Friday, August 28, 2009

FUNKY ROCK N ROLL FRIDAY



Floyd's Hotel

Originally by J Geils.

For that live off the wooden floor feel straight from a worn diner/hotel in Pennsy Dutch Schuylkill County.



Ingredients: Epiphone Les Paul Ultra II with a little of the nanomag dialed in, Tech21 DoubleDrive, Korg Pandora PX5, orchestra of heevahavas for laughter und vermutlichkeit.
CELEBRITY TERRORISM EXPERT

Always there to connect the dots on television or in news articles and opinions, the celebrity terror expert has all the right answers. It's a convenient gig, one filled perfectly by Peter Bergen.

Since it's now again an opportune time to whack on Dick Cheney's numerous frauds, Bergen is here to help.

"[A] 2004 CIA report, titled 'Khalid Shaykh Muhammad: Preeminent Source On Al-Qa'ida,' stated that 'reporting from KSM has greatly advanced our understanding of al-Qa'ida's anthrax program,' in particular about the role of a Malaysian scientist named Yazid Sufaat who was recruited by al Qaeda to research biological weapons," Bergen writes in Foreign Policy.

"Sufaat, a biochemistry graduate of California State University, Sacramento, set up Green Laboratory Medicine Company for al Qaeda in southern Afghanistan in 2001 as a front company through which it was hoped that the terrorist group would acquire anthrax and other biological agents that could be used as weapons.

"But what the CIA did not say in its 2004 report is that Sufaat was never able to buy or produce the right strain of anthrax suitable for a weapon. And so though KSM might have helped the CIA understand something of al Qaeda's anthrax program, either he had little understanding of the science of biological weapons, and/or agency officials who wrote the report were also similarly handicapped. In fact, al Qaeda's anthrax program was a big dud that never produced anything remotely threatening, a point that the CIA report is silent on."

This is very old news. Indeed, one could have read about it here back in 2006. (Milton Leitenberg originally ferreted out the information, not US intelligence services.)

One salient feature of the celebrity terrorism expert is they're always a few days late and many dollars short. However, for the layman, they are portrayed as right on the money.

In 2006, you couldn't pay people in mainstream journalism to write about al Qaeda's "dud" biological weapons program.

The celebrity terrorism expert is always ready to write that which is convenient, too.

Whichever way the wind is blowing, it's off to Nexis for a trivial search of the latest headlines, and -- voila -- you have your essay.

In May, Bergen was writing in the New Republic about the US Predator assassination campaign and how it had eliminated an alleged al Qaeda chemical weapons expert, named 'Abu Khabab."

However, there was one thing wrong. No evidence existed that 'Abu Khabab' had any experience in chemical weaponry. And the empirical evidence that exists right out in the public domain furnishes plenty of proof that al Qaeda's chemical weapons program, whatever there was of it -- if anything, was also a 'dud.'

"Abu Khabab taught hundreds of militants how to deploy poisonous chemicals, such as ricin and cyanide gas," wrote Bergen for the New Republic. "The Egyptian WMD expert also explored the possible uses of radioactive materials ..."

Yeah, right, Mr. Bergen. Good job.

At GlobalSecurity.Org, your host wrote in a Bergen takedown: "Practically speaking, if 'Abu Khabab' indeed had been training 'hundreds of militants how to deploy poisonous chemicals, such as ricin and cyanide gas,' he would have had to have been the world's worst teacher, an unmitigated failure and fool."

It's here along with links to numerous examinations of al Qaeda's alleged chemical weapons capability.

So whatever message needs a push, the celebrity terrorism expert is there to provide it.

This week, it's conveniently critiquing Dick Cheney and the CIA.

In May, it was for propping up the US government's Predator assassination campaign.



Hat tip to Armchair Generalist.
IRONY -- AND WHAT HAPPENED TO WORDPRESS

I am not a free man, I am a number - number 27950736 to be precise - on Blogger, the village cloud application I've been trying to escape from for the past year.

Oh, it started out great in 2006. Seemed like a nice thing. But a year and a bit in, the Blogger machine's FTP service began stumbling.

FTP publishing isn't important if you like blogging in the Google cloud. But it is for others, having to do with reasons like not having Blogger's little fink button at the top of your vanity publication. Someone might figure your rants were best hidden behind an adult disclaimer, or should be sent to the spam cops and your blog locked and deleted. (More on the latter below.) Or you already have a substantial amount of material in the root directory of your domain, material you'd not like to see lost in space.

NOT PUBLISHING YOUR BLOG IS TAKING LONGER THAN EXPECTED -- the complete story at el Reg.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE CRAZY RICK SANTORUM

Run out of Pennsylvania by Bob Casey in 2006 for being too hard right and demented for my home state, Rick Santorum has done what many in the GOP choose to do in their semi-retirement -- join the electromagnetic pulse crazy lobby.

For instance, see former presidential candidate and Fox News weekend show host Mike Huckabee, doing the same thing here.

It's impossible to satirize the GOP over its electromagnetic pulse crazy wing, which is substantial. The party creates unintentionally hilarious comedy on YouTube, where numerous famous people can be seen spouting the cant on imminent electromagnetic pulse catastrophe.

(See here and here and here. One would be hard-pressed to imagine a bigger instance in which a group of people offer themselves up for deserved ridicule. Oh wait, yeah, healthcare reform. Or everything else.)

To repeat from a month or so back:

"If a thing is backed up by hard science [like global warming or evolution], the Republican party denies its existence. If, however ... something [is] rather abstract to almost all Americans, rests almost entirely on theoretical prediction, is ... not likely to ever occur at all, and then only in the context of what would promise to be an all out nuclear war, [like electromagnetic pulse doom], the GOP believes in it very strongly."

Rick Santorum, being another of many depressingly common cases in point, has belligerently promoted creationism. Which makes him the very definition of an ignorant man. This ignorance was underlined by his comparing gay people to those who crave sexual intimacy with animals, something which led to his name being globally tied, through the magic of Google, to a very vulgar thing. (It's the third link down, if you are really curious.)

Eventually, even the voters of the fairly conservative state of Pennsyltucky couldn't stand him anymore.

One does not expect Santorum to show any deviance from the script of electromagnetic pulse doom. And for the Philly News, he does not disappoint.

"Most cities would be out of food and medicine in a few days, thanks to the prevalence of 'just-in-time' inventory," Santorum writes, retelling what must inevitably happen after an electromagnetic pulse sneak attack.

"Without water pumps, there would be little potable water. Life after such a strike, EMP Commission Chairman William Graham has said, would look [like a return to the times portrayed in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.]

"Only worse: The population [at the time of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance] wasn't concentrated in cities without access to sufficient food or safe water. People then knew how to survive without electricity and modern transportation. We don't."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MEATHEAD HARD MAN ROCK N ROLL


Trust me, it's harder than it looks.

Henry's Funeral Shoe from Cardiff, Wales, performing "Empty Church" for your listening pleasure, sounding very 'Merican and lowdown.

Most memorable tune off their record, Everything's For Sale, and a near perfect example of beating a downtuned slide blooz rock riff into the ground to a thumping beat and shaking tambourine.

Invigorating when not consumed in excess, George Thorogood and the Destroyers rode a more women-and-children friendly version of it into the arenas in the Eighties.

Sadly, that won't happen with these guys, despite the most excellent band name. Play loud.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

MASS TELEPHONE PICKPOCKET

One of the symptoms of living in a predator state, a place where everday business is simply turned over to ways to relieve citizens of their wealth without providing any compensatory worth, is having to regularly defend yourself from daily petty crime.

Three months ago DD got a new telephone number, service provided by AT&T. With the new monthly bill came regular evidence of new and novel rip-off.

The first bill had two three-way call charges, at a $1.99/call. DD doesn't make three-way calls. Never has, never will.

So the task is to call AT&T and have the charges removed.

However, first you have to get through their robot menu. And half of its purpose is to prevent anyone from doing anything constructive other than getting out the credit card and paying AT&T for something.

Your host found the best way to get through the voice recognition robot is to shout nonsense at it. It then tells you it doesn't understand. And if you are persistent in this, it will eventually connect you with a human.

So DD complained about the charges and asked where they had come from and where they went to -- as the bill contains no information other than the line charge.

AT&T will not tell you this. If you press a human flunky, they may say to take it up with the long distance provider. A normal person would be suspicious that this is a lie.

Nevertheless, the service representative removed the charges.

The next bill contained no three-way call charges. But for the next, three-way robbery at $1.99 for one call, was back.

DD again shouted his way through the AT&T service robot to a human. The human took the charge off and again maintained AT&T had no idea who might be attaching the rogue items. It was suggested that perhaps I had accidentally hit a key on the handset and made a three-way call without knowing it.

DD scoffed. Decades of using a telephone, and only in the last three months, I've developed involuntary tics in my fingers -- and the jerking fingers accidentally make three-way calls.

All right, now the reader has sussed the service humans have no idea what is going on, or if they do, they are contractually bound from discussing it lest they jeopardize their loser jobs. And that could be bad.

One also suspects that since the three-way charges are small and regular, they might escape notice on many -- perhaps thousands -- of telephone bills. So if they escape notice and are paid, they constitute a pretty big revenue stream.

So it is not unreasonable to be suspicious that AT&T, or a third party in cahoots with AT&T, is behind them.

In fact, David Lazarus, a business writer for the Los Angeles Times has suggested as much in a recent column on bogus fees added to telephone bills.

Another annoying facet of living in a country that is as dysfuntional as the United States is that the person being robbed has no one to complain to other than the entity doing the stealing.

Realistically, the chances that a newspaper, or a legislator, or a government official in charge of regulating a utility that is robbing you, will take action and stop it are virtually nil. One easily imagines that the business opportunity presented by attaching thousands and thousands of small charges -- or thefts -- to telephone bills was too tempting to pass up in light of the way things work in the US.

What's the downside? Well, there would appear to be almost none in terms of potential criminal and legal exposure.

"In fact, the honor system typically prevails among phone companies, third-party vendors and the billing services that act as middlemen in processing transactions," wrote Lazarus.

Ha-ha. The honor system. In America in 2009. Quaint.

"[A] PUC insider said regulators believe the companies receive a portion of the amount billed by third parties and thus have an incentive to include such charges on their bills," reported Lazarus in the same piece.

Friday, August 21, 2009

THE PROFESSIONAL SOUL-SEARCHER

Tom Ridge's soul-searching was big news on cable 68 yesterday, that's where Olbermann's Countdown is here in Pasadena.

It was convenient source for outrage again today.

"Tom Ridge, he of the color-coded terror alerts, has now confirmed what many of us suspected all along: that declarations of a higher threat level were called for political purposes, so as to step on Democratic messages or divert attention from Republican scandals," wrote Paul Krugman.

Yet ... (others) say that they were justified in ignoring the strong circumstantial evidence that this was happening, and that those who saw the truth in real time could not and should not have been taken seriously."

But Ridge, like any other official from the Bush administration, is a poor messenger and tardy. Like Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff who is popular on the left for going on talk shows (now well after the fact) to deliver the comforting news that -- yes -- the Bush administration traded in bullshit, Ridge now has his get-out-of-jail-free card.

However, one is impressed by how self-serving it all is. The news was timed for release on Thursday, just in time to make all the shows and on-line news agencies primed for it. And not too late -- like late today (the slot everyone reserves for the release of news wished to be buried) -- to get lost before everyone headed off for the weekend.

In other words, another perfect manipulation, suitable for an outpour of indignation -- for example, this directed at a generally hapless government apologist celebrity journalist and sod named Marc Ambinder.

"So I was open to the early evidence that the case for war was a fraud; nothing except deference to power prevented mainstream journalists from reaching the same conclusion," continued Krugman in his blog.

While Krugman may have been open to evidence, his newspaper -- as well as many others -- were not.

By way of example and from first-hand experience, the New York Times was offered hard evidence that the Bush administration's claim (carried by Colin Powell) of a terrorist network stretching from Iraq to a cell in the UK was a fraud. That was in late 2004. The newspaper turned the information away.

I know because I had it. (See here, here, and here.)

And because no one in the US press was interested in the story, I published it at GlobalSecurity.Org where it remains the only complete account of these events. So even when the truth of something comes out, time is very important.

"But it's too late, always has been, always will be too late," says Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen.
FUNKY ROCK N ROLL FRIDAY



Hey Craig Man! (Funk Machine)

To Pennsy Dutch Country for misadventure in Newmanstown, Dunkertown, Lebanon ...

Ingredients: Utterly rulin' guitar, Gibson Melody Maker, SansAmp Classic, Greer Razor Burn Fuzz, Adrenalinn III.


We speak only the mother tongue here, buddy boy!

Keywords: Bird-In-Hand, Fraktur, Conrad Richter, Pine Grove Cardinals, Schuylkill County, Berks County, Lebanon County, Utz potato chips, Snyder's of Hanover, Schaefferstown, Zimmerman, Oxenrider, Uchs, machts nichts, Dunkertown, Chickentown, Lenni Lenape, Swatara, Professor Schnitzel, funnel cake, Pennsylvania Dutch, red beet eggs, a buck two eighty, Johnny's tooth ouches him, outen the light, throw Papa down the hat his stairs (well, not exactly).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

STUMBLE AND FAIL TITTLE-TATTLE


Good news, lads! Good news! You know our country'd
be in a damn pickle if our bureaucrats didn't speak
out after collecting their payoff from the private sector,
negotiating a big publishing advance, and keeping
quiet for half a decade.


September Book-of-the-Month selection for the We'll Pay You to Read This Book on National Security or Take a Free Review Copy Club.
STUMBLE AND FAIL BIG JOURNALISM


ORLY! Think of the damn pickle we'd be in if we didn't have corporate journalists and pundits to find this shocking sh-- out!

"Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, is TIME.com's intelligence columnist and the author of ... 'The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower,'" reads the sig at the foot of the piece.

Aside from people who are paid to read all crap published on the daily line-up of US natsec bete noirs, bet that's just flyin' outta the stores.
STUMBLE AND FAIL -- BUSINESS JOURNALISM SAID TO BE FUN, PROFESSIONAL CAREER CALLING FOR STRONG GRIP ON REALITY, ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE BULLSHIT







Good news, lads! Good news!
FOR THE LOVE OF RICIN BEANS PETE!

One of the keywords DD uses in news aggregation is 'ricin'. For obvious reasons.

This yields sometimes unusual news stories. Like this one about girls' roller-derby at the Jersey shore.

Battling it out at the Asbury Park Convention Center on Saturday will be the Murder Beach Militia and Anchor Assassins.

And on the Murder Beach Militia is a player named Valerie "Ricin Beans" Frankwick.

Now that is a great name and DD thanks his news aggregator for pointing it out.

In fact, it is hard to resist admiration for the brassy stage monikers of the Jersey Shore Roller Girls league.

There is Push Popp Red, #40, on the league's All-Star Travel Team, Pump Action Shotgun of the Right Coast Rollers and Toast Face Killah, again of the Murder Beach Militia. Big Rac Attack, although perhaps a fan favorite, may be a tad too obvious.

DD was going to include a screen snap. But that would spoil the surprise. Readers need to see it themselves.

So go here right after reading this. I mean it. You won't be disappointed. You may waste the entire afternoon trying to fit one of the roller derby girls' team insignias to your screen background!

When your host was very young, I used to spend Saturday mornings with my brother watching roller-derby matches on the local cable network in Schuylkill County, PA. It shared time with pro-wrestling, which in the Sixties and early Seventies, was more about garish and grotesquely amusing big flabby men than steroid-addicted vaseline-coated goons in big arenas.

Girls roller-derby eventually vanished from cable.

Author Paul Fussell explains it this way in his book, Class -- A Guide Through the American Status System:

"Which brings up the matter of the class meaning of sports fanship and spectatorhood. Short of watching such Anglophile exercises as cricket and polo, hard to do in this country, the most class probably attaches to watching tennis, even at the newly proletarianized -- that is, modernized -- Forest Hills," he explains.

Naturally, this was written well before the advent of the Williams sisters.

"On television, [class-wise] below golf comes baseball, and below that, football. Then ice hockey. Then boxing, stock-car racing [NASCAR], bowling, and at the bottom, Roller Derby, once popular with advertisers until they discovered that the people watching it were so low-prole or even destitute that they constituted an entirely wasted audience for the commercials; they couldn't buy anything at all, not even detergents, antacids and beer. 'Low Reach Undesirables,' the Roller Derby audience became known in the trade, and the event that had attracted them was soon removed from television."

That was a sad day.

[Incidentally, DD once made an argument that the original audience for Iggy and the Stooges was Low Reach Undesirable. Until hipsters charged in and changed affairs about a decade ago. See here.]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

EARLY MORNING EMP CRAZY THEATRE


An electromagnetic pulse attack will not deny our second amendment and state right to bring guns to a presidential townhall meeting.

"If an [electromagnetic pulse attack] occurs, we will have the Democrats to blame," reported NewsMax yesterday. "But without voting machines or any form of communication, Americans who survive will not be able to vote them out of office."

"In the ensuing chaos, most Americans would die from starvation," it informed. Again.

Wake up, sheeple!



Related:

Not afraid of an EMP attack? You must have voted for Obama.

GOP continues to cultivate the EMP Crazy vote.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

HEEVAHAVA COUNTRY

In a surprising turn, today the Harrisburg Patriot-News editorial board expressed dismay at the prominence given to Craig Miller for raging at Arlen Specter on national TV.

Miller's distinguishing characteristics were his anger and inability to articulate any questions having to do with the healthcare debate.

Miller, a bona fide Pennsylvania Dutchman, was captured after his eruption best on local TV and it can be viewed here.

He was a sick man, he had fibromyalgia, he hard a heart condition. What was his beef? Miller said he felt cut off at the knees at the Specter townhall meeting, a thing slightly contradicted by all the video in circulation.

DD knew entire platoons of Craig Millers in Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania. (As well as in the Lehigh Valley.)

As long as their tribe was in power, everything was fine. Now that they've been pushed to the fringes by national and an African-American is in the White House, their spluttering outrage cannot be contained.

Here's another great local example, from the Lehigh Valley: More Communists Advisors and Czars for Obama.

And note this particular bit of old white coot (or Ted Nugent-like) charity:

"[Obama] talks about the 47 million who don’t have health care insurance but never addresses the reasons why. Is it because they don’t want insurance or is it because they don’t want to payfor it? Could it be that they don’t consider that their most important priority and that drugs, drinking and smoking habits, among others, are more important?"

"Then there are the phony doctors, teachers and nurses showing up at Obama’s town hall meetings."

"In this increasingly heated mix, it is natural to look for ways to clarify or simplify things by putting a human face on the controversy swirling around proposed health care issues," continued the Harrisburg newspaper. "It shouldn't, however, be Craig Anthony Miller."

"[Miller's] outburst landed him on the front page of newspapers, from The Patriot-News to The New York Times and gave him a chance to vent his frustration on MSNBC and a New York City talk-radio station ... There needs to be a solid debate about health care reform in this country. We don't need another 'Joe the Plumber' distraction ... Miller might represent many things, including free speech and someone who cares deeply about his country, but his outburst doesn't shed any light on the difficult and painful choices related to health care."



Heevahava explained.

Friday, August 14, 2009

TALK TO THE HAND


I'm a sick man. I have fibromyalgia. -- Craig Miller

"This opposition cannot be appeased. Some pundits claim that Mr. Obama has polarized the country by following too liberal an agenda. But the truth is that the attacks on the president have no relationship to anything he is actually doing or proposing."

What he said.

There was no reasoning with the uneducated tribe of white coot growing up. They were in control and things were great. They weren't negotiators or generous in spirit. It was always their way or the highway.

There was no reasoning with them before the November election. There is no reasoning with them now. And there won't be any in the future.


From Wednesday.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

STUMBLE AND FAIL SHOW & TELL


Good news, lads! Good news! More people have been
fired! Consumer spending is down! The recession is
over! (New pic for LG)






From the Wall Street Journal where the business
writers have got your back.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

THE APOPLECTIC COOT


GOPman, mad as hell and not going to take it

Congrats to DD's home state of Pennsyltucky for providing the image of the beyond enraged old white coot, his voice quivering and full of anger, shaking a wad of papers in Specter's face. The man is certainly one accurate picture of the US, perhaps even deserving of having his face put on a stamp, or a T-shirt, rendering obsolete the bald eagle. (Here's another interview with the man, Craig Miller. Hat tip to RN in Pennsy.)

"What I think is going on here, at least partly, is that the peddlers of anti-progressive lies are managing to convince a certain kind of American — white, socially conservative, etc. — that the hate-mongers are people like them; and, even more important, that progressives are Those People, people not like them," reasons Krugman in his blog today.

"[Anti-intellectualism] is also part of it ... In any case, it’s scary: you’ve got a good segment of the American population that is completely impervious to any kind of evidence, any rational argument."

Depressingly, DD grew up with old white coot. And discussed him at length in the run-up to election last year.

Watch the video and wait for the fellow who asks Specter if he has read the Koran. That's a Pennsylvania Dutch accent, in case you were wondering. Straight from deep inna heart of Lebanon and Schuylkill counties.

But as I vas sayink, here's a rehash of the pertinent bits from an essay last year:
Today the New York Times went back to Pennysltucky to cover what DD knows as the bitter white codger demographic. Those are the people who may have voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary, alleged salt-of-the-earth folk, located between Philly and inner Pittsburgh (but not from Steelton-Highspire in Dauphin County, or State College) who don't dig Barack Obama. The Washington Post covered the same demographic last week. The Times went to the western part of the state. The Post went to York and Lancaster.

The bitter codgers confuse the mainstream media because it's difficult to come out and call them precisely what they are: closet racists who are old, white, poorly educated, and deeply suspicious of people not like them.

This was a great way to be if you lived in Pennsy in the Seventies and even during much of the time of Ronald Reagan. You weren't yet old or middle-aged and things, in general, seemed very good.

In the steel-manufacturing hot spots of Bethlehem, western Pennsy and a couple of other locales, one could go from high school right into the mills and earn $20/hour. This afforded a good living, more than enough to raise a family and, in many places, just about enough to get you into the upper middle class. In Schuylkill County, where DD was born, ALCOA had the biggest aluminum extrusion plant in the world. In Bethlehem, where your host earned his doctorate, Bethlehem Steel furnished the economic drive.

But in reality, things were slowly starting to go to hell by the mid-Eighties. And ALCOA had been an early warning, closing its Cressona facility by the mid-Seventies.

As for Bethlehem Steel in the Lehigh Valley, it is now long gone.

The New York Times, for its part, travelled to the absurdly named Raccoon Township. (The Resident Evil movies, tales in which all are turned into the walking dead by a virus escaped from a giant corporate arms developer, now come to mind when seeing any use of the word "raccoon" as a proper name. Resident Evil's Raccoon City might as well be a metaphor for Pennsyltucky.)

"Many voters talk of reading a stream of false and shadowy rumors purveyed by e-mail: Mr. Obama does not put his hand on his heart during the national anthem, he is a Muslim, he did not say hello to enlisted men in Afghanistan," reports the Times, re-circulating the same old crap from a few months back. "Some disregard these rumors; some do not."

Mr. Obama is an Ivy League-educated lawyer campaigning in towns where an eighth-grade education and a sturdy back once purchased a good life. And he talks of soaring hope to people mistrustful of the same."

And here's where much of Pennsyltucky goes south.

In Schuylkill County, you were deeply distrusted, even despised, if you had more than a high school education. Learning of any kind was seen as an indication of many bad things: One, you were lazy, because you didn't go out and get a job right after school. Two, you were rich and lazy, because you went to college. And three, because you had the temerity to go college when everyone else had their nose to the grindstone, you thought you were better than everyone else.

There was no reasoning with these attitudes.

Hand-in-hand with such beliefs was the drinking in of one's own bathwater mythology, that one was part of the hard-working, God-fearing bedrock of the nation.

However, America hasn't been good to the white trash of Pennsyltucky ... and they're pissed off about it. The disgruntled codgers, soon-to-be-codgers and middle-aged-who-might-as-well-be-codgers think they're entitled to something. They reckon they've been cheated out of dreams that were their birthright. And in some ways, they have been robbed.

But they also must carry some of blame for their predicament.

In other words, they sent more and more votes to the people most likely to screw them over worse. And, as it turned out, who did.

There was no reasoning with the uneducated tribe of white coot growing up. They were in control and things were great. They weren't negotiators or generous in spirit. It was always their way or the highway.

There was no reasoning with them before the November election. There is no reasoning with them now. And there won't be any in the future.

The divide is too great, the walls of hatred and paranoia over perceived social difference too high. One can only get out more of one's own troops and hope for the best.

"The Democrats still believe in Enlightenment reason: If you just tell people the truth, they will come to right conclusion," said a scholar from UC Berkeley to the LA Times.

While slightly imperfect, this is much better in terms of using enlightening [lower case 'e'] reason to explain the dilemma.

WEAPON OF THE WEEK FAD

A century ago DD did a column called Weapon of the Week for the Village Voice. (Select for early 2003-late 2002 to see it.)

It was built on the US fetish for weapons and devices and the reinforcing idea that they transform battle, making war a bloodless snap. Along for the ride is the wishful dream that the next best weapon to make war easy and remove Americans from its messy part is just around the corner. More tech means mitigation of fuss and we spend less in blood and treasure. Yes, that's sure worked well, an axiom proven by science.

In the intervening years, entire entertainment shows, magazines and news articles have been built upon this fancy. They're all the same. They cover the same weapons, the same robots. They send their reporters on the same vendor junkets and watch and replay the same arms manufacturing videos. If you get an erection watching little jumping robots, wee mechanized rolling things, varieties of computerized cluster bombs and guided weapons, you're in heaven.

But one thing anyone with common sense will have noticed, just from sticking around in real life, this: The United States is still in a war, one with no obvious end in sight against foes who have none of our technological magic.

In other words, the fetish for weapons and gadgets development has not been transformative. It just makes the US military carry around a lot more shit. It does not change the nature of conflict by any order of magnitude.

Nevertheless, the New York Times' Christopher Drew steps into the fray to serve up all the same sales pitches and fancy claims which were old on the Futureweapons TV show a couple years ago.

So what does such a story make you?

Another in a long line of junketeers (paid or unpaid) on the US DoD's tit, photographing and writing about soldiers standing around on some training ground watching their awkward little robots trundling about.

See here. How's that working out for us? Real damn good, obviously.

"The soldiers crouched beneath the blazing desert sun, waiting to burst into the villages in conditions similar to those they have encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan," begins the Times.

"A drone resembling a lawn mower engine was tested at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. But this time, they got some high-tech help in an exercise intended to prove that new devices operated by the soldiers themselves can make those harrowing missions less dangerous in the future. As the mock attack began on the sprawling military base here, tiny drones hovered overhead, peering through the windows to see insurgents gathered inside the houses. Small robots — like R2-D2 in 'Star Wars' — crawled through some of the doors, flashing back live video of the startled enemy’s positions. Electronic sensors placed nearby watched escape routes. And a battery of six-foot-high missiles stood at the ready farther out in the desert to destroy vehicles that tried to rush in to help the insurgents."

Effin-Ay! We'll really show 'em in Afghanistan next year, lads!

Look, lads, look! Our hovering robot!

How do you think it would do against a baseball bat?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

PENNSYLTUCKY'S CODGERS & CRANKS AGAIN


My rights are being violated. God will judge you and your cronies.

It was only a matter of time until Pennsyltucky's well-established right-wing tribe of butthurt codgers and cranks found themselves in the limelight once again, filling up the joint with a big angry and confused noise. You really don't need to be told how they feel, you already know.

What? No swastikas?

This news article at WFMZ has everything anyone would want to see. Be sure to click on the video feeds, which are now nationwide.

The New York Times did its usual really bad job when covering this weird and deeply screwed-up demographic, sending two reporters, Ian Urbina and the buffoon known as Katharine Q. Seelye.

"But most of those who spoke [at the town hall meeting in PA] seemed unlikely to vote in the Democratic primary," they wrote. "Many seemed concerned about issues that are either not in the health care legislation or are peripheral to the debate in Washington — abortion, euthanasia, coverage of immigrants, privacy."

Neither Urbina or Seely indicated which of these issues were not in the legislation. Or that which has nothing to do with truth because it's 'deather' rubbish.

" 'It says plainly right there they want to limit the type of care elderly can get,' said Laurel Tobias, an office manager from Lebanon, referring to a bill in the House. 'They are talking about killing people.' "

Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler would say you can't have a democracy when you have reporters who perform like such clowns. When a local ignoramus in front of the microphone erupts that the government wants to kill off Mammy and Pap, the right thing to do is not to waffle and write a qualifying sentence about the issue maybe not being in the healthcare reform legislation.

The right thing to do, the intelligent thing, is to flatly state that many of the people in attendance seemed to believe a myth, a cruel hoax, a lie that there is a government plan to kill off grandmas to save health costs.




Previously -- on butthurt codgers and cranks against Obama in Pennsyltucky.
STUMBLE AND FAIL BLEAK VIDEO THEATRE

Nothing so proves the existence of the pure milk of human kindness in the US of A as video of vindictive legislation aimed at people who have just been thrown out of work, or who need foodstamps.

Yes, there are people in this country who can think of nothing better than instituting mandatory drug testing for those collecting unemployment benefits. People should know that government money doesn't come without strings attached, it is reasoned. Never mind that citizens have already paid into it while at work.

Anyway, it's better for the children! Their parents shouldn't be on drugs while they're looking for new jobs.

As usual, DD has selected the best videos in a rotted bunch on YouTube so you don't have to! He's even thrown in some 'mandatory drug testing for welfare mothers' riffs, too, so that you don't get the idea that the drug testing for those on unemployment thing wasn't built on a solid tradition.

The sort of good news: Historically, these particular pieces of 'let us seek our revenge on the poorly off' legislation tend to be shot down for reasons having to do with execessive cost or unconstitutionality. And, in fact, legislation slated in West Virginia which produced notice on CNN below never made it anywhere.

"Making a pitch to revive his largely ignored plan to drug test West Virginians on public assistance, Delegate Craig Blair described his motivation as one of compassion to get addicts unhooked and spare children born hooked on narcotics," reported a WV newspaper in July.

Back in time for Christmas: "Blair, R-Berkeley, intends to reintroduce next winter his controversial bill that prompted e-mails of support from coast to coast in this year’s legislative session."

In March, from Fox. Just protectin' the interests of the straight unemployed from the drug-takin' unemployed, folks.



Notwithmytaxdollars.com because people are growing alarmed over the money being paid out to drug parasites. Site not updated since March 30th. That worked well.



Out there honky-tonkin' on the taxpayers money, the nerve.



Vox populi: White southern callers give drug-testing big thumbs up!



Drug-Testing for Welfare Recipients, the punk rock tune. Where's Jello Biafra when you really need him?



Since mandatory drug-testing for recipients of social safety-net aid at the local level is topical, why has no one suggested legislation be enacted all employees of the banks bailed out or seized by the government be tested for drugs?

Wouldn't you like to know Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein was drug tested by the federal government? How 'bout Kenneth Lewis of Bank of America? Or this guy, too.

DD is sure readers could name a few extra.

Hey, we don't want to have given taxpayer dollars away to people who might be on drugs, right? What's to argue about? Am I not seeing something?



Sad news, lads, sad news

"High unemployment levels contribute to a 37 percent second-quarter sales slide [for a drug-testing company]; Q2 net income plummets 83 percent," reported Mass Device.

"Psychemedics Corp. blamed the recession for a dismal second-quarter performance, saying the depressed job market means fewer employers are buying its drug tests."

"The company cut pay for all workers and executives as part of a cost-cutting program ... "

Monday, August 10, 2009

EMP CRAZY THEATRE TICKET SALES OFF



What's this healthcare reform, socialism and ObamaHitler shit? You need to be worried about permanent continental shutdown!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

STUMBLE AND FAIL -- CRIMINALIZE THE VAGRANTS FASTER


Good news, lads, good news! The half dozen 32 oz. bottles
of beer on the shelves at Ralph's in Pasadena only lasted
a couple of days. I bought one before the anti-vagrancy
burgomeisters complained again!


One of the symptoms of the economically as well as morally bankrupt country -- ours -- is the amplification of its desire to criminalize the poor.

The Republican party is one of the best examples of this in action. It's no secret anymore that it hates immigrants and, as a consequence, has utterly lost that vote.

The New York Times made note of this last week in an editorial which hailed the Obama administration's stated desire to change the policies of the former administration toward illegals -- which was to lock as many as possible up in Handcuff USA. Outside the party, the rest of the country doesn't really see the party's professed 'distinction' that it's only interested in jailing illegals.

In 2008, the nauseating TV show, Homeland Security USA, seemingly unsuccessfully tried to turn this into reality entertainment. Every show featured a good number of small, poor Mexicans being locked up. Real inspirational viewing, that.

Another part of the equation was covered today in a Times editorial written by Barbara Ehrenreich. (Hat tip to CE.)

"In defiance of all reason and compassion, the criminalization of poverty has actually been intensifying as the recession generates ever more poverty," Ehrenreich writes. "So concludes a new study from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, which found that the number of ordinances against the publicly poor has been rising since 2006, along with ticketing and arrests for more 'neutral' infractions like jaywalking, littering or carrying an open container of alcohol."

The editorial describes Los Angeles as one of the country's meanest cities in this regard, something which is hardly news if you read the daily paper here.

Ehrenreich describes a path by which people who are poor run afoul of the law through some trivial non-criminal action which has been 'outlawed' by local city ordnance. Unable to pay fines, or if they miss a court date, they find themselves issued with a warrant and subject to arrest. If they do get arrested in some sweep, it becomes even more difficult, if not impossible, to find a job.

Pasadena, for example, issued DD a whopping $720 fine for not having a seatbelt on while sitting at a stop sign late last year.

It is, by any standard, a totally unreasonable fine -- not alleviated by the LA Superior Court's offer of deducting three hundred dollars from the bill if it is paid at once.

Why was the fine so high?

Well, LA County says it doesn't have to send out a bill with the amount to be paid, like almost everyone's used to when they get a traffic ticket. If it doesn't and you don't respond, the fine is escalated radically. Then you get a notice. For sure.

Anyone who is poor, or on perilous ground in this time of economic hardship, can be wrecked by a seven hundred, or even a four hundred dollar fine. If they choose to walk away, they're threatened with collection, revocation of driver's licence, and a warrant. All for the trivial 'crime' of not having the seatbelt buckled, in my case, when the car was stopped and an officer looked inside.

Another example, which mirrors examples given in the Ehrenreich essay, is the criminalization of fare evaders on light rail in Pasadena. DD has seen Los Angeles County security men, working under the authority of the LA County sheriff, regularly manning traps for fare evaders in the city. Typically, they set up just near the exit of the station, out-of-sight if possible, so that they can intercept everyone leaving a train. If you can't produce a ticket for the train you just left, you're whacked. The crime is trivial, but in 2009 -- the fines issued are not.

"For the not-yet-homeless, there are two main paths to criminalization -— one involving debt, and the other skin color," continues Ehrenreich. "Anyone of any color or pre-recession financial status can fall into debt, and although we pride ourselves on the abolition of debtors’ prison, in at least one state, Texas, people who can’t afford to pay their traffic fines may be made to 'sit out their tickets' in jail.

"Often the path to legal trouble begins when one of your creditors has a court issue a summons for you, which you fail to honor for one reason or another. (Maybe your address has changed or you never received it.) Now you’re in contempt of court. Or suppose you miss a payment and, before you realize it, your car insurance lapses; then you’re stopped for something like a broken headlight. Depending on the state, you may have your car impounded or face a steep fine — again, exposing you to a possible summons. 'There’s just no end to it once the cycle starts,' said Robert Solomon of Yale Law School. 'It just keeps accelerating.'"

The guy ain't lying.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

STUMBLE AND FAIL BLEAK CAREERS VIDEO

The future's so bright, you gotta wear manacles.

Just last year, Homeland Security USA created the impression that jobs in the detain-and-jail industry were depression proof.

Part of it is still probably true. But in California, the state government's calamity of a budget has ensured their must be a contraction in the number of people now enjoying the hospitality of jails and penitentiaries. Bad times look to reach all state employees, and -- one presumes -- corrections officers are not excused.

And AP's business and economics writers haven't even begun to figure out of how to package mass layoffs in state governments as proof the national economy is beginning to improve.

Anyhow, DD went to YouTube for another installment of incredibly annoying videos. Today's selection is from the flurry of ads in the last year and a half pitched to those who think careers in "caring" for the imprisoned population look promising.

Naturally, if you have any common sense, they're all uniformly awful, but sometimes unintentionally hilarious. Hilarious in the sense that it's impossible to underestimate the American capacity to imagine there's something swell and unique, rather than an indication of social fail, in incarceration.

DD has screened all the gobblers for the biggest and best of the turkeys.

For those who get erections over concrete dungeons and pepper spray. Home recruitment/praise video, death metal optional.



Professional team training in beating up and subduing the quarrelsome and imprisoned.



It's a career in courage and strength. Moreso to the strength side.



We'll train you in handcuffing and running down a hall.
Equal obesity opportunities.




Most reading this blog have no shot at jobs like this. Run along now, Uncle Sam ain't really interested in ya.



Yeah, there are car bombs in Los Angeles County every day. I just saw 'em take a satchel charge off the Gold Line into Old Town Pasadena, yestiddy. Honest.



Did I tell you they took a satchel charge off the Gold Line in Pasadena, yestiddy? Well, they did. There was ricin in it, too.



Next time, I'll post some even greater stuff. Honest. Did I tell you I saw 'em citing people for fare evasion on the Gold Line in Pasadena a month ago?
TAKE THE DAY OFF, HIT THE NIGHT TRAIN EARLY


Good news lads, good news! After 200 interviews I got a
job making a fraction of what I usedta! I'm a useless
useful US citizen again, contributing to the great leap forward!


You have to laugh on reading the blind ignorant optimism coming out of US business stories, the tales of people desperately trying to polish a turd situation that just won't be polished.

"[Don Yows, a fired HP executive] joined a local [job club] and applied for about 200jobs. He got three interviews and just one offer, which he decided to take.

"Yows now makes around $24,000 a year, about a fifth of what he was making for HP.

But it's good news, lads.

"You kind of feel like you're contributing again," he told Reuters. "You're a viable part of society."

Ya think?

"Some analysts see dramatic income changes becoming so commonplace that statistics will show income gaps narrowing as high-paying jobs decline in such sectors as finance," adds the news agency, not really getting to the point that this IS A REALLY BAD THING.

"Going forward the gap will shrink because people will be pushed into jobs that they don't really need a college degree to do. This is not part of the natural economic cycle," said Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland.

Yes, could we agree, in straightforward language, that a compression in earnings toward a lowest common denominator occurs when more and more and more get to enjoy new niches at the bottom of the economy?

"This is a consequence of policies that have been pursued by previous administrations and exacerbated by Obama, such as never addressing the trade issue with China," he said.

"Wall Street banks and lawyers could collect nearly $1 billion in fees from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and American International Group Inc to help manage and break apart the insurer, The Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday, citing its own analysis," recited Reuters here.

Yes, everyone now knows the meme by heart: The very people who caused the calamity must now be rewarded even more richly so that, in a mania of wishful thinking, they don't make things worse. Kind of like admirably keeping Don Rumsfeld on for years and years while everyone could see he'd driven the bus over the cliff.

"According to the newspaper, the situation creates potential conflicts of interest in oversight by causing the government to employ many companies it regulates," added the newsmen.

"Neither the administration, nor our political system in general, is ready to face up to the fact that we’ve become a society in which the big bucks go to bad actors, a society that lavishly rewards those who make us poorer." -- See Krugman, although I bet you already have.

To frame it locally, it's always important to keep the vagrants swept out of the parking lot at Ralph's on Lake in Pasadena. And to make it impossible for anyone to buy beer in less than six-packs and cases so that public drinking is stamped out. Drunks and bums aren't like those wizards still working at Indymac across the street, the place the US government had to seize and administer so that it didn't completely incinerate another section of the economy.

We just haveta keep our priorities in the right order, lads!

Someone called me the other day to ask why I thought Americans weren't in the streets more.

Well, they are! For example, they're not going to let any Democrat scalawags enact any Commie plot health plan that would put Pap and Granny to death!

See it here.

So we do still know how to protest against the right shit.



Related:

Today's tortured AP story in which statistics are mangled, numbers massaged and the tea leaves burned, all to show how rising unemployment and insignificant changes in the slope of the curve show good stuff is just around the corner.

Stumble and Fail

Sit Home and Rot

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

CYBERSECURITY STODGE CZAR STORMS OFF IN HUFF

Apparently, the pace of change from old stodge to new stodge has not been quick enough for some.

"The top White House aide for cybersecurity said she will resign following months of delays by the Obama administration in appointing a permanent director to oversee the safety of the nation's vital computer networks," reported el Reg here.

"Melissa E. Hathaway, told The Washington Post her last day would be August 21. Up to now, she had been considered a candidate for 'cybersecurity czar,' a post designed to give a single person authority for securing networks and infrastructure that serve the country's banks, hospitals and stock exchanges."

El Reg notes Hathaway lead the team which wrote the Obama administration's recent cybersecurity review, commented on by DD here at SITREP.

To review:

"Over the past decade, a great many US government officials have uttered similarly pleasing sounds [on cybersecurity]. Obama administration officials and advisors are no different ...

" 'The national dialogue on cybersecurity must begin today,' states the Obama administration's recent cyberspace policy review.

" 'People cannot value security without first understanding how much is at risk. Therefore the Federal government should initiate a national public awareness and education campaign informed by previous successful campaigns.'

"These are statements which sound good, but only superficially. Instead, they tend to really insult the intelligence of anyone who has followed US government campaigns to educate the public over risks from cyberspace in the past eight years.

"Fundamentally, the US government's 'education' on the issue has always boiled down to employing a small army of officials, as well as experts from the private sector, to convey dire messages: The country is so dependent on the networks, it can be turned off like a switch by a variety of enemies who choose to attack through cyberspace. The enemies can be nations we don't like, teenagers, disgruntled insiders, organized crime, or just crazy people."


This was the contribution of Melissa Hathaway's team. And it was not substantially different from past practices.

As leader, Hathaway was ultimately responsible for passing on an urban myth in Obama's report, one the President repeated in his coming out speech on cybersecurity. It was the hoary tale of unattributed foreign cities having their lights turned out by unattributed hackers from unnameable foreign lands.

DD has spent a couple months dinging the adminstration over its inclusion in briefings with reporters, noticeably starting here and in radio interviews conducted over the next couple of months. (See here for an excerpt transcript from the Background Briefing show on Radio Pacifica and here on Richard Chirgwin's 'A Series of Tubes' from Australia, as late as last week.)

In comments to Chirgwin and others, I made clear that I thought the authors of the Obama administration's cybersecurity review probably did not even care that one of their key examples of badness from cyberspace was crap. The 'lights out' vignette was used because it filled a standard need in these types of things -- the need to fix the attention of laymen and the easily gulled, of people who do not require substantive evidence when presented with extraordinary claims. In other words, it was meant to inspire forboding, a desire for hasty action, and to muddy rational, deliberate and critical thinking.

And it was evidence of business being conducted pretty much as usual in the worlds of risk and threat assessment.

If any of it had the result of slowing the Obama administration's appointment of a national "cyber czar," it's a good thing. However, I've no indication this was so.

"According to The Washington Post, Hathaway grew 'dismayed' by the delay and developed 'the sense that this was very political' because of her ties to former President George W. Bush."

In any case, it's no big loss.
STUMBLE AND FAIL CAPTIONING


Good news lads, good news! Big Pharma is supporting
healthcare reform as long as the US government agrees to
stop imports from Canada and not set prices. It's safer!
You know those Canucks might just substitute Quaaludes and
Rohypnol in place of Old Pap's Lipitor and Aricept!



Good news, Pap, good news! The Ralph's supermarket in Pasadena, right
across the street from the seized crook bank, IndyMac,
has removed all 24 and 40 oz. beer bottles and cans from its
shelves. In the US, we deal with vagrants and parasites before
they gain the upper hand!




No one has to resort to making things up in the US for the sake of laff-riot captions. In DD's case, all you have to do is step outside the door, turn left and walk a half-mile for the daily newspaper and some frozen pizza.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

ON THE RADIO

"What do you think are the dangers that come out of too credulous treatment on the [cyberthreats]?"

Answer: "It diffuses realistic thinking ... the central thing that I try to give people to take away from this is that we're built on fundamentally insecure systems. And there was a time many, many years ago that maybe something could have been done about this. But now it's essentially in place and they're just putting stuff on top of it ... So it has to be managed and that's part of the day to day business of anyone who decides they're going to carry out parts of their lives or put their livelihoods or engage with globally networked computers, so it's part of the overhead. It's not actually an added thing that one can just caught off, it's part of the cost ...

"If we go back to the example of the North Korean cyberattack ... if it hadn't made news, what would the people who had to deal with it on the websites [felt] who had to deal with the slowdown on the technical level, what they have thought? Well, it's just another day at work ... There's going to be times whens the world deals some hard hands and bad things happen but you can't predict or make a prognostication that people are just going to stand around wringing their hands, that's just not how life works. People work together to put things back together."

Richard Chirgwin, who runs A Series of Tubes, a technology radio broadcast for the Net, and he interviewed DD all the way from Australia here.

Turned out pretty good, it did, except for the sound quality on my side of Pacific. Which made me sound intriguingly beamed in from another cosmos. But it's very lucid and worthwhile, if you enjoy such things. If you want to skip the intro and get right to DD, although all of it is quite scintillating, skip forward to the 18:30 point or so.