Hillary Clinton spoke in front of an American Legion audience today. She gave a special shout out to its Boys Nation thing:
“You help raise the next generation of American patriots. I want to give a special shout out to Boys Nation, which meant so much to my husband when he was growing up.”
And it was a small part in a longer pep talk about American exceptionalism and an extended pandering to military service (which the Clintons like the vast majority of Americans including myself had and hve no part of) and patriotism. This goes hand and hand with the America never stopped being great meme. which from the vantage point of the Clinton class, the wealthy and their still employed enablers, is all true. You see, America is always great, never stops being so, shame on you for thinking it, you must want American Hitler to be President.
“[When] Vladimir Putin, of all people, criticized American exceptionalism, my opponent agreed with him, saying, and I quote, ‘if you’re in Russia, you don’t want to hear that America is exceptional’,” Clinton continued. “Well maybe you don’t want to hear it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.”
I’m not from Russia. But the exceptionalism shtick is drivel. But it is surely tailor-made for HRC’s kind of audience.
I was dragooned into attending the American Legion’s Boys State/Boys Nation thing when I was in high school. I did not care for it. But it was a great thing for budding fascists, bullies and bootlicks, though, so it makes sense to me that the Clintons would think highly of it. It was probably perfect for them, being real American “meritocracy” stuff.
You’ll surely get a kick out of my tribute to it, too, so here’s a reprint/dredge-up from about a decade ago.
JUNE 2007 — [Summer camps] must be about pain and embarrassment. It’s also important they be totally useless. It’s a bonus if they’re scarring, too.
Boy Scouts of America summer retreat in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, was good for all three decades ago. You went, more accurately — were sent — to be physically purged and have a week gouged from your summer.
It reliably meted out punishment to those who had committed no crime.
If you slipped up in even the pettiest way — made the biscuits wrong — you had to do push-ups in front of the troop leader, a thirty-something man with an icky fondness for watching his charges do physical training with their shirts off.
On a par with Boy Scouts of America summer retreat was Keystone Boys State.
Keystone Boys State was a one-shot, eligible to you only when you were between junior and senior year in high school.
This year’s Keystone Boys State is at Shippensburg College (Shippensburg State Teachers, originally), running between June 24-30. (That was for 2007. -ed) Perhaps Keystone Boys State campers will Google this essay and be persuaded to threaten their parents with reprisals should they be forced to fulfill their commitment later this month.
Kids, don’t go!
DD is giving it to you straight. Keystone Boys State is not the Army but you’ll get a little dose of it later this month. Except you won’t be able to drink heavily, shoot guns or patrol foreign boulevards for prostitutes. You won’t be made Army Strong.
Naturally, DD did not volunteer for Keystone Boys State. I was drafted by irresponsible vainglorious parents and members of the local American Legion who thought of me as a utensil, an honors student at Pine Grove Area High School, something to be offered to the state Legion leadership. In a small town like Pine Grove, kids didn’t have the luxury of snubbing their noses at “gifts” from the local American Legion-VFW. Parents wouldn’t have it.
My Keystone Boys State was held at State College. It is a tribute to Penn State University that the American Legion sponsored operation wasn’t capable of bringing out a loathing in me for all things Nittany Lions. I remain a fan of the college football team and Joe Paterno.
Indeed, it’s astonishing that Penn State University would have allowed the use of its facilities to an organization and operation which determinedly obstructed any efforts by campers to enjoy Penn State, or even get to know about the school.
You see, attendance at Keystone Boys State didn’t give camp-goers much of a glimpse of the university.
When I attended, Boys Staters were restricted to two dormitories, a nearby cafeteria and attached playing fields.
How Keystone Boys State managed this in the Seventies was nasty business.
Upon arrival in State College, campers were separated into platoons, with each platoon being assigned a nominal city, named after some Pennsylvania government functionary.
DD was assigned to “Bethman City.” Each city resided on one floor of a dorm. Each city’s adult minders were from the active ranks of the US military. Bethman City’s minder was a USMC man from Parris Island. I’ll call him Gunny, although that was not his real name.
Gunny was a power drunk with a talent for cussing, neither of which DD thinks could be any liability in the Marines, although it was momentarily surprising to see him lay it out so plainly within 60 seconds of arrival.
The first thing Gunny told us about was screening at Parris Island. He was specific in his description of a Marine Corps recruit found with a rubber dildo in his rectum. Why this was important to tell a bunch of high school boys, other than it being an X-rated shaggy dog story, was not immediately obvious.
More pressing, Gunny said, was that we campers recognize we were to stay within the bounds of Keystone Boys State. Under no circumstances were we to take walks to downtown State College, described as a potentially dangerous place.
At this point, DD’s high school eyes rolled, having already been to State College a number of times to see Saturday football. Since I was in the back, Gunny did not see the contempt in which I held him and his developing tale. If he had, perhaps I would have been ordered to do some push-ups without my shirt on.
Gunny explained that there were women who were pros in downtown State College and they were eager to take advantage of us. It was such an outrageously stupid story, a few of us assumed he’d been told to tell it by someone old and weird and higher-up from within the American Legion.
The current website for Keystone Boys State advertises it as “non-military.”
Whether this is true now I don’t know, but in the Seventies the claim was utter horsecrap.
The camp was functionally administered by US military men. Every morning there was inspection — the kind in which a military man examined your bed and opened the drawers of your empty desk to see if there was any dust in them. If there was dust in an empty drawer, it was scooped up and put on your bed or on the top of some of your property to teach you a lesson. Whatever miscellaneous lint or dirt was found during inspection was always deposited on your belongings or personal space. This kept up until our military counselors realized we’d stopped giving a shit about what they thought and did, around mid-week.
How well a Boys Stater’s city did in inspection determined in which order you would eat lunch during the day. Bethman City always did poorly and, as a result, we always ate lunch last or near to last.
In late afternoon, after some worthless class on state government and a round of compulsory softball in the sweltering heat, the camp retired to the drill field to practice calisthenics, marching in formation and pass-in-review. During the exercises, each city was judged on its form and ability to follow orders snappily. That determined in which order you ate dinner.
Bethman City, you guessed it, often finished last.
By mid-week, Gunny had reported in for Keystone Boys State duty drunk or with savage hangover too many times. He was dismissed and the slack taken up by an USAF man.
At that point, the boys of Bethman City made the decision to stop paying attention to cleaning up bathrooms, sweeping rooms atomically clean and making beds quarter-bounce-worthy for inspection. Then we always finished last.
Being snappy on the drill field went out, too. On the last day of camp, when all the thugs from high-school football teams and their assorted camp lackeys had been “elected” leaders of Keystone Boys State and allowed to go into the reviewing stand as the elite who watched the rest of the lumpen pass-in-review, we dropped our pants while trudging past the bleechers. We ate last.
The people who ran my Keystone Boys State liked nothing better than to order around teenagers, mostly for what appeared to be the sheer sake of it.
“A week at Keystone Boys State condenses what might take several months in real life to less than 168 hours,” informs the official KBS website. “This compressed simulation helps people learn lessons about the actions and consequences of leadership in a very realistic way.”
Yes, one thinks learning to suck up, march in formation and follow pointless orders does teach something about life but one ought not to ask teenage kids to give up a week of summer to learn it. The current website seems to indicate Keystone Boys State is big with those junior ROTC operations which haven’t yet been run off public high school properties.
“The effort to get everyone involved at [KBS] manifests itself by having every ‘citizen’ elected, selected, assigned or appointed to leadership positions throughout the week. Each citizen also is provided with text materials based on organizational science and personal development exercises. Much of what we do is a spin-off of the Stephen Covey text, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective [People],” the boys camp proclaims.
“All citizens should become familiar with parliamentary procedures, ‘Robert’s Rules of Order’ and Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – NOW ! ! !”
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” wasn’t required reading when DD attended Keystone Boys State, probably because it hadn’t yet been written.
It is another in a long line of publications from the self-help industry, filled with the kinds of slogans and advice people used to following orders and doing pointless institutional or corporate busy work for work’s sake think will help them improve their attitude so they can earn a quick million dollars, get promoted and exit the logjam of daily life.
Some of its tenets: Think Win/Win! Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood! Synergize!
Adoption of such a thing indicates the Keystone Boys State experience is, more than likely, an even more annoying and brainwashing experience in 2007 than it was in the Seventies.
It was true that every “citizen” of Keystone Boys State had to hold a “political” position by the end of the week.
This meant that as the inner core of apple-polishers was exhausted during the awarding of positions of “leadership” within the quasi-state camp apparatus, other positions were handed out on the basis of an ad hoc cronyism until, by the end of the week, everyone had one. It was mandated that everyone hold a public office.
I was made Bethman City dog catcher on the last day of formal camp operation. It didn’t require a vote.
For kids stumbling into this, if you must go to Keystone Boys State (and you SHOULD NOT if possible), I recommend you take a musical instrument, even if you aren’t in the high school band. Campers with instruments got to be in the Keystone Boys State community band. Perks were associated with it, like getting out of marching-in-formation and being allowed to eat ahead of everyone else, regardless of how badly your city did during inspection.
In the weeks following Keystone Boys State, I was able to make productive use of the camp one time and only once.
Everyone from Pine Grove High School who attended KBS was required to attend an American Legion dinner at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars banquet hall. After dinner, the campers would be asked to speak about their experience at Keystone Boys State.
I had no interest in attending and told my parents that if they forced the issue, like they’d forced KBS, I would tell the Legion dinner audience exactly what KBS was like. I would start with Gunny and his stories about a Marine recruit with a dildo up his ass and hookers patrolling the streets of State College looking for fresh-faced young boys.
That was all it took, really. When Mom and Dad asked what they should tell the organizers of the dinner, I told them to say I was at … another camp for the week.
Now that it one hell of a story, isn’t it? Real gonzo journalism. There ain’t nothing the Clintons could put down on paper to top it.
Anyway, moving on, about halfway through her speech today, Clinton gave a little spiel on computer security for the 1 percent. Computer security for the 1 percent is the years old story of China stealing all the intellectual property of America’s wealthiest companies, particularly it’s arms manufacturers
More recently, Russian hackers have taken their place. Worse, from the meritocratic and all-knowing point-of-view of the Democratic Party, Russia is attacking the DNC in cyberspace and possibly setting up to jigger the vote so as to throw the election to Trmp.
HRC is on the case:
We’ll invest in the next frontier of military engagement, protecting U.S. interests in outer space and cyberspace. You’ve seen reports. Russia’s hacked into a lot of things. China’s hacked into a lot of things. Russia even hacked into the Democratic National Committee, maybe even some state election systems. So, we’ve got to step up our game. Make sure we are well defended and able to take the fight to those who go after us.
As President, I will make it clear, that the United States will treat cyber attacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses. And we’re going to invest in protecting our governmental networks and our national infrastructure. I want us to lead the world in setting the rules of cyberspace.
If America doesn’t, others will. So in short, we have to be ready to win today’s fights and tomorrow’s.
In the discussion of the rise of Trump the only thing the six figure explainers consider is the anger of those left behind by the great leap forward of globalism. They’re the factory workers displaced by offshoring and trade deals written to hand power to corporate leadership at the expense of everyone else. They, the angry, are the unskilled and uneducated. And white, of course.
But if you’ve paid attention the educated and over-educated have gotten a rum deal, too, depending on where you stand and if you’ve been able to read basic English and understand minus numbers most of your life.
So today’s post considers a note from a reader, one that keys in on the domestic information technology worker, citizens considered to be pretty far from uneducated and unskilled.
An introduction, by way of an excerpt from Computerworld:
When a company decides to outsource IT jobs overseas, there is no protection for U.S. workers. Professional accomplishments are irrelevant. Degrees — whether in computer science, mathematics, or in some field that has allowed them to figure technology out — do not matter. The internal awards of merit, the five-star performance reviews are meaningless. The unpaid hours, at nights and on weekends, make no difference. The workplace turns cold, hostile, indifferent.
“The Democrats, having sold out to corporate America years ago, have no choice but to fall back on the retraining fallacy,” e-mails a blog reader. “Otherwise they’d have to point out that their donors are screwing us and doing that might stop the money train.”
It’s a common story. And one wonders why it hasn’t occured to the six-figure explainers that this very educated class of workers is also really angry about the alleged “meritorcracy” of America and the universal benefits of globalization.
For example, from last year, a story in the LA Times, one of many on a Disney maneuver, one curtailed by its increasingly bad optics:
Disney has canceled recent plans to replace employees in 30 technology positions with workers from an agency known for outsourcing jobs to immigrants on temporary work visas.
Employees of Disney/ABC Television in New York and Burbank first heard of the layoffs in late May. In recent weeks, before the company reversed course, some of the employees were asked to help train their successors, mostly via teleconference but also in person in some cases …
Keith Barrett, who had been a technology employee at Disney World for more than a decade until he was forced into retirement earlier this year, posted on his Google+ account that companies should address skills shortages by repositioning or training existing employees.
“In short; if you are laying off your good performing and long term staff, especially in bulk numbers, and replacing them with inexperienced, cheaper non-hires, you aren’t using the H-1B program to increase your staff by hiring rare skills,” Barrett wrote. “You are using it to cut costs.”
At the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Dean Baker is not particularly impressed by a LA Times article on how post-NAFTA, Mexico has boomed and this has been good for American workers.
It means, Baker says in the post’s hed, the you redefine “boom” as “downward:”
[The] promotion of the post-NAFTA Mexican boom continues. The latest guilty party is the Los Angeles Times which devotes a lengthy piece to telling us how the boom is not just good for Mexico, but also the United States. Mexico’s per capita GDP growth since 2008 is less than 0.7 percent. This is a growth rate for a developing country that would more typically be described as “pathetic” than a boom.
Made curious, I went to read the LAT’s piece.
The newspaper’s reporter and editors interpret graphs in a very unusual way. If you page down, you’ll see a graphic labelled “US factories slowly climb back …”
The climb back, for this year being a negative 0.2 percent in employment. That would be a loss, in arithmetic class.
And the values preceding it are not particularly impressive. From 2011 – 2015, alleged good gains in employment seem to hover around 1 percent or less, hardly anything to crow about. On the other hand, there are nice pictures of Mexican workers in automotive factories in Nuevo Leon and San Luis.
There is a great bit in the piece:
“In the process, workers like Zarate are being lifted into the middle class by the thousands … That sounds like an exported version of the American dream, circa 1965, in places such as Dearborn, Mich., or Marysville, Ohio.”
That’s some soaring description. And so don’t you think, if you’ve stumbled in here by accident and still have a well-paying job, that you, like, ought to selflessly sacrifice it right now so that somewhere else in the world a ca. 1965-like middle class American dream might bloom?
In from the Snake Oil for What Ails You Desk: I’m a registered Dem and retraining is the swill the Party’s neoliberal leaders have peddled for the last 20 or so years. Back to school with you.
It’s the only answer the Democratic Party has had for people shed by de-industrialization and the conversion of the economy to financialization. It’s a theme that is one of the central planks in Thomas Frank’s book, Listen, Liberal, on how the Democrats abandoned populism and the working class for wealth and “meritocracy,” a buzzword better described by phrases like winner take all, root hog or die and fuck you if you didn’t go to the right school or have money.
A recent web piece publishes some acerbic bits on the retraining scam:
“Job retraining has proven to be a failure over the last two decades …The record is pretty clear … We’re creating a lot of [false] hope where hope doesn’t exist.”
Peter Navarro, an economics and public policy professor at the University of California, Irvine, called job-retraining programs a “cruel joke” on American workers.
“The problem we have is there’s a fundamental mismatch of skills Americans have [and] opportunities,” he said. “You can retrain these people all you want. But if there are no jobs for them, what’s the point?”
The blog has covered it in the past, often sarcastically:
[Retraining] reforms may quickly clear the way for the jobless to enroll in community college, making courses available to train them for a multiplicity of jobs.
Such jobs will include but not be limited to: test-tube cleaning, shelving and getting reagents, learning to use a Metler balance, mucous, surgical drain and breathing pipe maintenance, teeth scraping, gram-staining, changing oxygen tanks for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, blood pressure-taking, temperature taking, enema giving, supervision of administration of Fleet’s Phospho-Soda, cleaning up messes in hospitals and clinics, airport security, turnstyle security, public transit security, frisking, pat downs and strip searching, simple detentions, immigration status checking, herding, temporary staffing, manning the metal detectors at court houses, X-ray smock fitting, checking dosimeters, wheelchair-bound patient moving, massage, bed pan emptying, restraining and strapping the old and mentally ill into chairs in various warehousing environments, bed sore monitoring, security work in privately administered prisons, embalming, corpse dressing, using word processor and accounting software, installing anti-virus software, transcribing, bank tellering, cafeteria work, how to wear a sterile smock, simple sterile procedures, transfers and transport of pees and poos in the clinical lab setting, refrigerated organ transport, transport of organs reclaimed from cadavers, preparing cadavers for organ reclamation, selling door to door, telemarketing, on-line promotion and astro-turfing, using Blogger, search engine optimization, building a network with Twitter, repeat calling debt collection, data entry and processing tax returns, using Adobe Acrobat or Photoshop and using Microsoft Powerpoint.
Robert Titman, an expert on the economic impact of continuing education at the City College of Gobble-Wallah in Birmingham, Alabama, predicted that in the next two years the US would see a big economic boom from the new highly educated and skilled workforce. The country would leap to the forefront in retraining the unemployed, providing a leading example for the rest of the world, he said.
Economic recoveries and good outcomes always promised by retraining initiatives haven’t panned out, so to speak.
“Job retraining tends to be popular with politicians … it often amounts to little more than a public relations sop,” it reads.
More seriously, from 2013:
Again, this is about contempt. Contempt for Americans seen in the implication that people aren’t fit to work and cannot read or do arithmetic.
The problem is not, as it appears when shopping Baja Ranch, that people don’t know how to read and do arithmetic. They do! They do fine with cash registers, counting out money, reading stocking lists, preparing foods behind the counter, reading labels, using scales and so on. The problem is being paid too little for a fair day’s work.
In fact, there was no shortage of Americans who tried to get jobs in the 2010 census. Almost all of them, as far as I could tell, had a basic grasp of reading and math.
However, there’s always room for another scam at the bottom. Now that Americans can afford even less, they can have a certification dangled in front them, one that promises a future job, if and when they take some courses and pay to take a test that proves they have reading comprehension and the basic ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide.
From 2011, harshly:
An organization called “Skills for America’s Future, a business and community-college partnership based at the Aspen Institute in Washington and Colorado,” it is said is working to retrain and place Americans.
“Companies it already works with to link students with 21st-century job skills range from Accenture to UPS to Gap Inc,” it continues. (Boldface mine.)
Twenty-first century job skills? To drive UPS delivery?! To be an “outsourcing service” consultant for Accenture? Working in retail [at] young people’s denim mall stores is a 21st century skill for which people need training?
Training on not to steal from the cash register and how to resort all the clothes properly and put them back where they belong after a day of customers rummaging through them?
This is repellent rubbish. It is the stench of rot, of cynically coming to the conclusion that there’s nothing to be done but sell people on the idea that they’re inferior and need even more vocational training for the low wage jobs of the future. Another way of putting it is to piss in a jar and tell people to drink up because it’s lemonade.
In Michigan domestic manufacturing, except for cars and tanks, has disappeared. Electrolux, in Greenville, closed its plant, destroying employment in the town. All the jobs went overseas.
So to re-training camp, Montcalm Community College, to get people ready for the jobs of the future! In this case, solar panel manufacturing.
Problem, the jobs of the future are too few. And American companies still ship the jobs out.
Reports the LA Times:
“Solar panel technology was invented in the United States. So was the key technology for advanced batteries for electric vehicles, for which Michigan is also developing a number of factories.
“But in each case, sales and production are tiny compared with European countries.
“Even if clean technologies were to bloom, it’s not clear that they would produce large numbers of new jobs.”
“[The] U.S. usually has left matters to the private sector, and its multinational companies have moved tens of thousands of jobs overseas,” it reads.
It’s not the training. That is a rationalization.
In fact, a company could train people to do its work as easily, or even more quickly, than a community college. The US guitar and amplifier manufacturing industry didn’t send all its jobs to China because that country has community college training its workers to make rock and roll consumer electronics.
It’s all bullshit. The Los Angeles Times doesn’t state this. However, the story makes clear that re-training camp has a pretty good failure rate.
In 2016 it has become part of the explosive political environment. That it has failed so utterly is also one of the driving forces that has led to the rise of Donald Trump.
A lot of people just don’t believe anything establishment politicians say about the economy, jobs and the future. Furthermore, rage results when you hear still more of it.
And I covered that, in storytelling, quite ably:
Over the years, the retraining and community college scam — it’s a lot.
Some Generals der Flieger and Hauptmanner responsible for the American Wehrmacht’s proxy war via Saudi Arabia in Yemen have quietly being withdrawn. Don’t chalk it up to doing the right thing or aerial refueling, targeting services, intelligence gathering and replenishment for Saudi Arabia & Co’s US-armed military would have been stopped after a week or two, probably sometime last year.
The U.S. military has withdrawn from Saudi Arabia its personnel who were coordinating with the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, and sharply reduced the number of staff elsewhere who were assisting in that planning, U.S. officials told Reuters.
Fewer than five U.S. service people are now assigned full-time to the “Joint Combined Planning Cell,” which was established last year to coordinate U.S. support, including air-to-air refueling of coalition jets and limited intelligence-sharing, Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, a U.S. Navy spokesman in Bahrain, told Reuters.
That is down from a peak of about 45 staff members …
But wait, wait, wait, there’s no taking of responsibility. Quite the opposite.
“The U.S. officials said the reduced staffing is unrelated to the growing international concerns over civilian casualties in the 16-month civil war that has killed more than 6,500 people in Yemen, about half of them civilians,” reads Reuters.
“The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, stressed that as the strikes intensify again, the U.S. might decide to readjust its support.”
Sources deny the US aids in Saudi targeting, an unverifiable assertion.
Nothin’ makes America’s Wehrmacht stop doing what it does except, hmmm, orders from the Commander-in-Chief?
Presumably, this news story, or leak, was furnished because, finally, the pool of blood from fucking the dog on the global stage for the sake of counter-terrorism operations and “strategic alliances” has grown too big to totally ignore.
At another defense news/p.r. site it is noted that at least 20 American-made panzers (the Abrams tank) in the lastest Saudi Arabian arms deal are being supplied as replacements for those lost in action in Yemen.