Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Keep the Russiagate Revenue Flying (continued)

The timing of these two announcements (within 24 hours of each other) is probably just a weird coincidence:

1. Monday: The State Department, using funds donated by the bloated Pentagon, is launching a brand new $40 million offensive against scary "foreign propaganda."

2. Tuesday: Alumni of the Clinton and Obama administrations are launching a brand new major national security "strike force" against scary Donald Trump's scary responses to the scary foreign propaganda.

The first initiative is designed to propagandize against the Enemy Outside, and the second one is designed to propagandize against Enemies Inside, Outside and All Over. Both offensive forces are ultimately designed to instill the requisite levels of free-floating anxiety in an already anxious, yet unduly depressed and disgusted and financially strapped, electorate. If they can't get people to the polls with the promise of a better life tomorrow, maybe they can get people to the polls by dangling the prospect of no life at all tomorrow. 

 Be miserable and barely hanging on, or be dead. It's your choice.

The first initiative adds massive amounts of military money to the State Department's Center for Global Engagement, which Barack Obama signed into law in 2016 for the express purpose of propagandizing directly to the American public. In other words, it is an elite and glorified troll farm that should be the envy of those 13 grossly underpaid and recently indicted Russian sock puppets. From The Hill:
The new influx of funds will bolster the center’s operations in the current fiscal year. 
“This funding is critical to ensuring that we continue an aggressive response to malign influence and disinformation and that we can leverage deeper partnerships with our allies, Silicon Valley, and other partners in this fight,” Steve Goldstein, the department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, said in a statement. 
“It is not merely a defensive posture that we should take, we also need to be on the offensive.” 
The announcement comes less than two weeks after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians for allegedly participating in an elaborate scheme to meddle in the 2016 presidential election by creating false U.S. personas and spreading divisive content on social media platforms.
Goldstein comes to his diplomatic gig direct from Corporate America, where most recently he was chief of marketing for BP Global Solutions. Previously he was a vice president for TIAA, a financial consulting firm, and also had served as vice president of communications for the Wall Street Journal. As founder of a start-up called Winning Algorithms, he seems absolutely perfect for his new gig doling out public money for all manner of aggressive and offensive things.

This definitely falls into the category of "Keep the Russiagate Revenue Flying," given that the Silicon Valley tech giants are obviously being paid directly by the government to censor content that the government doesn't like. Facebook, for example, has already announced it will hire at least a thousand new law enforcement and surveillance state personnel by the end of this year to monitor the ads and political posts from its users. When you think about it, $40 million to fight the grossly underpaid Russian trolls sneaking their cheesy click-bait ads onto social media is probably just a down-payment. Censorship and the suppression of dissent costs a lot of money.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a Trump appointee who has openly called Trump a "moron" and nonetheless continues serving at the pleasure of Trump, has no choice but to go along to get along. There's lots of oil and gas out there, and his own recent employer, Exxon-Mobil, and its investors and stockholders, are no doubt counting on him.
The new money will be used, in part, to supply grants to civil society groups, media providers, academic institutions, private companies and other organizations that are working on projects to counter disinformation. 
The department said it plans to award an initial $5 million in grants from the so-called Information Access Fund. The fund will receive $1 million in initial seed money from the State Department’s public diplomacy coffers in order to get off the ground quickly, the department said.
And lo and behold, quick as a wink, "National Security Action" sprang into action - less than a day after the State Department announced that any number of vague, unnamed entities will be partaking in the propaganda windfall for a whole new offensive army of paid meat puppets  Again, it's probably a total coincidence, given that the 200 Obama and Clinton alumni are coyly not revealing who, exactly, will be paying their bills. The Washington Post, which got the big scoop, didn't bother to ask - possibly because it, too, is partaking of the State Department troll farm "seed money" to prevent all that domestic discontent-sowing going on around here.
"We decided, essentially, this is an emergency moment and that there was a need to pull together the national security community on the progressive side to counter Trump's policies and put forward an alternative" in this midterm year, said  (former Obama national security adviser) Ben Rhodes, one of the founders.
Leaders of the new group described its mission exclusively to The Washington Post ahead of its debut Tuesday....
 We're a temporary organization. Our hope is to be out of business in three years," Rhodes said.
(When, presumably, they can all traipse back into more secure security gigs  under a Democratic majority.)

The new group of credentialed experts, via TV appearances and op-eds and Democratic campaign consultancies, hopes to instill a new brand of existential angst into voters which Hillary Clinton simply could not sell them. The problem, says Democratic national security strategist Wendy Sherman, is that voters were more seduced by Trump's populist message than they were scared by his reckless bellicosity and his appalling ignorance of international affairs. Therefore, it is the new group's daunting task to scare voters into accepting the Democrats' and Republican neocons' more discreet ways of waging wars and colonizing the world's populations via trade deals and corporate plunder and predatory loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Of course, being a career diplomat herself, she didn't put it quite that way. Because that would have been way too Trump-like and crass.

She cited climate change and Trump's withdrawal from the Paris accord as one decision with deep national security implications, and the heightened rhetoric and tension surrounding North Korea's nuclear program as another. The group will also focus on cyberthreats in general and Russian election interference and Trump's response in particular, Sherman and others involved in the effort said.
"It's not easy to talk about national security issues" in local elections, Sherman said. "Most often, people don't see it as having anything to do with their daily lives, but here we have climate change, North Korea and other issues that have everything to do with people's lives. I think people are much more aware of it" now than in 2016, Sherman said.
Again - $40 million to convince Americans, most of whom don't have enough savings socked away to pay for an emergency car repair, that North Korean nukes and Russian interference should be their most pressing concerns, doesn't seem like nearly enough cash to pay all these "aggressive" experts. 

And as for Trump caring about a $40 million or even a billion-dollar domestic propaganda campaign that also has him in its cross-hairs: he doesn't. He's already achieved fame and personal fortune beyond his wildest dreams. All the negative and never-ending attention in the world - even from his own Secretary of State - has been nothing but beneficial for his brand.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Commentariat Central

As per reader request, I'm reprinting some of the recent comments I wrote on New York Times op-eds and articles that I haven't incorporated into regular posts.

Today, Maureen Dowd parodies Donald Trump's reading of "The Snake" at last week's CPAC orgy. In case you didn't know, CPAC is not the mask-gizmo worn by sufferers of sleep apnea. It's the modern version of a KKK rally with no masks needed to hide the bald-faced hate and lies.

So anyway, as a little background, Dowd ran in the same celebrity circles as Trump for decades. And it was only natural that when he started to pretend to run for president, she let him invade her column space to just let him rip. Now, like the rest of the media pack who gave him a limitless microphone for the pure shock and entertainment value of it all, she's falling all over herself to bring this lunatic down.

Since Dowd wrote her latest piece in the form of a poem, I wrote my response as a riff on The Spider and the Fly:
In memory of a Maureen Dowd column -- Introducing Donald Trump, Diplomat -- published on August 15, 2015, when, theoretically, it might still have been possible to stop Donald Trump in his tracks.

(and with my sincerest apologies to Mary Howitt)
"Won't you come up to Trump Tower?" said the spider to the scribe.
"Misogyny's on offer, and you're welcome to imbibe."
 Since access, not affliction, was the famous pundit's wish
She said "of course" and then she let the slimy monster dish.

"Rosie is a bully, I could smack her in the nose!" --
What better banter could there be for Maureen's brilliant prose?

And Megyn Kelly bleeding from her "wherever?"
Nobody ever did decree that click-bait need be clever.

"I win, Maureen, I always win," and he pounded on the table.
And duly did our scribe transcribe, quick as she was able.

Then she dared to ask him if he was a bully
And made no comment when he boasted, "Fully"

Because if journos are nice to Trump, not nasty
Their access to his loathsome self will be so ever-lasty.

Now, FF to Trump in Twenty Eighteen
And Dowd has turned righteous, scathing, and mean.

Better late than never, I guess
To try and clean up this unholy mess.

 But oh what a tangled web we sew
When first we practice stenographic Journ-o.

I know I've been hard on the Times lately for all its hysterical Russophobic schlock, but they still do some pretty good investigation journalism as well, especially on local news.

The only surprising thing about the latest blockbuster which exposes New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's corrupt pay-to-play administration is that it is virtually buried beneath all the Russophobic schlock on the homepage.

It seems that Andy has ignored ethics laws and has accepted millions of  campaign dollars from the wealthy donors he appoints to various state advisory boards - which have the power to make and break anything with a dollar sign attached to it. In other words, it's a permanent closed feedback loop of enrichment for the already obscenely rich, at the public's sole and involuntary expense.
Mr. Cuomo’s donor-appointees span the state’s vast network of boards and authorities. They have served as trustees of both the city and state university systems, on the panel overseeing economic development and on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York City’s subways and buses. Most positions are unpaid, but they hold great power and prestige: Board members can approve multibillion-dollar contracts and multimillion-dollar grants, oversee the distribution of tax breaks, and have broad influence over everything from the state’s highways to local arts projects.
Bribery and corruption have consequences. Another little-reported scandal in New York State involves the pollution of the drinking water supply of Newburgh, about 60 miles north of New York City. While the state has allowed this small city to temporarily tap into the Catskill Aqueduct, the pumping of "filtered" water from the tainted reservoir will resume next month, even before testing is completed.

My published comment, including a link with all the details:

While Cuomo is raking in the dough from his cronies, he is upset because Newburgh, NY has filed a notice of claim against the state for its lack of urgent response to its contaminated drinking water crisis. He doesn't think it very nice of officials who think that Cuomo's solution of tapping into the Catskill Aqueduct while the toxic Washington Lake reservoir water undergoes testing and more testing is a joke. The state plans to resume pumping "filtered" water from the lake next month. Anybody remember Flint, Michigan?

Cuomo actually said that officials are suing to make a bunch of lawyers rich. and not because people need safe water to drink and bathe in. The contamination, incidentally, comes not from lead, but from runoff of toxic chemicals used in firefighting drills by the military based at nearby Stewart Airport, which is run by the Port Authority, which is staffed by the Cuomo donor named in this excellent article.

Threatening to sue is "not hospitable or collegial or kind of them," Cuomo said last week.


 Maybe if the inhospitable Newburgh officials started giving big bucks to Cuomo's campaign war chest, he might come around and arrange for some clean water for the ingrates.

Better yet, voters can easily arrange for a one-way ticket right out of Albany - unless prosecutors can get to him first, of course.

I hadn't commented on Paul Krugman's schlock for quite awhile, mainly because he always writes the exact same column: "Donald Trump is an evil jerk and all the Republicans are vile." I mean, who knew, right?

But I broke my embargo for his Friday piece because I wanted to get in my two cents on the gun control renaissance sparked by the latest mass shooting.

As usual, Krugman artificially narrows the decline and fall of the American empire to just one faction: those nasty old Republicans. The Democrats, apparently, do not even exist, neither in his column nor in the reality-based world. So, he is at least honest by omission as he writes:
Anyway, this political faction is doing all it can to push us toward becoming a society in which individuals can’t count on the community to provide them with even the most basic guarantees of security — security from crazed gunmen, security from drunken drivers, security from exorbitant medical bills (which every other advanced country treats as a right, and does in fact manage to provide).
In short, you might want to think of our madness over guns as just one aspect of the drive to turn us into what Thomas Hobbes described long ago: a society “wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them.” And Hobbes famously told us what life in such a society is like: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
Yep, that sounds like Trump’s America.
My published response:

 What gives me hope that the students will succeed where the adults have failed are recent polls showing that half of millennials would rather live under a socialist system than a capitalist one. Sen. Marco Rubio visibly blanching on live TV as a teenager confronted him over his financial ties to the weapons industry possibly signalled the beginning of the end of the stranglehold the predatory oligarchy has over us.

Even if we passed a law tomorrow banning the sales of military-grade weapons to anyone with a pulse, there'd still be at least one gun for every man, woman and child in the US. It would take whole generations for all these weapons to rust out. Granted, by then the entire planet may be on fire or flooded, and guns will be the least of our existential worries.

It will be up to our terrorized but very brave students to find solutions that give peace, sanity and the environment even a smidgen of a chance.

While Trump, an unnatural politician if there ever was one, literally requires crib notes instructing him how to feign humanity, Congress keeps giving him carte blanche to wage our endless wars. He's far from the only pathocrat in the toxic mix. The sickness runs far, far deeper than any one corrupt and inept president.

 It certainly comes as no shock that Trump, having completed his own secondary education at a military academy for troubled youth, believes that schools should dispense with terror-free learning and get on with the weaponized discipline.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bernie Is Stuck Between Bullshit and a Pile of Doo-Doo

What's a politician to do when, after joining the Joe McCarthy wing of the Democratic Party and criticizing Donald Trump for his Russiagate denialism, he is then himself accused of not condemning the alleged cyber-infiltration of his own campaign by Russian bots and trolls?

If your name is Bernie Sanders, the last thing in the world you do is finally come clean, admit the error of  your ways, and declare your independence from the whole phony Narrative of Russian meddling in our "democracy." Sanders, who had thrown in his lot behind the original instigator of Russiagate - Hillary Clinton - is the latest victim of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who gratuitously smeared both him and Jill Stein in his "indictment" last week of three Russian companies and thirteen of their grossly underpaid Internet meat puppets. 

Sanders's pathetic response to this smear was to take a page right out of Hillary Clinton's playbook, and blame Hillary Clinton herself for not doing enough to stop the Russian "attack" on the United States.

Sanders either didn't know, or has chosen to ignore, the fact that Russiagate is not only about weakening and punishing Donald Trump, but also about weakening and punishing - and censoring - what still remains of the contemporary American Left. And that includes Bernie Sanders, still considered the dangerous front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanders is only the latest in a long line of American leftists throughout our history to be targeted by the right-wing plutocracy for the sin of not being able to prove a negative. The centrist Washington gossip rag, Politico, gleefully joins the latest attack via its pro-Clinton reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere:
Bernie Sanders on Wednesday blamed Hillary Clinton for not doing more to stop the Russian attack on the last presidential election. Then his 2016 campaign manager, in an interview with POLITICO, said he’s seen no evidence to support special counsel Robert Mueller's assertion in an indictment last week that the Russian operation had backed Sanders' campaign.
The remarks showed Sanders, running for a third term and currently considered a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, deeply defensive in response to questions posed to him about what was laid out in the indictment. He attempted to thread a response that blasts Donald Trump for refusing to acknowledge that Russians helped his campaign — but then holds himself harmless for a nearly identical denial.
Got that, Bernie? Since Donald Trump denies that the Russians helped him, and you now deny that the Russians helped you, then you are really no better than Trump. You might even secretly support Trump. Hell, you probably are Trump. At the very least, you are un-American, which is the same thing.
In doing so, Sanders and his former campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, presented a series of self-serving statements that were not accurate, and that track with efforts by Trump and his supporters to undermine the credibility of the Mueller probe.
“The real question to be asked is what was the Clinton campaign [doing about Russian interference]? They had more information about this than we did,” Sanders said in the interview with Vermont Public Radio.
After being contacted by POLITICO about the interview, Sanders issued a lengthy statement calling the Russian involvement a “direct assault on the free democratic systems that stand in contrast to the autocratic, nationalistic kleptocracy of Vladimir Putin and his backers in the Russian oligarchy” which “deserves unconditional condemnation.”
When it comes to enhancing and amplifying the Russiagate narrative, mainstream journalism has given up all pretense at objectivity. If you deny that Russians infiltrated your brain and your operation, you are being "self-serving."

The more that you deny something, the more guilty you are deemed to be. Off with your head!

  Bernie is certainly not helping himself by buying into the Narrative at the same time that he denies culpability. He is fully on board with it, his only quibble being his own lack of involvement and personal benefit. He cravenly declares himself a true believer in the Mueller Dogma, and is now reduced to begging his inquisitors for mercy. He'll even name names, most prominently the name of Hillary Clinton herself!  He's willing to testify that his campaign warned the Clinton campaign way back in September 2016 of Russian infiltration. What more do they want - that he drape himself in the American flag and carry an autographed photo of Ronald Reagan around with him whenever he delivers one of his anti-billionaire diatribes?

After correctly observing that Mueller's cut-and-paste revelations about a Russian oligarch's troll farm were really nothing new, Bernie "was adamant that he did not benefit from Russian bots," according to the Politico article, while acknowledging that said bots were there to turn his supporters against Hillary and not to specifically bolster his own campaign.

As Dovere pontificated, this pathetic defense will not and cannot stand:
Sanders has repeatedly condemned President Donald Trump for not acknowledging the Russian attack on the 2016 election alleged in the Mueller indictment and being investigated by congressional committees. But he has refused to say that his campaign benefited from the activities. (my bold)
I have here in my pocket a list of 200 names.... Have you now, or have you ever been, an Internet subscriber who benefited from reading Tweets from bots and trolls? Has a Russian ever visited or written a comment on your website? Guilty, guilty, guilty!
Sanders said the key point was that he was campaigning hard for Clinton after losing the nomination to her, and “at this point we were working with them.”
Sanders has faced questions since Friday about why he has not more strongly condemned the Russian actions that benefited his campaign. On Wednesday, liberal writer Joan Walsh of The Nation tweeted in response to Sanders’ comments about Clinton: “Seriously, this could be the end of Sanders 2020. Someone who cares about him ought to tell him how badly he stepped in it today.”
If Bernie Sanders thought that the Democratic establishment would forgive and forget, if not openly embrace him, for ultimately ditching his base of supporters and groveling to Hillary Clinton, he is bound feel confused and betrayed. It's so sad when the ditcher becomes the ditchee. Oftentimes, the betrayed one is reduced to lashing out at the very person for whom he sacrificed everything. Joan Walsh is right that he's stepped into a pile of doo-doo, but she is wrong about the consistency and the quality of it. His mistake is not that he is blaming Hillary. His mistake is that he has wallowed with the corrupt duopoly in the Russophobic bullshit for so long that he just can't find a face-saving way out of it.

So despite the utter unfairness of the establishment's treatment of Bernie, I find it impossible to feel sorry for him or come to his defense. He's a washout, not for the lack of patriotism that the corporate media are impugning, but for his utter lack of courage and principles in failing to repudiate the latest Big Lie.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

When American Propaganda Attacks

Donald Trump is getting some well-deserved criticism for trying to co-opt the latest school massacre and make it all about himself. To wit: if the FBI wasn't so busy investigating him and his entire extended crime family, they would have heeded the numerous tips and warnings and stopped Nikolas Cruz in his maniacal tracks before he slaughtered 17 innocent people.

If only the mainstream media weren't also co-opting the latest school shooting by making it all about the Attack of the Russian Bots co-opting the latest school shooting!

In its latest front-page scare story designed to manufacture public consent for war on Russia, whose chintzy meddling marketing campaign against our "democracy"  has already been hysterically likened to Pearl Harbor and Nine-Eleven by war profiteers both in and out of government, the New York Times warns that the only thing we have to fear other than fear itself (oh, and assault weapons) are the Russian bots taking over Twitter.

The implicit message to all those disaffected young people complaining that nobody is protecting them is that their anger might be getting unduly stoked by Kremlin hashtags. Think twice before thinking for yourself and marching on Washington and other activist things. Be aware that every time you read about a rally or a march on Facebook or Twitter, it might be fake Russian news designed to divide you and sow your discontent to truly dangerous, foreign levels.

While CNN is moving quickly to co-opt the students of Parkland, Florida by casting the brightest of them in one of their "town hall" spectaculars this week, the Times was shamelessly melding the shooting story with the Russiagate story. Not only are the bloodthirsty, perpetual war-financed cable networks pouncing on the story, the Russian Bot Army is horning in on it.
The accounts addressed the news with the speed of a cable news network. Some adopted the hashtag #guncontrolnow. Others used #gunreformnow and #Parklandshooting. Earlier on Wednesday, before the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., many of those accounts had been focused on the investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“This is pretty typical for them, to hop on breaking news like this,” said Jonathon Morgan, chief executive of New Knowledge, a company that tracks online disinformation campaigns. “The bots focus on anything that is divisive for Americans. Almost systematically.”
Any news event — no matter how tragic — has become fodder to spread inflammatory messages in what is believed to be a far-reaching Russian disinformation campaign. The disinformation comes in various forms: conspiracy videos on YouTube, fake interest groups on Facebook, and armies of bot accounts that can hijack a topic or discussion on Twitter.

 Those automated Twitter accounts have been closely tracked by researchers. Last year, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, in conjunction with the German Marshall Fund, a public policy research group in Washington, created a website that tracks hundreds of Twitter accounts of human users and suspected bots that they have linked to a Russian influence campaign.
You can tell this is propaganda because the Times doesn't inform readers about the powerful plutocrats and corporations that run and bankroll these "research groups." The Alliance for Securing Democracy, as myself and a few others (notably Glenn Greenwald) have written before, is staffed by many of the discredited neoconservatives and liberal interventionists who made the fraudulent case for the US invasion of Iraq. It is funded not only by defense contractors, but likely also by a new State Department initiative called the Center for Global Engagement. Signed into law by President Obama in 2016, the Center is funded by public money and allows for the previously outlawed direct dissemination of propaganda by our own government to us, the citizenry. If the New York Times, whose torrents of Russophobic articles are now so intense that it's impossible to keep up with them all, is not also a beneficiary of this public funding, then they're being cheated out of a multimillion-dollar windfall. 

Is it a coincidence that the CEO of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, Laura Rosenberg, arrived at her job direct from Obama's State Department?

As The Nation's Adam Johnson reported in 2017, 
Originally created in March of last year for anti-ISIL messaging, the Global Engagement Center distributes “counter” propaganda, social-media messaging, and original journalistic content. The revamp would—according to the author of the NDAA language Senator Rob Portman’s office—“increase the authority, resources, and mandate of the Global Engagement Center to include state actors like Russia and China.”
What isn’t clear is if the Global Engagement Center, with all of its new “authority, resources and mandate,” will be used to target American audiences or pay American journalists. In 2013, Congress repealed major sections of the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act, which had previously instituted a ban on the State Department and related agencies from “propagandizing” directly to Americans. The 2013 changes, which were first reported by the late Michael Hastings in Buzzfeed, led to much confusion at the time as to what the repeal did and didn’t do (some thought it deeply pernicious, others not so much). Subsequent attempts to clear up the current law on targeting Americans haven’t resulted in a clear consensus, a problem that’s becoming increasingly urgent as the US government doubles its efforts to combat the much-publicized Russian propaganda machine.
How doubly ironic, therefore, that President Trump is wondering right out loud why President Obama himself was so sanguine and lackadaisical about this unprecedented Russian attack on our pristine electoral processes. If I had to hazard a guess, it was because the brilliant Obama didn't dream that the protectionist Trump would ever win, and that there would even be a need for an all-out effort to sway American public opinion on Russia as the default enemy du jour. After all, Obama's shtick back then was the "pivot to China" - code for choking off its economic growth via the US oligarchy-serving Trans-Pacific Partnership. Therefore, the US oligarchy has been forced to "pivot" to a new contrived arch-enemy - Russia - to avoid the rise of any more "axes of evil" to threaten the profits and power of the US hegemon.


Everything is fair game for domestic attack under the fig leaf of Russian meddling, and that includes the Black Lives Matter movement and other radical, youth-based movements. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller thus dutifully added to his Narrative indictment the juicy bit about Russian trolls orchestrating and advertising rallies by black people against police brutality.

Times columnist Charles Blow dutifully enhanced this scare-narrative in his Monday group-think piece, which included a gratuitous dig at the "lionized social justice hero" Colin Kaepernick - he didn't vote! - as well as implicit criticism of activist-writer Michelle Alexander, whose New Jim Crow Blow huffily described as an "activist bible" for those millions of young black voters who didn't come out in record numbers for either racist presidential candidate and as a result, got us all saddled with the more loathsome and outspoken racist candidate. And Bernie supporter, the rapper Killer Mike? He had the nerve to not support Hillary even after she won the nomination!

It's malcontents and critics like these, Blow not so subtly implies, who created the vacuum necessary for the Russian bots and trolls to swoop in and keep all the black folks home on Election Day.

"There is no way to know how many black people would have settled on the exact same course of action without the interference," Blow concludes. "But what we do now know with absolute certainty is that in making their electoral choices, black folks had unwanted hands on their backs, unethical and illegal ones, nudging them toward an apathy built on anger.What happened in this election wasn’t just a political crime, it was specifically a racialized crime, and the black vote was a central target."

Judging from all the laudatory reader comments, Blow struck a real chord among the mostly white readership. Finally, somebody liberal and black was brave enough to let Kaepernick and Killer Mike and all those uppity Black Lives Matter youths have it. It's red-baiting and race-baiting at its finest. It's the new Democratic Party McCarthyism writ large.

My initial  comment, which made the above critiques, was axed by the Times censors. I had better luck with my second submission, published the following day:
This column strikes me as a veiled insult to young black voters, whom Blow casts as naive enough to be influenced by some truly cheesy Russian ads disseminated by only 90 underpaid trolls.

So easy to scapegoat "Russians" for "amplifying" the domestic discontent here in Exceptional USA. Given that this was the same tactic used by the US political-media complex against protests during the civil rights era and the Vietnam War, I'm kind of surprised it still has such influential staying power - until I remember Joseph Goebbels's maxim for effective propaganda: repeat it over and over and over again, and people will start believing it. The best part of this current Russophobic campaign is that it saves people the trouble of thinking for themselves.

Think about it for a minute. Young black people who didn't vote in the last election because they "felt like" it was no use are effectively being guilt-tripped for refusing to participate in a corrupt system in which the ultra-rich decide who can best represent oligarchic interests. Telling people that they were victims of a racialized crime by Russian trolls deflects attention from the real culprits, the oligarchs who run the place, named Koch, Adelson, Sinclair, and plundering corporations like Exxon-Mobil and six too-big-to fail/jail banks which effectively evicted and impoverished millions of black and brown people.

So hey, look over there at the evil Facebook ad of cartoon Hillary with devil horns punching out Jesus!

This ad, first released among a trove last November, displays "the sophistication" of the Russian influence campaign, according to the Washington Post. 

If this is the mainstream media's idea of sophistication, then we're in far worse trouble than I thought.

Or maybe not: the students currently fighting their own existential battle - their right to not get shot to death - sound a lot more savvy than their doddering elders. Just let Wolf Blitzer and the gang try and tell them it's partly the Russians' fault that one of their classmates snapped, and watch some real sophistication spring into action. I have an optimistic feeling that the students won't be co-opted gently into that premature night of total and permanent darkness and ignorance.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Keep the Russiagate Revenue Flying: Update

Part of Donald Trump's timeless, if limited and grotesque, appeal is that he occasionally blunders into the unvarnished truth. So it is with his latest tweeted observation that "they're laughing their asses off in Moscow" over the indictment by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller of three companies including Russian troll farm and thirteen of its grossly underpaid sock puppets. The American powers that be would actually have us believe that a Russian oligarch who got started in the troll business attacking bad reviews of his rancid hot dogs is waging an all-out attack against our "democracy" by bringing his cheesy marketing campaign to our own precious shores.

The fact that Mueller released his "blockbuster" indictment at the start of a three-day holiday weekend is the first clue that it's mainly a combination of old news and partisan agitprop. Because whenever government officials want unpleasant or misleading news to be as unexamined as possible, they release it in News Dump Prime Time: the start of a long holiday weekend, rather than bright and early on a Monday morning, when bright-eyed reporters and pundits are scrambling for something new to talk about and analyze and disseminate in the greatest numbers.

Even so, when even Russiagate true believers like the Washington Post are taking notice that Mueller actually cut and pasted a significant portion of the indictment from a Russian magazine piece published last fall by actual Russian journalists, you kind of get the feeling that this indictment is not so much a rancid hot dog as a nothing-burger. It's old news being blown out of all proportion. It's a hunk of gristle thrown out for a ravenous media establishment to chew on in the lack of any new meaty blockbusters about Trump-Russia "collusion." 

 Adam Taylor of the Post writes:
In a 4,500-word report titled “How the 'troll factory' worked the U.S. elections,” journalists Polina Rusyaeva and Andrey Zakharov offered the fullest picture yet of how the “American department” of the IRA used Facebook, Twitter and other tactics to inflame tensions ahead of the 2016 vote. The article also looked at the staffing structure of the organization and revealed details about its budget and salaries....
 Zakharov explained how it was a strange feeling seeing something he had so closely investigated become a major issue in the United States, when it had not been a “bombshell” when he published his report at home.
Zakharov confirmed to the Post that people, if not "the Kremlin" itself, are indeed laughing their asses off.  "A lot of Russian conservatives were proud," he said. "They said: 'Look at what Russians can do! Only 90 people with $2 million made America scared! We are strong!' And for conservative people here, they see that Americans have CNN, Radio Free Europe, etc., that cover Russia. They say, 'Why can’t we establish groups in America and have our own influence?' That's how conservative people think here. They think this was normal."

The troll farm workers should probably demand a raise from the rancid hot dog oligarch. After all, if the tsar freed the Russian serfs in the 19th century,  the ruling oligarchs who have now inherited the earth should free them anew and pay them more than the paltry grand or so a month that they're currently making.

This is so reminiscent of other sock puppet campaigns, such as the "Correct the Record" troll farm run by Clintonoid flack David Brock. Poorly paid (even unpaid) trolls would flood the Internet comment boards with boilerplate attacks every time some actual person criticized their candidate. I can't tell you how many times these anonymous posters would accuse me, personally, of hurting Hillary's chances - and later actually personally costing her the election all by myself - every time I had something nice to say about Bernie Sanders, or something unflattering to say about Hillary herself on New York Times comment threads.  Who knew I had so much power at my typing fingertips? I don't know whether to laugh my ass off or cry in despair whenever one of these rancid sock puppets still digitally gets in my face and accuses me of being a Russian stooge, a closet Republican Trump operative, an anti-feminist, or all three.

As the Los Angeles Times reported about Brock's troll farm in May 2016, toward the end of primary season,
“It is meant to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical,” said Brian Donahue, chief executive of the consulting firm Craft Media/Digital.
“That is what the Clinton campaign has always been about," he said. "It runs the risk of being exactly what their opponents accuse them of being: a campaign that appears to be populist but is a smokescreen that is paid and brought to you by lifetime political operatives and high-level consultants.”
The task force designed to stop the spread of online misinformation and misogyny is the brainchild of David Brock, a Clinton confidant who once made a career of spreading such misinformation and misogynistic attacks against her and Bill Clinton. His critics say he kept his taste for dirty tricks when he switched sides to become one of the Clintons’ most valued operatives.
Although the "operatives" employed by Correct the Record were actually caught posting pornographic content on Bernie Sanders social media pages, no investigations or indictments of Brock's troll farm were ever forthcoming from the FBI and the Justice Department. Because only American trolls and corporations and the Kochs and the Adelsons and the Sinclairs are ever allowed to meddle in American elections.

In the interests of democracy and fairness and international good will, I think we should stage at least one televised debate between the Russian trolls and the American trolls to determine once and for all who can shout out their boilerplate talking points the loudest. For one thing, they work cheap (if not absolutely free), and would cost the corporate media conglomerates practically nothing. For another thing, they would bring in huge ratings and revenue for the corporate media, which is all that really matters in our politics-as-spectator sport "democracy." Naturally, such a show would have to be staged in a secret offshore location to protect the Russian trolls from actually being arrested as a result of Mueller's indictment. I would suggest a real working farm, with the stage adorned by various high-tech agricultural implements, the better to sow the chaos and the discontent. They'll have a wonderful time threshing it all out and making lots of hay as the oligarchs who own both countries reap all the unjust rewards for themselves.

The specially selected audience could be fitted out with truth-o-meters in order to measure their emotional responses to each troll. The grand prize for most effective trollery and flame-throwing might even be a contract for a paid gig on CNN or MSNBC or Fox as a part-time contributor.

Russiagate would be such a fun, farcical spectacle were it not for the fact that both the countries involved hoard vast quantities of nuclear weapons. Their greed instinct is threatening to overtake their survival instinct, to the detriment of every living thing on this planet.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Keep the Russiagate Revenue Flying

Talk about amplifying a bellicose propaganda campaign. Right in the middle of the New York Times's latest "The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!" front page scare-story is a hyperlink to "narrative architect" Molly McKew's piece in Politico. That piece, which I wrote about here, itself had amplified and hyperlinked to numerous other fear-mongering articles written by the gigantic pulsating hive mind of the corporate media. 

However, since the Times piece was ostensibly about the leaders of the Intelligence Hive Mind amplifying the fear in sworn testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the sneaky hyperlink insertion was necessarily discreet:
 Russia appears eager to spread information — real and fake — that deepens political divisions. Bot armies promoted partisan causes on social media, including the recent push to release a Republican congressional memo critical of law enforcement officials.
  The Times felt no obligation inform its readers that its linked source, Molly McKew, is a Washington lobbyist posing as a pundit who gets paid big bucks by a couple of Eastern European oligarchs who'd simply love to get rid of Vladimir Putin, who got an outsize share of the loot when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The public instead must be informed that "Russia" is out to destroy American democracy by its constant meddling, and that Donald Trump, by dint of his own failure to condemn Russia all day and every day, is thereby a traitor to his country as well as a likely money-launderer and grifter. What better way to start a war and scapegoat a president, even as they merrily give this same traitorous president billions more dollars than he asked for to continue waging undeclared wars in the Middle East, Africa, and beyond?

If the Media-Political Complex can keep our eyes exclusively glued on Trump and his tabloid bromance with Putin, they won't even need to write a scary front-page story about his American drones just having killed hundreds of people in Syria! When they do report this horror, the targets were only "mercenaries," or "Russians," if not reduced to a solid baker's dozen. In some accounts, since their very nationalities are in doubt, their very humanity is in doubt. They are, in the long run, probably nobody at all. No big deal. Trump's sin is not that he murders and maims people, but that he occasionally has had nice things to say about his frenemy. He is a very convenient smokescreen indeed. When propaganda high beams are leveled at a fog, the cloud only becomes more opaque. And isn't that the whole point?

Meanwhile, as the Times breathlessly informs us: 
Russia is already meddling in the midterm elections this year, the top American intelligence officials said on Tuesday, warning that Moscow is using a digital strategy to worsen the country’s political and social divisions.
Russia is using fake accounts on social media — many of them bots — to spread disinformation, the officials said. European elections are being targeted, too, and the attacks were not likely to end this year, they warned.
“We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokespeople and other means of influence to try to exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States,” Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee at its annual hearing on worldwide threats.
Dan Coats is repeating Molly McKew's talking points right down to the letter. The agenda, obviously, is to cast all domestic dissent as Russian propaganda. American citizens, the majority of whom don't even have a few hundred bucks stashed away to pay for an emergency car repair, would be so satisfied with their lives if it weren't for those Russian bots and trolls amplifying stuff on social media. And if you do dare complain, and if you do express healthy skepticism about the source of your pain and suffering, the implication is that you're really no better than Trump:
The warnings were striking in their contrast to President Trump’s public comments. He has mocked the very notion of Russian meddling in the last election and lashed out at those who suggested otherwise.
The Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, Mark Warner, re-amplified the pivot point "tell" of McKew's flimsy Narrative Architecture, which maintains that even though the dissent might initially be all-American, the fact that "Russian bots" are co-opting it renders it dangerous and meaningless and downright unpatriotic - especially when citizens start accusing the FBI, the NSA and the CIA of political motivations:
 “Other threats to our institutions come from right here at home,” he said. “There have been some, aided and abetted by Russian internet bots and trolls, who have attacked the basic integrity of the F.B.I. and the Justice Department. This is a dangerous trend.”
Translation: Shut up, get off the streets, return to your homes, lock your doors, draw the curtains and love Big Brother as he spies upon you for your own good. Your thinking has been corrupted, but we're here to help you and purify you and keep you safe.

 The only dangerous trend I could see in that paragraph was Mark Warner himself. If anything, he is even scarier than Donald Trump, because he cloaks himself with such a patina of phony virtue.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sexing Up The New York Times

The New York Times announced this week that its paid subscription revenue had passed the record $1 billion mark, thanks in large part to its reinventing itself as the go-to source for #Resistance fighters of the liberal class, hungry to share their hatred of everything the Trump regime stands for.
During an earnings call on Thursday, Mark Thompson, the chief executive of The Times, said the company was pleased with the “continued strong retention” among the users who subscribed to The Times amid the 2016 presidential election.

“We’ve continued to make encouraging progress and are seeing far lower monthly churn than a few years ago,” he said.
Digital advertising revenue increased 14 percent last year, to $238 million. In the last three months of the year, digital advertising revenue rose 9 percent, to $84 million; it now represents 46 percent of the company’s total advertising revenue.
And to complement the never-ending appetite for Donald Trump, the newspaper has honed its own edginess to razor-sharp intensity by dishing ever more salacious dirt on the lives of Trump, his detestable inner circle of unworthies, and all manner of Trump-like predators and schmucks. Unfiltered quotes from the potty mouth of the Mooch, details of the crimes of Harvey Weinstein so graphic that it would have been unthinkable for the Times to print them even a year ago, lurid gossip from previously discredited opposition research dossiers - it's all fit to print now. 

And given its own long history of prudish standards and practices, the Times certainly has a lot of catching up to do. Just witness how many times its staid op-ed writers have been inserting "shithole" into as many columns as they can, just because they suddenly can. Trump, who rose to power in New York City through regular sleazy publicity in the tabloids, has succeeded in turning the Paper of Record into a tabloid practically all by himself.

Still, when the Times decided to publish its latest weekend book review section as a click-worthy treatise on sex lit, both ancient and modern, it just can't help displaying its historical squeamishness. Even when unabashedly selling sex, the editors find it necessary to paint their project with the gloss of virtue and clinical intellectualism.

It fell to a 20-something book review staffer named Lauren Christensen to write the Times Insider "explainer" piece about the project, because "everybody knows" that 20-somethings are shallow creatures who are mainly interested in reading about Kim Kardashian, cute pets, "The Bachelor," teen pregnancies, and sex.

In the interests of her target audience, Christensen had already recently reviewed a book about the history of sex toys. Then she claims to have been surprised when a male colleague dropped by her desk to recommend other books in the genre, such as "Buzz" and "Vibrator Nation."

Since these books were written from a feminist point of view, the referrals were construed by Christensen to be a matter of professional collegiality and not an instance of sexual harassment in the workplace. Thus, like any minion at the bottom of the heap, she "dutifully" posted some blurbs to Instagram, to many ensuing clicks and eyeballs.

"Thus the seeds of what has now resulted in the Sex Issue — brilliantly christened 'Pleasure Reading' by our editor, Pamela Paul — were sown," enthuses Christensen, in a cute and suck-uppy attempt at double entendre humor.

And now we get the birth product resulting from the great unsheathing.

First the disclaimer: For all her heavy reading, Christensen for some reason finds it necessary to defend her own virtue, skating right on the regressive edge of learned female helplessless. She can't seem to stop insisting in her "explainer" piece how truly naive she is at heart, and how embarrassed she initially felt about doing the project. I guess she hasn't been reading her own newspaper's articles on Trump and Weinstein and their ilk. And she really should start, because whenever women feel forced into doing uncomfortable things at work, the psychological damage can last a lifetime. Then again, maybe she's just acting the part of the arch Times critic:
Inevitably, oversight of the issue fell by consensus to me, the lone 20-something. I have ever since been trying to pretend that, when it comes to sex, I have the slightest clue what I’m talking about. I started by pooling my resources, aggregating 50 covers of the most erotic books throughout literary history for the week’s visual back page, “Under the Covers.” (Please appreciate the word “seminal” on that page; it is one of my proudest career achievements to date.) The day that email went out revealed my impossibly erudite colleagues in a new light, instantly transformed as they were into giddy schoolchildren trading naughty jokes behind the teacher’s back. One by one the previewers revealed the steamy, guilty pleasures of their literary pasts. We’ve collectively done some pretty dirty reading.
As edgy as it pretends to be, the Times still very much dwells in the Victorian Age, when people also merely pretended to be squeamish about sex as they lustfully went about reading about it, writing about it, and doing it.  How does one even censor a Sex Issue, anyway? Christensen daintily explains:
The real fun began once these pieces started rolling in — turns out it’s not so easy to compile a Sex Issue while maintaining The Times’s elevated house style. Some edits were obvious: As much as I admired Ms. Marnell’s rough-around-the-edges, colloquial and honest writing style, I simply couldn’t run either of the two “b” verbs she used as synonyms for intercourse. Less obvious was that I’d need to remove a detailed, explicit quote from the memoir she reviewed, “Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction.” I had to paraphrase it at the expense, I felt, of the full force of both the book’s and Ms. Marnell’s prose. Mercifully, Philip B. Corbett, the paper’s standards and ethics arbiter, did allow me to keep the quote, “I came so hard I thought my heart would explode.”
The Times recently got rid of its copy-editing desk, but thankfully, Corbett's job is still apparently safe.  He's the guy who pretends to carefully weigh what is and what is not acceptable to print, so as to give the repressed writers the pleasure of exploding with joy whenever they're allowed to keep in the naughty bits, like "seminal." After all, seduction wouldn't be sexy if it didn't maintain the aphrodisiac of coquettish modesty.

But back to how good Trump has been for the Times Narrative brand. The president being a self-described non-reader, I wonder if the "Sex Issue" might even inspire him to add some of its titillating recommendations to his lonely bedside table copy of Mein Kampf. The volumes would certainly enhance the pleasure of eating cheeseburgers in bed, and might even inspire him to turn off Fox News for a few minutes every day as he laboriously mouths all the words between bites. Perhaps he can start with the YA (youthful audience) section before finally working himself up to Ovid (for poetry in Tweets) and Joyce (for improving his stream-of-consciousness skills.)

I think I'm being arch.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Wall Street Might Run For President Directly

Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who made the term "too big to jail" infamous, says he is pondering another revolving-door spin from his gig defending white collar criminals - this time all the way to the Oval Office. 
We’ll see,” he said during a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington, DC.
He was asked if he’s mulling a run for the White House because he’s learning how to raise funds and giving political speeches.
“I think I’ll make a decision by the end of the year about whether or not there is another chapter in my government service,” he replied.
This is known as the political trial balloon. We'll see whether enough voters swoon when he again explains his deferred prosecution agreements with Wall Street criminal banks and how he agonized over giving presidents, including most recently the demented Donald Trump, the right to drone people to death at will anywhere on the planet.

Admittedly, the bar has been set conveniently low for Democrats, even a heavily damaged Democrat like Holder. In his first "major rare interview," he did after all schmooze to Rachel Maddow that even one of his kids would be a better president than Trump. Unlike the Normless Wonder, Holder would protect and respect the FBI and other members of the Intelligence Community who have all but ignored "the malefactors of great wealth" in order to set up sting operations against Muslim terrorists. Unlike Trump, Holder never called their countries of origin "shitholes" as he respectfully wrote his often-secret legal opinions on how to quietly tail them if not therapeutically drone them to death by means of unnaccountable surgical strikes.

Ditto for immigration. Holder never used racist dog-whistles as he gave the Obama administration legal cover for its record mass deportations, many of whom were unaccompanied minors who were condemned to almost certain deaths from gang and political violence when they were forcibly returned to their Central American home countries.

Somehow, the issue of Trump's horrific pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio never came up during the "rare" sit-down with his good pal Rachel, because that might have led to the awkward question of his own notorious pardon recommendation for Clinton donor and fugitive Wall Street crook Marc Rich, issued on the eve of Holder's first revolving door-spin from ignoring wealthy criminals in public to vigorously defending them, for big bucks, in private.

His kid-glove treatment of the money-laundering, drug-dealing kingpin HSBC alone should disqualify Holder from a presidential run.But no matter. The luxury corner office of Covington and Burling will always stay open for him, as would another revolving door spin the next time a corporate Democrat wins.

The Gravitas of the Chin-Stroker

The Trouble With the Latest Hacking Story

A Homeland Security official has told NBC News that Russian hackers "successfully penetrated" the voter registration rolls of an "exceptionally small" number of states prior to the 2016 elections. There is no evidence that the data were actually tampered with, as in purging the names of registered voters. It simply means that the lists were read, copied and collected.

What virtually none of the alarmist news coverage bothers to explain is that US voter registration rolls are already legally accessible public records. If Russia wanted to access voter data in Washington, D.C., for example, all its spies had to do was click on the District's Board of Elections official website. Every registered voter's information was already there for the taking: name, home address, party affiliation, precinct ward and whether or not they voted in each election since 2012.

Elsewhere in the United States, it's often harder. Those wishing to penetrate the voter registration rolls might have to submit a formal request, either in person or by mail.  This is exactly how you end up on the junk mail lists of every politician running for office. It's annoying and intrusive at times, but as far as I know, political hacks have never been accused of hacking the rolls during campaign season.

Alexander Howard of the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency advocacy group, has called for tighter restrictions on voter roll access for all entities: for example, requiring submission of a formal Freedom of Information Act request in order to obtain voter information. As it stands now, three states - Alaska, Arkansas and Colorado - impose absolutely no restrictions on who can access the data. Other states impose wait times or charge hefty fees in order to give the voting public a semblance of privacy and protection from bad actors, such as corporate marketers. California prohibits all access to voter information from outside the US, and specifies the information can only be used for political purposes. 

Interestingly enough, Colorado is among the handful of states now complaining that its public rolls were "targeted" by Russia, while California denies outright the Homeland Security claim that its database was infiltrated by Russian spies.

Since a massive breach of national electoral data already occurred in 2015, exposing the personal information of 191 million American voters for anyone in the world to see online, pointing fingers at Russia at this point is a little like complaining about the barn door being left open. If you've ever voted, says Howard, then somewhere out there in cyberspace your name, your address, your gender, your voter ID number, your voting frequency (but not who you voted for) and whether or not you voted in any primary since 2000, is possibly still available free for the taking, by anybody with the tools to search for it. (I purposely did not search for it myself.)

But whatever amplifies and advances the required Narrative which blames Russia and only Russia for abusing voter information and endangering our democracy is A-O.K. by our famously independent mainstream media.

Here's a suggestion from Ludditeville: let's bring back paper registration and paper records and paper ballots, all of which will require actual physical burglaries and physical tampering to complete any espionage and other dirty tricks, just like in the good old Watergate days.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Crayfish Girl Power

"This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, and It's Taking Over Europe" reads the New York Times headline about a rapidly evolving arthropod.

Talk about burying the lede. It's not until several paragraphs later that we learn that the prolific marbled crayfish - also known as the Texas Crayfish - are all females whose enormous batches of eggs contain only immaculately conceived females, or replicas of both Mom and each other. Take that, everybody who is so worried about the alleged #Backlash against the #MeToo movement. I am woman, hear me roar. Or more accurately, I am woman cloned crayfish, so hear me emit a high-pitched chirp out of my scaphognathite.

Not only is it high time we rid the lexicon of the sexist term "crawdaddy," it also might be a good idea to ban men from all future crayfish mating call competitions, especially since the new variety no longer has any need for a mating call.

From the Times article:
For nearly two decades, marbled crayfish have been multiplying like Tribbles on the legendary “Star Trek” episode. “People would start out with a single animal, and a year later they would have a couple hundred,” said Dr. Lyko.
Many owners apparently drove to nearby lakes and dumped their marmorkrebs. And it turned out that the marbled crayfish didn’t need to be pampered to thrive. Marmorkrebs established growing populations in the wild, sometimes walking hundreds of yards to reach new lakes and streams. Feral populations started turning up in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Ukraine in Europe, and later in Japan and Madagascar.
It could always be worse. At least it's not the invasive pet pythons dumped in the Everglades which have developed the ability to clone themselves. Yet. 

Plus, crayfish are both edible and easy to catch with one's bare hands. Go to a pond and they will literally swarm around your feet just waiting to be picked up. True, they might pinch your fingers. But what's a little pain compared to the torture of having to constantly pinch pennies at the overpriced supermarket?

Food snobbery may well become a thing of the past once everybody, men and women alike, no matter their income level, can prepare and consume Crayfish Thermidor or Crayfish Newburg.

Still, gather your crayfish while ye may. It's inevitable that, smelling one more good thing to exploit, venture capitalists and private equity vultures will quickly swoop in to create factory farms out of all the ponds where the crayfish clones have gone forth and multiplied. The thought of an unlimited and free source of self-serve food for the world's hungry people is probably too much for finance capitalists to bear. And since the unlimited future of Marmorkrebs seems pretty much guaranteed, betting on crayfish futures the way a certain former first lady bet and won on cattle futures is already dead in the water.

Capitalism itself never dies. It simply mutates into newer forms, money begetting money out of nothing except itself, and then has the nerve to call itself the Mother of Innovation. 

So to paraphrase Star Trek's Mr. Spock, may the new crayfish species live long and nurture and prosper and remain impervious to the predatory Klingons of Wall Street.