Roaming Charges: Scene of the Crimes

The US Senate is one of the few juries in America where the presumption of innocence is actually institutionalized, to the point where many of the jurors have publicly announced their intention to acquit before the trial even began. Contrast with this with death penalty cases, where citizens who have a moral or religious objection to the death penalty can be automatically evicted from the jury pool. If all trials where conducted according to senate rules, we’d be much closer to decarcerating America. More

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US Capitol after being burned by British troops under Admiral George Cockburn in 1814. Painting by George Munger, 1814. (US Library of Congress).

+ The incitement of Americans to commit violence has always been an essential role for American presidents in the name of exerting US power abroad. Is it any surprise that one day a US president would incite violence to exert his power at home?

+ For most of the country’s history, the incitement of government violence has served to unite the political classes of the United States.

+ The question I’m waiting on an “impeachment manager” to ask: What did the FBI know and when did it know it?

+ For example, Thomas Caldwell, one of the most prominent of the MAGAteers at the Capitol, worked as a section chief for the FBI from 2009 to 2010, after retiring from the Navy…

+ The US Senate is one of the few juries in America where the presumption of innocence is actually institutionalized, to the point where many of the jurors have publicly announced their intention to acquit before the trial even began. Contrast with this with death penalty cases, where citizens who have a moral or religious objection to the death penalty can be automatically evicted from the jury pool. If all trials where conducted according to senate rules, we’d be much closer to decarcerating America.

+ The case for conviction seems pretty clear cut to me: Trump picked the place, picked the time, helped fund the event, showed up to fan the flames, told them where to go, what to do, why to do it and who to target, then watched it happen and when he finally said something it was to congratulate them…

+ The Capitol, of course, has been the scene of many crimes, most of them of a legislative nature.

+ The harrowing scenes from inside the sacking of the Capitol are probably going to end up as recruiting videos for the Trump 2024 campaign. I get the sense that he loves this.

+ What’s good for Trump isn’t necessarily good for the GOP, even if the GOP hasn’t figured that out yet…

+ One of the reasons Trump may not have explicitly ordered the MAGAgruppen to stand down is that he feared they might ignore him and expose his own impotence even over the most devoted members of his cult.

+ After watching Pence and his family be hustled out of the Senate chamber, as MAGAhordes yodeled “Hang Mike Pence!” down the halls of the Capitol, some DC pols are asking how members of the GOP will ever be able to “look Pence in the face again.” But the dirty secret is that Pence was never that popular inside the Republican Party. His appeal was to evangelical voters, drawn to his homophobic policies in Indiana. But Trump rapidly eclipsed Pence among his very own base, becoming a kind of living prophet, a spray-tan Cyrus the Great, heralding the coming Rapture.

+ To the extent they made a discernible argument his in defense, Trump’s lawyers spent a couple of circuitous hours complaining about the unfairness of the ex-president being tried by the Senate for constitutional crimes after he had already been evicted from office. But consider some of the legal proceedings of the Middle Ages, where the dead were put on trial, none more spectacularly than Farinata degli Uberti, the Florentine strongman who led the Ghibelline faction in their bloody feud against the Guelphs. Farinata died in 1266 and was entombed in Santa Reparata, the ancient cathedral of Florence. After the rival Guelphs regained control of the city state, the bodies of Farinata and his wife Adaleta were exhumed from the crypt and placed on trial for heresy by the Inquisition. They were swiftly found guilty by the Guelph-allied Franciscan prosecutors and their bodies subjected to ritual executions. Forty years later, Farinata was once again put on trial by an even more unforgiving judge, Dante Alighieri, who found him guilty of Epicurian sins of the flesh and condemned him to a fiery tomb in the Sixth Circle of Hell. Trump (not mention Melania) may be getting off easy.

Dante interviews Farinata in Dis. Watercolor by William Blake, 1824, British Museum.

+ Trump lawyer Bruce Castor: “The people are smart enough, in the light most favorable to them, they’re smart enough to pick a new administration if they don’t like the old one. And they just did.” Trump’s definitely not paying this bill…

+ Castor, who is so incompetent, he could have only succeeded as a prosecutor: “I saw a headline, ‘representative so and so seeks to walk back comments about’— I forget what it was. Something that bothered her. I was devastated when I saw that she thought it was necessary to go on television yesterday or the day before.”

+ Did Castor rehearse this argument at Four Seasons Total Landscaping… ?

+ Enough with Castor, bring on Pollux…

+ Trump lawyer Doug Schoen is making chop-logic seem like a high rhetorical art: “Words are what make up our Constitution.”

+ Schoen misting up while reading “The Building of the Ship” is the first time in 150 years that crusty old Longfellow has brought anyone to tears.

+ Any lawyer who lost cases against Castor and Schoen should be immediately disbarred.

+ Jamie Raskin quoting Scalia: “You can’t ride with the cops and root for the robbers.” What if the cops are the robbers?

+ Even so, I like Jamie Raskin and his family. I met his dad Marcus Raskin in the fall of 1977 during a seminar on my first week on campus at AU. It proved a hugely fortuitous encounter (for me at least). Marcus co-founded the Institute for Policy Studies, where many, many CounterPunchers worked, interned or crashed over the years.

+ Here’s Lindsey Graham blaming Capitol Hill police for not shooting enough people, instead of Trump for sending his horde of vandals there…

Sen Graham: “The legal theory they have is absurd. That somehow that Trump’s a secret member of the Proud Boys. I just can’t believe that we could lose the Capitol like that. I got mad. I mean these police officers had every right to use deadly force, they should have used it.”

+ According to an analysis by the Washington Post, nearly 60% of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades.”

+ Meanwhile, working-age mortality rates have soared in 48 states since 2010. According to a new study by Virginia Commonwealth University, the Rust Belt and Appalachia have seen the most dramatic increases in death rates for Americans, ages 25 to 64.

+ The press cultivated and nourished Trump as a political figure and now they already miss the “thrill” of covering the monster they engineered. Talk about smoking your own crack.

+ Mitch Mulvaney: “January 6th was existential.” So, exhortation precedes essence. Who will tell Sartre?

+ It’s already apparent that Trump’s creditors and business partners are going to exact more accountability from him than this impeachment trial.

+ Biden was given an easy out by a British judge in the Julian Assange extradition case and refused to take it. Instead of reverting to Obama’s position that Espionage Act did’t apply to Assange, the Biden announced that it will continue to press the Trump-era appeal of Britain’s denial of his extradition to the states.  Why? Because, like Trump, he really believes that a Free Press is the enemy of (not the people) but the secret government, whose crimes in Iraq, some of which Assange exposed, were committed with the imprimatur of Biden himself…

+ When the Guardian fired Nathan J. Robinson for criticizing US military aid to Israel, where was Bari Weiss to decry the iron hand of cancel culture?

+ The people orchestrating the “outrage” over Ken Loach’s appearance at Oxford are the same ones who are the least likely to have ever seen one of the director’s films…

+ It sure looks like American politics is just going get more and more banal…Among the comments Michigan Senate leader Mike Shirkey made in a video posted to Youtube by Hillsdale County Republicans:

+ U.S. Capitol insurrection was a “hoax”

+ He claimed he “spanked” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on several issues

+ He said he thought about challenging Whitmer to a fistfight

+ For the first time, a majority (55%) of Americans say that the system of government in the US is not sound.

Photo journalist: “Some say the methods of our government might not be sound.”

Capt. Willard: “I don’t see any method at all.”

+ The latest YouGov/Economist brainscan of the United States of Amensia: Who was the worst President in U.S. history?

Trump 46%
Obama 24%
Nixon 5%
George W. Bush 4%
Clinton 4%
Carter 3%
Wilson 2%
Johnson (A) 2%
George Bush 2%
Buchanan 1%

+ Even the short-term memory is eroding. You can add both Bushes together and still not hit 10%…

+ Biden remains more popular with Democrats than Obama at the peak of his “honeymoon” period. People tend to forget the hostility of at least 1/3 of the Democratic Party (hardcore HRC supporters) toward Obama, a much more venomous sect (for better or worse) than the Sandernistas, most of whom followed Bernie’s lead and made nice with Biden, while in 2009 HRC sulked in her office at Foggy Bottom and her inner circle continued to stoke resentment against Obama, as she calculated the odds of challenging him in 2012….

+ QAnon, in reverse: Alan Dershowitz helped craft and push proposals for George Nader to be released from a 10-year sentence (for child pornography/sex trafficking) and returned to the U.A.E. (on an Emirate jet) so that Nader could play a role in backchannel Middle East peace talks.

+ According to a dispatch in the NYT, Trump wanted to name Michael Flynn chief of staff for the final weeks, but Flynn declined. Apparently, the disgraced general is desperate to pay off millions of dollars in legal bills by selling QAnon merchandise, which pretty much sums up the whole QAnon phenomenon.

+ Does people really believe QAnon theories? Not many, it turns out.

+ So Q is the latest scapegoat for the failure of both parties to deliver the kind of political solutions people need.

+ Poor Jim Jordan. So many times rushing to Trump’s defense, still hasn’t been invited to use the showers at Mar-a-Lago…

+ Idaho Republicans want to make it a felony to hold two ballots at the same time (“ballot harvesting”), which would effectively make it illegal for you take your family members’ ballots to the Post Office.

+ Neera, my CEO to thee….”Ms. Tanden was receiving corporate donations, which is fine by me,” said Lindsey Graham, during Tanden’s confirmation hearing for director of OMB. “All of us receive different donations from corporate groups . I’m not going to hold that against you.”

+ Asked what his plan was for dealing with China, Biden replied: “Extreme competition“…. Is there some department at the University of Chicago that generates these policy names?

+ Although they’ve declined in recent weeks, there are 18 million more unemployment insurance claims than one year ago and 130,000 more than during the worst week of the Great Recession.

+ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen seems fixated on a $60,000 means-tested threshold for stimulus checks. She raked in more than that per speech (to the very Wall Street players she’s now charged with regulating) after leaving the Obama administration…

+ If they “target” stimulus checks with the same accuracy that they target drone strikes we all might have a chance to get hit with one…

+ FoxNews hauled out evangelical financial advisor Dave Ramsey to denounce any stimulus checks, suggesting that poor people would just blow the money: “I don’t believe in a stimulus check because if $600 or $1400 changes your life you were pretty much screwed already. You got other issues going on.”

+ Between 1910 and 1997, African Americans lost about 90% of their farmland, a driving force behind America’s racial wealth gap. Today the median wealth among black families is about a tenth that of white families.

+ There was more than enough flatulence in Chez Gingrich to power 10 city busses before the chili takes effect…

+ One of the best things about Trump is that he never indulged in nostalgia for Reagan. Now that he’s been vanquished, the Old Guard of the GOP are once again at work polishing the warped iconography of their father figure.

+ Four years before he gave this speech, Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign by giving a “states’ rights” speech (AKA Klan Rally) at the Neshoba County (Miss) Fairgrounds, a few miles from where the murdered bodies of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were exhumed….Six months after the 84 speech, Reagan flew to Germany to pay tribute to the Waffen SS at the Bitburg cemetery.

+ George Schultz “spoke truth to power“? Served “humanity with honor?” That’s strange. I remember him for running death squads across Latin America…

+ Texas death row inmate Jorge Villanueva died this weekend after testing positive for Covid. He had been on the row 25 years, was blind and had cancer. He was 66. (Like many long-term prisoners, Villanueva was toothless, but for years had been denied dentures by the Texas prison system.)

+ Five of the 10 people who died in Oregon jails last year had a mental health condition. Six of them died by suicide…

+ After spending a few hours drinking at a Fraternal Order of Police lounge, an intoxicated Philly cop named Gregory Campbell got into his car to drive home. A quarter of mile away, while driving at 70 mph, he crashed into the living room a house, where a 53-year-old woman was “dragged and pinned” under the car, breaking her leg and collapsing her lung. He killed her dog.

+ Greetings from Ashbury Park Police….Ashbury Park taxpayers fund six-figure “sick day” payouts, $2,500 “perfect attendance” bonuses and lucrative “extra duty” assignments for the police force.

+ The cops here in Portland, Oregon have the fifth worst record for arrest disparates by race in the country. According to data from Campaign Zero, Portland police arrest Black people at a per capita rate 4.3 times higher than white people, the fifth worst in the country. Cops in Portland also kill Black people 3.9 times more than white people.

+ Not a few bad cops, but a whole police force gone rogue

+ Meanwhile, the charges against the Buffalo cops who brutalized 75-year old peace activist Martin Gugino have been quietly dropped

+ Of course, not. Better than anyone, Biden knows we already have only one major party with two heads…

+ The UK announced this week that it won’t follow Biden’s lead and cut off arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the war on Yemen. Helluva way to finally exert your independence from the US, BoJo…

+ Four weeks into Biden’s term and the southern border remains shut to asylum seekers.

+ The immigration court in Atlanta has denied every asylum case presented before it in FY 2021. That’s 100%.

+ Mark Morgan, who ran Border Patrol under Trump and led the push to bjuild the Border Wall, has joined the anti-immigrant group, FAIR, as a “senior fellow.”

+ At least 10 Yanomami children have died from coronavirus and another 25 more children in the region are showing COVID symptoms.

+ COVID and the US…

4% of the world population
20% of COVID deaths
25% of the confirmed cases
32% of the current vaccine supply

+ At this point I don’t know who could possibly be “startled” by this appalling behavior, except that people like Fauci, now venerated as heroes, had to know it was going on and kept silent, as thousands perished……“Startling documents released Monday point to heavy-handed interference by top Trump administration officials last summer to downplay the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, through suppressed testing results and altered guidance from the CDC…”

+ Citi Field, home of the lowly Mets was supposed to be a 24/7, “mega” vaccination site. But it will only be open four days a week and offer just 200 shots a day. NYC originally pledged that the site would able to vaccinate 5,000 to 7,000 people a day.

+ If you can’t compare it to something Russian, does it exist? “The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to create an air-launched drone that carries its own smaller weapons, a concept that brings to mind a super lethal Russian nesting doll packed with missiles.”

+ By a vote of 52-48, the Senate passed a resolution backing the Keystone XL pipeline. The two Democrats who pushed it over the top? Manchin and Tester.

+ Trafigura, a multinational commodity trader, wit backing from a Moscow bank, is investing in one of the biggest and potentially most destructive oil and gas development schemes in the Arctic: the Vostok Oil Project.

+ A study conducted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, found that a reduction in shipping traffic coincided with an average decrease of 1.5 decibels in waters  near the Port of Vancouver.

+ Arch Coal Co. announced this week plans to close its massive Coal Creek mine in Wyoming, prompting one longtime coal analyst to sigh: “People are now beginning to say what used to be unspeakable: The end [of coal] is now potentially in sight.”

+ Methane emissions from coal mines are approximately 50% higher than previously estimated, according to a recent study by researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Raven Ridge Resources and Ruby Canyon Engineering.

+ Kill it off while it’s down…

+ More than 24,000 Oregonians applied for federal disaster assistance after the 2020 wildfires. FEMA denied 57% of them. Out of those nearly 14,000 denials, only 290 people appealed.

+ One of the villages hit hardest by flooding in northern India was the site of environmental protests against deforestation in the 1970s, where greens hugged trees to stop loggers from clearcutting them.  The movement became known as “Chipko,” or Embrace.

+ Female giraffes who live in large social groups live longer….

+ After 20 years of organic agriculture, up to 16 different pesticide residues are still present in the soil….

+ Feel free to stand at Mavericks games now…Wait a minute.

+ I don’t know if I saw every incarnation of Chick Corea, but I saw and was intoxicated by many of them, the last time a blazing show with the Elektric Band at The Shed in Eugene. What a huge, almost indescribable loss. Fuck cancer.

+ Chick was the best, if not the only, thing Scientology had going for it.

+ I wasn’t much impressed with Phoebe Bridger’s weak swats of her guitar at the monitor on SNL last week, but I wasn’t offended by it either. (Courtney Love might give her some tips on how to swing her six-string with authority.) Bashing guitars is as old as the blues itself, though likely originated as self-protection at roadhouse brawls (see: Charley Patton) before becoming a stage antic of some of the best who ever played them (T-Bone Walker, Hendrix, Townsend, Cobain).

+ How to Smash a Guitar 101, Exhibit A, Kurt and the Strat…

+ Re-Unite, America, Bruce? Springsteen has become the Steven Spielberg of rockers, a hologram of toothless liberalism to be projected at nearly cultural mega-event. At least Dylan kept finding new ways to rub people, especially his fans, the wrong way for most of his career.

+ Jeep is owned by Stellantis, a transnational conglomerate based in the Netherlands.

+ The highway’s jammed with broken heroes

+ The probable cause affidavit in Springsteen’s DWI arrest says he took 45 steps instead of the instructed 18 in his walk around. He’d have been “shot while trying to escape” if he’d done this while black…

+ Maybe Springsteen leaked his own DWI arrest just to get that insipid Jeep ad pulled from the air….

+ Springsteen only blew a 0.02 on the breathalyzer, which is barely a whiff of tequila, but enough to get you busted in most states at the discretion of the cops. In Georgia, you can get arrested for a DUI because the cop thinks your pupils are 2cm too large for the light level.

+ Soul Train was the start of my de-programming (an ongoing process) from white, suburban America…

+ John Coltrane: “There’s so many things that I think I want to do that possibly have been done already. Every once in a while something pops up and I say, ‘Oh man, that’s just what I’m looking for,’ and somebody did it.”

+ Inside baseball: A note in my column this week comparing Pirate RFers Hank Greenberg and Roberto Clemente in their final years, prompted a letter arguing that Greenberg, who hit 58 HRs in 1938, was denied topping Ruth’s record (because Greenberg was Jewish) by being purposefully walked so many times (119). The most walks in Greenberg’s career, but not by much. By contrast Barry Bonds took more walks in: 92 (127), 93 (126), 95 (120), 96 (151), 97 (145), 98 (130), 2001 (177), 2002 (198), 2003 (148), 2004 (232!), 2007 (132), while playing fewer games in most of those years.

+ The professional football team in Kansas City could simply change their name to the Chefs and keep their ghoulish chop

+ I enjoyed The Dig, but this story about the liberties taken with the life of the archaeologist Peggy Piggott, played by Lily James in the film, casts a new, rather unflattering light on the Netflix production.

+ Poor Dostoevsky. After he had finally kicked his extreme gambling addiction, which had impoverished his family (and many of his friends, who kept loaning him money because he claimed to have a “system” to conquer the roulette tables), he developed emphysema and spent hours a day in an early version of an iron lung. The stress of the treatments may have exacerbated his epilepsy, which, by the time he was finishing The Idiot, had become so severe that he had trouble remembering his characters names and the sub-plot lines of his longer novels. Then his young son died after an epileptic seizure that went on for 17 hours with Fyodor and Anna at his bedside. Emotionally shattered, he began hallucinating that the Anti-Christ (perhaps in the human form of Bakunin or even Turgenev) was stalking Russia and killing ministers of the Tsar, who, by this time, had become FD’s patron. Still, he managed somehow to write Demons, the Adolescent and The Brothers Karamazov under these crushing conditions. Kudos, Ted. (All this from the terrific new (and short) “auto-biography” of Dostoevsky titled Dostoevsky in Love, pieced together from Dosteovsky’s letters and diaries by the novelist Alex Christofi.)

+ Who could possibly mourn the death of Big Publishing? Dostoevsky didn’t begin to make money until his wife, Anna, took over his affairs and started his own publishing company with The Idiot, selling the books from their own apartment in St. Petersburg. Alas, it was still never enough to cover his gambling debts.

We’ll Walk in the Rays of a Beautiful Sun

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Himalaya: a Human History
Ed Douglas

Tell the Bosses We’re Coming: a New Action Plan for Workers in the 21st Century
Shaun Richman
(Monthly Review)

Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California
Dave Chisholm and Peter Markowski
(Z2 Comics)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Calvin Keys
(Real Gone Music)

The Weather Station
(Fat Possum Records)

3, 5, 8
Gui Duvignau

Everything is Good

“Everything is good.”


“Everything. Man is unhappy because he doesn’t know he’s happy; only because of that. It’s everything, everything! Whoever learns will at once immediately become happy, that same moment. This mother-in-law will die and the girl won’t remain – everything is good. I discovered suddenly. ”

“And if someone dies of hunger, or someone offends and dishonors the girl – is that good? ”

“Good. And if someone’s head get smashed in for the child’s sake, that’s good, too; and if it doesn’t get smashed in, that’s good, too. Everything is good, everything. For all those who know that everything is good. If they knew it was good with them, it would be good with them, but as long as they don’t know it’s good with them, it will not be good with them. That’s the whole thought, the whole, there isn’t any more! ”

“And when did you find out that you were so happy? ”

“Last week, on Tuesday, no, Wednesday, because it was Wednesday by then, in the night. ”  (Demons, Dostoevsky)

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