Roaming Charges: Woke Me When It’s Over

The Nightmare, Henry Fuseli, 1781. (Detroit Institute of the Arts.)

+ One begins to see the emerging contours of how Biden will triangulate with the House Republicans: gut Social Security (which he’s always wanted to do anyway) to fund his Ukraine war (which the Republicans want to do anyway). What Bill Clinton used to call the Old Win-Win. As people who managed to live through it will remember, one of the hallmarks of the Clintonian Win-Win Solution is that in reality almost everyone loses, except for Wall Street and the weapons contractors, who are, of course, the only ones who matter …

+ The real problem with Trump and Biden absconding with classified documents is the classification system itself, top secret is now stamped on almost anything–especially documents recording the malfeasance and crimes of our own government Most of these documents should be available for all of us to read.

+ You’re not really President until you’ve a) bombed someone, preferably a village few Americans have heard of; and b) had a special prosecutor appointed to rummage through the papers in your garage…

+ A sign of where the War on Wokeness is headed: The GOP has opened the House side of the capitol to indoor smoking. (The first ban on smoking in the House was enacted in 1871, aka Year 8 AW (Anno Woke, which most historians say began with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.)

+ Only 65 Democrats (in a body with a 100-member strong Progressive Caucus) voted against the creation of a new Special Committee of the House on China, whose chair-designee, Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin, said would focus on how “to win this new Cold War with Communist China.”

+ “30 years ago” = 1993, the year Bill Clinton, Al Gore and the “New” Democrats took office…

+ Signs your society is seriously screwed up: Record number of construction jobs and a record number of homeless people….

+ Every 3.3 hours the average CEO in the US gets paid as much as an average home health aide earns in an entire year.

+ Corporations are giving workers in low-wage jobs ornate titles (“Guest Experience Leader” = restaurant host, “Director of First Impressions” = front desk clerk) to evade the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and deny workers overtime pay, a strategy that allowing corporations to avoid $4 billion in overtime payments annually.

+ 13: the number of years it’s been since Congress raised the federal minimum wage, which stands at $7.25 an hour ($15,080 per year).

+ A new paper published in the Journal of Heath Affairs looked at the economic and social effects of the 2021 Child Tax Credit, which from July to December 2021 gave qualifying families up to $3,600 per child in auto monthly payments. The study found that not only did the payments appear to have “reduced child poverty by half,” but the credits also notably “improved the mental health of adults in the lowest-income families.”

+ State government workers in Texas (there are around 150,000 of them) are some of the most overworked and underpaid in the US. As a result, they’re quitting in droves. Last year, the turn-over rate was In 2021, the turnover rate was 21%, the highest in at least 20 years.

+ According to Gallup, Americans trust nurses more than any other profession (journalists and politicians come in slightly above telemarketers.) Still they seem content to watch them be worked to the bone and paid shit wages…

+ According to the Gothamist, NYC’s Mount Sinai hospital is offering scab nurses $300/hr to cover the NICU amid strike. Staff nurses are paid $52.

+ A nurse on the picket lines in NYC this week:  “It’s always short… New nurses who are barely trained on their unit get floated to another unit. So they’re risking their own license, and patient safety. We were promised that as soon as the pandemic is over, things will get better… and it never did.”

+ Jacob Rees-Mogg, former Tory Secretary of Business and one of the most clamorous of the Brexiteers, will receive around £500,000 in annual dividends from his stake in Somerset Capital Management, the investment fund he co-founded in 2007.

+ Two decades of austerity have finally paid off for the UK…

+ According to a research paper by the Federal Reserve: The surge in retirements since 2020 “accounts for essentially all of the shortfall” in labor force participation rates: “More than half of the increase in the number of retirees appears to be a direct result of the pandemic.”

+ How many more blows to its exceptional image of itself is one nation expected to endure? “We think of the giant superstore as a quintessentially American phenomenon, the product of our national gluttony and fascination with infinite variations on mostly identical goods, but the first hypermarché opened in France or Belgium in the late 1960s.”

+ Jeff Hauser and Max Moran at the Revolving Door Project report that Larry Summers, last seen in a beachfront rant griping about the high employment rate, advised the crypto conglomerate DCG for six years. The firm’s trading desk has been publicly accused of fraud, and is currently under investigation by both the Department of Justice and the SEC. As for Summers, he discreetly left DCG a few months before the shit hit the fan.

+ $31,065:  yearly cost to criminalize a single person experiencing homelessness.

$10,051: yearly cost for providing supportive housing for a person experiencing homelessness.

+ Yet another heart-warming episodes in the Go-Fund-Me Stage of Capitalism…

+ You have to step over or around the victims of capitalism to enter this new “museum” in DC, funded in part by a donor of $10 million from Viktor Orban’s Hungarian government

Watch as Fox News explores Washington’s first-ever museum for the victims of communism. pic.twitter.com/8wjpMTUXTI

— Victims of Communism (@VoCommunism) January 9, 2023

+ In Indonesia, the opposite is happening. President Joko Widodo acknowledges a number of savage human rights abuses in the country’s history, including the mass murder of leftists and communists in 1965-66. Widodo also expressed “deep regret” for crimes, including the abduction of students under Suharto and deadly anti-Chinese riots in 1998.

+ Apparently, China wants to force the Brits to be numerate in order to calculate reparations for the Opium Wars and occupation of Hong Kong…

+ Lula: “The Market built a narrative that everything in Brazil that is not a payment on loan interest, which is 13.5%, is an expenditure. They never complain that the government shouldn’t pay such high interest rates. The government has an obligation to take care of the most needy.”

+ What American politician knows how and when to talk like this and then act on it? Sanders is, I suppose, the best we’ve got and his rather awkward, ponderous style doesn’t come close the facility, authenticity and vehemence of Lula’s rhetoric…

+++

+ The FDA and the Justice Department has authorized the sale and delivery by mail of morning after abortion pills. Now the state of Alabama is threatening to prosecute any women (not providers) who use them, under the state’s “chemical-endangerment law” law, originally enacted to protect children from meth lab fumes. (Fumes from oil refineries and chemical plants are, of course, exempt.) Other anti-abortion states have signaled their intention to resurrect laws from the 80s and 90s that targeted pregnant drug users for fetal neglect and endangerment.

+ Even in a society saturated with guns, it’s very rare that a six-year shoots anyone, as happened in a Virginia class room last week. It’s not nearly as rare that cops kill kids. Between 2014 and 2018, police shot and killed at least 30 children in the US, 5 of them 7 years old or younger.

+ Responding to a domestic disturbance call, deputies in Madison County, Alabama showed up at the wrong house this week and shot to death a 50-year-old man

+ If the name of this sheriff’s department sounds familiar it’s probably because a few years ago one its officers, a certain Justin Watson, got into an off-duty bar fight with a local handyman. Then over the course next couple of weeks Watson actively searched for the handyman and pulled him over when he finally spotted him driving down the highway. Watson ordered the man out of his truck, then struck him in the face, beat him with his baton and choked him until he was unconscious. Then tried, unsuccessfully, to cover it all up.

+ An off-duty Chicago cop named Joseph Cabrera shoots at an unarmed man that he was harassing while driving drunk. The cop then calls CPD, lies about the incident and has the person he shot at arrested, saying he attacked the cop. Eventually the lies unravel, but the cop’s charges are reduced and he ends up with probation in a plea deal. When other defendants in the court room awaiting their cases heard the details of the case, one gasped, “He’s a cop?” Another said, “He got probation?…Damn!”

+ According to a new report out of the Quattrone Center, in the state of Pennsylvania on 11% of the state’s 1000 different law enforcement agencies require recording police interrogations and 64% of the agencies no written policy on interrogations at all.

+ Prison is what many aging Americans are going to get instead of Social Security and Medicare. In 2003, there were around 48,000 people in the US 55 years and old locked up in US jails and prisons. Today that number has skyrocketed to 160,000.

+ Eliza Orlins, public defender: “Today, Trump Org CFO Weisselberg is being sentenced to five months jail. On a five-month sentence, he’ll serve approximately 100 days. As a public defender in Manhattan, I represented a man who was sentenced to 3-6 years (and will serve 1500+ days) for stealing a jacket.”

+++

+ The post-war recruitment of Nazis by US intelligence services as spies, enforcers, engineers and scientists is by now a fairly well-known story. Those were the exceptional cases. Most Nazis, including SS officers, simply seeped back into West German and, especially, Austrian society, often assuming positions of authority. That was the case of Karl Silberbauer, the SS officer who arrested Anne Frank and sent her to her death in Bergen-Belsen. For 18 years after the war

Karl Josef Silberbauer.

ended, Silberbauer worked as an officer in the Vienna police department, until he was suspended after his role in Frank’s arrest and murder was exposed by Volksstimmer, the newspaper of the Austrian communist party. Even then Silberbauer was not prosecuted for his crimes. Silberbauer didn’t hesitate to express his grievances about being “picked upon after all these years” to the press. He was especially angered at losing his special privileges as a police officer, including free tram tickets, all as the result of a commotion over the diary of a young girl. Silberbauer told a reporter that he had “bought the little book last week to see whether I am in it, but I am not.” Silberbauer seemed ignorant of the fact that Anne’s career as a diarist ended the moment he pulled her and nine others out of the Secret Annex in 263 Prinsengracht.

+ In 1968, Nixon, after reading a paper by Milton Friedman, began campaigning on ending the draft. (Friedman later claimed that his role in eliminating the draft was his “greatest accomplishment.”) As usual, Nixon’s reasons were entirely cynical. He believed that the anti-war movement was driven by rich college students who’d evaporate off the streets once they were no longer threatened with being sent to Vietnam. He preferred an “all-volunteer” military, populated by the mechanics of economic conscription.

+ Gleisi Hoffmann, president of the Workers Party: “What’s happening in Brasilia is neither a mass movement, nor spontaneous. It’s organized by bandits who have very objective interests: illegal mining, illegal land grabbing, liberation of weapons, militias, and other things, all blessed by Bolsonaro.”

+ A new poll shows support for Bolsonaro has dropped to a 4-year low. Only 21% of the Brazilian population currently support him.

+ Brazil is moving quickly to round up not only the rioters, but the organizers and official abettors of the raid on the Brazilian capital. As the terrorist assault on the capitol buildings unfolded, Fabio Augusto Viera was Commander of the Brazilian Federal District’s military police. He was fired on Monday and was arrested on Tuesday afternoon.

+ Lula: “There is no precedent in our country for what these people did and for that reason these people have to be punished. We are going to find out who funded these vandals that came to Brasilia. We are going to find out who the funders are and all of them will pay with the force of law for this undemocratic, irresponsible, act of vandals and fascists.”

+ As calls for Bolsonaro’s expulsion from the US mount (I think he should spend at least a few months in an ICE concentration camp), it is curious that he was in a south Florida hospital as his coup attempt crumbled. His estranged wife, Michele, told reporters in Brasil he was in the hospital for “abdominal discomfort” related to the stabbing that took place…4.5 years ago, which seems a little convenient. But only days earlier he was seen stuffing the very same gullet with KFC, so maybe it was that, instead..

+ Israel killed 146 Palestinians in the West Bank in 2022, an 18-year-high. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said these grim figures reflect a “reckless open-fire policy” that’s “integral policy feature of the Israeli apartheid regime, which relies on violence to promote its guiding principle of Jewish supremacy.”

+ Moreover, Israel demolished 784 structures in 2022, the highest number on record. At least 182 of these buildings were residential structures that left 500 Palestinians in the West Bank (255 of them minors) homeless.

+ Israel’s national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has ordered police to ban Palestinian flags from public places, calling the flags an incitement to terrorism.

+ Israeli Knesset member Hanoch Milwidsky: “I don’t feel the need to justify myself for preferring Jews to Arabs in the State of Jews… I prefer Jewish murderers over Arab murderers!”

+ Kenneth Roth, former director of Human Rights Watch, on the consequences for academic freedom of Harvard rescinding its offer of a fellowship after pressure from pro-Israel donors: “Some defenders of the Israeli government have claimed that [Douglas] Elmendorf’s rejection of my fellowship was because Human Rights Watch, or I, devote too much attention to Israel. The accusation of “bias” is rich coming from people who themselves never criticize Israel and, typically using neutral sounding organizational names, attack anyone who criticizes Israel.”

+ Israel seems well on its way to becoming the fanatical nightmare state envisioned by Sigmund Freud in 1930 when he was asked by his friend Dr. Chaim Koffler told lend his name a Zionist appeal. Freud rebuffed him politely but firmly, leaving no question where he stood on the matter:

Vienna: 26 February 1930

Dear Sir:

I cannot do as you wish [i.e., endorse Zionism]. Whoever wants to influence the masses must give them something rousing and inflammatory and my sober judgment of Zionism does not permit this. I certainly sympathize with its goals, am proud of our University in Jerusalem and am delighted with our settlement’s prosperity. But, on the other hand, I do not think that Palestine could ever become a Jewish state, nor that the Christian and Islamic worlds would ever be prepared to have their holy places under Jewish care. It would have seemed more sensible to me to establish a Jewish homeland on a less historically-burdened land. But I know that such a rational viewpoint would never have gained the enthusiasm of the masses and the financial support of the wealthy. I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust. I can raise no sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of a Herodian wall [i.e., the Wailing Wall] into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings of the natives. Now judge for yourself whether I, with such a critical point of view, am the right person to come forward as the solace of a people deluded by unjustified hope.

Your obedient servant,


Freud

Taken aback by the vehemence of Freud’s reply, Koffler scrawled a note to his secretary across the top of the letter in pencil: “Do not show this to foreigners.” The letter remained in a vault for 60 years, unpublished and untranslated.

+ Freud was to experience the sadism of hyper-nationalism close up. Shortly after the Anschluss (Hitler’s annexation of Austria into Germany), Nazi thugs raided and looted the offices of the Psychoanalysis Institute in Vienna and later in the day his home and office at Berggasse 19, shaking down Freud’s daughter Anna for the household’s cash. After the Brownshirts left, Freud asked Anna how much money they’d stolen. Anna told him around $800. Freud coolly replied: “Dear me, I’ve never taken so much for a single visit.”

+ Meanwhile, Lula has terminated Brazil’s friendship pact with Israel and recalled his nation’s envoy from Tel Aviv.

+++

+ New York saw a 30% rise in COVID deaths in December, the most since early 2022.

+ Moderna announced plans this week to hike the price of its COVID vaccines from has written Moderna urging it to halt its vaccine price increase from $26 to $130. The vaccine, which developed with public funds, costs just $2.85 to produce. Last year, Moderna pocketed $18.4 billion in vaccine sales.

+ Memo to the Squad: According to a CBSNews poll, 64% of GOP voters approved of the House Speaker spectacle last week.

+ Do we really need football?

Young former N.F.L. players, mostly linemen, die from heart attacks or heart disease nearly every year. In addition to Uche [Nwaneri, 38, 2023], Shane Olivea died in March at age 40. Max Tuerk, age 26, died in 2020. Taylor Whitley, age 38, 2018. Jeremy Nunley, age 46, 2018. Nate Hobgood-Chittick, age 42, 2017. Rodrick Monroe, age 40, 2017. Ron Brace, age 29, 2016. Quentin Groves, 32, 2016. Damion Cook, 36, 2015. According to a 2019 study from Harvard University, N.F.L. players are 2.5 times more likely to have cardiovascular diseases listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death than Major League Baseball players.

+ According to a new study from Boston University’s Wheelock Educational Policy Center, schools in districts that were subject to a book challenge in the 2021-22 school year were 55 percent less likely to have acquired one of the 65 books about LGBTQ characters published between June and August 2022.

+ A performing arts school in Duval County Florida cancelled a production of Paula Vogel’s play Indecent, saying that the play’s same-sex romance and dialogue, where inappropriate for the age group. They replaced Vogel’s Incident with Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, a play about romantic obsession among four straight people that ends with one of them shooting himself in the head.

+ In the same Duvall County school system, a third-grade book about Hank Aaron (Henry Aaron’s Dream) is under review, because it talks about the racism Aaron faced in the Jim Crow South. I wouldn’t be surprised if Florida’s Great Patriotic textbooks start claiming that MLB started after the Negro Leagues refused to let whites play…

+ An Ohio teacher, who was reading Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches to her Grade 3 class as part of NPR’s Planet Money podcast on how economics gets discussed and taught in children’s books., was abruptly cut off by a school administrator when a student observed that: “It’s almost like what happened back then, how people were treated. Like, disrespected. Like, white people disrespected Black people.” The administrator said the reading was halted because the parents hadn’t been “pre-warned” that the topic of racism might be discussed.

If you think she’s sexy


and you want her AK


Come on, sugar, let her know.


If you like her body armor


and you think can disarm her


Come on, baby, give it a go…

+ Hold on. Maybe the new Twitter’s got something going after all….

+++

+ In a state obsessed with the biological accuracy of pronouns and horrified by cross-dressing, the Governor of Ohio just signed legislation redefining natural gas as a “green fuel.”

+ According to Berkeley Earth’s  calculations, 2022 was the 5th warmest year on record, at 1.24 °C (2.24 °F) warmer the 1850-1900 baseline. The year was slightly warmer than 2021, but still cooled by the persistence of La Niña conditions in the Pacific. Based on the recent rate of warming, the Earth will reach the 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) warming threshold around 2034 and 2.0 °C (3.6 °F) around 2060.

+ The eight warmest years on record have now occurred since 2014, the scientists from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, reported and 2016 remains the hottest year ever.

+ Even as the La Niña weather event helped to cool the oceans for the third year in a row, global temperatures were still about 0.3C higher in 2022 than the 1991-2020 reference period.

+ The extent of sea ice in the Southern Ocean is about 270,000 square miles less than the previous low, set in 2018.

+ US carbon emissions climbed by 1.3 percent last year.

+ Svalbard is nearly ice-free in January. The temperature in Longyearbyen, the main town, is -1 C now. Salt water freezes at -1.8 C. Once a refuge for polar bears (as any reader of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series knows), Svalbard almost no polar bear habitat this winter. It’s an increasingly dire situation for bears and other sea ice dependent species.

+ The world’s climate goals, timid as they are, rely on forest offsets that will never, and can’t ever, exist…

+ According to NOAA, the US suffered at least 18 “weather disasters” (each doing more than $1 billion in damage) last year. The total cost of 2022’s weather disasters was at least $165 billion, the third-highest on record, behind 2005 and 2017. Five of the last six years (2017-2022, with 2019 being the exception) have each experienced climate events with a cost of at least $100 billion.

+ 24,500,000,000,000 gallons of water have fallen across California over the last 16 days. Some areas of the got hit with 2 years worth of rainfall in 24 hours.

+ Joe Manchin pushed for opening of one-million acres in Alaska’s Cook Inlet to oil and gas leasing. Biden complied, but when the Interior Department held an auction for the leases barely anyone was interested.

+ But there’s hope on the horizon: Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the chief executive officer of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, has been tapped to lead the COP28 climate talks next year in Dubai…

+ The erotics of ecocide…”Trees make us happy, even when we’re chopping them down.”

+ People are getting downright “de-ranged” about the prospect of losing their gas stoves.

+ “I’ll give you my gas stove when you pry my cold, dead head from the oven.”

+ Two Mexican doctors autopsied the brains more than 200 Mexico City residents who were between the ages of 11 months to 40 years old when they died. All of the brains save one showed at least the beginnings of changes scientists have previously found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. In comparison, the researchers autopsied nine control brains that had been gathered from people who had lived (and died) breathing clean air and described them as being ‘unremarkable.’”

+ Number of electric vehicles sold: 3.2 million in 2020; 13.6 million in 2023.

+ The Intercept’s Ken Klippenstein acquired of surveillance footage of a self-driving Tesla S model which came to a sudden stop on the San Francisco Bay Bridge, causing an 8-car pile up that injured 9 people, including a two-year-old. The accident occurred on Thanksgiving Day, just hours after Elon Musk announced the “self-driving” feature. Traffic on the bridge was blocked for more than an hour. Ken noted: “I hadn’t realized how much of a wild west the self-driving vehicles business is. For example, there are no federal restrictions on the testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads.”

Photo: California Highway Patrol.

+++

+ Child-rearing techniques of the Bonaparte Family: Roland to his teenage daughter Marie  (later one of Freud’s patients, understandably): “If I saw you in a brothel line, you would not be the one I’d pick.” In her lifelong quest to achieve a satisfying orgasm, Princess Marie (she’d married Prince George of Greece) eschewed Freud’s advice and underwent multiple operations to enlarge her clitoris, procedures that brought her only pain, not pleasure. Then she briefly contemplated sleeping with her troubled teenage son Peter, who had raised the prospect with her: “If I could only spend the night with you, Mother, I think I might be cured.” Before engaging in an incestuous tryst, Marie once again consulted the sage of Vienna, who warned her that consummating the fantasy would only bring disaster to her and her son. This time she heeded his advice, while her son Peter later became an anthropologist specializing in the study of polyandry.

+ Freud to Carl Jung, after his trip to the US in 1908 for a series of lectures at Clark University–lectures attended by Emma Goldman, among others: “I think I understand English fairly well, but I can’t understand what Americans say when they speak and I got the impression Americans don’t even understand each other.” From Adam Nagorski’s fascinating book, Saving Freud (from the Nazis not Janet Malcolm and Thomas Szasz).

+ Q. What would you want to see in a documentary about philosophers like Heidegger, Kant or Hegel?

Derrida: Their sex lives.

+ It remains impossible (unless you have access to editions circulated by Russian pirates) for anyone in the US to watch Roman Polanski’s 2019 film on the Dreyfus Affair. It’s crazy that you can stream every other Polanski film but not An Officer and a Spy, which, if it’s at all faithful to the Robert Harris novel (and by some accounts it’s one of the best historical dramas ever filmed), speaks directly to our current crisis, though perhaps not as articulately as the campaign to expunge it.

+ The posters for Demi Lovato’s new “Holy Fvck”album have been banned in the UK for being “offensive to Christians.”

+ The novelist E.L. Doctorow on his writing routine: “I’m up at the stroke of 10 or 10:30. I have breakfast and read the papers, and then it’s lunchtime. Then maybe a little nap after lunch and out to the gym, and before I know it, it’s time to have a drink.”

+ Letter from Dr. Dre’s lawyers to Marjorie Taylor Greene…

+ Lou Reed to the poet Delmore Schwartz in 1965: “NY has so many sad, sick people and I have a knack for meeting them. They try to drag you down with them. If you’re weak NY has many outlets. I can’t resist peering, probing, sometimes participating, sometimes going right to the edge before sidestepping. Finding viciousness in yourself and that fantastic killer urge and worse yet having the opportunity presented before you is certainly interesting. Interesting is not the word.” (H/T Greil Marcus.)

+ Music “genres” (country, rock, jazz, classical, the odious Americana) are an industry construct for marketing purposes that have had a pernicious effect on society, imposing a kind of cultural segregation none of us asked for or should tolerate.

+ Charles Mingus: “Once upon a time there waas a used word: swing . Swing was in one direction, it was linear, and everything had to be played with an obvious pulse, and that’s very restrictive. But I use the term ‘Rotary perception’.”

Blow by Blow Up

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

The Riders Come Out at Night: Brutality, Corruption and Cover-Up in Oakland


Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham


(Atria Books)

A Pipeline Runs Through It: the Story of Oil From Ancient Times to the First World War


Keith Fisher


(Allen Lane)

All Your Racial Problems Will Soon End: the Cartoons of Charles Johnson


Charles Johnson


(NYRB)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

World Record


Neil Young


(Reprise)

In Concert, 1962


Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers


(Steeplechase)

Solo: the Howland Sessions


Joe Fiedler


(Multiphonics)

The Opposite of Traveling

“To fly is the opposite of traveling: you cross a gap in space, you vanish into the void, you accept not being in a place for a duration that is itself a kind of void in time; then you reappear, in a place and in a moment with no relation to the where and when in which you vanished.” (Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler)

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Jeffrey St. Clair