Roaming Charges: Comfortably Dumb

Still from “Comfortably Numb,” The Wall.

“Not to want to say, not to know what you want to say, not to be able to say what you think you want to say, and never to stop saying, or hardly ever, that is the thing to keep in mind, even in the heat of composition.”

– Samuel Beckett, Molloy

+ The Democrats now have the perfect excuse for Biden betraying nearly every promise he made during his 2020 campaign, unfortunately for them it will prove fatal to his reelction: he doesn’t remember making them. According to the Special Counsel’s report on Biden’s mishandling of classified documents, Biden is “an elderly man with a poor memory.” And the “significant” problems with his memory got “worse” over the course of the investigation to the point where Biden “did not remember when he was vice president” or “even within several years, when his son Beau died.”

+ The reasons set forth by the Special Counsel’s report for declining to prosecute Biden for illegally retaining classified documents on Afghanistan (ie., “diminished faculties”) are far more devastating to him–and the Democrats who continue to support him–than an indictment would have been. (Still, it’s worth noting that few other people are granted this kind of leniency when they have been caught with stolen material and over the course of his own political career, much of it spent writing punitive crime laws, Biden himself has rarely shown any.)

+ Even in his “diminished” condition, Biden still may have more political (if not mental) “faculties” than Harris, who spreads confusion wherever she goes, which may be why they haven’t tried to invoke the 25th Amendment…

+ Biden is learning that it’s never a good thing politically when people begin to speak of you in the past tense while you’re still alive. But fortunately for him he’ll have forgotten this morbid lesson by tomorrow morning.

+ Ginsburg, Feinstein, Pelosi, Clyburn, Biden…the most selfish generation in American politics? They clung to power longer than the segregationist Democrats Biden so admired.

+ Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States…

You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying

+ This is not a speech impediment, as many Biden defenders allege. It’s an impediment of the brain, what’s left of it.

+ One is willing to empathize with Biden’s rapidly deteriorating mental capacity. But there can be no tolerance for his grave moral failings.

+ Here’s the entirely rational proposal from Hamas (ie, “the Opposition”) that prompted Biden’s latest bout of aphasia…

Hamas has proposed three 45-day ceasefires aimed at ending the war. 

The first phase would involve a hostage exchange of Israeli women,  children, and the sick and elderly for Palestinian women and children. Reconstruction of hospitals and refugee camps would begin.

Phase 2 would involve the exchange of the rest of the living hostages, the release of Palestinian prisoners and the removal of Israeli troops from Gaza. 

Then phase 3 would exchange bodily remains and iron out an end to the war.

+ A couple of days earlier, Biden was in Las Vegas stumbling through a campaign speech, where he recounted a 2020 meeting with Francois Mitterand, the former President of France, who died in …1996. “I sat down and I said, ‘America’s back’ and Mitterrand from Germany – I mean from France – looked at me and said…” Biden pauses awkwardly, as if his batteries had run down, before muttering, “Well, how long are you back for?”

+ In August 2022, he also claimed he spoke to Helmut Schmidt at the G7. Schmidt died in 2015. Is no one in the administration even contemplating invoking the 25th Amendment?

+ During a hastily scheduled White House statement to defend his memory, Biden brought up, then seemed to forget, where he got his son Beau’s rosary (“The rosary I got from Our Lady of…..”) and referred to Egypt’s Abdel el-Sisi as the President of Mexico.

+ Hillary Clinton communed with the spirits of Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi, but, unlike Biden, she seemed to know they were incorporeal and used the services of the “sacred psychologist” Dr. Jean Houston as a medium for the “conversations.” HRC apparently drew the line at attempting to summon Jesus for a chat.

+ Biden on Trump’s calls for a debate: “If I were him, I would want to debate me, too.” True, but a very strange thing to admit.

+ Who is running Biden’s campaign and why in the world are they letting him make so many unscripted public statements? Each appearance generates a new gaffe. Trump spews nonstop nonsense as well, of course, but his howlers excite his base, while Biden’s embarrass and alienate his. It almost qualifies as elder abuse. Biden is being sent out every day to make statements so politically antiquated, it’s as if he didn’t want to say something that might spoil his lunch date in the Senate cafeteria with Strom Thurmond.

+ Last year, The Intercept uncovered a Pentagon-funded study warning that dementia among leading US officials posed a growing threat to national security.


+ Imagine a Democratic Party leadership that fought as hard for single-payer health care as it has for funding wars in Ukraine and Gaza. No, I can’t either.

+ Biden: “The toughest reforms to secure the border ever likely won’t even move forward to the Senate floor. Why? Donald Trump. He’d rather weaponize this issue than actually solve it. So he’s threatening Republicans and they are caving to him.”

+ Biden is weaponizing border enforcement, too…against poor and desperate asylum seekers.

+ The new border legislation the White House said it “strongly supports” would have given the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to summarily deport undocumented immigrants at his “sole and unreviewable discretion” during border emergencies. It also included $25 million for Customs and Border Protection to conduct familial DNA testing and $204 million for the FBI for purposes including “the analysis of DNA samples, including those samples collected from migrants detained by the United States Border Patrol.”

+ The Biden-backed Border (closure) bill continued $7.6 billion for ICE, nearly $6 billion of that is for deportations and detention, and contained a provision that will block all future funding for UNRWA.

+ It took Nixon to go to China and Biden to wreck the UN.

+ Remember when (some) Democrats wanted to Defund ICE? Now they’re giving ICE a blank check ($7.6 billion, $6 billion of which is for enforcement ops) and defunding UNWRA…

+ Tony Blinken: “The US has provided more aid to the Palestinian people than any other country.” Of course, the aid came wrapped in the modern equivalent of smallpox blankets, a time-honored American tradition.

+ Biden seems to be trying hard to lose the Muslim, Hispanic and youth vote. If so, it’s working. Biden is getting absolutely crushed in every swing state. He’s only close in Pennsylvania. What’s next, leaking plans to privatize Social Security?


Trump 43% (+8)
Biden 35%
Kennedy 10%
Stein 2%
West 0%


Trump 43% (+6)
Biden 37%
Kennedy 8%
West 1%
Stein 1%


Trump 43% (+3)
Biden 40%
Kennedy 7%
West 1%
Stein 1%


Trump 45% (+13)
Biden 32%
Kennedy 9%
West 1%
Stein 1%


Trump 43% (+8)
Biden 35%
Kennedy 10%
West 1%
Stein 1%


Trump 44% (+7)
Biden 37%
Kennedy 8%
West 1%
Stein 1%


Trump 43% (+12)
Biden 31%
Kennedy 12%
Stein 2%
West 1%

(Morning Consult)

+ Even in Massachusetts, Biden’s numbers are in free fall, down more than 20 points from 2020.


+ During an interview with Mika Brzezinski on MSDNC, Chuck Schumer warned that if Congress doesn’t pass a new $118 billion bill to fund Israel and Ukraine, US troops will soon be fighting in the Middle East and against Russia. Has everyone lost their friggin’ minds?

+ We’re not far removed from this kind of collective sadistic madness here. I can easily imagine our own politicians stirring up similar mobs to deny relief efforts to caged children and mothers in migrant concentration camps on the southern border.

+ In fact, it’s happening live on FoxNews in NYC…

+ The NYPD later confirmed that the man assaulted by these beret-wearing vigilantes was not, as Curtis Sliwa claimed, a “migrant.” Can someone send him Roberta Kaplan’s number?

+ Sliwa told the Associated Press that he believed the man his thugs assaulted was a migrant because “he was speaking Spanish” and because some of his gang had seen the victim with other Spanish-speaking people on previous “patrols.”

+ Civil rights and defense lawyer Scott Hechinger: “For this action caught on camera, NY prosecutors ordinarily would charge gang assault (or attempted gang assault) as a hate crime. Class B or C violent felony under NY law. Mandatory minimum 3.5-5 years prison. Max: 15-25. Wonder what will happen.”

+ Sen. Chris Murphy on the failed Border/Ukraine/Israel deal: “They are a disaster right now. How can you trust any Republicans right now? They told us what to do. We followed their instructions to the letter. And then they pulled the rug out from under us in 24 hrs.”

+ New Democratic Party Motto: “The Republicans told us what to do. We followed their instructions to the letter.”

+ Moshik Temkin: “One of the genius features of the American political system is that each Presidential election cycle offers a choice that is even grimmer than the one before, each time to the chorus of elites yelling at young people that they need to stop complaining and vote blue no matter who.”

+ It’s instructive that MAGA has threatened to “destroy” James Lankford, the rightwing Senator from Oklahoma who wrote a border closure bill that gave them 99% of what they wanted and Democrats are lining up behind Biden for endorsing a bill that betrayed everything he’d ever promised on immigration.

+ People should remember that it was a Democratic governor from Colorado, Richard Lamm, who ignited the current overtly racist anti-immigrant fear-mongering back in the late 1980s, which was then adopted in a more politically palatable form by Bill Clinton…

+ Greg Grandin: “The problem with simply blaming the choreographed crisis on the border on extremist ideology, is that it ignores the history of the militarization of the border inaugurated by Clinton, as an adjunct policy to both Nafta and Plan Colombia.”


+ A study from across Europe found that when social democratic parties adopted authoritarian, right-wing policies on issues like immigration and crime, they alienated their own voters and didn’t attract rightwing or even centrists votes. Don’t expect the Democrats (Starmer’s Labour Party) to learn anything from these results. “Voters tend to prefer the original to the copy,” said Tarik Abou-Chadi, an associate professor of European politics at Oxford.

+ AIPAC’s PAC has decided to intervene in the California House race to succeed Katie Porter. Both Democrats (David Min and Joanna Weiss) support Israel. but Min opposes new settlements in the West Bank and has dared (like more than half of all Israelis) to criticize Netanyahu. To take Min down for these impertinences, AIPAC’s super PAC, the United Democracy Project, has launched $600,000 in attack ads, focused not on the Middle East, but Min’s DUI arrest last May.

+ The 46 Democrats who voted in favor of the Republican-led standalone bill to send $17.6 billion in military aid to Israel (a bill even Biden said he would’ve vetoed):

+ An Assistant DA in San Francisco named Michael Menesini has sent CounterPunch two emails calling our writers “antisemitic” for criticizing Israel. Menesini also blurted that “brutal Arabs” should be “sent back” to their homelands. Both messages were emailed via his government address, which seems to run askance of office policystate conflict of interest and Civil Rights laws, as well as federal law.

+ Menesini, a California public servant, made $226,000 in 2021. If you don’t think this is how public prosecutors should be spending their time (especially in a city that just voted for a ceasefire in Gaza), file a complaint with his boss, San Francisco DA Brooke Jenkins.

+ The San Franciso Standard reported on the hate-mailing DA here.

+ Rep. Jamie Raskin on the House GOP’s failed impeachment of DHS Secretary Mayorkas: “Headed up by the distinguished gentlelady from Georgia, [the House] has been given the opportunity to bring a slapstick impeachment drive against a cabinet member of unimpeachable integrity who has committed nothing indictable or even in-dict-able.”

+ Since 2022, Krysten Sinema’s committees have paid $1.2 million in security consulting fees to an LLC registered in the name of Tulsi Gabbard’s sister, Vrindavan Bellord, who seems to have no other clients, according to a report in The Daily Beast.

+ Sinema has spent over $200,000 in taxpayer funds on private chartered jet travel since 2020. Sinema’s Arizona colleague, Mark Kelly, has spent $0 on private flights.


+ In a new poll commissioned by Defense Priorities only 30% of Americans were aware that the US has troops in Syria…

+ According to the Pentagon, there have been 146 US military casualties in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan since October 18. Of those 146 casualties, three were killed in action, two sustained very serious injuries, nine had serious injuries, and 132 had non-serious injuries.

+ Q: “How many bases where US troops are in the Middle East do not have air defense systems that can shoot down these drones?”

Pentagon spokesperson: “I’m not gonna detail from here, from the podium, our air defenses, where they’re located and how many bases have what. I think that just wouldn’t be good for our own operational security and our force protection…I can commit to you that when CENTCOM is done doing its review, we will share the results of that and read out what we can from that assessment, barring the fact that there is classified information.”

+ After Biden’s “de-escalatory” airstrikes on Iraq and Syria, 6 US-allied Kurds were killed in a drone attack on a U.S. base in Syria. The US has been using the Kurds as human shields for four decades now.

+ A US drone attack on Wednesday struck a vehicle in a civilian Baghdad neighborhood supposedly containing a commander from the Kataib Hezbollah, the militia group in Iraq that the Pentagon has blamed for attacking its troops. The Iraqi military angrily denounced the assassination and said that it signaled the “termination of the US mission in the country.” Finally, Mission Accomplished!

+ Not surprisingly, a new poll of 16 Arab nations shows that 94% of Arabs oppose Biden’s Gaza policy and more than half said the US now constitutes “the biggest threat to the peace and stability of the region.”

+ Ukraine continues to lose more ground to the Russian invasion, especially in the eastern city of Avdiivka, which has been besieged for several months. The battle has been so intense that Ukrainian troops haven’t been able to be rotated out at the recommended rates of every three days, and have instead been forced to stay on the front for as much as 10 straight days. One report says that Russia has dropped more than 600 aerial bombs on Avdiivka over the past four weeks alone. A report in the Wall Street Journal last Sunday predicted that Avdivka may soon fall under the bombardment, “Russian advances in Avdiivka, which increasingly looks likely to become the first Ukrainian city to fall since the capture of Bakhmut last May, are the direct result of acute ammunition shortage”

+ AMLO’s conditions for Mexican cooperation with Biden’s harsh new immigration plan: suspending the blockade of Cuba, ending all sanctions on Venezuela, issuing work permits and protection from deportation for at least 10 million Hispanic people currently living in the US.

+ The Lakota on Pine Ridge have banned South Dakota governor Kristi Noem from their reservation after Noem said Saturday she wanted to send razor wire and security goons to Texas to help deter migrants at the border and also claimed cartels are infiltrating the state’s reservations.

+ Texas has spent $124 million busing migrants to sanctuary cities since Gov. Greg Abbott began the initiative in 2022. The state has raised about $460,000 from private sources to finance the expulsions.

+ Blackwater’s Erik Prince argues that it’s time for the US, which maintains 850-plus military bases around the world, to put its “imperialist hat back on.” (Has the US been going bareheaded lately? I haven’t noticed.)

Erik Prince: It’s time for us to put the imperialist hat back on and say we’re going to govern countries if you’re incapable of governing yourselves. We’re done being invaded… You can say that about pretty much all of Africa. They are incapable of governing themselves and benefitting their citizens because the governments there are all about looting and pillaging and lining their pockets and going shopping in Paris instead of making the lives of their people better.

Interviewer: What a minute. People are going to say that Erik Prince is talking about us being a colonialist, again…

Prince: Absolutely. Yes.

+ Even though he barely squeezed out a victory against Jair Bolsonaro, Lula’s approval rating is holding steady at 52%.

+ Au Revoir, Jair
Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble
Tres bien ensemble

+ At the Senate’s Big Tech hearing:

Tom Cotton: “Have you ever been a member of the Chinese Communist Party?”

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew: “Senator, I’m Singaporean. No!”

Cotton: “Have you ever been associated or affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party?”

Chew: “No, Senator. Again, I’m Singaporean!”

+ Ghost of Senator Joe McCarthy: “Have you no shame, Senator? You’re tarnishing my reputation!”


+ Bidenomics: 44% of Americans don’t have the savings to pay a $1,000 unexpected expense.

+ Larry Summers told Bloomberg News that “interest rates may be well over 3% for the rest of the decade.” Of course, Larry Kudlow on coke had more credibility than Summers on one of his better days….

+ The NLRB ruled that Dartmouth men’s basketball players are employees of Dartmouth University and are allowed to go forward with an election to create a union.

+ Mississippi’s state auditor, Shad White, is demanding Brett Favre repay nearly $730,000 that was supposed to help some of the poorest people in the state. White: “It boggles the mind that Mr. Favre could imagine he is entitled to the equivalent of an interest-free loan of $1.1 million… .”

+ As the UAW under Shawn Fain continues to rack up wins, a non-profit group calling itself the Center for Union Facts, funded by secretive anti-union donors, has launched an anti-UAW campaign in Austin, Texas, in advance of an anticipated union drive at the nearby Tesla plant.

+ UAW’s Shawn Fain on Trump: “Donald Trump is a scab. Donald Trump is a billionaire and that’s who he represents. Nowhere in history has Donald Trump ever stood for the American worker. He stands against pretty much everything we stand for as a union.”

+ Trump on Fain: “Shawn Fain is a Weapon of Mass Destruction on Auto Workers and the Automobile Manufacturing Industry in the United States! Is he under contract to China, because they will be getting almost all of our ‘Car making’ Business within a very short period of time. All Autoworkers should VOTE FOR TRUMP. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

+ New campaign finance reports reveal Trump paid $20,000 to stage a rally of fake striking union auto workers last September, with non-union people holding up ‘Union Members for Trump’ signs.

+ In 1,000 fact checks of Donald Trump, PolitiFact rated 76% of his statements as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.

+ On July 1, 2019, a 15-year-old boy fell 50 feet to his death while working for a roofing contractor in Alabama. It was his first day on the job. The company was hit with a $117,175 fine by the Labor Department for allowing a child under the age of 18 to work on a high-risk job site.

+ The Eugene V. Debs Museum in Terre Haute Tweeted: “The $7.25/hr minimum wage is now 15 years old, which is also old enough to work 40-hour weeks in Indiana.”

+ Maxxed Out: Former Boeing senior manager, Ed Pierson: “I would absolutely not fly a Max airplane. I’ve worked in the factory where they were built and I saw the pressure employees were under to rush the planes out the door. I tried to get them shut down before the first crash.” His warning was reiterated by Joe Jacobson, a former Boeing engineer and FAA employee: “I would tell my family to avoid the Max. I would everyone, really.”



+ As the Supreme Court contemplates ruling on Trump’s absurd claim of “presidential immunity” (shot down unanimously by the DC Circuit Court this week), it’s worth remembering that one of the primary motivations for Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon out of Cisalpine Gaul and turning his Legions toward Romein 49 BC was his fear of being prosecuted on corruption charges for alleged crimes committed while he was consul a decade earlier. Cato and Marcellus were already drawing up the indictment, in anticipation of Caesar losing the immunity he had enjoyed as Imperator in Gaul. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Roman Republic fell after a battle over executive immunity, ushering in an imperial dictatorship that lasted for the next 450 years.

+ Speaking of Gaius Julius, in a time before ghostwriters, Caesar wrote a book on the rhetorical uses of analogy (De Analogia) while crossing the Alps to suppress the Germanic tribes streaming into Gaul. In the words of Marcus Aurelius’ tutor Fronto, “Think of C. Caesar in that appalling Gallic War writing about noun declensions as weapons flew past.”  I can’t imagine any of our current crop of political leaders even being able to define the word. 

+ Tucker Carlson’s 83-year-old father Richard Carlson, the former head of Voice of America, is a lobbyist for Policy Impact, a DC-influence peddling firm whose clients include Victor Orban’s rightwing government in Hungary.

+ Eric Adams’ close friend, Dwayne Montgomery, a former NYPD inspector, pleaded guilty on Monday to charges that he masterminded a scheme to route illegal donations into the mayor’s 2021 campaign war chest.


+ In a meeting that lasted about five minutes, the Wall Street Journal’s DC bureau finally told last week that there will be a major “restructuring” (ie., layoffs). When asked for more clarity on the changes, Managing Editor Liz Harris refused to answer. Someone in the room said, “Hope you had a good time in Davos.”

+ Across the US, two newspapers are closing each week. More than 500 journalism jobs have been lost last month alone.

+ A former staffer at FoxNews told Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, that the primary reason for picking  a story to cover is whether or not it will inflame the audience: “The single phrase they said over and over was ‘This is going to outrage the viewers!’ You inflame the viewers so that no one will turn away.”

+ What it’s come to: Two black students who made a parody newspaper satirizing Northwestern University’s stance on Israel’s war in Gaza are now facing criminal charges under a little-known law first enacted to use against the KKK.

+ Bill Maher on Kanye West: “a very charming antisemite.


+ The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a 219-page opinion (Allegheny Reproductive Health v. Pennsylvania Department of Human Services) declaring that (1) abortion is a fundamental right under the state constitution’s right to privacy; and (2) abortion bans discriminate based on sex under the state constitution’s equal rights amendment. The opinion demolished the specious legal reasoning in Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Dobbs.

+ Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern on the continuing fallout from the Dobbs decision: “Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion rested largely on the views of dead white men who condoned the rape, beating, and murder of women to maintain female subjugation in every realm of life.”

+ Teen births are up in Texas after the end of Roe v. Wade, according to a recent report from the University of Houston. This result is not only predictable, but exactly what many evangelicals want. And it will almost certainly get worse.

+ The Florida Supreme Court, now fully stocked with anti-abortion judges appointed by Ron DeSantis, seems poised to use “fetal personhood” as a rationale to block citizens from a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights.

+ Here’s Biden speaking at a fundraiser in NYC on Wednesday night: “I’m a practicing Catholic. I don’t want abortion on demand but I thought Roe v Wade was right.” Under Roe, “abortion on demand” (is there any other kind?) was a constitutionally protected right.  In fact, Biden’s done more than oppose “abortion on demand. “For almost his entire political career he opposed abortions for poor women, through his co-sponsorship of the Hyde Amendment, which banned any federal funding for abortion. “Abortion on demand” is the language of the anti-abortion movement. How did this guy ever get the support of groups like NARAL? Another case of “activist malpractice,” as Michael Colby called it.

+ Biden is a “practicing Catholic” who is openly defying the teachings of the leader of his Church on the death penalty, genocide in Gaza, climate change and economic inequality.

+ In the last year, more than 16 million people have been thrown off their health insurance.

+ Last month Cuba approved a new interferon-based nasal spray as a preventative measure against COVID. The spray was developed by the country’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, despite the crippling sanctions imposed on it by the US, where a nasal spray for Covid has yet to read the market.


+ On a summer day in 2020, four young black girls were going out to a nail salon with their mother, Brittney Gilliam, when they were pulled over by police in Aurora, Colorado, who mistakenly believed the car Gilliam was driving had been stolen. As Gilliam was led away in handcuffs, the four girls, one of whom was 6 years old and wearing a pink tiara, were forced to the pavement in parking at gunpoint. Two of the girls had their wrists handcuffed, and one of them cried out“Mommy.” The cops held their guns drawn for about three-and-a-half minutes, and only removed the girls’ handcuffs after eight-and-a-half minutes, once they realized the car Gilliam was driving wasn’t stolen. Gilliam sued and this week the troubled Aurora Police Department settled for $1.9 million. Two of the officers who terrorized the young girls remain on the police force.

+ The NYPD makes 40 times more arrests for fare evasion at the Atlantic Av. L station in Brownsville/East New York than at an average stop in the City.

+ A Louisiana law allows judges to profit from their own decisions in criminal cases, taking money from the poorest people in our society and using it for luxury benefits. An in-depth piece by Type Investigations shows that judges across the state have “used these Judicial Expense Funds (JEFs) to pay for expenses ranging from the staff salaries and law library subscriptions to luxury cars and rooms at the Ritz Carlton.” The practice continues even though these court-funding mechanisms that originated in the Jim Crow era were ruled unconstitutional by two federal court decisions in 2019.

+ From 2019 to 2021, the number of children killed by gun violence has increased by about 50 percent to a new high of 4,733.

+ Hawai’i’s Supreme Court ruled this week that its state constitution does not protect an individual right to bear arms. In his majority opinion, Justice Todd Eddins takes direct aim at the deeply flawed reasoning of the US  Supreme Court in its recent gun cases. Eddins writes:

History is prone to misuse. In the Second Amendment cases, the Court distorts and cherry-picks historical evidence. It shrinks, alters, and discards historical facts that don’t fit…Bruen unravels durable law. No longer are there the levels of scrutiny and public safety balancing tests long used by our nation’s courts to evaluate firearms laws. Instead, the Court ad-libs a “history-only” standard.

+ On Saturday, LAPD officers shot and killed a man in Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. The man was allegedly waving a plastic fork.  Here’s how LAPD spokesperson Lt. Letisia Ruiz defended the shooting to KTLA: “Any object can cause harm, depending on how it’s used.”

+ RIP  Craig Watkins, the first black DA in Texas history, who created the first nationally recognized Conviction Integrity Unit, presided over more than 35 exonerations, and designed a roadmap for addressing legitimate post-conviction claims of actual innocence.

+ San Francisco Mayor London Breed is backing a March 5 ballot measure that would require single adults on welfare to be screened and treated for illegal drug addiction or else lose cash assistance. This is squarely within the New Democrat tradition. Drug testing of impoverished single mothers was one of the punitive features of Bill Clinton’s welfare “reform,” which was pushed through the Senate by Joe Biden.

+ Justin Davis, a Pennsylvania pastor who was fired by his Church after he appeared in a video welcoming LGTB parishioners to the congregation, decided to run for office in Harrisburg to denounce the deadly conditions in the Dauphin County jail. Although he ran a shoestring campaign, Davis won a surprise victory and flipped the balance of the county government. Now Davis aims to improve the conditions inside one of the most notorious jails in the country, where at least eighteen prisoners have died since 2019.

+ Rep. Jason Shoaf, a Republican from Port St. Joe, Florida, wants the state to adopt a “stand your ground”-like law targeting what he describes as bearsthat are on crack” kicking people’s doors down in the middle of the night.

+ A video taken by a high school student shows an Indiana lawmaker flashing a gun to students who were visiting the statehouse to talk to legislators about gun control.

+ Alabama Democrat Rep. Juandalynn Givan has put forth a bill that calls for convicted rapists to be either castrated or given a vasectomy, Newsweek reported.

+ Lawsuits against prison guards are costing the state millions a year. Ten years ago, a state fund paid out $177,567 related to lawsuits against Alabama Department of Corrections employees and leaders. In 2023, it paid $3.5 million. And, according to the Alabama Daily News, in the first three months of fiscal 2024, it has already shelled out $1.3 million. The prisons being hit with the most claims, and most expensive lawsuits, are St. Clair Correctional Facility ($4.47 million) and Donaldson ($2.48 million).

+ A panel recommended ex-LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva be ineligible for rehire after finding he violated county policies by discriminating against & harassing the Inspector General.

+ In Mississippi, incarcerated women were sent to work at Popeye’s for less than minimum wage and even “hired” out to individuals to do housework, yardwork, etc.

+ Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey just nominated her former romantic partner, Gabrielle Wolohojian, a corporate lawyer known for defending businesses against consumer class action suits, for a seat on the state’s supreme court.

+ Justin Mohn, a MAGA man from Levittown, Pennsylvania, beheaded his father, whom he denounced as a “20-year federal employee,” then posted a video of the decapitated head in a bloody plastic on YouTube, while calling for a “revolution” against the “woke mobs” and the “Biden regime” and to fight an “army of illegal immigrants.” Meanwhile, down in Palm Beach a 44-year-old MAGA man named Brian McGann, Jr. became so enraged when he learned that his father had been vaccinated against COVID that he drove his pickup truck to Brian McGann, Sr.’s house and beat him to death. We’re going to have to revise Oedipus for the MAGA era.


+ During the deluge that submerged much of California this week, a weather station on the UCLA campus recorded nearly 12 inches of rain in 24 hours, a one-in-1000-year rainfall event for Westwood. (Probably happen five more times in the next ten years.)

+ Down in Long Beach, where the LA River meets the Pacific…

+ January 2024 was the warmest January on record according to the recently released ERA5 reanalysis. This is the 8th consecutive monthly record.

+ Global sea surface temperatures hit another record high on Tuesday, reaching 21.13°C for the first time in recorded history.

+ Of the world’s three largest tropical rainforest regions, the Amazon, Southeast Asia, and the Congo, only Congo has enough standing forest to remain a strong net carbon sink.

+ Describing the current classification system as inadequate, a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences calls for adding a Category 6 to the hurricane scale, as climate change intensifies the destructive power of hurricanes.

+ Poland has adopted new measures to protect ecosystems. including a ban on logging across more than 1.4 million hectares; restrictions on unprocessed log exports; and giving Polish citizens new rights to oversee forests and restore wetlands and peatlands.

+ More than 110 people were killed in wildfires on the urban/rural interface near Valparaiso, Chile. Hundreds are still missing, making these the deadliest wildfires in South American history. Many of the fires burned in monocultural plantations.

+ In the past 10 years, 183 counties in the US saw their first wind project come online. However, according to an analysis by USA Today, over the same period, nearly 375 counties passed measures blocking new wind developments.

+ The Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimates that large-scale cryptocurrency operations are now consuming more than 2 percent of the US’s electricity.”

+ In Florida, the loss of only 3 percent of the state’s wetland area resulted in $480 million in property damage during just one hurricane.

+ This poor orca must’ve been trapped in one of the few ice patches left in the North Pacific…

+ The Scottish government appointed the former head of North Sea exploration at Shell to the board of its main environmental watchdog.

+ After the toxic derailment in East Palestine, Northfolk Southern increased its lobbying outlays by 30%. The rail company’s lobbying expenditures are now 5 times what the company has pledged to spend to protect drinking water around East Palestine. And the spending seems to have worked, as a bipartisan rail safety bill has stalled.

+ Areas in southern Europe could experience a 10-fold increase in the probability of catastrophic fires under a moderate climate change scenario.” In addition, “The entire European continent will experience a lengthening of the fire season.”

+ Shark bites are increasing, even as shark populations are falling: Ya think there might be a connection?

+ According to the EPA, tightening air pollution standards from 12 micrograms per square meter to 9 will yield “up to $46 billion in net health benefits in 2032. For every $1 spent from this action, there could be as much as $77 in human health benefits in 2032.”

+ The Biden administration announced this week that the northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves that spans several states will stay off the ESA list of protected species, exposing wolves to ongoing slaughter in Montana and Idaho, where vigilantes are offering $1,000 bounties for each wolf killed.

+ In the last three months of 2023, at least nine Mexican gray wolves are known to have died, making a total of 30 for the year: 13 in Arizona and 17 in New Mexico. Most of the wolf deaths last year were due to illegal killing and vehicle strikes, which, along with declining genetic diversity, remain the greatest threats to the long-term survival of lobos.

+ Meanwhile, a former state conservation officer is under investigation for killing a wolf in Wisconsin.

+ And the wolf slaughter is just the beginning. Here’s Doug Peacock’s preview of what the coming war on grizzly bears is likely to look like.

+ In the largest settlement of its kind in Colorado, Suncor was fined more than $10 million for repeated air pollution violations, that many residents and activists have blamed for the high cancer near the plant. “It’s pocket change again. It’s just another slap on the hand, at least for us. I mean none of that funding is going to the community,” said Lucy Molina, who has been organizing against Suncor’s air pollution for more than a decade. “They’re not our good friends, they’re not our good neighbor. They need to get out of here is what they need to do.”

+ Cynophobe Chloe Savigny on what’s ruining NCY: “The athleisure and the dogs are taking over, and that’s really unfortunate. Everybody’s in Lululemon and has a fucking dog and it’s driving me crazy. I’m sorry, dog lovers. There are too many of you.”

+ There were around 2.2 billion bike trips in the US in 2022. A little more than half of them are for recreation or social visits. Twenty percent involved travel to school or church and thirteen percent were trips from home to work and back.


+ RIP Wayne Kramer…

+ “What an artist can only do is gain the courage to be really honest about what he feels, and have the technique to back it up in the face of a world that couldn’t care less.” — Wayne Kramer

+ David Sedaris: “Austin, Texas, April 10, 2006. At last night’s book signing I met a woman whose father had eaten her placenta. “He was a hippie, and he ate my sister’s too,” she told me. “When we each got our first haircut, he ate a few strands of our hair.” “Goodness,” I said. “I hope he wasn’t around when you got your first period.” (A Carnival of Snackery)

+ Garrett Morris at his Walk of Fame ceremony: “Today, ladies and gentlemen, is my 87th birthday. They say only the good die young. I must be an evil muthafucka.”

+ Mel Brooks on Blazing Saddles: “I just wanted to exorcise both my angels and demons. I said to all the writers, Look, fellas, don’t worry, this movie will never get released. Never. Warner Bros will see it and they’ll say, ‘Let’s bury it.’ So let’s go nuts.”

+ John Cale, who told film-maker Todd Haynes that he made experimental music because he didn’t want to be “part of the economy,” described his early “sound” compositions with Tony Conrad from 1963: “The most stable thing we could tune to was the sixty-cycle hum of the refrigerator. Because to us, the sixty-cycle hum was the drone of Western civilization.”

+ Steven Monacelli: “I cannot name one Toby Keith song and that’s the way God intended it.”

+ Michael Socolaw on Mojo Nixon, who died this week: “He hated lawyers, banks, regulators (especially the FCC), cable TV companies, Martha Stewart, France, music companies, and corporate radio networks. He loved Elvis, football, girls, stock car racing, alcohol, waterslides, barbecue sauce…”

Kick Out the Jams, MF-ers, One Last Time

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Reckoning: From the Second Slavery to Abolition, 1776-1888
Robin Blackburn

The Case for Open Borders
John Washington

Enchanted Forests: the Poetic Construction of a World Before Time
Boria Sax

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Grupo Irakere
Grupo Irakere
(Mr. Bongo)

Until We Meet Again
Sy Smith
(Foreign Exchange)

(Sub Pop)

A Real Groupie

“A real groupie is someone who loves the music and wants to do it with the guys who make it and someone who goes after what they want, so a groupie is a feminist thing. A woman who goes after what she wants is a feminist. So I’ve never been anything but a feminist. I took the birth control pill on the Strip in front of everybody and that was my statement. I control my body, I can do whatever the fuck I want.” 

– Pamela de Barres, I’m With the Band

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