01.30.17

Brainless Memes, Steve Jobs and the fall of the United States

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 4:09 pm by George Smith

I’m sick of iPhone Steve Jobs as offspring of immigrants posters/signage. Maybe you are too. “We’d have no Apple or iPhone if it weren’t for Steve, the son of a Syrian migrant,” goes the bleat. You’d have to use Samsung or LG!

It qualifies as yet another brainless meme of the moment, picked up and passed around like some convenient aphorism from the Bible, something that professes to explain exactly why Trump’s immigration ban is bad with as few words and troublesome thinking as possible.

Jobs is a poor, make that a wretched, choice. As a human being he was an obvious louse.

Jobs had no obvious interest in being decent to others. His iPhones are famously made in China in a giant complex (paradoxically owned by absentee Korean tech plutocrats) where the conditions were so bad workers committed suicide by jumping off the roof in desperation.

And here’s another kick in the ass: Steve Jobs and Apple were/are notorious abusers of the H-1B immigrants for specialty positions visa program. Along with the rest of the tech industry, they use H-1Bs to procure workforces of younger foreign computer engineers and programmers who can be paid less than older Americans they’ve been hired to replace. It much improves the bottom line.

For examples, just read the recent news and see who’s being profiled. Green card holders, H-1B tech-workers, like these interviewed by the Guardian.

So today, the tech industry is embarrassed and in pain, as it should be. You see, its CEOs aren’t the unbending democracy-loving geniuses they like to imagine themselves to be. They’re just lickspittles to power. Naturally, they’ll get over it. They’re nothing if not capable of blowing with the wind. [1]

Before the election they tended to see Trump as a long shot, an idiot, someone who couldn’t possibly beat Hillary Clinton. And they most noticeably chastised PayPal-billionaire Peter Thiel for his support of the candidate.

But after Trump was elected they changed their tune, crawling on their bellies for a big corporate tax break, for even more H-1Bs, for any bribes they could cadge. And so they’ve been caught flatfooted by Trump’s latest move, people not to be taken seriously when it comes to defending alleged American principles.


However, the immigration crisis is a moment when you can potentially see the American experiment’s possible end coming into sight.

In Volker Ullrich’s Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939, he describes a moment near the end of the book when Germany left the company of the world’s civilized nations. It was the Night of Broken Glass when chancellor Hitler’s minions organized a nationwide attack on Jewish businesses leaving windows on the street, property destroyed and odious art and graffiti on shop fronts.

It was at that point that Hitler’s regime doomed itself.

Truth be told, the United States we’ve known for the last fifteen or more years has been steadily accumulating atrocities globally, showing its will and readiness to leave the maintaining of a decent civilization to other better places.


Finally, the popular story this weekend has focused on all the fine-looking and smart young people caught in the network of airport Homeland Security holding areas. Who, among all the civil servants involved, rebelled and took no part. Of this, we did not read.

While these are compelling news stories they still leave much of the approaching storm unseen. There is, by example, the war crime perpetrated by US Special Forces in Yemen this weekend. Organized and strategized by President Obama, left to Trump to greenlight, a strike which slaughtered civilians, including an eight-year old girl, for the sake of so-called intelligence-gathering.

You could also read commandos “fought and killed female fighters of an al-Qaida affiliate in the raid Saturday in Yemen in which a team member was killed, three were wounded and three injured, the Pentagon said Monday.”

“[A spokesperson] said the SEALs saw the women running to fighting positions as the team approached an enemy compound in Yemen’s interior.”

The attack was a cluster-f from start to finish as well as a war crime. This is no longer hidden. Keep in mind, the mission had been devised by the Obama administration. It is not the singular property of the Trump administration which merely went ahead with it.


We are all immigrants now etc

[1]. As predicted, the tech industry blows with the wind. By late in the day they were all ready to jump to the defense (but not jump too high) of their H-1Bs the world over. “Googlers” even staged a worldwide walkout, a big 2000 strong. A paltry amount in the scale of Alphabet finance — 2 million in matching money — was pledged to the cause by Google corporate. By contrast, Google corporate spent 5 billion on a corporate stock buyback in 2016 — a predator economy stunt of no social value but popular with American big businesses.

Why, even Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook had great grandparents who came from Europe! I bet you didn’t know that! My grandparents came from Hungary. I bet you didn’t know that, either!

01.26.17

Reviewed: Roseanne for President!

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:04 pm by George Smith

Unexpectedly, a fine doc/personality portrait on Roseanne Barr’s presidential run in 2012, first in contesting the nomination of Jill Stein in the Green Party and after that as nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party. (Eldridge Cleaver, Dick Gregory, Leonard Peltier from prison…)

Barr suffers no fools, ever, and the lack of desire to be ingratiating or tolerance for any bull being smoked in conversation made her a hard sell, even on the US fringe in 2012. That was and is a pity. Treated as a joke, she wasn’t.

In the doc no punches are pulled. Barr’s Green campaign turns forlorn when she chooses to use only teleconferencing to make her pitches in the primary season. It puts her campaign manager, Farheen, in a losing proposition, like having a star athlete who won’t show up for the games except as a figure on a collectible sports card that comes with a pack of bubblegum.

When Barr finally got out on the trail her gifts as a natural comedian with a supercilious view of our national predicament and what working people stand for came through. And it works, sort of. It turned out Barr could still bring down the lightning when she felt like it. Even the scene of her wrecking the national anthem at a baseball game, an event for which she was pilloried has to be re-evaluated. In 2017, now you get it.

It’s not her fault it no longer matters.

01.22.17

The Boss — turkey frank of “the resistance” is in Australia

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll at 4:54 pm by George Smith

Here’s Bruce Springsteen in September of this year:

“I believe that there’s a price being paid for not addressing the real cost of the deindustrialization and globalization that has occurred in the United States for the past 35, 40 years and how it’s deeply affected people’s lives and deeply hurt people to where they want someone who says they have a solution. And Trump’s thing is simple answers to very complex problems …The whole thing is tragic.”


Most of Bruce Springsteen’s audience voted for the man.

But poor Bruce, he wound up playing for Hillary Clinton in Philly before the roof fell in. And Obama a day or so ago.[1] Such pointless rearguard actions.

But today, reading from the Guardian:

On Sunday night, in Perth for the first leg of his third Australian tour in four years, Springsteen laid his cards on the table early. “Our hearts and minds are with the hundreds of thousands of women and men that marched yesterday who rallied against hate, and division, and in support of tolerance [and] inclusion,” he said. “On E Street, we stand with you. We are the new American resistance.”

At this juncture Bruce and the E Streeters asserting they’re part of some American resistance is about as inspirational as coming home from the supermarket and finding you’ve mistakenly bought turkey franks instead of the all beef ones as you unpack.


[1]. “Springsteen played a private gig for President Obama’s staff last week. Did those in attendance and those in the elite circles of the Democratic party leadership think that the world the Boss created on The River and Nebraska came out of nothing? That the scars of those brutal years had gone away? Did they really think that those fat GDP figures and Obama’s job creation record meant all boats had been lifted on a rising tide? Why is it that a nationalist demagogue has to be the one to say: ‘The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country.’ ”

Trump at the pinnacle

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 4:03 pm by George Smith

Yanis Varoufakis has written a good column for the Guardian today. In the past I’ve recommended his books and his current essay is again familiar territory.

Bits:

A clash of two insurgencies is now shaping the west. Progressives on both sides of the Atlantic are on the sidelines, unable to comprehend what they are observing. Donald Trump’s inauguration marks its pinnacle.

One of the two insurgencies shaping our world today has been analysed ad nauseum. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and the broad Nationalist International that they are loosely connected to have received much attention, as has their success at impressing upon the multitudes that nation-states, borders, citizens and communities matter.

However, the other insurgency that caused the rise of this Nationalist International has remained in the shadows: an insurrection by the global establishment’s technocracy whose purpose is to retain control at all cost.


[Billions] of people in the “third” world were pulled out of poverty while hundreds of millions of western workers were slowly sidelined, pushed into more precarious jobs, and forced to financialise themselves either through their pension funds or their homes. And when the bottom fell out of this increasingly unstable feedback loop, neoliberalism’s illusions burned down and the west’s working class ended up too expensive and too indebted to be of interest to a panicking global establishment.


Previously, Varoufakis, here.

Particularly, the story of the gigantic jar of pickles…

“Take for example, Vlasic pickles, a well-known everyday brand. Walmart’s ‘innovation’ was to sell these pickles in one gallon jars for $2.97. Was this a shrewd retailer’s response to market demand? Few family refrigerators had room for such an item.

“So what was the selling point?

“It was the idea of a huge quantity at ultra-low price. Walmart’s customers, in this sense, were not buying pickles as such. They were buying into the symbolic value of cheapness; into the notion of having appropriated so many pickles for so little money. Indeed, it made them feel as if they were Walmart accomplices — in association with an icon of American corporate might, they had forced producers to make so much available for so little!

“The gigantic jar of pickles thus ended up denoting a small victory at a time of wholesale defeat. Whose defeat? That of the American worker, whose wages had never really recovered since 1973. Moreover their working conditions deteriorated as employers everywhere faithfully copied the Walmart model…

01.19.17

Trump’s look into hell

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 3:26 pm by George Smith

“By the time he is sworn in Friday, Donald Trump will have undergone a haunting rite of passage: the classified briefing given to every incoming president that explains how he can order a nuclear attack,” reads a story at Politico on the President’s initial contact with the go codes and the US strategic operational plan for global strike.

It was originally called the SIOP, or Single Integrated Operational Plan, and was developed and ordered into place under Eisenhower.

The SIOP was a mechanical plan, once set in motion –irreversible. Over the course of from one half hour after the execute order to about a day later it would grindingly go about ending all civilized life in the northern hemisphere.

Some descriptions on it, taken from Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser convey the scope of it:

“[A SIOP briefing] was a ‘descent into the deep heart of darkness, a twilight underworld governed by disciplined, meticulous, and energetically mindless groupthink aimed at wiping out half of the people living on nearly one third of the earth’s surface.’ ”


“Hundreds of nuclear warheads would hit Moscow—dozens of them aimed at a single radar installation outside the city. During his previous job working for the Joint Chiefs, Butler had dealt with targeting issues and the damage criteria for nuclear weapons. He was hardly naive. But the days and weeks spent going through the SIOP, page by page, deeply affected him.

“For more than forty years, efforts to tame the SIOP, to limit it, reduce it, make it appear logical and reasonable, had failed. ‘With the possible exception of the Soviet nuclear war plan, this was the single most absurd and irresponsible document I had ever reviewed in my life,’ General Butler later recalled.”

In 2003 the SIOP was retired and replaced by the OPLAN, varying by numbers, the most current appently being OPLAN 8010.

The SIOP’s primary focus was the Soviet Union/Russia. The OPLAN was devised to allegedly be more flexible in a political context, now including Russia, China, North Korea, Syria and Iran in its targeting.

At the height of the Cold War the SIOP called for hitting the Soviet Union with 10,000 weapons. The smallest option called for a strike with 2,000, still a civilization-ending thermonuclear spasm.

Whereas once Moscow was targeted with hundreds of bombs, today it is apparently scheduled to be on the receiving end of a mere 60 or so.

Progress.

Exposure to the reality of US thermonuclear strategic planning and global strike for the first time is said to make rational people feel faint.

Last laugh in the Rust Belt

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:40 pm by George Smith

The Guardian visited Bethlehem. Northampton County, Pennsy. Along with the coal counties to the north, where Democrats flipped from Obama to Trump, the results were not a complete surprise to me or a friend from the same area, both of us now in California.

The Guardian gets an interesting quote from a former steel worker: “But you know what, people like me, even though I voted for Hillary, were smart enough to know that the crap that we went through – we didn’t want any more of it.”

“[Some] Democrats stayed home, some new voters excited about Trump came out, and some Democrats crossed party lines to vote for a promise Trump made over and over, that he would make America great again,” the Guardian reads.

They voted for hope. Just the way they voted for hope eight years ago. And mostly saw just more disappointment.

The Guardian maintains it will be camping out in Northampton County for the coming year.

On the other side, the best headline all week — Fascinating poll findings: Only white Americans like Trump.

After awhile, even if you voted for the loser, it gets on your nerves. So by all means, keep it up swells.


Saw it all come down. Knew that someday the bill would come due.

01.17.17

Inclusive inequality

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:11 am by George Smith

From the wires:

World leaders gather this week at the Swiss ski resort to discuss how to make globalism more inclusive in response to the rising tide of populism.

As part of that agenda Chief Operating Officer of the Thomson Reuters Foundation Antonio Zappulla has suggested private and public sector leaders be encouraged to be more “inclusive” of LGBT staff.Breitbart


China’s President Xi Jinping will promote “inclusive globalization” at this month’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos and will warn that populist approaches can lead to “war and poverty” … Reuters

Your head just exploded.


For the past 20 years, CEOs have been largely positive about the contribution of globalization to the free movement of capital, goods, and people. However, this year’s survey respondents are skeptical,” the survey, released on Monday evening at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said.

The results come after a tumultuous 12 months for politics with the election win for Donald Trump and the Brexit vote in the U.K. Leading analysts to believe that voters are beginning to question globalization and current socio-economic models. CNBC


In an interview with The Independent, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, a former UN Deputy Secretary-General and Labour government minister who helped found the BSDC, said the 21st century was shaping up to witness a clash between two great political ideas: nationalism and globalism.

Saying he was speaking personally, rather than as the BSDC’s chair, he admitted that globalisation “hasn’t really worked for many people …”

“Don’t throw globalisation out with the bath water as Trump and some components of the Ukip unit of the Brexiteers appear to have done. But instead embrace globalisation 2.0, or whatever you’d call it …” Lord Mark Malloch-Brown said. — the Independent


Progressive plutocrats, with whom Ms. Freeland seems to feel some kinship, are now catatonic in the face of a Trump presidency. Davos will never be the same. There was always something surreal about the Davos plutocrats and their hangers-on gathering in splendid isolation to decry rising income inequality. In the Trump era, they will seem even more hopelessly extraterrestrial.

While the Davos crowd was making its usual calls for “inclusive growth” and climate accords, the masses had other things on their mind, such as the utter repudiation of the experts in business and politics … — Globe and Mail


Supporters of globalization need to develop a new way to promote open markets that relies on smaller trade deals and helps people who are feeling left out, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.

“I certainly hope there is not a move toward deglobalization,” Lagarde said Friday in an interview with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait in New York. “I equally think we have to move toward globalization that has a different face, and which is not excluding people along the way.” — Newsmax


The current new mediocre

Overall, and this is a point I made in my speech in Chicago a few days ago, we see growth as too low for too long and benefiting too few.

In and of itself, it is not good news, but it is also fertile ground for political dynamics that can depress global growth even more. We believe that countries can actually move from the current new mediocre, move from that current new mediocre to a new pact …

We believe that more can be done to raise growth now and to make it more inclusive. Again, having a determination to include all in the social contract is great, but there has to be growth in order to allocate among everybody

But it needs to be slightly different. It cannot be that push for trade as we have seen it historically. The inclusiveness, the determination to make it work for all, and to pay attention to those that are at risk of being left out, whether it is as a result of technology, digital economy, or international trade by modification of supply chains, that factor has to be taken into account …

In this context, I am pleased to note that our Board recently approved the extension of zero interest rates …
Christine LaGarde, International Monetary Fund managing director


You need a smartphone to join the world

Selah!

Trump & the lashing of the lickspittles

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 10:40 am by George Smith

Witnessing Donald Trump tweet bully American and foreign businesses is inspiring.

Four years from now the net result might be zero but he’s the 1st president in my memory who actually relishes scaring/humiliating corporate CEOs publicly.

Since our CEOs are primarily lickspittles and bootlicks (to shareholders, Wall Street, money, power, etc) some are trying to be apple-polishers already. They wish to get ahead of the game. ‘[Many] companies fear being lashed by Trump,” reads Fortune today. “Everyone is trying to curry favor with the new administration,” parrots someone at the LA Times.

Take Walmart, which today announced it’s going to create “10,000 new jobs” this year after decimating American employment and communities to China for profit in the last three decades. Of course it’s nonsense.

Just like the company’s assertions that it sells more stuff from America these days.

Reports Reuters: “Walmart’s job announcement follows the retailer’s decision in January 2016 to announce the closing of 154 poor-performing U.S. stores, which affected 10,000 U.S. workers.” That’s what you call a zero-sum game. Literally.

Walmart also is promising to open “training Academies around the country” to provide “specialty training” to its employees because everyone knows the real reason they’re been cut loose from the economy in the last decade is their LACK OF TRAINING, particularly the kind you need to work in retail!

Training academies! It sounds so special.

Americans always need more training! And over the last 20 years the training and retraining has worked so well, now we have Donald Trump!

And here’s a skit/song about American training. It’s funny, vile and so apropos! As you know I’ve had it up to here with the Americans and their need for training meme.


Quotes

The rewards of retraining are highest for computing skills, but there is no natural pathway from trucker to coder. And even if there were, many of those already in the workforce lack both the confidence and the capability to make the switch …

There is much talk about lifelong learning, though few countries are doing much about it. The Nordics fall into this less populated camp. But it is Singapore [the wart on the tip of Malaya] that can lay claim to the most joined-up approach with its SkillsFuture initiative.

Given Singapore’s size and political system, this approach is not easily replicated in many other countries … —the Economist


“Regardless of what Trump says, coal and oil are not the future. Mining and drilling operations will shut down in the coming decades. A plan to educate or retrain those who will undoubtedly be out of jobs will be necessary in future.” — some letter-writer


But in an economy in which automation and globalization are rapidly changing and even eliminating certain jobs, American workers and companies might come to see education not as a life-stage, but as a way of living …

When The Atlantic’s Alana Semuels investigated ways for Democrats to help the Rust Belt economy, she reported that almost every economist she spoke with mentioned the same thing: worker training program.

But as Semuels pointed out, there’s just one problem with government retraining programs. They don’t really work. Workers are reluctant to attend them for fear that they’re crummy … — the Atlantic


Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind the slime of a new bureaucracy. — Kafka

01.16.17

Davos Man: Party like it’s the new Berghof

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 2:05 pm by George Smith

The heroism of the 1%: The NY Times reports that “one of the most popular events” at Davos is “a simulation of a refugee’s experience, where Davos attendees crawl on their hands and knees and pretend to flee from advancing armies.” — Barbara Ehrenreich, today


Berghof Davos Men are a bit down this year

From the NYT’s secretary/groupie to Davos Men, Andrew Ross Sorkin:

It is this group of so-called plutocrats that largely failed to anticipate — and may have even unconsciously generated — the seeping anti-establishment movement across the globe …

“Success,” [Naomi Klein] wrote, continuing to describe the middle class, “is a party to which they were not invited, and they know in their hearts that this rising wealth and power is somehow directly connected to their growing debts and powerlessness.”

The United States ranked 23rd out of 30 advanced economies. In terms of wage and nonwage compensation, it ranked last; in social protection, it came in 25th. It also came in 25th on “intermediation of business investment” — in other words, the amount of money that goes into productive investments, such as research and development and infrastructure as opposed to share buybacks. (Norway ranked No. 1. Living standards there rose by 10.6 percent from 2008 to 2013 while the economy grew only 0.5 percent.)

A Davos forum executive, Adrian Monck, trots out the favorite globalist’s tale: Their work has lifted “billions” out of poverty:

“The benefits of globalization are there to see, in jobs in China, India and many emerging markets” …

Dean Baker, economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, as well as Bernie Sanders, have taken aim at this glib dismissal of the cost to Americans over the past 40 years.

Most powerfully, Baker kicks off his new book, Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer, with a succinct takedown of the meme:

Their argument was that Sanders, by pushing trade policies to help U.S. workers, specifically manufacturing workers, risked undermining the well-being of the world’s poor because exporting manufactured goods to the United States and other wealthy countries is their path out of poverty. The role model was China, which by exporting has largely eliminated extreme poverty and drastically reduced poverty among its population. Sanders and his supporters would block the rest of the developing world from following the same course …

The story made a nice contribution to preserving the status quo, but it was less valuable if you respect honesty in public debate.

The problem in the logic of this argument should be apparent to anyone who has taken an introductory economics course. It assumes that the basic problem of manufacturing workers in the developing world is the need for someone who will buy their stuff. If people in the United States don’t buy it, then the workers will be out on the street and growth in the developing world will grind to a halt …

Baker continues, arguing that what the globalists contend is good for everyone constitutes abnormal economics:

[The] United States, Japan, and the European Union should be running large trade surpluses, which is what an outflow of capital means. Rich countries like ours should be lending money to developing countries, providing them with the means to build up their capital stock and infrastructure while they use their own resources to meet their people’s basic needs.

This wasn’t just theory. That story accurately described much of the developing world, especially Asia, through the 1990s …

Instead, we have the reverse in which the United States runs a huge trade deficit and millions of jobs have been sacrificed to Asia.

“In short, there is no truth to the story that the job loss and wage stagnation faced by manufacturing workers in the United States and other wealthy countries was a necessary price for reducing poverty in the developing world,” writes Baker. “This is a fiction that is used to justify the upward redistribution of income in rich countries.”

I can’t give it the justice it deserves. Best to read the book. Rigged will make you a believer.

It’s worth adding Americans were never asked whether they wanted to be a party to the process which started with the Clinton administration and continues to this day. They were just told to eat it, that there would be benefits, always vague, like better lives due to ubiquitous computing and always, cheaper stuff. You could go back to school or retrain and retrain again as you tumbled down your own personalized slope to total ruin.

But yes, indeed there is cheaper stuff, as a trip to a year or two shopping exclusively at any dollar store will show you. There has to be. Because the better jobs never arrived and dollar processed foodstuffs, candy, sundries, bathroom cleaners that don’t clean, plastic socks, tights and cowboy hats are all one can afford.

However, a referendum on the process, a rejection of the globalists’ Trade Treaty of US Versailles has come in. It’s the election of Donald Trump and the rejection of Clintonism. Whether this means anything other than a continued hardening of root hog or die as the prevailing system of all systems remains to be seen.

At Davos, they’re worried enough to come up witha new phrase — inclusive globalism. Like last year’s inclusive capitalism [1], it’s just pap.


[1]. 02/09/15 Which brings us to inclusive capitalism, a cloud of foul air described as new economic perfume, emanating from the camp of Hillary Clinton and her coterie of millionaire groupie economic advisers …

With advice from more than 200 policy experts, Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to answer what has emerged as a central question of her early presidential campaign strategy: how to address the anger about income inequality without overly vilifying the wealthy [who are her major benefactors] …

Behind many of these proposals is a philosophy, endorsed by Mrs. Clinton’s closest economic advisers and often referred to as inclusive capitalism, that contends that a majority of Americans do not want to punish the rich; they just want to feel that they, too, have a chance to succeed.

Selah!

01.12.17

Short version of #Goldengate

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:06 pm by George Smith


Originally from A Scandal in Belgravia

Solid gold Culture of Lickspittle hit, hotcha!

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