03.24.11

Good Time for General Electric

Posted in Made in China, Permanent Fail, Predator State at 8:02 pm by George Smith

While looking through usage logs today I noticed an employee from General Electric corporate had spent an hour here.

I’ve occasionally mentioned GE as a gigantic corporate whose new business model has a lot to do with economic parasitism despite two new strength-through-joy commercials, one with a prancing elephant on “ecomagination” and another with fake employees doing a jolly line dance to Alan Jackson’s “Good Time” as they work.

General Electric is mostly about offshoring, services and, according to today’s New York Times, tax avoidance and cheating.

The Times reads:

The nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm. Indeed, the company’s slogan “Imagination at Work” (cue the dancing elephant, only tax avoidance lawyers also in the scene wouldn’t look so good — DD) fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.

So of course, its CEO — Jeffrey Immelt — is the fellow our president tabbed to be head his economic advisory panel. Because the business of America is ripping off the government, and by extension, the taxpayers who can’t afford big tax avoidance law firms and lobbyists.

That someone from GE was actually here is astonishing. Perhaps their happy public relations commercials aren’t fooling anybody.


Coincidentally, Frank von Hippel, in an editorial piece on regulatory capture of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

Meanwhile, General Electric has applied for a license to build a [nuclear] plant that would use lasers to enrich uranium for commercial use, which could provide yet another way to produce weapons-grade material. A coalition led by the American Physical Society, a professional organization of physicists, has petitioned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to assess the risk that this technology poses to non-proliferation efforts before it issues a license. The commission, predictably, has been reluctant to do so.

It is critical to find more effective ways to control such dangerous nuclear technologies.


General Electric mentions.

Bombing Moe: Heavy arty vs young guys shaking plastic guns or riding in little pickup trucks

Posted in Bombing Moe at 12:40 pm by George Smith

Watch tv and you know the ‘rebel’ force Odyssey Dawn is supporting is just a lightly armed rabble.

The pictures of the favorite weapon of the impoverished, a light pick-up truck with an old surplus Eastern bloc machine gun mounted in the back, are inescapable. The plastic gun story, all over television, has made this ‘force’ look like a collection of clowns yelling for close air support from Uncle Sam.

In terms of heavy weapons, this is what Moe has.

Page down to “Howitzers and Guns.”

Moe has a lot of self-propelled armored artillery.

A video — here — shows one very large piece destroyed by a US strike.

It is an Italian Palmaria, a weapon developed exclusively for export. It bears some resemblance with the old Wehrmacht King Tiger. (Weight comparison, former to latter: 46 tons/69 tons.)

Globalsecurity notes:

Libya was involved in a series of significant transactions with Italy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1978 the Italian aircraft company Siai-Marchetti secured a contract to supply SF-260 light aircraft intended for training and reconnaissance. The G-222 military transport plane assembled by Aeritalia was also supplied to the Libyans. The Italian firm of Oto Melara received orders for a large number of Palmaria 155-mm self-propelled howitzers.

According to the page at Globalsecurity, Moe has 160 of them. Readers will note Moe also has 14 US M-109’s. Also under Moe’s command are a great many large-calibre Soviet armored howitzers.

Even if many of these are inoperable because of general incompetence, one still asks the rhetorical question: How do the Libyan dudes in technicals and sneakers advance against Palmaria?

Moving along, it’s good to look at the other token military forces involved in Odyssey Dawn.

The order of battle is here at Globalsecurity.

The alert reader will note the Italian contribution seems somewhat less than the number of big mechanized artillery pieces they sold to Moe.

The Danes are contributing four F-16’s. DD mentions this because the mainstream media was fond of showing photographs of one of these taking off.

Spain has contributed one frigate and, remarkably, one submarine! (It’s a Tramontana and pictures are here.)

Turkey has contributed a few ships, including one mighty feeble-looking submarine. Submarines are apparently popular in the ‘coalition.’

Qatar’s alleged yachts and jets seem to have gone missing.

The Libyans now quite obviously do not want help from the token militaries in Odyssey Dawn. They want the real thing. No substitutes will do.

Lloyd Blankfein still on the loose

Posted in Permanent Fail, Satan's Bank at 9:50 am by George Smith

A bigger menace to the American middle class than Moe, Goldman Sachs bankster boss Lloyd Blankfein is still in the clear. And most Americans still have no idea who he is, despite movies like “Inside Job” on the economic collapse and various writings on Goldman at Rolling Stone magazine.

From Matt Taibbi’s blog today:

Lloyd Blankfein testified in court yesterday, in the Raj Rajaratnam insider trading case and unfortunately it turned out to be less of a big deal than I might have hoped. Blankfein agreed only to testify in exchange for guarantees that they wouldn’t “dredge up any pending investigations” of Goldman’s activities.

I had fantasies of Lloyd being broken on the stand and frantically sobbing out all sorts of hysterical confessions, but I guess it’s not to be.

The New York Daily News reported:

Blankfein took the stand in Manhattan federal court at about 10:30 am to testify for the government in its insider-trading case against Galleon co-founder Rajaratnam, who is accused of pocketing $45 million by getting illegal inside tips about the bank from ex-Goldman director Rajat Gupta, as well as from tipsters at other firms.

More bombs for banksters. We could spare a few from the pile earmarked for Moe, no?

Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein — the gay satirical rock show tune — is here.

03.23.11

Creepy Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer say psychiatrists

Posted in Bioterrorism at 11:39 pm by George Smith

News broke Tuesday of a psychiatric report commissioned to evaluate Bruce Ivins’ mental health and medical records.

The report confirms Ivins was a creepy, mentally unbalanced man fond of harassing a national girls’ sorority. These qualities fit the circumstantial case the FBI built against him as the perpetrator of the most famous bioterror attack in this country’s history.

Noted by the FBI here, a redacted form of the executive summary of the “Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel” is here.

Curiously, while the mainstream media broke the story — the Los Angeles Times had it first — every major news article dealing with it obscured where it could be found.

This only underlined the media’s eternally grasping need to be the only official purveyors of all information.

Moving along, Ivins — the panel concluded, should not have been hired by USAMRIID/Fort Detrick. He had a history of criminal and psychotic behavior dating back to his days as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina.

While there he continued an obsession with a women’s sorority and one member of it. The obsession arose when Ivins was rejected by a girl from Kappa Kappa Gamma while at the University of Cincinnati, a rejection that seemed to have curdled his entire life.

In the case of one sorority girl, which the report refers to as KKG#2, Ivins went so far as to steal her lab research notebook, an act of sabotage aimed at screwing up her work toward a Ph.D.

The panel concluded Ivins compartmentalized his life, showing himself only to be a benign eccentric, an antic clown juggler at parties and keyboard player at church, to his professional associates at Fort Detrick.

Hidden was his dark side, obsessed with the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority to the point of engaging in criminal break-ins of sorority houses so that he could steal papers from the women. And a campaign of harassment through the mail which included forging a letter to the editor from one of the women he was fixated on, subsequently published in the newspaper, in order to publicly embarrass her.

This event “demonstrated Dr. Ivins’ deviousness and willingness to use others, as well as the United States Postal Service, to accomplish his stealthy retribution.”

So enraged with the KKG sorority was Ivins, reads the report, he chose to mail anthrax letters from a mailbox 175 feet from its office at Princeton in New Jersey as a symbolic gesture.

The psychiatric panel also concluded Ivins had “a specific plan” to shoot people in order to go out in a “blaze of glory” as the FBI investigation closed in. At this time, just prior to his suicide, his involuntary commitment to a mental ward “likely prevented a mass shooting.”

If you read the summary you’re left with the conclusion Ivins was indeed a vile and very troubled man, totally capable of being the nation’s, ahem, finest bioterrorist.

And, directly, it’s another indictment of the culture of complacency at USAMRIID/Fort Detrick. It also calls out the obvious — whether any personal reliability programs the US bioterrorism research industry, massively built up since the anthrax mailings, actually work at all.

Again, the executive summary of the psychiatric analysis, is here.

Much of the material in the executive summary is derived from the details in a large FBI file on Ivins here.

Nugent subscribes to Beck’s kook Islamic caliphate conspiracy theory

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 5:36 pm by George Smith

Today Nugent parroted Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theory that the revolutions in the Middle East could be aimed at establishing an “Islamic caliphate.”

From the Washington Times:

Real rebellion is cool so long as the rebels replace the current system with something better, such as that which the American Revolution achieved.

As of right now, no one knows what will be the result of the Mideast rebellions. No one knows – or is telling us – if Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood is behind the scenes bankrolling or fanning the flames of the Mideast rebellions to re-establish the Islamic caliphate.

03.22.11

Bombing Moe & Economic Treason: a twofer re training the Saudi Air Force in Idaho

Posted in Bombing Moe at 5:57 pm by George Smith


Saudi F-15 pilots in Mountain Home, Idaho, will lead to cultural intermingling? Ludicrous. Say it again, might have to break fingers.

This one is so astonishingly emblematic of the clapped out American system DD had to laugh.

It is an ace piece of reporting, published at al Jazeera’s website, even employs a song title from the B-52’s, “Private Idaho,” as a heading.

The story itself is about training the inept Saudi military so it can handle F-15 Strike Eagles. And it’s going to be done in Idaho.

The fur is already flying, of course.

Some of it reads:

On the morning of September 11, 2001, a Saudi pilot trained to fly in the US slammed a Boeing 757 jetliner into the Pentagon, killing more than 180 people.

Less than a decade later, with the Middle East in a state of upheaval and following the recent arrest of a Saudi college student on bomb charges, the Pentagon is planning to bring dozens of Saudis to the US to train them to fly – and to kill …

Last December, amid the holiday rush, the US air force quietly announced that it had selected Mountain Home Air Force Base as the preferred location for the long-term training of a contingent of pilots and flight crews from the Saudi Royal Air Force as part of a $60bn arms deal between the US and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that autumn.

Under the mammoth military package, Saudi Arabia is set to receive 84 new F-15E Strike Eagles – advanced fighter aircraft designed for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions. Capable of flying day or night in all weather conditions and reaching speeds in excess of twice the speed of sound, each F-15, packing missiles, bombs and a 20mm cannon, is a formidable weapon.

Under the air force’s proposal, Saudi pilots will learn how to fly the advanced fighters at Mountain Home Air Force Base for five years, from 2014 to 2019, with the possibility of a longer commitment left open.

Bravo!

“Mountains of money for Mountain Home,” it continues, explaining how the air base was mothballed around 2005, throwing the local Idaho economy into a slump.

With the training of Saudi pilots, it’s estimated the community will receive $1 billion.

However, this pales in comparison to the $60 billion dollar deal paid to US arms manufacturers for the Saudi weapons deal.

Yep, arithmetically, the locals are getting a big .016 off the taxpayer dollars sent to the the US arms companies — like McDonnell Douglas — making the stuff for the oil kingdom. That’s a great deal.

“Anger at the proposed project, however, is brewing,” reads the piece.

The resentment is a minority view, says one retired Air Force man for the article.

It’ll be good for ‘cultural intermingling’ (in Idaho? C’mon now, get real. You could probably get away with the claim in LA County. In Mountain Home, ludicrous.) says someone.

The US, it ads, has been training Saudi pilots since 2007. The better to use all that gear we’re selling them as part of the war boom.

The piece — one again — is here. Paradoxically, it has a providence from American journalism. (Read to the footer.)

Related:

Snowfall in Mountain Home, Idaho.

Snow in Saudi Arabia.

Unintentional word cloud humor

Posted in Bombing Moe, Phlogiston at 2:17 pm by George Smith

Another Asterpix content link cloud spun off a mirrored Bombing Moe article at Globalsecurity.

Almost as good as this bit of Microsoft Paint jokery, surprisingly stuck into searches for images of Jonathan Alter on Google.

On the other hand, if — at this point, you don’t see another war as an unfunny sick national joke that just gets told over and over — you need to visit a psychiatrist, for many other problems as well.

There’s always time for killing jobs and bombing Moe

Posted in Bombing Moe at 9:43 am by George Smith

By way of Pine View Farm:

The classic arguments by the celebrity pundits and serious people arranged like gilt furniture in Washington never mix in what’s going to continue to happen to the the middle class because of more big war adventure.

Instead, one gets example like this — from Adam Serwer –– at the Washington Post:

There are several reasons why the U.S. shouldn’t be seen as taking the lead. For one thing, the U.S. is already occupied with the aftermath of one war in Iraq and attempting to bring a more than decade-long operation in Afghanistan to its conclusion. The U.S. does not have unlimited military resources, and other countries that demanded intervention should take responsibility and offer contributions rather than free-riding off of the United States.

The same idea was taken up by Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC at lunchtime yesterday, including the additional suggestion that others in the “Coalition” ought to eventually issue a check for all the munitions the US military was expending to flatten Moe’s defense.

Everyone who talks like this knows it’s just an exercise in taking up space.

First, it’s immaterial whether or not that America’s military resources are not unlimited. For the sake of what’s gone down in the last decade, they are treated that way. And for practical purposes, the cash sack for war is unlimited.

There’s no political will to change it and the populace, whether or not it supports endless war, has lost all democratic control over it. Serwer contributes stock bathwater, stuff anyone pickled in Beltway culture and dependent upon it to keep the paycheck coming, could write.

Because it’s passed off as wisdom it’s even kind of more contemptible than material, like this, written by Ted Nugent at the WaTimes:

“Africa is an international scab” and “Kill all those people [by flattening the area where Ghadafi lives in Tripoli] and get it over with.”

Nugent, at least, has never been taken as much of a voice for reasonable wisdom. Everyone knows he’s the guy who makes his bread touring rib shacks in the summer, cutting his leg in a chainsaw accident for reality television, and getting his hunting license revoked in California for unsportsmanlike behavior. Nugent, unlike Serwer and the other serious people writing on the war, can’t be passed off as a source of reasonable argument. And there’s more honesty in that, although not by much.

In the Economic Treason series I’ve written of a thought experiment, one that imposed a tax on arms sales made by US companies, that money to be returned to the American people — food stamp recipients — as a dividend check.

For that story, here, the theoretical war tax dividend returned a check for $1,140.88 for everyone on food stamps.

In fifteen minutes over the weekend, the US military burned up well over $100 million in Tomahawks (around $155 million was the high-ball figure), all of which will be replenished by Raytheon, a US arms manufacturer.

We can posit at least a figure of, perhaps, $150 million a week for Odyssey Dawn, which extrapolates to 0.6 billion a month. Of course, it could be more because cost is never an object in the bottomless cash sack for war.

There are a couple variables. If the rebels continue to try and advance on Tripoli and the ‘Coalition’ is forced to provide effective close air support to prevent them from being slaughtered by Moe’s army, the costs go up. If Odyssey Dawn turns into just exercises in observational missions over geography with no air defense and occasional radar and flak suppression, it goes way down.

Add to this 159.3 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Continuing in the thought exercise, assume Odyssey Dawn continues until the end of the year, for an outlay of 8-9 months equaling at least
$5.4 billion. This seems absurdly low for American war.

In any case, added to Iraq and Afghanistan, it comes to $164.7 billion.

The original war dividend tax was 20 percent.

Clawing back twenty percent, as an example, from any check cut by the US government to Raytheon for replenishment of Tomahawk missiles seems quite reasonable. And this is because war has caused a
continuous boom in arms-manufacturing in this country, growth and financial success not enjoyed by anyone else. (Except Wall St.)

It’s aptly illustrated here by the much used by me illustration from the New York Times:


The war boom: Rewards and monumental profit for arms-manufacturing. The bottom of the barrel for everyone else.

Again, it’s not unreasonable to make the argument that the stressed in the middle class ought to receive something back for the country’s primary business product/export, one its taxes bankroll and grow. A 20 percent war dividend for 2011 might look like this:

20 percent of 247 billion in arms sales = $49 400 000 000

20 percent of 164.7 billion for direct war = $32 940 000 000

Total war dividend clawback = $82 340 000 000

Bonus check cut for 49.3 million people on food stamps, adjustable for increases = $1670.18.

That’s up $529.30 from the last exercise.

Such checks are not insubstantial to people who have just lost their jobs.

And it is clear from the war dividend thought exercise that the tax alone covers the so-called budget cuts in the posted video, cuts which will cost even more jobs. While the arms manufacturing plants get more orders.

The exercise is about bringing fairness to any argument about bombing Moe. And because it’s not considered as anything but delusional outside the halls where very serious upper class people ruling the country reside, it can only be an exercise. Never happen. Instead, it’s time to go ahead with giving everyone not involved in the machine of war hardship or the chop. Because the middle class has absolutely no say in the matter. In the biggest ‘democracy’ in the world.

“And of course, the cost of ‘overseas contingency operations’ will continue to rise, stressing both men (and women) and machines to the breaking point,” writes J. at Armchair Generalist. “The good news being, of course, that this means the US government can’t possibly afford to cut defense funds now.”

J. points out the savings inherent in losing an old $30 million F-15 over Libya as opposed to the $120 million F-22.

Updated mirror at Globalsecurity.

03.21.11

Bombing Moe: Nugent against it. But if we have to, ‘kill all those people.’

Posted in Bombing Moe, Ted Nugent at 4:14 pm by George Smith

Ted Nugent, kinda late to the game, in the WaTimes:

If the real goal of the United Nations is to topple the Libyan leader, kill him and all his henchmen. Flatten the area of Tripoli where it is believed he is holed up with a human shield surrounding him. Kill all those people and get it over with. Implement total war for a week, and cockroach Gadhafi will be entombed in a pile of rubble.

“Africa in an international scab,” he adds.

Bombing Moe: The 4 percent Brits

Posted in Bombing Moe at 1:43 pm by George Smith

Figure of the day, token British missile strikes:

130 US Tomahawk launches
6 UK Tomahawk launches
136 cruise missile launches

Brit explosive contribution to ‘the Coalition,’ 4.4 percent by weight.

One might chalk it up to reluctance after Iraqi Freedom but there’s this:

British Prime Minister David Cameron told the nation’s parliament Monday that the coalition has “neutralized” Libyan air defenses and made “good progress” in achieving its mission to protect civilians. He also said coalition operations had averted what he called “bloody massacre” of Benghazi residents by Gadhafi loyalists.

Plus, the Brits might just not have the right stuff for the heavy lifting.

And if they launch all their Tomahawks, there’s a big check for replenishment they’re going to be cutting for Raytheon, messing with the British balance of trade.

So what’s the difference between not-bombing whatsisname in Bahrain and Moe in Libya?

At least three today, actually.

One — it’s because in Bahrain, it is whatsisname. No one knows whatsisname like they know Moe. Whatsisname needs to be on television more, a lot more. But as long as we still have Moe that’s not likely to happen.

Two — there’s a US Fleet parked there.

Three — Bahrain is all about banks and financialization. The US never does anything about banksters and Wall Street proxies. (By way of Digby.)

From the New York Times:

“Twenty-five percent of Bahrain’s G.D.P. comes from banks,” Mr. Abdulmalik said as he sat in the soft Persian Gulf sunshine. “I sympathize with many of the demands of the demonstrators. But no country would allow the takeover of its financial district. The economic future of the country was at stake. What happened this week, as sad as it is, is good.”

Remember, we never never bomb bankers even if it might be right thing to do.

The dilemma of choosing to support the most inept rebel force in the world in Libya is pretty clear.

Unless we’re prepared to do overwhelming close air support whenever they march or stumble west down the highway to Tripoli, ‘our guys’ are going to get slaughtered.

“[I’m] sure it was necessary to fly B2 bombers from the United States to bomb Libya in addition to the tactical fighters involved,” notes J. sardonically at Armchair Generalist. “No overkill here.”

And from yesterday’s comments, a reader notes on competing arms pitches in Brazil:

France/Dassault have been unsuccessful flogging those Rafale jets (couldn’t even sell them to Libya.) Maybe the free advertising will help.

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