Roaming Charges: America’s Political CAT Scan


This was one of those Astral Weeks when the entire body politic of America seemed to undergo a CAT scan, revealing a glimpse of just how fetid the inner-workings of the System have become.

First Hillary swooned, then her poll numbers collapsed, sending the Liberal Establishment into a collective freakout not seen since it became apparent that Shrub was going to win his second term over that hapless dolt John Kerry.

Speaking of Bush, joining in the Widespread Panic were two-thirds of W.’s Inner Circle (from the deplorable Paul Wolfowitz to the deplorable Hank Paulson), who have volunteered their deplorable services aboard the USS Clinton, only to see the ship listing severely to the starboard under the strain.

The Trump campaign, which to this point has given new meaning to Teflon, scarcely fared much better, as the Trump Foundation was revealed to operate as a kind of charitable Ponzi Scheme for the glorification of … Donald J. Trump.

Trump seems more and more like one of those deeply-inbred Egyptian Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom, whose sandy empire consisted largely of colossal monuments of themselves built under the lash by slave labor.  Of course, these very qualities are greatly admired in post-industrial America. No wonder Imen-Ho-Trump is surging in the polls. All hail, Imen-Ho-Trump, Pharaoh of the Deplorables (half of them anyway.)

Then came the bombshells dropped by the hacker Guccifer 2.0: a trove of bitchy emails from Colin Powell that exposed the dark underbelly of the Beltway Set. Powell is one of the most self-righteous figures in Washington, a man who casts a mysterious allure over the Liberal Establishment, despite his plump resumé of fatal blunders, war crimes and pathological mendacity.

Powell slams everyone: former allies, friends and rivals. His e-epistles depict the Cheney claque as creepy idiots, Trump as a bigoted blowhard and Hillary as an untrustworthy Medea-like character, consumed by ambition and greed, who is perpetually undone by her own hubris.

The General’s must-read emails offer the most jaundiced portrait of the scabrous exploits of the DC Elite since the glorious days of stripper Fanne Foxe and Xaviera Hollander, the Happy Hooker, who went to Washington to “serve her country.”

This surreal week in American politics came to an end with Imen-Ho-Trump’s grudging admission that Obama was, in fact, born in Hawai’i. Trump refused to apologize for slandering the President, naturally, and blamed the origin of the myth on Hillary Clinton. The New York Times pronounced that Trump had “ended one lie by starting another.”

Yet there appears to be some truth in the allegation. Shortly after Trump’s surprise announcement, James Asher, the former DC Bureau Chief for McClatchey News, tweeted that “#SidBlumenthal, long-time #HRC buddy, told me in person #Obama born in #kenya.”

Hardly, surprising that Blumenthal’s fingerprints might be found on this ugly slander. Recall that the Clinton Circle also instigated the “Death Panel” meme about ObamaCare, which eventually killed the “public option.” The Clinton loyalists were hoping to cripple Obama before 2012 elections, thus clearing the deck for Hillary, then Sarah Palin picked up the theme and promptly ran it off the cliff…

Revel in the fun while it lasts.


+ August ties July for hottest month EVER. “Overheated” HRC still says almost nothing on campaign trail (i.e., Wall Street and Hollywood fundraisers) about climate change.

+ Will Charlie Crist loan Hillary (“I’m melting! I’m melting!“) Clinton his secret podium fan for the first debate?

+ Joe Biden is in the bullpen warming up to relieve the ailing HRC. Biden’s four-years older, a serial plagiarist and with documented brain damage from aneurysms and two surgeries. You’d think with these kinds of problems afflicting the Dems that they would finally junk ObamaCare for a real health care program like single-payer.

+ Hillary and W., the parallels keep coming. It turns out the Bush administration has lost 22 MILLION emails!

+ Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka continue to press for yet another investigation into 9/11. I admire them both, but I think this plays into the worst instincts of the Left, half of which continues to obsess over the JFK assassination and almost nothing else. So be it. But I hope the Greens also call for an investigation into the Sand Creek Massacre and the Tulsa “Race” Riots. Those might, in the end, prove more productive and edifying about the true character of the American Project …

+  I persist in my lonely belief that the only way to get beyond 9/11, which we desperately need to do as both a nation and a movement, is to get beyond 9/11. I don’t think there is a ‘secret truth’ to that day–those events were the consequences of 50-plus years of US imperialistic policy in the Middle East. We all should have known why we were attacked the very moment that first jet hit the World Trade Tower. And if we didn’t know that, Osama Bin Laden himself made it clear in his fatwahs. To ignore the evidence before us is to surrender to a dangerous delusion.

+ David Cameron is leaving Parliament and is now on the prowl in rural Britain. Hide your pigs!

+ MS-DNC’s Chris Hayes asks more softball questions than that Russian agent Larry King. Tonight he teed up a few for Joe Conason, a longtime Clinton courtier, who called the Clintons, America’s Most Transparent Couple! Hayes, naturally, didn’t press him on this, but smugly lapped it up, as he has been house-trained to do.

+ Hayes’s interview technique–which he did not learn from me (or the late great Jimmy Weinstein) when we were stablemates at In These Times— is to ask, answer and then annotate his own questions and answers until he’s finally interrupted by a commercial for a new drug to treat Restless Leg Syndrome, a condition nearly all of his interview “subjects” eventually acquire…

+ As Trump narrows the gap, liberals fret about white supremacists running the country. Hasn’t this been the case for the last 240 years?

+ The Clinton troops are on the defensive over Hillary’s description of Trump’s most rabid supporters as “a basket of deplorables.” In defense of Hillary’s Romney Moment, her flacks are citing a poll showing that 49 percent of Trump supporters hold the rancid view that blacks are more violent by nature than whites. Sounds definitive. But hold on a minute. That same poll discloses that  many Clinton backers share the abominable view that blacks are inferior to whites with regard to certain personality traits. Nearly one-third of Clinton supporters described blacks as more “violent” and “criminal” than whites, and one-quarter described them as more “lazy” than whites. Now that’s deplorable!

+ I got my copy of the Mekons’ new record/video/book Existentialism this week. The music is raw, raucous, and as immediate as improvised jazz. The video captures the wild thrill of it all. The book, with its wonderful Creature Feature cover art by CounterPunch contributor Martin Billheimer, offers 12 writers each scribbling (essays, poems, stories) about one of the songs on the record. My own contribution is “The Cell Being Played,” a poem, of sorts, in the dissonant mode of Wittengstein. Thanks to the Welsh Artaud, Jon Langford, for inviting me to tag along on this grand adventure. (Existentialism is available from Bloodshot Records–but hurry they’ve only printed 1000 copies and my mother just bought 400 of them to finally see her son’s name in print on something she didn’t find utterly offensive–not yet anyway.)

+ Paranoid States of America: A report from the Cato Institute calculates that The chance of being killed in a terrorist attack committed by a foreigner is about 1 in 3.6 million per year, while the chance of an American dying in a terrorist attack by an ‘illegal’ immigrant is 1 in 10.9 BILLION! Be afraid, very afraid!


+ The Democrats were gushing this morning with the buoyant news of rising incomes. But is your’s rising? Not likely, especially if you are a member of the working poor or a child. Most incomes in working America have remained stagnant over the past 10 years, with the vast majority of the increase being captured by the top 10 percent. Childhood poverty rates, especially for black children, under the Obama “Recovery” are still higher than they were in the last years of the Bush administration.

+ When it comes to training mass murderers, the School of the Americas has nothing on Harvard University. The latest evidence comes from a report that Big Sugar hired Harvard scientists and professors in 1965 to discredit the links between sugar and heart disease. How many have died as a consequence of this kind of twisted science? 500,000? A million? More?

+ The best news to come out of the Hillary overheating-dehydration-pneumonia drama is that she apparently infected Charles Schumer with her “bug.” Her aim is true!

+ You just knew it was coming. It was inevitable that some Democrat would blame Hillary’s illness on the Russians. It sure didn’t take long. This morning, Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who first raised the warnings about traumatic brain injury in NFL players, offered his informed opinion that HRC was probably poisoned by Trump or Putin. Imagine the possibilities for the new Clinton Special Edition of the board game Clue: Was it Putin in the Lincoln Bedroom with a dose of Polonium? Or Trump at The Plaza with a toxic puff of Melania’s Eau de Toilette?

+ Trump continues to blame IRS audit for the failure to release his tax returns, though Mini-Donald later spills the beans that releasing “a 12,000-page tax return that would create… financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would detract from his main message..” (That is 12,000 pages of exploited loopholes and few charitable contributions resulting in little taxes actually paid.) The press is too lazy and shiftless to ask that Trump release previous returns from 2012, 2002, 1992, or any other decade.

+ Adm. James Woolsey, one of the craziest intelligence officials since Bobby Ray Inman, announced he was joining Trump’s foreign policy team. This means that Bubba’s CIA man is all in with the Donald and Bush’s CIA men are backing Hillary. Less than a dime’s worth of difference?

+ On MSDNC tonight Rachel Maddow announced a “YUGE” exposé: she claimed to debunk Gary Johnson’s proclamation that he would be on all 50 state ballots. According to Maddow’s in-depth investigation, in Rhode Island Johnson may, just possibly, be 79 signatures shy of the required 1000 (with a few days to go). God forbid she fact check the HRC campaign with such rigor.

+ Maddow & MSDNC’s current fixation on Johnson is all geared at keeping a real antiwar candidate out of the debates to expose Hillary and Trump’s hawkishness. If Stein was polling at 10% they’d be savaging her.

+ In the end, Maddow’s “yuge exposé” turned out to be another big dud. The Rhode Island Secretary of State confirmed that the Johnson campaign had indeed submitted the required number of signatures to appear on the ballot in November.

+ Here’s the logic of the American police state in action: a West Virginia police officer named Stephen Mader was fired for failing to shoot a black man holding an unloaded gun.

+ In West Virginia, you get fired when you don’t kill unarmed black men. In New York City, you get rewarded when you do. Consider the case of NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who choked Eric Garner to death in 2014. In the two years since Garner’s death, Pantaleo’s salary and overtime pay has jumped from $99,915 in 2014 to $119,996 in 2016, even though Pantaleo has been on “modified duty” since the killing. Brutality pays.


+ Cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to date? $4.79 TRILLION. Interest payments on the cost of those wars by 2053? $7.3 TRILLION. (See new study “US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security” by Brown University economist Neta C. Crawford.)

+ With all of the brutality going against Native protesters in North Dakota at the hands of oil company mercenaries, the New York Times chooses to splash a story across its homepage this morning on North Dakota’s…”most grueling” mountain bike trail!

+ Making my way through the rich vein of Colin Powell’s emails and stopped in my tracks at this one on Hillary and Bill: “I’d prefer not to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect. A 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still dicking bimbos at home (according to NYP).” NYP: New York Post.

+ If Bubba gets caught up in another “bimbo dicking eruption” before election day, HRC will probably rush right to the Today Show studio to pronounce that it’s all part of “a vast Russian conspiracy.” A Russian sleeper agent? In Bill’s case, perhaps an entire sleeper cell.

+ With Hillary bedridden, the deplorable Tim Kaine is being pushed forth to say something, though what it is isn’t exactly clear. He has a way of speaking which makes him look like a living version of his own bobblehead doll.

+ Tim Kaine’s chief personality trait is the complete absence of a personality.

+ If the DNC emails had been hacked and released by the Principality of Monaco, DNC flacks would still be saying with a Jedi flick-of-the-wrist: “These are not the emails you are looking for!”

+ Now comes news that the RNC severs have also been breached. Who will the RNC blame: Putin? Fidel? Gary “Off-the-Weed” Johnson?

+ First Dilma, now the indictment of Lula. The purge of Brazil advances. Step-by-step, the Empire is moving to reclaim its grip on the Global South.

+ The email hacks by Wikileaks, DC Leaks and Guccifer 2.0 reveal the impotence of investigative journalism. A real press would have exposed these scandals months and years ago. It goes beyond impotence and incompetence, of course. The deplorable Big Media is in collusion with elite power.

+ I was flipping through Theodor Adorno tonight before turning out the lights and found that the Frankfort savant had, with unerring prescience, already explained why Trump and Clinton won’t be releasing their complete medical records: “Very evil people cannot really be imagined dying.”

+ Adorno’s admonition reminds me of the one-percenters in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, circling the ruined Earth eternally in their custom-made satellites, every bodily function jacked into some cyber-circuitry, still obsessing over the minutiae of their financial portfolios. Elon Musk, phone home!


+ I awoke on a chilly Oregon morning and greedily read more installments of Colin Powell’s email and was struck by one where he lambasts arch neocon and Hillary Clinton supporter Paul Wolfowitz as “a fucking liar.” This is rich coming from the deplorable Powell, a man who participated in the coverup of the My Lai massacre and told at least 17 distinct lies at the UN on Iraq’s non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Takes one to know one, eh, Colin?

+ In one of Powell’s more frank emails, he says that “Israel has 200 nukes pointed at Iran.” I assume the IDF saved at least one nuke to targeting the coordinates of Jeremy Corbyn.

+ My friend Lawrence Libby told me that Powell was so secretly glad that these emails had been released that he might have hacked himself! But, Lawrence, isn’t the more likely culprit, in this scenario, Alma Powell?  She is, after all, an audiologist!

+  Leave it to the New York Times to headline a story about the investigation of savage abuse of Muslims recruits in the Marine Corps as “an inquiry into hazing.” In fact, Marine drill instructors called the recruits “terrorists,” beat, hounded and harassed one to the point that he committed suicide by jumping off the roof of a barracks. Another Muslim recruit was stuffed into an industrial clothes dryer, where he was severely burned. One deplorable Marine defended the abuse by saying enduring this torture “is what becoming a Marine is all about.” Let me rephrase that: “Racist sadism is what becoming a Marine is all about.” Semper Fi, boys.

+ Any mention of economic inequality has disappeared from the Clinton and Trump campaigns. Why? Let us consult Guy Debord: “The more powerful the class, the more it claims not to exist.”

+ Like lemmings to a cliff, so are the Democrats to corporate power. SPLAT!

+ Tyree King was 13-years old when he was gunned down and killed by Ohio police. The cops said they shot the black teenager because they thought he was armed and fleeing the scene of a robbery. King was carrying an air pistol in his waistband. You can’t say the police haven’t learned from the slaying of Tamir Rice. They’ve clearly learned the deplorable lesson they can kill toy-carrying black teens with impunity.

+ Since the murder of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, American police have killed at least 2,195 people, as tallied by Fatal Encounters. Cartographer Soo Oh plotted each of these killings on an interactive map for Vox. The sobering map gives new meaning to Red States.

+ Clara Jeffery is the snobbish co-editor of the faux-left magazine Mother Jones.  This morning Ms. Jeffery broke out in a cold sweat when she read a New York Times story reporting that younger voters just weren’t all that into Hillary. In fact, the story noted that the third party campaigns of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were drawing their most fervent support from twenty-something voters, with a full 26 percent saying they were planning to vote for the Libertarian ticket and another 10 percent to vote for the Greens. This wholesome news prompted Jeffery to have a Twitterfit. “I have never hated millennials more,” Jeffery sniffed. Jeffery should be thanked for exposing what most of the decrepit liberal establishment really thinks about American youth and any kind of independent thinker who doesn’t march in goose-steps for HRC.

After seeing this outrageous outburst, some asked whatever happened to Mother Jones? They were cool once, weren’t they? Perhaps, a long, a long time ago, in a Republic far, far away, before they canned Michael Moore as editor for publishing a pro-Palestinian piece and then refusing to run the deplorable Paul Berman’s attack on the Sandinistas, which prompted MoJo columnist Alexander Cockburn to resign in protest.

Moore sued Mother Jones for wrongful termination. I don’t know the terms of the settlement, but Moore used some of the proceeds to finance his film “Roger and Me” and launch a much more influential, if increasingly exasperating, career as film-maker and roving progressive pundit.

+ Two Bay Area High Schoolers, one a Native American, got their grades lowered for honorably refusing to stand and recite Red Scare era Pledge of Allegiance. The school administrators are too ignorant of American history to know that many of the “pilgrim” settlers to the colonies–Anabaptists & Quakers, in particular–were fleeing just this kind of persecution by Church of England and the British Crown, and refused to take any kind of Oath or Pledge on moral principle, often enduring brutal torments for their valorous stance. (See my old essay on John Lilburne: “Intolerable Opinions in the Age of Secret Tribunals.”) The administrators are also ignorant of the Constitution. This kind of retaliatory punishment for the free exercise of basic 1st Amendment rights has been prohibited since a 1943 Supreme Court decision involving the Jehovah Witnesses.

+ Our first Muslim president, who has killed more Muslims than ISIS has, just handed Israel its largest aid package ever: $38 billion. The eye-popping tranche of money was award after Netanyahu gave a speech so vile that it was denounced as fascistic by even hardcore Israeli apologists. The subsidy will enable Israel to begin doing to the West Bank what it has done to Gaza: divide, cage and destroy whatever it does not what to hand over to settlers or loot for itself.  I wonder: was the check delivered with a personalized note?  “Dear Bibi, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours…Love, Barack.”

+ The AFL-CIO has just betrayed Native Americans, pipeline protesters, climate change activists and 28 million water consumers by reiterating its support for the Dakota Access Pipeline. In a press statement, Richard Trumka, president of the rapidly crumbling mega-union, alleges that the pipeline is “part of a comprehensive energy policy that creates jobs, makes the United States more competitive and addresses the threat of climate change. Pipelines are less costly, more reliable and less energy intensive than other forms of transporting fuels, and pipeline construction and maintenance provides quality jobs to tens of thousands of skilled workers.” Now that’s DEPLORABLE!

+ Here’s your chance to do something that is NOT deplorable: donate to the Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense Fund.

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

1/ Lydia Loveless: Real

2/ Lori McKenna: The Bird & the Rifle

3/ Nels Cline: Lovers

4/ Aaron Neville: Apache

5/ Charlie Hunter: Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

1/ Bill Ayers: Demand the Impossible: a Political Manifesto

2/ Paul Beatty: The Sellout

3/ Wang Wei: Laughing in the Lost Mountains: Poems (Trans. Tony Barnstone)

More Stupid Than Nature Made Them

Bertrand Russell: “Our ‘great democracies’ still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them.”

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3