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Roaming Charges: The Time Shall Come When Wrong Shall End

+ Thomas Cooper (1805-92):

“The time shall come when wrong shall end
When peasant to peer no more shall bend
When the lordly Few shall lose their sway
And the Many no more their frown obey
Toil, brothers, toil, till the work is done
Till the struggle is o’er, and the Charter won!”

+  Markets are plunging, the US is pulling out of Syria, the Pentagon is in chaos and the US govt is shutting down. Maybe it will be a Merry Xmas after all…

+ As 2018 comes to an end, let us remember that there are still some 5,400 detained migrant children in the U.S. sleeping in shelters along side more than 1,000 other children.

+ All educated Americans (even those who matriculated at Trump U) know that Mexico was going to pay for a beautiful Border Wall. But will they pay for a row of Steel Slats?

+ Trump claims he has $10 billion in the bank. Many people are skeptical about this. But he could go a long way toward proving his worth by donating the extra $3.6 billion he wanted from Congress for his border wall. I’m sure Melania “doesn’t care” about the money.

+ Former Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz went on FoxNews to blame the death of 7-year old Jakelin Caal Maquin on her parents. “Don’t make this journey, it will kill you,” Chaffetz bellowed. “That should be the message.” Is that the message Jason Chaffetz takes from the Mormon children who died while fleeing the terroristic violence in Nauvoo, Illinois for the Salt Lake Valley?

+ Ronald Reagan on the border, during a 1980 GOP primary debate against Poppy Bush:

“Rather than … talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems and make it possible for them to come here legally, with a work permit, and then while they are working and earning here, they pay taxes here? And when they want to go back, they can go back, and they can cross. And open the border both ways, by understanding their problems — this is the safety valve right now they have with that unemployment.”

+ Anyone living in a country that the US has bombed, invaded or plotted coups against deserves to vote in US elections.

+ Whatever his motives (and they’re almost certain venal) in announcing the the pullout of 2,500 US troops from Syria, Trump tries to do one good thing in his life and gets slammed for it from the neoliberal-neoconservative Axis of Evil…

+ Memo to Adam Schiff: the “Regional Partner” is the Kingdom of the Body Sawyers…

+ Victoria Nuland, Hillary’s favorite neocon, was so irate at Trump’s Syrian pullout that she declared “With a single Tweet, Trump destroyed US policy in the Middle East.” If only it were true, still it’s a helluva start…

+ Why stop with ISIS? Trump should simply declare victory over Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Niger, Libya, North Korea, Russia, China, Venezuela and Cuba, bring all the troops home and close the overseas bases. A giant Arch de Trump, even bigger than Macron’s, could be built on Pennsylvania Avenue through which the victorious troops could parade. I’d even nominate him for that Nobel Prize he craves.

+ Let’s just hope Trump doesn’t redeploy all of these returning troops to the border…

+ With Mad Dog out, is Pompeo Maximus, Bolton or Ivanka now running the show?

+ George HW Bush’s last words to Trump: “Feel free to abandon the Kurds.”

+ All the adults (Kelly, Mattis, Tillerson, McMaster and Haley) in the playroom are gone and the training wheels are off…

+ The troops are coming home (Hurrah!)
But if I know John Bolton
The drones will continue to roam…

+ The logical candidate for Secretary of Defense is Patrick Shanahan, the former Boeing exec who now serves as Mattis’ chief Deputy for procurement. Shanahan’s challenge would be to keep the mammoth defense contracts flowing to the military industrial-intelligence complex and avoid any new wars that would reveal the technological flaws in those big ticket weapon systems. Of course the wildcard pick would be Erdogan

+ How many Trump administration officials resigned over Charlottesville or child kidnappings on the border or shredding the Iran deal or gutting clean water rules?

+ Today is the shortest day of the year. But brace yourself, it will still be six Trump years long.

+ HBO’s Tukkker Carlson?

+ Just a reminder: An average of 130 children are dying each day in Yemen.

+ As much as liberals try to inflate Trump into a maniacal tough guy like Pinochet or Franco, it’s impossible to disguise the fact that he’s really a wimp, who frightens easily & wilts under pressure. So pressure him on things that matter: immigration, clean air, hunger, homelessness, jobs, endangered species, et al.

+ Thanks to that judge in Texas, who ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional, we are now one giant step closer to having a single-payer health care system in the US.

Syracuse cops convinced a judge to sign a search warrant to force doctors to search a man’s rectum for drugs. An X-ray (also performed without his consent) had already shown there was no contraband in his anal passage. The forcible search turned up nothing. The man was then billed $4,500 for this anal-rape by cop.

+ 61-year old black woman in San Antonio got the death-penalty-by-neglect after being held in the Bexar County Sheriff’s jail since July for lack of $30 to post bail

+ The State Route 134 in Los Angeles, which runs from LA to Pasadena, has been renamed the Barack Obama Highway. This is perfect honorific. Thousands of liberals will be stuck in their cars for hours each day, mindlessly spewing out hydrocarbons, while going nowhere.

+ Public Citizen has just published a devastating analysis of 25 years of NAFTA…Thanks a lot, Bubba.

+ Treasury Secretary (and comic book villain) Steve Mnuchin on Trump’s election-eve promise of a 10% tax cut for the middle class (or what’s left of it): “I’m not going to comment on whether it is a real thing or not a real thing.

+ During an interview in Doha last week, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat described his bizarre interaction in November 2017 with Jared Kushner, who is supposedly constructing Trump’s “peace” plan for Israel and Palestine.

Erekat: ‘Jared, the president is supposed to sign the waiver not to move the embassy.’

Kushner: ‘We’re not going to sign.’

Erekat: ‘What do you mean we’re not going to sign? The president promised us in the White House that he would not take any step that may preempt or prejudge Jerusalem, not before negotiations.’

Kushner: ‘It’s our business and we will conduct our policies according to our interests.’

Erekat: ‘Look: if you do this, you will have disqualified yourself from any role in the peace process.’

Kushner: ‘Don’t threaten me.’

Erekat: ‘Read my lips: You will have disqualified yourself from any role in the peace process.’

Kushner: ‘You don’t know the changes that are happening around you in the Arab world.’

Erekat: ‘The best thing for me is to be a student. So teach me.’

Kushner, shouting: ‘DON’T BE SARCASTIC.’

Diplomacy by brat.

+ Remember when Howard Dean was MoveOn’s “peace” candidate? Josh Frank saw right through him and wrote a vicious little book about the fraud titled Left Out

+ Will Trump now take up Eric Prince on his “offer” to privatize the Afghan War with Blackwater’s murderous mercenaries?

+ CounterPunch pollster Doug Johnson averaged out the five Democratic 2020 Primary Primary polls in December

Biden: 23.8%
Sanders: 17%
Beto: 12.8%
Undecided: 11.7

No one else reached 10% (including Kamala Harris at 4.8%)

That’s not a very good number for Bernie, is it? It suggests to me that the fervency of his support in 2016 was largely fueled by a hatred of HRC, which he betrayed with his endorsement of her at the convention.

+ India’s nuclear arsenal now stands 140 missiles and Modi’s adding more, thanks to Canada’s helping hand

+ This is the kind of interlude that makes the whole damn Internet worthwhile. “Mamma Mia” performed in classical Greek…

+ Putin has always been suspicious of popular culture in Russia. This week he went on a rant against Russian hip hop, saying it need to be “controlled.”  That’s peculiar. I thought Putin was using rap music as a weapon to destroy the cultural norms of France, Britain and America…Perhaps he could hire Tipper Gore as a consultant in his campaign to suppress the subversive threat of the rappers.

+  A little recovered history on foreign meddling…Under the Obama administration, the US secretly created a Cuban Twitter network as a means to foment discontent on the island.

+ There’s an interesting profile of Robert Mueller in the Washington Post written by Tim Weiner, who encountered him at a conference in Mexico a few months before he was appointed special counsel.  Weiner, whose reporting I’ve long admired, especially his ground-breaking book on the Pentagon’s black budget Blank Check, tries to emphasize the softer side of Mueller, suggesting he is sensitive to civil liberties. This strains credulity. For the darker side of Mueller, see our book The Big Heat, which charts how Mueller, as one of the architects of the Green Scare, trampled the bill of rights in pursuit of radial environmental activists.

+ Since the crash of 2008, nearly 10 million families lost their homes to foreclosure, most of them as a consequence of predatory lending. This sent a shock through the system and dramatically changed the US housing market. In the past 10 years, the ratio of renters to homeowners has more than doubled. There are 7.3 million more households renting today than a decade ago. In nearly half of the major cities in the country, renters outnumber home owners.

+ According to CounterPunch contributor Elliot Sperber: “New York City Public Housing has about 600,000 occupants, a larger population than the entire city of Miami.” And some of them haven’t had heat in 10 YEARS

+ The Washington Post’s profile of Letitia James was headlined: “New York’s next attorney general targeted slumlords. Now she’s going after Trump.” Is there really much of a difference?

+ After reading the entire third edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Fath Ali Shah, the 19th-century leader of Iran, changed his title to include the phrase ‘Most Formidable Lord and Master of the Encyclopedia Britannica’.

From Limmericking…

A slew of reports in the press
Show Facebook’s an ethical mess.
But has it been screwing
Its users by doing
Appalling things knowingly? Yes.

+ Ryan Zinke, under investigation for trying to enrich himself in office, refused to step down from his post at the Interior Department until he could have a Christmas party with lobbyists and take pictures in front of a stuffed polar bear…

+ Zinke’s greed was largely personal. His likely replacement David Bernahrdt, a former lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry, will dutifully feed the greed of the shareholders of big oil and coal.

+ The Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump administrations all did a lot to advance the interests of Big Coal and almost nothing to fight black lung disease.

+ There are fewer North Atlantic Right Whales left in the world than sitting members of Congress. They may well go extinct in our lifetimes.

+ According to a new study by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, climate change has made the Western megadrought (the worst in at least 500 years) 38 percent more severe, leading to record low flows in Colorado River and dwindling reservoirs behind Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams. Is this what they mean when they say “it’s a dry heat?”

+ Clichés we may have to rewrite: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink…” “You can lead a horse to water, but he’ll be dead before you find any…”

+ The Arctic is now warming so quickly that 14,000 tons of melted ice is gushing into the oceans every second.

+ The Alaska statewide running temperate for the last year is the highest in the last 100 years (ie., since records have been kept.)

+ Who are the people who, according to the New York Times, paid “well over $40,000” per seat to see the last performance of “Springsteen on Broadway”? What do they hear in his music? Where they do they get that kind of money? Have they ever given $40,000 to a homeless shelter?

+ Usually we keep Nick Roney locked in a room doing cover art for CounterPunch magazine. Every once in a while we let him out to play with his camera. And guess what happened? His hysterical film “Material” for the band Flasher was just named the 9th best music video of the year by Rolling Stone. So there’s still lot’s of room for improvement, Nick.

+ Sorry to learn of the death of the great session musician Joe Osborn, a member of the Wrecking Crew. Osborn’s bass is one of the primary reasons most of these otherwise innocuous songs have stayed in your head for 50 years: Secret Agent Man, Travelin’ Man, Poor Side of Town, Monday, Monday, Gentle on My Mind, Windy, Dizzy, Summer Breeze, Holly Holy, Stoney End, Temptation Eyes…

+ Just a few of the people lining up outside the White House to submit their applications for open positions in the Trump administration…

+ 10 Best Album Covers?

1. We’re Only In It for the Money – Frank Zappa & the Mothers
2. The Slider – T. Rex
3. The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff
4. Electric Ladyland – Jimi Hendrix Experience
5. Never Mind the Bollocks – Sex Pistols
6. Bitches Brew – Miles Davis
7. Country Life – Roxy Music
8. Slave to the Rhythm – Grace Jones
9. Cosmic Slop – Funkadelic
10. Fresh – Sly and the Family Stone

Eric Dolphy: the Musical Prophet

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Zooicide: Seeing Cruelty, Demanding Abolition by Sue Coe and Stephen F. Eisenman (AK Press)

Slum Wolf by Tadao Tsuge (NYRB)

Buzz: the Nature & Necessity of Bees by Thor Hansen (Basic Books)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

People of the Sun by Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life (Blue Note)

Songs for Judy by Neil Young (Warner)

Constant Image by Flasher (Domino)

The Tom-Tom of Revolt

Langston Hughes: “Jazz, to me, is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul, the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile.”