The next cyberwar fantasy

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Cyberterrorism, Shoeshine at 2:59 pm by George Smith

From the New York Times, today, Bret Stephens writes about what he wishes:

A troubling thought for you: What if the Americans really did succeed in pressuring the Chinese to cut you off? Or what if somebody found a Stuxnet-type solution to cripple your only operational refinery or blow up the pipeline through which you import crude from China?

As with Tom Friedman a couple weeks ago, the opinion pages of the newspaper, trained to be receptive to the alleged magical power of the National Security Agency.

Consider, if left of launch works any better, the next thing you’ll see is a blinding flash of light.

The Shoeshine Machine runneth overtime.


Phrase to never use as a layman: “Gut microbiota”

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 5:25 pm by George Smith

The New York Times asks on its web frontpage:

“Can I Test the Health of My Gut Microbiota?”


The article is an intelligence test. If you read it, you flunk. I’ll admit to getting about a third of the way in. As pure clickbait aimed at the upper middle class of American shoeshine, people who think reading about their “gut microbiota” makes them informed on health and scince, it’s first rate.


Block of Bleak

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 12:15 pm by George Smith

Chris Hedges, at TruthDig, a lede graf no one ele could write:

The idiots take over in the final days of crumbling civilizations. Idiot generals wage endless, unwinnable wars that bankrupt the nation. Idiot economists call for reducing taxes for the rich and cutting social service programs for the poor, and project economic growth on the basis of myth. Idiot industrialists poison the water, the soil and the air, slash jobs and depress wages. Idiot bankers gamble on self-created financial bubbles and impose crippling debt peonage on the citizens. Idiot journalists and public intellectuals pretend despotism is democracy. Idiot intelligence operatives orchestrate the overthrow of foreign governments to create lawless enclaves that give rise to enraged fanatics. Idiot professors, “experts??? and “specialists??? busy themselves with unintelligible jargon and arcane theory that buttresses the policies of the rulers. Idiot entertainers and producers create lurid spectacles of sex, gore and fantasy.

There is a familiar checklist for extinction. We are ticking off every item on it.

Hedges is truly old school. For the last couple of years his prognostications on the American empire have been unremittingly bleak. Unfortunately, they’ve also been accurate.

Not so accurate but unintentionally and bleakly humorous is one of Hedges old colleagues at the New York Times, Roger Cohen:

[Trump] prefers guns to diplomats. Militarism and mercantilism constitute a new policy, unconstrained by any consideration of what the United States stands for in the world or the values its alliances have defended since 1945.

This is a radical departure…

Militarism and mercantilism … a new policy. ORLY!? Surely you must be joking, Mr. Shoeshine.

Cohen is upset that Trump has ripped any pretense of a mask off global Amrican conduct. Truth has upset him.

Of course, we’ve supported “strong men” before. Stalin, for example, mentions Cohen. Which should have you falling out of your chair, going back as it does 60 years and neatly omitting the half dozen or so murderous assholes Barack Obama sold weapons to during his eight years in office in the much more current time frame.

What did Chris Hedges think of Roger Cohen?

It’s plain as can be in the historical record:

I was covering the war in Yugoslavia. Roger Cohen [another marquee-name, roving correspondent for the Times] dropped into Sarajevo as soon as the ceasefire started.

He was based in Paris at the time. He had been my predecessor in the Balkans. He asked me what stories I’m working on, and I say, “I’m doing this and this and this and so on.??? So then I go off into Bosnia somewhere, and while I’m gone, he stole my stories. He was gunning for a Pulitzer for his Balkans reporting.

He took what you had written?

No, I hadn’t written them yet. He took my story ideas and did them. We later had a dinner in Paris with all the Times foreign correspondents. Roger—who’s a snake—says to me in front of all the other foreign correspondents and the foreign editor, in this kind of saccharine voice, “Chris, I heard you’ve been saying things about me behind my back???? And, I said, “No, Roger, there’s nothing I’ve ever said behind your back I wouldn’t say to your face. You’re a shit.???


American psychosis & unintentional hilarity

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 2:43 pm by George Smith

Do New York Times reporters ever look in the mirror? Do they understand how nonsensically bereft of logical thought some of their prose often reads in 2017 America?

Today, in a long piece on why North Korea is so determined to push forward its nuclear weapons projects:

Today, the country and government appear to be stable. But this came at a cost: a permanent state of near-war to stave off the forces of history that would otherwise tear down North Korea. Neither threats nor concessions from outside have proven able to override this calculus.

“A Perpetual State of Almost-War,” reads a sub-heading.

Max Fisher is The Interpreter, or the six-figure explainer, a term I’ve used to refer to ‘Merica’s banner journalists.

If Mr. Fisher looked in the mirror and read “But this came at a cost: a permanent state of near-war to stave off the forces of history that would otherwise tear down …” his conscience might force a moment of clarity: “U.S.A!” written as a tattoo across his forehead. The journalists of the NYT have furnished the purest Shoeshine. Exactly what the ruling class and the upper crust want to read about North Korea, how the Hermit Kingdom made itself over into a state of perpetual war-footing and irrationality.

How ever did this small country get into such a pickle that it now constantly threatens the US? How ever, indeed!

What country on the planet has been engaged in continuous war for the last sixteen years? What country’s government and national security apparatus has regularly warned of “existential threats” and the need for forever war all along the 16-year timeline?

“Missile and nuclear tests, along with what appears to have been a cultivated appearance of irrationality … Disarmament, in this view, would invite annihilation,” continues the piece.

It’s almost to fall down laughing. The six-figure explainer, writing for editors and an audience, neither of whom will admit to seeing the carbuncle on the notional image of the piece, that the article also describes the collective psychosis of the United States.

Try some word substitution.

[The United States] North Korea “intentionally employs a posture of seemingly hyper-risk acceptance and willingness to go to war as a means of trying to intimidate its adversaries.???

This puts the world in a quandary: How could any outside threat possibly exceed the risk that [the United States] North Korea already takes on itself? How could any concession remove the [United States] North Korean [mental] weakness that drives its behavior?

[The United States] North Korea also fears that [Russia] the United States might seek to depose its government in rapid strikes against the leadership, a threat it seeks to deter with repeated warnings ….

[Photo heading] The North [The United States] has proved itself capable of withstanding economic devastation [in the heartland]…

The Interpreter.” Oh, Mr. Fisher, surely you must be joking!


Excellence achieved in the root hog or die economy

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 10:13 am by George Smith

Fittingly showing the acceleration of the US into a 100 percent root hog or die/feudal economy, Tesla has surpassed GM as the country’s most valuable car company. Tesla, as it should, makes cars only economic royalty can afford. And electric cars for the specials among us way outweigh the sheer numbers produced by GM. Why, Pasadena itself is known to have one, two, or maybe even three Tesla drivers!

Note the rejoicing.

“Ford has been operating for more than 100 years, and in the first quarter of 2017, it sold hundreds of thousands more vehicles than Tesla, an electric car upstart, did in all of 2016,” reads the NY Times.

Unlike Tesla, Ford is “seen to be lagging in cutting edge technology and autonomy.”

In the root hog or die economy it is senseless to make products for the middle or lower class since that is where the money is not. This is Elon Musk’s crowning innovation.

The triump of Tesla is another big billboard to note along the interstate highway of the Culture of Lickspittle.

Tesla is also a perfect example of a tech company benefitting immensely from an economy based purely on rent-seeking.

Monopoly rents are cash money made through just being, sole position, gatekeeping, inheritance, outright theft, mass group bootlicking or rewriting of law (or the undoing of it) so that value that is totally detached from a social contribution can be collected. In the case of Tesla, it’s the pushing of its stock price, not earned by anything physical, but juiced by the ebullience of America’s specials and their Shoeshine workers.

Shoeshine: The Shoeshine were those colleged educated workers, living in the cities, still deemed necessary to do the gut administrative work for America’s plutocrats. In other words, the over-educated high button services help.


Root hog then die — proven by science

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine, WhiteManistan at 2:00 pm by George Smith

Deindustrialization, globalism and the US EQUALS lethal. “Deaths of despair” — proven by science. File under “Trump and the big fail, reasons for.”

From the intro:

In “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century,??? Princeton Professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton follow up on their groundbreaking 2015 paper that revealed a shocking increase in midlife mortality among white non-Hispanic Americans, exploring patterns and contributing factors to the troubling trend.

Case and Deaton find that while midlife mortality rates continue to fall among all education classes in most of the rich world, middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. with a high school diploma or less have experienced increasing midlife mortality since the late 1990s. This is due to both rises in the number of “deaths of despair???—death by drugs, alcohol and suicide—and to a slowdown in progress against mortality from heart disease and cancer, the two largest killers in middle age.

“The authors suggest that the increases in deaths of despair are accompanied by a measurable deterioration in economic and social wellbeing, which has become more pronounced for each successive birth cohort,” it continues.

Shorthand: Root hog then die. The economic model for the United States and its cost to the middle class.

As such the increasing mortality is a symptom of national failure. Of the installation of an every man for himself economy for the majority while the top slice has rewritten the rules governing the economy to redistribute all wealth into its own maw.

Unsurprisingly, it’s now difficult to overlook. And that’s primarily because of another symptom, the election of Donald Trump in what can be described as a scream of pain and revenge against the system, no matter how unproductive and disastrous the result.

Having said that, careful consideration would lead one to believe it is not a problem that can be quickly solved. If it can be solved by this United States.

As long as death rates continue to rise, the country will be essentially ungovernable, lurching from crisis to crisis to anarchy and breakdown as all faith in a shared prosperity and ruling institutions go up in smoke.

If the researchers continue their work I would expect them to find in the coming years that the entire white cohort, not just the non-colleged educated, experiences the same decline.

At this blog I had a category, not used often, for that cohort: Shoeshine. The Shoeshine were those colleged educated workers, living in the cities, still deemed necessary to do the gut administrative work for America’s plutocrats. In other words, the over-educated high button services help.

As per one obvious example:

Shoeshine: Those people you know on Facebook who’ve been spending their time clutching their pearls and condemning all the other white people, not them of course, who voted for Trump.

Another great example: Paradoxically, all those at big web media who’ve been allowed to write about the “deaths of despair.” You’ll have noticed that very few, if any, of those actually dieing the “deaths of despair” get chosen to write about their first-hand experience. That would be cutting too close to the bone. Only the social cosmetic services help gets the privilege.

So you see that it hasn’t yet occurred to most of The Shoeshine that they’re living on borrowed time. Eventually, the root hog then die economy will come for them, too, although it may take a few more years.

This blog has been called Escape from WhiteManistan. That needed revision. There is no escape.

Quote of the Day, from economist Dean Baker on his Beat the Press blog: “The main economic story of the last four decades is the massive upward redistribution of income that has taken place. The top one percent’s share of national income has more than doubled over this period from roughly ten percent in the late 1970s to over twenty percent today. And, this is primarily a before-tax income story, the rich have used their control over the levers of economic power to ensure that an ever larger share of the country’s wealth goes into their pockets. (Yes, this is the topic of my book, Rigged [it’s free].)

I called it the 40 Year Slump, from living it in the Rust Belt.

It remains one of the best things from this blog:

I’ve been storing up the energy to for a review of “Slap Shot,??? the Seventies movie with Paul Newman as the player coach of the Charlestown Chiefs (modeled on the Johnstown Jets) of western Pennsylvania. I have an old videotape and have had it on replay. “Slap Shot??? can also be viewed through the lens of America’s forty year slump, a movie framed at the time big business resurrected a devotion to unrestricted preying on its human labor, and — as it turned out — hundreds of millions of future livelihoods.

The backdrop for “Slap Shot??? is the perfect picture of it. The steel mill is set to close in “Charlestown,??? laying off thousands.

“Ten thousand people put on waivers,??? says Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean), the Charlestown Chiefs’ leading scorer, to Paul Newman, as both stand outside the steel mill waiting for a ride from Lily (Lindsay Crouse), Braden’s wife.

“What’s going to happen to them???? Newman, as Reggie Dunlop, the Chiefs’ player/coach asks.

It’s every man for himself, replies Braden.

They realize it’s the end for the Chiefs. No money, no ticket sales. What there are of the fans won’t be spending what they have left at War Memorial ice hockey arena.

I grew up through that systemic result in Pennsylvania.

From the mid-70’s to today, one unrelenting slump.

It never got better. More jobs were always lost. People made less and less money. There were no moments when anything turned around.

Occasionally, because of presidential propaganda, people felt better about it.

Largely, we bought the swill about “trickle down economics,??? the need to squash labor unions, that firing thousands of people was “right-sizing??? to get lean, mean and efficient, that life would be a different set of opportunities in which you’d go back to school or be trained four or five times, every ten to fifteen years, this so you would fit the workforce of the glorious future!

All convenient lies. And that’s only a fraction of it.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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