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Mickey Mouse Machiavels

By Al Schumann on Wednesday November 24, 2010 12:34 AM

Read this at M. IOZ

So.... That news makes me very happy. I'm not even going to try to sum it up—save to say that if you can read it without tears of laughter, you have no heart.

Any expat SMBIVANs? Expat life can land you at the edge of Uncle's traveling machination circus. There's no world changing perspective in it, unless you're a naif, but you can get a close look at a few of the personalities that make up the foreign policy implementation machine. They tend towards a contemptuous parochialism. Very few bother to learn the language. They have the privileged high school brat appetite for empty resume building. They're dependent on accomplished strivers who lack the connections and pathology for fighting their way up the food chain. They get sick of each other's company, and struggle between garrulity and paranoia. When garrulity is ascendant, they talk about their favorite topics, with a heavy emphasis on themselves. They'd do better to shut up. The paranoia is a fatuous, solipsistic paranoia. They're worried about threats to their careers, which makes them mistrustful of the strivers. What they do about that is classic, straight out of the General Motors or Microsoft management playbooks: they deliberately undermine the only people with any idea of what's actually going on. Then they close ranks, play stupid and wait for massive bailout intervention. And it works! Because the only serious sins of their profession are breaches of propriety.

Comments (31)


what a tragedy but at least we know bechtel is who they say they are

hapa, I'd be hard-pressed to agree if it hadn't been for George "Princeton Tiger Tattoo on My Ass" Schultz, serving as Bechtel's International Business Broker during Poppy Bush's tenure.

"Mr Hussein, we would like to help you revitalize your petroleum extraction, transport and refining infrastructure."

"Thank you, Mr Schultz, but we do not need your assistance."

[Schultzie travels back to 1600 Penna Ave]

"HerbWalk, that bastard raghead wouldn't sign a deal with Bechtel."

"Schultzie, no worries. We see a border dispute with Kuwait. Don't you?"

Also: to prompt the flight of new expats:


I can't wait until the borders are on full lockdown. I'll feel much safer then.


"Also: to prompt the flight of new expats:


Meh, not really a big deal IMO. Insofar as it actually makes a difference, it's a good thing for the US, since the US would like to reduce the demand for and value of USD.


Very few bother to learn the language.

Would it be a better world if more picked up the local lingo instead?

Al Schumann:

FB, I think there are a lot of leftwards misapprehensions about the role of the dollar, in trade and in general, and dollar denominated debt. I certainly struggle to keep a clear understanding.

The recurring themes are the threat to the dollar's reserve currency status, what it would mean if it were no longer the reserve currency, and the dollar-denominated debt holdings of other countries.


It's not always easy to figure out. In general:

High Dollar = lower employment, greater purchasing power, deflationary pressure (US)
Low Dollar = higher employment, lower purchasing power, inflationary pressure (China)

Either extreme is bad for workers, but right now it seems easy to tell which extreme the United States is at.


the imperial dollar has nothing serious to worry about just yet

the british pound ruled adequately
to give a leg up to the brit imperialists
long after the brits own national economy
had fallen behind
the production leaders germany and the US

Counterpoint to op:

...which is a lesson about Great Britain at that time, and not much else.

Trail of Tears:

“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. “And we gave him a lot of money.”

Someone rolled a gutter ball in the Great Game.

Al Schumann:

The role of financialization in the decline of imperial influence interests me. The British empire makes for a good case study there. The parallels are not exact, but they're close.

It seems to me that finance as a tool of empire is almost ideal, as long as you hollow out other countries faster than you hollow your own. But every imperial elite that tries the method winds up hat in hand, begging outsiders to come help them put the screws to their workforce. Rome did. The Ottomans did. France did. The Brits have been at it for a while. The governing factions switch easily from expansionist hegemony to collaborationist mode, with nasty vichy parties that facilitate externally imposed repression.

Al Schumann:

SK, if I recall correctly, Greene's well-scrubbed American never did learn the lingo. I doubt it would have changed his trajectory or affected the overall outcome. Obtuseness of that kind can't be remedied.

I'm an enthusiast for polyglotism anyway, as a cultural conservationist. I think it would lead to a better world.


"a lesson about Great Britain at that time, and not much else."

my my here we go ...
are you just playing
the happy spoiler again
mr "we don't know and we can't know"
gamester .... again ...again
or have you developed
a nihilist's
brightly dark
closet hankering
"the fall of king dollar"

in fact a closet hankerin' so strong
you see portents everywhere ???
like its really really gonna happen...
you know ...in your life time
....like maybe peak oil ....
and ...and ..maybe soon as june ...
perhaps just perhaps
or like ...peak salad bar ...hell
that already did happen
didn't it ???

some times
u simply scratch
the furrowed brow of the relentless sceptic
and damned if
the willful hard and horned know nothing
the byronic human thunder cloud
morphs for just a flash
into a once you wish upon a star
tender footed tinsel and toe dance
hope elf

as credulous as elmer fudd

ahh the irony the irony

what little wonders can emerge
once you unburden the inner ogre
the glowering goya esque
"that be me own world spirit"
from its snarl of contradictions

spring time for oxy
in harmony


"cultural conservationist"

i love ya keeed but ...

when ever i hear them two woids
put together
kultur and conservation

--at least outside of a museum archive ---
my mr Al
i reach for my steam roller

"parking lot time boys !!!!"
dat's what i sez ...yup

" get out the tarmac and yellow stripin' "

but ahh maybe i'm too hard r pro-gressive

of a nite
i'll awake from a wee hour
rem dream
and realize
i've just come
from the presence of Chronos hizzseff
with our great queer national bard
i'll cry :

swallow cultures whole
dear ole uncle hedge

i hear the colored babblers singing elvis

big macs over every capitol city
alien saucers

i celebrate the extinction electric

Al Schumann:

Now, now, Owen. It's just another form of nationalism. In a country with so many different nations, most of them constantly threatened, it's arguably a vital thing. When I start maundering on about Virginia Dare that's the time to get out the steam roller.


SK, if I recall correctly, Greene's well-scrubbed American never did learn the lingo.

Alden Pyle was fairly fluent in Vietnamese, just that he was discreet about it. Polyglotism is all well and good, but just like travel abroad doesn't always lead to a broader horizon. Both are earnestly and mightily oversold in this regard, imho.

Al Schumann:

Was he now. Huh. It's been a while since I read the book.

You're right about travel and polyglotism being oversold. Unconquerable obtuseness trumps them every time.


i just read the ioz link

i found comments there by some of our
very own
dire anarco soul benders

my take away

beneath all the flaming fuming
and sarcastic acidity
is a needy craving for
the narcotic effects of a massive
scorn emission

it would appear
anecdotally speaking
feeling superior to uncle Killah
the moron with the bunker bomb
is a mind enema
not just for merit pwogs
but for their x ray image too

that factional treasure of the left horde
our black flag free range radicals


" It's just another form of nationalism"

i agree

i was just teasing and pretending
even know it all
easy chair musk- pigs
with terminal attic pallor
sometimes indulge
the call of
the funny bone ...eh ??

in fact

as mjs will attest i'm into all phases of nationalism

anything to cause Clios global totalization
to run aground on this or that piece
of her contradictory "fine structure"
and to flip to page two
where would us bloody jacobins be
without the vendee

Al Schumann:

Owen, the story is wonderfully educational. Uncle succeeds when it can on brute force alone. The stupidity noted in the comments is real. The corporate personality, stripped of all that might, is a thoroughgoing chump, a mark, waiting to be taken to the cleaners.

There's another aspect to it on domestic politics. The political leadership is cretinous and succeeds largely thanks to the party partisans' febrile commitment to gullibility. It's nerve-wracking to be effectively surrounded by so many dedicated fools. I read the comments as gallows humor.


I dunno, I tend more towards the "if they are so stupid then why are they winning" side of things. If anything, I'd say that the corporate personality is the opposite of a chump. It's penny stupid, pound smart, and this story, as entertaining as it is, is just about a few lost pennies


"It's nerve-wracking to be effectively surrounded by so many dedicated fools."

"I read the comments as gallows humor"

fair enough i agree completely with both parts of that conclusion

but FB provides the counter weight here

and here's the tie in

figuring the loss of lots of pennies
in these mixed bag extermination campaigns
uncle's dollars are running out
misses the essence of global hegemony

the imperial dollar and the armada
are supported by uncle's global network itself

only the contained great rivals present strategic threats ..no ??

and measuring their projected powers
suggests they have much time and circumstance
needs pass down thru the history hole
b4 we get a 1914

--- analogy warning ---

Al Schumann:


Penny stupid, pound smart, yes, that's good way to put it. Your take is an effective counterweight. But I still doubt they could get very far without all the muscle they've inherited. Geithner, for example, would be helpless. Obama would be a small time grifter. Their success is a function of their followers' inability to break free of some nasty conditioning.

Trail of Tears:

I dunno, I tend more towards the "if they are so stupid then why are they winning" side of things.

Brute Power

Kind of like the USA vs. the CSA during the Civil War

The USA could live through McDowell, McLellen, Pope, McLellen, Burnside, Hooker and Meade, get beaten time and time again until it finally found Grant and Sherman simply because it had an endless supply of troops and money.

Right wing propaganda isn't really smart. It's just omnipresent and constantly repeated.

We really don't have a left so it's not tested. But even if we did it would probably be overwhelmed by the historical and institutional weight of capitalist power in the USA.

Maybe sooner or later the Russians, Chinese, and some of the other great powers will get sick of the USA, combine, and bring it down.

But since the USA enables their own ruling classes, I wouldn't count on it.


i think we have wide agreement here

the various bush wars can go any number of ways so long as the hegemon maintains metropole of metropole status...
the rest of the nation state junior partners indirectly by many angles
"pay for" the armada


i note london the last metropole of metropoles
still retains global status as a hi fi center

what does that establish ??

the key to a modern corporate hegomony
the hi fi laputa to end all high fi laputas
you got that
then you got the key currency
unlimited credit etc etc

Trail of Tears:

When you think about propaganda, the use of repetition and brute force becomes pretty obvious.

You can find a pretty good center left critique of Obama if you know where to look: Taibbi, Greenwald, Sheldon Wolin, Chris Hedges, Joe Stiglitz.

But type "Obama" into Amazon or Audible and see what you come up with, dozens upon dozens of ghost written books put out by the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation, crude, racist propaganda.

Most people who are dissatisifed with Obama don't read Matt Taibbi or Glenn Greenwald.

They read Laura Ingraham, simply because there are dozens of them.

It's simple brute power. The only thing that could counter it would be a determined combination of other great powers or a revolutionary tradition like Marxism before 1945 (or, if you're a Maoist, before 1975)


T of T

nice rehearsal of the way it is


it's strange instead of emulating FDR & eleanor the people who admire them just line up behind their political grandchildren, pretending to see a resemblance


You didn't refute my point, you just mocked me. You're suggesting what happened to Great Britain about 70 years ago dictates what will happen here, now. Your evidence is your presentation of enlightened quirkiness and a stylistic form of haughtiness... which is to say, not evidence at all.

No wonder you mind me challenging your assertion.

Anyway, I'm sure your snarky response is plentiful proof that you have truckloads of evidence, and are simply stingily hoarding that proof. I can respect a miserly impulse.


"You're suggesting what happened to Great Britain about 70 years ago dictates what will happen here"

dictates is a very odd word to choose here

since its obvious i 'm suggesting we examine the parallels
between the trajectory of one hegemon and another

its not a very difficult or unusual proceedure really
in the absence of an analytic model
we are at liberty to try analogy

and here analogy reveals the possibility
-- if you will --

if he's like 19th century britain
uncle may be far from the verge of a final fall

let me suggest the other parallels look less suitable

late 16th century Spain
or late 17th century france

let alone wanna bes like early 20th century germany
and late 20th century russia

is he in decline ???

well one thing is certain
there will be zigs and zags along the way
to the sacking of wall street
and suggesting we have seen the last up zig
is the thesis that needs evidence here

if you way back
to the late 70's
the chitter back then was of uncle in decline
He made a serious surge after that even as
his main rival went into terminal tumble

is this really hard to follow ??

of course as a throw back
to the dark minded humanists of the tudor era
you can fall back on random walk analogies to the path of all states
i won't try to stop u


18th century britain
looks less promising then 19th
the parallel end pieces of nappy and adolph
are hard to resist eh ??

if one parallels the hellenic empire with the roman empire or the arab empire
is there not some useful parallels and even more useful non parallels

the chinese empire ???

the list becomes long as the analogy
becomes more abstract

its a fair cautionary bark
if a bit too insistent
that our loyal watch hound oxy yelps here

how supple the human mind can be
when thinking in analogies
and ghosh knows
the production of such abductive moon shine
is dangerous indeed..in fact quite intoxicating
once drunk to deeply and too earnestly

so long as one is aware
that analogizing is all one is doing
it can be useful ...no ??
its not seeing horses and rabbits in the clouds
at worse
its more like seeing
little black bears in anarchists
a wrong match...ultimately
but useful enough
if restricted to certain
obvious parallel actions
and features

at any rate
the production of such abductive moon shine
is dangerous indeed..in fact quite intoxicating
once drunk to deeply and too earnestly
so thanks for the growly barks old top

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