Egregious falsehoods explained

Posted in Permanent Fail, Predator State at 8:23 am by George Smith

Continuing on yesterday’s riff on the ease with which corporate American mobilizes group lickspittling to astro-turf images at variance with reality, the blog points to an article by Don Barlett and Jim Steele writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

While at the Inky, Barlett and Steele won two Pulitzers. As a team, they’re the “gold standard” in US investigative journalism.

The jump-out synopsis, among other things:

“The United States has two tax systems: A flexible, preferential one for multinational corporations and the rich; a rigid, nonnegotiable one for working people. In other words, if you’re not lucky enough to be a global business or a wealthy individual, you must pay pretty much what Congress dictates. If, however, you are among the privileged, well, your company makes billions for you and essentially operates tax-free.”

Nonetheless, corporate America collectively has long whined about paying excessive taxes.

What kind of corporation escapes responsibility for any of these bills? Carnival Cruise Lines for one …

Like others in Congress and the media, Cantor, Bachmann, and Pawlenty insist that American businesses are paying too much in corporate income tax. They claim the onerous tax burden is killing jobs and forcing companies to move abroad. To reverse the nation’s fortunes, they say, all Washington need do is slash the corporate tax rate, thereby reducing the amount of taxes these businesses are forced to pay. What’s scary is a growing number of citizens believe them.

That means a forecast made years ago by William J. Casey, a wily Republican from another era who liked to dabble in the intelligence world’s black arts inside and outside the country, and who helped craft the election of Ronald Reagan, is coming true. After taking office, President Reagan installed Casey as head of the CIA in 1981. After his first staff meeting at the agency, Casey was quoted as saying:

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

One of the more egregious falsehoods being peddled by the corporate tax cutters is that companies doing business in the United States are taxed at an exorbitant rate. Not so.

Perhaps a more telling yardstick, corporate tax revenue in 2009 came to just 1 percent of gross domestic product – the lowest collection level since 1936, or three-quarters of a century ago. In 2010, it edged up to a puny 1.3 percent – the second-lowest since 1940. Even worse, the shriveled tax collections came at a time when corporations were registering an all-time high in profits. At the end of 2010, corporations posted an annualized profit of $1.65 trillion in the fourth quarter. In other words, the more they made, the less they paid.

In its most recent filing, Exxon Mobil Corp., the global energy giant, reported income of $34.8 billion before taxes on total revenue of $310.6 billion for 2009. Its U.S. income tax bill: Zero.

The entire piece is great.

Hat tip to Pine View Farm.


Corporate brand spamming on YouTube or ‘Mobilizing your local lickspittles’

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Permanent Fail at 3:49 pm by George Smith

One things associated with GE’s tax cheat news is the corporate giants’ p.r. spamming of YouTube, via its various loyal employees.

Obviously, General Electric isn’t the only big US business to ever try this.

UPS, for example, spammed YouTube with videos of randomly chosen people doing karaoke versions of its “That’s Logistics” tune. Advertised as a fun contest, these started showing up right after al Qaeda sent printer bombs through UPS and FedEx offices in Yemen.

The attempt seemed designed to distract people from much more frequently seen news on the UPS-flown bomb packages.

Whatever their inspiration, they were unsuccessful, for easily explained reasons. They were horrible. Most of the people in them could neither sing nor hold the rhythm of the tune.

In a similar vein is GE’s current line dance contest.

You can see the unusually high number of people engaged in corporate toadying by surfing out to the linked example and looking to the right in the suggestion list.

It’s possible GE instigated this as a bit of innocent fun built off Alan Jackson’s “Good Time” tune.

The more cynical reading is the company knew the New York Times was readying a piece on its tax avoidance.

And knowing well what the impact of it would be on user-created media content, it mobilized one preemptive counter p.r. effort encouraging employees to make their own line dance commercials and upload them as (1), examples of all the corporate happiness associated with GE, and (2), as video spam that might soak up poorly crafted search terms on the company.

The only problem with the plan is that all of the employee line dance commercials really suck. And that wouldn’t matter if people didn’t have the tax avoidance news always in memory when viewing such things.

However, they do. And so everyone comes off as astro-turfing lickspittles — whether they are or not — dancing out their joy for a giant firm that, at least in the short term, is thought of as a primary example of corporate evil.

So only morons see anything good in them.

Don’t believe me?

Well, here are some great examples of miscellaneous white people dancing and keeping rhythm, often not quite adequately. All made for the sake of dry humping the legs of the bosses.

So contrived and icky, they’ll make you sweat.

This one hurt him

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 12:50 pm by George Smith

Readers know the mainstream press refuses to take on Ted Nugent. Whenever profiled, he’s portrayed as — at worst — a playfully idiosyncratic character from the right, sticking up for guns, hunting and free speech. And the music press, although it will now start interviewing him locally all over the country as he does his annual ag fair/casino tour, never mentions what’s he really like — someone who regurgitates the worst of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party on a regular basis, ranting about the conspiracy of Islam and sharia law overtaking the nation, or how some very old lady professor is at war with him, or how the Middle Eastern countries where everyone is in revolt are “goofy.”

If you have only read their coverage of Nugent over the past year you’d never know the man makes uncivil extremism seem middle of the road.

You also know that almost all the outdoor columnists in the country declined to make much out of the mighty hunter having his license revoked in California for deer baiting.

Until now.

This weekend, an outdoor columnist let Nugent have it with both barrels. In his home town of Detroit. It was in response to Nugent’s audience with Michigan’s governor to argue for — guess what — the legalization of deer baiting.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Nugent is a rock star whose career depends on getting public attention. Because of that he has more than once made a statement that was outrageous or thoughtless.

But his defense of baiting is more than disingenuous. Last year Nugent was fined $1,750 after pleading no contest for baiting deer in California and not having a properly signed hunting tag. He managed to plea-bargain away another charge of illegally killing a deer, which would have had far more serious consequences.

Had Nugent been convicted on the illegally killing a deer charge, he would not have been able to buy hunting licenses for up to three years in many states, including Michigan.

Nugent also told [Governor Snyder] that the state should not try to ban game ranches and that the threat from feral pigs is greatly exaggerated. Once again, Nugent’s claims need to be taken with a bucket of salt: He owns game ranches in Michigan and Texas (where he now lives) and sells canned hunts.

Nugent’s Web site said he charges $5,500 for people to hunt buffalo with him at his fenced Sunrize Acres facility in Michigan. And people can pay up to $7,700 on his Texas ranch to hunt various Asian and African antelope, sheep and deer. They can also hunt whitetails with him there, but it costs extra (the Web site says “call for pricing”).

Nugent sells hunts for “wild boar,” which makes his statement about feral pigs less than disinterested. (Michigan’s wild pig problem began with escapees from game ranches.) Though he might not be concerned about them, wildlife, agriculture and environmental agencies in several states spend millions of dollars each year to try to eradicate wild swine and repair the damage they do.

At the federal Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge in Florida (home to the Kennedy Space Center), trappers remove 2,500 or more wild swine each year, and car-pig collisions are a serious problem. The ancestors of those swine were introduced by the Spanish 400 years ago, but they still breed like rabbits.

Michigan’s pig farmers are concerned about escaped swine because they say the feral animals can carry serious diseases that threaten a pork industry valued at about $500 million.

Ethical hunters understand that their primary concern isn’t their desire to kill a specific animal or bird during the next open season but maintaining the health of all the wildlife and the habitats in which they live. Nearly as important is maintaining their image as ethical among that great mass of people who don’t hunt but do vote.

If it’s just about making it easier to kill deer, let’s not stop at baiting. As one reader suggested, why not let hunters put sedatives in the bait to slow the deer and make them easier to shoot?

Whenever I hear hunters complaining about the threat from animal rights advocates, I tell them not to worry about that small group. If they want to see the biggest threat to hunting, many hunters need only look in the mirror.

Nugent was playing Nutty Jerry’s, a concert barn in Winnie, Texas, twenty miles southwest of Beaumont, this weekend. You can bet if he read this today it gave him a major case of heartburn.

Nugent was well and deservedly crapped upon in his old home town.

The Detroit Free Press columnist patiently explained that tuberculosis in the deer population is a problem for Michigan and that scientists do not as yet have a precise grip on how it spreads. However, it can spread to cattle which requires the condemning and decimation of the infected.

Law prohibiting baiting was put in place in Michigan as a disease control measure under the reasoning that anything that reduced the concentration of infected animals would help in the control of the disease.

“The [Department of Natural Resources] overcame a late start [in combating tuberculosis] and brought the incidence of disease down by drastically dropping deer numbers and banning baiting and feeding,” wrote Eric Sharp.

Because a small number of people still illegally bait in Michigan, the DNR has not been able to totally eliminate the disease, although the incidence rate has been lowered to 1.9 percent in the most affected area.

The Detroit Free Press on Nugent is here. The picture of Ted included with it is not flattering.


Great Band Names from Texas — Too great, so they changed it

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll at 12:28 pm by George Smith

Good news, lads! Good news! Tough women with lotsa dangerous tattoos!

Twelve minutes of off-the-cuff documentary video taken at SXSW in Austin showing The Hot Things, Texas Terri Bomb, and Pentagram

Even though the audio is far from sterling, the first six minutes — shot at a record store called Cheapo — efficiently delivers on the volcanic white trash rock. Part of it, the delivery of The Hot Things, the backing band.

From Humble, Texas, outside Houston, The Hot Things may be one of the most poorly marketed bands, ever, considering their former name — Shit City High and the best hard rock T-shirt ever.

Now I want to visit Humble, at least for a weekend.

Obviously urged internally or externally to undertake a name change, an interview with them at a Houston newspaper is here.

An excerpt for explaining that which did not need it:

Irony is what we do best, as you can tell with our band name and song titles. Besides that, I wanted a name that captured the “filthy-trashiness” of every city and to me, every city is a shit city and every night is a “shit city high!” And, luckily, SCH won over “Diabolical Dick Suckers!”

[Vocalist “MansRuin”: I wanted the Diabolical Dick Suckers but the guys weren’t going to have that!

RO: Wonder why that was? Seems reasonable enough.

MR: I did like The Bloody Lips as well. Shit City High is cool.

Right away you know why I like them. If DD’s your stage name, how can you not like a band whose frontperson’s moniker is “MansRuin”?


The Hot Things (nee SCH) had an album released recently. You can listen to around half of it here. Damned if I can find a physical copy, though.

On YouTube there’s way more video under the easily searchable “Shit City High” than under the not-so-search-friendly “Hot Things.”

And all of it is shockingly under-appreciated, something this blog will endeavor to change. If only briefly. OK, readers, don’t lemme down. Tick this next one. The zany photos with jiggle effect are perfect!

And shot in superbly appropriate blurry artificial black and white:

Lyric, I think: Your ass is hot, so who can blame us/We came from Venus to destroy your anus…

Invigorating stuff! Makes me young again. I’m serious.

The third act shown in the Austin clip is of Pentagram, a heavy metal band fronted by a fellow named Bobby Liebling.

And of them, I wrote years ago:

Thirty years in the business, almost twice that many records sold—or so it seems. But for Pentagram, persistence of vision works. The collection is mid-’80s Cotton Mather-inspired sludge ‘n’ cack, a style absolutely no mass demographic is or was interested in—shunned even in Britain, where this band of Virginians was mystifyingly sent to market. “Vampire Love” is a catchy trudge-metal classic; “The Ghoul,” Edgar Allan Poe for those prone to tattooing themselves using the nibs off fountain pens. And Bobby Liebling is a Roky Erickson type who mixes blues mumbling, I’m-living-in-a-ram’s-head black metal dogma, and Johnny Cash storytelling in the space of an hour and a half.

Watch that segment. You’ll have to agree I was spot on re the Cotton Mather part. (Still puzzled by the reference? See here.)

Still mystified? OK. Next.

Morning laughs: Republicans and their DOA movies

Posted in Extremism, Phlogiston at 8:11 am by George Smith

A handful of lines from reviews of the alleged first part of Atlas Shrugged:

“I’m cultivating a society that honors individual achievement” and “Businesses die because people are paid by need, not ability” don’t exactly roll off the tongue.Rickey, the Philly Inquirer

The dialogue seems to have been ripped throbbing with passion from the pages of Investors’ Business Daily. Much of the excitement centers on the tensile strength of steel …

Oh, and there is Wisconsin. Dagny and Hank ride blissfully in Taggart’s new high-speed train, and then Hank suggests they take a trip to Wisconsin, where the state’s policies caused the suppression of an engine that runs on the ozone in the air, or something (the film’s detailed explanation won’t clear this up). They decide to drive there. That’s when you’ll enjoy the beautiful landscape photography of the deserts of Wisconsin. Ebert

“We don’t want Atlas shrugging in America,” said the movie’s producer today on Stossel.

Too late! 26 out of 100 on Metacritic. 5.9 out of 10 on the user view scale.

Speaking of an engine that runs on ozone from the air brings us to Gashole, a documentary made by two Republicans.

DD noticed it being pumped earlier this week at lunchtime by Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC.

Ratigan is frequently a flat-out sucker for really stupid shit revealing only the laziness of him and his minders.

So immediately the show pegs the bogometer by plugging that Gashole has uncovered the suppression of the dead Tom Ogle’s magical water vapor 100-mpg car.

As a conspiracy theory, this one’s about as popular as any other on perpetual motion machines and free energy devices. Which is to say not at all.

Gashole, 5.8 on a ten scale at IMdb and failing due to disinterest.

And here’s a ragingly incoherent/incompetent piece on the same by Allison Kilkenny of Huffington Post/The Nation who also misses the one sinker that rips the entire bottom out of the boat.

My theory as to why Republicans can’t make documentaries with any legs: To make a documentary, particularly if it has anything to do with science or laws of nature, you have to actually have some talent for understanding such matters.

The GOP hates these things. So even when there’s no political agenda, embedded dummkopf-ism spoils everything.

There’s also some wry humor to be found in the fact that the Libertarian/GOP/Tea Party won’t even patronize the stuff made exclusively for it.


The Empire’s Dogshit (laser a pirate someday)

Posted in Crazy Weapons at 12:59 pm by George Smith

The US taxpayer has given 98 million to a Northrop Grumman corporate job program — the Maritime Laser Demonstrator — this week’s top dogshit news story at DD blog.

Let’s see what we bought for our money.

First — a viral hit on YouTube — 600,000 or more views, it’s said. (Now it’s over 1 million.)

Even at one million, I’d have thought almost 100 million smacks would buy you more, all things considered.

Anyway, what if you took seriously pitchmen claims that the US navy could put it into action against pirates!?

Here’s an assessment of pirate attacks off Somalia from recent news:

Piracy hit an all-time high worldwide in the first three months of 2011 led by a surge in incidents off the coast of Somalia, a maritime watchdog said Thursday.

The International Maritime Bureau said a record high of 142 attacks in the first quarter came as Somalian pirates become more violent and aggressive.

The International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center said 97 of the attacks occurred off the coast of Somalia, up sharply from 35 in the same period last year.

OK, 97 attacks. Multiply by four for the entire year, round up, and you get 400.

How many pirate attacks was the US Navy in a position to head off last year? Let’s be generous and say half a dozen.

Or double it and say an even dozen.

Let’s assume it will be the same next year.

What’s the percentage that one US navy ship, armed with the Maritime Laser Demonstrator, will be in any force or traveling alone when it comes in contact with Somali pirates?

One in hundred? One in fifty? One in ten?

You see where DD is going.

Get a chance to burn a pirate for 98 million, or two for about 50 M each.

I’d say it’s like getting a hammer made of gold to go after a few bugs you might stumble into but even that seems to come up short.

Tax related facts & music

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll at 7:56 am by George Smith

Technically you have until Monday but … via Krugman and CBPP:


The top five taxpaying nations all now easily have significantly higher standards of living, public school education and far less inequality than the US.

With the deconstruction of the idea that we need more tax breaks and bribes for corporations and the wealthy, along with the dissection of Paul Ryan, perhaps this time next year the latter will just be thought of as that guy who should have been in the habit of shaving twice a day so he didn’t look so greasy and jerked-off by late afternoon.

And — a true story — The Internal Revenue Boogie.

I got a letter from my Tax Man
To avoid big fines and a nasty jam
I had to work out a convenient payment plan

I saw the letter from my Tax Man
He had me banged up, I was body-slammed
I was fiscally blue


The Empire’s Dogshit (continued)

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Permanent Fail at 11:54 am by George Smith

One mid-day speech doesn’t make for a fix.

From the Boston Globe, hat tip to Pine View Farm:

Meanwhile, the US Census last year said the rich-poor income gap reached record levels, nearly doubling gaps of the late 1960s. The United States is the richest nation on earth, yet we rank 97th in family-income equality, according to the CIA Factbook. Our inequality is so profound that we rank behind nations we associate with corruption, poverty, oppression, or collapsed governments — Nigeria, China, India, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Egypt, Burundi, Nicaragua, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Greece. The most economically equal country in the world is Sweden.

Even the CIA says the United States is now a nation where “those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20 percent of households.’’

For all of those “gains,’’ we are sliding backward with each announcement of CEO pay. The gain for a few has become the great American loss.

It was just about exactly one year ago that your host went to work for the US Census. Pasadena is thought of as a well-to-do place. The census disabused everyone working it of that. Its working poor live right next to the wealthy and their upper middle class shoe-shiners in often terrible conditions. And those working the census were either those unemployed from the great recession or struggling to keep their heads above water by working two or three underpaying jobs at a time.

Meanwhile, today from the alleged “weapons of doom” beat aka corporate welfare/jobs programs for arms manufacturing, the underwhelming Maritime Laser Demonstrator!

We’ll use it on pirates!

[An alleged expert named] Gibbon-Brooks said the new laser “absolutely” could be deployed against pirates, but says a sniper rifle could work just as well. He suspects the Navy has bigger hopes for its sea-based laser. The Navy released a video of the test on YouTube. It’s been viewed more than 600,000 times.

“It’s a very, very interesting moment for naval warfare in that we have a whole new genre of weapons,” he said.

“It’s certainly a remarkable step forward. The ability to apply more power in a burst or the ability to manipulate that power is really where I see this going,” he said. “I think if you watch the video and think that’s what they intend to do to Somali pirates in a year, you don’t understand what’s being set out in front of them. It could be used in any type of naval warfare.”

The laser test was carried out by the Navy and Northrop Grumman as part of a $98 million contract.

Six hundred thousand views on YouTube! It’s a viral hit! Whoopie!

Ninety-eight million bucks of swag for Northrop Grumman for, maybe, use against a handful of pirates.

Now, if they’d pitched the laser for use closer to home — like Goldman Sachs, 85 Broad Str (use the satellite photo and magnify) — I might change my tune.

Goldman Sachs cursed in Senate, Blankfein still on the loose

Posted in Permanent Fail, Rock 'n' Roll at 8:29 am by George Smith


In the most damning official U.S. report yet produced on Wall Street’s role in the financial crisis, a Senate panel accused powerhouse Goldman Sachs of misleading clients and manipulating markets, while also condemning greed, weak regulation and conflicts of interest throughout the financial system.

Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, one of Capitol Hill’s most feared panels, has a history with Goldman Sachs.

He clashed publicly with its Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein a year ago at a hearing on the crisis.

The Democratic lawmaker again tore into Goldman at a press briefing on his panel’s 639-page report, which is based on a review of tens of millions of documents over two year

In the most damning official U.S. report yet produced on Wall Street’s role in the financial crisis, a Senate panel accused powerhouse Goldman Sachs of misleading clients and manipulating markets, while also condemning greed, weak regulation and conflicts of interest throughout the financial system.

The LA Times:

After a two-year bipartisan probe, a Senate panel has concluded that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. profited from the financial crisis by betting billions against the subprime mortgage market, then deceived investors and Congress about the firm’s conduct.

Some of the findings in the report by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will be referred to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible criminal or civil action, said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the panel’s chairman.

“In my judgment, Goldman clearly misled their clients and they misled the Congress,” Levin told reporters before the report was made public late Wednesday.

[Levin]He clashed publicly with [Goldman] Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein a year ago at a hearing on the crisis.

The Democratic lawmaker again tore into Goldman at a press briefing on his panel’s 639-page report, which is based on a review of tens of millions of documents over two year

Tune in tomorrow, same time, for the sound of — crickets.

The masters of the universe know they can ignore reports and days like this one.

From another finance story:

“This is not some evil conspiracy of two guys sitting in a room saying we should let people create crony capitalism and steal with impunity,??? said William K. Black, a professor of law at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and the federal government’s director of litigation during the savings and loan crisis. “But their policies have created an exceptional criminogenic environment. There were no criminal referrals from the regulators. No fraud working groups. No national task force. There has been no effective punishment of the elites here.???

Criminogenic environment. Two words where one will do: kleptocracy.

I wrote a song about this a couple months ago, Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein. Catchy it was, too.

Protest music from the left, even satirical material, however, is totally dead in the US. You can comb the annals of music journalism for the last three years and you’ll find nothing on the subject. Zero.

Anyway, Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein, which also needs a video, is here.

If you don’t want to listen to the tune, listen to the intro which is taken from a Charlie Rose interview of Blankfein. The discussion is about the very thing again in the news today, that Goldman benefited from the financial crisis by pushing and selling financial products it was simultaneously betting against.

“I have to explain …” the man said. He was doing God’s work.


Toady nations and rebel rabble unable to dislodge Moe

Posted in Bombing Moe at 2:22 pm by George Smith

You may have wondered why I stopped updating Bombing Moe.

Well, when Uncle Sam wandered away from the fight because it was obvious people in pick-up trucks who jump up and down on tanks we just bombed don’t make much of a military, I — like anyone with sense — knew it was all over.

Little Tommy Atkins & the Flying Desert Rats weren’t going to get the job done. Neither was Sark. And the Flying Emirs of Qatar are just an assortment of high button bag and henchmen.

Today’s reiteration of the obvious:

After leading the first stage of the Libyan intervention, the US earlier this month withdrew its forces from offensive operations, ceding control to Nato and its Arab allies.

Britain, France and the rebels are increasingly frustrated that neither other Nato allies nor the Arab states are prepared to attack Gaddafi’s forces, insisting they will only help enforce a no-fly zone.

With Britain and France bearing the burden of the ground attack operation, there are fears that the allies lack the military force to shake the Libyan regime.

Mahmoud Shamman, a spokesman for the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council, said the Nato had allowed Col Gaddafi to regain the initiative on the battlefield since it took over from the US.

“When the Americans were involved the mission was very active and it as more leaning toward protecting the civilians,” he said. “Nato is very slow responding to these attacks on the civilians. We’d like to see more work toward protecting the civilians.”

A French official suggested that the US should deploy its specialist ground-attack aircraft including A-10 Thunderbolt tankbusters and AC-130 Spectre gunships, assets that Britain and France lack.

Did they actually think that a bit of the ol’ shock and awe would work this time around?

You’ll have noticed the US news wandered off the topic, too. War? What war? Oh yeah, that one with the guys in pickup trucks getting shot up by Moe after the professionals lost interest.

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