Totalitarian solutions may well survive the fall of totalitarian regimes in the form of strong temptations which will come up whenever it seems impossible to alleviate political, social, or economic misery in a manner worthy of man.
– Hannah Arendt
+ It’s healthy for a culture to celebrate the fall of its tyrants, even petty ones like Trump, particularly when they’re evicted by popular action, however contrived and constrained the mechanisms compelling their removal are. In the end, Trump limped out of DC exposed, humiliated and impotent, and back to the rising swamps of south Florida with process servers hot on his trail. Negation is a powerful, if, alas, all-too temporary, political aphrodisiac. Enjoy the buzz while it lasts, soon the thrill will be gone.
+ In Classical Athens, tyrants (Themistocles, Cimon, Alcibiades) were exiled (or ostracized) and the seditious philosophers, like Socrates, put to death. In Rome and Florence, the dictators tended to get the knife (to assure they’d never return to power) and the poets and philosophers were sent into rocky exile (Ovid and later Dante, himself). Here our deposed autocrats are trundled off under the protection of a small contingent of Praetorian Guards to build their libraries, write their self-justifying books and await national rehabilitation after someone even worse than them assumes office.
+ So, our long national nightmare is over. After this commercial break, the new national nightmare begins.
+ All inaugural speeches are American Carnage speeches, studded with implicit and explicit vows to commit it on a global scale. Trump’s lamentable speech four years ago was unique for our time because he also described a Bosch-like dreamscape of “racial” carnage in American cities as justification for the authoritarian measures on the homefront he sought to impose. In the spirit of comity, Biden reverts to the traditional script, while wielding the very same powers, powers he himself spent years inscribing into the federal criminal code, under a cloak of empathy and diversity.
+ Yes, Joe, a New Day for Old Ways…
+ For a nation whose founding principle, in theory, was a separation between church and state, we are getting saturation bombed by religious metaphors at Biden’s inaugural: “sacred” “temple” “faith” “soul.”
+ The imperial trumpet blasts sounds like they came from the score of the grand ball scene in Disney’s Cinderella…
+ So it’s the anthem and the pledge and despite all the ritualistic kowtowing to BLM over the last 10 months no one in this crowd looks likely to take a knee…
+ A spectacle of guns, flags and religion…only money isn’t openly celebrated at these kinds of celebrations of national values.
+ J-Lo and Gaga. This is not the A Team. Where’s Mavis?
+ J-Lo, the blinged-out reincarnation of Woody Guthrie in the time of Late-Stage Capitalism…
+ I thought Garth Brooks, the most banal singer in an era of banal country artists, retired 20 years ago for a career as rodeo announcer, now he’s singing Amazing Grace one of the animating songs of the Civil Rights Movement?
+ A few years ago I was told that the current leader of an outlaw motorcycle gang in southern California was a devoted fan of Garth Brooks and blared “The Thunder Rolls” from the speakers on his Harley each time he rode through small desert towns in the Mojave. Where’s Sonny Barger when you need him?
+ Biden: “America has been tested…” Positive.
+ Homilies to democracy in a speech given before 25,000 federal troops (instead of the normal 100,000 lobbyists) in a fenced-in a city where the right to protest has been suppressed is a pretty vivid portrait are were we are now as a nation.
+ Did Jon Meachem also write this trite speech today and will he be praising it later on MSDNC?
+ Chris Wallace sucks up platitudes faster than Dracula drains blood…
+ Former Sen. Bob Kerrey, himself one of the biggest assholes ever to hold public office, on oaths of office: “The problem is, the second your hand comes off the Bible, you become an asshole.” (h/t Jim Bovard)
+ The transfer of presidential power in the US has been peaceful for more than 200 years, the use of that power on the other hand….
+ The entrance fee to this exclusive club starts at 100,000 KIA….
+ Class, define, as precisely as you can, how Biden’s “Restore American Greatness” (RAG) is thematically different from Trump’s “Make America Great Again?”
+ How many years will Trump be blamed by liberal politicians and pundits for the structural carnage inflicted by American capitalism…?
+ Awww, the healing begins. Before you know it Bidens and Trumps will be picnicking together in that mausoleum Melania built next to the tennis court and Trump will be flirting with Whoopie and Meghan McCain on The View…
+ Biden has said repeatedly he wants a strong Republican Party (to keep him from doing many of the things he promised he’d do but secretly hoped they’d block, which is exactly what his old buddy Mitch McConnell seems to be doing)…
+ About that $2000, I mean, $1400 check you thought you were getting on Day One or, at least, before the FINAL NOTICE bills come due…
+ If Biden signs the Raise the Wage Act (as he has pledged to do) in early February, the federal minimum wage won’t hit $15 until May 1, 2026.
+ Remember when Biden promised to cancel $50,000 of student debt? Then a few weeks later reduced that to $10,000? Now it’s shrunk to this: “a pause on federal student loan interest and principal payments through the end of September.”
+ It’s comforting to assume that Biden and Harris are going to be friendly toward labor, but that may prove to be a dangerous illusion.
+ One day in office and Biden is already considering reversing Trump’s drawdown in Iraq by adding thousands of troops to combat “growing terror threats” in the region…
+ And it doesn’t look like the US will ever leave Afghanistan, either…
+ If you listened to even brief clips of the confirmation hearings for Lloyd Austin (Defense) and Blinken (State), you’ll likely reach the same conclusion I did: while Trump may not get a pardon from Biden, many of his policies, including some of the worst ones, will…
+ Biden’s Secretary of State nominee Tony Blinken testified at his Senate confirmation hearing that he agrees with Mike Pompeo’s labeling China’s treatment of Uighurs as genocide (which has diplomatic ramifications) and that China misled the world about COVID.
Lindsey Graham sat up in his chair: “We’re off to a good start!”
+ Blinken also vowed that the Biden administration would “consult” with Israel before attempting to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal.
+ Plus ça change!
+ Why not ask Jared the Slumlord to stay on as special advisor on Middle East Affairs?
+ So when Biden said a couple of weeks ago he wanted to open negotiations with Venezuela, you may have thought he was talking about Maduro, but according to Blinken he meant the imposter Juan Guaido, the man who continues to claim he won an election that he lost decisively. Even Trump ended up dumping him…
+ Here are the 15 House Democrats who voted against granting a waiver for Biden’s defense secretary nominee, Gen. Lloyd Austin, who under a law passed by the Democrats would have been banned for 7 years from serving as head of the Pentagon…The waiver was approved anyway on a bipartisan vote. (Nothing says “unity” like the guy who signs off on weapons contracts.)
+ Meanwhile, the Democrats are urging Janet Yellen to get much tougher with the use of sanctions to compel countries to bend to the will of US policy…
+ WTF? 40,000 dead in Venezuela, who knows how many in Gaza, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, et al. Not all countries are as disciplined and efficiently run as Cuba and are capable (with many sacrifices) of withstanding such wars-by-starvation.
+ Trump pardoned some of the most sadistic war criminals in US history and, if you believe that war dehumanizes people, there’s a certain logic to it, especially when the prosecutions are selective and never touch the strategists, planners or politicians who authorized the wars. But this logic fails miserably, when the killers are pardoned but the journalists and whistleblowers who exposed the every day systemic crimes of the war are left to face outrageous, life-threatening charges of espionage.
+ It’s a shame that Trump couldn’t find it in himself to exercise any of the compassion he showed toward Steve Bannon, Roger Stone or Paul Manafort on the people he rushed into the execution chamber in Terre Haute.
+ The number of nonviolent drug offenses pardoned by Trump should land harshly on Biden’s doorstep, since many were convicted under punitive laws he wrote and sentences he and Obama neglected to commute four years ago.
+ Instead of Assange, Reality Winner, Leonard Peltier or Edward Snowden, Trump pardoned a roster of tax cheats, Ponzi-schemers, real estate fraudsters, political crooks and financial felons, including:
+ A meat-packing mogul: “In the 1980s, Gregory and his father, Martin, gathered a group of South Dakota cattle producers to market and sold processed beef. The Jorgensen’s marketed their beef under the Dakota Lean brand and sold the premium product as heart-healthy and antibiotic- and hormone-free. When demand outstripped supply, Gregory, Deborah, and Martin mixed in inferior, commercial beef trim and knowingly sold misbranded beef.”
+ A coal executive: “Ken Ford, a 38-year veteran of the coal industry and currently the General Manager of a coal company. Mr. Ford’s pardon is supported by members of the coal mining community, including those with extensive experience in mining operations, safety, and engineering, who describe Mr. Ford as a ‘model manager’ who conducts himself with the utmost professionalism and integrity.”
+ A “Non-violent” telemarketing fraudster: “Kyle Kimoto – President Trump commuted the sentence of Kyle Kimoto. Mr. Kimoto is a father of six who has served 12 years of his 29 year sentence for a non-violent telemarketing fraud scheme.” I’m pretty sure that almost everyone will agree that telemarketers deserve to do harder time than marijuana distributors.
+ A medical quack, “convicted [according to Trump’s summary of the case] of a misleading caption” (How many times does that happen in the NYT every day?) “President Trump granted a full pardon Dr. Scott Harkonen. Dr. Harkonen was convicted of fraud based on a misleading caption in a press release with respect to a treatment for a disease.”
+ A bird killer: “President Trump granted a full pardon to James E. Johnson, Jr. In 2008, Mr. Johnson pled guilty to charges related to migratory birds. Mr. Johnson received 1 year probation, was barred from hunting during that period, and a $7,500 fine was imposed.”
+ And yet another Israeli spy: “Aviem Sella, an Israeli citizen who was indicted in 1986 for espionage in relation to the Jonathan Pollard case. Mr. Sella’s request for clemency is supported by Netanyahu, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and … Miriam Adelson.”
+ The pardon statement for Bannon may be Trump’s last act of presidential trolling while in office: “prosecutors pursued” “a political project” of “an important leader of the conservative movement” “known for his political acumen”…
+ When will Biden pardon Corn Pop?
+ Congressman Khanna, is it too much to ask that you to name the decade when this is likely to happen?
+ Let’s go to the scorecard. And, yes, Obama retains his titles, holding the championship belts for missile strikes and deportations…The next challenger steps into the ring with a big task ahead of him. Of course, he’s got experience in his favor while the last one was a novice…
+ BLM took a beating from cops and federal agents almost every night and came back stronger and bigger, week after week after week…MAGA had one Pickett’s Charge, with many of the cops on their side, and then nothing but whining.
+ At detention hearing related to the Capitol Hill riot, an FBI agent testified that a Georgia man named William Calhoun repeatedly posted about “Communist cleansing,” taking “head shots,” using “hot lead,” and stockpiling “body bags” for BLM activists. Calhoun’s defense attorney claimed that it was merely “part of the conversation on Twitter”. FBI agent said that Calhoun, a criminal defense attorney himself, was found not at his own home, but in a spare bedroom at his sister’s, with brass knuckles, multiple guns, “hundreds if not thousands” of rounds of ammunition. His defense attorney argued that if Calhoun’s social media posts were incitements to violence, then Trump’s were much more powerful ones and compared the riot on Jan. 6, which Trump encouraged, to lack of protests on Jan. 20, when Trump had been removed from Twitter…
+ As Calhouns go, this guy seems like a demented hybrid of John C. and Rory…
+ More than 20% of the defendants charged in the Capitol Hill riots served in the US military. To put this in context, only 7 percent of the US adult population as a whole are military veterans.
+ How the (then Trump) Justice Department defined QAnon in federal court filing on Monday…
+ People who have always opposed and ridiculed the insanity defense are now going to be invoking it en masse…
+ When Q gets Woke…”The more I think about it, I do think it’s very possible that Biden will be the one who pulls the trigger.”
+ The US just experienced a taste of its own medicine, a failed Color Revolution: White.
+ The round up of selfie-snapping insurrectionists, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and QAnon cultists is satisfying at a gut level, but the FBI seems to be casting a pretty wide net, one that will almost certainly squeeze what remains of our civil liberties and right to protest the actions, even existence, of the government. We need to be dialing back repressive laws passed in the panic of acts of mass violence, whether the OKC bombing or 9/11, not expanding them by law enforcement agencies new powers of surveillance and punishment.
+ Yet that’s exactly what’s happening, as Biden’s Justice Department rushes to print a new “domestic terrorism” law and 14 states have moved to enact new “anti-protest” laws.
+ On the very night of the inauguration, a federal strike force was gassing and clubbing anti-fascist protesters in Portland with no evidence that they were swinging their truncheons any less savagely than they had been under Trump…
+ What a difference a day doesn’t make…Karl Rove says he was offended by Biden’s inaugural speech and that the “racism thing” ruined the whole event.
+ The US Senate is split 50-50, but Democratic senators represent represent 41 million more Americans…
+ Bloody Gina broke “barriers” and bones, “empowered” torturers and then destroyed the evidence that would implicate them (and her)…
+ Speaking of “authoritarianism, cloaked as moral righteousness,” Exhibit A:
+ Trump’s always been misread as an anti-interventionist, but his devotion to Haspel and Pompeo only reconfirmed his real views, especially on the Middle East. Trump didn’t want to get bogged down in neocon “nation building” projects. But he’s always been quite explicit about his desire to torture and kill as many Muslims as possible (along with their families and neighbors) and then steal their oil and get the hell out before things got too hot (for him). In the end, though, he wasn’t even able to extract the US from the wars that predated him (Iraq and Afghanistan) or the ones he escalated (Syria and Yemen).
+ Over four years, Trump executed nine vetoes. Five of the vetoes were pro-war: One bill against war with Iran, one bill to end American support for the war in Yemen, two bills blocking arms sales to the Saudis, and another blocking arms sales to the UAE.
+ Hillary Clinton: “I’d love to see if Trump was talking to Putin the day that the insurgents invaded our Capitol.”
+ HRC’s going to be loads of fun at the Assisted Living Facility, pacing the hallways babbling on about how Putin caged kids on the border, took vegetables out of school lunches, paved the Rose Garden and co-wrote the last clunker episodes of Game of Thrones…
+ It’s very hard to credit Trump as being the worst American president (as MSDNC’s Chris Hayes and many others have done), when his goal was to emulate the worst American presidents, starting with the slave-owning, Native-slaughtering American conquistador Andrew Jackson.
+ Gallup’s final polling for the Trump presidency is out. His final approval rating was 34%. Trump leaves office as the only president never to hit 50% job approval at any point in his presidency and is the least popular president in Gallup’s polling history. Still, Trump got 47% of the popular vote in November. So much for polls…
+ If Trump goes forward with his threat to join the Patriot Party, the Republicans will suddenly be more desperate to convict him in an impeachment trial and see him criminally prosecuted than the Democrats….
+ Trump family businesses experienced steep declines in revenue last year as the COVID pandemic flattened visits to his hotels and golf resorts. Revenue at the Trump hotel in DC fell to $15 million in 2020 from $40 million in 2019, while revenue at his Doral golf resort in Florida fell 40% compared to 2019.
+ Like the Gestapo quoting Anne Frank…
+ This uplifting message was disseminated the same day that ICE planned the last deportation flight of the Trump presidency: a plane bound for Haiti, whose passengers included a man who is not a Haitian citizen and has never been there.
+ If Herzog ever wants to remake his remake of Nosferatu…(Just get a body double for the divine Adjani, Werner, so she doesn’t have to be groped by this creep.)
+ Still flying that blue lives matter flag high, after cops in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish sat on an autistic teenager for nine minutes until he suffocated to death?
+ 410,000 dead, but somebody’s popping the corks!
Goldman Sachs and Bank of America posted their quarterly results that breezed past Wall Street’s targets pic.twitter.com/uUEnGMgj1v
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 19, 2021
+ Over to you, Lemmy…
+ The state of Florida has now administer more than one million doses of the COVID vaccine. But white Floridians were three times more likely to get the vaccine than Black Floridians, even though virus has infected and killed much higher rates of Black residents….
+ Officials Dallas County halted a plan that would have prioritized COVID-19 vaccine doses for people living in the most vulnerable ZIP codes after the governor of Texas threatened to cut the county’s vaccine supply….
+ The latest COVID-19 variant discovered in South Africa resists the antibodies that attack it in treatments using blood plasma from recovered patients and may reduce the efficacy of the current crop of vaccines.
+ Maybe they should call COVID the Columbus Virus: Blood collected in Italy as early as September 2019 tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies…
+ Adventures in For-Profit-Medicine: The owners of The Heights abruptly forced the Houston hospital to shutter its doors after it fell behind on rent. Doctors tried to treat patients in the parking lot, but private security and police prevented the staff from retrieving medical equipment from inside the building.
+ In the 25 years since California legalized medical marijuana, the cannabis business has grown into a $20 billion industry in the US and could surpass the $70 billion market for U.S. wine by 2030.
+ James Comey, the Man Who Won’t Shut Up, despite the fact that no one wants to hear the self-righteous strains of his voice, ever again…
+ Jenin, Jenin, the documentary Israel has tried, with increasing desperation, to suppress for 18 years, can now be watched on Vimeo….
+ Biden is getting praise from the professional environmental lobby for rejoining the Paris Accords, which are, in effect, a group of post-industrial nations who have agreed to blame developing nations for their own failures to meet climate goals.
+ Biden’s business working group is busily crafting his infrastructure plan, which seems to consist of using a carbon tax to pay for more roads and bridges to burn more carbon!
+ That may be one reason Wall Street is betting on Biden to revive slumping oil and gas stocks…
+ Here’s a map by climatologist Brian Brettschneider depicting temperatures changes over the last 60 years in the US by county…
+ In 2020, the Forest Service sold 391 million board feet of timber from national forest lands in Region 1 (Northern Rockies) alone, requiring 78,292 logging trucks spewing tons of CO2 to haul away carbon-sequestering trees. (h/t Friends of the Clearwater).
+ Don Young once snapped a leg hold trap on his own hand during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing to demonstrate the device’s humane mechanics, so him trying to enter the House chambers with a piece of metal that looks like a hunting knife is no surprise.
+ Beware the “consensus solution,” even for National Monuments…
+ A new World Health Organization study suggest that limiting air pollution (especially particulate matter and NO2) could prevent at least 51,213 premature deaths each year, and nearly 125,000 deaths annually if air pollution levels were reduced to the lowest levels recorded in the study.
+ Same story, all over the world: In Australia, the indigenous prison population continues to increase, while the non-Indigenous incarceration rate falls…
+ The Standing Rock Sioux have sent Biden a video message on pipelines, sacred lands and treaty rights…
+ Gonza Cardona is the latest environmental activist to be murdered in the rainforests of South America. Cardona worked with Fundación ProAves as the coordinator of the Reserva Loros Andinos, where he devoted more than 20 years of his life to conserving the yellow-eared parrot, a species which only exists in the cloud forests fo the Andes.
+ The real story of the Vatican Bank is even more convoluted and corrupt than the Godfather 3 (re-edited for “clarity”) version…
+ In four years, Trump only visited one DC restaurant: the steakhouse in his own hotel. (For a kid raised in Indy, arriving in DC as an 18-year old made an internationalist out of me: first Thai food, Indian food, Ethiopian food, Greek food, Korean food, Irish pub food and soul food.)
+ “Fuck Xmas, fuck Donald and fuck this tour.” Mic drop. “Melania out.”
+ Now about Bernie’s mittens…
I made Bernie’s mittens as a gift a couple years ago. They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece (made from recycled plastic bottles). #BerniesMittens pic.twitter.com/lTXFJvVy9V
— Jen Ellis (@vtawesomeness) January 21, 2020
+ Not surprisingly, it turns out that both Gwyneth Paltrow and Alex Jones are pitching the same dietary supplement under different names (“Sex Dust” and “Super Male Vitality,” respectively).
+ RIP Don Sutton, the Doc Severson of big league pitchers, who put the smooth into being white. Sutton was a real workhorse too, pitching total of 5,282 1/3 innings in his career, putting him fourth in the modern era of baseball, being only behind Phil Niekro, Nolan Ryan and Gaylord Perry. To put his career in some perspective, Sutton pitched 1,000 innings more than the final total for Randy Johnson (4,135 1/3), nearly 1,500 more than Jack Morris (3,824) and nearly 2,000 more than Bartolo Colon (3,461 2/3) and Mark Buehrle (3,283 1/3).
+ After his conviction but during his appeals, Phil Spector (who died of COVID while incarcerated for murder) used to call obsessively, begging us to tell “the real story.” This would soon be followed by a call from one of his lawyers, saying, “Please don’t print anything he says, it might jeopardize his appeal.” But when Alex and I pieced together the bits and pieces of what Spector told us, in a manic whispery voice, it didn’t make much sense, even as the ravings of a lunatic.
+ Claudia Levy, widow of Bob Dylan’s songwriting collaborator the great Jacques Levy, is suing for part of the proceeds from the sale of Dylan’s catalogue. Go get ’em, Claudia. Now will Japanese novelist Junichi Saga follow “suit”?
+ Quincy Jones is now known primarily as a producer, but he started out as one of the most gifted jazz players of his time. At last there’s an archive of his performances in the 60s and 70s.
Old Ways Got Their Way Again
What I’m reading this week…
How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Icebound: Shipwrecked at the End of the World
Ending US Wars by Honoring Americans Who Work for Peace
Michael D. Knox
What I’m listening to this week…
Songs From Home
Music is the Weapon
That is Their Tragedy
“By some pre-temporal assignment, which I have never been able to figure out, I am appointed ‘to negate,’ whereas I am sincerely kind and totally unable to negate. No, they say, go and negate, without negation there can be no criticism, and what sort of journal has no ‘criticism section.’ Without criticism, there would be nothing but ‘Hosannahs.’ But Hosannahs alone are not enough for life, it is necessary that this “Hosannah’ pass through the crucible of doubt, and so on, in the same vein. I don’t meddle with any of that, by the way, I didn’t create it, and I can’t answer for it. So they chose themselves a scapegoat, they made me write for the criticism section, and life came about. We understand this comedy: I, for instance, demand simply and directly that I be destroyed. No, they say, live! Because without you there would be nothing. If everything on Earth were sensible, nothing would happen. Without you, there would be no events, and there must be events. And so, I serve, grudgingly, for the sake of events, and I do the unreasonable on orders. People take this whole comedy for something serious, despite all their undeniable intelligence. That is their tragedy.” (The Devil [or Ivan K’s fever-dream of him] in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.)
This post was originally published on Radio Free.