Roaming Charges: When Satan Quotes Scripture

Satan Spills the Plagues, William Blake.

Yes, yes my love, they promised well,
Till workmen got for them the places;
But soon as did the traitorous band,
Assume the reins to give command,
They mock’d us to our faces.

–  from: “A recitation: The imprisoned Chartist’s wife and daughter,” 1840.

+ The caucus system has been fetishized by the political pundit class for decades as an example of small state “town hall” style democracy in action. In fact, they’re anti-democratic, often controlled by party bosses, where, lacking secret ballots, people bullied into voting with the mob. Less than 10 percent of registered Democrats turn out for these spectacles, far less than 60 percent you’d expect to vote in a primary. In the last few election cycles, however, Obama, Ron Paul and Sanders figured out how to exploit some of the weaknesses of the caucus system to defeat the bosses, which has resulted in the party taking “active measures” against outsider candidates. Will the Iowa debacle will spell the end of these political relics?

+ On the other hand, perhaps the Democrats should keep the Iowa caucuses as their first electoral event in all future elections to demonstrate the futility of their version of the “democratic process”. Maybe it will entice young progressives to take politics into their own hands and onto the streets, where it belongs.

+ You’ve finally made up your mind. You’re going to give the Democrats one last shot and vote for Bernie. You’ve got a righteous bounce in your step as leave the voting booth, unaware that DNC chair Tom Perez will act like a human Diebold voting machine and record your vote Buttigieg…

+ As he proved again at his splatter-gun acquittal celebration, Trump is a vindictive person. But is he really any more vindictive than Hillary Clinton, who is once again sliming Bernie Sanders as the biggest threat to the future of the Democratic Party? At least Trump openly plots revenge against people he believes have tried to bring him down. Bernie Sanders, inexplicably from my point of view, actually worked his ass off get this spiteful and petty hawk elected. And she proves, time and time again, why he shouldn’t have wasted his time or betrayed his movement by doing so.

+ I’m not a supporter of Bernie Sanders. Anyone who voted for three of the last four major wars and the Clinton Crime Bill should be disqualified for president in my book. But the malevolent lengths the Democratic elites are going to undermine, smear and cripple his campaign are disgusting. I hope they fail.

+ Who says there are no second acts in American political life? The DNC is conspiring to change its nominating rules to stop Sanders at the convention in Milwaukee. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, your Uber has arrived…

+ The Democratic Party has finally begun to fight dirty like a real Resistance™ movement…against Bernie Sanders.

+ If voting could change anything, they’d make an app for it…(Apologies to Emma Goldman.)

+ Russia, if you’re listening, and you can find the missing votes in Iowa, America will be forever grateful…

+ Dan Rather: “Trump will tie Sanders to Moscow.” And the Democrats will provide the rope and build the gibbet…(Remember when the GHW Bushies accused Bill Clinton of being a Soviet agent? Bill Clinton!!)

+ Whatever happened to that old Iowa spirit of just making up the vote totals, the way the GOP did in 2012, when first they awarded the state to Romney, then to Santorum and finally to Ron Paul…

+ You could count votes with an abacus faster than whatever they’re using in Iowa, fingers and toes it looks like…

+ There are already dozens of conspiracy theories about the malfunctioning Shadow app. Apparently none of these people ever used MS Windows…

+ The Iowa app voted for none of the above.

+ Iowa Dem politician says he feared the caucus debacle would be “an embarrassment to our state.” Steve King didn’t already do the job, eh?

+ Iowa is what happens when you replace the smoke-filled rooms of yesteryear with vaporizers and e-cigarettes…

+ The DNC should offer to give Andrew Yang all the Iowa delegates, if he could just figure this out…

+ Greg Grandin: “The OAS green-lighted a military coup in Bolivia for a [election results] delay that seemed shorter than this.”

+ Growing up in Indiana in the 60s and 70s the statewide election returns always came in late with the fate of the state’s liberal senators, Vance Hartke & Birch Bayh, often not known until the next morning when the vote from Lake County (Gary & East Chicago) trickled in to save their asses, thanks largely to machine of Gary mayor Richard Hatcher. When they killed off Gary, they pretty much doomed any of those kinds of FDR liberals from ever winning statewide office and we were left with neoliberal Democrats like Birch’s idiot son Evan, who Obama wanted as his VP instead of Biden…

+ Sanders almost certainly won Iowa in 2016 and didn’t protest much when the state party prematurely declared HRC the winner, which Sanders found out only after landing in Manchester, NH, early in the morning.

+ Al Gore’s problem was not declaring victory when he really won and then blaming his “loss” on Ralph Nader, after the Supreme Court stopped the counting of the votes that would have proved that he had won.

+ Biden is the only candidate would have been best advised not to make a public statement on the night of the caucuses…or at any time, for that matter.

+ Remember how the Democratic Party elites screwed George McGovern by finally nominating him at 2 am?

+ What’s more contagious than the Coronavirus? Brain-Sucking Putin Syndrome, silly…

+ The only metric by which Mayor PeteBot is leading in Iowa is State Delegate Equivalents. He’s trailing big in popular vote and “realignment” votes and tied in delegates to the DNC convention. Could anyone define what a State Delegate Equivalent is? Yet this meaningless category is what the press has fixated on…

+ What a farce…

+ A case study in Iowa caucus math:

Shelby County – the kind of small rural county where Buttigieg is doing well – had a turnout of 266 with 5 State Delegates (SDE). That’s 53.2 voters/per SDE.

Poweshiek – college county where Sanders excels — had 1,768 turnout for 14 SDES. Or 126 voters/per State Delegate.

+ I think I’ve finally figured out the Iowa Caucus formula…

Sanders every 2 votes subtract 1
Buttigieg every 1 vote add 1
Biden add however many votes needed to prevent him from finishing fifth…

+ Iowa Caucus Headlines:

-Quite The Cauc Up
-Duh Moines
-Giant Pain In App
-Why Oh Whyowa?
-A Dem Shame
-Cauc The Vote
-Iowat The Hell?
-Delayed Ratification
-The Caucing Dead
-Des Moines Des Bacle
-What A Crockus

+ Hey, Joe, where you goin’ with that App in your hand…”At one caucus site, the attorney general of Iowa had to switch from Biden to Buttigieg when Biden was disqualified.”

+ So according to CNN, Biden threatened to sue the Iowa Democratic Party to keep them from releasing the vote totals this afternoon, which some say will show him finishing fourth, or even fifth behind Klobocop. What’s Biden’s beef? He kept telling people to vote for someone else if they didn’t like his policies…

+ Jake Tapper: “We all knew Iowa is not Biden country. It’s too white.” Say what?

+ Mr Numbers Nate Silver somehow turns Biden’s fourth (or maybe 5th) place finish into a victory…

+ You have give Joe Biden some credit. He’s run for president three times and this year he got 14 percentage points more of the Iowa vote than he’s ever done before…(1%).

+ So it looks like Sanders may eke out a win in Iowa, despite the Party elites’ clumsy machinations against him. But it’s also true that the total Iowa turnout was low (who can blame them?) and that  Sanders and Warren (representing the progressive and somewhat less progressive wings of the party) combined got fewer “votes” this year (44.3%) than Sanders alone did in 2016 (49.6%). The news in Iowa is not good for Democrats on any front…

+ Democrats were counting on Barack Obama-levels of enthusiasm in Iowa. They got Hillary Clinton numbers, instead. Looking at the low turnout in Des Moines, one Democratic operative said simply, “Wow.

+ From the NYT: “On Wednesday afternoon, the Iowa Democratic Party released a wave of results showing Deval Patrick sweeping central Des Moines. That was incorrect. Mr. Sanders’s votes had been reported as being for Mr. Patrick, while Elizabeth Warren’s tallies went to Tom Steyer.”

+ The NYT’s election guru Nate Cohn says the mistakes Iowa don’t appear to be “intentional.” But how many errors incorrectly benefited Sanders?

+ Sanders won by 6,000 votes, but Tom Perez wants a “re-canvas” to drag this out for the next three or four weeks (months?)…

+ Joe Biden: “Impeachment hasn’t ‘shaken my faith’ in working with Republicans.” How could it? That would be like saying has no faith in himself.

+ In Biden’s latest bid to save his campaign, the former vice president is considering awarding a posthumous Medal of Freedom to Strom Thurmond during his first State of the Union address….

+ Maybe Perez will hire Katherine Harris to conduct the Iowa “re-canvas”…

+ Michael Arria: “Sanders is going to be elected president and then be declared the winner of the Iowa caucus.”

+ With post-Iowa polls showing Democrats are now more likely to vote for Sanders, it the manufactured Iowa debacle appears to have blown up in the DNC’s face, much as Elizabeth Warren’s clumsy attempt to smear Sanders as a sexist rightly hurt her more than him…What ACME device will Wile E. Coyote try next?

+ Come back, Marianne
back to where it began
so we can laugh and laugh and laugh about Iowa again…

+ Is Marianne Williamson really the only candidate (suspended or active) with the guts to call for Tom Perez’s head on pike (to use Lil Adam Schiff’s line)? Like Trump, the Clintons remade the Democratic Party into a protection racket for their own interests & Obama, the timid creature he is, never cleaned it out. We’re seeing the predictable results…the 2016 loss and this debacle.

+ Deval Patrick got into the Democratic race late and hasn’t been seen since…

+ After his vote to convict Trump, Mitt Romney is now an honorary member of the Democratic Party, along with David Frum, Max Boot and Bill Kristol. But never forget that this is still the same guy who strapped the family dog, Seamus, to the roof of his car…

+ Ralph Nader: “Gloating, unhinged Donald abused the public’s airwaves for 75 minutes today to flatter his clapping courtiers, lie about himself and others, and tighten his dictatorial Trump House over the Constitution. A disgrace.”

+ Donald Trump: “I don’t like people who use faith for justification for doing what they know is wrong.”

+ You can’t make this kind of idiocy up, it can only come directly from the loins of the father…

+ Honestly, I didn’t expect Donnie Jr. to have read even a single book of the Bible (like Matthew 4:1–11), but as a wannabe apex financial predator I’d have thought he might at least have been familiar with the Merchant of Venice…

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

— Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene iii

+ As I watched the Trump State of the Union, I was reminded of something Gore Vidal wrote in his novel Empire, putting it into the mouth of Henry Adams: “Socialism is anathema to most Americans, who are desperate to preserve the luxuries of the ruling class and their own chance to win the lottery.”

+ Trump’s speech was like a game show for the depraved.

+ About those “charter schools” Trump was promoting in the State of the Union as alternatives to the “government schools”: “More than 80 schools in Orlando have blatant discrimination policies that deny admission to gay children, expel or discipline students who reveal they’re gay and sometimes refuse to educate children of LGBT parents.”

+ I was surprised that Trump didn’t promise to cure Limbaugh’s cancer.

+ Here are just some of the political opinions that earned Rush the same honor given to Rosa Parks…

“Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”

“Feminism was established so that unattractive ugly broads could have access to the mainstream.”

“Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”

“The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.”

“Holocaust? Ninety million Indians only four million left? All of them have casinos. What’s to complain about?”

To a black female caller: “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”

“I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”

“If any race should not have guilt about slavery, it’s Caucasians.”

+ I’d forgotten about the vilification of Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke by the man who was just awarded the Medal of Freedom in the House Chamber:

“Limbaugh is brutalizing a poised, wholesome-looking 30-year-old Georgetown law student as a “slut,” “a prostitute” and “round-heeled” simply for testifying to lawmakers about wanting the school to amend its health insurance to cover contraception. Sandra Fluke “goes before a Congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her?” Limbaugh coarsely ranted. “It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps. The johns.” (Have You No Shame, Rush?)

+ I remember when Alex and I wrote a cover story in The Nation on Jon Roush, president of the Wilderness Society, who we had caught logging off old growth on his own vast ranch in Montana’s Bitterroot valley and then blaming it on his wife. Rush picked it up on his show for a couple of days and Katrina was very excited. Limbaugh is awful, of course, but he came out of radio, not politics, and he had a sense of humor (racist though it often is). The people who have followed his path (Michael Savage, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham) are as humorless as they are vile…

+ Brewskis afterwards, right Neilsie?

+ Lori Wallach: “Trump hasn’t delivered on trade pledges that won key Midwest states: job outsourcing has continued; manufacturing sector’s 4yr employment boom that started 2yrs before Trump flatlined in ‘19; U.S. goods trade deficit under Trump has grown 19% relative to last year of Obama.”

+ If only Pelosi had ripped up Trump’s Pentagon budget or Patriot Act Reauthorization or NAFTA rewrite, I might begin to take her theatrics at the State of the Union seriously…

+ Jonathan Turley would have applauded decorously as John Calhoun thundered in favor of the Fugitive Slave Act, all in the name of comity….

+ It was the episode of bipartisan decorum for a coup plotter that I found most appalling…

+ If you want Democrats to stand up cheer, just brag about killing Muslims…

+ If the Democrats wanted anyone to watch their tepid response to Trump they should have asked AOC to deliver it in front of a detention center for separated children…

+ According to Gallup: “President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has risen to 49%, his highest in Gallup polling since he took office in 2017.” Way to go, Democrats!

+ The State of the Union is demented, Flint doesn’t have clean water and Iowa is still stuck at 62%….Does that about sum it up?

+ Little pink mansions for you and me…

+ If you think the Iowa caucuses were a disaster, wait until you see what might unfold in Texas

+ Klobocop in action: Klobuchar defended prosecuting people for using khat, an herbal stimulant in the Somali community used widely in social gatherings as an equivalent to drinking coffee or tea.

+ Trump: “Boy, my kids could make a fortune if they behaved like Hunter Biden.” (Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made up to $135 million in 2018.)

+ The Trump 2020 campaign spent a total of $1.8 million at businesses owned by the President and his family in 2019.

+ I’m surprised that Biden hasn’t already announced that in the name of bringing the two parties together his running mate will be … Juan Guaidó.

+ Nina Turner, a longtime Sanders advisor, did a naughty thing. She called Michael Bloomberg (Net worth $62 billion), who just bought his way into the Democratic debates, an “oligarch.” Doesn’t she know that America doesn’t have “oligarchs”. We have self-made philanthropists, who make huge personal sacrifices in order to lend their knowledge, time and goodness to the nation…

+ The 2004 Democratic Party primary contenders: where they’re doing now

John Kerry: board of Bank of America
Howard Dean: MEK lobbyist
Joe Lieberman: Chinese telecom lobbyist
Richard Gephardt: health insurance lobbyist
Wesley Clark: ethanol lobbyist
John Edwards: really cool dad, currently at the hair stylist…

+ Friday’s downward revision to jobs growth brings Trump three year total to 6,491,000, over 1.6 million LESS THAN the last three years of the Obama administration…

+ After the unceremonious ouster of Col. Alexander Vindman and his twin brother from the White House on Friday afternoon, it’s pretty clear  that the only “men in uniform” Trump has any respect for are the ones who dress up on Saturday morning to re-enact the Second Battle of Manassas…

+ Susan Collins was right. Trump did learn his lesson…that he can get away with anything.

+ ICE agents just shot two brothers, one in the face, while attempting to serve a deportation order in Brooklyn. Both were unarmed. Neither was the man they were actually looking for.

+ ICE’s motto: “We rarely get our man, but we always get someone.”

+ In what can only be called an act of complicity in mass murder, at least 138 refugees deported to El Salvador by the Trump administration have been killed after their return to the country whose violence they’d fled.

+ The UN has determined that more than 15 days in solitary confinement amounts to “torture.” But new research from Cornell shows people who spent even a few days in solitary were more likely to die after their release.

+ Now consider Texas prisons, where at least 1,300 Texas prisoners have been in solitary for six or more years. More than 450 had been in solitary between six and 10 years. And 18 prisoners have been in solitary for more than 30 years

+ So much for the Great Vaping Panic

+ Mayor PeteBot: “If you could have offered me a pill that could make me straight, I would have swallowed it before you could give me a swig of water.” (PeteBot could have called Tulsi for help. She might have gotten him a slot in one of her father’s conversion therapy sessions.)

+ Dylan on Mayor PeteBot:

They said what’s up is down, they said what isn’t is
They put ideas in his head he thought were his
They took a clean-cut kid
And they made a killer out of him,
That’s what they did…

+ “Low yield” nukes sound friendlier than the planet-killing “thermonuclear missiles” that we all grew up having nightmares about, until you realize these are the nukes that the Pentagon intends to use

+ Los Angeles has nearly 200 cannabis dispensaries. Only six are Black-owned….

+ Of the more than 95,000 entries on the National Register of Historic Places, only 2% focus on the experiences of black Americans

+ There are more than 1,740 official monuments to the Confederacy across the country. In contrast, fewer than 100 monuments pay tribute to the civil rights movement.

+ Trump: “Boy, my kids could make a fortune if they behaved like Hunter Biden.” (Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made up to $135 million in 2018.)

+ Move over, Voice of America, Trump says he wants to start a government-run cable news network to counter CNN’s “unfair coverage.

+ I thought the NYT had been performing this function adequately for the past 80 years, but I guess I’ve overdosed on Chomsky…

+ Criminally prosecuting Bolton is the best idea Trump’s had since he “said” he was withdrawing from Afghanistan. Let’s hope he follows through this time…

+ The number of people traveling by plane every year has more than doubled since SARS first emerged, in 2003.

+ Welfare Rancher update: Federal 2020 livestock grazing fee rate will be $1.35 per AUM. So for $1.35/month, a public lands rancher can feed 1 cow+calf, 1 horse or 5 sheep. This is lowest rate allowed by law. For comparison, rate was $1.23 in 1966.

+ January 2020 is likely to turn out being the warmest January on record globally. Climatologist Brian Brettschneider published this chart show the temperature departures varied by latitude from the 1981-2010 average.

+ New research suggests that climate change may be a driving force behind the widespread collapse of bumble bee populations, which have declined by 46 percent in North America and by 17 percent across Europe since 1974. The biggest declines are in areas where temperatures spiked well beyond the historical range.

+ Permafrost thaw’s contribution to climate change may be “double” what we once thought. And the top Arctic scientists call the estimate conservative.

+ Be sure to pack sunscreen for your next trip to McMurdo Station. The temperature in Antarctica this week just cracked 65F, a new record for any day of the year…

+ At 25 of the 32 sites, sea level rise accelerated at higher rates in 2019 than it did in 2018.

+ In the worst-case scenario, in which sea levels rise by six feet by 2100, the resulting map shows portions of almost all counties on the East and West Coasts, and along the Gulf of Mexico, under water. It also shows that cities closest to the flood-prone areas, and that aren’t typically attractive destinations for newcomers, could see a higher-than-average influx of migrants.

+ British Columbia is moving forward with plans to kill 80 percent of the province’s wolves in caribou recovery areas. This is so disgusting, especially when you consider that the BC government is clearcutting the hell out of caribou habitat and blaming their population decline (if there is any) on wolves.

+ An infected salmon farm can ‘release as many as 65 billion viral particles an hour‘ that can then spread to wild salmon populations through tidal currents.

+ The first weeks of 2020 have seen an incredible winter heat wave across northern Europe from Scandinavia to western Russia, where Moscow’s temperature in 2020 is averaging 13F above normal, while January average was above 32F for first time. Meanwhile, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Copenhagen recorded no snowfall in January.

+ We’ve found the “Blue Collar Boom” Trump was bragging about…unfortunately, it’s in cancer rates near oil refineries in Texas.

+ Cuba’s now rivers run clean after decades of sustainable farming. Despite the island’s history of large-scale agriculture, the rivers studied had much lower levels of dissolved nitrogen — an indicator of fertilizer use — than did the Mississippi River Basin.

+ I was driving back to Portland on Sunday from LA, crawling up the Siskiyou summit in a fierce storm, when a mountain lion leapt out of the swirling snow, bounded across the north traveling lanes of I-5, up the slope and disappeared into the whiteness. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. All over in less than two seconds.

+ Brian Wilson has called for a boycott of the Beach Boys, over its upcoming performance at a trophy-hunting event featuring Donald Trump Jr. That there is such a band calling themselves the “Beach Boys” without Brian Wilson is reason enough to boycott them…

+ Trump Koan of the Week: “I thought it was a terrible thing when she ripped up the speech. First of all, it’s an official document. You’re not allowed. It’s illegal what she did. She broke the law.”

He Saw the Earth Was Round, Before He Hit the Ground

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Weather: a Novel
Jenny Offill

The Simple Past
Driss Chraïbi

The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory
Andrew Bacevich

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

The Unraveling
Drive-By Truckers

Nocturnal Animals
Yelena Eckemoff

Ice Cream in Hell
Tinsley Ellis
(Alligator Records)

The Tormenting Manifestations of Our Modern Predicament

“The older America, until the 1890s and in some respects until 1914, was wrapped in the security of continental isolation, village society, the Protestant denominations, and a flourishing industrial capitalism. But reluctantly, year by year, over several decades, it has been drawn into the twentieth century and forced to cope with its unpleasant realities: first the incursions of cosmopolitanism and skepticism, then the disappearance of American isolation and easy military security, the collapse of traditional capitalism and its supplementation by a centralized welfare state, finally the unrelenting costs and stringencies of the Second World War, the Korean War, and the cold war. As a consequence, the heartland of America, filled with people who are often fundamentalist in religion, nativist in prejudice, isolationist in foreign policy, and conservative in economics, has constantly rumbled with an underground revolt against all these tormenting manifestations of our modern predicament.” (Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life)

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