Roaming Charges: Conventional Weapons at the DNC

“The politics of the lesser evil has always had a nasty tendency to hold to the great old evil and thus to prepare the way for even greater new evils.”

– Hannah Arendt

Day One

+ Quite a symbolic way to kick off the DNC convention: The DNC quietly excised a call to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from its platform, saying including the language in the first place was an “error.”

+ This news was swiftly followed by an announcement that the Pipe Fitters Union was endorsing Biden, despite his pledge to stop the completion of the KXL Pipeline. Pretty sure the pipe fitters union knows something about Biden’s real intentions that the Sierra Club refuses to believe…

+ Last month, a new study found that flaring of natural gas wells, from the fracking operations Biden has vowed not to end, was directly linked to an increase in preterm births in South Texas. Pregnant Latina women were more likely than white women to give birth prematurely.

+ The backlash to Trump’s flirtation with pardoning Edward Snowden has been swift and rabid, with Democrats like Susan Rice leading the assault. There are certain people the State will never forgive and will persecute to their last days and beyond: Malcolm, the late Philip Agee, Daniel Ellsberg, Leonard Peltier, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, among them.

+ What would a Democratic Convention be without an altercation involving Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was accused of shoving a high school student volunteer for her Democratic primary challenger Jen Perelman, outside of a polling place in Broward County.

+ It was revealed earlier today that Bernie Sanders’ personal favorite for Biden’s VP was … not Liz Warren. Not Barbara Lee. Not Karen Bass. Not But…Kamala Harris.

+ Michael Bloomberg dropped $18 million into the DNC’s coffers and was rewarded with a speaking slot, an echo of Ronald Reagan’s quip, “I’m paying for this microphone!

+ In a bid to win the desperate housewives of suburbia, the opening night of the DNC Zoom Convention is being hosted by the people’s tribune… Eva Longoria, who could have held the entire event inside her $15 million Beverly Hills palazzo…

+ There are more American flags on display tonight than at Kerry’s 2004 “Reporting for Duty” convention. I hope everyone takes a knee during this playing of the national anthem…

+ It’s only been 8 minutes and they’ve already dropped a needle on Bruce Springsteen.

+ Springsteen’s 9/11 threnody, The Rising, is being put into service tonight to aid the election of a candidate who exploited 9/11 as an excuse to go to war in Iraq. As cynical as Reagan appropriating Born in the USA on the campaign trail…

+ Democrats are presenting a  rare “message of unity” tonight…by silencing those in their own party who disagree with the leadership.

+ I hope the kids were sent to their rooms before Andrew Cuomo came on to give them nightmares by bragging about overseeing the deaths of 32,500 New Yorkers…

+ Not one of these deeply admirable & courageous health care workers have been allowed to mention Medicare for All in their testimonials about being on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic.

+ Medicare for All and the Green New Deal have been replaced as rallying cries by…Give Us Vote by Mail or Death!

+ Most of these speeches have the bland and dreary quality of a state of the union response, without the comedy of Marco Rubio’s frantic rehydrations…

+ Kasich: I know Joe. He won’t turn hard left!

+ He’s right about that.

+ Will Bernie dare to venture to left of Doug Jones?

+ There’s nothing quite as jarring as listening to a lecture by Klobocop on racial justice night!

+ If this is the kind of timid middle of the road pablum they’re dishing out on racial justice night, how many countries will they threaten to sanction, drone and overthrow on foreign policy night?

+ If “everyone” is welcome in the Democratic Party can it really stand for anything?

+ In this merry-go-round of former candidates, they feature Seth Moulton but not Tulsi Gabbard, Julian Castro, or Marianne Williamson? Some are forgiven their apostasies, some aren’t.

+ Looking at his bookshelves, I’d have thought Beto would have had a better vinyl collection…

+ One gets the sense that if the Democrats take the senate back 51-49, Biden will offer to give one senator back in the name of “unity.”

+ Bernie’s standing in front of a huge stockpile of firewood as he pontificates about climate change…

+ Bernie spent 10 awkward minutes avoiding any mention of the ideas he supposedly made “mainstream” but couldn’t even get into the Democratic platform.

+ Bernie is now a pitchman for Medicare-for-All-Above-60!

+ The intensity of Michelle Obama’s speech backfired to this extent at least: it vividly highlighted all of Biden’s weaknesses as an orator.

+ Was Melania taking notes, cutting-and-pasting?

+ Fighting fascism from Barack and Michelle’s new digs in Martha’s Vineyard…

Day Two

+ Just in time for Bill’s big speech tonight at the DNC, the New York Post has released photos of Clinton getting a neck massage from Epstein accuser, Chauntae Davies.

+ Last night’s “soul reclamation” project has been replaced with a plan to upgrade America’s “moral compass.”

+ Breaking on MSNBC: Colin Powell will be a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention tonight. Will he announce that he’s finally found the aluminum nuclear rods and the mobile BW labs?

+ Colin Powell will tell the DNC that the country needs a commander in chief who takes care of the troops “like family” and Biden knows that: “It comes from the experience he shares with millions of military families sending his beloved son off tour and praying to God he would come home safe.”

+ 4500 US troops KIA in Iraq, 32,000 US troops WIA in Iraq. (Iraqi dead and wounded can’t be mentioned…)

+ Robert Draper’s book, To Start a War, exposes Powell for the total fraud that he is. He never once directly told Bush he had even the slightest doubts about invading Iraq. How he became a hero of the antiwar Democrats is one of the great political mysteries.

+ What surprise GOP figure will speak tomorrow night? George or Laura? John Boehner or Paul Ryan? A hologram of Reagan?

+ “Permission structure” (ie, making the Democratic Party safe for neocons) is a grotesque new political catch-phrases. It needs to be sent right to the guillotine…

+ I enjoyed hearing Jimmy and Roslyn Carter’s voices, though I can’t quite recall anything specific they said, which is probably intentional. But it did remind me that Joe Biden had already been in the Senate for four years before Carter was elected president…

+ Is this last gasp of Bill Clinton? He sounds and looks enfeebled, perhaps weighed down by flashbacks to his flights on Epstein’s Air Lolita. “If you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, he’s your man. Denying, distracting, and demeaning works great if you’re trying to entertain and inflame. But in a real crisis, it collapses.”

+ Van Jones: “Unlike Trump, Bill Clinton apologizes for his mistakes.” Did Clinton apologize to Sistah Souljah? The family of Ricky Ray Rector? The mothers and children he kicked off of welfare? Jocelyn Elders? Lani Guinier?

+ Hey, here’s Tom Perez, the Democrats’ chief vote suppressor (against other Democrats), talking about the evils of voter suppression.

+ When Julian Castro, inexplicably exiled from the festivities, inveighed against the lack of Latinx speakers at the DNC convention, Perez humbly noted that he was speaking for many of them. Did they try calling Alberto Gonzales?

+ Everything Jonathan Chait knows about how “working class people” express themselves he learned from watching one episode of The Family Guy.

+ It’s been said that AOC was given a 60 second slot by the DNC. That’s not quite true. She was picked by Sanders to nominate him. If her restrained remarks were vetted and edited, it was likely done by Sanders, not Biden, to reflect his own tempered and deflated rhetoric.

+ AOC and the four flags…

+ Even that bridled performance by AOC–where she avoided mentioning single-payer, free college, forgiving student debt, slashing the Pentagon’s budget, ending the Afghan war, abolishing ICE, or defunding the police–will be playing on FoxNews for the next three months…

+ AOC herself is dismissing reports of “divisiveness” inside the party, saying “November is about stopping fascism within the United States.” Of course, divisiveness is vital now more than ever, especially when the alternative is cooperating with systemic fascism to drive a fascist figurehead from office…

+ The roll call speakers are so much better than any of the politicians they’ve given speaking gigs to…

+ Joe will bring the calamari back…

+ So strange to see Barbara Lee speaking, ever so briefly, on Iraq War night…

+ Right on cue here’s John Kerry, reporting for duty again.

+ Kerry lost with this same argument of competent management of the the Empire to George W. Bush. When will the Democrats give up on the imperial project all together?

+ Colin Powell, who helped cover up the My Lai massacre and lied about WMDs to invade Iraq, sermonizing on “values” is both appalling and ridiculous.

+ Kerry, Powell, then McCain…it could be 2003 all over again.

+ How to raise a McCain up when it’s in defeat…the night they dropped the Nalpalm down and all the Democrats were singing…

Day Three

+ In order to protect the sales of hats made in China, Trump is launching a boycott of tires made in Akron, Ohio…MAGA!

+ The big story in the New York Times this morning is that Trump may have had a “romantic relationship” with a former Miss Moscow. “Romantic relationship.” That doesn’t sound like Trump to me…

+ The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, where the Moscow honey trap story originated, also fingers former congressman Dana Rohrabacher for having received “sensitive documents” from Russian officials in 2016. If Rohrabacher, long one of the most clownish and inconsequential members on the Hill, was really “Putin’s favorite congressman”, then he’s much dumber than we thought he was…

+ Navarro is right for once. Now, how does he explain Trump’s continuing affection for Mike Pence, Elliot Abrams and Rudy Giuliani?

+ Obama speaks tonight. Will he set an example for the youth of the nation by taking responsibility for any of his lethal escapades? The Afghan surge? Deepwater Horizon? The Honduran Coup? Bailing out banks while forsaking the foreclosed? The destruction of Libya? Drone killings.

+ Aide: “Harris wants people to see themselves in her speech.” See themselves where? Behind bars?

+ “Hillary Clinton is returning to the Democratic National Convention to cement her legacy as a champion of women in politics. She’ll speak Wednesday night as Kamala Harris becomes the first Black woman to accept a spot on a major presidential ticket.” I thought that HRC’s legacy had already been “cemented” and was only waiting to be deposited in Long Island Sound…

+ HRC, dressed like an apparition from a Wilkie Collins novel, began her rant with a lie: “I wish Donald Trump had been a better president.” No, she doesn’t. Her post-2016 political existence is predicated on Trump being a disaster, regardless of the number of bodies left in his wake. In fact, the higher the death count rises, the more smug she gets.

+ Hillary recounts more imaginary conversations than Trump does: “For four years, people have said to me, ‘I didn’t realize how dangerous he was.’ ‘I wish I could go back and do it over.’ ‘I should have voted.'” HRC has never associated with such people, which is a big reason she lost.

+ “Sacrifice and service” … two words not normally associated with the Clintons.

+ Those ravens and gulls swirling around the Bay Bridge and sweeping behind Pelosi’s head gave the whole presentation a Hitchockian mise-en-scene, which it probably merits….

+ Pelosi: “Joe’s, faith in god…” Where was it when his crime bill expanded the death penalty and he voted to invade Iraq?

+ And they can’t understand why people might want to defect from the Democrats and vote for the Greens, Libertarians or Kanye West…

+ For some reason, Anita Hill wasn’t included in this segment on Biden’s “tenacious” work on behalf of women victims of sex crimes. But the DNC did bring out Mariska Hargitay to defend his crime bill, an actress who’s role model for her character on Law & Order SVU was Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor who led the fallacious prosecution of the Central Park Five.

+ Remember when organized labor used dominate these conventions. Now their chief champion in the Senate, Sherrod Brown, is reduced to a subliminal moment…

+ In the background of Elizabeth Warren’s live shot at an early childhood center, multi-colored block letters spelled out “BLM”.

+ Where was this Warren 8 months ago? Plotting the undermining of Sanders, I guess, and blowing up her own campaign in the process.

+ So Obama comes to us from the History of the American Revolution Museum, standing next to an exhibit on the US Constitution featuring a portrait of little Jimmy Madison, who took his slaves with him when he moved to the White House with his wife Dolly. When Madison died, he still owned more than 100 slaves, none of whom were freed after his death.

+ Did Obama “preserve and defend” or ignore, erode and assault the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, & seventh amendments?

+ Obama didn’t call the press the “enemy of the people,” but treated many reporters as the “enemy of his administration” and jailed them.

+ Obama ignored Biden’s one sound piece of advice, which was not to pursue a troop surge in Afghanistan…

+ Obama gave a real American carnage speech. Too bad he didn’t give it to himself 10 years ago.

+ He may go AWOL for weeks, even months, at a time, but Michael Moore always comes home to roost…

+ The metaphor of America as family, which the Democrats and Harris, in particular, have been pushing all week as a symbol of unity will fall flat for most people who recall the fraught dynamics of last year’s Thanksgiving Day meal….

+ Being born in Oakland is one of the best things Harris has going for her…

+ Is Willie Brown part of Harris’ “extended family”?

+ How is this rhetorical notion of national “unity” and togetherness relentlessly pushed by Biden and Harris functionally different than Trump’s claims after Charlottesville that there’s “good people” on both sides? Will the Democrats ever draw a line they won’t cross? Where is it?

+ God knows, I’d never have the nerve to speak before 320 million people, even on Zoom, but Harris is not an inspiring orator. Like most prosecutors, she has a mechanical and rigid, almost relentless, speaking style, that sounds even harsher after listening to Obama for 20 minutes.

+ Tonight, only Warren even hinted at a structural enemy beyond the current depraved administration, the corporations, banks & financial predators that have been looting the nation before Trump came on the scene & will be there after he’s gone, perhaps even more deeply entrenched.

+ There’s still one night to go, and it may all blow up spectacularly, but there’s been much less Russiagating and China-bashing from the Democrats than I’d anticipated and feared. One would like to think it’s been purged from their system. Then again…

+ Melina Abdullah: “We’re not ‘in the streets’ to ‘get out the vote.’ We’re in the streets to upend this system of oppression.”

Day Four

+ I awoke on Thursday morning to the news that Steve Bannon had been arrested while on board a 150-foot yacht by US Postal Service inspectors for his role in a fraudulent scheme to build a private border wall, in which some of his co-conspirators had embezzled money to buy a 40-foot boat that would later make an appearance in a Boater’s for Trump flotilla.

+ Trump on Bannon’s arrest: “I haven’t had anything to do with him in years.”

Trump on FoxNews in July: ”He says ‘greatest president ever.’ I said, ‘Let’s keep Steve out there, he’s doing a good job.’ But they’re all involved.”

+ Geoffrey Bennett, NBCNews: “Respectfully, sir, it’s not just Steve Bannon, it’s Roger Stone, it’s Michael Flynn, it’s Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen. What’s it say about your judgment—”

Trump: “Well, I have no idea.”

+ Trey Gowdy throws Steve Bannon under the bus on FoxNews, reverses, plows over him again: “He’s the same guy who claimed credit for the president’s victory..the only person on the planet, literally..that can elect a Democrat, because he backed Roy Moore.”

+ Send regards to Ghislaine, Steve…

+ No surprise to see former Red Sox “righty” (in every sense of the word) Curt Schilling up to his armpit in the Bannon border wall scam, along with Kris Kobach, Erik Prince, and former Colorado congressman and apex xenophobe Tom Tancredo. Can we finally get a luminal test on that “bloody” sock that Schilling portrayed as a kind of stigmata when he took the mound against the Yankees during game 6 of the 2004 ALSC?

+ In a January 2019 interview, Kobach linked Trump himself to the border wall fundraising scam: “I talked with the president, and the ‘We Build the Wall Effort’’ came up. The president said ‘the project has my blessing, and you can tell the media that.'”

+ Steve Bannon can take comfort in knowing that his hero Lenin found imprisonment and exile in Siberia very conducive to writing, a period when he polished off The Development of Capitalism in Russia and A Protest by Russian-Social Democrats. Of course, if he keeps his phone privileges, Bannon can simply do as he has done in the past couple of years: dictate his books to Michael Wolff and Bob Woodward.

+ This welcome news obscured the even more predictable, though dispiriting, disclosure that the Biden team is already laying the groundwork for an austerity program as its response to the economic carnage inflicted by Trump and COVID. Ted Kaufman, Biden’s longtime pal and the head of his transition team, told the Wall Street Journal: “When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare. When you see what Trump’s done to the deficit…all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. So we’re going to be limited.” What’s your response to that, Bernie? Liz? AOC?

+ Many people who know Biden’s politics saw this coming, including former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who recalled in his memoir, a meeting he had with Biden soon after the financial crisis:

“In giving his opinion on the markets, he [Biden] told me, with a harshness that until then I had not heard, that the only way to gain their trust was by making decisions that made you suffer truly and thoroughly. That you are only credible in certain circumstances if you subject citizens to difficult tests, if the unions openly reject your policy, in short, if there are tears and suffering. I was struck by his message, for its frankness and its toughness. Tears and suffering.”

+ When did the Democrats turn their backs on Keynesian economics? Certainly by the time of the creation of the Democratic Leadership Council in 1985, which used Mondale’s defeat as an excuse to abandon Keynesianism in favor of the austerity policies inherent in neoliberalism. Biden, along with Bill Clinton and Al Gore, was one of the DLC’s earliest members and most ardent supporters (See: Jon Hale’s “The Making of the New Democrats” in Political Science Quarterly 110, no. 2, 1995.)

+ Austerity: a form of economic sanctions imposed on the poorest segments of a domestic population.

+ More than 70 former GOP national security figures have now endorsed Biden for president, including the blood-soaked bane of Iraq and Latin America, John Negroponte. How much more evidence do you need that yesterday’s neocons are today’s Biden Democrats?

+ Remember Pelosi on AOC: “Don’t primary sitting members of the party, it destroys party unity.” Well, she just endorsed Joseph Kennedy III in his floundering attempt to unseat Ed Markey, one of the architects of the Green New Deal. JK3 should always be remembered as the genius who said he voted for a new generation of submarine launched nuclear weapons by accident, calling the vote an “honest mistake“.

+ Sanders appears to have been spinal tapped and drained…

+ There’s a Manhattan-sized phone book of misdeeds for which Biden can and should be held to account, but Trump, ever true to form, decides to attack him for not being born where he was, in fact, born (Scranton, PA).

+ The point has driven home relentlessly. Biden is everything Trump isn’t. He’s a guy with values, a guy who goes to Mass and confession. A moral man, a family guy, who doesn’t tolerate malarkey. But is he? After Biden’s first wife and his daughter were killed in a crash, Biden repeatedly accused the other driver, Curtis Dunn, of being drunk, of “drinking his lunch.” But there doesn’t seem to be the slightest bit of truth to the slur. Delaware Judge Jerome Herlihy, who investigated the crash, told CBS News, “There was no indication that the truck driver had been drinking.” In fact, the truck driver pulled Biden’s two sons from wreckage and probably save their lives. Biden never apologized to Dunn, who died in 1999, or his family.

+ Opposing war is, apparently, the one position which will get you banned from the Democratic Convention…

+ If Tom Perez speaks four times during the Convention does that count as four Latinx, for the purpose of squelching Julian Castro’s complaints?

+ The new new Democrats (a lot like the old): In the year of BLM, the Democrats have invited Mayor Stop-and-Frisk to speak on the closing night of their national convention.

+ Why indoctrinate kids with the Pledge of Allegiance, a phony, Christianized oath that was pushed down schoolchildren’s throats during the depths of the McCarthy era?

+ One of Andrew Yang’s major themes this campaign was the danger of artificial intelligence. Case in point: Mayor Pete.

+ Joe Biden agent of “new ideas” is one of the great oxymorons of our time.

+ Yang ran on a universal basic income, which he wasn’t allowed to mention by party overlords at the very moment the nation is most desperate for it.

+ Chris Coons: “Joe believes humans were made in the image of God.” Who were polar bears made in the image of? Who made the coronavirus?

+ So it’s out with science, in with faith-healing.

+ The correct answer to Trump’s slur that Biden wants to “hurt God” was to say that it’s constitutionally none of his goddamn business, not to turn the DNC convention into a Christian church service.

+ Julia Louise Drefyuss: “Biden goes to church so religiously he doesn’t need tear gas  and federal troops to get there.”

+ Jon Meacham: “A deadly virus is ravishing us.” Covid-19, the Harvey Weinstein of viruses.

+ Sorry, Deb Haaland. I admire you and am glad you’re in Congress, but voting is not “sacred.” It’s secular by definition. Ours to do with what we want, including nothing.

+ Is there going to be even one steelworker or longshore worker speaking over 4 days and 16 prime time hours of this convention? I’ll bet Trump features a bunch of them.

+ Booker’s best moment in an inept campaign was directly confronting Biden for palling around with segregationists in the Senate. Based on his listless performance tonight, Booker seems to have settled comfortably back into his habitual mediocrity, letting bygones be bygones.

+ Is anyone going to call for defunding the Pentagon? Or even modestly trimming its budget? Not Tammy Duckworth.

+ Like Trump, Joe Biden got himself out of going to Vietnam by a suspect medical diagnosis, but unlike Trump had the moral courage to send his own son, Beau, to Iraq…

+ Mayor Pete on American progress under Obama-Biden: “Gays can now commit mass murder in Afghanistan, too.”

+ The fly that attacked Bloomberg’s face should run for mayor of NYC.

+ Does Joe really have a tight relationship with “all of his grandchildren,” even Hunter’s kid with Lunden Roberts, the former stripper at the Mpire Club near DuPont Circle, who he was secretly seeing while dating his brother’s widow?

+ Hope and change have been replaced by empathy, soul and faith.

+ You’d have thought that having spent four years at Obama’s side that Biden would have learned that they way to sell hollow promises is to do it slowly, almost softly, not by shouting.

+ Can you really be the next FDR, if you’ve replaced Keynes with Larry Summers?

+ Biden sees “a humble America”…through what telescope?

+ Snowden and Assange gave Americans the “honest, unvarnished truth” and Biden and HRC wanted them droned.

+ Biden: “I’m not looking to punish anyone.” Bill Barr and Stephen Miller breathe sighs of relief…

+ No one has been tougher than Kamala, especially on truant students and their pot-smoking parents…

+ When I think of the “soul of this nation,” I think of James Brown, a soul which has been freed and liberated. I don’t think Biden is talking about the same thing. His American soul seems heavy and oppressive, freighted down with guilt and bad history.

+ I can’t recall a GOP convention that was as saturated with religious symbolism, moral posturing and spiritual gaslighting as the one the Democrats just inflicted on us…and they didn’t even let Marianne Williamson near a camera.

+ I feel like a sinner in the hands of an angry candidate, unsure which sin I need to confess to…

+ Trump’s response the the closing night of the DNC was to tell FoxNews that on election day he’s going to send law enforcement to polling locations.

+ It was what it was.

I Support the Left, Though I’m Leaning, Leaning to the Right…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

No Room at the Morgue
Jean-Patrick Manchette
(NYRB Books)

Save the Humans? Common Preservation in Action
Jeremy Brecher
(PM Press)

Caste: the Origins of Our Discontent
Isabelle Wilkerson
(Random House)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Immanuel Wilkins
(Blue Note)

Imploding the Mirage
The Killers
(Island/Virgin EMI)

Total Freedom
Kathleen Edwards

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