Shapes of things to come

Posted in Phlogiston, War On Terror at 8:32 am by George Smith

Loyal DD reader João suggests head’s up on two movies. He’s right on the money judging by these trailers.

First up, hilarious teaser for Four Lions, a British comedy on wannabe jihadis. The phenom — described by me in various essays, articles and brief posts over the past few years — was always ripe for this kind of treatment.

And now someone has done it. Shame no American studio would have had the stones.

And this one, a US sci-fi apocalypse thriller, which would seem to be already in release overseas:


Hey Heevahava!

Posted in Extremism at 9:36 am by George Smith

From time to time I’ve referenced an old guy who lives in the Lehigh Valley, a former union man now rabidly anti-union, obsessed with gold and interpreting the Bible. His political blog is here.

And it’s only notable today for a too short explanation of his union hate, entitled I Can Has Cheezburger “Unions — What Has Happen [sic]?”

“I remember some 40+ years ago taking some courses at Lehigh University,” writes the fellow, rather surprisingly. So we have something, however small, in common.

It’s here.

“I had first hand experience of the labor unions because at the time I was working as a Union Carpenter and was president of the (at that time) Allentown Local #368 carpenters union,” he continues.

“What I am about to say will be hard to believe but both courses were presented in an objective fashion with fairness to historical facts, for you see I was a conservative even back then and constantly argued with the radical element of the union.”

And then comes a short piece of which the underlying message is that union men all turned into communists and Nazis.

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi was on MSNBC earlier this week, talking to Olbermann about his Tea Party article. He gets the demographic.

Logic and reason don’t work there. Nothing can get past the embedded delusions. They’re pitiful and dangerous at the same time.

It’s easy to admire the individual pluck, ire and gutsiness. And still be repelled and astonished at the agency, the visible result of malicious political leadership and a class war they’ve always been losing.

Pull ‘Em Out of Cars & Dip ‘Em in Some Tar

Posted in Extremism, Stumble and Fail at 8:09 am by George Smith

Ted Nugent constantly sells the idea that Barack Obama is unfriendly to business. And one wonders if he will use his place at the WaTimes to lobby for the US Chamber of Commerce now being properly framed as an enemy of the middle class.

Then there’s this, from Krugman:

True to form, the Obama administration’s response has been to oppose any action that might upset the banks, like a temporary moratorium on foreclosures while some of the issues are resolved. Instead, it is asking the banks, very nicely, to behave better and clean up their act. I mean, that’s worked so well in the past, right?

The response from the right is, however, even worse. Republicans in Congress are lying low, but conservative commentators like those at The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page have come out dismissing the lack of proper documents as a triviality. In effect, they’re saying that if a bank says it owns your house, we should just take its word. To me, this evokes the days when noblemen felt free to take whatever they wanted, knowing that peasants had no standing in the courts. But then, I suspect that some people regard those as the good old days.

However, in shared mythology sometimes the peasants rioted, burned stuff and went after their tormentors with pitchforks.

Hasn’t happened here yet and, perhaps, is not likely to as explained here last week:

That luck never seems to come [the Pennsylvania voters’] way, or any semblance of economic fairness at all, doesn’t seem to matter.

While they may rail against the bailout and the wealthy people in Washington, when it comes down to it they still harbor the hard kernel belief that they might be part of a class-less society, or at least one in which they share something with the old customary rulers — their whiteness. Its irreconcilable — but the human brain can carry such collisions around for a lifetime.


[In the end], they have always voted for the worst patrons of the ‘business people’, anyway. And they will again.

The Democratic Party always runs afoul of it, Too much Max Baucus, Bart Stupak, Ben Nelson — pick your favorite among the feckless. Not enough Alan Grayson.

They can be presented with irrefutable news of manipulation by those they claim to despise. But they will vote for the wealthy to put fingers on the scales against them. It’s proof of the brain’s limitless capacity to encapsulate notions which should, from a logical standpoint, not be able to exist together.

However, theoretically, there remains the possibility of pitchforks, riots and sackings.

So here’s another link to the Patriotic Class War Song from US of Fail.

The lyrics are here.


Nugent still really chapped over CA hunting misadventure

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 3:00 pm by George Smith

Here’s Ted, still complaining about his California hunting infraction conviction.

Ted fell on his sword to protect his buddies, taking one for the team because the state’s evil-doers were putting on the pressure. He could have fought it in court for years but legal advised him not to speak of details.

Then Nugent goes off on a tangent, querulous over the news media not publicizing his charitable work. And this has been a conspiracy, of sorts, to pick on Ted.

Memo to Mr. Ted:

That’s how the media works. And, coincidentally, the media was actually rather generous to Ted Nugent this summer. It gave him print space, in small to large publications, every time he came to town on his tour of casinos and fairgrounds in the hinterlands.

It’s chronicled here and still readable, from original source, on the web.

And Ted also gets regular land in the pages of the Washington Times, and via syndication in a Detroit newspaper, to promote whatever he wishes, including his music, along with his political views.

So whine all you want about the hunting foul-up in California. However, the media has been very good to Mr. Ted Nugent, all things considered.


Ford F-150 Terror

Posted in Bioterrorism, War On Terror at 11:20 am by George Smith

“All advertising is good advertising,” said the Ford exec upon hearing of The Ultimate Mowing Machine article.

The latest issue of al Qaeda’s rubbish magazine, Inspire, is apparently out.

You can read about it here at a terrorism watch site.

Its best bits look to be material only good for black comedy. Like the feature article on using a US-made pickup truck, preferably equipped with a snow plow blade, to run people over.

Astonishingly, it seems to have taken al Qaeda more than ten years to get this strategy into potential development.

Why stop with a Ford F-150? If the jihadi is a bit short on cash, a smaller pickup or even sedans might do. Or you could go Japanese and buy a Toyota Tundra. Now that’s a mighty truck, too.

Just think if those guys bought some guns!

All readers know there have been a bunch of horror movies centered around maniacs terrorizing people with tractor-trailers, starting with the granddad of them all, Duel.

Perhaps tips on jihadi plots could be gained by observing the rental traffic of such movies.

Also contained in Inspire is more wishful thinking about making WMDs at home. It’s been ten years, at least, and no progress on that front. Try as it may, al Qaeda has had great difficulty cultivating and deploying serious scientific talent in the life sciences.

But there are seemingly many among aspiring jihadis who still think they can do something with botulism or castor seeds.

It reads:

“These are some of our suggestions … The best operation however is the one where you come up with an innovative idea that the authorities have not yet turned their attention to, and that leads to maximum casualties or – equally important – maximum economic losses. Also those brothers of ours who have specialized expertise, and those who work in sensitive locations that would offer them unique opportunities to wreak havoc on the enemies of Allah, should take advantage of their skills. For those mujahid brothers with degrees in microbiology or chemistry lays the greatest opportunity and responsibility. For such brothers, we encourage them to develop a weapon of mass destruction, i.e. an effective poison with the proper method of delivery. Poisonous gases such as nerve gas are not out of reach for the chemist and require simple equipment. A microbiologist would be capable of developing the most effective strains of Clostridium botulinum and thus develop the most lethal toxin of all: botulin. An effective botulin attack administered properly could lead to hundreds if not thousands of casualties. For such brothers we would ask them to take the utmost security precautions and take their time even if that means years … Such an operation is worth the wait. Brothers with less experience in the fields of microbiology or chemistry, as long as they possess basic scientific knowledge, would be able to develop other poisons such as Ricin or Cyanide. Due to the extreme importance of moving the war with America over to the next stage, the stage of weapons of mass destruction, we will, insha’llah, cover such topics in more detail in our upcoming issues.

Promises, promises, fellows. Always with the promises.

DD’s various analyses of al Qaeda’s feeble playing about with poisons and biology:

The Poisoner’s Handbook

From the Poisoner’s Handbook to the Botox Shoe of Death

The Ultimate Jihadist’s Poisons Handbook

Some translations.

Terrorists, the Internet and the Betaluminiun Threat

Horse dropping or cow dropping? Jihadists wonder which is better for poison making.

Playtime Recipes for Poisons: Kamel Bourgass’s notes of mass exaggeration

Hey, this would make a pretty good book. Someone should think of paying me to do one.


The Very Odd Man

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 8:09 am by George Smith

Alleged heartland Democrat barflies. Of three things we can be certain: Pro diabetes, obesity and wearing baseball caps indoors.

By that I mean the Republican who shows up in news stories from the hinterland, insisting he’s a Democrat.

When the media went to Pennsylvania in 2008, doing the heevahava beat in the interior, they were present in many stories.

I suppose one would call them Reagan Democrats, if pressed. Drunk manly men who own Civil War patches, look like the guy on HBO’s Eastbound and Down and adopt the Democratic camouflage to, perhaps, impress women they’re unsuccessfully courting.

Since the mainstream media is now back in such places, looking for stories which show the obvious — that they don’t dig Obama — they’ve reappeared.

A newspaper in Pittsburgh ran a Politico piece today with this laugher (it was on the race in Arkansas):

Such an argument may attract John Miller, a Democrat and owner of a Civil War-era antique shop, sporting a revolver on his holster. After meeting with Lincoln, he said there isn’t a “nickel’s difference between Republicans and the Democrats” in Washington, but he believes Obama is a “socialist.”

Asked about his vote, Miller said: “I’ll vote for whoever Ted Nugent tells me to vote for.

It’s difficult to understand how any journalist could be a stenographer for such a comment without immediately throwing it out. Or at least pressing the man on his real political identity. But such is the state of the rotting carcass these days.

Speaking of Ted Nugent, now that he’s off the road his columns have not disappeared. However, they’ve slumped in inspiration and vehemence. No run-on sentences in a while. It’s been a couple weeks sans Islam-o-phobia and insisting Muslims need smart-bombing. The repeated references to ‘hunting season’ in November are gone, the calls for crowbar-swinging violence a bit more muted.

It may be that being on the losing end with the game wardens is still gnawing at him.

Today from the WaTimes, Nugent just repeated the conventional wisdom, along with the bit, probably correct, that Obama will cave on sustaining tax cuts for the rich. Which Nugent seems to think means he’s an enemy of business and still a socialist:

Smart Americans won’t be surprised if the president makes an announcement before the election that he is going to extend the George W. Bush tax cuts for all Americans, including those making more than $250,000. Though this will upset his ultra-liberal base, he will do it to try to prove to moderates that he is pro-business. Don’t believe him. It will be more political smoke and mirrors, more doublespeak, more balderdash and more Illinois political deception for fools.

The president is not pro-business. Regardless of what he says, he doesn’t know or truly believe the private sector is the engine that drives our economy and creates jobs.

Nugent does not explain how the White House’s position on the side of the banksters in the foreclosure fraud mess is an anti-big business position.

Shallow thinking like that has never been his forte.


World leader in stuff for the rich

Posted in Stumble and Fail at 10:30 am by George Smith

Everything else, not so much.

From the Associated Press:

Virgin Galactic’s space tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo achieved its first solo glide flight Sunday, marking another step in the company’s eventual plans to fly paying passengers.

“Tickets to ride aboard [Virgin Galactic’s] SpaceShipTwo cost $200,000,” the news report continued. “Some 370 customers have plunked down deposits …. ”

“[A spaceport] is under construction” in New Mexico, it is said.

Burt Rutan, making world-changing stuff near space skimmers-as-Bentleys for the only people capable of paying in cash.

It’s always raining near Philadelphia (and everywhere)

Posted in Stumble and Fail at 8:35 am by George Smith

Listening, as all good swells do, to National Public Radio, the air freshener for the mind, the Times sent its Pennsylvania boy — Michael Sokolove — back to his hometown to put the thermometer in the anus of the locals.

As a piece, it was like NPR’s, commented upon last week here.

Sokolove’s place of maturation was Levittown, something he notes along with his two previous missions to consult the heevahavas, conducted during the presidential race. I mocked it back in 2008 here:

Michael Sokolove had returned to his old home ‘burg, Levittown, in Pennsyltucky. As everywhere in the state, it’s “whiter, older and less educated than the rest of the nation.”

There is mention of Reagan Democrats, white men who turn into Republicans the instant they find a candidate on the other side of the fence who seems like a strong and manly daddy-figure. Maybe John McCain in the general election.

They’ll be union workers come upon hard times by the closing of a local steelworks, in Levittown — US Steel’s Fairless Works, as opposed to Bethlehem Steel in the Lehigh Valley. The same kind of union workers, who more often than not, voted for Republicans and social and economic policies inimical to their standard of living and chosen livelihood.

In the Times piece, made for the Week in Review this Sunday, Sokolove writes:

It is a place that can seem like a relic: older, whiter and less educated than much of the rest of America.

However, outside the reusable thought — which is not entirely true since good education has been in decline everywhere, the air seems to have gone out of Sokolove. His is a glum thing, devoid of the usual belligerent Tea Party quotes or profound wisdoms of the power drinkers at the neighborhood bar. Surprisingly, there’s even one statement, from a fired worker, that he won’t be voting for the GOP. The Republicans, he mused, had put up “nut jobs” for election, in retaliation against those who voted for Obama.

Sokolove no longer has a stake with these people, just like the rest of his journalism brethren so fond of covering them. However, he may be signalling he’s more than a little worried about what will happen when and if the GOP takes control in Congress. That would be the rational way of looking at the world.

However, it’s still Pennsylvania, and the politician in defense of his seat, a Democrat named Patrick Murphy, is not looking good. Mass unemployment, personal catastrophe, obvious national decline, the accelerating destruction of what remains of the middle class, all piled together at the worst time for the Democratic Party.

After a desultory canvassing trip with Murphy on a rainy night, Sokolove concluded:

Several people shook Mr. Murphy’s hand and commented on how cold it was. They couldn’t believe that he was outside on such a horrid night. But they let him stand at the door. No one invited him in for so much as a cup of hot tea.

Census workers were treated worse. At least they didn’t call the police on the guy for interrupting sports tv.

Hat tip to CE for the notice.

Made In China: Approaching critical mass

Posted in Made in China, Stumble and Fail at 6:52 am by George Smith

“Made in China” as a liability has probably saved Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat here in California. Boxer’s recent political ad on Carly Fiorina, which now exists in two forms, one showing an HP office in Shanghai seems to have put a stake in her rival.

With mass unemployment in the daily news, the segment of Fiorina aridly saying work needed to be done elsewhere while enjoying life at the top is a show stopper.

It exploits class anger, of course. And over the weekend the New York Times ran a story — here — over its political utility:

In the past week or so, at least 29 candidates have unveiled advertisements suggesting that their opponents have been too sympathetic to China and, as a result, Americans have suffered.

The ads are striking not only in their volume but also in their pointed language.

In journo-fashion, it found an expert — someone from the swell class and unaffected by the Great Recession — to explain, not so expertly:

“China is a really easy scapegoat,??? said Erika Franklin Fowler, a political science professor at Wesleyan University who is director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political advertising.


The ads are so vivid and pervasive that some worry they will increase hostility toward the Chinese and complicate the already fraught relationship between the two countries.

Hmmm. The Boxer ad is notable for making Fiorina, and by extension her company, HP, the “easy scapegoat(s).” While there is a “Made in China” stamp in it, there’s an assertion that jobs were sent to Bangalore, instead of Burbank, too.

China is the destination of outsourcing. But it takes two to do the deal. On the other side of every one, US big business. The thought — that corporate America is antagonistic, even psychopathically adverse, to much American labor, isn’t in the Times’ report.

“Never mind that there is hardly any consensus as to what exactly constitutes outsourcing and how many of the new overseas jobs would have stayed in American hands,” waffles the piece.

“The Democrats cite studies this year from the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization, that assert three million jobs have been outsourced to China since 2001 because of the growing trade imbalance.

“But Republicans, backed by some academics, say the number is much smaller. Indeed, Scott Kennedy, director of the Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business at Indiana University, said that most of the jobs China had added in manufacturing through foreign investment had come from Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea, not from the United States.”

Journalism reasons: Somewhere between the two extremes must be the truth.

Here’s another truth.

And some more, in a longer and amusingly mocking form, even if you don’t get all the jokes (tip o’ the hat to the reader who originally pointed it out):

Ha Ha Ha America was done three years ago, China Toilet Blooz around the same time, although the latter wasn’t burned into my homemade slide show until this year.

Last week, A4 of the Wall Street Journal had one story entitled Strategy This Year: Bash China.

The last sentence: “But Democrats unsuccessfully pushed a measure to end corporate tax deductions for expenses related to shifting jobs overseas.”

Its opinion page featured an essay by Dee Woo, from Beijing, where that person “teaches in the economics department at the Beijing Huija Private School.

Woo wrote ‘the US Will Lose a China Trade War.” “Before a strong yuan created any US jobs in manufacturing, it would kill jobs at Wal-Mart and elsewhere …” Woo wrote.

And if the Chinese ever get to believing that the dollar is “useless paper,” it will be very bad for this country. China is good for American corporations, Woo added. Which would seem unassailable.

“Building a harmonious society is the Chinese government’s most important imperative,” Woo informed Journal opinion page readers. “Once a Chinese person can make a living, he rarely challenges authority.”

Which is another way of saying mass unemployment leads to political and national instability.


Bitter in Pennsyltucky (and everywhere)

Posted in Stumble and Fail at 2:20 pm by George Smith

National Public Radio swell:

With its mix of rural and industrial, mining and manufacturing, big cities and sprawling suburbs, Pennsylvania is a natural as a battleground state. But this season, the pendulum seems a more apt metaphor. And with hard times hanging on as they are all across the so-called rustbelt, Pennsylvania seems poised for a potentially big swing back toward the GOP.

It was only little more than two years ago that the national media was obsessed over Pennsylvania and its curdled white southern state-like interior.

Hit in the chops for decades by GOP policies, it nevertheless tends to always vote against its self-interest.

The NPR fellow doesn’t look at the old maps and take into account how narrow the margins of victory were for Democrats. The interior red of the state, which I wrote about at the time, even though sparsely populated, speaks volumes.

After Kerry.

Obama vs. McCain.

The statistics were striking in one respect during Obama’s election. GOP margins shrank in the interior.

However, that part of the state — still like Arkansas or a white country southern place in the interior — never liked Barack Obama.

It is a place of ignorance and reactionary politics. Here, you can find the ex-union steward from Bethlehem who regularly hates on unions. Now he’s a Tea Party man, obsessing over gold and failure to heed the words of Jesus.

If you still wander out to the newspaper of the Lehigh Valley — one of the markers for deindustrialization in the rustbelt — you can’t find a single local blog that stands for anything Barack Obama campaigned on. Even the token Dem places, if you can discern them, hew to the right.

And so the NPR reporter wanders from Pennsyltucky white voter to voter, getting exactly the same Republicans-who-insist-they’re-Democrats and hardened GOP who speak about throwing the majority party out in November:

[Florence Troyan] is a Democrat who says she’s thinking of voting for the Republican for Congress this year just to shake things up. And that even though she says she still supports President Obama.


More of the same:

Bob Curtin is an electrical contractor. His business is way down. He says he’s not a Tea Party member, but he likes their message. He’s a registered Democrat. His vote this year?

Mr. BOB CURTIN (Electrical Contractor): I’m not sure. I’m very up in the air right now what I’m going to do. I cant say that Im decisive on anything right now as far as, you know, who Im going to vote for. But Im going to vote.

NPR swell: But he says he’s not happy with the Democrats.

Seated three stools over is retiree Mike Oktishuk, who chimes in with some pride that he didn’t vote for President Obama.

The reporter from NPR, like most upper tier journalists, can always leave Pennsylvania. The outcome of the November elections won’t have an impact on him.

If the Pennsyltucky voter helps put the GOP back in power, they’ll have another two years of enduring very personal catastrophe before they get an opportunity to express their anger again.

But this is the state that put Rick Santorum in the Senate a while ago.

And they’ll send Pat Toomey, a hedge-fund manager of all things, if I’m reading the future with any certainty.

Reads a recent Mother Jones piece:

In an attempt to close the gap, Dems have latched onto Toomey’s Wall Street past, hammering the Republican for opposing financial regulatory reform and supporting deregulation. Toomey’s an easy target for economic-centered attacks. As a Wall Street banker, Toomey helped pioneer the use of some of the same financial products that have caused fiscal chaos for American towns, cities, and states. He spent years as a derivatives trader for Chemical Bank and at Morgan Grenfell, a British financial firm. While at Morgan Grenfell, Toomey focused on things like interest rate swaps—complicated debt instruments that poisoned many a municipality’s portfolio. Shortly after he was elected to Congress in 1998, a trade magazine rejoiced that “now the derivatives industry can claim representation by one of its own.” Toomey parlayed his trading experience into a spot on the House banking committee, where he crusaded against regulation of financial markets—especially derivatives. And unless Sestak can stage an epic comeback, Toomey will soon be back in Congress, with a vote on banking regulation, if not a seat on the upper chamber’s powerful banking panel.

It needs repeating that the voters in the interior will almost always go against themselves.

They hate those unlike them and they cleave to the failing white man’s delusion that supporting business tycoons and their enablers is something to do because they wishfully believe that if just for a little more luck, they’d be there, too.

That luck never seems to come their way, or any semblance of economic fairness at all, doesn’t seem to matter.

While they may rail against the bailout and the wealthy people in Washington, when it comes down to it they still harbor the hard kernel belief that they might be part of a class-less society, or at least one in which they share something with the old customary rulers — their whiteness. Its irreconcilable — but the human brain can carry such collisions around for a lifetime.

In “Class: A Guide Through the American Class System,” Paul Fussell wrote that bitterness was often not very far from the surface here. It has never been new.

It has many reasons to always be close to breaking through, not all coming from the prole’s susceptibility to crazes, delusions, rip-off advertising and the myths concerning values or the supposed lack of them among Democrats — although these are certainly strong.

Fussell believed class consciousness was rock solid in this country. In one way, yes. However, in others, delusions and illogic cloud the picture.

“Anyone uncertain about class consciousness in this country should listen to a working-class father whose son was killed [in Vietnam],” Fussell wrote, specifically addressing the S-2 deferment, one college students used to escape the draft. “Class” was published in 1984.

“I’m bitter,” Fussell quoted the man as saying. “You bet your goddamn dollar I’m bitter. It’s people like us who gave up our sons for our country. The business people, they run the country and make money from it. The college types, the professors they go to Washington and tell the government what to do … But their sons, they don’t end up in the swamps over there, in Vietnam. No sir.”

But in the end, they have always voted for the worst patrons of the ‘business people’, anyway. And they will again.

The Democratic Party always runs afoul of it, Too much Max Baucus, Bart Stupak, Ben Nelson — pick your favorite among the feckless. Not enough Alan Grayson.

It is easy to understand the great anger in the Tea Party, or the hinterlands of Pennsyltucky. The urge to give a presumed tormentor a good punch in the face when you get the opportunity to swing is strong and human. It’s a motivator even if the result eventually has you wondering why things are worse come 2012.

DD can only marvel at the many folk music videos the opposition puts on YouTube, all with more enthusiastic fans than anything from my side. The music may be bad, the lyrics awful, the sentiment horribly misguided.

One thing it doesn’t lack is gutsiness; the willingness to be taken for a fool in letting the raw shout of hurt out.

Unemployment and “a static economy” have set into stone conditions in which “the mass of Americans now find themselves” moving down. So they’re always going to be bitter. It’s a natural state and it should be very worrying to any sane national leader who wonders how a big complicated nation can compete on the world stage when its working class is demoralized, only rising to strike out at the polls every couple years.

“There used to be room at the top,” Paul Fussell wrote in Class.

Now we have a good view of the bottom.

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