Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mickey's New Friends

Apologies for the lack of posting, but February's been pretty rough. [You've just been watching the Olympics, haven't you? -- ed. Only to double check Nate Silver's medal predictions! Snot-nosed little punk always using his "numbers" and his "math" to make predictions ... that's not the Mickey Kaus way!]

Anyway, after spending the week rattling off several "organized labor will ruin America" posts notable only for their redundancy, Mickey decided to finish off a pretty lousy month with a pretty lousy pep talk for Congressional Democrats:

The Real Reason Cynical Dem Pols Should Vote for the Health Care Bill

Good start there. I would have gone with "Listen Up, Jerkwads" for the headline, but that's why Mickey's the pro. The gist of the post is that Republicans might be actually -- gasp! -- lying about the horrible things that health care reform does, and that the best thing for Democrats would be to pass the bill and show the public that the Republicans might have been exaggerating about "socialized medicine" and "death panels" and the like. [Which Republicans, exactly? -- ed. You know, the ones that say things about Obama supporting "a panel of independent experts making end-of-life recommendations in order to save costs that have an effect at an individual level" ... you know, those Republicans.]

So Mickey makes this pitch, the most pathetically tepid endorsement of health care reform to date -- "Democrats should pass health care reform because it doesn't suck as much as Republicans say it sucks" -- and his commenters respond with the enlightened discourse that we've come to expect from Mickey's readers:

Request an explanation why you don't seem to give a hoot about what this monstrosity costs.

Annihilate what remains of the public fisc? Or become France? Thanks, no.

How many deaths and needlessly limited and painful lives will the "lack of innovation" cause, which, Mickey cynically hopes will not happen for a few years?

Got that, Mickey? You're cynically supporting the deaths of thousands of people by half-assedly throwing your support behind passage of health care reform. Maybe Bizarro Charles Lane will come to your defense.

In case you haven't gotten the word, socialism never works for anything under any circumstances, anywhere, anytime. But the dreamers keep dreaming for some reason only they understand.

That second sentence is almost a Joni Mitchell lyric.

Note that for the first time in eight solid months, Mickey (a) admits that the Democrats' plans for health care reform won't lead to outright disaster, and (b) acknowledges that the Republican attacks are wildly hyperbolic. For this affront, his audience -- his real audience, not the wide-eyed-liberals-in-need-of-some-hard-truths that he pretends he's addressing -- calls him a communist, and not a soul defends him.

But, uh, well ... hey, aren't unions a bunch of ridiculous jerks? Right? Guys?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

No Comment

Have they finally done it? Enabled comments on Mickey's precious blog? I never thought I'd live to see the day ... mostly because I hoped that he'd be fired first.

Finally, Mickey gets to really see what his readers think -- no doubt they are the kind of discerning neoliberals who understand the basic necessity of government services yet resent the influence that entrenched interests have in shaping the distribution of resources ... you know, the sort of old new leftists who see tension and perhaps hypocrisy in a political philosophy devoted to a just and equal society that is dependent on groups formed around fragmentation and selfishness for its electoral success.

Let us hear their wisdom:

this seems to be a new discuss facility; how secure is the external log in service? are they able to capture my yahoo password?

Hey, look! It's me. Hi, everyone.

Okay, okay, rough start, that's to be expected. Technical difficulties and whatnot.

Mickey, this quote from Obama made me realize what is so jarring about his mode of communicating with the public. He speaks as if he is one of the guys, letting us in on hoiw things really are. It is informal and personal. He says "you can't go blow a lot of money in Vegas" and similar riffs. But more and more of the public know from other news sources that he is distorting and covering up what is actually going on in Washington.

Oh, hey, someone lamely complaining about Obama's wildly successful rhetorical style, and then complaining that NOBAMA LIES. Well, you know, they can't all be gems. How about you, kind sir:

Has anyone ever sat down with this man and told him that if he has to say this, and "Let me be perfectly clear..." and "As I already told you ..." and all the other permutations of those statements that there might be something wrong with his communication style? No. Probably not. Because I think it is one of those verbal tricks used by sales and con men and propagandists to frame whatever follows as something very obvious that the message RECEIVER has (ostensibly) failed to comprehend. The trick is, of course, that in this case, the speaker has often communicated the very opposite, but this statement of certainty raises uncertainty in the RECEIVER's mind. It's therefore the RECEIVER's fault for not 'getting' it.

And then it's right after this he tries to hook you up to an e-meter.

Nobody has yet shared their secrets about where you can meet wealthy men online, but maybe they're just biding their time.


Official Fire Mickey Kaus prediction for Mickey's comment section: lots and lots of CAPS LOCK.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bills To Pay The Skills

In arguing against unspecified attempts to expand the social safety net during a recession -- it's for their own good, you see! -- Mickey links to this piece by Kaus heartthrob Heather MacDonald:

Championing Dependency
The poverty industry renews its attack on welfare reform.

Poverty industry! Even Mickey prefers to insinuate that evil politicians and dumb Money Liberals are profiting off of the very conditions they purport to eradicate -- not actively manufacturing poverty like it's some sort of consumer good. Oh, this is awesome.

(Wealthy Banker: "Shit, what I am doing in finance, when I could be raking in that sweet poverty cash? Poor people have tons of money!")

In that spirit, the author describes her foes thusly:

poverty advocates

I'm sure she meant "anti-poverty advocates" there. It's not like she actually believes that these advocates who have dedicated their lives to low-paying work on behalf of the least fortunate are purposefully working to keep them poor. Oh, wait ...

dependency-promoting bills

The Live Off Welfare Forever Act of 2009 was totally misunderstood.

Albany dependency brigades

Hey, the Albany dependency brigades fought valiantly at Antietam before falling into their current disreputable state.

Here's the article's thesis, in case you couldn't guess:

Powerful political forces are trying to make dependency acceptable again.

If by "powerful political forces" she means banking industry, and by "dependency" she means "depending on the federal government's bailout of AIG, cheap money from the Fed, and an implicit guarantee to step in in the case of failure", she'd make a ton of sense, and actually be speaking truth to power. The reality-- that she's using the phrase to describe anti-poverty advocates in the very same piece where she gamely tries to spin a 26.5% child poverty rate as a success -- is just ugly.

[I do hate to turn every criticism of Mickey & co.'s anti-anti-poverty idiocy into GOLDMAN SACHS GOLDMAN SACHS GOLDMAN SACHS ... but still, any use of the phrase "powerful political forces" that doesn't refer specifically to the banking industry is now, by definition, histrionic.]

The gem of the piece:

[T]he best way for an unskilled worker to enter the workforce is actually to start working, rather than spend years in often fruitless “education and training” programs.

Really? The best way to enter the workforce is to start working? Isn't that the only way?

Even assuming she meant "escape poverty" or "break the cycle of dependency" or some other such blather -- and ignoring that her "just go work" prescription is being offered at a time of 10% unemployment -- why put "education and training" in scare quotes? Are those dependency advocates in the Obama administration sending the unemployed to the University of Phoenix?

Are they going to business school?

Oh, and how precisely are unskilled workers supposed to get skilled without education and training? Mickey and his ilk are always deploying that vaguely insulting term to suggest that those people could have gone out and gotten some skills if they wanted to, and since they didn't they deserve their fate. [Hey, Mickey has a Harvard Law degree, and he's still fucking useless -- ed. Good point!] Yet every damn time someone proposes something that could conceivably skill-ify the downtrodden -- encouraging enrollment in a four-year college, say -- these same anti-anti-poverty-advocacy advocates declare that such efforts are "fruitless" and these slovenly types should just go work at Wal-Mart or something.

It's almost as though they possess a "fundamentally inegalitarian and elitist" belief that only certain people are capable of being skilled workers -- and it just so happens that those with "educational credentials and yuppie resumes" fit the bill ... oh, wait, Mickey's says it's feminists who think like that. My bad!

The Pro-Poverty-and-Dependency Lobby must have gotten to me, too!


Hey, remember that scene in Hoop Dreams when Arthur Agee's mother gets her certification to be a nurse's assistant and weeps openly at the school's graduation ceremony, knowing that she can now provide for her family?

That was when Mickey Kaus left the theater in disgust.