Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right

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.”

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