The Guardian continues its reporting from the LV

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:17 am by George Smith


[Trump] won the presidency. The county result was as dramatic as the national result. Northampton had voted twice for Barack Obama and had a long record of Democratic strength built in part on its legendary steel industry, which shuttered in the 1990s. In 2016, the county voted for a Democratic state attorney general and a Democratic state treasurer. But at the top of the ticket it was Trump, by 5,461 votes.


Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. set near the Baldwin House in the Monrovia Arboretum

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Phlogiston at 10:25 am by George Smith

Went to the Arboretum in Monrovia on Monday with a friend. It was sunny and we were surprised to find a crew builing a set for Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D on the lawn near the old Baldwin House. (Place where “The plane, the plane, Boss!” was shot for Fantasy Island decades ago.) S.H.I.E.L.D. was there for two days, Monday being for set building.

No sign of Colsen, May or Daisy.


More on the H-1B brigade

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 2:41 pm by George Smith

“New bill [in] the US House of Representatives mandates minimum wage of H1B visa holders at $130,000,” reads the headline of an Indian business publication.

“India’s information technology (IT) sector will face temporary setback to move workers from India to the US with the bill …” it starts.

But the devil’s in the details which are still a bit unclear.

The problem with the tech industry and the granting of H-1Bs in the US is not that there haven’t been enough American workers with the skills. The argument was a lie.

The tech industry uses H-1Bs to hire younger foreign nationals, primarily from India, to replace older more experienced Americans who are paid more.

A few cases became notorious last year in which a big company, like Disney, used an outsourcing firm to hire H-1Bs to replace their American workers who were then compelled to train them for the jobs they were being severed from. Essentially, use of H-1Bs has always been about getting rid of American workers for cheaper labor as to improve the bottom line.

“Why do such low proportions of US STEM graduates land STEM jobs?” the man asks.

By boosting the salary to 130,000 this bill purports to stop that. The caveat is in the finer details which today’s stories don’t get at. Are there loopholes?

For example, for this to work I’d assume the 130,000 salary requirement would have to be applied across all categories of IT and Infosystem jobs which would mean no downward exceptions or wiggle room for entry level positions or jobs tortuously defined to select only for the young and foreign.

Anyway, the point is you’ll be able to sort of tell if it’s a good bill if the tech industry becomes seriously unhappy and lots of stories start showing up about how “Trump” or Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat (who’s generally been in the industry’s pocket), are throwing away the nation’s competitiveness because, again, there are supposedly NOT ENOUGH Americans with “skills.”

The bog standard swelled head tech industry cant

Posted originally to my Facebook page, here are some comments from the pro-outsourcers.

Having worked at this industry I have noted that barring a few American Universities, [the] rest dish out pretty average graduates. Silicon Valley can still afford $130K for average engineers while the rest of the country cannot. Does that mean that companies will stop eroding profits?? The answer is NO they will ship the job offshore. Trump should NOT have messed with the Tech industry. Tech industry is the only domain which keeps US ahead of the rest. He has to think of other ways to curb the body shoppers.

Personal experience, but I interviewed ~30 candidates at an engineering fair a couple of years ago. 29 were foreign nationals, and the one American by far had the worst skills. There absolutely is more foreign-born talent than American, if nothing else simply by the numbers of China+India graduating a far higher number of engineers than we do.

H1-Bs, always young and smart, just looking for a great life in the land of the free

Here’s where it gets ugly. The story that will predominantly feature in the mainstream will be on how the lives and/or dreams of H-1B applicants and current holders may be upended/ruined/spoilt by a revision of H-1B granting rules.

The Guardian story, ‘My worst nightmare’: high-skilled tech workers fear Trump visa crackdown, is a good example.

Karthik Sridhar and his wife recently sold their car and other assets in India, eager to start a new life in Silicon Valley. The founder of an artificial intelligence startup, who moved to Palo Alto, hasn’t seen his spouse and five-year-old daughter since last summer and was hopeful they could reunite this month in California …

“I’m trying to create jobs here,” the 36-year-old said on Tuesday, sitting inside a busy co-working building in San Francisco where tech startups share office space. “Everything is up in the air now … We didn’t know there was going to be complete disdain for existing rules and regulations and policies.”

Here is his company. It’s typical tech industry/start-up pitchman’s stuff: “We send out a deeply personalized e-mail … super-intelligent backbone for e-commerce.”

But it isn’t until you get deep into the Guardian piece that you read about another kind of disdain for existing rules and regulations:

Critics of the H-1B program, including Democrats, have argued that reforms would be welcome given that research has shown that large contracting firms have exploited the program to deploy lower-paid contractors, which can hurt wages and displace US jobs.

And then it’s back to the “worst nightmares.”

The problem, as it exists, is that the US tech industry, corporate America, has very much made employment a zero-sum game. For someone to win, others must definitely lose. In fact, the Silicon Valley philosophy has always been some variation on it: Someone else must always lose for innovation and disruption.

And the story they have been allowed to program is that it is the American worker who is made to lose.

Yes, there are “worst nightmares.” They’ve been experienced by thousands, even millions, of Americans already. They’ve had their lives boiled down, assets liquidated, their futures blighted. When you include all the fine details, the Guardians’ subjects, although presumably good people, suddenly don’t seem the tragic figures after all.


Brainless Memes, Steve Jobs and the fall of the United States

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 4:09 pm by George Smith

I’m sick of iPhone Steve Jobs as offspring of immigrants posters/signage. Maybe you are too. “We’d have no Apple or iPhone if it weren’t for Steve, the son of a Syrian migrant,” goes the bleat. You’d have to use Samsung or LG!

It qualifies as yet another brainless meme of the moment, picked up and passed around like some convenient aphorism from the Bible, something that professes to explain exactly why Trump’s immigration ban is bad with as few words and troublesome thinking as possible.

Jobs is a poor, make that a wretched, choice. As a human being he was an obvious louse.

Jobs had no obvious interest in being decent to others. His iPhones are famously made in China in a giant complex (paradoxically owned by absentee Korean tech plutocrats) where the conditions were so bad workers committed suicide by jumping off the roof in desperation.

And here’s another kick in the ass: Steve Jobs and Apple were/are notorious abusers of the H-1B immigrants for specialty positions visa program. Along with the rest of the tech industry, they use H-1Bs to procure workforces of younger foreign computer engineers and programmers who can be paid less than older Americans they’ve been hired to replace. It much improves the bottom line.

For examples, just read the recent news and see who’s being profiled. Green card holders, H-1B tech-workers, like these interviewed by the Guardian.

So today, the tech industry is embarrassed and in pain, as it should be. You see, its CEOs aren’t the unbending democracy-loving geniuses they like to imagine themselves to be. They’re just lickspittles to power. Naturally, they’ll get over it. They’re nothing if not capable of blowing with the wind. [1]

Before the election they tended to see Trump as a long shot, an idiot, someone who couldn’t possibly beat Hillary Clinton. And they most noticeably chastised PayPal-billionaire Peter Thiel for his support of the candidate.

But after Trump was elected they changed their tune, crawling on their bellies for a big corporate tax break, for even more H-1Bs, for any bribes they could cadge. And so they’ve been caught flatfooted by Trump’s latest move, people not to be taken seriously when it comes to defending alleged American principles.

However, the immigration crisis is a moment when you can potentially see the American experiment’s possible end coming into sight.

In Volker Ullrich’s Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939, he describes a moment near the end of the book when Germany left the company of the world’s civilized nations. It was the Night of Broken Glass when chancellor Hitler’s minions organized a nationwide attack on Jewish businesses leaving windows on the street, property destroyed and odious art and graffiti on shop fronts.

It was at that point that Hitler’s regime doomed itself.

Truth be told, the United States we’ve known for the last fifteen or more years has been steadily accumulating atrocities globally, showing its will and readiness to leave the maintaining of a decent civilization to other better places.

Finally, the popular story this weekend has focused on all the fine-looking and smart young people caught in the network of airport Homeland Security holding areas. Who, among all the civil servants involved, rebelled and took no part. Of this, we did not read.

While these are compelling news stories they still leave much of the approaching storm unseen. There is, by example, the war crime perpetrated by US Special Forces in Yemen this weekend. Organized and strategized by President Obama, left to Trump to greenlight, a strike which slaughtered civilians, including an eight-year old girl, for the sake of so-called intelligence-gathering.

You could also read commandos “fought and killed female fighters of an al-Qaida affiliate in the raid Saturday in Yemen in which a team member was killed, three were wounded and three injured, the Pentagon said Monday.”

“[A spokesperson] said the SEALs saw the women running to fighting positions as the team approached an enemy compound in Yemen’s interior.”

The attack was a cluster-f from start to finish as well as a war crime. This is no longer hidden. Keep in mind, the mission had been devised by the Obama administration. It is not the singular property of the Trump administration which merely went ahead with it.

We are all immigrants now etc

[1]. As predicted, the tech industry blows with the wind. By late in the day they were all ready to jump to the defense (but not jump too high) of their H-1Bs the world over. “Googlers” even staged a worldwide walkout, a big 2000 strong. A paltry amount in the scale of Alphabet finance — 2 million in matching money — was pledged to the cause by Google corporate. By contrast, Google corporate spent 5 billion on a corporate stock buyback in 2016 — a predator economy stunt of no social value but popular with American big businesses.

Why, even Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook had great grandparents who came from Europe! I bet you didn’t know that! My grandparents came from Hungary. I bet you didn’t know that, either!


Reviewed: Roseanne for President!

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:04 pm by George Smith

Unexpectedly, a fine doc/personality portrait on Roseanne Barr’s presidential run in 2012, first in contesting the nomination of Jill Stein in the Green Party and after that as nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party. (Eldridge Cleaver, Dick Gregory, Leonard Peltier from prison…)

Barr suffers no fools, ever, and the lack of desire to be ingratiating or tolerance for any bull being smoked in conversation made her a hard sell, even on the US fringe in 2012. That was and is a pity. Treated as a joke, she wasn’t.

In the doc no punches are pulled. Barr’s Green campaign turns forlorn when she chooses to use only teleconferencing to make her pitches in the primary season. It puts her campaign manager, Farheen, in a losing proposition, like having a star athlete who won’t show up for the games except as a figure on a collectible sports card that comes with a pack of bubblegum.

When Barr finally got out on the trail her gifts as a natural comedian with a supercilious view of our national predicament and what working people stand for came through. And it works, sort of. It turned out Barr could still bring down the lightning when she felt like it. Even the scene of her wrecking the national anthem at a baseball game, an event for which she was pilloried has to be re-evaluated. In 2017, now you get it.

It’s not her fault it no longer matters.


The Boss — turkey frank of “the resistance” is in Australia

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll at 4:54 pm by George Smith

Here’s Bruce Springsteen in September of this year:

“I believe that there’s a price being paid for not addressing the real cost of the deindustrialization and globalization that has occurred in the United States for the past 35, 40 years and how it’s deeply affected people’s lives and deeply hurt people to where they want someone who says they have a solution. And Trump’s thing is simple answers to very complex problems …The whole thing is tragic.”

Most of Bruce Springsteen’s audience voted for the man.

But poor Bruce, he wound up playing for Hillary Clinton in Philly before the roof fell in. And Obama a day or so ago.[1] Such pointless rearguard actions.

But today, reading from the Guardian:

On Sunday night, in Perth for the first leg of his third Australian tour in four years, Springsteen laid his cards on the table early. “Our hearts and minds are with the hundreds of thousands of women and men that marched yesterday who rallied against hate, and division, and in support of tolerance [and] inclusion,” he said. “On E Street, we stand with you. We are the new American resistance.”

At this juncture Bruce and the E Streeters asserting they’re part of some American resistance is about as inspirational as coming home from the supermarket and finding you’ve mistakenly bought turkey franks instead of the all beef ones as you unpack.

[1]. “Springsteen played a private gig for President Obama’s staff last week. Did those in attendance and those in the elite circles of the Democratic party leadership think that the world the Boss created on The River and Nebraska came out of nothing? That the scars of those brutal years had gone away? Did they really think that those fat GDP figures and Obama’s job creation record meant all boats had been lifted on a rising tide? Why is it that a nationalist demagogue has to be the one to say: ‘The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country.’ ”

Trump at the pinnacle

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 4:03 pm by George Smith

Yanis Varoufakis has written a good column for the Guardian today. In the past I’ve recommended his books and his current essay is again familiar territory.


A clash of two insurgencies is now shaping the west. Progressives on both sides of the Atlantic are on the sidelines, unable to comprehend what they are observing. Donald Trump’s inauguration marks its pinnacle.

One of the two insurgencies shaping our world today has been analysed ad nauseum. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and the broad Nationalist International that they are loosely connected to have received much attention, as has their success at impressing upon the multitudes that nation-states, borders, citizens and communities matter.

However, the other insurgency that caused the rise of this Nationalist International has remained in the shadows: an insurrection by the global establishment’s technocracy whose purpose is to retain control at all cost.

[Billions] of people in the “third” world were pulled out of poverty while hundreds of millions of western workers were slowly sidelined, pushed into more precarious jobs, and forced to financialise themselves either through their pension funds or their homes. And when the bottom fell out of this increasingly unstable feedback loop, neoliberalism’s illusions burned down and the west’s working class ended up too expensive and too indebted to be of interest to a panicking global establishment.

Previously, Varoufakis, here.

Particularly, the story of the gigantic jar of pickles…

“Take for example, Vlasic pickles, a well-known everyday brand. Walmart’s ‘innovation’ was to sell these pickles in one gallon jars for $2.97. Was this a shrewd retailer’s response to market demand? Few family refrigerators had room for such an item.

“So what was the selling point?

“It was the idea of a huge quantity at ultra-low price. Walmart’s customers, in this sense, were not buying pickles as such. They were buying into the symbolic value of cheapness; into the notion of having appropriated so many pickles for so little money. Indeed, it made them feel as if they were Walmart accomplices — in association with an icon of American corporate might, they had forced producers to make so much available for so little!

“The gigantic jar of pickles thus ended up denoting a small victory at a time of wholesale defeat. Whose defeat? That of the American worker, whose wages had never really recovered since 1973. Moreover their working conditions deteriorated as employers everywhere faithfully copied the Walmart model…


Trump’s look into hell

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 3:26 pm by George Smith

“By the time he is sworn in Friday, Donald Trump will have undergone a haunting rite of passage: the classified briefing given to every incoming president that explains how he can order a nuclear attack,” reads a story at Politico on the President’s initial contact with the go codes and the US strategic operational plan for global strike.

It was originally called the SIOP, or Single Integrated Operational Plan, and was developed and ordered into place under Eisenhower.

The SIOP was a mechanical plan, once set in motion –irreversible. Over the course of from one half hour after the execute order to about a day later it would grindingly go about ending all civilized life in the northern hemisphere.

Some descriptions on it, taken from Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser convey the scope of it:

“[A SIOP briefing] was a ‘descent into the deep heart of darkness, a twilight underworld governed by disciplined, meticulous, and energetically mindless groupthink aimed at wiping out half of the people living on nearly one third of the earth’s surface.’ ”

“Hundreds of nuclear warheads would hit Moscow—dozens of them aimed at a single radar installation outside the city. During his previous job working for the Joint Chiefs, Butler had dealt with targeting issues and the damage criteria for nuclear weapons. He was hardly naive. But the days and weeks spent going through the SIOP, page by page, deeply affected him.

“For more than forty years, efforts to tame the SIOP, to limit it, reduce it, make it appear logical and reasonable, had failed. ‘With the possible exception of the Soviet nuclear war plan, this was the single most absurd and irresponsible document I had ever reviewed in my life,’ General Butler later recalled.”

In 2003 the SIOP was retired and replaced by the OPLAN, varying by numbers, the most current appently being OPLAN 8010.

The SIOP’s primary focus was the Soviet Union/Russia. The OPLAN was devised to allegedly be more flexible in a political context, now including Russia, China, North Korea, Syria and Iran in its targeting.

At the height of the Cold War the SIOP called for hitting the Soviet Union with 10,000 weapons. The smallest option called for a strike with 2,000, still a civilization-ending thermonuclear spasm.

Whereas once Moscow was targeted with hundreds of bombs, today it is apparently scheduled to be on the receiving end of a mere 60 or so.


Exposure to the reality of US thermonuclear strategic planning and global strike for the first time is said to make rational people feel faint.

Last laugh in the Rust Belt

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:40 pm by George Smith

The Guardian visited Bethlehem. Northampton County, Pennsy. Along with the coal counties to the north, where Democrats flipped from Obama to Trump, the results were not a complete surprise to me or a friend from the same area, both of us now in California.

The Guardian gets an interesting quote from a former steel worker: “But you know what, people like me, even though I voted for Hillary, were smart enough to know that the crap that we went through – we didn’t want any more of it.”

“[Some] Democrats stayed home, some new voters excited about Trump came out, and some Democrats crossed party lines to vote for a promise Trump made over and over, that he would make America great again,” the Guardian reads.

They voted for hope. Just the way they voted for hope eight years ago. And mostly saw just more disappointment.

The Guardian maintains it will be camping out in Northampton County for the coming year.

On the other side, the best headline all week — Fascinating poll findings: Only white Americans like Trump.

After awhile, even if you voted for the loser, it gets on your nerves. So by all means, keep it up swells.

Saw it all come down. Knew that someday the bill would come due.


Inclusive inequality

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:11 am by George Smith

From the wires:

World leaders gather this week at the Swiss ski resort to discuss how to make globalism more inclusive in response to the rising tide of populism.

As part of that agenda Chief Operating Officer of the Thomson Reuters Foundation Antonio Zappulla has suggested private and public sector leaders be encouraged to be more “inclusive” of LGBT staff.Breitbart

China’s President Xi Jinping will promote “inclusive globalization” at this month’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos and will warn that populist approaches can lead to “war and poverty” … Reuters

Your head just exploded.

For the past 20 years, CEOs have been largely positive about the contribution of globalization to the free movement of capital, goods, and people. However, this year’s survey respondents are skeptical,” the survey, released on Monday evening at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said.

The results come after a tumultuous 12 months for politics with the election win for Donald Trump and the Brexit vote in the U.K. Leading analysts to believe that voters are beginning to question globalization and current socio-economic models. CNBC

In an interview with The Independent, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, a former UN Deputy Secretary-General and Labour government minister who helped found the BSDC, said the 21st century was shaping up to witness a clash between two great political ideas: nationalism and globalism.

Saying he was speaking personally, rather than as the BSDC’s chair, he admitted that globalisation “hasn’t really worked for many people …”

“Don’t throw globalisation out with the bath water as Trump and some components of the Ukip unit of the Brexiteers appear to have done. But instead embrace globalisation 2.0, or whatever you’d call it …” Lord Mark Malloch-Brown said. — the Independent

Progressive plutocrats, with whom Ms. Freeland seems to feel some kinship, are now catatonic in the face of a Trump presidency. Davos will never be the same. There was always something surreal about the Davos plutocrats and their hangers-on gathering in splendid isolation to decry rising income inequality. In the Trump era, they will seem even more hopelessly extraterrestrial.

While the Davos crowd was making its usual calls for “inclusive growth” and climate accords, the masses had other things on their mind, such as the utter repudiation of the experts in business and politics … — Globe and Mail

Supporters of globalization need to develop a new way to promote open markets that relies on smaller trade deals and helps people who are feeling left out, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.

“I certainly hope there is not a move toward deglobalization,” Lagarde said Friday in an interview with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait in New York. “I equally think we have to move toward globalization that has a different face, and which is not excluding people along the way.” — Newsmax

The current new mediocre

Overall, and this is a point I made in my speech in Chicago a few days ago, we see growth as too low for too long and benefiting too few.

In and of itself, it is not good news, but it is also fertile ground for political dynamics that can depress global growth even more. We believe that countries can actually move from the current new mediocre, move from that current new mediocre to a new pact …

We believe that more can be done to raise growth now and to make it more inclusive. Again, having a determination to include all in the social contract is great, but there has to be growth in order to allocate among everybody

But it needs to be slightly different. It cannot be that push for trade as we have seen it historically. The inclusiveness, the determination to make it work for all, and to pay attention to those that are at risk of being left out, whether it is as a result of technology, digital economy, or international trade by modification of supply chains, that factor has to be taken into account …

In this context, I am pleased to note that our Board recently approved the extension of zero interest rates …
Christine LaGarde, International Monetary Fund managing director

You need a smartphone to join the world


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