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Roaming Charges: Do Me Two Times, I’m Goin’ Away

Sinking house, Lower Columbia River. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ I fully support the right of the People to overthrow their own government. I draw the line at the government currently in power overthrowing the next government before it takes office, thus denying the People the privilege to overthrow it when it, inevitably, betrays them.

+ After all, Rome wasn’t sacked in a day…

+ There are increasing calls for Nuremberg-like trials against the leaders of the coup plot. And why not? Just remember that the US ended up hiring more Nazis than they prosecuted. (See Operation Paperclip, et al.) And that will almost certainly be the case with this lot of cosplaying insurrectionists…

+ It says a lot about the current state of our political culture, and the enervated condition of the Democratic Party, that the Housemoved more expeditiously to secure a doomed impeachment of the president (for the second time), than it has in months to get millions of people the small amount money (relative to anything else they appropriate money for) they desperately need to put food on the table, pay their heating bills and stave off eviction.

+ Instead of impeaching Trump, historians such as Eric Foner have proposed invoking Section Three of the 14th Amendment, which would bar anyone from holding office who violated their to oath to defend the Constitution. Originally intended to keep Confederate sympathizers from holding federal office, the 14th Amendment was, predictably, later deployed to keep a Wisconsin socialist, Victor Berger, from holding office in 1919, after he opposed the United States entering World War I.

+ In his response the raid on the Capitol, Biden called Trump “an embarrassment to the country, embarrassed us around the world.” An “embarrassment” sounds like how you’d describe a frat pledge who puked on a sorority girl at some panHellenic pinning ceremony not someone who just incited an attempt to overthrow an election and lynch his own vice president

+ The best (and perhaps only) way for Biden to fulfill his banal pledge to “heal and unify” the country is for him to enact universal health, even for those who stridently profess not to want it. Naturally, this is the one thing he almost certainly won’t even contemplate doing.

+ Bill Clinton deployed triangulation politics after the GOP seized control of Congress. Joe Biden is going triangulate while both houses of Congress are in the hands of the Democrats. Anyone want a refund for the campaign donations to the Georgia senate races?

+ Math Malarky from Biden: he promised $2,000 stimulus checks. He’s recently unveiled plan calls for $1,400 stimulus checks, a plan that he could enact through budget reconciliation but instead has chosen to open up for deal-making with the Republicans in the Senate.

+ Biden presidency may be the first to be effectively over before it even started…

+ With Biden’s nomination of career diplomat William Burns to head the CIA, what was once an open secret is now official: the State Department and CIA are one…

+ Apparently Samantha Power has been badgering the Biden transition team all month about a position in the new administration. It looks like they finally relented and have tapped her to head the Agency for International Development. USAID has always been one of the liberals’ favorite ways of exerting US control over poorer nations, where what is marketed as “aid” is in reality an inculcation of dependency: Soft power enforced with an iron grip. Under Power, the interventionist, USAID may finally get drones.

+ Despite the fact that domestic terrorism laws almost invariably mutate into state-sponsored terrorism against the state’s own citizens (See the CounterTerrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the Animal Enterprise Protection Act  and the Patriot Act), Biden has apparently already drafted a new “anti-terrorism” law and is being urged to get even tougher by the liberal pundit class.

+ If the reams of gang and organized crime laws passed over the last 50 years can’t be used to prosecute the ringleaders of the sacking of Capitol, then let’s get rid of them.

+ Over the last century, almost every outbreak of white terrorism has resulted in harsher punishment for blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics. According to the Marshall Project:

Even hate crime legislation, specifically intended to help prosecute crimes motivated by white supremacy and other forms of bigotry, can have a disparate negative impact on minority groups. In 2019, for example, Black people made up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population yet were accused by law enforcement of nearly 24 percent of hate crimes, according to Justice Department statistics. White people, conversely, were 60 percent of the population yet faced fewer than 53 percent of hate crime accusations.

+ Our political condition has devolved to the point where the go-to solution of both parties over the last four years has become: security “fences” and shoot-to-kill orders.

+ Trump to Pence: “You can either go down in history as a Patriot or a pussy.”

Pence: “Just don’t grab me too hard, okay? Mother says I may have a yeast infection.”

+ When Pence and his lawyers met with the Senate parliamentarian to see if there was anyway for him to seat Alt Electors from Arizona, they learned that people send fake electoral college votes every election, including one sender who signs them “GeneralMagnifico”…

+ It took the fall of Trump the Uncouth to coax the real George Conway out of his cocoon…

+ Who will be the first QOP (Q’s Own Party) politician to blame the sacking of the Capitol on BLM protesters in whiteface?

+ During his floor speech against the 2nd impeachment of Trump, Rep Greg Steube (QOP-FL) cited the 1969 case of Brandenburg v Ohio, where the US Supreme Court ruled that an Ohio KKK leader’s conviction for advocating for violence violated of his Free Speech rights.

+ Lauren Boebert, the Congresswoman from Glock, has quite the arrest record back in Colorado.

+ Meanwhile, Boebert’s husband, Jayson, was arrested on a charge of indecent exposure at a Rifle, Colorado bowling alley, after being accused of flashing his penis at two young women (one only 16). He was arrested a few days later on charges of harassment and domestic violence.

+ Well, you wanted more women Republicans in Congress, didn’t you?

+ The Q Caucus starlets, Boebert and Greene are going to make Gohmert and Jordan look like Abbott and Costello…

+ We now that that for a large segment of the American population, beating a cop to unconsciousness on the steps of the US capitol with a flagpole isn’t as offensive to the time-honored values of the Republic as kneeling during the national anthem.

+ The man arrested Thursday for hitting a Capitol Hill police officer in the head with a fire extinguisher during MAGAriot is…drumroll…a retired fireman from Chester, Pennsylvania. According to court filings, Robert Sanford recognized himself in a video and told a friend that he was the person the FBI was looking for. He described traveling to Washington by bus to hear Trump’s speech at a “Stop the Steal Rally” and then, according to the court filings, “following the president’s instructions” to march to the Capitol,

+ Captain Emily Rainey, a US PsyOps officer who was spotted participating in the Capitol Hill riots, resigned her commission this week. But don’t worry. Soon she’ll probably be doing the same shit in the private sector, working on a no-bid government contract from Blackwater.

+ Of course, the dirty secret of the Army’s (and CIA’s) psyops programs is that they’ve only ever really worked on the population of the US. Most other countries are too sophisticated or experienced with the techniques of imperial manipulation to fall for their heavy-handed tricks…

+ It’s hard to tell who is more brainwashed, the members of the Cult of Q or Senator Susan Collins, who thought the Capitol had been attacked by Iran: “My first thought was that the Iranians had followed through on their threat to strike the Capitol.” Collins, I think…

+ What was Trump doing when Ivanka, Kevin McCarthy, Lindsey Graham and Kellyanne Conway were desperately trying to reach him to make a public statement calling his MAGAdroids to retreat from the Capitol Building? Watching TV, natch. One nameless advisor told the Washington Post:

“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV… If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.”

+ Was the sacking of the Capitol MAGA’s version of Woodstock or Altamont?

+ As foretold by the ancient prophets, Trumpism fulfilled its final destiny in a melée of cop-on-cop crime

+ The first, and I suspect the last, time I’ll ever agreed with Jim Jordan…

+ A lesson the MAGAriots: If you’re a Democrat and the panic button wasn’t torn out of your office wall before the sacking of the Capitol, you’re probably not Black and not much of a threat to anything…

+ Doug Mastriano, a state senator in the Pennsylvania general assembly, helped organize bus trips to the MAGAriot at the Capitol. His financial disclosures show Mastriano’s campaign spent thousands to rent charter buses days before the rally and then sold tickets at $25 a seat.

+ If this former “school therapist” really invaded the Capitol to “expose the evils of pedophilia,” couldn’t someone simply have pointed her toward Jim Jordan’s office?

+ Systemic racism inside the Capitol Hill police has been evident for decades, even against its own black officers. Since 2001, over 250 Black cops have sued the department for discrimination. Some of those former officers told Pro Publica that they weren’t surprised when they saw how easily white nationalists were able to storm the Capitol building.

+ Mom: Son, where are you off to today?

Son: Down to Capitol Hill to see how a bill becomes a law.

Mom: Got everything you need?

Son: Ski mask. Check. Climbing rope. Check. Doc Martens. Check. Bear spray. Check. Zip ties. Check. “I Lost It at the Movies.” Check. Looks like I’m good.

+ Caution: You may need consult our own Dr. Suzy for therapy after watching this…

+ I’m hearing from people that Alexander Cockburn would have been outraged by Twitter’s ban of Trump. Apparently, they don’t realize the depth of Alex’s loathing for social media, which was so profound that he kept calling CounterPunch a “Twitter Free Zone”, a full year after Nat had set up the CP Twitter feed.

+ In any event, we were one of the first victims of Google’s censorious algorithms, first they banned us from their Adsense program, swiftly followed by evicting us from their newsfeed. This was back in early Obama-time, when Cockburn used to close off his weekly diary by recommending that CounterPunch readers click on the unobtrusive Google ads which we’d loaded on the site in exchange for a modest remuneration. Google determined that Alex’s notes constituted an “incitement to clicker fraud” and permanently banned us from the program. At the time, someone very close to the both of us was dating a top lawyer at Google who vowed to demonstrate his devotion to her by getting the ban overturned. He failed and she dumped him, quite correctly, soon afterwards. The Google algorithm is all-powerful….

+ As for the storming of the Capitol itself, I can’t speak for the shade of the great man, but it seems far-fetched that he would have cheered on an assault led by the kind of characters Oliver North tried to put together to overthrow the Sandinistas: off-duty cops, former paratroopers and special-ops members, Army psyops officers, military police, Cuban and Venezuelan exiles and people waving the flags of Israel and the Iranian monarchy, some of whom flew on private jets to DC in order to storm the capitol.

+ Prosecutors filed charges against Jenna Ryan, the Texas realtor who bragged about flying to MAGAriot in a private jet. In a now-deleted FB video, prosecutors say, Ryan is heard saying “We are going to fucking go in here. Life or death, it doesn’t matter.” Just before entering the Capitol, she adds: “Y’all know who to hire for your realtor. Jenna Ryan for your realtor!”

+ One of the federal charging documents against a group of men who stormed the Capitol during the riot says a Capitol Police officer shook their hands and said, ‘It’s your House now.’

+ Meanwhile, the Chief of Maine’s Capitol Police spread election fraud conspiracies, pushed anti-mask misinformation, and liked the idea of using napalm on BLM activists before deleting his Facebook page yesterday…

+ Some of the “comments” cited by Amazon in it’s brief to pull the plug on the rightwing social media platform Parler…

+ Facebook’s own research shows that 64 percent of the time someone joins an extremist Facebook group, they do so because Facebook itself recommended it. Physician, heal thyself!

+ Thanks to Liliana Segura’s chilling reporting from the death house in Terre Haute, where Trump’s Justice Department is conducting a killing spree of federal executions, I learned that my old friend Bill Breeden served as the spiritual advisor to Corey Johnson, as he awaited his awful fate. I couldn’t think of a better person for Corey to have had beside him in these dreadful hours, as the Right-to-Life court sent him to his death.

+ Bill Breeden is a longtime social justice activist, folk singer and Unitarian minister in Indiana. He used to be our neighbor on an old commune 20 miles outside of Bloomington, where he and his wife lived in a tipi. Bill was from John Poindexter’s hometown, tiny Odon, Indiana, which had honored the Adm. by naming a street after him. As Poindexter’s role in Iran/contra came to light, Bill concocted a caper to steal the Poindexter street sign (valued at $35) and hold it hostage for $30 million. A statewide manhunt for the thief ensued. Bill eventually turned himself in. Breeden went to jail; Poindexter didn’t. The US in a nutshell.

+ It’s been several days now since FLTOUS’s statement on MAGAriot, but have TMZ or Page Six tracked down those “salacious rumors” that seemed to make Melania more upset than killing of a Capitol Hill cop?

+ What about Stephen Miller? He seems to have pressed the “down” button on the White House elevator, and as in some Reverse Rapture, just disappeared…

+ In the latest act of high profile “virtue shunning,” Alan Dershowitz told the Boston Globe that he will not be part of Trump’s defense team in his second impeachment trial. One revoked invitation to dinner in Martha’s Vineyard was all it took, apparently.

+ The final indignity: Benjamin Netanyahu removed Trump from his Twitter profile photo. (Talk about cancel culture!)

+ Once you think you’re rid of him, he comes crawling back for more…

+ Lindsey Graham really is our Theon Greyjoy, a political supplicant, who needs a master (McCain or Trump) to serve. Except, unlike “Reek,” he wasn’t tortured into submission. It’s his natural disposition…

+ When (if) Trump finally leaves office, what “father” figure will Lindsey Graham imprint on next, and obediently mimic and follow around like one of Nazi-behavioralist Konrad Lorenz’s ducklings?

+ Speaking of the loathsome Lorenz, I’ve been poking around in Under the Sun, a volume of Bruce Chatwin’s letters (a very welcome Xmas present from Nathaniel), and stumbled on this gem he fired off to the NYRB after they published a favorable review of The Year of the Greylag Goose, a book of photographs with text by Lorenz, which Chatwin dubbed a “sugar-coated pill” serving as cover for Lorenz to:

air, yet again, a philosophic credo that may have changed in tone, but never in substance, since his successful application for membership of the Nazi Party (No. 6,170,554) eight weeks after the Anschluss on May 1, 1938. For this detail, as well as an assessment of Lorenz’s contribution to racial biology, readers are referred to the brilliant series of papers by Professor Theo Kalikow of Southeastern Massachusetts University (the latest being: “Konrad Lorenz’s Ethological Theory: Explanation and Ideology, 1938-1943” in Naturwissenschaft und Techiken Dritten Reich, edited by Mehrtens and Richter, Suhrkamp, 1980).

One should never minimize Lorenz’s capacity to charm the public–or influence events. It remains for future historians of ideas to document the impact of On Aggression on our own times. For just as, in 1942, the biologists confirmed Hitler in his belief that the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem concurred with his Duty to the Creator, so in the 1960s the notion of ‘ritualised’, limited combats seems to have lulled certain strategists (and apologists) of the Vietnam War into a belief that they were answering the Call of Nature.

+ Stiffing Rudy’s legal bills is the most predictable but delicious Trump move ever: “Trump has instructed aides not to pay Giuliani’s legal fees, two officials said, and has demanded that he personally approve any reimbursements for the expenses Giuliani incurred while traveling on the president’s behalf to challenge election results in key states.”

+ Rudy: “Et Tutar, Donald?”

+ “De-Baatification?” Do these people really have no understanding of the war their own leaders (Kerry, HRC, Biden) supported before they pretended to oppose it? It wasn’t that long ago. In fact, it’s still playing out…

+ 20 years later, the same old lies. They don’t even bother to repackage them anymore. This time it’s Pompeo Maximus pushing the canard that Iran is harboring, funding and arming Al Qaeda, despite the historical (and current) enmity being played out in Iraq and Syria between Shia and Sunni. Apparently, the only Middle East nation to have nothing to do with Al Qaeda is the nation that nurtured it: Saudi Arabia.

+ As one of his last (one hopes) acts, Pompeo Maximus put Cuba on the state sponsors of terrorism list, for providing medical care to those without the money to pay for it, and named the Houthis a foreign terrorist org for defending themselves against Saudi airstrikes using US bombs, a designation that, unless rapidly reversed by Biden, will certainly result in thousands of deaths in a nation already plagued by mass starvation, infectious disease and maimings from Saudi missiles.

+ As Israel pounded Syria with a barrage of airstrikes this week, Netanyahu reportedly pressed Trump to “deliver a final military blow to the Iranian nuclear program” before Iran policy falls into Biden’s hands.

+ Meanwhile, Likud’s Tzachi Hanegbi sent a warning for the incoming Biden team: rejoin the Iran nuclear deal and Israel may target Iran’s nuclear program.

+ Who will tell Bari Weiss? An Israeli court has banned the screening and distribution of Mohammad Bakri’s documentary Jenin, Jenin, on Israeli atrocities in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin that left at least 22 civilians dead.

+ Remember when this timid little passant, whose obsession with AOC is even more pathological than Jimmy Dore’s, blew a gasket because a local newspaper disclosed the Maine village where he planned to set up his vacation studio?

+ In fact, Reuters is now reporting that federal prosecutors no believe that some of the insurrections had plans to “kidnap and assassinate” government officials and members of Congress.

+ The story of the Second Coming, according to the lost Gospel of Rambo …

+ The State of Illinois’ legislature just voted to end cash bail.

+ Health Care in America Update: Lauren Bard’s baby daughter, Sadie, was born three months premature. The ER nurse had been told by her employer, DignityHealth Hospital, that her health plan would pay for the newborn’s care. But when she opened the hospital bill it read: “AMOUNT DUE: $898,984.57.”

+ 390,000+ deaths so far from COVID-19 in the United States, 4,406 on Tuesday of this week alone–that’s one life lost every 20 seconds. That news came the same day I watched a clip one of RFK’s last speeches in “Gonzo,” Alex Gibney’s so-so documentary on Hunter Thompson, where Kennedy decried the carnage of 560 American soldiers being killed in Vietnam over the course of the previous WEEK…

+ COVID-19 has been disproportionately deadly for communities of color in Texas. Yet out of 140 coronavirus vaccine distribution sites in Dallas County, only 10 are located in majority Black neighborhoods. Just 37 are in majority Hispanic neighborhoods.

+ The fact that Oregon has one of the lowest Covid death rates in the country (405 per 1mm) is clearly a happy accident of geography, because the state has bungled the response at every turn, including allowing 200,000 doses of the vaccine to moulder on the shelf…

+ And so it goes…

+ It appears Azar lied…(again).

+ The state of Virginia seems even more inept. It’s vaccine eligibility quiz has been incorrectly telling Spanish readers they don’t need the coronavirus vaccine.

+ Decarceration works: new research shows that a mere 9% reduction in jail population is associated with a 56% decrease in the COVID transmission rate.

+ Decarcerate the gorillas before they die of COVID!

+ Sean Reyes, the Attorney General of Utah, expressed “surprise” this week at the number of people shot by police this year in the Beehive State: 30, tying the record set two years ago.  He didn’t note whether or not this was a “happy” surprise…

+ Traffic stops are the way most people come into contact with police. In 2015, more 11% of fatal police shootings happened during traffic stops. As a result, some cities are moving to shift traffic enforcement from the jurisdiction of police departments.

+ Prosecutors in Kenosha County, Wisconsin prosecutors are seeking to modify shooter Kyle Rittenhouse’s bond after he apparently flashed white-power signs as he posed for photos, drank several beers in violation of his bail agreement and was “loudly serenaded” with the Proud Boys’ official song. The kid obviously needs help, but his star status among rightwing racists and gun nuts is only drawing him deeper and deeper into the abyss.

+ According to new statistics complied by Princeton’s Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, police in the US are at least three times more likely to use force against “leftwing” protesters, which seems, to those of us who have been out on the streets since at least the Seattle uprisings, a gross underestimation.

+ An internal review by the NYPD found that James Kobel, a deputy who headed the department’s Equal Employment Opportunity Division, wrote dozens of venomously racist posts about Black, Jewish and Hispanic people under a pseudonym on an online chat board frequented by cops….

+ The real life consequences of Brexit for the British working class are beginning to come into focus, as the BoJo regime shreds EU Labor Market rules, including the 48-hour week.

+ My friend Tim Shorrock, who lives and writes in DC, snapped this photo of the empty corridors of K Street in the wake of the MAGAriots. Where have all the lobbyists, gone? Long time passing….

+ Maybe they’re all at home preparing for new jobs in the Biden administration, like that Anita Dunn, who Biden just tapped to be a “senior White House advisor“…

+ Let’s review in brief Anita Dunn’s record as a PR flack…

+ Harvey Weinstein, after he was accused of rape and sexual assault

+ Keystone XL pipeline

+ Hedge funds post-2008

+ Charter school lobby

+ NYC landlords/real estate groups to lobby against protections for renters

+ And, of course, she led the smearing of former Biden staffer Tara Reade, after she made credible allegations of sexual assault and retaliation by Biden…

+ Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes magazine, has announced that if private companies hire Trump press officials who lied to the public, “Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie.” But what about all of the other PR flaks who are paid to lie for living, even without doing service in the Trump machine…

+ Trump’s private physician, Harold Bornstein, who declared Trump the “healthiest president ever,” just signed the ultimate Non-Disclosure Agreement

+ When Sheldon Adelson’s portrait went up in the National Rogues Gallery, it cracked all the mirrors in the bathrooms down the hall….

+ The scuttlebutt from Vegas is that after the Venetian opened every vehicle entering the casino had to be searched, because Adelson was terrified one of the numerous contractors he had stiffed would try to bomb the place–a deadbeat mogul just like his acolyte Donald Trump. (Thanks to Paul Whalen for reminding me of this golden nugget of lost history.)

+ A week after Ivanka Trump tweeted: “Disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable,” the Washington Post reports that for the past three years, the federal government has been spending $3,000 a month to rent a basement studio apartment with a bathroom because Ivanka and Jared Kushner refuse to let the Secret Service use any of the 6.5 bathrooms in their 5,000-sq-ft home.

+ The White Album, Part Two? In her free time Melania Trump apparently took up “albuming” and compiled volume after volume of scrapbooks filled with photographs of herself.

+ The US Fish and Wildlife Service admits that the status of Northern Spotted Owl needs to be upgraded to “endangered”, if it has a chance of long-term survival in the Pacific Northwest. Yet, instead of acting on the advice of its own scientists, the agency refused to do so and is now slashing the owl’s critical habitat by 3.5 million acres.

+ For the third year in a row, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fall survey of the Sacramento River delta turned up no (that is, Leo) Delta smelt, once the most abundant fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, now likely to become extinct in the wild in 2021 or 2022.

+ It’s official: 2020 was the hottest year in the global temperature record, dating back 140 years. 2020 statistically tied with the previous record holder, 2016–a year when El Niño boosted above-average temperatures.

+ Admittedly, it’s a small measure of justice, after years of villainy, that included the poisoning of an entire city and the deaths of at least 12 people, but it was a boost to the spirit to see former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder indicted this week. Now on to the people in Obama’s EPA who turned a blind eye to Flint, starting with the person Biden just named to serve as his “domestic climate advisor,” former EPA head, Gina McCarthy.

+ One of our favorite grassroots groups, Apache Stronghold, has just sued the Forest Service to stop the federal government from issuing a final environmental impact statement that would clear the way for a huge copper mine at Oak Flat, on land held sacred by Apache people and other tribes. They could really use your financial help at this critical moment.

+ The Trump administration announced a new rule Monday that allows federal agencies to evade environmental reviews for projects on federal land even when there’s evidence the project will harm endangered species.

+ I was in Hammond, Oregon when this monster hit, watching 40-feet tall breakers crash over the south jetty of the Columbia…

+ Here’s the view from the south jetty…

+ Just a week before Biden is set to take office, Trump’s Justice Department filed a 16-page notice in a special edition of the McAllen Monitor announcing that they’re suing 149 south Texas families to take their land under eminent domain for construction of Trump’s border wall. So much for property rights, eh?

+ There are reports that George W. Bush’s childhood home in Midland, Texas is being considered for designation as a National Landmark by the Park Service. The buildings ought be knocked down and the ground sown with salt. Bush delenda est...

+ It’s one thing to loot the office of Nancy Pelosi or run off with the speaker’s podium, but some MAGAturd carved Trump’s name on the back of a manatee, which is the most infuriating thing I’ve seen all week…

+ As the deforestation rate in Brazil spikes to record heights, environmental fines have dropped by 20 percent.

+ A new study has found high levels of glyphosate (RoundUp) residue in Brazilian honey, particularly from regions that have suffered high losses of bee colonies.

+ You can read in Lewis & Clark’s journals just how treacherous it was to paddle small boats across the lower Columbia. But these days the only way to feel what that was like is to take the Oscar B, the last small ferry operating on the lower river, which runs between Cathlamet (on Puget Island, once the site of one of the largest tribal villages in the PNW) and Westport. I took it on Sunday, when, after a couple weeks of heavy rain, the river was running at full-throttle. In such extreme conditions, the little ferry has to cross at maximum speed and perform a nifty 180 turn against the current to dock on the Washington side. Large logs were barreling downstream, while a group at least 25 sea lions were galloping up river, breaching the surface like dolphins. They were going so fast they’re probably snacking on salmon near the fish ladders at Bonneville this morning,hopefully evading the shotguns of angry fishermen or their agents in the Fish & Wildlife Service, who are now allowed to kill them on sight. Who knows how long this ferry will remain in operation. So if you have the chance, buy the ticket and take the ride….

Oscar B. ferry approaching Puget Island, Columbia River. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ I’ve spent much of the fall and winter re-reading fat Russian novels for the first time since college: War & Peace, Dead Souls, Oblomov, Anna K. Now I’m halfway into Karamazov (Peavar and Volokhonsky’s translation) and am struck by how damn funny much of it is. This is probably a barometer of just how bleak our own circumstances are, but Fyodor Pavlovich is a riot. You can see why they had to kill him off. He steals every scene.

+Need another reason to love Kris Kristofferson? Try this…

Trump put a Medal of Freedom around the thick neck of Toby Keith today, for, presumably, his big “hit” calling for the US to bomb its enemies back to the Stone Age. A few years ago Ethan Hawke described in Rolling Stone an encounter between Keith (who he calls, simply The Star) and Kris Kristofferson at Willie Nelson’s 70th birthday concert, which went something like this.

The Star passes Willie and Kris in the hallway backstage, says “Happy Birthday, Willie” and then turns to Kristofferson and blurts, “None of that lefty shit out there tonight, Kris.”

“What the fuck did you just say to me?” KK replies, moving towards Keith.

“Oh no,” Willie sighs. “Don’t get Kris all riled up.”

“You heard me,” Keith snaps, walking away.

“Don’t turn your back on me, boy.”

Keith spins around, nervously. “I don’t want any problems, Kris. I just want you to tone it down.”

“Tone it down? Have you ever worn your country’s uniform?”

“What?”

“Don’t ‘what’ me, boy! You just don’t like the answer. I asked, ‘Have you ever served your country?’ The answer is, No, you have not. Have you ever killed another man? Have you ever taken another man’s life and then cashed the check your government gave you for doing it? No. So shut the fuck up.”

Keith mutters, “Whatever.” And flees toward the safety of his dressing room….

KK turns to Willie and Hawke and shakes his finger: “Don’t say a word, Willie.” Then grins and says, “You remember what Waylon used to say about guys like him? They’re doing to country music what pantyhose did to finger-fucking.”

+ That sounds like the Waylon I knew

+ After the publication of The Rebel and his acrimonious split from Sartre and the French Communists, you can understand why they may have wanted to, but did the KGB really assassinate Camus?

+ Here’s Rainer Werner Fassbinder disputing the idea that Nora Helmer in Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” should be considered a feminist role model…(h/t Nicky Smith)

+ What a heroic rascal Fassbinder was, always sneaking through the backdoor right to the essential point.

One for Tomorrow, One Just for Today

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Moth and the Mountain: a True Story of Love, War and Everest
Ed Caesar
(Simon and Schuster)

Marx Dead and Alive: Reading “Capital” in Precarious Times
Andy Merrifield
(Monthly Review)

American Unemployment: Past, Present and Future
Frank Stricker
(University of Illinois)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Love You Madly: Live at Bubba’s
Monte Alexander
(Resonance)

Plenty Good Eaton
Cleveland Eaton
(Black Jazz Records)

Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted
Passenger
(Black Crow Records)

A Social Sore

“The human being, the member of society, is drowned forever in the tyrant, and it is practically impossible for him to regain human dignity, repentance, and regeneration. The power given to one man to inflict corporal punishment upon another is a social sore. It will inevitably lead to the disintegration of society…It’s hard to imagine to what an extent a man’s nature can be corrupted.” (Dostoevsky, The House of the Dead)