Roaming Charges: Whatd’Ya Expect Us to Do About It?

Wall art, Warehouse District, Portland, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

“Today as then, the great properties interests and their agents commit the most ferocious crimes I’m the name of the whole people, and bluff and browbeat them by lying propaganda.”

– CLR James

+ The Democrats had a month to prepare an emergency response to the Dobbs decision, a response that would have provided immediate help to women who had abortion appointments this week. Instead, they spent the time preparing fundraising spam. They make the Uvalde cops seem proactive.

+ Biden doesn’t want to expand the Court. Won’t pressure Sinema and Manchin to back eliminating the filibuster to codify Roe. Doesn’t want to use federal facilities as abortion clinics. Doesn’t back statehood for DC or PR. But does want to nominate an anti-abortion activist and Federalist Society lawyer to a lifetime position on the federal bench as a favor to Mitch…?

+ Only 20 percent of Chicago voters turned out to vote in this week’s primaries, the lowest turnout since 2014. Who is going to be motivated to vote for a party that repeatedly says it’s helpless to do anything and doesn’t have any ideas on “what” to?

+ Dana Bash, CNN: “What do you say to Democratic voters who say, ‘wait a minute—we worked really hard to elect a Democratic president and vice president, a Democratic-led House, a Democratic-led Senate. Do it now.'”

Harris: “Do what now?

+ At least Nero fiddled while the Christians burned (or at least cheered, as the fulfillment of prophecy, the burning of) Rome…

+ Expanding the Court is a fine idea. There’s “historical and traditional” precedent for doing just that. One justice for each federal circuit, of which there are now 13. But what evidence is there that the GOP wouldn’t exploit the current undemocratic process of court appointments to simply pack it with more Federalist Society clones?

Despite winning the popular vote in 7 of the last 9 presidential elections, and controlling congress for much of that time, the Democrats, partly owing to their own incompetence, haven’t had a majority on the court in more than 50 years. The problem isn’t the size of the court but how justices get appointed and how long they serve. Why should judges, who are just as ideological as any politician (and perhaps even more so), have lifetime appointments? The most undemocratic institution in our government is now micro-managing how the government operates.

+ If you want a preview of what life is going to be like here under the rule of an unelected tribunal of reactionary Catholic jurists, look to Mussolini’s Italy, Franco’s Spain, Videla’s Argentina & Pinochet’s Chile. A kind of karma is at play here, since the US coddled many of these regimes & put Pinochet’s in power. It’s no mere accident of history that many of the Proud Boys wear Pinochet t-shirts, depicting the helicopters from which Leftists were pitched to their deaths. These regimes were financed & armed by the US to do abroad what many want to see happen here.

+ I have friends in Spain who swear that the Inquisition–where religious courts supervised the jailing, torture and execution of heretics (Jews, Muslims, gays, anarchists, communists, feminists, atheists, artists)– didn’t end until the death of Franco in ’75. How long will ours last? With the EPA ruling gutting limits on carbon emissions coming later this week, not very long.

+ One of the crimes punishable by death during the Inquisition was that of “unnatural marriage,” which was defined as any marriage between two individuals (not necessarily homosexuals, but also so those involving sterile men and infertile women) who could not procreate. Coming soon from the Opus Dei court? Clarence Thomas, at least, seems to be heading that direction

+ The former Monsanto lawyer, Clarence Thomas–one of the least qualified jurists ever to sit on the Supreme Court–claims to have been persecuted by liberalism for the first 43 years of his life. Yet, he owes his seat on the court entirely to the retirement of one of the court’s greatest liberals, Thurgood Marshall. Bush nominated Thomas to fill a kind of racial quota (1 of 9), thinking (correctly) the Dems would be less likely to “Bork” him, even though Thomas was gunning to annihilate every ruling on racial, gender & class equity Marshall ever made.

+ As the New York Times reported in 1993, Thomas told one of his law clerks: According to one of his law clerks, “The liberals made my life miserable for 43 years, and I’m going to make their lives miserable for 43 years.” Of course, liberalism got Thomas into Yale Law School and his mind shorts out when it tries to process the fact that he benefitted from something he hates: affirmative action. He’s resented it for 50 years. It’s a kind of self-loathing, which everyone else is paying the price for…

+ Anita Hill would have been the Rosa Parks of the Me Too movement, if Joe Biden, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had permitted any of the many “Toos” to testify. Thomas owes his seat on the court to Biden and the 11 Democratic senators who voted to confirm him.

+ Conservative women who oppose abortion are nearly as likely as liberals who support abortion to have had one…

+ So much for the feeble Merrick Garland’s bold assurances about the continued legality of Plan B pills: Rape victims who receive care at Saint Luke’s 16 health centers in Missouri will no longer have access to Plan B. The hospital system fears that emergency contraception will violate the state’s draconian and ambiguous abortion ban.

+ Margaret Atwood: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

+ Instead of scapegoating Bernie Sanders and Susan Sarandon for HRC’s blown lay-up against Trump, Democratic strategists would be better served to ask how many progressives were alienated by HRC’s pick of the anti-abortion Tim Kaine–a Jesuit missionary–as her running mate. Kaine was so reactionary (“un-woke,” if you will) that he opposed gay adoption until shortly before the 2016 elections. Yet this concession to “pragmatism” didn’t even help her win PA … or any of the other “battleground” states, for that matter.

+ More than one million suburban voters have switched their party affiliation to the GOP since the last election.

+ From the Collected Political Wisdom of Chuck Schumer: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

+ Joe longs for those prelapsarian days of the original MAGA, when the lunchtime speakers on women’s rights were enlightened men like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr.

+ According to Politico, “Biden and officials are concerned that more radical moves would be politically polarizing ahead of November’s midterm elections, undermine public trust in institutions like the Supreme Court or lack strong legal footing.”

+ Last week I quoted a few passages from the National Right to Life Council’s “model legislation” it is sending to states that are likely to outlaw abortion. A deeper reading of the legislation shows that the anti-abortion zealots want to subject people to criminal and civil penalties for “aiding or abetting” an abortion, including “hosting or maintaining a website, or providing internet service, that encourages or facilitates efforts to obtain an illegal abortion.”

+ It’s happened before. In 1967, a California doctor was convicted (People vs. Belous) after referring a young woman to an abortionist. Abortions in the state were illegal at the time ,except to save a woman’s life

+ US Population in 1970: 205 million

US Population in 2022: 332 million.

+ Utah Republican Rep. Karianne Lisonbee: “I do trust women enough to control when they allow a man to ejaculate inside of them and to control that intake of semen.” Today in Home Ec we’re going to work on our “intake control,” girls! One, two, three, squeeze. Tighter, Elizabeth Marie, tighter!

+ Apparently Lisbonbee and fellow Republican, Yesli Vega, who said she doesn’t believe women can become pregnant after being raped, are graduates of the Todd Akin School of Reproductive Biology.

+ “We will adopt your baby!”

Still from Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot.

+ In 2010, current Oklahoma Senator, and leading Christian conservative, James Lankfort testified in a deposition his belief that 13-year-olds can consent to sex. (The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16.) The deposition was part of a civil case filed against a Christian Youth Camp, where a 13-year-old girl was raped by a 15-year-old boy. At the time, Lankfort was director of youth programming at the Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, a campground south of Oklahoma City which attracts more than 50,000 young campers (age 12 to 18) a year.

+++

+ I’m pretty sure that the “surprise” testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson (which couldn’t have surprised anyone) will only further endear Trump to his followers: he defended their right to carry weapons and nearly wrecked the Beast fighting for the wheel to join them at the Capitol

+ When the transcripts of the Watergate tapes were released, the thing that finally turned the Wall Street Journal against Nixon wasn’t evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct justice but the number EXPLETIVE DELETED redactions, which the Journal’s editors cited as evidence of the Nixon White House’s moral degeneration, though it’s hard to see the same fate befalling Donald “I’m the Fucking President” Trump. Maybe they’ll be aghast at the ketchup stains on the walls of the Oval Office…

+ There are two problems with the idea of Trump manhandling a Secret Service agent in order to get his hands on the wheel of the presidential limo. First, it’s impossible to picture Trump getting into an altercation with anyone who he knew would kick his ass. Second, he’s never driven anything more complex than a golf cart and then wildly.

+ I don’t think Hutchinson was lying. I’m sure she heard the story she told. That doesn’t make the story she heard true. Barring such uncorroborated second-hand accounts was once a basic principle of what used to be our legal system. it was a failure of the committee and its staff to dramatically offer hearsay evidence without having a good idea of whether it could be confirmed or–in this case apparently– would be immediately denied. They rushed her testimony for ratings. They wanted a “headline” moment, like Frank Church holding up the poison dart gun at the CIA hearings, which when called into question, will now distract from the highly incriminatory firsthand testimony she gave. For 24 hours, they made her seem like the second coming of Alexander Butterfield, when they had the time and resources to factcheck her testimony. Journalists did it in a few hours. The committee did a grave disservice to their own witness.

+ Here’s a scenario. Trump was pissed. He was yelling that he wanted to go to the Capitol. Told the driver he was the Fucking President. Slammed his tiny hands against the front seat. The story gets retold more vividly by those in the limo. And then retold again for dramatic effect to staffers back in the White House. Which are the way stories have spread since a bleary-eyed Mary Magdalen stumbled into the wrong tomb in the pre-dawn light and found it empty.

+ So Trump, who demanded the magnetometers be taken down on the Mall,  wasn’t afraid of Antifa packing heat at his speech, eh?

+ According to Hutchinson, when Trump flew into a rage, his staff called on an aide, nicknamed the Music Man, to play favorite show tunes they calm him down, including “Memory” from the musical ‘Cats.’” (I thought Elton John was Trump’s musical sedative? He’s always put me to sleep.)

+ Today’s Constitutional Moment with Lauren Boebert: “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church…I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter, and it means nothing like what they say it does.”

+ To the extent the “West” was founded on anything, it was an idea of democratic government, moral philosophy and slave labor economics that was developed in pagan Athens 400 years before the birth of Christ. They’ve been eroding the democratic government and moral philosophy ever since, but the slave labor economic model has remained pretty much intact for 2.5 millennia.

+ Over to you, Frank…

+ Here’s an episode from Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day featuring a debate between a certain Lieutenant Prance, Cambridge scholar of religion and languages, and Kip Traverse, a Colorado math genius and son of a Wobbly bomber, on the nature of state religion:

Prance: “These bloody shamans tell the people anything, no matter how insane, and people believe them. It’s like Americans, only different.”

“Strange attitude for a divinity scholar to be taking, isn’t it?”

“Traverse, for God’s sake,” Prance had been smoking all day and had developed an impatient growl. “There is light and there is darkness.”

“Let me guess. The Church of England is light, and everything else–“

“Not quite how it sorts out. Differences among the world religions are in fact rather trivial when compared to the common enemy, the ancient abiding darkness which all hate, fear, and struggle against without cease”–he made a broad gesture to indicate the limitless taiga all around them–“Shamanism. There isn’t a primitive people anywhere on Earth that can’t be found practicing some form of it. Every state religion, including your own, considers it irrational and pernicious, and has taken steps to eradicate it.”

“What? There’s no ‘state religion’ religion in the U.S.A., pardner, we’ve got freedom of worship. It’s guaranteed in the Constitution–keeps church and state separate, just so we don’t turn into something like England and keep marching off into the brush with bagpipes and Gatling guns, looking for more infidels to wipe out. Nothing personal o’ course.”

“The Cherokee!” replied Prance, “the Apache, the massacre of the Sioux Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee? Every Red Indian you’ve found, you people have either tried to convert to Christianity or you’ve simply killed.”

“That was about land,” said Kit.

“I suggest it was about the fear of medicine men and strange practices, dancing and drug-taking, that allow humans to be in touch with the powerful gods hiding in the landscape, with no need of any official church to mediate it from. The only drug you’ve ever been comfortable with is alcohol, so you went and poisoned the tribes with that. Your whole history in America has been one long religious war, secret crusades, disguised under false names. You tried to exterminate African shamanism by kidnapping half the continent into slavery, giving them Christian names, and shooting your peculiar versions of the Bible down their throats, and look what happened.”

“The Civil War? That was economics. Politics.”

“That was the gods you tried to destroy, waiting their hour, taking their revenge. You people really just believe everything you’re taught, don’t you?”

“Guess, I’ll have to go to Cambridge and get smart.”

+++

Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River on a good day (it wasn’t aflame) in 1967, prior to the creation of the EPA and the Clean Water Act. Photo: EPA.

+ The Roberts Court is reshaping the country more radically in two weeks than the Warren Court did in 10 years.

+Looks like Steve Bannon’s going to have to find a new grift, since the Roberts court has taken a wrecking ball to what was left of the Administrative state.

+ The Roberts court is a judicial version of the neutron bomb, which has leveled the administrative state but left the police state intact to prowl the ruins to torment and torture the survivors.

+ The damage assessment from the cluster bombing of rulings dropped by the Supreme Court over the past few weeks, includes: gutting Miranda (Egbert v. Boule), forcing the state of Maine to fund schools that provide religious instruction (Carson v. Marin), refusing to consider evidence of innocence appeals in death penalty cases (Shinn v. Ramirez), curtailing the ability of states and cities to enact gun safety laws (New York State Rifle Ass. v. Bruen), overturning Roe (Mississippi Dept. Health Services v. Dobbs), legalizing prayers by teachers and coaches at public schools during school hours (Kennedy v. Bremerton), obliterating tribal sovereignty over law enforcement on Indian lands (Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta), eviscerating the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from coal plants (W. Virginia v. EPA), approving grossly gerrymandered congressional districts along racial lines (Robinson v. Ardoin) and, as a parting shot, granting cert. to hear a crazy case (Moore v. Harper) in the fall  involving the the “independent state legislature theory”  that could completely upend how elections are administered for the next presidential election.

+ As Elena Kagan pointed out in her dissent in the EPA case (which has ramifications for all federal regulatory agencies from the SEC to the FDA and OSHA), the allegedly text-fixated conservative majority had to invent an entirely new legal theory–”the major questions doctrine”–to justify imposing their own  judgment over that of the Congress and a regulatory agency.

+ Apparently, Congress titling the Clean Air Act the “Clean Air Act” isn’t clear enough intent for the Roberts Court that the goal of the act was clean air.

+ Here’s a choice line from Gorsuch’s concurrence in the EPA case, which, in describing a class of “unaccountable ministers,” contains a classic case of Freud projection…

+ Hamilton–who took much more autocratic actions than EPA’s as G. Washington’s version of Rahm Emmanuel–wrote those lines at a desk illuminated by a lamp burning oil from sperm whales. We’re hardly even living on the same planet he was. And won’t be much longer…

Sperm oil, lamp, circa 1790.

+ The best news from the court this week is the final exist of Stephen Breyer. Breyer was one of the first neoliberal justices, his pro-corporate judicial philosophy perfectly aligned with Clintonian ideology. He was too weak as a writer to effectively battle berserkers like Scalia and his own rulings were well to the right of two GOP appointees he shared time on the court with: Stevens and Souter.

+++

+ A the NATO summit this week, Boris Johnson warned Emmanuel Macron that this wasn’t the time to enter into peace negotiations with Russia, huffing that it would “give Putin license to manipulate both sovereign countries and international markets in perpetuity.”

+ What does the Ghost of Thatcher (never mind Catherine the Great) think of her former acolyte? (Of course, if BoJo was a woman, NATO would be in peace negotiations with Russia now.)

+ How many people do they want to die before they talk peace? Can we get a number? 50,000? 100,000? What does “in perpetuity” even mean in this context, if, as their own intelligence suggests, Putin has a terminal illness? His “license” is going to expire soon regardless…

+ During its 225th General Assembly this week, the US Presbyterian Church voted to declare Israel an apartheid state and establish a Nakba Remembrance Day, as well as passing two other resolutions highly critical of Israel. (The Presbyterians also endorsed the Korea Peace Plan.)

+ During the George Floyd protests, Chicago cops smashed out a woman’s car windows, yanked her to the ground by her braids, falsely accused her of looting, spewed racists and sexist slurs and then lied about everything that took place.

+ An LAPD cop was beaten to death by his fellow officers in a “mob” training session on how to rough-up protesters. His mother has sued the department claiming “her son was ‘repeatedly struck in the head severely enough that he bled,’ and that he suffered multiple breaks in his neck, causing his death.”

+ In this weekend’s episode of Cops Gone Wild, we turn to Newport, Rhode Island…

+ According to a recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Right-to-Carry concealed handgun laws enacted in 47 US have led to increase crime. The study concludes that altered behavior generated by the laws led 29 and 32 percent increases in firearm violent crime and firearm robbery respectively.

+ A report published on June 23rd in Lancet Infectious Diseases found that in the first year of vaccine rollout, jabs saved the lives of 19.1m-20.4m people. Without vaccines, nearly three times as many people would have died from COVID in 2021 alone.

+ Investigators combing through the basement of a Mississippi courthouse for evidence about the lynching of Emmett Till has unearthed an unserved warrant charging a white woman named Carolyn Bryant Donham in his 1955 kidnapping. Donham initiated the case in August 1955, when she accused the 14-year-old Till of making improper advances at a family store in Money, Mississippi. A woman, apparently Donham, later pointed out Till to the men who killed him. The arrest warrant against Donham was known at the time, but the Leflore County, Mississippi sheriff said he didn’t want to “bother” the woman because she was the mother of two young children.

+ Larry Summers is basically a more openly misogynistic version of Alan Greenspan…

+ A bill advancing through the NJ legislature would allow teenagers to work 50 hours per week. After they’ve removed Dickens from the library shelves, teens will be able to live out his novels by working in sweatshops!

+ Glenn Greenwald’s Zoom-pal Tucker Carlson is currently in Brazil, which he calls “the most important ally of the US in the western hemisphere”, to interview Bolsonaro for a “documentary” focused on how Joe Biden “seems determined to hand Brazil over to the sphere of influence of the Chinese Communist Party.” Yes, the same Bolsonaro who wanted to string up Greenwald and his partner.

+ Meanwhile, the equally odious MSNBC is set to a “star-studded, primetime special” to raise money for Ukraine with the aim of “spreading awareness through the power of entertainment.” When have they ever done anything remotely like this for the housing crisis or medical debt?

+ For example, more than 3.5 million “low-income” households in the US are behind with rent and stressed that they will be evicted in the next few months.

+ Rudy hasn’t been rocked that hard since Tutar paid a visit to his hotel room…

+ Three months after opening, Bored and Hungry, a crypto-themed restaurant in LA, is no longer accepting crypto as payment.

+ Large chunks of the web are disappearing. A new study finds 53% of all New York Times articles from 1996 and mid-2019 had at least one link that no longer works. Another 13% of links point to content that is altered.

+++

+ A new study from the NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine and the Ichann School of Medicine at Mt Sinai Hospital shows that exposure to above average levels of outdoor air pollution increased the risk of premature death by 20 percent.

+ In response to the sanctions on Russian gas, Biden pledged in March to deliver 15 billion cubic meters more gas to Europe this year. But this only increases a dependency that can be relatively easily reduced by simply using a little less. According to the IEA, adjusting the thermostat by just 1 degree in European buildings would curb gas use by 10 billion cubic meters per year.

+ In California, solar now out generates all other renewable energy sources combined.

+ There’s nothing quite like giving a company convicted of more than 80 homicides millions in state subsidies to keep operating an ailing nuclear plant built on a major fault line…but that’s apparently what California Gov. Gavin Newsome is planning for the Diablo Canyon plant.

+ A BART subway track warped when it hit 140 degrees, leading to a train derailment last week in the San Francisco Bay area.

+ Extreme drought and bark beetles are now threatening  Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest southern California’s Inyo Mountains, home to Methuselah, a 4,853-year-old bristlecone pine.

+ Putting the final nails in Earth’s coffin in the name of space tourism!

+ According to a report by the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group that 2C of warming may cause south-east Asia’s crop product to decline by one-third per capita by the year 2040.

+ The mantra in Indiana used to be that corn would be “knee-high by the Fourth of July.” Then Monsanto’s Roundup Ready-supercrops accelerated the grow rate to mid-June. But even Frankencorn has no defense against climate chaos. In North Dakota this year only two-thirds of the state’s crop has even emerged from the ground. North of the border in Manitoba, farmers left 880,000 acres unplanted, representing 9% of the province’s insured farmland.

+ Flint still doesn’t have clean water and, with the recent dismissal of indictments against top Michigan officials, it looks increasingly likely that no one will pay any kind of price for poisoning it.

+ Japan has been sweltering for the last week. A total of 263 June record highs were set in six days. Tokyo had highs of over 35℃ (95F) for five days in a row, making it the first time on record for June.

+ Researchers in West Texas looking at seismic data in the region from 2017 to 2020 found that 68% of earthquakes above magnitude 1.5 were highly associated with one or more oil and gas production activities.

+ Lake Oroville, California’s second largest reservoir, is rapidly depleting. The first photo shows Lake Oroville in June 2019. The second was taken last week.

Photos: California Department of Water Resources.

+ It will cost more than $1 billion to rebuild the blown-out roads and bridges in Yellowstone National Park from last month’s floods. Save the money. Don’t rebuild. Let Yellowstone heal for the next 200 years or so.

+++

Richard Fortey on the Natural History Museum: “Even now, after more than thirty years of exploration, there are corners I have never visited. It was a place like Mervyn Peake’s rambling palace of Gormenghast, labyrinthine and almost endless, where some forgotten specialist might be secreted in a room so hard to find that his very existence might be called into question. I felt that somebody might go quietly mad in a distant compartment and never be called to account. I was to discover that this was no less than the truth.” (Dry Store Room #1: the Secret Life of the Natural History Museum)

+ Geoff Dyer: “The main part of my brain that marijuana has damaged is the part that responds favorably to marijuana.”

+ Exodus has always been my favorite Marley song but Crazy Baldhead speaks more to our fraught moment.

We build your penitentiary, we build your schools,
Brainwash education to make us the fools.
Hate is your reward for our love, Telling us of your God above.
We gonna chase those crazy –
Chase those crazy bunkheads –
Chase those crazy baldheads out of the town…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Work, Work, Work: Labor, Alienation and Class Struggle
Michael D. Yates
(Monthly Review Press)

Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity
Noel Ignatiev
(Verso)

Endless Forms: the Secret World of Wasps
Seirian Sumner
(William Collins)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Justice: The Vocal Works of Oliver Lake
Sonic Liberation Front
(High Two)

Voodoo Nation
Supersonic Blues Machine
(Provogue)

Barbarism
Katie Alice Greer
(FourFour Records)

A Bunch of Lunatics

“I’d say we’re not in the middle of a golden age of jazz right now, but these things go in cycles and I have every reason to believe that if the planet can survive for the next generation, we’ll see other wonderful things happen.” into the jazz ’cause jazz it’s an indefinite music. It’s about creation and surprise. It just needs to be appreciated and watered like flowers. You have to water the flowers and the great art highlights will come back, I’m sure. What worries me most is whether our entire civilization will be present in the next 25 years. I think we are in the middle of a period where we are committing this suicide on the planet, and everyone is just using up all of our natural resources like a bunch of lunatics. This is what I care about way more than I care about jazz. “ ~ Sonny Rollins

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3