03.13.17

We’re all tootin’ for Putin

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 9:51 am by George Smith

On RT, from the mainstream:

Even as Russia insists that RT is just another global network like the BBC or France 24, albeit one offering “alternative views” to the Western-dominated news media, many Western countries regard RT as the slickly produced heart of a broad, often covert disinformation campaign designed to sow doubt about democratic institutions and destabilize the West. — the NY Times


RT, the controversial Russian state propaganda network that has extended its tentacles into the United States and Europe … –Politico


If you’re wondering what Larry King is doing these days – and let’s face it, somebody, somewhere might be wondering – he’s on the channel RT (Russia Today) … Watching it is a bizarre journey into the mind of the Russian government and, at times, the journey is a strange mirror image of the main message emanating from the Trump White House. — the Globe and Mail


Why, then, does the DNI’s report rely so heavily on RT as evidence that Russia hacked the election, influencing voters enough to call the results into question? It most likely has to do with availability. RT is publicly accessible, so the DNI could point to its segments without fear of divulging classified material. And it’s pretty good insight into how the Kremlin wants to portray the United States: “grim, divided, brutal, decadent, overrun with violent immigrants and unstable.” — the Washington Post

Maybe because the United States is grim, divided and brutal?

Larry King is on RT. This can only mean, according to US big media, that he’s one of the new Lord Haw-Haws.

Here’s this week’s dose of Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer-winner while he was at the NYT, on RT from Truthdig.

“Idiots and charlatans …lure us into the abyss,” he writes.

03.11.17

Growth job: War fanzine writing

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 10:26 am by George Smith

From one of the on-line outlets that delivers daily pieces advocating war, describing future war with China or Russia, describing past war with Germany or Japan (not Vietnam) and doing baseball card-like profiles of weapons, both imagined and real.

Title from the National Interest:

How China’s Mad Scientists Plan to Shock America’s Military: Super Lasers, Railguns and Microwave Weapons

No.

Excerpt:

The researchers propose building a 5-ton chemical laser that will be stationed in low-earth orbit as a combat platform capable of destroying satellites in orbit. Given funding by the Chinese military, which is in charge of China’s space program, the satellite-killing laser could be deployed by 2023.

Giant orbiting exotic one use untested chemical bomb.

Journalist advocates a space arms race so the space dominoes don’t begin to fall in China’s favor.

Railguns. No.

Also see EMP crazy, a well known contagion.

03.09.17

What would Otto Skorzeny do?

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle at 9:40 am by George Smith

Planning initiated by Obama, executed at beginning of Trump administration. Differences in operational/tactical practice and goals, negligible.

From the Intercept:

There are other suspect details in the U.S. version of events. In the days after the raid, the Pentagon claimed that the women killed were armed and fought the incoming U.S. special operations forces from “pre-established positions.” Yet all of the witnesses to the attack interviewed by The Intercept in al Ghayil strongly challenged this accusation, citing a culture that views the prospect of women fighting, as Nesma al Ameri put it, as “eib” — shameful and dishonorable — and pointing out the practical implausibility of women clutching babies while also firing rifles.


A month later, amid an unprecedented uptick in U.S. military activity in Yemen last week, the helicopters and drones returned to Yakla. Apaches descended on al Ghayil before dawn on March 2, carrying out “indiscriminate shelling,” according to Sheikh Aziz al Ameri, one of the few residents who remained in the village. Later that day, the Pentagon took responsibility for more than 20 airstrikes carried out in the early hours of the morning across three Yemeni provinces, including al Bayda.

The Intercept piece, which is long and detailed, goes on to say: “[Further] developments last week indicate the Trump administration is no longer abiding by the [Obama} condition of ‘near certainty’ that civilians will not be killed or injured in operations.”

“This means that all of those much-vaunted ‘standards’ the Obama administration said they were using to minimize civilian casualties in drone strikes in Yemen have been chucked right out the window…”

If you consider hairsplitting standards significant.

Previously (page down).


Otto Skorzeny.

03.02.17

The Red Scare

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 3:22 pm by George Smith

I’ve not much to say about the return of the Red Scare as a substantial force driving the US. For the Democrats who refuse to accept their candidate was lousy, it’s a dog-ate-my-homework excuse. For everyone else in opposition, it’s a many-pronged effort to reignite the Cold War, potentially move toward starting a hot one with a nation still a nuclear superpower and a tool to stifle dissent and label anyone who fails to “see” it a Russian sympathizer, traitor and fool. An enemy of freedom, too. Keep in mind freedom here means freedom to shop.

Normon Solomon has this to say about Truthdig and it’s hard to argue with the logic:

Consider these words from President Trump at his February 16 news conference:

* “Look, it would be much easier for me to be tough on Russia, but then we’re not going to make a deal. Now, I don’t know that we’re going to make a deal. I don’t know. We might. We might not. But it would be much easier for me to be so tough—the tougher I am on Russia, the better. But you know what? I want to do the right thing for the American people. And to be honest, secondarily, I want to do the right thing for the world.”

* “They’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”

* “By the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that. Now tomorrow, you’ll say ‘Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.’ It’s not terrible. It’s good.”

Rather than being applauded and supported, such talk from Trump is routinely depicted as further indication that—in Krugman’s words—Trump “is in effect a Putin puppet.”

And how could President Trump effectively allay fears and accusations that he’s a Kremlin flunky? How could he win cheers from mainstream newsrooms and big-megaphone pundits and CIA headquarters? He could get in a groove of decisively denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin. He could move U.S. military forces into more confrontational stances and menacing maneuvers toward Russia.

This, entitled by a line that everyone wishes they could have written: Trump Can Prove He’s Not a Putin Puppet by Blowing Up the World.

Add what you will in the noise about how Russia allegedly has taken over the US via the Trump administration but it’s developed into a most dangerous kind of bullshit. The increase in the defense budget desired by Trump — 54 billion — exceeds the Russian defense spending on its own.

War with Russia. Always a bad idea now turned into a supposedly good idea mostly thanks to the collapse of the Democratic Party’s many failures.

The Red Scare.

Slap Shot: 40th anniversary

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Made in China at 1:03 pm by George Smith

The past weekend was the 40th anniversary of the movie Slap Shot, now considered a classic. At the time of release it was more-or-less critically shunned. Over the decades opinions were revised upward.

There was a good deal of coverage of a celebration in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
For example:

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — The streets of this small town are littered with relics from the iconic movie “Slap Shot” filmed here 40 years ago.

There’s the statue of the dog that, in the movie, saved the people of fictitious Charlestown from the 1938 flood. There’s the park in the center of town with the fountain where Paul Newman and Lindsay Crouse shared a memorable scene. There are familiar storefronts. The Aces restaurant is still in operation. The steel mills are still standing. Then there’s the Cambria County War Memorial ice rink.

People in this town take pride in the movie, but Johnstown is somehow different than it was 40 years ago.

It’s depressing.

The rust-belt town took a massive hit to its economy when Bethlehem Steel Corporation, America’s second-largest steel producer, closed its mill in 1982. The town’s population was well over 70,000, but after the mill closed, the downturn began.

“The steel mill left. The jobs left. The people left,” said Johnstown police Capt. Chad Miller.

And the more upbeat:

No one embedded with the Hollywood royalty at tonight’s Oscars or even in the global television audience is likely to spare a stray thought for the worst injustice in the history of the Academy Awards, probably because almost no one shares the following opinion:

“Slap Shot” got jobbed.

A loving cinematic monument to the raw essence of hockey, framed by the ribald lawlessness of the minor league game in the 1970s, the film that starred Paul Newman as an end-of-the-line player/​coach and Johnstown, Pa. as itself was released 40 years ago this weekend.

As you might never imagine from Saturday’s commemorative celebration in and around the Cambria County War Memorial, home of the long-defunct Johnstown Jets on whom Nancy Dowd’s rollicking script was not-all-that-loosely based, “Slap Shot” was not Best Picture of 1977.

Somehow.

“Star Wars?”

And:

“Now make sure when you’re watching this, you’re drinking a grape and orange, but none of that stinkin’ root beer,” actor Dave Hanson said.

And back at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena, fans got the chance to meet and greet with the Hanson brothers and other cast members.

“It’s fun to talk to people all over the United States, I said, and Canada,” actor Steve Carlson said. “It’s their favorite lines, their favorite movie.”

Carlson, one of the three famous Hanson Brothers, says it’s a very special event to be a part of.

“This is where one of the greatest sports movies of all time, you know, one of the greatest hockey movies of all time (was filmed,) so it’s great to celebrate it in a place that we started at,” Carlson said.
Dave Hanson agrees.

“It’s always a treat to come back here for any reason, but to be able to come back to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Slap Shot” is just a special treat,” Hanson said.

“Hey, the boys are back in town man. We’re putting on the foil,” Carlson said.

And last, here:

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.

Or the beginning of the root hog or die economy in the Rust Belt. Donald Trump should have marked it last Saturday.

02.17.17

The Guardian continues its reporting from the LV

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 11:17 am by George Smith

Excerpt:

[Trump] won the presidency. The county result was as dramatic as the national result. Northampton had voted twice for Barack Obama and had a long record of Democratic strength built in part on its legendary steel industry, which shuttered in the 1990s. In 2016, the county voted for a Democratic state attorney general and a Democratic state treasurer. But at the top of the ticket it was Trump, by 5,461 votes.

02.15.17

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. set near the Baldwin House in the Monrovia Arboretum

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Phlogiston at 10:25 am by George Smith

Went to the Arboretum in Monrovia on Monday with a friend. It was sunny and we were surprised to find a crew builing a set for Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D on the lawn near the old Baldwin House. (Place where “The plane, the plane, Boss!” was shot for Fantasy Island decades ago.) S.H.I.E.L.D. was there for two days, Monday being for set building.

No sign of Colsen, May or Daisy.

02.02.17

More on the H-1B brigade

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 2:41 pm by George Smith

“New bill [in] the US House of Representatives mandates minimum wage of H1B visa holders at $130,000,” reads the headline of an Indian business publication.

“India’s information technology (IT) sector will face temporary setback to move workers from India to the US with the bill …” it starts.

But the devil’s in the details which are still a bit unclear.

The problem with the tech industry and the granting of H-1Bs in the US is not that there haven’t been enough American workers with the skills. The argument was a lie.

The tech industry uses H-1Bs to hire younger foreign nationals, primarily from India, to replace older more experienced Americans who are paid more.

A few cases became notorious last year in which a big company, like Disney, used an outsourcing firm to hire H-1Bs to replace their American workers who were then compelled to train them for the jobs they were being severed from. Essentially, use of H-1Bs has always been about getting rid of American workers for cheaper labor as to improve the bottom line.


“Why do such low proportions of US STEM graduates land STEM jobs?” the man asks.

By boosting the salary to 130,000 this bill purports to stop that. The caveat is in the finer details which today’s stories don’t get at. Are there loopholes?

For example, for this to work I’d assume the 130,000 salary requirement would have to be applied across all categories of IT and Infosystem jobs which would mean no downward exceptions or wiggle room for entry level positions or jobs tortuously defined to select only for the young and foreign.

Anyway, the point is you’ll be able to sort of tell if it’s a good bill if the tech industry becomes seriously unhappy and lots of stories start showing up about how “Trump” or Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat (who’s generally been in the industry’s pocket), are throwing away the nation’s competitiveness because, again, there are supposedly NOT ENOUGH Americans with “skills.”



The bog standard swelled head tech industry cant

Posted originally to my Facebook page, here are some comments from the pro-outsourcers.

Having worked at this industry I have noted that barring a few American Universities, [the] rest dish out pretty average graduates. Silicon Valley can still afford $130K for average engineers while the rest of the country cannot. Does that mean that companies will stop eroding profits?? The answer is NO they will ship the job offshore. Trump should NOT have messed with the Tech industry. Tech industry is the only domain which keeps US ahead of the rest. He has to think of other ways to curb the body shoppers.


Personal experience, but I interviewed ~30 candidates at an engineering fair a couple of years ago. 29 were foreign nationals, and the one American by far had the worst skills. There absolutely is more foreign-born talent than American, if nothing else simply by the numbers of China+India graduating a far higher number of engineers than we do.


H1-Bs, always young and smart, just looking for a great life in the land of the free

Here’s where it gets ugly. The story that will predominantly feature in the mainstream will be on how the lives and/or dreams of H-1B applicants and current holders may be upended/ruined/spoilt by a revision of H-1B granting rules.

The Guardian story, ‘My worst nightmare’: high-skilled tech workers fear Trump visa crackdown, is a good example.

Karthik Sridhar and his wife recently sold their car and other assets in India, eager to start a new life in Silicon Valley. The founder of an artificial intelligence startup, who moved to Palo Alto, hasn’t seen his spouse and five-year-old daughter since last summer and was hopeful they could reunite this month in California …

“I’m trying to create jobs here,” the 36-year-old said on Tuesday, sitting inside a busy co-working building in San Francisco where tech startups share office space. “Everything is up in the air now … We didn’t know there was going to be complete disdain for existing rules and regulations and policies.”

Here is his company. It’s typical tech industry/start-up pitchman’s stuff: “We send out a deeply personalized e-mail … super-intelligent backbone for e-commerce.”

But it isn’t until you get deep into the Guardian piece that you read about another kind of disdain for existing rules and regulations:

Critics of the H-1B program, including Democrats, have argued that reforms would be welcome given that research has shown that large contracting firms have exploited the program to deploy lower-paid contractors, which can hurt wages and displace US jobs.

And then it’s back to the “worst nightmares.”

The problem, as it exists, is that the US tech industry, corporate America, has very much made employment a zero-sum game. For someone to win, others must definitely lose. In fact, the Silicon Valley philosophy has always been some variation on it: Someone else must always lose for innovation and disruption.

And the story they have been allowed to program is that it is the American worker who is made to lose.

Yes, there are “worst nightmares.” They’ve been experienced by thousands, even millions, of Americans already. They’ve had their lives boiled down, assets liquidated, their futures blighted. When you include all the fine details, the Guardians’ subjects, although presumably good people, suddenly don’t seem the tragic figures after all.

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.

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