What’s wrong with this picture?

Posted in Ted Nugent, WhiteManistan at 10:26 am by George Smith

That’d be a 1,000 word essay, at least.

You sent your kids to a summer “kamp” hosted by America’s Klassic Rock Kleagle, Ted Nugent? In 2015?!

That’s child abuse.

Nugent (run-on sentence warning):

The purpose of this writing is to encourage as many readers as possible to create their own lifesaving children’s event to counterpunch the embarrassing self-inflicted scourge of political correctness that is on the fast track to further dumb-down more American children with such lies and scams as animal rights, anti-hunting and anti-gun propaganda flooding from the media, our government and academia nationwide.

As we have learned for 25 years, it does indeed take some serious effort and sacrifice, but I can assure you that there is nothing available in the world today that will spike kids’ attention like the discipline of the various shooting sports, the magic of trapping and taxidermy …

Today’s 5-star Culture of Lickspittle essay

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 10:04 am by George Smith

At the Times, describing corporate America’s hiring practices. If you’ve half a mind left you’ve instinctively understood this for the last few decades.

In another manner of speaking, corporate America is largely composed of bootlickers and the like-minded, chosen by through a mental crutch called “cultural fit.”


But cultural fit has morphed into a far more nebulous and potentially dangerous concept. It has shifted from systematic analysis of who will thrive in a given workplace to snap judgments by managers about who they’d rather hang out with. In the process, fit has become a catchall used to justify hiring people who are similar to decision makers and rejecting people who are not …

Crucially, though, for these gatekeepers, fit was not about a match with organizational values. It was about personal fit. In these time- and team-intensive jobs, professionals at all levels of seniority reported wanting to hire people with whom they enjoyed hanging out and could foresee developing close relationships with. Fit was different from the ability to get along with clients. Fundamentally, it was about interviewers’ personal enjoyment and fun. Many, like one manager at a consulting firm, believed that “when it’s done right, work is play.???

Discovering shared experiences was one of the most powerful sources of chemistry, but interviewers were primarily interested in new hires whose hobbies, hometowns and biographies matched their own. Bonding over rowing college crew, getting certified in scuba, sipping single-malt Scotches in the Highlands or dining at Michelin-starred restaurants was evidence of fit …

And, no, people who are all alike do not statistically outperform groups which are not.

“[Cultural] fit has become a new form of discrimination that keeps demographic and cultural diversity down, all in the name of employee enjoyment and fun,” it finishes.

“Employee enjoyment and fun.” Try defining what those terms mean in corporate America. You’ll turn yourself inside out.


Psychology Today — on WhiteManistan

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, WhiteManistan at 9:53 am by George Smith

From the LA Times this week, in passing:

I found that men — the vast majority of gun owners are men — may also carry weapons as a reaction to a broader socioeconomic decline.

Frankie, a retired Detroiter, told me that in the 70s he got “a job at General Motors, and they were hiring people off the street with zero education, and they could work for 20 years, and they could make a living. You can’t do that now.”

As men doubt their ability to provide, their desire to protect becomes all the more important. They see carrying a gun as a masculine duty and the gun itself as a vehicle for a hardened kind of care-work — catering for others by shielding them from danger, with the threat of lethal force.

The gun rights platform is not just about guns. It’s also about a crisis of confidence in the American dream. And this is why gun control efforts ignite such intense backlashes. Restrictions are received as a personal affront to men who find in guns a sense of duty, relevance and even dignity.

Not all men. The Lehigh Valley was much like Detroit and Flint. Many who’ve lived through the 40 year slump and great decline have not retreated into firearm possession as a means of retaining a personal dignity.

That’d be myself, for one.


Mailing anthrax, from US with love, again

Posted in Bioterrorism, War On Terror at 1:39 pm by George Smith

The US government bio-defense laboratories produced the best bioterrorist money could buy. That was Bruce Ivins, the anthrax mailer.

Ivins brought on an incredible surge in spending to counter bioterrorism in this country. A huge nationwide infrastructure was built and augmented. I wrote about one of its keystone facilities here.

Billions and billions of dollars spent. Half a billion on the one in the link above, per year, alone.

Post Bruce Ivins, number of bioterrorism incidents: ZERO.

This week, a mistake in the anthrax defense program shows the facilities reach around the world, including government and private sector labs. Not really a big surprise. It’s what taxpayer money built. It’s a big business.

From the Los Angeles Times:

At least 26 people are being treated for potential exposure to deadly anthrax after an Army bio-defense facility in Utah mistakenly sent live samples to private and military laboratories in as many as nine states, including California, and South Korea, officials said Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was working with state and federal agencies to investigate how the anthrax samples were sent from the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, a vast facility in southwest Utah where researchers try to build and test defenses against chemical and biological agents, including viruses and bacteria.

The CDC said it had launched its inquiry last weekend after it was contacted by a private commercial lab in Maryland that had received live spores.

This is a very big and embarrassing deal, although the specifics as to why are not really addressed in the LAT piece.

Ivins produced live anthrax spores, dry powder. In that state, anthrax is very dangerous. The spores float and get everywhere.

The US government’s bioterror-defense programs are not, repeat that — not — supposed to be producing live anthrax spore powder. That’s what Bruce Ivins did, something he kept secret during his clandestine work at Fort Detrick.

And you’re not supposed to make spore powder for reasons which now are very obvious.

Wet anthrax, slurry, sort of OK, as a research necessity.

What, precisely, was the state of the mailed samples?

The newspaper only mentions that “spores” are supposed to be “inert,” dead, rendered so by exposure to gamma rays.

Here’s a potential clue. Twenty two of the twenty six being treated are at Osan Air Base in South Korea.

“A joint U.S.-Korean program at Osan aims to boost bio-surveillance capabilities on the Korean Peninsula,” reads the newspaper.

This could mean someone opened a sample tube of dry spore preparation. And when it was discovered it was live, it was assumed everyone in the room, or who had opened it, had potentially been contaminated. Because of the very nature of the stuff.


Worse than PKD imagined

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 1:30 pm by George Smith

I took the first part of this week to re-read Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. In his books and short stories, Dick often described the US as irredeemably fascist. In the novel, it’s a full description serving as backdrop and driver for the heart of the story: a few friends, part of demoralized civilian populace, paranoid and under surveillance 24 hours a day, left to drug addiction as the only relief in a bleak day-to-day existence.

Substance D, or Death, is the most addicting, the most sought after. It slowly turns people into empty shells, good only for rehab, janitorial tasks or agriculture, out in the southern California countryside. Growing the plant from which Substance D is isolated.

It is a big business, one of drug rehab clinics as a supply faucet for slave labor, totalitarian policing that keeps everyone in a state of fear, and, of course, the use of people who have no other way to earn a living but selling and doing drugs.

Prisons aren’t mentioned. Why would they be? After being turned into a zombie by Dick’s imaginary neuro-degenerative compound, there’s not a need. There’s only the cycle — leftover ambulatory bodies requiring only feeding, warehousing and training in menial mindless jobs.

I’ve left out the character studies, all centered around anti-narcotics agent and undercover cop, Bob Arctor, and his Death abusing house-mates.

It’s wonderfully written but profoundly depressing.

Passages eerily describe the United States.

Arctor has his own place put under 24 hour surveillance. Another place down the street is an undercover police operation where the tv monitors operate. Seized from another “doper” family. Arctor is informed his own place probably won’t be taken after all the arrests and black bag jobs are carried out. It’s too run down.

Assets forfeiture. The government can’t get much for the shitty things.

There’s even a bit on “straights” in their gated communities, loaded with guns fearing all the so-called “dopers” just ready to come over the walls to rob them. In Dick’s novel, “the dopers” are the most non-violent, trying to maintain a living in a rundown exurban house as their minds deteriorate.

Early in the book, Arctor is before the Anaheim Lions Club in his scramble suit, a computerized electronic disguise he wears as a bag, originally to give a talk on what he does on the drug squad.

But Arctor can’t give the talk, something concocted from the mentality of the war on drugs, punishment and the need to strike fear in those who would corrupt society. The “Commies!” shouts one person in the crowd.

Arctor’s mind seizes, partly the result of Substance D addiction, which he has to take to get in with the drug abusers. He can think only of a couple blunt, supercilious sentences, stunning the crowd, people in their “fat suits” and “fat shoes” into silence. But someone from anti-drug police central is always on a two-way inside the suit and starts telling him the script, sentence by sentence, so he can repeat it:

“I’ll read it to you. Repeat it after me, but try to get it to sound casual …

“Each day the profits flow … where they go we — that’s about where you stopped.”

“I’ve got a block against this stuff,” Arctor said.

“–will soon determine,” his official prompter said, unheeding, “and then terrible retribution will swiftly follow. And at that moment, I would not for the life of me be in their shoes.”

“Do you know why I’ve got a block against this stuff?” Arctor said. “Because this is what gets people on dope. He thought, this is why you lurch off and become a doper, this sort of stuff. This is why you give up and leave. In disgust.


Life in Anaheim, California, was a commercial for itself, endlessly replayed. Nothing changed; it just spread out farther and farther in a form of neon ooze. What there was always more of had been congealed into permanence, as if the automatic factory that cranked out these objects had been jammed in the on position … Someday, he thought, it’ll be mandatory that we all sell the McDonald’s hamburger as well as buy it; we’ll sell it back and forth to each other from our living rooms. That way we won’t even have to go outside.”


Rock on. Really.

Posted in Rock 'n' Roll at 12:39 pm by George Smith

Talk the talk, walk the walk.

See you there, in Pasadena.


The GOP, the press and Iraq

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 2:23 pm by George Smith

The Big Fraud. And I experienced a part of it first hand in 2004 and 2005. It’s why some people read this blog.

The alleged al Qaeda London ricin ring is a subject I never thought I’d return to in the context of presidential contenders in 2015.

Jeb “Mistakes Were Made” Bush and Marco Rubio are disgraces. So is David Brooks in “Learning from Mistakes.

The UK poison cell allegedly linked to al Qaeda in Iraq was part of the Bush administration’s call for war. (Of course, it was not the only factor. It was an issue, however, that I had first hand knowledge of.)

This alleged London poison cell, infamously said by Colin Powell and the Bush administration to be linked to al Qaeda in Iraq was not an honest mistake. It was a fraud. Period.

And I was the first to write that. I was a consultant to the defense in the London ricin trial for GlobalSecurity.Org

It’s all here and here and here.

Plagiarizing myself:

One of the last claims in Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 blew away like dust in the wind late last week in the Old Bailey, London’s central criminal court.

The trial of the infamous “UK poison cell,” a group portrayed by Secretary of State Powell as al Qaida-associated operatives plotting to launch ricin attacks in the United Kingdom and in league with Muhamad al Zarqawi in Iraq, found nothing of the sort. The jury did find “the UK poison cell,” known as Kamel Bourgass and others (Sidali Faddag, Samir Asli, Mouloud Bouhrama, Mustapha Taleb, Mouloud Sihali, Aissa Kalef), not guilty of conspiracy to murder by plotting ricin attacks and, generally speaking, not guilty of conspiracy to do anything. Kamel Bourgass had been previously convicted of murder of a British policeman in an unpublicized trial.

In addition, the jury found Bourgass (and only him) guilty of conspiring to be a public nuisance with poisons.

A planned subsequent trial of other Muslim men who had been rounded up in the operation which eventually netted Bourgass was then canceled.

There was no UK poison cell. The alleged tip that led to it was obtained by torture, by an informant in the UK who had been tortured in an Algerian prison, and another man who had been tortured in one of the American gulags. (The UK informant later recanted and his information could not be used in the trial precisely because he had been tortured.)

“The ‘detained al Qaida operative’ in the above slide was Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi,” I wrote in 2008. “It is now well-accepted the al-Libi was tortured into a number of admissions, statements made to placate his captors.”

A Senate report from the Select Committee on Intelligence on the subject of Iraq and weapons of mass destruction read:

The other was an Al Qaeda detainee, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, who had reportedly been sent to Eqypt by the CIA and tortured and who later recanted the information he had provided. Libi told the CIA in January 2004 that he had ‘decided he would fabricate any information interrogators wanted in order to gain better treatment and avoid being handed over to [a foreign government].'”

“There’s a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war,” wrote David Brooks yesterday.

The New York Times got rid of Judith Miller. It should lose David Brooks. Stubbornly, it won’t.

From what was called “the Downing Street memo” in 2005:

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

In 2005 the US press definitely did not want to hear the London ricin ring was a fraud. And Judith Miller was still working for the Times. (She saw my pieces at GlobalSecurity.)

From my blog:

The US newsmedia declined to cover the results of the trial of the so-called London ricin ring. The verdict came at a time when much of the newsmedia was still toeing the line on the Bush administration’s reasons for war with Iraq …

At Newsweek, Mark Hosenball also got his details from [my] GlobalSecurity posting.

Newsweek’s subsequent article was a disgrace, attempting to spin the verdict as evidence that if accused terrorists were allowed to go to trial in England, a jury would bring in the wrong verdict. Hosenball shoved my name in at the bottom of his article [I was his primary source] in an attempt to bury where the news actually came from. No one wanted to hear or print the real story about a big terror plot that had turned out to be tiny or that innocent men had been found not guilty during a lengthy and fair process.

“A much-touted ricin-plot terrorism case in the United Kingdom ended in a muddled verdict today, raising new questions among U.S. officials about the ability of British authorities to secure convictions against major terrorist suspects,” Hosenball wrote.

The jury had left off guilty men, Newsweek implied. It was a setback in the war on terror.

“The mixed outcome dismayed U.S. counterterror specialists who were convinced that Bourgass and his four codefendants were in fact acting as part of a broader international terror plot,” continued the Newsweek journalist.

Hosenball then roped in a source, Evan Kohlmann, who had nothing to do with the ricin trial.

“This is very disturbing,” Kohlmann, billed as a U.S. government consultant on international terror cases, told the reporter. “These are dangerous people … ”

Muddled verdict. There was nothing muddled about it.

The jury was clear and so was the case. Nobody bought the idea that a mere 20 castor seeds in a jewelry tin on a dresser constituted something in a real plot organized by al Qaeda through Iraq to cause mass death in the United Kingdom.

“The Iraq invasion was always an insane exercise in brainless jingoism that could only be intellectually justified after accepting a series of ludicrous suppositions,” wrote Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone this week.

“The bulk of [our reporters hid behind the morons in our business, people like Tom Friedman and David Brooks and Jeffrey ‘I trusted the Germans’ Goldberg, frontline pundits who were pushed forward to do the dirty work, the hardcore pom-pom stuff,” he continued.

“Many others, particularly the editors, quietly sat by and let lie after lie spill onto their papers’ pages …”

And who’s doing the pom-pom work today?

Why, it’s Mark Hosenball at Reuters, writing about the alleged trove of information seized at bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad,” coincidentally just declassified a week, one whole week [!], after Seymour Hersh’s story that the hit was arranged, bin Laden had been in the custody of Pakistan’s intelligence service, and not much information, if any, was retrieved at all.

If you follow the Reuters link to “bin Laden’s bookshelf” at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence you’ll see it’s another big bag of mostly unimportant nothing: Lots of US-origin public domain materials downloaded from the Internet, some American political books (including one by Bob Woodward), and 100 or so boring and relatively meaningless memos from bin Laden to an small assortment of al Qaeda lackeys.

You could fit all of it on your PC.


Yes, you’re in Hell and it’s a dinner in Waco with Ted Nugent

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Ted Nugent, WhiteManistan at 5:30 pm by George Smith

Today, in readings from WhiteManistan:

The constant libertarian assault on the radio, in newspapers, on the television, this drumbeat of anti-government discourse is an old story – but still very important for understanding the anarcho-liberal sensibility. Just tune in to AM radio late on a weekday evening and listen to the anti-government vitriol. It’s sort of wild.

Someone could do an interesting study, Ph.D., in unpacking the cultural history of all this. It is tempting to speculate that deindustrialization, having disempowered and made anxious many huge sections of the working class, opens the way for fantasies of empowerment. The anti-statist, rugged individualist common sense is also always simultaneously a fantasy of empowerment. White men are particularly vulnerable to these fantasies. The classic guy who calls into the batshit crazy, late night, right-wing talk radio show is a middle-aged White man. Listen closely to the rage and you hear fantasies of independence. In this rhetoric, guns and gun rights become an obviously phallic symbol of individual empowerment, agency, self worth, responsibility etc.
We need to drastically restructure the state. We need it mobilized and able to transform the economy.

But most importantly, we have to think about how all of this anti-state ideology is being stirred up with investments from elites.

Delete phrases like “anarcho-liberal sensibility” and it’s a decent encapsulation.

Or, in other words, the tribe and party of Ted Nugent.

Last Thursday, Nugent went on one of his standard pro-gun rants, presenting an illogical comparison as something built on common sense: Swimming pools kill more children than gun accidents. (If you don’t understand why it’s illogical, you’ve no business reading this blog. We haven’t the slightest thing in common.)

As a very young man I ran my town’s swimming pool for two summers and was second-in-command for two more. Ted Nugent is a despicable insult to the good people I worked with.

Without going into details, we occasionally acted quickly and with skill, as lifeguards, to ensure the summer afternoons of young children were safe and never unpleasant, no questions asked. Kids will be kids, you watch over them. And sometimes you fished them out of the water and put them on their towels until they were calmed. You told mom just to keep him or her out of the water for a while.

You lent them an arm so they could pull themselves in and continue playing. Or you stood there on the concrete edge, looking at them, giving them the confidence that just because they’ve suffered a snoot full, you’ve seen it and they’re not in trouble. Because you were there.

And the Pine Grove swimming pool was not a small pond. Half a million gallons with a two-story pump house, exceptional for a town of its size.

What does it have to do with guns?

To see the summer swimming experience fashioned into something worse than gun violence by some very public ninny is beyond hateful. Guns have one function. Killing, putting holes in things. Swimming and water recreation are something for everyone, a pleasure of the human as well as the animal condition.

In Nugent world, might as well write a piece about choking to death on food. Or all the people who die of flu because they aren’t immunized.

All allegedly much worse than accidental death from loose gun handling in the home.

For example:

The Big Lie about guns is that innocent kids are being gunned down or are accidentally shooting each other. Compared to drowning, gun-related deaths don’t even register.

The Big Lie is just that – a lie.

Indeed, some kids do die in gun-related deaths, mostly in the president’s old stomping grounds of Chicago. However, very few kids under the age of 10 die or are injured as a result of gun-related accidents.

The vast majority of teenagers who die as a result of guns are involved in gangs. They are punks, thugs and street rats …

Nugent is one of the popular voices of the batshit crazy white guy, now mainstreamed and in control of one political party.

Media Matters immediately pointed out that, as usual, Nugent has no grasp of what he’s ranting about:

According to a project of Everytown for Gun Safety, there have been at least 88 incidents just this year “in which a child 17 or under fired a gun unintentionally and someone was harmed as a result.” In 2013, the group documented at least 100 accidental shooting deaths of children aged 14 or younger. A Mother Jones report that examined the same time period found 84 fatal gun accidents involving children aged 12 and under, 64 of which involved a child pulling the trigger, killing themselves or someone else, which debunks Nugent’s claim that children are not “accidentally shooting each other.”

Indeed, one such shooting captured national headlines when a 5-year-old boy accidentally killed his 2-year-old sister in rural Kentucky with a rifle designed for children.

Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently looked at data from 2009 and found that 662 children aged 14 or under were hospitalized after being accidentally shot that year.

There is never a shred of humanity in anything written by Ted Nugent.
If it’s not enough to drag drowning in the summer into an article in defense of gun accidents, the language of Nazi Germany is also employed.

Media Matters notes Nugent’s repetitive use of linguistics popularized in the Third Reich.

Hitler first wrote about “the big lie” in Mein Kampf. The Nazi leader accused Jews of telling “the big lie” to corrupt “the broad masses,” who he claimed “more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie.” The phrase is also associated with tactics used by chief Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

It’s hard to argue that accidental gun deaths involving children are not worth calling attention to, let alone that covering such tragedies is comparable to Nazi-style propaganda.

Yeah, it’s hard to argue. Still, it doesn’t matter. We live in a country where half of the political spectrum embraces senseless, patently offensive positions with no basis in reality.

On the other side of the coin, many in the not entirely batshit crazy parts of the country really do detest Ted Nugent. This is minor progress.

As a result, Nugent has no summer tour. (On YouTube, you can find his lead singer, Derek St. Holmes, singing tunes made famous on a couple of Nugent’s mid-Seventies records, for a celebrity hard rock sea cruise.)

As for Nugent, he has a solo gig in his hometown of Waco, TX:

Liberals, Obama- and Hillary-lovers, Democrats, gun-controlniks, vegans and, one supposes, Jade Helm 15 operatives, beware: Rock musician/bow hunter/gun advocate/tea party favorite Ted Nugent takes the stage May 25 at the Waco Hippodrome in a solo show …

Funny, funny, funny.

The tickets aren’t selling: “About 180 tickets are left for the May 25 concert, including 12 VIP tickets, with about 140 tickets already sold.”

What do you think is the better deal, even in Waco?

A standard two six packs of cheap beer and a steak or Nugent playing the Star-Spangled Banner and telling people how he got to be a “political animal” for the sake of freedom and liberty?

Also, today in Waco, a shoot-out in a restaurant between two motorcycle gangs, the Bandidos and the Cossacks, leaving nine dead.

(Late arriving, another bike gang, the Scimitars MC, too!)


Sound check

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll, WhiteManistan at 1:26 pm by George Smith

Time to fire up the mighty Hiwatt.

Tonight we’ll be playing …

One of the songs of the corporate dictatorship, specifically the toxic vision of Jesus held by the alleged Christians of the GOP and old Dixie.

Jesus fed the poor with loaves and fishes; he liked the lepers, too.
Then he found the land of liberty; America told him what to do!

Wealthiness, just like Godliness, that’s what Jesus taught.

To tide you over, here’s Chris Hedges on the radio from Boston, talking about the moral imperative for revolt, also the title of his new book.

In the name of balance, the station’s host brings in one of the Clinton corporation’s multi-millionaire money flunkies to insist the system still works.

It’s the best part of the interview because it gives Hedges the opening to vigorously rebut the smug and condescending fellow with a raft of unpleasant facts from the first Clinton administration.

Summed up, the Clinton administration and its obsession with triangulation moved the Democratic Party to the center. This resulted in the GOP moving farther and farther to the right, until it became the insane tribe it is today.



No Chocolate-O!

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll at 7:25 pm by George Smith

Three girls in tutus and their platoon of pantywaists.

To understand the title, you gotta read the review:

Many years ago I used to pay attention to Japanese metal and pop music. It was worth minor laughs to hear how youth in the land of the rising sun would twist American rock styles …

Music review, something I still do orders of magnitude better than anyone you know.

Here, for the punchline.

Keys: Babymetal; J-pop; idol pop.

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