This Week’s Quiz
WHAT IS A ROCK STAR DOING WEARING A SUIT AND RED POWER TIE?
Impersonating a president of the United States.
WHY IS A PUTZ FRAU (German for lavatory attendant) doing with a face lift?
Impersonating the Speaker of the House. Brushing impeachment and climate change off the table, whiting out the “Squad” (AOC, Tlaib, Omar, and Pressley) from the (Progressive) map, allocating billions to ICE to Keep Kids in Kages, and showering billions on the Pentagon to insure more waroholism, more bases, and more intense and faster climate collapse.
Our quiz today is designed to point out one important, and entirely overlooked factor governing today’s politics: #45 can’t be touched, no mud slinging, no protestations, no revilements can reach him. We have a rock star phenomenon on our hands, and rock stars are impervious, hailed for racking up their peckerdildos on bedposts. Remember the Beetles declaration: “We’re better than Jesus.” And indeed, his mob views #45 as the Second Coming, and Nuclear war as the long-sought Rapture. Global warming is too slow for them: they’re slathering to get there first.
There is a very real chance that we may have to endure the twittering pronouncements of #45 for an additional 4 years. The U.S. vote has been hacked by Republican-owned voting machines, by the Gov. of Florida who reversed the recent Florida legislation restoring the vote to 4 million ex-felons, not to mention nationwide gerrymandering, a Republican popular sport, recently abetted by the Supreme Court’s decision. And topping the list, keep in mind that rock stars are not like you and me. They are walking mythologies, ambulating myths, this one groupied by MAGA mob hysteria.
In Empire of Illusion: The end of literacy and the triumph of spectacle, Chris Hedges laid down the ground rules of a culture governed by trash TV, by Facebook (which has just been slapped with the highest penalty fine ever, 5 billion U.S. dollars) by a politics no longer predicated on the issues, but rather on appearances, and by a stenographic media which depends on sound bites to convey news-as-entertainment. Call it the vulgarization of everything. And the beastialization of the U.S. presidency, which from the start, was never particularly fastidious about with ethics. Pegged on the over-the-top funeral of Michael Jackson, prominently displaying his gold casket, Hedges’ work foregrounds the simulacrum that passes for Americans’ most popular pursuit.
How to down a rock star, not on electoral terms, and not on Congressional terms, but on a symmetrical playing field, charged with the same level of trashiness, unreason, and obscene display? That is the question before us all. To assume that a roster of would-be Democratic candidates or a Congress dominated by a putz frau is an appropriate or symmetrical weapon, is utter nonsense.
Digging up “Treasure” on Treasure Island. Maybe Not So Much
This past weekend, I took in a performance of Treasure Island by the San Francisco Mime Troupe, the longest operating (60 years) theater in San Francisco. The secret to their longevity? The San Francisco Mime Troupe is a political agit prop theater and has been from its inception, passing through various performance styles such as Italian commedia, noir, melodrama, and now docudrama.
S. F. Mime Troupe presents Treasure Island
Treasure Island, created in 1936, became a Naval Base in 1941, for the duration of WWII, before the city turned it over entirely to the Navy. During that time, it was used as a military firing area, for weapons storage, ship and aircraft storage and refueling, illegal dumping, open burning of “debris.” and repairing ships with deck makers painted with radium.
After the war, the Navy established a training center for dealing with radiological contamination, where the mock ship USS Pendemonium, containing cesium 137, a radiological isotope, served as a tool for Navy students preparing for atomic warfare. Swabs practiced decontamination by scrubbing the decks — just as they continued doing after the Fukushima earthquake and explosions, when U.S. navy vessels became highly contaminated, technology be damned.
When the Navy base closed, San Francisco City legislation required the city to develop Treasure Island for housing low income folks. Today it provides subsidized housing to 1,561 residents of the total 3,129, mostly people of color, who live below the poverty line. Most of them live in Site 12, previously used by the Navy as an ammunition bunker and storage area, which contain such contaminants as polychlorinated biphenyls, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, arsenic, lead and radium 226. Soil samples contain elevated levels of lead, DDT, dioxins, PCBs, PAHs, motor oil pollutants, arsenic and vanadium. Residents, who complain of serious health problems such as asthma and cancer, are instructed not to dig, garden, or drag soil from their backyards or from the schoolyard or the daycare into to their homes.
Although contaminants remain, and so-called “clean-up” is ongoing, San Francisco plans up to 8,000 new residences, hotels, shops and offices on Treasure Island, fully aware of its contamination. In fact, far from trustworthy, one of the companies involved in decontamination is Tetra Tech, the very same outfit that committed massive fraud in the botched cleanup of Hunter’s Point Shipyard Superfund Site, yet despite whistleblowers who’ve come forward with reports of similar fraud at Treasure Island, the government refuses to investigate.
Treasure Island deploys a Byzantine plot to expose government and corporate malfeasance at the expense of the people who actually live there. It leaves its audience with the final point: once upon a time the houseless population of San Francisco were low-wage employed people who were able to rent there, and who have been turned out into the streets by rising rents and gentrification, some of them with no where left to go but radiologically contaminated Treasure Island.
But the global picture is far more dire. Wherever the U.S. military keeps its nearly one thousand bases (or leaves them derelict) all these areas on Earth are highly polluted, home to Guillain Barré syndrome and other ailments for the military unlucky enough to be housed there, and each of those bases contributes to global climate collapse because the military uses 93% of the U.S. total yearly consumption of fossil fuels. The choice is stark: continue war-making and lose life on this planet, or learn to live in peace.
Following up on our last week’s essay about the radiologically contaminated hot spots in Japan and in the U.S. µSv/h refers to microSieverts per hour. About 0.12µSv/h is considered the “safe” threshold for ambient radiation by the ICRP (the International Commission on Radiological Protection). That figure translates to ~1 milliSievert per year, which is also considered safe by the ICRP. (After the explosions at Fukushima, the Japanese government raised that threshold to 20 mSv/year, the maximum dosage for nuclear industry workers, in complete indifference to evidence that women are even more susceptible to radiation damage than men, and children even more so, especially female children.)
Below is a list of petitions to end war: war in Afghanistan, war in Syria, and to end compulsory registration for the draft.
Thanks to pressure by activists, House of Representative passes defense budget including provision banning Easy Fire Nukes and limiting deployment of the weapons ordered by the #45 administration’s Nuclear Posture Review.
UN high commissioner on human rights calls for action to avoid climate apartheid.
Giant cave in week of caves as #45 walks away from citizenship question.
Maine’s Gov. Mills signs law supporting net neutrality and protecting internet users.
Zucked: Federal Trade Commission approves 5 billion fine against Facebook.
South Africa environmental justice advocates sue the government to force it to clean up the air in the Mpumalanga Highveld region.
Thanks to incompetence in high places, #45’s anti-immigrant raids slated for Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, L.A. Miami, New York and San Francisco never happened.
Nearly 800 events nationwide as grassroots organizations and student and labor groups protest concentrations camps on the U.S.-Mexico border.
At Amazon ‘s annual summit, hundreds demand tech giant stop providing “invisible backbone” to #45’s anti-immigrant agenda.
Over 7,000 colleges and universities declare climate emergency and unveil three-point plan to combat it.
Beyond Regulation, a new U.S. campaign calls for moratorium on facial recognition surveillance.
Responding to Pelosi’s putdown, AOC reminds her that public “whatever” is actually called public sentiment.
Beyond Extreme Energy, the activist group makes house call on FERC Commissioner LaFleur.
State Department analyst resigns after his testimony on climate crisis is blocked by White House.
#Lights for Liberty stages a wave of protest from coast to coast.
Bank of America to stop lending to private prison firms.
Following protests, hotel chains promise they won’t let ICE use their rooms for temporary detention.
Minnesota Amazon workers to state Prime Day strike.
More than 25,000 comments flood New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation in opposition to the Williams Pipeline.
Pipeline fighter Phillip Flagg locks down in path of Mountain Valley Pipeline near Elliston, VA. blocking construction.
15 states have already taken steps to make the Electoral College obsolete. (Where are the other 35?)
Six states, D.C and Puerto Rico are expanding the Earned Income Tax Credits this year.
Detroit’s tiny houses offers solution to homelessness.
San Francisco becomes the 12th entity nationwide to pass a Surveillance Equipment Transparency Ordinance.
Sanders urges all Dem candidates to reject insurance and big pharma cash.
Rep, Ilhan Omar’s new resolution affirms right to engage in boycotts.
Rep. Al Green warns impeachment can’t wait: “blood of somebody on our hands” if #45 not stopped, puts impeachment on. the table.
Amazon facing Congressional grilling as EU launches antitrust probe of online behemoth.
Dozens arrested as over 1,000 Jewish activists shut down ICE headquarter entrances, demanding closure of detention camps.
Demonstration led by Catholic groups protesting #45 immigration policies at Capaitol sustains 70 arrests.
Nationwide bus tour pushes for higher taxes on the rich, remind the nation the fight for fair taxation is far from over.
All day standoff by several hundred native Hawaiians protesting construction of new Mauna Kea telescope as violation of sacred site results in no arrests.
House Majority Leader, Stenny Hoyer announced for the first time in history, a stand alone bill to protest the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas driping has come to the House floor for a vote.
Huge Texas win: a court fight stops Formosa Plastics discharges of plastic pollution into the Gulf’s Bay of Lavaca, tops decades of clean-water heroism on the part of advocates.
World’s largest sovereign wealth firm managing part of Norway’s assets to ditch fossil fuels.
Border Patrol Agent whistleblower calls migrant prison camp “a scene from a Zombie Apocalypse.”
Ilhan Omar introduces pro-BDS resolution, announces visit to Israel.
House orders Pentagon to say if it weaponized ticks and released them.