The President has left the building (continued)

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Made in China, Permanent Fail at 10:22 am by George Smith


The President continues his co-opting of tricks from the GOP playbook along with the community college obsession/cure-all in a swing through the south.

The latest, from the wires, is so Republican: We can only create jobs if we cut the deficit. Deficit cutting is job creation.


Before meeting with his jobs council at Cree, Inc., Obama toured a portion of the plant where LED lights are assembled. He met Josephine Lynch, a 43-year-old mother of four who landed the job two months ago after nearly three year of unemployment. She was a substitute teacher in New Jersey before losing her job. She then went back to school to get her electronics certification.

Obama hopes millions of unemployed workers will follow Lynch’s example by going back to school to get training for jobs in new industries, such as clean energy.

Empirical proof they’ve settled on the idea that mass unemployment is caused by stupid underskilled Americans who need to go to training camp to meet the skills of the 21st century. When all the data shows unemployment as a lack of demand, with the highly-trained as well as the unskilled hit.

Timed with Obama’s appearance with his “jobs council,” a Jeffrey Immelt authored piece on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal.

You wouldn’t expect much from Immelt, now more famous because of GE’s reputation as a giant tax evader, and he does not disappoint.

Tacitly admitting the US is up the creek, he recommends encouraging tourism as a way to job creation:

Boost jobs in travel and tourism. This industry is one of America’s largest employers, but the U.S. has lost significant market share. By making it easier to visit the U.S. through improved visa processes, we can win back market share in travel and tourism and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Homeland security screening has not been good for tourism, it’s true. However, the idea that we’re going to magically rebound as a beacon to the world and a surge in an employment will result if we only loosen up the asshole at the Customs gate is surely grasping at straws.

Plus, there’s the community college thing:

There are more than two million open jobs in the U.S., in part because employers can’t find workers with the advanced manufacturing skills they need. The private sector must quickly form partnerships with community colleges …

Nobody, not the President or Immelt, mentions that a lot of the jobs that go to people successfully placed after retraining camp community college pay much less than the jobs held prior to entering camp. And some of them pay so poorly there’s no book for someone with a family to chase them around the country.

“By year-end we also will have looked at and made recommendations on building and improving systems for national competitiveness, including R&D investment, tax policy … ” Immelt continues.

Immelt had the gene for shame surgically removed years ago.

“America needs more growth … Government, business and labor need to work together to get this done,” Immelt concludes.

Thanks, Dad. Did you buy lunch for the staffer who wrote this for you?

Good news, lads! Good news! The view count ticks up every time Jeff Immelt is in the news.

In related matters, General Electric has permanently dispensed with the happy line dance. Now its commercials are about all the “imagination” it’s bringing to life, since a lot of this “stuff” is done overseas, a sore point.

Now the commercials are about GE Capital financing American businesses. Or technology not made here, like a medical scanner. Or technology that’s not really new but mostly sold to foreign countries, now misleadingly cast as improving American conditions, like GE gas turbines.

Reads one GE page:

Some of GE’s biggest global growth drivers are built right here in the U.S. Our Greenville, South Carolina, site is the largest gas turbine manufacturing plant in the world, producing the majority of its advanced gas turbines for global export.

Built in 1968, this GE Energy site originally housed 250 employees and focused on building the Frame 7 gas turbine. Today, the Greenville site manufactures a diverse range of energy and infrastructure products on a campus spanning 413 acres with over 3,000 employees.

GE Energy’s innovative solutions, such as fuel flexibility for turbines, have been critical in winning major deals, including the $3 billion agreement signed between GE Energy and the government of Iraq, the largest single win in the history of GE Energy.


From a 2005 news story on the GE Greenville gas turbine plant:

General Electric’s strategy of pursuing environmentally friendly business has given its Greenville site new jobs making wind turbines, softening the blow of layoffs that cut the plant’s work force by more than 600 jobs in the past three years.

And from a recent job posting report on GE hiring in Madisonville, Kentucky:

State workforce development spokesman Stan Hill told The Messenger that more than 2,200 people applied for the 48 jobs at the Madisonville GE plant.

Forty-eight. The same as the number of states in the lower US.

And from another GE manufacturing facility in Oregon in 2009:

More than 200 employees will be laid off from GE Security’s Tualatin manufacturing facilities this year, company officials confirmed Monday. GE Security, which makes video, access-control and anti-intrusion products, is cutting all of its manufacturing jobs in Tualatin, moving them to GE locations across the United States and Mexico, said spokeswoman Michelle May.

And this summation on GE’s nature at CNBC:

“GE exists for the benefit of the executives and the directors,” Meyer says.

“The four executives I looked at received and realized total compensation of roughly $30 million a year during a time when the stock price declined and underperformed the S&P 500. Immelt totally underperformed and totally missed expectations.”

Meyer made the right move for his client, as GE shares are down more than 45% since the beginning of 2007, before the financial crisis that crushed GE Capital, one of the company’s many business units. While the finance unit has stabilized in recent quarters after Immelt shrunk it, GE’s reputation has been tarnished in other ways.

The upshot is that it takes thirty seconds to find lots of Internet notices and news about GE destruction of jobs in the past decade.

But everyone knows this. Which only makes Jeff Immelt’s advice on job creation all the more odious.

But that seems to be the corporate lizard brain for ya. It was just two months the company was still into this smarmy ad campaign on YouTube.


The President has left the building

Posted in Permanent Fail at 3:14 pm by George Smith

It’s official. Krugman must be in despair.

Today the President officially left the building, tossing all job creation to the private sector, conceding to the dumb-unskilled-American structural unemployment argument. So all he has to do now is recommend retraining camp community college enrollment until 2012.

Having washed his hands of the unemployed, perhaps some politicians in the Democratic Party will realize they’re going to get their necks wrung for it when the national experience hasn’t measurably improved by 2012.

From the wire:

President Barack Obama said the private sector must take the lead in creating jobs as the as the economy recovers, with the government assisting by making sure workers have the necessary skills.

“Government is not, and should not be, the main engine of job-creation in this country,” Obama said in his weekly address on the radio and Internet. “That’s the role of the private sector.”

On June 13 Obama will meet in North Carolina with executives who are on his Jobs and Competitiveness Council to talk about proposals to encourage private-sector hiring without additional government spending.

In today’s address, Obama said a good education is “a prerequisite for success” in the workplace, so he is pushing states to improve schools.

It’s actually pretty slick, purloining the Republican meme that if government would just get out of the way and become a lubricant, business would just make short work of this ding-dang Great Recession business.

Next thing he’ll be slyly dropping word that he’s read Atlas Shrugged and found it enlightening.



Posted in Permanent Fail, Phlogiston at 2:01 pm by George Smith

Here’s a news story from a marginal source that just leaves one speechless.

Scrabbling around in the underbrush for anything that will grab eyeballs, the reporter for something called “io9” whose motto is “We come from the future” does the poisons found in foods thing.

This was a subject of great interest to the neo-Nazi right and survivalists of the Eighties, people who busied themsevles making up samizdat texts on how to poison the IRS auditor or local postal worker with stuff they could find in their kitchen.

The genesis of it was in the idiot’s notion that vanishingly small amounts of toxic chemical moieties in vegetables can somehow be fashioned into weapons.

And with that notion one eventually arrives at the idea that if you just shave enough green stuff off potatoes, you’ll have enough solanine to kill your nosy neighbor or others you suspect are coming for your guns, gold and pemmican supplies. Except there’s never enough.

Or that if you crunch up enough apple seeds or peach pits you can have cyanide which is released from tiny amounts of amygdalin.

All this tripe wound up in things like The Poisoner’s Handbook, published over twenty years ago.

A decade later it passed into the hands of everyone else worldwide.

And at the beginning of the war on terror the same idiot home poisoner’s knowledge was found in the scribbled notes of Kamel Bourgass, the only defendant convicted in the infamous London ricin trial.

Like journalist Esther Inglis-Arkell, Bourgass had the fool idea that you could get workable amounts of cyanide from seeds. She just puts this foolishness on a news site; Bourgass actually went to the trouble of collecting cherry stones.

Inglis-Arkell’s article reads:

The fruit mentioned isn’t dangerous, but it houses a danger. The seeds [of apricots, cherries and apples], when ground up or even bruised, produces hydrogen cyanide. Yes, the pill that they gave spies to kill themselves if they got captured might have been made from ground-up almonds.

No, now put on the pointy hat and go sit in the corner.

Worse, she tries to drag in ricin, found in castor seeds. Since she doesn’t know that ricin is a protein, she thinks it’s found in castor oil.
Which it isn’t.


You might think you don’t eat these, but you do. They’re most famous for being in castor oil, but they’re also in most sweets like chocolate and processed candies. So what? So they contain ricin … So the next time someone gives you a box of chocolates, it could be that they’re trying to kill you on a day too sunny to carry an umbrella.

One is left speechless at the complete failure of an educational system and the inability to keep the results far away from web publishing.

Ricin detection in food has been a goal of many security businesses, the FDA, and Homeland Security since 9/11.

Here is a paper on detection of ricin — and other poisons — intentionally added to chocolate, by scientists from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition in Maryland.

It was published in 2005.

The Pain of Pantywaists

Posted in Permanent Fail, War On Terror at 7:25 am by George Smith

The pantywaist military of Pakistan has cried out in pain, pleading for respect, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Pakistan’s opposition politicians have joined the fray, spurring public disenchantment with the military, for decades the dominant political and economic powerbroker in the country. And we’re both obsessed with militaries.

The roughly 1,000-word statement—at various points apologetic, belligerent and strident—was the clearest indication to date that in striking a balance between the competing demands, Pakistan’s military leaders are looking to first assuage their own people, even if that means scaling back ties to the U.S.

The statement also offered an indication of the crisis now gripping Pakistan’s military and the lengths its leaders are potentially willing to go to restore public respect. The statement also said the army would be willing to divert U.S. military aid to help improve the lot of ordinary Pakistanis.

What? They’re going to give up golfing in Abottabad? Instead of new F-16s, ask for cash money they can hand out in the streets?

This is what the pantywaists will do. They’ll quietly ask for more weapons from Uncle Sam and sooner or later we’ll order ’em up for them.

“Gen. Kayani in recent weeks has attempted to rally his troops, going from garrison to garrison to explain that he shares their sense of humiliation over the raid …” continues the piece.

“After the speech, a colonel in attendance pointedly asked: ‘How can we trust the United States?’ ”

Straight from the mouths of the 98-lb. weaklings, a few weeks after having the sand of the bin Laden raid kicked in their faces.

Please, please, please, show us respect or … or … or … we won’t tell you were Mullah Omar is living. And we’ll get more of your sushi weapons … and not pay!


Pakistanis are insulted [by the thought that they’re reluctant pantywaists.] They point out that they have caught numerous al Qaeda members. A third of Pakistan’s army is arrayed along the border with Afghanistan fighting local Taliban militants, a campaign in which almost 3,000 Pakistani soldiers have died. Many generals, Gen. Kayani included, say the nation is now critically exposed to attack from archrival India on its eastern flank.

[In WWII this was called a Sitzkrieg.]

In the field, soldiers say they are angry at the lack of recognition from the U.S. for their losses fighting militants.

“We are fighting for the whole world. It’s very bad it’s not recognized,” said Lt. Col. Fazal Rabbi, a helicopter pilot with the Frontier Corps.

They’re worried about India, too.

Classic small man’s syndrome. Having an inferiority complex re India, now they have another aggravated one with regards to the US.

It’s horrid being patronized, unrecognized for your contributions and exports to the world — like Mumbai and various bomb plots in England.

Hey, Pakistan does outsourced debt collection calls for American banks!

That’s something good, right?

The alert reader will note Pakistan and the US have something in common. Neither country makes much of anything except for one really famous product. We make weapons. Pakistan makes terrorists.

More arms for different pantywaists

From the WaTimes:

Congress is stepping up pressure on the Obama administration to sell more F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan as the island’s air defenses deteriorate and China’s air power grows.

They only want 66 of them. And Lockheed is threatening to close the F-16 production line if we don’t approve the sale. Americans will lose jobs because weapons are the only reliable manufacturing, besides cars and some jet engines and guitars, we have!

Origins of “pantywaist:”

“What’s in a name???? Shakespeare asked. How about when someone calls you a “pantywaist???? Formerly “a child’s undergarment in which a shirt and pants were buttoned together at the waist,??? pantywaist was often bandied about in masculine circles in my youth.

And with pictures:

Lane Bryant, a women’s and children’s clothing outlet, sold these “pantie waists” (more commonly spelled “panty waists”) in their 1935 catalog for boys and girls from 2 to 8 years of age. The term panty waist later became a slang term of abuse for boys who were sissies or disinclined to behave in a properly masculine way …

Technically a “panty waist” was nothing more than an alternative term for underwaist with strap reinforcements for buttons and garter tabs. The buttons, usually attached to the waistline by tapes to make them more flexible and more difficult to pull off, were principally for attaching button-on trousers and skirts, but were also used by girls for buttoning on panties or bloomers, hence the term panty waist. The term panty waist was also used by many mothers to refer to any undervest for children up to the age of at least twelve, and sometimes fourteen, which could serve as a garment for anchoring hose supporters for long stockings …


National security as new haven for those obsessed with trivial shit

Posted in Cyberterrorism, Permanent Fail, War On Terror at 4:19 pm by George Smith

A few times this week I was contacted by news reporters who wanted to discuss cybersecurity and terrorism.

I spent time on the telephone with each and won’t mention names. The stuff that’s critical of the general received wisdoms just never gets into the news narrative. And you can count the number of national security experts in the news who aren’t shills for the status quo on less than the fingers of one hand. In fact, no one like this even seems to exist anymore.

Anyway, all these journalists were tracking stories which have no real currency.

The primary threat to American security is the economy. Full stop.

If it fails disastrously again, or the nation is run aground by nuts people who have steered it irresponsibly, that’s a threat to everyone.

When half the political leadership structure in the US believes global warming is a hoax, that’s a long term threat to the world.

If it were the leadership of Lichtenstein or Andorra, this would be on no consequence. But it’s us and it has great consequence.

So when someone asked me if al Qaeda can launch a devastating cyberattack against the US, I had to take a mental step back and think about how to gently deliver an answer like: “What on earth made you think that was realistic?”

Al Qaeda can easily be dismissed as a cyber-threat. No one will go broke taking the short position that they’re never going to amount to anything in this area.

I pointed out that if there’s any evidence that they might wish to use cyberspace to attack the US it’s the same order of wishful thinking that made the terror men think it would be easy for it to make weapons of mass destruction.

Al Qaeda, or any jihadists, believe these things because they have read for years in the western press that it is easy to get or make them. Experts have said so in newspapers and on television. And there are people, including many terrorists, who actually believe that shit.

Which says something about their actual capability and powers of discernment and critical thinking.

The other question that has been coming up is one having to do with what would a devastating cyberwar look like?

Dunno. And I don’t make predictions. However, I do know many normal people find laughable, as do I, the idea that we need to be really concerned right now about cyberterrorists attacking Wall Street and the American financial system.

You mean to argue that’s more a threat than what our insiders have already done? On the other hand, how ’bout a cheer for a cyberattack on Wall Street.

And then there’s one last point. If it’s not an attack on Wall Street, or something by al Qaeda, what about a cyberwar that has consequences in the physical world?

Been watching Live Free or Die Hard too many times in rerun, buddy? (It was showing just this week on cable. It’s the worst of the Die Hard movies and, as a bit of trivia, was based on some piece written about “electronic Pearl Harbor” about fifteen years ago.)

In a related matter it has to be said that America’s national security think tanks are havens for people who are simply threat-mongering salesmen or high button warehouses for those currently out of power.

After over ten years of reading their reports and pronouncement I can assert with absolute confidence that they generally produce no “analytic” product we couldn’t live without.

I’m going to give you some current copy, something that’s a workmanlike sample from an alleged academician at the RAND Corporation.

What are economists, good ones, writing about in their many blogs now?

Not a trick question. You know the answer. The wretched economy, stupid.

But that’s not what an “economist” from the RAND Corporation tepidly wrote about in a piece entitled “How Might Bin Laden’s Demise Affect Business?”

The title telegraphs the message: Don’t read me.

Here’s the lede graph:

Given how markets are responding thus far, Osama Bin Laden’s death is likely to have a modestly positive and buoyant effect on equity markets. Business abhors uncertainty. With Bin Laden gone, one major source of uncertainty is removed …

Business abhors uncertainty. Gnomic, like something my dad would have said.

Here’s the RAND Corporation from Google Maps.

Everyone who works for RAND lives in the high rent zipcodes on the west side of LA. Maybe a couple are little different and have places in the mansion districts of Pasadena and San Marino.

They sure know what’s going in national security threats to the country.

Everyone would laugh at America’s think-tankers if the reality wasn’t that they’re really well compensated to actively ignore reality so that more better crap can be made up to support the various endless war efforts.

Stock story on nose gold “trove” of information recovered from bin Laden’s broken down mansion in Abottabad.

Nice to know we’re sharing it with those trustworthy pantywaists in the Pakistan military. You just know that’s going to end well, too.


Obsession with community college as engine of renewal and innovation

Posted in Permanent Fail at 1:16 pm by George Smith

For at least a year the president has regularly hit on community colleges as engines for revitalizing the economy.

It’s an obsession, now taken up by many others, one used as a crutch to beat off substantive thought on really troublesome issues.

The discussion goes a couple different ways.

One was featured on Ratigan last week when that host gave air time to a businessman named William J. Holstein.

One idea bandied around was that community college training would spur innovation.

In the last several decades, progress and innovation pretty much rode the back of research in basic science in the US. And this was a product of the university system.

The great developments in physics, materials science, chemistry, biochemistry and biology came from the highly trained. We’re talking people who spent years getting doctorates, more time postdocking, and then going on to basic research as primary investigators.

Even more briefly, the applications we have today came from basic research where it wasn’t always immediately obvious what benefits would eventually accrue from particular laboratory discoveries.

And in science there is no way around this. Unfortunately, people who have never actually been involved in science have no way of knowing this. And such was the case with the businessman on the Dylan Ratigan show.

One can’t shorten or grease the process of scientific discovery by spending two years in community college for a vocational or lab technician’s 2-year degrees. (Full disclosure: I once taught a community college lab course in microbiology.)

By two years one generally finds a small number of people in a science class who are barely competent. The rest still need even more work.

And they will never be able to run research and development operations without a lot of extra education that is not cheap.

So the current obsession with community college education is a tacit admission of defeat. It’s a silent recognition that university education is out of reach financially for the majority, even more so to people who are now among the longterm unemployed.

All that is left is training for vocational jobs, which is valid, but certainly not a road to restoring American leadership in anything.

The current joblessness, as described by Krugman many times, is not one resulting from a surplus of useless Americans:

We are not, after all, suffering from supply-side problems. We don’t have high unemployment because workers lack the necessary skills, or are stuck in the wrong industries or the wrong locations; the hypothesis that we’re mainly suffering structural unemployment has been repeatedly shot down by evidence. This is a demand-side slump; all we need to do is create more demand.

Therefore encouraging people to divert into community college for vocational training is not useful except, perhaps, to those local colleges in states which haven’t cut education funding to them as part of austerity programs.

However, this is in stark contrast to weirdness like this from the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report in May that said higher education had failed to “tap the potential of digital technology” in ways that would “transform learning, dramatically lower costs or improve overall institutional productivity.”

The Chamber report praised Internet educational institutions like Khan Academy, which built its reputation on YouTube.com math lessons.

What this initiative really is, coming as it does from the US Chamber of Commerce — an agency which only peddles bad shit packaged as corporate goodness, is simply a push for training programs for jobs that don’t pay much at all but which may need filling domestically if the economy ever pulls out of the depression.

While the idea of learning math on YouTube certainly makes nice print it’s absurd to think any kind of YouTube learning program can take the place of traditional education in the hard sciences or engineering.

Nevertheless, it was again pushed today by the president, in another of his now tedious trips to local two-year schools or some relatively small business that makes machine parts. Which necessitates a fabrication, one that becomes more and more urgent to deliver because it implies that massive unemployment is not because of systemic failure in the US but because, again, people haven’t the appropriate skills:

“The irony is, even though a lot of folks are looking for work, there are a lot of companies that are actually also looking for skilled workers; there’s a mismatch that we can close,??? Mr. Obama said, surrounded by auto parts and tools.

Fair enough, there will always be a need for auto-mechanics.

But there is not nation that can build its way back into prosperity and leadership by becoming just a country of people with vocational technical skills suitable for, at best, mostly lower middle class low wage jobs.

An organization called “Skills for America’s Future, a business and community-college partnership based at the Aspen Institute in Washington and Colorado,” it is said is working to retrain and place Americans.

“Companies it already works with to link students with 21st-century job skills range from Accenture to UPS to Gap Inc,” it continues. (Boldface mine.)

Twenty-first century job skills? To drive UPS delivery?! To be an “outsourcing service” consultant for Accenture? Working in retail young people’s denim mall stores is a 21st century skill for which people need training?

Training on not to steal from the cash register and how to resort all the clothes properly and put them back where they belong after a day of customers rummaging through them?

This is repellent rubbish. It is the stench of rot, of cynically coming to the conclusion that there’s nothing to be done but sell people on the idea that they’re inferior and need even more vocational training for the low wage jobs of the future. Another way of putting it is to piss in a jar and tell people to drink up because it’s lemonade.

2012 will roll around and crap like this won’t save him or any other Democrats trying to push it.


Building the future with bedpan technicians.

In the US, junk jobs equal innovation.

Personally recommended — The Douchebag.

Hot Jobs: Natsec and home visit bedpan technicians.


Today’s laugher on copyright infringement

Posted in Permanent Fail at 8:56 am by George Smith

From the Los Angeles Times, the unintentionally hilarious lead:

Hollywood studios, record labels and other U.S. copyright and trademark owners are pushing Congress to give them more protection against parasitical foreign websites that are profiting from counterfeit or bootlegged goods. The Senate Judiciary Committee has responded with a bill (S 968) that would force online advertising networks, credit card companies and search engines to cut off support for any site found by the courts to be “dedicated” to copyright or trademark infringement. It’s goals are laudable, but its details are problematic.

The global nature of the Internet has spawned a profusion of websites in countries that can’t or won’t enforce intellectual property law. Under S 968, if a website were deemed by a court to be dedicated to infringing activities, federal agents could then tell the U.S. companies that direct traffic, process payments, serve advertisements and locate information online to end their support for the site in question. Copyright and trademark owners would be able to follow up those court orders by seeking injunctions against payment processors and advertising networks that do not comply.

Cutting off the financial lifeblood of companies dedicated to piracy and counterfeiting makes sense …

Only to the powdered special people writing editorials at the Los Angeles Times.

Oops, here’s the entire new JaneDear Girls pirated on YouTube, a Google property. (Just download all the submissions by “kingdrew” on the side of the page with YouTube Downloader.)

Tee-hee, here’s country artist Colt Ford’s entire new album, Every Chance I Get, pirated illegally to YouTube. Just download all the songs on the right, conveniently arrayed by the search engine.

Arf! Arf! Here’s Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain album, in what looks like its entirety, to the right. In fact, if you dig around a bit you find what seems like the whole catalog. On YouTube!

And — ho-ho — here are Donovan’s single hits from the Sixties — all pirated to, can you guess? You know what to do! Just look to the right and use YouTube Downloader!

“Once a court determines that a site is dedicated to infringing, the measure would require the companies that operate domain-name servers to steer Internet users away from it,” explains the Times.

A real rib-tickler, that one.

Those who use YouTube a lot know the site provides loads of baldly infringing content. Part of its business model of bringing in eyes and ears depends upon it.

The real impetus here is to get those dirty not-US infringers off the playing field.


Having trouble keeping ’em down on the farm

Posted in Permanent Fail at 7:06 pm by George Smith

The combination of slave labor/pseudo-slave labor wages and Arizona-style anti-illegal laws have hit farmers in a number of states.

This story, from Georgia, claims there is a labor shortage of 50 percent during the growing season.

It reads:

Fifth-generation Georgia farmer Gary Paulk told local paper The Daily Journal that he has only been able to find half of the 300 workers he needs to pick his blueberry fields, and that’s after hiking wages 20 percent. Another farmer said he had to switch to (less efficient) machines when he couldn’t find enough workers for his fields this spring …

Anti-illegal immigration groups like FAIR argue that if illegal immigration goes down, wages would go up for farm jobs, and then native-born Americans and legal immigrants would want them. Farmers say they can’t afford to pay more.

The agricultural work done by many illegals in California is back-breaking. The living conditions are very harsh, you get sprayed with pesticides, and there is substantial risk for dehydration and heat stroke and/or heat exhaustion.

When farmers raise wages to levels commensurate with the risk, in a harsh economy, US workers may begin to take the jobs.

Farmers may be compelled to make the work less hazardous to the health to see that. But maybe they won’t.

In any case, it’s hard to be sympathetic.

If the US government hadn’t made a policy of blindly accepting slave labor conditions and wages in farming for decades, we might not be where we are now.

Steve Colbert, who couldn’t do the work but made a big issue of signing up for it for the sake of entertainment value last year turned the issue into unfunny joke material before Congress.

Wage compression and economic failure in the US middle class has made it necessary for food to remain cheap. In response, the food stamp program has exploded.

When food isn’t affordable, riots ensue. (See Egypt.)

So we’re in a downward spiral.

Farmers won’t pay more. Their labor face is impacted. Their bottom line shrinks.

It’s a tough problem. I suspect the system has to almost break down completely before it can be repaired.

The war boom was very good for them

Posted in Permanent Fail at 7:23 am by George Smith


A web article here showed census results on the five wealthiest counties in the US.

No surprise, the top three of the five were in northern Virginia, made so by the war and homeland security boom over the last ten years.

It reads:

In recent decades northern Virginia has become an economic dynamo, driven by a private sector that feasts on government contracting. These counties are also home to corporate lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who work in or around the nation’s capital, soaking up federal government spending. And government-related hiring manages to keep the unemployment rate in places like Falls Church City down to 5.7%.

The places are Loudoun and Fairfax counties and the area around Falls Church.

Any place with a heavy concentration of military and security contracting has not suffered during the Great Recession.

San Diego, for example, has been largely spared much of the pain from the crash of 2008 do to the large amount of taxpayer dollars poured into military bases and the arms manufacturers and contractors in the region.

In a related piece, Kristof at the New York Times compared Pakistan’s priorities with those of the Tea Party in the US.

It’s an obvious picture — bloated military spending, state religiosity, abhorrence of homosexuality, very little taxation, little or no decent public education. And the right was probably howling about it all Sunday.


I’ve always made fun of these countries, but now I see echoes of that pattern of privatization of public services in America. Police budgets are being cut, but the wealthy take refuge in gated communities with private security guards. Their children are spared the impact of budget cuts at public schools and state universities because they attend private institutions.

Mass transit is underfinanced; after all, Mercedes-Benzes and private jets are much more practical, no?

“I sometimes see shiny tanks and fighter aircraft,” Kristof adds.

It’s not a coincidence that the “shiny tanks and fighter aircraft” of the pantywaist militaries of these nations are almost all American made.

It used to be the old Soviet Union that armed half of them. But our weapons shops and wars demonstrating the excellence of the goods drove them from the business. That was some progress,

From a scholarly paper a couple months ago, not specifically about the war boom riches but accurately describing the phenomenon in countries where inequality is entrenched:

Where growth is isolated and incomes are concentrated, those who are not directly involved do not benefit. On the contrary, growth necessarily entails environmental degradation and waste, and it is on the poor and the excluded that these burdens necessarily fall.

The spoils of growth — all concentrated in a few industries: financial, military, some but not all aspects of technology. Everything else is left to rot.

From yesterday:

” … [A] weird guilt-tripped reflexive genuflection to soldiering on holidays, remains.”

Today’s most noted D-day anniversary noted in the news: Pennsylvania’s odious ex-Senator, Rick Santorum, draping himself in war memory as he announces his GOP presidential aspiration.

This bit from Santorum a few months ago, after a rant about the creeping menace of sharia law to the American legal system, having to do with public schools being a socialist plot for brainwashing children into the liberal fold. Santorum home-schools his children which perhaps means only that they’ll be a bit more likely than not to be as stupid and nasty as he is someday:

“Just call them what they are. Public schools? That’s a nice way of putting it. These are government-run schools,??? he said.

Santorum brought up the Head Start program, charging that the program is ineffective even as Democrats object strongly to congressional Republicans’ proposal to cut funding for it.

“They fund it more,??? he said of Democrats. “Why? Because it brings more children into their domain. It brings more children out of the household … Their agenda is to socialize your children with the thinking they want in those children’s minds.???

Santroum, who home-schools his own seven children, said he supports voucher programs that would allow parents to send their children to private schools.

D-day anniversary or not, Santorum would still be a joke candidate, an
unelectable pariah in any general election.

No amount of his quote about fighting to save America will erase this:


Any war movie or book written about this is one guaranteed to have no audience

Posted in Permanent Fail, War On Terror at 5:06 pm by George Smith

From the wires, on the 101st Airborne’s withdrawal from Afghanistan:

“It is very hard to see change,” said Capt. Tye Reedy. “It was very hard to get that across to my soldiers.”

Major General John F. Campbell described … losses in military lingo. “We had some very, very kinetic events,” he said after arriving home at Fort Campbell. But he said the hardships bonded the troops in an indelible way.

Very, very kinetic events.

One week after Memorial Day, DD notes that on AMC that weekend was dedicated to a loop of the movies Midway, Patton and The Longest Day, the latter which featured a running time, with commercials, of four hours.

Today’s endless counterinsurgency battles couldn’t be farther from them in subject matter.

They will generate books that nobody but journalists and the families of those who were there will read. If they make it to the occasional movie, they will generate some critical praise but have no star power, no box office and little if any public interest. (Like the most recent, The Battle for Marjah. Incidentally, that review was read thousands of times, generating as little enthusiasm in Facebook “likes” as the documentary then passing into the oblivion. Americans don’t even like to read the truth about documentaries on the Forever War.)

Here’s another quick framing question.

Can you even remember the title of HBO’s serial dramatization of the Iraq War? Didn’t think so. (See bottom for answer.)

Our national paradox, dripping in cynicism and marinated in bad faith, is one in which the military industrial complex has been so successful at removing the average citizen’s involvement in the Forever War, only complete indifference to it, along with a weird guilt-tripped reflexive genuflection to soldiering on holidays, remains.

Answer to HBO serial on Iraq War question: Generation Kill. Yes, what everyone wanted to watch was a movie on the first two weeks of a war launched on frauds five years after all the bunting from our Mission Accomplished moment had blown away.

HBO wasn’t running it over the Memorial Day weekend.

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