Roaming Charges: And Then There Were Three

Looking for the Mueller hearings at the N0ah Purifoy Outdoor Museum, Joshua Tree. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Trump wants to make AOC, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar the faces of the Democratic Party. The Democrats, whose current faces of the party are Schumer, Pelosi, Hoyer and Biden, should say, thank you very much, Mr. President, for doing what we should’ve done ourselves. (Curiously, they haven’t shown such gratitude.)

+ In targeting Ilhan Omar, Trump, who usually picks on the weakest and meekest, a chose the wrong person, someone who counterpunches like Sugar Ray Robinson, but knocks you out with a killer smile…

+ Some of the creative types in the Illinois GOP came up with this meme and it’s going to sell a lot of tickets to the next appearances by AOC, Tlaib, Pressley and Omar. It might even entice Tarantino direct the movie, though based on the hippie-bashing (literally) scenes in Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood it seems that Quentin is sucker-punching from the other side.

+ The GOP plan, in league with Nancy Pelosi’s kennel of Blue Dogs, is to target the “Squad” as “far left,” which in the Democratic Party basically means that you support public transit or, at the very least, a study on the cost/benefits of public transit.

+ Joe Biden is a walking (barely) Republican talking point: “They’re [young Americans] looking for somebody who can, in fact, articulate what they believe. This is not a hit on Bernie, my word, but this is not a generation of socialists.”

+ With Trump it’s America First, but Israel’s a close second and gaining fast…

+ Build a wall where no wall should be. Then use the wall as an excuse to evict Palestinians, demolish their homes and seize their land.

+ As Israeli bulldozers were flattening Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, the House voted 398-17 (with 5 voting present) to condemn US citizens for exercising their First Amendment right to boycott for Palestinian rights.

+ Here are the 22 members of the House who refused to trample the First Amendment by voting for the Pelosi sponsored resolution to criminalize criticism of Israel…

+ And then there were three: Squad member Ayanna Pressley voted for this crap, even though she had to know such a craven act of capitulation won’t get Trump, Pelosi or AIPAC off her back. Pressley’s rationale for this betrayal of her squadmates was as muddled and hypocritical as you might expect from a former staffer for John “I was for it, before I was against it” Kerry.

+ Most snippets of John Kerry’s most notorious quote leave out the kicker line, which also implicates Biden: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.  Joe [Biden] and I brought an amendment to the $87 billion, and we said, `This should be paid for now, not adding to the deficit’.”

+ This was an easy vote, Rep. Pressley, if you had merely defended the Constitution’s guarantee of free political speech. Your vote violated your oath of office, regardless of how you feel about the human rights crimes committed against Palestinians.

+ Tulsi Gabbard has missed 25% of the votes in the House this year, including two crucial votes to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia. But her friends the Adelsons will surely be proud of Gabbard for showing up to cast a stout “yes” vote on the anti-BDS resolution, once again demonstrating her loyalty to the Zionist project…

+ John Lewis in a nutshell…

+ Bernie Sanders’ position on Israel continues to be problematic. This week he said he probably wouldn’t reverse Trump’s provocative decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Good grief, Bernie. The main reason to encourage someone like Sanders to run in the Democratic primary is that knowing he has little to no shot at winning he is free to speak the truth about US economic and foreign policy. Then Sanders gets it into his head he might actually win and he retreats to his safe space…

+ When the Israelis finally seize all Palestinian lands, will there be chants in the Knesset to “send them back” to …. southern Europe?

+ More Jews than Christians say Trump is showing too much deference to Israel…

+ Israeli diplomacy in action…”Israel is the only country in the world that has been killing Iranians for two years,” boasted Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister.

+ As the House Judiciary Committee hearing opened, Mueller looked physically and mentally frail. He may have been better advised to have brought a doctor than a lawyer to sit next to him.

+ “Can you repeat that?” Mueller said repeatedly, as if auditioning for a hearing aid ad with Sanders and Biden.

+ Rep. Ratcliffe (McCarthyite-TX) to Mueller: “The socialists on the other side of the aisle would have us believe…”

+ The Democrats had months to orchestrate this hearing and the flow & content of their questions sounds like something as obtuse and dissonant as Schoenberg might have scribbled on a cocktail napkin one night at Musso & Frank’s.

+ Even under friendly questioning, Mueller looked shakier than Angela Merkel….

+ Poor Russia. It just can’t win. Even in the GOP’s alt theory of the 2016 elections Putin plays the role of mastermind, his agents feeding specious stories about Trump mendacities to Christopher Steele, compiler of the famous dossier, and conspiring with Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS to entrap the naive Trump campaign team at the Trump Tower meeting with the lure of manufactured smut on HRC. Why Putin wanted HRC to prevail in this scenario remains more than a little murky.

+ Mueller sounded like a character in a late play by Samuel Beckett, reduced to a vocabulary of a dozen words, spoken in a fractured voice, unsure of where he is and who he’s talking to.

+ Louie Louie Gohmert is the best act on morning television. Too bad he couldn’t ask all of the questions for the GOP.

+ If you had the words “correct,” “refer,” or “what?” in the Mueller drinking game, you’ve probably already passed out and the rest of us left watching are envious of your plunge into unconsciousness…

+ Mueller can’t even recall his own resumé.

Q. Wasn’t it President Reagan who appointed you as US attorney?

Mueller: I have no recollection of that…

+ Mueller: 100 deflections or lack of recollections in the first hearing. That’s worse than Trump’s performance in his take-home exam…

+ According to a CNN survey, 97% of Americans didn’t read the Mueller Report, including, based on his performance, Robert Mueller, which means the document is something like a James Patterson novel: the author didn’t write it and didn’t read it. He realizes its his because his name is on the cover, but since it lacks any cover art, he has little idea what it’s all about.

+ After watching those seven hours of inept questioning and stammering answers, my brain now feels as demyelinated as Mueller’s…

+ A full day after listening to all seven hours of the Mueller hearings, I’m beginning to suffer some of the same aural hallucinations and migraines as the US ‘diplomats’ who’d been stationed in Havana. Perhaps the source of their symptoms was also emanated from much closer to home…

+ Wake me when the Resistance©, fueled with all its Hollywood and Technopolis money, can put together a protest half as energetic as what we’re seeing in Puerto Rico.

+ Tulsi Gabbard voted for the anti-democratic, austerity-driven PROMESA, which has inflicted nearly as much long-term misery for Puerto Ricans as Hurricane Maria.

+ From CounterPunch pollster Doug Johnson: Biden’s Net Favorability (-7) in the new YouGovUS release is equivalent to Donald Trump’s net job approval rating (-7).

+ This is just in from one of MSDNC’s prosecutor-analysts Mimi Rocah: “I’m not the political analyst but just as a woman, Sanders makes my skin crawl. I can’t identify for you what exactly it is, but just as a woman I see him as a not pro-woman candidate.” Could the thing she “can’t identify” (or at least won’t say on the air) be that she just doesn’t like Jews, especially secular ones who are moderately critical of Israel and doesn’t (fully) buy into the RussiaGate hysteria? (Mimi’s the one on the left, geographically speaking.)

+ Mayor Butter&Eggs: “We are suffering from the loss of US credibility.” Can you point to the last moment when the US enjoyed credibility, Pete? Within a decade or two would suffice…

+ The inequities of private equities: According to a study by the Center for Public Democracy and United4Respect, private equity’s raids on the retail industry has killed 1.3 million jobs, most of them held by women and minorities.

+ The Economist Poll on Socialism: (Note the 11% of conservatives who support socialism. These people must be defense contractors, oil companies, failing Wall Street banks and public lands grazers. )

% Fav/Unfav
Voters 34/49
Dem 52/19
GOP 11/77
Ind 23/43
Men 30/47
Women 29/41
White 29/51
Black 36/16
Hispanic 26/36
Lib 65/17
Mod 28/39
Con 11/80
Age 18-29: 34/32
Age 30-44: 35/34
Age 45-64: 26/51
Age 65+: 26/57

+ The horrid conditions in Trump’s border concentration camps were meant to act as some kind of sadistic deterrent. That’s not working. So I guess the conditions will worsen, day-by-day as a matter of policy, until the child concentration camps become de facto death camps…

+ The final tally from Trump’s much-hype ICE operation, which targeted more than 2,000 migrants: 18 family members were arrested. ICE also arrested another 17 undocumented immigrants in s0-called collateral arrests.

+ One of the best things about Trump is that he has largely proven impotent when it comes to implementing his worst plans…After 30 months in office, he hasn’t built one new mile of border wall.

+ ICE kidnapped an 18-year-old American citizen and have kept him incarcerated for 3 weeks even after his mother presented a valid birth certificate.

+ In Nashville this week, a group of people formed a human chain keeping ICE from arresting one of their neighbors. One of them said,  “Our kids play with their kids. It’s just one big community. And we don’t want to see anything happen to them.” Why is this humane sentiment so hard for the jackasses to understand?

+ Trump bellowing to a gathering of the TrumpJugend on Tuesday: “In California and numerous other states’ elections are rigged because undocumented immigrants vote many times — not just twice.”

+ Before he disgorged this stream of bilge,  Trump unwittingly (one presumes) stood before a punked version of the presidential seal featuring the double-headed imperial eagle of Putin’s (and the Romanovs’) Russia clutching a bag of golf clubs instead of arrows, wallowing in what he took be the adulation of blonde-haired, blue-eyed American youth. Those kids!

+ Here’s another Constitutional Moment from Donald J Trump: “I have an Article II , where I had the right to do whatever I want as president.”

+ Richard Nixon: “If the president does it that means it’s not a crime.”

+ Louis XIV: “L’etat c’est moi!”

+ At least 12 US presidents were slave owners during their lifetimes. Of these, eight held slaves while in office.

+ The rule that a sitting President can’t be called a racist on the floor of the House, invoked last week by the GOP against Pelosi, derives from a Parliamentary handbook written by the first child-rapist president (Sally Hemmings was 13 when he first forced her into his bed), Thomas Jefferson, slave owner.

+ Trump doesn’t want to be the “world’s policeman,” he wants the US to serve as a mercenary force and arms dealer for the regional ambitions of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

+ Trump: “When we took over our military was depleted and in the past 2.5 years we’ve undepleted it, to put it mildly.”

+ So it looks like Trump could lose the the next election by 5 million votes and still win via the electoral college. One of the reasons we have anti-democratic institutions like the Electoral College is that most of the founders, including the ones who wrote the Constitution, feared democracy, and few were more hostile than James Madison: “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” And that view among the propertied classes hasn’t changed much since Madison wrote Federalist 10.

+ The Trump administration is set to beginning executing federal prisoners on death row for the first time since 2003. Biden is partially culpable for this act of politically-motivated savagery, since his “Crime” Bill authorized the largest expansion of the federal death penalty in history. As for Obama, he claimed to have “serious reservations” about the death penalty and had it in his power to commute the sentences of all federal prisoners on death row, but, demonstrating his customary lack of nerve, didn’t…

+ In one of the most explosive leaks since the Panama Papers, Barrett Brown and Emma Best have unloaded 85 gigabytes of leaked emails, phone calls, faxes, and other documents from a  outfit called Formations House, where over 2K companies hid assets and money. Over the next few weeks, journalists from CounterPunch, and a few other carefully selected outlets, will be drilling through the strata of documents in search of the dirt that is surely buried there. Be sure to read Brown’s preview of this trove of corruption and villainy.

+ One take away from this study from the National Bureau of Economic Research is that the Supreme Court’s fatal decision to allow states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion killed nearly 16,000 people. Call Sarah Palin, it looks like we’ve found your “death panel.”

+ Doesn’t the “biggest bull market ever” depend on there being “disaster for millions“?

+ The Indian government emphatically denied Trump’s assertion that Modi asked him to arbitrate a solution to the Kashmir dispute. I’m sure that Modi would prefer that his admirer Tulsi Gabbard serve as mediator…

+ Trump on Kashmir: “‘Cause I’ve heard so much about Kashmir. Such a beautiful name. It’s supposed to be such a beautiful part of the world. But right now there’s just bombs all over the place. They say everywhere you go, you have bombs.”

And not a word I heard could I relate
The story was quite clear

+ It’s not exactly breaking news, but the New York Times reported breathlessly this week that while Trump uses populist rhetoric, his policies almost always favor corporations and the financial elite. Of course, he learned this from watching the Democrats over the last 40 years.

+ Even if you smoke a pack of Camels a day, you can still add years to your life by skipping those Thomas Friedman columns

+ Trump keeps saying Congress “handed Puerto Rico $92 billion.” Not even close. The estimate of what PR needs is $92 billion, certainly an underestimate. Congress authorized as much as $42.5 billion, but FEMA is only obligated to spend $20.6 billion. So far PR has received a little more than $13.6 billion…


+ Rashida Tlaib, who this week proposed a $20 an hour minimum wage, is shrewd enough to use the attention Trump is giving her to advance policies that might appeal to some of Trump’s working class voters (or voters who aspire to be working class)…

+ Dentists in the U.S. prescribe opioids at a rate SEVENTY times higher than dentists in England.

+ Penn Law Professor Amy Wax, who said the U.S. would be “better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites,” says she doesn’t plan to leave the school. “The students need me. When I’m gone, the place goes full North Korea. (It’s 95% there).”

+ FBI Director Christopher Wray in congressional testimony this week: “A majority of the domestic terrorism cases we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.”

+ Rudy Giuliani says that Biden’s “not smart enough” to serve as president. I’m not disagreeing with Rudy, but what is the minimum intellectual level required to be president? Does Shrub represent the Mendoza Line? Reagan after 6 pm? Gerald Ford? Truman? Coolidge? Andrew Johnson? Ulysses S. Grant, sober (on the basis of his memoirs, he was much shrewder drunk)?

+ Nicholas Burns, who helped sell the Iraq war, joins the team of Joe Biden, one of the guys who bought what Burns was selling…

+ I always thought that Reagan’s “Alzheimers” was planted in the press by people like Michael Deaver, Don Regan and Nancy, in order to increase the plausibility of Ronnie’s deniability in Iran/contra…

+ The preposterous Max Boot warns that what comes after Trump (Tucker Carlson) may be “even worse.” trictly in terms of body count, so was what came before him. (I’m thinking specifically of Boot’s hero George W. Bush, but Obama also racked up two regime changes on his crime blotter.)

+ The dusty city of Modesto, birthplace of gay icon Carol Channing (and, in karmic balance, Sonny Barger of the Hells Angels), is the latest to announce a “straight pride” parade that will defiantly proclaim the virtues of Western Civilization. Didn’t Western “Civilization” start in a City State of intellectual and political elites who openly practiced and promoted the virtues of homosexuality?

+ UK neo-nativist PM Boris Johnson was born on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

+ Priti Patel will be the first British Home Secretary in 30 years to have said they’re in favor of hanging. Will someone could out in favor of drawing-and-quatering? Posting decapitated heads on Tower Bridge?

+ Former Manhattan DA Robert Morganthau died this week at 99 and the media beatification was almost unanimous. But Morgentahu’s record is forever stained by the Central Park Five case. It was his decision to put the vicious Linda Fairstein in charge of the investigations and prosecutions. The fact that his office later vacated the convictions doesn’t obviate the original mistakes, which were grievous.

+ Eve Ottenberg: “Plenty of other things blighted Morgenthau’s record, starting way back in the ’60s, with his aggressive and barely constitutional (according to Hentoff) prosecutions of anti-war and civil rights radicals.”

+ A court ruled this week that it was perfectly legal for a prison in Illinois to force 200 women inmates to strip, remove tampons if they had their periods, then squat and bend over while guards searched their vaginal & anal cavities, as part of a training exercise for cadets.

+ The drug war seems to be unfolding as viciously as ever in the South. Marijuana arrests in Virginia have spiked to their highest level in more than 20 years.

+ In Montana, 99% of people who completed the required 10 years of payments on their student loans were denied loan forgiveness.

+ Average length of a football game: 3 hours
Amount of time the ball is in play: 11 minutes

+ A study by FAIR reports that the New York Times, ever nervous about the leftwing threat to the Democratic Party, hasn’t used the phrase “rightwing Democrat” in more than 30 years.

Spelling bee proctor: The word is “Rightwing-Democrat.”
Contestant: Can you use that in a sentence?
Spelling bee proctor, checks notes: Uh, it seems like it has never been used in a sentence.

+ So it turns out that AOC was being optimistic when she said we only have 12 years to save the planet. It may be closer to 18 months

+ Mike Roselle: “I gave it twenty years, forty years ago.”

+ The history of life on Earth is melting away. Soon there will only be 6000 years of ice left and Biblical estimates of the age of the Earth will be fulfilled…

+ The biggest cities in the US are leaking methane at twice the rate scientists once thought: “When burned for heat or power, methane emits less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels such as coal. But when leaked directly into the atmosphere, its warming effect can be dozens of times stronger than CO2.”

+ The current rate of ocean warming is equal to five Hiroshima-size atomic bombs exploding every second.

+ Speaking of atomic bombs, a few days ago there was a wildfire sweeping across Hanford, where much of the soil and many of the trees, scrub and sagebrush are contaminated with radioactive particles. Then a few days later, one broke out at the equally leaky nuclear “lab” in Idaho, burning 90,000 acres in a single day. Climate change as WMD…

+ Dozens of all-time and monthly records broken on Tuesday in cities across France as temperatures soared to 108.6ºF amid an intense European heat wave. I thought of what a day like today might have been like for Marcel Proust, confined in his cork-lined room on the Boulevard Hausmann, all his tasty Madelienes baking on the nightstand….

+ Both Netherlands and Belgium each recorded the highest temperatures in their history this week.

+ The hottest summers in Europe over the past 500 years have ALL occurred in the past 17 years.

+ James Kilgore: “Heat Wave. My last day in prison in Tracy, CA it was 114 degrees. We smashed out every window to get some air. Then the water went out and the toilets wouldn’t flush. Silicon Valley was 50 miles away. I wonder if their water went out too?”

+ You don’t have to go to the beach, the beach is coming to you“Sous la plage, les pavés!”

+ During her acceptance speech for the Freedom Prize, Greta Thornberg, the Malala of the climate movement, demanded that “adults be held accountable” for the climate crisis. How about holding corporations, private equity, hedge funds and the military industrial complex accountable for climate change, Greta?

+ For the first 205 days of the year, the average temperatures on the Arctic Coast of Alaska have been 9°F above normal.

Do you realize, Greta, that thousands of activists, ecologists and scientists around the world have been fighting the coal companies, oil and gas companies and the military on the ground, in the courts and in congress for decades now and that they have a pretty clear idea of where the political and economic pressure points are, don’t you? Greta is a novelty act, supported by foundations that have been hostile the very kind of radical change that is needed to confront the thing she warns about it.

+ In 2016, US farms used 1.2 billion lbs of pesticides. More than one-fourth — 322 million lbs — were pesticides banned in the EU. 26 million lbs were banned in Brazil. 40 million lbs were outlawed by China.

+ Permian Basin water use grew nearly ninefold from 2011-2016 as drillers added more than 10,000 wells. An average Permian well in 2018 used more than 15 million gallons, compared with 7 million in 2013. Water = 54% of fracking costs in Permian.

+ Air pollution kills more than 30,000 people in the US every year.

+ Air pollution is a bigger threat to your life than smoking.

+ According to a study from NIH, “infants born to women exposed to high levels of air pollution in the week before delivery are more likely to be admitted to NICU. Depending on the type of pollution, chances for NICU admission increased between 4% and 147%.”

+ Mining companies have rarely been held accountable for the ruins they’ve made in the past. Now they won’t even have to pretend to make an effort.

+ A Day at the Beach: If it ain’t covered in oil, plastic or dead whales, it’s awash in human shit

+ Michael Colby: “There were 2400 Vermont family dairy farmers when Bernie first went to Congress to “fix the problem.” There are now 675 left, and he’s done nothing to stop the downward spiral.”

+ Robin Silver, MD: “Say we’re driving from Texas and just go through these rivers: Rio Grande is dead, and then you start moving into Arizona. The Gila, dead. Santa Cruz, dead. Salt, dead. You cross the San Pedro at Benson, it’s pretty dead, but the river flows from Mexico as you go south and it’s still alive. Same thing with the Verde.”

+ Last week, Bernie Sanders posted a tweet supporting Native Hawai’ians in their fight against the Thirty Meter Telescope on the sacred summit of Mauna Kea, then mysteriously deleted it. Sanders still hasn’t explained why. C’mon, Bernie, say something.

+ Oregon State University’s School of Forestry, recently embarrassed for cutting down ancient trees, has been training people to log 400-year old trees for 100 years. They probably trained the people who logged the 800-year old trees in Millennium Grove…

+ If you were to ask me what’s the most effective and fearless environmental group in the US is, I wouldn’t hesitate to answer: the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. I’ve followed their work for 30 years. They operate on a shoestring budget. They spend their money where it matters: appeals, lawsuits, and in developing the most visionary wildland protection bill ever introduced into Congress: the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection. They’ve hit a financial crisis this summer and the future of this grassroots, no compromise group is very much in doubt at the worst possible moment. I urge you to pitch in what you can and know that it will all be used to help protect wolves & grizzlies, lynx & bull trout, wild rivers and roadless forests.

+ Thanks to the warming climate, we’re living on a more tick-friendly planet, where you can be infected with a tick-borne disease (tularemia, anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, Powassin encephalitis, relapsing fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, et al.) in as little as 15 minutes after a tick attaches itself to your scalp, long before you return home from your hike with your Labradoodle and begin extracting the tiny arachnids. One of my favorite rock art images is of an engorged tick in a small cave high above the Columbia Gorge. It was probably some kind of shamanic symbol near a vision quest site. I was once told by an elder of the Yakima Nation that ticks have mystical power because they are shape-shifters who sustain themselves on human blood.

Tick pictograph, Columbia Gorge. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Ben Jaffe, leader of Preservation Hall Jazz Band: “You can’t understand the music of New Orleans without understanding the music of Cuba.”

RIP Art Neville

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Order of the Day
Éric Vuillard
(Other Press)

Lemon Jail: On the Road with the Replacements
Bill Sullivan
(University of Minnesota)

Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon
Tucker Malarky
(Spiegel & Grau)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Got to be Real: the Columbia Anthology
Cheryl Lynn
(Soul Music)

Los Coast
(New West)

Roots of Confusion, Seeds of Joy (Vinyl)
Major Stars
(Drag City)

The Basic Reality of Chaos

William Gaddis: “Has it ever occurred to any of you that all this is simply one grand misunderstanding? Since you’re not here to learn anything, but to be taught so you can pass these tests, knowledge has to be organized so it can be taught, and it has to be reduced to information so it can be organized do you follow that? In other words this leads you to assume that organization is an inherent property of knowledge itself, and that disorder and chaos are simply irrelevant forces that threaten it from outside. In fact it’s exactly the opposite. Order is simply a thin, perilous condition we try to impose on the basic reality of chaos.” (JR)


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