Roaming Charges: Pâté Politics in the Time of Trump and Pelosi

Rocket ranch, Salton Sea. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Why do we need Democrats? In order to help Republicans enact measures they can’t pass on their own.

+ Two figures stand out larger than any others in the transformation of the Democratic Party from the eroded remnants of FDR-style liberalism to Thatcher-style neoliberalism: Bill Clinton and Joe Biden. Of the two, Biden played the more decisive role, since the de-regulatory putsch, which Biden helped direct in the Senate, began during the Carter Administration and reached its bloody apotheosis under Reagan. By the time Clinton arrived, his job was to shoot the wounded.

+ When Joe Biden entered the Senate, voters in the 18-45 year-old demographic (i.e., more than half the US population, regardless of what census form is used) hadn’t been born yet.

+ As a senator from Delaware, Joe Biden’s entire political career has been underwritten by the DuPont Family & its enterprise, once the world’s largest chemical company. For the political, martial & environmental implications of this toxic relationship, I strongly recommend Gerard Colby’s book Behind the Nylon Curtain: the DuPont Dynasty.

+ Biden should thank Kamala Harris. She’s getting the credit/blame for his pathetic debate performance. Who will get the blame for the next Biden debacle?

+ Guess who came running to Biden’s defense, yes, Tulsi Gabbard, who chastised Kamala Harris for “falsely” accusing Biden of being a racist (which she explicitly didn’t do and probably should have).

+ False, Tulsi? The proof is everywhere: from opposition to desegregation, to his support for harsher treatment of crack cocaine sentences, to the expansion of the death penalty, to cutting entitlements, to the crime bills, to his Iraq war vote, to his bankruptcy bill, which protected the banks at the expense of the poor, etc.

+ Also leaping to Biden’s defense was … Rudy Giuliani, who berated Michele Obama for not denouncing Harris’ critique of the Veep’s antiquated views on school segregation.

+ Perhaps Rudy and Tulsi (the former MP) will end up co-hosting a show on MSDNC, Good Cop/Bad Cop…

+ Biden’s scolding of Trump for daring to meet with the “thug” Kim Jong-Un, proves that once a Cold Warrior always a Cold Warrior….

+ Joe Biden was one of the loudest cheerleaders in the Senate for the Bill Clinton/Newt Gingrich “welfare reform bill.” Would Tulsi Gabbard describe that bill as racist, misguided or that it didn’t go far enough?

+ Remember when Union Joe Biden came out guns blazing against NAFTA? Neither do I. And, of course, he still doesn’t regret his vote for the job-killing trade pact because, well, “It made sense at the time.”

+ When it comes to foreign policy, Biden, whose big plan for post-Saddam Iraq was to split it into three different countries, is a one-man Sykes-Picot roadshow, willing to enforce any arbitrarily drawn boundary lines with Predator drone strikes.

+ Save us from those who would “restore world order“…

+ Biden enthusiastically backed & shepherded through the senate, the 5 most appalling policies of the Clinton era…


2. ’94 Crime Bill

3. Welfare “reform”

4. The murderous sanctions on Iraq

5. Bombing of Serbia

+ Thousands of pages of Biden’s senate papers, which he donated to the University of Delaware in 2011, were supposed to be released to the public this year, but Biden has suddenly changed the terms of the deal, instructing the library to keep the papers locked up until he “leaves public life.” These papers are bound to be more damaging to Biden than Hillary’s tedious speeches to Goldman Sachs. Russia, if you’re reading, I hope you’re able to find the missing 415 gigabytes of electronic records…

+ Only 7 of the more than 20 Democratic Party presidential candidates (give or take Tom Steyer) are now polling at 2% or higher and one of those is … Andrew Yang.

+ Langston Hughes: “A liberal is one who complains about segregated railroad cars but rides in the all white section.”

+ How soon before Nancy Pelosi outlives her usefulness to the financial sponsors of the Democratic Party and they are compelled to replace her with a younger, smoother and more adroit enforcer of the neoliberal agenda? “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.” If that’s true, what’s she frightened of?

+ Pelosi convened a caucus of the House Democrats in the wake of the debacle over the border funding bill, scolding the young rebels for calling her on the betrayal: “Some of you are here to make a beautiful pâté but we’re making sausage most of the time.”

+ I know Nancy’s eaten a lot of pâté, but has she ever seen how it’s made? First, you rip out the liver…

+ Pelosi continued, mixing her dead animal metaphors: “You make me the target, but don’t make our blue dogs and our new Dems the target in all of this because we have important fish to fry.”

Hey Nancy, save the fish, fry the dams!

+ Pelosi concluded: “So, again, you got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just ok. ”

Pelosi is unraveling in real time. Once considered (perhaps unjustly) one of the coolest politicians on the Hill, she’s now lashing out at every minor skirmish with the upstarts. She’s a couple of well-aimed AOC Tweets away from doing a John Boehner.

When I say Pelosi was considered “cool,” I don’t mean it in the sense that Jane Birkin is cool (though Pelosi probably did own the bag). I meant unflappable.

+ Thoughts and prayers (for a dead party)…

+ Why is Pelosi so desperate to gag the only voices in the Dem Party anyone has the slightest interest in listening to? Could it be that AOC and Ilhan reveal the party for what it is: a decrepit plantation house run by septuagenarians whose last new (& bad) idea was three decades ago?

+ Pelosi does have one high profile defender: Donald Trump, who admonished AOC to show the Speaker some “respect.” The Over-the-Hill-Gang sticks together.

+ While Pelosi was chastizing AOC for calling out the party for its capitulation to Trump on border funding, Amy McGrath, the widely hailed former fighter pilot who is “challenging” McConnell, declared that she would have voted to confirm Brett Kavanagh …

+ Amy McGrath: ‘If President Trump has good ideas, I’ll be for them’

+ McGrath would’ve sprinted across the aisle to take a selfie of her working with segregationists, no question…

+ Meet the new-new Democrats: fighter pilots, Navy SEALs, spooks and MPs. Campaign slogan: “We’re not chickenhawks! We’ve actually killed and tortured people. It’s our turn to lead!”

+ Democratic mega-donor and super-Zionist Haim Saban:

“We love all 23 candidates. No, minus one. I profoundly dislike Bernie Sanders, and you can write it. I don’t give a hoot. He’s a communist under the cover of being a socialist. He thinks that every billionaire is a crook. He calls us ‘the billionaire class.’ And he attacks us indiscriminately. ‘It’s the billionaire class, the bad guys.’ This is how communists think. So, 22 are great. One is a disaster zone.”

+ The President is a rapist. Is it any surprise that he is surrounded by rapists and enablers of rape, from Epstein and Acosta to his concentration camp guards on the border?

+ Donald Trump on Jeffrey Epstein (2002): “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

+ Alan Dershowitz: “In those days, if you didn’t know Trump and you didn’t know Epstein, you were a nobody.”

+ Before he hired Alan Dershowitz, Jeffrey Epstein’s attorney was … Ken Starr.

+ The FT follows the Epstein money trail

+ Unwelcome groping of young women and fake wealth, two things that will forever bind Trump and Epstein…

+ Inside a Trump sex party in the 90s: young models, sex, lots of cocaine and expensive liquor…but No Smoking. If weed was your drug of choice, it was strictly BYOB (Bring Your Own Bongwater).

+ You’d think this might be a bigger story, or a story at all: In 2016, “Jane Doe” filed a lawsuit against Trump alleging that she’d been the victim of a “savage sexual attack” in 1994, where Trump tied her to a bed at Jeffrey Epstein’s house and raped her. She was 13 at the time. The filing makes for harrowing reading. After getting threats, the woman later withdrew the lawsuit.

+ Acosta: “Times have changed since 2008″… back when serial child rape was basically a misdemeanor.

+ Acosta: “Today, victim-shaming is just not accepted.” Did he run this by Christine Blassy Ford and E. Jean Carroll?

+ Have the Pizzagaters filed an amicus brief in the matter of Epstein, Acosta, Trump, Clinton & Dershowitz?

+ Trump’s original pick for Labor Secretary was Andy Pudzner, the wife-beater. Then after some deep research, Trump came up with Alex Acosta, the legal enabler of a serial child rapist. If Acosta goes down, who knows what kind of Trumpian qualifications his replacement might showcase…

+ When you’re compelled to write a statement saying you knew nothing about your pal’s sex crimes, you probably knew all about them…Hence Bill Clinton’s remarks on Jeffrey Epstein.

+ How small is the world of the rich, the powerful and the perverted? AG William Barr had to recuse himself from the Epstein case because his law firm once represented Epstein and Barr’s father, who ran an elite prep school in NYC, hired Epstein to teach math to high school boys and girls, even though Epstein lacked a college degree. Barr’s father later was removed by the trustees after a pattern of such questionable employments decisions was unearthed.

+ There have long been rumors of Epstein’s possible ties to what Dick Cheney so memorably described as  the “dark side.” As Vicky Ward disclosed in an excellent piece for the Daily Beast, Alex Acosta told the Trump’s vetting team that he was told to go lightly on Epstein because he was “above his pay grade” and that “he belonged to intelligence.” Given Epstein’s enduring relationship with Dershowitz, we can perhaps deduce the intelligence agency with which Epstein was allied…

+ According to the NYT, Jeffrey Epstein keeps a framed photo of MBS in his mansion. (Is anyone checking the flight logs of Air Lolita for Netanyahu’s travels?)

+ There’s a lot of giddy talk about how the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein is a sign of the collapse of the Establishment. I don’t know. The Establishment started to crumble during the French Revolution. It’s been a slow, gravity-defying fall.

+ Gen. John Nyten, Trump’s nominee to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been accused of sexual assault. Trump must have “binders full of perverts” to keep picking people like this (or he’s just got a knack for it)…

+ Back when America was great, fathers used to give one bit of advice to their sons, “Kid, just don’t grow up to be a dick.” I don’t think that rule holds true in MAGAland anymore.

+ Resignations/firings from high level posts in the Trump administration to date…


+ 64% of veterans said the Iraq War wasn’t worth fighting, considering the costs versus the benefit to the U.S., and more than 50% think the same about the war in Afghanistan… I wonder what percentage of them got “woke” to this before Tulsi Gabbard?

+ I think Julian Assange’s lowest moment was his inculcation of the Seth Rich conspiracy in some of the more credulous precincts of the Left. The strangest part of the affair is that if the preposterous Rich conspiracy had proved true, it meant that Assange would have outed his source.

+ The only real power Congress has over the Trump administration is to cut off the funding for ICE and Border Patrol. As long as they keep funding these programs, Schumer and Pelosi will be complicit with Trump’s crimes on the border.

+ The two biggest private prison corporations housing detained migrant families contributed $500,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund. They’ve since received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts.

+ People, including Barbara Lee today, keep talking about “the failed war on drugs,” launched, re-launched and re-tooled by Biden and his pals in the Nixon, Reagan and Clinton administrations. But did it really fail? Not if the object was to fill America’s prisons with the black and brown underclass…

+ In nearly half of the confrontations between prisoners and guards in California prisoners, prison guards violated use of force rules:  “The good news is that when they review the use of force they figure out that there were violations of policy,” said Don Specter, an attorney with the Prison Law Office. “The bad news is, they don’t do anything about it.”

+ Sputnik Left hero Tucker Carlsen on Ilhan Omar: “She’s living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country…She’s is a living fire alarm. A warning to the rest of us that we better change our immigration. Or else.”

+ Anti-semitism is alive and well among the Resistance©, witness Samantha Bee interrogating Bernie Sanders supporters on “why would the GOP work with a socialist jew.”

+ Victor Serge: “Why survive if it is not for those who do not?”

+ Looks like Frederick Douglass is having another very good year with the white people, whose name, if not ideas, was invoked by Trump, Ted Cruz and Mayor Butter&Eggs in the same week…

+ States that have refused to expand Medicaid to provide health care to their poorest citizens.

North Carolina
South Carolina
South Dakota

+ The Big Slowdown: Even in San Francisco, the housing market is beginning to run out of gas

+ Trump: “Millions and millions of jobs were lost during, I call them, the stupid years. But now we’re back into the really smart years. We had the smart years, now we’re the really smart years. They were the stupid years.”

+ LA inflicting yet more misery on the miserable

+ Southern man, when will you pay them back?

+ The story of Robert Foster (along with the example of Mike and Mother Pence), the Republican candidate who can’t be alone with women unless his wife is in the room, perfectly captures the Republican Party’s writhing neurosis on sexual relations. Defend the rapist president and his sexual predator pals, but deny a seat on the campaign bus to a female reporter unless she’s accompanied by a male colleague…(Does Foster not trust himself to control his own lusty impulses?)

+ Foster says he’s just following the Billy Graham Rule. I wonder if he, like Billy Graham, also believes that the Jews are the ones responsible for “putting out the pornographic stuff.

+ From American Carnage, Tim Alberta’s new book on the GOP under Trump:

“Pence’s talent for bootlicking — he was nicknamed ‘the Bobblehead’ by Republicans on Capitol Hill for his solemn nodding routine whenever Trump spoke — were at their most obscene during meetings at the White House.”

+ I need to go to church more often…

+ Paula White, Trump’s favorite church lady: “When I was just eighteen years old, the Lord gave me a vision that every time I opened my mouth and declared the Word of the Lord, there was a manifestation of His Spirit where people were either healed, delivered, or saved. When I shut my mouth, they fell off into utter darkness and God spoke to me and said ‘I called you to preach the gospel.'”

+ How can people widely circulate this Eric Fromm quote, “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence,” and then ridicule Marianne Williamson for saying much the same thing during the Democratic debate. I don’t say this to demean Fromme but to defend Williamson from her churlish critics. Fromme was he was an heroic figure, who made a point of joining the Socialist Party at the height of the Red Scare. I recently re-read Escape From Freedom and The Sane Society. Both of which were instructive and more clearly written than many of weighty texts from the other luminaries of the Frankfurt School.

+ I guess Trump’s Fourth of Me fest could have been worse. Instead of celebrating defense contractors, he could have feted the profession that gave us the Declaration of Independence: lawyers.

+ I had a very clear premonition of how I’m going to perish today. The dude in front of me in the big F-150 pickup, which he bought only to haul his American flag and never anything else, slams on his breaks to avoid flattening the guy on the lime green e-scooter, flag and pole dislodge, arc through the air in a lethal parabola, and pierce my windshield and skull. My cenotaph will read: “Murdered by patriotism.”

+ Sockeye salmon are once again on the brink

+ You mess with the planet and the planet messes with you…a large swath of India may soon become too hot for humans.

+ Chris Cline, the “King of Coal,” is dead. Alexander Cockburn always said that people who have enough money to fly in helicopters should be smart enough not to…

+ In a sane world, the fact that honeybee colonies suffered their biggest losses on record this winter would figure prominently in our political debates.

+ On this planet, it’s just too expensive for the Department of Agriculture to collect data on honeybee collapse

+ Meanwhile, the EPA just approved the use of sulfoxaflor, a bee-killing pesticide, on 13.9 million acres of agricultural land.

+ Nearly 3,500 wolves have been killed for “trophy” hunting in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming since 2011.

+ Other wolves are killed to appease ranchers…

+ July 4th was the hottest day ever in Anchorage, Alaska (90F).

+ Then the temperatures dropped a bit over the weekend as the skies filled with thick smoke from wildfires burning inside the Arctic Circle.

+ Trump could claim he reversed Global Warming and his flock would believe him. The problem is he’d first have to admit climate change existed, which might cause them to be momentarily perplexed.

+ The nuclear hucksters are at it again, promoting 4th Generation reactors as the safe, clean, and eternal energy source of the future. This has been the false promise of the nuclear cabal since Edward Teller proposed using H-bombs to excavate a harbor in Alaska and A-bombs to frack for oil and gas (Project Gasbuggy) on the high plains of Colorado as part of the “peaceful atom” program…

+ For much of the Obama administration and into Trumptime, the Department of Energy has been secretly hauling highly radioactive waste to Nevada.

+ If you drive around the Klamath River basin for a day or two as I did, you’d be forgiven for wondering how there are any salmon, trout or short-nose suckers left in the river at all. The Klamath “Project”, initiated by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1906, drained more than 225,000 acres from Lower Klamath Lake and Tule Lake, reducing their size by nearly 2/3s, sucking and diverting water from Link River, Lost River, and the Klamath itself into 717 miles of canals and diversion ditches to irrigate potato, alfalfa and sugar beet fields on lands stolen from the Klamath and Modoc Nations and given to “settlers”, many of them GIs returning from WWII who were given land and later houses made from the chopped up barracks of the Tule Concentration Camp. The irrigators are immensely proud of their thievery and have further blotted the landscape with propagandistic billboards and signs proclaiming their triumph over what was once one of the world’s largest desert marshlands.

Sign celebrating the “settlement” of the drained lakebed of Tule Lake, largely by returning GIs.

Cracked lakebed of Tule Lake.

Irrigation of potato fields on the old Tule Lake bed.

Tule Lake, reduced by 2/3s of its original size since 1906.

Newell Potatoes, near the site of the Japanese-American concentration camp.

Winema Growers grain elevator on the old Tule Lake bed.

Irrigation pumps along Tule Lake.

Irrigators demand the public pay obeisance to them for committing ecocide in the Tule Lake basin.

With all the money the Klamath irrigators are raking in, you’d think they could afford a better sign.

Irrigation canal, near Merrill, California.

Diversion dam, Lost River.

+ RIP Rip Torn, whose greatest role was probably pummeling Norman Mailer during the filming of Maidstone…

+ So the question was: name 5 perfect albums. Perfection in music is tiresome. It’s the imperfections that turn the compelling into the sublime. Still here are five records I wouldn’t change a note on:

A Love Supreme
John Coltrane

Live at the Apollo
James Brown

Out to Lunch
Eric Dolphy

Lady Soul
Aretha Franklin

Bob Marley and the Wailers

+ Danilo Perez: “The greatest lesson I learned from the incomparable Dizzy Gillespie is that music should be used as a diplomatic tool for humanity.”

+ Last week, I published my Fourth of July playlist and swiftly received several reprimands for not including Steve Earle’s F– the FCC, John Prine’s Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven No More, James Blood Ulmer’s Are Glad to be in America? and Iris Dement’s Living in the Wasteland of the Free. Each deserves a spin or a click.

When Wisdom is Thrown in Jail

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon
Langdon Cook
(Ballantine Books)

This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism and Corruption are Ruining the American West
Christopher Ketcham

Never Remember: Search for Stalin’s Gulags in Putin’s Russia
Masha Gessen / Photos by Misha Friedman

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…


Roots and Branches: the Songs of Little Walter
Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues

1977: the Year Punk Broke
Various Artists
(Cherry Red)

The Khan Distrusted His Manpower

Victor Serge: “Genghis Khan,” said Philippov, “is a great man not properly appreciated. He was not cruel. If he had his servants build pyramids of severed heads, it was not of out cruelty nor to satisfy a primitive taste for statistics, but to depopulate the countries which he could not otherwise dominate and which he intended to bring back to a pastoral economy, the only economy which he could understand. Already, it was differences in economies which made heads fall…Note that the only way he could assure himself that the massacres had been properly carried out, was to collect heads. The Khan distrusted his manpower.” (The Case of Comrade Tulayev.)

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