Roaming Charges: Is This Tomorrow or Just the End of Time?

Lithium Valley, Salton Sea. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Given the speed at which the most cherished landmarks of American liberalism–reproductive rights, workplace safety, voting rights and the regulatory power of the state–are being shredded, a recently-arrived foreign exchange student (assuming there are any left who want to come here, except to sample the potent quality of our fentanyl) might be forgiven for assuming that rightwing vandals seized the capitol 15 years ago and began ransacking the government. But hark, young scholars! The Democrats have controlled the White House for nine of the last 15 years and have not once in the last 50 years dropped below the magical threshold of 40 senators, giving them the power (bestowed upon them by the Senate Parliamentarian, if not the exalted Founding Fathers) to stop almost every species of legislative filthiness the barbarians on the other side of the aisle might cook up in their Koch Bros-funded laboratories.

The Democrats reflexively blame the filibuster for preventing them from doing good things. But the filibuster hasn’t stopped the few good things their political ancestors did from being undone before our eyes. Maybe the problem isn’t just the filibuster but the people now running the Democratic Party?

Of course, the neoliberal transformation of the Democratic Party has been a long-time coming. It began under Jimmy Carter and reached its apotheosis under Bill Clinton, who boldly declared the end to the era of “Big Government” and began the systematic dismantling of the FDR/LBJ welfare state from the inside, including the welfare system itself.

The vaunted “Peace Dividend” that Clinton inherited as the latest phase of the Cold War came to an end was quickly reinvested back into the hands of the bond market and the Military-Industrial Complex itself, under the pretext of defending the homeland from “asymmetrical threats” posed by so-called “rogue nations” and “failed states.” Trillion were spent and the towers fell anyway.

Today, as the Afghan and Iraq wars (allegedly) wind down, politicians don’t even bother with the pretense of promising a “peace dividend” for social programs and infrastructure. They just automatically vote to raise the military budget a few percentage points about whatever the Pentagon requests, in order to prove themselves to their dark money donors in the weapons and surveillance sector.

Prior to Citizens United, popular opinion exerted at least a marginal influence on federal policy. Today it has none. According to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness, America’s 661 billionaires pumped $1,200,000,000 into the 2020 elections, double what they contributed in 2016, and 39 times more than they contributed before Citizens United was decided 12 years ago. The only people in the dark about dark money are the voters themselves. The politicians know exactly where the money is coming from and what they have to do to get more of it. (Cf., Kyrsten Sinema).

But that’s not the whole story. A similar political devolution has afflicted the NGO establishment in DC, which was meant to be a countervailing force against a government run by the whims of Big Money. Yet since at least the early ‘90s, the once powerful network of civil rights, labor, feminist and environmental groups has been steadily coopted by the Democratic Party. Like the party itself, the liberal NGOs have become less and less accountable to their own members, as they stuff their bank accounts with money from DNC-linked foundations and large donors. Instead of pressuring Democratic politicians and administrations to become more proactive on reproductive rights or climate issues, they are trotted out to defend nearly every Democratic betrayal on these fronts. NARAL and the Sierra Club now function as little more than wholly-owned subsidiaries of a party that is itself largely controlled by Wall Street banks, drug companies, arms makers, and energy cartels. We are now witnesses the calamitous consequences of this fatal alliance.

A new poll showing a 14-point shift in party affiliation from Democrats to Republicans over the last quarter–the largest political realignment in the history of Gallup’s polling–shows the extent of the decay in the party’s foundations. Democrats ought to be asking themselves: is this tomorrow or just the end of time?

+ The Senator from Citibank is sounding more and more like a geriatric cheerleader for the New York Giants in the last game of a 3-13 season…

+ You can’t blame the filibuster, Manchin or Sinema for Biden noxious move to argue in federal court for the continuation of the Trump/Miller (Stephen) policy of using an archaic and racially-driven public health order (Title 42) to deport immigrants detained at the border and to ban asylum-seekers from entering the US…

+ I suppose it’s futile (and possibly now illegal in certain states) to point out that the historical definition of a filibuster was of an American rogue, a military adventurer, engaged in fomenting insurrections, at home (e.g., bleeding Kansas) & in Central America (Nicaragua), usually in support of slavery, with William Walker being the most notorious exemplar of the species.

+ The 48 Democrats in the Senate who supported reforming filibuster to pass voting rights bills represent 34 million more Americans than 52 senators (all 50 Republicans, plus Sinema and Manchin) who it voted it down.

+ James Clyburn is already fear-mongering about the Democrats losing the House in November and “losing this democracy.” A comment that is ripe with irony coming from the man who helped rig the 2020 primaries for Biden.

+ Clyburn in November: “This historic defeat is on you.”

Democratic voter: “But I voted, Chuck. I swear I did.”

Clyburn: “You didn’t vote hard enough.”

+ Your president is weak and didn’t keep the key promises he made. On the most important issue facing the country–the pandemic and its economic fallout–he’s performed worse than Trump. Perhaps your party deserves to lose the House–even though the people who’ll take over don’t deserve to run it.

+ Every time Biden says something even remotely sensible about foreign policy–like suggesting that a “minor” Russian incursion into Ukraine might not merit a stern response–it’s written off as a gaffe and he’s vilified in the press until he submits and emerges with an even more belligerent statement.

+ By playing the Alzheimer’s card?

+ One of the reasons the FBI was on Martin Luther King Jr.’s ass nearly his entire adult life:

Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth in this country. (Negro American Labor Council, 1960)

+ The US government’s surveillance of the King family didn’t start with MLK Jr. As an in-depth investigation by the Memphis Commercial Appeal revealed in 1993, the US Army, including Green Berets, spied on King’s maternal grandfather, Reverend Adam Daniel Williams during WW I and King’s father during WW 2, fearing that blacks were “ripe for subversion.”

+How the US Army justified spying on black Americans…

“The Army was over a barrel. Blacks were using the uncertainty of the Vietnam period and taking advantage of it. You couldn’t expect people to be rational and look at this in a cool way. We were trying to fight a war at the same time where the home base was being eroded.” – Maj. Gen. William P. Yarborough, the Army’s top spy in the mid-1960s

+ Don’t let the smile fool you, Pops was ready to kick some ass…(The fact that this quote isn’t widely remembered as Lennon’s “the Beatles are more popular than Jesus” tells us two things: 1. It’s true and 2. it’s too dangerous to repeat, even by those who might want to smear Armstrong as they did Lennon.

+ Can’t remember Dr. King and dismember his legacy? Sure, you can, Senator. In fact, you yourself just voted for $768 billion military budget that was more than even the Pentagon wanted.

+ t should be noted (and let me emphasize that this is in no way a defense of Sinema) that Elizabeth Lady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony denounced the 15th Amendment with some of the most virulently racist rhetoric this side of Nathan Bedford Forrest, asserting that black men were intellectually inferior to white women. Meanwhile, Alice Paul opposed the participation of black women in the campaign for the 19th.

+ Elizabeth Cady Stanton was so incandescent at the prospect of black men gaining the right to vote before white women that she denounced the 15th Amendment as placing politicians’ “mothers, wives, daughters below unwashed and unlettered ditch-diggers, boot-blackers, hostlers, butchers and barbers.” She warned of a Congress composed of “Patrick and Sambo and Hans and Yung Tung, who do not know the difference between a monarchy and a Republic, who never read the Declaration of Independence.” She furiously asserted that black women were better off in slavery, than in freedom without the franchise: “Their emancipation is but another form of slavery. It is better to be the slave of an educated white man, than a degraded, ignorant black one.”

+ Susan B. Anthony put the suffragist position more succinctly: “Let women be first and the Negro last.”

+ Mitch McConnell: “If you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”

+ 14: the number of slaves owned by Mitch McConnell’s ancestors.

+  The Dutch multinational bank ING has blocked all donations to the Progressive International delegation to support vaccine internationalism in Cuba, bowing to the US embargo…

+ Will RFK, Jr., Jimmy Dore and the folks at the GrayZone be recommending ING as a socially-conscious place to stash your money (assuming you, as they do, have money to stash)?

+ If Neil Gorsuch, still the most obnoxious frat boy on the court, would sit unmasked next to Stephen Breyer would it incentivize him to finally retire from the bench?

+ Gorsuch scare-quoting the “so-called separation of church and state” during oral arguments…

+ By a 2–1 vote, a Florida appeals court overruled a judge who refused to let a 17-year-old end her pregnancy because she was not “sufficiently mature.” (Begging the question, if a 17-year-old isn’t mature enough to have an abortion, how could she possible be mature enough to care for an infant?) The lone dissent was lodged by a judge who is married to the GOP legislator that just introduced a 15-week abortion ban in the Florida legislature.

+ The New York Times, through intention one suspects not its normal editorial incompetence, buries what would should be the lede in this story the Ukrainian crisis: “In fact, the buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border is not increasing at a rate that Pentagon officials expected a month ago.”

+ Was the Pentagon planning to shoot down one of the North Korea rockets last week? It’s beginning to look that way. According to the War Zone, just before 2:30 pm PST on Jan. 10, North Korea test-launched a hypersonic missile eastward towards Japan and the Pacific Ocean. By no 2:32 pm PST, ground stop orders were issued for Anchorage, Seattle, Oakland, and Los Angeles. Air traffic control messaging  indicated that NORAD advised of a missile launch from North Korea impacting air space from the Aleutian Islands south to Los Angeles. The War Zone also reported that NORAD instructed the FAA to clear airspace around Vandenberg Space Force Base just minutes before the initial ground stop order to pilots was issued. Vandenberg Space Force Base is the site of U.S. ballistic missile testing and is the home of Ground-Based Midcourse Defense missiles capable of intercepting ICBMs.

+ Biden increased the budget of Trump’s Space Force by 13 percent last year and the agency is promising an even “bolder” budget request this year. Don’t look up…

+ Several Republican members of congress in tight congressional races are taking credit for infrastructure funding in their districts they voted against.

+ Flann O’Brien: “Rome wasn’t built in A.D.”

+ Last December, Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, signed a letter to House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy accusing the Jan. 6 committee of engaging in “political harassment,” “demagoguery,” and “overtly partisan political persecution.”

+ When Vermont’s Peter Welch was caught violating congressional rules by trading stocks without reporting it (his wife sold ExxonMobil shares), there’s one place it was nearly impossible to find information about it: Vermont.

+ One of the best things about our current era is that hardly anyone self-identifies as a “moderate” anymore, a flaccid term which serves a kind of political camouflage for being owned by the banks, arms makers & Chamber of Commerce, like nearly everyone else on Capitol Hill.

+ Sign you know you’re back in the USA: “hospital chain.”

+ The French Covid pass increased the vaccination rate among over-60s by nearly 10 percent, driving down hospitalizations and deaths in Q4 2021.

+ Switzerland is now reporting deaths by vaccination and booster status. Compared to unvaccinated people, the COVID mortality rate is: 9 times lower after full vaccination and 48 times lower after a booster.

+ The share of the population having received a booster shot stands at 60% in Chile, 52% in the UK, 47% in Israel, 42% in Germany, 41% in South Korea, 38% in Italy, 37% in France, 32% in Turkey and Spain, 26% in Canada, 24% in Malaysia, and …. 23% in the US.

+ Trump in Arizona: “If you’re white, you don’t get the vaccine or if you’re white you don’t get therapeutics .. In NY state, if you’re white, you go to the back of the line if you want help.”

+ As of January 15, 1 out of every 12 confirmed COVID cases in the USA since the start of the pandemic had occurred in just the previous week.

+ How will the average multi-generational Irish Catholic and Mormon households divide up the four Covid tests they’re allotted, amusing they live at an address Louis DeJoy’s Post Office recognizes?

+ Even so,  two-thirds of low-wage workers in the US still lack access to paid sick leave during the pandemic.

+ According to a study in PubMed of the effect of lockdowns on pregnancy and school dropout rates in Kenya: “Girls experiencing containment measures in Kenya had twice the risk of falling pregnant prior to completing secondary school after adjustment for age, wealth and orphanhood; and three times the risk of school dropout relative to pre-COVID-19 learners.”

+ How did Olive Garden become the new Comet Pizza?

+ Lydia Ginzburg: “A hostile world was on the offensive and pushing its outposts forward. The closest of these outposts had suddenly turned out to be one’s own body.”  (Notes from the Blockade).

+ Are the nation’s papers full of retractions this morning following the announcement by the CIA that the so-called “Havana Syndrome” is not the result of a “sustained campaign by an enemy state“? Didn’t think so…Can we start calling the disorder experience by US diplomats and CIA officers what it really is now, “Out Damned Spot Syndrome?”

+ How Trump did Infrastructure Week, by bombing Syria’s, despite (or more likely because of) warnings that taking out dams risked killing 10s of thousands of civilians. I wonder if Franklin Graham gave Trump spiritual counsel on the bombing of Syria’s Tabqa Dam, as his father Billy once urged Nixon to bomb the dikes in North Vietnam, which would have killed more than a million Vietnamese. Rev. Billy wrote a memo to Nixon urging him to use “defectors” to plant the bombs: “Use North Vietnamese defectors to bomb and invade the north. Especially let them bomb the dikes which could overnight destroy the economy of North Vietnam.”

+ Meanwhile, under the cover of nationwide internet blackouts, the US’s proxy war in Yemen gets more and more depraved…

+ The federal minimum wage has lost 21% of its value since it was last raised in 2009.

+21 states raised their minimum wages in January, only two, Florida and Virginia, were in the South.

+ Meanwhile, in Brazil inflation has increased by 26% in Brazil since Jair Bolsonaro took office. But he’s raised the wages of police. Now government workers are shutting down the Central Bank in protest.

+ According to Haaretz, Israel is being “haunted” by inflation. Wait until the specters of the Palestinian dead start to stalk their nights…

+ Strohminger teaches at the famed (or infamous, depending on whether you reside on the taking or receiving end of capitalism) Wharton School of BUSINESS…

+ Many of the people decrying Australia’s decision to deport Joker as a “threat to freedom” support building a wall on the southern border, the mass deportation of immigrants as public health threats and the separation of migrant children from their families.

+ Speaking of freedom of travel, what are the odds of a fully vaxxed & boosterized Emma Watson being granted a visa to visit Israel, Gaza or the West Bank?

+ Last week I wrote about the case of Omar Assad, the 80-year-old Palestinian-American, who was stopped in his car by Israeli police in the West Bank, detained, handcuffed, blindfolded and dumped at a construction site, where his body was discovered by local villagers. The US quietly asked Israel for a “clarification” regarding the matter and were informed that he had resisted arrest. Now we have an account from three Palestinian villagers who say the observed Assad’s treatment by the Israeli forces. They say that  Assad was unresponsive when soldiers left him blindfolded and lying on his stomach on the ground. Another Palestinian man who had been detained by the Israelis at the same time said Assad was not breathing at the time the soldiers left. A local doctor who reached Assad only minutes after being called reported that his face was blue and he had probably been without oxygen for between close to 20 minutes.

+ Ron DeSantis is calling for a special police force to monitor elections in Florida…He’d better be prepared to send a SWAT team to those retirement compounds in The Villages

+ Police officers taking the place of teachers in Moore, Oklahoma? Don’t let DeSantis see this…

+ An off-duty Chicago Police Officer shot three people at bowling alley in Blue Island, Illinois this week, after they tried to intervene in a dispute the cop was having with his girlfriend the bathroom. As the cop fled the scene, he tossed the gun out the window of his car (it was later recovered).

+ $759 million: the amount the US spends each day on police and prisons.

+ According to a new study from Mapping Police Violence, in 2021 police killed at least 1,134 people. The vast majority of these killings began with a mental health crisis, traffic violation, disturbance, other non-violent offense or situation where no crime was alleged. Only 1 in 3 cases began with a reported violent crime. Just 11 of the 1,134 police killings in 2021 resulted in officers being charged with a crime. From 2013-21, police officers have been charged in fewer than 3% of all cases  and in most cities/counties no officers were charged for any killings during this period.

+ A federal judge dismissed a request to grant an early release to Treasury Department whistleblower Natalie May Edwards (who leaked the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) files) following a COVID outbreak at the West Virginia-based Federal Prison Camp Alderson where she is currently serving a 6 month sentence.

+ How Texas is defunding its prison system, one Trump-demanded election audit after another…”After Texas Republicans failed to budget enough money, $4 million from the state prison system was shifted to pay for sham election reviews.”

+ Several months ago I wrote that “the people most obsessed with American history know almost nothing about it.” It’s now clear that a correction is in order. Delete that “almost.”

+ Social mobility (aka, the American Dream) is higher in Europe than the US.

+ We were all excited by the so-called Strike Waves of recent months, but the stark fact is that union membership actually declined last year, down from 10.8% in 2020 to 10.3% in 2021.

+ “Overton Window” is a phrase and concept that needs to be tossed in the linguistic tumbrel and dispatched with haste to the guillotine…

+ Gustave Flaubert: “They summed up what they had just heard. The morality of art is contained for every person in that which flatters that person’s interests. No one has any love for literature.” (Bouvard and Pécuchet: A Tragi-comic Novel of Bourgeois Life.)

+ Poverty in Madagascar: In 1981 a little less than a quarter (23%) lived on less than $1 per day. By 2019 the share of those living on less than $1 bulged to 43%.

+ New data from the Interior Department shows that the Biden administration approved 3,557 permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands in its first year, outpacing the Trump administration’s first-year total of 2,658 by 34%. Nearly 2,000 of the drilling permits were approved on public lands administered by the BLM’s New Mexico office, followed by 843 in Wyoming, 285 in Montana and North Dakota, and 191 in Utah. In California, the Biden administration approved 187 permits — more than double the 71 drilling permits Trump approved in the Golden State during his first year.

Nearly 2,000 of the drilling permits were approved on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management’s New Mexico office, followed by 843 in Wyoming, 285 in Montana and North Dakota, and 191 in Utah. In California, the Biden administration approved 187 permits — more than twice the 71 drilling permits Trump approved in that state in his first year.

+ One of the under-reported consequences of climate change is increased volcanism, earthquakes and tsunamis, caused by massive amounts of ice melt, the pressures on magma chambers and tectonic plates shift and ease, destabilizing them.

+ The 100th Meridian has long demarcated where the Great Plains and the arid West begins. No longer. The aridity zone is moving steadily eastward.

+ The number of days that Sydney and Melbourne, Australia have hit 50C has doubled since the 1980s.

+ In 2019, fossil fuel combustion accounted for 74 percent of total US. greenhouse gas emissions and for 92% of total U.S. anthropogenic CO2 emissions…

+ Exxon-Mobil garnered a ton of favorable press attention for its “net-zero emissions” goal. But few bothered to read the fine print, where we discover that the plan only covers Scope 1 (what Exxon burns) and Scope 2 (energy Exxon buys) emissions and thus leaves out more than 80% of their total emissions.

+ Researchers examined two million births, 40% of them to mothers living within 15 miles of a wildfire. They found a 28% increase in the risk of birth defects in babies from mothers living close to wildfires during the first trimester.

+ After the government called for miners to work at maximum capacity to help boost economic growth, Chinese coal production surged dramatically in 2021,  hitting an all-time high of 384 million tons last month, far surpassing its previous record of 370.84 million tons set in November.

+ “There has been a fiftyfold increase in the production of chemicals since 1950 and this is projected to triple again by 2050.”

+ Driven largely by freight and coal, the US’s carbon dioxide emissions soared back to pre-pandemic levels after years of incremental declines.

+ Climate change is likely to consume more than 1% of the UK’s economy every year by 2045.

+ International Energy Agency predicts that worldwide energy use by air-conditioners would triple by 2050, “requiring new electricity capacity the equivalent to the combined electricity capacity of the United States, the E.U. and Japan today.”

+ Just wait until you see the size of the “no bid” contracts for geoengineering doled out to the same companies that sabotaged the climate protocols…

+ This week it was reported that the temperate northern hemisphere is warming at 1.5C and the Arctic at 3C, a very ominous sign for the future of the planet.

+ A recent study from the University of Hawai’i links climate change to the growth in bat populations that produce new coronaviruses.

+ California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared the Salton Sea area the “Saudi Arabia of lithium” and vowed to “streamline” environmental regulations on lithium mining as part of his $6.1 billion budget proposal for Electric Vehicles.  Environmental journalists beware…

+ Instead of promoting Electric Vehicles, Germany is moving to eliminate motorized vehicles altogether. Berlin is considering imposing a car-free zone that is larger than Manhattan.

+ Facing the prospect of rising sea levels in the lowlands, the Dutch are moving toward floating homes

+ $977 billion: the annual social cost of lead in low and middle-income countries.

+ $10 million: the amount NGOs spend a year trying to remediate the lead problem in low and middle-income countries.

+ The amount of alcohol provisioned on the HMS Endeavour when it left Madeira for its voyage around Cape Horn and into the South Seas to record the Transit of Venus in 1769: 1,200 gallons of beer, 1600 gallons of brandy and rum, 3,200 gallons of wine.

+ Captain James Cook seems to have been austere, but not a prude. His journal notes that several sailors weren’t sober for a single day, despite general orders from the Royal Navy prescribing 12 lashes for the first offense of public drunkenness and hanging for the 3rd…

+ Despite his 2 1/2 circumnavigations (the third cut short–so to speak–in Hawai’i), Cook never figured out the relationship between Vitamin C and scurvy. His remedies, which included excessive quantities of fat & lard, seemed to exacerbate the condition. He was apparently an early adopter of the Atkins diet…In the 1769 voyage, Cook was wildly prompting the virtues of sauerkraut, malt wort and a “portable soup” made of veggies mixed with “liver, kidney, heart and other offal boiled to a pulp,” dried into slabs and mixed with oatmeal, as cures for scurvy. Yum! Sadly, I quote here from the I quote the estimable Tony Horowitz: “The anti-scrorbutics on board were of little or no value…and…Cook’s later endorsement of malt wort retarded the fight against scurvy.” What saved the crew was Cook’s willingness to pursue fresh food in local ports & not just native women.

+ In his pursuit of local cuisine, Cook was most impressed by one of his meals with the Tahitians, where he was served roasted dog, which he compared to the succulence of “an English lamb.”

+ When the Endeavor set anchor in Matavai Bay in Tahiti in 1769, the estimated population of native Tahitians was 204,000. By 1865, that number had collapsed to 7,169, a genocide almost entirely driven by the spread of infectious European diseases.

+ Speaking of Matavai Bay, when Lewis Milestone replaced Carol Reed as director of Mutiny on the Bounty, which was filmed at Matavai, the producers decided that the black volcanic sands didn’t look romantic enough and had the beach coated with imported white sands. The bleaching of the beach didn’t help that hapless film though, which proved a critical and financial flop. The best thing that came out of it is that Brando reportedly rejected the role of Lawrence in Lean’s film to play Fletcher Christian.

+ 1796: the year soap finally became a provision in the Royal Navy.

+ When British sailors of the late 18th and early 19th centuries started bartering with Maori tribal leaders for sexual partners, the Maori kept sending them young men in exchange for trinkets & utensils especially nails. Why? Because they’d never seen any women on the British ships.

+ I miss Hee Haw almost as much as I miss Soul Train…

+ Apparently, almost no one is listening to new music anymore. According to MRC Data, old, some might even say decrepit, songs from the 70s and 80s now represent 70% of the US music market and the margin continues to swell.

+ No one is paying much attention to the Grammys anymore, either. (I never saw too much reason to watch them to begin with.) This year’s audience fell by more than 50% and total viewership is down from 40 million in 2012 to a paltry 8.8 this year.

+ One of the cumbersome apps that have replaced network TV channels should replay Grammy Awards Shows from the 70s, though if I recall those hazy homegrown days accurately, the Grammy’s of the 70s didn’t remotely reflect what we were actually listening to in the 70s…

+ Bono claims he’s “just so embarrassed” when he hears his voice on early U2 songs. He’s expressed no similar chagrin at his inexplicable feelings of “fondness” for George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger or Hank Paulson.

+ I wonder how often Bono struts before his mirror wearing only his George W. Bush Leadership Medal, while mouthing the lyrics to “You’re the Best Thing About Me”?

+ The cast is still on Miles’ foot after he crashed his lime green Lamborghini Miura on the West Side Highway. His first question to the people prying him out of the wreckage: “Is my car fucked up?

+ As I was admiring the dynamics of this photo of Miles’ electric band at work, I got word that Badal Roy, the brilliant tabla player from Bangladesh, had died at age 77.

+ Proposition: Maybe the way we talk about the Beatles is the wrong way to talk about the Beatles, as in presuming that Sgt Pepper was their masterpiece instead of the beginning of their decline. Sgt. Peppers was the best LP of what it was and what it was was Mannerism. I prefer them as a rock’n’roll band or when they tried to be the best girl band composed of four blokes from Liverpool

+ Seems like I’ve known Yvette Mimieux’s name and face all my life, but on hearing of her death I couldn’t think of a single film she’d been in… One film critic described her this way: “She occupies some vague region far west of Bardot and just east of Tuesday Weld.”

Lately Things Don’t Seem the Same

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Soundscapes of Liberation: African American Music in Postwar France
Celeste Day Moore

Superfly: the Unexpected Lives of the World’s Most Successful Insects
Jonathan Balcome

Our Oldest Companions: the Story of the First Dogs
Pat Shipman

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

As We Are
Dave Stryker

The Cave of Winds
Tony Malaby’s Sabino
(Pyroclastic Records)

Molly Nilsson
(Night School Records)

The More They Talked, the Less They Understood Each Other

“The more they talked and argued, the less they understood each other. In the end they fell silent, full of mutual contempt and hatred. And in this silence of the dumb and these speeches of the blind, in this medley of people bound together by the same grief, terror and hope, in this hatred and lack of understanding between men who spoke the same tongue, you could see much of the tragedy of the twentieth century.”

– 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