Friday, January 30, 2009

Kausfiles Minus Kaus, pt. 1

A new series, wherein I remove whole sentences from context, and choose to engage Mickey as though he were referring to practical concerns instead of feverishly chasing union organizers down rabbit holes.

What will it mean to the economy if wages and other contract terms stop being set by the push and pull of negotiation and come to be set instead by arbitrators operating in accordance with some sort of de facto non-market custom?

That's a good point, Mickey! CEO pay has risen over 500% relative to worker pay in the last two decades, largely because those serving on corporate boards have a broadly self-serving interest in increasing management compensation, and shareholders are structurally cut out of the process.

Corporate governance reform is truly necessary.



Was there no domestic policy infighting under Bush, or did the press just not care enough about it to report?


There was no domestic policy under Bush.

P.S.: For some reason I'm looking forward to the press coverage of mindlessly vicious bureaucratic infighting in the Obama administration.

P.S. The "reason" is that you hate the press and you hate Democrats.

You're welcome.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Neoliberals Call It "Dismantling The Welfare State"

Mickey's slow descent into second-hand Gawker (see here; also, he's suddenly started to reference Julia Allison for reasons unknown [does he know she once dated Harold Ford? -- ed. ... man, think of all the black female resentment blogging we missed!]) continues today with a link to their story about how "[m]en who are very sexually active in their twenties and thirties are more likely to develop prostate cancer, especially if they masturbate frequently."

Mickey, god love him, spins this Fark fodder into pure gold:

Do the stats reflect just correlation or causation? The viability of a peculiar kind of theraputic, sexually permissive liberalism -- most unfortunately symbolized by Bill Clinton's Surgeon General -- hangs in the balance.

First of all, hats (pants?) off to Mickey for working his rejection of excessive '60s liberalism into a post about sex ("I didn't leave the orgy, the orgy left me!"), thus confirming my suspicion that the roots of neoliberalism are less Daniel Patrick Moynihan and more Sigmund Freud.

Secondly, are we sure that men need the "peculiar kind of theraputic, sexually permissive liberalism" to convince them to masturbate? If so, does this explain Sarah Palin?

Third, it is never, ever too late to take a shot at Joceyln Elders, even fourteen years (!) later. Mickey saw his advantage and he took it. That's what heroes do.


/stumbles blindly away from keyboard

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Influence-Peddling Elephant In The Room

Here's another thing that kills me about Mickey's bailout blogging:

Detroit's major plan for continued viability, as best as anyone could discern one, was to shovel money at Congress to protect their only profitable line of business (selling heavy trucks and SUVs) by maintaining environmentally destructive and energy inefficient mileage/emissions standards, and hoping that the cost of fueling these vehicles never went up. This kind of action -- substituting government special-pleading for a competent business strategy -- is the kind of thing Public Choice Theory-lite neoliberals like Mickey live for.

Look at what it's got: (1) the "why liberals should be upset" hook (for most of Mickey's anti-union or -immigrant rants, this hook is "impact on low-income workers"; in this case, it would be "damage to the environment"), (2) a solid government-is-hopelessly-broken angle, and (3) some Democratic complicity in the problem (setting up the classic Kaus-ish "electing progressives leads to less progress" denouement).

Put them together and you've got the tried-and-true neoliberal slogan:

"If you really were a liberal, you'd hate liberalism and hate Democrats."

But Mickey needs more people buying into the false choice between productivity and unionization or else something like card check might actually pass the Senate. Also, Mickey basically considers unions the Death Star of contemporary liberalism's Empire (with the UAW manning the giant laser or something), and the enemy of your enemy is your friend, and so on.

But still. Watching Mickey pass up a perfectly good opportunity like this just so he doesn't have to temper his anti-union blogging is just so ... refreshing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Return

Hooray! Kausfiles is back!

After finding approximately seven distinct political philosophies carefully planted within Tuesday morning's 2400-word inaugural address, Mickey transformed into a catty gossip (well, more so) for the remainder of the week, offering us:

- Quincy Jones' drunk-on-TV shenanigans, which in the pantheon of inebriated television moments is well above David Gregory's sad little Imus episode and far, far below Suzy Kolber's encounter with Joe Namath; and

- A familiar grievance regarding the way parties stash celebrities far away from Mickey in a kind of a pre-emptive restraining order (does he know that he recycled that joke about V-VIP rooms from "Zoolander"?).

Now, publishing two sub-Wonkette level posts in a five day span can be exhausting (don't I know it!), so what subject does Mickey choose to regale us with upon his return to the four or five things he can't stop writing about politics?

The auto bailout! Oh, awesome.

Gettelfinger argued Toyota's workers actually make $2-per-hour more than UAW workers, if you count bonuses ...

If Toyota can afford to pay its workers $2/hour more than UAW workers--perhaps because it doesn't have to build cars under the union's legalistic work rule system--that's great. It doesn't mean Gettelfinger's workers have a right to $28/hour if at that wage their employers can't stay in business without an ongoing multi-billion dollar subsidy. I'm sorry if this seems obvious. It's apparently not obvious enough.

Gettelfinger's point, which seems obvious, but is apparently not obvious enough [is that sneering? -- ed. No! Sneering is unbecoming ...], appears to be that if labor costs are the same across firms then perhaps labor costs are not the primary culprit for the auto industry's current failures, or at least aren't the cripplingly destructive force that folks like Mickey seem to think they are. Mickey -- with the grace you'd expect from a squinty, bald hippopotamus -- simply modifies his original theory ("Above-market wages are killing the auto companies!") to line up with what he's really been saying all along ("Any union-negotiated wage -- high, low, whatever -- will kill the auto companies!").

Now, maybe the problem really is legalistic work rules -- a Steven Rattner article older than Ezra Klein about auto plants on a different continent kinda sorta says it is! -- or perhaps it's, you know, a long legacy of terrible management.

(I mean, one would think that the inability to stay competitive despite selling a product everyone needs with a decades-long head start in the market would be an obvious sign of failure in company governance, but that's maybe too not obvious enough for Mickey.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The "Ny" Mets Are Tom Friedman's Favorite Squadron

Where to start?

His image of one America stuck in multiple holes -- even after Matt Taibbi specifically mocked him for his belief in the unified theory of hole-sitting? His reference to "this crazy quilt of immigrants called Americans" (this grammatical nightmare called failures of singular/plural agreement; this awful collection of words called sentences; this terribly constructed pile of idiotic ideas called Tom Friedmans)?

I'll go with this:

That is why this voter is hoping Obama will swing for the fences. But he also has to remember to run the bases. George Bush swung for some fences, but he often failed at the most basic element of leadership — competent management and follow-through.

President Obama will have to decide just how many fences he can swing for at one time[.]

Has Tom Friedman watched even a single inning of baseball?

I hope, for all of our sakes, that Obama can make this decision quickly, as there's only one damn fence in a baseball game. There are multiple pitches and multiple at-bats, either of which would have made for a less-awful metaphor. You don't have, and can never have, multiple fences, each representing a distinct accomplishment.

And did Bush hit the goddamn ball or not? The decision to run the bases kind of depends on that, doesn't it? Is there really a Bush catastrophe that could be described as hitting a home run but forgetting to run the bases? It strikes me that Bush's problem was less that he forgot to run the bases, and more the fact that all his ideas about how to play baseball were horribly wrong and catastrophically destructive.

The more you stare at it, the more problems emerge. Friedman is trying to use running the bases as the equivalent of the day-to-day management that Bush had no interest in, but running the bases is a gigantic and obvious part of the game (for most). Cranky middle-aged sportswriters have long employed "hitting the cut-off man" or "taking the extra base" as examples of underappreciated fundamentals -- why use the most blindingly obvious part of the game to express attention to detail?

Also: Can't you only swing for only one fence at one time? Is he holding multiple bats? Was Bugs Bunny the pitcher?

Isn't the manager supposed to be guilty of poor management, instead of the batter?

Lemme take a crack at this:

I hope that Obama is trying to hit a home run every time he steps to the Congressional Plate, as going 2-for-4 with two singles and a walk (with the walk representing spending on roads and bridges instead of high speed rail) is unlikely to win the World Series of Competent Governance.

He should also coach his teammates to go from first to third on a ball hit to right field, as failure to do so will result in the defeat of card check legislation.

Where's my book deal?

Irresponsible Not To Speculate!

Did Mickey finally make it to Townhouse while he was in D.C.?

And was it like Jim Garrison visiting Dallas?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fun Time Inauguration Interpretation!

Wherein I present:

Mickey's Next Updates To His Reaction To Obama's Inaugural Address!

- "Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began." Pro-union! Boo!

- "the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job." Pro-"flexibility"! Anti-union! Yay!

- "new era of responsibility" Pro-welfare reform! Yay!

- "a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous" Pro-redistribution! Pie slicing! Boo!

- "This is the price and the promise of citizenship." Anti-amnesty! Yay!

- "hard work and honesty" Anti-union!

- "courage and fair play" Pro-Wagner Act!

- "It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame." Pro-welfare reform but distressingly paleo-liberal!

- "the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply." Anti-Mickey Kaus! Booooo!

- "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them" Hmm ... it's not 1998 (or 1977?) anymore? What? Boo!

- "Parsing public statements to the point where they can support two diametrically opposite political positions so that one can later prove one's prescience regardless of the actual outcome of events does not constitute cogent analysis, and is a transparently hackneyed tactic" [not actually part of the speech -- ed. Mickey was too busy hanging with Maureen Dowd at what must have been the worst party in Washington to notice!] ... uh ...

Feel free to copy and paste, Mickey!

Anne Applebaum Is Like A Plane Crashing Into A River And Sinking

I linked earlier to that Anne Applebaum story, just to highlight the ridiculousness of her analogy, but there are a couple wonderful passages there.

[O]ne aspect of the new administration's various "bailout" plans worries me in particular: the assumption, which seems to lie behind them, that people make better decisions when they are handling public money than they do when they are handling their own money.

Even Mickey, master of the Straw Man, probably wouldn't go so far as to suggest that the Wall Street bailout is predicated on high-school-level anti-capitalist theories (Здравствуйте, Comrade Paulson!). Plus, wouldn't any decisions that don't lead to the near-total collapse of the financial services industry qualify as "better decisions"? Applebaum seems to be setting the bar pretty low here, even as she indicts no-one in particular of rejecting free market capitalism.

It's like she's accusing the fire department of failing to believe enough in people's ability to put out fires themselves. While standing in a burning building. In Dresden.

Anyway, the best part is that her evidence of this theory ... wait for it ... is Hurricane Katrina! In Applebaum's world, the problem with the government reaction to Katrina was that there was too much intervention:

Following the initial failure of the federal government during Hurricane Katrina, for example, government money poured into New Orleans in the weeks and months afterward. The result: large-scale fraud, massive dissatisfaction, and mobile homes so badly built that they could not be used.

Thus, Applebaum reframes the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina (death toll: 1,836) as a failure of government expenditure accountability, and is trying to use Bush's dramatic failure there to damn Keynesian economics. I would call that Kaus-esque, but Mickey would have found a way to work Davis-Bacon into it, too.

Yet many good things happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Volunteers of all kinds flocked to the city; local self-help organizations sprung up. This isn't to say there was no role for government, but that government worked best by supporting citizens' initiatives, not by replacing them.

Local Self-Help:

Citizen Initiatives:

My greatest fear is that in trying to fix the economy, the new administration will waste time and money in the mistaken belief that government-funded, centrally planned infrastructure projects will somehow use money more effectively than their private or locally inspired equivalents.

Coincidentally, that was Herbert Hoover's biggest fear, too. My biggest fear is zombies.

Also, note how the poor phrasing implies that "locally inspired" is somehow distinct from both "government-funded" and "private". Are we supposed to expand our public transportation network through a bake sale or something? Applebaum is such a sharp mind that given a choice between laissez faire capitalism and New Deal public investment -- in the middle of a financial meltdown, no less -- she opts for Localism Inspirationomics.

If you're wondering how in the hell she got here from the "Barack Obama as a courageous pilot" angle, it's because she abandoned her metaphor (like a sinking passenger jet!) less than halfway through her incredibly brief article and jumped aboard a half-baked libertarian missive (like a water taxi responding to a crisis!), only to try to salvage it at the very end (like the NTSB!).

[H]e will fail if he abandons the many lessons learned about the relationship between government and the governed over the past several decades—a relationship not unlike that between pilots, however heroic, and the passengers they are trying to save.

a) The decision to ditch the plane in the water should not have been "centrally planned"?
b) Even heroic pilots will fail if they don't follow the teachings of Milton Friedman?
c) If Rousseau had been alive during the era of jet travel, would his treatise have been called "The Social Boarding Pass"?

At least we can all agree that the evacuation of the plane was "locally inspired".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yet Another Domestic Iraq

In the course of complaining about how Obama refuses to use his new perch to destroy America's unions (was that a campaign promise?), Mickey says:

The auto bailout sounds more like Iraq every week.

Now, Mickey's not the first one to compare the auto bailout to an intractable foreign policy clusterfuck (and not the the first one I've mocked for doing so), and Mickey's certainly not the only one at Slate above comparing Thing A to Thing B on the flimsiest of pretenses (George Lucas is like Henry Kissinger!, the UAW is like immigration activists!, etc.), and it's definitely not Mickey's first foray into "Hey liberals, this thing I hate is like that war you hate!" territory. But, still.

It really is remarkable that Mickey can look at the Iraq War, with its massive cost, shifting rationale, availability of other less-bad options, and lack of meaningful oversight ... and see the Auto Bailout.

But then I remember that Mickey can't blame the collapse of Lehman Brothers on Democratic special interest groups, and it all makes sense.

Friday, January 16, 2009

We Were Not Warned

Oh, Good Lord.

On the morning after the election, Kristin Rothballer, 36, who lives in San Francisco, kissed her female partner goodbye on the train while commuting to work. A black woman who sat down next to her turned and said she was sorry that Proposition 8, the amendment to ban gay marriage in the state, looked like it was going to pass.

“We grabbed hands,” Ms. Rothballer recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, I really want to congratulate you because we have a black president and that’s amazing.’ ”

"Uh ... say, is this my stop? Oh, yes, yes, it is! You can let go of my hand now ... but yeah, black president ... awesome ... thank you, crazy white lady ..."

/runs, doesn't look back

Talk to liberals at your own risk, public transit users!

“Our conversation then almost became about the fact that we were having the conversation,” she said.

"And sometimes I need a reminder to look at my reminders! It's, like, so weird and stuff, right? Wait, what were we talking about?"

Something moved her to apologize to the black woman for slavery.

“For two strangers riding a train to Oakland to have that conversation about race, it wouldn’t have been possible if Obama hadn’t been elected,” she said. “I always felt open with my colleagues, but to say to a stranger on the train, ‘Hey, I’m sorry about slavery,’ that just doesn’t happen.”

In the run-up to the election we were told that an Obama victory would lead to socialism, black nationalism, Islamic theocracy, capitulation to Iran/Al Qaeda/Canada, on and on, ad infitinum ... but nobody, NOBODY told me it would inspire the papier-mache-puppet-doing-slam-poetry set to utter the words "Hey, I'm sorry about slavery."

More forthcoming apologies:

"Yeah, my bad for the Native American genocide."
"Totes soz dude, I blew it with the whole imperialist foreign policy thing."
"Sry 4 teh sexism." (via text message)

[I mean, that sounds ... I just want you to know this is like the first conversation of like three conversations that leads to you being a neoliberal. Like ... there's this and then in a year it's like, "Oh you know, I kinda wanna, ya know, vote for a Democrat but I hate Code Pink and I find GOOD Magazine to be insufferable" and then there's the big, "Oh I'm -- I'm reading Mickey Kaus now." -- ed.]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kaus! Kaus Everywhere!

Goddamnit! I can't even enjoy my sports without access, favor or discretion without running into some form of Kaus-ery!

This post links to an amusing column by erstwhile Mickey-brother Stephen Kaus. Stephen, in a break with apparent family tradition, has actually published/done something in the last fifteen years, and has been rewarded with the kind of comedy pyramid you could run Slate's Fray for a million years and never get. Well done, sir.

Anyway, it reminds to rank my all-time favorite Kauses:

1) Otto Kaus, of "alligator in the bathtub" fame
2) Stephen Kaus,
3) Gina Kaus -- she worked with Alfred Hitchcock!
4) KAUS 1480 AM, South-Central Minnesota's Rockin' Country Music Station ... for AMERICA, not you goddamn communists.
5) Robert M. Kaus, author of "Unions:Parasites or Cancers?" (to truly appreciate it, read it while listening to Thriller and wearing a piano-key necktie)
6) Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
7) The brightest star in Sagittarius
8) Maus, by Art Spiegelman (close enough)


145) Mickey Kaus

Kevin Drum Asks What We're All Thinking

Is this supposed to be serious?

No, no, I think not.

Not when support for something more than a 12% rate of unionization is automatically construed to be a de facto rejection of a Pareto-optimal economy. Pie enlargement? Ha! No pie for anyone!

Not when an endorsement of collective bargaining is per se evidence that you're anti-economic growth (and the primary citations for this proposition are older than, say, Punky Brewster).

Not when opposing a border fence means you simply don't care about low-income workers.

Not when standing up to people in your party and the people who elected you is more important than standing up to the people who, you know, voted against you. (Sistah Souljah Forevah!)

Not when letting the allegedly perfect get in the way of the generally good is a goddamn mantra.

Not when you interpret every victory for right-wing lunatics as the just rebuke of your foolhardy liberal enemies instead of the ascendancy of a batshit-crazy political and social ideology.

/searching for link
/still searching
/inserts link to everything Mickey's ever written

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Extra G Is For Extra WronG

And speaking of Gregg Easterbrook (think Mickey Kaus if Mickey had a creepy obsession with cheerleaders and engaged in unbelievably pretentious NFL analysis), he recently dropped some knowledge in the midst of his unceasing wankery football column:

Bush declared a crisis of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and asked Congress for extraordinary powers to invade a nation that did not appear to pose any threat to the United States ... Presidents love to cry crisis and then ask for extra power and extra money outside normal channels of accountability.

Gregggg is making the fairly obvious point that emergency powers tend to beget emergencies, only he's saying it in his patented insufferable elitist "if only everyone listened to the Brookings Institution" voice. But it got me to thinking: I wonder what Greggggggg thought of the Iraq war at the time?

Unless Saddam leaves Iraq, I vote for attack. Between dramatic improvements in U.S. bombing accuracy and tactics since the Gulf War and the disrepair of Iraqi ground forces, fighting should be relatively brief. I realize people have said that on the eves of wars before and been ruinously wrong.

I see the possibilities of a U.S. attack this way:

  • A 25 percent chance of fiasco.
  • A 25 percent chance of inconclusive result—say, Saddam is deposed just as U.S. units cross the border, we withdraw, and the new guy is just as bad.
  • A 25 percent chance of a better world—Iraq disarmed, regional tensions lowered, Iraqi-terrorist connections ended, and a better life for the people of Iraq.
  • A 25 percent chance of a magnificent result—Iraq becomes a democracy and leads the Arab world into freedom, history ultimately viewing this American action as the third great United States liberation after the liberations of Germany and Japan.

That's two positive prospects, one neutral, and one negative, so I think we should try. But of course this is easy for me to say because I will not get shot at, nor run any risk that my family will be hit by a malfunctioning U.S. bomb.

I quote it in its entirety, because it's just so perfect.

a) Look at those percentages! Nate Silver, eat your heart out.
b) "You know these odds I've assigned arbitrarily? They say we should do it. You can't argue with math!"
c) You know why the Gregggggggs of the world resent elected government? Because our retarded center-right think tanks ("25% chance of Tom Friedman's wet dream coming true!") are the only things that make our failure of a democracy look good.
d) This is kind of unfair, as it's not like Greg^25 would ever mock anyone else's terrible predictions. And it's certainly not as if TMQ is one long example of using after-the-fact analysis to pretend that everything that happened was obvious all along ...

I have to say, the one saving grace about his football writing (now comprising between 8% and 10% of his football columns) is that he's not some ridiculous talking head, shaping and re-shaping every event to fit his narrative, and he actually analyzes the game from an objective, level-headed perspective. Oh, wait.

TMQ's Motto: All Predictions Wrong or Your Money Back

You don't say.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kausfiles' Band of the Year: Foreigner

I don't mean to alarm anyone, but these are the most recent articles that Mickey has cited positively:

- A 1981 article by Steven Rattner about union auto shops in Great Britain. (link)
- A 1983 Gregg Easterbrook article about how high wages hurt the poor (via a cite to ... himself)
- A 1972 (!) Tom Geoghegan article about the '70s schism in the Democratic Party (link)
- The 1983 be-all and end-all Harper's article on unionism by Robert M. Kaus (link)

I think I know what this means ...

Mickey's Lexis-Nexis account is trapped under something.

Mickey's ability to read long-form journalism was stored in his hair.

Neoliberalism died a quarter of a century ago, and Mickey has been tending to the body like Miss Emily to Homer Barron.

Mickey's blog is being published on a twenty-five year time delay.

Prove me wrong, Mickey!

Monday, January 12, 2009

This Week In Hell

George Stephanopoulos: Welcome to This Week In Washington, where we've assembled a facile panel of idiots to try to tackle basic Keynesian economics. Newt Gingrich, Peggy Noonan, George Will, and Tom Friedman ... let's start!

Tom: We need to go big, go green, and go ... *smart*. We need to smarten up the government. It's all in my new book, "The Smartening: The Future Of Our Big Green Economy", available at your local airport bookstore and featured on the bookshelves of people you can't believe are more successful than you.

Peggy: Recession? What recession? All the rich people I know still have their money!

/sloshes martini

/actually said that

Tom: We need to harness the now, and roundify the flatness.

G. Will: You see, this all reminds me of something Samuel Johnson said that reminds me of the greatness of Ronald Reagan ...

Newt: My dissertation was on Belgian education policy in Africa. What could I possibly contribute to this conversation?

Tom: I've been to China. They have money in China, you know. China!


/puts on stupid hat, raps with Coolio

Tom: Here's what we say to Wall Street. Here it is. What we say is:

/gesturing with thumb and forefinger like he's about to throw a dart

If I can change ... and you can change ...

/furrows brow, moustache

Everybody. Can. Change.

/G. Will, Peggy, Stephanopoulos nod approvingly

Newt: Isn't that from "Rocky IV"?

G. Will: As I believe Cicero once asked: is Obama working hard? Or hardly working?

Newt: That's from a truck stop t-shirt!

Tom: Rammer. Jammer.

/long pause


/pushes fingers into palm


George Stephanopoulos: Thanks, everyone! Next week, we'll have Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Maureen Dowd and Mickey Kaus attempt to adequately explain the consequences of an unregulated derivative market.


/furiously masturbates to that commercial with Uncle Phil

Friday, January 9, 2009

John Dickerson Explains (And Is) Everything That Is Wrong With The World

So there's this:

Republicans will have to get comfortable with the stimulus bill's contents and find plausible explanations to offer their constituents for their yes vote.

Followed by this:

We hear about war, and we think whatever bold actions this politician is asking us to take must be worth it because, well, it's war.

So, um, yeah.

Now, the most obvious explanation for the stimulus -- like, you know, the complete collapse of the American economy, or something, whatever -- sounds pretty plausible to me. The majority of the American public, too, views the stimulus plan as necessary and finds reports of our cratering economy "plausible" (to say the least). So, by "their constituents", I take it Dickerson means "John Dickerson" (or possibly "other Republicans", or both).

And when he writes, five years into a crazily unpopular war, that "we think whatever bold actions ... must be worth it because, well, it's war", who exactly is the "we" that he's referring to? It can't really be the American public, can it, John?


Reading claptrap like this actually puts Mickey in a better light. More often than not, Mickey's voice is that of the guy just tellin' it like it is, even -- perhaps especially -- when noone wants to hear it. His message, usually but not exclusively pitched to Democrats, is "you know I'm right, even if you don't want me to be", which explains the high contrarian tone of his arguments (illegal immigration hurts workers, unions aren't progressive, progress leads to backlash backlash backlash, etc.) [even the angel on his shoulder is a Devil's advocate -- ed. I hear that!].

Dickerson, on the other hand, can't bear the thought of being a center-right Cassandra, and must constantly tie his whims to those of the electorate (e.g., it's not me demanding a response to bad-faith concern trolling, it's the American people). Dickerson, in essence, has conjured up an America where everyone thinks the same as him, and files every report from the heart of that illusion.

In their own way, each has invented their public: an America that loves war, hates the government and doesn't trust Democrats (Dickerson) and an America that just won't listen to Mickey Kaus (Mickey).

I think I'd prefer to live in the latter.

The Secret of The Secrets of Cafe Milano

That the Slate editors thought to give Mickey a word cloud for his tags is pretty hilarious:

However, the major problem with the graphic is that there is no font large enough to hold "Immigration", "Labor Unions" and "Liberalism", thus creating an illusion of topical diversity even as the ratio of the Big Three to Everything Else ("terrorism", "economy", "pundits on boats") approaches infinity.

One prominent tag, however, failed to ring any bells for this alert reader, and "The Secrets of Cafe Milano" is kind of strange, even by Mickey's standards (e.g., "coyness"). An quick scan reveals that it has something to do with Bill Richardson, and I'll assume that this was a mistaken tag, unless Cafe Milano does hold the secrets to Tony Rezko, Marc Rich and/or the inadequate response of the Mumbai security services (a topic that Mickey, professional alchemist, is able to turn into a jeremiad against the liberal MSM).

"Cafe Milano", a Washington restaurant, appears to refer to this March 2007 Kausfiles Klassic (regarding Bill Richardson):

Kf 's tip for reporters and others hoping to help the pecadilloes make the ontological transition from unfounded to founded: Ask around at Cafe Milano, D.C. ...

Mickey later refers to Richardson as the "Cafe Milano Candidate" (and I see what you did there with the word in bold, Mickey!), a moniker which has caught on about as well as "Mr. Aflatoxin" (Jeffrey Goldberg) and "Caterpillar" (Adam Nagourney).

The funny thing is that the Bill Richardson scandal Mickey was pushing with the "Cafe Milano" codeword ("peccadilloes", "skirt", HINT HINT) has absolutely nothing to do with the actual Bill Richardson scandal that took him out of the running for Secretary of Commerce.

[Then again, what do I know? He could have met the Beverly Hills-based consultants in D.C. Maybe he hired them to do work for the State of New Mexico at Cafe Milano. Perhaps that's where he solicited kickbacks, over veal ravioli in a red wine reduction. And then had sweet, sexy sex with them, over there in the coat check.]

Of course, being stuck holding the wrong scandal doesn't deter Mickey from labeling his coverage of the comparatively boring Richardson imbroglio with the sexy-time nickname. Like a spoiled kid begging for partial credit from a teacher ("So what if Abraham Lincoln didn't write the Declaration of Independence? American president, important document, close enough, right?"), you can't help but admire his gumption as you roll your eyes in disgust.

The Lowest of the Low-Hanging Fruit

But it just has to be acknowledged ...

"And I know that a lot of people are capitalizing on, oh I don’t know, perhaps some exploiting that was done via me, my family, my administration. That’s a little bit perplexing, but it also says a great deal about our society.”

(1) People
(2) are capitalizing
(3) on ... some exploiting
(4) done
(5) via
(6) me, my family, my administration [I'm assuming she means "me" again here]

Even if this complaint were worded in the Queen's English, it would amount to:

(1) People (2) exploited (3) me.

Which would be a self-pitying invention, of course, and maybe that explains a few things. Can a statement be a lie if it's not a coherent sentence?

Perhaps Sarah Palin, like God and string theory, is simply non-falsifiable.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Defining Deviancy Success Down

In the course of discussing Andrew Breitbart's website -- think "An American Carol", except in blog form, and without the laffs -- Mickey advances his metric for measuring success:

I'm not sure he can succeed in his mission of getting conservative entertainment industry types to come out of the ideological closet--they're too worried about losing paying work. But that's kind of his point, no?

So, if he succeeds, he succeeds. And if he fails, it's ... emblematic of his success? [It proves the conspiracy! -- ed. Lack of evidence is the strongest evidence.]

[entry edited, as upon sober reflection, none of the rest of it made any goddamn sense]

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day Nine

"Stabbed In The Back: The Story of How Card Check Won"
by Mickey Kaus


"SEIU" ..................... Some Combination of Godzilla and Rasputin.
"Big Business" .......... The Feeble Remnants of Mickey's College Marxism.
"Small Business" ....... Your Local Dry Cleaner.
"Pension Fund" ......... Sean Penn.

Act One

SEIU (twirling moustache): My master plan is nearly complete! I have foreseen both the outcome and the timing of the Minnesota senate race. I have pressured the completely insane Rod Blagojevich into a crushingly stupid decision to appoint a new senator ("Smiling Man" from The Fugitive, no less!). And I will pressure Harry Reid to seat him even though it runs counter to the interests of Senate Democrats. All to get one vote closer to cloture on card check! Bwahaha!

Big Business (also twirling moustache): Hmm, perhaps if I support card check, over time the unions will strangle Small Business, my ostensible rival!

Small Business: Um, does the local ma-and-pa corner store truly stand to lose more from relaxed unionization rules than, say, Wal-Mart? Wasn't Mickey arguing mere days ago that different conditions affect the success rate of union drives, and isn't a simple economy of scale a condition that would favor unionization of larger firms before smaller firms?

/exit Small Business, confused and sad

Big Business: Say, unions! We'll give you card check in exchange for calling off your pension-led corporate governance reforms!

SEIU: Deal! You hear that, pension funds?

Union Pension Fund: Uh, sure. That deal has no effect on my short-term focus (maximizing return on investment) and plays directly into my long-term interests (increasing union membership, making me larger and stronger in the future). Thanks!


p.s. Is it a coincidence that all of Mickey's characters are superficially canny yet completely idiotic upon close examination? Must be, right?

p.p.s. New FMK prediction: we will rue the day that someone told Mickey that state employee pension funds are large institutional investors -- that sound you hear coming from Southern California is a thousand poorly-thought-out conspiracy theories blooming.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Where -- where? -- in the holy hell do I start with this?

The Constitution’s Treaty Clause has long been seen, rightly, as a bulwark against presidential inclinations to lock the United States into unwise foreign commitments. The clause will likely be tested by Barack Obama’s administration, as the new president and Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton, led by the legal academics in whose circles they have long traveled, contemplate binding down American power and interests in a dense web of treaties and international bureaucracies.

Once upon a time, congressional mandate for the declaration of war was seen as a "bulwark against ... unwise foreign commitments" -- it's funny that John Yoo/Bolton don't mention that one. Probably because the Iraq War was, in fact, a totally awesome foreign commitment.

Let us further count the dog-whistles to the Right in the very first paragraph:

- Barack Obama
- Hillary Clinton
- Legal Academics (so sayeth tenured U. Cal. Berkeley Prof. John Yoo)
- "Binding down" American power w/r/t treaties (evil, evil treaties!)
- International bureaucracies (so sayeth U.N. Ambassador John Bolton)

Also, has anyone ever used the phrase "binding down"? A quick google search indicates that it is a term of art in the world of quilting, but I can't imagine that Johnny Yoolton meant it in that sense. What, precisely, was wrong with simply being "bound"? Or maybe "tied down"? Even Swift in Gulliver's Travels -- in describing perhaps the best example of being down-bound -- didn't use that anything close to that phrase.

It's almost as if they're deliberately bending the English language to their ridiculous ends.

Or maybe they're ... well ... retarded.

If Mr. Obama were to submit either of these agreements [a nuclear test ban treaty and a land-mine ban treaty] for approval by a simple majority of the House and Senate, his actions would pose a serious challenge to American principles of law and democratic governance.

The American principles of law and democratic governance, as understood by Johann Von Booltons:

The Wise and Just Rule of President Bush > Republican Congress > President "Nobama" > Foreigners! Turrible Foreigners! > Democratic Congress > President Nobama in league with Turrible Foreigners! > Simon Cowell > The Judiciary

It's all right there in Article Eleventy-Twelve.

Global governance schemes delegate power to independent international organizations to make and enforce laws that would apply domestically, by international bureaucrats who are unaccountable to Congress, the president, American public opinion or the democratic process.

It's so crazy! It's not as though the Constitution specifically addresses the proper role of international law and treaties!

Seriously, are they aware that there are other parts of the Constitution besides Article II?

Here's the arabic numeral system as perceived by John Yoo and John Bolton:


And another thing ...

[Insert joke about John Yoo being asked about his interpretation of the Constitution]
[Insert joke about John Bolton opining about any aspect of international relations]
[Insert joke about any Bush administration figure ever being asked about democratic legitimacy]

These people are goddamn war criminals.

P.S. The only thing that keeps this from being the most ridiculous media appearance by confirmed and utter failures?

(Dear Jerome Bettis: You are from Detroit. You should be murdering this man. That is all.)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Day ... What Is It, Eight Now?

1) Democrats make gains in California. 2) Crime is falling in Southern California (contrary to criminologists' 'hard-times=crime' predictions).

Is there a connection? I don't know. But don't expect Kausfiles to even ask.


1) The proportion of unionized workers is up in California. 2) Crime is falling in Southern California (contrary to criminologists' 'hard-times=crime' predictions).

Is there a connection? I don't know. But don't expect Kausfiles to even ask.


1) A gay message film garners substantial Oscar buzz, threatens to foist itself in wide release on Middle America. 2) Crime is falling in Southern California (contrary to criminologists' 'hard-times=crime' predictions).

Is there a connection? I don't know. But don't expect Kausfiles to even ask.


1) Mickey Kaus takes a ten-percent pay cut. 2) Crime is falling in Southern California (contrary to criminologists' 'hard-times=crime' predictions).

Is there a connection? I don't know. But don't expect Kausfiles to even ask. ... actually, expect this one any day now ...

I Can See A Better Time When All Our Dreams Come True

More fun from the bloggingheads video, as at various points Mickey boldly predicts that in 2009: 1) card check gets defeated; 2) comprehensive immigration reform gets defeated; 3) Pinch Sulzberger gets fired; 4) Al Franken is revealed to be a secret conservative; and 5) the economy rebounds because of the Mickey Kaus Memorial Voluntary National Bailout.

[I have to admit, I'm really falling in love with this whole "poor people take a pay cut to help with the recession caused by rich people" idea. It's kind of like when an entire town pitches in to put out a neighbor's fire, only in this example the neighbor lit the fire with a bunch of your money, and the water is more of your money].

Speaking as one who perennially assumes that the coming year will bring crushing defeat to my enemies, I have nothing but sympathy for Mickey and his visions of bete noire after bete noire crashing to the ground.

My only question is: why stop where he did? Doesn't Chris Bangle still have a job? Isn't the L.A. Times still in existence? Don't Chris Lehane, Ron Burkle and Andrew Sullivan still roam the Earth?

I mean, when you're just assuming that the the great and good American people, offered a fair choice, will of course choose the course you happen to advocate, why not reach for the stars?

Allow Fire Mickey Kaus to make its own prediction for the future. Fire Mickey Kaus has thought long and hard about this prognostication. So what does Fire Mickey Kaus see happening in the new year?

Exclusive Fire Mickey Kaus Prediction for 2009:

Mickey gets hit by a bus.