Wednesday, December 31, 2008

According to Blogspot, still available!

Mickey raises the stakes in this bloggingheads exchange, offering his Christ-like suffering (a ten percent pay cut, which in a just world would equal one-tenth of a bucket of spit) as a righteous alternative to unionism and their fancy worker protections (and their subsequent unpopular popular bailouts).

His primary complaint with unions appears to be that they use a "long, drawn-out, year-long process" to extract less-painful future concessions, instead of a "relatively quick transaction" where he hands a portion of his paycheck directly to the Washington Post upon demand.

Later in the diavideologueblog, he claims that the economy will recover faster because legions of Kaus-like workers will take wage cuts, saving our corporate overlords from their freely-agreed-to-but-now-burdensome contractual obligations. Thus, Mickey advocates a bailout of sorts, except instead of using federal tax revenues (ostensibly drawn from progressive taxation), all us blue-collar slobs will just chip in a few bucks (in a relatively quick transaction!).

Pretty strong anti-union advocacy, eh?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In Which I Tell It To Kevin Drum

Apparently, Kevin Drum and I need to have a chat.

       FMK: Listen, here, buddy -- I argue that unions are poor vehicles for equitable distribution of wealth. What do you have to say to that?

       Kevin Drum: Unions are hardly a panacea for middle class wage growth.

       FMK: Oh ... so we both agree that unions are not a one-size-fits-all solution for our nation's destabilizing income inequality?

       Kevin (imaginary): Yes.

       FMK: And we both agree that criticizing labor unions for not being, say, a progressive system of taxation coupled with generous investment in middle class infrastructure makes about as much sense as criticizing this hamburger for not being a pair of shoes? /holds up hamburger

       Kevin (imaginary): Yes.

       FMK: Do you find it hilarious that our measured and apparently simpatico takes on the macroeconomic effect of unionization is being mocked as pie-in-the-sky by a writer whose grand solution to boosting middle class wages is deporting a bunch of Mexicans?

       Kevin (imaginary): Yes. And by the way, I think you're a fantastic writer.

       FMK: Thanks!

       Jessica Alba (imaginary, nude): Have you been working out?

To be fair, Mickey has another prescription for raising wages:

How about restoring economic growth and creating a tight labor market, giving all workers (not just the unionized) greater bargaining leverage?

How about that! The solution to our economic problems might be to restore economic growth? Man, I would have never thought of that! It must be because I, like all liberals everywhere, hate economic growth.

Mickey refers to his plan as the "traditional Clintonite formula" -- which makes perfect sense when you remember how Robert Reich busted the AFL-CIO and Janet Reno built a border fence -- and offers it as a sort of rebuttal to the Kevin Drum crowd.

Of course, FDR -- that old Clintonite -- was able to restore economic growth, and create a tight labor market, too. But, really, what's the point of economic progress if it doesn't involve picking on Mickey's enemies?

Day Seven

Since we last left him, Mickey's Holiday blogging has consisted of:

1) A drive-by cheap shot at Washington Post television critic Tom Shales, in the course of slagging Jon Klein (naturally), for reasons unknown.

Two year-end TV roundups--by Tom Shales and by Inside Cable News. One of these guys is paid an incredible amount of money. And one of them phones in a list of usual suspects.

Does Tom Shales really make an "incredible amount of money"? Does anyone, anywhere, know or care what Tom Shales' salary is? Did Tom side with Andrew Sullivan during the great New Republic Douchebag War of 1996 or something?

2) The umpteenth quote from a frankly pedestrian anti-union article by Robert M. Kaus.

Now, I don't want to start any irresponsible speculation here, but this is the fourth citation of the same Harper's article, and Mickey has never, ever cited anything as much as this (other than the End of Equality, available in many fine bookstores this holiday season!). Is Robert some distant relation? Or an illicit lover? Perhaps a fellow goat enthusiast?

Mickey's non-denial denial (silence counts!) is frankly inadequate. A discerning readership demands answers!

3) The observation that workers in some industries benefit from unions more than workers in other industries. Therefore, Mickey reasons, the solution is ... fewer unions.

Richard Posner makes an essential point usually overlooked by those on the left who instinctively support unionism in the hope that it will achieve some sort of just redistribution of income.

Note that Mickey is now attacking unions for being insufficiently devoted to ... what, exactly? Leninism?

I've never understood why leftish idealists ever bought into the idea that this is distributive justice.

Stupid leftish idealists! Just as only Nixon can go to China, only Mickey can attack unions for being insufficiently leftist. Any weapon to hand, no?

It's true that unions are poor vehicles for equitable distribution of wealth. They have also failed to cure cancer, and they haven't done anything to stop Russian aggression in post-communist Europe.

Additionally, they make terrible pets.

Of course, none of these criticisms has a single thing to do with the primary purpose of labor unions, which -- as everyone knows -- is to annoy the hell out of Mickey Kaus.

4) Finally, Alert Reader T. sends the following links, pointing out that:

- Workers want unions.

- Many workers would join a union if they could.

- Unions are broadly supported by the middle class.

- Unions are broadly supported by Americans.

One of the most interesting facets of Mickey's blogging on card check is that he automatically assumes that support for the measure is electoral poison, and especially so if the American public were fully aware of the evils of the EFCA.

It's almost as though he's "engaging it the easy assumption that one's righteous views are shared by the great and good American people." If only there was a name for this kind of fallacy! (search for "Howell Raines", and thank me later).

Thank goodness he's not relying on the American people as a cavalry that never comes!

p.s. Thanks for the link, Mickey!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day Six

Is the better metaphor a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters eventually writing the complete works of Shakespeare, or a broken clock being right twice a day?

Because I'm totally down with Mickey today.

In reverse chronological order, he argues that:

1) The auto bailout really isn't hugely problematic.
2) Blanche Lincoln (D - WalMart) is probably gonna vote against card check.
3) The Yglesias affair is creepy as hell.

Of course, Mickey, being Mickey, believes that this is because:

1) Obama will be unable to re-extend credit to the auto companies, because the bailout helps unions and ...
2) Anything that helps unions must be hugely unpopular among the electorate! Because ... well, just look at them! Unions! Booooo! [Talk about cocooning -- ed. You said it, completely fictional representation of a third party observer!]
3) As for this one, well ... the Yglesias affair really *is* creepy as hell.

There's an old joke that hitting one out of every three pitches gets you into the baseball Hall of Fame, but returning one out of every three serves wouldn't even get you into minor league tennis.

It's pretty clear which standard they're using with Mickey, isn't it?

Don't Go Changing, Tom

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Day Five

In the course of a discussion with his "editor" (think Good Gollum arguing with Bad Gollum in "Lord of the Rings") about the deleterious effects of illegal immigration on unskilled wages, Mickey drops some knowledge:

The UAW's members negotiated above-market wages, demanded lots of legalistic work rules, and now want taxes on people like $10/hour agricultural laborers to bail them out when their firms go under (while deferring modest wage adjustments until 2011). Seems like a different case!

The way I understand it, wages fairly negotiated between two parties constitute the "market" wage, and it's presumptive evidence of some sort of improper manipulation when the price is "above" or "below" market. Mickey here seems to be arbitrarily defining non-union wages as "market" (rather than, you know, "lower"), which leads us to infer some unseemly violation on the part of the unions to command "above-market" ("higher") wages.

It raises the question: if you're the Chamber of Commerce, why do you even need lobbyists when ideologues like Mickey are more than willing to argue that basic union representation is a form of unsavory market manipulation? The best part is that Mickey and his ilk work below-market. Or, you know, "cheap".

[Of course, it's also possible that Mickey is using the Republican definition of "market", which means "the price I think they're worth." And since Republicans consider only four kinds of workers deserving of money -- hedge fund managers, investment bankers, corporate executives, and industry lobbyists; everybody else who is able to live comfortably is basically stealing -- autoworkers are paid de facto above-market wages.]

But maybe your point is that
restricting the flow of illegal immigrant labor can raise the wages at the bottom of the ladder, for the "least among us," while protecting the UAW protects the $50/hour "aristocracy" of the labor movement. That must be it. I wonder which course the Democratic party dogma prefers.

Kausfiles! Protecting workers from Democrats since 1999!

See, he's not anti-labor, he's anti-Labor. He's totally with the unskilled workers of the world! Until they unionize. Or turn into Mexicans.

[Can they do that? -- ed. Quiet, my preciousss ...]

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day Four

A veritable smorgasbord today: Dem corruption (actually, the appearance of the appearance of the possibility of the illusion of corruption, as a late update clarifies) and a double-bank-shot where Bush's auto bailout package somehow reveals both Obama's fecklessness and the UAW's Machiavellian scheming (at this point, of course, passing clouds remind Mickey of Obama's impotence in the face of all-powerful Democratic interest groups).

The gem of the group, however, is this little item:

Obama in a manger ... and they say he's burdened himself with messianic expectations. ...[But Carla Bruni is there too. And Silvio Berlusconi--ed Where's Greg Packer?]

Following the link, one sees a benign "aren't foreigners weird?" story about the Neopolitan tradition of including non-canon figures in with the nativity scene; Obama is among those being sold for use in such displays.

Mickey, however, turns this into (a) a revival of the Obama-as-messiah criticism that was fuzzy with mold in August, and (b) a shout-out to the closest thing the right-blogosphere has ever come to a joke. This spinning of amusing nothing into bilious something, kids, is what it means to be a professional. "Any weapon to hand", right?

Brief aside for the uninitiated: Greg Packer is a Long Island native and unrepentant publicity whore who has become the go-to guy for "man on the street"-type quotations in various newspapers solely by being first in line for various events. In the hands of, say, 4chan, this could have been a fantastic internet meme. Sadly, his endeavor was uncovered first by right-wing bloggers, who stomped all over the comedic potential by making him yet another exhibit (along with the RAND corporation and the reverse vampires) in their never-ending quest to uncover the MSM's conspiracy against them. All thumbs, those ones.

Anyway, remember when I was dreaming up scenarios that might make Mickey's head explode? Don't look now, but Obama's nominee for Labor Secretary is the daughter of a Mexican teamster. Please, for the sake of all the Southern Californian dinner party hosts and Starbucks baristas, do not mention this to Mickey. Blotting with club soda can only clean up so much.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day Three

Actual posting today! Hurrah! Mickey tackles the unique quandary of Ford, which is probably healthy enough to not need bailout funds and may or may not want its brethren to be rescued. Naturally, Mickey dances right past the fact that a unionized Ford was somehow capable of improving quality and changing to meet the marketplace (two things unions are categorically incapable of doing according to the Gospel of Mickey) and the possibility that better management might be responsible for their comparative success. Instead, he finds himself in quite the dilemma:

Brian Faughnan argues that's good for Ford, because GM and Chrysler (if the latter still exists) will be under the thumb of the "car czar" and Congress--and therefore under pressure to reduce their profitable truck and SUV business "in favor of the green cars that Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and Barney Frank regard as the wave of the future."

But Kirk Petersen argues that it's bad for Ford to not go bankrupt, if the GM and Chrysler bailouts include bankruptcy-style UAW concessions--which could leave Ford as the high cost producer.

Behind one door are ... Democrats! Behind the other? Unions! Ahhh! The horror!

One could point out that neither Democrats nor unions bear primary responsibility for the current economic climate, but that would be silly. Sure, we're enduring the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression, but think about how much worse things would be if Democrats or unions were running things.

You see, Mickey's an optimist. You see a glass as half empty, he sees it as a reactionary Republican senator from a right-to-work state.

Actually, I don't know enough to know which side is right.

Cage match! Two stupid bedrock conservative assumptions enter! Only one shall leave!

Also, should this sentence be a permanent Kausfiles disclosure? I say yes.

A prepackaged bankruptcy that gets the government out of making these decisions--with attendant well-padded influence-peddling on all sides--looks increasingly appealing.

Really? A plan that gets the government out of making decisions while allowing companies to break union contracts looks appealing to Mickey? You don't say. Tack on a rider starting construction of a border fence and outlawing the L.A. Times and you've got yourselves an endorsement!

Thought experiment: if Democrats introduced a bill allowing the border fence, but mandating union construction workers, and the L.A. Times opposed it, would Mickey's head explode like the dude in Scanners?


I Am Shocked, Shocked To Find Premature Criticism of Obama Here

An almost perfect encapsulation of John Dickerson's travails as he's thrown willy-nilly by the group-think of the Washington Press Corps:

12/9 -- Criminal Complaint is released, contains no evidence of any wrongdoing or even awareness of wrongdoing on the part of Obama ("Motherfucker A" in the complaint, I believe). Obama "looks great"!

12/9 -- Within 24 hours, this obvious lack of evidence has magically combined with an "unsatisfying" Obama response to produce the vague outlines of a scandal. Left unsaid is that any response short of "I resign" is unsatisfying to right-wingers desperately trying to push this story into the Clinton Zone of Permanent Suspicion.

12/10-12/15 -- Quick break: "Boy, it must be hard to be Bush."

12/17 -- Hey, lay off Obama, boys! He's had enough from you terrible vultures! Quit telling him his responses are "unsatisfying" and raise unsettling questions!

In the world of criminal law, a member of a criminal conspiracy can avoid being culpable for the acts of his conspirators if he openly withdraws from the conspiracy by disavowing the conspiracy prior to the criminal act. In practice, this means that you get a lot of criminals jumping ship and "disavowing" their cohorts at the point when it becomes obvious that the scheme is going to fail.

I'd like to say that explains why, after a week of Blago scandal coverage utterly failed to dent Obama's popularity, Dickerson has decided to turn and lecture his peers on the irresponsibility of scandal-mongering. But that would be unrealistic -- in real life, criminals don't turn on each other that quickly.

Day Two

"She was 'no drama' before 'no drama' was cool." I think they've discovered a tactful way to say "boring."

Ladies and gentlemen, the entirety of Mickey Kaus' output for a non-holiday Wednesday!

In case you're wondering why it's titled "Caroline, No II", the post apparently stands as a sequel to "Caroline, No", originally published several weeks ago. The previous iteration consisted entirely of two links to articles by Russ "I Would Do Anything For Love But I Won't" Douthat and [Richard/Dick] [Bradley/Blow], which means that relatively speaking Mickey has substantially upped his production.

It should be noted that Dick Blow's article -- under the "Richard Bradley" byline, naturally -- contained two (2) disclosures of personal animus towards Caroline Kennedy, two (2) fact-free suppositions (both her commitment and her interests "seemed" phony), two (2) baseless hypotheticals ("maybe" she's being pressured or "maybe" she's convinced herself -- who can say for sure?), one (1) direct flight into imagination, and zero (0) quotes from anyone.

I mean, even Mickey quotes people from time to time. That's what makes him a journalist.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Whereupon The Author Engages In Honest Self-Appraisal

Take it away, David Sanger.

As a sitting president and a president-elect maneuver over how to bail out Detroit – and ultimately how to convince the Big Three to radically change their ways -- there may be some instructive lessons in the Middle East peace process.

The Middle East? At first blush it may seem a bit farfetched.

A bit? At first blush? Everyone in the world blushing at the same time wouldn't make this analogy make sense. I'd think you'd have to blush so many times that blood would start shooting out of your cheeks.

The analogy, granted, is imperfect.

No, the jeans I got at the outlet mall with one leg longer than the other are imperfect. The "Dolex" watch I got in Chinatown is imperfect. Giotti's "perfect circle" was imperfect. This analogy is retarded.

Already, I hear some skepticism:

Thank God, I have listed here thirty-five different ways this comparison makes no sense and --

In the Mideast, the negotiations are all about survival – which is why no one is willing to give ground. But in the Midwest, isn’t there broad agreement about what where the industry needs to head?

Or ... you know ... maybe ... the fact that auto companies are not killing each other? That gross mismanagement of three corporations is not comparable to a centuries-old religious and geopolitical struggle? That the fight for control of the automobile market share did not sow seeds of modern terrorism? That sort of thing, perhaps?

Oh, and would the UAW be Hamas in this metaphor?

Is Syria Toyota?

When asked to play Devil's Advocate, does David Sanger totally agree with everything you're saying except for one minor detail?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You're Doing It Wrong

Seriously, New York Times? "Hooking up"?

The paradigm has shifted. Dating is dated. Hooking up is here to stay.

Paradigm shifts? Was this article trapped underneath something for the last decade? Was it found in a time capsule? Encased in amber?

The whole "oh my god, the kids are doing this thing called 'hooking up' and it's a total catastrophe" story was lame when an already over-the-hill Tom Wolfe did it in 2001, and it's downright embarrassing now. For the last time, "hooking up" means anything from kissing to groping to the kind of awesome contortionist sex that would make a Japanese porno enthusiast blush. The term is purposefully vague and designed to flummox older outsiders. Congratulations, kids! It works!

Two final notes to Mr. Blow (!), "Kids" director Larry Clark, the decomposing corpse of Tom Wolfe, whoever the hell wrote/directed "Thirteen", professional feminist concern troll Caitlin Flanagan, and the 432 other people who have written/are going to write the "Why Young People Having Sex Is Very Wrong" article:

1) When Mr. Darcy saves Lydia Bennet from ruin at the hands of Mr. Wickham, it is not because it is a good thing for Lydia's heart, or her psychological health, or her long-term economic prospects, or her spiritual well-being. It was solely to preserve her reputation, which was seen as a value in itself. This Victorian obsession with the ruination of girls (see also every single vampire story ever) is entirely unrelated to women as women, women as individuals with rights and desires, or women as people, full stop. The scolds then were merely using the consequences of their anti-sexual idiosyncracies to justify the existence of their anti-sexual idiosyncracies, and so are you.

2) Please stop laboring under the pretense that the "Is Very Wrong" part of your article/movie/comic strip somehow transforms a voyeuristic descent into adolescent sexuality into a dispassionate act of journalistic documentation. The difference between your work and the come-ons in my spam folder is that yours was probably spell-checked.

p.s. Do articles like these qualify as "hand-wringing" if they are clearly written with one hand?

Day One

Today Mickey tackles the auto industry bailout, which suits him far, far better than discussing the financial sector bailout.

In Mickey's world, there are only three plausible causes for anything bad in the world: 1) illegal immigrants; 2) unions (especially teachers' unions); and 3) soft-headed Warren Court liberals. Some other groups get dinged through bank shots -- Mickey's a fan of decrying the bling-bling welfare culture of dependancy and denouncing overzealous gay rights activists, but never levels charges at blacks or gays themselves. And naturally anyone in the all-powerful-yet-about-to-die MSM not willing to tell it like it is (i.e., blame nos. 1-3) will come in for a rough time, but the true villainy are apparent.

This made Mickey's analysis of the Bear/AIG/Lehman disasters quite difficult, as none of the parties was run by or for Mexicans, unionized workers, or anyone willing to listen to Mexicans or unionized workers. Mickey, being a professional, gamely tried to pin the collapse on minorities, but he abandoned the effort much quicker than some of his colleagues, probably because he couldn't pull any anecdotes out of his plodding daily life to use as data points in his punditry. If freeway commutes/restaurant visits/dinner parties in Southern California aren't going to magically educate Mickey about credit default swaps, then it seems that nothing will.

The auto bailout, on the other hand, is almost perfect for Mickey. Sure, the UAW is no AFT, but it is a union with the gall to act as a representative for workers in contract negotiations, and the indecency to drive the best bargain for its members. It's as good as it's going to get until Obama revives the corpse of William Brennan, and makes him the point man for comprehensive immigration reform.