+ No one can pinpoint precisely when the US war on Iraq began, but certainly dates back at least to 1962 when the CIA began plotting the overthrow of Abd al-Karim Qasim (who was executed in early 1963). And, of course, no one can predict when, if ever, the war on Iraq will come to an end. But it’s became the duty of each American president since JFK to declare the Iraq war over, then expand it…
+ The torment of Iraq has gone through different phases, each political generation leaving its own ruinous mark: coups, industrial sabotage, infiltration, assassination, instigation of a calamitous war against Iran, insurrections, embargoes, provoking the invasion of Kuwait, air strikes, bombings, invasion, arming and abandoning of Kurdish rebels, financing and arming of religious militants, blockades, a savage shadow war of economic sanctions, radiological warfare from the use of Depleted Uranium munitions, open air burning of chemical weapons, denial of medical supplies to treat cancer patients, destruction of dams, power plants and sewage treatment facilities, cruise missile strikes, deployment of hunter-killer squads, the framing of Iraq for stockpiling WMDs it didn’t possession, shock-and-awe bombing of civilian targets, invasion, occupation, surge and resurge, home invasions, de-Baathification, torture, murderous raids by private military contractors, drone strikes…
+ It is worth noting that Iraq was bombed once every three days from the end of the Gulf War to the beginning of the Iraq War. Obama “pulled out” and then returned with a vengeance. Trump, who postured as war critic, orchestrated the saturation bombing of Mosul, a blitz that killed far more civilians than ISIS insurgents.
+ The end of one phase of the war provided the rationale for the beginning of the next phase. No one expressed regrets for past crimes or cautioned about the consequences, political, moral and economic of future acts of mayhem and destruction. Now along comes Biden, who is ready to announce yet another “end of combat operations in Iraq.”
+ So how will Biden brand his version of the Iraq War…with an army of private contractors and contract killers, with drones and airstrikes, with sanctions and targeted subsidies, with CIA blacktops and NSA surveillance, by arming militants and separatists (recall that Biden has long wanted to chop up Iraq into three different countries) and by using Iraq as a base to threaten and discipline Iran.
+ Tony Blinken warned that the negotiating process with Iran “can’t go on indefinitely.” Why not? Isn’t that the nature of diplomacy? Perhaps the problem lies with Blinken himself. Is he “negotiating”? All I hear from the US State Department are demands of Iran, many of them new, few of which have anything to do with Iran’s nuclear program. What concessions are the US willing to make? It was, after all, the US that brokered the deal, then breached it.
+ Whistleblower Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months for exposing the illegalities of the US drone-murder program. His statement to the court (and the country) is succinct, clear and devastating.
+ The most unforgivable crime in America is the exposure 0f crimes committed by America.
+ The incredible, shrinking infrastructure plan, which has dwindled from an already inadequate $2.6 trillion to a trifling $550 billion and has been stripped of its most innovative (and needed) projects. Krysten Sinema is claiming the credit (blame).
+ The US is once again chastising China for its supposed “build up” of nuclear weapons, citing the construction of new missile silos. So let’s check the Nuclear Stockpile Scoreboard: China 350, US 3,800.
+ Fast and Furious: the Biden deportation method will almost immediately reject asylum claims for immigrant and refugee families, abridging almost most all due process rights that are meant to be safeguarded by current federal laws.
+ On top of that, Biden is approving legal immigration claims at one of the slowest rates in history. The approval process for new green cards is so sluggish that it will come at least 100,000 new claims short of the annual limit.
+ This sure is a curious way to go about winning back the Latino demographic, which Biden’s campaign said they didn’t need and dismissed as not being part of “our path to victory.”
+ Through the magical properties of a Democratic Party policy elixir, whose secret ingredients are known only to Nancy Pelosi and the CEO of Wells Fargo, the promise to cancel student debt has suddenly morphed into “student loan bankruptcy reform.”
+ Nancy Pelosi is also backpedaling furiously on student loan debt cancelation : “Suppose…your child just decided they, at this time, [do] not want to go to college but you’re paying taxes to forgive somebody else’s obligations. You may not be happy about that.” Isn’t this exactly what the Feds do every time a bank, insurance company, auto maker, or coal company runs into trouble?
+ Meanwhile, on the very day that Pelosi said it was unfair to cancel student debt because not everyone had student debts, we get this from the Fed: a plan to permanently backstop Wall Street with a Standing Repo Loan Facility of $500 billion.
+ This is a familiar excuse that neoliberal Democrats use to reject many comprehensive economic and social welfare programs, including Medicare-for-All, which Biden denounced on the campaign trail in 2019 in grotesque terms…
+ The Biden administration waited until the House went on a six-week recess to announce that the CDC would not extend the eviction moratorium (which is set to expire in two days) and urge Congress to act on its own. According to Jeff Stein at the Washington Post, the administration has done no real lobbying at all on the eviction issue. The coming wave of evictions is going to be calamitous…Maybe, like Melania before them, they “just don’t care.”
+ Tara Raghuveer, director of KC Tenants Eviction Project: “Approximately two seconds before the eviction moratorium is set to expire, the White House finally issues a statement confirming that CDC will not extend it. This message should have come weeks ago, alongside real efforts to move Congress to a solution.”
+ I’ve spent much of the last week experiencing firsthand the mystifying (and at times terrifying) labyrinths of the US health care system, helping tend to a close relative who has gone from a trauma ward to a rehabilitation hospital, accumulating an ever-expanding retinue of nurses, doctors, technicians and billing agents along the way. The torments of treatment have been nothing compared to the mental pain and anguish inflicted by System itself, where each medical decision is vetted by some actuarial table in some far-off city, where doctors come and go according to the contractual dictates of their corporate employers, where movement between facilities, even in emergencies, is delayed until an affiliated ambulance service can be located (in one instance by more than two hours as an ambulance was dispatched from Lafayette to move the patient a few blocks between two hospitals sixty miles to the south in Indianapolis.) Treatment is routinely withheld until the paperwork is completed, often in duplicate. The walls of the exam rooms for one of the surgeons were adorned with kitschy paintings of Jesus guiding the scalpel. Not sure how that message is received by his Muslim and Jewish patients, if he has any…
The hospitals themselves are under-staffed and overbooked. The operation directive seems to be to move patients in and out as fast as possible, in a kind of assembly line form of medicine, where the hospital beds themselves are objects of commerce. Triage is a price equation, even under the current Medicare system.
The rehab hospitals follow the dictates of the insurance companies and Medicare and arbitrarily discharge patients after they hit the limit of 14-days, regardless of the amount of progress they’ve made toward regaining the ability to function in a domestic environment. If there’s no one to care for them at home, they’re often dumped into nursing homes, spiritual and medical wastelands, where many, especially elderly patients, after having exhausted their bank accounts, simply surrender all will to live. Perhaps as a symbol of the dissonances and lethal contradictions of our crumbling health care system, the hospital where my relative is being treated is located adjacent to a gun shop and firing range.
+ The New York Times ran a long piece this week exploring how a “respected NYPD office” became the accused “eye gouger” at the Capitol Hill riots. But I still don’t see the contradiction…
+ “When your day is done, and you want to ride on…” Don Jr. is now the leader of the GOP pack, edging past the crypt-keeper governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.
+ Despite what the normally intriguing Nick Gillespie says, it is entirely possible–in fact, it is almost inevitable–to have both a spending & a billionaire problem, especially if much of the spending is done to acquire weapons and maintain a militarized and highly policed state whose primary purpose is to protect the assets of the inexplicably enriched billionaire class.
According to Forbes, there are 724 US billionaires worth a total of $4.4 trillion. Annual local, state, and federal government spending is $8.8 trillion. We've got a spending problem, @ewarren, not a billionaire problem. https://t.co/sH2QCVwbHb https://t.co/8LQmOr1SJP
— Nick Gillespie (@nickgillespie) July 27, 2021
+ Gillespie replied that: “Government is just the name for the things we do together, most of which are destructive and unnecessary, yes.”
+ But surely government is more than just a “name” and “we” (most of us, anyway) have almost no input into what it does, who it does it for or who it does it to. Government, as Simone Weil might say, is a force, a force of compliance, conformity and often extreme violence in the service of those who pay (not for it, since they largely elude taxation) but for the people who run it, their payments, thanks to Citizens United, often cloaked behind shields of anonymity. It may be that the billionaire class will replace “government”, with privately funded armies, roads, airports, launch pads, communications networks, financial instruments and paramilitaries. We’re reaching that point. Maybe they’ll even find a way to manufacture their own atmosphere to replace the one now waging a retaliatory war against them…
+ Kamala Harris says that she’s going to address the “root causes” of the immigration crisis. How will she Undo the Coups?
+ Democrats are rightly worried by Harris’s anemic poll numbers. But her poll numbers have always been bad–except for one brief moment when she exposed Biden’s awful record on race, then immediately retreated. Every progressive policy she claimed to support was transparently an election gimmick. No one likes or trusts a prosecutor, especially one who aggressively harassed the poor and powerless while letting apex financial criminals walk.
+ Sen. Ted Cruz to Cuban dissidents: “It is through your courage, shining a light on the dark evils of Communism, that Cuba will be freed.” Once you start looking at the background of these “Cuban dissidents” they begin to resemble Ted’s other hero, that founding father of Texas Jim Bowie: land swindler, thief, co-conspirator with the pirate Jean Lafitte, rapist, murderer, arms dealer, slave trader and coward, who died cowering in his bed (apologists and hagiographers say he had the flu) after Santa Anna’s troops scaled the walls of the Alamo (Cruz, of course, would have been under the bed)…
Sen. Ted Cruz to Cuban dissidents: "It is through your courage, shining a light on the dark evils of Communism, that Cuba will be freed." pic.twitter.com/ieqZwwapMP
— The Hill (@thehill) July 25, 2021
+ Politicians who talk about themselves in the third person almost always turn out to be despots. “I’m no longer running against candidates. I’m running against a movement. All across the country, the DSA socialists are mobilizing to stop Eric Adams,” Adams boasted. “They realize that if I’m successful, we’re going to start the process of regaining control of our cities.”
+ “Regain control of our cities?” It sounds like Eric Adams plans to run to the right of his opponent, the beret-wearing vigilante Curtis Silwa.
This is a pivotal moment for us. If we don’t get our act together, China is going to show us how to run our country. You don’t believe you can go to Times Square and not have a 3 -year-old child shot. You don’t believe you take the subway system without having someone…with mental health crises, who did not get the services they deserve, shove you on the subway track. You don’t believe you can go to the Department of Buildings and have a damn permit issued so you can open your restaurant.
Adams added, to applause, “You don’t believe. But I’ll be damned — you’re going to start believing when I became the mayor of the city.”
+ The New York Times reports that top Democrats are now flocking to Adams, hoping to win his political blessing and strategic advice, which probably means the Democrats will be running on Stop-and-Frisk in the midterms…promoting it that is.
+ Amid the mounting hysteria over a new “crime wave”, it’s barely even a trickle, as NYC approaches one of the lowest homicide rates on record. Who will tell JD Vance?
+ Even with a sharp decline in testing and 60% of the adult population vaccinated, the US recorded more new COVID cases yesterday (83,000), than it did on this date last year (61,000).
+ So there is a significant cognitive decline in those who have had COVID (even among those who were asymptomatic), which of course is just another indicator of the Great Cognitive Leveling predicted in that most prescient of SF films, Planet of the Apes. If I read this study in Lancet right…
1. Cognitive loss in those who had COVID even without symptoms = 0.47 Standard Deviations or when compared to an IQ test, a 7-point IQ loss.
2. Loss was greater than the average 10 year decline in 20-70 year olds.
3. Loss greater than a stroke or a Learning Disability.
+ Speaking of cognitive loss, the NYT ran an oped this week arguing that Biden should recruit George W. Bush as his COVID envoy. Well, why not. Just had everyone a pair of shoes to throw at W. after their jab…That’s one surefire way to hike vaccination rates.
+ Biden officials say they’re “closely monitoring” the economic fallout from the Delta variant outbreak in the UK. “Closely monitoring” is usually what the bureaucrats say they’re doing about 15 minutes before the core of the nuclear reactor explodes…
+ There’s a great line that Hugo quotes in Les Misérables, from Montesquieu, I think (though Hugo probably coined it and stuck it in the great legal theorist’s mouth, as he often did): “One person’s freedom ends where it invades another’s.”
+ Johnson, of course, has no problem demanding that single mothers getting a meager bit of financial and food assistance from the government submit “clean” urine samples before getting something to eat…
+ The GOP is so obsessed with proving a repeatedly discredited point (ie, that the labor shortage is the result of unskilled laborers preferring to live on unemployment than work at low-paying jobs) that often they have no idea what they hell they’re even saying. Consider the Tom McClintock’s moronic deprecation of one of the most technical and dangerous jobs around: wildland firefighting: “Enhanced unemployment benefits are causing a severe labor shortage in entry-level positions. Wildfire firefighting is hot, miserable work, but it is not skilled labor.” This guy McClintock is one of the biggest assholes on the Hill, a Hill that includes Gohmert, Boebert, Greene, Wasserman-Schultz and Hakeem Jeffries……
+ Purportedly in response to “incendiary balloons” (none of which were set aloft by Palestinian fishing operations) Israel has sliced Gaza’s fishing zone in half, a crippling blow to the Palestinian fishing fleet. This is what “collective punishment” looks like at the operational level.
+ On Wednesday, the House approved $3.3 billion in military “aid” to Israel and another $1.3 billion to Egypt. (AOC, Rashida Tlaib, and Cori Bush voted against.) Pelosi’s House approved the funding on the same day that the IDF shot a 12-yr-old Palestinian boy (Mohammed Allamy), while he sitting in a car with his father on the West Bank. Meanwhile, Egypt is poised to execute 12 men convicted in sham mass trials for the crime of organizing “sit-ins” in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square in July and August of 2013.
+ Police in Idaho Springs, Colorado knocked on Michael Clark’s door and almost immediately tasered him without warning, as he demanded, “What did I do?” Then dragged him by the legs down the hall and handcuffed him. Clark is 75 years old. He suffered a stroke, a burst appendix and hearing loss after the assault.
They’ll tase you when you’re watching a tv show
They’ll tase you when you’re getting chemo
They’ll tase you when you’re sleeping in your bed
They’ll tase you 10 minutes after you are dead
I would not feel so dazed
Everybody must get tased….
+ A couple of weeks ago, Michael Flynn (the Trump-pardoned General) was videotaped at some kind of a ceremony celebrating the Turkey-lobbyist’s rather questionable service to this country in Yuba City, the small California town in the Sierra foothills. A man hands Flynn an AR-15 rifle, saying: “We were trying to come up with a rifle that we thought was appropriate for a general, so we went with an old-school Woodland camouflage. One of our top-quality guns.” Flynn snickers as he fondles the semi-automatic rifle: “Maybe I’ll find somebody in Washington, DC” to use it on. Oh yeah, the ceremony was hosted by the Church of Glad Tidings.
+ Kushner “made” an estimated $640 million while “working” in the White House. How long will it take him to go bankrupt on his own?
+ Like many on the far right, Aaron Reitz, the deputy attorney general of Texas, took to Twitter to condemn and chastise Simone Biles over her decision to withdraw from the Olympics because she was experiencing disorienting sensation, common to gymnasts, called “the twists.” Reitz, who probably can’t spell parallel bars never mind heave himself up onto one, defamed the most decorated gymnast in history as a “selfish, childish national embarrassment.” Is it any wonder just how little pretext it took to round up a lynch mob?
+ The spectacle of the Michael (“Hitchens in a Teapot”) Tracey, who cyber-anthropologists speculate may be an avatar for an accretion of fatty deposits on a keyboard, slime one of the greatest athletes of this or any era (Simone Biles) has all the ingredients of a new sitcom featuring the trollish peeves and sedentary divertissements of the couch-bound. All that Twitters is sold…
+ Thousands of sockeye salmon nearly boiled to death in the Little White Salmon River, a tributary of the Columbia, as water temperatures behind the dam-clogged river soared during the heat dome. Many fish died in the river, others developed a white fungus that will likely proved fatal and prevent them from spawning. Some of the afflicted salmon were captured on video by the Columbia Riverkeeper.
Don Sampson, the hereditary chief of the Walla Walla tribe and an advisory board member for the Northwest Tribal Salmon Alliance, said watching the video was like seeing his relatives die: “That’s how bad I felt. I mean I was near in tears when I saw it.”
+ There’s renewed chaffing about the water diversions from illicit pot grow operations in California. It’s been a problem for decades. But the water thefts of the marijuana growers (1.4 acre feet per acre) are nothing compared to the wasteful practices of the “legal” irrigators growing rice (5.1 acre feet per acre), grass (4.92 acre feet per acre), pistachios (4.49 acre feet per acre), almonds, alfalfa (4.48 acre feet per acre), lemons, sugar beets, rice and grapes…
+ In the Klamath River Basin, people are getting their water in buckets, as nearly 300 wells have gone dry, a consequence of over-pumping to irrigate crops and the prolonged drought.
+ Of 31 “vital signs” for the Earth—key metrics of planetary health that include greenhouse gas emissions, glacier thickness, sea-ice extent and deforestation—a new assessment in the journal BioScience found that 18 hit record highs or lows in 2020, despite the economic slowdown from the pandemic.
+ Greenland’s ice-sheets are disappearing so rapidly that the melt-off on Tuesday of this week alone was enough to cover the entire state of Florida in two inches of water.
A massive ice melting event is taking place in #Greenland, according to @PolarPortal
It would be enough to cover Florida in 2 inches (5 cm) of water
Not as extreme as 2019 in terms of gigatons but the melt area is a bit larger than 2 years ago.#ClimateChange #ClimateAction pic.twitter.com/Ai7RaWWebK
— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) July 29, 2021
+ The warm weather driving the collapse of permafrost across the Siberian Arctic is happening 70 years ahead of the predictions from most climate models.
+ Instead of blocking China’s role in the UK’s nuclear power program, the Ministers should break George Monbiot’s heart and cancel the whole damn thing.
+ Being back in the Midwest, I was reminded once again of the dazzling diversity to found in the deciduous forests of the Ohio Valley, whose richness and variety of plant, bird, reptilian and insect life almost humbles the relatively vacant corridors of the Doug-fir dominated forests of the Pacific Northwest.
+ Is there a more repellant couple in America? According to an investigation by The Trace, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and his wife, Susan, requested that an import company Botswana use a different name when shipping them their elephant skull, sheets of skin, ears, tusks, and front feet, along with the skulls and skins from warthogs, impalas, a zebra, and a hyena.
+ As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an empty exoskeleton…
+ A revealing anecdote about the state of the contemporary journalism business: In her book on Jeffrey Epstein Perversion of Justice, Julie K. Brown describes the scene in the news room at the Herald the morning her first stories went live, where’s there a big screen showing “trending stories”. The story promoted that morning as the lede was “Woman Farts in Store, Pulls Knife.” As the morning wore on and the Epstein expose eventually eclipsed the clickbait, the reporters in the room erupted in a rousing ovation.
By the way, after enduring years of threats from Alan Dershowitz, who she barely wrote about, Julie Brown absolutely destroys him in three succinct paragraphs, along with the “journalists” and cable TV producers who slavishly quote him without fact-checking a thing he says.
“We pretty much tiptoed our way over Dershowitz’s part of the story because we wanted to focus on the failure of prosecutors. In hindsight,” Brown writes, “I wish I’d included more about Dershowitz.” Brown continues with poisonous irony…
For example, I could have put in some of the inconsistencies in his depositions or the times that Dershowitz was on Epstein’s plane. I could have written about how Dershowitz spent time at Epstein’s home, or how he was so close to Epstein that he would ask him to review his book manuscripts.
I could have added that there was at least one other woman, besides Virginia, who had claimed that she was also ordered by Epstein to have sex with Dershowitz. I could have pointed out that Dershowitz once wrote an opinion column that called statutory rape an irrelevant concept.
Perhaps I should have mentioned that Dershowitz had had a massage at Epstein’s house–with a large Russian woman–and kept his underwear on.
Ridicule is the best revenge.
There aren’t many reporters like Brown left at the big papers. She’s a blue-collar reporter, who knows how to dig for a story and interview people. It’s why she won the trust of Epstein’s many young victims. It’s probably also why Brown was rejected by the NYT and Washington Post, who have stacked their newsrooms with Ivy League grads who do most of their reporting on their cellphones or in Georgetown cafes. Brown was living paycheck to payday loan down in Miami and she has just an innate connection to working-class people that she worried about the fate of the cashier at the PayDay Loan company after it too went bust.
+ Is it any wonder that the US turned out the way it did?
+ The film is Fritz Lang’s Fury from 1936, his first in Hollywood. It’s loosely based on the case of a real lynching of a black man in California, which the producer Joseph Mankiewicz read about in a story Norman Krasna wrote in The Nation. Fritz Lang’s insistence that the part be played by a black actor was nixed by the studio, as was the lynching itself. (Fury has a “happy ending,” that almost completely undermines the film’s previous 86 minutes.) Instead the role went to a young Spencer Tracy, who is nearly burned to death by a white mob, which becomes convinced through rumor, prejudice and gossip he’s a member of an Irish gang. One of the early scenes takes place in a barber shop, two fully lathered men are talking while they’re being shaved.
Man: “And let me tell you something, professor. If you young geniuses keep filling our kids’ heads with radical ideas we parents will have to get a law.”
Professor: “You can’t pass a law that denies the right to say what one believes…in peacetime anyway.”
Man: “Who says so?”
Professor: “The Constitution of the United States.”
Man: “I don’t believe it!”
Barber 1: “You should read it sometime. You’d be surprised.”
Barber 2: “That’s enough of that talk now, Sven.”
Barber 1: “I had to read it to become an American. You never had to because you were born here.”
+ I was stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the death of Black Agenda Report editor Glen Ford, a consistent voice of sanity and resolve in an era of societal madness and political delusion. Glen was a fighter for economic, environmental and racial justice and he didn’t waver when the threat changed parties. In fact, he doubled down when Obama came into power, knowing that Obama was a more efficient manager of empire than Bush and thus even more of a long-term threat. He was fierce to his opponents, kind and generous to his friends. He thought us new ways to fight and will leave a void that will never be filled.
+ At the risk of sounding like Mike “My Pillow” Lindell, let me say that this week’s CounterPunch + pays for itself with two stories that will help you improve your financial condition–ruinous as it may be–and salvage what’s left of your sanity. First, Steve Remer makes a slam-dunk case for why we should nationalize the banks, then philosopher Brad Evans explains the psychological benefits you’ll reap once you unplug from Twitter, based on his own uplifting experience. A mere $25 a year is your passport to, if not the Promise Land, at least happier hunting grounds.
They’re Drinkin’ in Some Cross-Town Bar…
What I’m reading this week…
The Great Adaptation: Climate, Capitalism and Catastrophe
by Romain Felli
Translated by David Broder
This is Your Mind on Plants
Canary in the Coal Mine: a Forgotten Rural Community and a Hidden Epidemic
William Cook, MD
What I’m listening to this week…
Downhill From Everywhere
Mayan Space Station
Unhappiness as Progress
“Mankind today is still making history without having any conscious idea of what it really wants or under what conditions it would stop being unhappy; in fact what it is doing seems to be making itself more unhappy and calling that unhappiness progress.”
(Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History)