Roaming Charges: Crosstalk Hurricane

Autumn 2020. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

“The objection to propaganda is not only its appeal to unreason, but still more the unfair advantage which it gives to the rich and powerful.”

– Bertrand Russell

+ The Commission on Presidential Debates is not a “commission”. It’s a bipartisan monopoly, just like our political system itself.

+ Brit Hume on Fox’s pre-debate special coverage: “I don’t think there is any doubt Biden is senile.” Will he be providing a live update on Trump’s brain scan?

+ Did Max Boot become a Democrat or did the Democrats become Max Boot?

+ What happens if you vote for Biden and wake up the next morning to learn that you helped reelect the George W. Bush administration?

+ Remember when Bernard Shaw’s “rape question” about Kitty Dukakis was considered so outrageous? Tonight a “rape question” could be asked about both candidates and it wouldn’t be a hypothetical, which is a pretty accurate measure of the arc of American politics over the last 30 years.

+ I don’t think Shaw’s question was out of line and I don’t think Dukakis’ dispassionate answer was outrageous either. Was he meant to feign an emotional response to something that hadn’t happened? The post-debate frenzy was where it all went wrong. Dukakis was a political autistic. But his staff exacerbated the damage by claiming he was “sick”, remember? When he was really just a droid of the managerial class.  For the Democrats in that election season, the challenge wasn’t so much to defeat Pappy Bush but crush Jesse Jackson in the primaries, a task that Al Gore vigorously pursued, with Martin Peretz feeding him the attacks, leaving the robotic Dukakis as the default candidate…

+ One reason to watch the “debate” tonight is to give most Americans the opportunity to feel intellectually and morally superior to the two men sputtering at each other for the chance to run the dead ends of the old Empire.

+ FoxNews and Trump apparently think Biden will be receiving secret messages through an earpiece tonight, probably given to him by his new friends from the Bush administration. But people who closely watched the Democratic debates know the receiver is actually implanted in his dentures, which tend to slip every time an important communiqué on the tax code or farm subsidies is transmitted…

+ I remember watching the 2004 Bush / Kerry debate, where Bush was accused of wearing a “hidden device,” at the late Ben Sonnenberg’s apartment in NYC and my responsibility was to relay the action back to Alex and Ben in the dining room, who were drinking wine (at least Alex was and hopefully sneaking Ben, who crippled by MS was strapped in a space age wheelchair, a sip), talking about Proust and gossiping about Christopher Hitchens, while getting my round-by-round assessment that Bush was wildly beating expectations and Kerry…

+ The beverage on tap for tonight’s debate drinking game is: Lysol. One shot for every bit of malarky.

+ I predict the winner of the debate tonight will be: Lockheed, Wells Fargo, Boeing, Goldman Sachs, Blue Cross, Pfizer and Amazon. Prove me wrong…

+ Both candidates say they’re not on drugs. Good. More for the rest of us, which looks to be the only way we’ll get through this encounter of two incoherent geezers, squabbling over political minutia neither understand or can recall the import of…

+ It turns out that Trump should have been dosing himself with his hydroxy potion before the debate, since his Tinkerbell, Hope Hicks, has now tested positive for COVID, after traveling unmasked with the presidential entourage to Cleveland (where she and others refused masks offered by a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic), then on to Minnesota for a mass (super spreader) event. Trump says he’s “self-quarantining”, which would be a two-week enclosure causing him to miss the next debate, if he abides by it, which he probably won’t, unless he tests positive, which he might have (or he’d’ve already announced that he’s clean). He wasted little time in blaming Hicks’ exposure (without evidence) on being groped by military personnel (losers):

“It is very, very hard when you are with people from the military, and they come over to you and they want to hug you and kiss you because we really have done a good job for them. You get close, and things happen.”

+ Things happen. Science might know why…

+ If Trump hadn’t been tested, he wouldn’t have the COVID.

+ Trump should have hired someone to take the COVID test for him, like he did his SAT, then they’d have the COVID instead of him.

+ Trump was just one of 43,000 other Americans who tested positive for COVID on Thursday. While nearly all of them paid more in taxes than he did, few will have his resources to fight the ravages of the disease and recover from its financial aftershocks.

+ Trump, a mere 10 days ago: “It affects virtually nobody.”

+ After Hope Hicks, who had been around Trump for days, tested positive, Trump proceeded to a big fundraiser at his golf course at Bedminster, where mega-donors were lining up for a photo-op with Trump for $50,000. The top tier package was $250,000 for sitting at the roundtable, a reception and the photo-op. You get what you pay for. Literally, in this case.

+ Good thing Wilbur Ross is wrapping up the census (in defiance of a federal court order.) They’ll need all those census-takers to redeploy as contact tracers to track Hope and Don the Superspreaders…

+ Camus: “The only means to fight the plague is honesty.”

+ Then there’s this news….(The E-6B is an airborne command center.)

+ Can the world slow down for just a fucking minute? I’m typing as fast as I can but can’t keep up….

+ In Cleveland, Trump came out like Bluto thrashing Popeye’s helpless old man, Poopdeck Pappy–snorting, snarling and braying nonsense and nonsequitars, then tossing the ref himself out of the ring, as if his two-hours of debate prep had consisted of sniffing lines of Sudafed while watching re-runs of Wrestlemania.

+ It took about 10 minutes for Trump to start redbaiting Biden and Biden walked right into the trap, disparaging Sanders and Medicare-for-All during a killer pandemic…

Trump:  Joe, you agreed with Bernie Sanders, who’s far left, on the manifesto, we call it. And that gives you socialized medicine.

Biden: Look, hey.

Trump: Are you saying you didn’t agree?

Biden: I’m not going to listen to him. The fact of the matter is I beat Bernie Sanders.

Trump: Not by much.

Biden: I beat him by a whole hell of a lot.

Trump: Not by much.

Biden: I’m here standing facing you, old buddy.

Trump:  If Pocahontas would have left two days early you would have lost every primary.

+ Trump views himself as “the State” and Biden the Democratic Party: “The party is me. Right now, I am the Democratic Party.” They’re both little Louis Quatorzes at heart.

+ Biden: “Look at the analysis done by Wall Street firms (of my economic plan)…” (That’s what we’re worried about, Joe.)

+  As much as Trump craves high ratings, his campaign couldn’t help but wish that most suburban housewives had turned off the debate by the time of this exchange, where Trump interrupted Biden’s maudlin eulogy for his son Beau by trashing his younger son, Hunter, as a hapless coke fiend who’d been railroaded out of the military…

Biden: …Speaking of my son, the way you talk about the military, the way you talk about them being losers and being and just being suckers. My son was in Iraq. He spent a year there. He got the Bronze Star. He got the Conspicuous Service Medal. He was not a loser. He was a Patriot and the people left behind there were heroes.

Trump: Really?

Biden: And I resent…

Trump: Are you talking Hunter, are you talking about Hunter.

Biden: I’m talking about my son, Beau Biden, you’re talking about Hunter?

Trump: I don’t know Beau. I know Hunter. Hunter got thrown out of the military. He was thrown out dishonorably discharged.

Biden: That’s not true he was not dishonorably discharged.

Trump:  For cocaine use. And he didn’t have a job until you became vice president…

+ It’s hard not to imagine that most suburban mothers (any mothers, really) wouldn’t sympathize with Biden for having lost one son to cancer and another to drug addiction.

+ Which isn’t to explore the layers of shame and guilt Biden himself may be (and, in fact, should be) burdened with for seeing his son go off to fight in a vicious slaughterhouse of a war, waged on phony pretexts that he himself endorsed–a war that may have resulted in his son committing war crimes, a war which may, in fact, have been responsible for causing (depleted uranium) the brain cancer that later claimed his life.

+ Biden’s best line, which he snuck in between Trump bombardments about about the former Veep wanting to destroy the sanctity of white-flight suburbs by subsidizing low-income housing: “He wouldn’t know a suburb unless he took a wrong turn.”

+ Chris Wallace: Why are you holding big rallies?

Trump: Because people want to hear what I have to say.

Wallace: Are you not worried about spreading the virus?

Trump: So far, we’ve had no problem whatsoever.

Over to you, Herman Cain…

+ Biden, staying true to form: “Law enforcement needs more assistance.” He wants to increase federal support for local law enforcement by $350 million. Trump still baits him for wanting to “defund” the police.

+ Meanwhile, Trump’s answer to racist policing is to boast about how many law enforcement agencies have endorsed him and chide Biden for not being able to recall any (of the dozens) which have backed him.

+ Chris Wallace doesn’t resemble his dad at this point. More like roadkill on the Beltway.

+ It’s a frigging tragedy that Kanye’s not in the debate tonight.

+ Trump: “I’m urging my supporters to go in to the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it. As you know, today there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went in to watch. They’re called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things…”

Yep. Bad things seem bound to happen…

+ To bastardize Joyce, this debate is nightmare from which I am trying to awake. I hope it’s not a recurring one, but I fear it is.

+ Chris Wallace to a foaming Trump: “You’re gonna like the next question…”

+ Biden dancing, and stepping on a few toes, around the issue of whether he would support expanding the Supreme Court and ending the filibuster: “Whatever position I take that will become the issue…”

You can see his dilemma.

+ “It’s [Roe v. Wade] on the ballot in the courts”…really Biden? You ran the judiciary committee for a geological epoch.

+ Biden: “Of the 200,000 people who died of Covid on his [Trump’s] watch, how many survived?” Take the pill, Joe, just take the pill…

+ This debate is doing more to advance voter suppression than Covid, the purging of voter rolls, poll taxes, and the gutting of the post office.

+ Trump, bullied into denouncing his white supremacist base, bent but didn’t break:

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem this is a left wing…”

+ It took the Proud Boys about two minutes to adopt Trump’s call to arms as their new motto…

+ I’m convinced Joe Rogan would have done a better job “moderating” that “debate.” Consider how he extracted this operational description of the Proud Boys from its founder Gavin McInnes: “We will kill you.”

+ A couple of days before the debate, word leaked out that there wouldn’t be any questions on climate change. And frankly I wasn’t too disappointed. Wallace wouldn’t know what to ask. Trump and Biden wouldn’t know how to answer. Wallace wouldn’t know how to follow up. And everyone would just be confused. And then Wallace asked a climate question and a second-rate Abbott and Costello routine broke out…

Biden: And here’s the deal-

Trump: He’s talking about the Green New Deal. And it’s not 2 billion [crosstalk] or 20 billion, as you said [crosstalk]. It’s $100 trillion.

Biden: I’m talking about the Biden plan [crosstalk]-

Wallace: Let him go for a minute, and then you can go.

Trump: And rebuild the building.

Biden: No.

Trump:  It’s the dumbest-

Biden: That is not-

Trump: … most ridiculous [crosstalk] where two car systems are out-

Biden: Not true-

Trump: … where they want to take out the cows too.

Biden: Not true.

Trump: That’s not true either, right?

Biden:  Not true.


Biden: The Green New Deal will pay for itself as we move forward. We’re not going to build plants that, in fact, are great polluting plants-

Wallace:  So, do you support the Green New Deal?

Biden: Pardon me?

Wallace:  Do you support the-

Biden:  No, I don’t support the Green New Deal.

Trump: Oh, you don’t? Oh, well, that’s a big statement.

+ Thrown off most of the night, Wallace reverted to FoxNew form for the final 20 minutes, pushing Biden to agree that federal troops should be sent into Portland and for Trump to declare the election invalid.

+ In the end, Biden backed away from his already anemic health care plan, distanced himself from the Green New Deal, embraced Wall Street, pushed for enhanced funding for police and bashed China. I don’t know if that’s a win for Trump, but it sure sounds like a loss for the rest of us.

+ How are they going to blame Susan Sarandon, Jill Stein and Ralph Nader for this debacle?

+ Biden’s strange vow to wait to declare victory until the vote count is “certified” could effectively hand the election to Trump, who certainly won’t wait until he’s declared the loser to proclaim himself the winner.

+ For the next debate, if they insist on having one, they should simply make both candidates publicly take the citizenship test required of immigrants.

+ Asad Abukhalil: “Back in 1993, Chris Wallace came to interview me at Middle East Institute about the World Trade Center bombing. After the interview, he wanted me to walk with him down the street while they shot videos of us. I said: ‘I am not an actor. I won’t.’ He was pissed and said: ‘I won’t use the interview.’ I said: ‘I don’t care.'”

+ I’m reminded of Cockburn’s hero Gerald Ford, the accidental president, who lost his debate with Carter after declaring, with some logic, that eastern Europe wasn’t under the total domination of the USSR. Carter then attacked him mercilessly from the right. Tonight wasn’t that.

+ Everyone who watched that debate now has a pre-existing condition.

+ If the Cleveland debate had occurred in Bolivia or Venezuela, the US would be seeking sanctions and a regime change resolution by the OAS and UN tomorrow morning.

+ Andrew Sullivan, who just won’t stay cancelled, claims last night’s debate was the worst political culture even he’s ever witnessed. Did he miss Colin Powell’s performance at the UN in 2003?

+ And now a post-debate message from “Portland’s Sheriff,” Mike Reese…

+ The Commission on Presidential Debates says “last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.” Discussion!

+ Trump shouting over Biden during that Crosstalk Hurricane actually did Biden a favor, because whenever Trump paused for a wheeze of breath and Biden’s fractured sentences broke through they often made no sense and what sense they made hardly added up to compelling case for electing him.

+ Reporter: “Do you find that concerning, the president’s refusal last night during the debate to condemn white supremacist groups?”

Sen. Tim Scott: “I think he misspoke. I think he should correct it. If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”

He misspeaks like that a lot.

+ My nominee for the worst living American: coal baron Bob Murray, climate-denying CEO of Murray Energy, who has fought to weaken black lung protections for miners for many years and apparently just filed for federal black lung benefits for himself.

+ The freakout over Trump (and the GOPs) flagging prospects in November has now hit Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott took unilateral action this week to close (as of Oct. 2) satellite offices where voters can drop off completed mail-in ballots. Counties can now only have one drop-off point. That’s right Loving County (pop. 169) and Harris County (pop 4,713,325) both will have one drop-off.

+ The Texas border county of Brewster sprawls across 6,184 square miles, a swath of land larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Under Abbott’s order, it also will have a single drop box.

+ When Abbott was attorney general of Texas, he sent his investigators peeping into old ladies’ bathroom windows in pursuit of “voter fraud.

+ In which Katie Porter demonstrates the merits of 90% marginal income tax rate for the top earners…

+ A Foster Farms chicken slaughterhouse in California’s Central Valley just experienced the deadliest COVID outbreak among all meat-packing plants in the US, where at least 392 workers have tested positive and 8 died—and line workers there still can’t social distance.

+ It’s beginning to look like about 20% of people with COVID transmit the virus to about 80% of those who fall ill from it.

+ Five days: the median hospital stay before death for a COVID-19 patient in India, compared with two weeks in the United States.

+ More children in New York state have now lost parents to COVID-19 than from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks: 4,200 kids lost a parent to COVID between March and July; an estimated 3,051 children lost a parent on 9/11.

+ The age-stratified Infection Fatality Ratio of COVID-19 vs seasonal influenza shows that COVID is significantly more fatal than the flu at all ages above 30:

• 2.9× more fatal at age 30
• 5.0× at age 40
• 8.6× at age 50
• 13.6× at age 60
• 14.4× at age 70

+ In Rapid City, SD, one of the nation’s COVID-19 hotspots, they’re running out of substitutes so the school board voted to make teachers ‘critical infrastructure’ so they can be compelled to continue working AFTER COVID-19 exposure.

+ Ruth Hopkins, Lakota: “When all is said and done, the COVID-19 pandemic is in the rear view and all information about how it ravaged Tribal communities is revealed, it will be looked upon as a new wave of attempted genocide committed against this land’s Indigenous by colonial governments.”

+ 19,000: the number of Amazon workers who have contracted COVID-19 since March.

+ Data released this week by the Bureau of Economic Analysis indicates that the slashing of the enhanced unemployment insurance (UI) benefits ripped $667 billion in purchasing power out of the economy in August alone (expressed as an annualized amount).

+ When asked if he’s exploiting people’s fear to further his anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, Idaho Pastor Doug Wilson bluntly replied, “Yeah. I am.

+ OK, Ilhan, list the one’s who weren’t…

+ Why is Amy Coney Barrett’s religion off limits? Imagine if Akhil Amar or Keith Ellison had been nominated to the court by Obama? The Republicans, and probably many Democrats as well, would be shrilling ranting about the threat of Sharia Law.

+ Even so, my problem with Amy Coney Barrett isn’t that she’s a “Catholic,” but that she’s not a better Catholic & follows the Church’s guidance on the death penalty, climate change, the treatment of the poor, the sick and political refugees. She adopts the parts of Catholic doctrine that service her cruel and reactionary judicial philosophy and junks the rest, as if they were ravings of some desert gnostic. Her true spiritual guide is Scalia not Francis.

+ Barrett signed her name to a full-page ad run by St Joseph’s County Right to Life, a group that says it believes life begins at fertilization and that abortion providers should be prosecuted. This endorsement does not appear to have been disclosed in her questionnaire submitted to the Judiciary Committee.

+ Barrett’s past work includes representing Giuliani’s troubling old client the MEK, when it was listed by the State Department as a terrorist group…

+ Kayleigh McEnany announced in a Thursday briefing that Amy Coney Barrett was a “Rhodes scholar.” Barrett didn’t receive a Rhodes Scholarship, but instead earned a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Memphis (28th ranked liberal arts college … in the South). When a reporter pointed that out, McEnany said, “My bad.” Still, Kayleigh can feel somewhat comforted in the knowledge that Barrett is almost certainly a huge admirer of Cecil Rhodes himself…

+ Since “Rhodes Scholar” is in the news today (thanks to Amy and Kayleigh), I thought I’d show the one I always turn to for aesthetic enlightenment and moral edification, Dr. Chick Corea, College of Fender…

+ When it comes to reproductive rights, Cindy McCain, who just endorsed Biden and joined his transition team, is to the right of Amy Coney Barrett…

+ You mean  the cop didn’t thrust thrust his knee on his throat or shoot him in the back? “As he exited, police ordered [former Trump campaign manager Brad] Parscale — shirtless, but wearing shorts — to get on the ground. He didn’t comply, so an officer used a ‘double-leg takedown’ to lower him to the ground while other officers handcuffed him.”

+ Parscale, another Trump wife-beater (recall Rob Porter)….NBC News: “According to police records, Parscale had 10 guns confiscated from his residence, including several rifles. Police described Parscale as being under the influence of alcohol. Police say they observed bruising on Parscale’s wife, Candace, and she stated he has hit her.”

+ The United States has spent more than $300 billion for missile defense research and design over a period of about three decades, for a system that still doesn’t work, has needlessly antagonized Russia and sparked the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons.

+ At least 21 people died in ICE custody this year, the most since 2005.

+ During George Floyd’s funeral in Pearland, Texas, the local police department invited Border Patrol snipers to patrol the area, while FBI surveillance helicopters circled overhead. According to internal documents unearthed by Vice, the “rules of engagement” permitted them to be…

“geared up ready to deploy” in response to “verbal aggressive language” by protesters, or the throwing of empty water bottles. If the situation escalated to full water bottles or bricks being thrown, agents were authorized to use “less lethal/gas munitions.” If faced with more aggressive behavior that the officers believed could cause them imminent harm, the documents make clear: “deadly force is authorized anytime.”

+ Lindsay Lewis, a US lawyer told the court at the Old Bailey that Julian Assange was likely to be confined in the same Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado as Abu Hamza and held under similar conditions of extreme isolation…

+ First they came for Assange and the NYT said nothing. Then…the Trump’s press secretary called for a “criminal investigation” of the New York Times for getting its hands on Trump’s federal tax returns.

+ By a 397-5 vote, the House passed Rep. Eric Swalwell’s bill reaffirming the House’s commitment to an “orderly and peaceful transfer of power.” Who were the five against Thebes? Let us know their names! (The usual suspects, it turns out: Reps. Louis Gohmert, Matt Gaetz, of Florida, Clay Higgins, of Louisiana, Steve King, of Iowa, and Thomas Massie, of Kentucky.)

+ Memphis police brought “taser shields,” capable of delivering shocks of up to 320 volts of electricity, to a BLM protest over the lack of accountability over the killing of Breonna Taylor.

+ The Portland Police Bureau spent at least $83,190 on munitions and other weapons used against protesters in July and August, according to records uncovered by the Portland Mercury. This includes $1,900 to purchase a gun that shoots pepper balls, and $5,056 on grenades containing CS gas, a potent form of tear gas recently banned by Mayor Ted Wheeler.

+ Devasting Human Rights Watch report on the NYPD’s vicious crackdown on nonviolent protestors, reporters and legal observers in the Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven: “An official from the Legal Bureau directed uniformed officers to arrest the legal observers – volunteers with identifiable badges and hats who document police conduct and help people who get arrested. The right of legal observers to document police conduct during protests is laid out in the NYPD Patrol Guide. Video footage captures the Legal Bureau official instructing other officers: “Legal Observers can be arrested. …They are good to go!”

+ Williamson County (Texas) Sheriff Robert Chody was indicted and booked into his own county jail for felony charges of evidence tampering after it was revealed that video and audio recordings from the police killing of Javier Ambler had been destroyed or concealed…

+ Andrew Baer, Beyond the Usual Beating: “The professionalization movement and its reform paradigm not only failed to prevent police torture in Chicago; it also helped perpetrators secure impunity.”

+ Nearly, every undocumented immigrant working in the US pays more in federal taxes than Donald Trump.

+ In 2017, a single worker without children who made $18,000 would have paid $760 in federal income tax. Donald Trump paid $750.

+ Trump wrote off the cost of his own haircuts to the tune of at least $70,000 during his time on “The Apprentice.” He also wrote off another $95,464 paid to Ivanka’s favorite hair and makeup stylist.

+ Rosanne Cash wins the Internet for the Week…

+ You have to give Trump this much, he paid more in federal income taxes than many of the biggest corporations did in 2018:

Amazon: $0
Chevron: $0
Delta: $0
Deere: $0
Eli Lilly: $0
GM: $0
Goodyear: $0
Halliburton: $0
IBM: $0
JetBlue: $0
Molson Coors: $0
Netflix: $0

+ If I understand the implications of the NYT piece correctly, during the “best economy ever,” which Trump repeatedly claims to have engineered, he and his company managed to lose money. Lots of it.

+ Trump should be thanking Obama, the $70 million tax refund he cashed, which is basically the only money he’s made in the last decade, came from a loophole in the tax code created by Obama’s 2009 recession bailout for Wall Street bill.

+ One of the most comical, and politically revealing, disclosures in the NYT piece on Trump’s finances and taxes is that while the Democrats have been bemoaning for four years now Trump’s failure to make his tax returns public, they’ve been in the possession of Congress for 10 yrs. In fact, the Joint Committee on Taxation has been deliberating for years whether or not to approve the $70 million tax refund Trump claimed in 2010, a committee that includes Chuck Grassley, Mike Crapo, Mike Enzi, Ron Wyden, Debbie Stabenow, Richard Neale, Lloyd Doggett, Kevin Brady, and, just for kicks, Devin Nunes.

+ According to the NYT report, Trump is an even bigger deadbeat that we imagine or possibly even could imagine: “Mr. Trump has an established track record of stiffing his lenders. But the tax returns reveal that he has failed to pay back far more money than previously known: a total of $287 million since 2010.”

+ Here comes the Judge: Former Judge Andrew Napolitano, who has been one of the only sensible voices on FoxNews for the last couple of years, is being sued for sexual harassment. According to the filing:

“Napolitano walked up to Plaintiff’s chair, and suddenly threw himself onto Plaintiff’s lap. Napolitano then told Plaintiff that ‘I want you to start slapping me really hard. Before Plaintiff could say anything in response, defendant Andrew Napolitano then demanded that James Kruzelnick spank his exposed buttocks while Napolitano masturbated on his lap.”

Napolitano had once been on Trump’s short list for the Supreme Court.

+ Move over Melania, Trump has found his Anne Boleyn…She may not last 1000 days, though.

+ The COVID infections of the Trumps will spare FoxNews from the trauma of covering the release of the Melania Tapes tonight, where the First Lady is recorded as saying, “Who gives a fuck about Christmas, stuff?” Over to you, Bill O’Reilly.

+ HR McMaster is the latest hawkish former Trump aide to deride the president for “aiding and abetting” Putin. But remember that McMaster’s big regret about the Vietnam War is that the US didn’t kill another million or so people and declare victory….

+ Apparently, Biden would prefer to have hardcore neocons like former RNC chair Marc Racicot endorsing him than Sanders supporters, whom he is running further away from each day. And Racicot is a nasty piece of work, as I reported years ago

+ Nancy Pelosi: “One of my prayers is that the Republicans will take back their party. The country needs a strong Republican Party.”

+ We need the “Strong Republican Party” of the McCarthy years! And while you’re at it, bring back the Goldwater Girls and Nixon’s plumbers, Reagan’s death squads, Dick Cheney and his Dark Side action team!

+ From the Quinnipiac poll in South Carolina, showing a dead heat between Biden and Trump:

Trump approval rating overall: 49%.

Among white evangelicals: 82%

+ In reading Rick Perlstein’s Reaganland, the first third of which covers the rise of the New Right under Jimmy Carter, I was surprised to learn that JC’s electoral reform bill included election day voter registration and the abolition of the electoral college, which the GOP initially endorsed before Reagan and the Richard Viguerie direct machine shanked it.

+ The Trump Administration just took a step toward reducing farm worker wages by announcing the unilateral decision to eliminate the data collection that allows the Department of Labor to determine and set farm worker wages…

+ Projection is the psychological trademark of the entire Trump administration…

+ Biden’s new “ethics” plan contains a loophole allowing the transition team’s general counsel to make exceptions to its lobbying restrictions and hire lobbyists A transition official told the Wall Street Journal they’ve made a “handful” of exceptions.

+ Boris Johnson goes AquaTrump, pushes for floating walls in the Channel to keep out desperate refugees…

+ Looks like HRC didn’t pay her Zoom bill…or perhaps that Anthony Weiner’s been on the computer again chewing up all the bandwidth?

+ The Irish Supreme Court has ruled that Subway sandwiches contain “too much sugar” to legally be considered bread and therefore should be taxed like candy or soda pop.

+ A Sky News investigation found that a US-made bomb killed 9 civilians in Yemen, including 6 children. “I was searching for my daughter, but she was dead. Then I saw my sister-in-law and she was dead too. I just picked up my son and screamed for help.” Why the reporting on US/Saudi war crimes in Yemen now, after all these years? And why’d it take Sky News?

+ Here’s some more triumphant news: the Air Force announced this week that its Reaper drone can now carry four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles on its outboard wing stations…

+ What the Democrats really need is a senator who will stand up to Chuck Schumer…

+ Our pal Steve Horn reports for Real News that Dakota Access CEO Kelcy Warren gifted Trump with $10 Million and Trump return the favor by pushing secret pipeline permits that not only do not require Tribal consultation, but don’t even require the oil companies to notify the government about pipeline construction…

+ Greenland, as Maddie Stone reports in National Geographic, is on track to lose more ice this century than it has at any other point in the Holocene, the 12,000-year period since the rise of human “civilization.”

+ The Interior Department sent out an email this morning to all Bureau of Land Management employees announcing Sec. David Bernhardt intention to keep William Pendley on as part of BLM’s “superior management team”, after he was removed from his post as acting BLM director by a federal judge.

+ Verlon Jose, former Vice Chairman of the O’odham Nation, on the Trump border wall destroying the sacred site of Quitobaquito Springs: “Let me get an iron blade and drag it across your heart, and maybe then you will understand what we feel and what we see here today.”

+ Upwards of 40% of all native plants are now considered at risk of extinction, according to a new report from the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew.

+ It was 107 in Burbank on the last day of September. Science doesn’t know why

+ Leaves, leaves, leaves! If only you’d rake your leaves!

+ Oil and gas companies have issued nearly $100,000,000,000 in new bonds since Trump’s COVID-19 corporate bailouts started back in March, amounting to a massive taxpayer-funded bailout of the fossil fuel industry, as climate-driven wildfires scorch the West, derechos ravage the Great Plains and hurricanes blitz the Gulf of Mexico.

+ Even cashing in on those bailouts, oil and gas producers are on pace for the most bankruptcies since the collapse of shale oil production in 2016.

+ Meanwhile, fracking CEO’s lost billions for their companies, but got paid millions

+ One of the largest coal retirement announcements in US history: Vistra, largest emitter of climate-warming carbon pollution in the US electric sector, is retiring all its coal plants in Ohio and Illinois, 319 – 324 plants since 2010, generating 6,200 MW. Of course, nearly all of that capacity will be replaced by other non-renewables, such as fracked natural gas, nukes and industrial wind and solar.

+ Last year’s fires in the Amazon sparked something of a global panic. This is year the fires are the worst in a generation (32,017 distinct fires, a 61% rise from the same month in 2019) and there’s barely been ripple of coverage.

+ Lockheed contaminated the soil and groundwater at its Orlando plant with toxic wastes from building heavy weaponry and then tried to use air strippers and soil vapor extraction to remove the pollutants, but exacerbated the contamination by failing to contain the gaseous poisons.

+ Texas A&M was founded with 180,217 acres of land taken from more than 180 tribal nations. But a 45-person university task force on race relations has no Native American representation.

+ I’m surprised that Zappa didn’t write a song about that ascot Jean-Luc’s wearing, something along the lines of “Has Your Ass Got You By the Ascot?”

+ Mike Cooley on the plaintive tone of the Drive-By Trucker’s latest album, “The New OK“: “I’m really running out of optimism, honestly. I never had much to begin with. I’m not a [glass] half-full or half-empty guy, I’m just a half, because it’s a measurable amount. It’s not a matter of fucking opinion.”

+ Joe Strummer: “The way you get a better world is, you don’t put up with substandard anything.”

World Turning Darker Every Day, In a Fucked Up USA…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

The Apocalypse Factory: Plutonium and the Making of the Atomic Age
Steve Olson

Fathoms: the World in the Whale
Rebecca Giggs
(Simon & Schuster)

American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People
James Yates Sexton

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Blue Hearts
Bob Mould

Giant Steps: 60th Anniversary Edition
John Coltrane

Chick Corea

It is on Opinion Only That Government is Founded

“Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few, and the implicit submission with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is effected, we shall find, that, as force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore, on opinion only that government is founded, and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular. The soldan of Egypt, or the emperor of Rome, might drive his harmless subjects, like brute beasts, against their sentiments and inclination. But he must at least have led his mamalukes, or prætorian bands, like men, by their opinion.” (David Hume)

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