Roaming Charges: Emissions Impossible

Willamette Falls and paper mill, from Arch Bridge. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ It’s not surprising to me that Omicron is a more contagious but less lethal version of COVID. Unlike humans, viruses get tend to get smarter over time and don’t want to go extinct by killing off their host environment all at once.

+ With new COVID cases topping 500,000 a day in the US, there are renewed calls for COVID relief, which were firmly swatted down by the Biden administration in terms more austere and inhumane than any used by Trump:

“There might be something small for restaurants. But the economy is booming, there are millions of open jobs, and we do not believe people should be sitting at home if they are vaccinated and boosted, as most adults are. So we are not going to write checks to incentivize people to sit at home, and we are not going to bail out businesses if the economy seems strong.”

+ There’s no expiration date on the relief given to Wall Street. It doesn’t even require a pandemic.

+ In the casino of American capitalism, the House always wins, no matter who plays the croupier …

+ Recall a couple of weeks ago when Nancy (net worth: $114.7 million) Pelosi came out against restrictions on stock trading by members of Congress and their spouses, saying we “live in a free market economy”?

+ According to a new poll, 75% of voters oppose such stock trading by members of Congress. But what do they know?

+ NYC Mayor Eric Adams: “I was a cook. I was a dishwasher. If nobody came to my restaurant when I was in college, I wouldn’t have been able to survive. When you talk about closing down our city, you’re talking about putting low-wage workers out of a job. I’m not letting that happen.”

+ You’re an essential worker when they need you to keep the economy running amid a killer pandemic and a low-skilled worker when it comes time to write your check.

+ Here’s how the CDC’s new Covid guidelines are being ruthlessly put into practice by corporate America: Walmart cuts paid COVID sick leave in half and wants to compel their employees back to work even if they’re still sick or contagious.

+ Ryan Houlihan: “Since the CDC says a 10-day lockdown would tank the economy, it stands to reason that if US labor went on general strike for 9 days we could demand anything we wanted.”

+ 4.5 million: the number of  people who voluntarily left their jobs in November. Up from 4.2 million in October and the most recorded in the two decades that the government has been keeping track.

+ Privatized health care in action: Walmart and Kroger are raising prices for BinaxNOW rapid Covid-19 tests after the expiration of a deal with the White House to sell the kits for $14.

+ Cuba is the smallest country in the world to successfully produce its own Covid vaccines and it is currently number 2 in the world in vaccination rates, behind only the smaller and richer UAE. It is vastly outperforming the country that has tried to lock it down under an embargo.

+ The richest 500 people gained $1 trillion in wealth last year.

+ That’s quite a day’s work. Musk must be exhausted…

+ Meanwhile, according to a UN study, another 150 million people fell into poverty in 2021.

+ Looks like the anti-vaxx movement has found its Thich Quang Duc, the monk who immolated himself in protest against the Diem government’s assaults on Buddhists in south Vietnam in 1963…

+ To Merrick Garland a protest against police violence is a form of violence against the police.

+ Has there been a time when American politics hasn’t been infused with “violence?” From the Burr/Hamilton duel to the clubbing of Charles Sumner on the floor of the senate, a Civil War, the assassinations of four presidents, an attempted coup against FDR, Chicago ’68, LA 2000.

+ More on American political violence: the Mormon Joseph Smith, Jr. was assassinated in 1844 while running for president, Teddy Roosevelt was shot while running for a 3rd term in 1912, FDR was shot at in 1933, the bullet striking & killing Chicago Mayor Anton Cernak, RFK was killed ’68 at the Ambassador hotel, over the next two years there were nearly 3,000 bombings in the US (roughly 5 a day, most political in nature), in 1972 George Wallace was shot and paralyzed at an outdoor campaign rally in Laurel Maryland, Gerald Ford was shot at twice, both in California in Sept 1975, Reagan was shot in 1981 while leaving the Washington Hilton. No one has had a really good attempt on a US president since Saddam tried to kill George W.’s dad. Is it possible that we’re actually living in a less violent political era?

+ “The big lie” is not the “root cause”, as anyone who has been paying attention to American politics for the last 50 years could tell the Senator from Citibank, if he deigned to ask…

+ The Gospel According to Don Jr.: “If we get together, they cannot cancel us all. Okay? They won’t. And this will be contrary to a lot of our beliefs because—I’d love not to have to participate in cancel culture. I’d love that it didn’t exist. But as long as it does, folks, we better be playing the same game. Okay? We’ve been playing T-ball for half a century while they’re playing hardball and cheating. Right? We’ve turned the other cheek, and I understand, sort of, the biblical reference—I understand the mentality—but it’s gotten us nothing. Okay? It’s gotten us nothing while we’ve ceded ground in every major institution in our country.”

+ And they want us to take this event seriously? Imagine a Holocaust Day commemoration featuring a song by Mel Brooks with the cast of the Producers?

+ It gets worse. Usually people sign their pacts with the Devil discreetly, around midnight at the crossroad or down in a crypt. Not the Democrats. They embraced Dick Cheney back to the Capitol on line TV.

+ “Messages of unity” can be the most insidious form of partisanship, as in almost any message from the “No Labels” crowd, which is of course their label.

+ Joe Manchin didn’t “knife progressives in the back.” He gutted them right to their face. He was on camera for months telling them exactly what he was going to do and he did it. Progressives have given Manchin no reason to fear them. And he’ll do it again, anytime he wants.

+ The thing most liberal Democrats don’t understand about Manchin is that he did exactly what he said he was going to do. This is not how they normally behave so his actions seem inexplicable to them. Manchin is more loyal to his donors–filthy as they are–than most of them have ever been to the progressive policies they spouted to get elected.

+ Meet Jamal Simmons, Kamala Harris’ new director of communications

+ I remember after Obama’s election in 2008 all the talk about the Democrats’ “permanent majority,” which fell apart in precisely two years. Even Nero’s compact with the Roman senate lasted longer.

+ The “tingle” in Chris Matthews’ leg seems to have advanced to what’s left of his brain…

+ $2 trillion: the estimated cost of caring for Forever War veterans in the US by 2050.

+ Israel rang in 2022 in their traditional manner…by bombing Gaza.

+ Hisham Abu Hawash ended a hunger strike after more than 20 weeks, when Israeli authorities agreed not to renew his administrative detention. Since being detained in Oct 2020, the 40-year-old father of five had been held without charges or trial.

+ Israeli parliament erupts over a bill that would provide electricity to Palestinian villages inside Israel that are currently without electric power.

+ 357 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army and settlers in 2021, including 79 children and 169 women. The youngest Palestinian casualty was 1-year old and the oldest 90.

+ 547: the number of Palestinians Israel has sentenced to life in prison.

+ Increasingly, Israel is detaining women over “mysterious security considerations”.  The reason? Their boyfriends’ name is “Mohammed.”

+ “Here’s your mission, should you choose to accept it, Joseph. You must pass this wall and several armed checkpoints to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We know it’s not your kid and we fully understand if you decide to decline this request. As always, should you be caught or killed, the Holy Ghost will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This Divine Message will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Joe.”

+ Mike Pompeo: “But is there really any legal truth to the accusation that Israel is occupying Palestinian land? You all know, the answer is absolutely not.”

+ Signs that it’s time to think about putting your gramps in a home

+ According to The Economist, “Vladimir Putin cannot tolerate a true peace on his borders. He needs conflict and subordination.” This is in stark contrast to American presidents, which demands conflict and subordination 15,000 miles from our borders.

+  Substitute “Israelis” for “Russians” and see how this kind of slur goes over…

+ Julian Assange has now been locked up inside Belmarsh prison for more than 1000 days.

+ I fully support Wikileaks, but I’m mystified as to how it qualifies as a “scandal” that Tony Blair got “knighted”. Isn’t Blair precisely the kind of person who gets “knighted,” someone eager to cross every moral, legal and ethical line in the service of empire?

+ As the ghastly Kazakh regime mows down protesters, with the help of Putin, let’s recall when Sir Tony galloped to the defense of the autocracy after it crushed a similar popular uprising, piously asserting that the Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev had shown “the toughness necessary to take the decisions to put the country on the right path.”

+ Since 1970, the number of incarcerated people in the US has increased by 700%, to the point that the US prison population is the largest in the world both per capita and in total numbers. As of 2019, there are an estimated 2.3 million people behind bars.

+ How COINTELPRO returned to Portland (assuming it ever left): “The F.B.I. set up extensive surveillance operations inside Portland’s protest movement, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and current and former federal officials, with agents standing shoulder to shoulder with activists, tailing vandalism suspects to guide the local police toward arrests and furtively videotaping inside one of the country’s most active domestic protest movements.”

+ Derek Kammerzell, an assistant police chief in Kent, Washington, posted Nazi insignia on his office door above his nameplate. The oak leaves and diamonds represent the rank of “obergruppenführer” in Hitler’s SS. This wasn’t Kammerzell’s first offense. He admitted to police investigators that he had previously grown his facial hair into a “Hitler mustache” and repeatedly told a joke to the effect that his grandfather had died in the Holocaust — when he got drunk and fell out of a guard tower. Kammerzell oversees the Kent police department’s patrol division. Apparently, none of these incidents are fireable offense. The assistant chief was merely sent home for two weeks without pay.

+ For nearly four decades, the key witness who had accused Willie Stokes of murder said that his testimony against Stokes was a lie, made up by homicide detectives who bribed him with sex and drugs. Now Stokes may finally be freed. But what about the cops who sent him away?

+ For years, Oregon prosecutors have been charging public defenders for turning over discovery documents in criminal cases. That constitutionally-questionable practice is coming to and. “This was never appropriate or proper from its inception,” Stephen Singer, the new Executive Director of the Oregon Public Defenders Service told OPB.  “There is no provision in Oregon law that allows district attorneys or the state to pass these costs on to indigent criminal defendants.”

+ New Mexico Democrats are pushing bills increasing pay for cops, imposing more severe penalties for shoplifting, and giving judges more leeway to keep people jailed pretrial.

+ The House Progressive caucus has endorsed the Judiciary Act, a bill that would add four seats to the Supreme Court. Can I be impolite and ask: What’s the point, when three out of four would turn out to be Federalist Society approved…?

+ Who’s Parkinson? I don’t remember him. He got acquitted and couldn’t sell a book or the movie rights, I guess, and slipped into historical anonymity. Parkinson didn’t understand that a short stint in Club Fed would have been a smart career move.

+ Ron DeSantis, who has proclaimed Florida a “free state” and unleashed a war against “cancel culture” and the teaching of CRT in Florida schools, had an elderly black Civil Rights activist (Ben Frazier) arrested this week for asking a question at a press conference.

+ Hold on. The Democrats have found their DeSantis …

+ According to a new report from Walking Borders, over 4,000 people lost their lives trying to reach Spain by sea in 2021. In a majority of cases, their bodies have not been retrieved. 628 women and 205 children are among the dead.

+ Breitbart continues its immigrant bashing. This week ultra-nationalist website loudly (do they have any other mode?) proclaimed that more Border Patrol agents had died “in the line of duty” last year than any other year in the agency’s history. The total number of BP deaths was 15–13 of the 15 died from COVID. The other two were killed in vehicle-related accidents. Nearly 20% of Border Patrol agents remain unvaccinated.

+ Shouldn’t the entire Theranos board of lusty old men be going down along with their blonde siren Elizabeth Holmes?

+ Is it any surprise that Henry Kissinger–overcome as he is when rising at dusk by the craving for human blood–was drawn to the Theranos board?

+ Here’s the late Harry Reid arguing that Iraq and Libya should pay the US for the cost of their “liberation.” Trump said much the same thing to near unanimous ridicule. Beyond the theatrics, there’s almost no difference between the two parties at the level of policy.

+ The only role the Ethics Committees have ever had is to make the rest of Congress’ actions–sponsored by lobbyists and donors–appear legitimate. Now no one cares. We expect our politicians to be corrupt and are rightly suspicious of those who pretend to be pure.

+ Is there any surefire way to tell if your member of congress is an NFT? I know you can buy one, but can you re-sell it?

+ All it took was a downed powerline, or perhaps a spark from the shed at the compound of a Christian cult, to ignite a wildfire on the Rocky Mountain Front on the afternoon of December 30th, – a fire that race across 6000 acres, burning 1,084 homes and 30 commercial buildings in less than a day. Propelled by hurricane-force winds, the only thing that slowed the fire’s spread was the much-belated arrival of the first major snowfall of the season on the high plains of Colorado. The Marshall fire, one of the most destructive in the state’s history, erupted only a couple of weeks after 80-mph winds powered a 250-mile-long dust storm that swept across the eastern half the state and into Kansas, an event that the National Weather Service labeled a “never-before-seen storm.” Never isn’t what it once was.

+ Iraq’s agricultural production has fallen by 40% in  4 years. Much of the decline is due to drought and heat. Over the next few decades, the UN projects temperatures in Iraq will rise by another 2 degrees. Livestock numbers have crashed.

+ More than 40% of Americans live in counties hit by climate disasters in 2021.

+ A global study conducted by 98 researchers measuring over five million forest trees found that the largest 1% of trees equaled over 50% of total carbon containing biomass.

Manchin: “The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else.” Don’t worry Thing, help’s on the way…!

+ $100 billion: the estimated cost of climate-caused disasters in 2021.

+ After declining for six years, coal generation increased by about 22% in the U.S. in 2021, largely in response to higher natural gas prices. Meanwhile, the Governor of Wyoming issued an emergency executive order to forestall the impending shutdown of one of the state’s largest coal plants.

+ The rightwing shop ALEC is pushing legislation modeled after BDS bans that would permit states to “request written verification from a financial company that it does not boycott energy companies.”

+ Like the deadly Camp Fire, this July’s  Dixie Fire, which burned more than 963,000 acres in the Northern California, destroyed 1,329 buildings and damaged 95 others, ignited after a tree came into contact with PG&E’s power lines near the Cresta Dam about 100 miles north of Sacramento.

+ Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe (who happens to be an evangelical Christian) told the NYT this week: “The biggest problem is not the people who aren’t on board; the biggest problem is the people who don’t know what to do. And if we don’t know what to do, we do nothing. Just start by doing something, anything, and then talk about it!” I admire Hayhoe, but surely the biggest problem is that a very small group of people and non-human entities given the rights of people by the Supreme Court are making unimaginable streams of money from enterprises they know are turning the atmosphere into a global gas chamber…

+ Nearly all juvenile winter-run salmon perished during the hot, dry summer on the Sacramento River last year. Just 2.6% of the endangered fish survived.

+ Tidal flooding on Monday in Westport, Washington, at the mouth of Gray’s Harbor…

+ A endangered Mexican wolf was tracked for days trying to find a mate, only to be repeatedly blocked by the border wall. According to my old friend Michael Robinson: “For five days he walked from one place to another. It was at least 23 miles of real distance, but as he came and went, he undoubtedly traveled much more than that.”

+ After insect biomass in Germany fell 80% over the last 27 years, researchers found that insects in conservation areas were exposed to an average of 16.7 pesticides, ranging from 7 to 27 per site.

+ Twenty wolves have been killed already this winter after they’ve crossed the border of Yellowstone National Park into the free-fire zone–15 in Montana, 5 more in Idaho and Wyoming. The grim toll includes an entire pack, gunned down after Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte rebuffed a plea from the US Park Service to end the “hunting” season early.

+ Nearly, 22% of O’ahu, Hawai’i, is occupied by the US military, including the base at Red Hill Bulk Storage Facility, which continues to leak thousands of gallons of petroleum and toxic chemicals into the soils and waters of the island.

+ When Robert Gray anchored the SS Lady Washington in Tillamook Bay in 1788 and became one of the first Europeans to make contact with the indigenous people of the PNW, the population of the Tillamook tribe was around 2,200. A little more than 50 years later, fewer than 200 Tillamook survived. “Germs.”

+ For the past seven years, I’ve been watching a pair of bald eagles in an area of swamp, wet fields and sloughs adjacent to the lower Columbia River. This is primo habitat for wintering raptors in the northwest. I’ve often sighted as many as 4 peregrine falcons, 5 northern harriers and 15 eagles from one spot without a scope. It’s also where I’ve seen two gyrfalcons and, 10 years ago, two snowy owls. It’s a kind of nirvana for birders. But this pair of eagles aren’t winter visitors. They’re residents. In the seven years I’ve been watching them, they’ve built three nests, two them having been blow apart by storms and they’ve fledged at least 15 young eagles. Three weeks ago, they were there together as normal, one eagle bringing branches and moss to the repair the nest; the other doing the mending. On Tuesday, though, after the snow and ice storms pelted the lower Columbia, there was only one eagle at the nest site. And he (or she, almost impossible to tell with eagles) was clearly distressed, leaning its head back repeatedly and issuing loud, prolonged shrieks. I stayed around for about hour and never saw the eagle’s mate. In the past, they’d rarely been separated for more than a few minutes at most. I don’t know what happened to the missing mate. The weather’s been awful, but that’s par for the course on the Oregon Coast in winter. This is, however, ranchland and one of the local fields has recently replaced its longhorn cattle with sheep. Young lambs don’t do well in cold, wet conditions and tend to die in the fields, where eagles tend to feast on their bodies and ranchers have been known to shoot them. I don’t know if this is the fate that befell the missing Bug’s Hole Eagle. But it’s a strong possibility. Eagles aren’t regarded as the smartest birds on the scene. They don’t seem to have the cognitive genius of the corvids, but there’s no doubt these two birds had a deep emotional, I guess, attachment. I’d seen their playfulness with each other, their squawking at each other, their tenderness with their brood and now the anguish of loss.

Eagle pair, November, 2021. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Lone eagle perched on snag, next to nesting site, Dec. 2021. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Nearby sheep ranch. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Lone eagle, screeching, Dec. 2021. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Lone eagle, screeching, Dec. 2021. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Arm them with flamethrowers!

+ It’s remarkable how many lives Mark Twain intersected with over his 75 years and how quickly he laid waste to inflated reputations. (I’m poking my way through Ron Powers’ recent biography.) In December 1900, Twain was called upon to introduce the young Winston Churchill before a gathering of journalists at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC. I don’t know how the bombastic Churchill responded to this subtle evisceration (Twain loathed the English), but it’s probably a measure of Churchill’s hubris that he could say anything at all afterwards…

“I think that England sinned when she got herself into a war in South Africa which she could have avoided, just as we have sinned in getting into a similar war in the Philippines. Mr. Churchill by his father is an Englishman, by his mother he is an American, no doubt a blend which makes him the ‘perfect’ man. England and America, yes we are kin. And now that we are also kin in sin, there is nothing more to be desired. The blend is perfect, like Mr. Churchill, who I know have the honor to present to you…”

+ Shortly after becoming “an accidental president” thanks to Leon Czolgosz, Teddy Roosevelt encountered Mark Twain at Harvard, where he and William Dean Howells were getting honorary degrees. Both were members of the Anti-Imperialist League. Twain wasted no time in ridiculing Teddy’s charge up San Juan Hill & condemning the entire Spanish-American War. TR huffed: “I think the likes of Mark Twain should be skinned alive.”

+ Mark Twain’s description of the Supreme Deity of the Old Testament sounds a lot like US generals defending drone strikes that kill more civilians than suspected terrorists. “I was educated. I was trained. I was Presbyterian and I knew how these things are done. I knew that in Biblical times if a man committed a sin the extermination of the whole surrounding nation–cattle and all–was likely to happen. I knew Providence was not particular about the rest, so long that He got somebody connected with the one He was after.”

+ RIP Sidney Poitier…

+ The Death of the Cool…

+ Most of the pieces in the NYT require a certain suspension of disbelief and I was prepared to unhitch my own skepticism when I started reading a story on how some dissident archaeologists believe that Mt. Karkom is Yahweh’s great rostrum in the Bible, Mt. Sinai. Then I came across this sentence, which seemed fairly definitive proof this must be the place: “Access to Mount Karkom is usually limited to weekends and certain holidays because it requires passing through a military firing and training zone.”

+ Good luck finding a bush that isn’t burning these days.

+ It’s somewhat ironic that Norman Mailer (or the literary estate of) is getting flayed for his hipster essay The White Negro and not his heretical views on vaccines, where he proclaimed that each new vaccine created a new disease in the adverse reaction to it.

+ So the ghost of Norman Mailer wasn’t canceled after all. (The NYT’s Ross Douthat can now return to re-re-reading the cannibalism scene in An American Dream without fear that it will suddenly disappear from his Kindle and leave him eternally frustrated.) But during our prelapsarian age of free speech unencumbered by CRT censors, Mark Twain was canceled and 120 years later continues to be. And not for his pervasive use of the N-word in Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, as the anti-PC scolds would have us believe, but for being too PC, for being too Woke! Twain’s caustic 1902 essay the United States of Lyncherdom wasn’t published in his lifetime (like his anti-ward screed A War Prayer) and still hasn’t seen print in its original, uncensored form. I wonder if Bari Weiss will put out a special edition?

+  Ishmael Reed’s new play on the relationship between Basquiat and Andy Warhol, “The Slave Who Loved Caviar,” is being performed live in NYC at the Theater for the New City, but is also available for live streaming here.

+ A Tik Tok impresaria fell on hard times this week when her own body developed a supply chain blockage. Stephanie Matto, a Colorado twenty-something who made her first stab at celebrity with a stint on “90-Day Fiancée”, started her own wildly profitable venture this November by selling her own flatulence to fans. Within a few short weeks, Stephanie was shipping hundreds of her “farts in a jar” at a $1,000 a pop. Soon she was earning a reported $50,000 a week. Then, suddenly, she ran out of gas. After an abrupt change in her high-fiber diet, Stephanie was rushed to the hospital with “gastric complications.” Doctors advised a shut down in her gas production and lacking a strategic reserve Matto announced the termination of  her “fart in a jar” enterprise. A true innovator, Matto is now marketing cartoon images of her rectal emissions as NFTs on the Ether exchange, for about $175 per token. These tokens can be redeemed at some future date for a pair of Matto’s fecal-imbued panties. I quote Martin Luther who knew quite a lot about the origins of filthy lucre: “Devil, I have just shit in my trousers. Have you smelled it?”

+ With this kind of money at stake, perhaps John Waters should consider a new film shot in glorious Odorama. I still have my scratch-and-sniff card from Polyester.

+ Perhaps the funniest joke in Don’t Look Up is that the two “scientists” who discover the killer comet with “data” are portrayed by actors who both dropped out of high school, which is, of course, “vurry Amuricahn”, as Ezra Pound would say.

+ Don’t Look Up is in the same predicament as the Onion. We live in an age that defies satire and parody. It may be the lone immunity we’ve developed over the last decade.

+ This is why Don’t Look Up is more a collection of gags, some funnier than others, than a successful satire. “In a video, Rep. Madison Cawthorn claims he got married after a guy he met at a Russian casino scammed him into attending a CrossFit competition that didn’t actually exist, but “put me in the same room with the girl who would eventually become my fiancée.””

+ Much more dangerous than the politicians who tell you “Don’t Look Up” are the politicians who encourage you to “Look Up” and then while your attention is diverting from looking up, quietly offer oil leases on 82 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico…

+ Another of the unintended ironies of Don’t Look Up is that Leonardo DiCaprio–who privately jetted with Israeli models (humans, not charts) to climate soirees–is pushing EVs as a climate solution, which of course require the very rare earth metals the Rylance/Musk character is so eager to mine at any price.

+ Here’s another example of how widely the satire of Don’t Look Up misses its mark. In the “Don’t Look Up” J6-style rally, one of the crude caricatures of a redneck Trump supporter accidentally looks up and sees the comet for the first time, turns to Jonah Hill’s Don Jr. character and says, “They lied to us!” and throws a Slurpee at him. That’s not the way it turned out, of course. Last week Trump bragged about getting a Covid booster shot and was pelted with boos and accusations that he was Fauci’s pet.

+ RIP Peter Bogdanovich, a better judge of other directors’ films than his own…

+ If you have the time (and who has anything but these days?), here’s the tape of a two hour interview with Stanley Kubrick, made by Tim Cahill while reporting a profile of director for Rolling Stone…

+ More than any other writers, Gore Vidal and Joan Didion taught me that DC and Hollywood are joint enterprises that traffic in similar illusions, perpetrate similar cons, engage in similar depravities–of sex, violence & greed. But it goes beyond mere similarities. DC and Hollywood reinforce each other’s deceptions. As politicians increasingly groomed themselves after Hollywood models, Hollywood’s own business model became more and more reliant on the economic priorities and incentives dished out by Washington. The blood they spill looks fake, but flows from human (and animal) veins.

+ No SuperBowl ad will ever top this…

+ Picked up a used copy of an LP I played the grooves off of in HS and college & most of it still rocks harder & grittier than anything from that time or this: Jeff Beck’s Truth. Stewart at his pub bluesiest vocals, Woody on bass, Mickie Waller on drums, John Paul Jones sitting in on the Hammond and Nicky Hopkins with some very funky keyboarding, especially on Blues de Luxe. But in reading Beck’s liner notes I did a double take at his entry for their cover of Willie Dixon’s I Ain’t Superstitious, where Beck confesses: “Stolen riff from an old Howlin’ Wolf tune, but he doesn’t mind, cause I asked him.” Did Wolf’s guitarists mind, though? And did any of them get paid? The riffs were created by Hubert Sumlin and Jimmy Rodgers (on loan from Muddy’s band–or pissed at him for not being paid), who both played on Wolf’s version of Dixon’s song.

Don’t Sweep Me With No Broom, I Just Might Get Put in Jail

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Cowshed: Memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution
Ji Xianlin
Translated by Chenxin Jiang
(NYRB)

A Natural History of the Future
Rob Dunn
(Basic Books)

Living as a Bird
Vinciane Despret
Translated by Helen Morrison
(Polity)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Live From Blueberry Hill
Chuck Berry
(Dualtone)

Cuba: Music and Revolution: Culture Clash in Havana: Experiments in Music, 1975 – 85, Vol. 2
Various Artists
Compiled by Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker
(Soul Jazz Records)

Solotude
Abdullah Ibrahim
(Gearbox)

Leave China! Come Home and Convert These Christians!

“Let us import American missionaries from China, and send them into the lynching field. With 1,500 of them out there converting two Chinamen apiece per annum against an uphill birth rate of 33,000 pagans per day, it will take upward of a million years to make the conversions balance the output and bring the Christianizing of the country in sight to the naked eye; therefore, if we can offer our missionaries as rich a field at home at lighter expense and quite satisfactory in the matter of danger, why shouldn’t they find it fair and right to come back and give us a trial? The Chinese are universally conceded to be excellent people, honest, honorable, industrious, trustworthy, kind-hearted, and all that — leave them alone, they are plenty good enough just as they are; and besides, almost every convert runs a risk of catching our civilization. We ought to be careful. We ought to think twice before we encourage a risk like that; for, once civilized, China can never be uncivilized again. We have not been thinking of that. Very well, we ought to think of it now. Our missionaries will find that we have a field for them — and not only for the 1,500, but for 15,011. Let them look at the following telegram and see if they have anything in China that is more appetizing. It is from Texas:

The negro was taken to a tree and swung in the air. Wood and fodder were piled beneath his body and a hot fire was made. Then it was suggested that the man ought not to die too quickly, and he was let down to the ground while a party went to Dexter, about two miles distant, to procure coal oil. This was thrown on the flame and the work completed.

We implore them to come back and help us in our need. Patriotism imposes this duty on them. Our country is worse off than China; they are our countrymen, their motherland supplicates their aid in this her hour of deep distress. They are competent; our people are not. They are used to scoffs, sneers, revilings, danger; our people are not. They have the martyr spirit; nothing but the martyr spirit can brave a lynching mob, and cow it and scatter it. They can save their country, we beseech them to come home and do it. We ask them to read that telegram again, and yet again, and picture the scene in their minds, and soberly ponder it; then multiply it by 115, add 88; place the 203 in a row, allowing 600 feet of space for each human torch, so that there be viewing room around it for 5,000 Christian American men, women, and children, youths and maidens; make it night for grim effect; have the show in a gradually rising plain, and let the course of the stakes be uphill; the eye can then take in the whole line of twenty-four miles of blood-and-flesh bonfires unbroken, whereas if it occupied level ground the ends of the line would bend down and be hidden from view by the curvature of the earth. All being ready, now, and the darkness opaque, the stillness impressive — for there should be no sound but the soft moaning of the night wind and the muffled sobbing of the sacrifices — let all the far stretch of kerosened pyres be touched off simultaneously and the glare and the shrieks and the agonies burst heavenward to the Throne.

There are more than a million persons present; the light from the fires flushes into vague outline against the night the spires of five thousand churches. O kind missionary, O compassionate missionary, leave China! come home and convert these Christians!”

– From Mark Twain’s “The United States of Lyncherdom

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3