Roaming Charges: Too Obvious to be Real

Troll, Nordic Center, Portland, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.

– T.S. Eliot. “Burnt Norton”

+ An AP poll from this week found that 6 in 10 US adults doubt the mental capability of Biden and Trump.

+ What it looks like when the Void stares into you…

+ Biden obsessively pursues deals with the far right–even Trump–not out of some devotion to the sacred art of political comprise but because no matter where the Democratic Party stands on any given issue Biden always feels it’s too far left for his comfort. 

+ Who can still rationalize supporting Biden now? Even the credit card companies who’ve been his chief sponsor his entire career (and he’s been around almost as long as they have) are about to cut him adrift…

+ Don’t worry, Biden isn’t isolated, his top aides assure us. He regularly seeks outside advice from…Larry Summers, Thomas Friedman and Mitch McConnell!

+ Mitch  McConnell will step down as Republican leader in the fall. McConnell was elected to the US Senate in 1985, by which time Biden had already been a senator for 13 years…

+ Looks like those secret sessions Biden’s been having bouncing ideas off of McConnell really paid off…for Trump.

+ McConnell announced his retirement the same week his sister-in-law, the billionaire Angela Chao, was found drowned in her Tesla in a pond on the family ranch. It was initially thought to be an accident but is now being investigated as “suspicious.

+ Here’s Biden’s mystifying answer to a question on what he would do to protect reproductive rights from the all-out assault being waged in the courts and statehouses…

+ Biden has always been against abortion and effectively banned it for poor women through his support of the Hyde Amendment. If the country’s changed, he hasn’t. He remains constitutionally incapable of campaigning on the one issue that might save his presidency.

+ American women who can afford it will soon be forced to travel to Catholic countries like Ireland, Mexico and France to get abortions…

+ The Liberal Conscience in Action: “Honestly, I don’t know if I can in good conscience vote for Jill Stein or Cornel West. Sure they’re against genocide, which is good, as far as it goes, but do they have a position on the marginal tax rate or price supports for winter wheat?”

+ The “Uncommitted” Minnesota campaign was launched only 8 days before the election on a total budget of $20,000 with a goal of getting 5,000 votes. It won nearly 46,000 votes (18%) and trounced the vote total for U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips in his home state. Uncommitted will be sending at least 11 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

+ In Barack Obama’s home state of Hawai’i, Uncommitted tallied 29% of the vote and will send 7 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

+ On the other hand, what has happened to the peace movement in Iowa (where Uncommitted only tallied 4% of the vote), which used to be so vibrant during the Central American and Gulf Wars?

+ Bernie usually doesn’t morph into his Marvel Sheepdog character until the general elections. Everything’s happening early this year…

+ As much as I support Uncommitted, I’d’ve been very tempted to vote for the Legalize Marijuana Now Party candidate in Minnesota, Vermin Supreme.

+ A new poll conducted in Michigan by Howard University shows President Biden’s support among Black voters has dropped to 49% from 94% in 2020, while Trump’s support has risen to 26% — three times what it was in 2020.

+ Moshik Temkin: “If Trump actually wins in November, while our elites blame the voters, I’m going to focus closely on the person who ran against him and lost. There is absolutely no good reason why, after everything that’s happened, Trump should be elected again. It would be 100% on his opponent.”

+ In order to evade protesters and hecklers, Biden’s campaign team is scaling down the size of his events and keeping some of the times and locations of his appearances secret. As Jeet Heer said, Biden’s running as if he’s in the witness protection program. Which doesn’t seem like a terribly successful campaign strategy.

+ Kamala Harris’s speech mildly criticizing Israel’s conduct during its invasion of Gaza and calling for a temporary ceasefire to release the hostages and get into Gaza was apparently made even weaker during final edits by the White House before she delivered it near the Edmund Pettis Bridge. One Democrat strategist who worked on the Biden/Harris campaign in 2020 told NBC News: “Her hands are tied. People are not attacking her because they know that this is not her policy. This is Biden’s war. This is Biden’s failure. I think she would have asked for a cease-fire a long time ago.” Harris doesn’t have much going for her, but she does apparently have better staff than Biden, who are capable of leaking these kinds of ass-covering anecdotes to the press…

+ Biden 2020 voters support blocking arms shipments to Israel by 62%–14% majority; Trump voters oppose by 55%–30%.

+ If CNN had covered the starvation of Palestinian children in Gaza as a planned event, as Yoav Gallant himself pronounced, instead of running nearly every story on Gaza past the red pen of Israeli censors (official & volunteer, ie, Wolf Blitzer) it might not have come to this…

Three months ago, Karim Khan, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, warned that ”Humanitarian assistance must be allowed in at pace, at scale in Gaza…If Israel doesn’t comply now, they shouldn’t complain later.” Still, he’s not taken any action.

+ After Aaron Bushnell set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in protest of its genocidal war on Gaza, the first responder ordered him to the ground. The second pulled a gun on him as the flames engulfed his body. Only the third tried to put out the fire.

+++

+ There’s no question Thomas Creech committed some awful crimes. But perhaps none as awful as what the state of Idaho did to him last week when it tried to carry out its first execution in 12 years, using, in the words of Creech’s lawyers, “unknown individuals with unknown training” who attempted to “inject him with the State’s mysteriously acquired pentobarbital.” The members of the Idaho Department of Corrections’ death squad jabbed Creech 10 times, searching futilely in both of his arms and both of his legs for a vein that would hold the lethal IV needle. Creech is one of the oldest prisoners on death row. He has been in prison most of his life. He was sentenced to death in 1981 by a judge not a jury and Creech’s challenge to that sentence as a violation of his Eight Amendment rights was dismissed by the Idaho Supreme Court as “untimely.” Idaho has a history of purchasing execution drugs from what Creech’s lawyers called “shady sources.”

+ Michel Foucault: “It is comparatively easy to give up chopping off a few heads, because the blood makes a mess, because this is something that is no longer done in polite circles, and because there is the risk one may occasionally kill an innocent person. One gets into a more serious and difficult debate when it comes to giving up the death penalty in terms of establishing the principle that no public power (no more than any individual) has the right to take anyone’s life. At that point, you immediately come to the questions of war, the army, compulsory military service, and so on.”

+ Iran hanged at least 834 people in 2023, the second-highest number of executions in at least twenty years.

+ Violent crime in the US has declined by 49 percent since it peaked in 1991.

+ Things people have been holding when shot by the LAPD: phones, lighters, a bike part, a car part, a wooden board and, most recently, a plastic fork.

+ A new report from the Texas Defender Service found that 20 of the 21 people sentenced to death in Harris County were people of color.

+ In the U.S., Black women are six times more likely to be killed than white women, according to a new study in The Lancet. In some states, the rate is even higher. In Wisconsin, Black women were 20 times more likely to be killed.

+ A former Missouri car salesman named Harry Trueblood, who sold at least 250 guns across the state, thirty of which ended up at crime scenes, including murders and suicides, was convicted of selling guns without a license and sentenced to…probation.

+ Only a couple of weeks after New York Governor Kathy Hochul was ridiculed for saying she reserved the right to obliterate Canada if it decided to cross Lake Erie and raid Buffalo, Hochul announced that she is dispatching the National Guard into the subways of NYC, authorizing the troops (under no known constitutional provision) to search bags at stations predominately used by poor and minority subway riders. As John Teufel pointed out, the Governor’s theatrical move comes despite the fact subway crime was down 2.5 percent in 2023 over the previous year and “ is on par with 2013/2014 numbers, when everybody was crowing about how safe the subway is.”

+ Hochul: “[Riders] can refuse. We can refuse them. They can walk.”

+ Hochul has that demented HRC gaze and haughty rectitude, revealed by the too-wide open eyes and icy smirk–as if she’d just taken a hit of amyl nitrate and is ready to bomb Benghazi or invade the Bronx…

+ Ending stop and frisk in NYC resulted in 44% fewer children dropping out of school due to contact with the criminal court system.

+ Police chases kill around 700 people a year. Most of the victims aren’t even the fleeing drivers. San Francisco just voted to

+ Cops kill more than 10,000 pet dogs every year.

+ The World Food Program has sent 144 metric tons of powdered milk to Cuba, in response to Cuba’s first-ever request for “urgent assistance” to WFP. Cuba’s economic crisis has been fueled by crushing U.S. sanctions imposed by Trump and maintained by Biden. When he was Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo told European diplomats that the goal was to “starve” the island, and Biden has kept almost every Trump measure in place, and added a few as well.

+ For three decades, as the Democrats went Full-Metal Neoliberal, they tried to keep the Left in line at election time by vowing to be the guardians of the Supreme Court. In that time, the Court moved farther to the right than it’s been since Plessy v. Ferguson and they did nothing to expand the court or restrict the reach of its judicial review.

+ Thousands of former Confederates, including Jefferson Davis, were disqualified from running for office under the 14th Amendment. None of them were disqualified by an act of Congress. So much for originalism.

+ The Courts aren’t broken but working as they almost always have from Dred Scott (1857) to Plessy (1896) to Lochner (1905) to Buck v Bell (1927, eugenics) to Korematsu (1944) to Bowers (1986, sodomy) to Bush v. Gore (2000) to Citizens United (2010) to Bruen & Dobbs (2022).

+ Democrats in the Senate still haven’t subpoenaed Harlan Crow or Leonard Leo.

+++

+ Even as the risk of default has declined,  credit card companies have raised interest rates and late fees to record levels, generating $25  billion in profits.

+ The rich are gobbling up real estate…with cash. Almost 70% of New York City homes purchased in the final quarter of 2023 were bought without a mortgage.

+ A report from Zillow shows a steep increase in the income needed to afford a “typical” home in Portland, Oregon, pushing homeownership beyond the reach of most Portlanders. In 2020, Portlanders needed to earn $95,960 to buy a typical home. At the time, the median income for Portlanders was $77,987 and monthly mortgage payments at $1,871.By 2024, Portlanders needed to earn $161,624 to afford a typical home and the monthly mortgage payments are $3,574 a month. The median income in Portland is now around $96,137.

+ We’ve entered the Snap-Crackle-and-Pop stage of Capitalism… Gary Pilnick, the multimillionaire CEO of Kellogg, told Squawk Box that poor families in the US should economize by eating cereal for dinner: “The cereal category has always been quite affordable, and it tends to be a great destination when consumers are under pressure. If you think about the cost of cereal for a family versus what they might otherwise do, that’s going to be much more affordable.” The price of cereal has increased by 28% in the last four years.

+ After a grandmother who suffered from dementia died in Loveland, Colorado, her family was charged $4,000 in fees by her corporate Greystar, which claimed Leticia Farrer’s “unexpected death” in its senior living complex meant she broke her lease.

+ Susannah Morgan, president of the venerable Oregon Food Bank, spoke this week of the dire food shortages among the state’s swelling ranks of poor and houseless this week: “We are living through the worst rates of hunger since the Great Depression; it’s a hundred-year flood of hunger.”

+ Dartmouth University basketball players voted on Tuesday to unionize, a historic step toward forming the first union in college sports.

+ Until the 1980s, about three of every four doctors in the U.S. worked for themselves, owning small clinics. Today, more than 75 percent of physicians are employees of hospital systems or large corporations.

+ Teachers in Philly are guaranteed 10 sick days per year, but they are progressively penalized for taking them.  The rule is coming under fire as Philly faces particularly high levels of educator attrition and as the district faces a shortage of teachers.

+ Last April the IMF predicted Brazil’s GDP would grow by 0.9% in 2023. Last week, the actual growth rate for 2023 was revealed as 2.9%, 14th highest in the world.

+ Doug Henwood: “Cumulative real wage change during Biden’s 36 months in office: -2.2%. During the previous 36 months: 4.5%. That’s a 6.7 point difference.”

+ In the first 5 years of the Trump tax law:

109 corporations paid $0 federal tax in at least one year.

55 corporations paid a rate of less than 5%.

342 corporations paid an average tax rate of just 14.1%.

+++

+ Given the record temperature in the Atlantic basin, hurricane season may start early and end late this year…

+ Fifteen years before it was predicted, the average global temperature has breached 1.5C above pre-industrial levels over a 12-month period.

+ Oil and gas profits have tripled under Biden, but still the industry wants to evict him in favor of Trump. It’s a lesson Biden still hasn’t learned after five decades in politics.

+ For the third year in a row Atlantic sea ice reached a new low, signaling that the continent’s sea ice has undergone an ‘abrupt critical transition.’”

+ The Smokehouse Creek fire in West Texas began a week ago Monday, spread more than 80 miles in the space of a few hours and at some points was growing as much as 150 football fields every minute. By Thursday, it had become the second-largest burn in modern American history and is now larger than any California wildfire on record.

“According to the National Interagency Fire Center, Minnesota & Wisconsin will see an above-normal wildfire risk starting as soon as March.”

+ By March 1st the 2024 fire season had already burned 1.5 million acres–more than 50% of all acres burned last year nationally.

+ With global temperatures rising to unprecedented levels, fossil fuel subsidies surged to a record $7 trillion in 2022.

+ So much groundwater has been pumped out of California’s Central Valley that the ground has sunk by 20 feet or more.

+ After years of funding climate denial, Exxon’s CEO Darren Woods told Fortune magazine this week that the public was to blame for climate change, not the fossil fuel industry: “The dirty secret nobody talks about is how much all this is going to cost and who’s willing to pay for it. The people who are generating those emissions need to be aware of and pay the price for generating those emissions. That is ultimately how you solve the problem.”

+ With at least 150 so-called zombie fires from last year still burning under snow-covered ground, Canada is bracing for another “This year’s fire season may be worse than the record-breaking season of 2023, when 1000s of fires burned 48 million acres million acres. ‘There’s no historical analog to what we’re seeing right now,” said Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildfire science at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. “Most years they’re not a big deal. But now a lot of these fires have the potential that when the snow melts and it gets warm, dry and windy to actually grow again. So it is a serious issue.”

+ It snowed here in the Willamette Valley on the opening days of meteorological spring, but as for winter…28% of the lower 48 states experienced temperatures at least 5 degrees above normal for the entire season.

+ A new study published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth and Environment projects that under all future emissions scenarios, the Arctic Ocean will likely become ice-free for the first time on a late August or early September day within the next 10 to 15 years.

+ The industrial farms and feed lots of the rural Midwest are fouling the water supply: In Wisconsin, 80,000 wells are contaminated with unsafe levels of nitrate. In Iowa, more than 6,000 wells.

+ The North Atlantic sea surface temperature has been at record warm levels for an entire year now, setting daily record highs every day for 365 consecutive days and counting.

+ Apparently, there was no ‘statistically significant’ link between climate change and Chile’s massive wildfires. The underlying factor was the fires took place in monocultural plantations.

+ Following France, Spain is banning some short-haul domestic flights, and possibly private jets as well, as part of its plan to reduce carbon emissions. The restrictions would apply to most flights with a rail alternative that take less than two and a half hours.

+ New study in Nature: “Almost the entire vegetated land surface [of the planet] will be subject to substantial changes in how climate supports the plants that define terrestrial ecosystems…A profound transformation of the biosphere is underway.”

+ On Christmas Day, Patrick Quaintance, a former warden for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, killed a female wolf from the Echo Valley pack, who had given birth to and raised 35 pups over the years. She had been collared and studied by the Red Cliff Ojibwe tribe and the DNR for nine years. The wolf may have been lured to her death with bait…

+ Microplastics have now been found in every human placenta tested and in most arteries. People with these micro- and nanoplastics in plaque lining a major blood vessel in their neck may have a higher risk of heart attack, stroke or death, according to new findings in the New England Journal of Medicine.

+ A decade after the Flint water crisis was exposed, the city’s residents still haven’t been compensated from the $626 million legal settlement. Meanwhile, the lawyers and the administrators have already received millions in fees…And Flint still doesn’t have clean water.

+ A new study published in Nature Climate Change projects that deforestation combined with climate change could negatively impact 84% of North America’s lizards by the end of the century. Nearly 1 in 5 could face population decline.

+ A marine heatwave may have led to the deaths by starvation of 7,000 humpback whales.

+ A couple of weeks ago an endangered fin whale washed up on the north Oregon Coast. I ventured out with our niece Casey on a stormy morning to find it, three miles farther up Sunset Beach than we’d been led to believe. In the end, we just followed the hundreds of eagles, gulls, and ravens, which had been feasting on it. The tides had whipped the 75-foot-long whale’s carcass into a v-shape, its guts spilling on the beach. I was surprised by the whale’s sleekness. The fin whales must move fast in the deep, cold waters of the Pacific. Few species were hunted as mercilessly as fin whales, more than 750,000 were killed in the Southern Pacific alone from 1950 until commercial whaling was finally outlawed in the 1980s.

  

+++

+ Here’s Biden, our presidential trichophiliac, nuzzling the hair of the Italian fascist Giorgia Meloni…

Photo: White House.

+ Meloni’s neo-fascist party in Italy wants to use AI to assign mandatory jobs for Italian youth: “The young person will no longer be able to choose whether to work or not, but [will be] bound to accept the job offer … under penalty of loss of all benefits.”

+ Anthony Hudson, a GOP congressional candidate in Michigan, says only English-speaking citizens should be allowed to vote: “If you are an American citizen, you need to be able to speak English to be able to vote. We’re not going to waste taxpayer dollars on translations … This is bullshit.”

+ Meanwhile, Darrell McClanahan III, the candidate atop the Republican ballot for governor in Missouri, said he was only an “honorary” member of the KKK, but he admits he’s a “pro-White man” and concedes that he went to a “religious Christian Identity Cross lighting ceremony.”

+ After Alabama lawmakers passed a bill aimed at restoring access to IVF in the state following the state Supreme Court’s ruling that frozen embryos were human beings, the leading Anti-abortion groups are demanding that the governor veto it.

+ House Speaker Mike Johnson, co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which used to contain an IVF exemption, but now doesn’t, “grappling” with the question of whether the destruction of IVF frozen embryos constitutes murder:

CBSNews: Do you see standard IVF practices as murder?

Mike Johnson: It’s something that we’ve got to grapple with. It’s a brave new world. IVF’s only been invented [sic], I think, in the early 1970s.

+ When it comes to reforming the US electoral system, we need to think big, such as extending the franchise to every resident of a country (there are at least 80 of them) that “hosts” a US military base and thus, in effect, live under a kind of US occupation.

+++

+ The International Criminal Court prosecutor charged two Russian military commanders, Sergei Ivanovich Kobylash and Viktor Nikolayevich Sokolov for directing missile attacks against Ukraine’s electric infrastructure. These are the first ICC charges for the conduct of the war. (Putin was previously charged with abducting Ukrainian children.) Where are the charges against Yoav Gallant for instructing the IDF to do the same in Gaza?

+ The cost of the new generation of ground-based ICBMs has more than doubled in the last decade.

+ The Heritage Foundation’s foreign policy recommendation for the second Trump regime: “The President should direct a process to pre-position U.S. nuclear forces in Asia and at additional sites in Europe.” Hard to square this with pulling out of NATO…

+ Trump: “People who don’t speak languages. We have languages coming into our country, nobody that speaks those languages. They’re truly foreign languages. Nobody speaks them.”  Number of people in the US fluent in Spanish: 57 million.

+ Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville says the US must secure the border so that we can get God back in government: “You can’t do that when you have a million people every couple of months coming to this country that know nothing about God.” Apparently, Catholics “know nothing about God” in Tuberville’s understanding of Christianity…

+ Mark Robinson, the GOP’s nominee for governor of North Carolina: “I absolutely want to go back to the America where women couldn’t vote.” (March 20, 2020)

+ Meanwhile, here’s the world’s richest Incel, throwing an online fit about Mackenzie Scott giving away her fortune…

+ For years, Liberty University, the Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell, claimed to have one of the safest campuses in the country. This week it agreed to record a $14 million fine for failing to disclose crime data on its Lynchburg, Virginia campus, especially crimes involving sexual violence against female students.

+ A British judge has hit Trump with $382,000 in fees and fines for his failed lawsuit over the fantastical Steele dossier from 2016. When you’re losing suits against Christopher Steele in libel-friendly British courts, it’s time to rethink the quality of your legal representation.

+ Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman is well on his way to becoming the next Krysten Sinema. This week Fetterman, who appears to be taking his cultural views from the Libs of TikTok, withdrew his support for an LBGT community center in Philadelphia and demanded that funding for the center’s expansion be stripped from a HUD appropriations bill.

+ Meanwhile, Fetterman’s nemesis, New Jersey Senator (and gold bar bug) Robert Menendez was hit with a new series of federal indictments this week. Despite the indictments and a new Monmouth Poll showing 75% of NJ voters believe he is likely guilty of the current charges and 63% say he should resign now – including 59% of Democrats–Menendez refuses to step down.

+ By a vote of 28-1, the Florida state Senate passed a bill to remove local governments’ authority to adopt heat standards, such as guaranteed shade and rest breaks, for workers and make all current local heat protections “void and prohibited.”

+++

+ The “26% of young people believe the Holocaust is a myth” stat that generated such a media frenzy back in December was based on fake survey responses from an opt-in poll that cannot be replicated. Pew recalibrated the results from a mail-in poll and found the number was around three percent and didn’t vary across age groups.

+ In February 2022 Pew conducted an experiment on the veracity of “opt-in” surveys.  They asked opt-in participants if they were licensed to operate a class SSGN (nuclear) submarine. In the survey, 12% of adults under 30 claimed this qualification.  In reality, the share of Americans with this type of submarine license is near 0%.

+ At 211.4 percent, Argentina, now under the helm of libertarian hero Javier Milei, has the highest rate of inflation in the world.

+ Credit where credit is due: RFK, Jr. is single-handedly grinding the Kennedy name into radioactive dust…

 

+ David Edgar on Victor Orbán’s Hungary: “Orbán has described his political project as a battle on three fronts: ‘demography, migration and gender.’ Like others on the fringes of the right, he thinks the greatest threat to Western society is not climate change or China but a lack of babies.”

+ David Slater, a retired Army lieutenant colonel with access to top-secret briefings, was arrested on espionage charges last week. Slater is accused of sending classified information to a romantic interest using a dating app.  “My sweet Dave, thanks for the valuable information,” wrote Slater’s online paramour who claimed to be a woman living in Ukraine.“It’s great that two officials from the USA are going to Kyiv.”

+ The US is home to 42% of the world’s golf courses, far more than any other country. There are more golf courses in the US than McDonald’s locations.

+ Crime data from cities targeted by Texas’ “Operation Lone Star” — which transports migrants from the border to cities in the U.S. — shows overall crime levels in 2024 dropped in the cities that have received the most migrants.

+ Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro denounces US plans for sending troops into Haiti: “We don’t agree with any type of disguised invasion, bringing troops from here or there, doing what they’ve done for 100 years, a new invasion is not the solution.”

+ A British pensioner was captured this week on CCTV spray painting profanities on a statue of Margaret Thatcher in the Iron Lady’s hometown of hometown of Grantham in Lincolnshire. I wonder if she was a fan of Frank Turner… 

+ In dozens of Minnesota schools, entire grade levels are falling short of the minimum proficiency standards on state tests. Charter schools account for the overwhelming majority of the failures.

+ A group of Inuit women in Greenland are suing Denmark for forcing them to be fitted with IUD contraceptive devices in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the women were teenagers at the time. Some of them were not aware of what happened and many others did not consent to the implants.

+ Populist champion RFK, Jr.’s strange defense, after being asked about his flights on Jeffrey Epstein’s jet: “I run into everybody in New York. I mean, I knew Harvey Weinstein, I knew Roger Ailes, I knew — O.J. Simpson came to my house. Bill Cosby came to my house.”

+++

“Don Cherry” is a French science fiction film from 1973 about ”a black man, a free jazz trumpeter, who comes to earth from another planet. He searches for the truth of this world, but doesn’t know which path to take. He wanders various roads, killing monsters.” The film stars…Don Cherry!

+ French film director Claire Denis responding to rumors of her retirement: “I think the best way to retire is to die.”

+ When Sean Lennon asked Yoko what she’d liked to do at her 79th birthday party, Yoko replied: “Rock the fuck out.”

+ RIP Richard Lewis, whose art was the comedic exploration of anxiety:

I’m obsessive-compulsive. For example, I can watch John Cassavetes’s films over and over again. When I used to date women much younger than me, I would put them through training periods—”This is Ingmar Bergman week,” “This is Stanley Kubrick week.” It was very controlling, because they had to enjoy what I enjoyed. I see now how foolish and crazy and narcissistic it was. I like dark films. There’s a French film called The Mother and the Whore [1973]. It came out about a year after Last Tango in Paris [1972], which blew my mind and frightened me because it’s all about fear of intimacy. When I watch Marlon Brando in that movie now and I realize that I’m so much older now than he was when he was in it . . . Even though I got married, I still have . . . you know, those shadows followed me, those intimacy problems. The Mother and the Whore, though, was directed by Jean Eustache. He was this guy who came after the French New Wave and who wound up committing suicide. Jean-Pierre Léaud, who was one of my favorite actors, is in the movie. So I come home one night and I’m watching this film and I’m saying, “God, it looks like a [Bernardo] Bertolucci movie. It’s so dark. But I’ve never seen Jean-Pierre in a movie like this.” And it went on and on. It’s a masterpiece. It’s the greatest film I’ve ever seen on the Madonna-whore complex. So I do obsess over these films—I watch them over and over because, I guess, I sort of feel less alone and less crazy when I see some of these works of darkness.

+ When poets made the cover of Time…

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

+ From Sylvia Plath’s journal of March 1956: “And I think of that magnificent poem by James Joyce: ‘I hear an army charging on the land…’ and the final irrevocable lines in which, after that dynamic thunder of horses and whirling laughter and long green hair coming of out of the sea, there is the simple series of words with all the anguish in the world:

My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?
My love, my love, my love, why have you left me here alone?”

+ My Oscar picks…

Best Film: American Fiction
Best Actor:  Jeffrey Wright (American Fiction)
Supporting Actor: Mark Ruffalo (Poor Things)
Best Actress: Lily Gladstone (Killings of the Flower Moon)
Best Supporting Actress: DaVine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers)
Best Animated Feature: The Boy and the Heron
Best Cinematography: Robbie Ryan (Poor Things)
Director: Jonathon Glazer
Documentary Feature: 20 Days in Mariupol
Documentary Short: ABCs of Book Banning
International Feature: Zone of Interest
Best Song: Wahzhazhe (Song for My People) Scott George (Killings of the Flower Moon)
Best Score: Robbie Robertson (Killings of the Flower Moon)

Hey, White Boy, What You Doin’ Uptown?

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Breaking the Chains: African American Slave Resistance
William Loren Katz
(Seven Stories)

Towers of Ivory and Steel: How Israeli Universities Deny Palestinian Freedom
Maya Wind
(Verso)

Why Animals Talk: the New Science of Animal Communication
Arik Kershenbaum
(Viking)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Speak to Me
Julian Lage
(Blue Note)

Y’Y
Amaro Freitas
(Psychic Hotline)

Too Hot to Sleep
Daniel Romano
(You’ve Changed Records)

The Heart of an Arctic Crystal

“To enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable anymore. For this reason, a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.”

– Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

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