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Roaming Charges: The Mask of Order

Do CounterPunch, 9 de Dezembro 2022
Por JEFFREY ST. CLAIR



Kwakiutl carving, Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, BC. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ The argument for not telling people just how truly fucked the climate crisis is and how few options there are for a livable planet in 50 years has been that it will frighten them into complacency–which is, of course, the prevailing attitude now. So what’s to be lost by being brutally honest?

+ The Washington Post examined 1500 different scenarios for the planet’s climate future. The results weren’t encouraging: “When we look at those scenarios that have the temperature closing out the century below 1.5C, there is a big problem. With their dramatic plunges in greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2025 — just three years away — some of the scenarios, which were finalized in 2021 at the latest, increasingly conflict with reality. After all, the world just saw emissions rise in 2022…”

+ According to the latest data from NOAA, global heat content of the oceans has reached another record high…



+ A report from Carbon Tracker titled Paris Maligned discloses that world’s biggest oil producers are investing billions of dollars on fossil fuel projects that will only be needed if the world misses key climate goals. In 2021 and 2022, fossil fuel companies spent $58 billion to develop new oil and gas infrastructure and are prepared to shell out another $23 billion next year on projects that would insure the planet warms at least 2.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

+ Only a year after it pledged at COP26 to “consign coal to history,” the UK government approved a mammoth new coal mine that will be 1150 feet deep.

+ In 2021, India recorded 36 “heatwave days“. By last July, the country had already experienced 203 in 2022.

+ The northernmost town in the US–Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow), Alaska–hit 40 degrees on Monday, shattering an all-time record high for December. The previous record was 34 degrees.



+ According to a new UN Report, carbon dioxide emissions from buildings and construction have reached an all-time high, making it very unlikely that the sector can decarbonize by 2050.

+ I’ve been researching the rise and fall of the lakes in the Great Basin, as a result of changes in climate conditions. In the 1980s, when Great Salt Lake was rising inexorably, swallowing farms, roads, railroads, waste dumps, I-80, and swaths of a USAF bombing range, a geologist at the University of Utah proposed a simple solution: detonate a nuclear bomb in the middle of the lake, fracturing the bedrock, draining 30 percent of its volume into subterranean chambers. The lake is adjacent to three major cities: Logan, Ogden and Salt Lake City, itself. All of the downwind. Equally mad proposals had been made by Edward Teller and his brigade of Atoms for Peace evangelists, who wanted to use nukes to excavate a harbor on the North Slope of Alaska, carve out a new Panama Canal and frack for natural gas in Canada and on the Colorado Plateau. After the US annihilated two cities, the designers and hucksters of these instruments of mass death became desperate to salvage their own reputations by pushing the fantasy that their evil creation could be tamed and put to humanitarian use. This impulse hasn’t died. We’re told the nuclear demon can power rockets to Mars, blow up planet-threatening asteroids, deter genocidal wars or replace fossil fuels as the primary source of power for a rapidly warming planet.

+++

+ Say this about the Democrats, they’re no longer the party of chaos. There’s an order to their madness. They march in lockstep to the neoliberal beat, top-to-bottom with very few defections, especially when it comes to crushing the aspirations of working people and the poor. And they send out their most “liberal” figures to deliver the fatal blows. This week it was Sherrod Brown, the champion for the working man from Ohio, who came forth to defend the betrayal of rail workers, claiming that “a strike would have devastated the U.S. economy.”

+ In rationalizing its members’ votes to impose a strikebusting contract on rail workers, the DSA has proved once again that it’s neither “democratic” nor “socialist” but definitely “of America.”

+ Raphael Warnock’s victory over Herschel Walker means that the power (and ego) of Joe Manchin has been diminished. But some Democratic senators seem wary of the burden that comes with having a clear majority to actually do something…



+ “Too aggressive?” That’s about as likely as DiFi remembering what a Continuing Resolution is….

+ With Warnock’s win, the percentage of the 50-state population that Senate Dems represent will rise from 56.5% after 2020 to 58.5%–the second highest total since 1992. For more 20 consecutive years, Democrats have represented more people than the GOP, yet for half of that time the GOP has controlled the senate (and that’s without considering the stranglehold of the filibuster). So when Trump says he wants to terminate the constitution, maybe he’s got a point.

+ After Warnock’s triumph, Newt Gingrich huffed to Newsmax: “I’m leaving Georgia because it is now a Democrat state. ” Promises, promises. Of course, the last time Newt spent much time in Georgia was to badger his cancer-stricken wife to agree to a divorce settlement so he could marry Marianne, who bailed Newt out of debt, then–after she developed MS–he divorced her to marry one of his Congressional staffers, Callista. Somehow, I doubt this paragon of Southern virtue will be missed.

+ “Skipping the Walkout” is Scab-speak for Crossing the Picketline. Among the most prominent scabs at the New York Times: Peter Baker and Michael Schear.

+ South Korea’s neoliberal president Yoon Suk-yeol sought to break up a strike by Seoul’s truckers, comparing the strikers to “North Korea’s nuclear threats.” If his government collapses, he might be in the running for PeteBot’s post at the Biden’s Department of Transportation.


+ Sam the Leaker Alito is turning Supreme Court hearings into a kind of minstrel show. All that’s missing is the black face. During arguments in Creative LLL v. Elenis (a case over whether a Christian graphic artist could be required to create a wedding website for a same-sex couple, even though the artist who filed the suit had never been asked to do so), Alito posed a hypothetical question about a Black Santa at the mall who doesn’t want to have his picture taken with a child dressed up in a KKK outfits. Smirking, Alito delivered his punchline: “You do see a lot of Black children in Ku Klux Klan outfits, right? All the time.”

+ This week the Court also heard oral arguments in Moore v. Harper, the independent legislature theory case. In her quest to pressure state lawmakers to overturn the 2020 election results, Ginni Thomas invoked the independent state legislature theory as a rationale for rejecting the returns in their own states and appointing a new slate of electors to the electoral college. In theory, an unenforceable federal law (28 USC sec. 455) would bar Thomas from participating in oral arguments on the case, since he has a clear conflict of interest. Fat chance.

+ Jane Mayer: “Lawmakers have just added a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act protecting Supreme Court spouses from having to reveal any outside employer, in the name of security. If it passes, Ginni Thomas’s professional entanglements would effectively be state secrets.”

+ If Bolton gets in the race, I may be compelled to vote for Trump…




+ Sen. Randy Smith (R – Tucker) said he’s drafting a sterilization (ie., eugenics) bill for the upcoming session of the West Virginia legislature to prevent people who use drugs from having kids.



+ It’s been a big week for the eugenics movement. Reuters reported that the Nigerian Army has performed more than 10,000 “secret abortions” among women and girls in an effort to slow the spread of the Boko Haram movement

+ According to a new study by the Federal Criminal Justice clinic, more than one-quarter of 94 federal district courts across the country do afford every arrestee the right to a lawyer at their initial appearance. In these courts, federal judges have locked up poor people deprived of lawyers 100% of the time; 92% them were people of color.

+ Last December a Pennsylvania inmate named Jamal Crummel was hospitalized for hypothermia from the frigid conditions in Dauphin County Prison. After he recovered in January, Crummel was returned to the same cell block where he became hypothermic again a week later and died.

+ Texas’ highest criminal court has slammed the door on more than 450 of migrants swept up in the state’s “arrest-and-jail” border security crackdown, who tried to have their border-area trespassing charges thrown out by Austin judges.

+ So far this year, 14 people detained by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office have died in the county jail. Four people died in November alone, the deadliest month to date–more than the total number of deaths for all of last year.

+ You have the “right” to carry a gun anywhere in Texas, but it gives the cops a justification for you shooting you on sight

+ Back in 2007, the FBI, then under the helm of liberal icon Robert Mueller, set about to define (and then pursue) “extremism” in America. It came up with three varieties: rightwing extremists, special interest extremists (environmentalists) and leftwing extremist (those who “espouse some form of communism or socialism”).



+ A pilot Universal Basic Income program in the Chelsea neighborhood of Boston gave residents $400 with no conditions on how to spend it: The data suggest that helping people with direct cash infusions can have multiple benefits, from helping them eat better to having them feel more connected to the community.

+ In the third quarter of 2022, there were more than 450,000 borrowers behind on their mortgages. Nearly 60% of those underwater borrowers had mortgages that originated in the first nine months of 2022.

+ Oh, to be rich and still live paycheck-to-paycheck: “I make $350K a year, but have $88K in student loans, $170K in car loans and a mortgage I pay $4,500 a month on.” $170,000 in car loans? For what? A Tesla S and a Mack Truck?

+ The profits of the container-shipping industry soared during the pandemic, peaking at $64 billion in the second quarter of this year. One industry veteran described the profits as “mind-bending” and “mind-altering.”

+++

+ 55% of Russians want an end to the Ukraine war (mostly because they don’t want to die fighting it)…57% of Americans want it to continue (mostly because they don’t care who dies as a result of it), which is one reason why it will. (The big reason is that Raytheon and Lockheed are making out like they bandits they are.)

+ If they can negotiate the release of Brittney Griner, they can negotiate the end of the war.

+ I’m glad Griner’s home. But if the trade was for a global arms dealer couldn’t they have given the Russians real “merchants of death” like Hillary Clinton or Victoria Nuland instead a comparative piker like Victor Bout?

+ As we celebrate the release of Brittney Griner from a Russian prison, let’s recall that on any given day in the US there are still more than 40,000 people incarcerated on marijuana charges. Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simple possession, a hugely disproportionate number of them, like Griner herself, black. End the war on drugs: here, there, everywhere.

+ You have to admit, Putin looks in pretty good shape after falling down those stairs and soiling his pants…


+ Based on his analysis of of US military spending from FY2012-21, Stephen Semler estimates that Biden’s FY2023 Pentagon budget will transfer around $452 billion to private companies…

+ Following the lead of the Biden administration, a federal judge dismissed a case against Mohammad Bin Salman, ruling that “despite the Court’s uneasiness” MBS was a head of state and shielded from legal proceedings. The concept of sovereign immunity derives from the right of kings (the king can do no wrong) in English common law. One would have thought that ended with the Revolution. Alas.

+ This week Al Jazeera submitted its file on the murder of reporter Shireen Abu Akleh to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The company’s lawyer attorney Rodney Dixon, said: “It’s not a single incident, it’s a killing that is part of a wider pattern that the prosecution should be investigating to identify those who are responsible for the killing, and to bring charges against them.”

+ In response, Itamar Ben Gvir Israel’s National Security Minister-designate demanded that Al Jazeera expelled from Israel, claiming that the network spreads “anti-semitism.” This comes a week after Ben Gvir extolled an IDF solider after he shot to death a Palestinian civilian at point-blank range.

+ I’d like to see someone leak the Bari Weiss Files on Matt Taibbi’s new partner’s ceaseless campaign to get Joseph Massad fired from Columbia University.

+ According to Business Insider, Musk has provided the anti-Palestinian zealot Bari Weiss access to Twitter’s employee systems, added to its Slack, and given a company laptop, a level of access to Twitter systems typically reserved only for staff…



+ CounterPunch wasn’t just “shadow banned” on Twitter, we went into total eclipse. For more than a year our followers remained static or declined. We couldn’t even attract bots, Russian or porn. Its editor’s Twitter account (mine) was permanently locked. But there’s never been a single inquiry about this or any other suppressed Leftwing, animal rights, radical green, Occupy Wall Street or pro-Palestinian Twitter account. Why? Because it doesn’t fit the narrative Musk, Taibbi and Weiss want to project. This isn’t about free speech–how could it possibly be when an apex blacklister is in charge of determining what is & isn’t a blacklist?

+ Bari may not know much, but she knows blacklists…



+ Amid the hundreds of rightwing (and neo-Nazi) accounts being
restored, I don’t know of any accounts associated with the Left or pro-Palestinian accounts, like Stanley Cohen’s, having been resurrected or are likely to be with Weiss calling the shots. Yet, the account of Andrew Anglin, editor of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, is back up and running.

+ Looking forward to two-plus years of Congressional hearings over Hunter Biden dick picks, with expert commentary from men’s shower monitor Jim Jordan and Lauren Boebert (spouse of a convicted flasher).


Brace yourself, CSPAN!

+ MAGA accusing Sebastian Gorka of being part of a Deep State cover up is the best thing to come out of Laptopgate. Well done, Matt Taibbi!

+ Taibbi, who once blamed the excesses of his own satirical writings in The eXile on his heroin usage, rummaging around in the pilfered files of a drug addict and claiming a major exposé, doesn’t demonstrate much addict-to-addict solidarity…

+ The eXile was one of the best magazines to emerge in the 90s. The problem wasn’t the satirical pieces–worthy of Paul Krassner–but Taibbi’s cowardly renouncement of them–and blaming his partner Mark Ames, all to curry favor with people he once rightly despised and ridiculed.

+ Instead of Hunter Thompson, Taibbi’s morphed into David Horowitz…

+ Taibbi likes to think of himself as a “muckraker,” but I can’t think of a single “muckraker” agreeing to secret conditions set by the richest tech mogul in the world to run a story based solely on documents given to him by the same tech lord to be run on that very tech lord’s site. It sure ain’t the way IF Stone did it.

+ Over to you, Dr. Jung…



+ When the principle condition of the conditions constraining your reporting is that you don’t name the conditions, you’ve got a problem. You don’t know what the full story is if you’re only printing what your clearly biased source has given you. This is exactly what Judith Miller did with Curveball. Except it’s worse because in this case your source owns the means of publication and requires it to be published there.

+ Mark Ames: “All Musk’s fanboys on this wretched site want nothing more than to cancel their shitlib-enemies’ accounts, you constantly see them snitching and tagging their Hero, just as libs did to them. No principle here, just a buncha snitches riding the oligarchy’s dopamine rollercoaster…”

+ A new batch of documents showing how the Bush administration tried to cover-up the advance warnings it got before the 9/11 attacks confirms my long-held view that the re-election of Bush was a more a more damning indictment of the corruption of the US political system than the election of Trump, which it made possible if not inevitable: “In the spring and summer of 2001, Tenet had warned Bush no fewer than 40 separate times that a major attack by Al Qaeda was on the horizon. Analysts called the flood of warnings a ‘threat spike’ and the ‘summer of threat.’”

+ Lockheed is showing off a new generation of military laser weapons. One of the company’s executives, Robert Afzal, quipped: “With lasers, if you can see it, you can kill it.”

+ The Air Force held a reveal party this week for its new “Stealth” bomber, the B-21, which it claims can fly without an onboard pilot and remotely drop nuclear weapons. What’s the acceptable error ratio for these self-piloting, nuke dropping planes? Better than a Tesla’s?

+ Daniel Ellsberg says he was given leaked US diplomatic cables “as a backup” by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: “Let me tell you a secret… I had possession of the all the Chelsea Manning information before it came out in the press.”


+ In a TV interview this week, the secretary general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy admitted that there have been “between 400 and 500” migrant worker deaths during the build up to the World Cup.

+ Jair Bolsonaro, the lame duck president of Brazil, worked an average of 1.5 hours a day during the 23 workdays this November. Still too much for the safety and sanity of Brazilians…

+ Biden’s State Department is trying to block some of the top Cuban players from participating in the World Baseball Classic. How petty. What are the Democrats afraid of now they’ve permanently lost Florida, getting the shit kicked out of them on the diamond? The Mexicans, Dominicans, Venezuelans, Koreans, Taiwanese and Japanese will do that too. Gonna ban all of them, too?

+ Germany was having trouble, what a sad, sad story
Needed a new leader to restore its former glory
Where, Oh where was he? Where could that man be?
We looked around and then we found
The man for you and me.
And now it’s…

Wintertime for Prince Heinrich in Germany…



+ This week Ron DeSantis’ lawyers were forced by a court to define the verboten term “woke.” The governor’s lead lawyer described it as “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.” It’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t believe this being allowed to teach in public schools.

+ Meanwhile, Rep. Joe Harding, the Republican sponsor of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, has been indicted on federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering charges for allegedly lying to obtain COVID relief loans.

+ If the Morality Police can be brought to their knees in Iran, why not Florida, Oklahoma and Texas?

+ Maybe Iran will be sending Russia both drones and their soon-to-be-unemployed Morality Police…

+ Shithole Country Update: “In 2020, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. was 24 deaths per 100,000 live births — more than three times the rate in most other high-income countries. In the Netherlands, almost no women died from maternal complications.”

+ Wastewater data from Santa Clara County show that the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in Palo Alto exceeds last year’s omicron surge.



+ When Trump got his colonoscopy, the doctors extracted Mike Pence

+ Shannon Epstein, niece of Chris Christie, was marched off a plane in New Orleans after accusing a family she believed to be Latino of smuggling cocaine. When deputies tried to arrest her, she spit at, kicked, and bit them, injuring six.

+++

+ Half of the world’s economic growth this century derived from only 1 percent of its landmass.

+ A new study in the Journal of Cleaner Production finds that electrifying SUVs could “increase” CO2 emissions by consuming scarce battery material that could otherwise help electrify smaller cars and e-bikes. Of course, this news will probably entice the He-Man demographic to starting buying them…

+ First they came for Cochabamba, then London: more than 70% of the UK’s water supply is now under foreign ownership. Is it any wonder rates are rising, pipes are bursting and Britain’s beaches are fouled with raw sewage?

+ More than 70% of Florida’s coral reefs (the only coral reefs in the continental US) are eroding, leading to a net loss of reef habitat.

+ A wasting disease epidemic afflicting sunflower sea stars, which began in 2013, has now wiped out about 95% of the population from the Aleutian Islands to the Baja peninsula…

+ Alfalfa crops consume 68% of the water diverted to Utah, but only generate 0.2% of the gross domestic product.

+ Across the farm belt of the midwestern US, soil is eroding between 10 and 1,000 times faster than it is being formed.

+ In spite of Biden’s recent vow to protect mature and old-growth trees, Forest Service continues to push forward dozens of logging projects forward in federal forests across the United States, putting over 300,000 acres at risk.

+ There’s no more vivid example of this betrayal than the remorseless drive by Biden’s Forest Service to implement the North Landscape Project in southern Oregon, which, over ten years, designated up to 9,000 acres of forest for logging in prime habitat of the northern spotted owl, an old-growth dependent species that is threatened with extinction. The North Landscape timber sales will green light logging in over 14 square miles of spotted owl habitat, despite the fact that the owl’s population continues to fall by 5 percent a year across its range.

+ For the past couple of weeks there’s been a lot of anticipation, stoked by the administration, that Biden was about to set aside a large swath of land surrounding Spirit Mountain in southern Nevada as a National Monument. The landscape, known as Avi Kia Ame, is both ecologically significant and sacred to the tribal people of the Great Basin. But caving to the demands of big solar and the lithium mining industries, Biden’s hype turned out to the sacred lands policy equivalent of his vaporous marijuana pardons.

+ Last week Panther 435 was run over and killed by a car in Hillsborough County, Florida. The two-year old male was the 26th panther death in Florida this year. Twenty-four of those deaths (92%) were the result vehicle collisions.

+ Snakebites kill around 100,000 people a year, slightly less than cholera, but almost double the amount who die from hookworm or rabies. Still this is largely a socio-economic, not a snake, problem. Consider the fact that in Australia, home to the largest number of venomous snakes, only around 2 people a year die from snakebites.

+ Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corp. is now under federal investigation after reports that the company has killed about 1,500 animals, including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys, following experiments since 2018. Will someone hand this man over to Koba and Caesar?



+ As you may have seen, CounterPunch has just published our new book, An Orgy of Thieves, charting the rise neoliberalism in America politics and its lethal social, economic, environmental and martial consequences. Here’s what historian Peter Linebaugh has to say about it: “A needed project, that can’t come too soon, with its acid prose cutting the machine’s wicked fabrications, and preparing us with hoe and spade for the seed time of the future. Good talk and lots of laughter as we pulverize their castles and redoubts right down to their last squalid maggot.” Sound like your kind of fun? Give it a try.

+++

+ Farha is a simple film, delicate almost–its point-of-view tightly focused on a 14-year-old girl, eager to break free from the constraints of her life in a Palestinian village in 1948. The pace of the film treads carefully, but deliberately toward the inevitable invasion, the moment when the patterns of life are disrupted. The horrors of the Nakba are merely glimpsed through slivers of light, heard in muffled screams & tears. The film shows little, but suggests everything. The Israelis understandably fear it. I encourage you to watch it before it’s inevitably pulled from Netflix.

+ There’s a funny bit in “Sr” (Robert Downey Jr.’s very watchable documentary on his father) where Robert Downey Sr. talks about going to see The Harder They Come at a small nearly empty theater in SOHO and coming out wondering whether he’d just seen a masterpiece of underground cinema or was just really stoned. Both things can be true, Bob…

+ Iggy Pop on the music industry: “When I started out, I didn’t know what publishing was. I didn’t understand you were paid money on the basis of intellectual property. Nobody told me, and I didn’t ask. When I was doing the first Stooges album, I thought that writing credits were just about glory. Now, these guys have lawyers, realtors, investment advisors, you name it.”

+ What was it like for the black players on the English squad to be playing against Senegal, a country from which the British empire built its wealth through the sale of human beings. Hell, even the “Three Lions” on the English jerseys were stolen from Africa…

+ The “Education for All” captain’s arm-bands worn by Pepe and Xhaka in Qatar aren’t likely to be seen when the US hosts the World Cup.

+ I like Fred McGriff. He was a terrific player for years. But he’s not on the same strata as Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. McGriff getting into a Hall of Fame that doesn’t include Bonds or Clemens diminishes the honor. But until players speak out at their induction ceremonies it’s unlikely to change.

+ RIP John Prados of the National Security Archives, whose books and articles, many culled from the covert files of the Pentagon and CIA, were rich sources for my own writing. Great to learn in his spare time he designed Risk-like board games and that Roberto Bolaño was a huge fan that he weaved one of Prados’ games into a novel.

+ Our friend Dean Wareham (Luna and Galaxy 500) wrote and performed a song for Noah Baumbach’s film of the Don DeLillo novel White Noise, now out in theaters and heading to Netflix in late December. Dean describes “The Cloud is Coming” as “a paranoid song about the billowing toxic cloud, the downing of KAL 007, and experiments with chimpanzees.” You can listen to it here.

+ John Cale: “Leonard Cohen and I were chasing after the same woman in London for a time. I called him one morning and she answered—and that was that. It didn’t matter that Cindy was my wife.”

Your Weakness Buys Indifference & Indiscretion in the Streets



Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

A World Without Police: How Strong Communities Make Cops Obsolete
Geo Maher
(Verso)

Trees: From Root to Leaf
Paul Smith
(Thames & Hudson)

Divine Blue Light: Poems for John Coltrane
Will Alexander
(City Lights)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Four
Bill Frisell
(Blue Note)

Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse
Ahmad Jamal
(Jazz Detective)

Live at the LA Forum, April 26, 1969
Jimi Hendrix Experience
(Sony)

The Mask of Order in a Plutocratic Society

“Do not be deceived by the outside appearance of order in our plutocratic society. It fares with it as it does with the older norms of war, that there is an outside look of quite wonderful order about it; how neat and comforting the steady march of the regiment; how quiet and respectable the sergeants look; how clean the polished cannon … the looks of adjutant and sergeant as innocent-looking as may be, nay, the very orders for destruction and plunder are given with a quiet precision which seems the very token of a good conscience; this is the mask that lies before the ruined cornfield and the burning cottage, and mangled bodies, the untimely death of worthy men, the desolated home.” (William Morris)


Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3.

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