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Roaming Charges: Knives Out

Abbey TV, Mojave Desert. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ In response to criticism from Democratic Party centrists that Sanders didn’t do enough to help Hillary in 2016, the Sandernistas are touting the fact that Sanders did 3 times as many campaign events for Hillary as Hillary did for Obama in 2008. I guess that’s one way to look at it. The other is: why the hell was Bernie campaigning for Hillary, the walking distillation of every neoliberal policy he purports to loathe, at all?

+ Only a few months ago, the New York Times was busy denying the existence of a “Democratic Party Establishment.” Now these shadowy powerbrokers have stepped into the daylight, knives out to gut Bernie Sanders at all costs, even if it means the re-election of Trump and the opening of an ideological schism inside the party that may (and perhaps should) never heal.

+ One scheme being openly floated by these would-be kingmakers is to hobble Sanders enough in the primaries that he is denied a majority of delegates on the first ballot at the convention, whereupon Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown rides in as a “white knight” candidate with Michele Obama riding shotgun as his VP candidate. Really…

+ “If you could get to a convention and pick Sherrod Brown, that would be wonderful, but that’s more like a novel,” said Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee. “Donald Trump’s presidency is like a horror story, so if you can have a horror story you might as well have a novel.”

+ Biden said a few hours before the South Carolina debate that he was running for US Senate: And if you don’t like me, vote for the other Biden!”  The other Biden? The demyelination process is almost complete…

+ The South Carolina electorate looks more like the Democratic Party electorate than any other state. It’s also a state the Democrats will never win. Go figure…

+ Over or under, 75 mentions of ‘socialist” tonight…?

+ Bernie will be forced to repeatedly demonize the socialistic policies of Putin, Xi, Castro, Allende, Mao, Lenin, Trotsky, Marx and Jesus, after which he’ll be called a Christ-killer….

Sanders: “Let me tell Mr. Putin, OK, I’m not a good friend of President Xi of China. I think President Xi is an authoritarian leader. And let me tell Mr. Putin, who interfered in the 2016 election, try to bring Americans against Americans, hey, Mr. Putin, if I’m president of the United States, trust me, you’re not going to interfere in any more American elections.”

+ Bloomberg is the most aggressive red-baiter on the stage, probably because he was friends with some of the original McCarthyites.

BLOOMBERG: I — I think that Donald Trump thinks it would be better if he’s president. I do not think so. Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States. And that’s why Russia is helping you get elected, so you will lose to him.

+ Klobocop, merciless prosecutor of black teens, quoting Martin Luther King is like David Duke quoting H. Rap Brown…

Klobocop: “I think that what we need to do instead of just reviewing everything from the past is talk about where we’re going to go forward. Martin Luther King once said that we are all tied in a single garment of destiny, and that what affects one of us directly affects all of us indirectly. So when there is racism in the criminal justice system, then we need to fix it.”

+ Like Rudy, Bloomberg uses 9/11 to evade responsibility for every depraved act on his resumé.

Bloomberg: I have been training for this job since I stepped on the pile that was still smoldering on 9/11. I know what to do. I’ve shown I know how to run a country. I’ve run the city which is almost the same size — bigger than most countries in the world.

+ Elizabeth Warren is the Bloomberg-killer…

Warren: “I mean that Mayor Bloomberg — let’s think of it this way. We’re here in Charleston, and you know who is going to be in Charleston later this week is Donald Trump. He’s going to be here to raise money for his buddy Senator Lindsey Graham, who funded Lindsey Graham’s campaign for re-election last time? It was Mayor Bloomberg And that’s not the only right-wing senator that Mayor Bloomberg has funded. In 2016, he dumped $12 million into the Pennsylvania Senate race to help re-elect an anti-choice, right-wing Republican senator. And I just want to say, the woman challenger was terrific. She lost by a single point. In 2012, he scooped in to try to defend another Republican senator against a woman challenger. That was me. It didn’t work, but he tried hard. I don’t care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has. The core of the Democratic Party will never trust him.”

+ In audio at a closed door event at in June 2016, Mike Bloomberg said his presidential campaign platform would be to “defend the banks,” joked about droning his personal enemies, and called the progressive movement and Elizabeth Warren “scary.”

+ Who could have predicted that the most violent exchange would be between Biden and…Tom Steyer over private prisons, which Biden made possible in the Clinton Crime bill and Steyer profited off of, like the predatory capitalist he is.

+  Too bad Andrew Yang isn’t around to do the math tonight…

O’DONNELL: Senator Sanders, the cost of your agenda. Yesterday, you released information about how you will pay for your major proposals, but not all of your details are clear. You’ve proposed more than $50 trillion in new spending.

SANDERS: Over a 10-year period.

O’DONNELL: You’ve said Medicare for all will cost $30 trillion.

SANDERS: Over a 10-year period.

O’DONNELL: But you can only explain how you’ll pay for just about half of that. Can you do the math for the rest of us?

SANDERS: How many hours do you have?

KING: Two.

***

BUTTIGIEG: I think we were talking about math, and it doesn’t take two hours to do the math.

SANDERS: No, no, well, let’s talk about math.

BUTTIGIEG: Because let’s talk about what it adds up to.

SANDERS: Let’s talk about math.

BUTTIGIEG: Let’s talk about math, indeed. OK, so here’s the math…

SANDERS: If we do nothing is what…

BUTTIGIEG: No, here’s the math.

+ Tom Steyer: “Hey, I started a bank!”

+ Warren is presenting herself as the “progressive” who millionaires, if not billionaires, can safely get behind…

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, look, the way I see this is that Bernie is winning right now because the Democratic Party is a progressive party, and progressive ideas are popular ideas, even if there are a lot of people on this stage who don’t want to say so.

(APPLAUSE)

WARREN: You know, but Bernie and I agree on a lot of things, but I think I would make a better president than Bernie.

+ Daniel Mendelsohn: “I haven’t heard so many old guys with such thick New Yawk accents since my great-uncle Julius died in 1977.”

+ Warren repeats the term “progressive” like a hypnotic mantra to differentiate herself from the scary “socialist”….

Warren: Getting a progressive agenda enacted is going to be really hard, and it’s going to take someone who digs into the details to make it happen. Bernie and I both wanted to help rein in Wall Street. In 2008, we both got our chance. But I dug in. I fought the big banks. I built the coalitions, and I won Bernie and I both want to see universal health care, but Bernie’s plan doesn’t explain how to get there, doesn’t show how we’re going to get enough allies into it, and doesn’t show enough about how we’re going to pay for it.

O’DONNELL: Thank…

WARREN: I dug in. I did the work. And then Bernie’s team trashed me for it. We need a president who is going to dig in, do the hard work, and actually get it done. Progressives have got one shot. And we need to spend it with a leader who will get something done.

+ It’s been more than 3 debating hours (all of Las Vegas and 1 hour of Charleston) without one question on foreign policy…

+ Steyer apparently thought his “I started a bank!” line was so effective he repeated it 20 minutes later…

+ Biden abruptly bursts into the back and forth between Sanders and Buttigieg with one of his patented non sequiturs…

BIDEN: Here’s the deal. Here’s the deal. Look, a guy who’s a friend of mine down here named Fritz Hollings — he passed away — he said, you want to know what a woman will do, look what they have done. Look what they have done…!

+ Who did Bloomberg hire to write his insipid jokes, Louis CK?

Bloomberg: Let me also say, because just — since I have the floor for a second, that I really am surprised that all of these — my fellow contestants up here, I guess, would be the right word for it…

… given nobody pays attention to the clock — I’m surprised they show up, because I would have thought after I did such a good job in beating them last week, that they’d be a little bit afraid to do that.

+ His jokes have always been coarse. Last year, Bloomberg poked fun at a father and son who died from heroin overdoses at the same Brooklyn party, calling them “not a good family” eliciting laughs from a crowd of business executives.

+ Did Bloomberg pay people to hoot and clap at his stale punchlines or is he just piping in an applause track?

+ The criminal justice system is not “broken”, Bernie, it was designed, by people like Biden, Bloomberg and Klobocop, to work exactly the way it’s working–to demonize, criminalize and warehouse the poor and minority populations.

+ In the past Bernie has made a rational & understandable explanation for his vote to exempt gun manufacturers from civil liability for mass shootings. Looks like he’s abandoned that strategy in favor of saying he made a bad vote & the NRA now hates him. I respected his initial position, even if I disagreed with it…

+ However cagey Bernie has become in obscuring his record on guns it couldn’t possible match the gonzo ranting of Biden, who seemed to blame Sanders for the 2015 shooting at  Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston  and the “150 MILLION” gun deaths since the Vietnam War ended…

BIDEN: Because I’m the only one that ever got it done nationally. I beat the NRA twice. I got assault weapons banned. I got magazines that could not hold more than 10 rounds in them. I got them eliminated. Except we had a thing called an election with hanging chads in Florida and it was not reauthorized.

In addition to, that I passed the Brady Bill with waiting periods. I led that fight. But my friend to my right and others have in fact also gave into the gone manufacturers, absolute immunity. Imagine if I stood here and said we’d give immunity to drug companies. We would give immunity to tobacco companies. That has caused carnage on our streets, 150 million people have been killed since 2007 when Bernie voted to exempt the gun manufacturers from liability. More than all the wars, including Vietnam, from that point on…

+ Warren is spewing some dense fog about her position on the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan…

Warren: We need strong alliances. We need to know the difference between our friends and between dictators who would do us harm. And we need to be nicer to our friends than to dictators. We need not to cut and run on our allies. And we need to be nicer to our friends than to dictators. We need not to cut and run on our allies. We need an approach that keeps us safe by using all of the tools in a measured way.

+ How does one “restore the credibility” of the United States? When was it credible? What’s the credibility benchmark, PeteBot…?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, the first time I ever set foot in South Carolina, it was stepping off the bus that brought me to combat training near Fort Jackson. And that was to get ready to go to Afghanistan, where I saw that one of the things that kept me safe, just as sure as my body armor, was the fact that the flag on my shoulder represented a country that was known to keep its word. Our allies and our adversaries knew it. The president has torn that to shreds. And so the first thing we’ve got to do is restore the credibility of the United States.

+ Apparently, Biden wants to invade China over coronavirus…

Biden: And here’s the deal. I would be on the phone with China and making it clear, we are going to need to be in your country; you have to be open; you have to be clear; we have to know what’s going on; we have to be there with you, and insist on it and insist, insist, insist.

+ The ever-diplomatic Biden: “Xi is a thug.”

+ Every time Bloomberg gets off the mat and on his knees, Warren stomps flat again…

Warren: “We know that Mayor Bloomberg has been doing business with China for a long time, and he is the only one on this stage who has not released his taxes. He plans to release them after Super Tuesday. It is not enough to be able to say, just trust me on this. We have a president who said he was going to release his taxes after the election and has refused to do this.”

+ What did Cuba ever do the US to make our government hate them so viciously? Refuse to submit?

+ Sanders using Obama as a human shield on Cuba, which he referred to as “an authoritarian dictatorship,” is despiriting.

SANDERS: I have opposed authoritarianism all over the world and I was really amazed at what Mayor Bloomberg just said a moment ago. He said that the Chinese government is responsive to the politburo, but who the hell is the politburo responsive to? Who elects the politburo? You have got a real dictatorship there. Of course you have a dictatorship in Cuba. What I said is what Barack Obama said in terms of Cuba, that Cuba made progress on education. Yes, I think…

+ Sanders seems to think that the main problem with Israel is that it’s run by Benjamin Netanyahu, who Sanders slammed as a “a reactionary racist.” This begs the question: If Netanyahu is a “reactionary racist”, what was Ariel Sharon? Maybe it’s the state of Israel which is racist, not just its leaders.

+ Pathetically, Bernie won’t even commit to moving the US embassy back to Tel Aviv.

+ One of the best things Obama ever said was that he’d meet with any world leader at any time without any preconditions (he never followed through, of course), a pledge that Biden is now furiously repudiating…

+ I’m getting the prickly sensation that the world would have been safer without any foreign policy questions…

+ Biden: “You don’t negotiate with a dictator – thug – and give him legitimacy…. we weakened sanctions … I would be in Beijing … reassigning the relationship between Japan and South Korea … if we don’t… why am I stopping, no one else stops?”

+ Bloomberg wants a permanent US presence in the Middle East to prevent another 9/11, apparently unaware that it was the near permanent presence of the US in the Middle East that provoked the 9/11 attacks…

Bloomberg: If we learned something from 9/11, people plan things overseas and execute them here. We have to be able to stop terrorism. And there’s no guarantees that you’re going to be able to do it, but we have to have some troops in places where terrorists congregate, and to not do so is just irresponsible…But this is a dangerous world. And if we haven’t learnt that after 9/11, I don’t know what’s going to teach us what to. This — we have to do something, and I think the budget that we — the things that I’ve seen recently convinced me that the military today is better prepared than they have been in an awful long time, and that the monies they are spending on the war of weapons we need for the next war and not for the last, a common mistake that they’re not making now.

+ If Paul Wellstone was really Klobocop’s mentor, it’s no wonder he gave up education for politics…

+ PeteBot, the passionate droid…

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think the biggest conception — misconception is that I’m not passionate. I get that I’m kind of level, some say unflappable. I don’t think you want a president who is flappable. But it’s precisely because I’m so passionate about the things that are going on in this country. That I consider it important to approach all of that with discipline.

+ NBC reporter: “It seemed like you were almost arguing & debating with the crowd.”

Sanders: “Ahh, interesting question! You know how much a ticket to the debate cost? $1,750. Most working people I know don’t spend $1750 on a debate.”

+ Radley Balko: “Bloomberg may want want to ban sugary drinks, but if Bernie is elected, all the sweeteners will be Equal.”

+ In another life, PeteBot would be hitting you up on M Street to take a “free personality test”, after which you’d disappear, your bank accounts mysteriously drained…

+ Given the Democrats’ bellicose bluster on foreign policy last night, perhaps it’s a good thing they weren’t asked any questions about climate change, despite Tom Perez’s vow that it would be central to each debate…

+ Malcolm X: “I am not anti-American or un-American. I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power.”

+ Even by his own wretched standard, it’s been a pretty awful week for MSDNC’s Chris Matthews, who was forced to apologize on the air for repeatedly referring to the Sanders movement as Nazi-like. Matthews followed this up by crudely badgered Elizabeth Warren over why she believes a female employee who sued Mike Bloomberg for telling her “kill it” when she was pregnant over Bloomberg. “You believe he’s lying? …Why would he lie? Just to protect himself? …You’re confident of your accusation?”

+ I’ve been re-reading presidential campaign books and there are few better than Timothy Crouse’s The Boys on the Bus. Crouse chronicled the the 72 campaign with Hunter Thompson for Rolling Stone…“You could effectively say that Richard Nixon has abolished the Presidential press conference as an institution. He may grant two or three a year, but when they’re that infrequent they don’t really mean anything.”

+ Whatever scheme the DNC comes up with to sabotage the Sanders campaign, they’re going to pay a big price with Hispanic voters…

+ Biden wasn’t asked one question regarding his outrageous fabrication about being arrested in South Africa while trying to visit Nelson Mandela in his cell on Robben Island. Still it’s remarkable that all of the Democrats want to do a group hug with the corpse of Mandela, who was a committed communist before he was imprisoned, and yet vilify Sanders for his faint praise of the Cuban government’s literacy program. Mandela’s radical legacy has been transformed into a fairy tale of tolerance and forgiveness of colonial oppressors. To his credit, it remains impossible to sanitize Fidel…so far.

+ So Biden lies about being arrested in apartheid South Africa and his poll numbers in South Carolina, especially with black voters, soar. What outlandish fabrication will he concoct for Super Tuesday?

+ During CNN’s Town Hall session in South Carolina, Joe Biden described the Anita Hill testimony as a case of “he said, she said.” This remark prompted one of Biden’s most prominent feminist supporters on Twitter to say, “This might be it for me.” Really? You stayed with up till now, eh?

+ It turns out that the NSA’s massive data-hording system that stored and analyzed logs of Americans’ domestic phone calls and text messages from 2015 to 2019, but prompted only one significant investigation and only twice did it only twice during that four-year period did the program generate information that the F.B.I. did not already possess. “Based on one report, F.B.I. vetted an individual, but, after vetting, determined that no further action was warranted,” according to a report by the the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. “The second report provided unique information about a telephone number, previously known to U.S. authorities, which led to the opening of a foreign intelligence investigation.” of course, “unique leads” weren’t really the point of this mass domestic spying program…the FBI could fabricate or inflate enough of those at will. Putting the entire country under NSA mass surveillance was. That and the $100 million in contracts…

+ What was happening on the “dark side” at CIA rendition and torture sites: “An Interrogation Program Worked Out on the Fly. Testimony at Guantánamo Bay shows that C.I.A. black sites, where some detainees were tortured, amounted to test labs for unproven techniques, with shifting rules shaping operations.”

+ My “malarkey” detection meter just blew a fuse…

+ According to former New York Governor George Pataki’s new memoir, Beyond the Great Divide: How A Nation Became A Neighborhood, Rudy Giuliani secretly asked  Pataki to cancel New York City’s 2001 mayoral election so he could remain in office following the Sept. 11 terror attacks…

+ Giuliani forgot to hang up on a Daily News reporter and, believing he was off the line, started trash-talking Pataki, while complaining he only has “five friends left.”

+ After Trump and Modi spent a couple of days stoking anti-Muslim violence in India, the State Department was forced to issue this warning to US travelers…

+ Just look what Trump and Modi can do when they work as a team…””They brought batons and stones inside the mosque and the people outside had guns as well. We had to stop praying and run away…”

+ Trump gears up to kill, starve and torment more Venezuelan civilians. The previous round of sanctions killed an estimated 40,000 people, man of them women and children.

+ Florida cops handcuffing 6-year old girls, as they scream for help! Hey, Rubio, show me one instance of Cuban cops doing anything remotely like this…

+ Sen. John Kennedy, of Louisiana, who usually makes Polonius look succinct, enabled all of these idiots to rise far above the level of their competence, which is the check-out lane at Wal-Mart, lays into Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, who claimed that DHS would have a vaccine for coronavirus in a month and a half (will take at least a year, probably more)…

KENNEDY: Do we have enough respirators?

WOLF: To my knowledge we do

K: We just heard testimony that we don’t

W: Okay

K: You’re supposed to keep us safe. You don’t know the answer, do you?

W: You’re asking me medical questions

K: The people deserve some straight answers

+ President Salo…According to House Democrats, the Trump administration wants to fund Coronavirus response in part with money taken from low-income home heating funds.

+ Trump, of course, was relentless in his fearing-mongering about the Ebola outbreak. When I was calling Obama a psycho for not banning Predator drone flights over Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan, Trump was calling him a “psycho” for not banning flights from Africa

+ Don’t fret, Mike Pence, who took a laissez-faire approach as governor while Scott County, Indiana experienced one of the worst HIV outbreaks in the nation, is now in charge of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response team.

+ Pence’s plan for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment could charitably be described as repent, convert to heterosexuality or die…”Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

+ As late as 2000, Pence was still downplaying the health risks of smoking: “Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”

+ Some are openly speculating that it’s a set up. Trump picked Pence to head the Coronavirus response team, knowing he will fail, giving Trump the excuse to replace him on the 2020 ticket with Nikki Haley.

+ Is there a more Trumpian way to fight an epidemic than with … TAX CUTS?

+ Except for budgets cuts, of course: The Trump administration forced the CDC to cut its epidemic prevention efforts by 80 percent in 2018.

+ So Stephen Miller and his new wife, Katie, couldn’t do one thing for the good of their country…like take an extended honeymoon. Instead, Katie is now in charge of all government information about coronavirus. I think we can see how this is going to play out…

+ Philip K. Dick your Lyft has arrived…ICE has run facial recognition searches on the faces of MILLIONS of drivers in Maryland alone.

+ The man who supervised a decade-long reign of terror against black youths in NYC for possessing small amounts of pot was eager to go to bat for the country’s biggest drug pushers: the Sackler Family.

+ Maryland hospitals sued their patients over unpaid bills more than 145,700 times in the 10 years that ended in 2018, leading to wage garnishments, liens and bankruptcies…

+ Trump’s demand that Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayer recuse themselves from any cases involving him tell us everything we need to know about the two neoliberal justices he doesn’t mention…Breyer (the deregulationist) and Kagan (defender of rendition and torture).

+ On the same day Trump fumed about the bias of Ginsberg and Sotomayer, the NYT publishes this account of Ginny (spouse of Clarence) Thomas’ campaign to conduct a loyalty purge of the administration…

+ Who will Trump replace the disloyal with?  The White House has hired a college senior to be one of the top officials in the influential Presidential Personnel Office. His name is James Bacon, 23. According to Politico, Bacon is a senior at George Washington University. At least he’s not from Yale or Harvard…

+ Among the calls to a coronavirus help line taken by the Tokyo-based Japan Union,  there were people saying that their work wouldn’t let them wear a mask on the job and others reported that they were being told to stay home without pay.

+ Has the U.S. military under counted civilians killed in Somalia strikes by …. 6800%?

+ 91 of America’s richest corporations paid $0 in taxes on $100 billion in profits.

+ The Dow’s 2020 loss–as of Thursday’s close–is greater than any year since 2008.

+ The 8 Largest Dow Jones single-day point drops in history…

1) Trump: -1,191 2/27/20
2) Trump: -1,175 2/5/18
3) Trump: -1,032 2/8/18
4) Trump: -1,031 2/24/20
5) Trump: -879 2/25/20
6) Trump: -831 10/10/18
7) Trump: -800 8/14/19
8) Trump: -799 12/4/18

+ How long before Trump starts referring to the big board as the Fake Dow Jones (which, of course, it is as any measure of the real economy)?

+ According to a new study by EPI, part-time workers in the US are paid 19.8% less than their full-time counterparts, the gap rises to 25.3% when benefits are included.

+ Fred Hampton: “We’re going to fight racism not with racism, we’re going to fight it with solidarity. We say we’re not going to fight capitalism with Black capitalism, but we’re going to fight it with socialism.”

+ Bloomberg, the equal-opportunity-racist: “There’s a Native American tribe right near where I live, the Shinnecock Nation, and it is just a disaster, it’s all sorts of problems … I will help them as well b/c we can’t have a group where’s there’s all the domestic violence, and drugs, and alcoholism.”

+ Two statisticians from MIT dug into the Bolivian election results and determined that their was “no reason” to suspect any fraud in Evo Morales’ victory last October: significant difference in the margin before and after the halt of the preliminary vote. Instead, it is highly likely that Morales surpassed the 10-percentage-point margin in the first round.”

+ A few months ago, Trump invited Turkey to invade Syria, as he pulled US forces out of Kurdish held territory. Will Turkey now demand that NATO invoke Article 5 in response to Russian airstrikes hitting Turkish troops? It’s only been used once before, after 9/11…

+ Hypersonic weapons are a textbook example of weapons that don’t work to meet threats that don’t exist. Andrew Cockburn reports on the U.S.and Russian MICs’ joint scam.

+ It’s time for the UN to issue a travel alert for people who plan to visit Idaho…”Bailey is carrying a loaded AR-15,” Charles Nielsen told lawmakers about why his granddaughter came to a legislative hearing with an AR-15 slung over her shoulder . “People live in fear, terrified of that which they do not understand. She’s been shooting since she was 5 years old. She got her first deer with this weapon at 9…”

+ Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has ordered all Confederate-related paraphernalia to be removed from Marine Corps installations. The Marines high command was copacetic with open displays of racist memorabilia until now?

+ Pope Francis urged Catholics to give up trolling for Lent. This was directed at Benedict, right?

+ What will Tipper (Sticker) Gore make of this?

+ A just your average javelina running through downtown Tucson…

David Palumbo-Liu: “My (amazing) activist students at Stanford worry about how they can do political work with their ‘privilege.’ I say—it’s precisely because you have privilege that you have to do something. But (a) listen and (b) listen.”

+ The Border Patrol detonated explosives on sacred Native American lands in Organ Pipe National Monument, while tribal leaders were testifying against the desecration in Washington, D.C. It invited the press to watch.

+ The shale oil boom is running out of steam at last. The decade-long oil expansion failed to boost profits, which has discouraged investors. The shale industry was  hit by an OPEC price war that began in 2014, sending U.S. crude prices below $30 per barrel at one point and it has never really recovered.

+ It couldn’t happen to a more deserving company…The stock of Peabody Energy, the largest coal miner in the US, took another battering today and is hitting new lows after news that the FTC would block its joint venture for PRB/Colorado assets. Stock just at $5.62/share, down 88% off a recent high of $46.86 in June 2018.

+ Planned oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight will not go ahead after company Equinor decided to end the $200 million project.

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

+ Oil and gas companies spent $84 million on congressional campaigns in 2018. Not surprisingly, researchers found a strong correlation between an increase in anti-environment votes and an increase in contributions.

+ The economics of the oil and gas industry may be flatlining, but that didn’t stop the Trump administration from proposing so many new oil and gas drilling operations near Grand Teton National Park that they may completely block a vital migration corridor for the ecosystem’s declining population of pronghorn.

+ It’s denning season for polar bears in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where Trump is rushing to begin drilling for oil as early as next year. The oil industry has boasted for years about the capacity of overhead imagery shot with FLIR cameras to detect denning sites beneath the snow, so that harm to denning mothers and cubs can be minimized during seismic testing and oil drilling. But ground-testing of the technology by scientists at at BYU has discovered that the instruments often miss denning sites and yield false positives for others. We froze our bleeps off out there,” said Tom S. Smith, a study co-author and associate professor at Brigham Young University. “I mean, it’s rough. When someone is telling us there’s a den here and we invest a lot of time and a lot of effort and there’s nothing there, and then we’re going down the sea ice 10 miles away and there’s a den when they said there wasn’t any, we took it kind of personal. We said this is useless. This is not working.”

+ Socialism, Trump-style…The Interior Department announced this week that it plans to resume coal mining leases on federally-owned lands, asserting that the environmental consequences will be entirely benign!

+ Fortunately, there are still a few federal judges out there with fortitude and guts, like U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush in Boise, Idaho, of all places, who just struck down the Trump BLM’s scheme to offer oil and gas leases across nearly 1 million acres of land crucial to the survival of the endangered sage grouse. Bush shredded the the BLM for its biased environmental assessment which sought to maximize extractive activities at the expense of all other values. Here are a few choice excerpts from the judge’s scathing opinion…

The record contains compelling evidence that BLM National made an intentional decision to limit the opportunity for (and, in some circumstances, to preclude entirely) contemporaneous public involvement in decisions [wrt] and gas leases on federal lands.

The “Instruction Memorandum” was a mechanism for unharnessing prior constraints upon oil & gas leasing by specifically reducing or eliminating public involvement in the oil & gas leasing process because such public involvement hindered the oil and gas production industry.”

BLM National jettisoned prior processes, practices, and norms in favor of changes that emphasized economic maximization ….

+ Washington state will become the first state in the country to put a total ban on new bottling operations looking to suction the state’s natural resources.

+ The Park Service has gone from killing grizzlies and bison to hiring contract killers to gun down Mountain Goats in Grand Teton…

+ The John Coltrane house in Philly is in such disrepair that it faces the prospect of demolition. Yet this brownstone building is at least as important to the City’s cultural history as the Liberty Bell or Betsy Ross House.

+ Speaking of houses, I was able to navigate the twisty narrow roads of the Brentwood Hills to find one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most dramatic houses, built in 1939 for a Lockheed engineer named George Sturges (the home was later owned by Jack Larson, who played cub reporter Jimmy Olsen in the Superman TV series). With its cantilevered redwood deck and red brick foundation, the house, which juts out from a hillside over a sharp ravine, is one of Wright’s most dazzling Usonian designs.

+ Rock bands and musicians who never had a #1 single on the Billboard charts…

AC/DC
Bad Company
Black Sabbath
Bruce Springsteen
The Clash
Bob Dylan
Grateful Dead
Green Day
Jimi Hendrix
Journey
The Kinks
Kiss
Led Zeppelin
The Moody Blues
Nirvana
Pearl Jam
Ramones
R.E.M.
Supertramp
Tom Petty
Van Morrison
The Who

His Habits are Predicta-Bull…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Bomb: Presidents, Generals and the Secret History of Nuclear War
Fred Kaplan
(Simon & Schuster)

There Was a Time: James Brown, the Chitlin’ Circuit and Me
Alan Leeds
(Post Hill Press)

Facebook: the Inside Story
Steve Levy
(Blue Rider Press)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Maria Maria/Ultimo Trem
Milton Nascimento 
(Far Out)

From This Place
Pat Metheny
(Nonesuch)

Blacktop Run
Sonny Landreth
(Provogue)

Fatally Flawed

Manning Marable: “Simply because one is Black or Latino or lesbian or gay or whatever does not guarantee the person’s fidelity to a body of politics that empowers the particular constituency that they supposedly represent. The number of black elected officials has risen from 100 in 1964 to more than 9000 today. The number of African Americans who were in congress 30 years ago was about five; today it is over 40, an 800 percent increase. But have Blacks experienced an 800 percent increase in real power? It hasn’t happened. So, I think the emphasis of this liberal notion of social change by working solely within the established electoral system is just fatally flawed.”

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter  @JSCCounterPunch

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