09.26.10

Can’t Buy That Toilet: How ’bout a $180 blues harp

Posted in Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 11:17 am by George Smith

Readers know my mojo-free Mojo Deluxe blues & rock harmonica, made in China by slave labor for pasting to a cheap paperback instruction manual, is my metaphor for deindustrialization and major fail in this country.

Historically, the blues harmonica was made to be a cheap instrument, something anyone could afford, pick up and play a few tunes on. There is no justification for a “blues & rock” harmonica to be made in China, for a couple dimes, so it can be sold in the US.

The harmonica, by nature, was already cheap!

The Mojo Deluxe is such a good metaphor because it matched with the outsourcing of the US guitar industry, written about here two years ago.

It was described thusly, using the American brand Fender:

Turning back to the category of electric rock instrumentation, the all-encompassing history of Fender, “The Soul of Tone: Celebrating 60 Years of Fender Amps,” has something to say about American companies and the Chinese slave labor workforce.

Fender is THE American brand name in electric guitar amplifier. We’re going to skip rehashing most of its history in which it rose to prominence as a vendor of classic designs and then almost went completely out of business. Instead, we fast forward to today when Fender offers a dominating and broad line of electric guitar amplifiers, equalled only by Marshall and two other big American manufacturers, Peavey and Mesa Engineering. Because Fender offers a broad line, some of its amps are made in China.

Paradoxically, the book indicates Fender would rather not make inexpenive junk amplifiers for the dilettante. However, because of realities in the market, it must.

“In the old days, you walked into a music store and took whatever you could get your hands on,” says Fender’s Shane Nicholas to author Tom Wheeler.

“But over time, people have become much more demanding. They expect a lot of features at low prices…”

“There are a whole lot of inexpensive Chinese amps out there, and many of them offer plenty of features. We need to compete with that … anybody who makes a small entry-level amp has gone to Asia.”

Nicholas describes the cheap Fender Frontman amp as formerly being made in Mexico: “… and every dealer loves it and they’re all making money with it, and then a year later the same dealers say, “Hey, that’s too expensive!”

And it had become “too expensive” because it had been undercut by another western brand which has moved its manufacturing to China, making something similar but even cheaper. And Fender was compelled to move the amp’s manufacture to the same country.

Fender, like many other American companies, deserves condemning for the rationalization.

The company ceded its America-made brand for the everyman for essentially a glorified boutique shop, making custom guitars and craftsman instruments only for the wealthy or those few with major label contracts. It’s probably fair to say that not everyone who now works at Fender can afford to regularly buy the company’s select US-made goods unless they get a good employee discount.

They can, as an alternative, purchase the Chinese-made Fender-branded stuff.

And over the years DD has run into many musicians who marvel at their 99-dollar Chinese-made purchases without wondering why it is they can’t afford the US made good anymore. They give no real consideration to how their day job wages have either stagnated or been compressed.

And they don’t see any illogic in yakking about how they’ve upgraded the slave labor instrument with $100 dollars in replacement parts, also mostly made in China.

Which brings us back to harmonicas and the US model of “reindustrialization.” In this case, the revival of manufacturing on a very limited base, one which makes only boutique goods.

The only US manufacturer of harmonicas is a company called Harrison.

Its website is here.

In Rockford, Illinois, its facility is in a small part of the old Ingersoll machine tools manufacturing plant. Ingersoll was an American brand name, too. And because of US deindustrialization and slave labor in non-democratic Asian countries, it blew away in the wind. And unemployment in Rockford is devastating just like everywhere else.

The story of Harrison Harmonicas is well told in a clip from the BBC here.

It’s full of cognitive dissonance but does effectively get across the toll of deindustrialization in the heartland.

One can only marvel at the paradox of an instrument, which was — by nature — to be made cheaply, being designed on a super-expensive 3-D manufacturing machine.

Is there a market for the $180 harmonica?

Maybe.

A small one limited to, once again, the dilettante with money to burn, those who haven’t yet maxed out their credit cards, some pro musicians. In the plutonomy, you can have a consumer product manufacturing base, as long as its restricted to boutique stuff for the haves.

Certainly, when DD was regularly playing the dive bars in the old Lehigh Valley, a place very much victimized by deindustrialization, those who played harmonica would have had to think long and hard about whether they wished to spend 180 dollars for an instrument.

This does not, per se, reflect poorly on a company like Harrison Harmonicas. But it is to say they are not replacements for an America that makes things. And no matter how many of these businesses you now see profiled in news stories, they do not provide significant employment opportunities for average Americans. They do not replace the old Ingersolls or Bethlehem Steels.

They are, instead, a result of the ruinous path we’ve taken. One that puts you in the national blind alley of modern Swiss watch-making, high-end manufacturing making patently over-engineered and needlessly high tech things — extravagances, status symbols and frou-frou goods which can be pitched to the haves.

As for slave labor Mojo Deluxe blues & rock harmonicas?

They never really took off. The shopping cart link for them on the harmonica book author’s website is dead two years after it hit the market.

If you want one badly enough, you can still buy it on Amazon.

And DD — hah-hah — owns the top entry for the slave-labor made harp on Google.

And you can find one soul on YouTube, playing his Mojo Deluxe and strumming the blues on an offshore-made Fender Strat to backing from Apple’s Garageband. (Caveat: There’s some jump-on-the-grenade quality to it.)

Wait long enough and there’ll be some be-a-bluesman app for your iPhone. You won’t have to play the Fender Strat or Mojo Deluxe at all.

Nb: There was probably no success in store for the Mojo Deluxe because another American-named company was already marketing a slave-labor harmonica set, LoDuca.


Good news, lads ! Good news! The Mojo Deluxe starred in the video but was not actually played for it!


Sunday wouldn’t be complete without Tom Friedman going on about the latest miraculous thing he’s discovered in China.

His examples this month are all obviously built on a trip to some sales convention there, an event where he’s discovered a few American carpet-baggers who’ve taken their money offshore for manufacturing.

Last week it was Mike Biddle and his above-ground “green” plastic mine.

This week it’s Kevin Czinger of Coda, a Santa Monica-based business that’s bringing a Chinese-made electric sedan that costs $45,000 — half the price of Elon Musk’s electric car for the super-rich — to California.

In DD’s video of Friedman getting pied set to China Toilet Blooz 2.0 , Friedman’s quote about Chinese wonderfulness being another “Sputnik” moment was featured.

Now it’s not Sputniks, but “moon shots.”

Friedman writes:

China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments.

Naturally, what’s not in this column is that there may not actually be a market for a $45,000 electric sedan, Chinese made, one that goes only 100 miles and requires six hours to charge, in America. Except for dilettantes and the wealthy. (There may, indeed, be a few thousand of those.)

Or that there may be some resistance to the idea of buying a Chinese car, considering the experience Americans already have with faulty products made over there.

There’s a bit more critical piece on the Coda here.

And Friedman naturally does not mention that there are no Chinese-workers making the sedan part who can afford them.

Or that rebates and tax rewards from the US government and the state of California, aimed at providing incentive for buying Codas, outwardly seems to guarantee that a significant portion of the taxpayer money may go to China for the sake of the man’s business venture.

My Tom Friedman Blooz vid.

09.24.10

Nugent as Jack Ripper, endorses Team B

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism, Ted Nugent at 8:18 am by George Smith

Ted Nugent’s latest essay in the Washington Times is the third in a series of anti-Muslim rants he’s penned this summer. Bafflingly, some of these are now being reprinted in a Detroit newspaper.

Nugent endorses the Team B report that Muslim extremism, in the guise of Shariah law, is taking over America. Indeed, if so, it is nefariously subtle, since most cannot see it.

In the fact-based world, Nugent’s essay — as does the Team B report — takes on the air of something heard from General Jack Ripper, telling Lionel Mandrake at Burpelson AFB, why he launched the bomb wing at the Soviet Union.

Nugent uses the word “poisoning” twice in his essay. It’s a less elegant construction than Ripper’s dialog, concocted by Terry Southern and Peter George for the script of Dr. Strangelove:

A foreign substance is introduced into the precious bodily fluids, without the knowledge of the individual and certainly without any free choice. That’s the way the commies work…

In Team B’s case (and for Nugent’s essay), the nefarious foreign substance is Shariah law, not fluoride put into ice cream by the commies.

“What if it turns out that some of the people the Obama administration has been embracing are actually promoting the same totalitarian ideology and seditious agenda as al Qaeda, only they’re doing it from White House Iftar dinners?” is the stand-out quote from Team B.

In Dr. Strangelove, Jack Ripper was the plainly nuts character.

Writes Nugent:

The most bone-chilling finding by Team B is that America faces the threat of Islamic Shariah law slowing poisoning our legal system and ultimately destroying it.

He continues:

Shariah should be banned in the United States and those Muslims and imams in America who advocate Shariah should be charged with sedition. Trying to overthrow our constitutional government through peaceful or violent means should never be tolerated.

Shariah will only be allowed to poison our legal system and culture if we allow it.

This from a guy who only shouts and writes about overthrowing the present US government.

Team B is the work of Frank Gaffney. Earlier this week, I wrote about him in connection with a post on the Cult of EMP Crazy, of which he is a charter member.

Gaffney is a notorious kook, a birther and someone prone to shouting at the yearly whacko conference on electromagnetic pulse doom held in Niagara Falls.

He represents the core of the Cult — the sole property of the GOP — also sharing double membership with Islam-o-phobes and those who believe the President is a secret Muslim.

You can think of them as a lamentable collection of poor men’s Jack Rippers. They hold political office or seats in insane right-wing think tanks but do not have command of a strategic bomb wing.

Yet.

The only reason they’re not truly dangerous right this instant is because they don’t have majority power.

Team B presented its report to two equally nuts politicians, the outgoing Pete Hoekstra (who, coincidentally, is from Nugent’s old home state of Michigan) and Trent Franks of Arizona.

Franks is a birther and also member of the Cult of EMP Crazy.

Hoekstra is famous for being mostly a loud Congressional do-nothing. And an Islam-o-phobe. I wrote about him back in 2006, when he was first venting rubbish on Islam sapping and impurifying the precious bodily fluids of America.

As with the Tea Party, Nugent has adopted ever more extreme positions. These ideas are not new, having always been present in the US politics. However, in gentler times they were easily suppressed and kept to the fringe.

Now they’ve been vetted as acceptable by large sections of the population. They anticipate and welcome an even more harsh and cruel country, one of great social and economic inequality, intolerant of everything except its paranoid white appendix of wealth and power.

09.23.10

Eat Shit Farms, LLC: Pics of flies & shit

Posted in Bioterrorism, Stumble and Fail at 1:14 pm by George Smith

The Dickensian characters of Eat Shit Farms appeared in this short news video from the Associated Press:

Everyone is familiar with the image of the American businessman who now invokes his 5th Amendment right to protection against self-incrimination.

Then there was the Austin “Jack Decoster/Peter DeCoster team from Eat Shit Farms Wright County Egg, the business at the center of the biggest spread of foodborne salmonellosis in US history.

Their written testimony, here, is predictably self-serving.

Their business grew too fast. And it’s always been aggressively fighting Salmonella. Et cetera.

Pictures from the FDA are worth a bit, showing sides of Eat Shit Farms’ hen house broken and bulged out from piles of crap, liquid excrement seeping from various holes and cracks, and dead flies everywhere.

They’re here.

Bart Stupak, the outgoing Michigan congressman and chairman of the House Energy & Commerce committee, was the face attached to the investigation.

Stupak, an anile character known only for trying to screw up healthcare reform and living in the shady place now known as the C Street house, released as pro forma a statement of concern and rectitude as possible.

Congressman Bart Stupak was alarmed. He was on the case. There were flies and manure everywhere. It probably took a staffer all of an hour and a half to write and put into .pdf form.

That Bart Stupak was head of this congressional investigation reveals a lot about how much change is coming.

Stupak mentions other hearings he’s conducted on foodborne illness, as if he can take credit. Too bad for Bart Stupak, the same types of things continued to happen. Indicating Stupak does things for show and publicity.

Which everyone already knows, considering the Stupak amendment.

The Energy & Commerce committee released two certificates of achievement, one awarded to Wright County Egg just as salmonella was going everywhere.

For comparative purposes, it also released one awarded to the Peanut Corporation of America, given to Stewart Parnell’s company two years ago just when it was sending salmonella everywhere.

These are meant as indictments of the firms named on the certificates. As well as what it takes to get some rubber stamp for good healthy business.

They also serve as indictments of the US government and congress which, two years after Peanut Corporation of American set off a salmonellosis outbreak that killed nine, still wasn’t regulating or overseeing anything until it was too late again.

09.22.10

Jobs went there, stinkbugs came here … that seems fair

Posted in Phlogiston, Stumble and Fail at 2:51 pm by George Smith

The marmorated stinkbug invasion, made in China, according to the news.

Seems about right for the times.

“The [marmorated stinkbug] is a native of China and was first reported and identified in Allentown, Pa in 2001, although there had been reported sightings of the bug going back to as early as 1996,” reads one article.

“The bugs are keeping Tom Kendrick, owner of Pro-Kil Professional Exterminators [near Pittsburgh, PA], busy this year. Kendrick has been in business since 1995, and said this is the worst year for stink bugs, although he’s not sure why,” reads another, with a photo entitled “Stink bug attack.”

“He sees about eight to 10 cases daily. Kendrick said they’re noticing stink bugs for nearly every customer — as long as there are trees around.”

At least we own our bedbugs.

Can’t Even Buy That Toilet

Posted in Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 12:51 pm by George Smith

Today, the Los Angeles Times opinion pages prints the opinion of a UC-Irvine economist, one who appeared in the New York Times on Labor Day.

Economic treason is the thrust of Peter Navarro’s “America’s Trade Traitors.” That’s the title in the hardcopy edition, bought with 75 cents cash money. Not the title you’ll see on the free version, which goes for unobjectionable timidity.

A lot of us have already figured out that beggaring Americans and their jobs for the sake of slave labor and evasion of environment laws and regulation in China has crushed much of the economy for the middle class. And since we have a consumer society, once you have destroyed the buying power of the middle class, put over ten percent of them out of work, and exhausted all their credit, all that they can afford to buy are essentials.

There was, for example, no valid reason for this — the 10 cent Chinese Mojo Deluxe blues and rock harmonica glued to a cheap paperback on how to play harp — to exist in US stores. When made in America, it was already cheap. The only motivation to ship a “blues and rock harmonica”-making operation to China was greed and expedience.

And that was explained here in 2008, in a story on how US guitar manufacturing had been shipped to China and other slave labor countries, the American-made product up-priced for the rich and those fewer and fewer on a major label expense account. While it fired the domestic workforce except for a smaller one seasoned with craftsmen who can make “distressed guitars” for snobs.

It’s easy now to condemn Fender for it. Their executives have explained they didn’t want to do it, but it was the competition … Keep in mind, this was a California company which decades ago featured a significant domestic workforce.

But back to Peter Navarro. For the Los Angeles Times, he writes:

What these groups fail to understand (he’s speaking of a group of 31 lobbyists, including US trade groups and businesses which have recommended the government not do anything about China’s artificially low currency), and what many Americans have failed to grasp, is this: The flood of artificially cheap Chinese goods putting America out of business has merely been a down payment on this country’s present and future unemployment, and higher unemployment means less purchasing power for consumers and less business for retailers over the longer run …

What all these American business groups and corporate executives now doing business with China fail to understand is this: When jobs move to China, Americans are damaged. These days, you don’t have to look far to see the victims.

Robert Reich has been singing a similar tune. He, however, is not really off the hook. This didn’t just go on in Republican administrations.

Navarro, on the other hand, excoriates the Obama administration for not delivering on any of the president’s promises made before election day that he would “crack down on unfair Chinese trade practices …”

Writes Reich, on his blog:

But [the consumer society] can’t run on its own because consumers have reached the end of their ropes.

After three decades of flat wages during which almost all the gains of growth have gone to the very top, the middle class no longer has the buying power to keep the economy going. It can’t send more spouses into paid work, can’t work more hours, can’t borrow any more. All the coping mechanisms are exhausted.

Anyone who thinks China will get us out of this fix and make up for the shortfall in demand is blind to reality.

So what’s the answer? Reorganizing the economy to make sure the vast middle class has a larger share of its benefits. Remaking the basic bargain linking pay to per-capita productivity.

Consider Tom Friedman yet again, with quotes from his recent rubbish on “green” plastic-mining in China and how that poor American businessman had to send his work there because he couldn’t get favors here. Skating and slipping on green-whipped creme, dance and shake those arms, Mr. Wonderful!

China Toilet Blooz Reprise

I bought a new toilet
It was made in China
That’s where all the jobs went!
Nothin’ could be finah!

You buy that toilet
It was made in China
Crap in a hole
Crap in a hole
Crap in a hole!
Buy a bag of lime…

They still make that here

Eat Shit Farms, LLC: More Dickensian character

Posted in Bioterrorism, Stumble and Fail at 9:38 am by George Smith

Today’s Associated Press piece on the salmonella and the massive egg recall has everything you need to know about more US failure on the way.

The complaining politician, who is shocked — just shocked, is Bart Stupak, the outgoing Democratic Party caveman from Michigan who held up healthcare reform for vanity’s sake.

From AP’s lede grafs:

The chairman of a House subcommittee says a recent outbreak of salmonella in eggs paints, in his words, “a very disturbing picture of egg production in America.”

During a hearing Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan showed photos of dead chickens, bugs and holes in hen houses at Iowa egg farms linked to the outbreak.

Consider that for a moment, the inconsequential fellow known only because he was a famous nuisance, Bart Stupak, heading a House inquiry into mass salmonellosis.

It’s a joke.

Austin “Jack” DeCoster, the Dickensian owner of Eat Shit Farms Wright County Egg also makes an appearance. He claims to be upset that he’s implicated in so much illness. At least until he’s out of this jam.

It is reported:

The owner of an Iowa egg company says in testimony prepared for a House hearing that he was “horrified” to learn that his eggs may have sickened as many as 1,600 people in an outbreak of salmonella poisoning this summer.

Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, are scheduled to testify before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Wednesday. The panel has asked them to come prepared to explain what steps they have taken to address salmonella contamination found at their farms.
In testimony released by the company, Wright County Egg, the two men say they believe an ingredient sold to them by an outside supplier may be to blame for the outbreak.

Someone else’s fault. The eight-foot-high piles of manure in the egg-laying operation.

I’ve said it before. Currently, the US system is broken.

The Dickensian character afoot in US agribusiness is a greater menace to the general welfare than any ginned up scenario dreamt of re bioterrorism.

The US government cannot now, and even will not, get these people off the street. That the DeCosters can show up to be questioned by the likes of a Bart Stupak in a Congressional inquiry is all the evidence one needs.

The next sentence is particularly laughable:

Peter DeCoster, CEO of Wright, said the company has made “sweeping biosecurity and food safety changes” following the recall …

At the beginning of the summer, the people who ran Wright County Egg in Iowa probably didn’t know and/or care what the word biosecurity meant.

Not that it matters. Biosecurity — in real world practice — is just a word coined and used to justify transfer of taxpayer money to the American bioterror defense private sector.

This, a quote from the Washington Post, in my original post on Eat Shit Farms, which has now been downloaded a couple thousand times (It’s the top read on the blog since it went up):

Federal investigators found piles of manure up to eight feet tall, live mice, pigeons and other birds inside the hen houses at two egg farms suspected of causing a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness, officials said Monday.

How do you biosecuritize a mass egg farm where it was business to have piles of manure taller than the boss inside the hen house?

The Associated Press also mentions some eyewash about chickens now being vaccinated against Salmonella at Eat Shit Farms, a practice DD noted in news from the Los Angeles Times, that has been avoided nationwide. Because it added a few pennies to the cost.

“I pray several times each day for all [those made ill]and for their improved health,” wrote Austin Decoster in prepared testimony, reported AP.

Around 1,600 have now been diagnosed in the outbreak.

“For every case reported, there may be 30 that are unreported,” concludes the AP.

09.21.10

The Event — not magical!

Posted in Phlogiston at 2:58 pm by George Smith

NBC’s The Event — thumbs down.

Scruffy-looking young character plans to propose to his pretty girlfriend on pleasure cruise. Girlfriend mysteriously disappears while he’s off watching fish with another girl.

It takes thirty seconds for the viewer to figure out that a shadow group has kidnapped her, along with her kid sister, shot her mother, all to persuade the dad, who is a pilot, to fly a jet-liner into the party where the prez is appearing.

And there’s a secret facility in Alaska, called Mount Inosotranka, housing 97 prisoners.

The president wants them released.

Tony Todd is in it, too. But he doesn’t have a hook or Klingon make-up. Maybe the next best thing, though, a general’s uniform!

The jet is diving toward the party. Lots of noise in between commercials! The scruffy character is at the cockput door, trying to persuade his girlfriend’s dad not to do it. Pull up!

A ball of energy appears in front of the jetliner, swallowing it before it smashes into the party villa, killing everyone.

Abandon ship! Another series where every episode is one big stall, nothing ever explained until it’s cancelled. The sooner the better.

At 10:00, your host switches to the remake of Hawaii Five O.

Look, it’s Grace Park — Number 8/Boomer/Athena from Battlestar Galactica — as a Maxim-ready girl cop! She appears in a bikini on a surfboard and punches a dude. She’s tough!

Then she’s in a dress, standing before a slimy crook. He tells her to take it off. The producers of the show have her in her underwear again, that’s twice in the space of about ten minutes.

Why the heck didn’t they just have her take everything off, too, so the audience of presumed kuckledraggers could see if she’s trimmed her bush in pornstar landing strip fashion?

Sadly, you can tell the writers and producer will have Park being divested of her overclothes or in a bathing suit, at least a couple times an episode.

Then there were those other guys. Now Steve McGarrett is an ex-Navy SEAL, very white bread and about twenty years too young. And without a hint of the steely and imposing character of the original. The comic heavies from Magnum P.I. could grease this guy.

There was a plot but no one watching cared.

This ain’t your Hawaii Five O, presuming you’re my age.

Grace Park, along with Katee Sackhoff, now in the race to see which alumna from Battlestar Galactica can rack up the most humiliating roles on network TV.

Which reminds me, when are they going to give Jackie Earle Haley his own series? Wasted on the horrible Human Target, I bet lots of people would wish to see him playing some smart-talking five-foot-five tough guy who gets to beat up people twice his size once a week.

09.20.10

Class War and Census Business

Posted in Census, Stumble and Fail at 2:58 pm by George Smith

Krugman has written about naked class war the past couple days — the rage of the rich over the Obama administration and the Bush tax cuts.

The things that stick out are grievance and entitlement. While everyone else has been going to hell, the wealthy, who have not, are disturbed.

Krugman writes:

But 30 years ago people with high but not super-high incomes generally felt ashamed of themselves for griping — or at least, felt that they would be ridiculed if they gave voice to their gripes. Today, all restraints are off. The fuss over Messrs. Henderson and Stein is the exception that proves the rule: they wouldn’t be providing this spectacle if they didn’t normally swim in social circles where complaining that you only have 9 or 10 times median family income is considered totally acceptable.

Pretty soon, we’ll be having serious, completely un-self-conscious discussions in major magazines about the servant problem.

It seemed familiar.

The anger of the rich can be linked to attitudes. They’re worked up because they’re used to being the people who do the doing unto others. And now that they’re being told what for — rather mildly — that they have to pay a bit higher tax, they’re on the receiving end, if only in a small way.

If you worked for the census in Pasadena this summer, you already knew their sense of entitlement and grievance.

The city has a big upper class and a large group who are close but looking enviously upward.

Among them — usually unseen — is the servant class, living in big houses which outwardly look like average homes. But where the interiors have been cut into flophouse group living arrangements, bedrooms made into single apartments or tiny garages turned into apartments where five people live together. Slum living in plain sight.

As census enumerators, we were tasked with going after the non-responders, the people who didn’t send in their census forms.

After about a week of enumeration, the non-responders — as far as my experience went — fell into two general categories.

The poor and damaged lower middle class, people who may not have even been living in the places we were visiting for most of the year. They were battered by the economy, the necessity of having more than one very-low paying job just to survive, regular dislocation and distress.

It was often understandable that they hadn’t filled out the census form. “When did I have the time?” said someone who had indicated they were at work much more of the day than usual.

It was a legitimate point.

When I ran across those heading downward or in poor situations, they were the easier of the two categories of non-responders to deal with.

The other category were from the upper and upper middle classes. They lived in ritzy gated condos and high button apartments, often protected by passively hostile property managers.

It was possible they’d call call the police if you interrupted during the watching of a Lakers game. Conversely, some census workers saw it as a good time to show up when dealing with determined resisters.

Others would scream — “I don’t have time for this now!” or some variation — whatever the time. And blast the door shut.

It was this class of non-responder which owned the sense of entitlement, the attitude that they were too busy, too high up the social ladder to be bothered with the census.

Some would concoct outlandish and windy arguments over the alleged violation of privacy and civil rights.

“I won’t stand for this tyranny!” was one reaction. Another white guy objected strenuously to having to answer the question on race –whether he was, in fact, white. Or something else, a hybrid, anything, the census could even write it in on the spot — his choice, within reason.

“I feel this is an egregious invasion of my personal rights and privacy,” he said.

This was not as uncommon as you might think.

Some would brainlessly belittle census work to your face.

“Census workers are stupid — nothing against you, personally,” said one man who wanted to know what line in the US Code decreed he cooperate with the census.

There were those who worked for “high-tech companies.” Their time was always very precious. Rather than take a couple minutes to answer a simple set of questions at the door, some would waste days hiding in an interior room when you came around, pretending to be on vacation, or — if caught unawares and unprepared to flee — argue with you for longer than it would take to actually participate without complaint.

There were others who told you to get a “real job.” Another wondered if it was illegal for us to show up on Saturday mornings.

After a couple of weeks of this, everyone who worked the census beat had heard every variation many times over.

Since the swells with their addresses in our binders were into dodging the census — keep in mind that, by definition, we were primarily after hardcore census non-responders — you quickly worked out methods to get at them.

The water meter could be given a look on consecutive visits to see if the address was indeed vacant or not. Showing up on Saturday and Sunday mornings often worked — any time on the weekend or on a holiday when you’d expect the haves to be relaxing, getting ready for a party, or holding a big sitdown dinner — like Sunday eve.

Now, before you think of that as harassment, realize it would only occur after we’d left many little courteous notices of visit during more reasonable hours. And been ignored. Some dodgers tried to fake vacancy by allowing the notices to build up at the door, while using a different exit when census workers were thought to be about.

The census commanded enumerators to get the information on non-responders. And this also left us open, even ordered us, to dragoon the neighbors when the swell non-responder hiding next door wouldn’t cooperate.

Consider that for a moment.

In their census resistance, the dodger swells — all the fancy and fine — inconvenienced their equally swell neighbors who were already in the books. Because the latter had completed their census forms and mailed them in on time like good Americans. And you would have to invariably explain to them why you were inquiring about the adjacent census deadbeat — the one who shouted through the door that he would never cooperate or who anti-socially attached his notices of visits to the doors of his neighbors, a stupid bit of trivial malice that never worked.

Infrequently, the befuddled neighbor — not aware he had a sneak living next door or across — would call the enumerator’s number on the misused notice.

“Hello, I’m returning the call from the census,” they would politely say. “However, I mailed in my census return.”

You would ask the address, then consult the book and the day’s questionnaires.

“Yes, ma’am [or sir]. I see here that I didn’t leave that notice on your door. It’s from one of your neighbors. People do that sometimes to try and throw us off. Sorry for the inconvenience. Have a good evening.”

One woman, a property manager, asked me why someone was leaving little blue slips of paper on her door. These were our notices of visit.

“Did you fill out and mail in your census form?” I asked pleasantly.

“No,” she replied. “How do I get them to stop?”

“Call the census taker’s phone number on the blue paper,” I told her. “He’ll take you through the census. It’s easy”

Silence.

My experience with the less fortunate was almost never like the dealings with the have-contingent living in the condos.

Often the former were tired after a long day of unrewarding work. But if you were pleasant, spoke softly and made courteous small talk, telling them the census would only take a few minutes and why it was important, they almost never made a fuss.

One last point: As we started census work, no one expected we’d be met with open arms. “Everyone hates the census,” said one enumerator in my working group. It was a fair assessment.

The TV network that now defends the plutocracy is Fox. And Fox News was informally regarded by some of us as a special enemy. The network spent what seemed like a peculiar amount of time early on trying to discredit the census and encourage non-cooperation by chasing the idea that it had hired loads of criminals or that the census was an example of government malfeasance.


Accordingly, DD has produced a really rocking tune, The Census Man Stomp.

It’s here. Do give it a listen.

It works off the commonly held view among the census non-responders that we were just out to persecute them. By the last verse, you hear what every census worker was thinking but not saying by the last week of the big push.

And, yes, that stuff in the breaks — all the statements from civilians I met on the beat.

Here’s an unintentionally great video of some guy who is just like some of the census dodgers I met. We jumped on such grenades many times a week.

Fox ginning up civil disobedience against the census — here.

Another census resister — this one with a camera. I feel sorry for the census enumerators who had to tackle this guy because he got his rocks off mocking and deviling them.

Here’s another video from the same kook — who doesn’t seem to realize — or maybe he does — that the census keeps sending people out, while getting your name and how many people are living in your house from the neighbors. Who probably looked askance at the dickhead with the camera for turning his stalwart civil disobedience into their inconvenience.

And another video from the same guy. You see the routine — he spends more effort opposing the census, futilely, since the local department has sent enough people — at least three — out to his place to do what we called using a “proxy” — the neighbors or even the various census workers — to fill in the information.

He’s not unlike a couple I met in Pasadena. We had ways of dealing with them. While being very courteous, as these good census workers are, of course.

Resisting the census and passively picking on the census employees, who lived in the same community and were just trying to do a hard job in the most friendly manner, was this guy’s bag.

And he documented it and uploaded them all to YouTube for us to enjoy.

And here’s Ron Paul advocating census resistance.

The Census Man Stomp

I got my government bag
And my address book
You didn’t fill it out
Now I’m gonna hassle you!

I’m on your street
Now I’m at your door!

You thought that you were cool
And that I was just a slob
Now I’m on your street
Now I’m at your door!
x2

I’m from the government
I’m here to hassle you!
Now, do as your told!

How, how, how — how old are you?
x3

I don’t care what you say
Heard it all before
Don’t care how busy you are

I’m here to hassle you
x3

I’m from the government
I need to talk to you
Now, shut the hell up!

Shut, shut the hell up
x4

Cult of EMP Crazy: To Blighty

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism at 12:06 pm by George Smith

Again stymied in the US, the Cult of EMP Crazy has moved some of its lobbying effort to the United Kingdom.

Electromagnetic pulse doom stories don’t damage the US president as much as middle class unemployment. In the US even the EMP Crazy lobby understands this.

And this partly explains why standard EMP crazies like Newt Gingrich and Frank Gaffney are now flogging Islam-o-phobia. Gaffney is taken care of today over at Armchair Generalist in Conservative Group Proposes Holy War.

Gaffney is an EMP kook, a birther — in other words, he’s notorious.

I’ve dealt with him before here. He represents the core of the cult which is the property of GOP kookery, also sharing double membership with Islam-o-phobes.

Here’s Gaffney — quoted from some newspaper over at AG:

“What if it turns out that some of the people the Obama administration has been embracing are actually promoting the same totalitarian ideology and seditious agenda as al Qaeda, only they’re doing it from White House Iftar dinners?” said Mr. Gaffney, referring to the daily meal eaten by Muslims to break their fast during Ramadan.

With the cult stymied in the US, its big generals sent off to push for total war against Islam, one of the lesser EMP crazies — Avi Schnurr — has been up to devilment in Britain.

At el Reg, Lewis Page writes:

New UK defence minister Liam Fox has fallen into the clutches of fearmongering armsbiz lobbyists, according to reports.

The Telegraph reports on a behind-closed-doors speech by Dr Fox at an event today organised by Avi Schnurr, a lobbyist known for pushing the idea that various expensive defence technologies should be developed by Western governments to ward off hostile ballistic missiles and Bond-villain* style electromagnetic pulse strikes. Schnurr is a leading light of both the Israel Missile Defence Association and the Electric Infrastructure Security Council, which hosts Dr Fox today.

“As the nature of our technology becomes more complex, so the threat becomes more widespread,” the defence secretary’s speech reads, according to the Telegraph.

Page continues:

“There are certain lunatic-fringe analysts who consider that an EMP can be generated easily using conventional explosives and simple equipment easily fabricated in a back-alley bombmaking shop, but in fact even the mighty US military has never succeeded in building a useful conventional EMP weapon, either explosives-pumped or of the electrically-powered High Power Microwave (HPM) type.

Despite all this Mr Schnurr and his like have had a certain amount of success in bigging-up the pulse strike threat in the USA, and lately have crossed the pond. One of Schnurr’s earliest converts here was the Right Honourable James Arbuthnot, Tory chairman of the Parliamentary Defence Committee and relentless arms-industry point man inside the government. Arbuthnot is nowadays a board member of Schnurr’s EIS organisation, and is chairing today’s EIS Summit.

It would seem that Dr Fox has now in turn been recruited by Arbuthnot, at least to the extent of being willing to boost the EMP threat in a speech.

In the piece, Page neatly encompasses the entire world view of the cult — leaving out its kook far right GOP constituency, which — for the sake of the story — has less meaning in the UK. Another component missing in the UK is the bright line of apocalypse mania, this in which the Christian far right’s interest in electromagnetic pulse attack is not so much on avoiding it, but anticipating it because it will, according to them, signal the beginning of the final battle, the return of Jesus, and the eternal damnation of everyone else but them.

The flip side of the EMP crazy coin is also delivered. While Iran or North Korea are menacing us with a civilization-ending electromagnetic attack, we are always alleged to be working on non-nuclear electromagnetic bombs and rays. These are the weapons that have been coming for the last two decades — but never quite arriving.

In fact, the mythology is so entrenched in parts of the big media, you can routinely read made-up rubbish like this, recently published by The Economist:

These days, the idea of detonating a nuclear EMP weapon to disable the radar defences of some rogue dictatorship is politically unthinkable. Defence laboratories have therefore turned their attention instead to producing large electromagnetic pulses by conventional explosives and other means.

One such weapon uses a small charge of explosive to ram an armature down the axis of a current-carrying coil, squeezing its magnetic field so violently in the process that it emits a powerful burst of electromagnetic energy over distances of several hundred metres. Another type employs a Marx generator (a machine used for simulating lightning strikes) to dump a large electrical charge stored in a bank of capacitors into a specially shaped antenna.

American defence forces have converted a number of cruise missiles to function as non-nuclear EMP generators. Apparently, cars parked up to 300 metres away have had their alternators, ignition coils and engine controls disabled this way. Such e-weapons are said to have been used in Kosovo, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.

Afghanistan. Yeah, we attacked the infrastructure of the Taliban in Marja with electromagnetic pulse rays and bombs. That’s why things are going so good.


Big hat tip to loyal reader JM.

09.19.10

Nugent’s Muslim Thing

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 10:52 pm by George Smith

Ted Nugent suggested torching the Muslim world with more precision munitions a couple weeks ago in the WaTimes. It was part of the general extremist GOP reaction to park51.

The jump-out graf was:

Slice it any way you want, but the Muslim community is being tremendously rude and stupid for wanting to build a mosque so close to Ground Zero in New York City. Instead of using the $100 million for their proposed mosque, I recommend that the Muslims donate the cash to the U.S. military so we can build more smart bombs to kill more radical, voodoo Muslims …

Not all Muslims are religious whacks who deserve a bullet …

Nugent picked up the thread again today at Human Events, with a column that will probably be republished in the WaTimes.

It reads:

While our legal system is far from perfect, it is vastly superior to the Muslim religious court system that ignores justice. I assume that makes Allah giddy with joy. Order up more virgins

Facts are facts. Muslims in the Middle East have zero respect for other religions.

The entirety is here, entitled Muslim Hate Crimes.

The essay begins with the statement that Ted doesn’t support burning the Koran. After this superficial pleasantry, Nugent delivers the meat implying the opposite: Muslims are subhuman.

It is another example of profound failure afoot in our country.

Very bad times have made that which should have no place at the table acceptable.

Nugent, after a mediocre tour of the US heartland’s fairgrounds and casinos, has been labelled a redneck racist bigot by even his staunchest fans. (And it was a complimentary review!) He has been noticeably condemned in red state USA.

He is startlingly often too rude and extreme for the mass of old white cranks who believe the US government — and western progressive civilization in general — to be an abomination.

That Nugent is popular on any TV network (even Fox) is a disgrace another sign of the times.

That he has a readership at all — and he has a significant one — is discouraging. It’s an admission you believe your audience deserves shit sandwiches because a steroidally inflammatory attitude trumps everything.

Here is an example of Nugent’s prose:

The real insult is that President Obama and others spent more time and energy on the Florida pastor than they have actually condemning Muslims for their numerous condemnable and criminal acts against Christians and people of other faiths living in the Middle East.

This religious-inspired Neanderthal behavior is much more disgusting and condemnable than the pastor who wants to burn the Koran or the Christian creeps who show up at the funerals of military heroes with signs that say “God Hates Fags.”

Excluding the weird non-sequitur at the end, copy editors must surely be in tears over the repetitive misuse of the root word, condemn.

Yeah, we get it, Ted. You hate Muslims. And you can’t write.

It is a mystery to DD why not one music journalist has taken Ted Nugent to the mat over his public record. Nugent is an easy target, like many in the Tea Party and the GOP.

And it explains part of the failure of the Democratic Party’s argument, defined by the gut realization that many in the party are just too scared to take on the extremists. They lack spine.

All of the music journalists I know are liberal. Privately, they are appalled by such beliefs. But when they’re needed in the clutch, required to call a spade a spade, they’re just not there.

Don’t ask us about Nugent, they say, shrugging their shoulders.

Ted Nugent lost most of his Michigan audience and fled to Waco, TX, for very clear reasons. He despises the middle class despite insincerely professing the opposite — particularly in Detroit because of the auto industry and the demography of the inner city, chisels his bottom-out-of-sight fans for autographs, likes sucking up to celebrities on Fox and is an Ayn Randian kook by way of proxy admiration for nuts GOP pols who have read Atlas Shrugged and adored Gary Cooper in The Fountainhead.

I’m the only one who’s explained it.

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