Roaming Charges: Intimations of Imbecility

Tongue Point Shipyard, Astoria, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Every reporter, editor and publisher who used or cited any document published by Wikileaks should file an amicus brief opposing his indictment and extradition, since Assange is being indicted on their behalf.

+ Out of a total eleven prosecutions under the Espionage Act against government officials accused of providing classified information to the media, seven have occurred since Barack Obama took office.

+ Obama started the war on whistleblowers and reporters. Following Obama’s lead, Trump has now taken it to a Trumpian level of hostility toward a free press. Who will stop him?

+ There’s a lot of obligatory huffing and puffing about how unsavory Assange is in this New York Times editorial but ultimately even they seem to grasp what an acute threat the Espionage Act Indictment is to press freedom.

+ + Seymour Hersh: “Today Assange. Tomorrow, perhaps, The New York Times and other media that published so much of the important news and information Assange provided.”

+ Unlike the New York Times, the Washington Post’s Marty Baron didn’t “disinfect” his editorial by saying what an “odious” person Assange is. He just got right to the point.

+ Daniel Ellsberg on Assange: “There hasn’t actually been such a significant attack on the freedom of the press since my case in 1971.”

+ Hillary Clinton once “joked” that Julian Assange should be droned. If she ever wants to reclaim any kind of respect in public life, she should publicly denounce Trump’s charges against Assange as a grave assault on the First Amendment.

+ Robert Mueller press statement summed up: Gravitas signifying nothing.

+ Waiting on the slowed down video of clip of Mueller’s speech to see who was drunker, him or Pelosi…

+ We don’t get fooled again…strike that.

+ Pelosi’s verbal mush on impeachment: “Many constituents want to impeach the President, but we want to do what is right and we want to get results.”

+ If the Democrats really want to impeach Trump, they’ll have to “impeach” Pelosi first, which might make the whole ordeal worth it.

+ AOC on impeachment: “I think that we know what we need to do. I personally believe that I think we have to move forward.” What does “I personally believe that I think” mean? That’s some Deep Epistemology.

+ The Democrats’ big money donors on Wall Street say that all of the candidates—except Sanders and Warren—are dropping by “for lunch and money.” How do they tell them apart? Are they wearing name tags?

+ Here’s one Confederate Memorial Trump would like to see obliterated: According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House wanted the USS John McCain “out of sight” for Trump’s visit to Japan. A tarp was hung over the ship’s name ahead of the trip, and sailors—who wear caps bearing the ship’s name—were given the day off for Trump’s visit.

+ NYT: “..all of the American warships in the harbor were invited to send 60-70 sailors to hear Mr. Trump’s address, w/exception of the McCain. When several sailors from the McCain showed up anyway, wearing their uniforms w/ship’s insignia, they were turned away.”

+ Which is the more fatal attraction?

Trump: “I love Chairman Kim.”
Biden: “I love John McCain.”

+ McCain is the Banquo’s Ghost of the Trump era. (In tonight’s production of the Scottish Play, the roles of the Weird Sisters will be played by Rachel Maddow, Nancy Pelosi and Kellyanne Conway, while the part of Lady McBeth will be performed by Mother Pence.)

+ I hope someone covers up all the Reagan National signs the next time I fly into DC.

+ According to the Department of Energy, the next critical export from the United States is made from “molecules of U.S. Freedom.”

+ The official song has been released for the overseas marketing of Rick Perry’s “Freedom Gas”…

+ This is why they call them Molecules of Freedom. You can’t contain them, you can only try to track where they end up and hope they don’t explode when they get there……

+ Biden nearly flunked Greenpeace’s Climate Change quiz. Luckily, for the former Veep, the environmental group grades on a soft curve.

+ What do you have to do to flunk the test, eat coal and fart freedom gas…?

+ PG Wodehouse: “He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more.”

+ Most politicians enjoy kissing babies for photo ops. Biden waits until the girls are at least 11 before he moves in…

+ Biden’s Secret Service detail should be spending most of its time protecting young women from the creepy advances of the candidate…

+ Many politicians enjoy kissing babies for photo ops. Joe Biden waits until the girls are at least 11…

+ Stop using your wife as a human shield, Biden. You’re better than that. Oh, wait, you’re not. Sorry. Carry on…

+ Biden once declared Strom Thurmond as his “closest friend,” and praised the hard-core segregationist for helping to advance a “‘heterogenous, diverse society.”

+ So was Chairman Kim wrong when he called Biden “an imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being, let alone a politician?”

+ What’s madder than a Mad Dog? John Bolton and Pompeo Maximus, apparently…

+ Every new threat by the US against Iran provides the hardliners with an excuse to crackdown against the Iranian Left.

+ Clarence Thomas ranted about the undeniable links between the eugenics movement and population control in his dissent in the Indiana abortion case. It rings hollow, however, because he is blind to how the death penalty, austerity & mass incarceration are part of the same Malthusian project.

+ Alabama, which just passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country,  is highest among states in child mortality, 50th in child poverty and 46th in education. But it’s public television station did move to censor the episode of Arthur featuring a same-sex marriage, because they wanted to protect teenage mothers who are carrying the fetus of their uncle the rapist from being subjected to such a morally corrupting cartoon…

+ By overriding the veto of Gov. John Sununu, New Hampshire just became the 21st state to abolish the death penalty!

+ Mitch McConnell told an audience in Kentucky that he would move to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020. Anyone surprised by this is probably a political science or journalism major.

+ Trump can’t do one thing right. NYT: “The president said he was ordering the revocation of Mr. Brennan’s clearance. But the White House never followed through with the complex bureaucratic work it would have taken to strip the clearance…”

+ Michael Wolff: “I think the historical understanding is that the presidency changes the person who holds the office. I think the reverse is true here — he’s changed the White House into the Trump Organization.”

+ Wolff’s Deep Throat, Steve Bannon, on how Trump will fall: “The investigations into his finances will reveal he’s not the billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag”.

+ According to David Garrow’s explosive (and much assailed) essay on the FBI’s surveillance of MLK’s sex life: “In 1963, the Communist Party USA had a total of 4,453 members, new FBI docs reveal, and as of two years later no fewer than 336 of them were FBI informants. Even in 1971, the Bureau boasted privately of how 11 of its informants were members of the CPUSA’s National Committee.” (I hope they all were paying their dues.)

+ Picnicking while black in Mississippi...

+ City without a soul (or soul): the San Francisco was less racially segregated in 1970 than it was in 2010 and its only gotten whiter and richer since then.

+ Call it the Age of Great Anxiety, when 25% of Americans say they worry about money all the time.

+ US manufacturing output sank to a 9-year low in May. Remember kiddies: “Trade Wars are easy to win!”

+ A lesson in how capitalism works across the centuries: the richest families in Florence in 1427 remain the richest families in Florence in 2019. Over to you, Dante.

+ Democratic Party elites are fretting that Sanders might play the role of “spoiler” in the 2020 general election. Silly. Bernard has always been a loyal foot soldier, willing to snap into line behind any neoliberal hawk the Democrats manufacture their elections to nominate. (And he was the first to sign the loyalty pledge.)

+ After the Democratic Convention, Sanders went on the road doing 52 campaign events for Hillary Clinton in 14 states–more than any other campaign “surrogate.” Was there ever a swifter betrayal of his followers by the leader of a “Revolution”?

+ Bernie has been taking sniper fire from red-baiting liberals like Jonathan Chait at New York magazine for supporting the Sandinistas 40 years ago. But supporting the Sandinistas in the 70s & 80s was an easy call, for anyone with a conscience. The important question is where does Bernard Sanders stand on the Sandinistas today as Nicaragua labors under daily threats from the Trump regime, about which he has been typically mute.

+ Are we sure that the “sky penis” formed by an F-35 dogfight wasn’t a Sanders campaign stunt?

+ One of my old profs in the AU history department, Allan Lichtman, predicts a Trump win 2020…(His model has proved freakishly accurate.)

+ Pelosi and Schumer were steamed that Trump had a fit and stormed out of their “infrastructure” meeting after erupting in 3 minute tirade. What are they complaining about? Three minutes is longer than Trump lasted with Stormy Daniels…

+ Aides trying to stop Trump from saying something outrageous is an essential plot device for the theatrics of his performance art.

+ Trump was searching desperately for a way to slither out of an infrastructure deal ever since Mitch told him he’d never move such a socialist extravaganza through the Senate. Nancy offered him a way out. Now they’re both happy, even though they are pretending to have had a pre-senior prom breakup.

+ Oh, for a return to Nixon, a multi-tasking presidential crook who could ransack the Constitution and sign the Endangered Species Act into law at the same time.

+ If you read this entire FoxNews interview, where Lindsey Graham threatens to go to war against Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba, there’s only one conclusion to be drawn: the man’s insane.

+ Happy Memorial Day from Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr: “As he recounted the allegation of Gallagher posing next to a dead body for a photograph, Hunter, also a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said “a lot of us have done the exact same thing.” He said he, too, had a photo taken of himself next to a dead combatant, but said he did not text it or post to social media.”

+ Sharon Tate’s guide to Maoism, Esquire 1967…

+ Mao’s Guide to Sharon Tate: “When we look at a thing, we must examine its essence and treat its appearance merely as an usher at the threshold, and once we cross the threshold, we must grasp the essence of the thing; this is the only reliable and scientific method of analysis.”

+ Ken Dilanian, MSDNC’s “intelligence” reporter: “Federal judges aren’t political.” No wonder American kids can’t name a single supreme court justice…

+ No children had died in border patrol custody in the previous 10 years until December 2018. Five children have died in the last 6 months under Trump’s family separation policy.

+ Betsy DeVos is basically a less intelligent and more politically maladroit version of Obama’s Sec. of Education, Arne Duncan.

+ Thanks to Trump, you can now use food stamps to stock up on cans of spray cheese…just in case you happen to bump into Nigel Farage (or Steve King)….

+ Reasons for optimism! Countries now in “political chaos:” USA, UK, France, Brazil, Israel.

+ The Raiders are picked up the racist thug Richie Incognito, while Colin Kapernick waits for the phone that never rings…

+ Of course, Kapernick will almost certainly live a healthier and longer life than Incognito, because …. football kills.

+ As the years tick by, Monty Python’s John Cleese becomes more xenophobic and less funny. This week the  grouchy Brexiteer was again ranting about immigrants have spoiled his island (not the Caribbean one of Nevis he now lives on, but the British Islands), declaring that “London is no longer English.”

+ Of course, a similar refrain was heard in India in 1947, “Delhi is no longer English!”

+ London hasn’t been “English” since at least 1066…

+ Here’s a memo instructing drivers how to chauffeur around the panjandrums of the AFL-CIO and reminding them doing so is “an honor.” No wonder organized labor has never been weaker…

+ Howard Stern to Trump, “You claim that you heard Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley having sexual intercourse.”

Trump: “I did? Did I say that in the book. Does that sound exciting or not?”

+ Giant clams near the Marshall Islands are showing extremely high levels of radiation, the latest evidence that the radioactive waste pit from US nuclear testing is leaking into the Pacific. I’d avoid the Clam Monbiot at Nobu’s for the next thousand years….

+ The action on the Weather Channel this week was far more thrilling than any episode of Game of Thrones.

+ Toto, we’re not in the Holocene anymore

+ Histrionic sheep ranchers on the Oregon Coast are blaming bald eagles for killing their livestock. This is typical rancher histrionics. Bald eagles eat dead sheep, usually lambs that die soon after birth. They don’t kill them…They usually don’t even kill fish, preferring to steal them from osprey. (Golden eagles are a different story, but they are rarely seen west of the Cascades.)

I’ve been doing winter raptor surveys in the lower Columbia for the past 10 years and have never sign any signs of bald eagles killing lambs. I know this area and these two sheep ranches there very well. The concentration of eagles there is not very high, compared to some nearby habitat. The most I’ve ever seen in either pasture is two at a time. A few miles down the river, on Svensen Island, there are often 9 eagles in one tree with no sheep in sight, live or dead.

+ Coming to America’s largest temperate rainforest, the Tongass in southeast Alaska, thousands of miles of roads to ruin

+ Gray whales are starving to death off the Pacific Coast…

+ Over the last two decades, more than half of Mexican wolf deaths, and about one in four red wolf deaths, resulted from gunshots or other illegal acts.

+ It appears like more and more men are shooting plastic bullets

+ The climate costs of plastics…

+ When Yosemite and Joshua Tree come with a “Hazardous to Your Health” travel advisory, you know the country has completely gone to shit…

+ In Illinois, as in several other states, cars and trucks now outproduce coal when it comes to CO2 emissions

+ Trump on California Gov. Gavin Newsome: “Clean up your forests. You won’t have forest fires. He blames them on global warming. I said, ‘No, try cleaning the floor of the forest a little bit.'”

+ If you’re intent on dying at 8,000 meters, why not do it with dignity on K2 or Annapurna?

+ Bob Weir to GQ(!) on LSD & the Dead:

“It was pretty scary for me. It opened me up to stuff I just wasn’t ready for. LSD was something of a calling for us, but I think we tended to make more of it than it really amounted to. Being profoundly disoriented in concert with a bunch of my cohorts was a grand little adventure, but we were on an adventure anyway. The fact that we were together, and we were making music, making art, and creating a new, a fresh way of looking at the world, was much more important and much more central to what we were up to than any kind of medication.”

+ Mickey Hart: “Everybody tried to dose Bobby!”

+ John Phillips, perhaps the most disgusting musician of the 60s, described his daily drug consumption with his wife, the actress Genevieve Wait, who died this week at 71:

“I had an insatiable cocaine habit. Geneviève and I were doing a quarter-ounce or half-ounce a day. We were taking 60 Dilaudids a day, 160 milligrams of morphine, heroin and everything else.”

+ Then there’s Skippy Spence, a co-founder of Moby Grape. Here’s Peter Lewis on his bandmate:

“Skippy was just hanging around. He hadn’t been all there for years, because he’d been into heroin all that time. In fact he actually ODed once and they had him in the morgue in San Jose with a tag on his toe. All of a sudden he got up and asked for a glass of water. Now he was snortin’ big clumps of coke, and nothing would happen to him. We couldn’t have him around because he’d be pacing the room, describing axe murders. So we got him a little place of his own. He had a little white rat named Oswald that would snort coke too. He’d never washed his dishes, and he’d try to get these little grammar school girls to go into the house with him. He was real bad. One of the parents finally called the cops, and they took him to the County Mental Health Hospital in Santa Cruz. Where they immediately lost him, and he turned up days later in the women’s ward.”

+ On December 9, 1964 McCoy Tyner recorded the entire A Love Supreme album with John Coltrane. Later that night he recorded In a New Setting with Milt Jackson. He was paid the “session rate” for both recordings.

+ Old Oraibi, the ancient Hopi village on Third Mesa, is often described as the oldest continuously inhabited place in the US. It was established about 1100 years ago. Old, but not nearly the oldest. That honor should probably go to Celilo village on the Oregon side of the Columbia river, where people have lived catching salmon since the last ice age. At one point Celilo had as many as 30,000 people during the fall salmon runs. Then in 1957 the floodgates were closed on The Dalles Dam, the falls and old village were inundated, and the few villagers that remained moved up on a ledge of the Gorge above the old village. Also submerged was Spedis Canyon, across the river, one of the most spectacular galleries of rock art in the world, with some paintings and carvings dating back 5000 years. A few remains, scattered on remote cliffs and rockshelters. I spent a sunny day in and around the falls and the old village trying to envision it as it once was. Here are a few photos.

Rising sun painting, Columbia Gorge.

Hills above Celilo.

Coyote Falls, near Lyle, Washington.

Tribal fishing platforms, Dalles Dam.

Tribal fishing platforms, Columbia River.

Rayed sun painting, near Celilo.

Rayed deity, near Celilo.

Cliffs above Celilo.

Painted shield, near Celilo.

Elk man painting, near Celilo.

Horsethief Butte, Columbia Gorge, near Celilo.

Large rock art panel, near Celilo.

Dalles Dam, which drowned Celilo Falls and village.

I came across this striking letter from Jimmie James, an early leader of the campaigns against the salmon (river culture)-killing dams on the Columbia River, to leaders of the Celilo and Yakima Nations in 1953, and it sounded to me like something David Brower or Edward Abbey could have written:

“The US Engineers could decide to cut Mt. Hood off at its base and dump it into Crater Lake to make an International Golf Course. The could even start before we knew it. And who would you go to, to get that thing stopped? This sounds ridiculous I know and if you had been told that Celilo Falls would have been covered by water by building a dam five years ago we would have been aghast–but just such a thing could happen over and over again until our state (Oregon) would be stripped of all its beauty.”

+ Best story of the week: A Synth Repair man gets high from touching LSD left inside a Buchla Model 100 for 50 years. (Probably Owsley’s brew.)

“Little May was kinda ‘fraid of darkness” (RIP Leon Redbone)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Reward by Cate Le Bon (Mexican Summer)

Full Upon Her Burning Lips by Earth (Sargent House)

Baby, Please Come Home by Jimmy Vaughn (Last Music Company)

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

How Democracy Ends by David Runciman (Basic)

Losing Earth: a Recent History by Nathaniel Rich (Duggan)

The Torture Machine: Racism & Police Violence in Chicago by Flint Taylor (Haymarket)

Honest Stupidity

Fyodor Dostoevsky: “The more stupid one is, the closer one is to reality. The more stupid one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence squirms and hides itself. Intelligence is unprincipled, but stupidity is honest and straightforward.”

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