‘Cyberwar is Bullshit’ Took long enough

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, The Corporate Bund at 1:37 pm by George Smith

A very young person named Russell Brandom at clickbait news site, The Verge, has discovered this is so.

He’s figured out, rightly, that cybersecurity in the US, and — in general, and among its toadies in the West, is solely for protecting the shit of the 1 percent.

Former NSA director Keith Alexander, the million dollar, then 600,000 dollar man for protecting Wall Street from the depredations of Chinese and Russian hackers is the leading man for it. He is custom-made as the apparatchik-of-protection for the banksters and they, in turn, deserve him.

In another way of saying it, there’s no reason at all that anyone without a mansion in the Hamptons should care that hackers are into giant American corporations of finance and manufacturing. Only those at the very top derive any benefit at all from cybersecurity. Everyone else gets zero to very little.


So if you found spyware on your computer tomorrow, the NSA would not help you. Maybe you could reach someone at the FBI who cared, but I wouldn’t bet on it. US Cyber Command is designed to defend military and government infrastructure. When James Clapper talks about defending the nation from cyberattack, these are the people he means. Everyone else is on their own …

In fact, most of the cyberdefense money is actively making things worse. The techniques behind these weapons were all actively developed by organizations like the NSA before trickling out to more oppressive regimes. The same agencies are lobbying against encryption that might protect your conversations from being stolen, and planting backdoors in the algorithms you might use to encrypt your files. They’re buying up software vulnerabilities and keeping them secret, leaving the door open for anyone who discovers them in the future.

Hey, go read Bill Blunden and Violet Cheung’s Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation & the Malware Industrial Complex. (A review is here.)

If you read the entire piece at the Verge (it’s short), you’ll also see they’re naive, or perhaps ignorant, about the line on Mandiant.

Mandiant was quickly identified as part of the problem.

Its security story/analysis, delivered so self-servingly by the New York Times, was quick convenience for Keith Alexander’s NSA narrative that Chinese hackers were stealing the entire country’s economic future, a now laughable assumption then taken seriously until Edward Snowden showed up and began showing details on the nature of the American cyberwar machine.

Anyway, readers know I wrote a lot on these matters. That is until the natural nausea that results from dealing with the stories of American computer security experts got to be too much.

Sou can also read read Computer Security for the 1 Percent, or the Cyberterrorism tab on this blog.

Or Hacking to Save Corporate America. (AKA Stooging for the Man)

Or Poverty and the Annual National Security Ogres & Wealth Festival.

Or “Pentagon declares Chinese cyberespionage the cause of all woe.”

Hey, those are some snappy titles. Funny, even! National Security Ogres & Wealth Festival — a great name for a record album or band.

A rare moment of humor on Friday

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll at 10:40 am by George Smith

We are now playing Alfred E. Neuman’s “It’s a Gas” in the Dick Destiny Band. It seemed appropriate.

The belches are actually hard to arrange on the fly unless you have an unusual talent for them.

And, yes, while it’s not on Loud Folk Live, you can instantly have a digital copy for a measly suggested list of 5 dollars — CHEAP! (Teaser tunes and blurbs at the link.)

And, urrrp, I’ll send you a download page.


Poverty Comedy is soooooo funny

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, The Corporate Bund, WhiteManistan at 3:49 pm by George Smith

I don’t see Stephen Colbert much anymore except in clips like these. I’m long past the idea that the best journalism, via satire, is done at Comedy Central because the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do things the enfeebled mainstream media can’t.

Big whoop. It’s journalism or comedy for what’s left of the middle and upper middle classes, the servants of the top who haven’t yet had their heads put on the chopping block.

In other words, entertainment for the people who did nothing a couple weeks ago. Yeah, laugh, laugh, Colbert is sooo funny. But he and Jon Stewart haven’t changed a damn thing after a decade of broadcast. Instead, we got the lowest voter turnout in my lifetime and the installation of even more old Purity Party fascists from WhiteManistan.

In the linked segment Colbert goes on in his usual way about “salvage markets” where you can buy expired food at cut-rate prices. (I had it as an embed and it autoplays, another reason Colbert & Co. deserve to be hit in the face with bricks. See the line on bull-whipping below.)

I suppose it would be almost funny if I haven’t used one of Pasadena’s city food banks bread programs. Much of what is laid out on the couple of tables is expired product from the local chains. Differing from the “salvage stores” shown above, it’s FREE.

No one makes a profit from it. In fact, all the local food banks in Pasadena are free, as you are tipped to when you arrive at the point.

What does expired bread taste like? It’s as you think, often hard almost to a rock-like state, or stale. Of course, you can always put it in the microwave with a little water to humidify the stuff.

Yes, you can use your limited SNAP dollars to buy “expired food” as opposed to the fresh food it’s supposed to buy in the supermarket. Stretch the account.

But how about a law that prevents the local businesses from profiteering on it by disallowing diversion of expired food to markets set up for the purpose of selling it? Or requiring business that do such a thing to send 150 percent of an equivalent of unexpired food to a free food bank or conduct sale of it to SNAP card holders within their own business at 50 percent off?

Nah, of course not.

The awkward awfulness of Stephen Colbert is that he gets his million dollar salary off mock yucks of this nature.

Yes, isn’t it great that horrid predatory behavior in the corporate dictatorship provides great journalism and laughter for Comedy Central! They deserve a bull-whipping.

I don’t see any people laughing at the 99 cent store when I’m there.

H/t to Frank at Pine View Farm, where first I saw it. (In other words, this is a comment rescue/reprint operation.)

You can also get some laughs on life in the corporate dictatorship from Loud Folk Live. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than Stephen Colbert, orders of magnitude so and it’s not patronizing. It’s also not for Colbert or Jon Stewart’s Comedy Central audience of white-bread nothings and evening pearl-clutchers, which just about all alone makes it entirely worthy of attention.


Missouri Bund declares State of Emergency

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan at 1:05 pm by George Smith

The discredited governor of one of the shires of WhiteManistan declares a state of emergency and orders his police force and part of the WhiteManistan National Guard to prepare to put down a rebellion. This is called “protecting the civil rights” of non-WhiteManistan citizens in the affected area.

From the Washington Post:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency Monday in anticipation of possible unrest following the announcement of findings of two separate criminal investigations into the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager killed by a Ferguson, Mo. police officer …

Nixon said in the order he directed the Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police Department, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to “operate as a Unified Command to protect civil rights” and put the St. Louis County Police Department in charge of security in Ferguson related to protest areas and demonstrations.

He also said the adjutant general of the Missouri could “call and order into active service such portions of the organized militia as he deems necessary to protect life and property.”

Nothing inspires confidence more than deployment of the troops and replenishment of tear gas and pepper spray.

In related news, the ultimate good boy and sincere pearl-clutcher, Nicholas Kristof continues his rhetorical wrestling match with the problems of WhiteManistan.


Ricin Wrap-up

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 1:16 pm by George Smith

Last week saw an eruption of news on one of the genuinely exceptional things in our country: the small demographic of white usually guys who let an interest in castor seeds and poison lore get the best of them. It’s an interest that inevitably brings hazmat trucks and a joint anti-terrorism strike force to their neighborhoods.

And the news covers the age spectrum, from the youthful to the old.

In contrast to prior years, 2014 has turned into one in which young nerds, a couple of them university students, try their hand at pounding castor seeds into powder.

The newest bean-pounder is University of Wisconsin (in Oshkosh) student Kyle Smith.

From the Green Bay newspaper:

A University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student has been suspended after he was charged with possession of ricin.

University officials announced Tuesday that 21-year-old Kyle Smith has been placed on interim suspension and cannot set foot on campus for the time being. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of the biological weapons offense. He made his first appearance Monday in federal court in Green Bay.

Two of Smith’s professors contacted police last month when they became suspicious he was making the deadly toxin, WLUK-TV reported. Tests confirmed a vial of white powder found in Smith’s off-campus home was ricin, according to a criminal complaint. The Oshkosh Police Department and Wisconsin National Guard also found a lab notebook during the search.

And a judge has now handed down the shortest sentence in ricin convictions on the book in the case of Georgetown University student Danny Milzman, covered much here.

Milzman, readers may recall, was a great fan of Breaking Bad, showing appreciation of Walter White’s “cooking” of ricin and its recurring role in the drama.

For the record, much in the series concerning ricin was almost total rubbish, from the way it was made to its eventual use.

From the Washington Post:

A Georgetown University student who was arrested for manufacturing the deadly chemical ricin in his dormitory room in March, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court to a year and a day in prison.

In issuing her sentence, Judge Ketanji B. Jackson said Daniel H. Milzman’s intentions for manufacturing the chemical were “ambiguous at best” but that Milzman put numerous people, including his classmates and dormitory roommate, at great risk.

Jackson also ordered Milzman, 20, to undergo a mental health evaluation …

Since Milzman has already served seven and a half months in jail, he will be released early next year.

The unique short sentence is as close to a diversion as one can get, I suppose. This year I argued for the worth of a diversion track for many first-time castor bean pounders.

Most of them cannot be described as terrorists and they pose mostly only a threat to themselves as they become a source of heartbreak for their families.

In the last fifteen years there have been zero fatalities associated with all ricin cases in the US.

In 2013 those arrested on ricin cases were all older than this years batch. They were unique in that all three were caught in schemes that mailed ricin-containing castor mash to the president of the United States. All three appear to have been frame-up jobs, one against a rival, one against a husband, and one against the office of a small business where a secretary ignored the romantic affections of a janitor.

This years ricin complaints all involve younger men, two of which are the university students mentioned here.

The old ricin-powder criminal, someone middle-aged or very old and angry with the federal government, was represented yesterday when sentences were handed down for two men involved in a domestic terrorism plan in Georgia.

From the New York Times:

Ending a case that involved questions about the line between rhetoric and criminal conduct, a judge on Friday sentenced two men to a decade each in prison for their roles in a plot that included using ricin in a series of attacks in major cities.

The decision by Judge Richard W. Story, of the Federal District Court, came nearly 10 months after a jury here convicted Samuel J. Crump [71] and Ray H. Adams [58] on a pair of charges connected to possession of ricin for use as a weapon …

Mr. Crump, by his own acknowledgment, was something of an excessively ambitious conspirator.

“There’s no way I could make that stuff,” Mr. Crump said of ricin. “It takes a scientist and a million dollar lab, which we didn’t have.”

Judge Story agreed that it was unlikely that the plans Mr. Adams and Mr. Crump mapped out would have been successful.

However, this appeared to not be ameliorating.

Crump and Adams have been in jail since 2011. There original plot was a cracked scheme that involved the theoretical distribution of ricin-containing bean powder out of car speeding along on the highway, the idea being that it might drift over a town. [1]

Ricin cases and those convicted in them are almost entirely unique to the United States. In the last fifteen years this country has generated a steady stream of them. And they all make headlines.

In fact, 2013 and 2014 have shown an upward trend in this very unique phenomenon. That is, there are now more guys (and one woman) arrested on ricin beefs than at any other time.

The numbers are still very small. But the imitation, fascination and absurd appeal of castor bean pounding refuses to die and is even increasing, a bit more each year.

Ricin-making, from old neo-Nazi and survivalist poison recipes, to Breaking Bad, to an almost monthly presence in episodic crime television and in movie dramas about terrorism, is solidly embedded in the culture and character of the United States.

[1]. From the Atlanta Journal & Constitution:

According to testimony, the men talked of a plane dropping ricin on Washington and spreading the poison on federal government buildings in Atlanta, Athens and Gainesville and in public areas, such as on I-85 in Atlanta.


Mine Blast from the Past

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Ted Nugent, The Corporate Bund at 12:59 pm by George Smith

Ol’ Uncle Contemptible, Ted Nugent, paid by Don Blankenship, at “Coalstock” in 2009.

This week Don Blankenship of Massey energy was indicted by the US government for his role in a calamitous explosion at one of his company’s coal mines in 2010.

From the New York Times:

The former chief executive of the company involved in the nation’s worst coal mine disaster in 40 years, in which 29 men died in West Virginia in 2010, was charged on Thursday with widespread violations of safety rules and deceiving federal inspectors.

Donald L. Blankenship, who formerly ran the Massey Energy Company, was indicted on four criminal counts by a federal grand jury in the Upper Big Branch disaster near Montcoal, W.Va.

Mr. Blankenship was accused of looking away from hundreds of safety violations “in order to produce more coal, avoid the costs of following safety laws, and make more money.”

IN 2009 Massey held the laughable “Coalstock,” a Labor Day celebration in West Virginia. The celebrity entertainment was Nugent and two other country artists, Hank Williams, Jr. and John Rich of Big & Rich.

From this blog, 2009 quote from Blankenship at “Coalstock:”

“Today was a good day for American workers past, present and future. This historic event brought tens of thousands of people together to show their support for the men and women whose hard work built this country and we were proud to welcome them …

“It is also about what our government is allowing others to do to American labor. Our government, environmental extremists, American corporations, and politicians on the right and the left are all endangering American labor.”

In Thomas Frank’s Pit the Billionaire, a book bought for the blog by a loyal reader, Blankenship and “Coalstock” are described:

There is no better instance of [cognitive] erasure than the enormous rally held in West Virginia on Labor Day 2009 for the express purpose of announcing the solidarity between coal miners and the coal mine operators … The get together feature the protest favorites Sean Hannity and Ted Nugent and was presided over by Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, a pollution-spewing strike-breaking mogul of the old school. Dressed in American flag clothing and boasting that the gathering had cost him “a million dollars or so” Blankenship took the stage and declared he was there to “defend American labor because no one else will” … Eight months after that rally, 29 workers in Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine were dead from a huge underground explosion … Now when we find a mine operator claiming that his own struggles against regulation are actually the struggles of mine workers — workers who are then killed because mine regulations are not properly observed .. we have stumbled upon a near perfect example of what the sociologists call “complete horseshit.” The man’s ideas are so contrary to reality …

“The charges hold [Blankenship] personally responsible for … hundreds of safety violations in 28 months leading up to the explosion,” reads the Times.

If convicted Blankenship faces a prison sentence of up to thirty years.

Web error 500 — “internal server error” messages when accessing this blog are the consequence of a corporate hosting fault felt across its entire network. In other words, I can’t do anything about them but complain and have done so.

I am told, as have been many others, that engineers are working on the problem, which has now affected matters for about two weeks.

It is one of the reasons I haven’t posted much to the domain.

Be patient. I will keep you abreast of plans.


It’s your patriotic duty to make the tribe uncomfortable on phony holidays

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle at 3:47 pm by George Smith

From the New York Times, over the weekend, an appropriate quote for the end of Veteran’s Day:

Air power needs to be applied like a thunderstorm, and so far we’ve only witnessed a drizzle,” said David A. Deptula, a retired three-star Air Force general who planned the American air campaigns in 2001 in Afghanistan and in the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

The campaign has averaged fewer than five airstrikes a day in both Iraq and in Syria. In contrast, the NATO air war against Libya in 2011 carried out about 50 strikes a day in its first two months. The air campaigns in Afghanistan in 2001 averaged 85 daily airstrikes, and the Iraq war in 2003 about 800 strikes a day…

Oh for the days of Rolling Thunder, Operation Linebacker and free-fire zones. Nothing changes.

Also today, posted to my Facebook timeline, where only one of my very white friends liked it, the drummer who played the snappy march.

The National Anthem — the song that actually should now be the national anthem.

Much of the tribe uncomfortable with their role in WhiteManistan are always ready to clutch their pearls over something published at the New York Times or from some name from the left. But acknowledge something that makes them feel uncomfortable on a day like today?

You’d have more luck trying to get a cat to eat a small dish of Brussels sprouts.


The Revenge of WhiteManistan

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan at 12:53 pm by George Smith

Tuesday, everywhere but in California, just about every reason for the existence of this blog came true. White American snapped out and stuck it to the black man in the White House the only way they knew how, by voting for the lunatics, fascists and science-deniers of the Old White Purity party.

Everyone else stayed home, even in California, actually, where turn-out was a record low 29 percent. (The advantage here is that the election of Jerry Brown, combined with the years of hating the California GOP put on everyone not-white here virtually destroyed the local tribe of WhiteManistan.)

And I can’t say it wasn’t expected. Outside of the President, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders (an independent) and our governor, the Democratic Party has no bench. Hillary Clinton is a special case, merely this party’s counterpart to the Bush family phenomenon.

For example, the only rational response to the world’s superpower putting a science-denier, James Inhofe, in charge of a Senate committee that will influence science and the world environment is bleak, knowing laughter.

For two years things will now get worse, incrementally. It’s a good strategy for the GOP. It works.

Make the civilian population so despondent or furious with more squeezing, paralysis and reward for the wealthy, they have an even chance of being able to run smallpox for the White House in 2016 by creating more disengagement and more virulent revenge voting against the outgoing man.

The cold Second Civil War was won, decisively, by Dixie on Tuesday.

Not in California, though.

The state is rapidly freeing itself from the radioactive rage of WhiteManistan. This is seen most remarkably in the passage of Proposition 45, a voter referendum that immediately reduced arrests for simple drug possession for personal use to misdemeanors.

It was a solid signal that California is sick of WhiteManistan’s War On Drugs. We’ve finally figured out that permanently ruining the lives of tens of thousands of people, disproportionately not white, and stuffing them into over-crowded inhumane prisons isn’t a quality of a reasoning and merciful civilization.

However, that leaves the other 49 states. And if things go the way I think they might, changing demographics be damned, the GOP party might be able to get smallpox into the White House. Look at what they’ll be facing.

America’s queen? Someone who feels the entitlement of having been there once as the call of destiny? Really.

Today at Salon, one person wrote:

Such an unstable context, where a large majority of the population mistrusts both parties and their leaders, all branches of government and most other supposed pillars of civil society, is not far from what Lenin called a “revolutionary situation,” primed for civil war or conquest …

Collapse and widespread violent unrest are not entirely unreasonable expectations.

Consider again an excerpt, one I’ve used before, from William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state … It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one’s inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsification and distortions made a certain impression on one’s mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime’s calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in a casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a cafe, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was to try to even make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for truth, said they were.

The United States is not Nazi Germany. But no one can say now that its civilization can’t fail in a way unique to its own history and nature.

We live in a corporate dictatorship and the minds of close to half the populace, maybe more, are in much the same poor shape as those described by William Shirer as a correspondent in Nazi Germany prior to World War II.

America’s alleged democracy is every bit as weak and unstable as the social democracy of Germany before the Third Reich.

And this country has never dealt with its central problem: What is to be done with WhiteManistan?



Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll at 3:35 pm by George Smith

Here’s another teaser from Loud Folk Live. And it would seem elliptically appropriate to the entire Democratic Party today. Unlike the Old White Purity party, they don’t blow the right kind of folks, or when they do, they’re just not as good at it.

And if you’re given a choice between committed whores and half-assed ones, you take the former. And they did.


And while you’re there, stick around for The National Anthem, which is up to a big 81 listens!

“We’ve got a lot of crazy people!” Perfect.

Remember, copies of Loud Folk Live can be had for name your price, although ten bucks seems to now be the going average. Or not. Just saying.



Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, The Corporate Bund at 12:21 pm by George Smith

Lack of blog action, two reasons: Depression over general state of affairs and hassles with WordPress/web hosting.

For the past couple weeks web hosting has been beset by problems, across all platforms, technical faults of unexplained nature described only by “500 — Internal server error” messages.

It was so bad over the weekend the blog database couldn’t even be administrated.

After a decade of this I’m so sick of talking to information technology workers at help desks I just walked away. As a class they’re worse than the flu virus, which is something you at least can be immunized against. They’re corporate job apparently requires them to give up being thinking human beings, to be something on the end of the line that will make you think you’re talking to an automated phone menu with only two options, hang up/give up or consult on-line documentation, which is not supported and/or not relevant to the current problem.

These people are so dysfunctional that accepted business practice is to either actively hide contact pages or purposely disarm or push them into default when trouble is breaking out, as it was all along the hosting network. And it was not a problem that came upon the network in one day; it had been building for weeks.

But we’ve all seen this coming. It’s the model of the American corporation. Extract automatic monthly fees for substandard or virtually non-existent service. Refuse to communicate to anyone with which you have a business relationship except through “announcements” edict or notifications that payment is overdue.

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