02.25.12

The truth you’re not allowed to utter

Posted in Bombing Paupers at 12:46 pm by George Smith

Published in the Asia Times, this piece by Andrew Bacevich, goes into the evolution of the US military strategy, or lack of it, during the war on terror.

There’s no catchy description for it, just a handful of idiot’s acronyms and jargon, and Bacevich, a history prof at Boston University allowed to occasionally be one of the academy’s pro critics of the US military, seems loathe to call it out language that could be far more blunt.

In fact, the piece is notable for how it dances around the immorality of the global war strategy, which I’ve called Bombing Paupers.

Because that’s what it is. Succinct and painful.

Of course he gets it, but won’t really say it:

The United States is now in the business of using missile-armed drones and special operations forces to eliminate anyone (not excluding US citizens) the president of the United States decides has become an intolerable annoyance. Under President Obama, such attacks have proliferated …

The role allotted to the American people is to applaud, if and when notified that a successful assassination has occurred.

I guess you could say the trivial destitute pests in the really broken places of the world, and the people mistakenly offed in the effort to get them, could be seen as “intolerable annoyances.”

However, that overlooks the whole other side of the coin, the one where an entire national and globe-spanning industry of national security men and arms manufacturers, work to designate the paupers of the world as “intolerable annoyances.”

Their chosen because they’re easy to paint in this manner. They look and sound alien, desperate and — best of all — poor. And they really can’t fight back to well against the instruments and special forces operations deployed against them.

If and when the US gets into a war with Iran, after that country’s conventional military is destroyed, its skies laid bare, the strategy will evolve to the same. It will be easy to cynically justify because Iran is a really big country where a lot of people will be really angry. But they won’t have an air force that can defend airspace and territory against drones once the defense infrastructure is torn away.

Bacevich mentions some of the celebrity names from the forever war. Rumsfeld, Petraeus, the latter once cited as a possible presidential candidate, now at the CIA where half or more of Bombing Paupers can be quietly administered.

Bacevich mentions an undersecretary of intelligence whose name is unknown to 99 percent of Americans — Michael Vickers — who is now the government CEO, so to speak, of Bombing Paupers, Inc.

The Boston U. man calls Vickers a “gangster,” only because someone who admires the guy already delivered the description as a compliment.

You don’t have to be a scholar to know any of this because it’s obvious.

The ATimes piece is here.

Hat tip, as usual, to Pine View Farm.

“AKA full employment for Generals, consultants, and munitions makers,” writes Frank, with more laceration than the polite academic and ex-military man.

iCounterfeits

Posted in Made in China at 10:44 am by George Smith

This week, an interesting story on counterfeit iKit at the New York Times, obtained walking the New York beat.

Readers may recall DD blog chasing around Chinese counterfeits of American brand name guitars, boldly advertised by the Washington Post in a national campaign tied to AdSense-like streaming ads.

This website disrupted that campaign but in those posts one noticed the US companies had effectively damaged their brand names through past behavior. Some people actually liked the Chinese-made knock-offs, even though they were inferior.

Their is a palpable resentment among them of the American brand, not of its past, but of its present image.

American companies show no loyalty to American labor and customers. So why should anyone show loyalty to them? And perhaps that extends to the market for counterfeits.

If the only way to make a living is by selling knock-offs because so many companies have outsourced manufacturing and helped to collapse economic opportunity, it is reasonable to assume some will try to undermine the state of affairs.

For the New York Times piece, a couple excerpts:

Counterfeiting seems to be on the rise, with thousands of fake iPhones found in seizures in California in 2010 and 2011, said Leander Kahney, editor and publisher of CultofMac.com, a technology news site devoted to Apple. Last summer, a South Carolina woman believed she was buying a new iPad sealed in a FedEx envelope, only to get home and find that it was made of wood. In 2009, an electronic store owner’s video of his examination of a fake iPhone became a cult hit. Most knockoffs are sold over the Internet, with stores like the one in New York far rarer.

Bernie Minoso, a manager at the store Tekserve, worked at Apple’s Fifth Avenue store for more than five years, and had to face many unhappy owners — up to five a day — right after a new product was released. Their new devices would not communicate with the iTunes store.

“We started seeing this nearly perfect iPod with a different operating system inside,” Mr. Minoso said.


The fakes are believed to come from China. Some are made of real Apple parts stolen from company factories there, but most are wholly produced with separate materials. “It has to be a clean environment” to make the fakes really work, Mr. Minoso said. “If I were doing it, it would be a dust-free shop.”

Some of the fakes have their fans. “There are some really sophisticated ones coming out of China that some people actually prefer …”

In the case of Apple and American guitar brands — all are known for their fancy iconic goods. All are completely reliant on Chinese labor for their profit streams. You can think of them as leaving the brains of the operation — the generals — in the US, as harvesters of the spoil of selling to the plutocracy and the shoe-shiners (and, boy, from this vantage point the cult of Apple really fits the latter pejorative) in the upper middle class.


Tum-ta-tum-tum…


Made in China — Gibson Les Paul counterfeits.

The Washington Post, ads, and counterfeits.

02.24.12

Rick Leprosy & the GOP Fundamentalists

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Extremism at 10:34 am by George Smith

The GOP has the candidates it deserves — personally repugnant white men who pander to voters who have only one desire: to be rid of everyone not like them. It’s a party of annihilation.

And its new big target is women. What will they do next week, one wonders? It will take all by surprise in its audacity of awfulness.

Here’s a cartoon of Rick Leprosy at DailyKos. “Click for larger uterus” it helpfully adds. You’ll see it’s quite enough as is.

Rick Leprosy can be always counted on to outdo himself. Here’s a baffling news story, repeated thousands of times, resulting from Leprosy’s appearance with Glenn Beck, one in which he decried college because it indoctrinates young people into the secular life.

This basic extremist GOP story is old. Young people don’t vote Republican anymore and something must be responsible for it.

Therefore it is universities which are to blame, brainwashing them into leftist thinking and, by logical extension, corruption.

Universities, Leprosy says, are destroying America. They are incubators of bad values and worse morals.

Unsurprisingly, Rick Leprosy is the favorite candidate of the Lehigh Valley Conservative.

All the ills of the country can be attributed to moral decline, of simply refusing to be upstanding people like Rick and his colleagues.

It’s helpful to look at what Carl Djerassi, one of the chemists who discovered the pill, had to say years ago on the matter.

Of This Man’s Pill, a book of Djerassi’s reflections, a reviewer writes:

“Until 1969, I would have described myself as a `hard’ scientist, the proudly macho adjective employed by chemists and other physical scientists to distinguish their work from the `soft,’ fuzzy fields such as sociology or even psychology,” writes Djerassi, whose historic synthesis of a steroid contraceptive in 1951 revolutionized human reproduction. In this learned memoir, he describes the turning point as the publication of his first public policy article in Science magazine, an event that he says marked the beginning of a life change attributable ultimately to the pill. The first part of this memoir is a well-reasoned apologetic on the pill’s origins and its benefits to women, where Djerassi follows familiar debunkings: of fundamentalists, on the one hand, who regarded the pill as “a symbol, if not an agent, of what they perceived as a pervasive moral decline …”

For PBS, Djerassi described the revolution caused by the pill could not have happened if his research hadn’t occurred just prior to a very unique time in American history:

Question: What if the pill never existed?

Djerassi: Well, that is an interesting question … one that I [mulled over] in my book, “This Man’s Pill.” But of course, for me as a chemist I see the birthday as being 1951 and not 1960. What people forget is that the 1960s was also the decade [that gave birth to] the sexual revolution, drug culture, rock and roll, and, most importantly, the women’s movement. All these had a great deal to do with sexual liberation, and this was an ideal window of opportunity. If we had done our chemical work 15 years later, in other words instead of 1950 but in 1965, the biologists would have then done their work in 1968, and the clinicians in the early 1970s, and you would have no pill. Absolutely no question.

It’s tempting to laugh at Rick “Leprosy” Santorum because he so obviously yearns for a country where progress never happened and the nation’s life and mores were freeze-dried in the Fifties. The pill would not exist as one of the great inventions of the world, women would still know their place — bringing a highball or martini to their men, abortions would be illegal, and sex a marker of criminal depravity unless using it to make babies.

But he’s just too damn appalling.


Rick Leprosy — from the archives.

02.23.12

Cyberwar & the Insubstantial Blues

Posted in Cyberterrorism at 2:49 pm by George Smith

From the Google news tab today, a bit on cyberwar from National Defense magazine, a trade pub no one reads except war profiteers and those readying themselves for a career in the same while in service to the government. In other words, a mag for the revolving door biz.

Entitled “What If There Were a Cyberwar and Nobody Knew About it?” — it actually looks to date from 2009, initially as a news piece on Martin Libicki’s Cyberdeterrence and Cyberwar.

Financed by the Air Force and published through the Bland Corporation RAND, the book was a working example of the insubstantiali nature of the cyberwar argument.

Three years old, it still has nothing to hang its hat on except the advent of Stuxnet.

Cyberwar hasn’t shown up in any big way in the intervening three years although you wouldn’t know it from reading the US press. Still, by contrast with what passes for discussion today, the book was cautious for its time.

Some standard lines, excerpted, the kind that everyone repeats so they can have a career in the national security apparatus:

Another reason why the public may not be informed of a cyberwar is the risk that a third party could insert itself into the conflict. If the United States and China were engaged in such a war, for example, a hacker — someone sitting on a couch in a basement somewhere — or a third nation interested in seeing a prolonged conflict, could surreptitiously launch computer assaults and escalate the war.

“An exchange of cyber-attacks between states may also excite the general interest of superpatriot hackers or those who like to dogpile — particularly if the victim of the attack or the victim of retaliation, or both, are unpopular in certain circles,” Libicki wrote in the book, which was commissioned by the Air Force. The two adversaries may blame each other for the attacks, and not be aware that they are being manipulated.


So how good is the United States [at cyberwar]? It’s cyber-offense capabilities have been largely kept out of the public eye. Libicki didn’t want to reveal much in a nonclassified setting, saying only that, “We’re really good. … In fact, I think we’re better than anybody else. We’re also very professional about this. The state of our tradecraft is very good.”

None of this is new. The US has been said to be the best at cyberwar for years. It can’t be helped. Even though there’s no metric, people who work within the system are expected to brag about the skill of it.

We’re always the best at everything, particularly when your future prospects depend upon you saying so.

And one can see hanging consequences on hackers, for something say — that theoretically might happen between the US and the many cyber-enemies, like China, has been talked about for awhile.

If you download the book — RAND makes it available free in .pdf (no link, easy enough to Google), the paucity of old material on which to base a discussion becomes apparent.

There are, naturally, no instances of the power grid being interrupted, no examples of water being poisoned or corrupted, no examples of the financial system being subvert, now the big laugher in the bunch.

There are eight instances of the word “blackout,” none of them linked to anything actual, although one does find in the footnotes the old media stories, since evaporated into ephemera, which originally claimed otherwise.

Two examples, again neither amounting to much and quickly disregarded are seen: the Slammer worm, which some reporters tried to tie to the Northeast blackout in 2003. The news piece cited was written by a journalist I once shared a stage with at the Cato Institute.

His record since has not been good.

The other bit is a story about Chinese hacking of the power grid, pumped by Shane Harris at the National Journal, and a subsequent alleged blackout in Florida — an incident virtually no one believes.

To be or not to be a ‘Merican, that is the question

Posted in Extremism, Psychopath & Sociopath, Ted Nugent at 12:09 pm by George Smith

Comments of the day, from YouTube on the Tough Crowd Boogie video, as a consequence of it featuring Rick Leprosy:

To be an American is to believe in politics and Money. Not this whole redneck hick trash.

You’re not American. You’re a mutation.

“Ted Nugent would be an amazing candidate for President!” [Much laughter].

Jerry Boykin, Glenn Beck, Cult of EMP Crazy

Posted in Extremism at 10:23 am by George Smith

Jerry Boykin, in the news recently for being chosen to lead a prayer breakfast at West Point, was recently featured on Glenn Beck.

That video from Beck’s TV show is here.

Since being dismissed from Fox, Beck isn’t nearly as famous or influential. Here he laments Boykin’s withdrawal from the West Point prayer breakfast after the resulting media imbroglio. This is attributed to “atheist groups.”

The majority of the segment is devoted to, once again, discussing the infiltration of Islam into US society, impurifying the precious bodily fluids.

Frank Gaffney, an old chieftain of the Cult of EMP Crazy, is also on hand, intimating the country is a hotbed of seditious anti-American activity, mostly in the guise of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

CAIR and others, everyone in the segment agrees, are working to replace the US constitution with shariah law.

A blueprint exists to destroy America, it is said. And it is “to destroy America from within,” says one of Beck’s guests.

“We’re in trouble … they are dismantling us from inside,” says Beck. “At what point does one say, ‘This is treason,” he adds.

The threat of Iranian missiles launched from barges off the east coast, is discussed.

Unintentionally, it’s quite a display of paranoid obsession.

Cult of EMP Crazy: Collateral damage, target UK

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Extremism at 9:53 am by George Smith

This week James Arbuthnot, a Tory member of Parliament brought the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy to the UK, resulting in a burst of stories on how England could be thrown back to the time of the movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, or whatever passes for it in merry Old England.

One example, from the BBC:

The Defence Select Committee said the resulting radiation pulse could disrupt power and water supplies, UK defence and satellite navigation systems.

Its chairman, Tory MP James Arbuthnot, said an attack was “quite likely”.


Mr Arbuthnot added: “it would actually have a far more devastating effect to use a nuclear weapon in this way than to explode a bomb in or on a city. The reason for that is it would, over a much wider area, take out things like the National Grid, on which we all rely for almost everything, take out the water system, the sewage system.

“And rapidly it would become very difficult to live in cities. I mean within a matter of a couple of days.

“I wish the government would address this with rather more energy and cohesion and focus. I think sooner rather than later.”


Arbuthnot’s House of Commons report on the matter is here.

A quick look at it shows part of the Conservative Party mesmerized by the US Cult of EMP Crazy lobby, specifically EMPAct America, and one of its old members, Avi Schnurr. Schnurr is also part of the Bomb Iran/Israeli missile defense lobby and here he is in an old YouTube video for EMPAct America.

“Airplanes could fall from the sky,” he says. It would be back to the days of horse and buggy, no ice cubes in the ice tray, and so on. Readers know the script.

See the witnesses list here and the list of presented “evidence,” here.

And reliance on EMPAct America’s old study, referred to as the EMP Commission Report is shown here.

Schnurr testified on non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons also, a favorite topic of EMPAct America, for at least a decade.

They are the weapons always coming but never quite arriving, easy to make but damnably hard to discern in the hands of terrorists:

The Chair of the US EMP Commission wrote:

Non-nuclear EMP weapons, like radiofrequency weapons, can damage and destroy electronics locally. Such weapons have short ranges, kilometers for some military systems to meters for devices improvised by terrorists or criminals. Industrial EMP simulators, intended to test commercial systems for hardness against interference from stray electronic and radio emissions, are on the open market and can be purchased by anyone. At least one such EMP simulator is designed to look like a suitcase, can be operated by an individual, and is powerful enough to damage or destroy the electronic controls that regulate the operation of transformers and other components of the power grid. Armed with such a device, and with some knowledge about the electric grid, a terrorist or lunatic could blackout a city.[36]

44. Avi Schnurr said:

The biggest issue with non-nuclear EMP weapons is that the complexity and threshold required to produce them is minimal, to say the most. At the summit meeting in Washington DC, for example, there were two Assistant Secretaries of Defence, a Deputy Under-Secretary and the Pentagon’s chief lawyer, all of whom expressed grave concerns over this risk—the non-nuclear EMP risk in particular, but the risk of EMP in general. The non-nuclear EMP risk is much shorter-range. However, that range, which could be 100 metres, a fraction of a kilometre or a kilometre—under certain circumstances, which I could discuss separately, it could be multiple kilometres—includes the risk of having a field strength that would be even greater, although limited in extent, than a nuclear EMP […]. We had a speaker at that summit who described, to the extent he was allowed to describe it, a device that he built from hardware he acquired from retail stores in the United States, which he had built into a van.[37]

45. A number of nations are thought to be undertaking research into the development of non-nuclear EMP attack weapons, but the Government does not currently regard them as a serious risk …

In the main, Arbuthnot’s report for Parliament relies entirely on material now five to ten years old, and entirely the product of the US electromagnetic pulse defense lobby.


The Cult of EMP Crazy’s UK office, in action.

02.22.12

US officials, past and present, try to fit up Anonymous

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 10:25 am by George Smith

The pages of the Wall Street Journal have been employed in a recent campaign to make patsies of the hacking group, Anonymous.

It’s worked like this. First, Richard Clarke writes an editorial claiming hackers may soon be able to touch off a real war between nation states:

If the hackers turn their attention to disruption and destruction, as some have threatened, they are likely to find the controls for electric power grids, oil pipelines and precious water systems inadequately secured. If a hacker causes real physical damage to critical systems in that region, it could quickly involve governments retaliating against each other with both cyber and conventional weapons.

Obviously, this is meant to sound very serious. If hackers, by implied extension — Anonymous, could do such things it’s time to get ahead of the curve and declare them an existential threat to the country.

Anonymous is many things: Audacious. Adept with publicity. Very troubling to some segments of establishment America. (Kind of like OWS.)

However, an existential threat to the United States isn’t one of them. But there’s certainly money in trying to make people believe it.

Clarke is a 1 percenter and his fortune has been in cybersecurity.

In September, the Journal ran Q&A with him, basically a free press release for his various business interests:

[But lately Richard Clarke has] spent much of his time on cyber security through his consulting practice Good Harbor Consulting, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, an upcoming book and the boards of two venture-backed security start-ups …

Q. Why are you joining the board of Bit9?

[Clarke]: Standard solutions that people have used for years — firewalls and antivirus — are still needed, but not sufficient. I’ve seen companies where advanced persistent threats had gotten through and companies where they hadn’t gotten through. The difference turns out to be Bit9.

A few days ago the Wall Street Journal’s news section ran an article in which the National Security Agency’s Gen. Keith Alexander reinforced the hackers will try to take down the grid meme:

Despite National Security Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander’s reported concerns that the Anonymous hacking group might try to attack the North American power grid, experts consider such a scenario to be extremely unlikely and Anonymous spokesmen dismiss the whole idea as “ridiculous.”

In an article in today’s (Feb. 21) Wall Street Journal, reporter Siobhan Gorman writes that Alexander, in private meetings at the White House, has said Anonymous “could have the ability within the next year or two to bring about a limited power outage through a cyberattack.”

Of course, it is — as usual — completely unnecessary to provide any bolstering evidence for such a presumption.

I was polled. So cutting to it:

George Smith is a senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org. He told SecurityNewsDaily that not only has Anonymous never threatened an attack like the NSA claims, but that if such an attack were possible, it would have happened already.

“Talk is cheap in cyberspace,” Smith said. “Restraint, however, is not. If someone could have easily done this — and they can’t — they wouldn’t have been able to resist doing it just for bragging rights.”

Smith said hackers have always bragged about “being able to turn out the lights,” and the imagined threat has become a talking point for politicians and lawmakers.

“People who talk about cyberwar and what can be done have abused this one for well over a decade,” he said. “I have materials in my files predicting the lights will be turned out that are well over ten years old.”

One of the central features of cyberwar/cyberattack scaremongering is argument from authority. Us officials have abused it for personal and political agendas for well over a decade. In the process, they’ve destroyed any legitimacy, relying totally on fantastic and apocalyptic claims, never backing anything up other than with assertion one had better listen up because very important people are all repeating the same thing. Noam Chomsky called it manufacturing consent. Now it’s gulling the rubes for personal gain.

This has resulted in a repeated mythology rather than a serious body of thought and debate people would do well to consider. As far as mythologies go, it’s a technical one, its legends — that the power grid will go down, that water will be contaminated, that the financial system will be corrupted (the latter is particularly atrocious in light of reality) — unique to our national circumstances.

It’s ripe for exploitation and that’s just what our authorities do with it in the fear-based economy.

Tim Thumb

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism at 9:50 am by George Smith

From the Arizona wire, Tim Ralston, the man who blew off his thumb with an errant gun blast on National Geographic‘s Doomsday Preppers:

He’s not worried about Mayan prophecies or weird predictions about the end of days, the worst case scenario for Tim Ralston is an electromagnetic pulse attack by a rogue country.

“If they dropped one bomb in our atmosphere — about 300 miles — say, above Kansas City, it will set off a chain reaction that in a millisecond our power grid as we know it would be shut down for well over two years,” Ralston said.

Ralston, married father of two from Scottsdale, is getting national media attention for the doomsday precautions …

While I’ve tuned out the lamentable show alert readers have pointed out the thumb incident.

“No, shooting your thumb off isn’t some ‘Prepper’ rite of passage,” reads the caption on a video chronicling the matter.

The collateral damage of the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy, in action.

[Early] last year, [Rick Santorum] warned that the United States itself could be vulnerable to an Iranian electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack — a scenario in which a nuclear weapon is detonated above the United States, knocking out electricity and communication technologies across the country,” writes some unremarkable person at Foreign Policy.

Creative destruction! Woo!

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 8:29 am by George Smith

A great comic at DailyKos by Jen Sorensen who’s also picked up the rubbish pundit meme that American workers are obsolete in the world, incompetent for all the new work in the global economy. Like making Fender Telecasters, toilet seats, and the fancy goods furnished by the army of hexane swabbers for the Holy Steve Jobs Empire.

Here. Do see it.

“These workers need retraining to compete in the 21st century!”


I gotta get a guitar … Call me Rock Pud! … Siri: From now on, I’ll call you Rock Pud, OK? I found 9 million websites and 12 magazine stores that sell pictures of puds for you!

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