Roaming Charges: Billion Dollar Babies

Walls (sea) and Bridges (Astoria). Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Michael Bloomberg is, of course, the perfect person to lead a party which has been the driving political force behind the neoliberal policies which helped make him the 9th richest person in America. In fact, he may be its apotheosis. Finally, we’ll have some clarity about what the Democratic Party has really been up to for the last 40 years.

+ The Democratic Party has been bought for decades. Now we get to see the owners on stage for once…

+ If true, this is the first compelling reason I’ve heard for backing Bloomberg…

+ Apparently, it may take the DNC several days to fix the results in Nevada…

+ Another debate, another migraine.

+ Like Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg has been destroyed in every debate he’s participated in, most viciously by Mark Green. Unlike Joe Biden, Bloomberg has gone on to win anyway, propelled by his fortune and the fortunes of those he serves.

+ It Elizabeth Warren, not the most skilled debater, all of about five seconds to put Bloomberg on the mat. He got up, staggered, and she put him back down again. He was out on his feet for the rest of the night.

+ This was Warren at her best. But it took a sleaze bag billionaire to bring it out of her.

+ Still, you have to wonder about Bloomberg’s investment smarts after sinking his money into a campaign that seems to have self-destructed on Day One.

+ Biden’s like the guy who wakes from a coma, blurts out a couple of slogans, and lapses back into his bed…

+ Bloomberg is lying his ass off about stop and frisk, claiming to have had an epiphany.

+ Now Biden is lying his ass off on stop and frisk. Obama didn’t stop it, the ACLU did.

+ Warren makes the key point on stop and frisk. This wasn’t a good policy that went wrong. It was a racist policy that did exactly what its authors wanted it to do: harass, humiliate and terrorize young black men.

+ Klobocop knows how many members there are in the Israeli Knesset but doesn’t know who the president of Mexico is…which pretty much sums up American politics.

+ The campaign to scare people into thinking that Sanders and Warren want to take away their health care is one of the PR triumphs of our time.

+ The insurance industry had to put up some fake resistance to ObamaCare to conceal just how much they were making out from a plan that required everyone to buy private health insurance.

+ Bloomberg: the NDAs women signed about acts of non-consensual sexual harassment were all consensual.

+ Bloomberg proves he’s still a Sierra Club guy, defending fracking of natural gas as a “transition fuel”…(And Klobocop went along for the ride.)

+ Why isn’t Biden saying, as he does with every other Obama policy, “I’m the guy, I’m the only guy up here, I’m the guy who helped globalize fracking…”

+ Oregon’s only real senator, Jeff Merkley: “In the debate, people were arguing over whether natural gas is a hazard or bridge fuel. Atmospheric methane has more than doubled due to natural gas leaks. The more we know about massive leaks in nat. gas & hazards of methane, the more we know it’s a menace & not a bridge fuel.”

+ Warren is shredding Bloomberg alive. He won’t even look her in the face.

+ Bernie said the O word. Surprised they didn’t bleep it. “Real change never takes place from the top on down, never takes place from an oligarchy controlled by billionaires. We need to mobilize millions of people to stand up for justice—that’s our campaign”

+ Give PeteBot credit, he shivved Klobocop and drew blood on her atrocious record on immigration and judges…

+ Biden knows all the presidents and prime ministers around the world but he knows President Malarkey of Ireland best…

+ One of Bernie’s best Marx for Beginners lines of the night, delivered after Bloomberg claimed that he “worked hard” to amass his $69 billion fortune: “You know what Mr. Bloomberg, it wasn’t you who made all that money, maybe your workers played some role in that as well, and it is important that those workers share the benefits.” Bloomberg responded pathetically by calling Sanders a communist.

+ PeteBot: I was into Bernie before he was cool. But because I am not cool once he became cool I had no choice but to turn on him…

+ Bloomberg would have done better to show up as a monitor simply running his TV ads. Every time he tries to answer a question, he’s going to have to spend $100 million to wipe the memory from people’s minds…

+ Not one single question on foreign policy tonight. Imperialism wins by default!

+ My pal Jack Shafer over at Politico compiled this clip of Bloomberg’s performance in Vegas…

+ A search of SEC records reveals that Bloomberg owns ACME, Inc…

+ Just how rich is Bloomberg? It’s hard to conceptualize…

+ As part of the shock-and-awe blitz against Sanders by the Democratic establishment, they are reprising an old story alleging that Sanders is an ungrateful and divisive character that he considered challenging Obama in the 2012 primaries. But surely it reflects poorly on Sanders, the independent socialist, that he didn’t primary the President who failed to close Gitmo, led a fatal surge in Afghan, droned American citizens, executed a disastrous and illegal regime change operation in Libya, enabled a coup in Honduras, did nothing for victims of Wall Street, as he bailed out financial predators, deported more people than Trump, expanded nuclear power & weapons, globalized fracking and signed off on the oil leases that nearly killed the Gulf of Mexico…

+ Sanders on Israel: “To be for the Israeli people and to be for peace in the Middle East does not mean that we have to support right wing racist governments that currently exist in Israel.”

+ These are sensible remarks by Sanders and have been all but forbidden in presidential politics for decades but they’re also somewhat deceptive. What if that is the very nature of the regime, Bernie, and not just the “corrupt” government of Netanyahu? Are the policies of Netanyahu really any more racist than those of Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak, Menachem Begin, Golda Meir?

+ Israel is reducing the amount of bread it is serving to Palestinian prisoners.

+ As Israel was conducting its 51-day bombing assault on defenseless Gaza, a campaign that killed at least 2104 Gazans, more than half of them civilians, the FAA imposed a ban on flights over Israel. Bloomberg made a point of flouting the ban, chillingly tweeting out: “Safely landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv – here to show support for Israel’s right to defend itself…”

+ Sanders is taking flack for promising before his heart attack to release all of his medical records and then afterwards refusing to release anything more than some summary letters from his doctors.  I think Bernie should release everything and use it to talk about health care. Otherwise, this will become a debilitating issue for him, that he’ll never be able to get beyond. But you can see what Briahna Gray means. No amount of records will ever satisfy his critics or the media now, they’ll be demanding every EKG, every blood platelet test, urinalysis & stool sample…

+ “There is one settlement, and it’s Israel,” says Bassem Tamimi, who has led popular protests in Nabi Saleh for more than a decade, and now proclaims that the two-state solution is dead. “The problem is not just that we cannot build houses on our own land. That’s part of it, but we want freedom, respect and rights.”

+ The Great Wall of Modi…”The city of Ahmedabad’s municipal corporation has built a nearly half-kilometer (1,640-foot) long, four-foot-high wall to hide a stretch of slums on the American leader’s route. Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to inaugurate and share the stage at Ahmedabad’s Motera cricket stadium at a public reception being touted as “Namaste Trump” on Feb. 24.”

+ What an insane country we live in….“Approximately 50 million—or 20 percent—of American adults reported donating to a crowdfunding campaign to help raise money for a medical bill or treatment.”

+ Average Americans pay $2,497 a year for insurance overhead and admin costs, while Canadians pay just $551

+ New study in Lancet by Yale epidemiologists determines that a Medicare-for-All health care system will save $450 billion and prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths, each year…

+ Black students were more likely to drop out of school under Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk operations: “In the short run, the tactic led to notable upticks in school absence rates, particularly for black students, who were 1.4 percentage points more likely to be chronically absent from school in areas with substantially more stops.”

+ There are some things you really shouldn’t see until having a shot of tequila, no matter what time of day it is…

+ Klobocop would support Mayor Stop&Frisk, naturally…

+ Bloomberg was granted another financial disclosure delay the Federal Election Commission — the second such one he has received — allowing the billionaire to delay the release of his financial records until March 20, after the Super Tuesday primaries…

+ Bloomberg justifying his opposition to living wage proposals: “It’s interesting if you think about it. The last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR and that didn’t work out so well. It would be great if all jobs in the city paid a lot of money and had great benefits for the workers. Not good for the employers. But if you force that you will just drive businesses out of the city.”

+ Bloomberg’s longtime aide, Arik Wierson, spent much of 2018 helping Jair Bolsonaro “soften his image” in order to get the neo-fascist elected President of Brazil.

+ Yes, Bloomberg called ObamaCare a “disgrace.” He was right for once, but for all the wrong reasons…

+ How Joe Biden provided cover for the Iraq War and has tried to cover his ass about it ever since…

+ 2020 support among voters under 45 years old according to the new NPR/PBS/Marist poll:

Sanders 54%
Warren 16%
Bloomberg 8%
Biden 6%
Buttigieg 5%
Klobuchar 5%
Everyone else 2% or less

+ Kim Gordon out pounding the streets for Sanders in her Black Flag-style t-shirt designed by Raymond Pettibon…

+ Christopher Dodd, the former Senator From Aetna: “I think Sanders’ supporters are living in a different country than I am.” (They’re living in ruins of the country Dodd made in order to buy his penthouse.)

+ What is it about the Democratic Party that would lead anyone but the most politically naive to believe that their primaries are the least bit “democratic”?

+ There doesn’t seem to be anything in the DNC rulebook that would prohibit from Bloomberg paying each Superdelegate $1 million each for their vote in the second round at the convention.

+ Has there ever been a more willing stooge than Bill Barr? The one quality Trump possesses that I enjoy watching him exert is his ability to make the most appalling people, like Barr and Sessions and Bolton, look like complete fools…

+ Just when you thought it was safe to turn your cable back on, a new shipment of Russian junk arrived to fuel the Maddow Crackhouse at MSDNC for another couple of years…

+ Erik Diaz Cruz, an unarmed man shot in the face by an ICE agent during a deportation raid in Brooklyn, still has the bullet lodged in his head and has now filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer…

+ Human Scum Alert: In a lawsuit filed in Florida on Tuesday, George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin in cold blood, accused Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of “maliciously defaming” him by using the killing “as a pretext to demagogue and falsely brand Zimmerman as a white supremacist and racist to their millions of Twitter followers.”

+ Wait until Trump appoints Zimmerman to run the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department.

+ Trump’s “spiritual advisor” Paul White describes her trip to heaven and back…“I literally went to the Throne Room of God,. There was a mist that was coming off the water, and I went to the Throne Room of God, and I didn’t see God’s face clearly, but I saw the face of God … I knew it was the face of God….He put a mantle [on me] and it was a very distinct mantle. There was a mantle and I saw it very distinctly, the color was like a goldish, a yellowish-goldish … and then I saw the Earth for a moment, and [God] brought me back, and he put me in certain places, one being the White House, and one being certain continents.”

+ Maybe she’ll slip Trump some of that LSD the next time she drops by the Oval Office to lay her healing hands on him…

+ As for the roaring Trump economy, outstanding auto loan balances just hit a new record ($1.33 trillion), as did delinquencies with $66 billion in loan payment more than 90 days overdue, up from $57 billion last year.

+ American attitudes (by generation) toward drone strikes…OK, BoomerBombers!

+ The Pentagon has once again “lost track” of thousands of weapons worth more $715 million in Syria after leaving them “vulnerable to loss or theft.”

+ A federal judge has finally ordered the U.S. Navy to begin releasing unclassified documents in relation to the USS Thresher, the nuclear submarine that imploded 57 years ago, taking the lives of 129…

+ The Electoral Tribunal has ruled that Evo Morales cannot run for the Senate because he is not living in Bolivia. Why is Morales not living in Bolivia? Because the coup government refuses to allow him to return from Argentina.

+ Pay-for-Pardons: The son of Ben Pogue, one of Trump’s white collar criminal pardon recipients gave $85,000 to the Trump Victory Fund this August. His wife gave $50,000 that same month. In addition, they made an in-kind contribution for $75,000 in air travel.

+ In addition to clearing his record, Trump’s pardon of Bernard Kerik cancels out $103,300 in restitution that Kerik still owed the Internal Revenue Service as part of his sentence.

+ Trump on the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence: “Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!”

+ They will never forgive Chelsea Manning (now approaching a year in jail for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury), we must must never forget her…

+ Foussene Pemba was tackled, beaten and tasered by Louisville police officers, as he was screaming for help, his mouth foaming…

+ Separating refugee kids from their families…it didn’t start with Trump.

+ The Gitmo School of “Therapy” has found a new gig, as immigrant detainees are forced to see “therapists,” then have their confidential session notes used against them

+ Countdown to the Twitter Beheading of Mitch Mulvaney: “My party is very interested in deficits when there is a Democrat in the White House. The worst thing in the whole world is deficits when Barack Obama was the president. Then Donald Trump became president, and we’re a lot less interested as a party.”

+ The median hourly wage climbed a meager 15% between 1979 and 2019, but pay for workers in the 95th percentile grew more than 63% over the past 40 years.

+ Walter Moberly: “The executioner pays the murderer the compliment of imitation.” (The Ethics of Punishment.)

+ The Bride Wore White (Sheet…don’t know the thread count). Bridal registry at Blood, Bath and Cages…

+ According to longtime tech writer Steve Levy’s new book, Facebook: the Inside Story, Mark Zuckerberg commanded his staffers to blow-dry the CEO’s armpits before his speaking gigs in order to eliminate “anxiety sweat.”

+ Joel Kaplan, the Republican lobbyist who now runs Facebook’s DC office, argued against removing fake news pages on the grounds that that would “disproportionately affect conservatives” who “don’t believe it to be fake news.” 

+ The Billings Gazette, the paper for the largest city in Montana, is eliminating its editor and editorial page editor positions. The editor of the Montana Standard in Butte will now oversee the Gazette as regional editor. Now the dominate newspaper chain in Montana is owned by Lee Newspapers based in…Iowa.

+ As mayor of New York City, Bloomberg vetoed two bills in 2003 that expanded access to emergency contraception, including one requiring emergency rooms to offer rape victims access to the morning-after pill…

+ Why Trump ranks as America’s 10th highest paid athlete

+ The faces MSDNC’s Chris Matthews makes when talking about Sanders…

+ Update from the Swamp: In the last three years, the Trump administration has hired  281 former lobbyists, the vast majority of whom represented corporations with business before the federal government.

+ Draining California dry to satiate the Swamp Creatures: Trump’s Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, is awarding a “permanent: water supply contract to Westlands Water District, which serves the country’s wealthiest corporate farmers. Bernhardt was a lobbyist of Westlands Water District through 2016.

+ The strange green glow in the distance as you drive through the eastern Gorge on I-84 is Arlington, Oregon, hometown of Doc Severinson. Don’t stop to pay tribute, the town is now radioactive….”Oregon Department of Energy officials issued a ‘notice of violation’ to Chemical Waste Management’s landfill near the small town of Arlington on Thursday for accepting a total of 2 million pounds of Bakken oil field waste that was delivered by rail in 2016, 2017 and 2019.”

+ No one has ever won the war on coal as decisively as Trump. Jobs in the coal mining industry were lower in the fourth quarter of 2019 than at any time in the Obama administration and will fall even more sharply in 2020 as more coal-fired plants go offline.

+ Fossil fuels are the driving force behind soaring methane levels: “We’ve identified a gigantic discrepancy that shows the industry needs to, at the very least, improve their monitoring,” Benjamin Hmiel, a researcher at the University of Rochester, told the NYT. “If these emissions are truly coming from oil, gas extraction, production use, the industry isn’t even reporting or seeing that right now.”

+ By the middle of the century, the loss of key “ecosystem services” could cost the world $479 billion each year. The U.S. will experience an $83 billion loss to the GDP per year by 2050.

+ Since 2000, the average annual flow of the Colorado River has dropped by more than 1.5 billion tons of water, equal to the annual water consumption of 10 million Americans. Most of this decline has now been linked to climate change, with river flows declining at a rate of about 9.3% for every 1.8 degrees F increase in temperature. And the crisis is only going to get more extreme as the snowpack in the Rockies declines and melts off earlier in the spring and summer months. Less snow reduces the ability of the mountains to reflect heat from the sun, known as the albedo effect, which then increases local temperatures, which in an endless feedback loop increase the rate of melt off.

+ An internal report from from JP Morgan, the world’s largest financier of fossil fuels, warns that climate change could lead to “catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened.”

+ When Bloomberg refused to evacuate prisoners from Rikers Island as Hurricane Sandy bore down on NYC…

+ The materials used by the global economy have quadrupled since 1970, far faster than the population, which has doubled. In the last two years, consumption has jumped by more than 8% while the reuse of resources has fallen from 9.1% to 8.6%.

+ More than 4-in-10 deaths in the U.S. associated with air pollution can be attributed to emissions that came from states other than where the deaths occurred.

+ Remember how thrilled people were to see the Democrats finally assume complete control of the Virginia state legislature? Dreams die fast and hard…In a near unanimous vote, Democratic-led committee in Virginia voted against beefing up enforcement of violations from destructive pipeline projects.

+ They settled (stole) land that wasn’t theirs, committed genocide against the indigenous inhabitants, slaughtered the great herds of buffalo, built railroads with Chinese slave laborers, workers who they later either killed or evicted from the country, banned blacks from owning property after the Civil War, butchered the greatest temperate rainforests on Earth, flooded the world’s most glorious canyon and detonated nuclear weapons in the New Mexico and Nevada deserts…

+ From Trunk Music

Edgar: How do people live out here [in Vegas]? It’s a fucking desert.
Bosch: LA’s a desert.
Edgar: With an ocean.
Bosch: It’s still a desert.
Edgar: I thought you loved LA?
Bosch: I do. But at least I know what it is…

+ Faulkner on Hollywood: “The plastic asshole of the world.”

+ The sublime stage actress Zoe Caldwell died this at age 86. I vividly remember Caldwell’s searing embodiment of Medea, a performance so electric that even now, if shown some late night at the White House while Trump is off at a rally in Tonopah, it might stir to life some latent impulse lurking inside Melania’s icy veins…

+ Jazz guitarist Jim Hall tells of passing Thelonious Monk on the street one day and asking Monk, “What’s happening?” Monk replied, as he just kept right on walking: “Everything’s happening, all the time”.

+ Fascinating interview with the great LA-area bassist Carol Kaye: “The pay in the late ‘50s at a jazz gig was about thirty-five bucks maximum, sometimes you might even get fifteen or twenty five, but as soon as I did that first Sam Cooke date, for three hours work I got forty-two dollars and I said “Oh boy!” And you weren’t fighting off the drunks and the stuff in nightclubs.”

+ When the Sex Pistols were tabloid clickbait: “He’s not really violent, says Mum.”

+ Musicians upload more than 300,000 songs to the web each day…still can’t make any money from online streaming.

+ Trump (racist) Koan of the Week: “How bad were the Academy Awards this year.? And the winner is: a movie from South Korea. What’s that all about?”

Reckless Like a Gambler, Million Dollar Maybe…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and the Ecological Rift
John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark
(Monthly Review)

Killer High: a History of War in Six Drugs
Peter Andreas

Dave Brubeck: a Life in Time
Philip Clark
(DeCapo Press)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Alter Ego
Prince Royce

The Slow Rush
Tame Impala

Wherein Lies the Good
The Westerlies

Stop the Tinkering

“The chief causes of the environmental destruction that faces us today are not biological, or the product of individual human choice. They are social and historical, rooted in the productive relations, technological imperatives, and historically conditioned demographic trends that characterize the dominant social system. Hence, what is ignored or downplayed in most proposals to remedy the environmental crisis is the most critical challenge of all: the need to transform the major social bases of environmental degradation, and not simply to tinker with its minor technical bases.” (John Bellamy Foster, The Vulnerable Planet: a Short Economic History of the Environment)



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