10.20.14

The joy in creating a racket

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll, WhiteManistan at 3:34 pm by George Smith

The first review of Loud Folk Live is in and it’s a nice read. At NYC Rock, written by an old editor of Creem magazine, paradoxically, the latter the place my first record thirty years ago was reviewed.

Some of the nice bits, excerpted:

The more George Smith, who tussles with the media world under the name Dick Destiny, lives, the more disheartened he becomes. George is like the last romantic standing, the last man who cares about the US and the more he bristles at “Whitemanistan,” the more he thinks and studies it, and the more he bristles. It is in the nature of things, of course, but that doesn’t mean Smith shouldn’t be stating his reservations about the Reservation or even singing, dancing, and stomping his feet. Misery loves music loves company, and, as Lennon taught us decades ago, if you wanna have a revolution write a catchy hook.


Which leads us back to the extremely enjoyable and fun Loud Folk Live, if you can’t make people read, make ‘em listen. You wanna rail against the robbing of the poor to give more to the rich, you wanna remind us of Waco, Texas, do it with a splendid lick to carry you and people are gonna like you a whole lot more. “Puta” sounds like Lou Reed circa New York … It is a blast whatever other intentions Destiny might well have. Sure, he’s right, it is “Protest Rock” but the accent is on rock whatever his intentions might be.


On song after song, Destiny and drummer Mark Smollin discover the joy in creating a racket …


Destiny’s album is a joyful leap into Whitemanistan, into the big muddy where nothing matters but the readies. The Fugs would approve. Allen Ginsberg would approve. Peter Stampfel would approve and I approve in America the place where we call home.

Go read all of it. Make the numbers at Rock NYC tick up a bit.

Yes, and it includes links to the teaser tunes here and here.

And you can have a copy, CD or MP3s, just name your price. Or not, no obligation. Just follow the link and page down.


Impressive.” — Steve, Secrecy News


Related diversionary reading — Iggy Pop of the Stooges, asked to give a speech in England on the 10th anniversary of the death of famous radio DJ John Peel, excerpted from the NME:

The subject of his lecture – which marked ten years since Peel’s death – was “free music in a capitalist society”. Dressed in a barely buttoned black shirt revealing his bare chest and reading glasses, the punk godfather prowled the stage as he told a packed auditorium how digital advances have caused the music industry to become “almost laughably pirate” and that electronic devices “estrange people from their morals and also make it easier to steal music than pay for it.”

He claimed the normalisation of illegal downloading is “bad for everything”. “We are exchanging the corporate rip-off for the public one. Aided by power nerds. Kind of computer Putins. They just wanna get rich and powerful.”

Pretty much.

10.18.14

Hey, that’s rich! The ‘helping industry’

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, The Corporate Bund at 11:36 am by George Smith

Unemployed, underemployed, or unemployable, when you’re down and almost out, Silicon Valley’s libertarians are there for you with apps to allow you to help others by turning your abode into a hostel.

For a small fee, of course.

The buzzphrase for this has been “the sharing economy.” Except now the word’s getting out and the bloom is off the poison oak.

From the New York Times, on a piece earlier this week on how New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has lowered the boom on AirBnB, the residence sharing enabler, issuing a report stating that three quarters of the firm’s rentals in NYC were illegal:

Critics say that the start-ups are unsavory efforts to avoid regulation and taxes, and that the very term “sharing economy” is ridiculous.

“We need to move forward … We need to work together on some sensible rules that stop bad actors and protect regular people who simply want to share the home in which they live,” AirBnB spokesman Nick Papas told the newspaper.

“Anyone operating an illegal hotel should be on notice that the state and city will take aggressive enforcement actions in this area … A slick advertising campaign doesn’t change the fact that this is illegal activity,” retorted the attorney general.

Schneiderman’s report, according to the Times, found that 37 percent of the revenue generated through AirBnb came from just six percent of the rentals, specifically from landlords of entire buildings who had used the service to simply convert their apartment high-rise properties into transient hotels.

This was very bad news for AirBnB. So it did what the sharing economy start-ups always do. First, ignore the law. Then send out the call for a libertarian flack to ride to the rescue in the opinion pages of the big newspaper.

In this case, it’s Arthur Brooks of the Unregulated Business Uber Alles lobby American Enterprise Institute.

The phrase sharing economy now begins to leave a bad taste. This is because it’s not sharing at all. You pay for a cheap service, provided by someone Silicon Valley technology can take advantage of and leverage in the desperation economy.

Or as I put it a year ago:

The sharing economy: American tech industry euphemism for the creation of an economy in which the top 1 percent gets all the share.

So libertarian pundit Arthur Brooks uses a different phrase to describe it: the helping industry.

As in, “Everyone wants to help. Wouldn’t you want to be part of such an industry, helping people with more money than you by cheaply renting your home to them at their convenience?”

Quotes:

WHAT is a “helping industry”?


To hear him tell it, [AirBnB co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk] started the business because it was fascinating and fun. And most of all, he says, because it could help ordinary people who needed an affordable place to stay or had some excess capacity in their homes. That’s right — Nate sees Airbnb as a “helping industry.”

Some will howl at this …


Ordinary people, especially vulnerable people without power and privilege, find Airbnb empowering and useful. It lifts Americans up …


Any of us can work in a helping industry. That includes teachers, nurses, stay-at-home parents … The blessing of our free enterprise system is that any of us can sanctify our work. We just need to ask if what we are doing truly lifts others up.

For his sterling example, Brooks finds a woman who has been disemboweled, as many have been, by the American economy. By subletting her apartment out for a few days monthly and “[bunking with a friend or family member]” she can keep paying the bills on the place.

But what if the “friend” or “family member” decided they wanted to be part of the helping industry and charge for the few nights the guest is staying over? Ah, that ruins everything.

And it exposes Brooks’ argument as risible. AirBnB, the helping application is just leveraging desperate people, in this case making some money off the “friend” or “family member” that puts up its user for free.

And none of it addresses Schneiderman’s report that states most of AirBnb’s revenue generated by it in NYC is illegal, coming from landlords/owners who’ve just used to flip entire apartment buildings to unregulated hostels.

From when I first looked at AirBnB:

At Google images, “sharing economy” returns the Silicon Valley pissed-in [bathwater] of the future. The sharing economy, as defined here, is just a euphemism for installing network technology that atomizes labor costs, unleashes the economy into free-lance downward bidding wars, taking larger pieces of a stagnant economic pie for the owners of the technology. In other words, they always get the share, no matter how much smaller the total economic swag becomes. And, as is always the case with snake-oil sellers, they’re backed up with other fine-sounding euphemisms, in case “sharing economy” just isn’t enough. In this instance, Google offers “collaborative consumption“…

But if you look more closely at AirBnB property, you will see that some of the rooms are also offered as monthly rentals, revealing the desire of the owner to be an apartment manager. Of these, we already have loads in Pasadena — and in your city — and they use Craigslist, too.

Others, when examined, are renting all the rooms in a given house, which may look nice on the outside, turning it into a stealth motel. One must assume that some are illegal. Pasadena and all cities do have various ordnances for apartment complexes, hotels, motels, probably increasing in importance if the rented structures are not built in the business district.

This is the case with granny cottages here.

Most of them are illegal, in one way or another, under strict municipal code enforcement. But they are a staple in southern California where people have converted garages into them in trying to build revenue. And AirBnB makes it easier to rent them out, perhaps not that much easier than Craigslist.

In any case, this puts AirBnB in the role of virtual slumlord, although that may not be the large part of its business.

10.15.14

Comment rescue: Ebola & American overconfidence

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

People make mistakes, they screw up. Ebola is one disease that leaves little room for error with an outcome that’s appalling.

I’m going to assume you know most of the statistics. Two cases among health workers, nurses, in Dallas who tended patient zero, who was once turned away from the hospital while symptomatic. The second nurse traveled, when she should not have been allowed to and returned by airplane.

Americans just can not resist the urge to overstate their abilities. They never shut up and concede it’s a tough situation, one in which likely they’ll suffer setbacks with grim consequences.

But diseases surprise. This variant of Ebola seems more virulent than past strains in that there appears to be a lot more of it fulminating in those who are infected.

And the infection curve is still going up in West Africa.

What happens if, like the WHO says, it reaches 1000 new infections a week by December?

That’s the making of a Biblical calamity in which everyone who can starts running away.

What if Ebola virus escapes into a teeming urban center in India? Or Indonesia? Bangladesh? Lagos in Nigeria? Karachi in Pakistan? Any other place with a lot of poor people and spotty health care and resources for infection control? You can’t quarantine the world.

Can this country handle a few people a month who are infected coming in on airplane flights from the African continent?

I don’t know.

The government health officials continue to say it can’t happen here.
But what happens if someone slips through again into a poor neighborhood or a homeless population during flu season? Do they get discovered and isolated before they infect a few more?

This isn’t Liberia or Sierra Leone. But no one can say yet how it’s going to turn out with total confidence.

In 1977, Peter Piot discovered the Ebola virus. Last week, the Financial Times spoke with him:

The collapsing health systems of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea mean that many cases probably go unrecorded; the real toll could be far higher. Even the least alarming projections suggest there will be more than 20,000 cases by early next month. Looking further ahead, the worst-case scenario from the US Centres for Disease Control foresees 1.4m cases in west Africa by late January. Prof Piot says that while such dire predictions must be treated with caution – “like the ones in the 1990s that had everyone in Britain coming down with the human form of mad cow disease” – he is frightened. “There is a very real danger of a complete breakdown” in parts of west African society, he says.

Piot told the FT he “became very scared” in “late June” upon seeing the escalation of the outbreak.

The paradox here is that the US government only became interested in the Ebola virus and funding research on it after the start of the war on terror over concerns, unfounded and unrealistic, that it could be, ahem, used as a weapon on the homeland.

In the past week, news has been common how slashed funding at the NIH had impeded work on it.

Bioterrorism research funding has also been tapered. Additionally, it has been argued for years that the funding for bioterror research was never going to be effective, that the money would have been better spent in general research on the control of global infectious disease.

It has, and will be pointed out again, that Ebola outbreaks thrive in places of great inequality. That is, where there is no sufficient infrastructure or resources to apply to the poor populations where it takes hold.

And that is certainly the case in West Africa. The US military most likely cannot solve this problem with 4,000 troops and one hundred makeshift tent hospitals.

Mark Zuckerberg’s 25 million won’t do it, either. Ebola virus doesn’t conform to social media or wizards of the Silicon Valley.

Ted Nugent’s extortion gig

Posted in Ted Nugent, WhiteManistan at 12:11 pm by George Smith

I’ve written about the extortion job America’s most beloved classic rock bigot pulls on those who get cold feet after booking him for their family-friendly events. And Nugent’s lawyers are now busy bag men, squeezing decent sums for nothing out of the six venues that canceled on him this summer due to bad publicity over his being … America’s most beloved classic rock bigot.

From the Columbian, a newspaper in Oregon:

Controversial rocker Ted Nugent didn’t play a note at the Clark County Fair, but that didn’t prevent him from collecting a settlement worth $45,000 …

Nugent’s original contract called for him to be paid $61,500 for a show at the Clark County Fair.


The fair announced Nugent would be a performer in late April. Almost immediately, some residents expressed concern that Nugent, known for his right wing views and racy lyrics, was not a good fit for a family-friendly concert. A petition began circulating on the website MoveOn.org to have him taken off the bill.

Shortly after the petition hit the Internet, Fair Manager John Morrison announced Nugent’s gig had been canceled.

Nugent, the newspaper replied, promptly issued a threatening e-mail:

Nugent himself wrote an email to Morrison, in which he groused that people were spreading “hateful lies” and that his shows were the “ultimate PG13 family events.”

“I respectfully recommend you do the right thing to avoid a wasteful & ridiculous long drawn out legal action to finally get to the right thing” …

Nugent’s lawyers quickly filed a breach-of-contract suit.

The Columbian adds Nugent’s litigious history, mentioning he sued the Muskegon (Michigan) Summer Celebration for $80,000 after it dropped him from its bill due to “potentially offensive racist terms.”

A couple of years ago, this blog dealt with that event here.

Earlier this summer, the city of Longview, Texas, had to pay Nugent a $16,000 go-away fee just for backing out of negotiation with him after the townspeople decided they didn’t want him for a a show on the 4th of July.

Going forward, any middling city in the heartland offered a piece of Ted Nugent’s summer tour needs to be very careful in researching his history. Nugent successfully extracts significant cash pay-outs from those who back out of a gig with him after he creates a racist stink with his mouth that rebounds nationally as well as in the community.

Either make sure his contract is rewritten so that he can be dropped if his appearance or utterances in public bring shame, fall below community standards or are offensive to groups living in the area of the show or don’t book him at all.

The guy’s literally da bomb. A business transaction is just that and does not carry with it any guarantee clause for free speech.

Just as I was about to have a little sin…

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll at 11:35 am by George Smith

Another teaser from Loud Folk Live, a live and crazed “Hooray for the Salvation Army Band!”

Tales of alcoholism, salvation evasion, bum checks expired and a group sing of “Bringing In the Sheaves.” Top that.

MP3s of the entire album, or a CD, can be easily had. It’s a perfect companion for the Culture of Lickspittle.

We lock up the poor for all the rich & we do it right, without no hitch…

I refuse to put it in the digital landfill of iTunes/Spotify/Rhapsody/etc. These services are of virtually no use to any music that isn’t already well-established or promoted by a record label with some resources.

Online music creates the illusion of infinite choice and opportunity that didn’t exist under the old model. History and what actually happened have shown this is just that, an illusion.

The profit in it is virtually only for the owners of the landfills.

So, all you have to do for digital copies is send an e-mail and I can supply them just as easy.

As usual, name your price, or none at all, there is no obligation.


10.02.14

Loud Folk Live news

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Rock 'n' Roll, The Corporate Bund, WhiteManistan at 2:52 pm by George Smith


Full size. Listen to The National Anthem.

The first copies of Loud Folk Live will be going out tomorrow and Saturday. So expect them sometime around the middle of next week.

I’m proud of it. It’s a better record than my first, Arrogance, way back in 1985 and that, surprisingly, even made mention in a lot of places including Chuck Eddy’s book on the 500 best hard rock and heavy metal records. Which I didn’t take too seriously, but which was nice to have happen, anyway.

Loud Folk Live is much different. It’s an ideology, a point of view, a mix of electric Americana as well as hard-hitting guitar rock n roll, totally live and straight to two-track. What went down over our recent summer of contempt is exactly what you get.

The performances are tight and explosive. Hooray for the Salvation Army Band’s mix of Purple Haze, lyrics to alcoholism and interjections of singing Bringing in the Sheaves gospel challenges you not to laugh. Alone, it makes the entire thing worth having.

And then it tumbles right in to the sermon to our god of green, morals and how to not get into Heaven, Jesus of America.

If you don’t like rock ‘n’ roll, or my voice, you certainly won’t enjoy it.
Which doesn’t bother me that much. If you contributed after the last post, you’ll get one, anyway.

You can still have one for whatever you name. They’ll be CD-Rs with the above insert, later as a limited run burn in a clam shell case.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just a diversion next to the blog. It’s not. Loud Folk Live is part of my American experience, as important to me as the last twenty years of writing on the subject with which you’ve become familiar.

No one was going to publish a book. Not possible in this country. (Work through Amazon and the empire of Bezos? C’mon, already did that and got hosed.) So I made music.

If you want a copy, go here, page down, then you know what to do.

10.01.14

Classic American overconfidence and disease

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 2:27 pm by George Smith

With the arrival of one Ebola virus case in Dallas and the sick person’s story so far, we’re about to see if the it-can’t-happen-here talk that’s been prevalent is warranted.

The United States is not exceptional. And it is particularly unexceptional in its health care, especially when the stakes are high. With regards to public health, the poor, the average, anyone not considered entitled and special, have been allowed to fend for themselves, often until it is too late.

Ebola virus infection in American may collide with that reality.

From the New York Times today:

DALLAS — Health officials in Dallas are monitoring at least five schoolchildren in North Texas who came into contact with a man found to have Ebola virus, after he became sick and infectious.

The authorities also said that an early opportunity to put the patient in isolation, limiting the risk of contagion, may have been missed because of a failure to pass along critical information about his travel history.

The story also informs of that the infected man was sent home for two days while he was showing symptoms.

More alarmingly, it makes the case that the sick man contracted the virus from contact with the sick daughter of his Liberian landlord, when he helped carry her. The woman subsequently died and two other people who had come in contact with her were also killed by the virus.

“Mr. Duncan came in contact with at least 12 to 18 people when he was experiencing symptoms,” reads the newspaper. But which is it? Is the number right?

None are showing symptoms, which — in any case — will take a little longer to emerge, reads the newspaper.

There are no hospitals like this singularly unfortunate place in Sierra Leone, where the virus is completely out of control.

But that doesn’t mean American health care can’t screw up royally, as it often has, out of neglect, passivity, indifference and greed, in well-documented ways. Indeed, it is fortunate the American health care system has not heretofore come in contact with a disease like Ebola [1], where it can’t quite track all of those potentially exposed and know precisely when they became symptomatic and infectious.

These are unknowns. No amount of bravado changes that.

“This is all hands on deck,” said Texas governor, Rick Perry. This alone is almost cause for alarm. And that is only because, if you are a betting man, you would take into account that Perry has a record of always being spectacularly wrong.

“[The information that the infected man had just come from Liberia] was not used in the clinical diagnosis and Mr. Duncan was sent home, with the diagnostic team believing he simply had a low-grade fever from a viral infection,” reads the Times. “He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance two days later, his condition having significantly deteriorated …”

Many in the Fair Oaks community around the hospital in Dallas where the Ebola-infected man is in isolation are “skeptical” of reassurances by the Centers for Disease Control, concluded the newspaper.

What happens when someone who is infected just doesn’t get to the hospital, even once?

Time will tell.


In 2008, an American woman on vacation in Uganda brought what appears, in retrospect, to have been a relatively mild infection due to the Marburg virus back to Colorado. She was committed to a hospital for mild fever, diarrhea and complications of initially, unspecified cause. Possible diagnoses of leptospirosis or viral hepatitis were considered and abandoned.

Marburg virus is a somewhat less lethal relative of Ebola virus.

The CDC account of the case, which she survived, is here.

Marburg virus infection was diagnosed post-convalescence.

Bombing Paupers: We took out their ’stills’

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 12:45 pm by George Smith

When the American bombing campaign opened against ISetc, early news announced the destruction of “refineries.” This was said to be hitting the caliphate in its pockets, depriving it of an unstated amount of money from oil revenue.

Well, what about those refineries?

From the Los Angeles Times, six days ago:

Making the first major push to choke off financing for Islamic State, U.S. and allied Arab warplanes bombed a dozen small oil refineries in eastern Syria on Wednesday that U.S. officials said were part of a $2 million-a-day revenue stream for the Sunni Muslim extremist group …

“These small-scale refineries provided fuel to run ISIL operations, money to finance their continued attacks … and an economic asset to support their future operations,” [said a leaflet from US Central Command.]

The statement said the facilities produced 300 to 500 barrels of refined petroleum per day …

By Sunday:

Six U.S. and 10 allied Arab warplanes also bombed a dozen “small oil refineries” in eastern Syria, the Pentagon announced. The raids made headlines, but the facilities proved to be improvised stills used to produce total of only a few hundred barrels of gasoline a day.

More and more, the dilemma is how to package strikes against a group of people, an agency, an emerging country, that lacks the power to provide any opposition to bombing campaigns?

How do we always do this? By invoking the magical word — asymmetric!

As I’ve defined it previously, an asymmetric threat is a fancy term used only as a deception. It describes going to war with anyone who has less resources, money, manpower and technology than the United States.

Which is to say — everyone else — from the angry but poor rabble at home to emerging power in the Middle East.

An example of a press cheerleader, describing the asymmetric power of ISetc, last week with the headline:

Modern airpower versus tribal warriors


Someone named James Kitfield explains it for the non-participating American public:

In the annals of warfare there have been few conflicts as asymmetric as the United States against the Islamic State, which pits a global superpower at the head of an international coalition against a brutally ambitious terrorist group …

This taking and holding of territory is not textbook asymmetrical strategy for a weak combatant. To pursue it, al-Baghdadi relies on a deep connection and understanding of the disaffected Sunni militant groups and tribes who rose up to embrace his black banner. When IS fighters swept out of Syria into Iraq, it may have looked like a standard if daring military maneuver, but it was more akin to an organic uprising by viral flash mobs of locals, with Twitter the method of choice for tactical communications.

[He neglects to mention the big part about the America-trained and equipped Iraqi army running away and deserting.]

“The enemy will spread disinformation in hopes the media will achieve what they cannot, which is to put restrictions and limits on our use of airpower,” said [retired USAF General Dave Deptula, who ran the Bombing Paupers campaign -- bin Laden, notably, escaped -- over Afghanistan in 2001]. “ISIL knows it has asymmetric advantages on the ground, but we have our own asymmetric advantage: we can project power from the air, without projecting vulnerability.”

“The key is using our advantage in airpower to apply unrelenting pressure that impacts ISIL and its allies psychologically as well as physically, because in 21st century military operations the most important battle space is your adversary’s frame of mind,” said Deptula …

As Obama declared at the United Nations, such men understand only one language. And the message the United States and its allies are delivering from the air needs no translation.

Fine talk.

Nothing has inspired minds in the Middle East more than over a decade of no-translation-needed we’ll-beat-’em-into-bench-holes bombing campaigns and special operations. The result is probably not what Deptula had in mind when being consulted at Pebble Beach, or wherever he was.

As for destroying stills that provided “a few hundred barrels of gasoline a day,” we bombed the equivalent of a couple gas stations in LA County.

That’s some real strategy. Or delusion, depending on your choice in words.

09.28.14

It’s a “states rights” thing

Posted in WhiteManistan at 2:44 pm by George Smith

Reuters canoes deep into the swamps of Dixie WhiteManistan to gather opinions on the yen for secession: Only 1 in 4 support it, but the dead-enders are united.

And confused, as always, somehow believing that about half of Scotland voting to leave the United Kingdom was somehow like what precipitated the Civil War and Cliven Bundy defying the Bureau of Land Management.

The Scottish National Party, of course, being so much like the 2014 neo-Confederacy in its support for the labor of the lower and middle classes.

From Reuters:

The failed Scottish vote to pull out from the United Kingdom stirred secessionist hopes for some in the United States, where almost a quarter of people are open to their states leaving the union, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away …

Ergo, interview the old white heevahava from the birthplace of sedition:

“I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference anymore which political party is running things. Nothing gets done,” said Roy Gustafson, 61, of Camden, South Carolina, who lives on disability payments. “The state would be better off handling things on its own.”

Why does nothing get done? Couldn’t be about one party and its base having a world view like ol’ Jefferson Davis’, could it?

OK, Reuters, ask another!

“Texas has everything we need. We have the manufacturing, we have the oil, and we don’t need them,” said Mark Denny, a 59-year-old retiree living outside Dallas on disability payments.

Denny, a Republican, had cheered on the Scottish independence movement.

“I have totally, completely lost faith in the federal government, the people running it, whether Republican, Democrat, independent, whatever …”

Tally: Two fed up old guys in the Old South, both on disability.

I’m one year younger than Mr. Denny. I’m not on disability or retired although one might say I was involuntarily detached from the economy.

Then, icing on the cake, a “Democrat” in Texas, also old:

“When I say secede, I’m not like … Charlton Heston with my gun up in the air, ‘my cold dead hands.’ It’s more like – we could do it if we had to,” said [Lila Guzman], 62. “But the first option is, golly, get it back on the right track. Not all is lost. But there might come a point that we say, ‘Hey, y’all, we’re dusting our hands and we’re moving on.’”

Scottish independence, just like the wish for liberty and effective government in the old states of the Confederacy.

Y’all, I do smell horse-piss; at which my nose is in great indignation!

09.26.14

US social media machine epic fail

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror at 2:32 pm by George Smith

With unlimited resources, money and manpower, the US can’t change its image in the Middle East. It’s worse than shit. And it’s even more laughable that it would try to do so during a bombing campaign, one that I’ve pointed out faces no real resistance.

Today, the New York Times ran a piece on State Department attempts to rally people in the Middle East against ISIS and jihadism. That means providing content for social media.

Largely, it’s been a flop as a quick look at the ugly statistics on YouTube show.

The obstacle faced, and it’s a substantial one, is simple to grasp.

How do you counter the social media and propaganda efforts of an emerging nation that relies on its image, for atrocity and blood, as a real world equivalent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

Has this even occurred to those hired by the State Department to make this video?

Compared to beheadings and news exultatant mass killings — a body being tossed into a pit, dead people at the side of the road, someone strung up with razor wire, it’s all small beer.

You either go for the full live dismemberment by chainsaw or you don’t go at all, so to speak.

And, of course, it seems to also not occurred to anyone at State that having a video where one has to sign in to see it because it contains material that’s objectionable was self-defeating.

So State uploaded the above video twice and apparently gained a dispensation from YouTube to let the second one alone. (Hint to state: Delete the earlier version, it makes you look dumb.)

Here’s a link to the State Department channel, ThinkAgain Turn Away.

The only video with significant views is the one embedded here. And a lot of its views are now due to domestic media publicity.

What do you think?

It’s about what one might expect from a country where the State Department is, in function, nothing more than an appendix.

The nation’s foreign policy is little more than tactical bombing, special ops black bag jobs, sale of arms to human rights abuser/allies in the region and financial sanctions. Of what use could be any media operation posting brief videos featuring slightly menacing music on YouTube?

Writes the New York Times:

The “Think Again, Turn Away” video mocks the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL, even briefly showing some of its beheaded victims. But some critics have questioned its deeply sarcastic tone: “You can learn useful new skills for the Ummah! Blowing up mosques. Crucifying and executing Muslims. Plundering public resources.”

Yes, a video of oil spilling out of a barrel, taken from Vice online, will surely do it.

“About 50 people” work for the State Department’s counterterror social media effort, informs the newspaper.

By contrast, the ISIS capitol in Syria currently being bombed by the US military has “scores” of young men posting pro-ISIS news from Internet cafes in the city every day.

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