11.30.16

Embrace your infirmity

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Imminent Catastrophe, Permanent Fail at 2:35 pm by George Smith

Time waits for no one, least of all, the glands. Embrace infirmity.

You’ve heard it before, from the archives for Old White Coot.

11.29.16

Contempt — it’s the American way

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Fiat money fear and loathers at 4:18 pm by George Smith

Writing about the social illness that’s tearing apart the US in its decline in 2016 is like pulling the wings off flies.

Endless cycles on the virtues of holding others unlike you in contempt, of adopting as a creed root hog or die.

Via Pine View Farm, the Gobble-Wallahs of Ayn Rand, always present:

On Monday Donald Trump is scheduled to discuss potential cabinet positions with a former bank CEO who bribed colleges to teach Ayn Rand, wants to end the Fed, and has argued that bank regulations dating back to the Great Depression should be chucked.

That man is John Allison, longtime head of the North Carolina-based bank BB&T and, most recently, president of the libertarian think tank Cato …

Allison likes to tell the story of two children playing in a sandbox, one of whom takes a toy from the other. When the aggrieved party complains to mommy, she tells them both to share. This is where it all went wrong. As the New York Times recounts:

“You learned in that sandbox at some really deep level that it’s bad to be selfish,” says Mr. Allison, adding that the mother has taught a horrible lesson.

It’s worth adding the guy’s a goldbug, too.

At some point, now well in the past, you just don’t care about any institutions the country allegedly stands for anymore. It’s all bullshit or stupendous fraud and the only reasonable response is laughter.

And when that happened to me, I wrote a song…


The best excerpt from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:

Ragnar Danneskjold: But I’ve chosen a special mission of my own. I’m after a man whom I want to destroy. He died many centuries ago, but until the last trace of him is wiped out of men’s minds, we will not have a decent world to live in.

Hank Rearden: What man?

Danneskjold: Robin Hood …. he is not remembered as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became a symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don’t have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, had demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by proclaiming his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors at the price of robbing his superiors. It is this foulest of creatures – the double-parasite who lives on the sores of the poor and the blood of the rich – whom men have come to regard as the moral idea … Do you wonder why the world is collapsing around us? That is what I am fighting, Mr. Rearden. Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive.


And, yes, that photo is of my copy of the book!

And, yes, yes, it’s true. You’ll find it hard to believe now that I’m partaking of the SNAP benefit but I once gave a bit of a talk at the Cato Institute. They even flew me across the country and put me up in a swank hotel for my wisdom.

That was an age ago, in 2003.

China Razor Blues

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Made in China at 1:36 pm by George Smith

There’s a wideheld assumption in the establishment that outsourced manufacturing of household goods to China has produced something much cheaper but equivalent to what middle class Americans were used to in the early Seventies.

Globalism good! You can buy more!

It’s true but only to a point that overlooks a very noticeable downside. Yes, I can buy 10 disposable razors at the dollar store for 99 cents. But they are not as good as the disposable razors I used in college.

In fact, I can always count on the first use of a new 10 cent Chinese razor to nick me. Nine times out of ten, it takes one shave before the razor doesn’t constitute a hazard. I’m not sure what the manufacturing trick/cheapnis is that guarantees it, but it’s real.

The shoddiness of certain types of Chinese goods is apparent if you must buy them all the time. Socks from the dollar store last about two washes before they sprout holes. A 25 dollar pair of faux leather plastic-wedded-to- rubber men’s shoes lasted a month before cracking and becoming unwearable.

This is our America, not likely to change, a place to be endured and coped with as it gets progressively and inexorably worse.

Not made in China

Or outsourced. “The China Toilet Blues,” from Old White Coot. Harp by Blind Poison Castorseed.

11.23.16

On another nugget of nose gold from the Culture of Lickspittle

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 6:08 pm by George Smith

When I see ein bisschen mob of blobby white guys ‘sieg heiling’ their new fuhrer in the current video of outrage, I’m sorry, they still have much more in common with this than Hitler’s SA gangsters.

If you think reposting the Atlantic’s smartphone video on social media makes you part of a noble army against a clear and present danger, you should probably lay off reading stories on post-election healing and the chugging of mid-priced chardonnays for awhile.

Collateral Damage

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 5:52 pm by George Smith

While you may be on the side that cheers when coal is condemned there is still much you ought to see in the short interview documentary, Collateral Damage.

“Nobody cares about us,” says one young man. And the bill for being cold, of not caring, just came due. That’s the long an short of it.

Argue all you wish about global warming and reliance on fossil fuels. But when you deprive hundreds of communities of a way to make a living, to be replaced only by the economies of abandoned places and you haven’t come up with a solution other than root hog or die, as a nation, we’ve failed.

I grew up in coal country and a couple of my best friends were sent to school and enjoyed life in the middle class because of the anthracite. On election day Schuylkill County went for Donald Trump, 70 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 30. It was the same ratio by which she was stoned in West Virginia.

11.21.16

Tariff terrors?

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Made in China, Rock 'n' Roll at 2:31 pm by George Smith

From the Dept. of Just Sayin’: In the dollar store, almost everything is from China. I shop at the dollar store for almost everything! Like tens of million in the rigged US economy.

If President Trump slaps a 47 percent tariff on everything from China, the dollar store becomes the buck and a half store. Ten crappy plastic disposable razors for 99 cents becomes five or six crappy plastic disposable razors for the same.

I’m talking about the fact that multiplying a very small amount by a percentage equals still a small amount. (100 pennies x 50 percent = 50 pennies. 100 pennies plus another 50 equals $1.50)

Now, if you buy at Target, where it’s all from China but more high-button, your pair of Chinese-made plastic fake leather, call them pleather, shoes for 30 bucks is now about 45. If they last only two weeks before cracking this may give you pause.

Expensive luxury items made in China, think Apple, become more exclusive and the company takes a hit. Or maybe it doesn’t.

Apple, the corporate tax dodger, is innovative. It will attempt to shift manufacturing to another serf labor country. Also, consider that America’s shoeshiners, the detail workers for the plutocracy, like the brand. They can afford to be soaked for another two or three hundred dollars.

During the election, Trump attacked Apple. Of course, who knows what his position will be tomorrow? You could always ditch your iPhone for a 10 buck LG smart burnphone and a pay-as-go card at the supermarket.

Across the pond at the Guardian, a curious article on Brexit and the rise in price of American-made goods like Gibson and Fender guitars due to devaluation of the English pound:

British guitar buyers could soon be playing the Brexit blues as price rises caused by the slump in the value of the pound feed through to music stores.

Prices are increasing by double digits as top US brands such as Gibson and Fender increase list prices to make up for the weaker purchasing power of sterling.

Anthony Macari, co-owner of Macari’s on London’s Denmark Street, said: “We are seeing increases of 10-15%, not just on American guitars but on guitars coming in from Europe and China. Everyone is catching up.”

Who in the working class in England could afford to buy new Gibsons, though? They’re largely high end pieces. Zero or bad credit? Forget it.

It’s part of the reason the guitar rock industry is flat. Think that wonderful term from teh Great Recession, delinquent or non-performing assets.

Well, there are always “Chibsons,” Chinese counterfeits sold through Alibaba. (Furthermore, are counterfeits subject to tariff?) Or Epiphones and Squiers, still cheap from China.

Here, if Trump actually implements a 47 percent tariff on them the rock bottom models only rise from 80-110 dollars to 160. It’s the Mexican-made Fenders where such a tariff would really begin to bite into Fender’s business since they’re the mid-level price instruments. A tariff shoves their prices up into the lower range of an American-made Fender, rendering the Mexican manufacturng facility uncompetitive.

But the American-made guitar industry has been in the doldrums for a long time. Classic rock is no longer hip with young people; neither is playing the electric guitar. Rising prices due to trade war just might not mean that much for the industry domestically.

A newspaper piece, fresh today:

“The industry’s challenge — or opportunity — is getting people to commit for life,” said Andy Mooney, Fender’s chief executive officer. “A pretty big milestone for someone adopting any form of instrument is getting them through the first song.”

The $6 billion U.S. retail market for musical instruments has been stagnant for five years, according to data compiled by research firm IBISWorld, and would-be guitar buyers have more to distract them than ever. So how do you convince someone to put down the iPhone …

“Fender says it hauls in about a half-billion dollars a year in revenue and is on track to grow in the high single digits this year,” continues the piece. “That’s still down from its $700 million in revenue in 2011 …”

What do do? What to do?

There’s not a lot that can be done. The electric guitar, the basic models, anyway, are as near perfect in design as possible. Adding software and chips to them has been sngularly meh. Largely, no one cares, who already plays.

Fender thinks development of tuning apps may be one answer. I’m not sold but I’m the old white coot.

What’s left is to curry and maintain the high-end snob market, embracing the American-based artisanal business model for the few left with any money, now that the middle class is largely gone. “[The] most devoted … evolving into collectors, their walls hung with high-end instruments,” is how the newspaper puts it.

The paradox, or tragedy, which I’ve mentioned before, is that Leo Fender made his instruments and amplifiers for that middle class. And it is in the hands of that class, here and in England (where the musicians were working class) that the instruments rode to into the history books.


“But what about Wal-Mart?” someone from the old hoosegow screamed on my Facebook timeline. “Who is going to pay for all of this? WE ARE …”

I don’t entirely agree and am not actually opposed to potential trade wars with China or Mexico.

Hard as it is to currently believe, classical economics, as explained by a guy like Dean Baker used to call for rich nations like the US to perhaps run a trade surplus and export capital, while the emerging nations use the money to make things bought by their own people.

From Baker, last week:

In the economic textbooks, rich countries like the United States are supposed to be exporting capital to the developing world. This provides them the means to build up their capital stock and infrastructure, while maintaining the living standards of their populations. This is the standard economic story where the problem is scarcity.

But to justify trade policies that have harmed tens of millions of U.S. workers, either by costing them jobs or depressing their wages, the Post discards standard economics and tells us the problem facing people in the developing world is that there is too much stuff. If we didn’t buy the goods produced in the developing world then there would just be a massive glut of unsold products.

In the standard theory the people in the developing world buy their own stuff, with rich countries like the U.S. providing the financing. It actually did work this way in the 1990s …

Startlingly, I didn’t know this until I read his book, Rigged. Here in America, the received wisdoms have been just the opposite.

As a personal example, I can use five plastic crap razors from the dollar store instead of ten, twice as long. Now I won’t look so good on many days when they dull out but who cares?

What does happen if Wal Mart takes a hit?


From the archives — Fender.

Guitars made in China — the counterfeits.

11.18.16

Inspiration

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, The Corporate Bund, War On Terror at 4:12 pm by George Smith

From the archives, “That’s Logistics,” satire using a ubiquitous v commercial ditty and one of the deadening news stories from America’s war on terror.

If you’been here all along it now seems like ancient history.

What should be obvious by now is that it’s inspired by a longstanding admiration for Tom Lehrer.

From his Wiki bio:

In 1953, inspired by the success of his performances, Lehrer paid $15 for some studio time to record Songs by Tom Lehrer. The initial pressing was 400 copies. At the time, radio stations would not give Lehrer air time because of his controversial subjects. He sold his album on campus at Harvard for $3 (equivalent to $27.00 today), while “several stores near the Harvard campus sold it for $3.50, taking only a minimal markup as a kind of community service. Newsstands on campus sold it for the same price.”[20] After one summer, he started to receive mail orders from all parts of the country (as far away as San Francisco, after The Chronicle wrote an article on the record). Interest in his recordings was spread by word of mouth; friends and supporters brought their records home and played them for their friends, who then also wanted a copy. Lehrer later recalled, “Lacking exposure in the media, my songs spread slowly. Like herpes, rather than ebola.”

The album—which included the macabre “I Hold Your Hand in Mine”, the mildly risqué “Be Prepared”, and “Lobachevsky” (regarding plagiarizing mathematicians)—became a cult success via word of mouth, despite being self-published and without promotion. Lehrer embarked on a series of concert tours and in 1959 recorded a second album, which was released in two versions: the songs were the same, but More of Tom Lehrer was studio-recorded while An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer was recorded live in concert. In 2013, Lehrer recalled the studio sessions:

“The copyist arrived at the last minute with the parts and passed them out to the band… And there was no title on it, and there was no lyrics. And so they ran through it, ‘what a pleasant little waltz’… And the engineer said, ‘”Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,’ take one,” and the piano player said, ‘”What?”‘ and literally fell off the stool.”

Quick hit, before he’s gone…

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Extremism at 12:40 pm by George Smith

I have a hard time imagining Mitt Romney being anywhere near Donald Trump without spontaneously combusting, but hey! If he wants to be our von Ribbentrop he’d probably be a lot nicer than Giuliani or John Bolton. History sometimes rhymes and “Binders Full of Women Blues” from the archives does too.

Yes, now one of the more popular (as in 78 listens!) from Old White Coot.


Donald J. Trump just appointed the real General Jack Ripper, Michael Flynn, to national security advisor, except he’s Army, Ripper was USAF. Much like Ripper’s catastrophic belief that fluoridation was “a Commie plot to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids” in Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Flynn believes that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading throught the country, impurifying our precious bodily fluids, so to speak. “It is not,” informs the New York Times, with some lack of prudent emphasis.

Here’s one thing the Democratic Party never understood and now it lies in ruins. For the eight years of the Obama administration GOP special interest groups sent an assortment of paranoids and bigots into small town red state USA to give lectures on sharia and how Iran was going to put an end to American civilization with an electromagnetic pulse.

Instead, it didn’t even go there. If you couldn’t appreciate the brilliance of seminars given at some John Podesta-run think tank, then you had no potential.

God, they just lost the election, with leadership by one of HRC’s top flunkies, and look at this spell-binding list of pablums offered up as ideas and reports.

On the other hand, the GOP and sharia — in the states, often mentioned here.

11.14.16

Phoned it in (the fine print comes in)

Posted in Decline and Fall, Shoeshine at 4:58 pm by George Smith

“President Barack Obama didn’t quite blame his ally Hillary Clinton for causing her stunning loss to Donald Trump last week — but he chided her for not focusing on reaching out to white, non-urban voters like he did in 2008 and 2012,” reads Politico.

“Obama — about to hand off the presidency to a man whom he declared temperamentally unfit to serve — pointedly declined to endorse Clinton’s own explanation for her defeat …”


Phoning it in, the first two paragraphs of Stronger Together:

IT HAS BEEN SAID that America is great because America is good.

We agree.

Word bon-bons for the culture of lickspittle.

Some arithmetic, not Trumpmatic

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Permanent Fail at 10:31 am by George Smith

Homeland Security employs a quarter of a million people, the majority of which are not involved in physical strong-arming, not a secret police.

ICE –Immigration and Customs Enforcement employs 20,000. DEA employs 11,000.

Trump spouts nonsense when he says he can deport 2-3 million. Simple brainpower and arithmetic show it’s not a trivial thing. Ya can’t just tell border patrol to get rid of them.

How many people do you need to process and forcibly deport one person, completely disregarding the need for housing, transportation and facilities? Two, three, more?

The domestic national security regime wold immediately have to be expanded by a few million, at least. And, it has to be said, transfer camps would need to be built. Remember, Donald J. Trump doesn’t do back of the envelope calculations; he doesn’t do any serious detail thinking.

Do you think the US will embark on building an infrastructure and security force similar to what — well, what other country? The answer’s on the tip of your tongue. But do you really think that?

This is not to say you shouldn’t be concerned by his nincompoop blather on “60 Minutes.” It is to say what will have to be done if it’s not total rubbish? Who’s going to sign up to join the secret police, to be the force for the loading areas?


A reader points to an article at Bloomberg asserting prison stocks are surging as a consequence of Trump triumphant:

Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential elections helped shares of Corrections Corp. rise as much as 60 percent before paring their surge to 34 percent by 10:14 a.m. in New York, while GEO Group Inc. was trading 18 percent higher by the same time.

Those moves mean the stocks have recouped some of the losses they’ve registered since August, when the Department of Justice said it would start phasing out privately run jails. Analysts say President Trump would be likely to reverse that policy …

This could cynically be described as part of Trump’s jobs program.

However, private prisons are already filled.

Since mass deportation would be a federal project and DoJ was ordered to divest from private prisons that would, as the Bloomberg piece states, need to reverse.

Federal prisons holds 220,000, of which only 30,000 were held by private sector business. Again, the expansion would have to be radical and impossible to ignore.


From the Dept. of Grim Jokes:

Digital copies of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Hitler: Ascent — 1889 – 1939 surge out of Amazon a week after the election of Donald Trump. Two weeks later American readers ask for refunds upon finding both books are over 1000 pages; wish to buy safety pins to assuage guilt over epic fuck-up, instead.


Your song for the day. Fighting involves willingness to take a punch, not posting crap dumpling pic memes on social media.

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