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Roaming Charges: It Had to be You

“Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, but more usually we must do battle where we are standing.”

– Audre Lorde

+ So it’s Drug War Joe and Madame Prosecutor. What a team for the BLM era!

+ Kamala Harris is the least surprising VP pick since Bob Dole tapped Jack Kemp as his running mate in 1996. Harris is as bland, safe and predictable as Kemp, but she adds little to an already boring campaign and comes with toxic baggage of her own that may repel the voters Biden needs the most. Biden is counting on Harris’ reputation as a prosecutor to make a case against Trump that most people have already reached a verdict against. Yet, as a prosecutor and attorney general, Harris made a career out of punching below her weight class, sternly going after low-level drug and property crimes while largely turning a blind and forgiving eye to the egregious transgressions of bankers, oil companies, mortgage fraudsters, slumlords, and corrupt police.

+ The expectation that Harris will annihilate the dullard Mike Pence in the vice presidential debate seems misguided to me. Tim Kaine roughed Pence up in their debate in 2016 and Pence played his customary role of victim, persecuted for his religious beliefs. If Harris takes the same tact, she’s likely to ignite a nationwide uprising of incels in defense of Pence. Plus, her skills as an interrogator are over-rated. In her two prime time performances, against Brett Kavanaugh and Bill Barr, she failed to draw much blood, leaving only superficial wounds that allowed two of the most odious figures in recent political history to advance into position where they have inflicted enormous damage to the constitutional protections of American citizens. Harris is all bluster, but no follow through, which is, of course, exactly what Biden wants.

+ First question for Biden: Was it the scent of the shampoo or the texture of Harris’ hair which proved the deciding factor?

+ It’s hard to say which is more revealing of the fatal rot at the core of American politics, the fact that Trump and his daughter sent checks to Harris’ campaigns for AG and US Senate or that Harris greedily cashed them….“In 2011 and again in 2013, Trump donated a total of $6,000 to Harris’ campaign for California attorney general. His daughter, Ivanka, also gave Harris $2,000 in 2014.”

+ And there are those troublesome checks from Harvey Weinstein, which Rose McGowan alluded to…

+ Roxanne Khamsi: “Breaking: Covid-19 has picked influenza as its running mate.”

+ Will Mother have to sit by Pence’s side when he debates Harris?

+ The next time someone tells you that Kamala’s got ICEwater in her veins…

+ And now a word from the infallible Nate Silver…

+ Then again…

+ What do men want?

2020 election by gender via Monmouth poll:
Men:
51% Trump
39% Biden
Women:
61% Biden
32% Trump

+ Instead of “restoring the soul” of the nation, how about just giving its residents health care and an income during a time of a killer pandemic and mass unemployment?

+ Kamala Harris on Medicare for All: I was against it before I was for it before I was against it.

+ Harris was the only Democratic candidate to get campaign contributions from Steve Mnuchin in 2016, most likely payback for Harris choosing not prosecute Mnuchin for his ruthless and likely illegal foreclosures while running IndyMac/OneWest bank, a bank which her own investigators said had engaged in “widespread misconduct”.

Front page, WSJ.

+ Wall Street executives are jubilant at the choice of Kamala Harris, instead of Warren or Bass, as Joe Biden’s running mate. Signum Global told clients moments after the pick that they should ignore Trumpian rhetoric of Biden being a captive of the far left and raved about Harris’ fundraising prowess in the boardrooms of Big Tech. Was it worth it, Bernie? Liz?

+ Apparently so. Woof! Woof!!

+ Harris has managed to position herself to the right of even Biden on the Middle East, which, given the limited space, is an achievement of sorts: “Her support for Israel is central to who she is…”

+ Hanan Ashrawi: “May you never experience the agony of having your country stolen; may you never feel the pain of living in captivity under occupation; may you never witness the demolition of your home or murder of your loved ones. May you never be sold out by your ‘friends.'”

+ Now that sure looks like Cornel West. It sounds like Cornel West. But is that really the Cornel West. The most perplexing aspect of this statement by West is not his understandable desire to see Trump and Pence evicted from office, but his strange lament that the American empire is in “deep decay,” which is surely a fate to be celebrated not mourned.

+ Harris owns property in three of the most expensive cities in the country: San Francisco, Brentwood and DC. Win or lose, she’ll be a lot richer after this political spectacle.

+ If Biden decides to “reopen America’s schools” during a pandemic (as Chuck Schumer just urged), Harris has shown she’s perfectly willing to prosecute the parents of truant children, if not the kids themselves.

+ As San Francisco DA, Harris stonewalled for 5 years before timidly enforcing a policy to disclose past police and prosecutorial misconduct and, according to law professor Laura Bazelon, Harris “fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions.”

+ White America can rest easy, Kamala would never have allowed Corn Pop out on parole…

+ “Trailblazing prosecutor,” you say? No, Harris made her prosecutorial career the traditional way, by jailing the blazers, more than 1900 of them. Harris also aggressively fought California’s ballot initiative to legalize recreational pot, going so far as to write the opposition statement for the voter’s pamphlet.

+ How long before the Trump campaign replaces its Willie Horton-style ads with Willie Brown ads?

+ I don’t know which is the more cynical conspiracy theory, QAnon or the idea that the Biden/Harris ticket is the most progressive political team in history….But the latter is more likely to result in a higher body count.

+ Like her, hate her or indifferent toward her, it’s repulsive to see birtherism resurrected and mainstreamed the hollow husk of Newsweek, in a specious column written by one of Harris’s political opponents and, naturally, quickly seized upon by the original birther himself, Donald Trump. The Newsweek birther column is even more cynical, and dangerous, than Trump’s original birther claims against Obama, which alleged, ludicrously, that Obama wasn’t eligible to be president because he was secretly imported as an infant from Kenya. The charge against Harris is that she isn’t eligible, even though she was delivered in an Oakland hospital, because she’s not a “natural born” US citizen, owing to the fact that both of her parents were immigrants. It’s a specious and racist argument, but it plays into the anti-immigrant right’s larger campaign to end birth-right citizenship and launch the Great Purge they’ve dream of for decades.

+ Trump on Harris’ eligibility: “I heard it today that she [Harris] doesn’t meet the requirements, and by the way the lawyer who wrote the piece is highly qualified, very talented.”

+ Trump can occasionally speak very clearly on occasion, such as this explanation on Fox News for why he really wants to “defund” the Post Office: “Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots…But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.”

+ Meanwhile, Trump and Melania requested mail-in ballots for Florida’s primary election on Tuesday, according to Palm Beach County records.

+The GOP was already trying to slowly asphyxiate the Post Office in order to knock off the 200,000 member postal workers union, seize their pension funds and turn operations over to FedEx. Now they have a reason to do snuff it out much sooner…

+ I am reminded by my friend Carol Miller, a nurse in rural New Mexico who helped found the state’s very vibrant Green Party, that the assault on the Post Office began, as so many austerity and privatization measures did, back in the 90s, under Bill Clinton.

+ Lincoln was postmaster of New Salem, Illinois, depicted here delivering the mail “on the post road” in 1833.

+ 40,000: the postal workers quarantined since March.

+ Corey Pein: “It’s remarkable how smoothly Trump segued from ‘they’re going to rig the election’ to ‘I’m rigging the election.'”

+ Meet the US Postal Service’s Board of Governors, a conclave that looks like they could have been appointed in 1950…

+ Remember when the Democrats refused to challenge the theft of the 2000 election, when Al Gore told the Black Congressional Caucus to stand down. Gore thought conceding was the “honorable” move and that it would ensure that he would crush the unpopular interloper Bush in 2004. Didn’t turn out that way, of course. They’re doing the same thing now, before the theft has even taken place, even though they have the plans for the heist sitting right in front of them.

+ For the past 6 months, Trump has passively overseen a 9/11 event every three days. His sole response has been to demand that people rush back into the COVID-towers to shop, work, recreate, dine, go to school and worship (him).

+ A NYT analysis of excess deaths in the US reveals that the number of U.S. residents who have died since March is now more than 200,000 higher than it would be in a normal year, suggesting that the official COVID death counts are grossly underestimating the lethal effects of the coronavirus.

+ One of the myriad ways the Trump administration sabotaged COVID-19 testing: by preventing the FDA commissioner from reaching out to diagnostic companies.

+ Good luck getting to the bottom of any these COVID-era scams. TeleTracking Technologies, the Pittsburg-based private health care technology vendor helping to manage the administration’s new coronavirus database, has refused to answer questions from Senate Democrats about its $10.2 million contract, saying it signed an NDA with the Department of Health and Human Services!

+ What you don’t know can’t hurt you, can it? HHS took over Covid hospitalization data and now the data has dried up….

+ Only in America. Literally…US health insurers profits doubled in the second quarter amid  a killer pandemic.

+ States with the most coronavirus deaths per 100K people in the past week:

• Mississippi (6)
• Louisiana (6)
• Florida (5)
• Arizona (5)
• Texas (5)
• S.C. (5)
• Georgia (5)
• Nevada (4)
• Alabama (4)

+ A recent analysis of an outbreak in Ohio where 91 people became infected, shows that children 6 to 16 years old are in the chain of transmission, passing COVID-19 infections on to other kids as well as adults…

+ The COVID-19 crisis has already wiped out nearly half of all Black-owned small businesses.

+ 75% of the people incarcerated at the federal prison in Seagoville, Texas, have tested positive for COVID-19…

+ The Biden drug war / crime bills in action: The federal prison population grew by more than 600% between 1980 and 2019. In 2020, during a killer pandemic, federal prisons have been downsized by a mere 11%.

+ For the last two weeks, 26 percent of tests for COVID-19 have come back positive in Malheur County of central Oregon (site of the rancher riots of 2016), higher than the positivity rate across any U.S. state.

+ Small pox blankets have been upgraded to Covid textbooks…The Trump administration is reopening 53 Bureau of Indian Education schools in Native communities and on reservations despite Tribes being pummeled by COVID-19 and lacking the medical facilities and funds to fight it….

+ During the Great Influenza of 1918, Brazil suffered 35,000 casualties over the course of nearly 3 years. With COVID-19, there have now been more than 100,000 deaths in a mere 5 months.

+ Mike Pence is like one of those figures from the Wax Museum which a mad scientist, played by Vincent Price, partially animated with the blood of two toads and an alley cat before being lured away by his sultry assistant, Brunhilda. The replica moves and speaks, but stiffly and unnaturally…

+ When’s the last time Mother cut Mike’s meat?

+ If we can’t have any meat, how can we have our pudding? How can we have our pudding, if we can eat our meat?

+ What’s more frightening than Sharia Law coming to America? ANTIFA halal!

+ Query to MAGAland: If your mother died of COVID-19 and the stock market didn’t go up, was her still death worth it?

+ Defund the US Senate, which just went on vacation in the midst of the worst economic and public health crisis in a century. Make them pay their own health care, staff salaries, and travel expenses.

+ 52% of renter households in South Carolina can’t pay their rent and are at risk of eviction, according to an analysis of census data by consulting firm Stout Risius Ross. About 185,000 evictions could be filed in the state over the next 4 months. Phone home, Lady G…

+ Marianne Williamson: “At what point do we admit to ourselves that only an insane society risks massive loss of life among its children in order to procure the ability to risk massive loss of life among their parents in order to avoid massive losses of money among those who don’t care about either one?”

+ When Biden wrote to Hannah Arendt, requesting a copy of her speech Home to Roost: a Bicentennial Address (which the editors of NYRB should in the public interest liberate from its paywall so we can determine if Biden plagiarized any passages)…

+ There are 35 speaking slots at the DNC. Only 3 of them seem to be filled by Latinx, one of those three speakers is AOC, who has been allotted only 60 seconds: enough time to say Medicare-for-All 60 times.

+ If the DNC is giving AOC a whole minute at the convention will they at least flash a proof-of-life photo of Ilhan, who just singled-handedly trounced the Israel lobby, proving that there is political life outside AIPAC’s toxic zone of influence?

+ In one primary season, the Israeli lobby in the US saw its favorite congressman (Eliot Engel) defeated and it most reviled member of Congress (Ilhan Omar) crush its hand-picked challenger.

+ As AOC is hustled off the stage, Michael Bloomberg is being given a featured slot at the convention, as Democrats hope he fulfills his pledge to sink millions into Biden’s campaign.

+Be sure to tune in for Plutocrat Night at the DNC!

Which night is that?

All of them…

Well, as Reagan said, they paid for that microphone.

+ $3000: the amount Joe Kennedy 3 spent on “appearance services” at Phoebe’s Faces in his faltering attempt to unseat Ed Markey.

+ “Without a lawyer!” So this is what the Kennedy clan has fallen to?You’d like to think they’ve finally hit rock bottom with Joe K. 3, but there’s probably another one incubating somewhere on Cape Cod, who will emerge to drill through even deeper substrata of political banality.

+ Patrick Hruby: “So much of what passes for disruptive business innovation is just sharecropping with a tech gloss.”

+ Trump: “You would’ve been at war if I wasn’t elected.”

+ 22: the number of African nations in which US special forces were deployed in 2019.

+ In the first seven months of 2020, the Trump administration conducted more air strikes in Somalia than were carried out during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, combined.

+ According to Draper’s To Start a War, even though many of the “adults” in Bush’s room–Powell, Tenet, McLaughlin, Rice, and even Rumsfeld–had serious doubts about invading Iraq, none of them, not one, ever told Bush it was a bad idea and could end, in Rummy’s words, horribly.

+ Obama:”[Trump] takes responsibility for nothing but takes credit for everything.” For the record: What did you take responsibility for, Mr. President? Deepwater Horizon? Droning American citizens and their kids? The lead in Flint’s water? Not closing Gitmo? Jailing reporters? Can you name one thing?

+ This disgusting episode sums up the hypocrisy of the Obama Cult for me: After the remains of Native Hawaiians were found on a multimillion-dollar oceanfront lot being developed by Marty Nesbitt, the chair of the Obama Foundation, a state official decided to relocate the remains…”

+ 1 in 1000 black men in the US will be killed by police, a rate 2.5 times higher than white men.

+ An analysis by Oregonian Noelle Crombie and Shane Kavanaugh of the 40 fatal police shootings in Portland since Kendra James was shot in 2003, found that those killed were: disproportionately Black, more than 1/2 had a mental illness, none of the 65 cops were indicted or disciplined, and that 7 cops fatally shot 2 people while with the Portland Police Bureau.

+ Dolly Parton: “I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen. And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!”

+ The Austin City Council voted unanimously to slash its $434 million police department budget by one-third.

+ Boston’s finest: The former head of the Boston Police union, Pat Rose, was just arrested for child rape.

+ Portland State University has finally taken action to disarm its campus police.

+ The GAO has concluded that acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, aka “the senior official performing the duties of Deputy DHS Secretary,” are not legally qualified to serve in their jobs and were illegally appointed under the Vacancies Reform Act. Surely, this means that the Butcher of Portland should lose is government immunity from lawsuits over the crimes and civil rights violations his thugs committed on his orders in Portland and other cities….

+ On Tuesday, the same day Florida marked a new daily high for deaths from COVID-19, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods (a 4-star sheriff!) banned his deputies from wearing masks on the job and demanded that anyone entering the sheriff’s office remove their masks, saying “This is no longer a debate!

+ Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis just compared reopening the public schools to the commando raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. At this point DeSantis has killed more people than Bin Laden and more rightwing Cuban exiles than their worst case numbers for Fidel…

+ In high school, Mike Pence aide Katie Waldman, now married to Stephen Miller, started a petition against one of her teachers for assigning Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a novel which Waldman called “sickening”…

+ Why would Mormons host a Marxism mailing list? Read Louis Proyect’s article in this weekend’s CounterPunch and you’ll learn about the tangled history that culminated in support for the list mysteriously vanishing. Did the Koch brothers have a hand in this? This story has a happy ending with the list fortunately finding a new home. Now 22 years old, Marxmail has openings for new subscribers, the more the merrier. To subscribe to Marxmail 2.0, just send mail to marxmail+subscribe@groups.io

+ The Navajo Nation has requested clemency for one of their members, Lezmond Mitchell. The Feds plan to execute him on 8/26. The Navajo are anti-death penalty. The crime occurred on Tribal land. The victims were Navajo and their families also don’t want him put to death. His execution would be a violation of tribal sovereignty.

+ The Tennessee General Assembly has approved wide-ranging legislation to crack down on protesters, now making it a felony (up to 6 years in prison) to set up a tent overnight outside the Capitol. Protesters have done so for 2 months now. Any felony conviction in Tennessee takes away the right to vote.

+ Overall confidence in the police has fallen to five points to 48%, marking the first time in the 27-year trend that public approval has sunk below 50%.

+ Trump on AOC: “She was a poor student.” Yes, she was poor and a student…

+ AOC shot right back: “Let’s make a deal, Mr. President: You release your college transcript, I’ll release mine, and we’ll see who was the better student.Loser has to fund the Post Office.”

+ Franklin Foer has written a long piece for The Atlantic describing slumlord Jared Kushner as Trump’s “most dangerous enabler.” That’s curious. I thought Trump’s most “dangerous enabler” was Debbie Wasserman-Schultz…

+ Try making the slightest sense of this exchange between Trump and a Fox Sports host who was bashing NBA players for not criticizing China’s crackdown on Hong Kong…

+ According to an analysis by the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center, Uber and Lyft collectively would have paid $413 million into the California Unemployment Insurance fund from 2014 to 2019 if their drivers had been properly classified as employees.

+ Walter Benjamin: “Rather than pass the time, one must invite it in.”

+ The global annual average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration rose to 409.8 parts per million last year—the highest in the modern 61-year measurement record and in ice core records dating back as far as 800,000 years.

+ Scientists now believe the effects of air pollution on health and mortality are roughly double previous estimates….

+ Josephine has formed in the central tropical Atlantic, the earliest 10th Atlantic named storm on record. The prior record was Jose on August 22, 2005.

+ Why solar power is finally beginning to take off in Texas: “When oil is negative $47 a barrel, solar looks pretty good.”

+ Arctic sea ice extent is currently the 3rd lowest on record:

+ about 330,000 km² less the 2010s mean
+ about 1,320,000 km² less the 2000s mean
+ about 2,230,000 km² less the 1990s mean
+ about 2,930,000 km² less the 1980s mean

+ Data from Berkeley Earth shows that Iraq has already warmed about 2.3C, nearly twice as fast as the global average.

+ Brazil is experiencing the worst start to the Amazon fire season for more than a decade, with over 10,000 new blazes so far in the first two-weeks of August alone.

+ 840: the number of sea lions in the Columbia River the Trump administration wants to kill as sacrificial scapegoats for declining salmon and steelhead populations, many of which are imperiled by upstream dams on the Snake River the Trump administration refuses to remove.

+ Logging operations in old-growth forests are closing in on the latest known pair of endangered Northern Spotted Owls in Chelan County, Washington, on the eastside of the Cascade Range. Some day soon they’ll be coming for us all….

+ Like now. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to slash the Northern Spotted Owl’s critical habitat by 204,653 acres or 2% of 9.6 million acres that have been designated as protected habitat for the owl.

+ Need more proof that Facebook is an ongoing criminal enterprise. Facebook was drilling under the Oregon coast to connect a high-speed cable to Asia earlier this year when an accident left drilling equipment and 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid stranded beneath the seafloor. Facebook has no plans to retrieve it. This is the friggin’ Oregon Coast, there has ever been and will only be one of its kind on Earth.

+ The U.S. government has agreed to pay an Idaho family $38,500 and admit it was negligent three years after a 14-year-old boy watched his dog die when an M-44 “cyanide bomb” meant to kill coyotes by USDA-funded wildlife killers exploded on the hillside behind their home.

+ WAP…Wet-Assed President (Apologies to Cardi B.): “The Trump Administration wants to change the definition of a showerhead to let more water flow, addressing a pet peeve of the president who complains he isn’t getting wet enough.”

+ Will Jim Jordan be in charge of inspecting the flow from all of Trump’s new shower heads?

+ Trump has now gone the full-Kramer.

+ Effective this Fall, just in time for the COVID pandemic, Boston University will begin approving the issuance of degrees to students who die before completing their college education. Criteria for students to be approved for a posthumous degree include having been in the last semester of their coursework while “likely to pass those courses with acceptable grades, and likely to have fulfilled any noncourse requirements of the degree within one additional term.” Those who don’t meet the criteria for a posthumous degree may be issued a Certificate of Academic Achievement.

+ George W. Bush, whose administration created ICE, announced he’s publishing a book of his paintings “honoring immigrants.” Will the portraits be of the one’s he’s jailed, deported, killed or forced to work in braceros?

+ Personally, I’m holding out for Bush’s book of portraits of the 157 people he executed as Governor of Texas…

+ Check out this “roaming charge” in Yellowstone…

+ Then there’s this episode in which Sturgis rally COVIDiots harassing a mother bison and her calf in the Black Hills get a little payback…

+ My old haunt, Blues Alley, the best jazz venue in DC is in serious danger of going belly up. You can help save the place by kicking in $10 to stream live jazz every Thursday and Sunday until (if) the COVID pandemic “disappears.”

+ Massive Attack, Steve Coogan, Peter Gabriel, Maxine Peake, Philip Pullman and Benjamin Zephaniah are more than 60 cultural figures to put their names to an open letter calling for sanction & condemning Israeli attacks on Palestinian cultural centers…

+ When asked to name one record album people should listen to before they die, Pete Townshend probably shocked a lot of The Who’s fans when he answered…The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra. But not those who’ve already been transported by its trippy improvised interstellar swing.

+ Finally, a Trump tweet we can all enthusiastically endorse!

When All of the Bandits that You Turn Your Other Cheek to, All Lay Down Their Bandannas and Complain…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

War in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
(Verso)

Perilous Bounty: the Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It
Tom Philpott
(Bloomsbury)

A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind
Harriet A. Washington
(Little Brown)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

The Anthony Braxton Project
Thumbscrew
(Cuneiform)

Ascension
Black Art Jazz Collective 
(HighNote)

Blonde on the Tracks
Emma Swift
(Continental)

The Unbearable Weight

“It is almost never when a state of things is the most detestable that it is smashed, but when, beginning to improve, it permits men to breathe, to reflect, to communicate their thoughts with each other, and to gauge by what they already have the extent of their rights and their grievances. The weight, although less heavy, seems then all the more unbearable.” (Alexis de Tocqueville)

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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