Roaming Charges: Intimations of Apocalypse

Photo by Marley Cook | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Marley Cook | CC BY 2.0

The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.

— From “Ode: Intimations on Immortality,” William Wordsworth

All of a sudden Al Gore is back. Desperate to lure skeptical millennials to the polls, Hillary Clinton, whose animosity toward Gore dates back to West Wing power spats in 1993, has frantically summoned the former vice president from his sensory deprivation tank to hit the campaign trail with the assignment of issuing thundering jeremiads about the doomsday clock of climate change.

Of course, Intimations of Apocalypse are much more likely to drive young voters away from, rather than into, the voting booth. If the end is coming, there are much better things to do than waste your vote: make love, go surfing, make love, climb Mt. Rainier, make love, binge watch “The Sopranos,” make love, follow the undead Dead on their final (they mean it this time!) farewell tour, make love, bake hash brownies, finally get around to reading War and Peace

Gore is a wicked messenger for a wicked candidate. Indeed, Gore, a man haunted by multiple allegations of sexual assault, is such a pathetic, skulking figure these days that he may yet prove to be a secret weapon for Trump.

There’s no redeeming the Queen of Fracking on the subject of climate change, a crisis she has stripped from her own stump speeches. Moreover, the Ozone Man’s own record on the environment is less than glorious: from his pimping for NAFTA and the WTO to backing energy deregulation and the criminal enterprise known as Enron to the gutting of the Endangered Species Act and opening vast areas of the Alaskan Arctic to oil exploration.  All in all, any sober assessment would probably conclude that the environment fared better under George HW Bush than Clinton and Gore.

Gore’s junior partner-in-crime in the 1990s was a perky young former lobbyist at the American Chemical Society called Katie McGinty, who is now in a neck-and-neck race with Republican incumbent Pat Toomey for the crucial US senate seat in Pennsylvania. As Gore’s confidant and advisor, McGinty, who later became head of the Council on Environmental Quality, played the largely secret of role of executioner of environmental dreams, killing off one green proposal after another to appease the Clinton administration’s corporate backers. Here’s a brief summary of those dismal years featuring the deplorable Al and Katie Wrecking Crew in action.

Missiles For Dead Whales

The fall of 1993 saw Al Gore broker a bizarre deal to trade missiles for dead whales. On September 23 of that year he entertained Norway’s prime minister, Gro Brundtland, at the White House. Brundtland, a fellow Harvard grad and a longtime friend of the vice president, sought Gore’s backing for Norway’s effort to overturn the International Whaling Commission’s ban on the hunting of minke whales in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. For years this had been Norway’s aim, but they’d had little success with the Bush Administration.

Early in 1993, the Norwegian fleet flouted international law by killing nearly 300 whales, supposedly for “scientific” and “experimental” purposes, although a later investigation disclosed that Norwegian minke whale meat had ended up in the fish markets of Japan. American environmental groups lashed out at Norway and demanded that the US take action to punish the rogue whalers. Under a US law known as the Pelly Amendment, the Commerce Department can impose trade sanctions on nations that violate the whaling ban.

But Norway had so far escaped without even a mild rebuke. This was, in part, because Norway had softened up Congress and Clinton’s Commerce Department through a $1.5 million influence-peddling campaign, led by the lobby firm Akin Gump, home of former DNC chairman Robert Strauss and that master of persuasion Vernon Jordan.

At the time of his meeting with Brundtland, Gore had several things on his mind. One was the situation in Bosnia. The Norwegians had one of the largest contingents of troops on the ground there, and Brundtland was under pressure to pull the peacekeepers out, a move that Gore, who was overseeing much of the Bosnian crisis for the administration, was desperate to avoid. Second, Gore was less than enthusiastic about an outright ban on whaling, feeling that it would impede his efforts to secure free trade pacts.

A White House transcript of the meeting, marked confidential by Gore’s national security adviser, Leon Fuerth, records Brundtland denouncing environmental groups as “extremists” and liars. She tells the vice president that she doesn’t want her nation’s whaling fleet monitored “because that would allow Greenpeace to track them and disrupt our activities.” Then Brundtland went on, “We do feel bullied, even by you simply evaluating the use of sanctions. Especially after several nations in the IWC have tried to change the organization from a whale monitoring mission to a forum to ban whaling outright.”

Gore tried to placate the Norwegian prime minister, agreeing that the environmental groups had unfairly beat up on Norway. “As in arms control, there are those who attempt to exploit uncertainty for their own ends,” Gore said. “This strengthens my argument for the need of a scheme that will allow resumption [of whaling], while removing the basis of suspicion that the RMS [i.e., new whaling rules] will be violated.”

In the end, Gore agreed that the Clinton Administration would refrain from imposing sanctions on Norway and would work with Brundtland to weaken whale protection regulations at the IWC. To seal the agreement, Gore and Brundtland forged an arms deal involving the sale of $625 million worth of air-to-air missiles made by Raytheon to the Norwegian military.

* * *

Across the board, setbacks for the greens came at a dizzying pace during the Clinton Administration. A plan to raise grazing fees on Western ranchers was shelved after protests from two Western senators, one of whom, Max Baucus from Montana, later marveled at how quickly the administration caved. The EPA soon succumbed to pressure from the oil industry and automakers on its plans to press for tougher fuel efficiency standards, a move Katie McGinty defended by saying enviros were “tilting at windmills” on the issue.

Tax breaks were doled out to oil companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The Department of Agriculture okayed a plan to increase logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest temperate rainforest. The Interior Department, under orders from the White House, put the brakes on a proposal to outlaw the most grotesque form of strip mining, the aptly-named mountaintop-removal method. With Gore doing much of the lobbying, the administration pushed a bill through Congress that repealed the import-ban on tuna caught with nets that also killed dolphins. The collapse was rapid enough to distress so centrist an environmental leader as the National Wildlife Federation’s Jay Hair, who likened the experience of dealing with the Clinton-Gore Administration to “date rape.”

The White House quashed a task force investigating timber fraud on the bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550National Forest, which had uncovered several hundred million dollars’ worth of illegal timber cutting by big corporations, including Weyerhaeuser. The task force was disbanded, some of its investigators reassigned to, as one put it, “pull up pot plants in clearcuts.”

As ugly as things got, the big green groups never abandoned Gore, swallowing his line that he was “after all, only the vice president.” It is a hallmark of the Gore style that he knows how deftly to exploit public interest groups even as he betrays their constituents. Like the Christian right during the Bush era, the Beltway greens felt there was nowhere else to turn. They had never trusted Clinton, who as governor had turned a blind eye to fouling of the White River by Don Tyson’s chicken abattoirs and shamelessly pandered after corporate cash during the primaries. Gore was the man on whom they had pinned their hopes.

Gore, they remembered, was the man who had held the first hearings on Love Canal and helped usher the Superfund law into being. Here was the man who popularized the term “global warming” and had warned of the dangers of the deterioration of the ozone layer. Here was the man who had led a contingent of Democratic senators to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where he chastised George Bush’s indifference to the health of the planet. Here was the man who had written Earth in the Balance, which called for the environment to be the “central organizing principle” of the new century and stressed strict environmental discipline for the Third World.

But, as Brent Blackwelder of Friends of the Earth pointed out, during all his years in Congress, Gore’s record on environmental issues was far from sterling. In fact, he voted for the environment only 66 percent of the time, a rating that put him on the lower end of Senate Democrats. Moreover, Blackwelder says, Gore functioned rarely as a leader in Congress but more as a solo operator pursuing his own agenda.

That agenda, from the beginning, has been in line with his roots as a New Democrat. Gore has been a tireless promoter of incentive-based, or free-market, environmentalism, often remarking that “the invisible hand has a green thumb.” Since the mid-1980s, Gore has argued that the bracing forces of market capitalism are potent curatives for the ecological entropy now bearing down upon the global environment. He has always been a passionate disciple of the gospel of efficiency, and a man suffused with an inchoate technophilia.

But Gore was also shrewd. He knew the environmental movement from the inside out, knew well that what the big green groups based in DC craved most was access. As vice president, he arranged to meet at least once a month with the Gang of Ten, the CEOs of the nation’s biggest environmental outfits. It became a way for Gore to cool their tempers and deflect their gripes from him to the president, or more often, to Cabinet members such as Robert Rubin, Ron Brown, Mack McLarty, or Lloyd Bentsen. Moreover, Gore made sure to seed the administration with more than thirty executives and staff members from the ranks of the environmental movement itself, headlined by Babbitt, the former president of the movement’s main PAC. Others came from the Wilderness Society, National Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

This experience was a new one for environmental lobbyists who had lived through the exile of the Reagan-Bush era. “It was good to have people in the White House call you by your first name,” Brock Evans, once regarded as the most effective green lobbyist in DC, reflected at a gathering of environmental activists in Oregon in 1993. Evans’ gratified cry summed it all up. Official greens got a bit of access, and that was about it.

The main conduit to the ear of power was Katie McGinty, formerly on Gore’s Senate staff. Few people are closer to Gore than McGinty, one of only two staffers permitted to call the Veep “Al.” (The other is Leon Fuerth.) McGinty grew up in Philadelphia, the daughter of an Irish-American cop in Frank Rizzo’s police force. She got a degree in chemistry at St. Joseph’s University and soon went to work for ARCO, the oil/chemical giant. A few years later McGinty pursued a law degree from Columbia in the Science, Law, and Technology program. Before joining Gore’s Senate staff, she did a stint in DC as a lobbyist for the American Chemical Society, where she fine-tuned the techno-speak that Gore finds irresistible in a staffer. In answering a reporter’s question about her favorite hobbies, McGinty once said, “Hiking and reading books on civic realization.” It was a response only Gore could find exciting. McGinty became Gore’s top environmental aide in 1990, helped him research Earth in the Balance, and accompanied him to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

In 1993, McGinty, then only twenty-nine, was tapped to head the White House Office of Environmental Policy, a newly created panel that Gore pushed for to give him more of a presence inside the White House. The move didn’t sit well with members of Congress or with some Clinton staffers, who felt Gore was grasping too much power. Ultimately, the office was merged with the Council on Environmental Quality, which oversees compliance with environmental laws by federal agencies. McGinty was named as its chair.

The years from 1993 to 2000 were bleak ones for environmentalists, as Clinton and Gore retreated from one campaign pledge after another. “Katie seemed out of the loop most of the time she was there,” a seasoned environmental lobbyist told me at the time. “Or that’s how she made you feel. Katie’s great talent was to seduce you on the phone. She made you feel as if she was your best friend, a secret Earth First!er, who was shocked and pained when the inevitable betrayals came. Katie never delivered bad news herself, but she was always there to console us. She was very, very adroit at soothing irate enviros, calming them down so that they wouldn’t attack the administration.”

At the height of the budget negotiations in 1998, McGinty shocked many in DC when she abruptly announced that she was resigning from her post and was moving to India to take a job at the Tata Research Institute in New Delhi. TERI, as it’s known, is an obscure sustainable development group that receives funding from the UN and works on energy, biotech, and forestry issues. McGinty’s husband, Karl Hausker, an employee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (an outpost of the national security establishment), had been assigned to India. Many thought McGinty would stay in DC, where her power in the administration would increase as the 2000 election approached. But apparently Tipper Gore convinced McGinty that she should follow her man.

Tipper had taken an unusual interest in McGinty’s personal life. In 1995, she learned that McGinty had repeatedly postponed her marriage to Hausker, citing the “crushing workload” that kept her tied down at the White House. Evidently eager that McGinty cement her union and therefore leave Washington, Tipper intervened, handled the wedding arrangements and shipped the newlyweds off on a month-long honeymoon to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the rainforests of Papua, New Guinea.

In 2000, McGinty returned to the United States from India. It didn’t take her long to find a job—not with the Gore campaign, but as the legislative affairs director of Troutman Sanders, a DC law firm with a reputation for defending the worst corporate polluters and using its lobbying might to carve up environmental legislation. In these unsavory surroundings, McGinty stayed true. “There would be no higher priority I would have,” she had once said, “than to help or serve Al Gore.” Opportunity did not dally. In the spring of 2000, McGinty co-founded a group called Environmentalists for Gore, designed to undercut the growing sentiment for greens to support Bill Bradley in the Democratic primary contests. Bradley was endorsed by Friends of the Earth in 1999, and this slap in the face had set off alarm bells in the Gore camp.

Among McGinty’s labors for Gore in 2000 was her input in his energy plan, which promised $68 billion in subsidies and tax breaks for utilities. It so happens that among the biggest clients of McGinty’s lobbying firm, Troutman Sanders, were American Electric Power, the Southern Company and the Edison Electric Institute, one of the main opponents of stringent new air pollution standards. When confronted with this confluence of interest, McGinty answered irrefutably, “I provide advice and have provided advice to anyone who asks me. Does the vice president ask for my views? Absolutely. Do people in the business community ask me for my views. Absolutely. And is that anything new? Absolutely not.”

Apocalypse Now

Of course, the Apocalypse is real, even if the messenger is a fraud. Take a look at the size and sweep of the ferocious storm swirling off the coast of Florida. Hurricane Matthew is not a freak of Nature, but a consequence of late-capitalism’s intransigent addiction to fossil fuels and an economy that feeds on and obsessively promotes infinite consumption. The point has been tipped. There is no return. We are reaping the whirlwinds.

Even Obama admitted as much, in his brief speech on the Paris Climate Accords this week. Standing in the Rose Garden, the president tersely noted that the Paris agreements didn’t go nearly far enough to combat the existential threats of a rapidly warming climate and then scampered back into the White House without taking questions about what he meant.

Hillary offers no solutions at all. She only mentions climate change in order to tweak Trump about his pig-headed climate change tweet being a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Tim Kaine is even worse. As governor, Kaine protected Virginia’s strip-mining coal industry and moved to expand offshore drilling. As senator, Kaine introduced legislation to overturn Obama’s post-Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling moratorium. His solution to fighting climate change is to build a new fleet of nuclear power plants.

On Thursday, a new agreement by International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal to offset jet fuel emissions by purchases “carbon credits” in alternative energy systems and forest conservation. The agreement, however, won’t go into effect until 2020 and even then will be voluntary, so the effects are likely to be minimal.

One wonders whether this agreement will apply to jet-setting environmental ambassadors, such as Leonardo Dicaprio and Naomi Klein? I know, it’s petty to criticize them. After all, these green luminaries fly the world to preach about the horrors of climate change (instead of broadcasting their sermons via carbon-neutral Skype), so that we lesser mortal greens don’t have to fly. It’s a great sacrifice they are making.

Get Assange

Wikileaks turned 10 this week and held an eagerly awaited news conference in Berlin to mark the occasion. Many, including Roger Stone, Trump’s Dr. Caligari, anticipated that Julian Assange would use the occasion to dump a new avalanche of damaging DNC documents that might bury Clinton. Stone went so far as to predict that the Clinton campaign would be dead by Wednesday. Alas, the October Surprise didn’t materialize.

But the fear of Assange in Democratic circles remains palpable. The liberal elites really believe that Assange has his fingers on documents that will damn the Democrats, and Clinton, with their own words. This fear reflects a consciousness of guilt, doesn’t it?

Yet Assange is the one who should be watching his back. We have previously reported how Clinton intimate Bob Beckel called openly for Assange to be shot. This week came an even more chilling glimpse into the petty and paranoid mind of Hillary Clinton. The website TruePundit quotes State Department officials who recalled a November 2010 meeting at Foggy Bottom where Clinton, reeling from the aftershocks of the CableGate leaks, asked her inner circle “Why can’t we just drone this guy?”

I spend about 20 minutes a day in the Twittersphere. More than that and one begins to nod off from carbon monoxide poisoning. But the endless scroll of Tweets on my feed this week showed evidence that Assange Fever had infected even normally rational outposts such as The Nation. On Wednesday, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation, re-Tweeted a column from the Washington Post, the paper which has called for their own source Edward Snowden to face trial for treason under the Espionage Act, with the tag: “Margaret Sullivan’s column worth reading/ When is transparency too radical? Never, says Assange & that’s crazy.”

Perhaps Assange should seek refuge in a bunker during the next Nation cruise, just in case the SS Navasky targets the Ecuadoran Embassy with fusillades of renewal notices, solicitations and unsold back issues, a bombardment which would infuse new meaning to “cruise missiles.”

The Nation’s risible endorsement of HRC is so laughable that it would have done the impossible: united those old foes, Alexander Cockburn and Christopher Hitchens, in their ridicule.

According to the electoral bookies at the New York Times, Hillary now has an 82% chance of thumping Trump. With those odds, The Nation’s editors could have afforded to be honest with their readers about Hillary’s deplorable neoliberal economic policies and neoconservative militarism. But that’s not The Nation’s role. It’s political function is to keep the center Left securely corralled inside the Democratic Party machine.

Move Over Paula Broadwell!

You’ve likely seen Michael O’Hanlon many times on the tube and scrubbed his nasty little image from your mind. O’Hanlon is one of those rent-a-pundits sent out from the Brookings Institution to thoroughly confuse the public every issue from the forces driving the price of oil to the origins of the conflict between Shia and Sunni muslims.

Last year  O’Hanlon’ initiated a courtship of disgraced General David Petraeus with a hilarious suck-up op-ed where he declared Petraeus to be “a national hero.” It’s now reached its x-rated fruition. O’Hanlon has joined forces with Petraeus to lecture the nation with inflated nonsense about “America’s Awesome Military.

I wonder if O’Hanlon will be writing the next Petraeus hagiography? Someone check his briefcase for classified material & his iPhone for “sexts.”

Styron’s Historic Libel

I never took to William Styron’s writing. He aspired to be Virginia’s William Faulkner, but Styron never had the master’s heart or humor. Behind those ornate, fractured, Cubist sentences, Faulkner was a writer who was haunted the barbarities of his own nation’s history and he had a deep feeling for those on the losing end: the blacks, the poor, the dispossessed and, especially, the women, all straining under the cruel shadow of the debased Southern aristocracy. Check out Light in August, a searing testament to Faulkner’s extraordinary empathy.

By contrast, William Styron seemed obsessed by the failures of his own mind, which can make for powerful fiction in the hands of Dostoevsky. But Styron was no Dostoevsky, either. Styron’s self-loathing is projected onto his characters, nowhere more morbidly than in his book The Confessions of Nat Turner. Styron’s portrait of the black revolutionary is depraved. His Turner is almost subhuman, a kind of black Caliban driven by animal instincts and wild emotions that overwhelm his intellect and sense of morality. This is white fantasy, since we know very little about the man himself, except for the brutal treatment he received from the Virginia slave masters. Styron’s own family were slaveowners and the most generous reading of the novel is as a kind of psychological exercise to purge those ancestral demons, at the expense of one of the most heroic black figures in American history.

My familial roots grow deep into the Virginia piedmont country and I went to school in DC, where I got to know many Virginia writers–novelists, essayists and poets. Few had any respect for Styron; some were embarrassed for him. Styron later blamed the hostile reaction to Confessions from black writers and intellectuals, such as Cecil Brown, for the onset of his crippling episodes of writer’s block, which seems like one more case of blaming the victims. Once Styron was considered one of the three Great White Male Hopes for the American novel, along with Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer. Now Styron is regarded, if at all, for Darkness Visible, his rather austere chronicle of his battles with depression. Perhaps there’s a measure of cold justice in that fate.

Alexander Cockburn used to bump into the Styrons, Bill and Rose, when he lived on Cape Cod. He adored Rose and spoke glowingly to me of their dinner conversations. Alex claimed that Bill was usually plastered by 4 pm, babbling incoherencies deep into the evening.

Nat Turner’s life and fiery uprising against the slaveowners has been redeemed from Styron’s libels by Nathan Parker’s powerful new film, Birth of a Nation. Don’t let the manufactured outrage about what Parker may or may not have done as a teenager deter you from seeing this liberating film. Watch the movie and judge it on its own merits. I bet that, like me, you’ll leave the theater uplifted with a joyous anger, rather than depressed, which is exactly the way revolutionary art should make you feel.

Why Do the Best Things Always Disappear?

This is one of those miserably slow mornings when nothing seems to work right: the coffee maker, the keyboard, the dog, my brain. On mornings like this, which seem to roll around more and more often, I tend to listen to The Band. I’ve had “Ophelia” playing on endless loop since about 5.30 and it strikes me this may be the greatest song ever written on male impotence, eh Hamlet? “I’m still waiting on the second coming of Ophelia, Ophelia come back home…” This version from the Last Waltz is played at a faster tempo than it should be. Nevertheless…

Kicking the Sandernistas

Just as Bernie Sanders was hitting the road to campaign for his new BFF Hillary Clinton, the Free Beacon, a Beltway website, got hold of an audio tape of Clinton speaking at a Virginia fundraiser for big donors hosted by DC power brokers Beatrice Welters and Anthony Welters, the head of an investment firm founded by HRC intimate Cheryl Mills. To quell the anxiety of the potential investors in her campaign about her poor showings against Sanders, Clinton tried to explain the psychology of the Sandernistas. She came off sounding like Mitt Romney talking about the 48%. Her patronizing and demeaning characterization of American youth as basement dwelling xenophobes who had bought into the “false promises” of the Sanders campaign is worth quoting in full:

CLINTON: It is important to recognize what’s going on in this election. Everybody who’s ever been in an election that I’m aware of is quite bewildered because there is a strain of, on the one hand, the kind of populist, nationalist, xenophobic, discriminatory kind of approach that we hear too much of from the Republican candidates. And on the other side, there’s just a deep desire to believe that we can have free college, free healthcare, that what we’ve done hasn’t gone far enough, and that we just need to, you know,  go as far as, you know, Scandinavia, whatever that means, and half the people don’t know what that means, but it’s something that they deeply feel. So as a friend of mine said the other day, I am occupying from the center-left to the center-right. And I don’t have much company there. Because it is difficult when you’re running to be president, and you understand how hard the job is —  I don’t want to overpromise. I don’t want to tell people things that I know we cannot do.

Some are new to politics completely. They’re children of the Great Recession. And they are living in their parents’ basement. They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future. I met with a group of young black millennials today and you know one of the young women said, “You know, none of us feel that we have the job that we should have gotten out of college. And we don’t believe the job market is going to give us much of a chance.” So that is a mindset that is really affecting their politics. And so if you’re feeling like you’re consigned to, you know, being a barista, or you know, some other job that doesn’t pay a lot, and doesn’t have some other ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing. So I think we should all be really understanding of that and should try to do the best we can not to be, you know, a wet blanket on idealism. We want people to be idealistic. We want them to set big goals. But to take what we can achieve now and try to present them as bigger goals.

There’s no mistaking the disdain in her voice for the Children of the Revolution and the confidence she has in her own ability to con them into voting for her in the general election by offering policy trinkets and promises she has no intention of fulfilling. When confronted with the tape, Hillary didn’t even blush. Instead, she portrayed her talk as a kind of dispassionate anthropological assessment of the Sandernista Mind, as if she were Margaret Mead fresh from an expedition among the Millennial Tribes.

Nothing new here. That’s the Clinton Method, perfected over decades of political betrayals. What must be disappointing to the Sandernistas is that their leader, Bernie the Good, completed his fall from grace by defending Clinton’s aspersions on the foot soldiers of his own movement. “What she was saying there is absolutely correct and that is you got millions of young people, many of whom took out loans in order to go to college, hoping to go out and get decent-paying, good jobs and you know what?” Sanders told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.  “They are unable to do that.”

Feel the Bern?

Make It or Break It

As you know, we’ve just about completed week two of our annual fund drive and the finish is still pretty far away. So far away, in fact, that Sarah Palin can’t even see it from her house.

As an inducement for you to donate, we’re offering an irresistible deal. For a mere $100 contribution, we’ll pitch in a digital copy (e-pub, pdf, et al) of my new book, Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution, before it is even in the stores. This soon-to-be-classic screed is worth all of the paper it isn’t printed on!

Seriously, we need your donation, whatever you can afford. If we don’t make our target, we’ll have to cut back our operations. Do you want that to happen, just on the edge of a treacherous new era?

So, if you like what we do, donate now.

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week:

1/ Bobby Rush: Porcupine Meat (Rounder)
2/ Drive By Truckers: American Band (ATO)
3/ Helen Money: Become Zero (Thrill Jockey)
4/ The Meters: A Message From the Meters (Real Gone)
5/ Jah Wobble: Everything is No Thing (Jah Wobble)

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week:

1/ Alison Castle: The Stanley Kubrick Archives (Taschen).
2/ Alice Kaplan: Looking for the Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic (University of Chicago Press).
3/ Mark Greif: Against Everything: Essays (Pantheon)

Conscience of the World?

James Baldwin: “The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the “conscience” of the civilized world.”

The Devil Finds Work.

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