Roaming Charges: Smoke on the Water, Lies Burning in the Sky

Salmon-colored sun and smoke, Beaver Creek, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Let’s reset the scene from last week. On Labor Day evening, the winds shifted in Oregon, coming rigorously out of the North East, ripping down tree limbs and knocking down powerlines, sending embers from forest fires aloft and to the west, spreading illicit fires from hunting and RV camps. By Tuesday morning, the skies in the Willamette Valley turned the color of an ugly bruise, the air clotted with smoke. Big, uncontrolled fires from the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon to the Clackamas River canyon in northern Oregon were charging west, out national forests and BLM lands toward the populated foothills of the Cascade Range.

By Wednesday, our old milltown at the falls of the Willamette River had been placed under an evacuation order. Two cities 20 miles to the east, Estacada and Molalla, were at immanent risk of burning. A small fire had erupted on the western flank of the canyon we live in. Another a few miles away along the Clackamas River, both fueled by the stiff, unrelenting winds. A new evacuation order was issued later that night, an order we missed because our power had gone out on Tuesday, the internet was down, and the cell service was overburdened.

We awoke to choking smoke on Thursday. I visited the evacuation center at the local community college a couple of miles from us, bringing coffee and pastries, and was surprised to see more than 500 people camped out, along with their animals: dogs, cats, horses, llamas, alpaca, two cows, ducks, chickens and several pigs. I returned home with the news that we needed to be ready to leave at any moment. Kimberly, Zen and the enfant terrible, packed a week’s worth of clothes, diapers, food and left for Astoria on the Oregon coast at the mouth of the Columbia River, about 110 miles away. My mission was to find the missing half-feral cat, Graymalkin, capture her and drug her or drug her and capture her or entice her into the house. And to find some way to edit and post weekend edition using my one bar of cell coverage as a hotspot and write my column. I spent most of the night working, under a glowing sky, with bonewhite ashes drifting on the porch, like the fatal snows of Judgment Day. Around three in the morning, I heard the imploring pleas of the cat at the backdoor. She strolled in, coated in ash, smelling like she’d escaped a burning house. I went room to room looking at the detritus of our lives, the objects that had accumulated after nearly forty years together: books, photographs, prints, paintings, shells, feathers, bones, rocks, letters, magazines, clipping files, dozens of boxes filled with FOIA’d documents, LPs, CDs, DVDs. What to take, what to leave? Finally, I pulled out four backpacks, stuffed them with clothes, my computer, power chords, my Kindle and a few family photos and said good riddance to the rest, leaving the house and the cat (supplied with a week’s worth of water and food) to the discretion of the winds.

Lewis and Clark Bridge, Rainier, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

I took off for Astoria. Normally, a two hour drive, it took me closer to four hours, slowed by smokebanks so thick it was hard to see the semi-trailers in front of and beside me. At Longview, the high arc of the Lewis and Clark Bridge disappeared into clouds of pinkish smoke. As I cut through the Coast Range the smoke thinned a little, but by the time I hit Astoria, it was back, pulled west through the gorges of the Columbia River. The air quality in Oregon City was rated Hazardous (300+ AQI). In Astoria, it was merely Very Unhealthy (200+).

For the next couple of days, I tried to avoid the news. I didn’t want to know about the fate of our house, our canyon, our town. The town of Astoria itself was filled with refugees from the fires: some in hotels, some in RVs, many camped along the river, from near Lewis & Clark’s old camp at Tongue’s Point all the way down to the Columbia Dike at Fort Stevens. People sleeping in the thickets of alder and blackberries, under bridges and near the mooring of the docked cruise ship, on the muddy tidal flats of the river, or in the rolling dunes north of Gearhart. But the news crept through, most of it infuriating. Trump blustering nonsense about exploding dead trees, incendiary leaf piles (in coniferous forests), and the eventual cooling of the planet. Armed thugs, vigilantes encouraged by local sheriffs and politicians, setting up roadblocks in evacuation zones to interrogate travelers about their possible connections to mythical Antifa arsonists. Timber industry blowhards blaming the fires on radical preservationists and calling for the butchery of the few patches of old-growth forests remaining in the Northwest.

The news from home was mixed to say the least. By Tuesday, the winds had calmed and the advance of the fires had stalled. Our house was safe. But thousands had burned, including those of friends. The cabins along the Breitenbush River, where we had spent so many enthralling days and nights, were gone. All 71 of them. The Riverside fire, near us, was so intense fire-fighting crews had been pulled out. The firefighting helicopters were missing in action, half of them having been deployed by Trump to Afghanistan. And the lies were mounting every day, even from normally sober outlets like Pro Publica and NPR. The western Cascades, once one of the lushest and most productive temperate rainforests, is now one of the most viciously logged over mountain ranges on the planet. If “forest management”, as Trump declared, is the problem, it’s the kind of management by chainsaw that’s been carving up these forests for the past 80 years, removing fire-resistant old-growth trees, opening up the forest canopy and drying out the forest floor, suppressing ground cleansing fires, punching in a labyrinthine network of logging roads (each mile a new fire threat), and studding the ravaged slopes with monocultural plantations that burn like napalmed villages.

Aerial image of the Holiday Camp Fire area, showing tiny fragments of forest inside a vast sea of clearcuts. Courtesy: FUSEEE.

Tuesday night a steady rain finally swept off the Pacific and into Astoria, which was even greeted with enthusiastic barking from the 200 sea lions perched on the docks of the mooring basin, awaiting the fall salmon runs. We pulled up stakes in the morning, an orange sun breaking through the thin wisps of smoke, and headed back to Oregon City, driving deeper and deeper into a funereal gloom. When we pulled in the driveway three hours later after a harrowing drive down I-5, I checked the Air Quality Index: 450, more than 100 points more toxic than when I fled town.

The only thing thicker and more hazardous than the smoke, which as I write this late on Thursday night still enshrouds western Oregon, are the toxic lies about what caused it. Through the dusky murk, I could see our liberated, though hardly grateful, cat on the crest of the hill behind our house, her eyes glowing in malevolent indifference to our fate.

+ Scenes from Astoria in the time of the smoke…

Tongue Point under smoke. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Astoria riverfront. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Improvised shelter, Astoria. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Big Red salmon net drying shed . Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

MUR line cargo ship. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Astoria Riverwalk, tagged. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Moored cruise liner. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

South jetty, Columbia River. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Wreck of the Peter Iredale. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Columbian Deer, tidal flats, Columbia River. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Double-crested cormorants searching for the sun, lower Columbia River. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ I returned home to discover that my old pal George Atiyeh is missing from his home in the Santiam Canyon, located directly in the path of the monstrous Beachey Creek fire. George is the Hayduke of the Ancient Forests. If he went up with the forest he defended all his life, it’s the way he would have chosen to go, like Harry Truman at Mt. St. Helens. But I have the sense he’s out there somewhere, perhaps floating down the Santiam on a big fat Douglas-fir log, cursing the timber industry and the Forest Service, like one of the Stampers from Sometimes a Great Notion

+ Tales from the Night Santiam Canyon Burned: A woman escaped bu sitting in the trunk of a stranger’s car. Would-be evacuees got trapped at a state park as flames surrounded them. And firefighters watched as their own camp went up in flames.

+ At least 13 new fires started in the Santiam Canyon area were ignited by downed power lines. They’ll blame ANTIFA Light and Power, Co., I guess.

+ Fifty miles to the south, the massive Holiday Farm fire complex, near the town of Blue River, also appears to have been started by downed power lines near Milepost 47 on Oregon state highway 126.

+ In the coastal resort town of Lincoln, the fire department abandoned the homes of service workers in the small town nearby town of Otis and East Lincoln City and spent all their firefighting resources defending the ocean view palazzos of fat cats in Lincoln City, instead. Over 100 of the workers’ houses burned.

+ More than 2,350 homes were destroyed in Phoenix and Talent down in southern Oregon…

+ Climate Fires don’t care whether you “believe” in them or not, Senator

+ The air in Oregon has been almost unbreathable for the last 10 days.

+ The nearest city to Portland to record “good” air quality this week was 661 miles away: Pocatello in southeastern Idaho.

+ Trump: “It’ll start getting cooler, you just watch.”

California’s Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot: “I wish science agreed with you”

Trump: “I don’t think science knows actually.”

+ Here’s Joe Rogan, who appears to have been indulging in some of Alex Jones’ nutritional supplements, making the outlandish charge that “left wing” activists have been setting fires in the West. Most arsons are started by people who benefit from them. Since forest fires almost always lead to more logging, often in areas previously off-limits to chainsaws, that usually meant mill owners, loggers, road construction crews, and, in the case of Colorado’s largest forest fire, Forest Service personnel…or companies that profit from their negligence, such as the power companies who have been responsible for some of the biggest fires in history and are likely responsible for most of the damage in the recent fires here. The left wants to preserve forests, not to give their charred remains away for free to big timber. Sanders should be ashamed of himself for courting the support of this thuggish red-baiter.

+ So who’s the key architect of Biden’s climate policy? Not AOC. Not Jay Inslee. Not Tom Steyer. Not Bill McKibben. Not Michael Mann. But pro-nuke, pro-natural gas, pro-fracking, pro-industrial solar…Ernest Moniz.

+ The late RBG’s decision to stay on the court through Obama’s entire term in failing health, instead of retiring like Kennedy, can only be described as both selfish and ultimately self-destructive to the constitutional issues she cared the most about.

+ Kennedy made the rational decision to preserve his conservative legacy on the court for the next 30 years by stepping aside at the age of 80 and handing his seat to one of his former clerks, unlike RBG, who apparently saw herself as personally indispensable, and now allows a sexual predator to name her replacement.

+ RBG was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009, when she was 76. By 2012, she was already far over the normal retirement age. She could have been replaced by a progressive 40 years her junior.

+ Trump must have had some idea of how quickly Ginsburg was failing, hence his announcement of his list of potential nominees, headed by the likes of those constitutional scholars Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz or another pro-death penalty Catholic, like Amy Coney Barrett, to the high court…

+ For all practical purposes, the American Catholic Church’s relation to Rome is much like that of the church of Tudor England’s: obsessed with one issue only and in open defiance of the Pope’s other encyclicals, with Cardinal Dolan as its Thomas Cranmer.

+ Biden is about to have another huge fundraising week, grifting money off of RBG’s death. But will any of it be spent in Michigan?

+ Lindsey Graham, March 2016: “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say, ‘Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.'”

+ Mitch McMcConnell, Sept 18, 2020: “Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

+ Apparently, the only “science” the Trump administration is interested in is the kind practiced by Dr. Mengele…A whistleblower disclosed that doctors working with ICE are performing mass, forced hysterectomies on unknowing women held at immigration detention centers.

+ Stanley Cohen: “So first ICE stole children from their families. Then fought the right of a raped teen in custody to an abortion. Then began a program to record the periods of young girls. Now forced, drugged hysterectomies. He’s known by the prisoners as the uterus collector.”

+ Rep. Pramila Jayapal: “Yesterday, I was briefed by attorneys representing women who were subjected to forced, invasive procedures by a gynecologist connected with a private, for-profit detention center in Georgia. It has become clear that the initial reports are likely part of a horrific pattern of conduct. There may be at minimum 17 women who were subjected to unnecessary procedures from just one doctor, often without appropriate consent or knowledge, and with the clear intention of sterilization. It’s possible there are similar cases for individuals who were already deported. One woman, who was nearly deported, consulted the doctor simply about her menstrual cycle. She was put under for what she was told would be a simple procedure, only to wake up and find that the doctor had removed part of her reproductive organs without her knowledge or consent. Another woman, already deported, apparently went in to see the doctor for a simple condition related to diabetes and ended up having gynecological surgery. Two additional women apparently were shackled to the bed, reported to have had surgical procedures including a hysterectomy. These stories contain many consistencies and raise serious questions about not only this particular doctor but about the entire detention system—largely for-profit—that is complicit in the abuses and has long neglected the health, wellbeing, and human rights of immigrants.”

+ The sterilizations were performed by gynecologist Mahendra Amin, based in Douglas, Georgia.

+ Where’s the Right to Life movement now?

+ The 9th Circuit Court was never as progressive as it was depicted to be by the yappers at the Federalist Society. But now, with its ruling this week allowing Trump administration to deport 300,000 El Salvadorans by stripping the “temporary protective status” they’ve enjoyed for 20 years,  it proves itself to be fully as reactionary as it was when it decided the Kurematsu case…

+ First we had the Alien Acts, drafted by the Two Steves, Bannon and Miller, now here comes the Sedition, as Attorney General William Barr is encouraging federal prosecutors to seek a number federal charges, including the rarely used sedition law, against BLM protesters, even when state charges could apply…

+ Which is pretty extreme position to take given that state charges in Utah have some Black Lives Matter protesters in Salt Lake City facing up to life in prison if they’re convicted of splashing red paint and smashing windows during a protest.

+ Then again, perhaps Barr is showing restraint. He could have ordered the protesters zapped with a Dr. No-style “pain ray”. A National Guard officer told the Washington Post that federal officials stockpiled thousands of rounds of munitions, and sought a “heat ray” weapon considered too agonizing even for use in war zones before clearing Lafayette Square for Trump’s photo-op.

+ Barr also wanted his prosecutors to indict the mayor of Seattle, Jenny Derkin, a frequent target of Trump rants, after she created “protest zones,” to separate demonstrators from the police.

+ Still, Barr wasn’t the only Trump official warning of “sedition” this week. Michael Caputo, the top spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, went on Facebook Live Saturday night and advised Trump supporters to “Get your ammunition now!” Caputo accused government scientists and physicians of “sedition” in the handling of the pandemic. Two days later, Caputo announced he was taking a “leave of absence” to focus on “the well-being of his family.”

+ In theory, Portland’s quisling mayor, Ted Wheeler, is also the police commissioner. But the Portland police are in open revolt over his order last week banning the use of CS tear gas. Wheeler: ”PPB’s decision to put out a press release questioning my direction was a serious breach of protocol and an inappropriate use of City communications resources. I made it clear, in no uncertain terms, to the Chief that this cannot happen again.” In actuality, as Wheeler and other mayors are learning, there is no “civilian” control of big city police departments. The only way to assert any control over their operations is by defunding them.

+ The City of Louisville has agreed to pay Breonna Taylor’s family $12 million. The city also says it will implement “reforms”. Meanwhile, the officers involved in Taylor’s death have not been arrested or charged.

+ Sean Worsley, a disabled Iraq War vet, was arrested for marijuana possession while driving through Alabama from his home state of Arizona, where he has been legally prescribed the herb. If convicted, he could face five years in the notorious Alabama prison system.

+ “Almost a quarter of young adults in America (23%) said they believed the Holocaust was a myth or had been exaggerated or weren’t sure. One in eight (12%) said they had definitely not heard, or didn’t think they had heard, about the Holocaust.” Is this a deterioration or improvement from past polls? At least the kids can claim ignorance, owing, in part, to an education system that has been gutted to the core curriculum. FDR knew what was going on and pretended not to, then implemented some of the same policies against Japanese-Americans. How many young adults know anything at all about that? Or the original American Holocaust?

+ My speculation last week that the Israel/UAE agreement was actually a weapons deal was on the mark. Nobody in their right mind would fly in Boeing made planes anymore, so apparently the plan is to save their murderous ass by weapons deals to the partners in the “Israeli/UAE Accords“…..”Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked President Donald Trump today for 12 Boeing V-22s, another squadron of F-35s to bring the total to 75, and the very early delivery of two Boeing KC-46As at the White House today.”

+ Remember all the crap people used to be hit with when talking about the “dual loyalties” of American politicians and high level bureaucrats? Now Trump has put it right out in the open by handing Benjamin Netanyahu the “keys to the White House.” Where these to the front door? I’m pretty sure Netanyahu already had a full set on his keychain to the backdoor of the White House, the State Department, the CIA and Chuck and Nancy’s houses…

+ Trump lets a verboten truth slip out: “The fact is, we don’t have to be in the Middle East, other than we want to protect Israel.”

+ Look around, Nancy, we’re at the Rubble Stage of Capitalism now. What comes after “rubble”? Ash? We got that, too…You can’t get a stimulus bill through to help the COVID unemployed and evicted, but you’d call an emergency session to give Israel money it doesn’t need or deserve.

+ 84 percent of Canadians want war crimes probe into Israel, still doesn’t deter Trudeau from obsequiously courting the blessings of Netanyahu.

+ This is a far cry from what you said was your agenda. Still, have you got that in writing somewhere, Bernie? With Pelosi, Schumer and Biden’s signatures on it?

+ Sanders is now expressing “concern” that the Biden campaign is adrift and pressing a strong economic message against Trump.

It’s too late, Bernie now, it’s too late
You should’ve known Joe’d never make it
The dream has died, and you can’t hide
And the rest of us just can’t fake it, no, no, no…

+ “Democrats back away” is the political equivalent of “Florida Man”…In this installment, Schumer is already signaling to his Wall Street funders that he has no intention of pursuing a quick rollback of the Trump tax cuts if the Democrats take the senate.

+ For the Democrats as enablers file…The Senate confirmed three more judges for Trump on Weds. The only senators to vote NO on all three:


(Harris and Sanders were AWOL.)

+ HRC thought she could win by outspending Trump – saturation bombing the airwaves, cableways and digitalwaves with ads demonizing a candidate most people already despised and promoting one no amount of spending could ever entice them to like.

+ Biden’s raised torrents of money, but apparently isn’t spending any of it in Michigan, a state he must win if he has any hope of defeating Trump.

+ As searing new study from RAND economists Carter Price and Katheryn Edwards describes in stark detail the state of economic inequality in America and how the top 1% of the country seized more than $50 trillion–that’s TRILLION–from the bottom 90% over the last 45 years.

Among the findings:

* On average, extreme inequality is costing the median income full-time worker about $42,000 a year. Half of all full-time workersnow earn less than half what they would have had incomes across the distribution continued to keep pace with economic growth.

* The median male worker needed 30 weeks of income in 1985 to pay for housing, healthcare, transportation, and education for his family. By 2018, that “Cost of Thriving Index” had increased to 53 weeks (more weeks than in an actual year).

* Two-income families are now working twice the hours to maintain a shrinking share of the pie, while struggling to pay housing, healthcare, education, childcare, and transportations costs that have grown at two to three times the rate of inflation.

+ Even domesticated sheep would be embarrassed by this kind of herd imbecility: 82% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans support single-payer healthcare when told that Obama supports it. When instead told that Trump supports it, Dem support drop to 46% and Rep support increase to 44%.

+ Daniel Ellsberg on the extradition trial of Julian Assange: “The American press is staring right down the barrel at the use of the Espionage Act against American journalists and publishers for doing journalism.”

+ According to Tim Gill, “the CIA used to send fake horoscopes with ominous indications to high-ranking German communists in the 1950s to freak them out.”

+ I agree with Trump. Woodward’s new book, Rage, is really boring. Even the made-for-excerpt “exposés” are ponderous and trivial. The narrative quality of Woodward books ebb and flow wildly according to quality of his “research assistants.” And we former “research assistants” know what that means.

+ Trump the Pacifist has now bombed Somalia more times in 3.5 years than Bush and Obama did in 16.

+ This just in from the director of OMB…(Please report all un-American activity to the House Un-American Activities Committee…)

+ John Dickerson at The Atlantic reviewed Trump’s Twitter feed for the last few months and calculated that he has warned his Twitter followers six times as often about the threat from mail-in ballots as he has the threat from Covid-19.

+ One of the worst metaphors I’ve heard in a long, long time…

Rep. Elissa Slotkin: “There are these homegrown terrorists … how many of them of white supremacists?”

FBI Dir. Chris Wray: “Within the domestic terrorism bucket, category as a whole, racially motivated violent extremism is I think the biggest bucket within that larger group.”

+ After a COVID-19 outbreak in the Yellowstone County jail in Montana, a nonviolent offender inmate named Jesse Jon Strack, who suffers from high blood pressure and hypertension, petitioned to be released over concerns of contracting the disease. One week later and still in the jail, he has tested positive for the disease.

+ The most useful COVID research paper of the week? “The use of aspirated consonants during speech may increase the transmission of COVID-19”, the theory being that English speakers are more likely to spread COVID because the aspirated consonants at the end of words (p,k,t) spew more respiratory droplets. So, if you simply must speak, be sure to end your words with soft consonants and vowels….Don’t be a Superrrrr-sprrrrreaderrrrrrrr!

+ The US Postal Service had plan to send 5 face masks to every home in the US as coronavirus exploded across. The White House killed it. Then they tried to kill the Post Office itself.

+ Another reason to get the US Army (all of it, this time) out of Germany: “A coronavirus outbreak at a popular Bavarian ski resort has been linked to a US citizen working at a lodge operated by the US Army.”

+ The Minneapolis police department has been making an average of 80% fewer traffic stops each week since May 25, the day of George Floyd’s death. Of course, most of the people they’re stopping are still black…

+ It took researchers at Harvard University four years to discover the obvious truth behind mass black incarceration: systemic racism the US criminal justice system.

+ Michael Scheuer, the first head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden Unit, is urging a civil war against the “terrorists” of Black Lives Matter and millions of other Americans. When you run out of targets to drone overseas, just bring the war on terror home.

+ Jefferson Morley exposed the increasingly mad ravings of Scheuer in CounterPunch two months before the Daily Beast published its story.

+ Trump boasted this week that he is “a helluva lot better president than Obama.” Does he have any idea how low of a bar he has set for himself?

+ This was at the day Trump claimed that he had been given the Bay of Pigs Award by Cuban exiles in Miami. Perhaps only Trump (and maybe Poppy Bush) could take pride in getting a Bay of Pigs Award.

+ Has there ever been a bigger group of “losers” and “suckers” than the Cuban exiles, and their CIA handlers, who tried to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs?

+ Most refugees from Honduras seeking asylum at the border know more about US constitutional law and history than the Senator from Tennessee, who is so ineffably stupid that she doesn’t realize that the 2nd Amendment, which she worships like a fecal dropping from her Supreme Deity, was a re-writing of the Constitution …

+ I thought this has been the designated role of the Texas Schoolbook Commission for the last 40 years?

+ Aside from a military draft, there’s probably no more effective antidote against the contagion of Patriotism than forcing kids to endure a “patriotic education” in grade school, middle school and high school.

+ It’s amusing to hear Trump–through the ghoulish pen of Stephen Miller–attacking Howard Zinn, who has been dead for a miserable decade. There were far better historians than Zinn, but what really scared them and scares them still is the clarity of his writing. American history isn’t all that compelling, but Zinn was able to synthesize his version of it in a style that is compulsively readable even to HS sophomores.

+ In regard to Trump’s Cultural Revolution and Patriotic Re-education camps, how many people became atheists as adults after having been forced to endure compulsory school prayer and chapel as teens?

+ Hannah Arendt: “A lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history.”

+ 76 million: the number of American households vulnerable to utility shutoffs in the next 30 days.

+ According to the new release from the Social Progress Index, the USA, with the highest GDP in the world, ranks #91 in access to quality basic education, and #97 in access to quality health care—worse than many “developing” countries.

+ 50 years ago this week, Richard Nixon ordered CIA Director Richard Helms to “give me a plan” for overthrowing Allende in 48 hours.

+ Kanye West’s admonition to his campaign staff to “avoid fornicating” with each other reminds me of the Puritan radicals of the English Revolution and the short-lived but rambunctious Little Parliament, one of whom was named Flee-Fornication Barebones.

+ Your kid could’ve been a winner! Chuck E. Cheese asked a bankruptcy court to allow them to destroy 7 billion paper Prize Tickets that have built up in the company’s supply chain as a result of the pandemic.

+ Trump: “The people I like the best are the people that are less successful because it makes you feel so powerful. I always say it. Never go out with a successful person.” When he says this, as he did last night, in front of an unmasked throng of “less successful” people, they cheer him.

+ Here’s a brief video clip of my old friend Gary Macfarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director for Friends of the Clearwater in Moscow, Idaho, explaining how offshore oil and gas drilling will be used to finance “conservation” measures under the Great American Outdoors Act.

+ In a mass die-off, hundreds of thousands of migratory birds are falling dead out of the sky over Colorado and New Mexico, likely victims of climate change and toxic air conditions. “It’s just terrible,” said Martha Desmond, a professor at the New Mexico State University’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology. “The number is in the six figures. Just by looking at the scope of what we’re seeing, we know this is a very large event, hundreds of thousands and maybe even millions of dead birds, and we’re looking at the higher end of that.”

+ Whether you believe the science or not, this is happening: Two massive Antarctic glaciers are tearing loose from the ice sheet. The loss of either glacier could trigger the broader collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet itself, “which contains enough ice to eventually raise seas by about 10 feet.”

+ A new study estimates that two-thirds of the world’s wildlife populations have been eliminated by “human activity” in the last 50 years, with the sharpest declines occurring in Latin American and the Caribbean…

+ There’s nothing “crazy” or “baffling” about a pod of killer whales making “orca-strated” attacks on boats near the Strait of Gilbrated…

+ First COVID, then 100+ nights of protest and tear gas, then wildfires and the world’s worst air quality and now…. the Blob. Just another year in Portland.

+ The joint attack by Ted Cruz, Laura Ingraham and Tulsi Gabbard on the excellent French film Mignonnes (released on Netflix with the unfortunate title “Cuties”) is one of the stupidest and most craven censorious stunts since the rightwing outrage over supposed subliminal sexual messages embedded in Disney films like The Lion King and Aladdin . The bipartisan Qanon-style “child porn” scares started with Tipper Gore and Susan Baker’s PMRC, which “deciphered” all kinds of “coded” messages in heavy metal and rap music.

+ I spent a little time cleaning my office this morning, which I feel compelled to do once every two years or so. I’m getting close to the Permian strata of debris and unearthed this photo of Cockburn in my old garage office that was taken while we were putting the finishing touches on Whiteout. The garage was filled with dozens of cardboard boxes of files, containing more than 10,000 pages of FOIA’d documents from the CIA, State Dept., Justice Department, DEA and FBI. Alex is looking very natty in his Irish wool vest, trying to explain to his editors at The Nation (probably JoAnn) that his column, which was late and he probably hadn’t even started writing, would be arriving “soon”…

+ So after battling COVID, the cantankerous music and cultural critic Stanley Crouch has died at the age of 74. Never much of a fan of Crouch’s acidic and often mean-spirited writing, I his biography of the young Charlie Parker, Kansas City Lightning, last month and was surprised at how fluid and lively the writing was. Still Crouch’s neo-conservative aesthetics had a pernicious influence (along with Wynton Marsalis and Albert Murray) on Ken Burns’ laborious and tendentious documentary Jazz, which I reviewed in these “pages” years ago…

+ Let’s not forget that the late Crouch’s reactionary antipathy toward free jazz often expressed itself in a personal animus toward the musicians, none more cruelly than the great Cecil Taylor, who Crouch outed as gay in 1982 when homophobia in America was at its most toxic…

+ Taylor responded tartly to Crouch’s slur: “Do you think a three-letter word could ever define the complexity of my humanity?”

+ No mask, no guru, no teacher….

+ No backdoor woman, no cry…

+ When the Dead played a benefit concert for the Panthers…


I Ain’t Have No Luck Now

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Bob Woodward
(Simon & Schuster)

Prisoners of the Empire: Inside Japanese POW Camps
Sarah Kovner

Unflattering Photos of Fascists: Authoritarianism in Trump’s America
Christopher Ketcham, Ed.
(AK Press)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

José Martí en Nueva York
Manuel Valera & the New Cuban Express Big Band

Rise Up
Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters
(Stony Plain)

Back a Yard
The Wailing Souls
(VP Records)

A Forest Grows Aware

“We found that trees could communicate, over the air and through their roots. Common sense hooted us down. We found that trees take care of each other. Collective science dismissed the idea. Outsiders discovered how seeds remember the seasons of their childhood and set buds accordingly. Outsiders discovered that trees sense the presence of other nearby life. That a tree learns to save water. That trees feed their young and synchronize their masts and bank resources and warn kin and send out signals to wasps to come and save them from attacks. “Here’s a little outsider information, and you can wait for it to be confirmed. A forest knows things. They wire themselves up underground. There are brains down there, ones our own brains aren’t shaped to see. Root plasticity, solving problems and making decisions. Fungal synapses. What else do you want to call it? Link enough trees together, and a forest grows aware.” (Richard Powers, The Overstory)

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