! As solid ground to stand on as I've ever seen, to be sure.

Posted by: MosBen | October 20, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse


thank you for speaking out against this.

you must keep speaking out, when it might be more convenient to remain silent. you must keep doing the work, and the heavy lifting.
in troubled times, when extremists and madmen gain popularity, and start to have the ear of people in power, you must use your power to speak out, with a voice of conscience and sanity.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Posted by: jkaren | October 20, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"You are too young to remember the 70s, but I'm not. It's like a Bizzaro version of them. In the 70s, the left dominated public discourse and institutional control, but in reality it was rotting out--the same old bromides that nobody found useful, a noisy minority that dominated public views and discussions, etc. Now, the right has no new ideas, or even good old ideas, and the bankruptcy is starting to show.

Posted by: ciocia1"


dont you see, this is beyond a "bankruptcy of ideas, starting to show."
this is legitimizing extremists. accepting their thinking as mainstream.

this is not the seventies. i was there too.
we are in a different time and place, in many respects.

Posted by: jkaren | October 20, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Jkaren--
you have a point. The most extreme leftists were at the Dem conventions, but they were outside the doors, not inside.

Posted by: ciocia1 | October 20, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

They're coming to take you away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa.

Posted by: bgmma50 | October 20, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

But wait, aren't the main skills required to become a corporate titan just epic greed, a certain cunning, and a deep lack of morals, with inherited money a big plus? Nowhere do I find evidence that any analytical thinking skills whatsoever are needed...

Posted by: goodepicwashpost | October 20, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Who would you prefer they sit down with, Dave Weigel?

Speaking of which, what happened to dough boy? Does anybody read his blog anymore? Practically expecting him to show up on the next carton of milk I buy.

Posted by: cdosquared5 | October 20, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"They're coming to take you away, ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa."
Posted by: bgmma50 |


if you look at countries where extremists have taken power, and civilizations begin to implode and insanity reigns...
and can extrapolate that it will any way be good for you, you are greatly mistaken.
you laugh prematurely. the true collapse of a civilization is good for no-one.
i suggest that instead of quoting the beatles, you go back and read some history.

Posted by: jkaren | October 20, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the NY Times article on the Koch brothers' conventions is that they are claiming that previous guests include Justices Scalia and Thomas (h/t http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=10&year=2010&base_name=yes_virginia_there_is_a_vast_r).

While the coordination of these industry forces is disturbing, at the end of the day, they're just people with the right to free assembly who happen to be CEOs and finance executives.

However, it seem highly problematic to have Supreme Court Justices (who supposedly just call balls and strikes) attending these political strategy sessions for these powerful, moneyed interests.

As a simple example...This is a group that is fundamentally opposed to the current health care bill. This is not incidental to their reason for meeting, but rather one of the primary stated goals of the upcoming meeting is to counter "the move to socialized health care." (see the original NYTimes article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/us/politics/20koch.html). Given that this is a major goal of this group and Justices Scalia and Thomas have been guests (the NYTimes article suggests that their attendance fee was waived), shouldn't they recuse themselves from if a case questioning the constitutionality of the individual mandate comes before the Court???

And of course, this particular piece of the story (which to me, seems the most scandalous of all) is a minor throwaway at the end of the article)...Even Ezra is more focused on the inclusion of Glenn Beck than the fact that two of our supposedly impartial Supreme Court Justices are attending these sessions....sigh....

Posted by: AnonymousInMA | October 20, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

jkaren, that wasn't the Beatles and I apparently have much more faith in the good sense of the American voters than you do.

Posted by: bgmma50 | October 20, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely brilliant analysis. The horrible possibility is that the super right wing super rich are not a gang of cynics and actually believe that stuff. I'm afraid I can't convince myself that they are lying.

But how about some advice your readers can use ? If one of your us were mosy over to Home Depot to invest in pointy objects, he or she would like to know which brands you recommend.

And how about the bottled water -- fluridated or unfluoridated ?

Posted by: rjw88 | October 20, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely brilliant analysis. The horrible possibility is that the super right wing super rich are not a gang of cynics and actually believe that stuff. I'm afraid I can't convince myself that they are lying.

But how about some advice your readers can use ? If one of your us were mosy over to Home Depot to invest in pointy objects, he or she would like to know which brands you recommend.

And how about the bottled water -- fluridated or unfluoridated ?

Posted by: rjw88 | October 20, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

also, jkaren, if you will care to reread your history, when civilizations begin to implode and insanity reigns, you will not find libertarians at the bottom of it. What you will often find is insurmountable national debt and debasement of the currency.

Posted by: bgmma50 | October 20, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

" that wasn't the Beatles and I apparently have much more faith in the good sense of the American voters than you do."

actually, it is part of a line from "the magical mystery tour," aptly.
and i also hope the american voters will show good sense in this election.
that beck, palin, limbaugh, angle, paladino, o'donnell, paul and the tea party movement have gotten this far, and that a meeting could occur, as described in this post, does not reflect good sense to me.
i find all of it deeply worrisome.
but i am always hoping for the best.

Posted by: jkaren | October 20, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

The ho-ho, hee-hee, ha-haaa part is the giveaway that the lyrics are from one hit wonder Napoleon XIV.

Posted by: bgmma50 | October 20, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

--*Good arguments as always, msoja! Your opponents hate liberty [...] !*--

Way to misstate the argument, MosBen. I didn't say that Klein, et al., hate liberty, just that they think the mooing in their heads is so wonderful and smart and so much better than they imagine the thought processes in other people's head to be, that they want to run to the nearest voting booth, or lobby the pols in person, in order to make everyone moo in time with them, that they never stop and give a thought for that which they push aside in their mad rushes. Liberty. Freedom. Individual endeavor. Klein doesn't deal in such things. He deals in state action. He calls it "policy", but it is simply forcing people around with the blunt instrument of the law, taking their money, and forcing them to live according to the ideal mooing somewhere in Klein's head. In such regards, people like Glenn Beck stand miles above Klein. Beck respects my right to decide for myself how I want to handle my health care needs. Klein does not. You figure it out.

Posted by: msoja | October 20, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

msoja-

"Beck respects my right to decide for myself how I want to handle my health care needs".

But that's just not living in our reality. People talk "choices" and "responsibility" but it all comes back to the same corporate control over our lives. This isn't about big guy versus little guy. That battle was fought and lost a long time ago. This is about big government versus big business. Try to walk out your door and not see an advertisement in the first five minutes. Try to go through a single day without giving money to a large corporation. Try to think about the most notable thing about where you live that doesn't somehow involve a major corporation. Sure, all of us would like to be that frontier hardware store owner ferrying horse shoes for our neighbors and sharpening their harvesters. But those days are gone. Your health care options are - emergency room, large corporation, or blind luck.

Posted by: klautsack | October 20, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

--*Try to go through a single day without giving money to a large corporation.*--

You mean, without getting something back, like happens with most of the tax money I send off to the government?

Every time I "give" money to "a large corporation", I get something tangible in return. DHL just delivered a box of stainless steel staples (made by a national corporation, you'd know the name in an instant), and I paid plenty for them, but that's how it works, isn't it? Should I have the right to free staples? I surely need them. Walk out my front door right now and it's a four foot drop. Think of the children!

--*Your health care options are - emergency room, large corporation, or blind luck.*--

And how is ObamaCare going to change that? And hasn't it gotten that way exactly in step with the government's relentless incursions into the health care market? There is no longer a free market in health care in this country. The government owns it, from the licensing and permitting, to the funding and placement of doctor education and training, to the heavy handed regulation of the insurance and provider entities, all the way through the stupid FDA logjam, and on and on. And it's going to get much, much worse.

I'd rather take my chances in a health care free market, if one can be pulled from the wreckage, someday.

Posted by: msoja | October 20, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Glenn Beck is a blond, puffy-faced version of Joseph Goebbels peddling far-right slander using lies, half-truths and nudge-nudge, wink-wink innuendo when he isn't peddling gold and survival rations to suckers.

He should be locked in a room with Sharron Angel and Christine O'Donnell to test how long he would continue to profess believing his own sad nonsense.

Posted by: tomcammarata | October 20, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

honestly ezra what a load of crap. The Yglesias headline reads:

MEMO: Health Insurance, Banking, Oil Industries Met With Koch, Chamber, Glenn Beck To Plot 2010 Election

Seriously? Who was there supposedly representing the health insurance industry or is that just the liberal catch phrase of the year to set you all off? A board member from Aon who probably was there for other reasons? A single manufacturer of medical devices? OOH.

This headline and most of the crap below it belongs with this story:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/10/headline_hyperbole.html#comments

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 20, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

--*Glenn Beck is a blond, puffy-faced version of Joseph Goebbels peddling far-right slander using lies, half-truths and nudge-nudge, wink-wink innuendo when he isn't peddling gold and survival rations to suckers.*--

Which makes Klein a pouty-lipped, lisping version of Josef Mengele peddling far-left gobbledegook using lies, falsehoods, and every other trick of the propagandist's trade all while peddling Eli Lilly, "Gov't refi programs", Orange savings accounts, AARP auto insurance, and a host of other nonsense to suckers.

Once again, Beck isn't selling anything that you'll be *forced* by the government to buy, but Klein is. If you like having your life run for you to someone else's standards, that's your business, but have the decency to let other people conduct their lives by their own lights.

Posted by: msoja | October 20, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

ps. And don't think I pulled the name Josef Mengele out of the air. Back in April of this year, dear Klein offered up what I termed the Josef Mengele Doctrine. Here's Klein:

"I think it's quite possible that a mix of surgeries and pharmaceuticals eventually becomes our society's answer to obesity. The risk of these treatments will go down, their efficacy will go up and their cost will settle into a more affordable range -- particularly compared with the cost of treating the complications of obesity."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/04/is_there_a_middle_way_on_obesi.html

All with gentle government persuasion, of course.

Posted by: msoja | October 20, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I think Dana Milbank should get a copy of the list of attendees and send them all a copy of his book.

Posted by: reach4astar2 | October 20, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

If I had any reservations that msoja was anything but a troll, they have been dismissed.

msoja's "mengele" comment is a pernicious misreading of the referenced post ( http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/04/is_there_a_middle_way_on_obesi.html )

No reasonable reading of that post would result in it being seen as the "doctrine" that msoja stridently declares it to be.

This is a bit of a relief - msoja's not paranoid and misguided, but rather he (or she) is just trolling.

Posted by: jdbo | October 20, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

--*No reasonable reading of that post would result in it being seen as the "doctrine" that msoja stridently declares it to be.*--

Pfui. It might not be written up in proper doctrine form, but make no mistake, it has all the hallmarks of any slavering despot's decree.

From the same entry, Klein:

"[T]he only answers that even approach the scale of the problem are far more extreme than anyone is comfortable with. But the fact that we're not comfortable with extreme answers doesn't mean more moderate interventions will be effective."

Do you understand? Klein is pushing the "extreme" measures, the ones that would make "anyone" uncomfortable, and proposing them in order to reduce the "cost of treating the complications of obesity" to the collective. Was the Third Reich motivated by any less a monstrous altruism?

Posted by: msoja | October 20, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

msoja-

My point is that there is this large contingent of Libertarian or quasi-Libertarian thinking out there that just isn't based in reality. I live in the West - the land of the rugged individualist. Yet a good 80% of the people wouldn't be here if it weren't for these monstrous gov't water projects. Same thing with clean drinking water and wastewater treatment plants in other parts of the country. Health care is also one of those things. You can't decide not to have health any more than you can decide not have water. But the Libertarian crowd pretends like it's actually an option.

But Glenn Beck isn't even a Libertarian. He's just a shill pushing conservative ideology. I never heard him complain about creeping totalitarianism over the Patriot Act or FISA or the secret "black sites" set up around the world, or Guantanamo Bay. I never heard him complain that our attacking Iraq was actually closer to Fascism than anything Obama has done (at least the Fascism as originally laid out by Mussolini). It could be that he thinks the trade off between liberty and security is worth it. Okay, then at least that's consistent. I disagree, but it's consistent.

I'm not a huge fan of the individual mandate, but I understand why it's in there. To me a better approach would have been extending Medicare to more people or creating some kind of national-scale government-run non-profit insurance company that anyone could sign up for on their tax return. But both of those options are significantly to the Left of what actually passed.

Posted by: klautsack | October 21, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

msoja -

Ugh. You make some reasonable points and then you say something like this:

"Was the Third Reich motivated by any less a monstrous altruism?"

I'll answer that question. Yes, the Third Reich was motivated by a less altruistic form of monstrosity. In the sense that they were trying to eradicate an entire lineage of people whereas Ezra and people like him are advocating providing greater access to health care. If you can't see that distinction I wish you luck in your delirium.

Posted by: klautsack | October 21, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

--*[The nazis] were trying to eradicate an entire lineage of people*--

The attempted extermination of the Jews was but one aspect of the Nazi's endeavor to purify or synthesize the Nordic master race. They gassed or sterilized all sorts of people deemed inferior, all for the good of the collective they hoped to build and direct.

Now, maybe sending a few fatties off to have their stomachs stapled doesn't quite compare, but it's early days, yet, in the forced collectivization of America. Already, though, a dimwit like Klein, working for a national newspaper, can posit "that a mix of surgeries and pharmaceuticals eventually becomes our society's answer to obesity" and not be tossed out on his ear. What sort of "extreme" measures will he think up when the collective's health care dollars are even scarcer than they are today?

Posted by: msoja | October 21, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

msoja - Yes, this is how it all starts. It always starts with healthcare reform.

Posted by: klautsack | October 21, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

--*I live in the West - the land of the rugged individualist. Yet a good 80% of the people wouldn't be here if it weren't for these monstrous gov't water projects.*--

Well, if you want people everywhere, monstrous government projects are just the thing, I guess. I'm not sure why that's a benefit, unless you have a thing for strip malls and fast food.

Point being that you seem to enjoy living in a dry environment courtesy of your fellow man, while wondering why those fellows shouldn't be happier about having provided it for you out of their own hides. The fact that there are libertarians out there sucking it all up with you doesn't make me feel any more disposed toward the process.

Posted by: msoja | October 21, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

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