+ As warped and fragmentary as the Nunes memo on FISA warrants may be, it provides a brief peak into the sleazy tactics used by law enforcement at every level of government, practices that go unlamented when they are used almost hourly to obtain wiretaps, search warrants and grand jury indictments against blacks, Hispanics and working class whites.
Most members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, are former prosecutors, who regularly used Confidential Informants and jail house snitches for warrants. Biased and purchased testimony is endemic to the prosecutorial state.
+ What will they come up with next? Republicans in Congress are clamoring to strip funding for cancer research at the World Health Organization unless the outfit reverses its ruling that the active ingredients in Monsanto’s killer herbicide RoundUp is a carcinogen. Next thing you know they’ll be reclassifying RoundUp as a vitamin and making it a required supplement to school lunch menus.
+ The most grotesque presidential scalp shot since the Zapruder film?
+ In addition to the cruel new work requirements for Medicaid, Trump now wants lifetime caps on Medicaid payments for Alzheimer’s, the chronically ill and the disabled. Just one more reason our health care system is the “envy of the world.”
+ When do they ever go after oil and gas activists?
+ As I’ve advised Trump ceaselessly, “Fire Sessions first!”
+ Remember when liberals were hailing Gen. John Kelly as the adult supervision in the White House Day Care Center?
+ Even in the bestiary of Trump’s inner circle, Kelly comes off as a truly odious figure. It’s Kelly’s pseud0-piety that reeks the most pungently. The general has positioned himself as a chronicler of American moral decline. Last October during his nasty press conference defending Trump’s crude condolence call to Myeshia Johnson, the wife of Sgt La David Johnson who was killed in a botched operation in Niger, Kelly bemoaned the decay of the nation’s values, including the place of women in society. “When I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country,” Kelly sermonized. “Women were sacred and looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore, as we see from recent cases.”
Now we learn that as chief of staff, Kelly had been fully apprised of the brutal behavior of Rob Porter, the wife-beating former White House Staff Secretary, who resigned this week after both of his former wives described enduring years of verbal abuse and physical violence. Kelly, self-proclaimed defender of the sanctity of women, kept Porter in the position, a kind of gatekeeper for who gets to see the president, despite the fact that the FBI had refused to grant the staffer a security clearance, as it pursued an investigation into the allegations, allegations buttressed by a restraining order and photos of the battered face of his first wife Colbie Holderness. Kelly, who hailed Porter as “a man of true integrity and honor,” reportedly encouraged Porter, now romantically linked to glam-staffer Hope Hicks, to stay in his job even after the incriminating photos of his former wife appeared in the Daily Mail. Sacred honor, indeed.
+ There’s no word yet from the White House on whether Trump’s bone spurs will prevent him from marching in the big military parade he is planning for the nation’s capital. Trump says he wants to model it on France’s Bastille Day parade. One could envision a joint Franc0-American celebration: From Dien Bien Phu to My Lai.
Trump’s taking a lot of heat from liberals for this, but remember Trump doesn’t come up with these schemes on his own. Though he’s loath to thank him, this one, as with so many other bad ideas, originate with the Senator from Citibank, Chuck Schumer, who proposed a War on Terror parade in Manhattan back in 2014:
+ Neocon David Frum describes one of the “positive” effects of Trump presidency: “Liberals were alerted to the dangers of Russian revisionism–and to an appreciation for the work of the FBI, CIA and NSA.”
+ The Trump right is just as irrational. Check out Tucker Carlson, who just got “woke” about the FBI: “For the first time in generations Americans have reason to believe that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies gravely misuse the powers we have given them.” Generations? Go ask the family of Fred Hampton, Leonard Peltier, the survivors of Waco, Randy Weaver, or Wen Ho Lee.
+ But most meat-headed of them all is Hollywood’s liberal bantam rooster Rob Reiner, who crowed out this defense of James Clapper and John Brenner: “When you libel James Clapper and John Brennan you libel America. The desperate attack on men who have given over 90 years of dedicated service to our country is clear evidence of a conscientiousness of guilt.” This is the same James Clapper who perjured himself before congress on the NSA warrantless wiretap program, the same John Brennan who, among other vile deeds, backed the CIA’s rendition-for-torture program?
+ According to Gallup, the number of “conservative-leaning” states has dropped by 5 over the last year, down to a mere 39 out of 50. Here we confront the nagging problem of definition. Are we to now assume that “liberal-leaning” states are the most pro-CIA and FBI?
+ During a low-speed car chase in Tennessee, a sheriff advised his deputies not to run into the suspect’s car: “Don’t ram him, shoot him. Fuck that shit. Ain’t gonna tear up my cars.”
+ Breaking News from the Karma Wire: birds are spreading wildfires in Australia.
+ LA Carmageddon: “New statistics from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority offer one alarming reason: Despite all the spending on public transportation, its ridership is falling. In fact, recently released statistics show that in 2017, ridership fell to its lowest level in at least eight years — mostly because far fewer people are taking the bus.”
+ Congratulations Portland. You’ve made the traffic big leagues: “Despite having the worst traffic congestion overall, Los Angeles had lower peak period tie-ups than San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and Portland…”
+ Of course, all those cars have the Vampire Blues, an insatiable craving for petroleum. But don’t worry, Ryan Zinke has a plan for that…
+ So much for Trump the protectionist. The US trade deficit exceeded $53 billion in December and $566 billion in 2017, the highest margin since 2008.
+ Rand Paul on Trump’s escalation of US war-making in Afghanistan: “Everyone says we’re not ‘nation-building’, when in reality we’re nation-building.” In DC-speak, “building” means “demolishing.”
+ Ken Isaacs, Trump’s nominee to head the UN’s migration office, says Christians should be put first and that Muslim’s are inherently violent. Sounds like he’ll fit right in on Darling Nikki’s team.
+ Libraries remain the best service provided by governments, which is, naturally, why they are being perennially starved for money.
+ If you’ve gotten the flu this year, you’re probably not loving Jesus as much as you should…
+ In a teaser for the new edition of “Celebrity Big Brother,” Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the former “Apprentice” star turned White House aide, was asked about conditions inside the Trump White House. “Bad,” she said. The woman has a way with words. Or a way with word.
+ Israeli police have recommended corruption charges be brought against Benjamin Netanyahu. Will Bibi seek asylum in Trump Tower?
+ A Pentagon report gloats over the news that B-52 Stratofortress bombers dropped a record 24 “precision bombs” in Afghanistan over a 96-hour period. Of course, when you don’t care what you hit or who you kill, any bomb can be called a “precision weapon”…
+ As risk of flooding increases due to climate change, more than 2,500 sites contaminated with hazardous chemicals are now within floodplains across the US. All the more reason for Scott Pruitt to quietly erase the toxic plants from EPA maps. Don’t want to scare anyone…
+ Donald Trump, Jr. lashed out at the Russia probe as being worse than McCarthyism and blamed Democrats, who he said are to the “left of Commies.” Don and his brother, Uday, will be starring in Dumber and Dumber III.
+ Israeli lawmaker Oren Hazan, one of Trump’s pals, said this about Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi, who is now languishing in an Israeli jail with nearly 400 other Palestinian children: “If I was there, she would finish in the hospital. For sure. Nobody could stop me. I would kick, kick her face, believe me”.
+ The Interior Department was forced to write a formal apology for a pro-coal oped piece written by Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who falsely rebuked Obama for halting the expansion of two coal mines in Colorado. Neither of the mines cited by Bernhardt fell under Obama’s belated moratorium on new coal mines on public lands. This sums up the Obama Experience. He gets credit for things people thought he did (and should have done) but didn’t.
+ Speaking of Nobel Peace Prize winners, Henry Kissinger’s parting gift: nuclear annihilation.
+ Has anyone taken a close look at Henry Kissinger’s immigration papers? Fleeing from the Nazis for the States in 1938, he could be considered one of the first of the Dreamers. It’s quite safe for him to be shipped back to Nuremberg now, after a prolonged detention in an ICE lockup. (Or the 8th Circle of Hell.)
+ The great Nick Von Hoffman, who died last week, was fired by 60 Minutes for speaking this truth during height of Watergate “Nixon is the dead rat on the kitchen floor of America, and the only question now is who’s going to pick him up by his tail and throw him in the garbage.” Von Hoffman was a terrific journalist. His book on the Freedom Rides, Mississippi Notebook, is hard to find, but essential reading.
+ Hot Off the Karma Wire: Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the jurist Trump repeatedly demeaned for his rulings in the Trump University case, will now preside over a lawsuit on the border wall.
+ Finally, a memo that lived up to its billing!
+ When David Crosby visited Miles Davis…
+ Joe Arpaio says he was unaware of the fact that the American Free Press traffics in anti-semitism when he consented to an interview with the paper. I can understand Arpaio’s confusion. The interviews with racists and antisemites were just like every other conversation Joe has had over the past 70 years….
+ Obscured by the manufactured fog of Memogate, there was this bone-chilling news…
+ The Shithole Playlist: David Byrne’s favorite music from countries that scare the crap out of Donald Trump.
+ Scenes from the Schoolyard Police State: a 300-pound school “safety officer” in Milwaukee body-slammed a 90-pound 11-year-old student onto a concrete floor.
+ Newsflash from the Karma Wire: dead goose falls from the sky and knocks duck hunter unconscious.
+ Do you want some tears with your arugula? Whole Foods’ punitive labor practices make sure you get them anyway.
+ The most encouraging headline of the week was spotted on the front page of Long Beach, California’s Press-Telegram…
+ No teacher, no testicles, no guru….?
+ Cheech: Hey, man, it sez here they’re going to start testing drivers for grass?
Chong: Where’d you hide the Whizzinator?
Cheech: Oh, man, I haven’t seen that thing since Onterrio Smith came over to party back in, what, 2005?
Chong: Wait-a-minute. Maybe Trump kept one as a souvenir from Moscow, eh?
+ Here’s a map depicting most of the US military bases around the world, though Africa is under-represented. There are more than 800 of them. Any citizen of a country with a US military base implanted in it should have the right to vote in US elections. (This rule should also apply to any country the US is currently bombing.)
+ If you want a picture of the future of Washington Post readers, just imagine a Boot stamping on your face every morning…Of course, some may argue they had it coming.
+ Millions of Americans fervently believe that God made Trump president (with an assist from the obedient demon Vladimir Putin, naturally). But which god? Baal, Moloch or Mammon?
+ Alexander Cockburn’s Greatest Hits, the Esquire Years.
+ ICE is deploying a new cyber-snooping program which tracks car license plates on the move. How will this disturbing development effect the sequel for one of my favorite films, “Dude, Where’s My Car?”
+ It’s time to lobotomize your Smart TV.
+ One way or another, Lake Foul will inevitably be drained…
Ball of Confusion
What I’m reading this week…
Against Charity by Daniel Raventos and Julie Wark
The Great Cowboy Strike by Mark Lause
The Rub of Time: Essays and Reportage, 1994-2017 by Martin Amis
What I’m listening to this week…
Modern Lore by Julian Lage
Open Here by Field Music
Whatever It Takes by James Hunter Six
The World of Captain Beefheart by Nona Hendryx & Gary Lucas
Let It Go by Bernard Allison
James Joyce: “To say that a great genius is half-mad, while recognizing his artistic prowess, is worth as much as saying that he was rheumatic, or that he suffered from diabetes. Madness, in fact, is a medical expression to which a balanced critic should pay no more heed than he would to the accusation of heresy brought by the theologian, or to the accusation of immorality brought by the public prosecutor.”