Roaming Charges: Gaza by Bomblight

Explosions following Israeli missile strikes on Gaza, August 6, 2022.

The bombing of Gaza has become ritualized. Israel no longer even feels compelled to offer much of a rationale. Gaza is bombed because Gaza exists. As long as Gaza exists, it shall be bombed. Gaza’s existence is a threat to the idea of the Israeli state.

The press largely plays along, conditioned to the rhythms of mass slaughter. Gaza is being bombed because Gaza was bombed before and emerged from the rubble and craters. The question of why is rarely asked. Of course, Gaza is being bombed for the same reasons as last year, for the same objectives as the years before that.

Yet the objectives for the bombing of Gaza will never be realized. Gaza cannot be eliminated. Gaza will exist. Therefore it must always be bombed. The question is not why. But, like some macabre moveable feast, only when. Is it time? Time to bomb Gaza again? It must be. Yes, look, there’s the bomblight! It came early this year.

There is a corollary to this. Israel exists; therefore Gaza must be bombed. As long as Israel exists, Gaza will be bombed. Israel defines itself by what it is not. Israel is not Gaza. The more Israel bombs Gaza, the more deeply it becomes its true self.

The more times Gaza is bombed and yet still exists, the less powerful Israel feels. The less powerful Israel feels, the more frightened it is at what it has become. The more frightened Israel is, the more frequently Gaza will be bombed. So it goes.

Every missile strike in Gaza has two authors: one in Tel Aviv, one in Washington. Israel exists because the US wants it to exist. And because of this Gaza must be bombed.

All rituals need an element of theater, where each player acts out its part, even as the denouement is inevitable. So this summer we were treated to the dumbshow of Biden wrestling with his conscience before Air Force One touched down on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport.

Here was Biden’s problem: two Americans had been killed at the hands of the IDF in the last few months, including Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American journalist shot in the head by Israeli snipers while reporting on an IDF raid into Jenin. Killed on his watch. Killed by an army he has funded and supported his entire political career. Israel needed political absolution and he was eager to give it.

And here the Palestinian Authority, itself dependent on US funds, performed its own accustomed role. The role of accomplice. The PA handed over the bullet a coroner had removed from Shireen’s brain to the US State Department, still lodged in its offensive new compound in Jerusalem, where the Department swiftly announced its predictable verdict: “inconclusive.”

Even this was stagecraft. There was never the slightest doubt about holding Israel accountable for the murders of Shireen Abu Akleh or Omar Asad. Just as they got away with the murder of Rachel Corrie. The IDF enjoys a degree of impunity that even an NYPD street cop would envy.

The Palestinian Authority was duly rewarded for its connivances in the cover-up with a promise of $316 million in financial aid and material to police its own increasingly restless and aggravated population in the ever-shrinking territory of the West Bank.

With Israel acquitted, Biden was free to pay homage to the Jewish state and pronounce himself a “Zionist.”  In a curious turn of phrase, Biden went on describe the connection between the US and Israel as “being bone deep.” He’s not wrong. The pact between the two countries is literally signed in blood. The blood of others.

Absolution is, of course, a kind of permission. Biden’s blessing was all the approval Israel needed for the carnage it would inflict on Gaza and the West Bank after Biden departed. If the US doesn’t object to the killing of US citizens, it sure as hell isn’t going to remonstrate against the slaughter of Palestinians.

So the stage was set for a whirlwind of home demolitions, land seizures, night raids into refugee camps and the bombardment of Gaza.

Gaza is one confined neighborhood. When the bombs fall, everyone is a target; everyone suffers. Out of this joint suffering an inextinguishable solidarity is forged. The strength of Gaza is not its home-made defensive rockets, but the unflinching courage and resistance of its people, a resistance which deepens with every Israeli incursion, raid and missile strike. Despite everything, Gaza refuses not to exist. For this, it must be punished.

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+ If no one at Mar-a-Lago was shot while sleeping on a couch (Amir Locke) or after being startled from their bed (Breanna Taylor) can it really be considered a “raid”?

+ Marco Rubio and other Republicans are outraged at the FBI searching Trump’s gaudy palazzo over a mere “document dispute.” Yet a “document dispute” landed Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner in federal prison and prompted Trump’s own CIA to hatch a plan to assassinate Julian Assange.

+ Rewrite, get me rewrite…!

+ At least Trump’s search was as the result of a warrant presenting probable cause and approved by a federal judge, last year the FBI conducted 3.4 million searches of Americans without warrants or judicial review…

+ Don’t look for consistency in politics, but it sure is ironic to hear Republicans charge that only banana republics (historically, most of them funded by the US) seek to prosecute political rivals, considering the fact that the US’s most cherished ally, Israel, has indicted three of its last five prime ministers (Netanyahu, Olmert and Barak)…

+ If a former president’s safe can be searched, what’s next? The vaults of Wells Fargo executives? The texts of Exxon’s CEO? The CIA’s torture files? The bank records of a Supreme Court justice? Where will it end?

+ As the spouse of a librarian, I’m a little thrilled by the prospect that a tenacious archivist might be the one who finally brings down Trump. Let’s look at the chronology of events…

In October 2021, Trump sued the January 6th Committee in an attempt to block it from getting records from the National Archives.

On January 19, 2022, the National Archives announces its intention to turn over Trump White House documents to the committee.

On January 20, 2022, the Supreme Court dismissed Trump’s attempt to block the National Archives from turning over the documents.

On January, 31, 2022, the National Archives obtains Trump documents that had been ripped up and taped back together.

On February 7, 2022, the National Archives discloses that Trump took 15 boxes of White House documents to Florida and archivists went to Mar-a-Lago to retrieve them in January. (The Archives had known since May 2021, the documents were missing, but Trump’s people had dismissed their inquiries.)

On February 9, 2022, the National Archives requests that the Department of Justice investigate Trump’s handling of White House.

On February 16, 2022, the Archives discloses that some of the missing 15 boxes contained classified material.

In April and May 2022, the FBI interviews Trump aides on the missing White House records.

On May 12, 2022, a federal grand jury is convened to investigate whether Trump mishandled classified documents.

Sometime in May, the feds served Trump with a subpoena for classified documents had refused to turn over.

On June 8, 2022, federal agents go to Mar-a-Lago to investigate the missing documents. While there, they tell Trump’s aides to padlock the room where the documents are held.

August, 8, 2022, the FBI serves Trump’s people with a warrant and executes a search for the missing documents at Mar-a-Lago.

+ Elise Stepanik was one of the first out of the gate with the GOP talking points on the search warrant served at Mar-a-Lago…

+ Tell Fred Hampton and MLK, Jr the news!

+ The construction of Stefanik’s bleat is backwards. “They’ve raided the likes of you for decades, imagine them raiding a (former) US President!” I’m sure many people have fantasized about the day…

+ The irony of Trump purloining nuclear secrets is pretty rich given the singular role his mentor, Roy Cohn, played in the persecution and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. See Ivy Metropol’s important documentary: Bully. Coward. Victim: the Story of Roy Cohn.

+ Trump, as quoted in the first issue of Spy magazine, 1986, about how he would handle nuclear arms talks with the Soviets: “It would take an hour and a half to learn everything about missiles…I think I know most of it anyway.”

+ And now a word from Lil Marco…

+ I loathe Trump. I hope he goes down hard for something as trivial as he is. But not for violations of the Espionage Act, the archaic law his own Justice Departmentt dusted off to go after Julian Assange. It’s a bad law–the law that sent Debs (and nearly Daniel Ellsberg) to prison–and should be repealed.

+ Maybe Melania took the nuclear secrets, purely for reasons of scientific research. After all, she’s the Einstein Scholar in the family.

+++

+ People have been having some jocular sport with Trump taking the Fifth 450 times during his deposition with the New York state AG’s office, in a civil fraud investigation into whether the Trump Org.’s annual financial statements inflated the values of the company’s assets in order to obtain favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage, while also deflating the value of other assets in order to reduce real estate taxes.

+ Trump has given his hecklers a lot of ammunition over the years, especially when it came to the investigation of HRC’s emails, a potential transgression very similar to the one he is now accused of: keeping classified information in an unsecure location. Trump to a crowd in Iowa in 2016: “You see the mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” And a few weeks later in Nevada: “Her staffers took the Fifth Amendment and got immunity deals. It’s worse than Watergate.” A month later in Colorado: “Her staffers took the Fifth. So many people took the Fifth Amendment there was nobody left!” And during the debates that fall: “When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth so they’re not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the Fifth, I think it’s disgraceful. And believe me, this country thinks it’s — really thinks it’s disgraceful, also.”

+ Still, Trump taking the Fifth–while simultaneously claiming the privilege indicates the guilt of others–is nothing new. According to Trump’s most intrepid biographer, the late, great Wayne Barrett, he took the Fifth 97 times during a deposition in Ivana’s divorce suit against him…

+ And he was right to do so, then and now. The Fifth amendment is there to be used. You’d be foolish not to assert whenever you’re interviewed by a cop or prosecutor. No prejudice should attach.

+ But just look at the liberals, whose Trump hatred has so soured their minds that they’re now mimicking Trump at his most toxic….

+ Goldman is a former federal prosecutor and a legal “expert” on MSNDC, who worked for the House Impeachment Committee. He should have his bar license revoked. Instead, he’s running for congress as a Democrat.

+ The crucial point here is that Trump pleaded the Fifth in a probe that is likely to culminate in a civil suit against Trump and his company, like past suits against the fraudulent practices of his “university” and foundation. At worst, he’ll be fined and the company will be sanctioned. So what? If Trump committed a crime, charge him with a crime. Financial penalties are meaningless to him. Trump is more than capable of losing money and bankrupting a company on his own. In fact, it’s his standard business practice. He’s gotten rich off of being terrible at his job.

+ According to the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette, Obama’s former AG Eric Holder was asked whether his office would have prosecuted Donald Trump for his role in inciting the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.  The paper reported that Holder pointed to his former deputy, Lanny Breuer, who was sitting in the crowd and asked:

+ Among the people Eric Holder declined to prosecute when he had the chance (some might say: obligation): George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, Condi Rice, George Tenet, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Hadley, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Douglas Feith, Stephen Cambone, Jose Rodriguez, Gina Haspel, and John Bolton…

+ In the town of Lilliput, Florida, it isn’t entirely clear whether the hats are too big for the heads or the heads too tiny for the hats.

+ Really, what could these people possibly have against drag queens?

+++

+ Like most wars, the war in Ukraine is going from bad to worse for both sides and everyone caught in between. In the last week, the entire US establishment has backed the expansion of NATO, the sprawling Zaporizhizhia nuclear power facility with six operating reactors has been repeatedly shelled, a Russian airbase in Crimea got hit with massive explosions, images emerged of human cages inside a concert hall in Mariupol,  presumably for use in show trials and the escalating estimates of Russian casualties (60,000-80,000) strain the imagination.

Then there was the commendable report from Amnesty International condemning Ukraine for using civilians as human shields and exploiting civilian facilities, including hospitals and schools, for military operations. Both violate the Geneva conventions. Predictably, this scrupulously documented assessment was denounced as pro-Russian propaganda by NATO and its liberal apologists in the West, who unleashed savage attacks on its Secretary General, Agnès Callamard. But the report reiterates a core truth of all modern wars: war itself is a crime, where civilians pay the highest price and both sides are culpable for atrocities. Enough death. This war must be brought to an end. Yet only China seems capable of leading both Russia and Ukraine to the table and after Nancy Pelosi’s unhinged shenanigans in Taiwan they now have little incentive to do so.

+ How to tell it’s apartheid: when you aren’t even allowed to sit in the back of the bus…

+ Bombing Gaza to boost your flagging poll numbers. Is Bill Clinton advising Yair Lapid these days?

+ When the Dixie Chicks got roasted for a relatively tame denunciation of Bush’s illegal war on Iraq, much of the Liberal-Left rallied to their side. Now, they’re the ones carrying the torches for the political auto-da-fé of Roger Waters…

+ Quick: what was the “first thing” Biden pledged to do when taking office? That’s right, push for a “public option” for health care. (“The first thing I would do as president is say, look, here’s the deal: We’re going to eliminate all the changes that [the Trump] administration made trying to kill Obamacare, number one, and we’re going to add to it a public option.”) Funny thing. He hasn’t mentioned it a single time since becoming president. But he and Manchin did make sure to stuff the Inflation Reduction Act with tens of millions in subsidies and other goodies for the Medical-Bio-Chemical-Industrial Complex.

+++

+ The St. Louis jail system is a hellhole. According to use of force reports obtained by Grid News, officers at the jail have repeatedly pepper-sprayed people on suicide watch, including several times because a person wanted to keep on their underwear.

+ A grand jury in Mississippi has refused to indict Carolyn Bryant whose lies drove the lynching of black teenager Emmett Till almost 70 years ago, despite revelations about an unserved arrest warrant and a newly revealed memoir by the Bryant.

+ More than 650 children, a disproportionate number of them black boys, were strip-searched in London by the police over a three-year period between 2018 and 2020.

+ A Nebraska police officer named Ben McBride decided to investigate a 17-year-old’s stillbirth by obtaining records from Facebook indicating the young woman, Celeste Burgess, and her mother, Jessica, acquired a medication called Pregnot. The state jailed both mother and daughter and intends to prosecute them on several felony charges–perform/attempt abortion at more than 20 weeks, perform abortion by non-licensed doctor, and removing/concealing a dead human body. How much of the anti-Big Tech/police state right, enraged by the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, has said a word about this much more intrusive and ominous act of collusion between social media companies and the police?

+ An editorial in the NYT this week described the Catholic Church as “New York’s Hottest Club.” What’s the draw? Do they re-enact the burning of Giordano Bruno?

+ The member of the Inquisition most responsible for the gruesome torture and execution of Bruno‘s execution (as well as the condemnation of Galileo Galilei in 1633), Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino was canonized a saint in by Pius XI 1930 and conferred the title Doctor of the Church, one of only 37 in the history of the Vatican.

+ Terry Mitchum, the chief of the Brookville, Indiana police department, and his chief investigator, Ryan Geiser, were suspended (with pay) after arresting Trevin Thalheimer, on trumped up drug possession charges, in order to stop him from running for city council because they considered him “anti-police.” Three days before the arrest, chief was quoted as saying, “We don’t want him on the town board because he hates cops.” It took months for the facts to emerge, leaving  Thalmeimer to say, “I have a bad taste in my mouth about politics. I knew politics was dirty, but I didn’t know I’d have to dumpster dive.”

+ A new report by the Disability Law Center discloses that staff physically restrained and involuntarily medicated over half of their patients at the Massachusetts Department of Correction’s Bridgewater State Hospital over six months.

+ In Tallahassee, the police have been getting trained at a place called Stronghold Solutions Defense Company by none other than MAGA-star Eddie “the Blade” Gallagher, the sadistic Navy SEAL sniper, whose multiple acts of cruelty and depravity revolting even members of his own, who turned him in. Of course, these were the very acts that appealed to Trump, who pardoned Gallagher of war crimes. One wonders how closely the newly trained Tallahassee cops will adhere to the Gallagher Method of ‘”killing anything that moved.”

+ Down in Pensacola, a special education teacher resigned after a staffer for the public school district pulled down posters of black leaders–including images of MLK, Jr., Harriet Tubman and Colin Powell–he had put up on the walls of his classroom. The district called the posters: “age inappropriate.” I can sympathize that the image of Powell might scare children.

+ There’s a nursing shortage in America’s hospitals. In Maryland, more than 25 percent of the nursing positions are vacant. One recently retired nurse told the Baltimore CBS affiliate: “The labor is treacherous. You’re doing four, five people’s jobs, but only getting one pay. They’re not paying you what you’re worth.”

+ You don’t say…

+ A study by researchers from Michigan State University of jurisdictions where cannabis has been legalized shows that this change hasn’t led to more teens trying marijuana. Too bad. What’s wrong with kids, these days?

+ Ralph Nader: “Tesla’s major deployment of so-called Full Self-Driving (FSD) technology is one of the most dangerous and irresponsible actions by a car company in decades.”

+ Isn’t this tantamount to the confession of a crime or at least civil fraud? “Elon Musk admitted to his biographer that the reason the Hyperloop was announced—even though he had no intention of pursuing it—was to try to disrupt the California high-speed rail project to get in the way of that actually succeeding.”

+++

+ The Arctic continues to warm much faster than the rest of the planet and several times as fast as previous climate models predicted. Over the past forty years, the Arctic has been heating up four times faster than the global average, while some parts of the region, notably the Barents Sea north of Norway and Russia, are warming up to seven times faster, according to new data from the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Helsinki.

+ The Loire River is running dry in the extreme heat and prolonged drought France has endured this summer…Oh, yeah, the river is also the source of the cooling water for 12 of France’s nuclear power plants.

+ The average price of California water on the “spot market” has risen by 58% in the last year, as reservoirs and aquifers drop and the drought persists. California water is now selling for as much as $2,000 an acre-foot, a record high.

+ Amazon’s carbon footprint grew by 19% in 2021, despite the company’s repeated pledges to reduce carbon emissions.

+ As sea levels rise, New York City may be swamped by 15 “high flood days” next year.

+ Starting this week, commercial buildings in Spain will be required to keep summer air conditioning above 80 degrees and winter heating below 66 degrees Fahrenheit.

+ In part as a result of the Ukraine war, tankers hauling diesel, gasoline, coal and other fuels are more active than at any time in at least 25 years.

+ There are about 75,000 Giant Sequoia trees in the world. More than 13,000 have been killed by fires since 2015.

+ A Category 4 Marine heatwave has settled over the North Pacific, sending water temperatures as high as 15.7°F  above normal. This is expected to inflict severe damage on marine ecosystems, including the possible mass die-offs of marine animals.

+ Back to the normal that’s killing us: Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the 12-month period ending in March 2022 matched the 12-month period ending in December 2019, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Total U.S. VMT reached a peak of 3.28 trillion miles in the 12-month period ending in February 2020 but declined steeply the following year. Due to pandemic-related disruptions, the12-month period ending in February 2021 was the lowest point for total 12-month VMT since November 2002.

Source: US Dept. of Energy.

+ France’s fourth extreme heat wave of the year has exacerbated the country’s worst drought on record.

+ In Tokyo, temperatures hit 95F for the 14th time this summer, shattering records set in 1995.

+ Meanwhile, Seoul’s subways and streets were flooded this week by the heaviest rains in 80 years. At least seven people were killed and six people missing.

+ Temperatures in Iraq soared to 122F, melting the country’s electric grid, leaving millions sweltering in temperatures that approach the limits of human survivability.

+ Meanwhile, in Phoenix, heat-related 9-11 emergency calls have increased by 34% in the last two years alone.

+ India is banning domestic companies from exporting carbon credits until the nation meets its own climate goals.

+ Ten finance firms–Blackrock, Capital Group, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Fidelity Investments, the Government of India, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Life Insurance Corporation, Norges Bank, State Street and Vanguard–will control half of all future carbon emissions.

+ It’s been seven years since the EPA-caused Gold King Mine disaster that sent toxic water and mining waste flooding into the fields of Navajo farmers and they still haven’t been compensated. The tribe says the toxic flood caused $49 million worth of damage. The EPA, backed by the Biden Justice Department, says they have no right to sue.

+ I’m not a vegan, but I entirely endorse my friend Lee Hall’s logic here: “Veganism isn’t a quest to end factory farming. All purpose-breeding steals freedom and derails evolution—the core cruelty. Veganism began by opposing free-range farming. Free-range is sprawl—unnecessary ruin of habitat. Free-range kills coyotes, wolves, wildcats.”

+++

+ One of my favorite flashes of graffiti from the Parisian rebellions of May ’68: “L’art est mort. Godard n’y pourra rien.” (Art is dead. Godard won’t be able to do anything about it.)

+ This is by far the most interesting thing I’ve ever heard about “Prince” William, who seemed to be one of the dullest people on Earth: “At a recent media party, I was told the real reason for the affair was the royal’s love of pegging, s which the wife is far too old fashioned to engage in. The wife doesn’t mind her and in fact prefers her husband getting his sexual needs fulfilled elsewhere, as long as things don’t become emotional, which was the case with the last woman.”

+ I you want to gain some fresh insight into how Marx developed the remarkable clarity of his later prose style you might want to check out Evening Hours, a new edition of his poems, published by Arc Press.

+ “The amount of times we get told people got married to our song (I Melt With You), made love to that song for the first time… whatever, it’s lovely. But literally the lyrics are about a couple making love as the atom bomb drops and sort of melting together.” — Modern English frontman Robbie Grey

I saw the world thrashing all around your face, never really knowing it was always mesh and lace…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Our Veterans: Winners, Losers, Friends, and Enemies on the New Terrain of Veterans Affairs
Suzanne Gordon, Steve Early and Jasper Craven
(Duke)

Tolerance is a Wasteland: Palestine and the Culture of Denial
Saree Makdisi
(California)

Audubon at Sea: the Coastal and Transatlantic Adventures of John James Audubon
Christoph Irmscher and Richard J. King
(Chicago)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Oak Tree
Tom Harrell
(High Note)

Something Borrowed, Something New: a Tribute to John Anderson
Various artists
(Easy Eye Sound)

Noise and Flowers
Neil Young and Promise of the Real
(Reprise)

The Celebration of Ignorance

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.” (Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World)

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