04.10.11

Bred to be sociopaths

Posted in Permanent Fail at 11:51 am by George Smith

Obama’s toady, David Plouffe made the morning rounds of the news shows explaining how last week’s debacle was a victory for the President. His face a fixed smile, Plouffe repeated “win the future,” “come together,” “act like grownups” and “for the American people” so many times. robotic or ‘on message’ didn’t do it justice. He was the very essence of trafficking in BAD.

You come to the conclusion that to work for the President you have to be a sociopath.

Take a look at this video of White House spokesman Jay Carney evading questions about Jeff Immelt of GE and you’ll see what I mean. It’s the same type of person, young and glabrous, whose job it is to lie professionally. A well-balanced person, if asked to do this, would have regular nightmares and a nervous breakdown after a couple weeks of it.

Not these guys. They’ve been made for it.

From Ezra Klein on declaring victory after you’ve just lost a major decision:

The Democrats believe itís good to look like a winner, even if youíve lost. But theyíre sacrificing more than they let on. By celebrating spending cuts, theyíve opened the door to further austerity measures at a moment when the recovery remains fragile. Claiming political victory now opens the door to further policy defeats later.

Echo’d by Krugman:

Itís one thing for Obama to decide that it was better to give in to Republican hostage-taking than draw a line in the sand; itís another for him to celebrate the result. Yet thatís just what he did.

The judgment was apparently that it was OK to move policy in the wrong direction, because the economy was strong enough to weather the shock, and that it was more important to look centrist than to defend good policy.

Of course, that didnít work out too well last year, did it?

Earlier in the week, Matt Taibbi derided Paul Ryan with a particularly savage characterization.

It applies to these guys, too:

“All of these smug little jerks look alike to me [insert three or four Republican star names including Ryan’s]… they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebeeís shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups … They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.”

While their political views are radically different, down deep in the genes there’s very little difference between the David Plouffes and Paul Ryans.

I can’t take any more defeats fake gift-wrapped as wins or behavior as transparently reptilian as it gets.

04.08.11

Creepy Bruce & the Country Boys

Posted in Bioterrorism, Rock 'n' Roll at 8:27 am by George Smith

Bruce Ivins, the best bioterrorist US taxpayer money could buy, was by all descriptions a resourceful man of many talents. Newspaper articles on him told of his fondness for playing keyboards at church and composing little humorous songs for departing colleagues at Fort Detrick/USAMRIID.

So it’s perhaps not a surprise that Bruce Ivins was also an independent recording artist.

Rick Noll, founder of the great but small independent label Bonafide Records, is a devoted scourer of the used records bins of the back country, from eastern Pennsylvania through to Maryland. He is particularly adept at finding old obscure vinyl treasures in the vicinity between York, PA and Frederick, Maryland.

It was Noll who reunited DD with an old Professor Schnitzel record from his Pennsy Dutch stomping grounds.

And it is Noll who has tipped DD to the recording career of Bruce Ivins.


Larger image here.

Here is a scan of a white label vinyl 7-inch single produced by Nashville Recordings, a record-making facility that “did a lot of small pressings in the 70s and 80s, with a NR # for their records they pressed,” Noll tells me. “Most likely a couple hundred or so were done.”

The A-side is Bruce Ivins and the Country Boys’ rendition of Johnny Rodriguez’s lugubrious “Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through.)” I’ve put this to press prior to getting mp3’s for it.)

The single’s vanity label displays a droll sense of humor. “Poplar Records.” Geddit?

“It’s novel in its one man band approach with tinges of ineptitude — an educated, somewhat accomplished, Hasil Adkins with chops!” exclaimed Noll. “Lots of crazy people put out records like this, but I think this one has a dark and ominous sound, [perhaps] hinting at a budding criminal mastermind!”

Noll estimates the recording could be from the 70’s or 80’s. It features what he believes to be a Casio and drum machine rhythm track, probably furnished by the keyboard, and simulated guitar also from the keyboard. This probably, but not assuredly, places it in the Eighties.

“Pass Me By [has] too many keyboards, including a guitar-like one,” says Noll. “All Shook Up, the B-side, is real fast and pretty good, mostly keyboards and drum machine.”

It was the only single in a crate-load of 1,000 records Noll wanted, he told me.

“The 45 is a hoot,” he says. “It has to be the same guy.”

Maybe so. We don’t know for sure. Perhaps it’s all phlogiston, Bruce Ivins and the Country Boys another Bruce Ivins — not the Bruce Ivins at the center of the anthrax case. It’s all just a coincidence, what Klaatu was to the Beatles, sort of. It’s just one more mysterious embellishment contributing to the fascination over lore connected to the nation’s most famous bioterrorist. Like the FBI/DoJ case against Ivins, the evidence is circumstantial yet still compelling.

Maybe time will sort it out.

“Ivins was a much more many-sided, social, and in this sense normal person than FBIís Summary would lead one to believe,” reads one of the many news stories on the scientist. “He played the piano in church, played and sang in a Celtic band, composed songs for departing colleagues, was an expert juggler …”

And here is a large photo of Ivins playing keyboard in a band called Celtic Live from Bushwaller’s Irish American bar in Frederick from 2006. Readers will note it’s one of the popular keyboards which will now furnish everything from rhythm tracks to simulated instrument lines. It is most probably not the model on the single but does show Ivins was totally at ease with the type of instrument and its capabilities.

“I was a high school student who sang in the 10:30 Sunday “Folk Mass” at St. Johns,” wrote a blogger who knew and reminisced on Ivins a couple of years ago. Bruce played the keyboards … I remember Bruce being joyful then, and joyful when he played on the keyboards at mass.”

“His pants were always high waters, and he wore threadbare oxford shirts,” she wrote as part of a colorful recollection.

04.07.11

Rock ‘n’ Roll

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll, Sludge in the Seventies at 10:14 pm by George Smith

Dr. Feelgood live at the Kursaal in Southend, ’75. Part of a show that was shot for television, this is the best sounding and looking snip I’ve seen –a great stark and taut version of “Back in the Night” from Malpractice.

In the US, the Feelgoods were bottled by the rock critics. The most
insulting review was published in the infamous “red book” — Rolling Stone’s first album guide, featuring this nose-gold bit of descriptionr:

“Their LPs sound like sparse backing for a lead musician who never appears.”

And in a completely different vein, an old Chely Wright video hit creatively re-using the main riff from “The Joker”:

Wonder if she’s changed the lyrics? Anyway you sing it, it would still sound great.

Guitars versus arms — which jobs are worth saving?

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Made in China, Permanent Fail at 4:40 pm by George Smith

The answer has always been obvious to me. But through inaction we are living the wrong one.

This post comes out of simple inspiration from a trip to Guitar Center yesterday.

The US invented rock and roll. It had Leo Fender, the inventor of the first widely used electric guitar, the Telecaster. And the founder of Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing, subsequently Fender Musical Instruments, the quintessentially American company founded on innovation in affordable products that gave joy to everyone.

And then you have General Dynamics Lands Systems.

The fundamentally American mega-corporate ogre, a company that makes the M1 Abrams tank and other armored fighting vehicles, most definitely not for giving joy to anyone except the mentally ill who get erections over military gear and the CEO of, well, GDLS.

Unlike the guitar, for use in endless war, selling to tyrannical regimes in the Middle East acting as toadies, and for continuing the rigged exercise of big corporate socialism.

Anyway, most of the merchandise, by weight, in the Guitar Center showroom in Pasadena is make in China although it conspicuously stills carries the names of famous American brands.

My friend needed a small 2-speaker PA system and power amplifier for his studio. And so we went into the live sound showroom at GC to look at PA speakers and power amps. After a number of minutes he’d narrowed his choices to Yamaha and Peavey merchandise.

He wanted to know where they were made. So I suggested turning them over and looking at the base plates where the speaker cables plug in.

The Yamaha was offshored from Japan to sweat shop labor in Indonesia. The Peavey — a famous American brand — was offshored to China.

“Which is better,” he asked me. He knows “China Toilet Blooz” by heart now.

I laughed and shrugged. So he picked the Yamaha because it looked better.

Peavey was a company founded in Meridian, Mississippi by Hartley Peavey. Peavey had worked for Fender and when it was bought by CBS and expanded to some detriment of its still very much American-made product line in the early Seventies, he left to form his own company and successfully exploited the perceived drop in quality.

In the years after Peavey established its name as a solid substitute of American-made guitars and amplifiers.

Now this is all gone.

The American manufacturers of rock and roll equipment have all offshored to China.

What remains in the US is essentially custom shop business. The American-made items are ten times or more the expense of the same models made in China. And the former are reserved largely for people with major label music contracts and that part of the upper middle and plutocrat class which dabbles in guitar playing. For them, the expensive American made guitar is a status symbol for a gilded age.

All down the line in the Guitar Center showroom, all the famous American-made guitar lines are now produced in China. Gretsch, like Fender, divided into two tiers. The famous big semi-hollow body guitars popularized in Nashville and Memphis, played by the inventors of rock and roll — the guys in the bands backing Elvis and Gene Vincent — are made in China. If you want to pay ten times or more for one, the premium models are still made here.

The Epiphone Casino, popularized by John Lennon and pictured here — now made offshore.

The middle class jobs and factories that produced those instruments which made the sound that went worldwide are gone. And this country, and the rest of the world, isn’t better for it. It was profit driven decision-making in a race to the bottom. And it destroyed tradition and a proud legacy in something the made the whole world a brighter place. You could be proud of working in a factory that made guitars and amplifiers for everybody in the USA.

And what jobs have we protected at all costs? You know the answer.

Tanks, rockets, missiles, bombs, jet aircraft, mines, tear gas rounds, and fighting ships.

All guaranteed by the US taxpaying middle class and inviolable.

Here, from Armchair Generalist earlier in the week, is another big parcel of mechanized joy from General Dynamics Land Systems:

U.S. ships delivered the 87th of 140 planned Abrams tanks to the Iraqi Army’s 9th Division earlier this month. The delivery is part of a $2.16 billion deal to ship the tanks and necessary logistics support vehicles to Iraq.

Built by General Dynamics Land Systems, the first M1A1s arrived in September. The deliveries are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, when U.S. forces finish their pullout in December, [LTG Robert] Cone [USF-I] said in February before he returned to Fort Hood, Texas.
——-
The necessary parts have arrived in Iraq, but the country’s rudimentary logistics system cannot deliver the parts to military units yet. Iraq’s Army warehouses in Taji remain stocked, but the parts rarely reach the units. One Iraqi mechanic said he only receives parts for his Humvees twice a year.

“They have to figure this out, or we’re just going to end up with a bunch of 60-ton paperweights sitting out here,” [LTC David] Beachman [senior advisor] said.

Protect the manufacturing jobs for premium tanks for an army of Iraqi stumblebums. Yeah!

But protect the manufacturing jobs for non-military things — an everyman’s musical instrument — that arguably had a much larger and finer impact on the world? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Leo Fender died in 1991. If he were alive today he’d turn white.

The idea that the country of guitars and rock and roll would devolve into the country of computer-networked armored fighting vehicles and smart bombs is as disgusting as it is astonishing. Think about the state of affairs and you don’t know whether to shit or go blind.

With regards to tank sales to Iraq, J. at Armchair delivers a thought puckishly delivered as if pinched from a recent Dale Carnegie correspondence course: “But hey, if this model works for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, why stop now? What a great way to win friends and influence enemies.”

One could put it a different way. We influenced people worldwide and much more to the nation’s credit with the electric guitar than the M1 Abrams tank. The former, not the latter, is one of the reasons people liked us.

Nugent ‘intrigued’ by Trump

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 2:56 pm by George Smith

A little-noticed column by Ted Nugent at Human Events had the rocker “intrigued” by Donald Trump as a potential presidential candidate in late March.

Of course, Trump is now well-known as a birther, being called out on national TV by Whoopi Goldberg. And — just today — creating another disgrace for NBC.

Nugent:

I like what Iíve heard so far from Mr. Trump about his vast understanding of banking, business, and how America is getting the short end of the economic stick from a dramatically inferior China …

Iím intrigued with Trump. Iíll be even more intrigued when he begins to offer us his opinions on his vision for America in 2012 and beyond.

Glenn Beck to SyFy Channel joke

Posted in Extremism, Phlogiston at 11:07 am by George Smith

Pine View Farm picks up a humorist’s joke on Glenn Beck leaving Fox for the SyFy Channel. If you want the laughs go here.

The subtext is that SyFy is dogshit — like Beck.

However, there are different kinds of dogshit. Beck is toxic excrement.
SyFy is just stinky.

Toxic excrement threatens existence. Stinky shit just bores and stupefies.

Beck is malevolent and malicious crap, as described earlier today.

SyFy Channel, on the other hand, is not a national venue for the regular condemning of Jews, academics and the entire world Muslim poor class for an audience of frightened fat white men and women.

SyFy Channel, for example, focuses on frightening stupid fat white men and women with harmless stories about trash like something called the Pet Phret demon from Thailand.

The Phret is a giant ghost, according to Destination Truth, a reality show which aired alleged video of it lurking around a tower the other day.

SyFy features reality shows where the hosts are far less in the money than Beck. The stars of Ghost Hunters and Destination Truth are more meagerly intelligence-insulting and benign.

You never worry that the ghost-hunting idiots scouring haunted houses with their budget Radio Shack gear and green night-vision tint will suddenly go anti-Semite and take a significant part of the country down with them.

Advertising on SyFy is also not exclusively exhortations to buy gold by Gordon Liddy.

SyFy does have professional wrestling.

And well over half its audience must now surely physically resemble the characters known as Dickie and Coover in Justified.

Which is kind of mildly bad.

Beck’s ejection from Fox does present a problem for Ted Nugent. Since about half his columns at the Washington Times stem from stuff Nugent
sees on Beck’s show, he’s lost a significant source of material that will resonate with his readers.

Recommending improved standard of living = bad

Posted in Extremism at 8:43 am by George Smith

Deemed possibly improper political advocacy, therefore out of bounds work at a university supported by state funding.

Steve Aftergood might have something to say about the use of FOIA as a political instrument for intimidation.

From TPM, on the Mackinac Institute’s use of FOIA to damage labor in Michigan:

Ken Braun [of Mackinac] explained why he FOIA’d the labor faculty at Wayne State (as well as Michigan State and the University of Michigan), pointing to portions of the Wayne State site he said were clearly advocating political outcomes rather than education.

From MIRS News:

By the time the Capitol Confidential published its story about WSU’s Labor Studies Center, the university had taken down a link to a free “activists handbook” for those looking for a “nuts and bolts guide” for creating a living wage campaign, a page dedicated to passing the federal “card check” and a specific manual for public employee unions trying to “defeat privatization.”

Mackinac and Wayne State’s labor studies faculty have been at war since at least 2005, when the state Chamber of Commerce called for and got the school to shut down a student-run site advocating for a higher minimum wage.

Mackinac is now in the news regularly for its anti-labor positions and its near constant name-checking on Rachel Maddow, for using “maddow” as a search term linked to its FOIA requests.

Maddow has pointed out, fairly accurately, that the purpose of these requests is not only about securing information that can be used out of context for attack purposes but also for purposes of political intimidation.

The last time Mackinac figured in this blog was for a discussion of Glenn Beck’s novel, ghost written by Jack Henderson, called The Overton Window.

The Overton Window is an invention of Mackinac’s and as part of Beck’s publicity push for the book, he featured a representative of the Michigan institute on his show.

Overton Window is a good versus evil book, the Tea Party kind, where the US government is the evil and patriots battle to thwart its nefarious plans.

Washington Post reviewer Steven Levingston deemed it at risk of falling into the tradition of novels like “The Turner Diaries,” America’s premier piece of violent white bigot fiction, a fever dream about vengeful destruction of the US government.

Beck has always flirted with plots, ideas and scenarios nauseatingly similar to the general arc of “The Turner Diaries.” The main difference has been he’s kept a much tighter lid on his animus toward minorities, academics and others included in his public enemies list said to be bringing the country down.

In “The Turner Diaries,” for instance, author William Pierce hangs and shoots college professors and Jews.

Glenn Beck only tries to make various old professors, like Frances Fox Piven, and the financier George Soros, out to be the highest of scheming menaces to Americans and puppet masters behind everything bad.

Which is an improvement in deportment, one could say.

From July, last year — here — on the Mackinac Institute and Glenn Beck.

04.06.11

Krugman pitchforks Ryan

Posted in Permanent Fail at 9:17 am by George Smith

Paul Krugman’s recent blog posts take the pitchfork to Paul Ryan. He’s the man for the job, about the only one, considering how many times the latter has been called brave and courageous this week. (Click the links. The only good part is that the sarcastic articles have floated to the top of Google’s first page pile of excrement.)

Since Krugman’s blog is often the warm-up box for his twice weekly column, expect him to rip Ryan’s head off and crap down his throat — but in his uniquely gentlemanly way — on Friday.

Excerpt:

This isnít a serious proposal; itís a strange combination of cruelty and insanely wishful thinking. — here

And:

This is ridiculous; itís megalomaniacal. If Obama tried to claim that his policies would achieve anything like this, heíd be laughed out of office. — here

In any other western civilized nation but the US, having your work condemned by an economic Nobel laureate of Krugman’s stature would destroy a Paul Ryan. Not here.

And none of this will explain why the President will probably play ball with the guy.

04.05.11

Race you to the bottom of the slave labor market

Posted in Made in China at 1:48 pm by George Smith

Alert reader C. tips the blog to a manufacturing story on China. Even that country’s workers may slowly get the ‘benefits’ of being serfs for US masters of the universe.

Here:

When millions of workers didn’t return to their southern China factory jobs after Lunar New Year holidays, a turning point was reached for foreign manufacturers scraping by with slim profit margins.

Companies were already under pressure from rising raw material costs, restive workers and lower payments for exports because of a stronger Chinese currency. Despite hiking wages, labor shortages kept getting worse as workers increasingly spurned the often repetitive and unskilled jobs that helped earn China its reputation as the world’s low-cost factory floor.

At one of those factories in an industrial suburb of the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, a worker uses a sewing machine to stitch together black padding for an orthopedic foot brace. Across the aisle from her, others snip loose threads off disposable cushions for operating tables.

At the end of the shop floor, a young woman glues velcro squares to an elastic strip used to hold an ice bag over an injured leg, churning one out every few seconds using a large machine press.

Later this year, these jobs will be gone as Guangzhou Fortunique’s American owner, Charles Hubbs, moves a large chunk of production to Southeast Asia.

“I don’t know of any factory in China that can absorb both the raw material prices we have, the labor issues we’ve been looking at and the renminbi,” China’s strengthening currency, said Hubbs. The currency is also known as the yuan.

He’s joining a wave of export manufacturers, big and small, that are moving from China’s coastal manufacturing regions to cheaper inland provinces or out of the country altogether, in a clear sign that southern China’s days as a low-cost manufacturing powerhouse are numbered.

Seems that making cheap stuff in China for a pittance for the crumbling middle class on food stamps in the US sucks also for a lot of Chinese workers.

Never fear! American businessmen move their offshore manufacturing to the poorer and more desperate Chinese interior.

Even the makers of Apple master-of-all-music-and-phone kit are looking for better sweat shops:

Foxconn Technology Group ó the world’s biggest contract electronics manufacturer with customers including Apple Inc., Sony Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. ó is planning to gradually cut its workforce of 400,000 in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen by a quarter and move the bulk of manufacturing inland.

The article concludes really cheap labor in China is slowly becoming less cheap. In ten year or more, the country’s competitive advantage here, it alleges, will be gone.

Long before that the US economy will have been permanently wrecked.

“Could it be that the thrill is gone?” asks reader C., perhaps rhetorically.

Nugent signs on to Bachmann’s light bulb jihad

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 8:44 am by George Smith

There can be no doubt Ted Nugent is a talking parrot for the stars of the Tea Party.

If Glenn Beck goes on about Frances Fox Piven one day, Uncle Ted will write a column nonsensically insisting he has been attacked by the old lady professor.

If Frank Gaffney delivers a report on the alleged creeping menace of sharia-law overtaking the nation’s judicial system, Uncle Ted will tell his readers at the Washington Times that sharia needs outlawing.

Michele Bachmann, Tea Party leader and star of my “Act Naturally” video, had what was called the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act.” It went nowhere.

It was for the prevention of the creeping menace of fluorescent light bulbs, mandated for phase-in by Congress and “signed into law by President Bush” back in 2007.

More recently, the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote:

Rep. Michele Bachmann has not forgotten about light bulbs.

The Minnesota Republican is reintroducing her “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act,” which aims to repeal the 2007 mandate that would phase out traditional incandescent light bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent bulbs by Jan. 1, 2012.

To ‘energize’ the Tea Party base, Bachmann makes it a constitutional and hazardous materials issue. It’s un-constitutional to mandate energy savings, which is what Bush’s signing did. And the light bulbs are unsafe because she alleges they contain too much mercury.

Back in 2008, the conversation went like this in the Star Tribune:

“It’s almost as if you have to call the haz-mat team out to your home,” Bachmann said.

Environmentalists argue that most of the steps are the same as cleanup from any broken glass accident, except for the special disposal requirements.

Industry experts say the amount of mercury in new compact fluorescent lights — about 5 milligrams, on average — is small but significant enough to warrant common-sense safety precautions and consumer recycling efforts to keep it out of landfills.

“There are minuscule amounts of mercury, but it’s a hazardous waste, and we want to take it seriously,” said Kim Sherman, product portfolio manager at Xcel Energy.

MPCA spokesman Sam Brungardt said the use of compact fluorescent lights, which use one-fourth the energy of regular bulbs, should certainly be encouraged. If new legislation is needed, he said, it should be to encourage consumers to recycle. “You have to make it easy to do this,” he said.

“This is an issue of science over fads and fashions,” said Bachmann, who believes global warming is a hoax, to the newspaper.

“Carbon dioxide, Mister Speaker, is a natural byproduct of nature,” she said, among other things in 2009. “Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth.” The rest is here.

Nugent is a global warming denier. And he has a deep hatred of the Department of Energy.

So in today’s column for the Washington Times, he advocates for more nuclear power while dragging along Bachmann’s light bulb thing:

Amazingly, a component of this administrationís energy policy is to ban Thomas Edisonís light bulb and force Americans to use ďenvironmentally friendly??? compact fluorescent light bulbs by 2014, all of which are made by communist China and pose serious health and environmental threats due to their mercury content.

Actually, it was George W. Bush who signed the bill. And, yes, fluorescent light bulbs are offshored — by corporate legal tax cheat General Electric, naturally.

Nugent has long been for more oil drilling. While the massive spill was going on last year, Nugent was one of the cheerleaders for BP.

And in his column he presses for more domestic drilling because:

Once again, the Middle East is sending America a message and the message is that that region is unpredictable and downright goofy.

When people in Egypt threw out Hosni Mubarak they were being “downright goofy.” When the people in Yemen react badly to being shot by the guy we’re propping up, that’s “downright goofy.” All those people throughout those nations, now trying to overthrow their dictators, are sure doing “downright goofy” things.

Nugent’s column at the WaTimes is here.

Downright goofy! Oot-greet!


Remember, although the advance of technology and the Internet has allowed you to make superb videos in the comfort of your home, you are not allowed to make any money on that. Only YouTube and Google and the same big players as always are permitted that.

Today’s dogshit video pimped on the back of DD’s Taxavoidination — an advertisement for the Sham Wow!

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