Roaming Charges: Leader of the Pack

Arctic Wolf. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+It’s amusing as hell to see Nate Silver forced to eat his numbers and grudgingly declare Bernie the frontrunner. But if you’re a Sandernista you have to wrestle with the fact that it’s February and Nate Silver, one of the few people on the planet who has been wrong about more things than Bill Kristol, just said your guy’s the frontrunner.

+ The former Supremo of Goldman Sachs was handling the prospect of a Sanders presidency very well. This just in from the person who made billions off of ruining the American economy and looting the homeless, wounded and dying.

+ Here’s the MSDNC crew “discussing” whether or not the Sanders movement resembles Nazi brownshirts. This is after Matthews screaming about how Fidel & Che would have executive people in Central Park…

+ Yet, according to a Washington Post exit poll: 6-in-10 New Hampshire Democratic primary voters support eliminating all private health insurance in favor of a single-payer plan for everyone. 57 percent agreed with that position in Iowa, too.

+ In 2016, Sanders crushed HRC in New Hampshire, winning 60.1% to Clinton’s 37.7%. In what may be warning sign for what’s to come, four years later the so-called progressive bloc was only able to muster 43% of the vote combined.

+ Percentage of the popular vote in New Hampshire…

Sanders + Warren + Gabbard + Steyer = 43%
PeteBot + Klobocop + Biden = 52%

I’m confounded about where to pin Yang’s three percent on the ideological spectrum. He’s essentially a technocrat, like PeteBot, with some quirky socialistic ideas, like the Universal Basic Income.

+ Despite the hoopla and hysterics, the primary turned out to be pretty much of a wash, except for Warren and Biden who spent millions and go to Nevada empty-handed. Delegates won in New Hampshire…

Sanders 9
PeteBot 9
Klobocop 6

+ I’ll leave it to hardcore Sandernistas to explain how beating PeteBot by 2% points is a more decisive victory than crushing HRC by 23% 4 years ago. I take solace in seeing just how deeply HRC was despised by those who knew her best–white NH liberals. Her loss to Trump was foretold in the Democratic primaries…

+ Has anyone spoken less inspirationally about how inspired he is than PeteBot?

+ Listening to Petebot is like hearing an Obama speech read by a beta version of Siri….

+ Joe Biden has never finished higher than 4th in any primary or caucus in 32 years of running for president.

+ The most Buttigieg thing of the day: “James Mueller ran for mayor to ‘Keep South Bend Moving Forward’; touted work of friend & boss, Pete Buttigieg. Was hand-picked successor. But endorse in presidential race? Not sure, Mueller says; wants fresh start, and ‘number of great candidates’ running…”

+ From Pete Seeger to PeteBot, the arc of the American left…

+ During Stop-and-Frisk’s peak in 2011, nearly 90 percent of those stopped were black and Latino, and nearly 90 percent were innocent, according to date from the ACLU of New York.

+ Stop and Frisk stats over the course of Mike Bloomberg’s 12 years as NYC mayor:

2002: 97,296
2003: 160,851
2004: 313,523
2005: 352,348
2006: 506,491
2007: 472,096
2008: 540,302
2009: 581,168
2010: 601,285
2011: 685,724
2012: 532,911
2013: 191,851

+ Watching Mayor Stop-and-Frisk be forced to interact with the angry plebes will be one of the true pleasures of this otherwise dreary campaign season…

+ Michael Bloomberg’s guide to success: “Make sure you’re the first one in there every day and the last one to leave. Don’t ever take a lunch break or go to the bathroom. You keep working.” And, kids, don’t forget to BYOC (Bring Your Own Catheter) to work!

+ Michael Bloomberg, the people’s mayor…the people who own Manhattan, that is: “Bloomberg wanted to fingerprint more than 600,000 NYC public housing residents to make them prove they really lived there.”

+ As recently as 2018, Bloomberg, who continues to oppose minimum wage laws, defended his policy of fingerprinting welfare and food stamp recipients. By 2012, New York City was one of only two places to fingerprint food-stamp applicants.

+ Bloomberg says he doesn’t regret backing Iraq war: “I think the people that made the mistake did it honestly.” Just an honest mistake, that they keep making over and over again….Bloomberg/Rumsfeld 2020!

+ MSDNC’s Joy Reid making the case for Bloomberg: “If you wanna beat a Republican you have to know how to fight like a Republican. And he IS a Republican.”

+ The late, great Wayne Barrett, who exposed Trump as a malignant fraud, gave the same merciless dissection of Bloomberg in this piece in The Village Voice, published a few weeks before he became mayor of NYC…

+ How the game is played…In 2018, Bloomberg donated $5 million to Stacy Abrams’ non-profit group, Fair Fight, in Atlanta. Abrams, who has openly marketed herself as a vice-presidential candidate, returned the favor by inviting Bloomberg to address her largely black organization, another whistlestop in his campaign to whitewash his appalling civil rights record as mayor o NYC.

+ Still, Bloomberg doesn’t have many buyers for what he’s selling…yet.

National Democratic Primary, Head-to-Head:
Sanders 53% (+15)
Bloomberg 38%
Warren 52% (+14)
Bloomberg 38%

Biden 47% (+13)
Bloomberg 34%
Buttigieg 44% (+7)
Bloomberg 37%
Klobuchar 43% (+5)
Bloomberg 38%

Economist/YouGov poll.

+ I wish I could have gotten away this in High School algebra and calculus classes…“The incorrect math on the Caucus Math Worksheets must not be changed to ensure the integrity of the process,” wrote the Iowa Democratic Party’s lawyer, Shayla McCormally, to its central committee members. McCormally said correcting the math would introduce “personal opinion” into the official record of results.

+ South Carolina Democratic Joe Cunningham warned Bernie Sanders to stay out of his state, saying “South Carolina doesn’t want socialism!” Maybe Sanders can “reframe” his message in SC to “Socialism … If You Want It” and see how many takers there are. Quite a few more than Rep. Cunningham (D) suspects, I’d wager.

+ Klobocop: “We must have Order at the Border!”

+ In 1964, the Democrats got 61.1 percent of the presidential popular vote. In ’68, its support fell to 42.7 percent. By ’72, the Democratic vote shrank to a mere 37.5 percent. What drove the collapse? The war, the assassinations, Nixon’s Southern Strategy & the DNC’s sabotage of the McGovern campaign. Are we about to see history repeat itself, again?

+ Arun Gupta: “An organizer for a large union told me recently they asked their manager why they union didn’t support M4A, and the manager said, ‘What else could we offer the workers?’ Most unions see no role beyond being a health insurance provider.”

+ In 2016, Rep. Chris Stewart, the Republican from Utah, compared Trump to Mussolini. Now he wants a gig with the secret police

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

+ There are few real heroes in Congress. Betty McCollum, who just put out a statement that refers to AIPAC as a “hate group,” is one of them. Her comments come just days after AIPAC pulled ads that targeted pro-Palestine lawmakers and implied they were worse than the terrorist group ISIS.

+ Some countries not only meddle in US domestic politics but are openly celebrated for doing so…

+ US Air Force suicides rose to their highest level in 30 years in 2019…a grim consequence of three decades of wars that start but don’t end.

+ US is the supplier for 79% of the world’s weapons trade, 4 times more than the next 9 countries combined…

+ Lou Dobbs should host SNL…

+ If Trump is our comic book version of Tiberius, decreeing that all future government buildings will be constructed in the classic imperial style, that must make Bill Barr his Sejanus, the praetorian guard who led the reprisals in Rome against the Emperor’s rivals and critics, including the Roman historian, Cremutius Cordus, who was forced to watch all of his books burned in the forum before he killed himself. But soon Tiberius, isolated and gripped by paranoia in his version of Trump Tower (the Villa Jovis up on the high cliffs of Capri), came for his hatchet man as well. Sejanus was grabbed off the street by his own cadre of secret police, garroted and his body tossed down the Gemonian Steps, where it was kicked, stoned and mutilated by the families of his many victims over the next three days.

+ Tukkker Carlson’s lynch mob saddles up to intimidate and harass the foreperson of the Roger Stone jury…

+ Our latest Medal of Freedom winner is back at work, ridiculing Mayor Pete: “Gay guy, 37 years old, loves kissing his husband on debate stages. Can you see Trump have fun with that?..they’re saying, OK, how’s this going to look, 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage next to Mr. Man Donald Trump?”

+ From Public Citizen’s analysis of Trump’s budget cuts

Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security: $1,000,000,000,000+

SNAP: $182,000,000,000

K-12 education: $85,000,000,000

Section 8 rental assistance: $79,000,000,000

NIH funding: $77,000,000,000

26% cut to EPA

Eliminates HUD affordable housing program

$ 1.4  trillion in new tax cuts

+ Why payday usury outlets are one of the US’s only growth industries…One in three Americans run out of money before their next paycheck, including people who make more than $100,000 per year.

+ US households more indebted than ever (over $14 trillion).

+ Job openings are down by more than 1 million from last December…

+ A county in Kansas is jailing over unpaid medical debt:  “You wouldn’t think you’d go to jail over medical bills”.

+ Bong Joon Ho pretty much sums up our predicament…

+ Bloomberg (Net worth $60 billion): “No program to reduce the deficit makes any sense whatsoever unless you address the issue of entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, interest payment on the debt…and defense spending. Everything else is tiny compared to that.”

+ His campaign hired promoters of the Frye Festival scam to make memes for his campaign. Bloomberg appears to think we’re a nation of suckers. Is he wrong?

+ PeteBot, deficit hawk: “The time has come for my party to get a lot more comfortable owning this issue… It’s not fashionable in progressive circles to talk too much about the debt.”

+ Trump used his State of the Union to award a scholarship to black 4th grader  to get out of a “failing government school”. But it turns out she wasn’t in one

+ Biden: “You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier.” The most revealing part of this episode is that Biden not only watches John Wayne movies but knows them well enough that he can misquote (or even make up) slurs from them…

+ The slur, which Biden has invoked several times on the campaign trail, seems to be a misquote from a Tyrone Power movie called “Pony Soldier“…

+ Wally Shawn: “If we look at reality for more than an instant, if we look at the human beings passing us on the street, it’s not bearable. It’s not bearable to watch while the talents and the abilities of infants and children are crushed and destroyed.”

+ The police chief in Egypt, Arkansas forged his high school diploma and training certificate, then arrested the man who expose the fraud, charging him with “harassment.” The chief resigned, but the prosecutor who pushed the bogus charges remains on the job.

+ Trump wants summary executions for drug dealers: “Countries with a powerful death penalty, with a fair but quick trial, they have very little if any drug problem. That includes China.”

+ The New York Times reported this week that one-percenters are now paying people to “style” their houseplants. For some reason, stories like this really bring out the inner Robespierre in me and I have to spend the next half-hour whacking the heads off of broccoli with the chefs knife before I’m calm enough to get back to the keyboard…

+ How bad will the Covid-19 outbreak get? A leading epidemiologist has claimed it could infect 60% of the world’s population. It seems to be more contagious than 2009 swine flu, which it is estimated infected 24% of the world’s population.

+ On February 10, the Mauna Loa observatory detected the highest level of atmospheric carbon dioxide ever recorded…

+ Texas is No. 1…in billion-dollar climate and weather disasters since 1980.

+ Eve Ottenberg: “This week a Malta-sized iceberg broke off Antarctica and floated away; temperatures there hit 65 degrees. Australia burned for months. The oceans have absorbed anthropogenic warming equivalent to the heat from over 3.6 billion Hiroshima-sized bombs. We humans better fix this.”

+ In a leaked audio from a meeting held by Robert Rice, a former consultant for the Dakota Access Pipeline security company TigerSwan, he suggests locals start an org called Moms Against Violent Activists.

Who could fund it?

“Cough – oil – cough,” Rice replies.

+ Here’s film of DHS contractors blasting holes into sacred land, near an Apache burial site, on Monument Hill in Organ Pipe National Monument. Where’s Earth First! when you need them?

+ They’re our ancestors,” said Ned Norris Jr., tribal chair of the Tohono O’odham Nation. “They’re our remnants of who we are as a people, throughout this whole area. And it’s our obligation, it’s our duty to do what is necessary to protect that.”

+ Trump wants to create a “uranium reserve,” where the feds would spend $150 million a year for the next 10 years to buy “domestically” mined uranium, most of it from Utah, where they still haven’t “cleaned up” the uranium tailings pile outside of Moab left behind from the last “uranium boom.” The cost of the cleanup for Moab alone:  a cool (or I guess HOT) billion dollars.

+ Meanwhile, Trump is drastically slashing funding for the cleanup of the world’s most toxic site, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation…

+ The temperature in Antarctica rose above 20C (68F) for first time on record this week. The Brazilian scientists, who registered the new high of 20.75C on Seymour Island, describe warming as “incredible and abnormal”.

+ s climate change makes cities warmer, low-income neighborhoods of color can be up to 13°F hotter than their wealthier, whiter counterparts.

+ Car-devouring rats are doing more to fight climate change than the past four presidential administrations and the World Wildlife Fund combined…

+ An attorney for a BLM whistleblower in Nevada says, “the laws of the United States are being disregarded for the professional expediency of his superiors and the benefit of private parties, and that a culture of lawlessness has been engendered.”

+ In Texas, it’s now illegal to photograph cattle feedlots from a drone.

+ Now the “green consumer” icons are talking about sustainable “harvesting” of gold and diamonds. How long will it take for them to grow back, Jane?

+ Maybe they harvest it from the teeth of the dead (vegans only). There’s always a fresh supply…

+ In Bismarck, ND, oil & gas workers threatened to vandalize a local bakery if landlord went ahead with plans for a Greta Thunberg mural on the buillding.

+ A few years ago Ralph Nader wrote a utopian novel titled Only the Super Rich Can Save Us. With the prospect of two racist, sexually harassing billionaires from NYC facing off for the presidency, I hope Ralph is furiously writing a dystopian sequel.

+ My friend Nicky Smith, who writes about film for Splice, has found that Fassbinder’s incredible 1978 film In a Year of 13 Moons is now up on Youtube, though who knows for how long. You should stop what you’re doing and watch it before the censors strip it off. As someone who’d rush around DC and NYC watching 2 or 3 films a day on Fri, Sat & Suns in the late 70s, I gradually lost interest in “cinema” after Fassbinder died. Few films (or film-makers) have seemed as fresh, as provoking, as confounding, as feverish, as alive, as relevant since….

+ I know it’s uncouth to say so, but is any filmmaker more emblematic of the infantilization of high-brow American culture than Wes Anderson, the man who drained all of the toxic sting from Stefan Zweig and replaced it with a depoliticized dollhouse of twee jokes & personal fetishes?

+ Watching the excellent Netflix documentary Who Killed Malcolm X, I was struck by this statement by Malcolm about Elijah Muhammad and it elicited certain resonances with the current predicament of our nation in the hands of a man, who at the time Malcolm spoke these words was living not all that far away from him in Queens: “It [the Nation] has gotten into the possession of a man who’s become senile in his old age and perhaps doesn’t realize it. And then he has surrounded himself by his children, who are now in power and want nothing but luxury and will do anything to safeguard their own interests.”

+ As the Malcolm X documentary demonstrates once again, William Kunstler was the real “Perry Mason” of the American defense bar. How many “liberal” defense lawyers would have had the guts to represent one of the admitted conspirators in the assassination of Malcom X and in doing so discover the innocence of two wrongfully convicted men, the identity of the other killers and the complicity of the NYPD and FBI?

+ How convenient for Cory Booker that he ended his sputtering presidential bid before it was revealed that he knew the probable assassin of Malcolm X and featured him in a TV ad for his re-election campaign as mayor of Newark…

+ Here’s the image of Malcolm X’s probable assassin, William Bradley, shaking hands with a cop in a Cory Booker reelection campaign ad, where Booker brags about how he added 300 police to the streets of Newark…

Still from Who Killed Malcolm X? (Netflix)

+ Jimmy Cobb is one of the greatest drummers who ever lived. He kept the time on one of the greatest recordings ever made, Kind of Blue, for which he was paid a total of $66. Now he has to crowdsource his medical expenses…American shame.

+ I had blast on Monday night at the Doug Fir lounge on Portland’s newly swankified near eastside watching our friends in Luna play their trenchant album Penthouse (the “Deluxe” version, including a killer cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s Bonnie and Clyde). Here are a few pix of Dean, Sean, Britta and Lee at work and play…

+ Was James Brown murdered?

+ Trump koan of the week: “A lot of people think that it [coronavirus] goes away in April with the heat. As the heat comes in. Typically that will go away in April. We’re in great shape, though.”

Working All Day and the Sun Don’t Shine…

Booked Up
What I’m reading to this week…

Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction
David Enrich
(Custom House)

Why You Should be a Socialist
Nathan J. Robinson
(All Points Books)

Erosion: Essays of Undoing
Terry Tempest Williams
(Sarah Crichton Books)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Texas Sun
Leon Bridges & Khruangbin
(Dead Oceans)

We’re New Again: a Reimagining
Makaya McCraven / Gil Scott-Heron

Never Not Together
Nada Surf

Of Butchers and Grocers

“There may be a logical or historical reason why mid-Victorian English butchers should have been predominantly Conservative (a link with agriculture?) and grocers overwhelmingly Liberal (a link with overseas trade?), but none has been established, and perhaps what needs explaining is not this, but why these two omnipresent types of shopkeeper refused to share the same opinions, whatever they were.” (Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital)


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