02.21.11

The Heevahava

Posted in Extremism at 7:32 am by George Smith

Jason at Armchair Generalist has a piece on Ralph Peters, a third tier security pundit seen most often on Fox News.

“Every now and then [Peters] gets to do an op-ed in a normal newspaper (e.g., other than the NY Post or Wash Times) or respectable journal (like the Armed Forces Journal) and he seems sane,” writes J. “He makes sense. And then he wigs out and starts foaming at the mouth again.”

“He’s done some truly graphic ranting at the Journal of International Security Affairs …”

That article is here.

Peters, if his wiki biography is accurate, is from Pottsville, PA, an old coal town that is Schuylkill County’s seat.

His message, not a unique one — you hear it everyday on Glenn Beck: The media are backstabbers. Children are too coddled. Our society has too many lawyers and lawsuits. Our enemies — and there are many — are destroying us piece by piece.

Anyway, I think that’s what he means when going on about not winning wars because we lack the resolve and necessary hardness to do so.

He writes:

We have cheapened the idea of war. We have had wars on poverty, wars on drugs, wars on crime, economic warfare, ratings wars, campaign war chests, bride wars, and price wars in the retail sector. The problem, of course, is that none of these “wars” has anything to do with warfare as soldiers know it. Careless of language and anxious to dramatize our lives and careers, we have elevated policy initiatives, commercial spats and social rivalries to the level of humanity’s most complex, decisive and vital endeavor.

War as humanity’s most vital endeavor.

Or to paraphrase Vince Lombardi, I suppose: War isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

02.19.11

Show in Pasadena today

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll at 9:05 am by George Smith

A reminder: DD Band show at Artscape in Pasadena, today. Directions and details are here.

We will even be selling copies of La Puta.

For sample tuneage and covers, here.

See DD play the guaranteed-not-made-in-China harmonica (despite the satirical pics) on China Toilet Blooz.

The fascination with junk no longer made here

Posted in Permanent Fail at 9:00 am by George Smith

Business get rick quick flacks newsmen love stories about crap “inventions” that sold and made millions.

Today at Yahoo, the unintentionally pathetic listing of such American “inventions:” the Slinky, the antenna ball, the Koosh ball, and so on, stopping at five just before nausea erupts.

Naturally, the real story is that none of it is made here now. In fact, we probably can’t even make a Pet Rock, also on the list. American labor, too expensive to make “Post-It Note” pads.

So now all the brain-stormers for junk toys and novelties — don’t forget the “Baby on Board” signs — have to put together a business that allows Chinese workers to manufacture them.

Because wages have been so compressed and rendered stagnant by corporate America in the last twenty years.

There was a lot of vigorous and sometimes angry talk about war being conducted on the middle class on the tube news from Wisconsin last night.

Defense spending as percent of national outlay

Posted in Permanent Fail at 8:34 am by George Smith

Krugman presents this graph today from OMB on defense spending in proportion to the national outlay:

Fascinating in that the percentage versus the rest of the government has declined since the early part of the Cold War.

On the other hand, it doesn’t show how it’s ballooned in proportion to accumulated spending of all allies and potential enemies.

Krugman makes the point that even trimming the defense budger won’t cure our ills:

Yes, there’s a lot of wasteful defense spending — in fact, it’s almost surely the most waste-ridden part of the federal budget, because politicians are afraid to say no to anything for fear of being called unpatriotic. And even aside from the question of the Bush wars, it has long been clear that we’re still spending a lot to head off threats that haven’t existed since the fall of the Soviet Union. Read Fred Kaplan for a sense of just how bad it is.

Then there are those wars. I was against Iraq from the beginning — and I was pretty lonely out there on the pages of major newspapers. Afghanistan made sense in 2002, but I have no idea what we’re doing there now.

But if we’re talking about fiscal issues, you have to bear the arithmetic in mind. We’re not living in the 1950s, when defense was half the federal budget. Even a drastic cut in military spending wouldn’t release enough money to offset more than a small fraction of the projected rise in health care costs.

So by all means, let’s try to crack down on the massive waste that goes on in matters military. But doing so would be of only modest help on the larger budget problem.

02.18.11

The Battle for Marjah — short review

Posted in War On Terror at 10:02 am by George Smith

HBO’s Battle for Marjah documentary is not worth your time.

That is, most already know the war in Afghanistan can’t be won. But that there is no political will to end it.

As a metaphor for that, the documentary is fine.

The doc follows the Marines of Bravo company as part of the assault on Marjah in Helmand province. For the most part, the Taliban are an elusive force. They don’t engage Bravo company in any setpiece knock-down, drag out battles, fights they would certainly lose due to much inferior firepower.

Instead, the Marines of Bravo are cut off — although it doesn’t seem like much of an inconvenience. And eventually Marjah is largely secured.

However, the locals obviously do no care for the Marines. The feeling is mutual.

The “Afghan army” — and I use asterisks because that’s what’s deserved — deploys with the Marines into Marjah. And although there is talk about how they’re credible fighters, on video they look like an inept assortment of reluctant shrimps and weaklings. At one point a few Marines from Bravo curse a group of them, literally having to kick them in the ass and shove them in order to get the Afghans through a doorway into a compound being cleared.

They’re patently worthless as soldiers. Many of the Marines appear to view them with disgust and contempt.

Eventually the Taliban wind up back in the town anyway.

Afghanistan is a hopeless place. Marjah will reinforce what you already know. Because of the nature of the lesson it is not very watchable. Again — not recommended — and not because of any fault with the Marine Corps or the filmmaker.

Another review is here.

Castor powder crap in fridge costs locals 25k

Posted in Ricin Kooks at 9:22 am by George Smith

The war on terror has resulted in reason defenestrated for many things.

Jeffrey B. Levenderis’ castor powder containing ricin in a container in the refrigerator, where it probably sat harmlessly for a long time, has cost Coventry Township officials in Ohio big time.

That’s because of the regulations and hysteria which causes authorities and emergency teams to jump into action when the word “ricin” is uttered.

“More than 80 people from 18 different departments helped during the event,” said a country official here.

Further:

The [township council] board also approved emergency expenditures totaling $3,000 for the ricin incident.

[Township Service Director and Fire Chief] Dave Calderone said everyone from the township pitched in to make sure the operation ran smoothly and the parties responding were provided food and beverages.

Calderone also announced the township just received a hefty bill from the Summit County Engineer’s Office resulting from the ricin incident. Calderone said the office is charging the township more than $22,000 because South Main Street was shut down for safety reasons during the investigation. He said the township will be fighting this amount, however. Calderone explained the road had to be closed, per the FBI, and there was nothing the township could do about it.

It will probably eventually occur to them to try and squeeze the money out of Levenderis, who is indigent and in jail.

Popular revolt in Wisconsin: Why not sooner?

Posted in Permanent Fail at 8:30 am by George Smith

A DailyKos blogger asks a question that’s bothered me for the past two years, at least:

However, this belated American uprising also strikes a melancholy note: where were all these people during the elections? It was our own sense of disenfranchisement and apathy that let the wolf in the door. Why is the popular will being expressed in the streets instead of the polling booth? Isn’t the chief glory of democracy the ability to channel the will of the people through normal political operations? Will religious fundamentalism and corporate greed return this country to the state of the Middle East?

The only popular uprising generated until now was the Tea Party, financed by billionaires.

While Facebook has been laughably credited with bringing down Mubarak, somehow social media hasn’t done s— here. With magnitudes more connectivity than the poverty-stricken nation at the head of the Nile, nothing except a lurch into extremism and all out corporate-financed class war on the civilian population.

The DailyKos writer adds:

Tonight Obama is meeting with bigwigs in Silicon valley. I wish he would meet with someone like me. I could tell him the problems with the economy can’t be solved just by persuading rich people to create jobs: there also has to be reforms to aid job seekers, to reduce the barriers that make it so difficult to get the jobs that are there. Efficiencies need to be developed from the bottom up.

Bowing and scraping before Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg was never a good idea. If the President were actually made of the stuff some people still think he has in him he would have canceled those plans and flown Air Force One into Madison.

But he didn’t.

Instead, this morning there is this item, the definition of insipid:

President Barack Obama dined with a dozen leaders of the U.S. technology industry including Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs and Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg as he sought support for his education and innovation agenda to help promote growth. Cris Valerio reports on Bloomberg Television’s “InsideTrack.”

There he is with Nobel laureate and Pulitzer winner Mark Zuckerberg.

“Who got the best seats?” writes some new Gilded Age sissy fop at the Washington Post:

Apple’s Steve Jobs, who still looks thin as he continues his medical leave. Also Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who was seated on the president’s right.

Good thing President Obama brought his security brigade to the dinner with high-tech executives. The combined net worth of this crowd … someone do the math, please and let me know.

Also at the table: Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Cisco CEO John Chambers, Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz and Twitter CEO Dick Costello.

When even a Wall Street Journal opinion blogs notices the disconnection, you have real proof of a leadership problem:

Here, though, the job-seeking president and the t-shirt wearing masses of Silicon Valley may have an inherent conflict. Those tech guys represent a future of a highly skilled but low numbers workforce. Apple, with a market value of $330 billion, has 46,600 employees. Ford, whose market cap one-seventh that of Apple, employs about 160,000 people. Another “old economy” lion, General Electric, has roughly 300,000 employees.

Exhorting Steve Jobs for more phone kit made in China and rubble-izing what little is left of the US popular music industry is certainly an idea for the Fools Hall of Fame.

02.17.11

Why Lloyd Blankfein Won’t Be Lynched

Posted in Permanent Fail, Predator State at 4:56 pm by George Smith

Explained by Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone.

A lot of it you know — government capture by Wall Street, the revolving door between the financial policing agencies of government and plush Wall Street positions which guarantee you are “fit for life” once landed.

A couple graphs really stand out:

“You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street,” says a former congressional aide. “That’s all it would take. Just once.”

=======

As for President Obama, what is there to be said? Goldman Sachs was his number-one private campaign contributor. He put a Citigroup executive in charge of his economic transition team, and he just named an executive of JP Morgan Chase, the proud owner of $7.7 million in Chase stock, his new chief of staff. “The betrayal that this represents by Obama to everybody is just — we’re not ready to believe it,” says Budde, a classmate of the president from their Columbia days. “He’s really fucking us over like that? Really? That’s really a JP Morgan guy, really?”

========

The mental stumbling block, for most Americans, is that financial crimes don’t feel real; you don’t see the culprits waving guns in liquor stores or dragging coeds into bushes. But these frauds are worse than common robberies. They’re crimes of intellectual choice, made by people who are already rich and who have every conceivable social advantage, acting on a simple, cynical calculation: Let’s steal whatever we can, then dare the victims to find the juice to reclaim their money through a captive bureaucracy. They’re attacking the very definition of property — which, after all, depends in part on a legal system that defends everyone’s claims of ownership equally. When that definition becomes tenuous or conditional — when the state simply gives up on the notion of justice — this whole American Dream thing recedes even further from reality.

Another mental stumbling block is that most Americans don’t even know who Lloyd Blankfein is, given the execrable track record of the mainstream media in pointing out who the big villains are.

Earlier in the week DD ripped a new hole in an old colleague who not only didn’t know who Blankfein was but thought that was the name of the rock n roll band.

So as far as the matter goes, Americans know things have turned awfully rancid. But as to the details and who did the bad, many are still radically mis- and under-informed.

And while there is a great desire loose in the land to see people punished, it’s not the real public enemies who are the targets of the ire. Instead it’s people like school teachers in Wisconsin who the President has failed to enthusiastically support in what can only be described as continuing evidence of politically expedient cowardice.

The idea that he might actually fly in to get on the line in the Madison courthouse with the people who voted for him in 2008 seems very alien now. Instead he flew to see Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

Taken altogether it forms the context of the idea that the greatest national security threats faced by the people of the United States are not abroad. They’re right here.

But there are still countless idiots who hog up all the frontpage space whinging about al Qaeda, pathetic alleged homegrown jihadis and Iran.

Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein” — which I will play in Pasadena on Saturday night — here.

Cult of EMP Crazy: Now a caucus

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism at 2:09 pm by George Smith

The GOP-controlled House now officially has a Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy caucus.

Started by EMP crazy Trent Franks, the official announcement is here.

Franks is a birther and doesn’t believe in evolution or global warming. He is famously known for this quote: “Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery.”

And he accepted the Team B report on sharia law corrupting precious American bodily fluids authored by Frank Gaffney, also a member of the Cult of EMP Crazy, and the infamous William “Jerry” Boykin.”

There’s not much more to say except that you can never be too nuts or odious in the 2011 GOP.

In 2009, from here:

If a thing is backed up by hard science and poses a real danger for everyone on the planet, [like global warming], the Republican party denies its existence. If, however, the threat is something rather abstract to almost all Americans, rests almost entirely on theoretical prediction, is something not likely to ever occur at all, and then only in the context of what would promise to be an all out nuclear war, [like electromagnetic pulse doom], the GOP believes in it very strongly.

So it was written earlier this week in a piece on how the Republican Party has taken years to ensure that it has the vote of every single person concerned about devastating electromagnetic pulse attack.

It is a voting demographic entirely lost to the Democrat Party.

DD show in Pasadena, Saturday

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll at 1:08 pm by George Smith

DD will have a show at Artscape Gallery in Pasadena, Saturday. If you’re in town, you’re welcome to stop by. The show is free, including drinks and food.

Directions and details are here.

The band will be playing some new tunes, including “Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein,” “Fiscal Discipline Rock,” and “La Puta.”

« Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »