Poisoned Well of Blood Guilt by Association: A Very Special Full Disclosure

A frenzied Mark Ames at AlterNet attempts to discredit Megan McArdle’s writings on health-care reform by pointing out that her father has worked for the government and that she writes for the Atlantic! !!! It’s truly hysterical. Ames has done an immense service to critical thinking instructors the world over by piling so many argumentative fallacies into one neat package.

Well, maybe that’s the wrong attitude. After all, how can we really evaluate Ames’ argument before we know more about his parents and the circumstances of his childhood? And who am I to cast stones? I must admit that I too have parents. I suppose I ought to take this opportunity to expose my own hypocrisy before muckraking geniuses like Ames expose them first. So here we go. This isn’t going to be easy. Ahem!

So, my father had a long career as a police officer. There. It’s out. During my childhood, the taxpayers of Independence, Missouri and Marshalltown, Iowa put bread on our table and clothes on my back. Indeed, in Marshalltown (and, after I left home, in Council Bluffs, Iowa) my father was the chief of police. Nevertheless, I consider illegitimate many of the laws police officers are charged to enforce, and thus I believe police officers to be guilty of serious moral transgressions that differ from criminal assault, kidnapping, theft, etc., only in the sanction of the state and approval of the bulk of society. Yet, given the fact that policing paid for my piano lessons, any opinions I might have about police abuses of power, or about the state generally, pretty clearly refute themselves.

Perhaps worse, I learned to read and write in public schools, yet I use those very skills at a libertarian think tank (!!!) where I sometimes argue against the status quo system of public education. It is truly a wonder that I am able to sleep at night.

Actually… Doesn’t Megan suffer from insomnia? She does. So what more is there to say? Just this: greater government control over the health care system poses no threat to medical innovation or individual liberty. Anyone who would tell you otherwise probably has parents.

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27 thoughts on “Poisoned Well of Blood Guilt by Association: A Very Special Full Disclosure

  1. Honestly, I don't know why people listen to Mark Ames on questions of policy. He used to write prostitute reviews while working in Moscow at his weekly paper.http://www.exile.ru/articles/list.php?IBLOCK_ID…This is the kind of stuff that happens when you fancy yourself to be Hunter S. Thompson, but fail to pull it off convincingly.

  2. I just want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this post. If you, Julian, and IOZ formed some sort of monstrous metablogger, you would write polemics so powerful I would have to read them through those special eclipse sunglasses.

  3. The anti-gonorrheal eyedrops that she received within the first few seconds of life were mandated by the government. She ought to show appreciation for her subsequent good health with unqualified loyalty and cheers for expansion.

  4. My parents received a tax credit for me every year until I turned 18. If I were a real libertarian, I would have gone on a hunger strike until they agreed not to take advantage of pro-natalist government programs.

  5. Will, why do you have to puncture my pleasant, fictional illusion that people are sane?I took a stroll through the comments section of the Ames article just to see what people were saying. The majority of comments actually seemed to think that Ames owned McArdle. I don't know whether to laugh or cry: some guy actually got so upset at McArdle's opposition to health care reform that he spent hours (probably days) researching and writing a screed about irrelevant personal details. And then people shout “Pwned!” at McArdle.

  6. When did you leave Independence, Will?I wonder if you and ever happened across each other back in the days of yore.

  7. I think it's just one of those things that Mark Ames particularly dislikes is people who are living off the government arguing for a smaller government. Like those ex-military people who spent their whole lives shuffling papers on the government payroll and now life off government pensions, and are also committed small-government republicans. It just seems too much like their real argument is “there government benefits, but only for me”

  8. “thus I believe police officers to be guilty of serious moral transgressions that differ from criminal assault, kidnapping, theft, etc., only in the sanction of the state and approval of the bulk of society”How can you type stuff like that with a straight face? Rigid ideology makes for such crap writing.

  9. What I find offensive about Ames and his ilk is the fact that, while they always talk about respecting the privacy of victims of rape, abuse or neglect, or recognizing that there are hidden disabilities, and generally recognize the suffering that some kids go through privately, they don't seem to take these concepts very seriously. A lot of people have had bad shit happen to them growing up, and this might be despite being “a second-generation product of the sleazy NYC construction business, which has been using public money for private gain since the Tammany Hall era.” I know absolutely nothing about Mcardle's childhood, but I would say that tragedy and crappy events are common enough, that one day Ames is going to talk about someone's “priveleged, government-funded upbringing,” and he'll be talking about someone who actually went through unbearable torment. And he'll rubbing salt in any wounds. I don't think I'm talking about some improbable possibilities that Ames in justified in discounting, because he's assuming that a bit of research can tell him enough about the circumstances of someone's childhood, and this takes an enormous amount of arrogance and hubris. Even if Mcardle had an enchanted upbringing, this still wouldn't discredit any of her arguments. But even attempting to bring up and make assumptions about someone's childhood is so careless and insensitive, that it horrifies me that any self-proclaimed liberals can feel that it's justified.

  10. I would say it's amazing how stupid Leftists are, but that has been known since at least Stalin and Mao.

  11. What was wrong with it? Saying something is bad without saying why doesn't make for good writing, either.

  12. this attack on megan is just another example of a phenomenon that i find quite interesting: many leftists like to claim that conservative and/or libertarian positions are automatically suspect because they are the preserve of rich white male privilege, yet they levy their most viscous attacks at women and minorities who dare to question progressive beliefs.the ribbing that george w. bush, the 2000 presidential candidate, received pales in comparison to the beating that sarah palin took. and think about how anotonin scalia is portrayed by liberals as opposed to clarence thomas; the former as a worthy adversary and the latter as an 'uncle tom' with a poor legal mind. when women and minorities espouse right-of-center beliefs, it calls in to question the shibboleth that leftists are the only legitimate representation of women and minorities. those who challenge that belief are always going to be subject to particularly venomous attacks.

  13. ps – the point i was just making is that guys like ames like to think of themselves as the good guys, the white (literally) knights who are battling the dark forces of the right. when a woman, like megan, voices disagreement with him, it calls in to question his privileged position as the hero of his own little morality tale. for ames, this isn't about reasonable policy alternatives, it's about battling the forces of corporate greed, delivering healthcare to the masses, and protecting home and hearth. it's funny that thee further out you go on the political spectrum the more left and right start to look the same.if what i'm saying sounds a bit goofy, just check out this ames piece on george sodini: http://exiledonline.com/revenge-of-the-nerd-wha

  14. It seems to me if you accept Ames assertion of influence as relevant it undermines his position or preferred political solution. To give a corollary example, was Stalin's daughter moving to the U.S. evidence of her to be expected, unwavering support of the Soviet system. Unless as Will's example of himself would indicate that we have accepted that the Oedipus complex is busting out all over in politics and so Sotamayor should be suspected of being, really, a closet white supremacist and the younger George Bush a Maoist in which case we really do need somebody like Ames to 'sell us a program.'

  15. OK, obviously Ames's article is moronic, but isn't pointing out his stupidity the equivalent of liberals pointing out the stupidity of someone like Rush Limbaugh? It might even be less relevant since a ton of people believe what Limbaugh says while (I think) most people have never even heard of Ames. I mean, it's fun reading you tear into some idiot, but there are intelligent criticisms of McArdle out there. You're a smart guy, and while I'm pretty sure I'd disagree with your take on the health care reform debate, I think it would be more valuable and interesting to see you arguing with people like Ezra Klein or some liberal health policy/public health wonks than for you to engage, however entertainingly, with some fool.

  16. I think you are missing the point. The point was that people weren't paying enough attention to Mark Ames, but now everyone's talking about him. Check his blog where he replies to a Mcardle defender with insults and calls himself a “celebrity journalist” because he was on some cable show hosted by some sycophant to argue his ridiculous theory about workplace shootings. If you waste enough time on this BS there's the risk of him actually becoming as big as he thinks he is.

  17. Yeah. I think Megan's writing on healthcare reform is pretty much completely worthless, but that Ames piece is not merely worthless by obnoxious to boot. I had to stop reading after his extensive explanation of the fact that Megan's father once had a job to prevent my brain from leaking out of my eyes.

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