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There are jobs, and there are jobs

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday July 4, 2009 12:11 AM

We should all be grateful to M. IOZ for drawing our attention to a recent loathesome lucubration by the repellent Matthew Yglesias, shown above. Matthew's truculent suety phiz always reminds me of a college acquaintance of mine, who my then-girlfriend once said "looks like the inside of a hash pipe."

Here's the hash pipe himself:

...[W]hen you look back at the things liberals like me said about Iraq back in 2007 and thereabouts, you can find a lot of stuff that doesn’t look so much. General Petraeus’ post-midterms revamp of the tactical approach in Iraq achieved gains in security that look a lot more durable than I would have thought possible. At the same point, I think the overarching point I’ve been making about the US presence in Iraq since late 2004 remains incredibly valid...

It seems to me that if we’d begun to implement a phased withdrawal back in early 2005 when Iraq first got an elected government, we could have had a much better outcome than the one we got.... Today in 2009 we’re in a lot of ways back to where we were four years ago—able for American forces to start leaving on a high note, confident that they performed their job with skill....

The Hairy Hashpipe seems to have omitted a clause somewhere in there -- "doesn't look so much" like what? But you can follow his drift, and indeed you could follow it if he left out half the words at random.

The surge worked; mission accomplished; but even so, "liberals like me" weren't wrong back in 2004, though they might have been "not so much" in 2007. Well, hey, to err is human. Postmature anti-imperialism. Fortunately they have learned from their 2007 mistakes and now recognize what a benefactor of mankind General Petraeus is. But still! They weren't wrong in 2004!

Note the trope about the military's "job". I would like to point out that this locution started ringing alarm bells in my head in 1966 or so. "It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it." "Just doin' my job, man."

The military were "tasked" -- as they say in the military, and in the corporate world, which loves military figures of speech -- with a "job". Apparently Matthew doesn't think the job was a bad job, since he's now happy that the soldier-boys and soldier-girls have supposedly completed it. But his pessimism about the prospect of a successful completion was justified in 2004, though perhaps a little over-pessimistic in 2007.

Presumably his only mistake was in underestimating Petraeus, Proconsul Mesopotamiae.

Well, life is full of wonderful surprises, if you're a liberal with a mission-civilatrice. Credit where it's due. You can make the towelheads see reason. But you have to be really smart about which corpses you pile up, and where. Army strong. Petraeus smart. All those intelligently-piled corpses have contributed to the Hashpipe's education. The people those corpses used to be would surely rejoice to know that their terminations were not in vain.

And if you want a capsule "job" description for the soldier boys and girls -- "piling up the corpses" has the merit of being compact and truthful. Well done, boys and girls! You can "leave on a high note" -- and let the dead bury their dead.

Comments (21)


What a wonderful place the blogosphere is, that someone like Matthew Iglesias can rise from altarboy to, well, chief altarboy, entitled to brush off the robes of someone like Thomas Friedman. Could this wunderkind rise all the way to the top, or is he merely headed for some green-shoe PR firm?


Pink shoe pr

Souls must be
Pre emptive next world one way tickets
Save many innocent spirits from tarnishing their souls by later acts

Pre established
Melody of empire inc

Al Schumann:

HCE, I'm guessing, and betting, that Yglesias is being groomed as the premium brand op ed page Mr. Liberal, now with better justifications and less anal leakage than ever. He's going to be the NeoFriedman!

People for whom a high fatuity diet is contraindicated, who nevertheless enjoy the taste, need the journalistic equivalent of Olestra™. Yglesias is perfect for them. His youth appeal is rumored to make Michael Kinsley furious. He's got the merit school credentials. He's on a first name basis with people exactly like him on every side of the dead center of the aisle. He occasionally says something that makes sense, but knows when to undermine it and back away. He can do contrarian, and has a Grolier's encyclopedic command of the issues. From a publisher's point of view, he's ideal. He says nothing, at length, manages his own brand and is his nominal team's worst enemy.

Peter Ward:

This is why I think the issue of principle needs to be harped on--not because it contains any insights beyond a six-year-old's comprehension but because otherwise arguments like Matt's easily fly. I.e., point out that the success of the war is incidental; that imperialism is unethical and our object as decent human being is to prevent it. Obviously if one thinks imperialism's a good thing, assuming they properly understand what it is, there is nothing one can say.

Michael Hureaux:

The funny part is that it really doesn't make any difference what Yglesias and his co-liars say. The system is crap, it can only exist through warfare and hyper-extraction of what's left of the public trust, and nothing the geniuses who try to "reform it from the inside of the capitalist model" say is going to change that little fact.

I had to make myself go to the last labor council political committee meeting I attended, because the same idiots are in the saddle there. But slowly and surely, the questions that broach the current arrangement are getting raised, despite all the efforts of the "democrats" to maintain their lockhold on the labor movement through their resident hacks and there "there's no money in the coffers" line.

It was pretty funny the other day watching one of their people explain to us why "the homeless issue is a social issue, and not a political or economic issue we need concern ourselves with". A guy at the end of the table who's usually a pretty conservative vote in the labor council said to this mainstream genius, "If you can explain the difference to us between a social issue and a political and economic issue, maybe I'll agree", and of course, there was no explanation forthcoming because the shitfullness of the presenter was apparent to all there in that moment. That's what I'm talking about. I've had far worse times at public forums led by the so-called "left".

At some point, it's going to get too painful to do anything but expand the argument on the ground among the ranks, and that's when the discussion in labor's house is really going to start to get interesting. It's only a matter of time.

And I suppose participation in such bodies may seem a waste of time to some us out there, but it makes more sense to me than much of the time I spend typing posts like this every week, or any of the endless arguments one is able to get into at many an allegedly "left' forum. It's way too early to write labor's energies off, and that's a lot more than I can say for all too many "progressive" thinkers out there, Yglesias or whomever else.


People for whom a high fatuity diet is contraindicated, who nevertheless enjoy the taste, need the journalistic equivalent of Olestra™.

BWA! Great. How am I going to get all this coffee off my keyboard?

Michael Hureaux:

...But slowly and surely, the questions that broach the current arrangement are getting raised, despite all the efforts of the "democrats" to maintain their lockhold on the labor movement through their resident hacks and there "there's no money in the coffers" line...

I'd hug this paragraph if I could.

I rise to defend hash-pipes from such insults.

I'd rather say Mr. I looks EXACTLY like one would imagine he'd look, from reading his ignorant, craven, self-important excrementations.


MH, I see no value in a "slowly and surely" viewpoint or in a "questions are getting raised" anticipation. Also, what is just a "matter of time"? The supersystem is a mighty beast, and it has locks everywhere. If it's not happening, then why see it happening?
Of course, you are profoundly entitled to your candid perceptions, and I remain ready, and able, to be, in the tradition of the cave fire doubters, at a loss.


"It's way too early to write labor's energies off"

and that's
an understatement of clionic scale

Michael Hureaux:

Mjosef; Obviously there are no dramatic leaps in any political environment, and this is just as true of U.S. union halls and labor councils dominated by the old guard. But in labor councils- at least where they're allowed to exist- there are at least people who are attempting to grapple with the notion of who gets what in every public sector question, and at least where organized labor is, there are "wild hairs" who assert themselves in council meetings, and very often manage to get cutting edge motions passed that involve even some fairly conservative sections of the labor movement. Obviously it's not St. Petersburg in 1917, or Barcelona in 1936, or the CIO in the 1930s, or Greensboro in 1960.

But what there is to be found in labor council activity is some qualitative movement of the working class as an organized body that wishes to assert itself in the middle of every public sector and private sector question, and that's something to be worked with that's far more sastisfying and productive than the endless discussions that go on in many a left "discussion circle", where hours can be spent hammering out the exact language of a pamphlet that nine times out of ten is being phrased in such a way that it won't be "offensive" to the professional class "allies" of progressive causes with all their grants and their high strung quibbling over postmodern language use that has no relevence to people who are just trying to figure out how to keep food on the table.

And despite all we hear about the bankruptcy of the labor aristocracy, there are those elements even within the privileged sections of organized labor which can be moved and who have the resource to turn not dozens, but thousands of people out for an action.

I understand your reservation around my claims, there are many times when I wonder why I'm doing this. Then I go to some flakey airy fairy "left" function in Seattle, and I remember why. There really is at least half a world of difference. And there's a lot to be found that some concrete machinations can work with. To cite the analogy from Yoruba theosophy, sometimes you can be Ogun, and blast through a wall, and sometimes you have to be Obatala, and use a cooler energy, and walk around it.

op, on the "understatement" in my earlier rant: Ain't it though?

@ Michael Dawson:

Amen to that, man.

As an inveterate old hippie, I take this as an insult to hash pipes everywhere.

(mmmmmmm, yummy hasheeeeeeesh...)


to MH: where else and who else except in labor councils and meeting halls could these discussions take place? Keep on going!

Son of Uncle Sam:

and in the corporate world, which loves military figures of speech

the corporate world does and it's so ironic that TRADOC bar room zingers find there way into collar tab compartments. I generally find it as cool as Lee Ermey found Vincent D'onofrio's cat like smile. A desire to feel like a general jesus! Love is a Battlefield too huh


"as cool as Lee Ermey found Vincent D'onofrio's cat like smile."
hey there lord jim
hip first mate obscurity
....... in front of the crew
may rattle
your gloom dashed
remote and involuted skipper


assignment for smbiva commando squad :

find this bloke and tit twist eeeeem:

CSM David Bruner, TRADOC Command Sergeant Major

Son of Uncle Sam:

His rank is what they call in the military, and I quote from plaques around the battalion,".. the apitomy of success."

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