11.14.16

Phoned it in (the fine print comes in)

Posted in Decline and Fall, Shoeshine at 4:58 pm by George Smith

“President Barack Obama didn’t quite blame his ally Hillary Clinton for causing her stunning loss to Donald Trump last week — but he chided her for not focusing on reaching out to white, non-urban voters like he did in 2008 and 2012,” reads Politico.

“Obama — about to hand off the presidency to a man whom he declared temperamentally unfit to serve — pointedly declined to endorse Clinton’s own explanation for her defeat …”


Phoning it in, the first two paragraphs of Stronger Together:

IT HAS BEEN SAID that America is great because America is good.

We agree.

Word bon-bons for the culture of lickspittle.

11.13.16

White comedianing

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 8:14 am by George Smith

Post a few more millionaire white and semi-white comedians routines mocking Donald Trump and the bad Americans, why dontcha?

A couple years of it really helped show everybody.

Now, if I were any one of them, I’d have looked at myself in the mirror the next morning and thrown myself out.

Consider, an entire class of so-called funny men and one funny woman who’ve made their fortune sneering at easy targets and pulling the wings off flies from on high while the building burned down. Hardy-har-har. It’s a laff riot.

The shoeshine boys and one girl performed a right public service.

11.12.16

No takebacks

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Shoeshine, WhiteManistan at 3:28 pm by George Smith

Before posting the contemptuous crap-dumpling picture meme of white trash who voted Trump on Twitter or Facebook, always remember to type “love trumps hate.”

Heard today on Fox radio news after listening to the Penn State game: A march on Trump Tower in NYC by Michael Moore and “a cast of thousands.” Moore promised the people would not allow Trump, who was “illegitimate,” to take office.

No takebacks. No reversals. HRC lost her alleged “firewall states.” Unless you actually want a constitutional crisis, the US government to fall and for you to be regarded as indistinguishable from those who threatened Barack Obama with the same thing over the last eight years.

No #calexit. And beating people over the head with the Brexit borrowed symbolism of safety pins won’t win a revolution. If you use your head, hard at this point, it’s like asking everyone, every one of the good people, that is, to wear an arm band, so they can know who to cluster with in public against the bad people. Quite the ideal. And when you’re finished with that you’ve found you’ve lost your moorings.

The culture of lickspittle is not fertile ground for cultivation of a revolutionary army.

Eat your plate of bugs and worms. And if you think the song is about you, it’s not.

10.30.16

The legitimate exercise of revenge

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Shoeshine at 9:19 pm by George Smith

From the Out & About in the Pasadena Neighborhood desk: An old pick-up truck driven by an old man, older than me, with a “Make America Great Again” bumper sticker. The truck, which sags a little in the mid-joint, is kept spotlessly clean. Someone appears to live out of it much of the time. I see it almost everyday. It has a little American flag hanging from the back.

The Trump voter is definitely not just in the heartland or the deep South, or rural, as broadstrokes from the media have it. They’re not hard to find. And they’re not only the uneducated but still well off. Believe the line the well-educated are only a little bit of it? And misguided, too? Surely there can be no one with advanced degrees who can’t see how deadly Trump would be to the world!

But from Thomas Edsall at the NY Times a week or so ago:

“Trade comes with no assurances that the spoils will be shared equitably. Across much of the industrialized world, an outsize share of the winnings has been harvested by people with advanced degrees, stock options and the need for accountants. Ordinary laborers have borne the costs and suffered from joblessness and deepening economic anxiety … failed to plan for the trauma that has accompanied the benefits of trade. When millions of workers lost paychecks to foreign competition, they lacked government supports to cushion the blow. As a result, seething anger is upending politics in Europe and North America.”

Globalization has not just damaged making things. It’s converted survival into a winner-take-all, make artisanal goods or crawl grub street economy. Make high-end trivialities and conveniences for the upper classes, do an endless succession of no-win freelance gigs for about nothing, or liquidate what you have left in an internet buyer’s market. It’s had a widespread effect, the cost of which to the non-select — diminished lifespans, widespread narcotics addiction, suicide, to name a few things in the news — is finally being measured.

You want to write off tens of millions of people who you don’t agree with on much of anything because we believe them to have made poor choices, not be educated the right way, or because they are bigots?

I can’t do it and believe me, I’m acutely aware I did more than my share For Escape from WhiteManistan. No one deserved what bad national leadership and economic policies favoring the elites did to them or people they knew or more distant family members over the past few decades.

I recently saw Michael Moore’s Trumpland. It’s a hurried-up release of his live show put on in Wilmington, Ohio, in Trump territory although I’m not sure there were many Trump voters in the theatre crowd. Part of his monologue, the backdrop of which is large hanging photos of Hillary Clinton from various stages in her life, centers on that Moore doesn’t believe Trump voters are all racists. In Michigan he’s talked to Trump supporters and tells the audience they they know the guy’s odious.

Reading from a notebook, Moore recognizes this is a revenge vote. He gets it, he says. His first and best doc, Roger & Me, went deep into the why that’s only become worse.

Moore goes onto say this is the dying white middle class’s (the 2nd America as the LATimes patronizingly put it last week) chance to throw a bomb into the “establishment.” Trump is “your Molotov cocktail,” and they can deliver the “biggest F— you ever recorded in human history” to those who’ve been running the country.

“[He’s] the human hand grenade they can legally throw into the system that’s stolen their lives from them,” Moore continues.

Moore thinks the anger justified. So do I. I want to throw the bomb.

But in the end he implies Trumpland ought not to do it because it will only feel good for “a day, a week,” “possibly a month.” And they would regret it, at which point the movie goes back to some comedy, spoofing a Trump inauguration.

And this is something our six figure explainers haven’t been able to do. HRC hasn’t done it. She won’t even go near the territory unless you count a paragraph or two from a speech to bankers she tried to keep secret.

Moore riffs on a Trump rally where the candidate tells his audience and Ford Motor Company directly that if the manufacturer moves production to Mexico, he’s imposing a 37 percent tariff on their cars. With Trump it’s balderdash. But it’s something Moore points out you’d never hear from any other politician.

There’s been nothing for the Trump voter or anyone who believes Hillary Clinton’s blandishments and “Stronger Together” motto are empty pandering. And in the context of the election’s daily spew such things have become progressively more intelligence insulting. What together, precisely? Define your terms.

There’s only been a slow grudging admission that globalism has largely screwed Americans, except for the top and their educated shoeshiners, the alleged meritocracy, now frantic to suppress the revolt. They brought fossilization to the economy, a condition in which wealth and corporate power chisels whatever it can from everyone else stuck in it. And that they might have to pay for it in a way they hadn’t planned on has them all at the barricades.

You see, they say in opinion after opinion, you just don’t see that globalism is always good, perhaps it needs only some tinkering, and there’s nothing to be done, anyway, wouldn’t be pragmatic, not prudent. But, jeezus, everyone has to keep that guy out of office because he’s not who we are.

Few of our influencers, certainly Hillary Clinton, will never come right out and admit there’s a rightness to “they’ve had it coming,” to a satisfaction in the chance she would be denied what she believes to be destiny. Clinton hasn’t had to answer to it (only in polls which her show virtually as disliked as Trump) because she’s running against Trump where a strategy of phoning it in worked. (I’ve read her promises and policies book. There’s no need to go into the details of how empty it is once you get past the language of uplift.)

For her entire career she’s been at or near the epicenter of grasping American wealth, rule by the boilerplate from elites, and war without consequences for those who’ve made all the mistakes.

There’s been no discussion of issues this cycle. Zero on global warming. And Clinton has fobbed off any anger at her and government by blithely saying that such an emotion doesn’t solve anything. Neither has she. It’s all been verbal kung fu to the miscues and unfolding sordid biography of Trump: theatrical eye-rolling, jeering laughter, blaming the Russians, Julian Assange, now the FBI, always someone else in league with the enemy, and a “I’m the only one standing between you and the apocalypse” joke.

Hillary Clinton has more than done her part to earn the biggest election F— you! in history. The dilemma is in resolving the delivery of a share of it, of belief in the legitimacy of revenge, and conscience.


The emails never bothered me much, but Hillary’s statement urging all the parties involved at Standing Rock — protesters and pipeline company — ” to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest” fills me with revulsion. This as the soldiers and cops closed in on on the tribespeople. — Barbara Ehrenreich, Facebook, 10/30

From Thomas Frank, whose arguments in Listen, Liberal have only had exclamation points added to them by the election, today at the Guardian, on the Meritocracy of the Swells and their Heimdall/fixer, John Podesta:

The class to which I refer is not rising in angry protest; they are by and large pretty satisfied, pretty contented. Nobody takes road trips to exotic West Virginia to see what the members of this class looks like or how they live; on the contrary, they are the ones for whom such stories are written. This bunch doesn’t have to make do with a comb-over TV mountebank for a leader; for this class, the choices are always pretty good, and this year they happen to be excellent.

They are the comfortable and well-educated mainstay of our modern Democratic party. They are also the grandees of our national media; the architects of our software; the designers of our streets; the high officials of our banking system; the authors of just about every plan to fix social security or fine-tune the Middle East with precision droning. They are, they think, not a class at all but rather the enlightened ones, the people who must be answered to but who need never explain themselves.

10.21.16

Bomb Russia

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Shoeshine at 1:44 pm by George Smith

“A massive cyberattack is blocking your favorite websites,” blares the LA Times, right now.

Twitter, Tumblr, Netflix and music-streamer Spotify, the discussion site Reddit, Airbnb and the Verge. Imagine not being able to hear your fremium music, or tweet or watch Netflix.

The attack was “impactful,” said a comsex expert to the LAT.

You realize cyberwar could cause the empire to fall over. The Department of Homeland Security is “investigating.” The government is looking for someone to retaliate against, probably Russia, because an attack in cyberspace is just like an attack in the real world, according to the debate. Arch-fiends!

So listen to “The Cyberwar Boogie,” featuring ex-cyberwar czar Richard Clarke, saying, “it’s big ol’ DOS,” which is what it was. Today. Poor man’s Jimmy Riddle-eafing included.

Sidebar related story: Cybersecurity expert [name redatced] was silenced by a huge hacker attack. That should terrify you.

Terrify.

10.18.16

Always too late

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 3:33 pm by George Smith

Three years ago the six-figure explainers were ambivalent about the stupendous frauds corporate America has imposed on the economy in the name of the bottom line. To say they were serious villains was to be anti-capitalist, to not understand finance.

Now it’s all changed. And today, we have David Leonhardt, going from NYT economics reporter, defender of the riches, [1] to opinion page writer, wealthy whitemansplaining how, yup, American corporate tax dodgers are leeches.

This is about like seeing the town whore signing up for Church Universal and Triumphant correspondence courses. You can’t help but be slightly impressed while at the same time wondering how long it will last or if its really just a frantic hedge against a coming time of bloody pitchforks and raging bonfires.

Leonhardt:

The most affluent and powerful parts of our society have too easy a time legally avoiding taxes…

How does Amazon get away with this? A tangle of tax breaks and loopholes, some enacted in the name of creating jobs despite meager evidence that they do. For many companies, the key move is opening offices in a low-tax country like Ireland and then claiming that much of their business flows through those offices.

Put all these tax breaks together, and you end up with our system. AT&T and General Electric each paid a combined tax rate of only 18 percent since 2007, according to the S&P data. Coca-Cola, Apple and IBM paid 17 percent, and Alphabet (Google’s parent) is at 16 percent. Boeing is at 8 percent, Facebook at 4 percent…

The inequities contribute to the great American stagnation …

And the national stagnation has set great anger loose to roam the land with the result — Donald Trump! And it now every good American’s duty to join the fire brigade and send the man down to defeat before we can get on with fixing things:

[The] stagnation looms over life. It breeds political dysfunction, and it helps explain why so many Americans aren’t swayed by facts. When you have been struggling for decades, you tend to lose faith in society’s institutions and their sober-minded experts.

Without that faith, all of our other problems become harder to solve …

Obviously, the past year has highlighted the depth and breadth of the frustration. It takes different forms and crosses demographic and political boundaries…

Most dangerously, Donald Trump has captured a presidential nomination with one of history’s oldest tricks — using economic frustrations to attract political support by igniting ethnic hatred …

The country’s immediate task is to reject Trump — for each of us to help ensure that his deeply un-American campaign remains un-American. I’d encourage everyone to find one concrete way over the next four weeks to play a part.

Fuck that guy and his blandishments. And his behavior is part of the why behind the revenge vote, the desire to throw a monkey wrench into the unbalanced engine of rigged America, the desire to be a group Samson bringing down the temple on top of himself and the Philistines.

So last night a friend graciously took me out to dinner. And in the course of our conversation she came and asked, “Do you want Trump to win?”

And I paused before saying “No.” I told her I’d thought about not voting at all, the favored candidate being what she is — more of the same that has led to this.

Anyway, Dick Destiny electric folk was there before everybody else with “Taxavoidination.” And you can still have it, free, without even signing up.

Download and listen or I’ll contribute to killing the dog.


[1] Old Leonhardt, defender of the status quo:

Most voters in [the United States and Europe] have yet to come to grips with the notion that they have promised themselves benefits that, at current tax rates, they cannot afford …

The increasing claims come from the aging of the population, while the slowing growth of available resources comes from a slowdown of economic expansion over the last generation. A complex mix of factors, varying by country, has slowed growth, and the slowdown has been exacerbated everywhere by the worst financial crisis and global recession in 70 years.

And here, chronicling the losses of poor rich man, John McAfee:

Any major shift in the financial status of the rich could have big implications. A drop in their income and wealth would complicate life for elite universities, museums and other institutions that received lavish donations in recent decades. Governments — federal and state — could struggle, too, because they rely heavily on the taxes paid by the affluent.

Perhaps the broadest question is what a hit to the wealthy would mean for the middle class and the poor …

If anything, these economists say, any problems the wealthy have will trickle down, in the form of less charitable giving and less consumer spending. Over the last century, the worst years for the rich were the early 1930s, the heart of the Great Depression.

Other economists say the recent explosion of incomes at the top did hurt everyone else, by concentrating economic and political power among a relatively small group …

But if the rich have done well in bubbles, they have taken enormous hits to their wealth during busts. A recent study by two Northwestern University economists found that the incomes of the affluent tend to fall more, in percentage terms, in recessions than the incomes of the middle class. The incomes of the very affluent — the top one ten-thousandth — fall the most.

Over the last several years, Mr. McAfee began to put a large chunk of his fortune into real estate, often in remote locations. He bought the house in New Mexico as a playground for himself and fellow aerotrekkers, people who fly unlicensed, open-cockpit planes. On a 157-acre spread, he built a general store, a 35-seat movie theater and a cafe, and he bought vintage cars for his visitors to use …

In 2007, Mr. McAfee sold a 10,000-square-foot home in Colorado with a view of Pike’s Peak. He had spent $25 million to buy the property and build the house. He received $5.7 million for it. When Lehman collapsed last fall, its bonds became virtually worthless. Mr. McAfee’s stock investments cost him millions more.

One day, he realized, as he said, “Whoa, my cash is gone.”

His remaining net worth of about $4 million makes him vastly wealthier than most Americans, of course.

10.15.16

On the Money with the Old White Coot

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Shoeshine, The Corporate Bund at 12:37 pm by George Smith

Today: “TREATING THE WHOLE voting thing as a formality, serious political players are now pondering how exactly President Hillary Clinton can pass what Sen. Elizabeth Warren has called ‘a giant wet kiss for tax dodgers’ … So even as regular Democratic voters are concentrating on beating Donald Trump, the serious people of Washington are quietly putting the wheels in motion for what those same voters will find to be a highly unpleasant 2017 surprise.”

from The Intercept, D.C. Hivemind Mulls How Clinton Can Pass Huge Corporate Tax Cut

None of this surprises even the slightest. Expect the worst, then go out out and embrace it with open arms.

But you can have a free download for the offshore corporate tax holiday, coming soon, courtesy of the “Old White Coot” soundtrack!

And remember, this is my retraining program!

10.14.16

Voters apparently don’t believe the training/re-training shtick either

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 11:49 am by George Smith

From Pew:

As the demand for high-skilled workers continues to grow, American voters express relatively little confidence in either major party presidential candidate when it comes to their ability to help American workers prepare to compete in today’s economy …

When asked what kind of job Donald Trump would do when it comes to helping Americans get the skills and training they need to get a well-paying job, roughly three-in-ten voters say he would do an excellent (15%) or good job (16%). A solid majority say Trump would do only a fair (18%) or poor (47%) job.

Hillary Clinton’s ratings are similar.

The titling for this post is a little off. And that’s due to the questions posed by Pew.

What I’d like to see are answers to whether or not voters have taken to retraining over the past couple of decades and whether or not it has worked for them. My suspicions are that many have re-trained. And they’ve either gotten nowhere, been ripped off or had to settle for positions of much lower pay than before they were persuaded to participate in new training for great jobs of the future.

You know what I think. Do you know why I post the tuneage? Reprogramming. And it’s the only retraining I can afford.

Right to left: Jimmy Buffett, Jon Bon Jovi, HRC, Paul McCartney. Not undergoing training for jobs of the future.


This week’s Gold Cup Culture of Lickspittle Moment

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll, Shoeshine at 11:29 am by George Smith

Laugh at all the special bootlicks and shoeshiners, n.B., the New Yorker and music journalists.

The gold cup winners:

The writings and posts on Bob Dylan winning a Nobel by people who’d have a hard time naming even one of the many scientists in the last 70 years or so who won Nobels for work that pushed civilization much farther ahead than lyrics from classic rock and pop.

Yay, Bob.

10.12.16

And who does this remind you of today? The next president

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 1:09 pm by George Smith

I was house-sitting a couple days ago and one of the books on hand was a copy of Roger Ebert’s movie reviews. (Rates are pretty cheap if you’re in Pasadena. I’ll go for some cheap cava, a steak, charcoal to grill it, a few books and unlimited access to whatever’s on your tv while sitting. I take care of all security and your pets’ needs.)

On Roger & Me, Michael Moore’s breakout work, his documentary to still lead all others:

“Roger & Me” does have a message to deliver– a message about Corporate Newspeak and the ways in which profits really are more important to big American corporations than the lives of their workers. The movie is a counterattack against the amoral pragmatism of modern management theory, against the sickness of the “In Search of Excellence” mentality.

Moore has struck a nerve with this movie. There are many Americans, I think, who have not lost the ability to think and speak in plain English– to say what they mean. These people were driven mad by the 1980s, in which a new kind of bureaucratese was spawned by Ronald Reagan and his soulmates– a new manner of speech by which it became possible to “address the problem” while saying nothing and yet somehow conveying optimism.

Hillary Clinton, who barring the end of the world, I’m assuming will be the next president of the United States is just the person described in the above cut-out.

You can read her election book, “co-authored” with Tim Kaine, or sift through the e-mails dumped by Wikileaks and others and it’s all the same. Someone who never met a situation or position that couldn’t be finessed with language, someone saying she’s a centrist, a pragmatist, or constructing a private position that has to differ from a public position because “Abraham Lincoln,” the movie.

It is part of what I call the Thomas Frank blues, the recognition that the Democratic Party, as it’s running in this election cycle, stands only for the status quo of money and so-called meritocracy. And that four years from now it will be the same, the national rage worse, inequality greater, more war and social unrest, no progress on anything, but with the wealthy and the president still proclaiming the country to be stronger than ever, first in everything, the indispensible nation.

Said another way, from the Conversation:

The Democratic Party in America bears a significant share of the blame for the rise of Donald Trump. As Thomas Frank describes in his book, “Listen, Liberal: Whatever Happened to the Party of the People?” It has become too much the party of the “Professional Class”- those with graduate degrees – and has all but abandoned its historical role as the party of labor and the little guy.

History suggests that the inchoate rage Trump is tapping into may solidify into something far more ominous than a wall on our southern border. Hillary Clinton seems constitutionally incapable of addressing that rage constructively; I have my doubts that she is even capable of understanding or empathizing with it. That means it is up to those who do understand it to make our voices heard in a way that can’t be ignored.

And an especially interesting assessment from Andrew Bacevich, who employs H. L. Mencken so well it demands rereads:

It was now Clinton’s turn to show her stuff. If Trump had responded to Holt like a voluble golf caddy being asked to discuss the finer points of ice hockey, Hillary Clinton chose a different course: she changed the subject. She would moderate her own debate. Perhaps Trump thought Holt was in charge of the proceedings; Clinton knew better.

What followed was vintage Clinton: vapid sentiments, smoothly delivered in the knowing tone of a seasoned Washington operative. During her two minutes, she never came within a country mile of discussing the question …

In contrast to Trump, however, Clinton did speak in complete sentences, which followed one another in an orderly fashion. She thereby came across as at least nominally qualified to govern the country, much like, say, Warren G. Harding nearly a century ago. And what worked for Harding in 1920 may well work for Clinton in 2016.

Of Harding’s speechifying, H.L. Mencken wrote at the time, “It reminds me of a string of wet sponges.” Mencken characterized Harding’s rhetoric as “so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.” So, too, with Hillary Clinton. She is our Warren G. Harding. In her oratory, flapdoodle and balderdash live on.

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