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Roaming Charges: That’s Neoliberalism for You

“Staff Only,” Chinatown, Portland. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ For four years, Jeremy Corbyn was smeared in a relentless and savage campaign of vilification and outrageous slander by the British press, much of it orchestrated by liberal outlets like The Guardian (and the New York Times), using a kind of berserker Zionism as truncheon. And so, the dreadful result was predictable: the worst showing of Labour since 1935. But it’s the poor and the immigrant communities that will bear the brunt of what they have wrought.

+ When they take the knives out of Corbyn’s back, how many blades will have Tony Blair’s fingerprints on them?

+ Recall that it was the CIA’s resident paranoid James Jesus Angleton who planted the false slur that Labour PM Harold Wilson was a Soviet agent. The Agency has almost certainly been up to its old tricks with Corbyn, though the Blairites were more than willing to do all the dirty work themselves.

+ One pundit on SkyNews said, “Our fear of Corbyn was greater than our fear of Brexit.” Let’s hear what these cowards have got to say after Trump comes for your NHS like Jack Nicholson swinging an axe.

+ “First time that the incumbent party of government has increased its national vote share at three successive general elections 2015, 2017 and 2019.” Fairly staggering considering the absolute mess the Tories have made of things since Cameron’s election and an indication that how ever bad Trump mucks things up here he may well get re-elected by an even wider margin.

+ With Hard Brexit now almost certain, there is a very high likelihood that Scotland may finally bolt…

+ If Scotland leaves, the liberals may not hold power in Britain again for the next 30 years. They don’t deserve to.

+ The English (let’s not blame the Scots and Welsh) are so reactionary that the last time they voted for a Labour government it was to the right of the Tories…

+ If the accumulated crimes of any nation ever deserved the ultimate fate of being ruled by Boris Johnson, it’s this one…

+ I guess there’s now there’s at least a possibility of the US finally getting a single payer health care system under a Sanders or Warren administration and England losing the NHS under BoJo….

+ Vijay Prashad: “How was it ever possible that we were colonized by the British?”

+ Joe Biden on the UK election result: “Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left.” Biden wants a Labour leader whose speeches he can plagiarize again. (The passages Biden stole from Neil Kinnock are now standard Tory rhetoric.)

+ There’s no future and England’s dreaming…

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+ Making a deal with Trump on trade, the same day that you file articles of impeachment accusing him of being a lying, cheating bastard. That’s neoliberalism for you…

+ Why would you hand Trump such sweeping trade authority and allow him brag about his NAFTA Redux as a victory for the working class? Of course, these are the same Democrats who conspired with Newt Gingrich to ram NAFTA down labor’s throats, so we know the answer: Wall Street gets what Wall Street wants. This rest is theater.

+ Remember the “environmental sidebars” that Gore promised for NAFTA 1.0 that never materialized, as the border turned into one of the most toxic regions in the Western Hemisphere? Now the Democrats don’t even give lip service to the environment in the rush to pass their trade deals…

+ Nearly half of American families have no retirement savings. Yet instead of expanding Social Security, Mitch and his Murder Inc. squad want to slash Social Security and Medicare spending to pay for their tax cuts…

+ More than 25% of Americans are putting off health treatment because they can’t afford the deductibles and co-pays. I recommend getting the treatment and sending the bills to Joe Biden…

+ In Texas, a single mother with two children who works 11 hours A MONTH at a minimum wage job earns too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid.

+ At least ObamaCare is working for someone…the Insurance Cartel. “In 2008, middle-class workers spent about 7.8% of household income on premiums and deductibles. By 2018, that figure had climbed to 11.5%.”

+ Of 3,819 bank merger applications filed from 2006 to 2017, the Federal Reserve approved 3,316, while another 503 were withdrawn. Not a single proposed merger was formally rejected.

+ The average interest rate for a payday loan in Utah? 652%. 70-year-old Vietnam veterans are being jailed for not being able to keep up.

+ Yahoo Finance finally got around to covering Michael Hudson’s “Babylonian” plan for debt forgiveness. Even sweeter, the pieces was written by of Bloomberg reporter Ben Holland.

+ According to a new report out of Stanford: “The racial gap in young-adult homeownership is larger for millennials than for any generation in the past century. Although the housing reforms after the civil rights era reduced the racial homeownership gap, all those gains have now been lost.”

+ On the day the Trump administration booted 750,000 poor families off of food stamps, the Right is in a frenzy of outrage by the fact that the name of Trump’s son was mentioned in a congressional hearing…

+ The open hostility toward the poor in a country of such massive inequality is really a remarkable thing to behold. They’ve even built a religion to justify it to the themselves: the prosperity gospel.

+ Some like it hot, but under the nation’s cruel food stamp rules they go hungry…
+ What cheap-ass bastards they are: The White House Office of Personnel Management says that state and local minimum hourly wages above the $7.25 federal floor don’t apply to federal workers.

+ Neoliberalism…you’ll know it when it shafts you.

+ Former U.S. officials, including ex-White House staffers, helped the UAE hack the emails of Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain Hathloul. She was later arrested and sent back to her home country, where her brother says she was tortured.

+ I was thrilled to see the FBI being raked over the coals by the GOP and the Department’s Inspector General for their deception and trickery in the FISA warrants to spy on Carter Page. I hope (almost certainly in vain) that this is more than a knee-jerk defense of Trump and is evidence of a real commitment to scale back the almost omnipotent powers of our police state–powers previously sanctioned by both parties, which are being used to throw people in prison every day in courthouses across America. Of course, almost all of these people supported the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

+ Trump’s entire statement at his Small Business Roundtable last week something else, like a monologue from Fireside Theater. It is, in many ways, a perfect Trump statement…
+ This Trumpian rant made me wonder if The Donald was familiar with Thomas Pynchon’s story of Byron the Sentient and Immortal Bulb….

Is Byron in for a rude awakening! There is already an organization, a human one, known as “Phoebus,” the international light-bulb cartel, headquartered in Switzerland. Run pretty much by International GE, Osram, and Associated Electrical Industries of Britain, which are in turn owned 100%, 29% and 46%, respectively, by the General Electric Company in America. Phoebus fixes the prices and determines the operational lives of all the bulbs in the world, from Brazil to Japan to Holland (although Philips in Holland is the mad dog of the cartel, apt at any time to cut loose and sow disaster throughout the great Combi-nation). Given this state of general repression, there seems no place for a newborn Baby Bulb to start but at the bottom.

But Phoebus doesn’t know yet that Byron is immortal…

+ Speaking of light bulbs, Trump’s mean-spirited tariffs on solar panels cost an estimated 62,000 jobs in the US.

+ Trump Family Values: pregnant immigrant detainees have increase by 52 percent since 2016.

+ They should make border wall climbing a sport at the next Pan-Am Games…

+ Here’s some Grade-A Malarkey from Biden on his climate advisor, Heather Zichal, who pulled down more than a cool (or hot, I guess) million on the board of Cheniere Energy, a Texas-based liquified natural gas company. Zichal formerly worked in the Obama White House on energy policy, where she had several meetings with Cheniere executives. Hunter Biden was a mere intern in the field of fossil fuel graft compared to Zichal…

+ Michael Bloomberg has now spent more $100 million on TV advertising, according to data from Kantar Media. Bloomberg spent $20.4 million on TV ads this week, with another $17.4 million booked for next week. His total spend now at $100.6 million in just 5 weeks of advertising. All with one objective: to kill single-payer and Warren’s wealth tax.

+ Speaking of NYC, a retired NYPD officer said in court documents that the city’s police were given racially-determined “collar quotas” and that those police who arrested high numbers of black men were rewarded with more overtime. Asian, Jewish and white people — known as “soft targets” — were not to be slapped in cuffs.

+ The Washington Post’s rightwing columnist Mark Thiessen warned this week that Joe Biden was the Democrats’ version of Mitt Romney. What? Willard Mittens Romney, at least the Romney who served as governor of Mass, is several kilometers to the Left of Biden…

+ New Quinnipiac national poll on 2020 general election shows every prospective Democratic nominee beating Trump:

Biden 51%, Trump 42%
Sanders 51%, Trump 43%
Warren 50%, Trump 43%
Bloomberg 48%, Trump 42%
Buttigieg 48%, Trump 43%
Klobuchar 47%, Trump 43%

+ So, naturally, the Democratic elite are panicking that someone other than a candidate indebted to them and their centrists policies might prevail and are doing everything they can to sabotage their chances.

+ More evidence from the new Quinnipiac poll that the future looks very Left-leaning. Democratic primary voters under 35 years old : (Sanders + Warren + Yang + Gabbard = 78%)

Sanders 52%
Warren 17%
Biden 11%
Yang 7%
Gabbard 3%
Buttigieg 2%
Bloomberg 2%
Everyone else 1% or less

+ Sen. Klobocop, from boom to bust in less than 10 days.

+ Remember when Mayor PeteBot used to support Medicare-for-All “in theory”? Now he’s found his way to the right of Biden: “Now what I do know is there are some voices in the Democratic primary right now who are calling for a policy that would eliminate the job of every single American working at every single insurance company in the country.”
+ PeteBot’s schoolboy face looks familiar. Someone check the back of his scalp for a 666-shaped birthmark…
+ Joshua Ramo, the CEO of Kissinger and Associates, is a big time Buttibooster

+ Biden, who couldn’t seem to recall  in what century Obama served as president, may need some down time. He synapses aren’t firing on all cylinders. But then they never were…

+ TV Mentions, all national stations, for the first week of December…

Biden – 1,876
Warren – 828
Buttigieg – 316
Bloomberg – 250
Sanders – 242
Booker – 152
Steyer – 108
Klobuchar – 52
Gabbard – 36
Castro – 28
Yang – 14

+ According to a fascinating piece in The American Conservative by longtime defense analyst (and frequent CounterPunch contributor) Winslow Wheeler, Bernie Sanders has hauled in more presidential campaign contributions from defense industry sources than any other candidate, including Donald Trump.

+ Biden is apparently worried about the political consequences a Democratic landslide next November, telling people in Iowa: “And if you hear people on the rope line saying, ‘I’m a Republican,’ I say, ‘Stay a Republican.’ Vote for me but stay a Republican, because we need a Republican Party.” He later added that he’s concerned about what would happen if the Republican Party was totally “clobbered.”

+ This was the Clinton strategy, as dictated by Dick Morris, in the 96 and 98 elections, where they explicitly preferred a Republican-controlled congress that they could cut deals with on welfare, taxes deficit reduction and deregulation. They went so far as to withhold $$ from Senate and House campaigns. The Clintons preferred triangulation with Republicans to Democratic domination…

+ Biden’s South Carolina firewall seems to be smoking, where his once gigantic lead has shrink to a mere 7 points

+ The Mistress of Cruelty, Betsy DeVos, moved once again to make it harder for students who had been defrauded on their loans to get debt relief. The problem for the Democrats is that Biden is to the credit card companies, what DeVos is to the student loan debt collectors…

+ Rep. Josh Harder to Betsy Devos: “Are you deliberately violating this federal court order because you are too corrupt to uphold the law or because you are too incompetent to do your job?”

Betsy DeVos: “I don’t need to sit and listen to what you just spewed out of your mouth.”

+ What’s all this talk about making Kamala Harris Attorney General in the next Democratic administration (if there is one)? That would be the absolute worst place for her to make a soft landing. Her main prosecutorial experience is in going after the poor parents of truant school kids, targeting pot smokers, withholding exculpatory evidence in death penalty cases & letting mortgage sharks like Mnuchin off the hook. When has she ever prosecuted someone above her pay grade? Make her VP where she can’t do any harm.

+ Harris was a terrible candidate in all the familiar ways that former prosecutors tend to be: self-righteous, condescending, and cold. But she also revealed herself to be a very strange person, almost bi-polar in wild swings from giddy high-pitched mania to a grim prison-guard like demeanor. Not as weird as Biden, but close.

+ Fat chance that Trump’s executive order targeting BDS on campus and redefining “anti-Semitism” to mean anti-Israel will spark the Democrats into adding this frontal assault on the 1st Amendment to their articles of impeachment–most of them will probably cheer him on….

+ Israel’s support of Trump’s anti-BDS order is worse than meddling in an election. It’s an attempt by a foreign government to actively subvert the constitution of the Republic.

+ Rep. Denver “Bigfoot Porn” Riggleman, the Republican from Virginia, is already using Trump’s order to try to get Georgetown University labeled an “anti-Semitic” institution and get its government funding yanked

+ Stanley Cohen: “So for years I was considered an American Jew. Then suddenly Israel festered up and said I was an Israeli Jew who didn’t know it and now thanks to the moron-in-chief I’m a Jew Jew.”

+ Jared Kushner (or his speechwriter) affixed his name to a column in the New York Times alleging that Trump executive order targeting the BDS movement was meant to “protect Jewish students on campuses.” This takes trigger warnings and safe spaces to a whole new level…

+ Billionaire Ron Lauder says he is going a finance a $25 million campaign against “anti-Semitism.” Lauder’s first ad should call on Israel to stop invading and occupying Palestinian land. That would do much to alleviate perceptions of “anti-Semitism.” Don’t hold your breath.

+ Meanwhile, it’s Hanukkah and Anti-Semitism Week at the Trump White House, yesterday’s guest speaker…Pastor Robert Jeffress, the Holy Man who preaches that “All Jews are going to Hell.”

+ An important reminder that evangelical support for Israel has nothing to do with their real attitude toward Jewish people: Pastor Rick Wiles, who preaches at the Flowing Streams Church in Florida, warned of coming “purges” as a result of “a Jewish coup” against Trump.

+ During his speech before the Sheldon Adelson-funded American-Israeli Council, Trump invoked nearly every known stereotype about Jews…and the audience ate it up.

+ Trump shrugged off the lack of a Middle-East peace plan by his administration, which he has vowed to create since taking office.“If Jared Kushner can’t do it, it can’t be done.”

+ Trump, the great isolationist, is preparing to send 14,000 more troops to the Middle East to protect Saudi oil fields and harass Iran. You’d be tempted to say that Trump is one of the world’s great scam artists, except all his moves are transparent and all of his suckers actually liked getting duped. It makes them feel part of the show, I guess….

+ Coming Soon: Bay of Pigs 2!
+ Make them stop! Neil Bush’s son, Pierce, just announced he’s running for Congress. Who names their son “Pierce Bush.” Think about it…

+ With Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, the Supreme Court upheld Kentucky’s invasive and medically-unwarranted ultrasound law. Can we call it the Susan Collins court now?

+ Pompeo Maximus pledged this week to crackdown on protests in Latin America. Suppressing free speech in the name of spreading “democracy”….

+ At the State Department. dinner for the Kennedy Center honorees, Mike Pompeo whined aloud when he would be “loved”. Then Linda Ronstadt got up to get laurels, looked the petulant Pompeo   in the eye and said, “Maybe when you stop enabling Donald Trump”. Ronstadt, now largely confined to a wheelchair, has always had guts, grace and brains…

+ There are a million other reasons to love Linda Rondstadt but this story must surely rank up near the top:

“A staffer on “The Johnny Cash Show” knocked on her hotel room late one night, demanded to be let in and then proceeded to take off all his clothes, she says. He told her he could opendoors for her professionally, help her land more television appearances. Ronstadt, then in her early 20s, just laughed. “I said, ‘I hate singing on television!’ He didn’t have anything he could hold over me.””

+ I joked this week that Paul Volker lived long enough to witness the execution of his famous Rule, which is a weird kind of justice, I suppose. But it’s probably the world’s poor who are cheering that they outlived Volker. Greg Grandin neatly capsulized Volker’s legacy of economic tyranny: “He destroyed Mexico. For the every point Volker raised the rate, $2.5 billion was added to third world debt. For every 20% $ appreciated, 20 % was added to balance of what the 3rd world owed.”

+ Grandin needs to take Elizabeth Warren back to school…

+ C’mon, open your mouth, Honey. I know it tastes bitter, but it’s time for your nightly dose of racism from Tucker Carlson…

+ Another federal judge slapped a nationwide injunction against Trump using a phony National Emergency declaration to seize money from the Pentagon and other agencies to use for his border wall. Another flagrant abuse of power that didn’t make it into the Democrats’ impeachment articles…

+ Donald Rumsfeld, as quoted in the Afghanistan Papers: “I have no visibility into who the bad guys are.”

+ Rumsfeld-speak is like Esperanto but with a much higher death count.

+ Socialism for me and not for thee…Seema Verma, head of Medicare under Trump, is demanding that US taxpayers reimburse her for $45,000 worth of jewelry that was apparently stolen out of an SUV she’d been riding in to deliver a speech.

+ Trump was ordered to pay a $2 million fine for the misuse of funds from his charitable foundation. Is there a single Trump enterprise that he didn’t bankrupt or loot for his own profit?

+ I’m loath to use Trump’s phrase “human scum” about anyone. But there are a few exceptions, like that George Zimmerman

+ According to Darling Nikki Haley, there weren’t any violent racists in South Carolina until Dylan Roof came along to spoil their traditions and hijack the Confederate battle flag…

+ The thumb-sucking sadist Donald Trump, Jr. shot a rare Argali sheep in Mongolia. He killed the endangered species on a night hunt, using a laser-guided sight, while guarded by a US security team. Trump was retroactively given a “special permit” for the illegal kill after meeting with Mongolian president, Khaltmaagiin Battulga. Special permits pretty much describe the lifestyle of the Trump brood.

+ The State of Colorado has signed a contracted with Wildlife Services to slaughter black bears and mountain lions in the name of restoring mule deer populations. There’s just one problem: it’s widespread fracking that’s depleting mule deer populations, not predation by bears and cougars.

+ There’s so much oil and gas on the market and in the pipeline that Chevron was forced to take a $10 billion charge against its assets.

+ Natural gas is now driving a new spike in global emissions of greenhouse gases. Thank the Sierra Club, which kept urging natural gas as “bridge fuel.” I guess we finally know where the bridge led us…

+ Carbon off-sets were always more of a feel-good scam than any kind of solution. Now they don’t even feel good...

+ Remember how much sport the FoxNews crowd made over the bankruptcy of Solyndra, the solar company that got a measly subsidy (compared to coal & oil firms) in Obama time? They obsessed over it for months and months. Now you have the nation’s biggest coal companies, which have reaped in trillions in subsidies and tax breaks, and left behind trillions in damages: ruined landscapes,poisoned rivers, ravaged lungs and a climate gone haywire, going bankrupt week after week and not a word….

+ They’re converting the Swamp into an Oil Patch. High ranking Department of Interior official Douglas Domenech has been caught repeatedly used his government office to provide access to his former employer, the Koch-backed Texas Public Policy Foundation.

+ Brazil’s neo-fascist strongman Jair Bolsonaro lashed out at climate activist Greta Thunburg this week, calling her “a brat.” My money’s on the Kid against this creep…

+ It’s amazing how easily Trump can be owned. The question is are any of the Democrats as supple at sticking the knife in as the Kid?

+ According to data from NASA imagery, 75 percent of the fires in the Amazon originated inside beef ranching allotments.

+ Sometimes your wildest dreams come true…The Arctic is melting as much as 7-times faster than previously anticipated because of climate change. As the Arctic melts, it releases enormous bursts of methane, exacerbating climate change, which causes the Arctic to melt faster causing…fatal feedback loops.

+ Biden erupted again this week, telling environmental activists that if they wanted someone who was going to “ban fracking immediately” then they should vote for someone else. From your lips, Joe, to their ballots…

+ Can’t wait to hear Biden’s intemperate malarky when some bright young activist throws this in his face: the Paris Accords climate targets need to be 5 times stronger than they are to actually have any chance of working.

+ Victoria Falls has dried to a mere trickle

+ The fires sweeping across New South Wales and Queensland in Australia have already emitted 250 million tons of CO2, almost half of country’s annual emissions.

+ New research suggests that a similar fate may befall Antarctic ice, which will begin rapidly melting as the Southern Ocean warms. “Our work shows that very mild ocean warming, like what is happening right now,” warned the study’s lead author Dr. Catherine Beltran, “was the precursor of past ice retreat and that we should really worry about it today,”

+ At a climate change forum with high school students this week, Andrew Yang pledged to tax carbon at $40 a ton and have it escalate over time.

+ In the petrochemical belt of Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, one-in-three children attend school near high-risk facilities that store or use potentially dangerous chemicals.

+ After looking at 14 years of data from Nevada, scientists found that livestock grazing doesn’t help get rid of cheatgrass, a highly flammable invasive weed that is a prime fuel of Western range fires.

+ A white dude named Brett James Stimac got in his truck and drove three hours to the Red Lake Chippewa Reservation in Minnesota, trespassed his way to the dump and shot a 700-lb black bear as it was feeding. Stimac cut off the head, the paws, and left the rest of the corpse to rot. Bears are sacred to Ojibwe, nearly half the reservation is bear clan.

+ In a disposable society, even the most precious living things become trash receptacles.

+ Gavin Newsom and Madame Prosecutor both partied at Sean (Napster) Parker’s redwood-wrecking wedding party….

+ Marvin Miller, attorney for the MLB players union who helped break the stranglehold of the owners on the sport, was just elected to the Hall of Fame, 25 years after he should have been. Now, do right by Curt Flood…

+ Evidently, NFL broadcasters have more brain damage than players: “He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin color with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see that thing. I mean you literally could not see when he was in and out of the mesh point,” Tim Ryan, a radio analyst for the San Francisco 49ers said on air about Lamar Jackson, the sensational quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens.

+ Advertisement in the Columbia Daily Spectator, 1952.
Can you imagine Cecil’s first lesson? “Don’t waste time with scales.” Lesson two: “Why chords are crap.” Lesson three: “Play it forward, then backward, then inside out.” Lesson four: “Whatever you play, play it as fast as you can.”

+ News came this week of the death of Lucette Destouches, wife of Céline. She was, incredibly, 107 years old at the time of her death, outliving the scabrous writer by 58 years. “I wasn’t looking to be happy with him,” Destouches said. “All I wanted was to alleviate his sorrow.”

+ I watched a fascinating interview with Saul Bellow last night, filmed a couple of years before he died. He was asked what writers had the most influence on his thinking. The only one he named (aside from the writers of the Old Testament) came as a big surprise to me: Leon Trotsky, particularly his 1932 essay What Next?  Although I admire many of Bellow’s novels, he had become, by the late 60s, a political reactionary. But, of course, many of the neocons (from Wolfowitz to Christopher) were influenced by Trotsky’s writings in their youth. The thing about Bellow is that he said the influence of Trotsky wasn’t just a “youthful indiscretion,” but had stayed with him his entire life.

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+ The late Robert Frank on the function of music in his films: “You know, sometimes I get very tired of words. Words get kind of boring. Music is more uplifting. It’s lighter, it’s easier, it’s faster. Sometimes it’s wonderful to have music, and then silence, and then words. I think it’s a good combination. So the idea in this film was to use musicians more as actors. You know, they act, but they’re musicians.”

+ When Francis Bacon met Jim Morrison: “I liked your leather friend…”

+ Skip James (Blues and the Soul of a Man): You know, the Southern white folk at that time didn’t wanna see the colored fellow with nothin’ but a shovel or a hoe-handle or plough-handle in his hands, and a mule to pull it. Some places, they tell me, down in Louisiana there, they made the Negroes pull ploughs. And they wouldn’t give ’em no place to lay down; just put ’em in a stall like they did mules and give ’em so many ears of corn. Sure! That was long about 1910 or 1912; I was just a kid when I heard all that kinda stuff. Now, I never did go down there and investigate. If I hadda did, they woulda had to kill me, understand. Just like I sang in “All night long:”

I’m goin,’ I’m goin,’ comin’ here no more
If I go to Louisiana mama, they’ll hang me sho’ …

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Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Land of Tears: the Exploration and Exploitation of Equatorial Africa
Robert Harms
(Basic Books)

Once More to the Rodeo: a Memoir
Calvin Hennick
(Pushcart Press)

Under Occupation: a Novel
Alan Furst
(Random House)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Heavy Rain
Lee “Scratch” Perry
(On-U Sound)

Who
The Who
(Interscope)

Ode to Joy
Wilco
(dBpm)

Situational Nation

“A nation,” he heard himself say, “consists of its laws. A nation does not consist of its situation at a given time. If an individual’s morals are situational, that individual is without morals. If a nation’s laws are situational, that nation has no laws, and soon isn’t a nation.” (William Gibson, Spook Country)

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