Roaming Charges: No Neanderthal Ever Bombed Syria

Bomb shack, Imperial Valley. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ There were many reasons to vote against Trump, starting with the fact that he was the incumbent running for reelection. All incumbent presidents should be voted against as matter of principle, because they almost certainly started committing war crimes within weeks of taking office, a truism Biden has now reconfirmed with his bombing of Syria.

+ But what about the airstrikes themselves, Barbara, and the people they killed? Are your objections merely procedural? Would they have been “OK” if Congress had authorized them, as they likely would have?

+ How to decode NYT stories: The headline proclaims Biden’s bombing targeted “Iran-backed militias.” The story itself says: “Little is known about the group, including whether it is backed by Iran or related to the organizations that used the facilities the American airstrikes targeted on Thursday.” But the headlines sell the wars…

+ A “scalpel” that killed at least 22 people, who knows if any of them had even the faintest connection with Iran…

+ In addition to sign language interpreters, all Pentagon briefings should come with a simultaneous closed caption translation of Pentagonese, but until that happens you can be safe in assuming that most Pentagon statements on their bombing missions mean the opposite of what they are saying…”We have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in eastern Syria and Iraq.”

+ The right wants to blow up the Capitol; liberals want to blow up the border wall. And they both support Biden blowing up Syria.

+ As long as you don’t brag about killing some folks or urinate on their body parts, liberals are cool with your unauthorized missile strikes in an unauthorized war…

+ I guess when you’ve just ordered airstrikes that killed and mangled the bodies of 22 people in Syria, you can’t be too picky about maintaining relations with a guy who ordered a journalist to be murdered and dismembered with a bone saw.

+ The fundamentals, unsound as they are, don’t change

+ The current state of Democracy in America: It’s apparently going to take a vote of 2/3s of the Senate to raise the minimum wage and no votes from the Senate to bomb Syria. If de Tocqueville could see us now!

+ The Senate parliamentarian is the chamber’s official scapegoat, who is trotted out of the pen once or twice a session out to ritually blame for the death of popular policies the establishment doesn’t really want to enact because doing so would infuriate their corporate donors.

+ Bipartisanship is the excuse the Democrats use to compromise with themselves when the Senate parliamentarian calls in sick.

+ After weeks of faux-drama, Kamala Harris broke the inevitable tie and Biden’s watered-down Covid aid bill advanced 51-50. So, all of those “compromises” yielded not even a single GOP vote.

+ The first Trump COVID checks phased out fully at an income level (2019) of $99,000, the second round at $87,000. The Biden checks will phaseout fully at $80,000. (Limiting the benefit results in about $12 billion in savings in a $1.9 TRILLION package.)

+ Senate Democrats rejected a proposal by Bernie Sanders to use the tax code to penalize corporations that don’t raise the minimum wage for their lowest-paid workers in an effort to keep President Joe Biden’s COVID stimulus plan on track for quick passage, though the question of who exactly is getting stimulated is getting more and more obscure.

+ Meet the 8 Democrats who voted NO on Bernie’s effort to insert the $15 minimum wage into the the COVID relief bill and the number of workers in their state who make less than $15 per hour…

Joe Machin (WV)… 230,000
Jon Tester (MT)… 126,000
Jeanne Shaheen (NH)…146,000
Maggie Hassan (NH)….146,000
Angus King (ME)…158,000
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)…840,000
Tom Carper (DE)…106,000
Chris Coons (DE)…106,000

+ The real question was never whether progressives could pull Biden to the left, but (as with Clinton and Obama) how far right they’d willingly venture with him when he called on them…

+ Who’s getting hurt by the COVID economy? Women, mainly. Over the past year, the retail sector has suffered a net loss of 362,600 jobs…98.0% of which belonged to women.

+ Biden isn’t “compromising” on the stimulus checks to try to win Republican votes in the Senate, even he knows he’ll never get. He’s being even stingier than Trump because he is a committed neoliberal with a longstanding belief in austerity-driven economic policies.

+ Instead of taking even baby-steps toward Medicare for All, Biden’s COVID relief plan will inject $48 billion of taxpayer money into private health insurance companies, some of whom had their most profitable year ever, to subsidize ACA and Cobra health plans for the unemployed.

+ When Biden said he was going to go big like FDR, he must’ve meant the internment camps

+ Liberal sophistry in the service of child abuse…

+ Still waiting on the Cancel Culture epidemic to cancel even a single dollar of student loans and medical debts.

+ Sanders, Warren and Merkley have just as much power in the Senate as Manchin and Sinema. Will they ever use it to force Biden to “compromise” in their favor? (The evidence from the Clinton and Obama years isn’t encouraging.)

+ No move to forgive student loans, gave up on raising minimum wage, no $2000 checks, bombing Syria, no sanctions against MBS. Do we have a Malarkey Rating for the Biden administration yet?

+ On the same day Texas governor Greg Abbott declares the end of the state’s mask mandate and that all businesses can reopen to 100% capacity, Houston became the first city in the US to record patients infected with every major variant of the COVID virus.

+ To rephrase the old question about Vietnam: How do you ask a person to be the last person to die of Covid in Texas?

+ Biden on the reopening of Texas and MS : “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms. … The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.” This is rank Neanderthalism. Surely Biden meant to slander the Denisovans. After all, no Neanderthal ever bombed Syria ..

+ Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki, in trying to clarify the president’s remarks on Neanderthals, only made matters more problematic: “The behavior of a Neanderthal, just to be very clear, the behavior.” What behavior of Neanderthals is she referring to? Does Psaki really think either Greg Abbott or Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves would be capable of making paintings of the quality found in the caves of southern Spain?

+ Abbott and other Texas politicians are now blaming undocumented migrants for spreading COVID. But the current average of migrants testing positive has been 3.5 per day, just 108 people from January 25 to March 3. In contrast, on the day Greg Abbott lifted the mask mandate, 7,747 Texans tested positive due to community spread.

+ Did Neanderthal leaders intentionally spread infectious diseases among their own populations so that their cronies could maximize their profits operating fully-indemnified business, then blame the lethal spread on desperate Denisovan tribes illegally crossing the transalpine border?

+ Why the Democrats, despite the rapidly changing demographics and total collapse of the state’s infrastructure and social safety net, will never win Texas…

+ In LA County, more than 15% of the documented coronavirus workplace outbreaks occurred at fast-food restaurants. But employees often don’t know how many COVID-19 cases have been linked to their workplace because, according to a damning new study by UCLA, “employers do not disclose when employees test positive” and often retaliate against workers who complain about unsafe conditions.

+ Meanwhile,  P.1 variant is roaring through the Brazilian city of Manaus in Amazonia, inflicting more deaths in January and February of this year than in all of 2020.

+ As a whole, the US population lost an entire year of life expectancy to COVID. For black people, the toll has been three times worse.

+ Euthanasia-by-neglect in NY’s nursing homes didn’t convince her Cuomo should resign, but…

+ Family members of COVID-denying South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem received more than $600,000 in payments from a state grant program pushed by the governor that re-directed federal COVID relief funds to small businesses.

+ Economic Decline Indicator: One-in-three families in the US could not afford diapers before the COVID outbreak. Now it’s immeasurably worse

+ This young girl is indeed brave, the profit-driven system that forces her to do this is nothing less than depraved…

+ Jim Harrison: “I’m still getting over my prejudice against the Anglo-Saxons that I acquired 30 years ago while living in London in Jack Nicholson’s household while he was filming Kubrick’s The Shining. The chinless, sputtering upper-crust visitors were absolutely certain I was the bodyguard and hence I was invisible. I still hold a wan hope that they will translate my American novels into English. Meanwhile during this financial collapse I am surviving due to the generosity of the French. We all need to eat well in order to dig the graves of stockbrokers.” (A Really Big Lunch.)

+ Pew survey finds low-income, minority respondents overwhelmingly support keeping schools closed until teachers are vaccinated. Upper-income, white, and Republican respondents more likely to want schools reopened as quickly as possible..

+ The pathological hatred of teachers deserves its own entry in the DSM…

+ The International Criminal Court has announced it has opened a formal investigation into Israeli war crimes in Gaza, a probe that could put hundreds of Israeli soldiers and officers in legal jeopardy. We’ll see how long it takes Biden and Blinken to shut this down…

+ About five minutes it turns out. Right on schedule, Tony Blinken blasted out a statement condemning the ICC’s war crimes probe in the Palestinian territories as “unilateral judicial actions that exacerbate tensions.”

+ Blinken says “Palestinians do not qualify as sovereign state & therefore, are not qualified to obtain membership as a state in, participate as a state in, or delegate jurisdiction to ICC.”

+ It’s up to me, I guess, to clarify what Blinken refuses to mention: the ICC investigation will examine the actions of both the IDF and Hamas in Gaza, though it is obvious from the histrionics from Tel Aviv and DC who has more to fear from an even-handed investigation into the crimes that have occurred there.

+ When Biden assumed power, many believed he would quickly lift the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against war crimes prosecutors at the ICC. That hasn’t happened and with Israel pushing hard against the move it likely won’t, especially now that the ICC has zeroed in on the atrocities in Gaza.

+ It looks like Kamala and Bibi just made the Rainbow Connection, as Harris was dispatched to tell Netanyahu the comforting news about Biden’s opposition to the ICC inquiry…

+ It’s early days yet, but it’s already becoming impossible to distinguish the Biden/Blinken doctrine from the Trump/Pompeo doctrine. Blinken announced this week that he was meeting with the Venezuelan imposter Juan Guaido to discuss of “return to democracy.”

See the paid-off local bottom feeders
Passing themselves off as leaders
Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
Open for business like a cheap bordello
And they call it democracy….(The other Cockburn)

+ Maduro should return the favor by placing a call to Mar-a-Lago and for some frank discussions with Interim President Trump…

+ The US military in the world: counterterrorism missions in 85 countries, combat in 8 nations, 41 military exercises, 800 military bases…

+ The Air Force issued a report last week claiming that the F-35 Stealth Fighter (it’s actually a small bomber designed to “deliver” nuclear weapons to Russia) was a “failure.” ‘Failed’ at what? For a plane that couldn’t fly straight, the F-35 won almost every battle for more and bigger contracts it ever fought…

+ Meanwhile, in yet another sign that Biden is taking a much more provocative posture toward Russia, the State Department announced last week that it has approved the sale of $91 million worth of guided-missile rocket launchers to Finland.

+ 18,747: number of deaths and injuries as a result of the use of explosive weapons around the world in 2020.

+ Early in the pandemic, the NYPD arrested a Bronx man for “jaywalking,” and turned him over the ICE, where he has spent months in detention, even NYC officials now admit that his transfer to ICE was an “egregious mistake“, which broke NYC laws. But ICE won’t release him and have him scheduled for deportation next week.

+ ICE has been using utility bills to track down undocumented migrants.

+ Riots Pay!…Capitol police today requested a budget increase of $103.7 million, a 20% increase from the $515 million they just got for 2021, a figure that is already 10 more than the entire budget for the operations of the Congress itself.

+ So it seems perfectly clear to me that keeping the National Guard in DC and adding 100s of new positions to the Capitol Police will only serve to increase the threat of another violent insurrection mounted by militia groups…

+ Cities have shelled out more than $3 billion in police misconduct settlements. So effectively, the police are defunding other city programs in order to compensate for their own lawlessness. Wouldn’t it be better for all concerned to simply defund the police?

+ I was editing a story yesterday which stated flatly that the Patriot Act should be abolished because there have been no terrorist attacks since its passage. It’s a common argument on the Left. But one that’s simply not true and, in fact, counter-productive to those wanting to dismantle the mechanisms of the surveillance state we’ve been living under for the last 20 years. There have been quite a few attacks in the US since 2001: (Boston Marathon bombing, Orlando nightclub shooting, Ft Hood shooting, Chattanooga shootings, San Bernardino splatter-fest, NYC truck attack…to mention only the ones which grabbed headlines), which the Patriot Act, and associated repressive measures, did nothing to prevent, which is probably a better argument against it than saying, incorrectly, that there haven’t been any attacks since it was enacted, which might, in fact, be an argument for its utility. It seems clear to me that repressive laws like the Patriot Act make terrorism more not less likely. Something to keep in mind as Congress gears up to impose even more laws in response to the sacking of the Capitol. So repeal the Patriot Act and don’t pass anything like it again, because not only don’t these kinds of laws work they actually make what they are aiming to suppress worse.

+ The FBI has arrested the first Trump appointee who joined the raid on the Capitol, a staffer named Freddie Klein. Klein is a veteran of Trump 2016 campaign, who was later reward with a ‘special assistant’ position at the State Department. According to his mother: “Fred’s politics run a little hot.”

+ 500,000 dead, 2.3 million incarcerated, 750,000 homeless, more than 10 million without work, record income inequality, rising sea levels, millions without power or water for more than a week and it’s….“cancel culture” that’s destroying America. If that’s what Bill Maher considers American normal, perhaps it deserves to be destroyed.

+ From this week’s voting rights case before the Supremes…

Justice Kagan: A state with 2 weeks of early voting gets rid of Sunday voting [Georgia’s House just passed a bill cutting Sunday voting.] Black voters vote on Sundays 10x as often as white voters. Is that lawful?

GOP lawyer Michael Carvin: Yes, that’s lawful

+ At almost the same moment, the bipartisan blockade against expanding voting rights continued this week when the House, in 97-328 vote, rejected and amendment by Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) that would have allowed individuals serving a felony prison sentence to vote in federal elections.

Democrats 97-119 (or 45%-55% against)
Republicans 0-209

+ Poor Carla Bruni, Nicolas Sarkozy imprisoned at home for a year seems like an intolerable cruelty…

+ Then again, maybe misery loves company…

+ So it turns at that NYT columnist David Brooks, who lives this $2 million house in DC neighborhood of Cleveland Park, has a side gig at the Aspen Institute, where his salary is funded by Facebook, Jeff Bezos’ dad, among others. Brooks has never disclosed this gig to his readers and the Times refused to say if the paper’s editors were aware of Brooks’ second salary. All things considered, Jayson Blair was much less of a journalistic fraud than Brooks.

+ Ted Cruz at CPAC: “Let me tell ya right now: Donald J. Trump ain’t goin’ anywhere.” Amid stiff competition, Cruz remains the most ridiculous figure in American politics. He desperately wants to sound like a “bad hombre” but comes off as one of Trump’s political eunuchs, a servile, shrill-toned functionary of a man who has done nothing but humiliate him and his family for 5 years.

+ Cruz’s career was in ruins the moment he was elected, hated by his own side more than by the Democrats. If anything his Cancun escapade humanized someone who until now seemed like a droid with a glitch in the software. Now he’s an international meme, one SNL appearance away from redemption, which is how politics has worked in the US in the post-Nixon era. A politician who is a laughing stock is much harder to revile.

+ I share the schadenfreude many progressives feel over Senate’s scorning of Neera Tanden. But isn’t she really just an unfiltered personification of what the Democratic Party has been at an operational level since at least the Clinton administration?

+ Amid the disorienting smog of eulogies for George Schultz, we should pause for at east a minute to recall the role of the State Department in the abduction, torture, gang rape and subsequent smearing of Sister Diana Ortiz by Guatemalan military goons, some trained at the School of the Americas.

+ Vernon Jordan, who died this week, became one of the first black activists to cash in on his Civil Rights movement experience and become a DC super-fixer for politicians and corporations in trouble. At the height of his power in the 90s, Jordan sat on 10 different corporate boards (at the same time), all of them with pretty extensive rap sheets: American Express, Banker’s Trust, Corning, Dow Jones, JC Penney, RJR Nabsico, Rider Systems, Sara Lee, Union Carbide, and Xerox. Jordan will have his own niche in the pantheon of corporate greenwashing. Jordan’s tireless work for the tobacco industry may have resulted in the deaths of more Americans than all the wars in US history combined. A longtime Friend of Bill, Jordan tried to buy Monica Lewinsky’s silence with a job at Burston-Marsteller, the PR firm that helped sell the Iraq war.

+ Jordan spent a lot of time in Indiana. He was the only black student at DePauw College (alma mater of Dan Quayle) and was shot by the neo-Nazi serial killer John Paul Franklin in Ft Wayne…the same psycho-path who shot Larry Flynt in Cincy. The Ft Wayne cops wrote it off to a “domestic dispute.” Franklin continued his killing spree across the Midwest, finally shooting up a synagogue in St. Louis. Among the victims was a close relative of Ken Silverstein. After his conviction, Franklin admitted to shooting Jordan. It’s disgusting that Franklin got away with the shootings of Larry Flynt and Jordan to commit those murders in St. Louis. In Jordan’s case, the Ft Wayne cops basically weren’t interested in investigating the shooting a black civil rights worker. Same old story.

+ In a leaked 2019 video, Alex Jones ridicules Trump, declaring that he’s “so sick” of him and wishes he’d never met him. Jones also boasts about making $60 million in a year and deprecates his own audience, saying he could sell them “dick pills.” One man’s dick pill is another’s pillow.

+ School isn’t officially back in session until there’s been a school shooting

+ Today’s conservatives are irate at the emasculation of Mr. Potato Head, yet remain proud of their ideological antecedents, who manufactured and exploited the potato famine.

+ Much of the Bible is repetitive, contradictory & confusing, right from the very beginning: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” But maybe it makes more sense if we substitute “Mr. Potato Head” for “man.”

+ In yet another edifying Bible story, God created light on the first day. But he waited until day four to create the Sun, which is, of course, the opposite of how the power supply system works in Texas. (No annoying questions from the class on how God counted days before the Sun.)

+ I know the old testament God was super-needy, very touchy and extremely vindictive, but is it really possible for an omnipotent and omniscient deity to be “insulted” by transgendered people?

+ I was reading in Robert Zaretsky’s astute little book on Camus (A Life Worth Living) that God, who couldn’t shut up through the early chapters of the Bible, stops talking after he couldn’t come up with a good answer for Job’s legitimate question about why he’d been singled out for such extreme abuse. And, of course, there is no good answer because God (supposedly omniscient) makes a wager with the Great Adversary over how many torments otherwise well-behaving human beings can stomach before they crack…

+ What socialism means to Glenn Greenwald:

I would describe a lot of people on the right as being socialist. I would consider Steve Bannon to be socialist. I would consider the 2016 iteration of Donald Trump the candidate to be a socialist, based on what he was saying. I would consider Tucker Carlson to be a socialist.

+ You can read the rest of Greenwald’s head-scratching interview with Carlson’s old house organ the Daily Caller here.

+ When fracking makes your kids sick, but no one but you seems to  give a shit…

+ If anything is capable of rousing Americans into action against the chemical industry, you’d think it would be the poisoning of their dogs and cats

+ On Biden rejoining the Paris Accords: Obama proved that it’s a lot easier to get away with widespread oil drilling, natural gas fracking and tar-sand pipeline construction if you pretend to believe in climate change.

+ I Shall be Released….Scientists have found that permafrost buried beneath the Arctic Ocean holds 60 billion tons of methane and 560 billion tons of organic carbon — making it one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases not currently included in climate projections.

+ And the consequences are becoming clear: Methane (CH) levels hit a record high in November 2020 at 1891.9 ppb. November 2019’s global methane abundance was 1875.6 ppb….

+ Through February 2021, the Earth’s oceans have experienced 537 consecutive months with global sea surface temperatures higher than the average for the 20th Century

+ Wild bee reproduction has been cut by 89% by neonicotinoid pesticides…

+ There were 26% fewer monarch butterflies at their winter resting grounds in central Mexico this year, and four times as many trees were lost to illegal logging, drought and other causes.

+ Amy Comey Barrett released her first majority opinion this week and it sucks, striking a double blow against both the Freedom of Information Act and the Endangered Species Act.

+ Daniel Grant on the border wall, rivers and tribal people:  “For native people whose ancestral homelands had been bisected by the modern border, increasing border enforcement made them migrants on their own lands.”

+ For three weeks, the blackest city in the blackest state in the US, Jackson, Mississippi, has remained without water with almost no national coverage of this deepening crisis…

+ Tom Vilsack’s new senior advisor on racial equity, Dewayne Goldmon, is a longtime agrochemical flack whose organization, the National Black Growers Council, was started by Monsanto, where Goldmon himself once toiled…

+ A Montana bill to criminalize pipeline protests, threatening activists with 30-year jail sentences, passed out of committee this week in a 67-33 vote…

+ Two Brazilian firms owned by Trump pal Steve Schwarzman’s Blackstone Group have been a “driving force” behind the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest….

+ Imagine the destruction of the rainforests. Now multiply by 1000…

+ And it’s not just the oceans at risk: One-third of all freshwater fish are now facing extinction.

+ According to the Wall Street Journal, Texas residential consumers buying power from the deregulated grid paid $28 billion more for their power since 2004 than they would have paid at the rates charged to the customers of the state’s traditional utilities.

+ There goes (what’s left of) Moab

+ Wisconsin’s wolf hunt ended early after the quota was exceeded in less than 3 days. More than 216 wolves were killed purely for sadistic fun.

+ University of Texas donor on black football players being forced to stand on the field while the Eyes of Texas is played: “It is sad that [The Eyes of Texas] is offending the blacks. As I said before the blacks are free and it’s time for them to move on to another state where everything is in their favor.”

+ From the description of his terrible crash (and I’ve driven that sweeping descent on Hawthorne off the Palos Verde headland several times), I think we’re safe in concluding that Tiger Woods owes his life to Ralph Nader.

+ Joe Strummer: “When you’re young and your group takes off, you don’t really have any life experience. I’d had a bit more than the others ‘cos, y’know, I’d worked as a gravedigger, but there were times when I forgot what the world outside rock ‘n’ roll was like.”

+ Speaking of cancel culture, here’s what the head of the Soviet Committee on Arts Affairs told Sergey Prokofiev after hearing an audition of the composer’s sprawling Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution: “Just what do you think you’re doing, Sergey Sergeyevich, taking texts that belong to the people and setting them to such incomprehensible music?” The cantata wasn’t performed publicly until 1966, 12 years after Prokofiev’s death.

+ I confess: I still like most of Woody Allen’s movies and, generally speaking, I don’t believe works of art should be banned, censored or shunned because of the character defects or shameful acts of their creators. So I didn’t feel any guilt as I watched a few scenes from Love and Death last night, which is still a very funny movie, maybe Keaton’s best and least affected role in an Allen film. (Who knows how long these films will remain available?) Unlike Manhattan, there’s nothing particularly perverse in the film, but as it went on I couldn’t help getting a little chill thinking about Allen’s long-standing obsession with Dostoevsky, perhaps because I’ve had my own nose stuck in his novels for the past two months. In particular, I was mulling over how Allen must have read the famous censored chapter from Demons, “At Tikhon’s,” where one of the two central characters in the novel, the dissolute Prince Stavrogin, visits a monastery and makes a startling confession to the mystic monk, Tikhon, that he had seduced and raped a 12-year old girl, then shunned her, until she committed suicide by hanging, a fate that Stavrogin emulates himself at the end of the novel. Did it strike any psychological chords? After reading his memoir, Apropos of Nothing, there’s no evidence that Allen, unlike Stavrogin, feels any guilt at all about his relationships with Dylan Farrow or Soon-yi. And guilt has been a pretty constant theme of his films. Is it possible to be a repressed pedophile and only act on these latent urges in your 50s? (I don’t know.) As for Demons itself, seems unlikely that Dostoevsky’s first english translator, Constance Garnett, knew about the existence of this censored chapter. But a few years after her version of the novel, translated as The Possessed, was published in English, Virginia Woolf got access to a literal translation of the chapter and gave it a literary make-over, which a century later remains, I think, a devastating read.

+ RIP Lawrence Ferlinghetti: The first time I gave a reading at City Lights, Peter said “Lawrence would like to meet you.” He walked me back to LF’s den overlooking Columbus Ave and as I entered a paper airplane buzzed my face. “Give that to Alex,” LF chuckled. On the paper he’d written: “What happened to you?” A couple of years later, we both appeared at City Lights. By this time, Ferlinghetti had moved back to Virginia. Alex got a pen and scribbled on a sheet of paper and left it at the counter, saying: Give this to Ferlinghetti when he comes back. (Which he did.) “What happened to YOU?”

+ Ferlinghetti: “I am waiting for the war to be fought which will make the world safe for anarchy.”

+ The Unbearable Magic of Hollywood Casting: I see Ridley Scott has cast the great Jodie Comer to play Josephine to Joaquin Phoenix’s Napoleon in the curiously titled “Kitbag.” Josephine was 7 years older than Napoleon and Phoenix is 20 years older than Comer. (I wonder if Comer knows that by the time Napoleon married Josephine, she’d lost most of her teeth & the ones that remained were black and cavity-snaggled, owing to her habit of sucking sugar cubes, which acquired as a young girl on the family’s sugarcane plantation in Martinique…) It wasn’t the great romance it’s been made out to be. Josephine, as Napoleon insisted on calling the woman everyone else knew as Rose,  hopped into bed with one of NB’s arch rivals, Barras, about five minutes after he left for his Italian campaign, which was about 5 minutes after they got married, which was about 4.5 minutes longer than sex with Napoleon lasted, according to even his own self-flattering accounts. He was, as he boasted, a busy man.

+ If anyone could pull of this role, though, it’s Comer, who burst onto the scene as the assassin Villanelle in Killing Eve. We just finished watching one of her first role’s as the ingenue temptress (is there any other kind?) in Dr. Foster, where you could tell from her first scene that she was going to be a big star. Still I help thinking she’d be better cast as the fair-haired Austrian ice-princess Marie Louise.

+ It was a real kick to see the irascible Salt City bookseller, Ken Sanders (friend of Ed Abbey, Chris Simon, Terry Tempest Williams, Ken Sleight and so many other Utah writers), feature so prominently in the Netflix documentary, Murder Among the Mormons–the wild case of strange letters from early Mormon history, church villainy, cover-ups, forgeries, and, of course, bombings. One of the most amusing aspects of the film is that no matter how ludicrous the content of some of the letters, which feature talking salamanders and the like, the church’s elders, like Bishop Irenaeus trying to “deplatform” the Gnostic Gospels, were so concerned they might be authentic that they’d do almost anything to re-bury them…

+ I was 8 when I went to my first Reds game at Crosley Field and my dad said: “Whaddya want a Mett or a Brat?” I mumbled, no idea what either were and he said, “Ah, hell, try both.” I did and it remains one of the most delicious meals I’ve had. The Mett was really spicy, slathered in brown German mustard. But good luck repeating that experience at Great America Ballpark (or any other major league park), which now sells a “Smokehouse Parfait” made of BBQ Pulled Pork, Mac & Cheese with Coleslaw in a Bread Cone and a “Smore’s Frybox” made of Crispy Fries with Marshmallows, Chocolate Syrup, Cinnamon Graham Crackers and M&Ms. Eat that and you’ll be doing the Seventh Inning Retch instead of Stretch…if you last that long.

+ Archie Shepp: “I remember my mother saying, ‘Well, honey, you’re still playing those little songs that don’t have no tune?’ So I was aware that the things I was playing didn’t always have relevance to the audience that I want to reach.”

I Know a Beach Where, Baby, It Never Ends…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Free Speech and the Suppression of Dissent During World War One
Eric T. Chester
(Monthly Review Press)

The Truth About Nature: Environmentalism in the Era of Post-Truth Politics and Platform Capitalism
Bram Büscher
(University of California Press)

Little Snow Landscape
Robert Walser
Trans. Tom Whalen
(NYRB Books)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Robby Ameen

The Weight of Light
Benoît Delbecq

As the Love Continues
(Temporary Residence)

Dumb, Blind Love

“My faith has been tempered in Hell. My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria, from the concrete of the gas chamber. I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning.” (Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate)

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3