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Roaming Charges: Crash Test Dummy Politics

Repent Now! truck, Salvation Mountain. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Let’s start with some notes on the Democratic debates…

+ Andrea Mitchell: “Biden’s a skilled debater. We saw him with Sarah Palin.” Which was, obviously, the political equivalent of flooring Sonny Liston in the first round.

+ Steve Bannon was Andrew Yang’s fashion consultant for tonight’s festivities.

+ MSDNC’s Savannah Guthrie seems very concerned her taxes will go up.

+ The ideological gap between Sanders and Michael Bennet is wider than that between Biden and Strom Thurmond.

+ Swalwell, of all the little dwarves, takes the first shot at Biden’s age.

+ Ask Marianne Williamson a damn question!

+ So only Bernie and Harris (along with DeBlasio and Warren last night) stood up as true single-payer candidates willing to terminate the insurance industry. (12 hours later Harris had done a two-step on single-payer, claiming incredulously, that she’d misheard the question…So, it’s down to Sanders, Warren and “Che” DeBlasio after all.)

+ It’s the good capitalists vs. the greedy capitalists.

+ Biden: “I can deal with the insurance companies.” (Eastland taught him all the moves to make.)

+ 20 minutes into the debate and Biden looks dazed on his feet and he hasn’t even been punched.

+ Still waiting on Mayor Pete to break out in Maltese or Dari Persian.

+ Harris can shift smoothly from her Jesse Jackson cadences to the scolding tones of her Madame Prosecutor voice.

+ Marianne Williamson: “Where have you been guys? I haven’t heard anyone on this stage talk about the consequences of American foreign policy in Central America.”

+ Is Biden hedging on these questions or can he only raise his hand halfway up?

+ Bernie called Honduras a “failing state” without turning to Biden and saying “failing because of the coup your administration abetted.”

+ Good for Harris for criticizing the Obama administration’s immigration policies.

+ There’s an endowed chair waiting for Mayor Butter&Eggs at the Brookings Institute.

+ Williamson hits hard on reparations.

+ Biden can’t look at Harris as she flattens him for working with Jim Crow senators to prevent the desegregation of public schools.

+ Biden lecturing a black woman (even if it is Kamala Harris) on civil rights is a really bad look.

+ Biden: “My time is up.” Truest words he’s said all night.

+ David Nir: “Fair to say Kamala Harris threw Joe Biden under the busing.”

+ What the hell happened to Dennis Kucinich?

+ Good for Michael Bennet, who looked most of the night liked he’d been imbibing Colorado’s leading agricultural product, for exposing the economic consequences of Biden’s deal-making with McConnell.

+ Biden: “In our administration we had the largest wind farm in the world” and the largest offshore oil spill in history.

+ Biden: Smart guns, smart bombs.

+ Biden: I am NATO man.

+ I’ll give Bernie this. He’s almost totally without artifice. He doesn’t waste time on stories and heart-tugging anecdotes. He’s like one of the lesser Old Testament prophets. He’s old, his knees hurt, he can’t hear well, he wakes up irritated, he’s been shouting the same thing for years & damnit, people still aren’t getting what he’s saying…

+ Biden: Obama said, Joe, get some troops out Iraq so we can surge in Afghanistan.

+ Biden’s last words: May god protect our troops.

+ My scorecard on the 10 point system:

Sanders 9

Harris 7 (deductions for lying about her position on single-payer)

Gillibrand 6

Mayor Pete 5

Biden 3

Williamson 2

Bennet 1

Swalwell 0

Hickenlooper 0

Yang 0

+ On Wednesday night, the Sputnik Left made much of the fact that Tulsi Gabbard (who Pat Buchanan is now urging Trump to replace Bolton with as National Security Advisor) won the Drudge Report online poll. Let’s see who’s leading tonight: why it’s Andrew Yang with 28.5%!

+ Somebody, the brutish DeBlasio I guess, eventually needs to confront Warren on her votes for the Trump defense budget.

+ That’s it? 3 whole minutes on war and foreign policy?

+ Why does Tulsi Gabbard, the putative antiwar candidate, have to frame her opposition to the Iran war while bragging about her voluntary participation in the Iraq war? I’m told that early in her political career Gabbard wore a uniform to so many campaign events that she was sanctioned for violating ethical rules by the Pentagon.

+ They should ask John Delaney his questions during commercial breaks.

+ Delaney seems to auditioning for some Rick Perry-like slot in the Biden cabinet.

+ Julian Castro was the biggest surprise of the first debate for me. He was feisty, funny and eviscerated Beto, which admittedly may qualify as a kind of political corpse abuse.

+ It was a strangely warped debate where Warren, the front-runner among this pack of lightweights, wasn’t asked a question about climate policy, immigration, war or foreign policy.

+ O’Rouke spoke for 10 minutes and I can’t remember a thing he said…

FINAL TALK TIME:
Booker 10’35
O’Rourke 10’15
Warren 9’07
Castro 8’13
Klobuchar 8’06
Ryan 6’54
Delaney 6’17
Gabbard 6’15
de Blasio 5’20
Inslee 4’41

+ Chuck Todd spoke just four words less than Warren and more words than 7 of the candidates on stage and he only moderated half of the last half of the debate!

+ DeBlasio had one function: go after either Biden or Warren head on. He wimped out and went after the hapless Beto instead. Biden didn’t get hit with one punch by any of the contenders or pretenders. No one even took a swing…

+ Beto would have been better off answering all his questions in Spanish.

+ Tim Ryan had no idea who attacked the US on 9/11. So he probably picked up the endorsement of Cheney & Rumsfeld…

+ What exactly did Tulsi Gabbard do in Iraq and why did she volunteer to serve there in 2004, well after almost everyone knew the war had been launched on false pretenses. Last night, she rightly scolded Tim Ryan for not knowing who attacked the US on 9/11, but can’t a similar charge be laid at her own feet?

+ Only DeBlasio and Warren had the guts to stand up and support Medicare for All without equivocation. This rest seemed to support a phased-in approach or a “public option.”

+ Haven’t we been through the Public Option bait-and-switch before as pitched by a much more seductive salesman?

+ How CNN mutated “medicare for all” into “Warren and DeBlasio want to abolish private health insurance.”

+ Out after tonight, whether they know it or not: Ryan, Delaney, Klobuchar, Inslee, DeBlasio, Beto.

+ The big question for Sanders is: will he attack or be a good Democrat? In 2015, he signaled his docility in the very first debate when he leapt to HRC’s defense by saying, “Enough about the damn emails!” She knew at that moment he was no real threat. And, of course, it was the emails (and James Comey) that helped bring her down in the end…

+ Trump usually speaks in an impenetrable patois. But he’s not alone. Can anyone translate what the hell Cory Booker meant when he said this in the debate: “It’s [health care] not just a human right. It’s an American right.”

+ The notion that Bernie Sanders can claim ownership of ideas that the Left has been pushing for decades is typically hubristic. Next thing you know David Sirota will be boasting that Sanders was the ghostwriter of Das Kapital…

+ It takes guts to quote Che Guevara in Miami, even subconsciously. But big tough Bill DeBlasio couldn’t stand by it for even 24 hours before making a groveling apology

+ A few hours after ditching Che, DeBlasio went the full McCarthyite: “I think when it comes to Vladimir Putin, the president started in a place that was treasonous, now it is full blown treason.”

+ Trump claimed over the weekend that he pulled the plug on airstrikes because he wasn’t convinced the Iranian leadership approved or even knew about the downing of the US spy-drone. So his response is to level sanctions against the Iranian leadership, including Iran’s top diplomat, which would prevent him from traveling to resolve the crisis diplomatically. Brilliant.

+ Is the cost of planning an airstrike you always intended to cancel more or less than planning a nationwide mass-arrest you always intended to cancel?

+ Last week Trump threatened Iran with “obliteration, like you’ve never seen.” This week he threatened the Islamic republic with “overwhelming force.” That qualifies as a downgrade, doesn’t it? Perhaps Ivanka exerts a moderating influence on the old man after all…

+ The Iranians, who have long had some of the world’s craftiest and most sophisticated diplomats, are laughing in Trump’s face, recycling some of his pen-pal Kim’s best insults…

+ Trump: “Just got a wonderful letter from Kim Jong-Un. It includes birthday wishes!” (Chairman Kim writes more letters than a character in a Samuel Richardson novel…)

+ The US Navy now has more personnel deployed to the Middle East than any other region in the world.

+ The Senate voted down a bill requiring Congressional approval for an attack on Iran. Congress has chopped off more of its own limbs than the Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail…

+ Mark Morgan, the man who is now in charge of Customs and Border Patrol which has 1000’s of children locked in cages, on the minors in the agency’s concentration camps: “I’ve looked at them and I’ve looked at their eyes – and I’ve said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It’s unequivocal.” (Morgan was first appointed to run Border Patrol under…Barack Obama.)

+ Trump’s new border Tsar Ken Cuccinelli, who just blamed an immigrant father seeking asylum for the drowning deaths of himself and his daughter, and  for the  once compared US immigration policy to Washington’s rodent control program, claiming (incorrectly it turns out) that a D.C. ordinance that doesn’t let animal control workers kill rats is worse than U.S. immigration policy because, “You can’t break up rat families. Or raccoons, and all the rest, and you can’t even kill ‘em. It’s unbelievable.”

+ Nancy Pelosi and the Art of Capitulation on Concentration Camps: According to the New York Times, Pelosi capitulated to the Senate border bill after Mike Pence convinced her that he would keep her updated on any migrant kids they killed in their concentration camps. This is at least as morally repugnant as Biden working with segregationists to end school busing and arguably worse.

+ Grotesque: “Pelosi tells her caucus they’re going to vote on the Senate border appropriations bill she’d objected to, but with a “Battle Cry as to how we go forward to protect children in a way that truly honors their dignity and worth.”

+ Sometimes you’ve got to work with the Sturmbannführers of the camps for the sake of the political comity…

+ Trump: I couldn’t have raped her. She’s not the type I like to rape.

+ The president is a serial rapist. Pelosi: “What do you expect me to do about it?

+ Kevin Kruse: “The allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against the president are a classic case of he said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said-she said.”

+ Cory Booker in a nutshell: “Booker is attending a fundraiser tomorrow co-hosted by an Essex County pol who contracts out jail space to ICE for migrant detention–jail space that’s been cited for filthy conditions and detainee mistreatment…”

+ As Eliza Gilkyson said of Colin Powell: ” Another white man posing in a black man’s skin.” (Thanks Deryle Perryman!)

+ That rare thing: a NYT editorial that actually encourages people to take action…

+ John Kelly just joined the board of Caliburn International, the company operating the largest concentration camp for migrant children.

+ 24 years from now, when Miami is underwater, will the Democrats return on pontoon boats for their first debate on climate change?

+ When asked whether he believed human-caused climate change, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue replied:

“You know, I think it’s weather patterns, frankly. And you know, and they change, as I said. It rained yesterday, it’s a nice pretty day today. So the climate does change in short increments and in long increments.”

+ Perdue’s paleolithic views are embraced by Anne Idsal, the new head of the EPA’s air quality / climate office:

“Climate has been changing since the dawn of time, well before humans ever inhabited the Earth. I think it’s possible that humans have some type of impact on climate change. I just don’t know the extent of that.”

+ Remind yourself every morning that these morons are running a country with 6,800 nuclear warheads and at night say thanks to Gaia that the planet somehow survived another day.

+ Laurie Garrett (author of the The Coming Plague): “When I warned that climate change is the greatest risk to human health in Beijing 10 years ago a top US govt health official scolded me backstage, ‘How dare you!’ the Obama official said. ‘Don’t try to bring your climate change fear-mongering on this public health stage!'”

+ The Hill reports that Biden is currently the top choice for “climate-minded” voters in 2020. Biden literally got a D- on a take-home climate test from Dem-friendly Greenpeace and plagiarized his online climate policy from Beto O’Rouke, who pocketed more oil & gas PAC money than any other Democrat…

+ The “free” market is wiping out Wyoming’s coal industry, even though Obama’s toothless Clean Coal Plan, which never kicked into gear, gets the blame.

+ Notes from the Weather Underground on this week’s European “heat wave”…

* France may witness highest temperatures ever recorded, around 113 degrees
* Madrid may come close to hitting 105, its highest ever temp
* Intensity of the hot airmass smothering Europe is “totally unheard of for June”

+ This death’s head map resembles one of those Cold War Era scare maps depicting Soviet designs on Western Europe…

+ On June 25th, 51 weather stations in Germany reported temperatures of 95F or higher. The average temp in Berlin on June 25 is 67F.

+ Michael Mann: “If we are to prevent burning through the carbon budget – the amount of carbon we can afford to burn and still keep below 1.5-2 degrees celsius – we have to lower our carbon emissions by 5% a year for the next 12 years and beyond.”

+ A UN climate expert warned this week that we are entering a time of “climate apartheid,” where human rights may no longer matter. When have “human rights” ever mattered, except as an excuse for the US to launch wars against oil rich regimes it doesn’t like?

+ The Agriculture Department is now burying studies showing the risks of climate change to crop yields. Apparently, the Trump Administration watched Chernobyl and picked up a lot of new ideas on how to handle environmental catastrophes from the Soviet high command…

+ As Biden was pushing the 1994 Crime Bill, which he largely wrote, he proclaimed: “Lock the SOB’s up!” How is this materially different than Trump’s virulent attacks on the Central Park Five, except that Biden’s vicious blast affected 10s of thousand more people, most of them poor and either brown or black.

+ Here Biden is again in 1989, attacking George HW Bush for being a wimp on crime:

“In a nutshell the president’s plan doesn’t include enough police officers to catch the violent thugs, not enough prosecutors to convict them, not enough judges to sentence them, and not enough prison cells to put them away for a long time.”

+ The Washington Post reported that Joe Biden got rich (Net worth: $4.3 million) after he left office, mostly by charging $200,000 per speech. But the article didn’t disclose whether he paid any royalties for the plagiarized passages.

+ I’d have some respect for Biden if he simply said “As a Catholic, I’m morally opposed to abortion.” (And strictly abided by all of the other social teachings of his Church.) But instead he lies, then changes his position when he gets bad press and, like Trump, loudly denies his own record. Then again, can you really be “pro life” after authoring the largest expansion of the federal death penalty in the history of the Republic?

+ Biden can always be counted on to commit a new gaffe as he tries to explain his previous gaffe.

+ The most likely way it will end for Biden: death by 1000 self-inflicted cuts.

+ The Democratic Party looks like it’s going to let Biden’s rancid record (on just about everything) slide, not because he’s the best candidate to defeat Trump (he’s not), but because they support almost everything he’s done, from the crime bill to austerity to the Iraq war to protecting the banks.

+ Trump has rich sport ridiculing Warren’s claim of remote Native American ancestry. Yet he repeatedly claimed, and wrote (dictated) in Art of the Deal, that his father’s family was Swedish (they were German), while Melania persistently presented herself as Austrian not Slovenian. She even changed the spelling of her name from Melanija Knavs to Melania Knauss to abet the ruse.

+ Trump: “European nations were set up in order to take advantage of the United States.” (To FoxBizNews money honey Maria Bartiromo, who nods along like a bobblehead doll.)

+ Trump, from the same interview, on Jerome Powell, the man he appointed to run the Federal Reserve: “Here’s a guy, nobody ever heard of him before, and now I made him and he wants to show how tough he is? O.K. Let him show how tough he is.”

+ And, finally, this from President Bone Spurs:  “Vietnam is almost the single worst abuser of everybody.”

+ Vassily Grossman:

“In Mein Kampf, Hitler stated that equality benefits only the weak, that progress in the world of nature is achieved solely through the destructive force of natural selection, and that the only possible basis for human progress is racial selection, the dictatorship of race. He confused the concepts of violence and strength. He saw the vicious despair of impotence as a strength and failed to recognize the strength of free human labour. He saw the man sowing a vast wheat field as inferior to the thug who smashes him over the back of the head with a crowbar. This is the philosophy of a loser who has fallen into despair, who is unable to achieve anything through labour but who is endowed with a strong mind, ferocious energy and a burning ambition.”

Sound familiar? (Thanks Paul Whalen!)

+ Marwan Bishara on Kushner’s Middle East “peace” plan:

The same people who threaten to take us to another Gulf War; conspired against Arab Spring, killed countless people in Yemen, imprisoned thousands in Egypt, Bahrain etc, killed journalists and covered it up including Jamal Khashoggi, are today talking “peace” in Bahrain.

+ Could you imagine the reaction to a Palestinian saying anything remotely like this about Israel? “A national suicide of the Palestinians’ current political and cultural ethos is precisely what is needed for peace,” writes Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN in the New York Times.

+ The population of Queens, which just elected Tiffany Cabán (a proponent of radical de-carceration of the justice system) as its DA, is larger than 16 states.

+ Top recipients of campaign contributions from private prison companies:

-Henry Cuellar: $146,740
-Bob Corker: $101,858
-Marsha Blackburn: $101,250
-Marco Rubio: $92,050
-Charlie Crist: $86,450
-Mitch McConnell: $84,900

+ Did the NRA help Bernie Sanders get elected to Congress? This article by longtime Sanders watcher Paul Heinz in Seven Days Vermont makes a strong case they did and that Sanders was happy to have their support:

Upon arriving in Congress in 1991, Sanders repeatedly voted against legislation requiring waiting periods for those buying firearms. He opposed a 1996 measure that would have allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fund research on gun violence. And he voted in favor of a 2005 law shielding gun manufacturers from lawsuits — a “historic victory” for the NRA, as the organization’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, called it at the time.

+ In a wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times, Vladimir Putin declares that liberalism has ‘become obsolete’, champions national populism, and attacks multiculturalism and sexual diversity. Not exactly Lenin’s critique of liberalism, as I recall it…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01zQI8TvAxI&fbclid=IwAR2B9jKzIlaPgvyUfzuQspg6BXL-sgBv7LwZtyw9hYVX1hLSgEBwwosaMIg

+ Q. Are you excited about going to the White House?
Megan Rapinoe: We’re not going to the fucking White House!

+ Trump couldn’t resist the temptation to attack Megan Rapinoe (who he apparently believes is black) for saying the women’s soccer team wasn’t going to the “fucking White House.” In his rage Tweet at her, he linked to another woman’s Twitter account. This may come as some consolation to Iran when Trump picks the targets for an airstrike, but Iraq and Oman better take cover…

+ I find it almost impossible to root for any US team in international competition, but this women’s soccer squad is winning me over: U.S. women’s soccer star Ali Krieger says President Trump is angered by women he ‘cannot control or grope‘.

+ Megan Rapinoe replies to Trump’s attack on her announcing that she wouldn’t be going “to the fucking White House:” “I’ll just address it head on and then we can get to the soccer questions. I stand by the comments I made about not wanting to go to the White House, with the exception of the expletive. My mom won’t be proud of that.”

The expletive was entirely justified, Megan.

+ Tony Posnanski: “One huge difference between Donald Trump and Megan Rapinoe is she doesn’t have to pay 130k to score.”

+ Trump ranting on the White House lawn about “women being raped in numbers you wouldn’t believe” is surely the most Freudian spectacle of the week…so far.

+ Eric (Uday) Trump claims that a cocktail waitress in Chicago spit at him. The waitress’s denial was unequivocal: “He’s not my type.”

+ Jimmy Carter during his Sunday School class homily this week, apparently forgetting all about Afghanistan: “We’re supposed to be a ‘Christian’ nation are we not? But we are known throughout the world as the most warlike country on Earth. And I would say almost all the wars in which we’ve been involved, have been unnecessary.”

+ Stop this country, I want to get off….Fully one-third of Americans would support a nuclear war against North Korea, even if the blasts killed more than one million people.

+ The Booming Economy by the numbers (courtesy of Public Citizen):

39% of Americans have $0 in savings

Families put up to 30% of their income toward child care

40% of Americans hold a second job

1 in 4 people make less than $10/hr

+ Meanwhile, CEO pay increased at twice the rate of ordinary wages last year.

+ How the rich got super-rich since the de-regulation frenzy of Reagan-time…

+ The Trump campaign vetting documents of potential cabinet members contains the best thing I’ve ever heard about Gen. David Petraeus, “Petraeus Is Opposed to Torture.” Of course, this was a “Red Flag” for the Trumper brain trust…

+ It’s Trump’s party now, no question….Duncan Hunter had an affair with at least three different lobbyists, one of his own staff members, and an aide to a member of the GOP leadership team.

+ Economic sanctions are an insidious form of intervention, which inflict the most suffering on those the US government professes to care the most about. Consider what’s happening in Cuba

Strumming our pain with his short fingers
Threatening our life with his words
Killing us softly with sanctions
Ending our own lives with his words
Killing us softly with sanctions

+ Trump claims that something might be wrong with Biden’s brain. He might be right. But what would a neurologist make of this?

THE HILL: Do you think you should be on Mount Rushmore, sir?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: If I answer that question yes, I will end up with such bad publicity. Well , look, I have a lot of respect; even Mount Rushmore; so for many, many years they got, they had fireworks, right? Many, many years. And Kristi, your new governor, she’s a great person. She called, she said, sir, for many years we had tremendous fireworks on the 4th of July. We don’t have it anymore. Can you do something? And I got it approved. Starting , next season, it was not easy, starting next season , Mount Rushmore will have tremendous fireworks like they had for many years. But they ended it a long time ago, but they didn’t want, but they didn’t have fireworks because of, I don’t know, I think they thought, thought the stone was gonna catch on fire. That doesn’t happen, right? There was somebody said they had. Nobody’s been able, nobody’s been able to figure out why, but it was a very strong no. And I got it approved starting next season. They’re doing some work. They’re finishing up work now. But I got it approved for next season for Kristi and for the state.

+ Out of the mouths of billion-heiresses…”Education has clearly not been at the top of Trump’s priorities.” This acute observation from Betsy DeVos.

+ Here’s an excellent piece in Rolling Stone by Nina Burleigh on the press’s mangling of E. Jean Carroll’s harrowing account of being raped by Trump…

+ So the NYPD investigated itself and after looking at nearly 2500 “incidents” over the last five years couldn’t find one episode of biased policing

+ The tenant eviction rate in South Bend is among the highest in the nation, which will certainly endear Mayor Butter&Eggs to the Slumlord PACs.

+ Tory Britain is pretty much like Trump America, even without Steve Bannon’s meddling…

– 40% want limit on Muslims entering UK
– 43% don’t want a Muslim PM
– 67% believe Sharia law rules parts of UK
– 45% think there are no-go areas for non-Muslims

+ A few Kushner anecdotes culled from Vicky Ward’s terrific book, Kushner Inc.

+ When Jared took over the New York Observer, he sent the editorial staff a four page manifesto on changes he wanted to see in the paper. Two of the four pages dealt with how the paper should cover Israel. Then editor Elizabeth Spiers, who later resigned, quipped, “The NY Observer has traditionally been about … New York.”

+ Trump wasn’t thrilled about the match between Jared and Ivanka, which required her to convert to Orthodox Judaism. “Why should she convert for anyone,” Trump snarled to Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft. “Why couldn’t she have married Tom Brady? Have you seen how far he throws a football? Jared is half the size of Tom Brady’s arm.”

+ When Jared Kushner set up his office at the New York Observer, he hung two framed documents on the wall: a photo of his idol JFK & the first page of A Tale of Two Cities, ripped out of a first edition of Dickens’ book. Asked about it, he said, “I love that quote” (ie, the famous opening passage.) What do you think of the novel? “Oh, I’ve never read it.”

+ Why is JFK, Jared Kushner’s idol, you ask? The look, the brand, the riches, the women, but not the tragedy, of course (though perhaps Jared didn’t get that far in the biography)…

+ With these simple phrases, you could write your very own Trump speech on almost any subject: great, in two weeks, best ever, worst ever, we’ll see what happens, I, me, mine, deal, beautiful, terrible, Obama, ratings, a lot of people are saying, good people, horrible people, nobody thought, fake, maybe maybe not…

+ Justin Raimondo and I had our clashes over the years, some bloody and profane, but he was my friend and I was honored to stand by him against every damn war from Clinton’s bombing of Serbia to Trump’s saber-rattling against Iran, and all the one’s in between. A mighty voice for peace has gone silent.

+ We just got word from the digital magazine distributor ISSUU that our latest edition of CounterPunch has been banned because of the “unsafe” nature of the cover art (done by the wicked Nick Roney), which is an entirely chaste parody of one of the world’s most famous paintings.

Judge for yourself…

Next time no fancy French bra!

+ Creepy Joe’s Diner…what Biden eats at every event: “At each of his engagements across the country, hosts reportedly served Biden the same meal — angel hair pomodoro, a caprese salad and raspberry sorbet with biscotti for dessert.” (Wash Post.)

+ It’s not yet July and Alaska is burning…

+ In the race toward planetary annihilation, one predator feeds the other…A report by the IMF reveals that annual fossil fuel subsidies now exceed Pentagon spending.

+ The US military generates more pollution than 140 countries.

+ Electric vehicles aren’t the solution to the climate crisis. What’s generating the “electricity” that powers them? In the Pacific Northwest, the cars are running on a cocktail of coal and dead salmon (from hydro-dams).

+ Mike Roselle: “During the depression, the Soviets were surprised to see Americans driving to the poor house in a Model T. Now we are driving into an incinerator in a Prius.”

+ Monsanto doesn’t brew Roundup out of thin air. The key ingredient in its toxic recipe is phosphate, mined from massive pits in Idaho

+ Almost everything we think we know about pollution is dangerously wrong. In fact, the planet may be 100 times more toxic we think.

+ Sunday morning I got up at my normal 6am. I worked until noon. It was a nice day, morning marine layer slowly burning off in the afternoon sun. I took off south in my faithful “Lesbaru” to a series of waterfalls I’d visited a decade ago in the Santiam State Forest about 50 miles southeast of Oregon City. The last 10 miles or so are a twisty, dusty drive on Crooked Finger Road, much of it across Weyerhaeuser “timberlands.” About 2 miles from the old trailhead, the road entered a massive clearcut, easily 500 acres in size spilling off both sides of the ridge all the way down the ridges to Butte Creek on the north and Abiqui Creek on the south. At the eastern end of the clearcut, Weyerhaeuser had blocked the road with a gate, denying access to the Butte Creek Trailhead and campsite, both of which are on state lands. Both sides of the road were lined with cars, mainly big trucks, around which people, indeed, entire families were sitting in folding chairs, drinking beer, eating chips, and holding guns: rifles, revolvers, semi-automatic A-47s. It was an eerie sight made more ominous by the constant “pop, pop, pop” of gunfire on both sides of me. The clearcut had been turned into a firing range. I counted 25 people, some of them pre-teens, shooting and another 50 people with guns just hanging around waiting their turn. The shooters were racially segregated, Hispanics shooting on the south side, whites on the north side. As a peace-and-love hippie out to commune with cap-N Nature, I felt a little out of place. But I parked the car near the gate, nodded at the shooters, and started walking down the road. I got about two hundred yards, as the road began a switchback down the slope, when I heard bullets thwacking into the Doug-firs above my head. They weren’t shooting at me, I was unknowingly descending into their line of fire. I made a hasty, crouching retreat, flashing the peace sign as I took shelter in my car and sped away. When I got home, I found this article explaining Weyerhaeuser’s reasoning for closing the road. It all started with a clearcut…

+ Brazilian jazz legend Hermeto Pascoal, who turned 83 this week, recounts his time in the ring boxing with Miles Davis…

+ Sheryl Crow on the Universal Music masters inferno: “I can’t understand…how you could store anything in a vault that didn’t have sprinklers. And .. I can’t understand how you could make [back-up copies] and have them in the same vault. I mean, what’s the point?”

+ Five years after the break-up of The Beatles, Lennon and McCartney got together in a recording studio with Stevie Wonder…

+ How Chinese food fueled the rise of California Punk….

+ Me (on the right, slouching toward Bethlehem) and my team of reportorial renegades prepare to reenact scenes from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on the streets of the southside of Indianapolis, 1976…(Only the journalism professor was harmed in the making of this story.)

+ My list of the 10 Worst Movies of All Time:

Birth of Nation
Green Beret
Zero Dark 40
American Sniper
La La Land
A Star is Born (every version)
Rocky
Field of Dreams
Shawshank Redemption
Jerry Macguire

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

This Bird Still Flies by Mimi Fox (Origin)

Atlantic Oscillations by Quantic (Tru Thoughts)

Love Will Find a Way by Philip Bailey (Verve)

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells by Pico Iyer (Knopf)

This Land is Our Land: an Immigrant’s Manifesto by Suketu Mehta (FSG)

This Storm by James Ellroy (Knopf)

RIP Dave Bartholomew…

The Camp Which Surrounded Us

Victor Frankl: “I shall never forget how I was roused one night by the groans of a fellow prisoner, who threw himself about in his sleep, obviously having a horrible nightmare. Since I had always been especially sorry for people who suffered from fearful dreams or deliria, I wanted to wake the poor man. Suddenly I drew back the hand which was ready to shake him, frightened at the thing I was about to do. At that moment I became intensely conscious of the fact that no dream, no matter how horrible, could be as bad as the reality of the camp which surrounded us, and to which I was about to recall him.” (Man’s Search for Meaning)

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

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