01.31.14

The Plutocrat’s Publicity Tour

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 2:55 pm by George Smith

A week or so ago:

The idea, in landing on the pages of the nation’s marquee newspaper, is to get great publicity for something, further invitations and opportunities for the perspicacity of your thinking and doing, a book contract…

Sam Polk’s NYT column is entitled “For the Love of Money,” and if that’s not a gift-wrapped invitation to the publishing industry I don’t know what is.

From the Today show, today:

And four years after walking out [with a $3.6 million bonus the last year on Wall Street, Sam Polk’s] thrill of making money has been replaced by the excitement of helping others …

[Polk said] if his essay becomes a published book, he will give 25 percent of the profits to his new philanthropy.

“I’m all in favor of people having success and living out the American Dream,” Polk says. “I just think that, for me, somewhere along the way I forgot that the American Dream had to do with balance.”

No link.

It is far easier to give book contracts to people in the New York Times and on network tv than hunt for decent writers. For example, major publicity already has a big boost. One can count on at least a few mentions in the same major venues once that book is published.

Plus, there’s the added benefit of not having to to read through the pitches and manuscripts from people you’ve never heard of.

In 2012 Greg Smith was given a second pile after his career as a somewhat rueful and reluctant blood-sucking squid at Goldman Sachs, a $1.5 million dollar advance, after his essay, “Why I Left Goldman Sachs,” was published in the Times.

The resulting book sold somewhere between 19 and 20,000 copies, hardly anyone’s idea of a return on investment.

Another recent entry to the club is J. T. Stone, the alias of a Wall Street employee who runs a “popular” Twitter feed on mordant humor said to have been heard in the elevator of Goldman Sachs.

Touchstone has acquired Stone’s “Straight to Hell,” allegedly another tell-all on the said-to-be howlingly funny crummy behavior of Wall Street’s top swine. Stone believes it will be a best-seller.

One of the problems facing such books is that, outside of Wall Street and the high-button servants/mavens of the Culture of Lickspittle in Manhattan and other financial pleasure domes, most Americans don’t know who they are.

I played “Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein” a few times in front of audiences, 99 percent of which I was sure, could read. Nobody ever knew who Lloyd Blankfein was.

(By the way, if you’re in Pasadena on Saturday afternoons, we’ll play it for you, just off Colorado. Just drop me a note.)


What do you think should be the title of a book I might write? And what would it be on?

Goodbye General Keith

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 12:28 pm by George Smith


A fair career summary.

Straight from the NSA:

The ongoing cyber-thefts [by China] from the networks of public and private organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, represent the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.

The 60 Minutes public relations tour:

John Miller: Could a foreign country tomorrow topple our financial system?

Gen. Keith Alexander: I believe that a foreign nation could impact and destroy major portions of our financial system, yes.

John Miller: How much of it could we stop?

Gen. Keith Alexander: Well, right now it would be difficult to stop it because our ability to see it is limited.

One they did see coming was called the BIOS Plot. It could have been catastrophic for the United States. While the NSA would not name the country behind it, cyber security experts briefed on the operation told us it was China. Debora Plunkett directs cyber defense for the NSA and for the first time, discusses the agency’s role in discovering the plot.

Spying on the paupers and piss ants:

“Well, my concern on that is specially what’s going on in the Middle East, what you see going on in Syria, what we see going on– Egypt, Libya, Iraq, it’s much more unstable, the probability that a terrorist attack will occur is going up. And this is precisely the time that we should not step back from the tools that we’ve given our analysts to detect these types of attacks.”


So here’s a partial summary of the NSA’s great achievements:

1. Infiltrating World of Warcraft because they think terrorists use it.
2. ‘Stopped’ imaginary Chinese destroy the world by BIOS kill plot.
3. Snooping on the calls of Somali pirates and making relational plots of them.
4. Employs people who can solve Rubik’s cubes in 95 seconds.

From here:

Most of the country, at my level certainly, is still struggling with the economic deprivation and outright calamity of the Great Recession. Although corporate America has rebounded nicely, there has been no recovery for most.

And for Keith Alexander and the NSA, as well as the rest of the defense infrastructure, they saw only expansion. How unfortunate for them that Edward Snowden has spoiled it a bit.

Keith Alexander lives in the world of the plutocracy. Cash money for the day isn’t an issue. Bare bones survival isn’t on the menu. Instead, he and the structure have spent much of their time expanding operations and dreaming up threatening stories and messages to be delivered by the shoeshine men in the press, digging around in their big data suck for things which they, in encapsulated isolated delusion, believe threaten the existence of the country.


At DefCon 2012, Keith Alexander, a tech chicken-head biter just like you, delivering the call to national security corporate stooge-ism to save our futures and the American economy from Chinese cyberwar.

From the wires, reposted here:

The annual Defcon hacking convention has asked the federal government to stay away this year for the first time in its 21-year history, saying Edward Snowden’s revelations have made some in the community uncomfortable about having feds there.

“It would be best for everyone involved if the feds call a ‘time-out’ and not attend Defcon this year,” Defcon founder Jeff Moss said in an announcement posted Wednesday night on the convention’s website …

In defense of national security corporate stooge-ism, General Keith was there, anyway. He was heckled.


Meet the new boss, Mike Rogers, same as the old boss.


From The Predator State, by James K. Galbraith, 2008:

“[The] practice is clear: We live under government that as a matter of principle does what it wants.”

And General Keith Alexander of the National Security Agency was a soldier in the cause.

01.30.14

Northrop Grumman and war on terror waste spending

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 7:51 pm by George Smith

This evening Northrop Grumman, the sixth largest arms manufacturer in the world, is in the news for a lawsuit made by an employee who worked on its never-fielded system to protect commercial air-liners from shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

In 2006 this project was worth big money and the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on the subject, one that was posted on Steven Aftergood’s Secrecy blog. DHS complained the material was sensitive and Aftergood took down the paper.

I wrote about it here:

And upon perusal, it is possible to see why DHS might want to control its dissemination. The anti-MANPADS systems under consideration, manufactured by BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman for addition to commercial airliners, don’t work.

A few days after FAS’ posting of the report, Associated Press filed a story on it.

“It could be 20 years before every U.S. passenger airplane is outfitted with a system to protect it from small portable missiles, according to a government report obtained Monday by The Associated Press.Under a test program, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman developed laser-based systems over the past two years that still don’t meet the reliability standards set by the Homeland Security Department . . . ” wrote the AP.

The upshot:

False alarms would cause the complete halt or disruption of commercial air traffic and the emptying of airports and surrounding areas in a search for terrorists. False alarms would cause notification of what is called the Domestic Event Network. The problems associated with false alarm of an anti-aircraft missile attack on a commercial jetliner could be said to be substantial, economically back-breaking, or worse than terrorists.

In any case, Reuters reports on Northrop Grumman’s anti-MANPADS project and the lawsuit over it:

A lawsuit by a former Northrop Grumman employee alleges that the defense contractor defrauded the U.S. government over a contract to provide commercial airliners with a missile defense system.

The suit, which was originally filed in 2009 by Leo Danilides, was unsealed in federal district court in Chicago on Thursday…

The suit was filed under the False Claims Act, which lets people collect rewards for blowing the whistle on fraud against the government …

Northrop received a contract in 2006 to provide improvements for work it had done in two earlier phases of the project “and “create a commercially feasible system,” according to the lawsuit. It said the plaintiff, Danilides, had worked on the program “for many years.”

The suit alleged that during the Phase III part of the project, for which it said the company was paid $62 million, “Northrop pretended to be exerting its best efforts when it was doing virtually nothing to improve the design and reliability of the Counter-MANPADS system.”

“Northrop failed to perform critical tasks, and then profited by keeping the money that was supposed to have been spent doing that work,” according to the allegations.

“Far from providing its ‘best efforts’ as required, Northrop was providing no efforts.”

By 2008 the contract had ended with no results and the government did not pursue more research.


Another reason why you read this blog: the nightmare years of the past decade when the Department of Defense and national security spending slipped out of civilian democratic control and oversight. And very few people cared.

Now look where we are.

The Purpose Driven Life of the Libertarian Public Nuisance

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Fiat money fear and loathers, WhiteManistan at 12:17 pm by George Smith

Plastic 3D gun maker and wanna-be BitCoin wallet developer Cody Wilson has been given a quarter of a million dollar book deal by Simon & Schuster for his story:

“The whole point to me is to add to the hacker mythology and to have a very, very accurate and contentious portrayal of what we think about the current political situation, our attitude and political orientation, a lasting remark,” he says. “It won’t be a manifesto. But culturally I hope to leave a couple of zingers…a touchstone for the young, disaffected radical towards his own political and social development, that kind of thing.”

Wilson says his proposal received highly mixed reactions from publishers, some of whom saw his attempts to create new ways to circumvent gun control laws as immoral.

The proposed title is Negative Liberty. At Forbes, Wilson claims that soon the government will be trying to jail him.


Cody Wilson — from the archives.

The Daily Hatemonger

Posted in Psychopath & Sociopath, Ted Nugent, WhiteManistan at 12:00 pm by George Smith

Missouri and Wyoming are considering bringing back the firing squad. Good. They’ve got good shots in those states.

There is no debate regarding “pain and suffering” and cruel and unusual punishment with a firing squad.

No link.

Once advocated shooting cats, too.

01.29.14

Wow. Wonderful coin. Very rich.

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Fiat money fear and loathers at 1:45 pm by George Smith

“Bitcoin is freedom. It’s very American.” — Tyler Winklevoss.

I couldn’t agree more. Although not for identical reasons.

The Winklevosses, just a notch or two under Tom Perkins as great public images. And that’s one of BitCoin’s biggest liabilities. It’s few human faces, when seen and heard, are kinda repugnant. Grease for making the hoarding rich richer is one helluva message.

The price of one BitCoin in North Hollywood, today — 873 dollars.

01.28.14

Pete Seeger, 94

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll, Uncategorized at 4:09 pm by George Smith

I interviewed him once for the Allentown Morning Call. His was a gentle soul of great accomplishment and generosity.


From February 1990:

There was a time not too long ago when Sing Out! magazine was in such dire straits that one of its founding members, folk hero Pete Seeger, had to sell the rights to his best-known song, “If I Had A Hammer,” to an English tea company, to keep the quarterly afloat.

The tea company wanted to use the song in an advertising jingle. “I don’t normally do that kind of thing, but there was a need and the money was used to pay off some of Sing Out!’s outstanding bills,” Seeger recalled wistfully during a telephone interview last week from his home in Beacon, N.Y.

That low point came in 1982. Sing Out! was $35,000 in debt. Things were so bad that during the summer, the magazine closed its New York City office. The office’s contents were loaded into a U-Haul truck and taken to Easton, where old copies of Sing Out! and files were stored in the basement of a sympathetic bicycle dealer. The publication’s future was uncertain.

Now, however, financial turmoil is a distant memory, a sour note whose sound has been drowned out by ringing chords of revitalization. The South Side Bethlehem-based magazine started in New York City by Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Lee Hays is enjoying a banner year as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Sing Out! circulation is at an all-time high of 10,000. The quarterly currently employs three full-time workers. After recent remodeling, the magazine occupies about 1,800 square feet of office space at 125 E. Third St., plus another 900 square feet of basement storage.

In May, the Sing Out! Resource Center will open in the publication’s Bethlehem office. The center will give the public access to an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, reports and recordings relating to folk music, folklore and folk songs.

There also is a news-style radio magazine in the offing for the last quarter of 1990. (“It will be sort of the `All Things Considered’ of folk music,” said Sing Out! editor Mark Moss.) In addition, Sing Out! will stage four festivals this year. The first will be May 18 in New York City and feature Seeger, Dave Van Ronk and other folk artists. Others will be held in Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., throughout the year.

Along with those projects, Sing Out!, in conjunction the C.F. Martin Guitar Co. in Nazareth, has designed and produced a limited-edition commemorative instrument. All 40 guitars are signed by Seeger and the rest of Sing Out’s board of directors. The guitars never reached stores; demand was so great that the instruments were sold before most were made. The guitars reportedly listed for about $3,400 …

Seeger, Sing Out!’s sole surviving founder, was enthusiastic as he reminisced about the magazine’s shaky financial history. “The publication actually started just after World War II in 1945 under the name People’s Song Bulletin — Songs Of Labor And The American People. I had been in the service; Woody (Guthrie) had been in the merchant marine. Along with Lee Hays, we thought that our good contacts in the labor unions would be very beneficial for a magazine dealing with music for and by the people.

“Well, the Cold War came along and dashed our hopes for that. So People’s Songs folded in 1949.”

For one year, Seeger put out a mimeographed newsletter, which he continued until 1950, the year Sing Out! — essentially a reborn People’s Songs — was started.

“Sing Out!’s circulation eventually rose to a high point of about 10,000 during the great false folk boom of 1964 — thanks to The Kingston Trio,” Seeger recalled. “The magazine, however, was always on the brink of bankruptcy.

“By 1982, the editors had said to me, `We’ve tried everything. We can’t continue working without being paid. There’s no hope.’ ”

Seeger then produced a Sing Out! newsletter which asked the readership what should be done to revitalize the publication. In the meantime, he sold the rights to “If I Had A Hammer.”

Moss, then on the Sing Out! editorial board, remembered, “The ’70s were a difficult period for us. Sing Out! was seen by its subscribers as moving between being an eclectic music magazine and a magazine with a more political bent. And it was seen as not doing both particularly well by readers who favored either camp.

“The seed money that Pete raised was used to hold us over while we polled the readers on what they wanted and ran fund-raisers to bring in more revenue.”

It turned out, said Seeger and Moss, that readers wanted the magazine to refocus on folk music. There wasn’t a need to beat them over the head with all things political. Nor was there a need to continue three-color layouts and standard magazine size.

“The readers wanted a return to a smaller size which better matched our print size,” said Seeger. “It was relaunched with the idea that the editor needed more support from his board of directors.”

In August 1982, the magazine’s supporters began in earnest to pay off the $35,000 debt. Through benefit concerts and donations the debt was eradicated by the end of the year. Enough money also was raised to re-start the magazine, and in 1983 Sing Out! began publishing from a vacant warehouse on 4th Street in Easton. The first issue went to press in April. Sing Out! moved to Bethlehem in December 1987, when the Easton building was sold.

Seeger believes that, in part, Sing Out!’s rejuvenation can be attributed to the quality of the writing. “Most of the arts publications I’ve seen aren’t very well done. The mural painters’ newsletter and one devoted to ceramics are good examples. Obviously, some artists aren’t very good with words.

“But Sing Out! seems to be better than most. It should be . . . folk artists deal in words, so they should be halfway decent at writing, don’t you think? They remake songs; they know how to cut and paste.”

State of the Union: Worse

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 3:55 pm by George Smith

The President is alleged to be going populist in a few hours for tonight’s address. I expect that if so, at best, it will be tepid, carefully pressed and laundered to reassure WhiteManistan and the wealthy.

It won’t matter. Before the thing is over they’ll have accused him of feeding class warfare, anyway.

“Mean Future” was made before he was re-elected. All of it was true. Two other things happened one very bad, one very good.

There are more long-term unemployed and people with jobs on food stamps now than then. Many having just given up on finding work because the economy isn’t creating them.

But Obamacare is working and more people are getting health care for the first time, at least from my experience.

Still very timely, they underline American delusion about place in the world and a resistance to recognition of increasingly bleak conditions.

Nothing has changed. When the issues can be easily communicated in two and four minute tunes, it’s stunning to see people tip-toeing around the edges in their efforts to seem fair and non-threatening.

Yes, I know the rent is steep/But the whores and beer are really cheap! (Pennsy Dutch accent: Evy-sing’s all right!)


Krugman blogs:

My post on Americans starting to recognize class realities has brought some predictable reactions, which I’d place under two headings: (1) “But they have cell phones!” and (2) it’s about how you behave, not how much money you have …

A lot of Americans — quite arguably a majority — just don’t have the prerequisites for middle-class life as we’ve always understood it …

The sad thing is that our fetishization of the middle class, our pretense that we’re almost all members of that class, is a major reason so many of us actually aren’t. That’s why the growing appreciation of class realities on the part of the public is a good thing; it raises the chances that we’ll actually start creating the kind of society we only pretend to have.

He’s talking, again, about American delusion. Look, it’s hard to admit you’re near the bottom and prospects are dim.

As for possession of cellphones, or more accurately, even smartphones: Have they been magic wands to economic empowerment?

Rhetorical. Arguably not, or you’d see it. If you live and shop where I do you certainly don’t. Almost everyone has a smartphone and they still need help with the food bills, insurance and keeping the car running, if they have one.

Rich Man’s Burden: “I think we are beginning class warfare”

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 3:20 pm by George Smith

About time, too, since the rest of us have been on the losing end for as long as I can remember.

Tom Perkins’ interview on Bloomberg is as good as example of digging yourself in deeper as one is likely to see.

Perkins: “I am your classical self-made man, if you will.”

Later, the interviewer asks: “Do you worry that you are divorced from reality?”

It’s a long interview. Impromptu of nothing except a complaint lodged against Paul Krugman at the Times, Perkins gets slightly testy about people making fun of opulent watches for assholes and displays his own, stating … well, you have to hear it. Or watch this brief Bloomberg piece on YouTube showcasing his fine example and uploaded to maximize the awful spectacle of the Perkins interview.

Updating readers on old information: Perkins sold the Maltese Falcon super-sailing boat a few years ago because he was more interested in his “underwater airplane” which proved difficult to launch from the thing.

In it’s place he bought the Dr. No and it is all explained with grand pictures at the link.


01.27.14

Pity the Billionaire: Blessed are the job creators, they can always hire way more waiters.

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 4:56 pm by George Smith

Billionaire Tom Perkins rant in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal that the 1 percent were facing rising levels of hate potentially resembling that which led to to the notorious Nazi pogrom against the Jews, Kristallnacht, didn’t quite generate the desired outcome.

Today it was marked by a multitude of published comments,
almost all of them extremely negative. Perkins, quite rightly, was lampooned as a deeply weird and paranoid man, a trait he shares with a surprising number of America’s 1 percent who have occasionally popped off with similar comments in the age of Obama.

Krugman, for example:

Extreme inequality, it turns out, creates a class of people who are alarmingly detached from reality — and simultaneously gives these people great power.

The example many are buzzing about right now is the billionaire investor Tom Perkins, a founding member of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Perkins lamented public criticism of the “one percent” — and compared such criticism to Nazi attacks on the Jews, suggesting that we are on the road to another Kristallnacht.

You may say that this is just one crazy guy and wonder why The Journal would publish such a thing. But Mr. Perkins isn’t that much of an outlier. He isn’t even the first finance titan to compare advocates of progressive taxation to Nazis. Back in 2010 Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, declared that proposals to eliminate tax loopholes for hedge fund and private-equity managers were “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”


They can and all too often do surround themselves with courtiers who tell them what they want to hear and never, ever, tell them they’re being foolish …

I also suspect that today’s Masters of the Universe are insecure about the nature of their success. We’re not talking captains of industry here, men who make stuff. We are, instead, talking about wheeler-dealers, men who push money around and get rich by skimming some off the top as it sloshes by.

So reader Christoph was pretty much on the money yesterday when he commented:

We may have to accept the possibility, that money itself and the power that comes with it when amassed in great magnitude do actually corrupt peoples brains and turn them into a mentally unstable state.

This mad paranoia runs through American wealth. Krugman mentions the ire of it against Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal.

And While Ted Nugent is no billionaire, he mouthpieces for them on a virtually weekly basis, comparing Obama to a “brown shirt,” often condemning entire swaths of the US government, or anyone democratic, for that matter, as evidence of Nazism reborn. Most recently, Nugent compared movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is Jewish, to Joseph Goebbels.

A similarly paranoid streak runs through the central characters in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The story would not exist without the mentally ill grievance of John Galt and his anger toward all the parasite poor and government men out to steal his accomplishments and money.


Note ridiculous signs, made and distributed by Tea Party-supporting plutocrat slush fund men. You don’t think the sods carrying them could have actually made them, right?

“The 1 percent are not causing the inequality, they are the job creators … It’s absurd to demonize the rich who create opportunities for others,” Tom Perkins told a journalist on Bloomberg television about an hour ago.

They are the job creators. Good grief, another gift.

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