I’d remarked in November that Roscoe Bartlett’s removal from the House of Representatives had crippled the Cult of Electromagnetic Crazy. His caucus leader replacement, Trent Franks of Arizona, is a birther nobody even the most crazy in the GOP pay no mind.
This week the Cult had another spike put through its zombie head with the revelation that the Heritage Foundation’s “immigration study” was co-authored by a man, Jason Richwine, easily tied to a white bigot organization on the web.
I’m not going to go into the details. It’s big news on the political blogs.
But over the years electromagnetic pulse doom, aka the astro-turfing lobby for bombing Iran and buying more missile defense, has also been one of Heritage’s hobby horses.
Heritage Foundation was never a think tank. It’s just another propaganda mill funded by wealth to provide convenient studies and experts for the worst GOP impulses.
So anything that blows it up, like this, is very good.
Wheee! The Heritage Foundation is engaged in frantic damage control; not only did its big anti-immigration-reform report turn out to be a steaming heap of, um, bad research, but one of the co-authors turns out to have a serious white supremacist background.
It would be a terrible thing to happen to a serious think tank. But Heritage isn’t a serious think tank, which means that all of this is just a bit of overdue poetic justice.
Remember, Heritage came up with the ludicrous claim that the Ryan plan would cut unemployment to 2.8 percent, then tried to scrub the result from its records. It produced ludicrous “studies” purporting to show that small farmers and businessmen were victims of the estate tax. And there are many, many more examples.
So, adios, Heritage and buddies in the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy. It’s been almost twenty years and I’ll miss you. But only a little.
The now infamous Cody Wilson successfully fired a 3D printed plastic pistol one time by hand, without maiming himself. The tech press went wild.
From Forbes, Wilson’s intellectually flimsy rationalization for making what is called the “Liberator:”
“[Cody Wilson] prefers to think of his Liberator in the same terms as its namesake, the one built for distribution to resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied countries in the 1940s. That plan was conceived in part as a psychological operation aimed at lowering the occupying forces’ morale, Wilson says, and he believes his project will strike a similar symbolic blow against governments around the world. ‘The enemy took notice that weapons were being dropped from the sky,’ he says. ‘Our execution will be better. We have the Internet.’ “
The journalist doesn’t even blink.
A claim that one is symbolically and virtually making a plastic gun available to those who wish to rise up against dictatorship worldwide doesn’t hold much water. The expense (at least $8k for what is Wilson’s used 3D printer) makes it so that’s not achievable. The people in such nations tend toward the poverty stricken.
Wilson is also ignorant of history but perhaps this is a sham for publicity purposes.
Anyone even slightly familiar with WWII history knows how the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS dealt with armed resistance, partisans and uprisings, which had much more than plastic guns.
As for current belief in the efficacy of a 3D plastic gun in enabling overthrow, one considers the current case of Syria, or Libya.
It’s Wilson’s career to foster this eyewash because he depends on philanthropic Bitcoin donation from other like-minded, very white, very libertarian, very right-wing nuisances with plenty of disposable income.
We can thank the NYT tech journalist who publicized Wilson to the greatest effect last year, making much of his work much easier to fulfill.
[At] Secrecy Blog, Steve Aftergood has mounted a Congressional Research Service report entitled “The U.S. Income Distribution and Mobility: Trends and International Comparisons.”
“Based on the limited data that are comparable among nations, the U.S. income distribution appears to be among the most unequal of all major industrialized countries … Empirical analyses estimate that the United States is a comparatively immobile society,” it reads.
Obviously, we have offsetting benefits. Like a geek and supporters who will bring us a “redoubt” of 3-D plastic gun manufacturing.
Disruptive technology is giving us such innovation, progress and collective and individual empowerment … God bless the USA.
A sad picture of unintended consequences is emerging in the investigation of five bald eagles that were poisoned and killed on the outskirts of a farming village on the Eastern Shore.
A sixth bird survived the ordeal and was released a week ago into the marshy wilds of Back Bay in Virginia Beach.
Wildlife experts and law enforcement officials say the five deaths, coming on the same day in early March and probably involving the same family, represent the largest killing event of bald eagles in Virginia history.
“We sometimes see one or two poisoned birds, but six? And with five dying? That’s unheard of,” said Randy Huwa, executive vice president of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, a renowned animal-care clinic in Waynesboro.
At first wild-life experts suspected lead poisoning, from the eagles consuming carcasses loaded with shot.
But this was not what killed them. It was, instead, a far more powerful compound, one the newspaper never actually mentions.
I am not 100 percent certain but reasonably sure, from the oblique wording, that this was the result of use, possibly without government permit, of Compound 1080, also known as sodium fluoroacetate. (Another possibility, somewhat less likely because of the description, is the M-44 cyanide cartridge.)
Autopsies were performed on two of the dead birds, and both tested positive for the same powerful chemical that wildlife officials say was likely aimed at a nuisance animal prowling in the Birdsnest area – perhaps a coyote or a fox.
“We don’t think the eagles were the targets,” said Sgt. Steve Garvis, an investigator on the Eastern Shore for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. “But somehow the eagles got into this stuff, and that was that. By the time we found them, it was too late.”
While saying the chemical in question “is not the kind of thing you’d buy at Lowe’s,” given its intense toxicity, Garvis declined to name the poison, noting that the case remains under investigation.
A number of years ago I wrote about sodium fluoroacetate because it was found in the hands of the Hussein regime by the final work of the Iraq Survey Group.
Returning to the main body of the ISG’s assessment, an assessment which already has been discussed by many at great length, one finds on page 45 of the section entitled “Iraq’s Chemical Warfare Program — Annex A,” photos of a couple of interesting things: a picture of empty plastic perfume bottles and a bottler — said to be contemplated for use in squirting mustard gas into the faces of Americans — and a cardboard box with a bottle of a chemical investigated for its potential in assassinations.
While the ISG recovered no smoking gun of squirtable mustard gas, the chemical in the cardboard box was sodium fluoroacetate, also called Compound 1080.
Compound 1080 is converted into an analog which poisons a critical enzyme in the final common biochemical pathway of oxidation of food and nutrient molecules in aerobic organisms, for this case, warm-blooded animals. This reaction’s consequence is great toxicity.
Compound 1080’s use is very strictly controlled in the United States where government agency occasionally OK’s it for the killing of coyotes. Because of the compound’s well-documented hazard to animal life, even the dispensation of it in these cases is often subject to citizen protest.
In late 2004, the Department of Homeland Security was asked to halt use of the compound by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D – Ore. (Milstein, Michael, “Wolf poison raises alarm for its terrorist potential,” in -The Oregonian-, November 03, 2004)
So it is rightly seen as problematic that minions within the Hussein regime had interest in sodium fluoroacetate. It is not a thing that should be in the hands of tyrants, intelligence agencies, militaries, secret police or terrorists.
The Iraq Survey Group report says Iraqi intelligence services “researched a variety of chemicals including: Fluoro-acetate, nitrosoamine, strychnine, [and] thallium chloride …”
The ISG’s photo of a bottle of sodium fluoroacetate found in Iraq was taken in early May 2003. The bottle is labeled in English, as it should be, because fluoroacetate is manufactured by the Tull Chemical Company, of Oxford, Alabama. It is the only legal maker of sodium fluoroacetate in the United States.
Since the bottle of Compound 1080 recovered by the Iraq Survey Group has, potentially, such a clear provenance, it is surprising that there was no more comment on it in the report. It literally begged the inspector to contact its American vendor for information on the lot information, date of sale and final destination.
Was Compound 1080 bought directly by the Hussein regime or did it arrive through black market channels? If the former, how much Compound 1080 was purchased and what reason was given, if any, as to the need for it? Questions, questions, always more questions.
Within the overall context of the Iraq Survey Group report, the lack of information on the bottle of Compound 1080 is unusual because so much else in the total effort is meticulously detailed, extending to long tracts of analysis which are largely a collection of first person accounts and hearsays contributed by witnesses or prisoners of unknown credibility and condition. Of course, a highly regulated American-manufactured super poison in the hands of bad people is potentially awkward news, even if minor. But it is a little late in the game to be squeamish about such things now.
Killer of bald eagles as collateral damage of an attempt to kill a coyote or fox on Virginia’s eastern shore? Probably.
It’s worth emphasizing sodium fluoroacetate has no purpose other than poisoning living things, very badly. It has been the target of protests and complaints for years because of events like this. It is simply so toxic that when put into the wild, even in small quantity, it invariably takes down other furry and feathered neighborhood denizens that were not intended.
And so this has ended in tragedy on Virginia’s eastern shore.
Over the years, some American farmers, ranchers and others have hoarded sodium fluoroacetate and fought its ban on the grounds that they must retain the most powerful substances to protect their property.
Sodium fluoroacetate, Compound 1080, should never be in the hands of civilians (actually, make that perhaps all people) because this is what always happens.
While it is a substance of great lethality, it is of marginal utility but always with the potential for the most nasty of consequences.
Rewards totaling $7,500 are being offered in hopes of finding those responsible for the deaths of five bald eagles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Since Compound 1080 is made only by one company in the US, if sodium fluoroacetate is the culprit, records should exist of sales in Virginia or the surrounding area. Such things could, theoretically, furnish leads.
In March, two congressmen – Reps. John Campbell, R-Irvine, and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. – introduced a bill that would ban one of Wildlife Services’ most controversial killing tools: spring-loaded sodium cyanide cartridges that have killed tens of thousands of animals in recent years, along with Compound 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate), a less-commonly used poison …
Wildlife Services’ roots reach back to 1915, when Congress – hoping to increase beef production for World War I – allocated $125,000 to exterminate wolves, starting in Nevada.
Popular among ranchers, the effort was expanded in 1931 when President Herbert Hoover signed a law authorizing the creation of a government agency – later named the Branch of Predator and Rodent Control – “to promulgate the best methods of eradication, suppression or bringing under control” a wide range of wildlife from mountain lions to prairie dogs.
Federal trappers pursued that mission with zeal. They dropped strychnine out of airplanes, shot eagles from helicopters, laced carcasses of dead animals with Compound 1080 – notorious for killing non-target species …
“This is an ineffective, wasteful program that is largely unaccountable, lacks transparency and continues to rely on cruel and indiscriminate methods,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, a Bay Area nonprofit.
“If people knew how many animals are being killed at taxpayer expense – often on public lands – they would be shocked and horrified,” Fox said …
The web is so full of worthless news organizations it is hard to pick out truly spectacular examples of BAD.
However, today Benzinga made it easy.
On its website:
Benzinga is a dynamic and innovative financial media outlet that empowers investors with high-quality, unique content that is coveted by Wall Street’s top traders. Benzinga provides timely, actionable ideas that help users navigate even the most uncertain and volatile markets – in real-time with an unmatched caliber.
The best time to prepare for nuclear catastrophe is not after the fact. Review your homeowner’s and auto insurance policies, making sure that your coverage extends to nuclear attacks — in most cases, it doesn’t.
Checking life insurance policies and protecting any other assets you may have is also a good idea.
Insure your assets.
Beggars can’t be choosers following a nuclear attack, so prepare yourself to feast on pigeon, rabbit and other readily available sources of protein. These can be killed with a BB gun or crossbow. Remember to skin the animal before you eat.
You might almost think it’s a humor piece were it not for the careful inclusion of all relevant stock tickers/abbreviations.
By now, Pike said he is worried North Korea has painted itself into a corner situation where it must make good on its threats or risk losing face and credibility …
“The North Koreans have run out of non-kinetic provocations, haven’t they? I mean, how many times can you declare war?” he said. “If they don’t start shooting within the next week or 10 days, everybody’s going to say they’re a bunch of chickens, that they can talk the talk but they’re not willing to walk the walk, aren’t they? And they’re going to say of Kim Jong Un, he don’t know how to run nothing but his mouth,” to paraphrase a classic Marion Barry quote.
But even for a hardware expert like Pike, the U.S. solution does not lie in deploying more weapons. South Korea and the Americans, he argued, “can take it up the escalation ladder as far as the North wants to go.” The thing that could change North Korea’s tune, he said, is China.
“The North would run out of rubble to bounce before the Americans would run out of hydrogen bombs.”
Apt, it made me laugh.
To which I’d add, no one wanted WWI after the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by some nut from Serbia. But look what happened.
Our president has demonstrated, quite admirably during his first term, that he’s poor at dealing with crazy people. And that’s our crazy people.
Steve at Secrecy blog alerted me to Sunday’s episode of The Simpson’s, Homer Goes to Prep School, which pillories a subject familiar to blog readers. In it Homer Simpson goes to the local bar where he runs into a kook who asks if he’s ready for a world gone WROL, Without the Rule of Law.
This leads to enrollment in doomsday prepper training, with the cartoon show adopting all its idiot jargon: TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It), and the bug-out place for When the S—- Hits the Fan.
Of course, there’s also electromagnetic pulse doom (triggered by Homer ignoring his work at the nuclear power plant), a bag of dried grain to eat, and an “unsourced” video showing American civilization collapsing like a “deck of cards” (one of which bears the name of Fed boss Ben Bernanke). A shout out to my home town, for reasons unknown, is briefly spotted in a future road sign: “5 Minutes to the Ruins of Pasadena.”
The Simpsons effectively insults the worst in American society, often delivering an overriding moral at show’s end. So it’s fitting that the tribe of white fascist neo-Confederate weapon-stockpiling survivalists who’ve tried to rebrand themselves as “doomsday preppers” come in for their fair share.
They certainly deserve it.
As I’ve written many times, it’s a tribute, of sorts, to the toxic and mind-rotting legacy of the Cult of EMP Crazy, the far right lobby of missile defense nuts who’ve labored for years to get white Americans worried that their civilization could fail at any moment due to electromagnetic attack. And they have been eminently successful in twisting an easily twisted subset of the Republican Party, paranoid John Birchers and Tea Party types.
I’ve written there are never are any liberals, progressives, or non-whites in the bug-out bunkers because part of the mythology of the Cult of EMP Crazy, and by extension — that of preppers, is they’ll be armed and ready to shoot the rest of us between the eyes when the world ends, and we allegedly come out of the burning cities for their stuff.
Marge points out to Homer that it’s not Christian to leave Springfield high-and-dry in a power blackout. So Homer steals the supplies from the prepper community and high-tails it home where everyone finds power has been restored and rioting did not break out.
Because all the “weird, angry people” left, remarks one character.
Along with the prepper movement, which continues its zombie shuffle through the cynical business of monetizing WhiteManistan’s freaks on reality television, the reputation is well and truly shot in the mainstream when your crazy hobbies and outlooks have been set up as objects for scorn, however gentle, by The Simpsons on Sunday night family television.
When Roscoe Bartlett, mainstay of the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy, had his House career ended in the November election it dealt a heavy blow to the lobbying group. With Newt Gingrich being run off the national stage yet again, two of its most vigorous personalities were cut down.
Although Bartlett never got any legislation passed he did pursue the cause of defending the nation against electromagnetic pulse doom with dogged tenacity.
Franks is a nobody with no pull, someone his own party hardly pays attention to. Which means any movement of electromagnetic pulse defense legislation either quickly dies in committee or is summarily wiped off the bottom of Congressional shoes like a mildly annoying bit of dog excrement.
This week the National Journal ran a piece on the fate of the electromagnetic pulse caucus. It noted the caucus had expanded its membership from 11 to 18.
However, it’s leader, Trent Franks, is such a busted screwdriver he doesn’t even list it under his tabs for committees and caucuses on his home page.
A small but growing cadre of House members is set to relaunch efforts to protect the nation against what they say is a very real threat: the unleashing of an electromagnetic pulse either by a solar storm or a nuclear-armed foe that could cripple much of the nation’s electrical infrastructure.
“I realize there is skepticism, and I understand it’s easy to dismiss this as something coming from people who might go around wearing tinfoil hats,” said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., one of the leaders of the little-known bipartisan congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Caucus …
The caucus is bipartisan in that it includes two nobodies from the other side of the aisle as tokens, Yvette Clark and Loretta Sanchez.
More infamous members are crackpot Steve King, recently in the news as one of the people Karl Rove has targeted as a nuisance politician who won’t be able to win a Senatorial run in Iowa because “he is the poster boy for over the top, racially tinged rhetoric in his attacks on President Barack Obama,” notes the Grio.
“Not only has King compared the president to Saddam Hussein, and called the president ‘very, very urban,’ on the House floor, he has also said, ‘The president has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race on the side that favors the black person,’ ” it continues.
Like Franks, Steve King is a birther.
Also on the caucus is Paul Broun, another raging GOP sociopath (there are many), in the news for great quote like:
“I was the first Member of Congress to call [Obama] a socialist who embraces Marxist-Leninist policies like government control of health care and redistribution of wealth.
“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.”
One of the many liabilities of the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy lobby is that, robot-like, it still refers to the “Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States From Electromagnetic Pulse Attack.” Originally written in 2004 and revised in 2008, it’s now nine years old, five if you’re feeling generous.
The Commission principal was William Graham, an old Reagan adviser and peddler of the “Star Wars” missile defense program.
It’s a twin problem, not only because of now creaking antiquity, but because of the solid impression, one the caucus and Franks cannot escape, that it’s just part of the missile defense lobby.
Prior to Roscoe Bartlett’s defeat in November, the EMP Crazy lobby generally tried to get at least one opinion or mainstream article on electromagnetic pulse doom ending civilization into the news feed at least once a week.
Since the election all the mojo is gone.
The majority of pieces on electromagnetic pulse doom are now all published by WND.com, the right wing conspiracy website most famous as the parking stall of Ted Nugent’s weekly column cursing the president, and peddling Jerome Corsi, yet another crackpot who promotes “a staggering number of outlandish conspiracies about the president, including that Obama has a fake birth certificate and stolen Social Security number; that Obama is both secretly gay and secretly Muslim; and that Obama and his family have lied about the true identity of his father, who may be either communist writer Frank Marshall Davis or ’some Indonesian.’”
The Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy has always been horribly tainted by its weird and extreme membership. But the departure of Roscoe Bartlett really hurt because he occasionally came off as a reasonable and kindly old man.
Another veteran member of the Cult has been Frank Gaffney. But in the last three years Gaffney has spent much more time convincing Tea Party legislators in red states that shariah law is coming to the United States.
Trent Franks had tried to keep the ball rolling on electromagnetic pulse doom defense.
But as notes the Journal:
Franks said he had been led to believe last session that his bill would be brought to the House floor for a vote. But he said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., let it die in committee. He said he has been unable to get an explanation from Upton.
They just can’t get no respect. Not even from their own, anymore.
This afternoon, your host, along with thousands of others ran right into it. The Pasadena police, sheriffs, the FBI anti-gang unit, associated SWAT teams, and the Pasadena air force — a chopper, were used to block off and patrol a large part of the center of the city on both sides of the 210 highway, from Wilson to Hill Streets, west and east, north to Orange Grove and over the freeway to the south side service road.
Which may not have encompassed all of it.
At “rush hour,” which goes from just before three to past dark, the traffic blockade and police perimeter paralyzed traffic in town.
The operation, which apparently started as an anti-gang sweep, escalated when a car with two suspects collided with a police vehicle.
The suspects fled on foot, engaging in a gun battle.
No one was hit but they remain at large, according to this story.
“The Pasadena Police Department BearCat armored vehicle was deployed as were K-9 units from both the Pasadena and Alhambra police department. Officers from Pasadena walked the area searching for the gunman with assault rifles,” reads the piece.
BearCats went into service in urban police forces during the war on terror. Department of Homeland Security grants are often used to pay for them.
Right now I’m having a Rolling Rock. Rolling Rock was a Pennsy beer when I came of age. These days it’s just one of the anonymous lager swills owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Nice green cans and bottles, though. Clearly, I have low standards.
When I put that question in striking bold yesterday I got to thinking about what has happened in the last fifteen to twenty years. The time period encompasses my writing and work on various matters having to do with security ranging from the old origins of malware to chemical and biological weapons.
That started, depending on where I choose to pick an event, either in the administration of the first Bush, or a little later, with the presidency of Bill Clinton. Long enough to have something to say in terms of perspective, I think.
A number of things are very clear and profoundly disappointing.
The US has always been burdened by an excessively large analytic structure in national security, one in which the primary function is very much not analytic. It’s purpose is to arrive at justification for whatever leadership wishes to do.
That in itself is a major problem and it is at the very roots of the phenomenon that I call shoeshine.
Shoeshine is the work of a managerial and interpretive class of American labor, generally upper middle class, one that is employed to come up with stuff, rationalizations, justifications, all for the convenience to those at the very top in American national and business leadership. Shoeshine has virtually no social value except as employment. It keeps people in work and they can, of course, buy stuff in the economy.
But, fundamentally, shoeshine is a government in collaboration with the private sector employment jobs program that produces nothing of any material value for the vast majority of Americans.
For example, assertions that China is spying away American wealth in cyberspace are signally not important for any Americans except those generating them and the people paying for it to be disseminated. They have no meaning. There are no statistics, except the numbers of news stories and memorandums produced. But there is a big structure that has been employed to embed this information in American culture.
And it has not just been with China.
It goes on to encompass the bogus rhetoric that constantly speaks of the American financial system being threatened by devastating cyberattack, of the electricity being turned off nationwide, of calamities brought on by alleged digital assaults that require one to believe they can rival the destructive power of natural disasters.
Add to it the now impossible to reverse received wisdom that people in the sandy wastes of some poor country you barely know can easily make weapons of mass destruction. Or whatever reasons are given this week for piling up more dead with drone strikes. There really is no end to it.
And there is immorality to this because, at its heart, it’s the human machinery of rationalizing destruction.
However, when I started this there was a class of middle and upper middle class managerial and interpretive workers, smaller, which pushed back.
It was a class that inhabited philanthropic non-profit agencies devoted to such things as the furtherance of public understanding on national security issues, interpretation of treaties and global compliance and arms control.
With eight years of the Bush administration and another four with Barack Obama in charge, that’s all virtually swept away. Agencies I used to call when I was a newspaper reporter for independent from the national line information either became stunted versions of their former selves are ceased operations altogether.
Readers will have also noticed that, in the last decade, the United States isn’t even remotely interested in arms control, unless for the convenience of beating up on Iran and North Korea, and launching a clandestine war against the former.
Arms control was actually perverted into an excuse for invading Iraq.
The US is for arms proliferation big time, the best, as long as we’re doing the selling.
The world wide web, blogs, Wikileaks, whatever you want to name, didn’t fill the vacuum. Almost everyone just quit. They had to. All the money, what small amounts there were, went away. The only money spent for analysis of national security issues now is all on the other side. And its function is simply to pay people to come up with enemies lists and memos to be publicized on who is attacking us and who we are to be frightened of.
Over this period I had acquaintances who also did the progressive critical side of the coin. They wrote blogs or ran websites, worked for little agencies trying to do their part.
As the national security megaplex ballooned they either faded away or went to work for it. If they went to work for it, they went silent, never to speak again. Worried about careers, some even pulled down their old works.
And I was not being at all facetious when I mentioned earlier in the week that the state of rational discussion on cyberwar had been so degraded by this long process of attrition that it is mostly reduced to 140-character Twitter tweets.
The best people can come up with is a short (not too long so as to bore the audience) indignant squawk on social media.
It was the occupational role of managers and engineers (the professional managerial class), along with many other professionals, to manage, regulate, and control the life of the working class. They designed the division of labor and the machines that controlled workers’ minute-by-minute existence on the factory floor, manipulated their desire for commodities and their opinions, socialized their children, and even mediated their relationship with their own bodies.
At the same time though, the role of the PMC as “rationalizers” of society often placed them in direct conflict with the capitalist class. Like the workers, the PMC were themselves employees and subordinate to the owners, but since what was truly “rational” in the productive process was not always identical to what was most immediately profitable, the PMC often sought autonomy and freedom from their own bosses.
This class grew rapidly from the 1930s to about the mid-Seventies when the “capitalist class” reasserted control and began to cut it back with waves of layoffs tied to de-industrialization.
Technological advances and, most recently, the Internet, have continued to hack at it.
What’s left is now also employed, keeping jobs as long as possible, in cannibalization, boiling down other sections of the economy, finding ways other people can be cast off.
“Then, in just the last dozen years, the PMC began to suffer the fate of the industrial class in the 1980s: replacement by cheap foreign labor,” they continue.
That part of the managerial interpretive class that cannot yet be replaced is in American financial services and the national security megaplex. For the defense infrastructure, it’s been a relatively safe harbor of jobs for those whose work is to furnish information conveniences and processes for the very top of the pyramid.
It is not a mystery why their work has not even the slightest connection to the lives of great numbers of other Americans.
WTF is wrong with these people is that counter-reality and satisfying the political needs of their uppers is what they must do to earn a good living in view of the increasingly throttled prospects offered by this country.
And so they have been transformed into the bleak concrete of a predatory process and structure. In this structure it is imperative they not understand anything which conflicts with the purpose of the job and that they not give a shit about that. Or, if they do, to at least stuff it.
People who work at the Pasadena office of the California Department of Motor Vehicles provide more value daily than the shoeshine workers in national security. Whether you like standing in line waiting your turn or not, the public sector employees get things done that are necessary so that you can drive a car in California. And that’s important to everyday people.
One of the easiest ways to evaluate how this structure’s frankly idiotic, paranoid and self-serving fantasies have broken off with reality is also their presence in (or contamination of) entertainment.
You can compare their weird and estranged myths to the parallel proliferation of zombie and vampire movies, tv shows, books and comics.
Cyberwar is as present during the week in scripts for television and movies, maybe more so if not as successfully, as zombies. So is apocalyptic chemical and biological warfare. Add electromagnetic pulse armageddon.
All of these, propagandized into American culture by the managerial corps of national security shoeshiners to such an extent they’ve become silly popular primetime diversions, crap that has virtually nothing to do with day-to-day life over the last two decades.
Yesterday I was reading Howard K. Smith’s “Last Train from Berlin,” published in 1941 before this country entered the war. It’s an exceptional piece of reporting on the Nazi capitol just as it was beginning to sink in to the people of Germany that Hitler was not going to win the war and the day of reckoning, when it arrived, would be terrible. It eloquently captures the bleakness of Nazi Germany and a growing fear among its citizens.
Entertainment died in Nazi Germany because the best of it involves telling the truth. But truth was forbidden. And most of the country’s artistic talent had either been driven out, imprisoned or killed.
This caused a crash in movie attendance. Smith writes about German movies made to glorify the war effort. And one he picks to describe has some resonance when compared with the US taste for war movies during the last decade — which is nonexistent. The recent thing involving the good guys (or woman) torturing a bad guy and the hunt for bin Laden.
The [German propaganda films] can be exhaustively described by a five-letter word. Lousy. Take the one called “Stukas.” It was a monotonous film about a bunch of obstreperous adolescents who dive-bombed things and people. They bombed everything and everybody. That was all the whole film was — just one bombing after another. Finally the hero gets bored with bombing and lost interest in life. So they took him off to the Bayreuth music festival, where he listened to a few lines of Wagnerian music, his soul began to breathe again, he got visions of the Fuhrer and guns blazing away, so he impolitely left right in the middle of the first act and dashed back and started bombing things again, with the old gusto.
That’s wonderful writing. And the entire piece is like that.
Americans no more want to see movies from Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever, than the people of Berlin wanted to see “Stukas” in the autumn of 1941. What, a real movie called “Day of the Drones,” showing the remote pilots between flying missions in a windowless building and returning to their tract homes in the suburbs, would have an audience?
And it made me think about why I also detest the journalism that has evolved to cover the war on terror and the technology of America’s national security industry. Because it’s all like “Stukas” must have been. Deadening and stupid.
Even when its young reporters work in some pallid snark, between the lot they never come up with anything even remotely as supercilious or appropriate as what’s in Last Train from Berlin.
The reasons for that have always been fairly obvious. They can’t have the natsec biz and the Pentagon thinking they’re combative.
“The only things that are not trash are their guns, which are handsome and terrifying,” writes Smith of the arms in Berlin. “The biggest and handsomest [are] anti-aircraft cannon mounted on a tower which, itself looks like a fantastic monstrosity from a lost world, or another planet. It is huge and positively frightening just to look at (Nazis like to hear it described this way; they are specialists in fright propaganda. But the world has now advanced beyond the stage of being frightened in any decisive way by anything the Nazis do or create.)”