04.14.17

The Empire and its Vengeance Weapon

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 11:17 am by George Smith

Today Fox News is getting shelled on social media for playing Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” over footage of the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) in Afghanistan. [1]. This seems unfair to me.

The “we’ll put a boot in your ass” theme of the Keith song is right in line with the glee that made the news of the MOAB go viral yesterday. As in 2003, the mainstream media has not been able to get enough of the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB).

It’s a bit late in the game to try shaming someone else over it now when there was no problem initially. We even liked all the news we could get of sticking it to anybody and everybody in the Middle East.

We wet the bed but good. No second thoughts and finger-pointing allowed now.

Keep in mind that fifteen years in Afghanistan is a solid indication this is a war that’s lost. The US military has no strategy except brute force and terror. Use of the monster bomb, then, is use of a vengeance weapon, something a military that’s desperate for a success, any success, does.

The choice of the term vengeance weapon is deliberate. Vengeance weapons, or the V weapons like the V-1 and V-2, were developed and used when there was no hope of the Third Reich winning the war in Europe.

The vengeance weapons were military insignificant. In the end they accomplished nothing, only further hardening the wills of the civilians in London they were used against.

The Pentagon claimed 36 ISIS fighters were killed. At about 16 million dollars per bomb, that’s about over haf a million dollars a head. It’s in line with the pointlessness outside of symbolic terror of the Third Reich’s vengeance weapons.


[1]. “Given this culture, maybe the U.S. isn’t the best country to bring humanitarianism and freedom to the world by dropping love bombs on them” tweet from the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald.

Keep in mind that news anchor Brian Williams waxed rhapsodic over Tomahawk missile salvos being launched into Syria just last week. They were said to be “beautiful” by Williams.


While the news over the MOAB has been enthusiastically over-the-top domestically (“It’s the first time this bomb has been used in combat!”), in the end the President and the Department of Defense will find that use of the MOAB has just been seen as a morally bankrupt stunt everywhere else. The world now sees the wealthiest country in the world dropping a ridiculously cruel bomb on one of the poorest places in the world, a country it’s been punishing without much effect except to make more enemies for a decade and a half. And that the originating country thinks this is such a good thing it arranges a publicity party for the coming out.


Here, another excerpt from Weapon of the Week in March of 2003, a column that was totally unique and way ahead of its time.

Entitled “The War Wanker:”

“Operation Iraqi Freedom” would not be complete without the combined power of war wankers. The wanker army, consisting of retired generals, TV reporters, administration fuglemen, and national pundits, stroke and soothe the polity with kriegfreude—war glee.

It conducts this operation by either suppressing pictures of naked horror—war blood and guts—or delivering only the most fleeting images of it. Into this void it jams a wealth of interesting and true stories, the tales that are interesting being not true and the ones that are true being not interesting.


War wankers agonize over American casualties but leave enemy dead invisible. They yak about violations of the Geneva Convention without considering that the dropping of thousands of tons of explosives from on high requires a good deal of cold blood and inevitably inspires awful retaliations.

The war wanker dwells lovingly on wonder weapons from the land of the brave, prattling on from a green television stage or a blacked-out flight deck.

But the best thing about the war wanker is that he or she comes cheap. Statements like “they’ll be feeling pain tonight in Baghdad” are pennies on the word, with salaries almost always less than the cost of machinery of destruction. And some in this army even labor for free—the joy of the work being its own reward.

04.13.17

Mother of All Bombs joy: A pure Culture of Lickpittle moment

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 11:47 am by George Smith

It’s been fourteen years since I wrote about the MOAB (the Mother of All Bombs) for my Weapon of the Week column in the Village Voice. And today the MOAB is back in hot, trending viral news as the US employed it in one of our forever wars in Afghanistan. Wars we never win but for which there is a never-ending supply of really big bombs from our weapon shops.

Weapon of the Week was a satirical run on the implements of war and killing then common in US newspapers. As part of the joy over war the US mainstream media loved weapon stories. Much of the time leading up to the invasion of the Iraq was spent devoting column inches to Gobble-Wallah coverage of what the Department of Defense was readying for the citizens of the Middle East.

And no matter how badly the wars have gone this has never changed. In fact, the cheerleading has become worse. Criticisms and derision, no matter how well-reasoned and deserved, have been utterly dismissed from the national conversation. And the web and old media now overflow with cheerleading pieces on the technologies and ways of American war (see The National Interest, Business Insider, War is Boring et al).

So there’s really no point to doing something new on the MOAB. My original was perfect and it’s all you have to know.


Exultation over the new MOAB—perhaps the ugliest and most stupid of new weapons in the U.S. armory—reveals a poverty of intellect and heart in the country. A clumsy multi-ton monster bomb tested in Florida last week has no practical war purpose other than terror, in a military whose signal achievement in the last decade has been to make smaller weapons unerringly accurate.

The MOAB is the natural result of allowing munitions engineers to run amok, a design by the aggressively mediocre who in a better time and place would be sent into early retirement for the good of the taxpayer.

The Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or Mother of All Bombs (quite the rib-tickler), is so big it must be shoved out the tail of a lumbering transport plane on a sled attached to a drag parachute. This means MOAB can only be used against the helpless—an enemy who cannot shoot back because its air force has already been utterly smashed, its anti-aircraft missile network erased from the target area. A very large, undefended mosque would be a good hit for MOAB—meeting the bomb’s criterion of use for “psychological” effect.

An idiot stationed in the Pentagon TV newsroom jabbered about the MOAB’s “guidance” by Global Positioning System—great precision being unnecessary on the 21,000-pound bomb, another clue to its construction by government-sanctioned ninnies.

A small part of the blame for the MOAB must go to Dynetics, one more in a dismaying number of corporations that exist to provide applications in mayhem. The company’s logo on the MOAB’s tail was probably thought of as a coup in corporate advertising, although a bracing “Fuck You!” might have better created the impression that the thing was made by real people rather than a labful of killer androids on Eglin Air Force Base.

The MOAB is said to be a long-awaited improvement on the 15,000-pound Commando Vault (“Daisy Cutter”) bomb, a canister of aluminum powder mixed in a slurry originally made to clear landing spaces of underbrush and demolish minefields. Daisy Cutters were used in Gulf War I and again in Afghanistan, to no obvious effect other than the creation of media and Pentagon erections. These cost $27,000 and change per bang, so even allowing for a three-ton increase in weight, MOAB should be cheap by Defense Department standards.

If the MOAB makes an appearance over Iraq, count on it to be enthusiastically superfluous due to the military axiom: A handful of really big bombs dropped in the open can’t compare to thousands of much smaller ones smashing through windows, doorways, and hidey-holes.

the Village Voice, March 18, 2003


The MOAB was made for Iraq. It has been more of a symbolic, in a real murderous asshole way, thing. It serves no military purpose other than pure spite. Deploying it over Afghanistan after fifteen years of relentless bombing and black-bagging of the populace is nothing more than use of it as a vengeance weapon.

So what are the Gobble-wallahs actually saying about the MOAB today?

U.S. forces in Afghanistan dropped a 22,000-pound bomb on Islamic State forces in eastern Afghanistan Thursday, the Pentagon announced in a statement.

Gen. John W. Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the bomb was “the right munition” to use against the Islamic State because of the group’s use of roadside bombs, bunkers and tunnels. — The WaPost

The right munition.


Donald Trump described the dropping of the GBU-43 bomb as “another successful job” by the military.

Just minutes after news broke that the U.S. military had dropped the “mother of all bombs” — the biggest non-nuclear weapon — on an ISIS cave complex in Afghanistan Thursday, the president dismissed the idea that it was meant to influence North Korea.

“Really another successful job,” Trump said from the White House. “We’re very, very proud of our military. We are so proud of our military and it was another successful event.” — Daily Caller

Another successful job after 15 years of bombing and assassinations.


“Everybody knows exactly what happened,” Trump said. “We have the greatest military in the world…We have given them total authorization…If you look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare that really with what’s happened over the last eight years, you’ll see there’s a tremendous difference. Tremendous difference.” — NBC News

Use of bigger vengeance weapons over a country with no air defense, yes, that’s a difference.


Spicer said all proper precautions were taken before the drop. — the New York Daily News


U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the use of this bomb was a sign that the United States was committed to Afghanistan.

But Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a Democrat who was the only “no” vote for authorization for use of military force in Afghanistan in 2001, said the move was unprecedented and asked for an explanation. — Reuters

A sign that the United States was committed to Afghanistan? Yes, how lucky they are to get such big bombs. It’s a particularly hilarious and Orwellian twisting of language.

04.12.17

LOL Quote of the Day, Google/YouTube and the “vile maxim”

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 1:42 pm by George Smith

From Noam Chomsky’s “Who Rules the World?“:

“The United States somehow finds it difficult to appeal to the poor with its doctrine that the rich should plunder the poor.”


“We lock up the poor for all the rich/And we do it right without no hitch.”

And the objection to this song is…?


Unintentionally hilarious proclamation on the Google/YouTube rent-seeking model of economics:

“YouTube wants to make sure its creators are legit before giving them the opportunity to make money off videos.

“The video giant announced a big change to its partner program on Thursday that now requires creators to reach 10,000 lifetime views before it can run ads on channels.”


The “vile maxim” of the masters of the world, as defined by Adam Smith:

All for ourselves, and nothing for other people.

04.11.17

Generation Zero: a brief review

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:03 pm by George Smith

If you’re so inclined, the Steve Bannon movie/documentary focusing in on an unusual theory of cyclical American crisis is “Generation Zero” and it’s on YouTube in its entirety.

A Citizens United production, it features a host of talking heads, most of them from the far right (Newt Gingrich, Dick Morris, etc) while also including the authors of “The Fourth Turning,” “amateur historians” Neil Howe and William Strauss. Outwardly based on the financial crisis of 2008, it starts off by condemning hippies and Woodstock (there’s apparently a Manhattan Institute expert who’s made a career out of this) while mourning how said hippies and Woodstock-goers desecrated the idea of Fifties America, setting the stage for a culture of permissiveness and instant gratification. You’ll recognize it as an old complaint from relatively recent American history. The kids weren’t all right and they grew up to ruin everything.

In some way this is tied to Saul Alinsky and eventually ACORN and how the idea that people who were not solvent, African Americans, were given millions of liar/NINJA home loans by Wall Street, combining some manner of greed with a nefarious plot. In reality it was greed and off-the-scale financial swindling. It’s not logical but for the movie it’s portrayed as something obvious. The big banks compounded things with credit default swaps and so on and so on until the house of cards collapsed and we got the Great Recession — in “Generation Zero,” the CRISIS point.

“Generation Zero” attempts to be very populist in tone in a “we,” the people, versus “them,” the liberals and banksters way. You won’t follow how Woodstock somehow became the banksters but this isn’t important, it’s just a given. When you watch, Steve Bannon has a knack for making everything seamless through the use of stock footage: video of sharks attacking, swimming, eating chunk meat bait; flowers blooming, animals being preyed
upon, a tornado ripping through a Midwest city, the odd thermonuclear fireball or shot of the Crossroads test.

It sounds off when described in this manner but, like other docs in the Bannon catalog like “Clinton Cash”, “Generation Zero” achieves a certain time marches onward flow, like the changing of the seasons.


More on “The Fourth Turning” and the ideology of Steve Bannon at the NY Times, this weekend.

04.10.17

Excellence achieved in the root hog or die economy

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine at 10:13 am by George Smith

Fittingly showing the acceleration of the US into a 100 percent root hog or die/feudal economy, Tesla has surpassed GM as the country’s most valuable car company. Tesla, as it should, makes cars only economic royalty can afford. And electric cars for the specials among us way outweigh the sheer numbers produced by GM. Why, Pasadena itself is known to have one, two, or maybe even three Tesla drivers!

Note the rejoicing.

“Ford has been operating for more than 100 years, and in the first quarter of 2017, it sold hundreds of thousands more vehicles than Tesla, an electric car upstart, did in all of 2016,” reads the NY Times.

Unlike Tesla, Ford is “seen to be lagging in cutting edge technology and autonomy.”

In the root hog or die economy it is senseless to make products for the middle or lower class since that is where the money is not. This is Elon Musk’s crowning innovation.

The triump of Tesla is another big billboard to note along the interstate highway of the Culture of Lickspittle.


Tesla is also a perfect example of a tech company benefitting immensely from an economy based purely on rent-seeking.

Monopoly rents are cash money made through just being, sole position, gatekeeping, inheritance, outright theft, mass group bootlicking or rewriting of law (or the undoing of it) so that value that is totally detached from a social contribution can be collected. In the case of Tesla, it’s the pushing of its stock price, not earned by anything physical, but juiced by the ebullience of America’s specials and their Shoeshine workers.


Shoeshine: The Shoeshine were those colleged educated workers, living in the cities, still deemed necessary to do the gut administrative work for America’s plutocrats. In other words, the over-educated high button services help.

04.07.17

Fond remembrance of war fever

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle at 11:20 am by George Smith

In recognition of the war fever gripping the nation today (look down the timeline), here’s a link to Uncle Sam & the JDAMS, a record made as satire of the war in Iraq. Now well over a decade old, made available for FREE — that’s FREE — in MP3 or glorious FLAC. Explosive and bitingly hilarious, you’ll even laff out loud at the recounting of its history:

[15 years later] and still no one’s laughing. One of the final nails in the coffin of the national reputation.
Iraq n Roll was recorded over the course of a few weeks as a short piece of satire on the war, after the Weapon of the Week column had run its course at the Village Voice.

Often just instrumental punctuated by familiar lines, it was purposely brief, like the two weeks of humiliating national euphoria leading up to “Mission Accomplished!”

It was composed to be one piece, heard linearly from start to finish. You can’t cherry pick it or ignore the words and roll your own play list. The segues from song to song have purpose and the story falls apart if you apply the technology of shuffle play.

In 2002 no one wanted satire. No Frank Zappa. They still don’t. There was just the slight beginnings of a surly national hangover that only became more fulminating over the years.

Classic truths. Good singin,’ good playin’. Completely obscure and utter failure.

Did I say “Absolutely free!?” Pagedown at the link.

One of the apex moments of the Culture of Lickspittle.


Paradoxically, the WMD — sarin — is in Syria!

Selah!

04.06.17

Wry wisdoms too good to pass up

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:45 am by George Smith

[The] gains to the winners from trade are larger than the losses to the losers. This means that we should be able to compensate the losers and make everyone better off.

[But] compensation to the losers is invariably a joke. They don’t get s**t, and then we call them names when they vote for Trump. — Dean Baker, from Yes Folks, Trade Deficits Really Can Create Unemployment


I might add that the usual prescriptions, “like creating green jobs…new [projects] to lay broadband fiber nationwide to boost jobs and productivity” [this from the Washington Post] are still shit.

People need the high velocity money that came with middle manufacturing work. There will never be enough high-paying green jobs that workers can step into to pick up the slack. And retraining doesn’t work. You would get better results by simply dropping money on the populace, impossible in this place. Which means the country, practically speaking, is incapable of saving itself.

In addition, the idea that the private sector might cause some surge in the “laying of broadband to boost productivity” is politically and economically laughable in 2017 America.


On music

“Most listeners will abandon anything too jarringly different before [30 seconds of it play] so there’s an incentive for artists to draw on a small pool of bankable writers, producers and styles. ‘I call it the shit-click factor,’ says [Chart UK’s James] Masterton. ‘If a record is too challenging, then people will say, What’s this? It’s shit, and click on to the next one. There used to be room on the charts for something dynamic and exciting … I can’t see the circumstances right now where that could happen.’” — from The Guardian, no link.

Time flies on the down escalator

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 9:40 am by George Smith

Another musical measuring stick in the Culture of Lickspittle. Half a decade in and things are, astonishingly, much worse than when The National Anthem was written. Even the fictitious movie poster can’t quite do the national apathy and horror justice. Bombing paupers is our most famous character trait.

04.05.17

Root hog then die — proven by science

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine, WhiteManistan at 2:00 pm by George Smith

Deindustrialization, globalism and the US EQUALS lethal. “Deaths of despair” — proven by science. File under “Trump and the big fail, reasons for.”

From the intro:

In “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century,” Princeton Professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton follow up on their groundbreaking 2015 paper that revealed a shocking increase in midlife mortality among white non-Hispanic Americans, exploring patterns and contributing factors to the troubling trend.

Case and Deaton find that while midlife mortality rates continue to fall among all education classes in most of the rich world, middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. with a high school diploma or less have experienced increasing midlife mortality since the late 1990s. This is due to both rises in the number of “deaths of despair”—death by drugs, alcohol and suicide—and to a slowdown in progress against mortality from heart disease and cancer, the two largest killers in middle age.

“The authors suggest that the increases in deaths of despair are accompanied by a measurable deterioration in economic and social wellbeing, which has become more pronounced for each successive birth cohort,” it continues.

Shorthand: Root hog then die. The economic model for the United States and its cost to the middle class.

As such the increasing mortality is a symptom of national failure. Of the installation of an every man for himself economy for the majority while the top slice has rewritten the rules governing the economy to redistribute all wealth into its own maw.

Unsurprisingly, it’s now difficult to overlook. And that’s primarily because of another symptom, the election of Donald Trump in what can be described as a scream of pain and revenge against the system, no matter how unproductive and disastrous the result.

Having said that, careful consideration would lead one to believe it is not a problem that can be quickly solved. If it can be solved by this United States.

As long as death rates continue to rise, the country will be essentially ungovernable, lurching from crisis to crisis to anarchy and breakdown as all faith in a shared prosperity and ruling institutions go up in smoke.

If the researchers continue their work I would expect them to find in the coming years that the entire white cohort, not just the non-colleged educated, experiences the same decline.

At this blog I had a category, not used often, for that cohort: Shoeshine. The Shoeshine were those colleged educated workers, living in the cities, still deemed necessary to do the gut administrative work for America’s plutocrats. In other words, the over-educated high button services help.

As per one obvious example:

Shoeshine: Those people you know on Facebook who’ve been spending their time clutching their pearls and condemning all the other white people, not them of course, who voted for Trump.

Another great example: Paradoxically, all those at big web media who’ve been allowed to write about the “deaths of despair.” You’ll have noticed that very few, if any, of those actually dieing the “deaths of despair” get chosen to write about their first-hand experience. That would be cutting too close to the bone. Only the social cosmetic services help gets the privilege.

So you see that it hasn’t yet occurred to most of The Shoeshine that they’re living on borrowed time. Eventually, the root hog then die economy will come for them, too, although it may take a few more years.

This blog has been called Escape from WhiteManistan. That needed revision. There is no escape.


Quote of the Day, from economist Dean Baker on his Beat the Press blog: “The main economic story of the last four decades is the massive upward redistribution of income that has taken place. The top one percent’s share of national income has more than doubled over this period from roughly ten percent in the late 1970s to over twenty percent today. And, this is primarily a before-tax income story, the rich have used their control over the levers of economic power to ensure that an ever larger share of the country’s wealth goes into their pockets. (Yes, this is the topic of my book, Rigged [it’s free].)

I called it the 40 Year Slump, from living it in the Rust Belt.

It remains one of the best things from this blog:

I’ve been storing up the energy to for a review of “Slap Shot,” the Seventies movie with Paul Newman as the player coach of the Charlestown Chiefs (modeled on the Johnstown Jets) of western Pennsylvania. I have an old videotape and have had it on replay. “Slap Shot” can also be viewed through the lens of America’s forty year slump, a movie framed at the time big business resurrected a devotion to unrestricted preying on its human labor, and — as it turned out — hundreds of millions of future livelihoods.

The backdrop for “Slap Shot” is the perfect picture of it. The steel mill is set to close in “Charlestown,” laying off thousands.

“Ten thousand people put on waivers,” says Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean), the Charlestown Chiefs’ leading scorer, to Paul Newman, as both stand outside the steel mill waiting for a ride from Lily (Lindsay Crouse), Braden’s wife.

“What’s going to happen to them?” Newman, as Reggie Dunlop, the Chiefs’ player/coach asks.

It’s every man for himself, replies Braden.

They realize it’s the end for the Chiefs. No money, no ticket sales. What there are of the fans won’t be spending what they have left at War Memorial ice hockey arena.


I grew up through that systemic result in Pennsylvania.

From the mid-70’s to today, one unrelenting slump.

It never got better. More jobs were always lost. People made less and less money. There were no moments when anything turned around.

Occasionally, because of presidential propaganda, people felt better about it.

Largely, we bought the swill about “trickle down economics,” the need to squash labor unions, that firing thousands of people was “right-sizing” to get lean, mean and efficient, that life would be a different set of opportunities in which you’d go back to school or be trained four or five times, every ten to fifteen years, this so you would fit the workforce of the glorious future!

All convenient lies. And that’s only a fraction of it.

Over half a decade on the down escalator

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:28 am by George Smith

Astonishingly, it’s been six years since “Taxavoidination” was made.

It’s been a great measuring stick in the Culture of Lickspittle. Six years ago there was this big noise and outrage of how mega-corporate America was ripping off the government. Atrocity! Outrage! Pay your taxes! Surely things would change. And then the big no, the big wall, the resumption of the great downward slide. Things have gotten progressively worse for everyone I know.

Selah!


The dancing elephant is just a serendipitous bonus.

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