Roaming Charges: When the Empire of Graveyards Falls in the Graveyard of Empires

Protest against the war and occupation in Afghanistan, 20212, Portland, Oregon. Photo: Bette Lee.

+ The next war on Afghanistan will be a silent war, one waged behind the shadowed windows of board rooms and bank vaults, an economic war, fought with sanctions and debt–weapons indiscriminate as cluster bombs–that will almost certainly inflict much more misery and death than the hot war of the last 20 years. It’s already started.

+ The best thing Biden has done in his life is to pull the US out of Afghanistan. He did it in the sloppy way Biden does everything and that–when combined with the Pentagon’s usual incompetence (some of it, perhaps, even deliberate)–presents the images of chaos the neocons and their press lackeys are now histrionic about. But getting out of this 40-year entanglement, a progressive knotting into as Thomas Pynchon might say, was always going to be messy, bloody and slammed with recriminations from those who had a stake in the war going on forever.

+ It took three months, thousands of airstrikes, hundreds of special ops raids and thousands of civilian casualties for the US to drive the Taliban from power in the fall of 2001. Twenty years later, the Taliban retook control in less than two weeks with, so far at least, a minimum of bloodshed.

+ To hear the neocons yelp and moan, the Taliban entered Kabul like the Wehrmacht rolling into Paris, instead of a peasant army, whose weapons are basically found materials from 40 years of war. As austere and reactionary as the Taliban are, their roots among a war-weary populace must be much deeper than we’ve been led to believe. Indeed, they are likely viewed as the lesser-evil, when compared to the corrupt puppet regime the US has propped up for two decades through the use of torture, drone strikes and bribes.

+ The Afghan “debacle” was not its end, but the 20-year-long war itself–from the 1st missile strikes that killed unsuspecting peasants who had no idea why they were being targeted to the people losing their grips and falling to their deaths from the wheel-wells of US planes they thought would fly them to safety.

+ The official budget for US national intelligence agencies in 2020 was: $62.8 billion, add on another $23 billion for Military Intelligence programs for a total of $85.8 billion. The black budget pushes this even higher. Really getting our money’s worth, eh?

+ The airwaves are flush with commentary on how the “collapse” of Afghanistan proves the US didn’t learn the “lesson” of Vietnam. Of course, if US foreign policy was about learning from past mistakes, there’s no evidence it learned the lessons from Korea, Congo, Guatemala, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Laos, Cambodia, Chile, Lebanon, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Grenada, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Syria…It’s not about “learning.” It’s about understanding who profits from these seemingly failed interventions/invasions/occupations.

+ The NYT is concerned that the Taliban’s routing of the US-trained Afghan military threatens American “credibility.” US credibility was lost when it invaded Afghanistan in response to a plot hatched, funded and largely executed by Saudi militants.

+ Even though it’s been burned into the national consciousness and exploited to justify wars abroad and repressive laws at home, most Americans still have apparently no idea who launched the 9/11 attacks or why–even though Bin Laden’s fatwa spells out the reasons with chilling clarity.

+ Patriotic Textbooks are certainly a concern when it comes to teaching US history, but here’s Reuters suggesting that it was the Taliban who financed, plotted and executed the attacks of 9/11 and not a group of Saudi militants, outraged by the presence of US troops on “holy” land.


+ A lot of people are bringing up Ron Paul this week, reciting his perceptive criticisms of the Afghan war after it began. But where was Paul when the vote was taken to authorize the War on Terror during the revenge fever in the days following 9/11, when the nation really needed a voice of restraint? Paul cast an ignominious vote for the AUMF, a vote that mustn’t be forgotten despite his later turn against the neocon wars. There was only one Member of Congress who stood up against the blind rush into Afghanistan: Barbara Lee. Credit her.

+ Bernie voted for the 2001 AUMF authorizing the Afghan War and all that followed. Even now, 20 years later, he continues to view the war as kind of failed humanitarian project, citing only US lives lost and pinning the blame on the Afghans themselves for being “corrupt” and “ineffectual”. Not his finest hour (or years, or decades)…

+ Liberals strike curious poses on Afghanistan…

+ “Permanently”…? Ask the Brits and Soviets how that turned out for them.

+ As always with Pence, it’s hard to tell what he means by “crisis,” but for once he’s right that lives (mainly Afghan) would have been saved if the US had left Afghanistan 19, 15, 10, 5 or even 2 years earlier. He and Trump had the chance to do it and didn’t. Biden did and is now getting the hypocritical wrath of those who started the war and those who didn’t have the guts to end it.

+ “I’m not endorsing the Holocaust, but…”

+ Shortly after writing a column in late 20o1 praising Bush for conquering Afghanistan and pronouncing the Taliban “gone,” the New York Times’s Thomas Friedman was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. His second.

+ When assessing blame for the 40-year-long torment the US inflicted on Afghanistan, let’s not forget the minor–though in his mind probably much grander–role played the laptop bombardier himself, Christopher Hitchens: mocking, petulant and already punch-drunk on his own depravity, as the bombs began to fall on Kandahar…

+ With 20 years of reflection, Rachel Maddow comes off even more clueless and bigoted than Hitchens, blaming the Afghans for the destruction and looting-by-contract of their own country: “Part of the reason even that scale of investment over 20 years didn’t materially change more … is because so much of what we put into Afghanistan was shoveled off and diverted by the boatload by a fantastically corrupt elite.”

+ The liberals (like Maddow) rehabilitated Bolton after he turned on Trump and now the big fat chickenhawk has come home to roost

+ The real “corrupt elite” weren’t Afghans, who were pikers in comparison to the grifting of Pentagon, State, & CIA contractors, lobbyists, & revolving door generals, slurping up long-term, no-bid contracts that continued to pay off no matter how ineffectual or criminal their work.

+ The networks and cable channels are suddenly devoting a lot of coverage to Afghan War veterans, asking how they feel about the end of the war. They couldn’t speak to Pat Tillman, but they might have at least read from his letters and journals. Tillman’s last words before he was shot in the head by his fellow US special forces troops were: “I’m Pat Fucking Tillman!” Whether it was “friendly fire” or a kind of “fragging-in-reverse” to shut him up is still an open question.

+ Many of the neocons growling at Biden’s exit from the wreckage they made of Afghanistan have a convenient case of amnesia about how Poppy Bush left Iraq in 91, urging Kurdish and Shia opposition groups to rise up, then watching passively as Saddam’s helicopter gunships mowed them down by the 1000s…

+ Credit where credit is due…

+ In 2004, Alexander Cockburn and I conducted an extensive interview with an Afghan businessman named Kabir Mohabbat, who detailed the numerous efforts by the Afghan government to turn over Bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks and after–only to be repeatedly rebuffed by the Bush administration, which was hellbent on war.

+ If the Mujahideen were the “moral equivalent of the founding fathers” of Afghanistan, as some in the Reagan years proclaimed, then the Taliban must be the Afghan version of the Federalist Society, intent on enforcing an originalist interpretation of Sharia Law. The Taliban session at the next CPAC will be must-see streaming.

Photo: White House, National Archives.

+ The US is out of Afghanistan (sort of), but the 2001 extra-constitutional AUMF that authorized it and the other forever wars (along with rendition, torture, and drone assassinations) remains firmly in place, grinding out lives in distant places and feeding thousands of Pentagon and CIA contractors at a trough set on auto-refill.

+ Andrew Cockburn writing in SpectatorWorld: “Few people realize that much of the time, the war itself was paid for by a bonus, an add-on to the main Pentagon budget in the form of a special fund for ‘Overseas Contingency Operations’ — money duly appropriated to the military for actually fighting this and other ongoing wars, rather like a police department charging extra for catching criminals. As the years passed, the Pentagon began quietly diverting its so-called ‘war budget’ to more urgent priorities, such as funding new weapons programs. By 2020 the diversion had become official — the budget request for that year brazenly acknowledged that $98 billion of the OCO money is for routine ‘base requirements’, rather than fighting abroad.”

+ If you invested $10,000 in the top five Pentagon contractors at the start of the Afghan War, it would be worth nearly $100,000 today.

+ Cost per day of the Afghan War: $300 million. (No wonder national health care is too expensive!)

+ Don’t fret, Pentagon contractors, the gravy train doesn’t show any sign of slowing down: As the Taliban retook Afghanistan last week, 25,000 U.S. Marines and other Navy personnel were war-gaming the capture and occupation of islands in the Western Pacific, in on one of the largest military exercises since the Cold War.

+ Poor Sartre, who had to spend some of the last hours of his life being interrogated by this cosplaying shithead, who a decade later had mutated into one of the world’s most slobbering Islamophobes. [See note below.]

+ The Afghan experience finally proved that it’s almost impossible to bomb feminism into the social and political consciousness of a country, especially when so many drone strikes hit wedding parties, even if these were targeted as a radical statement by third-wave feminists in the Pentagon about the subservient condition of women in the matrimonial state.

+ Tonight on Tucker: Is the Taliban “Too Woke” to Lead Afghanistan?

+ How many of the 4,000 Afghan “interpreters” we keep hearing about, many of whom have been left behind by the Pentagon and CIA and were key to the US’s COIN strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq, interpreted interrogations that involved torture, extracting information to led to drone strikes that killed civilians?

+ Let in as many as want to come with the retreating forces. But it’s impossible to deny the crucial role of translators in military occupations, dating back to Caesar’s conquest of Gaul. Although the profession sounds benign, it’s not necessarily a morally, or legally, neutral role. A 20-year occupation–of dubious legality–was enforced, brutally at times, by a counter-insurgency strategy that was almost totally dependent on translators.

+ The COIN strategy in brief: US troops enter a village in APCs, interrogate the villagers using Pashto or Dari speakers, bribe or threaten them into naming suspected Taliban or Al Qaeda insurgents, track down and kill–often by drone–the suspects (or the suspected suspects), even if the names offered up under duress  only turn out to be those of a mean uncle or a rival poppy grower.

+ There needs to be some kind of War Crimes Tribunal established for Afghanistan–probably headed by what used to be called the Non-Aligned Nations–to investigate atrocities committed by the NATO alliance over the last 20 years: from torture to profiteering to extra-judicial killings. Unlike past investigations which tended to prosecute “aberrant” acts in a time of war, the tribunal should focus on the architects of the war itself and the managers, private and governmental, of the occupation.

+ The fact that Reality Winner went to federal prison and David Petraeus (who leaked top secret documents to his lover) didn’t and that his opinion on Afghanistan is now solicited by outlets like the New Yorker tells you all you need to know about the level of near absolute immunity afforded to foreign policy elites in the US–their rap sheets are cleansed before the blood is even dry…

+ The 90s version of the Taliban used to chop off hands for certain violations of their version of Sharia law. The Americans chopped off fingers as souvenirs. Incremental progress?

+ For years, US intelligence agencies collected iris scans and fingerprints of Afghans. This biometric data is now in the hands of the Taliban with justifiable concern that it may be used to track down opponents of the new regime. But what exactly was the US using this data for?

+ According to an analysis by Andrew Tyndall, from 2015 through 2019 this is how many minutes network news covered Afghanistan:

ABC: 16
CBS:  25
NBC: 16

That’s less than an hour of coverage, total, over five years. After Trump announced his 2020 deal with Taliban to withdraw all US troops, ABC, CBS, NBC gave the story 5 minutes total.

+ A message to Cuba from the Secretary of State of the world’s largest carceral nation, a country that imprisons a higher percentage of its population than any other (US 639 per 100K, Cuba 510 per 100K), a country which a new report reveals spent a year targeting black activists for federal crimes for protesting police abuses, so that the protesters could be sentenced to longer prison terms and that the BLM movement would be crippled, much as the FBI had done to the Black Panthers a half-century earlier…

+ New GOP slogan: “We can’t live forever!“…(Real leaders lead by example, Frau Greene…)

+ Whatever political conscience the British Labour Party once had, it’s been rooted out and expelled. The latest victim: film director Ken Loach.

+ Here goes Politico blaming Bernie for being a gateway drug to the QAnon Cult…

+ From Against the Day

It wasn’t long before he found himself surrounded–one minute aspen-filtered shadows, the next a band of Ku Klux Klan night-riders, and here it was still daytime. Seeing these sheet-sporting vigilantes out in the sunlight, their attire displaying all sorts of laundering deficiencies, including cigar burns, food spills, piss blotches and shit streaks, Lew found, you’d say, a certain de-emphasis of the sinister, pointy hoods or not.

“Don’t look like no n—-r,” commented one.

“Too tall for a miner,” said another.

“Heeled, too. Think I saw him on a poster someplace.”

“What do we do? Shoot him? Hang him?”

“Nail his dick to a stump, and then, we set him on fahr,” eagerly accompanied by a quantity of drool visibly soaking the speaker’s hood.

“You all are doing a fine job of security here,” Lew beamed, riding through them easy as a herd of sheep, “and I’ll be sure to pass that along to Buck Wells when I next see him.” The name of the mine manager and cavalry commander at Telluride worked its magic.

“Don’t forget my name!” hollered the drooler. “Clovis Yutts!”

“Shh! Clovis, you hamhead, you ain’t supposed to tell em your name!”

+ The “economic populism” of FoxNews (even as the political gimmick we know it to be) is aimed strictly at the “shopkeeper class”–not those who actually have to work for these assholes.

Laura Ingraham: “What if we just cut off the unemployment? Hunger is a pretty powerful thing.”

John Taffer (the Bar Rescue guy): “They only feed a military dog at night, because a hungry dog is an obedient dog. Well, if we are not causing people to be hungry to work…”

+ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh seem to agree, at least in practice. They told Congress this week that despite the rising COVID numbers the Biden administration will not seek any further economic relief for the unemployed, whose $300 expanded benefits are set to expire on September 6th. These are stingiest people on earth when it comes to the well-being of the poor, the most profligate when it comes to shoveling money at Pentagon contractors and bankers…

+ Dave Grossman has trained thousands of police officers to kill without guilt or even a split-second of thought. He called it the “Warrior Mindset.” The result of this “mentality” is more than 6,000 fatal shootings by US police in the last five years.

“The term “killology” was coined by Dave Grossman, a former Army Ranger and U.S. Military Academy psychology professor who has zigzagged the country to bring his police seminars to thousands of officers. His 1995 book, “On Killing,” explores the psychological reaction to extreme violence. It asserts that people need, in a sense, to be trained to have a healthy emotional reaction to killing.”

+ According to a new “transparency report” from Google, “geofencing warrants“—where cops ask Google to tell them everyone who was at a certain location at certain time—have increased by 12 times over over the past 3 years. In total, Google received 20,932 requests from 2018-2020.

+ A federal court struck down the most-used federal anti-immigrant statute (8 U.S.C. §1326 “illegal reentry”) as unconstitutional. Judge Miranda Du ruled the law in violated the Equal Protection Clause because it was passed with racist intent in 1929 and 1952.

+ Constitutional law scholars Erwin Chemerinsky and on the questionable constitutionality of California’s recall election system:

The first question is decided by a majority vote. If a majority favors recalling Mr. Newsom, he is removed from office. But the latter question is decided by a plurality, and whichever candidate gets the most votes, even if it is much less than a majority, becomes the next governor. Critically, Mr. Newsom is not on the ballot for the second question.

By conducting the recall election in this way, Mr. Newsom can receive far more votes than any other candidate but still be removed from office. Many focus on how unfair this structure is to the governor, but consider instead how unfair it is to the voters who support him.

+ Notes from the Trauma Ward: It’s been five weeks since the crash that sent my relative into the trauma ward and the dizzying maze of the US health care system. Now the bills are starting to arrive with a seismic thud when they hit the mailbox. The first bill from the hospital was $37,450. This is didn’t include the setting of four fractures or the drugs prescribed to numb the pain. But to date nothing has symbolized our for-profit medicine machine more aptly than the sign in the neurologist’s office which warned patients that a “form complete fee” is assessed for the endless blizzard of documents each must fill out and sign (even with broken wrists) before receiving treatment.

+ The five congressional districts with the biggest declines in the white share of the population, 2010-2020:

1. TX 03 Taylor (R), 62% to 50%
GA 07 Bourdeaux (D), 50% to 38%
FL 23 Wasserman Schultz (D), 49% to 37%
MD 02 Ruppersberger (D), 55% to 43%
FL 09 Soto (D), 49% to 37%

+ If you want to help Haiti, don’t give your money to the Red Cross. A warning from Jessica Hsu and Mark Schuller on how the “humanitarian impulse” is often perverted to serve the interests of the corporate and imperial forces that have torment Haiti almost since its unforgivable revolution…

+ The first trade union formed by seafaring workers in the U.S. was organized by the Black abolitionist William P. Powell and the seamen at the “Colored Sailor’s Home” on the Lower East Side of New York in 1863. (h/t Marcus Rediker.)

+ A federal court invalidated the single most-used federal anti-immigrant law (8 U.S.C. §1326 “illegal reentry”) as unconstitutional. Judge Miranda Du ruled that the law violated the Equal Protection Clause because it was passed with racist intent in 1929 and 1952.

+ It only took Colorado 157 years to rescind a proclamation urging its residents to kill Native Americans. The big question, of course, is how this act, and what precipitated it, will be recorded in the history textbooks (Patriotic edition) used in school rooms across the West

+ HDR, a company that designs jails and highways, has been caught spying on activists who oppose their nefarious work.

+ The typical college professor makes only $3,556 per course.

+ Pity, the poor landlord.

Abandoned house, Bean Blossom, Indiana. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ The number of ICU beds available in Alabama: -29. (Which is an indictment of both how badly the pandemic has been botched and the warped priorities of the for-profit Medico-Insurance Complex.)

+  I can rationalize suspicions about new vaccines. But I can’t wrap my head around people who are so concerned about what their body absorbs that they won’t take a vaccine, even though it might save their life, but will ingest bleach or deworming medication meant for horses. They are literally taking horse pills: “At least 70% of the recent calls [to Mississippi’s Poison Control Center] have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers.”

+ Overheard at a BBQ stand near Gnaw Bone: “I heard at the church supper last month that horse dewormers work better against that Covid thing than the shots that change human DNA into lizard people. So I talked Janie into to selling it in the front yard for $5 a pill instead of a lemonade stand this summer. And let me tell you, Myrtle, that little girl’s making a killing!

+ Found at the same BBQ joint…

+ I missed the Mein Pillow guy’s cyber-symposium. Was all revealed?

+ In an appalling, gutless, and politically cynical decision Biden’s Interior Department has backed the Trump-era plan to remove all protections for gray wolves, a scheme that is not grounded in science and is meant to appease people who will never be appeased, people who feed off of this kind of transparent weakness and will demand more and more concessions, until the last sinews of the Endangered Species Act are gutted, and the West is turned into a shooting gallery for sadistic slob hunters personified by Don Jr and Wayne LaPierre’s wife.

+ As Lake Mead fell to new lows, a water shortage was declared for the first time on the Colorado River. They had decades of advance warnings

+ The fact that the anti-vaxx movement has more passion, energy, anger and sway, protesting for the freedom to expose themselves and others to mass death, than the climate movement can come close to generating in its campaign to save life on Earth as we (once) knew it, says pretty much everything you need to know about how royally fucked our predicament really is.

+ 2,700 wells across California are projected to go dry this year, and if the drought continues, another 1,000 more next year. “The scope is much larger than I think anything we heard about before,” said Joe Karkoski of the State Water Resources Control Board“People are still going to lose access to drinking water. And we don’t really have a new plan for addressing that”

+ Julian Lopez, owner Café Beaujolais in Mendocino:

“We’ve grown up in this first-world country thinking that water is a given. There’s that fear in the back of all our minds there is going to be a time when we don’t have water at all. And only the people with money would be able to afford the right to it.”

+ It appears like NASA has developed its own version of the Mayan calendar, predicting the end of Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and Alcapulco.

+ That’s Mt. Lassen (elevation: 10,547 feet) in the lower left and the 40,000 feet tall pyrocumulus plumes from the Dixie Fire towering above it.

+ According to the IPCC Report, India is facing life-threatening heat waves, prolonged droughts and massive flooding from intense storms:

Experts say heavy rain events have increased threefold since 1950, but total precipitation has declined and at least a billion people in the South Asian country currently face severe water scarcity for at least one month annually.

+ Here’s another disturbing nugget buried in the IPCC Report: We should expect the global warming rate for the quarter of a century 2015-2040 to be about double the 0.18°C/decade rate during 1970-2015 (see Figure 2)…”

+ July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.

+ Moreover, the cumulative carbon emissions from the world’s wildfires are on pace to shatter the previous records…

+ Here’s an interview in Scientific American with the great Paul Stamets on terraforming with fungi…

The universe is rich with hydrocarbons. What oyster mushrooms do really well is break down hydrocarbons and dismantle them and restructure them into fungal carbohydrates, into sugars. Sugars are an absolutely essential nutrient, of course, for practically all life forms that I know of on this planet. So the idea of using hydrocarbons as a feedstock for oyster mushrooms makes a lot of sense.

+ For the first time in more than a century, California is now home to two breeding wolf packs.  Go forth (carefully) and multiply!

+ Gina McCarthy, one of Biden’s climate flacks, visited San Diego Gas & Electric this week, as the biggest fires in California history continued to burn out of control, where she was asked about the role of natural gas in Biden’s climate plan: The president’s plan is an all-of-the-above’ strategy. We are looking at every opportunity to get renewable energy into the marketplace as fast as we can but we are not picking and choosing winners.” The stats on the ground tell another story…

Avg. number of onshore oil and gas drilling permits approved per month:

Biden: 369 (through 17 Aug, 2021)

Trump: 300 (FYs 2018-2020)

+ This comes after news that the Biden administration yanked the nomination of Elizabeth Klein as Deputy Secretary of the Interior following complaints from Lisa Murkowski and Joe Manchin that Klein was too hostile toward the fossil fuel industry.

+ How many Alberta farms have been ripped up for pipelines that carry tar sand oil that is fueling the climate catastrophe which is causing the drought conditions plaguing Alberta’s farms?

+ The husband of Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert made $478,000 last year as a “consultant” for an energy firm, income that was not disclosed during Boebert’s congressional campaign and only reported in her financial disclosure forms this week. Mr. Boebert has come a long way from selling pork sliders that allegedly gave his customers bloody diarrhea. Perhaps the secret sauce was fracking wastewater…?

+ Go hiking with the family and the dog in the remote mountains of northern California, collapse and die from inhaling toxic air from a mine and have the supposedly wild area around your bodies (dog’s included) declared a hazmat site. Welcome to the new American outback…

+ I was surprised to see the abrupt resignation of Michael Brune as executive director of the Sierra Club last week. Under Brune’s leadership the Sierra Club should be commended for wrestling with its racist institutional history, but it did very little to rectify the group’s equally abysmal history of collaboration and political appeasement on the very issues it claims to care most about, an operational characteristic of the organization since they fired Dave Brower.

+ McCoy Tyner: “I believe that every time I play it should be an experience for me, so that in turn it will be an experience for the audience. Each performance should be an adventure. I’m not interested in what I did last week”

+ In 1941 Igor Stravinsky was commissioned to compose a choral arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner. He conducted the premier performance in Boston, where, according to his memoir: “I stood with my back to the audience and conducted the audience, who were supposed to sing but didn’t. Just before the second concert, a police commissioner appeared in my dressing room and informed me of a Massachusetts law forbidding any ‘tampering’ with national property. He said that policemen had already been instructed to remove my arrangement from the music stands.”

+ The back story is Stravinsky was exiled in the US, where almost no one appreciated his avant–garde music, and desperate for work. He saw Walt Disney butcher his Rites of Spring in Fantasia and pay him a pittance for it (less than $5k, I think). Stravinsky had refused, but Disney said he’d use the music anyway because it had been registered under the Soviet copyright system, which, perversely, allowed the capitalists who ran Hollywood to use it for free. He was broke and pretty much willing to do anything and did. George Balanchine called him one morning and asked him to compose a polka. What kind of polka, Stravinsky inquired. Well, one of for elephants, Balanchine replied, chuckling. Elephants? Yes, I’m choreographing them for a circus.

+ Stravinsky’s flirtations with Mussolini and his self-adorned blinders toward the Nazi regime in the 30s didn’t help him much. In May 1938, Stravinsky’s music was pronounced Entartete Musik (Degenerate music) in Germany and his works were banned, with the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung reporting that “Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg are the leaders of the decadent cultural Bolshevist tendencies in art today.”

+ The Red Cross, the humanitarian “enterprise” that scammed Haiti (and so many others in the wake of national traumas), is itself a violation of the Geneva Convention or, more accurately, a living example of its futility.

+ Paul McCartney on composing songs in his head, as John Lennon and George Harrison noodled on their acoustic guitars: “And if you just heard the acoustic guitars on their own, you can hear little harmonics. So you just quietly pull that out and lay it on the top. In the guitar, there’s just melodies, waiting to escape. Waiting for me to set them free.”

+ SJ Perelman’s description of Hollywood: “A dreary industrial town controlled by hoodlums of enormous wealth.”

+ This week’s attractions on CP Plus include a video on the unfolding climate chaos with Robert Hunzinger, a report by Sumedha Paul on how Modi’s India is on its way to be becoming the world’s largest panopticon of legalized surveillance, Paul Street on the arming of America and my profile of the late, great Pierre Sprey, who for many years was the Pentagon’s biggest pain in the ass. All of this and more for just 7, count ‘em, 7 cents a day.

I Hear a Voice Out in the Darkness, It Moans & Whispers Through the Pines

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

A Traitor to His Species: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement
Ernest Freeberg
(Basic Books)

The Bears Ears: A Human History of America’s Most Endangered Wilderness
David Roberts

Long Players: Writers on the Albums That Shaped Them
Tom Gatti, Editor

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Emma-Jean Thackray

All of It Was Mine
The Weather Station
(Fat Possum)

Deep Blue View
Jim Noir

Another Casualty of the Rebellion

And yet the Normal World of Colorado, how safe was that to be relying on, with death around every corner, when all could be gone in an uncaught breath, quick as an avalanche? Not as if the Rev wanted Heaven, he’d have been content with someplace the men didn’t have to be set on each other like dogs in a dog-fight for lung-destroying jobs that paid at best $3-blessed .50 a day–there had to be a living wage and some right to organize, because alone a man was a mule dropping on the edge of life’s mountain trail, ready either to be squashed flat or kicked into the Void.

Turned out, the Rev was yet another casualty of the Rebellion. “So this is how we found our dear lost South again, maybe not exactly the redemption we had in mind. Instead of the old plantation, this time it was likely to be a silver camp, and the Negro slaves turned out to be us. Owners found they could work us the same way, if anything with even less mercy, they ridiculed and feared us as much as our folks done the slaves a generation before–the big difference being if we should run away, they sure’s hell wouldn’t come chasing after us, no fugitive laws for them, they’d just say fine, good riddance, there’s always more whey they come from that’ll work cheaper…” (Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day)

Correction: I’ve been told that the “Bernard-Henri Levy” in the Jeer Heet Tweet is actually Benny Levy (aka, Pierre Victor), an associate of BHL and Sartre, whose mutation was from Maoism to orthodox Judaism.

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