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In plain view

January 28th, 2006

The New Republic has a piece by Paul Thacker pointing out that Fox News science columnist Steven Milloy is a shill for, among other corporations, Philip Morris and ExxonMobil. It’s behind a paywall but that scarcely matters, because the relevant facts have been on the public record for years. As usual, Tim Lambert has the most detailed coverage, but a search of this blog or Crooked Timber will produce plenty more, and most of the info has been in Milloy’s Wikipedia entry for some time. In this context, the claim by Fox News, reported by TNR, that they were unaware of Milloy’s corporate payoffs speaks volumes for their capacity as a news organisation. I guess when you can just make it up, you don’t need to use Google.

What seems to be happening here, as with the Abramoff scandal is that facts that have been in plain view for ages can now be fitted into a media narrative – Republican sleaze in general and pundits for hire in particular. Whereas evidence of these kinds of links has been ignored or brushed aside in the past, they can now be seen as part of a systematic pattern of corruption.

If this narrative keeps running it’s going to make life a lot more difficult for the network of rightwing thinktanks and lobby groups that have proliferated in the US over the past two decades or so. Apart from the fact that most of them have at least one individual shill or fraud already exposed (AEI with Lott, Hudson with Fumento, Cato with Bandow and Milloy, TCS from top to bottom[1]) it’s going to become increasingly obvious that these guys have done little more than some unauthorised moonlighting. The organisations are engaged in the same kind of shilling, but on a larger scale. It’s hard to see how they can retain any credibility, or how any reputable person can continue work for any of them, unless all of the shills are sacked, and the organisations become a lot more open about their funding.

In this context, it’s heartening to note that Milloy has quietly departed from Cato where he was an adjunct scholar until the end of 2005. I don’t suppose this post had anything to do with it, but having called for Cato to sack him, I’m glad they’ve parted company. How long will it take Fox News to do something similar?

fn1. Except for Tim Worstall, who seems unaffected by the general atmosphere there.

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  1. Graeme Bird says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 20:20 | #1

    “Republican sleaze in general and pundits for hire in particular.”

    No that’s not right. Try again. The main thing shown here is the utter extremeness of leftist hypocrisy. Since Abramoff made contributions to both sides of the political fence. Whereas the left are alleging its a specifically Republican scandal. And they are witch-hunting for resignations but not amongst their own side.

    The visciousness, unreasonableness and unfairness of the left just doesn’t bottom out.

    Now I rather expect that you knew all this. But were just trying to mislead your Australian readers.

  2. Zarquon
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:01 | #2

    “Since Abramoff made contributions to both sides of the political fence.”
    Flat-out lie.

  3. Graeme Bird says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:13 | #3

    No that’s you lying.

    And frankly I find your lying disgusting.

  4. Zarquon
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:19 | #4

    Also the Abramoff scandal is really that Abramoff is guilty of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials.

  5. Graeme Bird says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:23 | #5

    Right. I’m not going to dispute you there.

    But you called me a liar.

    So where’s your evidence?

    It better be good.

  6. Zarquon
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:30 | #6

    “Since Abramoff made contributions to both sides of the political fence.�

    I’m calling this a lie until you can prove it. Stop trying to dodge the point.

  7. Graeme Bird says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:37 | #7

    What the hell are you talking about. You mean to say you pre-emptively called it a lie when you yourself had no evidence to back it up?

    What a jerk you turned out to be. And a liar. Compounding jq’s clearly inaccurate comments.

    You’ve got the burden of proof all wrong here. You called it a lie. You back it up you leftist pig.

  8. SJ
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:39 | #8

    No that’s you lying.

    And frankly I find your lying disgusting.

    Wingnuts are funny.

    Dems Don’t Know Jack
    A Prospect exclusive: A new analysis of Abramoff tribal money by a nonpartisan firm shows it’s a Republican scandal.

    A new and extensive analysis of campaign donations from all of Jack Abramoff’s tribal clients, done by a nonpartisan research firm, shows that a great majority of contributions made by those clients went to Republicans. The analysis undercuts the claim that Abramoff directed sums to Democrats at anywhere near the same rate.

    And of course, it’s already been proven that Abramoff himself never contributed a single cent to the Democrats:

    “when it comes to personal contributions by Abramoff and his wife, he only made personal contributions to Republicans. Those Republicans have got to return those personal contributions, just like President Bush returned those contributions.” At no point were viewers made aware that Bush has decided to keep more than $100,000 in contributions that Abramoff raised for the campaign during the 2004 election.

  9. Zarquon
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:44 | #9

    “Since Abramoff made contributions to both sides of the political fence.”
    “What the hell are you talking about. You mean to say you pre-emptively called it a lie when you yourself had no evidence to back it up?”

    In a post that deals with astroturf and Republican shills, you bet your arse I’m calling it a lie. I notice you still haven’t proved it, and I’ve got no reason to believe anything you say isn’t a lie, the burden of proof remains with you. You said it, you prove it.

  10. jquiggin
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:48 | #10

    Stop with the abusive language please. And a specific warning to new arrival Graeme Bird. You started the thread in an abusive tone, continued that tone subsequently, and you’ve done all this in support of a claim that has been demonstrated to be false here and elsewhere. Either clean up your act or go elsewhere.

    Anything more like the comments above and you’ll be put on moderation.

  11. Graeme Bird says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:53 | #11

    Well there you are. Gets me off the hook entirely. Since its a new and exclusive finding. And its dated 27/1

    And its clear that the Dems are on the take too but not directly from the Man. As if this fellow was the one bloke in Washington that can define shonky behaviour.

    But we shan’t be satisfied with that one link. Even though it clears me of Zarquon’s horrid assertion.

    Dammit. I’ve had to take a backward step.

  12. Graeme Bird says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 21:54 | #12

    jq.

    I think you have an apology to make.

  13. Katz
    January 29th, 2006 at 22:08 | #13

    This site:

    http://www.politicalcortex.com/story/2006/1/11/102743/169

    has chapter and verse on Abramoff’s impact on funding of US politicians.

    This funding has two components.

    1. Direct donations by Abramoff and/or his wife. ALL monies went to Republicans.

    2. Monies donated to US politicians by Indian tribes that had dealings with Abramoff as a lobbyist. These monies were overwhelmingly disbursed to Republicans. Some Democrats did receive monies from Abramoff-associated tribes. Some of these Democrats claim that they had been in receipt of monies from Indian tribes for a long time. The above reference site quotes evidence that Abramoff advised tribal leaders where to direct their donations. Significantly perhaps, after tribes entered arrangements with Abramoff, the level of donations these tribes made to Democrats fell.

    In a very narrow sense, it seems, Graeme Bird is correct.

    In the broader sense of directly making political contributions, the only listed recipients are republicans, confirming Zarquon’s assertion.

    (The take-home lesson here is to establish the grounds of the discussion instead resorting to defamation.)

    It seems hard to dispute the claim that Abramoff is honing his skills at picking up the shower block soap because of his dealings with Republicans.

    However, if Abramoff were tried simply for his financial relationships with Democrat politicians it is likely he would be a free man today. GOP talking points tend to avoid that inconvenient probability.

  14. Graeme Bird says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 22:12 | #14

    Look both parties accept contributions. This is not illegal. Now it can go overboard. But there’s no bright line. No-one can say that this fellow (is it because he’s Jewish?) has a special sort of taint.

    They both take contributions. I merely had one assumption wrong.

    So this:

    “Republican sleaze in general and pundits for hire in particular.�

    This Republican thing really doesn’t take.

  15. Graeme Bird says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 22:13 | #15

    (The take-home lesson here is to establish the grounds of the discussion instead resorting to defamation.)

    Well I certainly agree with that. No-ones been abused by me that hasn’t gratuitously had a go at me first.

  16. jquiggin
    January 29th, 2006 at 22:19 | #16

    “No-one can say that this fellow (is it because he’s Jewish?) has a special sort of taint.”

    You realise you’re talking about someone who’s already pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials. If you want to assert there’s nothing special about this, I’m sure you know your political allies better than I do.

    More seriously, you can stop with the anti-Semitism card. I don’t imagine Jewish readers will like it being played in defence of an admitted criminal.

    That’s enough to put you on moderation. Thanks for visiting the reality-based universe.

  17. Andrew Reynolds
    January 29th, 2006 at 22:22 | #17

    Graeme,
    The other take home lesson is that those who occupy the more leftish political ground tend to make enough mistakes that resorting to abuse is generally not needed. Take the abuse, argue back and don’t respond in kind. Getting banned from the blog merely leaves less of us to argue to point.
    Back on the main point – all humans are corruptible. When the Democrats had the majority the payola and sleeze was focussed on them, with the Republicans playing the role of the fierce protectors of the people. Once they are in, the money shifts and the Democrats get less – so they change to the protector role. Lord Acton was right again – all power tends to corrupt. The degree of corruption reflects only the degree of power.

  18. Katz
    January 29th, 2006 at 22:28 | #18

    1. “They both take contributions. I merely had one assumption wrong.”

    When is turning an assumption into an evidence-based conclusion too difficult?

    2. “No-ones been abused by me that hasn’t gratuitously had a go at me first. ”

    Provocation isn’t a defence against the charge of defamatiion here in Australia. (And I doubt that it is a defence in the US ether.)

    3. “(is it because he’s Jewish?)”

    I, for one, didn’t know he is Jewish. And in the strictest sense, I still don’t know it. Was this fact important in the US?

  19. Graeme Bird says:
    January 29th, 2006 at 22:33 | #19

    jq. What I’m saying is you cannot get a fellow whose committed a number of crimes. Then the next step is see what else he’s done that is not a crime. Then put the TAINT on specific group of people via the taint of dealing with this fellow.

    So this is a clear leftist witch-hunt. Because both sides take contributions. And you might find that these other crimes that Abramoff has been up to. Well the fellows who took contributions from him don’t necessarily know a damn thing about that stuff.

    Now there will be exceptions to this I suppose.

    But there is a whole new setting of ground rules here that we haven’t seen anywhere else before.

    He was leader of the young Republicans wasn’t he? It may be quite natural that he contributed directly only to the Republicans on the basis of the need to show loyalty.

    But everyone takes contributions. So how is this deal about distributed guilt via OTHER CRIMES and the guilt (or as you say ) sleaze must be via the conduit of this one man?

    It’s a very very strange case. But the American left has never let up its political warfare against the Commander-In-Chief in wartime. Which is going to make it hard for him to make bold moves which could stop the killing.

    Its no small thing that the Democratic leadership is getting up to with one manufactured scandal after another.

  20. Katz
    January 29th, 2006 at 22:40 | #20

    GB:

    “(is it because he’s Jewish?) ”

    Is GB perhaps confusing Australia with Austria?

    (FWI Australia is the one that didn’t endure anschluss with Nazi Germany).

  21. jquiggin
    January 30th, 2006 at 06:04 | #21

    GMB, you’re on moderation and limited to one comment per day. Any further abuse and you’ll be barred altogether (as Dogz points out, this has already happened at Wikipedia).

  22. Graeme Bird says:
    January 30th, 2006 at 06:16 | #22

    You dodged that one champ. Where’s my apology for the pre-emptive abuse on catallaxy. You don’t want me hammering you on other sites do you?

  23. Bring Back EP at LP
    January 30th, 2006 at 08:30 | #23

    JQ,

    I think you are being a bit hasty.
    clearly Graeme wasn’t in possession of all the facts. That is no crime. Nor was the ombudsman for the Washington Post.

    Can I suggest your present policy is close to harrissian in type.

    I am in full agreement with culling out of abuse however after that a person either ships up or is shown to be a goose.

    Leave it at that rather than outright banning or moderation please!

    I like this site as I learn a lot from the give and take. I maybe being selfish but sites that don’t have give and take because of banning or ‘moderation’ lose a lot. See either tim blair’s blog or Larvatus Prodeo as present examples.

  24. jquiggin
    January 30th, 2006 at 09:27 | #24

    To clarify all this for mystified readers, Graeme Bird’s torrent of abusive comments are all in response to a one-liner at Catallaxy. He said that Saddam was behind 9/11 and I responded that this demonstrated disconnection from reality.

    EP if you bother reading the dozens of comments Bird has posted on other threads, you’ll see that everyone was objecting to him, even robust critics of mine like Dogz.

    GB as I said before, feel free to go elsewhere, though I imagine you’ll get banned there as well if you keep on as you have here.

  25. February 1st, 2006 at 21:20 | #25

    GB has also been put on moderation on Catallaxy. His presence has been disruptive and lowered the tone of argument.

  26. Andrew Reynolds
    February 1st, 2006 at 22:46 | #26

    PrQ,
    You have been critised before for your moderation methods, but here, as in other cases, I have no problems. Simple abuse deserves a simple response.

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