AuthorTopic: 🚽 Roaming Charges: Give Me Condos or Give Me Death!  (Read 5919 times)

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🚽 Roaming Charges: Give Me Condos or Give Me Death!
« on: October 07, 2018, 01:39:54 AM »

October 5, 2018
Roaming Charges: Give Me Condos or Give Me Death!
by Jeffrey St. Clair

  As I predicted in this space last week, Chuck  Schumer, Dianne Feinstein and the Democratic leadership screwed this up as usual. They turned Dr. Ford’s compelling testimony into a debate about the FBI. For most of the people who watched her, her story didn’t need any more corroboration. Kavanaugh’s petulant demeanor, lies and own writing from the time offered all the confirmation that was needed. Now you have a constricted investigation, run by one of Kavanaugh’s bros, concluding there is no corroboration for her story or that of Deborah Ramirez. Schumer and Feinstein owe it to Ford and Ramirez to resign. Now.

  The Democrats could have made the debate about Kavanaugh’s perjury and blatant political prejudice. The case was iron-tight after the judge’s self-incriminating testimony. Instead they made it about having the FBI “corroborate” an event that needed no corroboration. They repeated Biden’s blunder (one of many) from the Anita Hill hearings by demanding an FBI investigation. In 1991, the FBI was deployed not to corroborate Hill’s story, but to smear her. It’s why Poppy Bush agreed to it so eagerly.

  In the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings, FoxNews pollster Frank Luntz whined that: “Any political decision made now is accompanied by one side screaming bloody murder. It’s terrible for civilized discourse. It’s terrible for our democracy.” Of course, these are largely ritualized fights, as predictable and scripted as Wrestlemania. When bloody murder is actually taking place (like in Yemen or Gaza) nobody can be heard screaming bloody murder–at least on television.

  In a similar vein, Justice Sonia Sotomayor piously admonished an audience at Princeton this week that the “Supreme Court must rise above partisanship.” Antonin Scalia, who understood that the Supreme Court functions as one of the ultimate expressions of political power, would never say anything remotely like this. Knowing they represent an endangered minority (the rich), Republicans take the court seriously, the Democrats never have.

  Trump should be encouraging the demonstrators. With all those “paid by Soros” protestors on the streets, the unemployment rate for October will probably be close to zero….

  The three senators, Flake, Collins and Murkowski, will likely all vote to confirm in the end. In fact, condemning Trump (which is all the MSDNC crowd really cares about) allowed them to vote for Kavanaugh…(And if one defects, Mitch can always count on Joe Manchin.)

  Joe Manchin needs to vote for Kavanaugh in order to keep his Senate seat, so he can cast six more years worth of votes like the one for Kavanaugh.

  Once Kavanaugh takes his seat on the High Court, he’ll get to join Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch to repeatedly gang bang all of us.

  Recall that as a college student Jeff Flake organized in favor of apartheid in South Africa. Of course, in agitating for apartheid Flake was following in the heroic footsteps of his mentor, John McCain…

  Mitch McConnell slithered across the floor of the Senate to defend Kavanaugh by saying “For goodness sakes, this is the United States of America. Nobody is supposed to be guilty until proven innocent in this country.” Can someone point me to a similar speech Mitch made about: Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark or Michael Brown?

  Democrats are seriously bummed that they’ve been betrayed by their friends at FBI…

  Cory Booker refuted Sen. Grassley’s assessment by saying there are “hints of misconduct” in the FBI report on Kavanaugh. If true, he should secretly photograph the documents & release them to the public. It would be a win for everyone. We’d see how constrained the FBI investigation truly was & Booker (the senator from Pfizer) would be booted from the Senate for violating the rules of that esteemed chamber.

  If Kavanaugh had cried before the Senate about the fate of a young black man he’d sent to the death chamber, his nomination would have been doomed. The fact that he blubbered about his own predicament probably paved his way to a seat on the court.

  The best way to sink Kavanaugh is to get some Frat bro to come forward and say, “Brett told me over skis one night after a Frankie Loves Hollywood concert that he was fully supportive of Roe v. Wade.”

  Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski both said this week that they don’t believe Kavanaugh will overturn Roe. Basically, Kavanaugh vowed to keep abortion legal for the daughters, wives and concubines of rich white men, but make the experience too expensive, onerous and intrusive for anyone else.

  Will Bret Stephens’ new buddies at MSDNC (where he struts and preens as one of the liberal network’s favorite neocons) give their one-T Bret a backslap for his “courageous” column praising Trump’s bullying of a rape survivor?

  Neocon columnist Eli Lake pointed to Stephens column (a fellow almost-never Trumper) and snorted, “Congratulations Democrats. Your Kavanaugh circus has united the right behind Trump.” But let’s be clear. The Right was always behind Trump. Only the Bushies were holding out. Then Trump nominated one of their own and they came running to him, regardless of Kavanaugh’s horrid record. Trump must be laughing at how easy it was to make them do his bidding.

  Susan Collins: “This appears to be a very thorough report.”

  Oh yeah? Here’s a partial list of the more than 40 people with corroborating evidence that the FBI failed to interview, including a former Yale seminary student named Kenneth Appold, who told the New Yorker he is “one-hundred-per-cent certain” that he was told a drunken Kavanaugh shoved his penis in Deborah Ramirez’s face during a party in a Yale dorm room.

  I got the sense that Kavanaugh was a shoe-in the moment Trump dropped the mask in Mississippi and began openly mocking in Dr. Ford to an audience that began chanting “Lock her up, lock her up!” Trump must have felt confident that the FBI report was going to be a bust.

  Trump has a lot more of these political rallies lined up in the next few weeks. If he needs fresh misogynistic material, he could always hire Louis CK. Rape jokes aren’t really Stephen Miller’s forte.

  A GoFundMe page for Brett Kavanaugh has already raised a half-million dollars for the frat boy judge. $500,000 in cash or a lifetime supply of Coors? Time to choose, Brett.

  Kavanaugh’s last line of defense was “plausible drunkability.” Right, Squi?

  Michael Colby: “So, in the end, the Republicans get the Supreme Court and Democrats get a Ben & Jerry’s flavor and SNL giggles.”

  If the Resistance© can’t get 500,000 people to clog the streets around the capitol building before the confirmation vote on Saturday, what the Hell are they resisting?

  At least the Oakland A’s are lovable losers, a working-class team fighting the fat cats (ie., Yankees). The Democrats don’t even go down swinging.

  DNC chair Tom Perez says that the Party won’t hold a vote for Kavanaugh against Democratic Party senators. They’ll still get money that party loyalist donated, thinking they were funding the Resistance.

  Q. What’s the point of being a Democrat?

A. The existentialist street cred of experiencing eternal disappointment in the leaders of your own party.

  Last week, some polling suggested that the Democrats had a 45% shot at retaking the Senate. Now I think I think they have a net loss of at least four seats, losing Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, Florida, Missouri, and New Jersey. They might pick up Arizona and Nevada. Too early to predict?

  “It’s never too early to predict!” – Jimmy the Greek

  Can someone remind me how long the losing streak is for white men? Does it rival the Cleveland Indians’ last 70 years of futility in the World Series?

  Maybe Trump will encourage white football players to start taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the all of the injustices being perpetrated against them.

  Will the Strict Constructionists be called on to explain what the Founders meant by: “boofing” and “Devils Triangle”?

  Kavanaugh apparently got over-excited at the thought he had glimpsed Ali Campbell, the lead singer of UB40, in a bar near the Yale campus, got into a verbal brawl and threw a glass of ice in a guy’s face. Campbell says he doesn’t recall the gig and can’t understand how the rightwing brat came to be a UB40 fan…

    It is a big surprise to find out that Kavanaugh used to come to see us in his Yale days. You don’t expect a rightwing Republican to follow a leftwing reggae socialist band from Birmingham. But we used to sing about really heavy stuff and wrap it up in frothy, happy tunes, so a lot of people got into us who had no idea what we were singing about. Maybe he just loves reggae … and didn’t listen to our lyrics.

  Senator Kennedy started out on breast milk, but soon hit the hard right stuff. (Thanks to Michael Donnelly.)

  Sen. Grassley on why there are no GOP women on the Judiciary Committee: “It’s a lot of work—maybe they don’t want to do it.”

  How long before RBG invites Justice Kavanaugh to replace Scalia as her regular date at the Opera?

  If there was an outside chance that Kavanaugh might have upheld Roe v Wade before the confirmation hearings, it’s almost certainly gone now…

  Remember Neil Gorsuch’s first real act on the court was to cast the decisive vote in a 5-4 case permitting Arkansas to proceed with a record 8 executions in a matter of days. Who will fellow G-Prep alumn Kavanaugh kill as part of his Supreme Court initiation ritual?

  The Roberts-Kavanaugh Court will try to take the country back to the early 1950s, which is where most of us have been living anyway. Economic and social progress rarely trickled all the way down and on those few occasions when it did, the benefits evaporated pretty fast. Check out Pine Ridge, East LA or Appalachia…

  Kellyanne Conway courageously admitted on CNN that she had been the victim of a sexual assault. This harrowing experience didn’t raise Conway’s empathy factor, as she later told the press that she and Trump had been treating Christine Blassey Ford like a “Fabergé egg.” The attitude of the Trump administration toward sexual harassment seems in line with its new position on climate change: it’s too pervasive to do anything about.

  So does this mean Bill O’Reilly gets his old gig back?

  In the aftermath of yet another crippling defeat, we’re admonished by the leaders of Resistance, Inc. that the only real solution is to VOTE. Well, you can vote as many times as you can get away with and Wyoming will still have as many senators as California.

  There’s talk of a “lasting fallout” from the Kavanaugh fiasco. I doubt it. The fallout should hit the Dems hardes. Will the party faithful demand the leadership team that has lost one winnable battle after another (Schumer, Pelosi, Feinstein, & Tom Perez) step down? Or will they just blame GOP, Ralph Nader and Susan Sarandon?

  Do you know who was the most surprised by Wednesday’s Presidential Alert? Tiffany Trump, who just got her first text from her dad.

  Have the Democrats already lost the 2020 election? Looking more and more likely…Joe Biden has a 21 point lead in Iowa’s polls.

  Joe Biden has privately “described it as unfair that Anita Hill continues to hold him responsible for her rough treatment in the Senate.” Remind me who is urging Joe Biden to run for President? Besides Trump and Joe Biden?

  Joe Biden is the kind of politician you’d really like to have a beer with…just to throw it in his face.

  If the Democrats somehow manage to take back the House, this is what you’ll get…Nancy Pelosi Speaker for Life.

  When history repeats itself after it repeats itself as “farce,” what do you call it?

  If you asked me how the world might end, I’d give you a two word answer: “Lindsey Graham.”

    Lindsey Graham: “Trump’s got to convince Rocket Man it’s death or condos.”

  Is everyone losing their friggin’ minds? Bolton wants to attack Iran, Darling Nikki wants to engineer a coup in Venezuela, Mad Dog Mattis wants to expand operations in Mali, and Kay Bailey Hutchinson wants to strike Russia? (The Democrats will probably back them on all four ventures.)

  Pompeo Maximus just announced that he is pulling the US out of the Treaty of Amity (1955), the basis of the World Court ruling this week on sanctions against Iran. This bit of belligerent grandstanding is almost certainly self-defeating since the Treaty gave preferences to US companies doing business in Iran.

  This move was swiftly followed by John Bolton throwing a public fit over the “so-called state of Palestine’s” legal challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In effort to block the suit, Bolton announced that Trump would withdraw the US from the Vienna Convention on dispute resolution.

  Here’s the first glimpse of Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice”…

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  Nick Gillespie: “A method actor, Bale got six deferments and four bypasses while prepping for the role…”

  Lana Marks has been tapped by Trump to become the new US ambassador to South Africa. She has three qualifications for the post: she was born in South Africa but left before apartheid ended, worked for the Trump organization, and markets designer purses that sell for between $10,000 and $400,000.

  The latest estimate of the world’s nuclear weapons stockpile from the Ploughshares Fund

    Russia: 6,850 nuclear weapons
    USA: 6,550 nuclear weapons
    France: 300 nuclear weapons
    China: 280 nuclear weapons
    United Kingdom: 215 nuclear weapons
    Pakistan: 150 nuclear weapons
    India: 130 nuclear weapons
    Israel: 80 nuclear weapons
    North Korea: 20 nuclear weapons
    Iran: 0 nuclear weapons

  Pence plays the China card: “What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what the China is doing across this country…China wants a different American president”.

  Speaking of the Vice President, Michael Lewis in his new book on the Trump transition, The Fifth Risk (the first chapter of the book, which depicts the Trump team’s bumbling takeover of the Department of Energy, is far scarier than anything in Fire and Fury or Woodward’s Fear), tells a story I hadn’t heard before. The scene is Trump Tower on election night, moments after Pennsylvania has been called and Trump declared the improbable winner:

    Chris Christie was sitting on a sofa beside Donald Trump when Pennsylvania was finally called. It was one-thirty in the morning, but that wasn’t the only reason the feeling in the room was odd. Mike Pence went to kiss his wife, Karen, and she turned away from him. “You got what you wanted, Mike,” she said. “Now leave me alone.” She wouldn’t so much as say hello to Trump.

  Clearly, we’d all be better off if most Cabinet members and members of Congress spent their time being AWOL like Elaine Chao…

  Here’s some data on teenage binge drinking. Let them smoke pot instead…

  What is a “Democratic Socialist” when one-in-four young Republicans identify as one?

  Out of the mouth of Trump the truth occasionally tumbles, as when he boasted this week of telling King Salman that “Saudi Arabia wouldn’t last two weeks without US support.” Is there a crack in the Orb?

  Now, how will he break the news to Bibi?

  Netanyahu on Trump: “I’ve asked for many things and have never been refused.”

  Melania was in Ghana this week on her “Shit Hole Country” apology tour visiting the historic slave trading port at Cape Coast Castle. If she wanted to see the real thing in action she should visit “liberated” Libya.

  Every administration is going to have one or two appointments with a shady past who slip through the vetting process. But Trump seems to have appointed at least one unrepentant racist in almost every agency of government. It’s hard to believe this was an accident and not the plan.

  5,000 dogs march against Brexit!

  Fortunately, the big New York Times exposé on how the Trump clan got rich and evaded taxes wasn’t written by Jeff Gerth, therefore it is understandable and damning.

  Working Class Hero: Trump was making $200,000 a year from his father at the age of 3. He was a millionaire by the time he was 8…

  Self-Made Man: “Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire….Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes.”

  After reviewing the New York Times story on how Fred Trump skirted state and federal tax laws to sluice money to his brood, the New York business journal Crain’s estimates that Trump’s New York state tax bill (not including what he might owe the IRS) would be in excess of $400 million.

  Trump couldn’t get a loan to purchase (over the objections of the Scots) Turnberry, so he bought it for $200 million in cash. The country club has never made money and is still losing upwards of $4.6 million a year.

  According to new research from historian Jeffrey Adler, from the 1870s to the 1920s, Chicago cops killed 307 people, three times more than Chicago gangsters.

  Chelsea Clinton: “Trump’s policies won’t change my life.” That’s because you’re white, rich and straight.

  Health Care in America: Experimental physicist Leon Lederman died this week at the age of 98. Lederman won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1988 for identifying a subatomic particle called the muon neutrino. Lederman, who wrote “The God Particle,” developed dementia in the late 90s and in 2015 had to auction off his Nobel Prize for $765,000 to pay his medical bills.

  So Amazon, in a move to stifle a unionization drive by its abused workers, raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour. But what Jeff Bezos gave with one hand, he took back with the other by eliminating monthly bonuses and stock grants. Did Bernie not see this coming before he lavished such effusive praise on the world’s richest man?

  Why is it becoming harder and harder to find an affordable place to live in America cities? One reason is that almost all of the new construction since the economic crash has focused on “high-end” or “luxury” apartments, defined as building with 50 or more units with “resort quality finishings” aimed at “high net worth households” who could afford to own a house or condo but prefer to rent.

  SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce to law students: “Representing corporations also can be a form of public interest law because companies contribute so much to the well-being of society.”

  Can they really call it a SmartTV if it doesn’t have an “immutable” button?

  Charles Darwin on megaliths and the destructive power of worms: “At Stonehenge, some of the outer Druidical stones are now prostrate, having fallen at a remote but unknown period; and these have become buried to a moderate depth in the ground.”

  The best headline to ever run in the Wall Street Journal?

  In the post-Kavanaugh era, are we all meant to write WTFFFF instead of WTF now? As in WTFFF did the EPA just do when it weakened radiation exposure standards? Is George Monbiot the agency’s new science advisor?

  Since 1500, the world has lost about 180 bird species, mostly from island habitat. Now, according to a new study in Biological Conservation, bird species are vanishing on continents too. And that’s bad, very bad news, indeed.

  Where’s the beef? Not with the wolves. The U.S.D.A. found that wolves accounted for just 0.2 % of “unintended cattle losses“ – fewer than are lost to theft, domestic dogs, or vultures.

  Donna Strickland just became only the third woman (and the first in 55 years) to win the Nobel Prize in Physics…and her University (Waterloo) still hasn’t promoted her to full professor.

  Trump’s all for law enforcement, except when they’re actually trying to protect something…

  Temperatures on the North Slope of Alaska this week have been in the high 50s and low 60s, shattering records for October. Many of these towns have yet to experience a frost or see a flake of snow. The lows have been in the upper 30s. (For the background on why this is happening, check out our new book The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink.)

  Nietzsche’s reaction to his close friend, Erwin Rohde’s desire to become a Catholic priest was “a headache that lasted 30 hours, with frequent vomiting.”

  Congratulations to our friend Ken Ward, Jr, one of the best investigative reporters around, on his McArthur Award for his revelatory reporting on the environmental and cultural destruction of Appalachia by the coal industry!

  Sun Ra may be dead (or worm-holed to an alternate universe), but we still have Scratch Perry and his “telepathic pants.”

  The greatest classical music LP cover ever?

Time to Pony Up!

Yes, as I hope you’ve noticed, we are nearing the end of the first week of our annual fundraiser. We’re doing okay, thanks to opening salvos of donations from loyal CounterPunchers, but as yet not nearly well enough.

CounterPunch needs your help and without it in generous measure in the next three weeks we will not survive. We make this appeal  every year and please empty your mind of the sort of cynicism one develops after meeting for the fourth time in one day the same mendicant trying to raise “bus money” to get home.  We are mendicants year-after-year because we have no safety net.

Down the years we have accumulated many wonderful friends of CounterPunch, who rally each October and November. And we have also built up a formidable cadre of regular contributors whose contributions you can savor week after week on our site. Here are some of their testimonials:

    MICHAEL HUDSON: “CounterPunch is my favorite site to find the best collection of left-wing criticism of the U.S. and global economic meltdown. That’s why I write for it.”

    PAUL KRASSNER: “CounterPunch lives up to its name, responding to lies with facts, to distortion with reality, and to demagoguery with insights.”

    WILLIAM BLUM: “I send my monthly Anti-Empire Report directly to thousands of people on my mailing list, but each month I usually get more responses from people who see it on CounterPunch than from any other source.  CounterPunch clearly has a great audience worldwide.”

    KATHY KELLY: “CounterPunch editors and contributors won’t let us fall asleep at the wheel.  Sitting up straight and paying attention never felt so good as it has since I began learning from perspectives aired on CounterPunch.”

There are many others. So, I leave it to you to make the right decision. Dig as deep as you can in those pockets. The cause is good and the need is great.

Please, use our secure server make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription and a gift sub for someone or one of our award winning books (or a crate of books!) as holiday presents. (We won’t call you to shake you down or sell your name to any lists.)

To contribute by phone you can call Becky, Deva or Nichole toll free at: 1-800-840-3683.

It’s Monty Cliff Appreciation Week

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Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week (on vinyl)…

Israelites by Desmond Dekker

For Those in Love by Dinah Washington

Ice Pickin’ by Albert Collins

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

A Radical History of the World by Neil Faulkner

Long Road to Harper’s Ferry: the Rise of the First American Left by Mark Lause

No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding by Sean Wilenz

The Ideological Glue

Eric Foner: “The potent cry of white supremacy provided the final ideological glue in the Democratic coalition. Sometimes the appeal to race was oblique. The Democratic slogan, ‘The Union as It Is, the Constitution as It Was,’ had as its unstated corollary, blacks as they were—that is, as slaves. Often, it was remarkably direct. ‘Slavery is dead,’ the Cincinnati Enquirer announced at the end of the war, “the negro is not, there is the misfortune.” (Recostruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution) Someone might consider sending a copy of Foner’s book to ‘Ye. It will lend intellectual gravitas to his anti-Democratic Party rants.
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🚽 Roaming Charges: Seeing John Berger
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2018, 03:07:13 AM »

November 2, 2018
Roaming Charges: Seeing John Berger
by Jeffrey St. Clair

A Burial at Ornans by Gustave Courbet. (Musée d’Orsay.)

When I heard that John Berger had died, an image flashed in my mind of a painting on a vast canvas I had stood captivated before a few years ago in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. A crowd is gathered before a small grave in the jaundiced light of a winter afternoon. The people huddle together in grief, as if braced against a chill wind. The ground is hard, stony. A dog, perhaps the deceased peasant’s, stands at the edge of the pit, mournful eyes trained on the viewer.  The white cliffs of the Jura breach the hazy horizon, marking the place, fixing the point-of-view as finitely as any Google map.

The painting, of course, is Gustave Courbet’s Burial at Ornans. Though Courbet spent six months executing the painting, the scene feels immediate. It also seems as if it took a lifetime to conceive. A death which reveals the life of a poor village, a community knit together across decades of work, joy and tragedy. It is easy to imagine Berger’s body being lowered into such a hand-dug grave, attended by such people and animals, in the weak winter light of rural France.

John Berger wrote the way Courbet painted, only quicker. His writing is direct, naturalistic, as vivid as a conversation between friends or lovers. Berger didn’t explain or explicate the meaning of paintings or photographs. He described his own response to them, a response we related to because we trusted the experience of the voice speaking to us. We trusted Berger’s experience as a living being, a being who had lived and reflected endlessly on the experience of life. Berger didn’t demand that we see art the way he did, but through the lens of our own lives, a lens that he helped to focus.

I met John Berger in 2001 through my old pal Saul Landau. As usual with Saul, our rendezvous spot was an old bar on the edge of Chinatown. The first thing I noticed about Berger were his hands, riven with scars and callouses, nails cracked and embedded with dirt, fingers permanently stained by the ink of fountain pens. These were hands that had worked the ground and the page. Hands as comfortable rooting for truffles as they were assessing sculpted marble, hands that had castrated hogs and penned villanelles.

Our lunch talk ranged widely, from the situation in Gaza to melting glaciers, from the photos of Robert Capa to the paintings of Francis Bacon.  I made a deprecating remark about the paucity of interesting art in a city as wealthy and self-consciously aesthete as San Francisco. Rising from his stool, Berger shot back tartly: “Nonsense, Jeffrey, fresh art is all around you, but apparently you still don’t know where to look. Let’s go see.” He drained his Anchor Steam Ale, slammed the mug on the table and ventured off into the fog, striding toward the Tenderloin, eyes scanning every wall.

[A French version of this note on my encounter with John Berger is included the forthcoming collection Regarde: Berger edited by Michelle Girard and Alain Maubert.]

Roaming Charges

+ “One cannot sufficiently despise all of this.” – Nietzsche

+ No, the US isn’t the only country which confers birthright citizenship. But we may be the only country whose president believes this to be true.

+ Donald Trump didn’t come up with the idea of revoking birthright citizenship. It’s been on the GOP wish list for decades, probably all the way back to Operation Wetback in the 1950s. In fact, it was a plank in 1996 GOP platform, the year those two softies Bob Dole and Jack Kemp got steamrolled by Clinton. Pat Buchanan lost the nomination, but won the platform and in many ways the core of the party became his.

+ Lindsey Graham, who has been pushing this neo-Confederate nonsense for more than a decade, quickly charged to Trump’s defense, Tweeting: “Finally, a president willing to take on this absurd policy of birthright citizenship.”

+ It’s not a “policy”, Lindsey, but a right enshrined in the Constitutional you claim to revere. But which Constitutional right is more, as you put it, “absurd”? The one which grants infants citizenship or the one which has put more than 26,000 kids into their graves since 1999 and sends 8,000 more  a year into emergency rooms?

+ Trump is sending 15,000 troops to the border to repel the Madonna and Child Invasion from Honduras, still two months away. Black Jack Pershing only took 10,000 troops with him when Woodrow Wilson ordered him to invade Mexico to futilely chase around Pancho Villa.

+ Is it too soon to start tying yellow ribbons round the old oak trees? Will there be a USO show for the troops down on the border as they wait weeks to confront and repel the slo-mo invasion of the toddlers and their starving mothers?

+ Surely this is a deployment that even Old Bone Spurs is fit enough to join? Perhaps he could even lead the charge against the toddler refugees in his golf cart….

+ Of course, any US troops at the border waiting two months for mothers and toddlers to beg for asylum are troops not killing peasants in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Niger, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya or Somalia.

+ Q. What is the mission, General?

A. Our orders are to secure the border and protect our precious bodily fluids. Clear enough, Miss Mandrake?

+ This is the IDF model in action. I hope to hell none of the migrant kids show up at the border (two months from now) flying kites…

+ Aren’t there people still without power, clean water or shelter in the Florida panhandle (not to mention Puerto Ric0) who could use some help?

+ If George Soros were giving money to the refugees fleeing the horrid conditions in Honduras, it would be one of the most humane things he’s ever done. But, in fact, his money backed the administration (i.e., Obama’s) which green-lighted the coup, which set all of this in motion.

+ Trump returned from Pittsburg, where he piously laid stones on the graves of Jews murdered by an anti-semite, to Washington, where he quickly vowed to build concentration camps for the indefinite detention for border-crossers: “One other thing — important — we’re not doing any releases anymore… We’ll build tent cities, whatever we have to build in terms of housing. We’re not doing releases.”

+ Jean-Paul Sartre: “The anti-Semite has chosen hate because hate is a faith.”

+ How many Holocaust survivors has MS-13 gunned down?

+ Just two deranged anti-Semites, Richard Nixon and Billy Graham,  talking shit about the “Synagogue of Satan” in the Oval Office…

+ The MAGAshooter was particularly incensed over the Tree of Life synagogue’s support of the HIAS refugee program. Here’s their website. You might want to make a donation…

+ Bette Midler on Trump: “He needs to be the bride at every wedding… the corpse at every funeral.” (An assessment originally made, I believe, of Teddy Roosevelt.)

+ Speaking of the Opiate of the People: Is there a causal nexus between the opioid epidemic and the proliferation of “Christian rabbis?”

+ Bette Davis for Dictator!

+ The loyal opposition: Nancy Pelosi reassured the Democrats’ corporate investors not to worry, after the elections on Tuesday “we’ll tone down the rhetoric.” How many times will desperate Democratic voters fall for this bait-and-switch, even as they tell you exactly what they’re going to do (i.e., nothing)…

+ WSJ: “If Democrats retake the House, don’t expect a push to repeal and replace the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Did anyone really think they would?

+ Just when you hoped that Hillary was going to spend the rest of her days long-distance hiking, she returned to crush Democratic aspirations for the midterms by announcing: “I’d like to be president.”

+ The Liberals capitulate to the Center, the Center caves to the Right. The new Center becomes the old Right and the process starts all over again.

+ Joe Biden: “Folks, there is a conservative columnist named David Brooks. He’s bright as hell.” Please make him stop!

+ David Brooks: “If everybody in red states voted for their Democratic candidates and everybody in a blue state voted for their Republican candidates we’d have a much better Congress.” This strategy would, naturally, take us back to the Jim Crow era, where apparently both Brooks and Biden feel more comfortable.

+ CBN (the Christian Broadcasting Network) scored an exclusive interview with Trump aboard Air Force one, after a charity associated with the network spent $300,000 to host an event at Mar-a-Lago. The event planners declared no other venue “would do.” The same charity is holding its winter gala this year at the Winter White House. During the interview, Trump declared that “nobody’s done more for Christians or Evangelicals.” Of course, the Apostle Paul said much the same thing about Pontius Pilate.

+ What a Flake thing to do. The man denounces Trump Willie Horton-style ad and then reTweets it…

+  Publicly, everyone behind the Willie Horton ad, including Lee Atwater, denied any responsibility for it. Privately, they all fist-bumped each other because it worked.

+ 2 million dead Iraqis later, Colin Powell concludes: “We’ve come to live in a society based on insults, on lies.”

+  “I know that I am cowardly and am unable to act. Therefore I confine myself to words. But I do not think my words are needless. Someone else will act. But my many words—the words of a coward—will facilitate their deed. My words clear the ground.” – C.P. Cavafy, October 1902

+ Jair Bolsonaro’s first post-election statement: “We cannot continue to flirt with socialism, communism, populism and the extremism of the Left.”

+ From Rodrigo Castriota, in Brazil: “More than 20 Brazilian universities were invaded by the military police in the past 2 days. They confiscated material on the history of fascism, interrupted classes due to ‘ideological content’, removed anti-fascist banners and posters claiming that it was electoral propaganda.”

+ Bolsonaro’s victory gives new meaning to Boys From BRA卐IL.

+ Colombian official: “If Bolsonaro helps topple Maduro with military intervention, he will have Colombia’s support.” The return of Operation Condor?

+ The Trump gang tells lots of lies, big and small, insidious and ludicrous. But sometimes they can’t help but let the stark truth slip out, as when John Bolton called Brazil’s fascist president-elect Jair Bolsonaro a “like-minded leader.”

+ Bolton hailed Bolsonaro in the same Miami harangue where he vowed to target the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, who he dubbed the Troika of Tyranny.

+ Troika of Tyranny, eh? Before you obliterate, you must first alliterate…

+ “Had I known that I would one day have to govern this country, I would have spent more time studying, & less fornicating” – Miguel Primo de Rivera, Spain’s dictator (1925)

+ JoDe Goudy, tribal chair of the Yakima Nation, was refused entry into the Supreme Court for wearing traditional tribal clothing to hear the oral arguments in the case of Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc. This from a court which swaddles its justices in traditional regalia that dates back to Edward II in 1350…

+ The Bannon Index continues to fall. Last week, a GOP fundraiser in Tampa had to give away for an event where Steve Bannon was the featured speaker. This week no more than 17 people showed up in Topeka, Kansas for Bannon-led rally.

+ The man whose entire fortune (to the extent he really has a fortune) is derived from ripping people off (in schemes he brags about in “his” books) accuses a black political candidate of being a “stone cold thief” based on no evidence whatsoever..

+ Prince Andrew, who is cozying up to the Saudis in their hour of international trauma, has always been the Billy Carter of the House of Windsor…

+ Czech President Miloš Zeman, the latest strongman to display a flair for black comedy, trotted out this Khashoggi joke during an event this week: “I love journalists, that’s why I may organize a special banquet for them this evening at the Saudi embassy”

+ When Sharia Law, strike that, Biblical Law comes to the Inland Empire!

+ According to the historian Tom Holland, under Mussolini there was a popular perfume in Italy called “Fascio.” Coming soon from Ivanka: “Daddio”.

+ “The left’s desire to see every opponent to the right of them as a ‘Fascist’ duly led them massively to underestimate the genuine phenomenon” – Michael Burleigh on Germany in the 20s.

+ It says something about the debauched state of the nation, when the people who bawl the loudest about standing up for the National Anthem won’t stand up for the right to vote….

+ Ruth Hopkins (a CounterPunch contributor and tribal judge), after a federal judge ruled today in favor of North Dakota’s plan to disenfranchise many native people living on reservations: “For a long time after Natives became U.S. citizens, North Dakota would not allow Natives to vote in state unless they relinquished from their Tribe. They’ve never wanted us to have an equal voice.”

+ On the merciless streets of Portland, Oregon, at least 79 homeless people died in 2017.

+ Longtime CounterPunch contributor Susan Abulhawa, an awarding novelist and essayist, is being detained by the Israelis at Tel Aviv airport as she was traveling to attend the Kalimat Palestine Literature Festival.

+ Some people in the states are hitching on a caravan to Mexico…

+ How’s that trade war going?

U.S. trade deficit increased to $𝟓𝟒 𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐨𝐧 in September

    + 4th straight month of increase
    + 7-month high
    + Imports hit a record $218 billion
    + Imports from China increased, pushed the trade gap up 4.3% to $40.2 billion  (highest on record)

+ Yes, they really, really want to frack inside the Rocky Flats Nuclear Site…

+ Glacial retreat in the Pacific Northwest is now accelerating faster than scientists predicted. For more on why this is happening in the Cascades and Northern Rockies check out new book The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink.

+ If you look at this graph long enough, you probably won’t get much sleep tonight…

+ Track the Frackers.

+ Yes, Donald, the rain really is getting wetter…

+ From 1970 to 2014, 60 percent of all animals with a backbone — fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals — were wiped out by human activity, according according to an ongoing survey of more than 4,000 species spread over 16,700 populations scattered across the globe. Interior Security Ryan Zinke, now under the scrutiny of the Justice Department, seems intent on adding to this grim total, as he ordered the Park Service to consider allowing the baiting of bears and killing of other predators inside the national parks of Alaska. You can register your dissent to this asinine plan here.

+ About 15 years ago, I wrote a piece attacking the fraudulent environmentalism of the World Wildlife Fund titled Panda Porn. A few weeks later I got a handwritten note from the Pop Artist Mel Ramos, which read, “Stop stealing my shit, son.” Ramos, who died this week at 83, signed a postcard featuring this painting, “Your heretical pal, Mel.” He enclosed a $20 bill and asked me to sign and send him a copy of Been Brown So Long, It Looked Like Green to Me. Which I promptly did.

+ Alexander Cockburn was, of course, a devoted Carlist. But I’m glad he didn’t live to see this nugget about his hero Prince Charles. Otherwise, Becky and Deva may have been tasked with ironing the laces of his de-tongued Pumas, every morning.

+ Sally Timms: “Charles is too busy being Camilla’s tampon to iron his own laces.”

Final Days

We’re in the final days of our annual fund drive, and here at CounterPunch we’re getting first-hand testimony about the depth of the economic depression most of us live in. Many CounterPunchers are rallying as they do year-after-year, but telling us times are tight. All we can ask is: give if you can and as much as you feel you can afford. We truly need every penny and every dollar to keep the show on the road.

Once again, let me direct your attention to the extraordinarily generous offer made by a longtime CounterPunch supporter, who has pledged to match every donation of $100 or more up to $25,000. That means that any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100.  And if you plan to send us  $200 or $500 or more, he will give CounterPunch a matching $200 or $500 or more.

CounterPunchers! Please don’t let this offer ebb away unfulfilled.  Double your clout right now.  Step up to the plate, and reach for the phone, or your check book or hit the online donation button.

Sleep Upon My Shoulder as We Creep


Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

The Sleep of Memory by Patrick Modiano

Crash Course: From the Good War to the Forever War by H. Bruce Franklin

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Heavy Music: the Complete Cameo Recordings (1966-67) by Bob Seger and the Last Heard

La Fenice by Keith Jarrett

Here If You Listen by David Crosby

What Now? What Next?

Walter Benjamin: “Pessimism all along the line. Absolutely. Mistrust in the fate of literature, mistrust in the fate of freedom, mistrust in the fate of European humanity, but three times mistrust in all reconciliation: between classes, between nations, between individuals. And unlimited trust only in IG Farben and the peaceful perfecting of the Air Force. But what now? What next?”
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Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution. He can be reached at: or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch
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Re: 🚽 Roaming Charges: Seeing John Berger
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2018, 08:27:49 AM »

November 2, 2018
Roaming Charges: Seeing John Berger
by Jeffrey St. Clair

I always look forward to you posting this guy. He's a treasure.
"...reprehensible lying communist..."

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Re: 🚽 Roaming Charges: Seeing John Berger
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2018, 08:49:47 AM »

November 2, 2018
Roaming Charges: Seeing John Berger
by Jeffrey St. Clair

I always look forward to you posting this guy. He's a treasure.

I'll see a Jordan Petersen and raise a Jeffrey St. Clair, John Pilger and Chris Hedges.  ;)

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🚽 Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2018, 03:15:52 AM »

November 9, 2018
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
by Jeffrey St. Clair

Photo Source Senate Democrats | CC BY 2.0

+ It seems like everybody got something out of the midterms, except one lonely man. Nancy Pelosi won. Mitch McConnell won. Trump got a split decision. But Chuck Schumer got creamed. Has the senator from Citibank resigned yet?

+ After Trump’s election and the announcement that Chuck Schumer would lead the Democratic Resistance©, I predicted that Schumer’s infamous “Plan B” (pandering to upper-middle class suburban voters and disaffected Republicans with college degrees at the expense of blue collar voters) would result in the Democrats losing 5 senate seats. I confess I was wrong.  They only lost four, unless, like me, you consider the retention of Robert Menendez and Joe Manchin as a result even worse than a loss.

+ One big takeaway from the midterms: It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that the next Democratic presidential candidate could win the popular vote by 10% and still lose in the electoral college. (Democrats have a 12.5-pt lead in the popular vote in all contested senate races and have lost 4 seats.)

+ Senate popular vote:

    Democrats: 40,558,262 (55.4%)

    Republicans: 31,490,026 votes (43.0%)

+ According to the normally reliable Cook Political Report, there were 46 GOP-held congressional seats in the House that were either favored for a Democratic win or considered a toss-up and another 49 GOP-held seats that leaned red but were still competitive. Of those 95 competitive seats, the Democrats only won 30. Can that result really be considered a success? In baseball, .315 would be a good batting average. But in politics shouldn’t you be hitting closer to .500 in a two-party system?

+ Of course, the Democrats in the House were running against the odds. The system is rigged and the rigging is getting tighter as the demographics change and the inequality gap widens.  When gerrymandering doesn’t work, voter suppression kicks in. Maybe a swing of 30 votes is all that could be expected at moment when the sinews of the Republic are under maximum stress.

+ The thing about postmodern America is that its politics remain resolutely pre-modern, where the failsafe systems are all programmed to protect property and its owners…

+ The exit polling reconfirms my long held belief, shaken for the past two years, that most Americans rightly despise their leaders, whoever they are….

    2010 exit poll on Obama:
    Approve – 45%
    Disapprove – 54%

    2016 exit poll on Trump:
    Approve- 44%
    Disapprove- 55%

+ For a moment, I had a spark of anticipation that the two kids in the photo were being giving leadership positions in the Democratic House Caucus…but no just another bait-and-switch for the same decrepit wrecking crew.

+ Nancy Pelosi: “It might surprise you that the president I quoted most on the campaign trail was Ronald Reagan.” This was no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to Pelosi’s career for the past 20 years. The rightwing titan exert a powerful hold over the political consciousness of the neoliberal. There is much truth buried in Margaret Thatcher’s quip that “Tony Blair is my greatest accomplishment.”

+ True to form, Pelosi wasted no time revealing her eagerness to engage in a political Devil’s Triangle with Trump, announcing that the Democrats are ready to embrace the “bipartisan marketplace of ideas.”

+ Pelosi: “We are not going after Republicans the way they went after us.” They didn’t go after YOU, Nancy, they went after the poor, the atmosphere, the rivers, people’s health care, the banking regulations, Syrian refugees, migrant children, undocumented workers…Get over yourself.

+ David Swanson: “The last time the Dems won the majority they escalated the war on Iraq they’d been elected to end. Luckily they haven’t been elected to do anything this time.”

+ Best post-election troll: Trump offering to help Nancy Pelosi become speaker of the House, if she faces an insurgency from within her caucus.

+ Best post-election aftershock: Trump firing Jeff Sessions (or ordering John Kelly to do it for him) and sidestepping Rod Rosenstein to make Beauregard’s chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker the acting Attorney General. Whitaker, a man who believes that the judiciary should be an “inferior branch” of government, will oversee the Mueller investigation as it narrows its focus on Trump, his business and his family.

+ Who will be the first Democrat to start a Go Fund Me campaign for Beauregard? My money is on Adam Schiff, who seems a little more spry on his feet than Jerry Nadler…

+ On the same day Trump ordered one of his female bouncers to try to swipe Jim Acostas’s microphone, he names a former CNN contributor the acting AG in charge of the Mueller probe. What must Judge Jeanine Pirro at FoxNews be thinking? Has she lost her hold on Trump?

+ The new acting AG  thinks Marbury v. Madison is the worst Supreme Court decision in history. Of course, as Chase Madar correctly notes, given the current makeup of the federal judiciary for the next 40 years its probably in their best interest for progressives to adopt this view as well…

+ Whitaker on the confirmation of federal judges: “I’d like to see things like their worldview, what informs them. Are they people of faith? Do they have a biblical view of justice? — which I think is very important.”

+ The Democrats are hyperventilating over Sessions’ firing, which has been telegraphed for more than a year, saying it puts the country on the verge of a constitutional crisis. Where have they been for the last 17 years? The country has been mired in a constitutional crisis since at least 9/11, a crisis they have abetted and exacerbated again and again.

+ Is Whitaker’s appointment as acting AG even constitutional? Kellyanne’s husband doesn’t think so…

+ Professor of Torture John Yoo also argues Whitaker’s appointment is unconstitutional. Does this mean I am now morally obligated to support Whitaker?

+ Where the liberals whistling Dixie when they poured into the streets to protest the firing of Trump’s most noxious cabinet member?

+ In the end, Trump did his job. He held the White Line…

+ Henry Wallace: “It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice.”

+  People talk about how much Georgia has changed. But 76% of white women voted for Brian Kemp over Stacey Abrams…

+ While white women are still a reliable demographic for the GOP, the Republicans don’t seem to be returning the love. The next session of Congress will have at least 47 newly-elected Democrats, 28 of them women (60%). It will have 33 new Republicans, only 3 of them women (9%).

+ Andrew Gillum hit a similar white wall in Florida, fortified by the always reliable Miami Cubans (men)…

+ Looks like Kamala Harris is raising money for herself in the name of helping Stacey Abrams…(As always with Harris, it’s important to check out the fine print.)

+  A comprehensive list of the voting rights cases filed by Trump’s DoJ since taking office follows…


+ You can’t say the Republicans haven’t made any progress on the diversity front. It looks like Liz Cheney is in line for a leadership position in the House.

+ Joe Donnelly in Indiana ran like a conservative Republican and got whupped. Next door in Ohio Sherrod Brown ran like an old labor Democrat and won easily. But we know that Schumer and his pals will continue to argue running to middle is the only option ….

+ Here’s Bernie Sanders, putting his foot into it again. Sanders claims that Democratic candidates in the South need to be “more like Beto O’Rourke” (who lost by three percent) as opposed to black candidates like Andrew Gillum (who is statistically tied) and Stacey Abrams (who lost by three percent) as he …

    “I think you know there are a lot of white folks out there who are not necessarily racist who felt uncomfortable for the first time in their lives about whether or not they wanted to vote for an African-American.”

+  Memo to Bernie: Obama won Florida…twice.

+ Remember when Brett Kavanaugh led the frat-boy riots during the recount in Florida in 2000? Shouldn’t the Democrats now be organizing busloads of new Freedom Riders to Florida and Georgia to protest the systemic suppression of black voters? Or would that lower the party’s stock value in the “market of bipartisanship”? Where’s George Soros when you really need him?

+ Speaking of busloads has there been any news on that caravan since the election?

+ Putin must be quite the electoral mastermind. He’s playing three-dimensional gridlock, while everyone else checks their iPhone, wondering what’s taking their Uber driver so long…

+ Best loss of the night: Kris Kobach, the vote fraud fraud, who went down big in Kansas.

+ Dan Donovan, the man who as DA of Staten Island refused to prosecute Eric Garner’s killer, has been ousted. Too bad Erica Garner didn’t live to see this.

+ Idaho, Utah and Nebraska all endorsed socialism on Tuesday night by voting to expand Medicaid…

+ On the other, Alabama passed a ballot measure making it state policy to “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life” and that the constitution does not provide “a right to abortion or require funding of abortions.” This will almost certainly be sent express delivery to the Kavanaugh/Thomas Court.

+ Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the two Muslim women running for office who were targeted harassed by the poisonous harridan Laura Loomer, both won last night.

+ Shahid Amanullah: “If you feel sad today, just imagine Mike Pence swearing 2 women into Congress with the Qur’an.”

+ At least, 27 NRA backed candidates lost. The most ever. Will the NRA survive the chairmanship of Oliver North?

+ Good news: Arthur Jones, the literal Nazi candidate lost in Illinois.
Bad news: He still got more than 55,000 votes

+ I say vote for whoever makes you feel good in the moment or against someone you really hate., but be fully cognizant that the voting machine will probably tally your vote for the most odious candidate possible.

+ Case in point: Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof won his state assembly race, weeks after he was found dead at his Love Ranch brothel by porn star Ron Jeremy and Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

+ Jason Lewis, the GOP congressman who complained that after the MeToo movement he couldn’t “call women sluts anymore,” lost to his female challenger, Angie Craig….

+ On the morning after the election, the Pentagon announced it will no longer refer to the US military mission on the Mexico border as “Operation Faithful Patriot.” No reason given. Will they rename it “Operation Wetback II?”

I thought that’s what we celebrated every Columbus Day?

+ Too bad De Toqueville isn’t around to translate the meaning of Trump’s post-election press conference for the French…and the rest of us.

+ Trump: “The embrace. They wouldn’t embrace. Barbara Comstock wouldn’t embrace. I don’t blame her, but she lost. She wouldn’t embrace. She lost big.”

+ Is it my TV or did the President experience a tanning booth failure this morning? Raccoons are hiding their faces in shame…

+ Is Trump talking about his voice or the hue of his skin? “I’d be very good at a low tone. I would love to do very — very even-toned. I would love to have a very even, modest, boring tone. I would be very honored by that.”

+ Trump on whether he would turn over his tax returns: “People wouldn’t understand them.” All the more reason, I would think, to email them to every American as one of those Presidential Alerts …

+ Trump: “The Democrat plan would obliterate Obamacare.” If only this were true!

+ Trump: Obama allowed a very large part of Ukraine to be taken.

Jeff Mason (Reuters): That was president Putin who annexed Crimea.

Trump: It was President Obama that allowed it to happen.

+ Trump: “I retired Jeff Flake. I did the country a great service.” True dat…

+ Yamiche Alcindor: “I asked President Trump what he thinks of people seeing his rhetoric as emboldening white nationalists and whether he was concerned that Republicans would be seen as supporting white nationalists. His response: ‘That’s a racist question.'”

+ Trump: “I think I am a great moral leader.” And as a “great moral leader” maybe you can a lead story time for the children in cages, Donald…

+ There was the glorious White House press corps sitting on its hands while Trump repeatedly humiliated April Ryan….

+ Trump is now less popular with 3.7% unemployment, than Obama was in November 2010 when unemployment was at 9.8%.

+ Trump: “We have just about the cleanest air and the cleanest water we’ve ever had.”

+ Jon Tester’s narrow escape in Montana was a sharp rebuke to Trump, who targeted Tester because he went after Trump’s Doctor Feelgood, Ronnie Jackson. But it was going to be a rebuke to Montana, whoever won that election.

+ Two Harris County judges accounted for more than one-fifth of all children sent to state prisons in Texas last year. Nearly all of the teens sent into prisons by the judges—96 percent—were children of color. Both of them lost their reelection bids on Tuesday.

+ This seems like a bizarre but fair tradeoff: Florida voters approved Amendment 9, which banned both offshore oil drilling and indoor vaping.

+ My friend Sainath writes from India:

    Hey Jeffrey,

    Is there actually a single day after World War II that American troops/operatives etc., were not dispensing large scale violence anywhere in the world?

    Any day that the US was not at war?


I sure can’t recall one. I remember Bill Clinton and Al Gore striding into office proclaiming a Pax Clintonia, which would shower the nation with a “peace dividend.” Then they ended up launching missiles at Iraq every three days for 8 years, killing a million Iraqis through a savage sanctions regime and wrapping up their term by engaging in an illegal war against Serbia. Then, shortly after Obama won his Nobel Peace Prize, the president elected to end the 9/11 wars ordered a surge of troops, bombing and drone operations in Afghanistan that soon expanded to at least 6 other countries and probably several more we don’t yet know about. The pace accelerated each year. In his final year in office, Obama launched 26,171 airstrikes–3,000 more than the year before!

+ Pompeo Maximus admits that the purpose of the new sanctions on Iran is to starve the Iranian people and blame the Iranian government for their deaths: “Well, remember, just so you remember, the (Iranian) leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat.”

+ “Any Negro-American who travels abroad today must either not discuss race conditions in the United States or say the sort of thing which our State Department wishes the world to believe.”– WEB DuBois after being denied a passport to travel to Paris for the Présence Africaine Congress of Black Writers and Artists.

+ According to historian Tom Holland “fathers who wrote to Hitler requesting permission to name their daughters ‘Hitlerine’ were informed that ‘Adolfine’ was ‘the recommended compromise’.” No word from the White House on whether his MAGAness prefers “Trumpalina” or “Donaldine.”

+ Legendary sportswriter Paul Zimmerman died on November 1, at the age of 88. Zimmerman had a great wit and an acerbic writing style, which wasn’t suited for the stiff style-sheet of the New York Times. Here’s Zimmerman on his own experience in dealing with Times editors who wanted him to “bland it down.”

+ While mayor of San Francisco, Dianne Feinstein was overhead at a funeral for someone who had died of AIDS ask, “What’s a Quaalude?” (See The Mayor of Castro Street by Randy Shilts.)

+ What happens in Kentucky stays in Kentucky. While in Cleveland this week, Trump reminisced about his days as a young business guy: “I won’t tell you…but I on occasion would be known to sneak into Kentucky, because I liked Kentucky. I like Kentucky for all the wrong reasons, but I like Kentucky. I like it.”

+ Over the past two decades, the top 10% of income earners have enjoyed a nearly 200% increase in their net worth, while the bottom 40% of earners have seen a decline.

+ National hourly minimum wage by country:

    Australia: $14.56
    Luxembourg: $13.02
    New Zealand: $11.70
    France: $11.14
    Ireland: $10.77
    Belgium: $10.70
    Netherlands: $10.26
    United Kingdom: $10.04
    Germany: $9.97
    Canada: $8.46
    Israel: $8.09
    United States: $7.25

+ Theresa May’s new housing minister Roger Scruton has offered his considered opinion that there is “no such crime” as date rape. Scruton asserts that sexual harassment “just means sexual advances made by the unattractive.”

+ Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, who granted Julian Assange asylum, has himself asked for asylum in Belgium, where his family lives, charging that he is being persecuted by the government of his successor, Lenin Moreno.

+ I’m sure Trump will say, reading from the script that Ollie North faxes him, that if only there’d been an armed guard at that bar Thousand Oaks, the mass murderer, a former Marine machine-gunner suffering from PTSD after tours of duty in Afghanistan, would have been killed before he even got a shot off. There were six off-duty police officers in the bar at time of shooting.

+ According to a witness at the club, the ex-Marine Ian David Long purposely walked up to the security guard standing outside and shot him. Then he entered the club and “turned to the right and shot several of the other security and employees there, and then began opening fire inside the nightclub.”

+ The MAGA spin machine shifted into overdriven before the blood in Thousand Oaks was even dry….


+  Almost certainly the first time a poppy is associated with the death of soldier can be found (like almost everything else in Western Lit) in this striking simile from the greatest antiwar poem ever written, The Iliad….

    As a garden poppy, burst into red bloom, bends,
    drooping its head to one side, weighed down
    by its full seeds and a sudden spring shower,
    so Gorgythion’s head fell limp over one shoulder,
    weighed down by his helmet. (Book VIII, translation Robert Fagels)

+ That master of erudition William Gass has compiled a list of the 12 books that were the most important in shaping his life. It’s a shelf straining with heavyweights: Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria, Virginia Woolf’s Diaries, Ford’s Parade’s End, Joyce’s Ulysses, Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Kafka’s Country Doctor, Flaubert’s Letters, Colette’s Break of Day, Yeats’ The Tower, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives, Gaddis’ The Recognitions.

I’ve read all of those books and admire most of them. But I can’t say any of them “shaped my life.” The books that helped form my life were largely the one’s I read as a young teenager, eager to find out about a world (nature, war, race, crime, and sex) I’d yet to explore. Here are 12 that stay in my head more than 40 years after I first read them…

    Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe
    The Once and Future King by TH White
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
    The King Must Die by Mary Renault
    The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
    Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley
    A Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Roger Tory Peterson
    Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
    The Godfather by Mario Puzo
    The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort
    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

+ According to this distressing essay in the Oxford American by Will Bostwick, three-quarters of the recordings from classic era of gospel (1945 to 1975) are now lost or destroyed. “I just have this fear every day that somewhere there’s another load going to the landfill of the only known copy of something that helped change American music,” says music historian Robert Darden, who heads the Black Music Restoration Project at Baylor University.

+ The Justice Department is currently investigating Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for corruption. If most of the gangsters are now in the government, who is running the white collar gangs?

+ Alaska had its warmest October on record with a statewide average temperature of 34.5°F, 9.0°F above the state’s long-term average.

+ It’s November and California is burning again: Paradise has been incinerated, Malibu has been evacuated and Griffith Park is on fire….As my friend Theo Papathanasis says, “Fire season’s a year-round affair nowadays, like Christmas.”

+ I always like to close out on a high, if I can, so how about this: on Thursday a federal judge in Montana slapped an injunction on the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. Keep up the fight, even when everyone else to tells you it’s over.

Oyster Kiss, Crayfish Bliss

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Brave New Arctic: the Untold Story of the Melting North by Mark Serreze

Money and Class in America by Lewis Lapham

Impeaching the President: Past, Present and Future by Alan Hirsch

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Ella Fitzgerald Sings Cole Porter by Ella Fitzgerald

Black Woman by Judy Mowatt

Overload by Georgia Ann Muldrow

The Only Beacon

Roberto Bolaño: “Even on the poorest streets people could be heard laughing. Some of these streets were completely dark, like black holes, and the laughter that came from who knows where was the only sign, the only beacon that kept residents and strangers from getting lost.”
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More articles by:Jeffrey St. Clair

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution. He can be reached at: or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch
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🚽 Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2018, 12:34:19 AM »

November 16, 2018
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
by Jeffrey St. Clair

  The Camp Fire, which leveled the Sierra foothills town of Paradise (pop. 27,000), is now the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the history of California. As of Friday morning:

      63 people are dead

      630 people are missing

      11,000 structures have been destroyed, including nearly 9,000 homes

      52,000 people have been evacuated

      140,000 acres have burned.

  The forests burned in Camp Fire were so parched by prolonged drought they were described by ecologists as “sucking water from the air.”

  Of the 10 most destructive fires in California history, 9 of them have ignited since 2000.

  The last five years of California fires…

  According to the Ecologist-in-Chief, if only there was more clearcutting of forests  and raking of leaves, the California fires (many of them raging in coastal chaparral habitat–what’s left of it amid the subdivisions, malls and highways) wouldn’t be happening…

  Trump’s a buffoon, but what’s the corporate media’s excuse? In it’s non-stop coverage of the California wildfires, the national news networks have mentioned climate change in less than 4 percent of the total coverage.

  The Woolsey Fire near Malibu roared across the best mountain lion habitat in southern California. Most of the adults likely escaped, but many of their cubs probably didn’t…

  The Woolsey Fire jumped the freeway and scorched Bell Canyon in the West Hills area of LA, where I scrambled up El Escorpión Peak with the late Galen Rowell and a few others back in the early 90s. I had taken a fistful of magic mushrooms that September day, anticipating how they might enhance a tangerine sunset brewed up from fires in the Topatopa Mountains near Ojai. I don’t recall the sunset, but I can’t still shake memory of the three rattlesnakes I nearly stepped on during that climb. You don’t think of rattlesnakes, when you think of LA. But they are there and I hope they remain so, long after the ashes from this fire cools and the chaparral springs back to life …

  In 1995, Mike Davis wrote an incendiary essay on why we should let Malibu burn. It’s truer today than it was when he wrote it 23 years ago.

  500 miles north of the Camp Fire, the smoke has clogged the skies in Portland, making the air quality hazardous for the old, the infirm and children…

  If the air in Portland was awful, it was downright deadly in the Bay Area, where San Francisco topped the charts for the worst air quality in world on this week.

  The smoke is so bad throughout the state that many California cities are handing out masks to residents. But are we sure the masks weren’t donated by the oil & gas companies to make everyone believe the air is safe to breathe on days when there aren’t any fires?

  With smoke from the Camp Fire swirling inside Golden 1 Arena in Sacramento and LeBron James gasping on the court, will the NBA finally come out against climate change?

  In Chico, Trump was asked if the devastation of the Camp Fire changed his views on climate change. “No, no. I have a strong opinion. I want great climate. We’re going to have that. And we’re going to have forests that are very safe. Because we can’t go through this every year.”

  For more on why California is burning, check out our new book, The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink.

  After 17 years, no fewer than 480,000 people have died as a direct result of fighting in the US’s Global War on “Terror.” More than 244,000 civilians have been killed and another 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.

  And there’s no sign that these wars are winding down. Afghanistan was bombed more times in 2018 than any previous year: 5213 sorties and the year isn’t over yet. Afghanistan has now had the bloody hell bombed out of it by a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a self-advertised anti-interventionist. Perhaps it will take an unapologetic warmonger to finally bring peace…

  An AP story asserts that “many Afghans now blame the US” the ongoing war. Many? Every Afghan not on the US payroll who I’ve talked with in the last decade knows this to be true.

  And they called Neanderthals “savages“?

  Here’s an aerial image of the working-class town of Grimsby, England. Each poppy represents a house that lost a resident in World War I.

  The financial cost of the Bush-Obama-Trump War on Terror will soon top $6 TRILLION, which is, of course, why we “can’t afford” single-payer healthcare. These expenditures are the driving force of the war, an unending gravy train for defense contractors, as I charted in my book Grand Theft Pentagon.

  Don’t worry it’s not coming to an end any time soon. A new report from the National Defense Strategy Commission breathlessly warns that the US military may struggle to “win a war against Russia or China.” Why we would want to fight a war against Russia or China is not explained. This is more scare-mongering to increase the Pentagon’s already bloated budget…(Although the report is nothing new, the US military has in fact struggled–and failed–to win a war against peasant armies around the world since 1945). Cheer up, however, it’s not all bleak. We are winning the war against the planet.

  Speaking of going to war against Russia, guidelines issued by the Wehrmacht’s high command to German troops in Russia sternly warned them never to explain their actions to a Russian: “He can talk better than you since he is a born dialectician and has inherited a philosophical disposition.”

  The first black nurses in the Army where prohibited from treating US soldiers and, instead, were relegated to caring for Nazi prisoners of war. Greatest country on Earth, no question…

  Mad Dog Mattis made a courageous visit to the border this week, where he delivered a Henry V-style speech to fire up the troops as they steel themselves to confront the Children’s Caravan that may charge the border two or three weeks from now. If HRC visits, she’ll probably claim she came under sniper fire, from the refugees fleeing the regime she helped bring to power…

  Trump tapped retired Gen. John Abizaid as the new ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Bolton, Mattis, and now Abizaid. Do you get the sense that Trump never believed any of his own critiques of the Iraq War…except that the US should have looted the oil?

  TRUMP: “I think we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt. The answer is probably we’re finished.”
CHRIS WALLACE: What are the odds? One in a hundred? What–What?
TRUMP: I don’t do odds, I gave very detailed–
WALLACE: You ran a casino sir.

  Young whites shifted toward the Democrats by 25 points in the midterms. Will they give them any reason to vote for them again (or vote at all) in 2020? Enter Joe Biden…

  Why Do We Need Democrats? Exhibit A. Claire McKaskill: “I hope that no one thinks that because some of the red-state Democrat moderates lost that means we have to nominate a progressive.”

  Why Do We Need Democrats? Exhibit B. Oregon Democrats just took the governor’s mansion and won super-majority’s in both houses. Their first act of business? To cede control over tax policy to the sweatshop lords at NIKE.

  Why Do We Need Democrats? Exhibit C. Joe Biden, now leading in the polls, spent his weekend bestowing the Liberty Medal on a war criminal.

  Why Do We Need Democrats? Exhibit C. Ex-Clinton pollster Mark Penn says HRC will run again and the Democratic rank-and-file will flock to her…

  Why Do We Need Democrats? Exhibit D. Nancy Pelosi: “We have an obligation to find common ground where we can.” I’m sure you and Trump will quickly find some “common ground” to bomb, Nancy.

  Why Do We Need Democrats? Exhibit E. Chuck Schumer, despite having a record of ineptitude only a hedge funder could love, was “reelected” to his post as minority leader by acclamation. That means without a vote.

  After losing to the most unappealing member of the Senate, Beto O’Rouke is apparently considering a run for the White House. In other news, the Mets announced their intention to contend for a World Series championship next season….

  At least there will by a parity of prolixity in the House, where the Republicans selected as their leader the only member of congress less coherent than Nancy Pelosi: Kevin McCarthy, who supervised the wipeout of Republican House seats in California.

  Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, the Lynching Lady of Mississippi, recently disclosed her views on voter suppression to an intimate group supporters: “And then they remind me, that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.” She’ll need all the suppression she can muster to defeat Mike Espy, Clinton’s Secretary of Agriculture, in a tighter-than expected runoff election to retain the senate seat she inherited after the sudden resignation of Thad Cochran.

  Susan Rice and John Brennan can scrub their hands as furiously as they want, but the Yemeni blood still won’t come off…

  Let’s take a moment to reflect on the eviction of one of Congress’s true oddballs, Dana Rohrabacher. He surfed, he dropped acid, he rode with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, he befriended Julian Assange. Too bad he also backed nearly every war that came along, including, most hypocritically, the war on drugs. It may have been his flagrant lies about health care that finally took him all the way down. As Andrew Cockburn noted, “he was the only member of congress who arm-wrestled Putin.”

  George Conway, husband of Kellyanne, on why he turned down a high level post in the Trump Justice Department: “I’m watching this thing and you know it’s like, the administration is like a shit show in a dumpster fire.”

   Too bad Adorno isn’t around to follow up his defense of the semi-colon with an essay on the importance of the hyphen…

  Meanwhile, back in the Kiddie Concentration Camps, the number of imprisoned juveniles keeps on going up. Now, 14,000 and rising.

  Immigration lawyer Larry Sandingo: “In court this morning, I asked the judge if my client could wait outside. She was being fussy. He said yes, and she was carried out. Even then, I could hear her whimpers and cries. She’s two years old. She had on a pink coat. Today was her deportation hearing.”

  This is all Kentucky needs…the Bluegrass State’s supreme court just ruled that “right to work” laws don’t violate the constitution.

  According to the Labor Department, there are nearly 1 million more job vacancies than there are available workers. Neel Kashkari, president of the Minnesota branch of the Federal Reserve, told CEO’s whining about how they can’t find qualified workers to fill open slots: “You should try paying more, and you may be able to attract more workers.”   What a novel idea…

  Trump announced his intent to cut off all relief funding to victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. What kind of a weakling is so insecure that he gets off on causing more pain and deprivation to people who are already living in miserable conditions?

  Trump math makes the new math look like the old math: “He [Kemp] was 10 points down when I endorsed him, he ended up winning by 40 points in the primary. He’s now in, but he was 10 points down. It was 70 to 30, something like that, 70-30 or 70-40, maybe 70-40. But it was an easy win.”

  Before Melania launched her purge of the West Wing, she must have read up (or listened to the audiobook) on Nancy Reagan’s tenure as first lady. Like Melania, Nancy also hated the people around her Ronnie, none more intensely than RR’s chief of staff, Don Regan, who she believed was undermining the Gipper at every turn. She eventually got Regan’s head and in many ways the new shadow chief of staff became the person Nancy trusted most: her astrologer, Joan Quigley. Can’t say I blame her.

  So the big drama this week is that Trump wants to fire John Kelly. But since Trump is too much of a coward to fire anyone in person, he’s waiting on Kelly to fire himself, which you would think the General would have done after Charlottesville.

  What’s more illuminating than graphs depicting the frequency of Trump lies? A chart showing how Rafael “Ted” Cruz’s use of “y’all” swelled as the race tightened and election day neared…

  A man interrupted a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Baltimore this week, standing up to give a Nazi salute and shout “Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!”

    If I were a Reich man,
    Daidle deedle daidle
    Daidle daidle deedle daidle dumb

(Late word this morning is that the man who yelled “Nazi” in a crowded theater was drunk and made the Nazi salute ironically, driven mad by his hatred of Trump.)

  From historian Tom Holland: “An astonishing story of a small group of SS man who tried to shoot two lorry-loads of Soviet prisoners lacking either legs or arms. “The legless were not a challenge, but the ambulant wounded overpowered their murderers. Two SS men were shot & the prisoners escaped.”

  Thursday marked the 49th anniversary of one of the biggest anti-war protests in American history, when more 500,000 people descended on DC on a frigid November day to demand an end to the Vietnam War, when Pete Seeger led a half million people in an extended version of “Give Peace a Chance“…

  Doing his best Don King impersonation, Trump warns Antifa not to mess with American neo-Nazis…

 Of course, he’s right. The neo-Nazis far outnumber the anti-fascists here in the states and they are armed-to-the-teeth, especially when you factor in the Nazis in local police departments, including the socialist enclave of Portland.

  Bernie Sanders: “We have a president who is a racist.” When did Bernie have this epiphany? What was the final straw?

  Do you get the sense that the cast of characters in the daily spectacle of our politics come right out of a Molière play…?

  Trump accuses people of changing their clothes and returning to cast additional ballots in disguise in Florida: “Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again.” (I often vote first dressed like Frank Zappa and return (to my kitchen table to cast another mail-in ballot) disguised as Joey Ramone. Sometimes if I’m feeling really frisky and a Green candidate is poised to cause Max Chaos, I’ll cast a third ballot as Joan Jett.)

  CNN’s suit against the Trump administration for stripping the showboating Jim Acosta of his “hard” press pass only serves the dubious function of legitimizing White House briefings as real news events.

  While the corporate press, even FoxNews, rallies around Acosta, the Department of Justice appears poised to indict Julian Assange to steely silence from the very same gutless claque of self-glorifying defenders of a “free” press…

  There seems to be documentary evidence that Assange has already been charged the indictment sealed. On Thursday afternoon, Seamus Hughes, a former advisor to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, was reading through new federal court filings from the Eastern District of Virginia, when he came across a strange reference to Assange in a filing for a separate case not related to Assange, involving a man indicted for “coercion and enticement of a minor.”

The key sentence, wherein the prosecutors argue for keeping an indictment under seal, reads: “Another procedure short of sealing will not adequately protect the needs of law enforcement at this time because, due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”

So what’s going on here? Was it a cut-and-paste error by the prosecutors? Or was it, as Hughes argues, a kind of Freudian slip made by a prosecutor, Kellen S. Dwyer, who is also working on the Wikileaks case? Here is the link to the case in question, which is captioned: United States of America v. Seitu Sulayman Kokayi. The motion was filed on August 24, 2018.

  This article in SpliceToday argues that the Left needs to stop its “slobbering, orgiastic” love affair with Marx. I find myself in total agreement. It’s time for some self-imposed abstinence. In my case, there’s so much slobber on my copy of The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon that many of the pages have dissolved into each other, achieving a state of simultaneous dialectal synthesis, I suppose.

  I’d heard about the Polish painter and writer Josef Czapski’s Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp since college, when reading Proust for the first time seemed like being sentenced to a Gulag. Now it’s finally been translated and I understand why reading Proust might just help you survive life in a concentration camp. There were, of course, no copies of In Search of Lost Time in the camp, so Czapski quoted the Divine Marcel from memory, much the way Erich Auerbach did when he wrote the first draft of his magisterial Mimesis.

  An average of 3,000 Poles died each day during the Nazi occupation, half of them Christian, half of them Jewish.

  Lawrence Freedman, Historian, on the Brexit debate within the May government: “You know you are in a great British political crisis when you find yourself watching a closed door on TV.”

  Divine Intervention: a very fetching Divine mural has gone up on Preston Street in Baltimore. John Waters writes: “Preston Street now has the ultimate Neighborhood Watch. No crime will happen with Divine on duty.”

  Speaking of my old town, 75% of Baltimorans voted against any efforts to privatize public water resources…

  One of the best recent books I’ve read on WW I is Into the Silence by Wade Davis, a biography of the mountaineer George Mallory, who died on Everest after (perhaps) reaching the summit. It depicts a generation which returned from the trenches of France opposed to war, opposed the very idea of Europe and willing to go to farthest reaches of the planet to find new ways to live.

  RIP to the great Stan Lee, who was one of the 20 original subscribers to CounterPunch in 1993. Lee faithfully sent a $100 check for the next 25 years.

  Anyone foolish enough to believe that Obama and the Democrats were fighting climate change needs to have this graph tattooed to their forehead…

  The Arctic hasn’t been this warm in 120,000 years. Maybe next year we can go for 500,000…

  Against great odds, Trump appears to be winning the War on Coal! This year alone, 16 gigawatts worth of coal-fired plants have closed down, which is close to an all-time record. The president should Tweet proudly about his victories!

  Up in what we called The Region, NIPSCO (Northern Indiana Public Service Company) has always been one of the most noxious and environmentally hostile utilities on the continent. If they’ve given up on coal, it’s really all over…

  This week Bill Clinton’s favorite utility, Entergy, announced that it will stop burning coal at its two Arkansas power plants. This is welcome news. But when will Entergy stop burning uranium to boil water?

  It’s very hard to keep fully up-to-date with the Trump Administration crime blotter, but this week Onis “Trey” Glenn, the EPA’s top administrator for the Southeastern Region of the US, was just indicted on ethics charges in Alabama for his work on behalf of Drummond Coal Company to block an EPA investigation into a toxic waste site in a poor, black neighborhood of Birmingham.

  According to, more than 300 racehorses have died either training or during a race in 2018.

  More wolves, better rivers…

  The fuckers in the Trump administration just signed an order exempting the State of Oregon from the Marine Mammal Protection Act that will allow state wildlife agents to begin killing sea lions at the base of Willamette Falls here in Oregon City. I’ve been kayaking next to these magnificent creatures all summer and fall. Here’s the sea lion I call Garbo, who lounged silently on an abandoned dock at the Oregon City Marina. She had always secured the same spot and each time I paddled by she would raise her head an inch or two in acknowledgment before letting it drop back to the deck with a slight thud. Now she’s targeted for assassination for the crime of eating what sea lions in the Pacific Northwest have always eaten.

  Sea lions aren’t the cause of salmon decline. They’ve been feasting on them since end of the last Ice Age. The dams, the logging, the grazing, the dioxin pouring out of pulp mills and the changing climate are the salmon killers. Stop the scapegoating and fight the real enemy!

  Trump announced he is plans to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Republican megadonor Miriam Adelson;  Sen. Orrin Hatch; the late justice Antonin Scalia; Babe Ruth; Elvis; former Minnesota Viking defensive lineman Alan Page; and former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Roger Staubach. Hold on. Nothing for Ted Nugent or Kid Rock?

  A baby’s footprint in clay, made in the Sumerian city of Nippur (Iraq) around 2000 BCE, now in the Penn Museum. These footprints were usually accompanied by cuneiform identifying the child and its parents by name, apparently as an early form of voter ID (also required to buy cereal).

Photo: Penn Museum.

  From Greil Marcus’ revealing interview with rock critic Robert Christgau:

    I see no reason not to acknowledge that one reason I did that piece [“A Night on the Town”, where Christgau ventured out every night for a month to hear live music] is that the [Village] Voice had been taken over by a hostile force from Phoenix. The enemy was somewhere lurking and looking to fire me, which they did about two months after that piece was finished. And for sure one thing I wanted to do with that piece was say, “Fuck you. You think I’m some old fart? Here’s what I can do.” But also, I really thought it would be interesting, and it was fantastically interesting. Every once in a while I got tired, or I missed Carola, my wife, who didn’t come to all these shows with me, though she came to quite a few and provided me with some good lines.”

  In 1978, I worked as a busboy at Blues Alley, DC’s most intimate jazz club. (Almost certainly the best job I ever had, despite from getting paid less than $5 an hour.) That spring, Dexter Gordon played a weeklong gig there. I got Dex drinks, towels, cigarettes and discreetly passed notes to various women. He was the coolest person I’ve ever met. No one even close. This week Elemental Music released a live recording from that era that captures Gordon as a recall him sounding on those glorious nights in Georgetown. It’s called Espace Cardin, 1977, and features his smoking Parisian band, Al Haig, Pierre Michelot and Kenny “Klook” Clark.

  Sonny Rollins tweeted on Wednesday: “I often wonder, what would Monk say?”

  RIP Roy Clark, a kick-ass musician lurked under the character he played on Hee Haw….

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Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Memphis Rent Party: the Blues, Rock and Soul in Music’s Hometown by Robert Gordon

The Ecocentrists: a History of Radical Environmentalism by Keith Makoto Woodhouse

No Exit: Arab Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre and Decolonisation by Yoav Di-Capua

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Wanderer by Cat Power

Working Class Woman by Marie Davidson

Broken Politics by Neneh Cherry

All Available Indignities

John Kenneth Galbraith: “Despite a flattering supposition to the contrary, people come readily to terms with power. There is little reason to think that the power of the great bankers, while they were assumed to have it, was much resented. But as the ghosts of numerous tyrants, from Julius Caesar to Benito Mussolini will testify, people are very hard on those who, having had power, lose it or are destroyed. Then anger at past arrogance is joined with contempt for the present weakness. The victim or his corpse is made to suffer all available indignities.”

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Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution. He can be reached at: or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch
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🚽 Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2018, 12:30:52 AM »

December 14, 2018
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
by Jeffrey St. Clair

Photo Source A.Davey | CC BY 2.0

Chances are that George W. Bush didn’t need to be tutored on how to pronounce Osama bin Laden’s name, after the president was informed about the events of 9/11 while reading the story about that goat to grade-schoolers in Sarasota, Florida. The Bin Ladens and the Bushes go way back.

Exactly how far back remains a matter of conjecture. But, like many ultra-rich Saudis, the Bin Laden brood has always had a thing for Texas. The patriarch of the Bin Laden clan, Mohammed Bin Laden, the son of a Yemeni bricklayer who moved to Saudi Arabia and struck it rich in the construction business, flew frequently to Dallas to seal deals with his associates in the oil industry, often in his private jet. There’s much speculation, though no hard proof, that Mohammed knew George Bush the First and his cohort of oil, banking and political cronies in the Lone Star state.

Mohammed died in a plane crash in Saudi Arabia. One of his elder sons, Salem, died near Houston when his ultra-light airplane got snagged in power lines. Of all the Bin Ladens, it was Salem who enjoyed the closest relationship with the Bush tribe. The connection was a Houston wheeler-dealer named James Bath, who haunted the darker back corridors of the Bush-Reagan years, amid the fragrance of scandals from Iran/contra to BCCI to the Silverado Savings and Loan debacle to Iranian weapon mogul Adnan Khashoggi.

Bath was an Air Force fighter pilot in Vietnam who ended up in the National Guard in Houston, where he first met George W. Bush, who had fled to the Guard in order to avoid the unpleasantness of combat in Southeast Asia. Bath and Bush became fast friends, with Bush later recalling that “Bath was a lot of fun.”

In the mid-1970s,  Bath became vice-president of Atlantic Aviation, one of the world’s top business aircraft sales companies. At the time, Atlantic was owned by Edward DuPont, scion of the DuPont chemical empire. DuPont’s brother, Richard, served on the board of Atlantic. According to Gerard Colby’s excellent book, DuPont Dynasty, Richard’s own company, Summit Aviation, was a longtime CIA contractor.

In 1976, Bath met Osama Bin Laden’s brother Salem. Salem was entranced by planes and he and bath hit it off almost immediately. Soon Salem had Bath named as a trustee for the Bin Laden family operations and considerable investments in the United States. It was through the Bin Ladens that Bath was introduced to one of their old family friends, Adnan Khashoggi, uncle of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to Robert Lacey’s book, The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Saud, Mohammad Bin Laden was a patient of Khashoggi’s father, Dr. Mohammad Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi physician. The young Khashoggi became a middleman for the Bin Laden conglomerate in the late 1950s, getting his start by negotiating a big truck sale that earned him a $25,000 fee.

It wasn’t too long after Bath met Bin Laden that he made a $50,000 investment in Arbusto Energy, a small oil company that was George W. Bush’s first business venture. (Arbusto means “bush” or “shrub” in Spanish.)  In his book on Poppy Bush, investigative journalist Pete Brewton asserts  that one of Bath’s former business partners, Charles White, claims that it was in this very same year of 1976 that George H.W. Bush, then director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Ford Administration, recruited Bath to work for the CIA. White  later claimed in court records that the $50,000 came from the Bin Laden family, an allegation that Bath disputed. Brewton also cites White as saying that one of Bath’s jobs was to report on the investments of Saudi millionaires. White, by the way, was another fighter pilot and went to Annapolis with Oliver North.

Through the Bin Ladens, Bath was also introduced to Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, the CEO of the National Commerical Bank, once Saudi Arabia’s biggest financial institution. The NCB was a prime lender Khashoggi. In 1985, at a time when the arms dealer was moving weapons to Afghanistan, Iran and the contras, NCB loaned Khashoggi $35 million. Bath would team with Mahfouz, and former Texas governor John Connally, to buy the Main Bank in Houston, an institution that helped finance the campaigns of many Texas politicians through the late 1970s and 1980s.

Khalid’s banking empire would eventually extend to a stake in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the institution that catered to crooks and spooks. Among other nefarious enterprises, BCCI served as Khashoggi’s chief bank for his arms deals with Iran, a depository for Oliver North’s covert action funds and the conduit for CIA money bound for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. In 1992, Mahfouz was indicted on fraud charges stemming from his involvement with BCCI. The Federal Reserve Board found that Khalid and his NCB had violated US banking laws when he teamed with BCCI to try and take over the Washington-based First Bancshares. His assets in the US were frozen and Fifth Avenue penthouse in Manhattan was seized.

Bath was also an investor in Skyways Leasing, a Grand Cayman-based firm, controlled by Mahfouz and, according to White, the CIA. Two of Skyways orginal owners, David Byrd and William Walker, were also officers in IC, Inc., which channeled some $3.6 million in funds to North’s operation.

But the Bin Laden group’s ties to the Bushes and the elite of the US military and intelligence establishment extend far beyond the curious career of James Bath. The Bin Laden construction empire enjoyed the benefits of numerous contracts with the Pentagon, perhaps none so lucrative as those for the construction of the construction of new airstrips and troop barracks in the aftermath of the 1996 truck bombing of the Khobar Towers at a US army base in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which killed nineteen people and injured more than 350–a bombing that many have blamed on Osama Bin Laden’s network.

The Bin Laden group also invested at least $2 million in the Carlyle Group’s Partners II Fund, which specialized in the acquisition of aerospace companies. The Carlyle Group is a DC private equity founded by former Pentagon staffers, which finances weapons companies and security firms. Until 2003, Carlyle was run by Frank Carlucci, who served as Secretary of Defense during the second Reagan administration. Its counselor for many years was James Baker. And, despite his pledge not to trade in his presidency for a spot on corporate boards, it also retained George H.W. Bush as a senior advisor for the group’s Asian Fund.

The Bin Laden’s money was zealously courted by the Carlyle Group. Baker, Bush and Carlucci all made pilgrimages to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, headquarters of Bin Laden Enterprises. Bush Sr. met with the Bin Laden firm twice at the behest of Carlyle, once in November 1998 and again in January of 2000. Baker had also been solicitous of the Bin Laden company. The former diplomat even flew from Washington to Saudi Arabia on the Bin Laden family jet.

Carlucci’s ties were even more involved, dating at least as far back to his days as chairman of Nortel Networks, the telecommunications giant, which engaged in several joint ventures with the Bin Laden group.

The attention appears to have more than paid off. In a September 27, 2001 story, the Wall Street Journal quoted an international financier with ties to Bin Laden Enterprises as saying that the family’s investments in the Carlyle Group were substantially larger than $2 million, claiming that the holdings in the aerospace fund were “just an initial deposit.”

Until 1997, the Carlyle Group controlled a security outfit called Vinnell, which, as Ken Silverstein details in his book Private Warriors, held a contract to train the Saudi Arabian National Guard. The National Guard’s primary duty is to protect Saudi military bases and the nation’s oil infrastructure. According to Silverstein, many of Vinnell’s operatives were veterans of the CIA and the US Army’s Special Forces. Vinnell’s roots can be traced to the Vietnam War, where the company performed some of that war’s nastier work for the Pentagon, earning it the nickname “our little mercenary force.”

During the Gulf War, Vinnell operatives led Saudi units. Through the 1990s and early 2000s, Saudi Arabia remained one of Vinnell’s top clients, with the company maintaining more than 1000 employees in the country, many of them working fulltime to protect Saudi assets against attacks from homegown militants, including Osama Bin Laden and his followers.

This article is adapted from Imperial Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.

Roaming Charges

  Today is the 10th anniversary of one of the greatest acts of political resistance of our time…

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  How dumb of Nike not to sign Muntadhar al-Zaidi to a longterm contract.

  You might think the “biggest evil” in the US is the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, the droning civilians across the globe, the death penalty, the separation of children from their migrant mothers and fathers, endangering life on the planet by the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels, homelessness, systematic racism in government institutions, police violence, slaughterhouses or the sexual abuse of children by people in power over them. But you’re not Cory Booker, who contends that the “greatest evil” is the “lack of engagement.” Rarely has a political campaign died so quickly in the womb from lack of inspiration or even a reason to exist…

  Like Cory Booker, it seems Amy Klobuchar, who once had a sense of humor, is launching her campaign with New Age nonsense. I’ve read this statement made on the day our government allowed a 7-year-old girl to die from dehydration four times and still have no idea what the hell it means. Maybe that’s the point?

  Maybe Marianne Williamson, who once counseled Dennis Kucinich,  has a shot after all. She’s a much more convincing ambassador for this kind of self-help politics.

  Noel Casler, one of Trump’s former staffers on The Apprentice, claims that the president is a “speed freak,” who liked to crush Adderall pills and sniff them like lines of cocaine. So Trump snorts Adderall but still can’t concentrate long enough to read his briefing book? That’s not going to do much for Adderall sales on college campuses…

  Trump is now asserting that the campaign finance charges that his former fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to were inserted by federal prosecutors solely to “embarrass” the president. But I’ve always thought the most persuasive argument against the idea that the Russians had used “kompromat” to blackmail Trump to do their bidding was that Trump is beyond “embarrassment.”

  Newt Gingrich as Chief of Staff (or is that Staph)? Apparently Trump didn’t learn anything from the Roseanne reboot…

  Barack Obama was just handed the Robert F. Kennedy “Ripple of Hope Award” for Human Rights. Obama and RFK have at least this much in common: Both of them had brothers, JFK and Shrub (adopted), who started wars they came to oppose, at least rhetorically…

  Even FoxNews’ Judge Napolitano has turned on Trump, saying the information in the Michael Cohen filings indicates the president has committed felonies. Judge Nap probably won’t be appearing on the “Hannity Show” any time soon.

  This passage in Cohen’s sentencing document seems pretty damning to me. But how stupid to have another person “from the campaign” present, in addition to your fixer lawyer. Especially when that person is likely to be you, Mr. President.

  If Trump were ever interviewed by Mueller’s team, he’d set his own “perjury trap” then step into it with both feet…

  New HBO Crossover Series: Westworld meets VEEP…Here the Pence Android has been put into sleep mode, as Trump goes one-on-two with Nancy and Chuck.

  Rudy Giuliani sure has the Grift of Gab down, as he parlays his role as Trump’s “TV Lawyer” into courting business from overseas clients.

  Let this be a warning to any other countries thinking about coalescing with the US in a war: the Trump Administration is moving to deport refugees from the Vietnam War who have been living in the US since the fall of Saigon.

  That “Bottomless Pinocchio” gimmick the Washington Post came up with for Trump’s pathological lying is nothing compared to the “Bottomless Morality” happening every day on the border, where ICE has now arrested more 170 people who have shown up volunteering to sponsor undocumented migrant children now being held in Trump’s concentration camps.

  A seven year-old girl from Guatemala named Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin was seized by ICE last week in the desert along the border in New Mexico. She had a temperature of 105.7. She hadn’t had food or water in days. After 8 hours in this condition, she began to have seizures. Finally, she was airlifted to a hospital, where she later died of dehydration. We have gone from separating children at the border to killing them through gross neglect.

Despicably, the Department of Homeland Security’s official statement on the death blames the Jakelin’s parents for fleeing the violence and poverty in Guatemala and suggests that they wanted the girl to die as a deterrent to other migrants.

  Barbara Ehrenreich: “A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl dies of dehydration and starvation while in Border Patrol custody. WH issues free knock-offs of Melania’s “ I don’t really care, do u” jacket.”

  The USGS has issued an advisory regarding a recent eruption from Mt. Bernard, which continues to spew toxic inanities about Poppy Bush…

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  Five Democrats in the House voted with the Republicans to block a bill ending the war in Yemen.

    Jim Costa
    Al Lawson
    Collin Peterson
    Dutch Rupperberger
    David Scott

Collin Peterson defended his vote by saying that “our party often gets off on tangents” and that he “didn’t know a damn thing about the war” in Yemen.

  The Democrats heard the fierce objections to giving Joe (King Coal) Manchin their top seat on the Senate Energy Committee and they did it anyway…

  I’m not a huge fan of AOC (why is a socialist in a neoliberal party?), but few political figures seem to irritate all the right people the way she does….

  Too bad the Democrats aren’t resolute enough to shut down the government in order to stop the kidnapping of children on the border.

  The great Bill Blum’s last speech…

  It appears things really could have been even crazier than they are now…

   Swamp Things: Javanka, Inc. pushed for tax breaks on so-called “Opportunity Zones” that they are now poised to cash in on…

  Was Rick (“That’s Latin for Asshole“) Santorum paid by CNN for announcing he wasn’t in the running for Trump’s chief of staff on CNN?

  Rick Santorum, here posing with the Russian gun girl Maria Butina, is still a CNN contributor and Marc Lamont Hill isn’t.

  Sarah Sanders says that Trump insults female reporters in order to treat them as equals. You’ve come a long way, baby…

  Ann Coulter said this week that’s she’s “not a big fan of the First Amendment,” which demonstrates that when the right speaks of their devotion to the founding fathers and the original intent of the Constitution and the lost America they want to make great again that’s not what they’re really talking about. The first Amendment was first for a reason…

  Lands that will lose Clean Water Act protection under Trump’s new plan…

  Why doesn’t this direct assault on the public health spark an uprising like the one we are seeing France….or an uprising of any kind?

  Robert Macguire: ‘The billionaire President of the United States who likely had an affair with a porn star while his third wife was nursing his fifth child still profits from a luxury hotel rented by a group of religious supporters who came to pray against the “deep state.”‘

  Sitting GOP senators who voted to toss President Clinton from office for obstruction of justice:

    GRAHAM* (Lindsey was House impeachment manager)

  To anyone who thinks Vladimir Putin wants to return Russia to the days of the Soviet Empire, I advise them to read his recent tribute to Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He’s dialing the time machine back to the Russia of the Romanovs…

  A former British paratrooper who was investigated for his role in the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings that left 14 people dead in Londonderry told the BBC he believes the massacre was “a job well done.” This butcher will probably be back in business if Brexit seals off the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

  Last Words

    Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe.”
    Jamal Khashoggi: “I can’t breathe.”
    Planet Earth: “I can’t breathe.”

  The rate of suicides are one of the best indicators for how your country is doing. In the US, the suicide rate has increased by 25% since 2000 and gun deaths, many of them suicides, now outnumber deaths in car accidents.

  There are more than 25,000 homeless people in the Bay Area, 6,000 more than estimates from the state of California…

  Meanwhile, 800 miles up the coast, Seattle’s raids of homeless camps have increased by

  Let’s check that scorecard on Trump vs. the Deep State….”Trump reverses course, tells Pentagon to boost budget request to $750 billion.”

  One of the weirdest things I’ve seen at a Trump rally are people wearing “Kill the Deep State” t-shirts cheering madly when Trump brags about passing the “biggest military budget in history.”

  Trump on serial child rapist Jeffrey Epstein: “He was a lot of fun to be with…And it’s even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” (2002 interview with New York magazine.)

  How the New York Times noted the death of Marcel Proust:

  For a brief, shining moment, The Big Heat was the Number One new book in Nature Writing. This may have been true for only the next four or five minutes, but what the hell…pop a cork, Josh.

  Temperatures in the Arctic are warming more than twice as fast as the overall planet’s average temperature, with temperatures this year in the highest latitudes (above 60 degrees north) coming in 1.7 degrees Celsius (3.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981-2010 average.

  Stephen Jay Gould wrote a great book about the Permian Extinction (Wonderful Life: the Burgess Shale and the Nature of History), which functioned as a kind of Alt Control Delete reset for life on the planet. Is the Earth about to experience another mass extinction event, this one propelled by humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels…

  Finally, some real collusion: Saudi Arabia, Russia and the Trump gang conspired to sabotage efforts to get the IPCC 1.5º climicide report officially adopted at COP24.

  Brendan Kelly, University of Alaska Fairbanks, on the scale of the climate crisis and the response from academics and government officials: “It’s sort of as if there’s a meteor coming at the planet and we thought, you know, I think I’ll start a couple PhD dissertations.”

  Sixty years after their release, two of the greatest albums of the 20 Century were finally certified as having attained Gold status: Giant Steps and My Favorite Things.

My Favorite Things

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week….

Bitter-Sweet by Bryan Ferry

Long Ago and Far Away by Charlie Haden / Brad Mehldau

The Western Tapes, 1983 by Lone Justice

In Their Marble Homes and Granite Banks

Peter Weiss: “Don’t be taken in when they pat you paternally on the shoulder and say that there’s no inequality worth speaking of and no more reason for fighting. Because if you believe them they will be completely in charge in their marble homes and granite banks from which they rob the people of the world under the pretense of bringing them culture. Watch out, for as soon as it pleases them they’ll send you out to protect their gold in wars whose weapons rapidly developed by servile scientists will become more and more deadly until they can with a flick of the finger tear a million of you into pieces.”
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🐀 Roaming Charges: The Good Rat or the Mouse That Bored?
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2019, 12:12:04 AM »

Young bald eagle, Columbia River marshlands. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Jimmy Breslin’s book The Good Rat tells the sordid story of drug dealer Burton Kaplan, an underling in the Luchese crime syndicate, who to save his own ass dropped a dime on two NYPD detectives, Luis Eppolito and Stephen Carapacca, as hired killers for the mob. Eppolito and Carapacca murdered 8 people before they were arrested, several on the orders of Kaplan. Breslin, who knew more about the mob than most mobsters, deplored snitches. But he hated dirty cops more, hence the description of Kaplan as “the good rat.”

+ Michael Cohen presents himself as “a good rat.” But he came off more as the mouse that bored, as any client of Lanny Davis was likely to do. Cohen aped the bluster of a mob fixer, but he’s no Sammy “the Bull” Gravano. When Trump asked him to intimidate people, Cohen called them on the phone and spewed invective. He didn’t stuff the decapitated heads of thoroughbreds beneath silk sheets. Cohen didn’t scare many people and he probably doesn’t scare Trump. He told us things we already knew, denied episodes of RussiaGate (such as the secret trip to Prague) most of us suspected were false and couldn’t provide documentation for his most salacious allegations, including Roger Stone’s call to Trump about Julian Assange and Don Jr.’s whispered colloquy with Pops about the Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

+ It does sound like Lanny Davis wrote Cohen’s prepared testimony: 10 minutes of high-octane hyperbole. When Cohen finished his opening oratorio, I said to the TV: either he’s buried the lede or this hearing’s going to be a bust. It was a bust.

+ Giovanni Gambino, cousin of notorious mob boss Carlo Gambino, publicly warned Cohen not to take the rat role too seriously: “Inmates love Trump, and hate rats. If he wants to get out alive, he better keep his mouth shut about Trump.”

+ Will McLatchey’s Peter Stone and Greg Gordon now reveal the sources who repeatedly sold them lies about Michael Cohen’s alleged trip to Prague, refuted under oath by the subject himself?

+ After Cohen’s testimony exposing the greed, corruption and venality of nearly everyone in the Trump orbit, MSDNC’s Chris Hayes made a big deal of Cohen having been named by Trump as the Deputy Finance Chair of the RNC, which is the political equivalent of being the 18th executive producer of a Michael Bay movie…

+ Usually, the father acts as the son’s procurer (see Freddy D’s Notes from the Underground), in Trumpworld, Don Jr. pays for his old man’s trysts.

+ You know what many sex workers say, the bigger the signature on the check, the smaller the…

+ If I were Elijah Cummings, I wouldn’t have had Debbie Wasserman-Schultz hitting second in the lineup, since I’m sure on hearing her voice many people immediately started channel-flipping looking for a rerun of “The Price is Right.”

+ So Trump defender Mark Meadows lied in his questioning of a convicted liar who was hired to lie for the President.

+ One Republican inquisitor snarled that Michael Cohen was the first person to testify before Congress after being convicted of lying to Congress. Apparently he missed the testimony of convicted liar Elliott Abrams from two weeks ago.

+ The members of the House Oversight Committee, Republican and Democrat, reminded the country why a prolonged shut down of the government might be a good idea.

+ Since members of congress have never been that bright, I take it that the ineptness of the questioning in the Michael Cohen hearing is evidence for the intellectual decline of congressional staff and perhaps the country itself.

+ In a lineup of political reprobates, Lil Marco Rubio may standout as the most repulsive of all. Here he is essentially calling for the democratically-elected leader of Venezuela to be Qaddafied: overthrown, tortured, anally-sodomized with a bayonet, murdered and put on public display in an industrial freezer, his shattered country left in ruins for years to come.

+ “Unseating:” the latest euphemism for violent overthrow of a democratically elected government…

+ Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said this week that the Trump administration has sought Russia’s advice on how to deal with North Korea. Well, at least Trump is taking advice from someone. The last thing anyone in the world–and we all have a stake in US nuclear weapons policy–wants is for Trump to go on his own gut instincts (or Bolton’s)…

+ TAPPER: Do you think North Korea remains a nuclear threat?


T: But POTUS said he doesn’t

P: That’s not what he said

T: He tweeted, ‘there’s no longer a nuclear threat from NK’

P: Not quite

T: It’s a direct quote!

+ Breaking news from MSDNC’s Kelly O’Donnell: “The US and Vietnam had a very adversarial relationship for several decades.”

+ The Bolton Touch…former South Korean unification minister Chong Se-hyun contends that the summit was derailed by the last minute attendance of Bolton, who added demands for North Korea to also provide an inventory of its chemical/biological weapons. The North Koreans responded by increasing their demands for sanctions relief.

+ After Trump fled Hanoi, North Korean official said they had asked for 5 of 11 sanctions to be lifted in exchange for partial denuclearization. Trump’s comments made it seem like North Koreans had asked for all sanctions to be canceled.

+ Two days later, even the State Department contradicted Trump and publicly backed Kim’s version of why the talks collapsed.

+ So, Trump finally gets “an enemy KIA” in Vietnam to brag about: one peace treaty with North Korea.

+ The fiendish Lindsey Graham back in McCain mode, jokes at CPAC about assassinating Kim Jong Un, demonstrating to a guffawing audience that US policy has never been about “denuclearization,” but the deKimification of North Korea, same as it’s been for 75 years….

+ The corpse of Otto Warmbier is as much as prop as Lynne Patton (the token black at the Cohen hearing) and I expect him to be exhumed again, whenever Trump decides to “get tough” on North Korea, announcing new evidence showing Kim’s handprints on his throat.

+ Texas Senator John Cornyn is so rattled by AOC that he invoked the Benito Mussolini to warn against the evils of socialism…

Did Il Duce make the dialectics run on time?

+ Elliot Abrams, sans regret: “The change from military dictatorship … in Latin America is an exceptional one. I think anyone in the Reagan Admin who participated in that project … should be proud of it. I know I am.”

+ This is precisely why Bernie Sanders feels so comfortable running in the Democratic Primaries. He talks in the torturous way many Democrats did about the Vietnam War, while LBJ was running it. His deliberate ambiguity will help enable an invasion. The time to stop a war is before it begins. US Out of Venezuela!

+ One keeps looking for the moral clarity of Eugene McCarthy, Wayne Morse or Mike Gravel from Bernie Sanders on issues of war and peace. Yet what we are offered is mush and drivel. One might be tempted to blame it on his age. But like Reagan, he knows exactly what he is saying and why.

+ Who is briefing Bernie on Venezuela? Could it be ….

+ Bernie’s dreadful foreign policy positions are no surprise to those of us who have watched his career for the last 25 years. Remember when he joined with the likes of Marco Rubio to shaft Palestinians…?

+ Bernie, you couldn’t even “make it clear” to the DNC not to sabotage the primaries…

+ On the Bernie age issue.

The life expectancy for white males in Vermont is 78.02, slightly higher than the average for the US.
 The life expectancy for white males (richer) in DC is 82.7

If elected, Bernie would be 79.4 on his inauguration.

+ On December 19th Trump ordered a “rapid withdrawal” from Syria. Sixty-three days later, we’re still there.

+ A foreign entity is spying on US citizens with impunity. But I wouldn’t hold my breath for hearings from Adam Schiff or Elijah Cummings…

+ Bibi Netanyahu was finally indicted this week. Not for committing war crimes against Palestinians, but for bribery and “breach of trust.”

+ According to the new UN assessment of Israel’s latest crackdown on Gaza: “Of the 189 Palestinians killed, 183 were shot with live ammunition, including 35 children, three health workers and two journalists.“

+ After this news broke, an MSNDC talking head said: “Netanyahu may actually be the lesser of two evils.”

+ I doubt that Trump will praise Kim’s crackdown on corrupt North Korean elites with quite the same enthusiasm he showed for Xi’s remorseless administration of the death penalty for drug offenses in China…

+ Median and average household wealth in US by race…

+ Ivanka Trump: “People want to work for what they get. So, I think that this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want.” Especially, most people who inherited millions from a father who inherited millions from his father.

+ Trump gushed to a meeting with US governors that his daughter, Ivanka, had created “millions of jobs,” a statement which was greeted with considerable skepticism. If she’d had the chance Ivanka would have created the Earth and all living things in only three days…and it would have been the Best Earth ever, with an infinite supply of unicorns, coal and silicone.

+ Suck on this, Ivanka: “The Labor Market is Doing Fine With Higher Minimum Wages.

+ Estimated number of new billionaires over next ten years.

China: 448
 India: 238
 US: 147
 Russia: 63
 Australia: 25
 Hong Kong: 22
 Canada: 13
 South Korea: 13
 Switzerland: 12
 Japan: 11

(AfrAsia Bank Global)

+ Rick “That’s Latin for Asshole” Santorum explains why Trump lies so much about Russia: “Trump doesn’t tell the truth about a lot of things fairly consistently. So the fact that he’s not telling the truth about Russia… Why is that any different?”

+ Putin declared this week that Russia would target US cities and “decision-making centers” (presumably Trump’s new golf simulator) with “new advanced weapons” if the US deploys new missiles in Europe. This is, of course, exactly the response the US nuclear weapons industry was hoping for, guaranteeing them almost anything they want and at any price they want to charge. Are we sure that Putin isn’t the real puppet of the US Military-Industrial Complex?

+ Gorka may not like the way this turns out.

+ Former Maine Governor Paul LePage explained the electoral college to listeners of WVOM radio: “Actually what would happen if they do what they say they’re gonna do is white people will not have anything to say. It’s only going to be the minorities that would elect. It would be California, Texas, Florida.”

+ Apparently, The Handmaid’s Tale is a PG-13 version of what’s really going on out there. Consider the Speaker of the House in Florida, José Oliva, who repeated refers to pregnant women as “host bodies.

+ Just another “host body”: An 11-year-old Argentinian rape victim was forced to give birth after she was denied an abortion.

+ Then there’s Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph “Coonman” Northam’s wife Pam, who handed out pieces of cotton to African-American kids visiting the Statehouse in Richmond and asked them to imagine what it was like to be a slave. She should’ve handed the kids a lash and tied herself to the post…

+ Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) net worth:

2004: $61,768,616
 2014: $94,202,571
 Increase in 10 years: $32,433,955 (+52.58%)

No wonder she doesn’t want to leave office…

+ DiFi in action, versus 5th graders…

+ Those second-graders who confronted DiFi over climate change are lucky they didn’t ask Kamala Harris a tough question: “To date, I have prosecuted 20 parents of young children for truancy. The penalty for truancy charged as a misdemeanor is a fine of up to $2,500 or up to a year of jail. Our groundbreaking strategy has worked.”

+ Kamala Harris told AIPAC that she backs Israel because some American Jews marched for Civil Rights on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in 1963. Can you repeat that, Madame Prosecutor? I couldn’t quite process what you said…

+ Since Joe Biden’s hair plugs didn’t seem to do the trick, the former Veep is now asking social media executives to recommend things he could do to appeal to younger voters. Move into an assisted living facility?

+ This, on the other hand, probably isn’t the way to do it: In Omaha this week, Biden called Mike Pence “a decent guy, our vice president.” No word on what Biden thinks of Mother Pence.

+ Amy Klobuchar (she who eats her salad with a comb, kept pristine by her staff) says she’s driving down the middle of the road toward the nomination. Over to you, Loudon Wainwright…

+ Pfizer exec Sally Susan is set to host a fundraiser for presidential aspirant Kirsten Gillibrand, with tix prices running from $1,000 to $2700. Looks like Pfizer just hired a contract killer for Single Payer.

+ You really thought they’d seen the light?

+ Yves Smith: “More than 42 percent of the 9.5 million people diagnosed with cancer from 2000 to 2012 drained their life’s assets within two years. Cancer patients are 2.65 times more likely to file for bankruptcy, and that puts them at a higher risk for early death”

+ According to Gallup, liberals now outnumber conservatives in only 6 states, down from 9. Somewhere, Phil Ochs must be smiling…

+ Brace yourself, here’s the Che of El Paso, expiating on means testing for Social Security…

+ ICE is continuing to detain infants and toddlers, some as young as five months old.

+ St. Mark’s Comics, another sanctuary of the East Village expires….

+ There are only 50 ways to leave your lover, but 116 ways to be neurotic about it…

+ Trump on Robert Kraft: “Sad.”
 Trump on Coast Guard terrorist: “Very sad.”

+ Sportswriter Jeff Pearlman: “The NFL will absolve Robert Kraft of any/all sins. Because you can solicit prostitutes, you can punch women, you can kill dogs, you can do drugs atop drugs. You just can’t kneel to protest police brutality against African-Americans.”

+ Re: Kraft. It looks like Colin Kaepernick wasn’t the only one down on his knees…

+ Most prostitution cases are bullshit. But if the Chinese women were, in fact, being held against their will in a kind of sexual servitude, then perhaps this investigation was worthwhile, aside from the karmic value of seeing one of Trump’s best friends “go down” on Trump’s home turf in Palm Beach County. The captive Chinese women in the Kraft sex sting were forced to live at the “spa” and made to “service” 6 to 8 men a day.

+ Roger Stone, who complained to a federal judge  that he can’t afford his rent, previously told the pretrial services office that he earns $47,000 per MONTH…

+ A Texas teen escaped prison time after she lied to police about being raped by the three black men.  Did I miss Big Daddy’s outrage Tweet about this case? Perhaps the parallels were too close to his own fingering of the Central Park Five, a wrongful accusation that he has never apologized for…

+ CPAC standup, featuring Michelle Malkin: “I identify as American. My pronouns are U-S-A.”

+ Oliver North at CPAC: “I ask you to pray for the NRA. The NRA is freedom’s safest place.”

+ More rip-roaring GOP humor at CPAC…Mark Meadows: “You know, with this Green New Deal, they’re trying to get rid of all the cows. But I’ve got good news — Chick-fil-A stock will go way up because we gonna be eating more chicken!”

+ Mike Lindell (the My Pillow guy) at CPAC this morning: “I see the greatest president in history. Of course Trump is, he was chosen by God.”

+ On the first day God made Trump president. On the second day, he made Chuck Schumer “Guardian of Israel.” Then he sat back, cracked open a home-brew, looked down upon his works and laughed maniacally…

+ So Obama’s library will be perfectly in tune with his presidency: dig beneath the surface and there’s nothing there…

+ Sir Charles, finally a role model for us all….

+ Maybe the duct-taped women Trump keeps talking about are the ones Alex Acosta gagged from testifying about how they were sexually abused before Acosta brokered the Jeffrey Epstein plea deal…

+ Alan Dershowitz announcing that he’s still advising Jeffrey Epstein may be the most Dershowitz thing Dershowitz has ever done..

+ Trump: Yes, there have been Fourth of July gatherings before, but this time there will be fireworks!

+ More than 50 years after his death, the town of High Point, North Carolina is finally moving to protect the childhood home its is most famous resident, John Coltrane.

+ David Price dug up a copy of John Marks’ classic essay “How to Spot a Spook,” on public display in the the CIA reading room!

+ A new simulation finds that global warming could cause stratocumulus clouds to disappear in as little as a century, which would add 8°C (14°F) of extra warming. (But look on the bright side of this otherwise distressing news: In a world without clouds, it will be easier to track Bernie’s private jet when it flies over your neighborhood…)

+ We are now witnessing the first Category 5 Typhoon ever to develop in February…

+ The waters of the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee are draining away, largely as a result of climate change. Soon, we’ll all be able to walk across the lakebed Jesus walked on…(as long as you’re not a Palestinian, that is.)

+ Meet William Happer, the climate change denier Trump just picked to head his new panel on climate change. “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”

+ If temperatures increase by 2 degrees Celsius, climate change could cost U.S. infrastructure $500 billion by 2100. Don’t worry, Mexico will pay for it…

+ Bering Sea ice remains critically low, only 53% of the average from 1983-2010…

+ Is this the hottest summer ever in Australia?

+ Kill an orphaned kitten while jogging get celebrated as a hero, save a bear cub get thrown in jail….

+ Killing wolves won’t save caribou, according to a new report…but that’s not why they really want to kill wolves.

+ This map depicts 20 years of migratory data from a single golden eagle tagged with a GPS device…

+ Greenwashing, it’s for everyone, even dredge miners, who have taken to describing themselves as “aquatic health technicians” to secure money from the State of Oregon.

+ It’s now open season for wolves on the Colville Rez, whose tribal council is dominated by anti-wildlife ranchers….

+ We lived adjacent to the Yellowwood Forest in southern Indiana for 8 years. Yellowwoods are a rare tree in Indiana, a relic of the glacial age. Most forest land in Indiana is private. There’s no economic or social reason to log public forests. In Indiana, public forests, even the crown jewels like Yellowwood, are logged for political reasons, to stick it to environmentalists. We now know that the State of Indiana recently sold trees logged in Yellowwood for $68 per tree. Cost: mangled wildlife habitat, increased soil erosion, decreased biodiversity, appalled tourists…$68 PER TREE!

+ Snake River salmon runs before and after the completion of Lower Granite Dam…

+ Mining companies dump 50 million gallons of toxic wastewater into American streams every single day.

+ An Australian rodent called the Bramble Cay Melomys became the first mammal known to go extinct due to climate change. And we’re just getting warmed up!

+ What’s rock music about, anyway? At a minimum it should either make you want to dance, laugh, fuck or tear shit up. On a good day the much-maligned Monkees could at least manage 3 out of 4. That’s more than Procol Harum, Styx or the Moody Blues.

RIP André Previn

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Limits of the Known by David Roberts (WW Norton)

Life Lived in Relief: Humanitarian Predicaments and Palestinian Refugee Politics by Ilana Feldman (Un. of California)

Mythologies of State and Monopoly Power by Michael E. Tigar (Monthly Review Press)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Love Hurts by Julian Lage (Mack Ave.)

Sunshine Rock by Bob Mould (Merge)

Live at Baker’s by Dennis Coffey (Omnivore)

Yankee-Doodle Socialism

James Baldwin: “When I use the word [socialism] I’m not thinking about Lenin, for example. Bobby Seale talks about a Yankee Doodle-type socialism. I know what he means when he says that. It is a socialism created from the indigenous need of the people in the place.”

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Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution. He can be reached at: or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch

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🚽 Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2019, 01:53:20 AM »

Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right

Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right


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Haida eagle totem pole, British Columbia. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Few things have made me more despairing about the future of the country than the fact that Liz Cheney is now ascendent as a political powerbroker in DC. The one thing Trump could have done to assure himself some lasting historical merit was to eradicate the Cheneys from public life. Wimp.

+ How many babies did Daddy kill, Liz?

+ Meanwhile, the Dark Lord himself unloaded on Pencebot, comparing the Trump administration’s foreign policy to the spineless Obama. (It actually more closely resembles HRC’s.)

+ Pompeo Maximus squeaks…accusing Cuba and Russia of “propping up” the Maduro government in Venezuela.

+ Retired General Anthony Tata on FoxNews: “A bullet to the forehead may be Maduro’s way out of Venezuela. We have that capability. and if we’ve removed our diplomats, that’s a real key indicator warning that we’re getting ready to tighten the screws.”

+ Pompeo also vowed this week to revoke the visas of any staff members of the International Criminal Court who are found to be investigating human rights abuses by US forces in Afghanistan.

+ With all the mewling on MSDNC about how Paul Manafort got off with a light sentence (7.5 years), you can see why so many liberals eagerly supported minimum mandatory sentences, the drug war & the Clinton Crime Bill & why tough on crime candidates like Biden & Harris appeal have such a gut-level appeal to them.

+ The rat who didn’t snitch.

MSDNC, theory 1: Manafort didn’t snitch because he feared the Russian mob.

MSDNC, theory 2: Manafort didn’t snitch because he wants a pardon.

Doesn’t a pardon essentially turn Manafort over to the Russian mob, assuming they want him?

+ The indictment of mercenary kingpin Erik Prince alone would make the two-year long monotony of the Mueller probe, in the immortal words of Madeline Albright, “worth it.”

+ Reality Winner is in prison and Erik Prince isn’t. Brand new from Son Volt…

+ 46% of all new income in the US is captured by the top 1% and a mere 3 people own as much wealth as the bottom 50%.

+ Tucker: “If there were a Democrat to come out in the 2008 election and say, “You know what the problem is? It’s Islamic extremism. It’s not terror, it’s not some, you know, indefinable threat out there. It’s these lunatic Muslims who are behaving like animals, and I’m going to kill as many of them as I can if you elect me.” If a Democrat were to say that, he would be elected king, OK?”

+ Tucker was on safe ground with the Fox audience, until he started indulging in rape fantasies about the white debutantes of South Carolina…

+ You gotta wonder if Tucker’s has his own version of Neverland Ranch somewhere in Virginia horse country…

+ Stephen Colbert on Tucker Carlson: “R. Kelly just got a character witness.”

+ If you’ve been following the travails of Tucker Carlson lately, you might be interested in what happened to his sidekick, Bubba the Love Sponge

+ Most of the people implicated in the college entrance bribery scam are corporate executives, but the media has spent 98% of its time focusing on two B-list Hollywood actresses.

+ Why you should be contributing to Lori & Felicity’s Defense Fund: Their children cheated their ways into “elite” universities, so that your child wouldn’t be stuck with soul-crushing debt and forced to pay it off by taking a job at a hedge fund or oil industry lobby shop.

+ I was on a plane with Lori Loughlin in the mid-80s, during her first season on Full House. She was in the middle seat and sweetly said she’d love to see the Rockies. I gallantly offered her my window seat. I should have asked for money.

+ In the wake of the college admissions bribery scandal, it’s perhaps worth recalling the words of Antonin Scalia during oral arguments in an affirmative action case, where the justice advised that “black students should go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.”

+ Alan Dershowitz, who is already hawking a book on the as-yet-non-existent Mueller Report,  has been a guest on FoxNews 27 times since the Miami Herald broke the big story on how Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and other federal prosecutors let Jeffrey Epstein off the for his long-list of sex crimes and gagged his young victims. Dershowitz, a high flier on Epstein’s jet, dubbed Air Lolita, hasn’t been asked one question about his relationship with Epstein.

+ Is this really the best time for Trump to be nominating ex-Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan for Secretary of Defense?

+ Keeping his head firmly planted in the sand, Shanahan claims he hasn’t been briefed on the Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes.

+ The odious Chris Cuomo is busy trying to blame the Boeing crash on “foreign pilots.” (The pilot in question had 8,000 hours of experience.)

+ But according to a US government database, at least two pilots who flew Boeing 737 Max 8 planes on U.S. routes had filed reports about the plane’s nose suddenly dipping after engaging autopilot.

+ In a desperate bid to protect Boeing, the NTSB is actively working to coerce Ethiopian Air to turn the black box data recorders over to them, instead of crash experts in the UK.

+ With the wreckage of Ethiopian Air FL 302 still smoldering, this is the time to crack open Ralph Nader and Wesley Smith’s prescient book, Collision Course: the Truth About Airline Safety. It was published 24 years ago, but the book still reads like a thriller and the situation has only gotten scarier since then.

+ Nader’s great-niece, Samya Stumo, died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. Ralph has warned for years against the increasing reliance on artificial intelligence in aviation. “In this case, this is a plane whose misguided software overpowered its own pilots,” Nader said.

+ The critical software update to the Boeing 737 Max series was delayed for over a month as a result of Trump’s impetuous decision to shutdown the federal government.

+ According to Public Citizen:

-Boeing donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration

-The Boeing CEO visited Mar-a-Lago

-Trump’s acting secretary of defense worked at Boeing for 30 years

-Nikki Haley is about to join Boeing’s board

-Trump has used Boeing products & sites as a backdrop for major announcements

+ When the Trump Shuttle made a crash landing.

+ If an airplane crashed and it didn’t kill any Americans, did it really exist?

+ “Who will rid me of these meddlesome brats?” According to the new book Kushner, Inc, by Vicky Ward, Trump asked John Kelly to fire Jared and Ivanka.

+ Trump to Breitbart on how thing could get “tough”: “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point and then it would be very bad, very bad.” Trump’s Altamont?

+ Apparently, only Israel is permitted to use quotes from Anne Frank’s diary for political causes. I wonder how Anne would have viewed the Nation State Law?

+ The Democrats will hold their 2020 national convention in Milwaukee. I guess this is one way to make sure your presidential nominee visits Wisconsin at least once…

+ Let’s recall that in 2006, Joe Biden voted to build a 700-mile long border wall.

+ Democrats and the Iraq War

Bill Clinton: for it

Al Gore: for it before he was against it

John Kerry: for it before he was against it before he was for it again

Barack Obama: against it before he was for it

HRC: for it

Joe Biden: for it

(I guess Max Boot and David Frum could write speeches for all of them).

+ Max Boot wants to retire the term “neocon“. (Did he check with the ghost of Norman Podhoretz?) So we can go back to calling them “Chickenhawks?”

+ The trajectory of two Iraq War propagandists: Judith Miller is relegated to occasional appearances on the off hours at FoxNews. David Frum is a daily fixture on MSDNC and writes insufferable cover stories for the Atlantic.

+ For those who still had any doubts about whether Israel was a “democracy,” Netanyahu made it crystal clear: “Israel is the nation state of Jews alone.”

+ According to Gideon Levy, one of the world’s greatest journalists, the IDF forced a Palestinian man to demolish his and his daughter’s houses with his own hands.

+ Tell it to Bill Maher, Bibi, who pronounced last week: “Palestinians are victims, but not of Israel — they are victims of other Palestinians, unfortunately.”

+ If HBO ever grows a conscience gives Maher the boot, he could always land a gig co-hosting a show on Fox with Judge Jeanine…

+ All of this talk about having an “honest discussion” about Israel and Palestine. Yet we never hear from Palestinians in this manufactured “discourse.” Palestinians are only given a voice in the media to condemn other Palestinians.

+ Librarians and archivists around the world have spent 1000s of hours laboriously reclassifying almost everything you’ve ever written as “fiction.” Did you ever thank them, Judy?

+ The Washington Post ran a hit piece this week headlined “In Minnesota, Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Remarks Cause Pain and Confusion.” Of course, it’s the distorted coverage of Omar’s remarks that has created all of the confusion, much of it by writers at the Post.

+ lhan Omar: “For many children, school lunch is the only meal they eat all day. Trump’s budget would cut $1.7 billion from child nutrition and eliminate food assistance for millions—literally taking food out of kids’ mouths. This is not humane. This budget isn’t humane. He is not humane.”

+ Well, that didn’t take long….Minnesota Democrats are already scurrying to find someone to primary Ilhan Omar.

+ Meanwhile, Trump is quietly escalating the US war against Somalia, with barely a peep from the press or American politicians. Over to you, Ilhan…

+ Bennett Bressman, a field operative for Nebraska’s Republican Governor Pete Rickets, has been openly posting white nationalist rants on his social media accounts for several years, including such rancid quips as he has “more compassion for small dogs than illegals” and that his “whole political ideology revolves around harming journalists.” Bressman said the only reason he’d hesitate to run over a Black Lives Matter protesters was that “I have a nice car and it’s white.”

+ Will Rickets and Bressman get the Omar treatment? (Evil network executive cackle.)

+ According to the Pew Research Center, only 24 percent of Americans supported cutting legal immigration last year, a sharp decline from 40 percent in 2006.

+ That chill you felt enter the room may have been an undercover ICE agent sent out to monitor anti-Trump protesters.

+ Over the next 10 years, Trump’s budget would cut:

+ $1.5 trillion from Medicaid
 + $845 billion from Medicare
 + $25B from Social Security
 + $207B from college education
 + $220B from food stamps

While base defense spending would swell by $861 billion.

+ Trump plans to divert $385 million in funds from HIV and cancer research to fund his concentration camps for kids…

+ The Democrats might be better off if they replaced Tom Perez with Stormy Daniels as head of the DNC. She appears to understand much about the nature of the current American political environment that he doesn’t. They certainly couldn’t do any worse.

+ Nancy Pelosi proved once again this week why she is one of the most accomplished bait-and-switch politicians of her time, when she slammed the door on the impeachment of Trump. At least she’s consistent. In 2006, Pelosi sternly quashed any seditious talk in her caucus about impeaching George W. Bush.

+ Beto O’Rouke, who has scrupulously avoided identifying any specific issues he will campaign on, told Vanity Fair that he felt “called to run” in the 2020 presidential elections. These days it’s the people who are hearing voices who must be insane.

+ People are complaining that Beto hasn’t taken any policy positions. But when he does, you’ll wish he hadn’t.

+ Beto’s brief career as a young hacker

+ Sen. Amy Klobuchar is defending the abusive treat of her staff by telling CNN that they needed to be toughened up to deal with Putin. Does Amy’s Bootcamp also include classes on the mistakes made by the Wehrmacht during the siege of Stalingrad?

+ Richard Wolff: “For profit, employers pay low wages, charge high prices. With low wages we can’t afford much, so banks profit by loans (for mortgages, car loans, credit cards, college debt) to let us “afford” more. Then, we get to pay interest. Isn’t capitalism wonderful?”

+ Kamala Harris is the house cop at the casino of American capitalism

+ Ralph Nader: “Why after 10 years of inaction regarding a frozen federal minimum wage of $7.25, is the Democratic Party bill in the House so leisurely in raising it over the next five years to $15? Even if passed now it wouldn’t reach Obama’s broken promise of $9.50 by 2011 for another year.”

+ The State of Texas spent $7 million fighting a proposal to install air conditioning in one of its stifling prisons. The cooling system only cost $4 million.

+ Terrebonne, Louisiana Sheriff: “People should indicate – when they get their driver’s license – whether they want the death penalty sought if they end up murdered.”  The Sheriff also said that decision should be taken out of the hands of jurors.

+ Good to see California Gov. Gavin Newsom take executive action to abolish the death penalty in California. But California hasn’t executed anyone in 13 years. So what about ending the living death penalty, aka Life Without Parole?

+ Miss having Jeff Flake to kick around? That’s OK. You can kick Ben Sasse twice.

+ After decades of grifting, self-promotion, discrimination and hate-shaming (chronicled over the years in CounterPunch by Ken Silverstein, Alex Cockburn and yours truly), the Southern Poverty Law Center finally fired its co-founder Morris Dees

+ Benjamin Dixon: “Meghan McCain is the complete embodiment of what extreme wealth can do for mediocre children.”

+ I eagerly await an exegesis from the Deep State theorists on the meaning of a letter signed by more than 50 retired generals and diplomats urging the US to reenter the Iran nuclear pact.

+ There’s no need to use Jared and Ivanka as surrogates for your newest scheme to gut federal environmental regulations. Lobbyists have found they can now target Trump directly through TV and Twitter.

+ Of Time, Words and the River of Bullshit Flowing

+ Amount of time Trump saved by calling Tim Cook of Apple “Tim/Apple”: 0.27 seconds.

+ Copies of the Pence Bible, signed by Trump, are going fast on e-Bay…

+ David Kusnet, still in recovery from being a speechwriter for Bill Clinton (92-94), makes a compelling case for why the much-abused Warren Harding shouldn’t be considered one of the worst American presidents:

* Didn’t deny rumors of African American ancestry;
 * Reversed some of Wilson’s racism;
 * Pardoned Eugene Debs & hired a young Norman Thomas at his paper;
 * Had 1st pres speechwriter: Judson Welliver.

+ James Felton: “She whipped against her own position from yesterday and still lost. Theresa May now so weak she can’t even defeat Theresa May.”

+ As Ken Surin reports for CounterPunch this week, Margaret Thatcher, like the “Royal” Family, was a devoted believer in quack remedies. Of course, the biggest quack remedy of them all was Thatcher’s economy plan.

+ What a real Resistance looked like

+ Important questions the one-percent ask: Is spending $50,000 on a set of golf clubs too much?

+ Jay Leno is the perfect judge for whether late night comedy has lost its edge, never having been the least bit funny himself.

+ I was saddened to learn of the death of former Indiana Senator Birch Bayh, at the age of 91. I worked on a couple of Birch’s cliffhanger campaigns. (See my essay on Waylon Jennings.) The best thing about Birch was his wife Marvella. She had all the spine and spirit in the family, not an ounce of which dribbled its way into her son Evan.

+ Few people remember that Indiana once had two very liberal senators serving at the same time: Birch and Vance Hartke. But, Honey, things have changed, as Dylan sez.

+ Both Birch Bayh and Vance Hartke were strong anti-war voices in the senate. The farm states were often anti-war. They needed the young labor in the fields. As industrial agriculture took over, the anti-war sentiment across the midwest slowly faded.

+ Why health insurance companies secretly loved ObamaCare and will fight like hell against single-payer: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a “nonprofit” health insurance company, posted $580 million in net revenue (profits) on $29.3 billion in total revenue in 2018. It’s CEO Dan Loepp saw his compensation grow 43% in 2018 to $19.2 million.

+ The US may not have any of the best cities to live in, but I know we have a few of the worst, starting with Page, Arizona…

+ An evocative study from the British Academy suggests that neolithic people (4,500 BCE) came from across Britain to Stonehenge-like sites in Devonshire and Wiltshire for ceremonial feasts. A similar region-wide gathering took place in the Pacific Northwest, where archaeological evidence indicates native people came all the way from Yellowstone and northern Arizona for salmon feasts at Celilo Falls in Oregon, a village that swelled to a seasonal population of 30,000 during the spring and fall runs.

+ In Alaska, indigenous people make up less than 20% of the population, but Alaskan Natives account for 60% of the kids in foster care.

+ Native Americans are already the most vulnerable population in the US to wildfires and the Trump administration’s policies are putting their communities at even greater risk.

+ How Inuits teach their kids to control their anger.

+ Proof labor strikes work: Nicolas Petit, a favorite to win the Iditarod, dropped out of the race, less than 200 miles from the finish line, when his team of dogs refused to run after he yelled harshly at one of them.

+ By 12,000 BCE, dogs were being depicted on stone columns and buried in the arms of humans

+ They’re aerial gunning wolves again in Alaska, using the specious rationale of “boosting” moose populations…

+ Read Rick McIntyre’s gripping account of the life and death of Yellowstone Wolf 926F and try not to cry (or resist the urge to blow something up). I saw her at least once, leading her pack, along Slough Creek. Her life story reads like Anna Karina.

+ Bulldozers are carving up forests in the name of fire prevention. They aren’t preventing any fires, but they sure are destroying a lot forest.

+ A new report reveals that white people in the US generate much more pollution than blacks and Hispanics and yet suffer much less from the health consequences of such pollutants.

+ According to the European Heart Journal, air pollution prematurely kills 800,000 people a year, twice the previous estimates.

+ The pipes don’t work cause the vandals turned the handles

+ People complaint that I’m a pessimist. But it’s hard to stay as pessimistic as the science: “Out of 5.2 million possible climate futures, carbon emissions must reach zero by 2030 in every country in the world if we are to stay at less than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 of warming.”

+ According to the latest UN Report, it’s all over for the Arctic: Even if the Paris Agreement is met, global temperatures will rise 3-5C above preindustrial levels. Even if all carbon emissions stop, Arctic temperatures rise will 5C above 2005 levels.

+ Oklahoma is constantly rocking because of fracking and wastewater injection from oil drilling.. Antarctica is now rattling with earthquakes from climate change, driven by fracking and oil drilling…

+ In recent study published in Nature, researchers estimate that half of all coral in the Great Barrier Reef has died since 2016! “On average, across the Great Barrier Reef, one in three corals died in nine months,” said Terry Hughes, an author of the paper and the director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. “You could say the ecosystem has collapsed. You could say it has degraded. I wouldn’t say that’s wrong. A more neutral way of putting it is that it has transformed into a completely new system that looks differently, and behaves differently, and functions differently, than how it was three years ago.”

+ Teenage climate change striker: “I don’t really think it matters if I have a Roth IRA because of climate change.”

+ The so-called Bomb Cyclone generated a barometric pressure reading of 970 millibars, the lowest ever recorded in Colorado.

+ There’s $$$ in “adaptation” to the wreckage of climate change–not so much in reducing consumption of fossil fuels and products made by them…

+ Of course, Bill de Blasio’s plan to confront climate change is to add more ground to Manhattan Island, in a last ditch move to stem rising sea levels. He’d probably have more success making sacrifices to Poseidon.

+ True to form, AFL-CIO’s Energy Committee slams the Green New Deal, then leaks the letter to Wyoming’s oil patch Sen. John Barrasso. This was enough to scare the bejeezus out of Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, who warned that such a plan would represent a Final Solution for “ethnics” (white Westerners) like him, a Green Genocide.

+ Will the Green Genocide lead to the extinction of the MAGAfauna?

+ How CNN describes Gov. John Frackenlooper: “worked with oil executives to fight climate change.”

+ Yes, this is the same John Frackenlooper who threatened to sue any Colorado communities that voted to ban fracking.

+ Sen. Fossil (Manchin) and Sen. Fuel (Murkowski) admonished lawmakers to take “responsible action” on climate change, which is like Coors telling football fans to “drink responsibly” …

+ Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, the state that gave us Three Mile Island, are considering a bill that would inject $500 million into the region’s failing nuclear reactors, which is throwing good public funds down a radioactive drain.

+ As Trump gears up to clearcut America’s public forests at a pace not seen since the Reagan Administration, the rate of forest coverage in China has increased by nearly 10 percent in the past four decades, with the world’s largest planted forests and an 80 percent expansion of forest areas across the country.

+ If we get really good photographs of all the world’s butterflies, we can project life-life holograms of them when they’re gone. But we’ll have to charge you to see them. “Butterflies” won’t be “free” anymore..

+ Emissions from air travel are going through the roof, while emissions from other forms of travel are gradually declining.

+ SWSX has long been a corporate orgy. Now it’s opened its doors to the CIA

+ The astounding Roy Haynes just turned 90 and he’s still too cool for school.

+ I get the sense that anything interesting that might take place in San Francisco has already taken place and no one could afford to make anything interesting happen there again…

+ Wayne Shorter: “When Miles Davis and I talked, he would ask me a question. ‘Hey Wayne — do you ever get tired of playing music that sounds like music?’ Before I answered him, he said, ‘I know what you mean.’ Like, he’s answering his own question.”

+ I’ve been listening to Jobim’s Wave all morning and have still haven’t come any closer to understanding why Creed Taylor put that photo of a giraffe on the album cover. That’s OK. I’ve played it five times now and heard something new each time, especially in the percussion of Claudio Slon. And that’s after listening it to for 40 years…

+ Just give Her money that’s what She wants…

Interviewer: Are you millionaires now?
 Lennon: No. Another rumor.
 Interviewer: Where’s all the money go, then?
 Lennon: Most goes to Her Majesty.
 Harrison: She’s the millionaire.

Your Story’s Touching, But It Sounds Like a Lie

Sound Grammar

The 10 best movie soundtracks…

1) The Harder They Come (Jimmy Cliff, et al)

2) Superfly (Curtis Mayfield)

3) Purple Rain (Prince)

4) Escalator to the Gallows (Miles Davis)

5) Hard Days Night (The Beatles)

6) Anatomy of a Murder (Duke Ellington)

7) Naked Lunch (Howard Shore and Ornette Coleman)

8) Blow Up (Herbie Hancock)

9) Alfie (Sonny Rollins)

10) Straight Outta Compton (NWA, et al.)

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Biotech Juggernaut: Hope, Hype & Hidden Agendas of Entrepreneurial BioScience by Tina Stevens and Stuart Newman (Routledge)

Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration by Rachel Barkow (Belknap Press)

The Lost Worlds by Robert Macfarlane (Anansi)

The Hawk’s High Gyres

Robert Macfarlane: “Wild animals, like wild places, are invaluable to us precisely because they are not us. They are uncompromisingly different. The paths they follow, the impulses that guide them, are of other orders. The seal’s holding gaze, before it flukes to push another tunnel through the sea, the hare’s run, the hawk’s high gyres: such things are wild. Seeing them, you are made briefly aware of a world at work around and beside our own, a world operating in patterns and purposes that you do not share. These are creatures, you realise that live by voices inaudible to you.”

More articles by:

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution. He can be reached at: or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch

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🚽 Roaming Charges: Tongue-Tied and Twisted
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2019, 01:24:07 AM »

Roaming Charges: Tongue-Tied and Twisted

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Roaming Charges: Tongue-Tied and Twisted


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Alcatraz Prison. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Let’s recall exactly the kind of crimes that Chelsea Manning (who remains in prison for refusing to testify against Assange and Wikileaks in a grand jury proceeding in the Eastern District of Virginia) and Julian Assange revealed to the world…

The main difference between the anonymous leaks from US intelligence officials about RussiaGate peddled nightly on MSDNC, CNN, the NYT and the Washington Post and Julian Assange’s exposure of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan is that what Wikileaks published turned out to be true. In this system, you’re only held accountable for exposing the truth about imperial power.

If you dislike Assange’s politics, you’re under even greater moral obligation to remonstrate against his politically-motivated arrest.

On the press freedom front, Trump is becoming more Obama-like every day, targeting whistleblowers & journalists for exposing war crimes in a war both politicians claimed–at various points–to oppose.

There’s some savage irony in the fact that Julian Assange is now being renditioned to the same people whose “extraordinary” renditions he helped expose.

Here’s a link to the indictment against Assange, which should stand as a warning to every working journalist.

Will they be arresting the editors & publishers of the Guardian, New York Times and Washington Post, next? If not, will those alleged defenders of press freedom be speaking out in defense of Julian Assange?

Assange was arrested for violating the terms of his bail on sexual assault allegations that had been withdrawn by Swedish prosecutors almost 4 years ago. (Of course, that’s not really why he was arrested, as Scotland Yard admitted several hours later.)

Edward Snowden: “The weakness of the US charge against Assange is shocking. The allegation he tried (and failed?) to help crack a password during their world-famous reporting has been public for nearly a decade.”

Trump said repeatedly he “loved” Wikileaks. Now is the time to prove it. (Take note Kim Jong-Un about the transitory nature of Trump’s affections.)

Trump: “I know nothing about Wikileaks. Not my thing.”

In a two month period during the 2016 campaign, Trump mentioned Wikileaks or Julian Assange at least 160 times.

Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno (a traitor to his name) seems to have an even more constipated understanding of political asylum than Donald Trump.

The former Ecuadoran president assesses the current occupant of the office…

On the same day that Assange is arrested, one of the people whose war crimes he helped expose, John Yoo (now a “law” professor at Berkeley), is to found writing an oped for the Los Angeles Times on the “demonization” of the electoral college of all things. Torturers get tenure, journalists go to prison.

Still awaiting a statement from Bernard Sanders on how the arrest of Julian Assange represents a direct assault on the First Amendment…(I was holding my breath, but have now almost exhausted the supplemental oxygen I’d stockpiled for my assault on K2.)

Memo to Bernie, this is what a real leader sounds like in a moment of crisis…

As Assange was being dragged out of the Ecuadoran embassy by cops dispatched from New Scotland Yard, he was clutching a copy of essay by Gore Vidal on the National Security State. This prompted the The Express to ask, “Who is Gore Vidal?” The entire culture must be demyelinating very rapidly now…

The Democrats are going to go after Assange more viciously than the Republicans. Here’s a savage statement from Elliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (who infamously slimed Ilhan Omar)…

Here’s the honorable (strike that) contemptible senator from Virginia, Tim Kaine: : “Justice has to be done. Going forward the question is: How do we protect our sensitive information from vandals like Julian Assange?”

And the senator from Citibank coming in right on cue…

In the hours since Assange’s arrest, Bernard Sanders has tweeted about his legion of volunteers, his organizing parties, the Trump tax cuts, Stop & Shop, the floods in Iowa, health care, the nurses strikes in New York and his own history as a civil rights campaigner. I started out holding my breath waiting for him to mumble even a vague word about how the arrest and indictment of Assange poises a grave threat to first amendment rights. But by late Thursday night there was still nothing and I had almost exhausted the supplemental oxygen I’d stockpiled for my assault on K2.

But good for Gabbard…

Assange has already effectively been imprisoned inside the Ecuadoran Embassy for two years longer than the maximum sentence (5 years) under the conspiracy charge in the DoJ’s indictment.

The US charges against Assange are relatively minor, compared to the slate of crimes many cable TV prosecutors eagerly predicted he’d be hit with by the Feds. Essentially, he’s accused of providing Chelsea Manning with a password that would disguise her forays for documents in federal computers. It’s important to note that this occurred after Manning had secured the trove of explosive documents she had sent to Wikileaks and the password failed in any event.

There’s much speculation that the charges have been minimized so as not to trigger too much anxiety in the corporate press or in the British government before Assange is safely extradited into the hands of federal law enforcement and, presumably, intelligence agencies. There’s a theory gaining traction that once Assange is on US soil he will be slammed with a superseding indictment loaded up with new charges.

This is surely a possibility and a frightful one for Assange. But as I understand the Extradition Treaty Assange can only be charged with the crimes that he is extradited for. In international law, this is called the Rule of Speciality. Even so, Barton Gellman, a national security reporter and author of the Dick Cheney biography Angler, made an intriguing point about item 15B in the indictment, which implies the alleged “conspiracy” was to violate the Espionage Act, a rather sinister raising of the stakes.

Ben Wizner, ACLU: “Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations. Moreover, prosecuting a foreign publisher for violating U.S. secrecy laws would set an especially dangerous precedent for U.S. journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public’s interest.”

Diane Abbott (Great Britain’s first black member of Parliament): “Julian Assange is not being pursued to protect US national security, he is being pursued because he has exposed wrongdoing by US administrations and their military forces.”

Assange lawyer Barry Pollack: “The factual allegations…boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information & taking efforts to protect the identify of that source. Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges.”

The valorous Pamela Anderson called the UK “America’s bitch” for arresting Assange on minor charges that he’d violated the terms of his bail. A “bitch poodle,” perhaps? Or is Brexit-era Britain now diminished to Corgi-level status?

Contrast Pamela Anderson with pseudo-journo Meghan McCain: “I hope he rots in Hell.” (Which is a self-censored version of what her “heroic” Pops would have said.)

The Washington Post, circa 2011: “A conviction would also cause collateral damage to American media freedoms. It is difficult to distinguish Assange or WikiLeaks from The Washington Post.”

The Washington Post, 2019: “Julian Assange is not a free-press hero. And he is long overdue for personal accountability.”

A lot of sniveling pundits are contrasting Assange unfavorably with Daniel Ellsberg. Here Ellsberg speaks for himself, very clearly and to the point.

The late Michael Hastings’ interviewed Assange for Rolling Stone in 2011:

Assange sits on a tattered couch, wearing a wool sweater, dark pants and an electronic manacle around his right ankle, visible only when he crosses his legs. At 40, the WikiLeaks founder comes across more like an embattled rebel commander than a hacker or journalist. He’s become better at handling the media – more willing to answer questions than he used to be, less likely to storm off during interviews – but the protracted legal battle has left him isolated, broke and vulnerable. Assange recently spoke to someone he calls a Western “intelligence source,” and he asked the official about his fate. Will he ever be a free man again, allowed to return to his native Australia, to come and go as he pleases? “He told me I was fucked,” Assange says.

“Are you fucked?” I ask.

Nixon had his plumbers, Trump has his rat traps…(Though somehow Kirstjen Nielsen escaped unharmed.)

All Madame Nielsen, the woman who caged children, need do to restore her reputation (if she ever had one) and become a bona fide member of the Resistance© and a regular contributor on MSDNC is write one modestly critical oped about Trump.

Lessons in Geography by Donald Trump. This week’s episode: Texas is Big! “If you look at it, I mean, the state is tremendous. We don’t see that. You know, I come from New York — you have 5th Avenue and that connects to Park Avenue, and it’s not too far away. But this is hundreds of miles between places!”  (I’m no Manhattanite, but I seem to recall that 5th Avenue and Park Avenue run parallel.)

On the eve of his US speaking tour, the Trump administration (at the request of the Netanyahu government) denied entry to Palestinian human rights organizer Omar Barghouti, who started writing for CounterPunch a few months after we went live on the web.

Another entry for the Dime’s Worth of Difference file. Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, retired from the federal bench this week, effectively quashing an ethics investigation into the elaborate Trump family tax avoidance scheme detailed by the New York Times last October….”Judge Barry was nominated to the Federal District Court in New Jersey by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, after several years as a federal prosecutor. She was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 1999.”

The Taliban control more territory now than any time since the 2001 US invasion. Call it a mighty victory and get the hell out of there…

I always thought Stephen Miller (now revealed to be pal of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer) would either be the first one pushed out the door at the Trump White House or the last to leave. Looks like we’ve got our answer.

Public Citizen has kindly provided this field guide to the Trump administration…

An oil lobbyist runs the DOI
A coal lobbyist runs the EPA
A pharma exec runs HHS
A Boeing exec runs DOD
A billionaire Amway heiress runs DoED
A private equity kingpin runs Commerce
A Goldman Sachs exec runs Treasury

Why is Libya So Lawless?” asks the BBC. (Apparently, its editors didn’t intend this to be a rhetorical question.)

Trump and Jared Kushner have recruited a new consultant for their Middle East “Peace” Plan…Alan Dershowitz. This is a comedy show….with dead bodies.

Texas lawmaker Tony Tinderholt reintroduced his bill that would make women who’ve had abortions eligible for the death penalty. This is one errant sperm that shouldn’t have been allowed to hatch…(Meanwhile, Tinderholt’s 2nd and 5th wife, Bethany, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, was spotted proudly displaying her conservative virtues at the Playboy Mansion by the Dallas Voice.)

Puerto Rico is actually Mexico #4. FoxNews adjust your maps, accordingly.

Just another pastor rationalizing the death penalty because it worked out for Jesus…

Joe Biden on Israel: “It’s the best $3 billion investment we make. If Israel didn’t exist, we’d have to invent an Israel.”

Democrats are not only unfazed by Biden’s “handsiness,” they’re also unfazed by the handlessness of many of the survivors he droned…

Biden was on the ropes for a few days over his “inappropriate touching.” How about “inappropriate bombing?” Will any Democrat call Smokin’ Joe out for that?

Biden got the prosecutor fired who was investigating his son, Hunter, in a Ukrainian natural gas corruption probe. And bragged about it. Minus the part about his son… Biden’s starting to make Joe the Plumber seem plausible…

Biden was asked what one thing he wishes people knew, says people should recognize how addictive pain killers are. “A little pain is not bad,” he says. Joe would know. He’s inflicted a lot of pain on others in his career.

In 1977, Biden was the only Judiciary Committee member to vote against Jimmy Carter’s picks to become the first black head of the DOJ civil rights division and the 2nd black solicitor general. Why? Biden didn’t think they were anti-busing enough.

None of this bothers Stacy Abrams, who came to Biden’s defense, pronouncing that Democrats can’t let “perfection become a litmus test.”

Looks like Mayor Pete understands how the game in DC is played after all: He calls Israel’s tactics in Gaza “moving” and “clear-eyed,” and says the US could learn something from them. He blames Palestinians & Hamas for “misery” in Gaza: “If you only visited Israel, you’d see what wise judgments Israelis are making.

Why the elites are flocking to Buttigieg as a backup to Biden? South Bend’s first black police chief secretly recorded the other officers saying racist things and confronted them about it and the officers complain to the FBI who investigates and tells Buttigieg. The whistleblowing chief gets demoted and the racist officers get $500k.

Bernie says he became a millionaire by writing a best-selling book & you could too, if only you had his story-telling chops. As the author of 1.5 bestsellers (thanks for nothing Al Gore) that hasn’t been my experience. The publishing industry treats writers the way the music industry did blues musicians. This makes me question how much he really understands about the way the economy works.

Bernard Sanders was 50-years old when the World Wide Web went live in 1991. I get the sense that many of the young people drawn to Sanders are longing for, if not a pre-Lapsarian world, at least one free from the original sin of HTML…

When Eugene McCarthy ran as the antiwar candidate in 1968, he seemed like the old man in the race. He was 52, nine years older than Bobby Kennedy…but 25 years younger than Bernard Sanders is now.

Both Biden (78) and Sanders (79) would be older on inauguration day 2021 than Ted Kennedy was when he died (77).

Not every Democrat is hoping the Democrats regain control of the Senate. Joe Manchin just endorsed Susan “I’m so disappointed in Brett” Collins…Of course, Collins needs all the help she can get. Her as-yet-to-be-determined opponent already has $3.7 million in the bank.

The 400 richest households in the United States hold more wealth than all black households combined with a quarter of all Latino households. The median black family today owns $3,600, or just 2 percent of the $147,000 of wealth the median white family owns.

Not content with the oppressive strictures of an ordinary police state, Trump is considering imposing a Military Police State.

Is Trump focused on the wrong border? Since late 2016, Border Patrol has arrested nearly three times more criminals at ports of entry on the Canadian border than at the US-Mexico border.

Democratic presidential candidates who have visited immigration detention centers since Trump started separating families at the border: Harris, Warren, O’Rourke and Booker. Where are you, Bernard Sanders? (Thanks Charles Davis)

In a week packed with bizarre political stories, this is perhaps the most bizarre yet. Last fall, Stephen Miller and the other anti-immigrant creeps in the Trump White House came up with a scheme to dump undocumented immigrants detained by ICE and Border Patrol onto the streets of sanctuary cities and other districts represented by Trump’s political opponents. This Nixonian plan was ultimately nixed by ICE’s top legal counsel as “inappropriate.”

But Trump thinks it’s a groovy idea…

In the unlikely event he follows through, it might prove to be the most humane thing Trump has ever done for immigrants.

TRUMP: “I just got back from Texas & some of the ranchers told me – you look at Brooks County, you look at other places – some of the ranchers told me you have bodies lying all over the land… and they die. It’s something I’ve never heard… many people die.”

April is the cruelest month, breeding, bodies out of the ranch lands,
 Mixing memory and fantasy, stirring, dull thoughts from a wet mind.

Our President in top form…

Robert Caro on Robert Moses: “Moses decorated the wrought-iron trellises of the comfort stations in Harlem in Riverside Park with monkeys.”

According to a new report from Oxfam, the corporate tax breaks for Big Pharma buried in Trump’s tax bill amounted to $7 billion for just four companies, an amount that would pay for health care for nearly 3 million uninsured children in the US.

Pfizer: $2.8B
 Johnson & Johnson: $2.5B
 Merck: $1.2B
 Abbott: $473M

Wyoming’s Powder River Basin (once the hunting grounds of the Oglala Sioux) is running out of coal faster than expected, but probably not fast enough to save either the river or the atmosphere.

Trump is taking another whack at “states’ rights” by limiting their ability to permit and regulate natural gas and oil pipelines. Not a bleat from the Heritage Foundation about this assault on one of their old shibboleths.

The March 2019 average temperature in Kotzebue, Alaska was far warmer than any other March, with an average temperature of 23F. The 1981-2010 normal March temp is 1.1F, making last month 21.9F above normal.

The winter snowpack at Denali National Park Headquarters melted out March 31. This is, by two weeks, the earliest the winter snowpack has melted out. The previous earliest was April 14, 2003. The average snowpack meltout date is May 04.

Rep. Thomas Massie (Moron-KY) is empirical evidence of the consequences for the human brain from drinking water contaminated with coal waste for 20 years…

Trump said last week that Venezuela’s electricity problems are bad because “they have a lot of electric cars.” They don’t. Gas is basically free there. Caracas analyst Dimitris Pantoulas: “I really doubt that you can find more than 10 electric cars in Venezuela.”

Meanwhile, back on Pine Ridge: They’ve declared a civil emergency. Both interstates in South Dakota remain closed. 10,000 are without power. The blizzard warning continues into tomorrow. There’s 50 mph wind gusts.

I wandered into a patch of old-growth forest near the south fork of Short Sands Creek in the Oregon Coast Range. There were 300 year old Sitka Spruce standing next to ancient Western Red Cedars. The forest floor was spongey and bursting with trillium, skunk cabbage, red huckleberries just in bloom. There were standing dead trees and nurse logs, crawling with millipede and salamanders. A couple hundred yards away, however, the scene was a blast-zone, activeclearcutting that spread from the crest of one mountain across the drainage, spawning habitat for coho, chinook and sea-run cutthroat, to the crest of another mountain. The difference in the dead trees was striking. In the clearcuts, the trees, many 6 to 8 feet in diameter, were desiccated, lifeless, bone-white. In the forest, the dead were decaying into soft browns, their crumbling trunks moist and filled with all kinds of plant, fungi and insect life. Two worlds. One living and organic, one dead and sterile.

These clearcuts brought to you by Weyerhaeuser, the tree-killing people.

A new study reports that spending 20 minutes in nature can reduce your “stress hormones.” But good luck finding any near you…

Hey kids, for a mere $75 (if you want to walk) and $250 (if you want to ride something and really tear shit up) you can recreate in one of Weyerhaeuser’s Denuded Landscapes. They’ll provide the roads, the trails (skid) and the firewood. But don’t forget to Bring Your Own Trees!

Overhead the Albatross Hangs Motionless Upon the Air…

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Outside Looking In by T.C. Boyle (HarperCollins)

Trinity: a Novel by Louisa Hall (Ecco)

Whereas:Poems by Layli Long Soldier (Gray Wolf Press)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

In the Key of the Universe by Joey DeFrancesco with Pharaoh Sanders (Mack Ave.)

Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten (Jagjaguwar)

Avec le Temps by Giovanni Guidi (ECM)

A Pretty Good Rule

Daniel Ellsberg: “There should be at least one leak like the Pentagon Papers every year. Look, all administrations, all governments lie, all officials lie and nothing they say is to be believed. That’s a pretty good rule.”


More articles by:

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch

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🚽 Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2019, 03:13:15 AM »

Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid

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Artwork by Ken Schubert.

Victor Hugo: “The church of Notre-Dame de Paris is still no doubt, a majestic and sublime edifice. But, beautiful as it has been preserved in growing old, it is difficult not to sigh, not to wax indignant, before the numberless degradations and mutilations which time and men have both caused the venerable monument to suffer, without respect for Charlemagne, who laid its first stone, or for Philip Augustus, who laid the last. On the face of this aged queen of our cathedrals, by the side of a wrinkle, one always finds a scar. Tempus edax, homo edacior; which I should be glad to translate thus: time is blind, man is stupid.” (Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831)

+ The Mueller Report is the political equivalent of the Comet Kohoutek, the comet that failed to catch fire…

+ Nothing defines the “seriousness of the moment” quite like MSDNC waking up Brian “Close Call” Williams at 6 AM to provide color commentary for a press conference.

+ Rod Rosenstein and the scary guy with the beard standing expressionlessly next to Barr look as if they are awaiting reanimation by the Night King.

+ Barr emphasized that it’s not a criminal offense to disperse “stolen” emails. So why is his office going after Julian Assange so ruthlessly?

+ Barr: Trump didn’t obstruct justice because a president can’t obstruct justice.

Mueller: I couldn’t prove Trump obstructed justice because Trump obstructed our investigation into obstruction of justice.

+ Barr said Trump was too emotional to be expected to follow the law on obstruction of justice. But apparently it’s just fine for him to have sole authority to launch nuclear weapons.

+ The Attorney General also explained away Trump’s outbursts against Mueller by saying he was “frustrated,” which sounds like a defense he could also deploy in the sexual assault suit filed by Summer Zervos.

+ In Bill Barr, Trump has finally found his Qyburn. Now, where’s that green fire?

+ I got up at 5:30 am Oregon time for this? No one should be forced to look too closely at Bill Barr’s face before their first cup of coffee…

+ Brian Williams: “The public will get a CD-ROM of the report.” CD-ROM? Where has this guy been for the last 10 years? Good luck finding a Mac with a CD drive.

+ Here’s the link to the pdf of the redacted Mueller Report. Of course, they somehow managed to release the pdf in a non-searchable form. (The 26-volume Warren Commission Report was released without an index.)

+ In a quick scan, I didn’t find much new in the redacted Mueller Report, but this stood out:  the investigation of George Papadopoulos started over concerns that he might be an agent of…………………ISRAEL. That probably kills the impeachment hearings, right Senator Schumer? (When the Israeli connection to Iran/contra was exposed, the steam rapidly dissipated from the Democrats desire to dig much further into the matter.)

+ About the elusive Moscow piss tape: According to a footnote, in Oct 2016, Cohen received a text from Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze that said: “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know…”

+ After a long night of drinking in St. Petersburg, this must’ve sounded like a winning strategy…”The IRA … recruited individuals to perform political acts (such as walking around New York City dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask).”

+ Doesn’t this sound like something “John Miller” or “John Barron” might have done? “Throughout 2016, IRA accounts published an increasing number of materials supporting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. For example, on May 31, 2016, the operational account “Matt Skiber” began to privately message dozens of pro-Trump Facebook groups asking them to help plan a “pro-Trump rally near Trump Tower.”

+ “Unable to recall the Russian Ambassador’s name, Kushner emailed Dimitri Simes of CNI … ‘What is the name of the Russian ambassador?'”

+ If the Report was searchable, I’d search for how many times the word “fucked” appears, like on page 290: “According to notes written by Hunt, when Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel had been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.'”

+ I also wanted to search the vast sprawl of the Mueller Report for the name of our missing writer “Alice Donovan,” but Bill Barr won’t let me. (Ultimately, I located Alice hiding out inside parentheses in a footnote on page 42.)

+ Sarah Sanders sticking pretty much to the job description of WH press secretary dating back at least to Ron Zeigler…Sanders said her public comments about the FBI weren’t based in fact. Specifically, Sanders said her assertion in response to questions about FBI agents not supporting Comey wasn’t “founded on anything.”

+ After the Washington Post reported that Michael Flynn talked to the Russian ambassador the day Obama imposed sanctions, Flynn directed his deputy KT McFarland (who also kept detailed personal notes) to call the Washing Post and deny they discussed the sanctions. “McFarland made the call even though she knew she was providing false information.”

+ Some names always seem to resurface in American political scandals, so it was no surprise to stumble across “Ledeen” on p 63 of Mueller’s Report, highlighting a scheme by Barbara Ledeen (wife of Iran/contra figure & Mike Flynn pal Michael) to track down HRC’s emails at Flynn’s request on behalf of the Trump campaign, an operation that  funded in part by a $30,000 contribution from the blood-drenched accounts of Erik Prince.

+ It’s hard to tell what the Mueller Report forecasts for Julian Assange. Most of the redacted passages come from the Wikileaks sections likely because of the pending Roger Stone trial. What’s inescapable for me, however, is the stench of Assange feeding the Seth Rich conspiracy, which was a cynical and cruel act of misdirection over the “transparency” that has always been the stated mission of Wikileaks.

+ All 446 pages of the “lightly redacted” Mueller Report…

+ “Rose Mary, do you know how to use this damn blackout machine?” (400 pages, 855 redactions.)

+ Many of the people Trump ordered to do Trumpy things simply refused. The Unitary Theory of the Impotent Executive?

+ Trump: “I have one of the greatest memories of all time.” Number times Trump said he couldn’t remember in his take home written exam from Mueller: 36.

+ I always find it instructive to start with the footnotes, then move to the text…

+ I’ve done a thorough search of the Mueller Report for evidence of Paul Manafort’s alleged “secret talks” with Julian Assange in the Ecuadoran Embassy and found none. Will the Guardian retract its much-hyped exposé? Will they reveal the source who pitched them this specious information?

+ So much for the Assignation in Prague. Will McLatchey retract, apologize and name their dubious source?

+ Kamala Harris: “Barr is acting more like Trump’s defense attorney than AG.” That’s because Kamala Harris understands better than anyone that an AG’s real job is to aggressively prosecute the parents of poor children who skip school.

+ Apparently, Sen. Richard Burr was feeding information from the Senate Intelligence Committee to the White House, which leads one to wonder: Do Burr’s cows graze in the same pasture as Devin Nunes’ cow (now being sued by Devin Nunes)?

+ When the audio book of the Mueller Report is released who will narrate? Rachel Maddow or Rudy Giuliani?

+ New York Post headlines aren’t nearly as funny as they once were, but still this news must come as something of a relief to all of the women Trump has had (per Stormy Daniels) unprotected sex with…


+ The last time Kimberly Willson-St Clair and I were in Paris, we strolled around Notre Dame on a very hot day, admiring in particular the incredible carvings around the doors, then crossed the Seine on the Pont de Coeurs to the Left Bank and sat at an outdoor table in a brasserie next to Shakespeare & Co. bookshop and watched the last rays of an August evening light up the face of the cathedral, while drinking a giant concoction the bar called, The Fuck You Mojito, which pretty accurately described my mood as I watched the collapse of the cathedral’s great spire…

+ For the last 18 years or so, Notre Dame has been encircled by automatic rifle carrying French security services, trying to protect the Cathedral from “terrorists,” ignorant that the real threat came from cost-cutting private contractors.

+ Recall that in Hugo’s sprawling novel (which I spent four challenging months reading and re-reading with a great professor of French literature at American University, Pierre Han), Notre Dame de Paris was a “sanctuary” from tyranny, prejudice and false piety and thus a repudiation of everything Trump represents…

+ It was during the construction of Notre Dame that the Jews were first expelled from France and some who refused to leave were burned at the stake in front of the cathedral. Then 9 years later they were recalled because the Christian debt collectors turned out to be sadists. In the Chronique metrique de Philippe le Bel, the medieval poet Geoffrey of Paris described the Christian bankers as flaying their debtors alive. If the Jews had remained, Geoffrey noted, France would have been a happier place.

+ Afshin Rattansi: “All that is solid melts into air, indeed. Notre Dame survived the English, the Jacobins, Napoleon, the 1871 Communards & Vichy..but not neoliberalism.”

+ 13,000 old-growth hardwood trees were felled to construct the roof of Notre Dame. Many of the trees milled into the rafters, beams and joists of Notre Dame were milled from 300 year-old oak trees, which was why the roof earned the nickname “The Forest.” Good luck finding replacements for those, Macron. Of course, perhaps Weyerhaeuser donate a containership load of Douglas-firs clearcut from the Oregon Coast Range and claim carbon sequestration credit at the same time.

+ As Trump insulted French firefighters for what, in fact, proved to be a remarkably courageous effort to save the superstructure of the Cathedral, the stained glass windows and its interior relics & art, let’s recall that he ordered his architect & construction crews to violate the fire codes of NYC by not installing sprinklers in Trump Tower. He himself, of course, always has a rake and “flying water tanker” on standby.

+ Predictably, Trump is weeping crocodile tears over Notre Dame, while opening the Bears Ears, the Notre Dame (or one of them) of the Four Corners region, to unrestrained looting by the fossil fuels industry.

+ Trump has already made more comments (i.e., how he would have done a much better job putting out the fire) on Notre Dame than the recent spate of arson-caused fires at black churches.

+ Almost every inch of Notre Dame has been digitally scanned. Maybe they can recreate the Cathedral with a 3-D printer…

+ Macron privatized the renovation of Notre Dame. Did cost-cutting help destroy Paris’s landmark cathedral?

+ Saint-Just, the most adorable of the French revolutionaries, was eager to burn Notre-Dame in 1793. These days it’s hard to find any kind of memorial or commemoration for the Angel of the Revolution in France, though Alex did pick up a plaster of, yes, Paris bust of him made during the bicentennial, which wa dislodged from the wall and smashed to the floor during the Petrolia earthquake.

+ A half century later, the Communards also targeted Notre Dame for sacking, as they had done to the Tuileries palace, but some of the radical artists in their ranks, notably Gustave Courbet, restrained them. Instead, they toppled the Vendome Column, an act of destruction which prompted the arrest of Courbet after the collapse of the commune.

+ The French, who are among the least religious people in the world, should give Notre Dame to the Unitarian Universalists. They’d take better care of it, redecorate it with all sorts of new gargoyles based on demons from Tibetan and Mayan mythology, freshen up the dreary interior with finger-painted murals in day-glo colors,  reprogram the organ to play Cat Stevens songs and never auction it off to corporate sponsors (except, perhaps, for the occasional Sundaes on Sundays with Ben & Jerry’s)…

+ Every time I’ve gone to a Unitarian service, it’s been a “bring your own God” kind of gathering. The point is to inspect the deities all the other congregants have brought and choose. And here’s the cool thing. It doesn’t have to be the same one each service!

+ In my experience, the great cathedrals of Paris have become almost entirely secularized & monetized, the vast naves nearly empty during mass, except for a few nuns and African immigrants. The great edifice had largely come to stand for the $8.5 euros they charged to visit the towers and crypt.

+ Nearly a billion dollars has already been pledged to repair Notre Dame and after five years Flint still can’t get $55 million to provide clean water for its kids.


+ Michele Bachmann on Trump: “We will, in all likelihood, never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetimes.”

+ As the anti-gay crusaders of the Xtian right attack Mayor Pete, what about God’s ambassador to Planet Earth? I don’t know if Donald J. Trump ever sampled the temptations of Sodom but I’m pretty sure he enjoyed an extended stay in Gomorrah…

+ Just in time for Holy Week, the scourging of Jesus, starring Mayor Pete and Satan….

+ Trump says he has no regrets about Tweeting out a vile and deceptively edited video attacking Ilhan Omar. Why would he care? His cult eats it up and his Muslim-bashing is exposing the Democrats for the cowards they are. Omar’s safety means nothing to him.

+ Even so, with each attack on her, Trump seems to be turning himself into a fundraising machine for Ilhan the Indomitable, who has raised $800,000 in the last three months.

+ The Senate just confirmed former fossil fuels lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary. Four days later, he  already found himself embroiled in an ethics investigation.

+ When the subject of “reparations” came up at conference of the property rights movement I attended back in the 1990s, many of the panelists were all for it–as compensation for the “lost property” of the slave owners. In fact, in 1862 Lincoln himself signed a bill paying out as much as $300 for each “freed” slave. (Hopefully, Trump won’t read this.)

+ Jeet Heer: “So Demorats win a historic wave election in 2018. The upshot? Trump moves further to the right and Nancy Pelosi steers Dems towards the center. In effect, the leadership of both parties moves to the right. Cool, cool.”

+ While Biden dithers, we finally spotted evidence of some real “Joementum,” Stalin’s approval rating among Russians has now topped 70%, a new record…

+ By the time Biden actually enters the race, he’ll be down in single digits the way he was last time and the time before that.

+ Ahoy, there goes DNC down the mainstream, right over the falls…

Nancy Pelosi: “By and large whatever orientation they came to Congress with, they know we have to hold the center. We have to go down the mainstream.”

60 Minutes: “You have these wings. @AOC and her group on one side…”

Pelosi: “That’s like five people.”

+ Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population, with the aristocracy still at the top of the heap. Where’s Wat Tyler when you need him?

+ Radley Balko: “In Kentucky, the average starting salary for a public defender is under $40,000. Average salary for an assistant PD in Louisville is $55,000. In many states, the average PD makes a small enough salary that if they were arrested, they’d qualify for a PD.”

It hardly balances the equities between defense and prosecution, but the state of Kentucky doesn’t pay its prosecutors that much better. The average base salary of a staff attorney is only $43.5k a year

+ Eric Draitser conducted an interview with a feisty Ralph Nader this week on the CounterPunch Radio podcast. (Listen to it for free here.) And once again the emails started pouring in condemning Nader for being a “spoiler” in the 2000 elections, something that has been disproven over and over again. I’ve always contended that Nader should have taken credit for defeating Gore, who probably would have nuked Baghdad 15 minutes after 9/11. Gore was so smug that he even refused to support the Congressional Black Caucus’ challenge of the election results.

+ Trump’s veto of the Yemen resolution on Tuesday night is disgusting, but not surprising. Congress has only itself to blame for surrendering its power to declare war & to finance wars the president pursues without authorization. How many voted against the original AUMF, from which all recent military actions flow? One & it wasn’t Bernard Sanders.

+ One of Bernard’s first votes as the Independent socialist rep from Vermont was to bomb the independent socialist Republic of Serbia. Now as a Democratic Socialist he is targeting the democratic socialist nation of Venezuela.

“I asked Sanders whether he saw Maduro as part of the axis of corrupt authoritarianism. “Yeah,” he said. “It is a failed regime. From all of the recent evidence, it appears that the election was fraudulent. And, despite his ideology, what we need to see is democracy established in Venezuela.”‘

+ Watch Hillary give advice to the 2020 Democrats? I’d rather gouge out my eyes like Oedipus…

+ 25% of Hillary 2008 voters cast a ballot for John McCain and Sarah Palin. Yet, Obama stupidly invited her to become his Secretary of State and run his belligerent foreign policy for four years. He started out on Lieberman, but soon hit the harder stuff. When Cockburn and I wrote our first piece on Lieberman being Obama’s mentor in the senate, we got an irate call from one of Obama’s staffers saying “Lieberman was forced on him!” But it turns out BO settled on Lieberman over Russell Feingold and down the drain they went.

+ A Goldman Sachs report concludes that Trump has a narrow path to victory in 2020. Looking more and more likely every day.

+ The US’s expanding presence in Africa: 44 military bases, 36 “named” operations.

+ From Mikal Gilmore’s terrific interview for Rolling Stone with Game of Thrones author George RR Martin:

Gilmore: In 1966, you entered Northwestern, in Evanston, Illinois. I know that in the years that followed you underwent some serious moral and political changes due to your opposition to the Vietnam War.

Martin: I was, like many kids of my generation, a hawk. I accepted that America was the good guys, we had to be there. When I got into college, the more I learned about our involvement in Vietnam, the more it seemed wrong to me. Of course, the draft was happening, and I decided to ask for the conscientious-objector status. I wasn’t a complete pacifist; I couldn’t claim to be that. I was what they called an objector to a particular war. I would have been glad to fight in World War II. But Vietnam was the only war on the menu. So I applied for conscientious-objector status in full belief that I would be rejected, and that I would have a further decision to make: Army, jail or Canada. I don’t know what I would’ve done. Those were desperately hard decisions, and every kid had to make them for himself. To my surprise, they gave me the status. I was later told – I have no way to prove this – that I was granted the status because our conservative draft board felt that anyone who applied for CO status should be granted it, because that would be punishment enough: Then it would be part of their permanent record, and everybody would know that they were a Commie sympathizer, and it would ruin their lives.

+ Manufacturing remains flat and the future outlook dreary.

+ “College teaching, once a middle-class profession, increasingly leaves its practitioners in poverty.”

+ It turns out that the case that drove Julian Assange into the Ecuadoran Embassy in London in search of sanctuary (allegations that he had raped two Swedish woman) has big holes in it, as revealed in a 2012 Australian Broadcasting Company documentary called “Sex, Lies and Julian Assange.” The questions about the allegations begin around the 20 minute mark.

+ It’s been more than a week since Julian Assange was arrested in London and his indictment by the DoJ unsealed, auguring a grave new threat to all journalists. Still not one word from that living paragon of moral courage, political authenticity and independent thinking: Bernard Sanders.

+ The best satire yet on the Assange arrest. Of course, it’s done by the Aussies…

+ Roxanne Hernandez, a transgendered woman from Honduras, died of complications from AIDS while in the custody of ICE, after she was arrested and detained when she showed up at the border asking for asylum. ICE and Border Patrol were aware of Hernandez’ HIV status during her detention, but refused to provide her with the necessary antiretroviral drugs.”This is straight out manslaughter, isn’t it?

+ Paramilitaries roving the borderlands taking immigrants (or people they suspect to be immigrants) hostage…the US is becoming more like Colombia every day, with more firepower and fewer brain cells.

+ David Simon: “If this fearmongering, racist shitsquib of a president thinks tax-supported busloads of people trying for a better life in, say, Baltimore are somehow a threat, he’s clueless as to our many empty row houses and our need for fresh citizenry. Bring em all. We need every last soul.”

+ Democratic Presidential Candidates who have visited immigration detention centers since Trump started separating families: Harris, Warren, O’Rourke and Booker. Where are you, Bernard Sanders? (Thanks Charles Davis)

+ John Bolton after announcing harsh new sanctions against Cuba: “Today, we proudly proclaim for all to hear: the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well.”

+ With ongoing combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, threats of invasion against Venezuela, tensions with North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran, and a rising suicide rate among troops, it’s been more than 300 days since a Pentagon spokesperson held an on camera press briefing. Then this week, the Pentagon decided not to declassify the number of nuclear weapons in the US stockpile, a decision that breaks with years of the United States providing nuclear transparency.

+ And you thought the war on pot was ending…Marijuana possession as a share of all arrests nationwide:

1995: 3.4%
 2017: 5.7%

+ Armed bounty hunters kicked in the front door of a home in Lolo, Montana, broke into the bedroom, and pointed assault rifles and pistols Eugene Mitchell, his wife, and their four-year old daughter. All this was over a $1,670 fine and a charge of driving with a suspended license.

+ After being harangued by the Trump Administration, the ICC has pulled the plug on its investigation into war crimes by coalition forces in Afghanistan. This has been the problem with the ICC since its inception: the Court exists solely to prosecute the war crimes committed by enemies of the Empire.

+ The second conversion of Norman Podhoretz, from friend of Allen Ginsberg and Nortman Mailer to intellectual sperm donor of the neo-cons to Trump-loving paleo-con, who here commits ideological infanticide against his progeny, brutally shredding Bill Kristol …

+ The Pulitzer Prize committee awarded Aretha Franklin a special posthumous citation prize for her “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades”. But this Pulitzer won’t do Dead Aretha any good and she didn’t need it on her shelf anyway. It’s all about covering the Pulitzer Committee’s ass for not giving her an award while she was alive, while handing out prizes to hacks like Tom Friedman and Peggy Noonan.

+ Like most stories involving the Patriots, the sex-trafficking case involving New England owner Robert Kraft is rapidly “deflating”…

+ Eating like Zizek…

+ A Detroit couple is starting a video streaming service that will feature socialist-themed movies and TV shows. Given the amount of time FoxNews devotes to AOC, Murdoch’s network will probably be their stiffest competition for the young socialist demographic ….

+ Opposable thumbs and the proper use of spell-check are what distinguish “humanity” from the rest of the animal kingdom.

+ I learned this useful bit information about the origins of the progressive state of Oregon this morning at the Museum of the Oregon Territory: The first Black Exclusion Law in Oregon, passed in 1844, called for any black person, free or slave, who entered the state to be publicly whipped every six months until they left (or died).

+ What if Rick Perry left the Energy Department and no one missed him or even realized he was gone?

+ Yellowstone is a big place, but nearly not big enough. It’s an island, surrounded by hostile forces: timber companies, mining companies, oil companies, frackers, ranchers, ski developments, and jerks with guns eager to kill anything that moves indifferent to any collateral damage.

+ The last time carbon dioxide levels were this high, Greenland was mostly green, sea levels were 20 meters higher and trees grew on Antarctica. That was 5.3 million years ago. But, by all means, let’s see every last page of the unreacted Mueller Report…

+ Dave Willard, a researcher at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History,  measured the morphology of more 70,000 birds over 40 years. The analysis of this rich trove of data reveals that migratory birds are shrinking due to warming temps, but their wings are lengthening.

+ An extreme event like Hurricane Maria was 4.85 times more likely to happen in the climate of 2017 than in 1956, according to a new report in the journal of Geophysical Research Letters, and that change in probability can’t be explained by natural climate cycles.

+ Humans won’t like what the zombie pigs were thinking the moment they were slaughtered…

+ A new study finds that the diet of urban coyotes consists largely of “pets,” 20 percent coming from cats alone. Yet cats that are allowed outside shouldn’t be considered “pets” but “pests” that kill BILLIONS of birds a year and thus fair game for canis latrans…

+ If you want a litmus test for the moral character of a person, just observe how they behave in the presence of wolves, a foolproof way of revealing the sadist within…

+ The Forest Service is waging chemical warfare in our national forests in a toxic campaign against what it considers “noxious weeds.” In Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest alone, the Forest Service is planning on drenching as much as 40,000 acres of public land with highly poisonous Round-Up, Sulfometuron methyl and Dicamba.

+ The giant new stadium going up in the Inglewood area of Los Angeles imperils one of the last black enclaves in Southern California. Here are two basic rules for siting controversial buildings: nuclear power plants will be built near earthquake faults and sports stadiums in poor neighborhoods populated by minorities. LA has some brutal experience in this regard with the ethnic cleansing of Chavez Ravine to build Dodger Stadium. (See Mike Davis’ City of Quartz.)

+ What’s a bigger comeback than Tiger Woods winning the Masters? Chris Davis went 1 for 3 with a HR and 2 RBI, as the Orioles punished the Red Sox on Patriot’s Day at Fenway Park.

+ Lou Brock, the legendary left-fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 60s and 70s, on his home state: “Arkansas billed itself as the land of opportunity and I took the first opportunity I had to get the hell out of there.”

+ So I got an email accusing me of being “against everything, but what are you for?” My answer: I’m for grizzlies and wolf packs, I’m for tearing down dams & letting the salmon run, I’m for sea ice in the Arctic and water in the Colorado River when it hits the Sea of Cortez, I’m for black holes and northern lights, spotted owls and marbled murrelets, cerulean warblers & gyrfalcons & everything they need to thrive.

This answer yielded the predictable response that I was a misanthrope. I plead guilty to having read an enjoyed Molière, but the charge isn’t true. How could it be for a new grandfather? Still what the hell do the homo-centrists have against gyrfalcons? (See Hugo quote which opens this column.)

+ Here in Oregon, the Willamette River has been at flood stage for the last week. I spent last Sunday taking a few photos from the Canby Ferry to Willamette Falls and the nearby pulp mills eight miles downstream in Oregon City.

Border Busting with Bach

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

The Indian World of George Washington by Colin Colloway (Oxford)

Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration by Rachel Elise Barkow (Belknap)

One Man Out: Curt Flood Versus Baseball by Robert M. Goldman (University of Kansas Press)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Day After Day by Ben Monder (Sunnyside)

Streets of the Lost by Big Eyes (Greenway)

It Rains Love by Lee Fields and the Expressions (Big Crown)

Creatures in Stone

Margaret Atwood: “Religions in general have to rediscover their roots. In Hinduism and the Koran, animals are described as equals. If you walk into a cathedral and look at the decorations of early Christianity, there are vines, animals, creatures and birds thriving all over the stonework.”

More articles by:

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch

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🚽 Roaming Charges: Biden in Plain Sight
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2019, 01:23:27 AM »

Roaming Charges: Biden in Plain Sight

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Abandoned passenger car, Astoria, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Joe Biden will never again be more popular than he was the day before he entered the presidential race. Still his residual appeal, a misbegotten nostalgia for the Obama years, vaulted Biden 20 points ahead of his nearest Democratic Party rivals in a Quinnipiac poll taken a few days after Biden’s announcement (in a creepy video) and his first campaign gigs, where, despite decades of service in the legislative ranks of Wall Street, he cunningly wrapped himself in the union label.

This Quinnipiac poll is almost certainly an outlier, but it must be picking up some kind of vibrations. Warren surging, Bernie plummeting. Warren has been hitting hard on new policies. Bernie is avoiding difficult issues and giving same stump speech he has for past 6 years…

This week’s Quinnipiac Poll vs. a month ago:

+9 Biden
 +8 Warren
 +6 Mayor Pete
 – 7 Beto
 – 8 Bernie

Everyone else is flatlining.

+ If you don’t think Biden’s the perfect person to represent the Democratic Party, you haven’t paid much attention to what the Democratic Party has become over the last 25 years: interventionist, anti-regulation, pro-austerity, merciless on black crime and devoted to Israel.

+ For 40 years Biden’s been a consistent neoliberal on economics and an ultra-hawk on foreign policy. I don’t see him changing anything but his rhetoric, which he’ll steal from someone else. (Neil Kinnock is all used up, so maybe he’ll lift a few airy phrases from Ed Milliband.)

+ Was Biden reanimated by the Night King, Qybern or Melisandre?

+ When Joe Biden ran from president in ’88, he was asked about his stance on Vietnam. He explained that he just wasn’t the antiwar protesting type. “I’m not big on flak jackets and tie-dye shirts. And you know. That’s not me. I’m serious.”

+ Biden, who has always thought the people at the bottom were the problem: “I’m not Bernie Sanders. I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason why we’re in trouble. The folks at the top are not bad guys… wealthy Americans are just as patriotic as poor folks.”

+  Biden defending the proposed balanced budget amendment in a senate floor speech, January 1995: “When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well; I meant Medicare and Medicaid; I meant veterans’ benefits; I meant every single, solitary thing in the government.”

+ Biden on North Korea, in August 2000. “If they develop…I agree with the Israeli position on this. If we have evidence that they are building…a missile system, an offensive system…I would support a unilateral strike to take them out.”

+ Apparently, putting garlic in your vagina will not cure a yeast infection. It may, however, protect you from unwanted groping at a Joe Biden event…

+ Where Smokin’ Joe Biden stands on marijuana: “I still believe it’s a gateway drug. I’ve spent a lot of my life as chairman of the Judiciary Committee dealing with this. I think it would be a mistake to legalize.”

+  Joe Biden: “First of all, I actually like Dick Cheney, for real. I get on with him. I think he’s a decent man.” (No wonder MSDNC is suddenly closing ranks behind the man.)

+ Soon we will be hearing that familiar refrain from the Democrats that Biden has learned his lesson and that, if elected, his military interventions will take a more “progressive” aspect than the “shock and awe” approach he and his pal Cheney favored during the Iraq War, probably a return back to the “soft power” of Clintonesque sanctions that target kids and sick people who die quietly and garner no headlines.

+ Number of deaths resulting from US sanctions on Venezuela since 2017, according to a new report by Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs: 40,000.

+ Biden would be a more honorable politician if on an issue like abortion he would simply say as a Catholic he opposed it on moral grounds. Fine. That’s not what he does. He waffles and tries to restrict abortions so that in a practical sense they become only available to the rich.

+ There will be one salutary effect of Biden becoming the Democrats’ nominee. It should obliterate the old sawhorse that no matter how odious the candidate we must hold our noses & vote for him because the future of the Supreme Court hangs in the balance. Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Alito have their seats largely thanks to Biden, who was one of the ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

+ For more than a decade, Kennedy, Biden and Thurmond were part of the Creep Caucus of the Senate, also known as the senate judiciary committee. Strom was an evil son-of-a-bitch, but he may have been the most honest of the three. He provided for his illegitimate black daughter & didn’t flee the scene of a homicide, as far as I know…

+ People ask, how can older black voters trust Biden more than Bernard Sanders? After all, Biden authored the 1994 Crime Bill and Sanders marched with (or in the proximity of) Martin Luther King. Perhaps older black voters see Biden as being consistent and when you are an oppressed minority consistency is a valuable commodity when it comes to enduring your political rulers. He’s always been harsh on black “crime,” as opposed to Sanders, who marched with King (and apparently learned nothing from the experience except how to exploit it in a campaign ad) and then voted for the Biden Crime Bill.

+ Here’s your Democratic Party frontrunner, ladies and gentlemen, going all in for Venezuelan coup…

+ In the new Morning Consult poll on the Democratic candidates, the driving concern for Biden voters is “senior issues” followed by “health care,” which gives some indication of his target demographic (along with the credit card companies), though he must be losing voters every day. (Typically, neither climate change nor the environment are mentioned at all.)

+ Biden, during the tumult and early promise of the Arab Spring, came to the defense of Egypt’s strongman, Hosni Mubarak: “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

+ Biden: “I asked President Obama not to endorse.” More lies per minute than Trump?

+ Warren crisply explains the wealth tax: “How many people here own a home?” Most hands go up. “You’ve been paying a wealth tax for years. They just call it a property tax. I just want their tax to include the diamonds, the yachts, and the Rembrandts.” (Although the property tax on homes is actually more of a debt tax, isn’t it? You pay a tax on the total value of your home, even though the bank owns most of it…)

+ Most interesting thing I’ve heard to date about Mayor Bouillabaise…His political handler, a gritty New Yorker named Lis Smith, makes up in torrents of profanity what the rather sedate Hoosier lacks in charisma: “She puts the word fuckk through every part of speech the word can be bent into: noun, pronoun, gerund, verb, term of endearment, sobriquet, epithet, honorific. … ‘How badly,’ she asks me, ‘are you trying to fuck me over right now?'”

+ Then it all evaporated into a familiar mist after I learned that the South Bender had made a pilgrimage to Chappaqua to receive the blessing of Cersei of House Clinton….

+ Bernard Sanders was one of the first candidate to sign the Democratic Party loyalty pledge (even though he claims not to be a Democrat), vowing to support the party’s nominee no matter how much of a blood-thirsty, war-mongering neoliberal hack it turns out to be….Woof, woof!

+ The first (and perhaps the last) time I heard of many of the Democratic candidates is the day they announced they were running for president. Case in point: Seth Moulton.

+ Why is anyone surprised Pelosi slammed the brakes on impeaching Trump? She ridiculed those in her own party who wanted to impeach Bush for lying the country into a war that killed a million people & torturing prisoners with attack dogs. If you start holding the Exec Branch responsible, who knows when it will be your turn in the dock (See Libya)?

+ DNCThink: By trying to impeach Trump the Democrats risk losing the ability to do the things they were sent to Washington to do…like impeach Trump.

+ Of the innumerable Democratic candidates is there even one who says Trump should be impeached for kidnapping children on the border?

+ In a limp plea for moderation in politics, liberal icon Van Jones huffed: “I’ve never seen a bird with only a left wing. We need each other.” I’d rather have my politicians grounded than airborne. I’ve seen a lot of cruise missiles, B-52 bombers and F-35 fighters soar on bi-partisan wings…

+ “Bipartisanship” is a tawdry, recycled slogan that the Dems have unfurled at least since Clinton to justify their own worst impulses on the economy and foreign policy…

+ I’m surprised CNN didn’t go the full-Dukakis on their question about felons voting and ask Mayor Bouilabaisse, “If your husband Chasten was raped and murdered, do you think the rapist should be allowed to vote?”

+ List of countries that allow prisoners to vote while incarcerated:

 Czech Republic

+ Remi Kanazi: “If Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger can vote, then surely anyone should be able to vote.”

+ After licking his wounds from his term as Trump’s chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly has joined the board of Caliburn International, the Florida-based military contractor that operates the largest detention camps for immigrant children. This would be like Eichmann retiring from the SS to join the board of IG Farben.

+ Only Trump could take a report that exonerates him and within three days turn it into an indictment of his own pathological character.

+ Russiagate was so useful politically to both Trump and the Democrats, and so valuable financially to both FoxNews and MSDNC, that they will all conspire to reanimate its decomposing corpse.

+ Is Bill Barr really a “master of obfuscation” if everyone sees exactly what he’s doing while he’s doing it?

+ I know William Safire dubbed Bill Barr “General Cover-Up,” but it’s not much of an honorific is it? Good cover-up artists don’t get exposed time after time. Trump deserves better. Someone with the devious chops of Bobby Kennedy, John Ashcroft or Eric Holder…

+ These Senate hearings with Barr are not exactly an advertisement for America’s elite law schools.

+ Has the Senate declined as a “deliberative body” since the Anita Hill hearings? Hard to imagine. Likely it’s been this bad since Henry Clay’s tendentious perorations on the Nullification Crisis of 1833. But for most of its history networks didn’t inflict this tedium on their audience for hour after mindless hour…

+ The best thing to come out of the Senate hearings on Bill Barr’s Cheat Sheet on the Mueller Report …

+ The Democrats are desperate to find a “safe way” to criticize Israel without alienating Jewish voters and donors. Their current approach has been to focus their ire on Netanyahu, calling his policies “fascist.” They can’t wait for Netanyahu to be indicted or do a Sharon, so they can go back to showering the Middle East’s “only Democrat” with undiluted praise. The Democrats are the Safe Space Party…except, of course, for those they want to drone.

+ Bernard Sanders has been the Democrats’ McCain, a “maverick” before the TV cameras, but a solid liberal vote when it matters most. Elizabeth Warren, by contrast, has been a consistent troublemaker.

+ Jodi Dean: “Living in a dystopian future is not as cool as I expected, tbh.”

+ The 2018 Voting and Registration summary tables are now up. Here is a surprise for Trumplandia. The non-Hispanic White share of the electorate (people who voted) declined to 2016 to 2018 from 73.4% to 72.8%. Historically, the white share of the vote rises during mid-term elections.

+ Trump in Wisconsin this week: “After women give birth, the baby is wrapped in a blanket and then the mother and the doctor decide whether to execute the baby.” At Creech Air Base in Nevada, the CIA and the drone operators decide whether to execute the baby…

+ First the Supreme Court of Kansas, then Oklahoma issued rulings striking down onerous restrictions on abortion passed by their respective state legislatures.

+ The Texas Senate approved a measure to spray herbicides to deter migrants, a Nazi tactic on the border that the Nazis actually got from the US. (See our book, The Big Heat.)

+ The Hippie Pope must be doing something right, if his opponents want to strap him to a stake in the Campo de’ Fiori, “imprison his tongue” and light him up like Giordano Bruno…

+ The Thin Blue Line(up)…A national investigation into dirty cops by USA Today and the Invisible Institute uncovered more than 200,000 allegations of misconduct involving 85,000 police officers in 44 states. These internal affairs investigations, involving everything from planting evidence to spousal abuse, led to more than 33,000 cops losing their jobs. Still the reporters found that at least 20 cops we’re the subject of more than 100 complaints each and remained in the field for years. A database cataloguing these incidents is now online.

+ Between 2017 and 2018, there was 72% spike in lawsuits alleging abusive use of force by the NYPD, according to a new report from the city’s Department of Investigation.

+ Two years after decriminalization in Washington DC, a Black person is 11 times more likely than a white person to be arrested for public use of marijuana there.

+ Because of the asinine way California legalized recreational pot (restricting venues, high taxes, and minimum prices), the illicit marijuana market continues to thrive. Still this is probably a good thing. Street dealers have got to eat, too.

+ Recent headline on the frontage of the Wall Street Journal: “Banks Want Freedom to Hire Ex-Criminals.”

+ The Washington Post reports that billionaires are worried about the survival of the system that made them rich. This seems rather shrill. Capitalism seems capable of adapting to almost any crisis, even its own. Capitalists, on the other hand, are probably expendable, and will likely be devoured by their own system.

+ Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “Why is the originality that is admitted without reserve in literature denied us, with all kinds of suspicions, in our difficult attempts at social change? Nonetheless, in the face of oppression, plunder, and abandonment, our response is life.”

+ The death toll from the Saudi-US war in Yemen could top 233,000 by the end of the year. The UN called the slaughter “humanity’s greatest preventable disaster.” But is “preventable” the right word? When you know something tragic will happen as a consequence of your actions and you do it anyway isn’t the disaster “planned” or at least “premeditated”?

+ The hubris of Pompeo Maximus justifying the new sanctions against Iran for “human rights” violations, a charge he probably cooked up while having tea with the same people who dismembered a journalist in an embassy.

+ Robert Mueller had one job: indict Erik Prince. He failed. Now Prince wants to send his mercenaries to Venezuela.

+ Sergio Leone: “When I was young, I believed in three things: Marxism, the redemptive power of cinema, and dynamite. Now I just believe in dynamite.” (Too bad he didn’t live to direct The Monkey-Wrench Gang.”

+ Stephen Moore, Trump’s pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, on child labor laws: “I’m a radical on this. I’d get rid of a lot of these child labor laws. I want people starting to work at 11, 12.” (Over to you, Mr. Dickens.)

+ More Moore, this time from an appearance on C-Span in 2000: “The male needs to be the breadwinner. One reason you’ve seen a decline of the family, not just in the black community but now in the white community as well, is because women are more economically self-sufficient.”

+ Trump should get some new show runners. There are more convincing Mad Despot monologues on Netflix’s awful series on Caligula than appear on his Twitter feed these days.

+ According to a report in the Washington Post, managers at Trump’s golf club in Westchester, New York made undocumented immigrants work long hours of overtime without pay. No wonder Robert E. Lee is Trump’s favorite general.

+ How Robert E. Lee treated human beings he viewed as his property, as described in 1866 by one of his former slaves, Wesley Morris

My name is Wesley Norris; I was born a slave on the plantation of George Parke Custis; after the death of Mr. Custis, Gen. Lee, who had been made executor of the estate, assumed control of the slaves, in number about seventy; it was the general impression among the slaves of Mr. Custis that on his death they should be forever free; in fact this statement had been made to them by Mr. C. years before; at his death we were informed by Gen. Lee that by the conditions of the will we must remain slaves for five years; I remained with Gen. Lee for about seventeen months, when my sister Mary, a cousin of ours, and I determined to run away, which we did in the year 1859; we had already reached Westminster, in Maryland, on our way to the North, when we were apprehended and thrown into prison, and Gen. Lee notified of our arrest; we remained in prison fifteen days, when we were sent back to Arlington; we were immediately taken before Gen. Lee, who demanded the reason why we ran away; we frankly told him that we considered ourselves free; he then told us he would teach us a lesson we never would forget; he then ordered us to the barn, where, in his presence, we were tied firmly to posts by a Mr. Gwin, our overseer, who was ordered by Gen. Lee to strip us to the waist and give us fifty lashes each, excepting my sister, who received but twenty; we were accordingly stripped to the skin by the overseer, who, however, had sufficient humanity to decline whipping us; accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable, was called in, who gave us the number of lashes ordered; Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to lay it on well,an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done. After this my cousin and myself were sent to Hanover Court-House jail, my sister being sent to Richmond to an agent to be hired; we remained in jail about a week, when we were sent to Nelson county, where we were hired out by Gen. Lee’s agent to work on the Orange and Alexander railroad; we remained thus employed for about seven months, and were then sent to Alabama, and put to work on what is known as the Northeastern railroad; in January, 1863, we were sent to Richmond, from which place I finally made my escape through the rebel lines to freedom; I have nothing further to say; what I have stated is true in every particular, and I can at any time bring at least a dozen witnesses, both white and black, to substantiate my statements: I am at present employed by the Government; and am at work in the National Cemetery on Arlington Heights, where I can be found by those who desire further particulars; my sister referred to is at present employed by the French Minister at Washington, and will confirm my statement.

+ The Night King may have gotten all of his soldiers killed…twice, but he was still the best general on cable TV.

+ F-35 sales boost Lockheed’s earnings. Will Bernard Sanders get a special note of appreciation in the Quarterly Report?

+ Israel’s “secret” nuclear arsenal (now closing in on 400 weapons) was one of the biggest “fake secrets” of our time. The whole point of having nuclear weapons is that your adversaries know you have them and are crazy enough to use them. (Of course, that didn’t stop them from putting nuclear whistleblower Mordichai Vanunu in prison for “treason.”)

+ Jair Bolsonaro, the Mussolini of the Mato Grasso, this week on Twitter announced the end of public funding for departments of Philosophy and Sociology. Brazilian universities are, instead, to focus on” job training.” This is the culmination of a campaign by Bolsonaro that has hyped an alleged leftist takeover of the nation’s education system.

+ Meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s soul-brother in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, escalated his trash war with Canada: Duterte: “So what if we quarrel with Canada? We’ll declare war against them, we can beat them.” What university will be the first to open the Durterte School of Leadership, after he leaves office? Or will the Berkeley School of Law snap him up like they did John Yoo?

+ Lara Trump on FoxNews: “The downfall of Germany was Merkel’s decision to let in refugees. It was one of the WORST THINGS TO EVER HAPPEN TO GERMANY.”

+ Medicare: 2.5% of healthcare dollars are spent on overhead.

Aetna: 17.8% of healthcare dollars are spent on overhead and company profits.

+ The moral decline of the San Francisco 49ers can be traced from firing Colin Kapernick to picking racist troll Nick Bosa with the second pick in the NFL draft, a move Trump was quick to venerate in a Tweet. Apparently, the MAGA-rusher isn’t one of those NFL “son-of-a-bitches“…

+ Big Tech used to at least try to disguise their symbiotic relationship with the surveillance state. Now they feel free to brag about it openly, as in the case of Facebook hiring Jennifer Newstead, one of the authors of the Patriot Act, to serve as social media conglomerate’s general counsel . And why not not? Their users (us) have become passively acclimated to the gradually narrowing walls of their (our) own digital prison cells.

+ The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted unanimously this week to ban South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem from the Pine Ridge Reservation after she backed new “riot boosting” laws that target tribes and their allies who oppose new oil infrastructure on treaty lands.

+ Decline in global populations over the past decade, according to Biological Conservation:

Butterflies: 53%
 Beetles: 49%
 Bees: 46%
 Dragonflies: 37%
 Flies: 25%

+ The damage from the Bomb Cyclone that detonated on the Great Plains may exceed $3 BILLION

+ This loss comes on top of one of the worst quarters in decades for American farmers, collapses by $11.8 billion in the first three months of 2019.

+ The lifespan of a “biodegradable” plastic bag is three years and counting

+ Trump’s BLM just quietly opened the door to fracking on 1.1 million acres of federal land in California…

+ 91 percent of U.S. coal-fired power plants with monitoring data are contaminating groundwater with unsafe levels of toxic pollutants.

+ The accelerating loss of forest cover (30 million acres last year in the tropics alone, the fourth highest loss in 20 years) is yet another little noticed factor driving the climate catastrophe. 92 in the Shade, 108 in the Stumps…

+ The countries with the largest cumulative CO2 emissions since 1750…

1) US – 397Gt CO2
 2) CHINA – 214
 3) Russia / fmr USSR – 180
 4) Germany – 90
 5) United Kingdom – 77
 6) Japan – 58
 7) India – 51
 8) France – 37
 9) Canada – 32
 10) Poland – 27

+ The melting permafrost in the Arctic is expected to inflict more than $7 trillion (that’s TRILLION) of economic damage. The ecological damage is inestimable.

+ Greenland, which on any rational planet would be considered a continent, is falling apart, as its massive ice sheet is rapidly melting, having lost 4,976 GIGATONS  of water since 1972…and half of that loss has happened in the last 8 years. More ominously, the bottom of the Greenland ice sheet is now melting faster than the top, making the whole thing unstable and vulnerable to a catastrophic collapse.

+ The Paris Accords, which Democrats are launching a futile, last minute effort to salvage, were a giant placebo for the gullible and the grant-dependent.

+ The Mississippi River at Rock Island in the Quad Cities of Iowa hit a new all time record flood crest of 22.64′ at 11:50 AM on May 2nd.  This breaks the 1993 Great Flood record of 22.63′. The river continues to rise.

+ Here’s a link to that American Lung Association report on air quality in American cities. I was surprised that San Diego, a city I always thought of bright, clean and breezy, has the 6th worst ozone levels in the country–ozone is invisible.

+ A society that can’t even protect its drinking water is a failed state by any definition that really matters. The EPA’s response to this growing crisis (and, no, Flint still doesn’t have clean drinking water) is to slash its core Safe Drinking Water programs by 8 percent and cut its aid to state clean drinking water programs by 33 percent.

+ After the northern California town of Paradise was destroyed by one of the largest wildfires in history, the city discovered that much of its water had been contaminated by a “toxic cocktail” of gases released by the fire.  Most troubling is the presence of Benzene—a compound linked to anemia, vomiting, and leukemia—found in 30 percent of water samples taken in the town. “It is jaw dropping,” said Dan Newton of California’s Water Resources Control Board. “This is such a huge scale. None of us were prepared for this.” It will take at least  two years and more than $300 million clean and repair the cities water pipes. Meanwhile, the estimated 1,500 residents who moved back have been warned not to drink, cook, or bathe in the water.

+ We’ve lost another mountain lion in Southern California, this one killed with rat poison. And it’s not just mountain lions that are dying, though we can’t afford to lose any more of them in the Santa Monica Mountains, but bobcats, hawks and owls, as well. What was the source the rat poison? Unclear, but it’s often used at illicit grow operations…

+ Angelica Huston on cocaine and Jack Nicholson: “Bad cocaine makes you feel shitty. Probably makes you run for the loo because it’s laced with laxatives. Pure cocaine gives you a very light, airy, clear, and extremely pleasant feeling. But really, there’s no such thing as good cocaine. I don’t believe that people should take it recreationally. [Nicholson] never took overt amounts. He was never a guzzler. I think Jack sort of used it, probably like Freud did, in a rather smart way. Jack always had a bit of a problem with physical lethargy. He was tired, and I think probably, at a certain age, a little bump would cheer him up. Like espresso.”

+ Randy Newman on “Sail Away:” There was a producer, the husband of [actress] Leslie Caron. He wanted to make a movie where he would give ten minutes to these artists – people like Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, me – to do anything we wanted. It never got made. But I had this idea of a slave ship and a sea shanty – this guy standing in a clearing, singing to a crowd of natives. These people in my songs don’t know they’re bad. They think they’re fine. I didn’t just want to say, “Slavery is awful.” It’s too easy. I wasn’t doing Roots. I knew Bobby Darin pretty well. He covered this [in 1972], but he was such a musical guy that he missed the point. He was like, “Little one, come to America.” Etta James did it, and I guarantee she knew what it was about, absolutely.”

+ The highlights from 15-year-old John Lennon’s report card…

“His term marks amounted to 17% of the maximum and he missed the final exams. He is on the road to failure if this goes on.”

“He has too many of the wrong ambitions and his energy is too often misplaced.”

“He is content to ‘drift.'”

+ Chuck D on the Apollo Theater: “In the 70s, there were a lot of things going through Harlem that weren’t cool. In the 80s, when Percy Sutton bought the Apollo it started some sort of renaissance, rebuilding it. But in the 70s, the city had abandoned Harlem. It had been a different code in the hood in the 60s. Black folks, we might have been broke, but we wasn’t broken. When it got to a point where Public Enemy got too big for the Apollo, we said we would do a free show there. So we filmed it, and that turned out to be a Grammy-nominated home video, “The Enemy Strikes Black,” and that was done live at the Apollo.”

+ The Art Ensemble of Chicago: they went where no one, except Sun Ra, had gone before…

+ The Doors raped and pillaged every groovy harmonic vibe David Crosby was disseminating into the ether…

+ I think Lennon said this was his favorite cover of a Beatles song. Of course, Harry was his drinking buddy and this was Paul’s song, so make of that assessment what you will. Still, it’s pretty damn good…

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

France in the World: a New Global History by Patrick Boucheron (Ed.) (Other Press)

Catherine and Diderot: the Empress, the Philosopher and the Fate of the Enlightenment by Robert Zaretsky (Harvard)

Beneath My Feet: Writers on Walking by Duncan Minshull (Notting Hill Editions)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

We Are on the Edge: a 50th Anniversary Celebration by Art Ensemble of Chicago (PI Recordings)

Epistrophy by Bill Frisell / Thomas Morgan (ECM)

The Hurting Kind by John Paul White (Single Lock Records)

The Tsar of Toy Soldiers

Robert Zaretsky: “[Catherine the Great’s] husband Peter, though seduced by the example set by Frederick the Great, had neither the Prussian king’s capabilities nor culture. Instead, all he seemed to have acquired from Frederick was his infatuation with the pomp and circumstance of the military. When not busy changing into his many brightly laced uniforms, Peter spent hours playing with toy soldiers that, in order to keep them hidden from Empress Elizabeth’s officials, he stowed under Catherine’s bed. Made of wood, led, papier-mâché, and wax, these toy soldiers were periodically reviewed by Peter, who would strut past them wearing boots, spurs, and a scarf. Peter was similarly dressed when, one day, his dog caught a rat that was scampering across his toy battlefield. As he was executing it from a miniature gallows and in full military ceremony, Catherine walked in on the macabre scene. Looking back on the scene years later, she reflected: ‘It could at least be said in the rat’s defense that it had been hanged without anyone having asked or heard its defense.'” [From Catherine and Diderot: the Empress, the Philosopher and the Fate of the Enlightenment.]


More articles by:

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch .

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🚽 Roaming Charges: Crash Test Dummy Politics
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2019, 08:32:14 AM »

June 28, 2019
Roaming Charges: Crash Test Dummy Politics
by Jeffrey St. Clair

Repent Now! truck, Salvation Mountain. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Let’s start with some notes on the Democratic debates…

+ Andrea Mitchell: “Biden’s a skilled debater. We saw him with Sarah Palin.” Which was, obviously, the political equivalent of flooring Sonny Liston in the first round.

+ Steve Bannon was Andrew Yang’s fashion consultant for tonight’s festivities.

+ MSDNC’s Savannah Guthrie seems very concerned her taxes will go up.

+ The ideological gap between Sanders and Michael Bennet is wider than that between Biden and Strom Thurmond.

+ Swalwell, of all the little dwarves, takes the first shot at Biden’s age.

+ Ask Marianne Williamson a damn question!

+ So only Bernie and Harris (along with DeBlasio and Warren last night) stood up as true single-payer candidates willing to terminate the insurance industry. (12 hours later Harris had done a two-step on single-payer, claiming incredulously, that she’d misheard the question…So, it’s down to Sanders, Warren and “Che” DeBlasio after all.)

+ It’s the good capitalists vs. the greedy capitalists.

+ Biden: “I can deal with the insurance companies.” (Eastland taught him all the moves to make.)

+ 20 minutes into the debate and Biden looks dazed on his feet and he hasn’t even been punched.

+ Still waiting on Mayor Pete to break out in Maltese or Dari Persian.

+ Harris can shift smoothly from her Jesse Jackson cadences to the scolding tones of her Madame Prosecutor voice.

+ Marianne Williamson: “Where have you been guys? I haven’t heard anyone on this stage talk about the consequences of American foreign policy in Central America.”

+ Is Biden hedging on these questions or can he only raise his hand halfway up?

+ Bernie called Honduras a “failing state” without turning to Biden and saying “failing because of the coup your administration abetted.”

+ Good for Harris for criticizing the Obama administration’s immigration policies.

+ There’s an endowed chair waiting for Mayor Butter&Eggs at the Brookings Institute.

+ Williamson hits hard on reparations.

+ Biden can’t look at Harris as she flattens him for working with Jim Crow senators to prevent the desegregation of public schools.

+ Biden lecturing a black woman (even if it is Kamala Harris) on civil rights is a really bad look.

+ Biden: “My time is up.” Truest words he’s said all night.

+ David Nir: “Fair to say Kamala Harris threw Joe Biden under the busing.”

+ What the hell happened to Dennis Kucinich?

+ Good for Michael Bennet, who looked most of the night liked he’d been imbibing Colorado’s leading agricultural product, for exposing the economic consequences of Biden’s deal-making with McConnell.

+ Biden: “In our administration we had the largest wind farm in the world” and the largest offshore oil spill in history.

+ Biden: Smart guns, smart bombs.

+ Biden: I am NATO man.

+ I’ll give Bernie this. He’s almost totally without artifice. He doesn’t waste time on stories and heart-tugging anecdotes. He’s like one of the lesser Old Testament prophets. He’s old, his knees hurt, he can’t hear well, he wakes up irritated, he’s been shouting the same thing for years & damnit, people still aren’t getting what he’s saying…

+ Biden: Obama said, Joe, get some troops out Iraq so we can surge in Afghanistan.

+ Biden’s last words: May god protect our troops.

+ My scorecard on the 10 point system:

Sanders 9

Harris 7 (deductions for lying about her position on single-payer)

Gillibrand 6

Mayor Pete 5

Biden 3

Williamson 2

Bennet 1

Swalwell 0

Hickenlooper 0

Yang 0

+ On Wednesday night, the Sputnik Left made much of the fact that Tulsi Gabbard (who Pat Buchanan is now urging Trump to replace Bolton with as National Security Advisor) won the Drudge Report online poll. Let’s see who’s leading tonight: why it’s Andrew Yang with 28.5%!

+ Somebody, the brutish DeBlasio I guess, eventually needs to confront Warren on her votes for the Trump defense budget.

+ That’s it? 3 whole minutes on war and foreign policy?

+ Why does Tulsi Gabbard, the putative antiwar candidate, have to frame her opposition to the Iran war while bragging about her voluntary participation in the Iraq war? I’m told that early in her political career Gabbard wore a uniform to so many campaign events that she was sanctioned for violating ethical rules by the Pentagon.

+ They should ask John Delaney his questions during commercial breaks.

+ Delaney seems to auditioning for some Rick Perry-like slot in the Biden cabinet.

+ Julian Castro was the biggest surprise of the first debate for me. He was feisty, funny and eviscerated Beto, which admittedly may qualify as a kind of political corpse abuse.

+ It was a strangely warped debate where Warren, the front-runner among this pack of lightweights, wasn’t asked a question about climate policy, immigration, war or foreign policy.

+ O’Rouke spoke for 10 minutes and I can’t remember a thing he said…

Booker 10’35
O’Rourke 10’15
Warren 9’07
Castro 8’13
Klobuchar 8’06
Ryan 6’54
Delaney 6’17
Gabbard 6’15
de Blasio 5’20
Inslee 4’41

+ Chuck Todd spoke just four words less than Warren and more words than 7 of the candidates on stage and he only moderated half of the last half of the debate!

+ DeBlasio had one function: go after either Biden or Warren head on. He wimped out and went after the hapless Beto instead. Biden didn’t get hit with one punch by any of the contenders or pretenders. No one even took a swing…

+ Beto would have been better off answering all his questions in Spanish.

+ Tim Ryan had no idea who attacked the US on 9/11. So he probably picked up the endorsement of Cheney & Rumsfeld…

+ What exactly did Tulsi Gabbard do in Iraq and why did she volunteer to serve there in 2004, well after almost everyone knew the war had been launched on false pretenses. Last night, she rightly scolded Tim Ryan for not knowing who attacked the US on 9/11, but can’t a similar charge be laid at her own feet?

+ Only DeBlasio and Warren had the guts to stand up and support Medicare for All without equivocation. This rest seemed to support a phased-in approach or a “public option.”

+ Haven’t we been through the Public Option bait-and-switch before as pitched by a much more seductive salesman?

+ How CNN mutated “medicare for all” into “Warren and DeBlasio want to abolish private health insurance.”

+ Out after tonight, whether they know it or not: Ryan, Delaney, Klobuchar, Inslee, DeBlasio, Beto.

+ The big question for Sanders is: will he attack or be a good Democrat? In 2015, he signaled his docility in the very first debate when he leapt to HRC’s defense by saying, “Enough about the damn emails!” She knew at that moment he was no real threat. And, of course, it was the emails (and James Comey) that helped bring her down in the end…

+ Trump usually speaks in an impenetrable patois. But he’s not alone. Can anyone translate what the hell Cory Booker meant when he said this in the debate: “It’s [health care] not just a human right. It’s an American right.”

+ The notion that Bernie Sanders can claim ownership of ideas that the Left has been pushing for decades is typically hubristic. Next thing you know David Sirota will be boasting that Sanders was the ghostwriter of Das Kapital…

+ It takes guts to quote Che Guevara in Miami, even subconsciously. But big tough Bill DeBlasio couldn’t stand by it for even 24 hours before making a groveling apology…

+ A few hours after ditching Che, DeBlasio went the full McCarthyite: “I think when it comes to Vladimir Putin, the president started in a place that was treasonous, now it is full blown treason.”

+ Trump claimed over the weekend that he pulled the plug on airstrikes because he wasn’t convinced the Iranian leadership approved or even knew about the downing of the US spy-drone. So his response is to level sanctions against the Iranian leadership, including Iran’s top diplomat, which would prevent him from traveling to resolve the crisis diplomatically. Brilliant.

+ Is the cost of planning an airstrike you always intended to cancel more or less than planning a nationwide mass-arrest you always intended to cancel?

+ Last week Trump threatened Iran with “obliteration, like you’ve never seen.” This week he threatened the Islamic republic with “overwhelming force.” That qualifies as a downgrade, doesn’t it? Perhaps Ivanka exerts a moderating influence on the old man after all…

+ The Iranians, who have long had some of the world’s craftiest and most sophisticated diplomats, are laughing in Trump’s face, recycling some of his pen-pal Kim’s best insults…

+ Trump: “Just got a wonderful letter from Kim Jong-Un. It includes birthday wishes!” (Chairman Kim writes more letters than a character in a Samuel Richardson novel…)

+ The US Navy now has more personnel deployed to the Middle East than any other region in the world.

+ The Senate voted down a bill requiring Congressional approval for an attack on Iran. Congress has chopped off more of its own limbs than the Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail…

+ Mark Morgan, the man who is now in charge of Customs and Border Patrol which has 1000’s of children locked in cages, on the minors in the agency’s concentration camps: “I’ve looked at them and I’ve looked at their eyes – and I’ve said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It’s unequivocal.” (Morgan was first appointed to run Border Patrol under…Barack Obama.)

+ Trump’s new border Tsar Ken Cuccinelli, who just blamed an immigrant father seeking asylum for the drowning deaths of himself and his daughter, and  for the  once compared US immigration policy to Washington’s rodent control program, claiming (incorrectly it turns out) that a D.C. ordinance that doesn’t let animal control workers kill rats is worse than U.S. immigration policy because, “You can’t break up rat families. Or raccoons, and all the rest, and you can’t even kill ‘em. It’s unbelievable.”

+ Nancy Pelosi and the Art of Capitulation on Concentration Camps: According to the New York Times, Pelosi capitulated to the Senate border bill after Mike Pence convinced her that he would keep her updated on any migrant kids they killed in their concentration camps. This is at least as morally repugnant as Biden working with segregationists to end school busing and arguably worse.

+ Grotesque: “Pelosi tells her caucus they’re going to vote on the Senate border appropriations bill she’d objected to, but with a “Battle Cry as to how we go forward to protect children in a way that truly honors their dignity and worth.”

+ Sometimes you’ve got to work with the Sturmbannführers of the camps for the sake of the political comity…

+ Trump: I couldn’t have raped her. She’s not the type I like to rape.

+ The president is a serial rapist. Pelosi: “What do you expect me to do about it?”

+ Kevin Kruse: “The allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against the president are a classic case of he said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said.”

+ Cory Booker in a nutshell: “Booker is attending a fundraiser tomorrow co-hosted by an Essex County pol who contracts out jail space to ICE for migrant detention–jail space that’s been cited for filthy conditions and detainee mistreatment…”

+ As Eliza Gilkyson said of Colin Powell: ” Another white man posing in a black man’s skin.” (Thanks Deryle Perryman!)

+ That rare thing: a NYT editorial that actually encourages people to take action…

+ John Kelly just joined the board of Caliburn International, the company operating the largest concentration camp for migrant children.

+ 24 years from now, when Miami is underwater, will the Democrats return on pontoon boats for their first debate on climate change?

+ When asked whether he believed human-caused climate change, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue replied:

    “You know, I think it’s weather patterns, frankly. And you know, and they change, as I said. It rained yesterday, it’s a nice pretty day today. So the climate does change in short increments and in long increments.”

+ Perdue’s paleolithic views are embraced by Anne Idsal, the new head of the EPA’s air quality / climate office:

    “Climate has been changing since the dawn of time, well before humans ever inhabited the Earth. I think it’s possible that humans have some type of impact on climate change. I just don’t know the extent of that.”

+ Remind yourself every morning that these morons are running a country with 6,800 nuclear warheads and at night say thanks to Gaia that the planet somehow survived another day.

+ Laurie Garrett (author of the The Coming Plague): “When I warned that climate change is the greatest risk to human health in Beijing 10 years ago a top US govt health official scolded me backstage, ‘How dare you!’ the Obama official said. ‘Don’t try to bring your climate change fear-mongering on this public health stage!'”

+ The Hill reports that Biden is currently the top choice for “climate-minded” voters in 2020. Biden literally got a D- on a take-home climate test from Dem-friendly Greenpeace and plagiarized his online climate policy from Beto O’Rouke, who pocketed more oil & gas PAC money than any other Democrat…

+ The “free” market is wiping out Wyoming’s coal industry, even though Obama’s toothless Clean Coal Plan, which never kicked into gear, gets the blame.

+ Notes from the Weather Underground on this week’s European “heat wave”…

    * France may witness highest temperatures ever recorded, around 113 degrees
    * Madrid may come close to hitting 105, its highest ever temp
    * Intensity of the hot airmass smothering Europe is “totally unheard of for June”

+ This death’s head map resembles one of those Cold War Era scare maps depicting Soviet designs on Western Europe…

+ On June 25th, 51 weather stations in Germany reported temperatures of 95F or higher. The average temp in Berlin on June 25 is 67F.

+ Michael Mann: “If we are to prevent burning through the carbon budget – the amount of carbon we can afford to burn and still keep below 1.5-2 degrees celsius – we have to lower our carbon emissions by 5% a year for the next 12 years and beyond.”

+ A UN climate expert warned this week that we are entering a time of “climate apartheid,” where human rights may no longer matter. When have “human rights” ever mattered, except as an excuse for the US to launch wars against oil rich regimes it doesn’t like?

+ The Agriculture Department is now burying studies showing the risks of climate change to crop yields. Apparently, the Trump Administration watched Chernobyl and picked up a lot of new ideas on how to handle environmental catastrophes from the Soviet high command…

+ As Biden was pushing the 1994 Crime Bill, which he largely wrote, he proclaimed: “Lock the SOB’s up!” How is this materially different than Trump’s virulent attacks on the Central Park Five, except that Biden’s vicious blast affected 10s of thousand more people, most of them poor and either brown or black.

+ Here Biden is again in 1989, attacking George HW Bush for being a wimp on crime:

    “In a nutshell the president’s plan doesn’t include enough police officers to catch the violent thugs, not enough prosecutors to convict them, not enough judges to sentence them, and not enough prison cells to put them away for a long time.”

+ The Washington Post reported that Joe Biden got rich (Net worth: $4.3 million) after he left office, mostly by charging $200,000 per speech. But the article didn’t disclose whether he paid any royalties for the plagiarized passages.

+ I’d have some respect for Biden if he simply said “As a Catholic, I’m morally opposed to abortion.” (And strictly abided by all of the other social teachings of his Church.) But instead he lies, then changes his position when he gets bad press and, like Trump, loudly denies his own record. Then again, can you really be “pro life” after authoring the largest expansion of the federal death penalty in the history of the Republic?

+ Biden can always be counted on to commit a new gaffe as he tries to explain his previous gaffe.

+ The most likely way it will end for Biden: death by 1000 self-inflicted cuts.

+ The Democratic Party looks like it’s going to let Biden’s rancid record (on just about everything) slide, not because he’s the best candidate to defeat Trump (he’s not), but because they support almost everything he’s done, from the crime bill to austerity to the Iraq war to protecting the banks.

+ Trump has rich sport ridiculing Warren’s claim of remote Native American ancestry. Yet he repeatedly claimed, and wrote (dictated) in Art of the Deal, that his father’s family was Swedish (they were German), while Melania persistently presented herself as Austrian not Slovenian. She even changed the spelling of her name from Melanija Knavs to Melania Knauss to abet the ruse.

+ Trump: “European nations were set up in order to take advantage of the United States.” (To FoxBizNews money honey Maria Bartiromo, who nods along like a bobblehead doll.)

+ Trump, from the same interview, on Jerome Powell, the man he appointed to run the Federal Reserve: “Here’s a guy, nobody ever heard of him before, and now I made him and he wants to show how tough he is? O.K. Let him show how tough he is.”

+ And, finally, this from President Bone Spurs:  “Vietnam is almost the single worst abuser of everybody.”

+ Vassily Grossman:

    “In Mein Kampf, Hitler stated that equality benefits only the weak, that progress in the world of nature is achieved solely through the destructive force of natural selection, and that the only possible basis for human progress is racial selection, the dictatorship of race. He confused the concepts of violence and strength. He saw the vicious despair of impotence as a strength and failed to recognize the strength of free human labour. He saw the man sowing a vast wheat field as inferior to the thug who smashes him over the back of the head with a crowbar. This is the philosophy of a loser who has fallen into despair, who is unable to achieve anything through labour but who is endowed with a strong mind, ferocious energy and a burning ambition.”

Sound familiar? (Thanks Paul Whalen!)

+ Marwan Bishara on Kushner’s Middle East “peace” plan:

    The same people who threaten to take us to another Gulf War; conspired against Arab Spring, killed countless people in Yemen, imprisoned thousands in Egypt, Bahrain etc, killed journalists and covered it up including Jamal Khashoggi, are today talking “peace” in Bahrain.

+ Could you imagine the reaction to a Palestinian saying anything remotely like this about Israel? “A national suicide of the Palestinians’ current political and cultural ethos is precisely what is needed for peace,” writes Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN in the New York Times.

+ The population of Queens, which just elected Tiffany Cabán (a proponent of radical de-carceration of the justice system) as its DA, is larger than 16 states.

+ Top recipients of campaign contributions from private prison companies:

    -Henry Cuellar: $146,740
    -Bob Corker: $101,858
    -Marsha Blackburn: $101,250
    -Marco Rubio: $92,050
    -Charlie Crist: $86,450
    -Mitch McConnell: $84,900

+ Did the NRA help Bernie Sanders get elected to Congress? This article by longtime Sanders watcher Paul Heinz in Seven Days Vermont makes a strong case they did and that Sanders was happy to have their support:

    Upon arriving in Congress in 1991, Sanders repeatedly voted against legislation requiring waiting periods for those buying firearms. He opposed a 1996 measure that would have allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fund research on gun violence. And he voted in favor of a 2005 law shielding gun manufacturers from lawsuits — a “historic victory” for the NRA, as the organization’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, called it at the time.

+ In a wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times, Vladimir Putin declares that liberalism has ‘become obsolete’, champions national populism, and attacks multiculturalism and sexual diversity. Not exactly Lenin’s critique of liberalism, as I recall it…

+ Q. Are you excited about going to the White House?
Megan Rapinoe: We’re not going to the fucking White House!

+ Trump couldn’t resist the temptation to attack Megan Rapinoe (who he apparently believes is black) for saying the women’s soccer team wasn’t going to the “fucking White House.” In his rage Tweet at her, he linked to another woman’s Twitter account. This may come as some consolation to Iran when Trump picks the targets for an airstrike, but Iraq and Oman better take cover…

+ I find it almost impossible to root for any US team in international competition, but this women’s soccer squad is winning me over: U.S. women’s soccer star Ali Krieger says President Trump is angered by women he ‘cannot control or grope‘.

+ Megan Rapinoe replies to Trump’s attack on her announcing that she wouldn’t be going “to the fucking White House:” “I’ll just address it head on and then we can get to the soccer questions. I stand by the comments I made about not wanting to go to the White House, with the exception of the expletive. My mom won’t be proud of that.”

The expletive was entirely justified, Megan.

+ Tony Posnanski: “One huge difference between Donald Trump and Megan Rapinoe is she doesn’t have to pay 130k to score.”

+ Trump ranting on the White House lawn about “women being raped in numbers you wouldn’t believe” is surely the most Freudian spectacle of the week…so far.

+ Eric (Uday) Trump claims that a cocktail waitress in Chicago spit at him. The waitress’s denial was unequivocal: “He’s not my type.”

+ Jimmy Carter during his Sunday School class homily this week, apparently forgetting all about Afghanistan: “We’re supposed to be a ‘Christian’ nation are we not? But we are known throughout the world as the most warlike country on Earth. And I would say almost all the wars in which we’ve been involved, have been unnecessary.”

+ Stop this country, I want to get off….Fully one-third of Americans would support a nuclear war against North Korea, even if the blasts killed more than one million people.

+ The Booming Economy by the numbers (courtesy of Public Citizen):

    39% of Americans have $0 in savings

    Families put up to 30% of their income toward child care

    40% of Americans hold a second job

    1 in 4 people make less than $10/hr

+ Meanwhile, CEO pay increased at twice the rate of ordinary wages last year.

+ How the rich got super-rich since the de-regulation frenzy of Reagan-time…

+ The Trump campaign vetting documents of potential cabinet members contains the best thing I’ve ever heard about Gen. David Petraeus, “Petraeus Is Opposed to Torture.” Of course, this was a “Red Flag” for the Trumper brain trust…

+ It’s Trump’s party now, no question….Duncan Hunter had an affair with at least three different lobbyists, one of his own staff members, and an aide to a member of the GOP leadership team.

+ Economic sanctions are an insidious form of intervention, which inflict the most suffering on those the US government professes to care the most about. Consider what’s happening in Cuba…

    Strumming our pain with his short fingers
    Threatening our life with his words
    Killing us softly with sanctions
    Ending our own lives with his words
    Killing us softly with sanctions

+ Trump claims that something might be wrong with Biden’s brain. He might be right. But what would a neurologist make of this?

    THE HILL: Do you think you should be on Mount Rushmore, sir?

    PRESIDENT TRUMP: If I answer that question yes, I will end up with such bad publicity. Well , look, I have a lot of respect; even Mount Rushmore; so for many, many years they got, they had fireworks, right? Many, many years. And Kristi, your new governor, she’s a great person. She called, she said, sir, for many years we had tremendous fireworks on the 4th of July. We don’t have it anymore. Can you do something? And I got it approved. Starting , next season, it was not easy, starting next season , Mount Rushmore will have tremendous fireworks like they had for many years. But they ended it a long time ago, but they didn’t want, but they didn’t have fireworks because of, I don’t know, I think they thought, thought the stone was gonna catch on fire. That doesn’t happen, right? There was somebody said they had. Nobody’s been able, nobody’s been able to figure out why, but it was a very strong no. And I got it approved starting next season. They’re doing some work. They’re finishing up work now. But I got it approved for next season for Kristi and for the state.

+ Out of the mouths of billion-heiresses…”Education has clearly not been at the top of Trump’s priorities.” This acute observation from Betsy DeVos.

+ Here’s an excellent piece in Rolling Stone by Nina Burleigh on the press’s mangling of E. Jean Carroll’s harrowing account of being raped by Trump…

+ So the NYPD investigated itself and after looking at nearly 2500 “incidents” over the last five years couldn’t find one episode of biased policing…

+ The tenant eviction rate in South Bend is among the highest in the nation, which will certainly endear Mayor Butter&Eggs to the Slumlord PACs.

+ Tory Britain is pretty much like Trump America, even without Steve Bannon’s meddling…

    – 40% want limit on Muslims entering UK
    – 43% don’t want a Muslim PM
    – 67% believe Sharia law rules parts of UK
    – 45% think there are no-go areas for non-Muslims

+ A few Kushner anecdotes culled from Vicky Ward’s terrific book, Kushner Inc.

+ When Jared took over the New York Observer, he sent the editorial staff a four page manifesto on changes he wanted to see in the paper. Two of the four pages dealt with how the paper should cover Israel. Then editor Elizabeth Spiers, who later resigned, quipped, “The NY Observer has traditionally been about … New York.”

+ Trump wasn’t thrilled about the match between Jared and Ivanka, which required her to convert to Orthodox Judaism. “Why should she convert for anyone,” Trump snarled to Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft. “Why couldn’t she have married Tom Brady? Have you seen how far he throws a football? Jared is half the size of Tom Brady’s arm.”

+ When Jared Kushner set up his office at the New York Observer, he hung two framed documents on the wall: a photo of his idol JFK & the first page of A Tale of Two Cities, ripped out of a first edition of Dickens’ book. Asked about it, he said, “I love that quote” (ie, the famous opening passage.) What do you think of the novel? “Oh, I’ve never read it.”

+ Why is JFK, Jared Kushner’s idol, you ask? The look, the brand, the riches, the women, but not the tragedy, of course (though perhaps Jared didn’t get that far in the biography)…

+ With these simple phrases, you could write your very own Trump speech on almost any subject: great, in two weeks, best ever, worst ever, we’ll see what happens, I, me, mine, deal, beautiful, terrible, Obama, ratings, a lot of people are saying, good people, horrible people, nobody thought, fake, maybe maybe not…

+ Justin Raimondo and I had our clashes over the years, some bloody and profane, but he was my friend and I was honored to stand by him against every damn war from Clinton’s bombing of Serbia to Trump’s saber-rattling against Iran, and all the one’s in between. A mighty voice for peace has gone silent.

+ We just got word from the digital magazine distributor ISSUU that our latest edition of CounterPunch has been banned because of the “unsafe” nature of the cover art (done by the wicked Nick Roney), which is an entirely chaste parody of one of the world’s most famous paintings.

Judge for yourself…

Next time no fancy French bra!

+ Creepy Joe’s Diner…what Biden eats at every event: “At each of his engagements across the country, hosts reportedly served Biden the same meal — angel hair pomodoro, a caprese salad and raspberry sorbet with biscotti for dessert.” (Wash Post.)

+ It’s not yet July and Alaska is burning…

+ In the race toward planetary annihilation, one predator feeds the other…A report by the IMF reveals that annual fossil fuel subsidies now exceed Pentagon spending.

+ The US military generates more pollution than 140 countries.

+ Electric vehicles aren’t the solution to the climate crisis. What’s generating the “electricity” that powers them? In the Pacific Northwest, the cars are running on a cocktail of coal and dead salmon (from hydro-dams).

+ Mike Roselle: “During the depression, the Soviets were surprised to see Americans driving to the poor house in a Model T. Now we are driving into an incinerator in a Prius.”

+ Monsanto doesn’t brew Roundup out of thin air. The key ingredient in its toxic recipe is phosphate, mined from massive pits in Idaho…

+ Almost everything we think we know about pollution is dangerously wrong. In fact, the planet may be 100 times more toxic we think.

+ Sunday morning I got up at my normal 6am. I worked until noon. It was a nice day, morning marine layer slowly burning off in the afternoon sun. I took off south in my faithful “Lesbaru” to a series of waterfalls I’d visited a decade ago in the Santiam State Forest about 50 miles southeast of Oregon City. The last 10 miles or so are a twisty, dusty drive on Crooked Finger Road, much of it across Weyerhaeuser “timberlands.” About 2 miles from the old trailhead, the road entered a massive clearcut, easily 500 acres in size spilling off both sides of the ridge all the way down the ridges to Butte Creek on the north and Abiqui Creek on the south. At the eastern end of the clearcut, Weyerhaeuser had blocked the road with a gate, denying access to the Butte Creek Trailhead and campsite, both of which are on state lands. Both sides of the road were lined with cars, mainly big trucks, around which people, indeed, entire families were sitting in folding chairs, drinking beer, eating chips, and holding guns: rifles, revolvers, semi-automatic A-47s. It was an eerie sight made more ominous by the constant “pop, pop, pop” of gunfire on both sides of me. The clearcut had been turned into a firing range. I counted 25 people, some of them pre-teens, shooting and another 50 people with guns just hanging around waiting their turn. The shooters were racially segregated, Hispanics shooting on the south side, whites on the north side. As a peace-and-love hippie out to commune with cap-N Nature, I felt a little out of place. But I parked the car near the gate, nodded at the shooters, and started walking down the road. I got about two hundred yards, as the road began a switchback down the slope, when I heard bullets thwacking into the Doug-firs above my head. They weren’t shooting at me, I was unknowingly descending into their line of fire. I made a hasty, crouching retreat, flashing the peace sign as I took shelter in my car and sped away. When I got home, I found this article explaining Weyerhaeuser’s reasoning for closing the road. It all started with a clearcut…

+ Brazilian jazz legend Hermeto Pascoal, who turned 83 this week, recounts his time in the ring boxing with Miles Davis…

+ Sheryl Crow on the Universal Music masters inferno: “I can’t understand…how you could store anything in a vault that didn’t have sprinklers. And .. I can’t understand how you could make [back-up copies] and have them in the same vault. I mean, what’s the point?”

+ Five years after the break-up of The Beatles, Lennon and McCartney got together in a recording studio with Stevie Wonder…

+ How Chinese food fueled the rise of California Punk….

+ Me (on the right, slouching toward Bethlehem) and my team of reportorial renegades prepare to reenact scenes from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on the streets of the southside of Indianapolis, 1976…(Only the journalism professor was harmed in the making of this story.)

+ My list of the 10 Worst Movies of All Time:

    Birth of Nation
    Green Beret
    Zero Dark 40
    American Sniper
    La La Land
    A Star is Born (every version)
    Field of Dreams
    Shawshank Redemption
    Jerry Macguire

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

This Bird Still Flies by Mimi Fox (Origin)

Atlantic Oscillations by Quantic (Tru Thoughts)

Love Will Find a Way by Philip Bailey (Verve)

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells by Pico Iyer (Knopf)

This Land is Our Land: an Immigrant’s Manifesto by Suketu Mehta (FSG)

This Storm by James Ellroy (Knopf)

RIP Dave Bartholomew…

The Camp Which Surrounded Us

Victor Frankl: “I shall never forget how I was roused one night by the groans of a fellow prisoner, who threw himself about in his sleep, obviously having a horrible nightmare. Since I had always been especially sorry for people who suffered from fearful dreams or deliria, I wanted to wake the poor man. Suddenly I drew back the hand which was ready to shake him, frightened at the thing I was about to do. At that moment I became intensely conscious of the fact that no dream, no matter how horrible, could be as bad as the reality of the camp which surrounded us, and to which I was about to recall him.” (Man’s Search for Meaning)
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Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch .
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🚽 Roaming Charges: Small Stains on the Pavement
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2019, 01:34:44 AM »

August 9, 2019
Roaming Charges: Small Stains on the Pavement
by Jeffrey St. Clair

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  Many of the liberals talking the loudest about “white supremacy” on MSDNC have only known its privileges, thus they would have us believe white supremacy resides only in the vile minds of the KKK and Aryan Nations, instead of the racist forces operating inside the banks, the school boards, the police, the FBI, the Pentagon that degrade, impoverish and kill people every single day.

  Six of the nine people murdered by the Dayton shooter were black. Was this rampage driven by racial animus? I don’t know and no one else seems to either. He certainly hated women, compiling “rape lists” while in high school. But here’s a deeper question: Why were there so many cops deployed to the area outside the Ned Peppers Bar? It sure as hell wasn’t because they were expecting a mass shooter. More likely, they patrolled the area because it’s a place where young black people gather on weekend nights.

  Here’s Trump’s original statement, Tweeted out while small stains on the pavement were still wet. When white terrorists go on a rampage, it’s because they’re mentally ill–as opposed to say M-13 gang murders who kill because they’re “animals.” There’s a mental illness problem alright and it’s prowling the corridors of the West Wing.

  Declaring white supremacy a mental illness is a convenient way to depoliticize a murderous ideology.

  The “mentally ill,” who are usually harmful only to themselves, have now become another of Trump’s scapegoats groups and will be targeted in his rants as the latest threat to America, along side Muslims, Central American migrants & blacks. The inevitable consequence will be more yet violence directed against them.

  I wonder if Trump will seek out advice from the Sackler Family and the other titans of Big Pharma for how to get those “mentally ill” mass shooters back on their meds. If you want to buy an AK-47, you need to show us your prescription. It’s a win-win, economically speaking. You can help keep the gun industry and the drug companies in business.

   As Trump talks of keeping guns out of the hands people with mental illnesses, it’s worth mentioning that barely a month into his presidency, he revoked an Obama rule designed to keep guns from people with severe mental illnesses.

  The Republicans refusing to appear on camera to say something about this weekend’s mass shootings are certainly courageous in demonstrating their cowardice.

  Imagine how quickly the 2nd Amendment would have been re-interpreted, if not rescinded entirely, if Nat Turner had been able to walk into his local dry goods store and buy two dozen semi-automatic rifles with 100-round drums?

  Giving the feds even more power to go after “domestic terrorism” in the wake of the El Paso shooting means that this power will almost certainly be used with more punishing effect against Leftists, from blacks to Native Americans to environmentalists to migrants to labor and anti-war activists (if there are any left). Just like it always has been.

  Remember this from a couple of months ago during one of Trump’s Reichsparteitag der Macht rallies in Florida?

    Trump: But how do you stop (migrants)?
    Supporter: Shoot them
    Trump: (laughs) That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement (laughs some more)

  Trump benefits from violence (and thus incites it), even from acts committed by his own acolytes, because high-profile violent acts can always be exploited to increase the political and policing powers of the State.

  Trump’s strategy (or more likely his homunculus Stephen Miller’s) reminds me of the Vigilant California plot line in Inherent Vice, where Coy Harlingen and others are recruited to commit acts of violence at a Nixon rally in order to justify a police crack-down and emphasize Nixon’s campaign theme about the violent nature of 60s subcultures–although the Trump / Miller version is not, as Pynchon might say, so amusing….

  The laws that are meant to police white supremacists were written by white supremacists to protect white supremacy. Good luck with that.

  Here’s what a hundred round drum magazine like the one used in Dayton looks like…

  Ryan Scott: “Fox News did to our parents what they thought video games would do to us.”

  Trump can’t and shouldn’t do much of anything to regulate video games. But if he’s concerned about sadistic violence in the movies and on television, he does have the power to stop the Pentagon, FBI and CIA from cooperating with Hollywood on many of its most blood spattered movies.

  Is there a more obnoxious Democratic talking point than the one they’re all parroting this week about how George W. Bush visited a mosque after 9/11? And how many of them did he bomb in Afghanistan and Iraq after that self-serving photo-op?

  Celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said today that people are overreacting to the mass shootings, noting that 200 people die every 48 hours in car accidents. True. But what how many people would die in car accidents if we allowed unlicensed, drunken 13 year olds to drive 16-wheelers? Or how many would die had not Ralph Nader forced Detroit to make their cars safer?

  Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed was published in 1965, when there were 26 deaths per 100,000 people in the US every year from car crashes. In 2017, the death rate was 11.40 per 100,000, saving more than 40,000 lives a year. One of the reasons Nader deserves a Nobel Prize for his work in blunting the automobile’s war against humanity. Regulations can save lives. Lots of them.

  Since January, Trump’s campaign has posted more than 2,000 ads on Facebook including the word “invasion.” They are part of a Facebook ad buy for Trump immigration spots that total $1.25 million.

  Trump’s solution to mass shootings: Involuntary confinement, banning “violent” video games , expansion of the death penalty and bulletproof backpacks.

  Trump: “May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo.” Toledo?

  One geezer (Trump) thinks the Dayton shooting happened in Toledo, the other geezer (Biden) thinks the El Paso and Dayton shootings happened in Houston and Michigan. God bless, America…

  According to a Pew survey on Americans and guns, a significant share of Americans (44%) say they personally know someone who has been shot, either accidentally or intentionally. Gun owners are more likely than non-gun owners to know someone who has been shot (51% vs. 40% of non-owners). And black adults (57%) are more likely than whites (43%) or Hispanics (42%) to know someone who falls into this category.

  CNN’s Chris Cuomo just said that suspected white nationalists should be treated the same way the US treats Al Qaeda and ISIS jihadis. Does that mean that we drone them (or at least where we think they live), their neighbors and their families? [They did a pre-drone version of this to MOVE in Philly.]

  CJ Werleman: “Wait, if video games are causing these terrorist mass shootings, and not extremist ideologies, then why did we ban Muslims from entering the country?”

  Manson didn’t commit the murders at Cielo Drive, Hogan, but he was convicted of inciting his cultish followers to do so….

  Toni Morrison: “The function, the serious function, of racism is distraction.”

  Invoking Martin Luther King Jr in your quest to expand the death penalty is a new low even for a life-long gutter dweller like Mike Pence…

  Toni Morrison: “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”

  From the NYT’s bizarre editorial on our homegrown crop neo-Nazis: “Those who sympathize with the white nationalist ideology but who deplore the violence…”

  Weapons like that have no place in Afghanistan either, Pete…

  So the GOP-NRA talking point on day two of Mass Gun Slaughter Week is the same one they turned to after Columbine: video games are to blame. But the US has been bombing someplace in the world at least once every three days since the Gulf War in 1991. Don’t you think that real slaughter might be a bit more desensitizing morally and psychologically than video games?

  17 of the 25 deadliest mass shootings in US history have occurred after the launching of the never-ending Global War on “Terrorism”. That’s no mere coincidence, Pete.

  120: Guns per 100 residents in US.

  In case you were wondering what Biblical passage Marco Rubio, the NRA’s 3.2 Million Dollar Man, would quote the day after the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso…

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

  Nothing awakens Sleepy Joe Biden more than the opportunity to propose new crime legislation, such as laws to combat “white nationalism”…

  Biden: “Trump offers no moral leadership.” Every time I hear a moralist offering to lead the country, I head for the nearest bomb shelter or head shop, whichever sanctuary I find first…

  Biden has a warped understanding of US history. He says the KKK was beaten down after the Civil War. Absurd. The Klan defeated Reconstruction and helped re-institute slavery by other means, and then slowly withered away until the 20s, with the origin of the Civil Rights Movement, especially in the north, where whites were becoming discomfited by the Great Migration…

  The Democrats put this guy on the debate stage in front of a national TV audience…TWICE.

  I know Rep. Delaney wants to require people thinking of committing a mass shooting to have liability insurance, but what if you forgot to pay your premium for a few months and you go shoot up a gay bar, taco stand or Quaker Meeting House any way, what’s the penalty?

  Ohio state Rep. Candice Keller has a few ideas about what causes mass shootings, starting with “drag queens…”

  What was Marianne Williamson saying about “dark psychic forces” being released upon the Republic? Sometimes it takes a Jungian to point out what’s staring you right in the face…

  It’s an awful reflex, I know, but each time there’s a mass shooting like the one in El Paso this morning, my first reaction is now to hope that it wasn’t done by an immigrant or a Muslim…

  It’s time to jettison the torpid phrase “common sense gun reform,” which is DC-speak for something toothless enough that it might even win Mitch McConnell’s support.

  Let’s hope that Trump was so boorish and uncouth  in Dayton and El Paso that he puts an end once-and-for all to this sick tradition of Presidents visiting the scenes of selected atrocities–they never go to the sites of slaughter that they actually have culpability for, like My Lai or Fallujah.

  O, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear, and he shows them pearly white…

  In 1987, the federal government banned metal-tipped lawn darts because a single child (seven-year-old Michelle Snow) died after being impaled by one.

  How the Portland GOP is responding to the recent mass shootings…by auction off a 25-inch long “pistol” as a fundraiser.

  24 of the 50 state supreme courts have only white judges…

  Police use of force is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. for men age 25 to 29.

  As Trump took flight to El Paso, ICE was doing its malign work on the ground beneath, arresting around 680 undocumented immigrants in a massive worksite operation in Mississippi. ICE said it is the largest ever single state immigration enforcement operation.

  Many of the 680 migrants arrested at work today by ICE are parents. Their children were left alone waiting for moms and dads who didn’t come to pick them up from school…

  “Dianne’s fiancé, who came to the country more than 2 decades ago from Mexico, told her he had no way out & would not be able to escape ICE agents. His voice trembling, he told Dianne that she needed to make a promise before he got off the line: ‘Take care of my kids.’”

  The ICE raids on the Koch Foods packing plant in Morton, Mississippi came less than a year after the company reached a $3.5 million settlement with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for systemic racial and sexual harassment of female, mostly Latina, workers at the plant by managers who touched and/or made sexually suggestive comments to female Hispanic employees, hit Hispanic employees and charged many of them money for normal everyday work activities.”

  According to some a gripping dispatch by the Colorado Independent, ICE is isolating some detainees 22-23 hours a day in cells less than half the size of a standard parking space, with little more human contact than the hand that slides a food tray through a door slot.

  Ira Kurzban (immigration attorney): “The immigrant haters today ended, believe it or not, a program to help World War II Filipino Veterans. The 20 vets who came each year must be a real threat to the country.”

  An important message on Julian Assange from John Pilger…

  Giving the cops the finger isn’t a crime (yet). But a North Carolina appeals court just ruled that doing so is probable cause that you might be in the process of committing one.

  It’s hardly breaking news to anyone on the ground, but a sergeant with the St. Louis Police disclosed this week that there are many “white supremacists” working in the department.

  On Saturday night at the Mineral County Fair and Rodeo in Superior, Montana, a MAGA Mountain Man named Curt James Brockway got irate that a 13-year old boy didn’t remove his ball cap during the National Anthem and punched the kid in the head. “There was a little boy lying on the ground. He was bleeding out of his ears, seizing on the ground, just not coherent,” Taylor Hennick told the Missoulian. “He said (the boy) was disrespecting the national anthem so he had every right to do that.” Brockway, who said he believed he was acting on Trump’s orders, is on probation for holding a local family at gunpoint and threatening to kill them. So, I guess we’re lucky he didn’t shoot the kid.

  Trump and the cast of cartoon characters that fill his cabinet have taken us to the Land Beyond Parody. This week Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro lashed out at the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, comparing its stable of red-baiting hacks to a Chinese communist newspaper:  “The Wall Street Journal will write what it writes. It doesn’t sound a lot different from the People’s Daily in terms of the news that it puts out.” What goes around comes around, Rupert.

  Weeks of paid maternal leave by country:

    U.K.: 52
    Greece: 43
    Ireland: 42
    Hungary: 24
    Sweden: 19.6
    Canada: 17
    France: 16
    Australia: 10
    United States: 0

  Biden at a Senate hearing several months after the invasion of Iraq. “I voted to go into Iraq, and I’d vote to do it again….Contrary to what some in my party might think, Iraq was a problem that had to be dealt with sooner rather than later.” (Recall Biden said in the last debate that he was “one of the loudest voices against the war after “Shock and Awe.”) Thanks to Stephen Zunes for tracking down the quote.

  Remember when Trump caught flak (rightly so) for his pathetic imitation of an Indian call center worker? Well, he must have caught Joe Biden (see below) doing the same thing, only worse, while he was VP…

  A word of caution: when you open Joe Biden’s closet, you’re likely to be crushed by an avalanche of skeletons. For example, he once held Trump’s position on sanctuary cities and there’s no evidence he ever renounced it.

  Lee Atwater was talking here about the evolution of the Southern Strategy, but it could apply equally to Biden and the Blue Dog/Clinton Dems, couldn’t it?

    “You start out in 1954 saying ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger.’ That hurts you, backfires, so you say stuff like, ‘Forced busing, states’ rights,’ and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract, now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are basically economic. ‘We want to cut this much’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than, “Nigger, nigger.'”

  Calling Dr. Freud….Biden in Iowa on Thursday night: “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”

  In his ongoing campaign against metaphors and similes, Pompeo Maximus just ordered the State Department to update its definition of Antisemitism to include “making comparisons between Israeli policy and that of the Nazis.” This censorious maneuver seems targeted at both BDS and Ilhan Omar, who Trump and Co. have wrongly accused of comparing Israeli crimes to those of the Nazis.

  For some people, an AK-47 serves the same function as a companion animal…

  Simone de Beauvoir:  “One of the benefits that oppression secures for the oppressor is that the humblest among them feels superior.” (The Second Sex)

  Orange County, once the most solid turf for the GOP, is now turning blue. It’s only natural. The Democrats grow more conservative every year, as the GOP goes mucho loco.

  In this new Quinnipiac poll of the Democratic field, “there are 4 candidates with 1% each and 14 candidates at less than 1% each.”

  Tulsi Gabbard seems to have whacked Kamala Harris in the last debate, as her poll number collapsed. If so, the beneficiary seems to have been the even more odious Biden, not Gabbard, who went from single digits to less than single digits in the Real Clear Politics average afterwards, which is both a reflection on Gabbard and the enervated state of the antiwar movement that promotes her as their champion.

  The main takeaway from the second debates is a near total repudiation of Harris, DeBlasio and the most obnoxious rightwing Democrats…

  A leading conservative economist, Stephen Fuller, is taking a lashing for writing a column in support of Amazon moving its HQ to the Greater-DC swamp. The article topic was suggested Fuller by Amazon execs and he submitted a draft to Amazon for comments before publication. Paul Krugman did pretty much the same thing on behalf of the energy Ponzi-scheme known as Enron, after he pocketed $50,000 of the larcenous enterprise’s money…

  Nice things, like universal health, that most of the rest of the world enjoys but the US just can’t afford, while shelling out $989 billion to defense contractors…

  183%:  increase in the cost of collegiate textbooks over the last 20 years.

  When the explosive power (megatonnage) of the U.S. nuclear arsenal peaked in 1960, it was equivalent to 1,366,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs. Today’s operational stockpile contains the equivalent of more than 91,500 Hiroshimas.

  When Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Akira Kurosawa sat down to talk about the meaning of Hiroshima…

    Kurosawa: “The atomic bomb constituted the starting point of the Cold War and of the arms race, and it marked the beginning of the process of creation and utilization of nuclear energy. Happiness will never be possible given such origins.”

  White supremacists aren’t much of a threat to the things that corporations and their government policing agencies care about. People who shut down pipelines, on the other hand…

  The forests of the Pacific Northwest  have never been “too wet” to burn. Douglas-fir, the dominant tree species of the region, is a “fire-dependent” species. What’s changed is the intensity and duration of the fires.

  Ocean heatwaves that WIPE OUT marine life are now occurring at double the rate experts had expected.

  Alaska’s waters now completely clear of sea ice, as last ice in the Beaufort Sea offshore Prudhoe Bay melted away. The closest ice to Alaska is now about 150 miles (240km) northeast of Kaktovik. Chukchi Sea maintaining lowest ice ever recorded in NSIDC data.

  Early summer (May-July) average sea surface temperatures in the northern Bering Sea were the highest on record in the NOAA climate data. Each of the past six years is among the warmest on record.

  Wildlands in America are being shredded at the rate of two football fields per minute. While “development” is not the word I’d use, nevertheless, the rate of destruction of the few fragmented patches of ecosystems that remain is staggering (and probably understated)…

  Climate change is a likely factor  in the dramatic increase in blooms of cyanobacteria — single-cell organisms that, when they grow densely, can produce toxic substances–that are closing many of American’s most popular lakes.

  More than 400 people probably died as a consequence of a late July heatwave in the Netherlands, a 15% increase from the normal death rate.

  The EPA concluded in late 2016 that ethylene oxide is at least 30 times more carcinogenic than previously understood. 12 of the top 20 highest-emitting facilities are in Louisiana and Texas and they’ve told people almost nothing about the risks of living near these cancer factories.

  There’s nothing in the Constitution that says you’ve got a right to water, is there? That’s fortunate, because we’re running out of it fast.

  How many damn cows is a grizzly bear’s life worth? 10? 100? 1,000? Nope. A couple of calves according to the Fish & Wildlife Service, which dispatched its hired killers in Wildlife Services to the Rocky Mountain Front to shoot a 24-year old, 550-pound female, one of the oldest bears in the lower-48.

  Trump greenlights the use of M-44 explosives (“cyanide bomblets“) to kill wildlife (along with your dog, kid and any other living thing that happens to stumble across one)…

  The tundra isn’t the only thing going up in flames in Siberia. More than 100,000 people were evacuated from towns in the Krasnoyarsk region, after a string of explosions at a Russian military weapons depot. No word on whether the burning stockpiles contain depleted uranium. Trust, but bring your own dosimeter.

  Novelist Kevin Barry’s dispatch from Chernobyl is worth re-reading, especially by George Monbiot and his fellow nuclear power hucksters…

  Leave it to Vanity Fair, which has published so few black women writers in its history I probably could count them on one hand, to have assigned Christopher Hitchens in 1998 to write its big profile of Toni Morrison.

  Here’s a classic Bird and Fortune routine from 1996, anticipating the Brexit debate by 20 years. Colbert was never this funny or astute. (“I don’t like the word xenophobic. It’s suggest irrational prejudice and, of course, it’s a Greek word, you know, and I detest Greeks.”)

  Ted Cruz: ‘Universities are trying really hard to raise a generation of pansies.’ Maybe the Ag School at Texas Tech is using too much Round-Up in its flower beds?

  John Steinbeck CIA asset?

  Even the world’s most abominable villains are completely ridiculous. Consider the strange flirtation between Lindsay Lohan and Mohammad Bin Salman.

  Jazz historian Ted Gioia on the political economy of orchestras: “There’s a Harvard Business School case study on an orchestra that saw ticket sales decline when they cut prices—because affluent patrons want status (not music) and that’s incompatible with cheap tickets. This is why discounts are only given to target groups (students, etc.).”

  The bad blood between the Byrds just seems to get more toxic over the years with most of the simmering ire being directed at David Crosby…”DC is not hated but that doesn’t mean anyone wants to work with him.”

  Nick Cage tapping into Freud’s “oceanic” feeling: “My first love, even before my parents, was the ocean.” Inexplicably to me he’s made dozens of films, but is there a single good Nick Cage movie, aside from Wild at Heart?

  I watched Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… on Sunday, which, reflecting Quentin’s reactionary cultural politics, could’ve been titled Make Hollywood Great Again. I could be wrong, but I don’t think there was one black character in the film, which is a peculiar fantasy of LA in 1969. It’s also an odd decision for a film that’s ostensibly about how the Manson “murders” killed off the old Hollywood, since one theory of the “motive” for the murders was they were meant to be blamed on the Panthers, sparking a race war. “Blackbird arise…” Groovy soundtrack, though.

This Darkness Growing So Familiar

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Alain Badiou

The Nickel Boys
Colson Whitehead

Three Women
Lisa Taddeo
(Avid Reader Press)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Live at Woodstock
Credence Clearwater Revival
(Craft Records)

Parlour Game
Allison Miller / Jenny Scheinman
(Royal Potato Family Records)

Songs From San Mateo County
Tony Molina
(Smoking Room)

There are Only Black People

Toni Morrison: “I never asked Tolstoy to write for me, a little colored girl in Lorain, Ohio. I never asked [James] Joyce not to mention Catholicism or the world of Dublin. Never. And I don’t know why I should be asked to explain your life to you. We have splendid writers to do that, but I am not one of them. It is that business of being universal, a word hopelessly stripped of meaning for me. Faulkner wrote what I suppose could be called regional literature and had it published all over the world. That’s what I wish to do. If I tried to write a universal novel, it would be water. Behind this question is the suggestion that to write for black people is somehow to diminish the writing. From my perspective there are only black people. When I say ‘people,’ that’s what I mean.”
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🚽 Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2019, 12:49:29 PM »

September 20, 2019
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
by Jeffrey St. Clair

Storefront mannikin, Astoria, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ The Saudis want to “fight the Iranians to the last American.”

— Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, February 2010

+ Who needs John Bolton, when you’ve got Pompeo Maximus declaring the attack on the Abqaiq refineries in Saudi Arabia: “An act of war.”

+ By Pompeo’s logic, the death of every Yemeni kid from cholera was “sponsored” by the USA…

+ As we await our real commander-in-chief MBS’s decision on whether to go to war against Iran, it may be worth reminding people that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia owns the entire 45th floor of Trump World Tower…

+ Pompeo, Tuesday: “The president has made very clear he is prepared to meet with no preconditions.”

Trump, Sunday: “The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions.’ That is an incorrect statement (as usual!).”

+ Mike Pompeo: “I promise you as Secretary of State, I will do my best to be your senior diplomat and stay true to my Christian values every single day.” (How many drone strikes a day are consistent with Christian values?)

+ The rotten apple doesn’t fall far from the poisonous tree: Liz Cheney calls for “proportional military response” against Iran for the drone strike on Saudi oil facilities.

+ Seeing Liz Cheney salivating for war on Iran is not surprising. But it does show the superior parenting skills of the Nixons, Fords, Carters and Reagans, none of whose offspring have entered politics.

+ Erich Boehm in Reason: “A world in which John Bolton says mean things about the president during lunch is far safer than a world in which John Bolton speaks to the president over lunch.”

+ The NYTs Michael Crowley on the differences between Iraq and Iran: “Iraq, at least, was a country we were able to defeat and occupy fairly quickly.” (And, according to the Times’ social media editors, having penises thrust in your face at Yale parties might be considered harmless fun…)

+ It’s official. By deploying troops and weapons to Saudi Arabia, Trump’s doing more to protect Aramco’s oil fields, than children in US schools…

But as The Clash say:

    It’s up to you, not to heed the call up
    I don’t want to die
    It’s up to you, not to hear the call up
    I don’t want to kill

+ The last time the US based troops in Saudi Arabia, it became the basis for Osama Bin Laden’s 1996 fatwah,”Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” where he vowed to remove them with “a rain of bullets.”

+ With the human landfill of scandal known as Joe Biden, it seems implausible that Trump would need to bribe the Ukrainians to dig up dirt on Biden’s son, Hunter. But Trump plays by the Roy Cohn Rules, so the implausible is always possible, if not probable.

+ Eric Columbus: “The Ukraine bribes really knock me out, they leave the West behind.”

+ Q. Surely, this will be the scandal that breaks Trump’s back?

A. What if Trump has no back?

+ Rudy Giuliani is Trump’s go-to guy for the limited, brain-modified hang out..

+ If Sanders, Warren and/or that Andrew Yang play the Ukraine scandal right they could knock off both Biden and Trump.

+ Another “smart weapon” massacre in Afghanistan this where a US drone strike killed 30 civilians working on a pine nut farm. And you wonder why they hate us? I’ll wager Trump got more crap for inviting (and then cancelling) the Taliban to Camp David for peace talks, than the Pentagon will ever get in the US press for this war crime.

+ Trump said this week that when he first took office Gen. Mad Dog Mattis came to him and said, “Sir, we’re very low on ammunition.” Mattis advised Trump to delay military action (against a country Trump didn’t name) because of the ammunition shortage. This Trump tale is entirely plausible given the tonnage of bombs Obama dropped every day during his tenure in office. Of course, it didn’t take Trump and Mattis long to catch up and surpass Obama…

+ Trump: “Our nuclear was getting very tired when I got in. Now it’s in tippy-top shape. Tippy top.”

+ Funny, I don’t feel any safer…

+ According to a war game simulation from Princeton, if a nuclear war broke out between the US and the Russian Federation there would likely be more than 90 million casualties within the first five hours, 34 million deaths and 57.4 million injuries.

+ Bernie Sanders: “If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, then don’t go to war.”

+ If you don’t want to create maimed veterans, widows of veterans, orphans of veterans or turn young people into war criminals, then don’t go to war.

+ In what may come as a relief to a nation held hostage, Trump named the State Department’s chief hostage negotiator, Robert O’Brien, as his National Security Advisor, replacing John Bolton. Reportedly, Trump liked that Robert O’Brien was prolix in his praise for the president. Trump said: “Robert O’Brien said, ‘Trump is the greatest hostage negotiator in history.’ He happens to be right.” He named O’Brien as his national security adviser a day later. Quid pro fellatio.

+ As Sam Husseini points out, Trump’s new National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien went to university in apartheid South Africa in 1987, as Rotary Foundation Scholar, not to protest the racist regime but to learn Afrikaans.

In doing so, O’Brien violated the international academic boycott of South Africa. The ANC called for an academic boycott of SA in 1958. Nearly 500 British academics called for a boycott in 1965. The UN passed a Resolution imposing a Cultural & Academic boycott of SA in 1980. The boycott was not lifted until 1990.

According to Patrick Bond, who teaches at the University of Durban, in 1987 the University of the Orange Free State would have been “a place that was probably whites-only for all effective purposes.”

From O’Brien’s Linked-In page…

+ Here’s some classic DC dialogue worthy of Joseph Heller’s Good as Gold…

    Corey Lewandowski: The Mueller report was very clear. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction.

    Alisyn Camerota: That’s not what the Mueller report said, Corey.

    Corey: It absolutely says that…

    Alisyn: … Did you read the Mueller report?

    Corey: No, I never did.

+ During his congressional hearing, Lewandowski got trapped in a lie by the Democrats’ staff counsel, Barry Berke (the only effective questioning of the day). His unrepentant response: “I have no obligation to be honest with the media.”

Lewandowski was, naturally, a paid commentator on … CNN.

+ The war that Trump really wants to fight is the war against the poor.

+ Sister Helen Prejean: “’Capital punishment’ means those without capital get the punishment.”

+ The largest employer in each state…

+ Trump says homeless people are living on “our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings,” where people pay “tremendous taxes” and desire “prestige.” The president claims that he’s spoken to tenants who are so frustrated by the homeless that “want to leave the country,” adding ominously “We’ll be doing something about it.”

+ Re: Trump and the homeless crisis: how many homes did Mnuchin foreclose on, how many families did Kushner evict from his tenements?

+ About the sanctity of that employer provided health insurance, which Biden keeps claiming is superior to Medicare-for-All….”GM is cutting off striking workers’ health care coverage effective today. The UAW will now pick up the bill for their members’ continued healthcare through COBRA ”

+ According to the Federal Reserve’s latest Distributional Financial Accounts reveal the massive concentration of wealth in the US with 10% of the population holding 70% of all of the nation’s wealth. The bottom 50% of wealth owners have seen no growth in net wealth since 1989, while the top 1% saw their wealth grow by almost 300% since 1989. And they wonder why “socialism” is becoming more popular with America’s youth…

+ In the latest case study of Bankruptcy Capitalism, Purdue Pharmaceuticals is trying to shell out $34 million in bonuses to “certain employees,” as it flees wrongful death lawsuits and seeks the protection of a Chapter 11 filing in bankruptcy court.

+ Then there’s GM, which received $104 million in tax rebates in 2018. They paid their CEO $22 million, cut 15,000 jobs and made $8 billion in profits, which they paid no federal income taxes on.

+ Congress has relinquished its principle power and obligation under the Constitution: to determine how the US government spends money. Now it’s only really interested how lobbyists and PACs spends money … on them.

+ David Graeber: “The paradox of modern work: 1. Most people’s sense of dignity and self-worth is caught up in working for living; 2. Most people hate their jobs.”

+ How DiFi explains the homelessness crisis in California: “A lot of homeless people keep moving here.”

+ Kim Gordon, former NYer, former bassist for Sonic Youth, former wife of Thurston Moore, current resident of SoCal: “California is a place of death, a place people are drawn to because they don’t realize deep down they’re actually afraid of what they want.”

+ So HUD Secretary Ben Carson, a former brain surgeon, is very concerned that people can’t tell the difference between women and men any more and seems really freaked at the possibility of “big, hairy men” using the women’s bathroom. But aren’t those the same people who keep breaking down in tears at Trump rallies?

+ It seems like the Border Patrol is having a moral crisis, with more and more agents complaining that people “hate” them. It may seem like an obvious point, but apparently it can’t be repeated often enough: If you want to be liked, don’t join the SS…

+ Last year, Ivanka Trump used to her personal email to send hundreds of messages about government business.

+ Ivanka: “I got my moral compass from my father.”

+ Joe Biden, just another member in good standing of the Democratic National Klavern…

+ Biden is, of course, the living proof of his assertion that racism hasn’t been “relegated to history“…

+ The total collapse of Madame Prosecutor (she now trails Andrew Yang in her home state of California) is almost enough to restore one’s faith in the humanity of Democrats…almost.

+ Meanwhile, Bill DeBlasio is now polling at 0% in the New York Presidential primary…

2020 New York Democratic Primary:

    Biden 22%
    Warren 17%
    Sanders 15%
    Harris 4%
    Buttigieg 3%
    Klobuchar 1%
    Gabbard 1%
    Yang 1%
    Booker 0%
    O’Rourke 0%
    Castro 0%
    de Blasio 0%

@SienaResearch 9/8-12

+ Biden is the Lock ‘Em Up candidate, who urged Reagan to incarcerate more and more people (mostly young black men)…

+ Eric Draitser: “That feeling that Bernie people are expressing is not fear of losing. It’s not anxiety over a good campaign. It’s not questioning their own commitment. It’s the collective recognition that the ruling class has made its choice. And her name is Warren.”

+ Is it any surprise that the party of the ruling class would select its favorite (or second favorite) as its candidate? The only real surprise is that Bernie dragged his troops through the charade one more time expecting a different result.

+ But where do they go? Bernie could have spent the last four years building an independent party or taking over the wreckage of the Greens. Instead, he spent it recruiting young progressives into the same party that had just drawn-and-quartered him.

+ If there’s no alternative than the Democrats, then Sanders should admit it, drop all of the “socialist” pretense and stop whining about leaks and how he’s been screwed over by arbitrary rules enforced by the party elites. This is it. You’re stuck with it. The best was long ago. Sorry, kids, you’re fucked. Best of luck, Gramps.

+ This is why Ralph Nader has always been the superior political leader. Ralph was never under the illusion that the Democratic Party could be “revolutionized” from within, especially when the “revolutionary” ends up supporting the ruling class’ candidate in the end, as Bernie did

+ I learned everything I needed to know about the Democratic Party after the Jackson campaign in 1984. I guess some people have to relearn the same basic truths every four years. This willful suspension of disbelief is what keeps the party alive…to the extent it is alive.

+ Hillary, however, seems to have learned nothing.

+  Let’s reset this, Hillary. You ran a terrible campaign. You had no plans. Your party rigged your nomination. You ran against the most unpopular candidate in history and still lost. Now get lost.

+ Still, by almost every standard Joe Biden is a worse candidate than Hillary Clinton: he’s older, dumber and has a more tarnished record. His saving grace, as far as I can tell, is that Biden is so boring, so lacking in inspiration, that he can’t even inspire people to hate him as they did HRC.

+ Apparently the Working Families Party thought so highly of the Democrats’ “Super Delegate” system, they decided to use it in their own endorsement vote, which gave 50% of the vote to party leaders and 50% to the members and then, after endorsing Elizabeth Warren, refused to release a tally of the actual numbers. (In 2016, 87.5% of the WFP members voted for Bernie Sanders.)

+ According to a new report by Sludge, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin owns between $1 million and $5 million worth of non-public stock in his family coal business, Enersystems. Despite pressure from environmentalists, Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, made Manchin the ranking member of the committee, and Manchin did not divest his coal holdings.

+ But Manchin is far from alone in profiting off of fossil fuel holdings. Rep. Joe Kennedy  just announced his intention to run against Sen. Ed Markey in next year’s Democratic primary in Massachusetts. Markey, a long time environmental advocate, is one of the principal sponsors of the Green New Deal, a measure which will pose a significant threat to the stock portfolio of Kennedy, who owns nearly $1.75 million in fossil stocks, including investments in oil and gas companies.

+ In a Trumpian maneuver, billionaire candidate Tom Steyer, who has pledged to divest from fossil fuels, says that confidentiality agreements bar him from disclosing between $370 million and $742 million in assets.

+ Liberal heartthrob Justin Trudeau dressed up in blackface on at least three different occasions. MSDNC’s Andrea Mitchell, a fan of the Prime Minister of Tar Sands, delicately described Trudeau as “applying skin darkening makeup.” But are they sure he didn’t just coat himself in crude oil?

+ If Trudeau manages to lose re-election to the ultra right-winger and homophobe Andrew Scheer, he could probably salvage his political career by running for governor of Virginia or Alabama.

+ Could Justin Trudeau be “Corn Pop“?

+ Hey, Trump, it looks like we’ve finally found your witch hunt, looking no further than your own Department of Education which is targeting universities like Duke and UNC for alleged “anti-Israel” bias.

+ If Netanyahu falls, who then will the Democrats blame for the crimes of the Israeli state?

+ Colt is suspending production of the AR-15 for the civilian market. But they’d save more lives if they ended production for the cop, military and paramilitary markets…

+ According to the libertarian Cato Institute, 16 countries enjoy a higher level of overall freedom than the United States, and most of them ban or severely restrict ownership of assault weapons.

+ Brothers in Arms, MSDNC’s Chris Hayes and David Frum…

+ Speaking of revolting couplings, it’s been reported that Stephen Miller is dating Katie Waldman, a former DHS spokeswoman under Kirstjen Nielsen, who Mike Pence just hired as his communications director. Of course, even Goebbels had his Magda, who was, by most accounts, even more vicious than he was…

+ Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed to talk to New York Times reporters Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin for their book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: an Investigation, on one condition: that they wrote that they didn’t talk with him. The authors refused and walked away from the interview.

+ While we’re on the subject of Kavanaugh: One in 16 women’s first sexual experience (avg. age 15.5) in the US is being raped/forced to have sex; the average age for female’s first voluntary sexual experience is 17.5.

+ Kavanaugh’s survived for a reason. A major new study concludes that even if Democrats win the White House and Congress, the conservative justices on the Supreme Court are very likely to strike down most climate legislation.

+ The Chenchu people of India can recognize five different types of bees that produce five different types of honey: “We leave the larvae so it will recycle again; by looking at the way a bee flies we can know where the honey is.”

+ It’s only a real strike if they forbid you to do it.

+ Trump’s repeated boast that he made the US the world’s top energy producer is false. It happened in 2012 under Obama, the Fracker-in-Chief.

+ Obama, the man who approved Deepwater Horizon, was palling around with climate heroine Greta Thuneberg this week before her testimony before the House of Representatives. Obama proclaimed the teenager “one of our planet’s greatest advocates,” saying she was “unafraid to push for real action.” Too bad Obama wasn’t, when he was in a position to do something about it.

+ Global fossil fuel consumption soared throughout the 2000s, spiking to ominous new heights during the Obama years.

+ Here’s a map of all of the oil and gas leases on public lands that have sold for less than $2 an acre.

+ The Earth’s Northern Hemisphere just experienced its hottest summer on record. The five hottest summers have all occurred in the last five years…

+ Global carbon emissions have grown 18-fold since 1900.

+ Silent spring, summer, fall and winter: “The number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by 3 billion, or 29 percent, over the past half-century.”

+ It’s been said that the Pacific Northwest is defined by where the salmon go. How will we know where we live 20 YEARS from now when the chinook are gone?

+ A few weeks ago, the Portland Police shut down the Hawthorne Bridge to allow the neo-Nazi Proud Boys to goose-step through town unmolested. No such courtesy was extended to the kids marching in the Climate Strike today. As many as 20,000 of them passed over the bridge anyway…Go kids!

+ 34 inches of rain along the Gulf Coast of Texas in last 72 hours. Meanwhile, Trump is gleefully gutting California’s clean air and fuel efficiency standards…

+ Trump in New Mexico: “Cars have so much junk on them to save a tiny faction of gasoline. Energy-efficient cars are made out of papier mache and weigh about three pounds. That’s bad for crashes, because heavier is better. When somebody hits me, I want to be in as close to an army tank as possible.” (Over to you, Ralph Nader.)

+ Nearly 500,000 lightning strikes hit the Houston area during TS Imelda…

+ Dr. Jeff Masters, meteorologist: “This near-record global warmth in 2019 is all the more remarkable since it is occurring during the minimum of the weakest solar cycle in 100+ years, and during a year when a strong El Niño has not been present”

+ The entire geophysical nature of Greenland’s ice sheets are changing in ways that geologists have never seen before. First comes the melt off, then comes the hardening of the ice, which accelerates the flooding, which increases the melt off…

+ Alex Wild (curator of Entomology at the University of Texas, Austin): “Imagine being an art aficionado watching corrupt governments pay fascist gangs to burn museums to the ground. Day after day, city after city, accelerating until all that remains is smoldering rubble. That is what it feels like to be a biologist in the Trump era.”

+ Good news from ACLU: “A federal court just blocked South Dakota’s laws suppressing protests of the Keystone XL pipeline. Let this be a lesson to other states – if you try to criminalize protest, we will sue.”

+ Marianne Williamson: “Climate change is the product of an amoral economic system.” Let Marianne debate!

+ I wonder if the eavesdropping Alexa could have saved Elvis, who, according to the coroner’s report, died on the toilet, “straining at stool”…

+ For those of you who, like me, grew up reading and arguing with Greil Marcus’ writings on music, books and film, his Real Life Rock Top 10 column has found a new home at the LA Review of Books. This month’s installment features a mini-review of the new book on Manson and the CIA by my friend Steve Perry (and occasional CounterPunch contributor) and a fabulous review of Brian Ferry’s recent concert in Oakland.

+ Graham Nash on the writing and recording of his solo LP Songs for Beginners: “I met Rita (Coolidge) during the recording of ‘Love the One You’re With,’ Stephen’s great song. Rita and I made a date to go to a swap meet, and Stephen called her and said I was sick and couldn’t go and that she should go with him. And so she spent a couple of weeks with Stephen. But Rita and I were very attracted to each other. Being somewhat of an Englishman and a gentleman, I couldn’t even kiss Rita without letting Stephen know we wanted to be together. And so I picked up Rita one morning and drove to Stephen’s house in Laurel Canyon. I said that Rita and I wanted to spend time together and I wanted to let him know before anything sexually happened between Rita and I. He didn’t take it well. As a matter of fact, he tried to spit on me and missed.”

+ As Jesse Walker noted, this may be the headline of the year…”Navy Confirms UFO Videos Posted by Blink 182 Rocker Are Real.”

+ “When you grow up at the bottom of the ladder, you’re the first to be sent to fight a war that the people in power are waging,” John Fogarty said. “A song like ‘Fortunate Son’ ends up having a universal application because at any point in our history you could cry out, ‘I ain’t no fortunate one.’ It’s the people at the bottom who always do the fighting and dying.”

+ + Trump Koan of the Week, reflecting on how Obama compares to DeMille: “I mean, if you were — if he was Cecil B. DeMille, he would have gotten — I mean, Cecil B. DeMille should be, if he ever came back from the dead, one of the greats of all time.”

+ Nothing sums up the current state of Hollywood quite like awarding a “star” on the “walk of fame” to a brand of jeans.

As Eric Draitser noted, a star for a pair jeans is, at least, an aesthetic step up from Cecil B. DeMille and, by Trumpian extension, Barack Obama.

+ We’re beginning to see more and more Trump cinema coming out of Hollywood. The latest offering is from Sylvester Stallone. In his re-re-boot of the unlamented Rambo franchise, “Last Blood,” Stallone kills dozens of people in a variety vile ways…all of them Mexicans.

+ Who knew that Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People was a documentary?

+ I’m missing James Gandolfini on what would have been his 58th birthday…“Let me tell ya something. Nowadays, everybody’s gotta go to shrinks, and counselors, and go on Sally Jessy Raphael and talk about their problems. What happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type. That was an American. He wasn’t in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do. See, what they didn’t know was once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings that they wouldn’t be able to shut him up! And then it’s dysfunction this, and dysfunction that, and dysfunction vaffancul!”

+ RIP John Cohen, musicologist, civil rights and anti-war activist, philosopher and banjo player for the New Lost City Ramblers…

+ A critic who should know better asserted that Quadrophenia was the greatest rock album. Wrong.

The Who Sell Out is the greatest album by The Who.

There’s a Riot Goin’ On by Sly and the Family Stone is the greatest rock album.

A Love Supreme by John Coltrane is the greatest album.

+ 20: the number of Americans who earn their living primarily from writing about classical music.

+ According to Siri, Bob Dylan died 11 years ago, on April 24, 2008, at the age of 66.

    Oh, Siri, am I not a brother to you?
    We grew up together
    From the cradle to the grave
    We died and were reborn
    And then mysteriously (screen) saved

+ Sun Ra: “You must realise that you have the right to love beauty. You must prepare to live life to the fullest extent.”

Why you got to own everything that you see?
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