Roaming Charges: Simple Twists of Fate

Eagle clutching salmon totem, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ It’s tempting to think: so, this is what we’ve come to. Police can break into your house in the middle of the night on specious warrant, shoot you in your bed, smear you after you’re dead, entice witnesses to lie about you, fabricate stories about their own actions and then, after it’s all been exposed, just walk. Free of charges. Free of discipline. Free to do it all over again. Because they will and they have. Yes, it’s tempting to think this is what we’ve come to in the age of Trump. But what if this is what we’ve always been? Since the first slave patrols busted into houses late at night, to drag human beings back into a state of enshackled property.

+ Breonna Taylor probably had no expectation that her life would end the way it did in a horrible twist of fate: shot in her own bed, during a drug raid on an apartment that didn’t contain any drugs, left to bleed out for 20 minutes before receiving any medical attention. But she had to have at least been haunted much of her exemplary life by the possibility that extreme police violence might be inflicted upon her at any moment: during a traffic stop, while shopping at a store, when jogging through the “wrong” neighborhood, at a backyard barbecue. Because it happens multiple times a day, day after day. And had Taylor’s entire life. And the cops who commit the acts of violence, the homicides in the line of duty, rarely, if ever, especially in Louisville, face any kind of consequences for their lethal actions. Nor do the judges, who sign the no-knock warrants, that give the cops the authority to break down your down door while you’re in bed, guns blazing at any sign of movement inside, no questions asked.

+ So more than 6 months after Breonna Taylor was killed, a grand jury indicted one officer on criminal charges, former detective Brett Hankison, who was charged with three counts of first-degree “wanton endangerment,” after wildly fired shots outside Taylor’s apartment and into neighboring apartments. No one charged with the death of Taylor herself…

+ To be clear only the cop whose bullets didn’t strike Breonna Taylor was indicted, which pretty much sums up the nature of our criminal justice system.

+ Five of the Louisville cops involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor were part of another bungled drug raid a year and a half before Taylor was killed while she slept. The 2018 incident traumatized a family, but led to no charges.

+ Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s AG, whose grand jury returned no indictments in the killing of Breonna Taylor, is a protégé of Mitch McConnell, who served as his general counsel from 2015-2017. (McConnell attended his wedding last month.) Cameron is on Trump’s SCOTUS shortlist, and was endorsed for office by Kentucky’s fraternal order of police.

+ Catch and release…for killer cops.

+ Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly – one of the Louisville copss involved in the police killing of Breonna Taylor – said last week: “I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.” In an email to around 1,000 officers, he called the protesters “thugs” and said “it is good versus evil.”

+ The escalating show of police force in Louisville over the week meant to suppress a “riot” after the Breonna Taylor case ruling almost certainly provoked one.

+ The truth is almost exactly the opposite of what Biden says here: “What works in the fight against crime? It’s simple more police on the streets,…Put a cop on three of four corners and guess where the crime is going to be committed? On the fourth corner where the cop isn’t. More cops clearly means less crime.”  The cities with the highest crime rates also have the largest police budgets.

+ There were 146 arrests in Louisville on Wednesday, none for the murder of Breonna Taylor.

+ The BLM protests will reveal the real Biden and it won’t be Corn Pop version.

+ Meanwhile, Leaked chats show how an Oregon-based pro-Trump group called the Patriot’s Coalition planned for political violence ahead of Portland demonstrations, including a gathering planned for this weekend…

+ FoxNews legal commentator Andrew Napolitano, a former judge in New York, was more forceful in his condemnation of the Grand Jury and prosecutor than anyone in the Biden circle:

“The law that permits the police to return fire and to defend themselves does not permit them to shoot blindly, aimlessly where they can’t see the target and they don’t even know [who] or what they’re shooting at. I would have indicted all three of them and let them assert their affirmative defenses at the time of trial.”

+ I wonder in whose bodies they want to plant these “freedom seeds”?

+ LA Law & Order: “Newly released body-camera video shows L.A. police officers yank a large protest sign from the hands of a man in a Hollywood intersection, shove him backward as he puts his hands up, then shoot him in the groin with a projectile at close range.”

+ Another seismic twist of fate was a bet, against long odds, gone by RGB, leaving Trump with the prospect of stacking the Supreme Court with Federal Society berserkers, salivating for the opportunity to obliterate the modest constitutional expansions forced on the Warren Court by the mass movements of the 1950s and 1960s. You can set the landmark rulings set up to fall like judicial dominoes: Roe, voting rights, restrictions on the death penalty, affirmative action, most environmental and worker safety regulations and perhaps even the ruling which was the original ignition point for the forging of the New Right: Brown vs. the Board of Education, because if there’s anything a right-winger hates as much as abortion it’s the prospect of a fetus growing up into a black teenager sitting next to their own progeny during a critical race theory class analyzing the Great Patriotic History of our glorious republic. When stare decisis falls, does it make a sound?

+ I keep hearing about the “legitimacy crisis” that will engulf the Supreme Court if the Senate moves forward with Trump’s expected nomination. Yet when did the institution that rendered Dred Scott (1857), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Korematsu (1944), Bowers v. Hardwick, upholding Georgia’s sodomy statute (1986) Bush v. Gore (2000), Exxon Shipping v. Baker, revoking punitive damages for Exxon Valdez wreck (2008) and Citizens United (2010) acquire this glittering aura of legitimacy?

+ In her 27 years on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg hired ONE Black law clerk

+ Nick Estes on RBG: “The veneration of a jurist who used the racist legal fiction of the Discovery Doctrine to describe *all* American Indians is appalling. Her thinking was that we’re still too incompetent to manage our own lands, and we need the US to do it for us, like wildlife…”

+ As I understand modern political history, parliaments and legislatures were developed in order to raise taxes on the common folk so kings and aristocrats could off on wars of plunder and courts were developed to try, incarcerate or condemn all of those who resisted.

+ Democracy is always “dying” when the other side kicks your ass…

+ The end of the Senate, Chuck? Then by all means. Mitch, proceed with haste…

+ If you were expecting an act of moral courage from Mitt Romney, the man who strapped the family’s dog Seamus to the roof of his car, then you’re probably the kind of voter who also believes the Democrats will end the filibuster, expand the court and win the elections…

+ Same with Lindsay Graham, who felt perfectly comfortable in urging the Democrats to use his “words against him” because he knew that his procedural hypocrisies would never hurt him with the people who elected him, especially if his deceit was done to insure a rightwing lock on the Supreme Court for the next 30 years.

+ DiFi on ending filibuster and expanding SCOTUS: “I don’t believe in doing that. I think the filibuster serves a purpose. It is not often used, it’s often less used now than when I first came, and I think it’s part of the Senate that differentiates itself.”

+ Don’t believe Feinstein? Well, take it from Biden himself: “I would not get into court packing. We had three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all.”

+ It’s dispiriting that the Democrats are now using the “threat” of making DC and Puerto Rico states as political pawns to protect what’s left of Roe. If they were serious about political representation for these colonies they could have done it any time they controlled both houses, but didn’t and likely won’t in the unlikely event they win the Senate…

+ The new Lost Cause movement in American history is going to be the post-Obama Democrats, as personified by political invertebrates like Cory Booker, whose great battle plan to resist the Republican visigoths in the Senate is a tremulous appeal to their sense of honor and decency.

+ Jerry Nadler’s intestinal eruption during a press conference on how the Democrats will resist Trump pretty much sums up the Democratic resistance to Trump….

+ The rightwing used to attack Portland as a bastion of political correctness run amuck, a patchouli-scented exemplar of the nanny state. Now it’s apparently an Anarchist Jurisdiction, free of all of the old rules of conformity & contrived politesse they used to pretend to hate. As the real Jack Black said, You can’t win.

+ According to an exposé in The Nation by Ken Klippenstein, th Feds intercepted protesters’ phone communications in Portland this summer: “You’re getting an inside view into your targets, who they are, who they’re talking to—the hierarchy.” Anarchist “hierarchy”?

+ The latest proof Portland is an Anarchist Jurisdiction: “Portland Public Schools will now provide 7 days’ worth of meals per week for all children in Portland ages 1-18, regardless of where–or if–they go to school. There is no need to sign up, register or provide student ID.”

+ A Times Square billboard directly facing an NYPD station is calling out police: “Hey NYPD. It’s us. NYC residents. The ones who pay your salary. We paid $300 million to settle your lawsuits. You paid nothing. We need to talk.”

+ According to autopsy reports, 84% of those who have been executed over recent years experienced the excruciatingly painful feeling of drowning alive as their lungs filled with a frothy liquid. Cruel, but, outrageously, more and more usual.

+ A Texas sheriff’s office rewarded deputies who used force on the job with steakhouse gift cards, according to two former employees, one of whom made the admission to Texas Rangers investigating the agency’s aggressive tactics.

+ Black people without a criminal record earn about $10,000 a year less than white people with a criminal record.

+ 10-year study of pardon applicants in Pennsylvania by the Economy League finds only 2 out of 3,037 applicants went on to commit a violent crime, or 0.066% and only 12 of the 1,082 people granted pardons went on to commit any crime (including petty “crimes” like drug use or disorderly conduct), or 1.1% of the total. People released generated an estimated $16 million in wages. In other words, clemency works.

+ Sister Helen Prejean: “At the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Federalist Society leader Leonard Leo said that AG Barr advances the ‘dignity and worth of every human person.’ Catholic teaching says that the death penalty is an ‘attack on the dignity of the person.’ Barr ordered multiple executions.”

+ According to a dispatch from Greg Miller at the Washington Post, Trump has privately maintained that Blacks have only themselves to blame in the struggle for equality, that Jews are “only it it for themselves,” and that  he “could never understand” why the Melania wanted to go to Africa. Sounds like Trump, except for the “saying them in private” part.

+ If Putin really wanted to tilt the election to Trump, he’d be secretly financing, promoting and distributing the new Hillary Clinton podcast

+ “Double-Entry”? Did Mother approve of this ad?

+ Forever Wars, Inc., in the form of 500 former top military and national “security” figures, endorses Biden…

+ Nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF during the Netanyahu era…

+ Brian Karem: “Will you commit to a peaceful transfer of power?”

Trump: “We’ll have to see…Get rid of the ballots, there won’t be a transfer, they’ll be a continuation.”

Does Trump realize this goes both ways? Melania might be able to instruct him on the fate of Nicolae Ceaușescu, who on December 21, 1989, shouted defiance to the throng of protesters in Revolution Square, only to flee Bucharest by helicopter the next morning, before being captured, tried on Christmas Day and executed by firing squad against a wall with his wife Elena, while he sang the Internationale. A video the executions was shown later that night on Romanian TV. By all accounts it got high ratings.

+ Liberals, however, were cheered by Liz Cheney’s limpid boilerplate response.

+ It’s a pity “peaceful transfers of power” weren’t part of her father’s foreign policy…

+ Here’s a weird passage from Woodward’s book, Rage, with Trump talking about the Beltway scribe’s wife, Elsa Walsh…

Trump grew exercised when I tried to break up his litany of trade achievements and grievances–which we covered nearly every time we spoke–with more questions about foreign policy.

“No, no, I made all these deals but nobody wants to talk about them!” he exclaimed. He said the media preferred to concentrate on the impeachment horseshit. Then he said he hoped my wife Elsa wasn’t listening, “because I don’t want to have her hear. Because I know her ears must be very beautiful and very–she doesn’t hear bad language.”

+ Biden, of course, wouldn’t want Elsa’s lovely hair to be ruffled by any talk of Burisma or his Iraq War vote…

+ The QAnon movement is not “anti-state.” They want a State big enough and violent enough to crush the Deep State and all of its leftwing opponents….

+ I highly recommend Nina Burliegh’s book, The Trump Women: Part of the Deal, understand how “she stands like a statue, becomes part of the machine…”

+ The percentage of American children who experience hunger during the course of a week is now more than 14 times higher than it was last year. Do you think she cares?

+ In 2011, former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who lead the murderous war on drugs, told deputy British PM Nick Clegg that the crackdown was “unwinnable.” A year later Calderon was advocating what he called “market solutions,” that is legalization.

+ Wells Fargo CEO, Charles Scharf, attempting to explain why this corrupt financial institution continually fails to meet its own diversity goals: “While it might sound like an excuse, the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from.”

+ Apparently, this is why we can’t have Infrastructure Week…Damn reds.

+ Lewis Mumford (1940)– “They do exactly what they say they are going to do. And their opponents make the deadly mistake of not believing that the fascists mean what they say.” + Trump is  re-deploying U.S. troops to Syria after a series of escalating encounters between the U.S. and Russian militaries.

+ During the Brazilian dictatorship (1964-85), Volkswagen secretly helped the military identify suspected “subversives” and union activists on their payrolls, many of whom were spied on, rounded up, jailed, some tortured. The company has now agreed to a settlement of about $6.5 million dollars.

+ Fast-forward to Seattle today: An Amazon Web Services employee emailed a series of internal Amazon listservs and told them that their communications were being monitored for labor organizing efforts.

+ COVID-19 mortality rates were 30% lower in unionized nursing homes in New York. When there was a union, workers had significantly greater access to N95 masks and eye shields, and infection rates were lower.

+ Trump on his stormtroopers rouging up journalists: “Sometimes they grabbed – they grabbed one guy. ‘I’m a reporter. I’m a reporter.’ ‘Get out of here.’ They threw him aside like he was a little bag of popcorn.”

+ Washington, who hired slave patrols to hunt down human beings who had escaped the shackles of his plantation, had a rather emaciated definition of the word “bigotry”…

+ In her first memoir, The Trump Card, Ivanka Trump bragged about paying full price for an expensive apartment in a Trump-owned building. “No one gave it to me,” she wrote. According to Dan Alexander’s recent book, White House, Inc., she actually was given a discount of more than $1 million.

+ Trump this week before what he probably believed was pure Viking-stock in Minnesota (even though recent DNA testing of 9th century “vikings” have shown them to be ethnically and racially mixed): “You have good genes, you know that, right? You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it, don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.”Trump’s obsession with “good genes” and promotion of the “racehorse theory”  is, of course, unvarnished eugenics. But it’s foolish to believe Trump imported it from Nazi Germany. Eugenics is a homegrown American phenomenon that was thriving in the US from the early 20th century & thoroughly had infected US law & policy, especially in terms of mass sterilization, anti-miscegenation laws & other odious measures that the Nazis closely scrutinized.

+ Biden was in Wisconsin this week bragging about how he “beat the Socialist!” If Bernie hadn’t run (and pre-maturely quit), Biden would have had to recruit a “socialist” to run and “beat” just to prove his campaign was free of the taint of anything to the left of his votes the 94 Crime Bill, NAFTA, the Iraq War and welfare reform…

+ As far as I can tell, the final stretch of Biden’s campaign will be an all-out effort to court white suburban women, bond traders, AIPAC, police unions, tech moguls, natural gas producers and former members of the George W. Bush administration.

+ Stand aside Log Cabin Republicans, Make Way for the Roy Cohn Republicans…45% of queer men back Trump.

+ Here’s Federal Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil ruling in favor of FoxNews in a defamation suit against the network and Tucker Carlson by stating that no reasonable viewer of Carlson’s show would believe that his statements have any factual basis:

This “general tenor” of the show should then inform a viewer that he is not “stating actual facts” about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in “exaggeration” and “non-literal commentary.” … . Fox persuasively argues … that given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer “arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism” about the statements he makes.

+ So there’s a new company called Civvl, whose niche enterprise is to hire gig workers to help landlords … evict people.

+ Sorry free-market enviros, carbon pricing and taxing won’t be an effective way to reverse or even limit catastrophic climate change: “Carbon prices do not cut emissions fast enough. Estimates range from 0.2-2% a year. The best is likely BC’s policy. Optimistically, it cut emissions 2% a year. We need emissions cuts of almost 8% a year to limit warming to 1.5 °C… ”

+ According to a report titled “Big Oil Reality Check” by Price of Oil, “None of the evaluated oil majors’ climate strategies, plans, and pledges come close to alignment with the Paris Agreement… Most of the oil majors are still on track to significantly increase their oil and gas production between now and 2030.”

+ The world’s richest one percent are now responsible for over TWICE as much carbon pollution as humanity’s poorest half. Oxfam’s new ‘dinosaur graph’ of unequal carbon emissions growth, 1990-2015, illustrates the lethal footprint of the planet’s richest inhabitants.

+ A multi-billion dollar private equity firm, whose subsidiary was awarded two special permits by the Trump Administration to haul hazardous liquified natural gas (LNG), including by rail along Florida’s east coast, apparently forgave more than $100 million in debt owed by Trump….

+ Moody’s: “We conclude that Biden’s economic proposals would result in a stronger U.S. economy than Trump’s.” A stronger “economy” for Moody’s and its Wall Street co-conspirators, for sure…

+ Order is restored. LA once again has worse air quality (AQI 175) than Portland (AQI 23).

+ Between August 1 and September 10, the historically dense of wildfire smoke was responsible for at least 1,200 and possibly up to 3,000 deaths in California, according to an estimate by researchers at Stanford University.

+ The sea lion-killing “blob” of hot ocean currents that plagued the Pacific in 2014 through 2015 may become a permanent fixture off the west coast thanks to climate change.

+ Bait & Switch environmentalism in California: This week the Newsom Administration listed the Joshua Tree as an endangered species, citing the threat of climate change. Hurray! Wait a minute. Hold the applause. Then almost immediately gave industrial solar companies 15 exemptions to construct vast solar operations in endangered Joshua Tree habitat. “What we need to be looking at is the fact that the listing of this one species is going to take millions of acres out of access for developing the very resources that will save it,” said Shannon Eddy, executive director of the Large-scale Solar Association.

+ Nationally, more than 12.8 million tons of post-consumer clothing is discarded each year, amounting to about 6 to 7 percent of the waste stream of most cities. Another 5 million tons is commercial textile waste that is dumped in landfills.

+ Maybe Governor Noem should try this form of “social distancing” with Dick Cheney…

+ This week saw the passing of French actress and singer Juliette Gréco at 93, lover of Miles Davis during his Parisian exile, confidant of Sartre, Malraux and DeBeauvoir.

+ I was stunned by the death of Gale Sayers, the fleet, sharp-cutting running back for the Chicago Bears in the early 70s, who gained a more stratospheric level of cultural fame after being played by Billy Dee Williams in the deeply affecting made for TV movie Brian’s Song, which depictied Sayres’ relationship with teammate Brian Piccolo, as Piccolo fought a losing battle against cancer. The film resonated because it struck at two of the deepest fears in the American psyche of the 70s: race and cancer. As I kid I was obsessed with baseball (still am) and Sayers was the first football player I remember following closely, in part because the hapless Bears were the “local” team in Indianapolis and in part because he played football with the flair and grace of a great centerfielder. I still vividly recall watching on my grandfather’s 12 inch black and white TV the game against the fateful game against the 49ers, when a vicious rolling tackle by defensive back Kermit Alexander crushed Sayres’ knee and ruined his career.

+ The radical journalist, film-maker and world-traveler Andre Vltchek, who wrote many dispatches for CounterPunch over the years, died in Istanbul at the tender age of 57. Despite some feverish speculation, the cause seems to have been natural, perhaps a consequence of his diabetes.

+ Lizzo on the prospect of Kamala Harris becoming vice president: “Having a Black woman as vice president would be great because I’m just always rooting for Black people. But I want actual change to happen…in the laws. And not just on the outside, you know?”

+ Sonny Rollins on John Coltrane, who would have been 94 this week: “John had that sound on tenor… you could tell it was him instantly. When you were around him you felt like you were with a genius…. Almost like a minister, a minister of music.”

She Was Born in Spring, But I was Born Too Late


Booked Up
What I’m listening to this week…

And in the End: the Last Days of the Beatles
Ken McNab
(Thomas Dunne)

White Too Long: the Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity
Robert P. Jones
(Simon & Schuster)

Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy
Ben Macintyre

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Palo Alto
Thelonious Monk

The Troth Sessions
Rich Kreuger
(Rockink Music)

Rez Abbasi

If the People Were to Settle Their Own Quarrels

“It is wrong to consider that courts are established for the benefit of the people. Those who want to perpetuate their power do so through the courts. If people were to settle their own quarrels, a third party would not be able to exercise any authority over them. Truly, men were less unmanly when they settled their disputes either by fighting or by asking their relatives to decide for them. They became more unmanly and cowardly when they resorted to the courts of law. It was certainly a sign of savagery when they settled their disputes by fighting. Is it any less so, if I ask a third party to decide between you and me? Surely, the decision of a third party is not always right. The parties alone know who is right. We, in our simplicity and ignorance, imagine that a stranger, by taking our money, gives us justice.” (Mohandas K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj)

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