Roaming Charges: No Woman, No Cry

Winter, North Hollywood. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Can someone remind me what Trump’s being impeached for? Not extra-judicial assassinations, not locking children in cages, not gutting environmental regulations that will cost thousands of lives, not for illegally diverting money for his border wall, not for acts of self-enrichment, not for torturing Chelsea Manning, not for seizing Syrian oil fields, not for….

+ Whatever blackmail operation Trump & Co. were running in Ukraine is nothing compared to the depraved games they’ve been playing in Puerto Rico for more than two years, largely motivated by Trump’s racism and personal pique at politicians who stood up to him and publicly called out his shit. Here tens of thousands of lives hang in the balance, “American” lives, as if that ever really meant anything to Trump…

+ Still I’m sure the voters (and non-voters, for that matter) of Iowa welcome the impeachment trial in the senate, regardless of what he was impeached for, if only to get three of the candidates out of the state for a couple of weeks.

+ The “No Woman, No Cry” spat between Sanders and Warren is pretty silly all around but it has dominated the press coverage for three days, even eclipsing the debut of the impeachment managers and Trump’s audacious pledge to fix America’s faucets and shower heads. This is, naturally, the exact outcome CNN and the DNC were hoping for.

+ I remember when Ralph Nader made an offhand remark that he “didn’t engage in gonadal politics” (ie, gay marriage) and it was all anyone could talk about regarding his campaign until Gore managed to lose his home state and the election, which they then blamed on Ralph for apparently taking the “homophobe” vote from Gore…

+ Still just to be safe, maybe Bernie should do a Pence and bring Jane with him to any future private meetings with another woman, as an insurance policy against any later misunderstandings, if Bernie still bothers with insurance…

+ No matter how many lies, verbal gaffes or denture drops Biden makes tonight, there will be commentators on MSDNC and CNN saying, “Biden’s never sounded sharper. He was really on top of his game tonight. This performance will reassure many Democrats who had some lingering concerns about his mental fitness.”

+ What’s whiter than the Oscars?
The Democratic Party presidential debates.

+ Who needs any black candidates, when you’ve got me, Joe Biden, the Negro’s Friend, with the hairy legs that the little colored children find irresistible!

+ What’s whiter than Iowa and New Hampshire combined?
The Democratic Presidential field…

+ The Democratic Presidential field features 2 more billionaires than blacks and Hispanics combined. The party of the people!

+ The Democrats’ answer to Citizens United…run billionaires!

+ About the only reason left to watch the Democratic debates is to see whether Biden will tell new or old lies about his Iraq War vote

+ Biden’s excuse to night is that even though he voted for the Iraq war, Obama picked him as his vice president. And Biden’s right in a way that he, and most Democrats, don’t understand. Obama’s decision to put Iraq war hawks, HRC and Biden, in charge of his foreign policy proved that Obama’s opposition to the war was a political sham.

+ Why is Klobocop getting questions before Warren and PeteBot? Because her function in the debates is to emasculate Warren and Sanders from the feminist center.

+ Can Bernie answer why it took him 20 years to realize that his vote for the AUMF, which has been used to authorize every military action since 2001, was a mistake? His excuse seems to be that all the Democrats, except Barbara Lee, voted for it. But Bernie didn’t identify as a “Democrat” in those days. He was supposed to be an independent socialist. He made the wrong call on what was probably the most consequential vote of our time.

+ Does Sanders believe the murderous sanctions on Iraq he supported through the Clinton era were worth the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi children? But since he’s the least pro-war candidate in the field, he’ll never be asked. It shows the true narrowness of the choices before us.

+ I’ve done a pretty thorough search of the public record and can find not a single instance of Sanders criticizing the Honduran Coup or Obama and HRC’s role in abetting it. Similarly, Sanders co-sponsored a 2011 Senate resolution prior to the Libyan coup calling on UN Security Forces to “protect civilians” from Qaddafi’s forces and the for imposition of the “no fly zone” that set the stage for UN intervention. Sanders called Qaddafi “a thug and murderer. We want to see him go.”

+ Sen. Resolution 85, calling on UN intervention in Libya, co-sponsors: Sen. Menendez Sen. Kirk, Sen. Lautenberg, Sen. Durbin, Sen. Gillibrand, Sen. Sanders, Sen. Whitehouse, Sen. Schumer, Sen. Casey, Sen. Wyden, and Sen. Cardin…

+ Bernie leads the opposition to all the wars he didn’t support…

+ Wars the antiwar candidate Bernie Sanders has supported…

Iraq, covert war, 1993-2000
Serbia, 1998-99
Afghanistan, 2001-infinity…
Libya, 2011

+ Tom Steyer: I’m qualified to be commander in chief because I have more frequent flier miles than anyone else on this stage.

+ On US troops in the Middle East…

Bernie: “We need an international coalition.”
Biden: “I’d leave our troops in the Middle East.”
Klobocop: “I’d leave some troops there, too, Joe.”
Warren: “We need to get combat troops out.”
Mayor Petebot: “Less than Trump.”

+ Not only aren’t there any black candidates left on stage, there aren’t any real antiwar candidates either.

+ Like her former Harvard Law colleague Dershowitz, Elizabeth is an “imminent threat” drone-striker…

+ Biden’s a special forces (he’s talking about you, Eddie Gallagher) and sanctions guy…

+ The Democrats’s foreign policy doctrine: coalition colonialism.

+ Would a massacre still be a massacre if Congress had given its approval?

+ Neither Klobocop, Mayor Petebot or Biden would “allow” Iran to have a nuclear weapon. No follow-up on what actions they would take to prevent this, assuming Iran even wants a nuclear weapon. No question on whether they would “allow” Saudi Arabia to have nuclear weapons or demand that the Israelis relinquish their large arsenal.

+ I guess there’s now such bipartisan support for the ever-expanding powers of the Patriot Act that reporters don’t even bother asking about it during presidential debates.

+ What I’d give to listen to another Pharaoh Sanders interview instead of this damn debate…

+ Warren is a tiny steps incrementalist on NAFTA 2.0….

+ Klobocop is at 5% in polls and is getting 20 percent of the questions.

+ Klobocop is supposed to be the Darling of the Midwest. But according to the latest Marquette University Law Poll of Wisconsin Democrats, Klobuchar is trailing Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Booker, Yang and Bloomberg.

+ I miss Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson.

+ Pay-Go Dems: Biden, PeteBot and Klobocop.

+ Warren ran away faster from the Sanders’ said a woman couldn’t win question than she did her DNA test results…

+ Biden: No one on this stage loves women more than I do, especially the smell of their hair. Ask anyone…

+ Let’s interrupt this tedium with some more wisdom from Pharaoh Sanders: “I play one note, maybe that one note might mean love. And then another note might mean something else. Keep on going like that until it develops into—maybe something beautiful.“

+ Klobocop is right: the Democratic establishment hates single-payer. But she doesn’t want to join them not overthrow them…

+ Yes, we know single-payer has a big price tag (though it may actually save people money). But has there ever been a war that the US didn’t launch because it was too expensive?

+ The anti-single payer Democrats seem very anguished about the future employment of the people on the other end of the phone who deny your claim, the people who wrote and enforce that script & the people who profit from refusing to pay the cost of treating your child’s illness.

+ Biden breaks out in hives every time he hears a question with the word “free” in it….

+ Klobocop proclaimed that America’s youth don’t deserve free college because they’ll never learn how to work drainage snake or a pipe wrench and soon the nation will experience a crippling shortage of plumbers. Is that because people are flushing their toilets 10 times for every shit, like Trump claims?

+ Biden is at his best when he’s the most incoherent and people are left to project their own meaning on what he’s trying to say.

+ All of the Democrats, except Sanders, support Trump’s NAFTA 2.0, citing modest improvements on its predecessor, which Biden supported in its raw form and helped ram through the senate. This pretty much eliminates trade policy as an issue against Biden or Trump for any candidate other than Sanders.

+ PeteBot must have gotten a system upgrade. His eyes are blinking more rapidly tonight.

+ The answers on climate in CNN’s debate were almost as bad, worse in the cases of Klobocop, Biden and PeteBot, as the questions…The entire exchange on the greatest threat to the survival of life on Earth consumed about 10 minutes of the 3-hour long debate.

+ Klobocop has 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters and still proudly supports fracking for natural gas as a “transition” fuel, which tells you all you need to know about that wimpish, Democratic front group.

+ Sorry, PeteBot, climate change didn’t “come to America”. It started here and spread across the planet….

+ I agree with Sanders that no one who supported the invasion of Iraq should serve as president. But I would apply the same standard to the domestic equivalent of the Iraq War, the Clinton Crime Bill, also launched amid a squall of lies with mortally devastating consequences on the home front.

+ One of the consequences of the ethnically-cleansed Democratic field is that there is no one left to talk about police brutality, ICE, racial profiling, prison conditions, urban poverty, homelessness, or hunger & hold accountable some of the candidates who have exacerbated these crises.

+ God knows he’s got more energy & stamina than I do, but I don’t think Sanders looked physically well tonight. There was a stark pallor to his skin & his face seemed more taut than usual. Of course, this had the effect of making PeteBot appear even more juvenile than he is.

+ Does Sanders believe the murderous sanctions on Iraq he supported through the Clinton era were worth the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi children? But since he’s the least pro-war candidate in the field, he’ll never be asked. It shows the true narrowness of the choices before us.

+ Beware the candidate (Biden) who vows to restore the “American soul”…unless he’s talking about reanimating James Brown.

+ The only real debate of the night, between Warren and Sanders, took place after CNN cut the mics. No wonder the network is failing…

+ I don’t know what Bernie said to Warren, certainly something less than what Warren’s people leaked to CNN & more than the flat denial he gave last night. I like the fact Warren refused his hand and he shook his finger back at her. Now if only they’d only act this demonstrably toward Biden on something that mattered, like the Iraq War or the Clinton Crime Bill…

+ Tom Steyer: “I didn’t want to get in the middle, I just wanted to say ‘Hi’ to Bernie.”

+ Fidel Castro’s worst 3-hour long speech on sugar cane production in the Valle de los Ingenios region was less tedious than tonight’s lifeless debate.

+ I realize I’m about to get the Omar treatment for saying this, but I’m already suffering from post-Democratic debate stress disorder. Maybe for the next debate, if they insist on inflicting another upon us, they could hire Roger Deakins to record the monotony in a single take from one camera?

+ After the Warren/Sanders brawl, the Sandernistas rapidly circulated a quote from Noam Chomsky anointing Sanders as a “decent, honest” person.

+ The answer to the question of whether a politician is “decent” invariably depends on which side of the cruise missile you’re on…

+ I wonder if the young students protesting the Kosovo war on the bridges of Belgrade–unarmed noncombatants who were targeted by US Air strikes backed by Sanders–would, 20 years later, describe Bernie as “decent”? Some one should ask them, those who survived…

+ The first post-debate poll (SurveyUSA) of California voters is unbelievable, but also entirely predictable, for Democrats…

Biden 30% (+2)
Sanders 20% (+2)
Warren 20% (+7)
Buttigieg 8% )
Bloomberg 6% (+3)
Yang 4% (-1)
Steyer 4% (+1)
Gabbard 2% )
Klobuchar 2% (+1)

+ Creepshow: Records turned over by Giuliani associate Lev Parnas to House Intel Committee show Parnas communicated with a GOP congressional candidate who said he had former Ambassador Yovanovitch under physical and possibly electronic surveillance in Kiev…

+ Biden in 1995: “I tried with Senator Grassley back in the 1980s to freeze all government spending, including Social Security, including everything.”

+ Apparently Pentagon chief Mark Esper was not shown any of evidence of Suleimani’s alleged plans to attack four (or even one) US embassy. Nor where any of the embassy’s alerted to their imminent destruction. Look, it was very hush-hush info, and it was distributed on a need to know basis. As long as Hannity and Lou Dobbs vetted it, I’m satisfied…

+ At a congressional hearing this week, ex-Bush/Cheney NatSect Advisor Stephen Hadley (whose arguments didn’t make any sense then and apparently never will) said that “if the US complied with Iraq’s request for US troops leave, then we will be undermining Iraq’s sovereignty.”

+ 51 members of Congress and their spouses own between $2.3 and $5.8 million worth of stocks in companies that are among the top 30 defense contractors in the world.

+ Mark Twain, after the massacre of 50,000 Filipinos by US troops in eastern Samar, a reprisal for an uprising that killed 48 American soldiers: “The stars and stripes should be replaced by the skull and crossbones.”

+ According to Trump, Soleimani was the “world’s number one terrorist.” Now that he’s been assassinated. Who moves up to the top spot? MBS? Erik Prince? Netanyahu? Gina Haspel? Stephen Miller?

+ More American troops are now in the Middle East than at the end of President Obama’s second term. But not this guy for some reason…

+ Trump: “Eventually we want to be able to allow Iraq to run its own affairs. This isn’t the right point.”

+ Speaking of shooting down civilian airplanes: Between 1995 and 2001, the CIA helped the Peruvian air force shoot down no fewer than 15 civilian planes, including one carrying a family of four American missionaries.

+ With the appointment of Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz as lawyers on Trump’s impeachment defense team, we have now crossed that decisive historical moment, which not even Hegel or Fukuyama anticipated, where the nation’s political class is officially beyond parody…

+ Monica Lewinsky on hearing the news about Starr: “Are you fucking kidding me?

+ In 2015, Stephen Miller circulated an article by Phyllis Schlafly arguing that immigrants should be shipped out of the US on trains, as a “scare tactic.” Now that has a familiar ring to it…

+ Trump seems to have three solutions to every problem: a drone, a wall and a concentration camp. (And if those fail, he’ll take a payout.) Trump’s new top homelessness official Robert Marbut‘s “philosophy on homelessness seems to be … incarcerate folks in large campus settings,” according to Glenn Bailey, executive director of the Crossroads Urban Center.

+ The DOW:

2017 – 19819.78
2018 – 23,062.40
2019 – 28,583.44

– Gain of 44.2%

Median Household Income:

2017 – $62,626
2018 – $63,179
2019 – $63,688

– Gain of 1.6%

Mininum Wage:

2017: $7.25
2018: $7.25
2019: $7.25

– Gain of 0.0%

+  Apple left the 2010s generating 43 billion dollars in revenue every fiscal year. It exited the 2010s earning 260 billion. Or to put it another way, The Apple of January 2020 is roughly six times the size of the Apple of January 2010.

+ Trump the Pious, on Thursday morning while meeting with “religious” “leaders” on preserving school prayer and “church” tax breaks…

+ Trump told a gathering of his mega-donors at Mar-a-Lago that he droned Suleimani for making nasty remarks about the good old USA. “He saying bad things about our country. How much of this shit do we have to listen to? How much are we going to listen to?” Who will he drone next for talking smack about America? Colin Kaepernick or Noam Chomsky?

+ Putin says that the entire Russian government will resign because because “not everything has worked out“. Here, of course, things not working out is the plan and members of the government take campaign selfies in front of the wreckage they’ve made…

+ Case on point: Among 20 of the most powerful people in Trump government environment jobs, most have ties to the fossil fuel industry or have fought against the regulations they now are supposed to enforce…

+ For the eyes of hedge fund friends only…Trump is moving to restrict media access to market data held by the Feds.

+ Matt Bruenig: “At a 5% rate of return, Bloomberg’s $57 billion net worth generates $237 million of investment return every single month. These ad buys don’t even spend down his wealth. It’s about half of his monthly income.”

+ The national debt has topped $22 trillion for the first time, a record that got significantly less attention than the Dow breaking the 29,000 mark. One of the great lies of conservatism in the US is the notion that any of them really cared about the national debt, except as an excuse to oppose new social spending. In a rare moment of candor, Dark Lord Cheney confessed: “Deficits don’t matter.”

+ Yet another reason I’d be embarrassed to be a “Democratic Primary Voter”: “Biden most trusted on foreign policy.”

+ I’d’ve thought the “Republican case for Biden” was obvious. He’s spent the last 50 years making it…

+ It’s tempting to say that Biden’s a fraud. But he often says exactly what he believes, you just have to search for it: “The president of the United States [ie., George W. Bush] is a bold leader and he is popular…I and many others will support him.”

+ David Graeber on the state of British politics: ‘If only Britons over the age of sixty-five were allowed to vote, the Labour Party would be all but wiped out, whereas if only Britons under twenty-five were allowed to vote, there would simply be no Tory MPs whatsoever.’

+ Remember Stephen Harper, Canada’s worst prime minister (to date). Well, he’s back, calling for regime change in Iran

+ A lawsuit filed this week in the Virgin Islands alleges that, on his private island, Clinton-Trump pal Jeffrey Epstein sexually trafficked hundreds of young women and girls as young as 11 and as recently as 2018: “One 15-year-old victim was forced to have sex with Epstein and others and then tried to escape by swimming off the Little St. James island, the lawsuit said, but Epstein and others organized a search party and found the girl.”

+ How many take place at Mar-a-Lago? (Speaking of “sex transactions,” you might confer with your dad, he’s had two of the most expensive ones in American history.)

+ In the first few months of his term, Trump agreed to participate in an HBO documentary featuring judges, politicians, and presidents reading aloud from the Constitution. Trump repeatedly stumbled over the text and, according to Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig’s new book, A Very Stable Genius, said in frustration, “It’s like a foreign language!”

+ Trump the Pimp: “I said to Saudi Arabia, you’re a very rich country. You want more troops? I’ll send them to you, but you have to pay us. They’ve already deposited $1B ‘in the bank.’”

+ Remember when Bob Woodward wrote that front-page profile in the Wash Post extolling the unrecognized genius of Dan Quayle…? It looks like he may be about to write something similar regarding Trump.

+ Even before Woodward publishes his revisionist life of Trump, 53% of Republicans believe that Trump is a better president than Abraham Lincoln. Of freeing the slaves pulled down Lincoln’s numbers with this crowd, as much as they liked his gutting of habeas corpus and staging the largest mass execution (of Yankton Sioux) in American history.

+ Native American women and girls are targeted at rates far greater than other American women, and they are 10 times more likely to be murdered.

+ 2019 was the second hottest year and the last decade was the warmest decade on record. The global average temperature was more than 2°F warmer than during the late 19th century. Meanwhile, the Arctic is warming more than three times as fast as the globe.

+ What if the magpies told us the world was coming to an end and no one cared?

+ The wildfires raging along Australia’s eastern coast have already sent around 400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, further fueling the climate crisis that’s currently serving to intensify the nation’s fires.

Smoke plumes from eastern Australia. Photo: NASA.

+ Millions of animals, and entire populations of species, have been wiped out in the fires sweeping across Australia: “At one area, which was badly burned a week ago, the scenes were nothing short of apocalyptic,” reported Erica Martin of Humane Society International. “There we only found one living koala amongst thousands of bodies of koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and birds.”

+ The Arctic was broiling last summer, with some dreadful consequences for salmon: In the Igushik River, on the west side of Bristol Bay, biologists estimate that at least 100,000 fish died in July alone.

+ Oceans temperatures are now the highest ever recorded. 2019 was the warmest year on record for the oceans–and it had the biggest single-year jump of the decade. Not only that, but the past five and 10 year periods are the warmest five and 10 year periods in history…

+ ”The amount of heat being added to the oceans is equivalent to every person on the planet running 100 microwave ovens all day and all night.”

+ Let’s check the scoreboard in the War on Coal…it’s looks like last year was one of the worst on record for the coal barons, with more than 15,100 megawatts of coal-producing power being retired. If the reductions continue at this rate, the US will curtail more coal capacity under Trump’s first term than in Obama’s second. Keep it up, Donald!

+ Dozens of emails show how attorneys at the U.S. Department of Justice are  coordinating with lawyers for the fossil fuel industry to scuttle lawsuits the companies faced targeting their role in climate change.

+ “We’re afraid that the wall will act like a barrier when it floods, which it does down here,” says Betty Perez, a rancher and activist with the group Friends of the Wildlife Corridor. “We get the hurricanes in South Texas. And if that happens the wildlife that are near the river are going to drown. The other thing that’s happening the wall blocks wildlife from getting to the river to drink. That’s their main source of water.”

+ 25 years ago, a few of us opposed reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park for a very simple reason: wolves were already in Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies and central Idaho. The deal Clinton and Babbitt cut with ranchers to get their photo-op was a bad one, which pretended that the existing wolves didn’t exist and the new wolves didn’t deserve protection under the ESA, instead labeling them: a non-essential, experimental population. And every wolf outside of the park was suddenly fair game for any hobby rancher with a gun.

+ The good news: Grizzlies are returning to central Idaho. The bad news: the state of Idaho (and Wyoming), with the support of the Trump administration, want to resume bear baiting

+ A new study found that 38% of Tiger sharks observed off the coast of Tahiti had at least one hook stuck in their body.

+ Greenpeace is marginally to the left of Harry the Part-time Prince and Meghan the Runaway Duchess on the environment but probably not as radical as Prince Charles, has been put on a UK Counter-Terrorism watch list along side ne0-Nazis…

+ How a New York Public Library librarian tried to kill Goodnight Moon, a book I’ve read more times (by orders of magnitude) than any other…

+ “Help me get my feet back on the ground…”

+ Rosie Perez: The last time I said “I wish I could choreograph this number, the music was the album “Sketches of Spain,” by Miles Davis. That was the first album that made me cry out loud. I remember walking in Fort Greene Park and listening to it on my headphones…And when it goes [hums the album’s opening melody]. I couldn’t move when I heard that. I was in a different universe. My mind was gone. Then a neighbor came up. “Are you all right? You’re looking so weird.” “I’m fine, I’m fine.” “But why are you crying?” “Nothing! Nothing!” I was so pissed — took me out of the dream.”

+ Speaking of which: Okay, that’s a cool photo of Miles that I hadn’t seen before, but it doesn’t belong on the sleeve of SKETCHES of SPAIN for chrissakes, any more than we need a closeup of Mick’s lips slapped on a reissue of Let It Bleed or anything at all on the cover of The White Album…

+ I was disappointed to see T. Rex inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame–not because they aren’t one of the most imitated and kick-ass bands in rock history, but because entombing them in that dreadful corporate palace diminishes their legacy as rock outsiders. But you won’t fool the children of the Revolution. Hell, they’ve already been immortalized by David Bowie

Television man is crazy
saying we’re juvenile delinquent wrecks
Oh, man, I don’t need TV when I’ve got T. Rex
Oh brother, you guessed
I’m a dude, dad…

+ Anne Victoria Clarke: “If anyone has a right to be mad at Harry and Meghan, it’s the people of Sussex, who have been left leaderless without their Duke and who are now defenseless against incursions from Hampshire and Kent.”

+ Trump Koan of the Week: “Sinks, toilets, and showers, you don’t get any water… You go into a shower—and I have this beautiful head of hair, I need a lot of water. And you go into the shower, right? You turn on the water. Drip. Drip. Drip. I call the guy, ‘Is there something wrong with this?’ ‘No sir, it’s just the restrictor.’ We’re getting rid of the restrictors, you’re gonna have full shower flow.”

+ Joe Biden Koan of the Week: “No you don’t have the choice, but you had the choice to — that’s why — I’m not saying, I said, if you like your plan, you can keep it, assuming — I should add the obvious — if your employer doesn’t take it away from you. OK?”

Good Friends We Have, Oh, Good Friends We’ve Lost

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Sympathy for the Drummer: Why Charlie Watts Matters
Mike Edison

Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition
Katherine Franke

Trump and His Generals: the Cost of Chaos
Peter Bergen

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Thank Christ for the Bomb (Reissue)
The Groundhogs
(Fire Records)

Trilogy 2
Chick Corea, Christian McBride & Brian Blade
(Concord Jazz)

Fear of a Brown Planet
(Fat Beat)

Our Fatal Flaw

“Our fatal flaw, or Fall, he insisted, was to have developed ‘artificial weapons’ instead of natural ones. As a species, we thus lacked the instinctive inhibitions which prevented the ‘professional carnivores’ from murdering their fellows.” (Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines.)

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