The Fop & His Briefcase

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, The Corporate Bund at 12:54 pm by George Smith

Milk toast of privilege Arthur Brooks occasionally shows up here, mentioned for bizarre columns at the New York Times, pieces peddling his belief that true happiness comes from embracing your entrepreneurial self and, further, combining it with a faith-like fervor and devotion.

Shorter version: A religious joy is derived through being a salesman in America.

Some excerpts from the past, this in March:

The American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks comes in for special mention because I used a quote from him yesterday.

The essence, envy of the wealthy is bad for America:

[We] must recognize that fomenting bitterness over income differences may be powerful politics, but it injures our nation. We need aspirational leaders willing to do the hard work of uniting Americans around an optimistic vision in which anyone can earn his or her success. This will never happen when we vilify the rich or give up on the poor.

“Only a shared, joyful mission of freedom, opportunity and enterprise for all will cure us of envy …”

Like Paul Ryan, Arthur Brooks is just another wealthy libertarian dickhead.

He is most famous for writing a series of books promoting the insipid idea that only through entrepreneurship can all Americans know true happiness and freedom.

In other words, those who run their own small businesses are the most happy of Americans. Of course, Arthur Brooks has never been an American entrepreneur, making his living only writing that it is the best thing in life, over and over, for a right-wing business institute.

But never you mind that. As a logical Brooks extension, people who are Christian, centrist-to-right and supporters of totally free markets, are the most happy of all.

In October, Brooks sought to coin a new name to describe burgeoning tech companies like AirBnb, a firm that leverages the lousy economy and its desperation by making it easier for people to sub-let their living quarters to the more well-off, through smartphones.

Brooks thought these firms, the engineers of the new sharing economy were getting a bad rap. This because many thoughtful people now consider sharing economy a two-word synonym for scamming.

AirBnb was part of the “helping industry,” said Brooks:

As in, “Everyone wants to help. Wouldn’t you want to be part of such an industry, helping people with more money than you by cheaply renting your home to them at their convenience?”


WHAT is a “helping industry”?

To hear him tell it, [AirBnB co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk] started the business because it was fascinating and fun. And most of all, he says, because it could help ordinary people who needed an affordable place to stay or had some excess capacity in their homes. That’s right — Nate sees Airbnb as a “helping industry.”

Some will howl at this …

Ordinary people, especially vulnerable people without power and privilege, find Airbnb empowering and useful. It lifts Americans up …

Any of us can work in a helping industry. That includes teachers, nurses, stay-at-home parents … The blessing of our free enterprise system is that any of us can sanctify our work. We just need to ask if what we are doing truly lifts others up.

As an example of how the helping industry lifts people up, allowing them to sanctify their work, Brooks dug up a woman, down on her economic luck, who now uses AirBnB to lease out her home to strangers a few days a month while she sleeps on the couch for free, courtesy of her parents or a friend.

Just so you know, the word sanctify means to “set apart as or declare holy.” This shows the intense weirdness of the mental space in which Arthur Books resides.

It’s all through his work: a mish-mash of stupid armchair philosophies insisting Christian faith, fulfillment and happiness come naturally from existence as a capitalist small businessman.

In this week’s column, the semi-celebrity pundit devotes his time to describing how being gifted with two briefcases by Mormons in Provo buoyed him. And how that can be a lesson for all to find their way to a state of good will and tranquility.

It’s genuinely fucked. Brooks apparently doesn’t see that he’s being given briefcases, swag, what it’s called in the entertainment industry, because he’s someone who gives speeches and is rewarded just for being that special someone, like a columnist at the NY Times:

SEVERAL years ago, I visited Provo, Utah — in the heart of what its residents call “Happy Valley” — to deliver a lecture at Brigham Young University. My gracious hosts sent me home with a prodigious amount of branded souvenirs: T-shirts, mugs — you name it. The Mormons are serious about product placement.

One particularly nice gift was a briefcase, with the university’s name emblazoned across the front …

[It] soon had a major effect on my behavior. I found that I was acting more cheerfully and courteously than I ordinarily would — helping people more with luggage, giving up my place in line, that sort of thing. I was unconsciously trying to live up to the high standards of Mormon kindness …

Almost like magic, the briefcase made me a happier, more helpful person.

This was something called moral elevation continued Brooks. And we could all have it, by getting nice things, perhaps, or by watching episodes of Oprah.

And such moral elevation is needed now, more than ever, in our time of paralysis, political and economic dysfunction. We can choose to reject negativity.

So Arthur Brook went back to talk to the Mormons in Utah, and told them his theory of moral elevation.

But later in the week, Arthur was feeling down again, discouraged by the “negative tenor” of the upcoming election.

Then something miraculous happened:

It was at that moment that the mail arrived with a package from Utah: a new briefcase from my friends.

To paraphrase and steal from Shakespeare: Were you like this you’d throw yourself away.

It’s also Small Business Saturday, another thing designed as a suck-up to the American myth that small businesses and entrepreneurs mean everything to our country.

Which is why everything in the dollar stores, Wal-Mart and the super-market chains are made by small businesses, right?

Fuck Small Business Saturday.


Our Country Club War Planners

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle at 12:47 pm by George Smith

From a couple weeks ago:

“Air power needs to be applied like a thunderstorm, and so far we’ve only witnessed a drizzle,” said David A. Deptula, a retired three-star Air Force general who planned the American air campaigns in 2001 in Afghanistan and in the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

The campaign has averaged fewer than five airstrikes a day in both Iraq and in Syria. In contrast, the NATO air war against Libya in 2011 carried out about 50 strikes a day in its first two months. The air campaigns in Afghanistan in 2001 averaged 85 daily airstrikes, and the Iraq war in 2003 about 800 strikes a day…

ISIS/ISIL/whatever-paupers-we’re-trying-to-bomb-today aren’t particularly vulnerable to American air power, reads the NY Times today.

A guerilla army without much in the way of an infrastructure in an already impoverished and war-torn region is something that doesn’t offer a target rich environment.

Hmmm, it’s our country’s fifty-year-old program. It’s tough to bomb others into submission when they have very little to lose, don’t hang around waiting for you to do it, and won’t quit even when things are blowing up.

From the Times, excerpts:

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. — The United States is shifting more attack and surveillance aircraft from Afghanistan to the air war against the Islamic State, deepening American involvement in the conflict and raising new challenges.

“When we target a nation-state, we’ve typically been looking at their capability for decades, and have extensive target sets,” said Maj. Sonny Alberdeston, the targeting chief here. “But these guys are moving around. They can be in one place, and then a week later, they’re gone.”

Just as the Pentagon flies its wartime fleet of Predator and Reaper drones from bases in Nevada and elsewhere across the United States, this rear headquarters of the Central Command’s air forces carries out the bulk of the work to analyze and select planned, or deliberate, targets that allied warplanes strike in Syria and Iraq.

[Critics] complain that the air campaign is flagging against an adaptive enemy. “We need to have more targeting capability than they have right now,” said Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, who recently returned from Jordan, where several countries are using a base to fly combat missions against the Islamic State.

Targeting was also a major topic last week, when more than 200 military officials from 33 countries completed an unusual battle-planning conference at the Central Command’s headquarters in Tampa, Fla. The goal was “to synchronize and refine coalition campaign plans designed to degrade and defeat ISIL,” the command said in a statement.

That would be the> James Inhofe, one of the most stupid men in Congress, global warming denier and genuine full-time American villain.

Readers will notice that the war-planning and targeting is essentially done at the country club, Shaw AFB and at conventions held at Central Command HQ in Tampa, Florida.

The Times goes onto state the military is considering hiring “private contractors” to fly more spy drone and spy plane missions over Iraq and Syria.

It is also said the military continues to be obsessed with the decades old belief that by hitting the enemy’s petroleum resources, they have a winning strategy.

It did not work against North Vietnam. And ISIS/ISIL/whatever has even less, the military stymied by the small nature of its gasoline distilleries and the desire not to hit truck drivers, taken from the civilian populace, people just trying to make a living.

It’s hard to read without smirking. Oh rats! Bombing isn’t working like it should because we can’t hit enough of them! They won’t stay in one place.

America’s military leaders are appropriately described as apparatchiks of war tech, pushing the buttons and levers of military action from afar, men who never lose and are never replaced. Indeed, they cannot lose because they have nothing to lose in waging a remote war against an enemy with neither the resources or power to retaliate in any meaningful way against the force being called down on them.

From Pulitzer winner Malcolm Brown’s Muddy Boots and Red Socks: A Reporter’s Life:

“From the time of World War II, Americans have been brought up to believe that bombers can crack the toughest nut and bring any nation to its knees. Disney wartime cartoons portrayed air-power as well nigh invincible. But I don’t believe airplanes have ever been quite the wonder weapons we are often told, and although laser guidance and other innovations have improved bombing accuracy, an army of guerrillas is hard to hurt. When bombs were dropped on targets as dispersed as those in Vietnam, a prepared enemy could usually cope. I myself survived attacks by MiGs in Pakistan a couple of times by sheltering in shallow ditches…

One of the most impressive things I saw when I first visited Hanoi in 1973 … was the speed and apparent ease with which the North Vietnamese repaired bomb damage.

All the technology and money in the world can’t change it.


Slowly, ricin cases are changing

Posted in Bioterrorism, Ricin Kooks at 9:11 pm by George Smith

In the last fifteen years the trajectory of ricin cases in America has been constant.

Someone, almost always a white male, is arrested with castor powder after a joint anti-terrorism task force descends on his neighborhood. The powder is sent off to Frederick, MD, for assay at the multi-million dollar national facility built during the war on terror for just that purpose.

The arrested man either pleads guilty or goes to trial and is convicted.

But this year, and last, there has been a slow up-tick in people caught turning castor seeds into powder. While they may be nuisances and a danger to themselves, they are not obviously criminals or terrorists.

This year four young white man have been arrested. One used castor powder in a scratch-and-sniff card, part of hare-brained plot that went nowhere, one to allegedly retaliate against the new boyfriend of a former love. And another, in Oklahoma, by a young man who allegedly wanted to enlist someone in the poisoning of a pregnant girlfriend.

Two other cases, however, appear to be by two college students, mentally upset young men who exhibited extremely poor judgment.

Today, in Oshkosh, WI, a judge sent he question of whether or not University of Wisconsin student Kyle Smith would be indicted, and what he might be charged with, on a ricin complaint to a grand jury.

This just doesn’t happen in ricin cases and it is, perhaps, an indication that the senselessness of these alleged crimes and resulting history of convictions is beginning to sink in, if only in a minor way. Updated: There is, of course, the ham sandwich comparison which could mean, in this instance, the result will be as usual.

Or perhaps it means nothing at all, being too early to tell.

From the Oshkosh newspaper:

FBI special agent David Ratajczak testified in court Monday that the FBI submitted 1.624 grams of white powder in a vial for testing at the Homeland Security lab at Fort Detrick in Maryland. The substance tested positive for ricin and it was determined it contained 0.5 percent ricin.

It is evidence of another first: An actual laboratory characterization of the amount of poison in a small amount of castor powder.

In this case, 8 milligrams in the entire powder.

For reference purposes, the scientific literature indicates that anywhere between 350-700 micrograms of pure ricin constitutes a lethal dose in a 150 pound man — by injection.

In the historic literature there is only one case of death by lethal injection of ricin: the assassination of Georgi Markov. And ricin was never isolated in that case.

This year, there has been one case of death from ricin, an apparent suicide. And it is reported here.

A failed suicide was also reported earlier this year in southern California, on this blog.

In the United States, no one has died in any of the ricin cases reported during the last fifteen years. In one case, that of Roger von Bergendorff in 2008, the man accused of making the material was hospitalized for an emergency condition that was never specified.

As always, read the Ricin Kooks tab on this blog for a historically complete and comprehensive view of the topic.

Reckoning will eventually come to WhiteManistan

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan, Why the World Doesn't Need US at 2:56 pm by George Smith

Not this month. Probably not in the next few years. But it will come.

This country can’t survive not dealing with its original sin.

If you saw the President asking there be no violence in Ferguson immediately after the grand jury result was announced, you could tell he knew there would be rioting. And he knows there’s not much he can do anymore to ameliorate that which is deathly wrong with the United States of America.

Violence was inevitable. White America is a culture that allows the police and many others to gun down black people without consequence.

From the New York Times:

For the black community of Ferguson, the killing of Michael Brown was the last straw in a long train of abuses that they have suffered daily at the hands of the local police. News accounts have strongly suggested, for example, that the police in St. Louis County’s many municipalities systematically target poor and minority citizens for street and traffic stops — partly to generate fines — which has the effect of both bankrupting and criminalizing whole communities.

In this context, the police are justifiably seen as an alien, occupying force that is synonymous with state-sponsored abuse …

President Barack Obama was on the mark last night when he said, “We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America.” The rioting that scarred the streets of St. Louis County — and the outrage that continues to reverberate across the country — underlines this inescapable point. It shows once again that distrust of law enforcement presents a grave danger to the civic fabric of the United States.

“[The] police in St. Louis County’s many municipalities systematically target poor and minority citizens for street and traffic stops — partly to generate fines — which has the effect of both bankrupting and criminalizing whole communities,” it reads, again.

This piece, by WaPost reporter Radley Balko, is what it refers to.

It’s a savage indictment in its documentation of how the white power structure in and around St. Louis employs the police to prey on and loot African Americans in the community.

In any other country it would be reason enough for a joint military intervention or installation of a UN peace-keeping force and subsequent removal of the entire civilian government.

There is no justice in Ferguson. But consequence will eventually be delivered to us all for it.


‘Cyberwar is Bullshit’ Took long enough

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, The Corporate Bund at 1:37 pm by George Smith

A very young person named Russell Brandom at clickbait news site, The Verge, has discovered this is so.

He’s figured out, rightly, that cybersecurity in the US, and — in general, and among its toadies in the West, is solely for protecting the shit of the 1 percent.

Former NSA director Keith Alexander, the million dollar, then 600,000 dollar man for protecting Wall Street from the depredations of Chinese and Russian hackers is the leading man for it. He is custom-made as the apparatchik-of-protection for the banksters and they, in turn, deserve him.

In another way of saying it, there’s no reason at all that anyone without a mansion in the Hamptons should care that hackers are into giant American corporations of finance and manufacturing. Only those at the very top derive any benefit at all from cybersecurity. Everyone else gets zero to very little.


So if you found spyware on your computer tomorrow, the NSA would not help you. Maybe you could reach someone at the FBI who cared, but I wouldn’t bet on it. US Cyber Command is designed to defend military and government infrastructure. When James Clapper talks about defending the nation from cyberattack, these are the people he means. Everyone else is on their own …

In fact, most of the cyberdefense money is actively making things worse. The techniques behind these weapons were all actively developed by organizations like the NSA before trickling out to more oppressive regimes. The same agencies are lobbying against encryption that might protect your conversations from being stolen, and planting backdoors in the algorithms you might use to encrypt your files. They’re buying up software vulnerabilities and keeping them secret, leaving the door open for anyone who discovers them in the future.

Hey, go read Bill Blunden and Violet Cheung’s Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation & the Malware Industrial Complex. (A review is here.)

If you read the entire piece at the Verge (it’s short), you’ll also see they’re naive, or perhaps ignorant, about the line on Mandiant.

Mandiant was quickly identified as part of the problem.

Its security story/analysis, delivered so self-servingly by the New York Times, was quick convenience for Keith Alexander’s NSA narrative that Chinese hackers were stealing the entire country’s economic future, a now laughable assumption then taken seriously until Edward Snowden showed up and began showing details on the nature of the American cyberwar machine.

Anyway, readers know I wrote a lot on these matters. That is until the natural nausea that results from dealing with the stories of American computer security experts got to be too much.

Sou can also read read Computer Security for the 1 Percent, or the Cyberterrorism tab on this blog.

Or Hacking to Save Corporate America. (AKA Stooging for the Man)

Or Poverty and the Annual National Security Ogres & Wealth Festival.

Or “Pentagon declares Chinese cyberespionage the cause of all woe.”

Hey, those are some snappy titles. Funny, even! National Security Ogres & Wealth Festival — a great name for a record album or band.

A rare moment of humor on Friday

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll at 10:40 am by George Smith

We are now playing Alfred E. Neuman’s “It’s a Gas” in the Dick Destiny Band. It seemed appropriate.

The belches are actually hard to arrange on the fly unless you have an unusual talent for them.

And, yes, while it’s not on Loud Folk Live, you can instantly have a digital copy for a measly suggested list of 5 dollars — CHEAP! (Teaser tunes and blurbs at the link.)

And, urrrp, I’ll send you a download page.


Poverty Comedy is soooooo funny

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, The Corporate Bund, WhiteManistan at 3:49 pm by George Smith

I don’t see Stephen Colbert much anymore except in clips like these. I’m long past the idea that the best journalism, via satire, is done at Comedy Central because the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do things the enfeebled mainstream media can’t.

Big whoop. It’s journalism or comedy for what’s left of the middle and upper middle classes, the servants of the top who haven’t yet had their heads put on the chopping block.

In other words, entertainment for the people who did nothing a couple weeks ago. Yeah, laugh, laugh, Colbert is sooo funny. But he and Jon Stewart haven’t changed a damn thing after a decade of broadcast. Instead, we got the lowest voter turnout in my lifetime and the installation of even more old Purity Party fascists from WhiteManistan.

In the linked segment Colbert goes on in his usual way about “salvage markets” where you can buy expired food at cut-rate prices. (I had it as an embed and it autoplays, another reason Colbert & Co. deserve to be hit in the face with bricks. See the line on bull-whipping below.)

I suppose it would be almost funny if I haven’t used one of Pasadena’s city food banks bread programs. Much of what is laid out on the couple of tables is expired product from the local chains. Differing from the “salvage stores” shown above, it’s FREE.

No one makes a profit from it. In fact, all the local food banks in Pasadena are free, as you are tipped to when you arrive at the point.

What does expired bread taste like? It’s as you think, often hard almost to a rock-like state, or stale. Of course, you can always put it in the microwave with a little water to humidify the stuff.

Yes, you can use your limited SNAP dollars to buy “expired food” as opposed to the fresh food it’s supposed to buy in the supermarket. Stretch the account.

But how about a law that prevents the local businesses from profiteering on it by disallowing diversion of expired food to markets set up for the purpose of selling it? Or requiring business that do such a thing to send 150 percent of an equivalent of unexpired food to a free food bank or conduct sale of it to SNAP card holders within their own business at 50 percent off?

Nah, of course not.

The awkward awfulness of Stephen Colbert is that he gets his million dollar salary off mock yucks of this nature.

Yes, isn’t it great that horrid predatory behavior in the corporate dictatorship provides great journalism and laughter for Comedy Central! They deserve a bull-whipping.

I don’t see any people laughing at the 99 cent store when I’m there.

H/t to Frank at Pine View Farm, where first I saw it. (In other words, this is a comment rescue/reprint operation.)

You can also get some laughs on life in the corporate dictatorship from Loud Folk Live. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than Stephen Colbert, orders of magnitude so and it’s not patronizing. It’s also not for Colbert or Jon Stewart’s Comedy Central audience of white-bread nothings and evening pearl-clutchers, which just about all alone makes it entirely worthy of attention.


Missouri Bund declares State of Emergency

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan at 1:05 pm by George Smith

The discredited governor of one of the shires of WhiteManistan declares a state of emergency and orders his police force and part of the WhiteManistan National Guard to prepare to put down a rebellion. This is called “protecting the civil rights” of non-WhiteManistan citizens in the affected area.

From the Washington Post:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency Monday in anticipation of possible unrest following the announcement of findings of two separate criminal investigations into the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager killed by a Ferguson, Mo. police officer …

Nixon said in the order he directed the Missouri State Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police Department, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to “operate as a Unified Command to protect civil rights” and put the St. Louis County Police Department in charge of security in Ferguson related to protest areas and demonstrations.

He also said the adjutant general of the Missouri could “call and order into active service such portions of the organized militia as he deems necessary to protect life and property.”

Nothing inspires confidence more than deployment of the troops and replenishment of tear gas and pepper spray.

In related news, the ultimate good boy and sincere pearl-clutcher, Nicholas Kristof continues his rhetorical wrestling match with the problems of WhiteManistan.


Ricin Wrap-up

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 1:16 pm by George Smith

Last week saw an eruption of news on one of the genuinely exceptional things in our country: the small demographic of white usually guys who let an interest in castor seeds and poison lore get the best of them. It’s an interest that inevitably brings hazmat trucks and a joint anti-terrorism strike force to their neighborhoods.

And the news covers the age spectrum, from the youthful to the old.

In contrast to prior years, 2014 has turned into one in which young nerds, a couple of them university students, try their hand at pounding castor seeds into powder.

The newest bean-pounder is University of Wisconsin (in Oshkosh) student Kyle Smith.

From the Green Bay newspaper:

A University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student has been suspended after he was charged with possession of ricin.

University officials announced Tuesday that 21-year-old Kyle Smith has been placed on interim suspension and cannot set foot on campus for the time being. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of the biological weapons offense. He made his first appearance Monday in federal court in Green Bay.

Two of Smith’s professors contacted police last month when they became suspicious he was making the deadly toxin, WLUK-TV reported. Tests confirmed a vial of white powder found in Smith’s off-campus home was ricin, according to a criminal complaint. The Oshkosh Police Department and Wisconsin National Guard also found a lab notebook during the search.

And a judge has now handed down the shortest sentence in ricin convictions on the book in the case of Georgetown University student Danny Milzman, covered much here.

Milzman, readers may recall, was a great fan of Breaking Bad, showing appreciation of Walter White’s “cooking” of ricin and its recurring role in the drama.

For the record, much in the series concerning ricin was almost total rubbish, from the way it was made to its eventual use.

From the Washington Post:

A Georgetown University student who was arrested for manufacturing the deadly chemical ricin in his dormitory room in March, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court to a year and a day in prison.

In issuing her sentence, Judge Ketanji B. Jackson said Daniel H. Milzman’s intentions for manufacturing the chemical were “ambiguous at best” but that Milzman put numerous people, including his classmates and dormitory roommate, at great risk.

Jackson also ordered Milzman, 20, to undergo a mental health evaluation …

Since Milzman has already served seven and a half months in jail, he will be released early next year.

The unique short sentence is as close to a diversion as one can get, I suppose. This year I argued for the worth of a diversion track for many first-time castor bean pounders.

Most of them cannot be described as terrorists and they pose mostly only a threat to themselves as they become a source of heartbreak for their families.

In the last fifteen years there have been zero fatalities associated with all ricin cases in the US.

In 2013 those arrested on ricin cases were all older than this years batch. They were unique in that all three were caught in schemes that mailed ricin-containing castor mash to the president of the United States. All three appear to have been frame-up jobs, one against a rival, one against a husband, and one against the office of a small business where a secretary ignored the romantic affections of a janitor.

This years ricin complaints all involve younger men, two of which are the university students mentioned here.

The old ricin-powder criminal, someone middle-aged or very old and angry with the federal government, was represented yesterday when sentences were handed down for two men involved in a domestic terrorism plan in Georgia.

From the New York Times:

Ending a case that involved questions about the line between rhetoric and criminal conduct, a judge on Friday sentenced two men to a decade each in prison for their roles in a plot that included using ricin in a series of attacks in major cities.

The decision by Judge Richard W. Story, of the Federal District Court, came nearly 10 months after a jury here convicted Samuel J. Crump [71] and Ray H. Adams [58] on a pair of charges connected to possession of ricin for use as a weapon …

Mr. Crump, by his own acknowledgment, was something of an excessively ambitious conspirator.

“There’s no way I could make that stuff,” Mr. Crump said of ricin. “It takes a scientist and a million dollar lab, which we didn’t have.”

Judge Story agreed that it was unlikely that the plans Mr. Adams and Mr. Crump mapped out would have been successful.

However, this appeared to not be ameliorating.

Crump and Adams have been in jail since 2011. There original plot was a cracked scheme that involved the theoretical distribution of ricin-containing bean powder out of car speeding along on the highway, the idea being that it might drift over a town. [1]

Ricin cases and those convicted in them are almost entirely unique to the United States. In the last fifteen years this country has generated a steady stream of them. And they all make headlines.

In fact, 2013 and 2014 have shown an upward trend in this very unique phenomenon. That is, there are now more guys (and one woman) arrested on ricin beefs than at any other time.

The numbers are still very small. But the imitation, fascination and absurd appeal of castor bean pounding refuses to die and is even increasing, a bit more each year.

Ricin-making, from old neo-Nazi and survivalist poison recipes, to Breaking Bad, to an almost monthly presence in episodic crime television and in movie dramas about terrorism, is solidly embedded in the culture and character of the United States.

[1]. From the Atlanta Journal & Constitution:

According to testimony, the men talked of a plane dropping ricin on Washington and spreading the poison on federal government buildings in Atlanta, Athens and Gainesville and in public areas, such as on I-85 in Atlanta.


Mine Blast from the Past

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Ted Nugent, The Corporate Bund at 12:59 pm by George Smith

Ol’ Uncle Contemptible, Ted Nugent, paid by Don Blankenship, at “Coalstock” in 2009.

This week Don Blankenship of Massey energy was indicted by the US government for his role in a calamitous explosion at one of his company’s coal mines in 2010.

From the New York Times:

The former chief executive of the company involved in the nation’s worst coal mine disaster in 40 years, in which 29 men died in West Virginia in 2010, was charged on Thursday with widespread violations of safety rules and deceiving federal inspectors.

Donald L. Blankenship, who formerly ran the Massey Energy Company, was indicted on four criminal counts by a federal grand jury in the Upper Big Branch disaster near Montcoal, W.Va.

Mr. Blankenship was accused of looking away from hundreds of safety violations “in order to produce more coal, avoid the costs of following safety laws, and make more money.”

IN 2009 Massey held the laughable “Coalstock,” a Labor Day celebration in West Virginia. The celebrity entertainment was Nugent and two other country artists, Hank Williams, Jr. and John Rich of Big & Rich.

From this blog, 2009 quote from Blankenship at “Coalstock:”

“Today was a good day for American workers past, present and future. This historic event brought tens of thousands of people together to show their support for the men and women whose hard work built this country and we were proud to welcome them …

“It is also about what our government is allowing others to do to American labor. Our government, environmental extremists, American corporations, and politicians on the right and the left are all endangering American labor.”

In Thomas Frank’s Pit the Billionaire, a book bought for the blog by a loyal reader, Blankenship and “Coalstock” are described:

There is no better instance of [cognitive] erasure than the enormous rally held in West Virginia on Labor Day 2009 for the express purpose of announcing the solidarity between coal miners and the coal mine operators … The get together feature the protest favorites Sean Hannity and Ted Nugent and was presided over by Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, a pollution-spewing strike-breaking mogul of the old school. Dressed in American flag clothing and boasting that the gathering had cost him “a million dollars or so” Blankenship took the stage and declared he was there to “defend American labor because no one else will” … Eight months after that rally, 29 workers in Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine were dead from a huge underground explosion … Now when we find a mine operator claiming that his own struggles against regulation are actually the struggles of mine workers — workers who are then killed because mine regulations are not properly observed .. we have stumbled upon a near perfect example of what the sociologists call “complete horseshit.” The man’s ideas are so contrary to reality …

“The charges hold [Blankenship] personally responsible for … hundreds of safety violations in 28 months leading up to the explosion,” reads the Times.

If convicted Blankenship faces a prison sentence of up to thirty years.

Web error 500 — “internal server error” messages when accessing this blog are the consequence of a corporate hosting fault felt across its entire network. In other words, I can’t do anything about them but complain and have done so.

I am told, as have been many others, that engineers are working on the problem, which has now affected matters for about two weeks.

It is one of the reasons I haven’t posted much to the domain.

Be patient. I will keep you abreast of plans.

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