Roaming Charges: Leave It to the Men in Charge

Graffiti on the sea wall at Nye Beach, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

“Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience you must find yourself at war with your society.”

—James Baldwin

+ Americans are experiencing a rare chance to relive in real-time echoes of the darkest episodes of our own history–from the howitzering of the exhausted Nez Perce in the Bear Paws to the slaughter of nearly frozen Lakota women and children at Wounded Knee; from the internment of Japanese-Americans to the grotesqueries of Abu Ghraib–and seem to have decided it was all for the greater good.

+ Gaza 2023, not Iraq 2004…

+ The Financial Times reported this week that the retaliatory bombing of Gaza with American weapons and American consent may have already surpassed the death toll from the retaliatory bombing of Dresden by US and UK bombers during the waning days of WW II.

+ Reporter: “Are you saying any member of Congress who votes against aid to Ukraine is voting for Putin?”

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s NSA advisor: “I believe that any member of Congress who does not support funding for Ukraine is voting for an outcome that will make it easier for Putin to prevail.”

+ In order to extract more funding for Ukraine from the US Senate, Biden says he’s willing to make “significant compromises” on his border policy. Since he’s already nearly as bad as Trump and Stephen Miller on the border, any “significant compromises” will put him far to their right…

+ A 2020 study from the University of Wisconsin–Madison showed that undocumented immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than American citizens. Meanwhile, a Rice University study from the same year found that “for every dollar the Texas state government spends on public services for undocumented immigrants the state collects $1.21 in revenue.”

+ According to War Mapper, Russia occupies a total of 17.48% of Ukraine and expanded its occupied Ukrainian territory by 4 square kilometers in November, which the site says is “the smallest net change in control over a single month since the February 2022 invasion.”

+ Since the Russian invasion more than 650 days ago, the US has sunk more than $44 billion in security aid to Ukraine. Other NATO countries have pitched in another $36 billion. Yet more than 60% of America’s total Ukraine aid was spent entirely inside the U.S., with at least $27 billion being spread out across more than 35 states, which seems to be a primary political goal of Biden’s Ukrainian war effort.

+ It’s not even clear that the handwringing by President Methuselah about the Ukraine war funding running out is even close to accurate. For example, the Defense Department announced a new $175 million weapons package on Wednesday for “additional air defense capabilities, artillery ammunition, anti-tank weapons” and the Pentagon’s own books show about $100 million worth of weapons flowing to Ukraine every week and that the $4.5 billion left in the account will last at least through the winter.

+ Still if Ukraine started killing more Russian-speaking kids and journalists in Donbas, they’d probably get more money from Congress. Seems to be the way to prove you’re making the most of the US weapons you’re getting.

+ In an analysis released this week, the World Bank estimates that Russia’s military invasion and bombing campaigns have already inflicted more than $400 billion in damages on Ukraine. There will be an intense scramble for the reconstruction contracts once the inevitable negotiated settlement is reached.

+ The tide is beginning to turn against the war in Russia, as well, where for the first time since the invasion a majority of Russians favor negotiations over continued fighting and oppose another round of mobilizations and conscriptions. As in the US, the biggest supporters of the war in Russia are those profiting the most from it.

+ The constant refrain that the US must increase its military spending to catch up with China is one of the most transparent cons on Capitol Hill. in 2022 China’s military spending was roughly one-third to one-half of U.S. levels (between $292 and $476 billion in 2022), according to a new analysis from researchers at Brown University. Of course, China’s probably spending its money more efficiently and effectively than the Pentagon, which, in its latest failed audit, couldn’t account for 63% of nearly $4 trillion in assets.

+ The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency disclosed that the new hawkish South Korean government is set to buy $271 million in F-35 weapons, including 39 AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles, and 86 Mk-84 General Purpose (GP) 2000-lb bombs for the GBU-31v1 JDAM.

+ The Biden/Blinken State Department just approved a new $600 million arms package with Saudi Arabia for surveillance aircraft and software for its RE-3A Tactical Airborne Surveillance System (TASS).

+ Rand Paul told Nick Turse at the Intercept: “The American people have had enough of endless wars in the Middle East. Yet, 900 U.S. troops remain in Syria with… no definition of victory, no exit strategy, and no congressional authorization to be there.”

+ Hisham Awartani, the Palestinian-Irish-American college student shot in Burlington, Vermont, is paralyzed from the chest down. His family says he likely won’t walk again. Awartani was shot by a white supremacist who was able to buy a gun despite his history of domestic abuse. His family has set up a GoFundMe page for his medical expenses.

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+ The bell tolls, for Biden. …More than 40% of the American electorate view the economy or the cost of living as the most important issue facing the country. No other issue is even close. This will come as fatal news for Biden since a vast majority of Americans (71%) rate economic conditions in the country as poor, with 38% calling them very poor.

+ Americans are more distressed about the state of the economy now than they were in the middle of the pandemic, likely because in 2020 they could count on some financial help from the federal government.

Aug. 2020
58% – Worried
41% -Not Worried

Nov. 2023
84% – Worried
16% – Not Worried

Most Important issue

Economy: 42%
Border security: 11%
Foreign Policy/Nat. Security: 10%

+ But Biden, who appears to be afflicted by RBG Narcissistic Dissociative Disorder, is convinced he’s the Indispensable Man: “If Trump wasn’t running, I’m not sure I’d be running. We can’t let him win.”

+ Matt Bruenig: “I mean just objectively, if you were to describe a snapshot of the current US economy to me, I’d tell you it’s bad. Welfare state, unions, public ownership, inequality, poverty are all way off where they ought to be.”

+ According to The Economist, renting a two-bedroom dwelling is now cheaper for 89% of Americans than buying a comparable property. Three years ago the figure was 16%.  +One big reason: 44% of all single-family home purchases were by private equity firms in 2023.

+ Low, slow-growing wages are still a big problem for many Americans, but the real gut blow to the Biden economy has been the sharp decline in disposable income since the phase-out of COVID-19 relief policies.

+ The Labor Department says that Exclusive Poultry, a Los Angeles-based chicken processor hired children as young as 14 years old to debone chicken with sharp knives. When investigators showed up to ask questions, the company hid the minors in closets.

+ The American media spent an entire summer covering a fictive shoplifting crime wave that was dreamed up by PR departments at Target and Walgreens and has ignored kids being put to work in slaughterhouses and chicken deboning plants in conditions that would have appalled Uptown Sinclair.

+ In a piece that finally, if somewhat reluctantly, debunks corporate claims about an epidemic of shoplifting leading to the shuttering of dozens of urban retail stores, Times reporter Gabriel Lopez’s story discreetly fails to mention that many of the assertions made by companies like Target were credulously reiterated and boosted by the NYT itself…

“…the increase in shoplifting appears to be limited to a few cities, rather than being truly national. In most of the country, retail theft has been lower this year than it was a few years ago, according to police data. There are some exceptions, particularly in New York City, where shoplifting has spiked. But outside New York, shoplifting incidents in major cities have fallen 7 percent since 2019, before the Covid pandemic.”

+ Hardly surprising when you realize that labor reporting at the NYT is sponsored by….Amazon!

 

+ Recall that last spring the National Retail Federation issued a report alleging that: “‘organized retail crime’ was responsible for half the $94.5 billion in store merchandise” stolen every year. In fact, the number is about 5% and “in most major cities, shoplifting incidents have fallen 7% since 2019.”

+ Neal Katyal, Obama’s former acting Solicitor General, filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to block Congress from ever instituting a wealth tax on the superrich.

+ In El Salvador, 25 families are set to be evicted from the beachfront, to make room for Bitcoin Beach Club de Playa, a crypto-themed tourism project. Reneging on its initial pledge, the Bukele government is looking to relocate the longtime residents into homes near a sewage treatment plant.

+ A new paper by Amory Gethin argues that “the consumption of public goods accounts for 20% of global poverty reduction. Total government redistribution, including cash and in-kind transfers, accounts for 30%.”

+ The latest figures from the IMF show that Brazil’s economy under Lula has reached a GDP of $2.13 trillion. Brazil has now passed both Russia and Canada to become the world’s 9th largest economy, retaking the position it held in the last year of Dilma Rousseff’s presidency, before the years of neoliberal austerity measures implemented under Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro.

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+ This year has been the hottest in the recorded history of the planet, a year when the Earth hit five catastrophic tipping points posing “threats of a magnitude never faced by humanity,” so you might be forgiven for thinking it’s an auspicious time for a global summit on the climate crisis. You’d be wrong. In fact, rarely have we seen a more blatant and gratuitous display of carbon washing, starting with siting the conference in the world’s 7th largest oil producer, the UAE, whose entire economy flows from crude production, and ending with the leader of the world’s largest crude oil producer, the US at 12.9 billion barrels a day, skipping the conference altogether and sending in his place the desiccated globetrotter John Kerry, to assure the assembled that the US “largely” backs “phasing out” the use of fossil fuels …once they’ve drained the Arctic slope and Gulf of Mexico.

Before COP28 even opened its doors to the flood of oil executives, lobbyists, PR hacks and carbon capture conmen, the chair of the conference, Sultan Al Jaber, had been caught red-handed plotting to use the gathering to cut deals to sell UAE oil and carbon capture technology, deals he later shrugged off by ridiculing the whole idea of phasing out fossil fuel production, claiming it would return the people of the world “back into caves.”

“There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C,” the president of COP28 asserted last week. “I’m telling you, I’m the man in charge.” So, c’est la vie. Or c’est la mort, I suppose

+ On Brazil’s entrance to OPEC+, Lula says, “It’s important […] because we need to convince petroleum-producing countries to prepare for the end of fossil fuels…”

+ The Canadian wildfires of 2023 burned more than 18.5 million hectares, six times the ten-year average and far above the previous record of 7.1 million hectares in 1995.

+ Data from Natural Resources Canada shows that last summer’s fires emitted around 2,400 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent – more than triple the 670 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent reported as Canada’s total emissions for 2021.

+ Since it was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1980, the number of Mojave desert tortoises has declined by 90%. The losses are accelerating, largely as a consequence of giant solar “farms”, other forms of renewable energy development and off-road vehicle use.

+ A new study in Nature reveals that in old-growth redwood trees that resprout after fire damage “up to half of sprout carbon was acquired in photosynthesis more than 57 years prior…Sprouts also emerged from ancient buds, dormant under the bark for centuries.”

+ Global installed solar capacity has doubled in the last 18 months and is now the cheapest source of electricity in history.

+ A report in The Nation magazine discloses that the NYT has banked more than $20 million of fossil fuel money in the last 3 years; Reuters Events has organized oil drilling summits; both making podcasts for oil majors touting their leadership on energy transition and that both Reuters and the NYT have produced podcasts promoting the alleged leadership of the big oil companies in leading the alleged energy transition.

+ Moreover, one of the authors of the Nation story, Amy Westerveld, has also reported for Drilled Media on the financial ties between the press and the fossil fuel companies they’re meant to report on, including the Washington Post sending out an Exxon-sponsored weekly newsletter; Bloomberg making CCS propaganda for Exxon; the Financial Times hosting content hubs sponsored by Aramco & Equinox; Politico churning out Chevron-sponsored podcasts & newsletters; and the Economist publishing a “Sustainability Week” supplement sponsored by BP.

+ China sells more EVs in two months than the US does in a year. And those sales continue to rise. EV sales in China were up 41% in October to an eye-popping 808,000 EVs.  Chinese models are 18 of the top 20 EV sellers.

+ Despite reports of a slowdown, global EV sales will likely top 14 million this year, up 36% from last year, a new record.

+ In 2021, the Biden administration got $7.5 billion from Congress to build a nationwide network of EV chargers. Two years later, not a single charger funded by the appropriation has come online.

+ Heavier EV cars and trucks created faster tire wear, spurring a new rubber boom in the tropics that’s decimating native forests: “If we simply accept the idea that e-vehicles solve all our environmental dilemmas, we risk unleashing a new round of deforestation,” Fred Pearce.

Satellite images of Cambodian forest in 2000 (left) and, after being cleared, in 2015 (right). Forests were replaced by a grid of rubber plantations, as well as croplands. Source: NASA.

+ With the Arctic Ocean now increasingly ice-free, Norway is pushing to open the polar ocean to mineral exploration, “a key step on the way to full-scale seabed mining.”

+ The UK’s Sellafield Nuclear Site, long deemed Europe’s most dangerous, is leaking a radioactive sludge known as B30, which, if not contained, may seep into the groundwater.

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+ I’ve been reading Jonny Steinberg’s excellent dual biography of Winnie and Nelson Mandela. Even out in the tribal areas of Mandela’s youth, he couldn’t escape routine police abuse, where every minor offense, real or invented, was deemed an act of sedition by the white authorities. When the young Mandela was working the fields in Mqhekezweni, “herding sheep and cattle, white policemen often approached on horseback, dismounted and demanded to see the knobkerries the boys carried. A knobkerries is a club made of dense wood with a large, heavy knob at one end. The officers would order each boy to put the big, round head in his mouth, and if it did not fit, if he could not wrap his jaws around the whole ball, he would be arrested for carrying a dangerous weapon.”

+ When Mandela finally fled his village for J-burg and began working as a clerk in a ‘liberal’ law firm, he couldn’t use the same cups as the white employees and was paid $2 a month for long hours of daily toil–half of which would be consumed by the daily bus fare. So he often walked the 12 miles to work. And back.

+ Lauren Davila, a graduate student at the University of Charleston, uncovered a notice advertising the largest know slave auction  in US history, 600 people to be sold on the Custom House near the docks of Charleston:  “This day, the 24th instant, and the day following, at the North Side of the Custom-House, at 11 o’clock, will be sold, a very valuable GANG OF NEGROES, accustomed to the culture of rice; consisting of SIX HUNDRED.” Davila discovered the notice as she was scrolling through classified ads in the February 24, 1835 edition of the Charleston paper. Prior to Davila’s startling find, the largest known slave auction was the sale of 436 people at a plantation outside Savannah, Georgia in 1859. Around 40% of the enslaved Africans entered the US in Charleston, where they were torn from their families and sold off to the highest bidder by an auctioneer of human flesh.

+ Blaise Ingoglia, a GOP senator from Tampa Bay, has introduced an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would ban reparations for the descendants of slavery. Point of order: no one in Florida is getting reparations for slavery.

+ Toni Morrison: “The function, the very serious function of racism is a distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.”

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+ A pregnant Texas woman named Kate Cox was told by her doctor that her fetus had been diagnosed with Trisomy 18. She was told that there was almost no chance of her baby surviving birth or surviving for long afterward. Most women choose to terminate their pregnancies in this situation and Cox told her doctor she wanted an abortion. But her physicians informed her that because of the new abortion ban in Texas, as long as her fetus had a detectable heartbeat, she couldn’t find a doctor who’d perform a DNC abortion in the state, even though it was the safest option to protect her health and future fertility. The obstetrician told Cox that all they could do was to monitor for fetal cardiac activity and if the heartbeat stopped, they could induce labor and extract the dead fetus. But Cox had already given birth twice by C-section and the doctors warned her that the induction carried a risk of rupturing her uterus, a potentially life-threatening injury. If the fetus survived to term, the doctors told Cox that she could receive another C-section, but that it would increase the risk of any future pregnancies and make it less likely she could carry a baby to term.  This week Cox sued in state court demanding the right to terminate the failed pregnancy immediately. This is the first such case since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

On Thursday afternoon, a Texas court granted a temporary injunction allowing Ms. Cox to get an emergency abortion. In her ruling, Travis County District Judge Maya Guara Gamble wrote: 

The longer Ms. Cox stays pregnant, the greater the risks to her life. Ms. Cox has already been to three emergency rooms with severe cramping, diarrhea, and leaking unidentifiable fluid. If she is forced to continue this pregnancy, Ms. Cox is at a particularly high risk for gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, fetal macrosomia, post-operative infections, anesthesia ‘complications, uterine rupture, and hysterectomy, due to her two prior C-sections and underlying health conditions. If she is forced to carry this pregnancy to term, she will likely need a third C- C-section. Undergoing a third C-section would make subsequent pregnancies higher risk and make it less likely that Ms. Cox would be able to carry another child in the future.

Naturally, the state of Texas has vowed to appeal the decision and force Kate Cox to endure the intense physical and emotional pain of carrying a dying fetus to term and the state’s repulsive AG, Ken Paxton, sent out a letter urging local prosecutors to file charges and seek civil damages against Cox’s doctor and her staff.

+ Update from Kate Cox’s lawyers at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

Late tonight, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily halted a lower court ruling that would have allowed Kate Cox, our plaintiff with severe pregnancy complications, to have an abortion to protect her health and future fertility. The Court said they will weigh in on the matter and stayed the lower court ruling until they have more time to consider the case. “While we still hope that the Court ultimately rejects the state’s request and does so quickly, in this case we fear that justice delayed will be justice denied,” Molly Duane, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights

+ Tim Sheehy, the likely GOP nominee for the US Senate in Montana against Jon Tester, claimed the U.S. needs “to return healthcare to pure privatization.” So long to Medicare, Medicaid and the VA.

+ Antibiotic consumption per person in China is ten times that of the United States. Antibiotic immunity is one of the driving forces behind the epidemic of child pneumonia now sweeping China.

+ Even though marijuana is being legalized and its use is more socially acceptable than ever, young people are using marijuana less than at almost any point in recent history.

+ New federal data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that states where marijuana sales remained illegal typically had the highest rates of treatment admissions for cannabis.

+ A Missouri judge ruled that staff in the state attorney general’s office — when it was being run by now Senator Josh Hawley — used private email accounts to “knowingly and purposefully” evade the state’s open records law.

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+ As seen in a video, a white female police officer is standing over a handcuffed black man next to a road in Pickens County, Alabama. First, she orders him to “stand up”. He does. Then she orders him to lie face down on the front of a car. He does. The cop draws her stun gun and points it at his back and says, “Stay still.” The man doesn’t move, but replies: “I ain’t doing shit, bro. I got a gun right there.” The cop laughs and says, “Oh, yeah,” as she picks up his gun. Then she tases him. The man screams in pain. The cop yells, “Shut the fuck up!” The man starts to cry, saying: “Oh my God. Oh my god.”

“You want it again?” the cop threatens. “No, ma’am.” The man continues crying, irritating the cop even more. “Shut the fuck up, then. You were big and bad.” He keeps crying. “Shut your bitch ass up,’’ the officer says. Then the video cuts out.

The cop hasn’t been named. But the man, 24-year-old Micah Johnson who appeared to comply with every command, has been overloaded with charges, including obstructing governmental operations, resisting arrest, marijuana possession, drug trafficking and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

+  The Chicago Police Department created a new “community” unit designed to restore public trust. Instead, it inaugurated a surge of traffic stops that have primarily targeted Chicagoans of color.

+ This week San Francisco DA Brooke Jenkins was asked whether anything legal could be done to clear the homeless from the streets of San Francisco, DA Brooke Jenkins said they need to be made “uncomfortable” enough to move. Don’t be surprised if Jenkins volunteers to defend members of the Israeli war cabinet at The Hague…

+ A study published in Science reveals that 1 in 10 Black men born in Pennsylvania in the 1980s have spent time in solitary confinement by the age of 32. About 9% of black men in the state were held in solitary for more than 15 consecutive days, violating the United Nations standards for minimum treatment of incarcerated people. Nearly 1 in 100 black men experienced solitary for a year or more by age 32.

+ So far this year, at least 43 people have died inside LA County jails.

+ In late November, Michigan became the first state in the nation to require the registration of people to vote when they’re released from prison.

+ Florida’s Supreme Court ruled this week that the state’s largest police union cannot block the disclosure of officers’ names after shootings.

+ Mike Parson, the Republican governor of Missouri, has granted over 600 pardons, the most of any Missouri governor since the 1940s.  Contrast this with Joe Biden, who has issued only 13 pardons in three years in office…

+ 80% of women in American jails are mothers, and most of them are the primary caretakers of their children.

+ Through November 2023, Detroit is close to recording its fewest homicides in almost 60 years. Detroit police data also shows a drop in other crimes relative to the same time last year, including a 13% decline in nonfatal shootings and a 36% fall in carjackings.

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+ According to a letter from US Senator Ron Wyden to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the U.S. government has used push notification records from tech companies, like Apple and Google, to spy on US citizens and the Justice Department has banned the companies from disclosing any details about the process.

+ 192,000: the number of times Google was asked for data by governments from more than 400,000 accounts from July to December 2022.

+ Joan Donovan, one of the world’s foremost experts on misinformation, says she was fired by Harvard University’s Kennedy School “for criticizing Meta” at a time that the school was being pledged $500 million from Mark Zuckerberg’s charity. Let’s see what experts Harvard digs up to claim this is “misinformation”…

+ Alisa Reznick, a reporter for Arizona’s NPR member station, was arrested on the morning of November 30 while covering an anti-war protest at the entrance to Raytheon’s Building at the University of Arizona’s Tech Park. Resnick was clearly wearing a press badge and was walking back to her vehicle when she was detained by Pima County deputies.

“I’m a reporter,” Resnick told a PCSD deputy who grasped her arm.

“You’re under arrest,” he told her.

“I’m going to my car, which is right there,” she said.

“You’ve had plenty of time to go to your car.”

“I’m not even involved in this,” she explained.

“We told you to leave, and you remained for several more minutes.”

US Department of Justice guidelines allows journalist to remain on the scene of protests, even after police order protesters to disperse, so they can accurately report on the process and aftermath. Pima Sheriff Chris Nanos told Rezinick: I don’t care whether you’re a journalist or not.” The sheriff later admitted that he was unaware of his own department’s policy regarding reporter’s rights to cover protests.

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+ The House GOP could impeach Biden over at least a dozen life and death matters, including the genocide in Gaza, but they’re trying to make a case over him getting repaid for a couple of truck payments from his wayward son.

Comer: “You can loan people money but if they pay you back then you benefit directly.”

Comer’s unlikely to impeach Biden, may he wipe out the payday loan industry! Carry on!

That didn’t stop NewsMax from bringing on Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, John Gotti’s former hitman, who admitted to committing 19 murders, as an “organized crime expert,” to provide expert commentary on the Hunter & Joe Biden. Sammy the Bull declared that he and Gotti “look like choir boys compared to them.”

+ In a fundraising email, new House Speaker Mike Johnson writes that he worries that too many high school students are identifying as LGBTQ and “America may be beyond redemption.”

+ At a meeting of Christian nationalists this week,  Johnson told the crowd that weeks before he became House Speaker, “the Lord told me very clearly” to prepare to become a “Moses” who will lead the nation through a “Red Sea” moment. Will he also spend the next 40 years wandering around aimlessly in the desert?

+ There sure are a lot of politicians getting direct calls from the Supreme Deity these days. I wonder what service plan he’s using? Probably not AT&T.

+ Listen up kids, here’s a new story problem from PragerU math videos…

+ Vivek Ramaswamy: “The great replacement theory’ is not some grand right-wing conspiracy theory, but a basic statement of the Democratic party’s platform.”

+  Staff members for Ron “Armored by God” Desantis had to scurry to buy a Bible on Amazon for $21 shortly before his inauguration because when they asked him for his family Bible to be sworn in on they learned that he didn’t own one.

+ Former Trump aide Kash Patel, who appears convinced he’s going to be CIA director in the next Trump White House told Steve Bannon, that when he’s in power he’s going to target people in government and the media for prosecution: “We will find the conspirators in govt and the media. Yes, we are going to come after the people in the media, who lied about American citizens, who helped Joe Biden rig presidential elections. We’re going to come after you, whether it’s criminally or civilly, we’ll figure that out. But yeah we’re putting them all on notice. This is why they hate us. This is why we’re tyrannical. This is why we’re dictators.”

+ Trump seemed to embrace Patel’s comments during a taped interview with his FoxNews factotum Sean Hannity later that day. Hannity, clearly hoping to coax Trump into distancing himself from Patel’s Gestapo rant, asked Trump several times; whether he would “abuse power, to break the law, to use the government to go after people… You are promising America tonight you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?” “Except for Day One,” Trump cracked to the incredulous Hannity. “I love this guy. He says, ‘You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’ I said, ‘No, no, no. Other than Day One.’ We’re closing the border, and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.”

+ Ohio Senator JD Vance, the former venture capitalist and Yale Law School grad who cosplays as a hillbilly for voters, has demanded that Attorney General Merrick Garland “open an investigation” into The Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan for writing a piece warning that a “Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable”–thus adding evidential weight to Kagan’s story

+ According to Axios, Tucker Carlson (who Melania wants as Trump’s VP) is pushing for Trump to pick Stephen Miller to run the Justice Department as Attorney General, who Carlson says is “a serious person and he understands how the system works.”

+ This week a Queens man named Philip Grillo, 49, was found guilty of five charges for his part in the J6 riots, including obstruction of an official proceeding, a felony, and misdemeanor offenses of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. During his trial, Grillo testified that he had “no idea” Congress met inside the Capitol building, but also admitted that he is running for election to the U.S. House to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District.

+ The gold bars found stashed in Sen. Bob Menendez’s closet have been linked to a 2013 armed robbery at the home of Fred Daibes, a businessman accused of bribing him.

+ Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz: “I’m surrounded by states who are spending their time figuring out how to ban Charlotte’s Web in their schools while we’re banishing hunger from ours with free breakfast and lunch.”

+ A new poll shows Dan Osborn, an independent union organizer who led a strike against Kellogg’s and backs abortion rights, ahead in the Senate race in Nebraska, where he leads 12-year Republican incumbent Deb Fisher. He’s got a shot at winning if the Democrats stand down.

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+ No one exposes the hang-ups and deepest insecurities of the New (Old) Men’s Movement quite like Taylor Swift and she doesn’t even need to try. They just come pouring out for all to see at the mere thought of her, thoughts which, though they try to suppress them, they can’t stop from repeatedly entering their narrow minds…

+ Move over, Lester Bangs…!

+ Swift’s big mistake was dating an NFL player. The NFL is no longer a MAGA-approved sport. If she wants to get back in their good graces she’ll have ditch Travis Kelce for a NACAR driver, professional poker player or school shooter.

+ The British monarch Charles Windsor has been secretly spending the assets of deceased citizens from northwest England who have died without wills or next-of-kin on renovations to his vast real estate holdings. According to an analysis by the Guardian, Charles’s net worth is in excess of $2.3 billion.

+ TV producer Norman Lear died this week at 100. Here’s Richard Nixon’s critical interpretation of an episode in Lear’s most famous creation, All in the Family: “Archie is sitting here with his hippie son-in-law, married to the screwball daughter. The son-in-law apparently goes both ways. This guy enters. He’s obviously queer, wears an ascot, but not offensively so. Very clever. Uses nice language. Shows pictures of his trip and all the rest. And so then Arch goes down to the bar. Sees his best friend, who for two years used to play professional football as a linebacker…God, he’s handsome virile, strong, this and that. And then the fairy comes into the bar…”

+ Victoria Mary Clarke: Why is James Joyce considered the greatest, and why do you like him so much?

Shane MacGowan: “Cause he really rearranged the English language, he didn’t like it the way it was. So he said, ‘Fuck this. I’m getting rid of it the way it is. I’m gonna write the way I want.” (From A Drink with Shane MacGowan)

+ Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, during the group’s 1995 tour, its first live performances in more than a decade: “We’re playing old stuff, because we don’t have any new stuff. We’re taking suggestions for song concepts.”

+ From the English critic Cyril Connolly’s review of Hemingway’s volume Men Without Women in the New Statesman of November 26, 1927:

“This is a collection of grim little stories told in an admirable colloquial dialogue with no point, no moral and no ornamentation. They are about bull-fighters, crooks, crook prize-fighters, crook peasants, dope fiends, and soldiers in hospital. The title is intended to strike the note of ferocious virility that characterizes the book, which is, however, by no means free of the strong silent sentimentality latent in this attitude. They are, in fact, a blend of Gertrude Stein’s manner, Celtic childishness, and the slice of life (the real thing!) redeemed by humor, power over dialogue and an obvious knowledge of the people he describes.”

+ RFK, Jr. copped to having flown twice on Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet, (AKA Lolita Express), though Jr. said it was only for “fossil hunting” trips,  “before anybody knew about Jeffrey Epstein’s nefarious issues.”

+ This is a revision, since earlier, Jr. had only admitted to taking only one flight on Epstein’s luxury Boeing 727,  a flight which he blamed his ex-wife, who he said was friends with Ghislaine Maxwell. Of course, Mary Kennedy is dead and unable to tell her side of the story. There is, of course, no suggestion that those who flew on Epstein’s jet were involved in any illegal activity.

+ Sun Ra: “The impossible attracts me because everything possible has been done and the world didn’t change.”

For the Child That Cries, When Innocence Dies

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage
Jonny Steinberg
(Knopf)

Henry at Work: Thoreau on Making a Living
John Kaag and Jonathan van Belle
(Princeton)

Who’s a Good Dog and How to Be a Better Human
Jessica Pierce
(Chicago)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Mundo Solo
Fabiano do Nascimento
(Far Out Recordings)

i/o [Bright-Side Mix/Dark-Side Mix/In-Side Mix]
Peter Gabriel
(Real World Records)

Never a Dull Moment: Live From Coast to Coast, 1966-67
Les McCann Trio
(Resonance)

Trees, Now…

“Trees, now—Slothrop’s intensely alert to trees, finally. When he comes in among trees he will spend time touching them, studying them, sitting very quietly near them and understanding that each tree is a creature, carrying on its individual life, aware of what’s happening around it, not just some hunk of wood to be cut down. Slothrop’s family actually made its money killing trees, amputating them from their roots, chopping them up, grinding them to pulp, bleaching that to paper and getting paid for this with more paper. “That’s really insane.” He shakes his head. “There’s insanity in my family.” He looks up. The trees are still. They know he’s there. They probably also know what he’s thinking. “I’m sorry,” he tells them. “I can’t do anything about those people, they’re all out of my reach. What can I do?” A medium-size pine nearby nods its top and suggests, “Next time you come across a logging operation out here, find one of their tractors that isn’t being guarded, and take its oil filter with you. That’s what you can do.”

– Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

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: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3