Monday, January 29, 2024

On Our Final "Virtual Route 66" For January 2024


Your mother really did know the secret to a better world:
"Play nicely together. Don't fight."

Compromise is the worst way to address human differences, except for all the others.
(modeled on Churchill's quote "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.")

The alternative to compromise is conflict.

When we seek to discover the best in others,
we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.
- William Arthur Ward

Unless both sides win, no agreement can be permanent.
- Jimmy Carter

Today's affirmation:
I feel unity with Spirit and with all that is.
My life is richer for sharing my being with all those I meet.
Each experience, however it appears at the time,
highlights and strengthens the fabric of my life.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) giving a pretty unimpeachable analysis of this GOP Congress and their sycophancy to Trump.

After weeks of deliberation following South Africa’s landmark accusations of genocide against Israel, judges in the World Court reached a decision. 

  • The International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians and increase efforts to help civilians, but stopped short of ordering the ceasefire sought by South Africa, which brought the case to The Hague. It’s not quite the outcome hoped for by many Palestinians. But does represent a significant legal setback for Israel, as the country had hoped to get the case thrown out entirely. 

  • The ICJ found that “at least some of the acts and omissions alleged by South Africa to have been committed by Israel in Gaza to be capable of falling within the provisions of the [Genocide] Convention.” The ruling requires Israel to prevent and punish any public incitements to commit genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and to preserve evidence related to such allegations. The judges also ruled that Israel must take measures to improve humanitarian conditions in Gaza. Fifteen of 17 judges on the panel voted in favor of imposing these provisional measures, including the court’s president from the United States, Joan Donoghue.

  • So what happens now? Well, Israel is required to submit a report to the court on steps it has taken to comply with the orders within one month of today’s ruling. The process of the courts examining the merits of the case could take years. Israeli Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu has called the charges of genocide brought against Israel “outrageous” and said that the country would defend itself by any means necessary. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir mocked the ruling, posting on X, “Hague Schmague.”

The ICJ’s ruling lacks immediate practical consequences, but its implications are deeply symbolic for both Israelis and Palestinians. For Israel—which was was founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust—to be directly ordered to comply with the Genocide Convention (also created in response to the Holocaust) sends a powerful message. 

  • The United Nations Agency that facilitates aid to Palestinians, known as UNRWA said that it had dismissed several employees accused of being involved in the October 7 Hamas attack, and has launched an official investigation. Israel had previously accused the agency of fueling anti-Israeli sentiment, which the U.N. has repeatedly denied. The head of UNRWA Philippe Lazzarini said that the dismissals were carried out to “protect the Agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance.” No evidence of wrongdoing has yet been uncovered, but Lazzarini said that if any UNRWA worker is found to have been involved, they “will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.” 

  • Lazzarini did not specify how many of UNRWA’s 13,000-person workforce in Gaza had been accused, but the U.S. State Department released a statement noting that the allegations involved 12 people. The State Department release asserted that it has “temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.” It also commended UNRWA for its “critical role in providing lifesaving assistants to Palestinians,” and said the administration welcomes the U.N.’s announcement of a “comprehensive and independent” review of the agency. 

The United States is UNRWA’s largest donor, so the suspension of aid at a time when more than 93 percent of the population in Gaza experiences “crisis levels of hunger,” will be a major blow to the agency’s already-stretched resources. Lazzarini stated that the goal of the independent investigation will be to “establish the truth without delay.” 

New year, new tour shows, same need for comedy as a coping mechanism as the news cycle spits out its weekly glob of horrors! We have so much in store for you, but to kick us off, Lovett or Leave It will be coming to Washington, DC on April 25 for another barnburner of a show at The Lincoln Theatre. Trust us—you won’t want to miss this one. Join our Friend of the Pod subscription service for exclusive access to pre-sale tickets today!

A New York City jury ordered disgraced former president Donald Trump to pay columnist E. Jean Caroll $83.3 million for defaming her in 2019 by derisively denying her accusation that he raped her in a department store dressing room in the 90’s. The sum exceeded even the amount Carroll’s lawyers’ explicitly asked for. Trump called the ruling “absolutely ridiculous” and vowed to appeal. Carroll’s lawyers used Trump’s own testimony from the civil fraud trial brought against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James (in which he bragged about how much money he has) as proof that he could afford such a hefty fine. But there’s little hope that Carroll will be awarded the money anytime soon. Trump’s appeal means that the $83 million will be held by the court during what could be years of legal battles. He could also secure a bond, which would not require him to pay the full amount up front. The civil fraud case is due to be decided next week, which could add significantly to Trump’s list of legal debts. State Attorney General James is seeking $370 million from the Trump Organization, as well as banning him from doing business in New York real estate for life.

A bipartisan group of over two dozen members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Biden on Friday arguing that he must seek congressional authorization before launching additional strikes against the Houthis in Yemen


Nearly a dozen mainstream media outlets have gutted their staff and newsrooms since the beginning of the year, including the Los Angeles TimesSports IllustratedBusiness Insider, and the New York Daily News


A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pressing the assisted-living industry for answers on Thursday in a hearing about the industry-wide problems of inadequate staffing, high costs, and a lack of transparency about insufficient care and preventable deaths of elderly residents. 


The NFL issued a ruling that players on the two teams competing in the Super Bowl will be prohibited from gambling during the week of the game, which will be held in Las Vegas this year. 

Washington D.C. saw temperatures nearing 80 degrees on Friday, 35 degrees above average. Okay climate change, you got us!

The Justice Department formally concluded its investigation into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and settled the case with the New York executive chamber. According to the settlement, Cuomo “repeatedly subjected [current and former state] female employees to unwelcome, non-consensual sexual contact; ogling; unwelcome sexual comments; gender-based nicknames; comments on their physical appearances; and/or preferential treatment based on their physical appearances.” The executive chamber, DOJ concluded, “failed to effectively remediate the harassment on a systemic level,” and senior staff in the Cuomo administration were aware of the behavior and retaliated against some of the women involved. The chamber will be forced to implement a variety of new preventative measures, some of which have already been adopted by the administration of Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY).

January 23-24

By Marc Cooper

So you didn't have to, I spent Tuesday watching the coverage of the faux New Hampshire primary and all I can say is that it has been stultifying, depressing and enraging.

Let me save you time by informing you that in spite of all the hot air and rat-tat-tat of data points that the media is obsessed with, it makes NO difference whatsoever if Haley finished five, ten or fifty points behind Trump (looks like it's going to be about 15).

This "primary" season was over before it started as from the beginning Trump was going to be the nominee for two simple reasons: he long ago captured the mass of a degenerate and degraded GOP who is in his thrall and who dreams of dictatorship and second, there was never any serious challenger to him because they were all cowards and at best were running to be a lackey of his in any future cabinet. Only Chris Christie challenged his own party base.

I watched the whole thing on the putatively liberal MSNBC and it came off as one prolonged gigantic smoking train wreck. When Trump showed up for a "press gaggle" they ran his demented and impaired and mendacious rant live with NO context, pushback or even a tough question. He rambled on for several minutes completely making up an incoherent but fear-filled pitch about the danger of immigrants -- like "they are opening up to all the mental hospitals in the world…all the criminals…” yada yada.

And, somehow, the only voters that were interviewed seemed like until 10 minutes before getting on camera they were uprooted from a turnip patch. These yo-yos were inarticulate and irrational and as ill-informed as possible, a lethal mix only amplified by the corps of MSNBC reporters who, apparently, were ordered to never ask a single important follow up. And MSNBC could not find ONE voter who could form an entire paragraph of linear thought? Or would that be too long for a 7 second sound bite?

When one dolt after another was asked who did you vote for and they grunted "Trump" they were sometimes asked why and for those capable of answering most said "immigration." End of interview.

You'd think at least ONE reporter might ask, um, what is it about immigration that affects your life? Or do you worry that your choice is facing a panoply of criminal trials? Or are you Okay voting for a guy who says he will be a dictator? Or, even, have you ever read a newspaper? But nothing, nada, zip.

Then it's back to that frickin’ Big Board where Steve Kornacki breaks down the 2024 turnout in East Jesus County compared to that of 2016 and it is basically all totally pointless and worthless information. Sorry. Talk about horse race coverage! This was like trying to explain the voting by sifting through clumps of horse shit.

Perhaps the follow up coverage later Tuesday nite or Wednesday might delve a bit deeper but I did not see ONE minute of coverage during the day (and I watched from 9 AM onward) that dealt with this circus as anything except one more absolutely normal election. Not a moment of analysis (and I mean analysis not opinion) on how we are moving closer to the death of democracy, not one moment delving into the appeal of naked xenophobia...just one common place or threadbare cliche after another.

As I write this at 5:30 PM PST, Haley is making a "victory" speech claiming she is in for the long run. My God, she is an empty vessel and quite a right winger herself!

As if anybody cares if she is going to "stay in," as if she is going to NOT get crushed in hew own state of South Carolina next month. As if she, and the bootlickers like Tim Scott and Ron DeSantis are going to be anything other than asterisks by November.

As I said last week after the ridiculous Iowa caucuses, the general election has already started and what went down in NH was a sideshow that entertained --and mattered to-- only the media who did it’s damndest to give this horror show a varnish of respectability and gravity.

The only good news coming out this week is that the Republicans have saddled themselves with Trump as its virtual nominee and has thereby created the longest general election campaign in recent history. And that is bad for Trump and his party. He will be going on trial at least on that most important federal charge on the January 6 conspiracy before the election and, if convicted as he probably will be, the Republican Party will be going into November with a convicted felon as its standard bearer. Not a winning idea strategy. More than 40% of even these NH voters said if he is convicted they will not vote for him.

Though the media continues to pee its pants over Biden's age, they are very very very slowly catching on to just how muddled and impaired Trump's mental acuity has become. The more he talks in the coming months, the worse it will be for him. And for his soft supporters.

As for cable "news" today -- it would have been more useful to just play re-runs of the Twilight Zone and then late Tuesday, take maybe 5 minutes to sum up the New Hampshire results. It would have been a greater public service than uncapping the open sewer pipe they drowned us in today. ++

PS on Sunday
JANUARY 28, 2024
This week at Project Syndicate, Stephen S. Roach warns that, without a more imaginative approach to economic stewardship, China could remain stuck; Nina L. Khrushcheva explains that the goal of current Kremlin propaganda is not to convince people that life in Russia is safe and prosperous, but to prepare Russians for more war; Jim O'Neill asks whether global economic forecasts are overly optimistic; and more.

Politics & World Affairs

China’s Imagination Deficit

Stephen S. Roach warns that the government’s response to tough problems is being driven by stale tactics and ideology.

Politics & World Affairs

Preparing Russia for Permanent War

Nina L. Khrushcheva deciphers the significance of the Kremlin’s latest propaganda push – and hears ominous echoes of the past.

Economics & Finance

Is the Outlook for the Global Economy Still Bullish?

Jim O'Neill considers whether less favorable inflation data changes the overall forecast for 2024 and beyond.

Economics & Finance

Are Electric Cars a Dead End?

Todd G. Buchholz explains why consumers remain wary of the technology despite all the policies designed to boost adoption.
PS Insider Interview: The Redemocratization of Poland

The Redemocratization of Poland

Adam Michnik interviewed by Irena Grudzińska Gross about the challenges of overcoming eight years of populist misrule.

Sustainability Now

How to Enforce Climate Agreements with Trade Measures

Scott BarrettNoah Kaufman, and Joseph E. Stiglitz call for more narrow, binding agreements that follow the successful model of the Montreal Protocol.

Politics & World Affairs

Has the “Polycrisis” Overwhelmed Us?

Mark Leonard reports on the debates that defined this year’s summit of global political and business leaders in Davos.

Falling inflation, rising growth give U.S. the world’s best recovery

(Matt Rourke/AP)

After posting faster annual growth last year than in 2022, the U.S. economy is quashing fears of a new recession while offering lessons for future crisis-fighting.

By David J. Lynch

Read more