Roaming Charges: Politics of the Lesser Exterminators

Detail from the 1965 poster for the German release of Luis Buñuel’s film The Exterminating Angel. Art: Heinz Edelmann.

+ As usual, the Democrats will learn all the wrong lessons from the off-year election results and continue forward with the hopeless Biden at the helm, while the Republicans will take their losses to prove they must work harder to undermine the few remaining strands of the democratic process in the US.

+ After getting their asses-kicked in Ohio on abortion and marijuana, Rick Santorum came right out and said what many Republicans have long believed: “Pure democracies are not the way to run a country.”

+ “Santorum, that’s Latin for asshole.

+ There’s nothing new here: In 1890, when Mississippi politicians designed the felony disenfranchisement laws for the state, they intentionally tied it to specific crimes they believed Black residents would be more likely to be convicted of.

+ Calling the abortion vote “depressing,” Ohio Senator JD Vance said that Republicans need to work harder to persuade voters on abortion and push for “a national standard.” “We can’t give in to the idea that the federal Congress has no role in this, because if it doesn’t, then the pro-life movement is basically not going to exist.”

+ For decades, the Republicans have repeatedly said that “abortion is an issue that should be left to the states,” where they had gerrymandered control of state legislatures. But now that in referendum after referendum voters in Red States have overwhelmingly supported abortion rights, they want to outlaw it at the federal level.

+ Of course, Biden is unlikely to take much advantage of the widespread support for abortion rights. Biden’s been hostile to abortion rights for nearly his entire political career, including voting for the Hyde Amendment every time it came up in the Senate, which reduced the Constitutional right to abortion into a privilege for the rich by cutting off federal funding to abortion clinics that served the poor.

+ Even “Red States” Americans want to see marijuana legalized, despite (or maybe because of) the fact their president is one of American history’s most virulent drug warriors. In fact, marijuana legalization typically runs 10-15 percent better than Democratic candidates in red and purple states, but still the national party can’t seem to get behind it as a political issue.

+ Here’s Trump breaking out his Full-Mussolini for Veterans’ Day…

+ Do you get the sense they want to string some of us up from lamp posts?

+ Trump spokesman Steve Cheung denied that Trump’s rhetoric echoes that of dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini and warned that those who say it does will find “their entire existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.”

+ Vivek Ramaswamy on America’s “vermin” (homeless people): “You want to know what actual “vermin” is? It’s what crawls around San Francisco daily, until Gavin Newsom chose to finally clean it up on a dime in honor of Xi Jinping. This is a classic MSM trick: obsess over some random word Trump said & sanctimoniously condemn him while *entirely* ignoring the substance of what’s killing this country. Won’t let them get away with it.”

+ Chris Christie: “Any time Donald Trump says something stupid, Vivek’s in there with the broom and the dustpan trying to clean up after it. You would think a guy with a Harvard education would be able to get a better job.”

+ Newsmax’s Greg Kelly on Trump describing his enemies as “vermin“: “They say that Donald Trump is like Hitler, he’s using the same words that Hitler used. Well, Hitler used the word chair, OK?”

+ Apparently the editors at the NYT felt about the same way as Kelly. Here’s how they covered HRC’s derisive comments on MAGA to Trump’s pledge to exterminate the American Left…

+ Werner Herzog: “Dear America, you are waking up, as Germany once did, to the awareness that 1/3 of your people would kill another 1/3, while the other 1/3 watches.”

+ Nikki Haley claims that allowing people to post on social media anonymously is a “national security threat“. She promises that as president, she will force “every person on social media” to be “verified by their name.” So much for the First Amendment…

+ Arizona general election poll

Trump 46% (+8)
Biden 38%


DeSantis 40% (+3)
Biden 37%

+ TikTok influencer George “the Conscious” Lee, Jr. on Biden: “When we start talking about the lesser of two evils, a lot of my followers — all 3 million of them — are literally asking the question, like, ‘Damn, so the lesser of the two evils is the one that is supporting genocide? Noted, noted, noted.’”

+ This is not an Onion headline, apparently, but an apt description of Biden’s entire political strategy on everything from Gaza, Ukraine, climate change, health care, the border wall and student loan forgiveness …

+ A least four Ohio Republican state lawmakers are trying to strip judges of their power to interpret the abortion rights amendment voters adopted this week. They want the Legislature, not the courts, to make any decisions about the amendment.

+ Jeff Landry, Louisiana’s Governor-Elect, plans to withhold funds for New Orleans’ crumbling water Infrastructure until women who seek abortions are prosecuted….

+ Nikki Haley’s daughter, an avid TikToker, now knows more about what motivated the 9/11 attacks than the former US ambassador to the UN…

+ Although the Guardian is absurdly doing its part to put young people (and their parents) back in the dark by deleting from its site of Osama Bin Laden’s “Letter to America,” which had quietly resided on its site for more than two decades. Why? Presumably, because TikTok users had been struck by the fact that Bin Laden highlighted the US’s relationship with Israel, as a justification for Al Qaeda’s attacks: “They threw hundreds of thousands of soldiers against us and have formed an alliance with the Israelis to oppress us and occupy our land — that was the reason for our response on the eleventh.” 

+ New House Speaker Mike Johnson sits on the board of Living Waters Publications, an evangelical Christian house publishing that has suggested contracting “monkeypox” was “an inevitable and appropriate penalty” for being a homosexual. The publisher has also insinuated that Barack Obama was rumored to be the Antichrist because of “leanings toward Islam.”

+ Jacob Chansley, the man known as the “QAnon Shaman” who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is running for Congress as a Libertarian candidate in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.

+ Here’s the gracious concession Tweet of Republican Brian Robinson, after losing his race for a seat on the New York City Council…


+ From China’s “readout” of this week’s meeting between Xi and Biden: “President Xi Jinping noted that there are two options for China and the U.S. in the era of global transformations unseen in a century: One is to enhance solidarity and cooperation and join hands to meet global challenges and promote global security and prosperity; and the other is to cling to the zero-sum mentality, provoke rivalry and confrontation, and drive the world toward turmoil and division. The two choices point to two different directions that will decide the future of humanity and Planet Earth.”

+ In contrast here’s Biden…

Q. Would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator?

Biden: Well, look, he is…

+ Since the US got chased out of Afghanistan, opium production has dropped 95%

+ Politico’s Jonathan Martin: “Biden cannot run the country, run for re-election and oversee a new Mideast peace process. He should appoint a pair of high-level envoys for the post: BILL and HILLARY CLINTON.” Why not just call Kissinger?

+ Hillary Clinton warning against Trump 2024 win: “Hitler was duly elected.”  Of course, her inept campaign, professed desire to run against him (and not Jeb!), and political resumé as an unapologetic pro-war neoliberal, ensured his election…

+ Why the attempt to sell Bidenomics to the American people is falling flat: The NYT ran a chart displaying the gaping rate of economic inequality in the US, where the top 1% owns 31% of US wealth and the bottom 50% owns 2.5%. (The Times referred to it as “yawning inequality”–”yawning” being a pretty accurate self-appraisal of the paper’s own normal attitude toward the crisis.)

+ Fox News host Greg Gutfeld claims that  women seek abortions because they are afraid of change: “Abortion is based on a fear that is greater than the actual reality. … Talk to somebody who had a baby and think about how they were before they had the baby.”

+ Upon learning Gutfeld was their anonymous sperm donor, how many women, eager to bring a child into the world, wouldn’t choose to abort their fetus and start over again?

+ Tom Cotton thinks Hezbollah is going to fund its nuclear program from the black market in Menthol cigarettes…

+ According to a new special report by Reuters, there’s a new kind of “grab-bag” American extremist, who’s “sparked the deadliest wave of U.S. political violence in decades. Nearly all of them are obsessed with far-right politics and many are consumed “fictional narratives,” like the Q-Anon conspiracy. “These radicals often eschew firm creeds,” Reuters reports, and “embrace whatever brew of notions, no matter how divergent, blends with their particular grievances.

+ According to a Pew Survey, about a third of US adults under the age of 30 regularly get their news from TikTok.


+ In 1917, 13 Black soldiers were hanged following racial violence in Houston—the largest mass execution of American soldiers in the U.S. Army. Over the next year three mass trials, another 6 black soldiers were hanged and 91 others were convicted of serious crimes from the riots, which included murder and mutiny. The soldiers were represented by just one officer who was not even a lawyer. 

The all-white military court took only two days to convict the first 58 soldiers. They were denied any appeal and were hanged less than 24 hours later. Now more than a century later, the Army has overturned the convictions and acknowledged that the trials were fundamentally unfair and racially biased.

+ Tyrone Paylor, a public defender in Memphis, on the brutal tactics of the city’s police department: “Some officers, from our experience, they’re just not trained enough to know where the boundary is from between ‘any means necessary’ and what is constitutionally allowed in interacting with the citizens.”

+ The NYPD is using police drones to record hundreds of protesters and handing the footage over to prosecutors to “help enhance arrests.

+ In April, Juneanne Fannell, an 82-year-old woman in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, called the police, telling them that her caretaker, Henry Cardana, had threatened to kill her. The police interviewed Cardana, dismissed Fannell’s complaint, complimented the man on his gun collection and left, as the bed-ridden woman begged them to stay. Four hours later, Cardana shot and killed Fannell.

+ When David Hall fractured his left wrist while in an Anne Arundel County, Maryland Jail, the jail doctor treated his serious injury by giving Hall an Ace bandage and telling him it would “self-heal.”  Since then, Hall has barely been able to move his wrist. Hall sued and won a $770,000 judgment from a jury. Then Corizon, the correctional health care company that employed the doctor, declared bankruptcy, blocking the compensation.

+ A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the case of Brent Brewer, a Texas man who was sent to death row based on the junk science testimony of a discredited forensic psychiatrist and jury instructions so confusing at least two jurors (who wanted to vote for life without parole) thought they meant the opposite of what they said. The Supreme Court declined to hear Brewer’s appeal and Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, who seems to believe that his poll numbers go up every time he supervises an execution, refused to grant him clemency. Brewer’s final words: “I would like to tell the family of the victim that I could never figure out the words to fix what I have broken. I just want you to know that this 53-year-old man is not the same reckless 19-year-old kid from 1990. I hope you find peace. Thank you, warden.”

+ Last week, Stephen Cooper wrote about the death penalty case of Casey McWhorter, who the state of Alabama executed on Thursday. Before he was killed, McWhorter said he loved his family and expressed remorse to his victim’s family. He also said of his executioner, “It’s not lost on me that a habitual abuser of women is carrying out this procedure.” McWhorter was referring to Terry Raybon, the warden of William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore. Raybon, now the state’s execution, is a former Alabama State Trooper, who was fired for misconduct two decades ago. A judge later described him as a man who “beats on women, consorts with felons, and neglects his official duties.”

+ Idaho finally found an outlet that would sell them execution drugs, so the state can resume killing death row inmates. The Idaho Department of Correction paid $50,000 for 15 grams of pentobarbital, according to a purchase order for the execution drugs obtained by the Idaho Statesman Review. The price has tripled since they were last used to poison someone to death.

+ For the first time since Gallup started asking about the fairness of the death penalty’s use in the U.S., more Americans say it is applied unfairly (50%) than fairly (47%), a five-point increase in the percentage who think it is applied unfairly since the prior measurement in 2018.

+ Under the new Clean Slate Act, two million formerly incarcerated people in New York State will have their convictions sealed if they aren’t convicted of new crimes for a set period of time (three years for misdemeanors, eight for eligible felonies).

+ Last year K’aun Green was shot by San Jose cop Mark McNamara at a taqueria after Green broke up a fight and disarmed a gunman. McNamara resigned last week over the discovery of racist text messages he wrote, including one saying, “I hate black people.”

+ During a pre-dawn raid this week, police in Mobile, Alabama shot and killed a 16-year-old boy, who wasn’t the target of the raid. The man the police were seeking wasn’t home at the time. But he was later arrested on charges including possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

+ “They put him in the ground without my permission and they dug him up without my permission,” said Bettersten Wade, the mother of Dexter Wade, a man run-over killed by an off-duty Jackson police officer in March and later buried without her family’s knowledge.

+ After a federal act aimed at removing minors from adult lockups went into effect, the number of kids at the Allegheny County (PA) Jail actually increased. After 249 hearings to decide if kids should be transferred out of jail, only one was removed.

+ The Supreme Court rejected hearing the appeal of Michael Johnson imprisoned man in Illinois with bipolar disorder who was locked in solitary confinement for three straight years without any access to the outdoors or opportunities to exercise. From Justice Jackson’s dissent: “During that time, Johnson spent nearly every hour of his existence in a windowless, perpetually lit cell about the size of a parking space.”

+ Last week, Los Angeles County agreed to pay $700,000 to Josie Huang, a public radio reporter who was slammed to the ground and arrested by the LA Sheriff’s Department while covering a BLM protest. This is likely the largest payout to a reporter in connection with covering the 2020 protests.

+ The Baton Rouge Police Department ran a “torture warehouse” where members of its Street Crimes Unit strip-searched, beat, and humiliated dozens of people and then released them, often without their being charged with a crime.

+ Despite the hysteria about organized smash-and-grabs, the Council on Criminal Justice finds no change in shoplifting nationally between 2019 and 2023 and attributes the illusion of a spike in shoplifting to “increased reporting.” In other words, the press created and then hyped its own crisis.

+ Parental incarceration has impacted over 5 million children in this country. 47% of people in state prisons are parents of minor children. But only 8 states have passed laws attempting to reduce the number of caregivers who are being thrown behind bars:

+ A federal lawsuit by five Black women alleges Kansas City officers raped and intimidated them into not reporting the crimes  Report me to who, the police? I am the police,” one accuser said she was told after she was raped.

+ A driver rushing his injured dog to the vet in Bernalillo, New Mexico was pulled over by local police. He explained: “My dog’s bleeding out of his mouth!”

Cop: “I don’t give a fuck”

The dog died as the family was held at gunpoint.

+ A Seattle police dog in training mauled his partner’s roommate while she was doing laundry. The police report referred to the incident as a “spontaneous self-initiation of inappropriate bite contact.”

+ A Texas social worker who made mistakes while helping patients at a psychiatric center sign up to vote was charged with dozens of election crimes. None of the people she helped actually got registered, but she pleaded guilty to avoid the risk of being sent to prison. Now the state is taking her teaching license.

+ Rosa Miriam Sanchez was killed while working in a carrot field. Her coworkers say her body was left lying in the dirt where she died for hours and they were told to finish harvesting the field around her.


Life expectancy for men in the US has declined to 73 years, six years less than for women. Dr. Brandon Yan, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “The opioid epidemic, mental health, and chronic metabolic disease are certainly front and center in the data that we see here, explaining why there’s this widening life expectancy gap by gender, as well as the overall drop in life expectancy.” Men have higher mortality rates from all three conditions compared to women.

+ The US is killing more babies than the IDF, as a matter of economic and social policy…According to the World Factbook, the United States has the 173rd worst infant mortality in the world.

+ Defying the conventional wisdom about immunity, a new study finds that older adults who previously had COVID-19 are at higher risk of reinfection.

+ Cases of syphilis in newborns have risen more than tenfold in the last decade and nearly 32% in a single year, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease can be fatal.

+ A study in the British Medical Journal predicts that zoonotic spillover viruses are collectively set to kill 12 times as many people in 2050 as they did in 2020, warn the researchers. The analysis, which excluded the COVID-19 pandemic, shows that the number of spillover events and reported deaths attributable to these four groups of viruses (Ebola virus, Marburg virus), SARS Coronavirus 1, Nipah virus, and Machupo virus) has been increasing by almost 5% and 9%, respectively, every year between 1963 and 2019.

+ A flesh-eating fungus that causes Valley Fever is spreading across the Southwest. Its expansion is spurred by climate change. According to the CDC, cases have roughly quadrupled over the past two decades.

+ An underdiagnosed iron deficiency may be contributing to fatigue, brain fog and concentration problems in nearly 1 in 4 adolescent girls and young women in the U.S., a new study published this week in JAMA found.

+ Internal company documents from Cruise show the self-driving car company knew its vehicles had trouble driving safely around children and couldn’t detect giant potholes in the road, but the cars kept on cruising anyway.

+ Seventeen-year-old Max Hightower, a trans student at a high school in Sherman, Texas, was removed from the lead role in the school’s production of ‘Oklahoma!’ over gender policy. However, the school admitted there actually is no written policy. They simply applied this rule for this one play where a trans student was the lead.


The planet just experienced the hottest 12 months in at least 125,000 years.

+ Greenland’s coastal glaciers are melting twice as fast as they were two decades ago, a new study finds.

+ A study in Science Advances found that Antarctica had 68 ice shelves that shrunk significantly between 1997 and 2021.

+ Of the 20 top fossil fuel-producing countries, the U.S., Brazil and Saudi Arabia project large increases in domestic oil production. Meanwhile, Russia, India and Indonesia all forecast substantial increases in coal. Combined the plans would produce 69% more fossil fuels than is compatible with the 2C target.

+  In 2021 Xi Jinping pledged to “strictly control” new coal power projects until 2025. But the opposite occurred.  In the next two years, China issued permits for new coal power projects at more than double the rate of the previous two years.

+ We’ve reduced sulfur dioxide pollution by 94% over the last 40 years, nearly eliminating acid rain. A cost/benefit analysis of the Acid Rain prevention measures shows benefits of $122 billion annually and costs of only $3 billion annually. So, it is an economic boon, not the catastrophe so many industry lobbyists warned about. For example, the Business Roundtable loudly proclaimed the measures would cost $104 billion a year. The reverse happened.

+ The prolonged drought led to a steep decline in Europe’s production of cereal grains: Romania (-32%), France (-10%), Spain (-24%) and Hungary (-35%).

+ 20 farming families in California’s Imperial Valley use more of the Colorado River than all of Wyoming, New Mexico or Nevada. A vast green quilt of crops covers this naturally bone-dry valley, all of it grown with water from the river.

+ 19% of European species are threatened with extinction. The extinction risks are higher for plants (27%) and invertebrates (24%) compared to vertebrates (18%).

+ A review of public records shows that 19,543 wildfires on US Forest Service lands in California were attributed to human causes between 2000-2022.

+ Firefighting foam has contaminated the groundwater beneath O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago with PFAS chemicals, military investigators have found. It’s unclear how far it has spread.

+ China has now built enough auto factories to make every car sold in China, Europe and the United States combined.

+ There is not a single African Company in the world’s Fortune 500.

+ A new heat map by the DHS shows most migrant traffic occurs in areas with border walls. Places like Organ Pipe & El Paso were entirely walled off by Trump, yet they still see the highest number of apprehensions. Walls don’t stop migrations by people but they do greatly hinder wildlife migrations, including by very rare species such as jaguars.

+ Since 1990 grass and shrub fires burned more land, and destroyed more homes, than forest fires.

+ More than 100 thousand New Yorkers currently live in low-lying coastal neighborhoods at risk of chronic flooding, even when it isn’t raining.

+ Brazil’s beef industry has a bigger carbon footprint than the entire emissions generated in Japan.

+ A new paper in Nature finds that 38-59% of GDP in the USA is “wasted”, in that better human development outcomes could be achieved without it. Much of that waste also results in the burning of thousands of tons of carbon.

+ A study published in Lancet says that heat stress wiped out the equivalent of 4% of Africa’s GDP in 2022.

+ More than 100 scientists have signed a letter urging the Canadian government to take action to stop the degradation of previously undisturbed forests from large-scale industrial logging.

+ The Republican Party for the state Wyoming of says it’s got “no confidence” in its own governor, Mark Gordon, after he said that climate change is real and driven by fossil fuels, and called for the state to go carbon negative.

+ Republican Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian has demanded that the Texas Board of Education reject new science textbooks, for accurately describing the causes and effects of climate change.

+ Oregon police have obsessively spied on the state’s environmental and social justice groups. Internal emails obtained by Siskiyou Rising Tide and Information for Public Use show police treating even the most placid social justice activities as sites of criminal threat.

+ 45% of tap water in the country contains “forever chemicals,” known as PFAS. Why? Chemical companies have spent more than $100 million over the last 3 years to block legislation and regulation of these toxic chemicals, some of which cause cancer and infertility.

+ In late October, a grizzly bear was photographed by a wildlife camera placed in the Missouri Breaks on the Great Plains, the farthest east a bear has been spotted in Montana in more than 100 years.

+ On the Coal River podcast, Simon Scott conducted a fascinating interview with Mike Roselle on the origins of the Earth First! movement.


If only Jesus had shown this kind of valor as he walked down the Via Dolorosa, the Romans would have probably fled Jerusalem on the first ferry to Brundisium….

+ Akira Kurosawa: “What I was trying to get at in ‘Ran’ (1985)– & this was there from the script stage– was that the gods or God or whoever it is observing human events is feeling sadness about how human beings destroy each other, & powerlessness to affect their behavior.”

+ In a 1973 interview with the French broadcaster ORTF Anthony Burgess was told:  “Your translator Georges Delmont wrote this of you: Burgess is as disconcerting as a dinosaur going up the Champs-Elysees.”

Burgess: “Yes, I accept that. Yes, I do.”

+ This demands a moment of silence…

+ The CIA published Russian translations of Joyce’s Ulysses in Italy, as part of a program the Agency called “a Marshall Plan for the Mind.” The idea was to distribute Western literature in the Communist Bloc during the Cold War. CIA-backed Bedford Publishing Co. had an office in Rome. At the time, Italy had the largest Communist Party in Europe. (See Hot Books in the Cold War by Alfred Reisch).

+ In 1960, after being told that he made an appearance in Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, Groucho Marx wrote a letter to Leonard Lyons of the New York Post:

Dear Lennie,

There’s no reason why I shouldn’t appear in ‘Finnegan’s Wake.’ I’m certainly as bewildered about life as Joyce was. Well, let Joyce be unconfined!

Tracing this item down from the ‘Wake’ could be a life project and I question whether I’m up to it. Is it possible that Joyce at one time was in the USA and saw “I’ll Say She Is!”? Or did a New York Policeman, one his way back to Ireland to visit Mother Machree, encounter Joyce in some peat bog and patiently explain to him that, at the Casino Theart at 39th and Broadway, there were three young Jewish fellows running around the stage shouting to an indifferent world they were all Napoleons?”

The Marxian mention in the Wake is as follows: “This is the three lipoleum boyne grouching down in the living detch.”

+ “I can’t tell you what she did to me, but my body will never be the same…”


Our friend, P. Sainath–India’s greatest journalist–will be giving a lecture on India and the Three Pandemics at Portland State University on Monday, November 20th at 5 PM in the Parsons Gallery, Urban Center Building (URBN 212, 2nd floor). It’s free and open to the public.


She Said, “How’d You Like to Waste Some Time?”

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

With and Against: the Situationist International in the Age of Automation
Dominique Routhier

Digital Empires: the Global Battle to Regulate Technology
Anu Bradford

Black Scare/Red Scare: Theorizing Capitalist Racism in the United States
Charisse Burden-Stelly

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Susan Alcorn
(Relative Pitch)

Les Jardins Mystiques, Vol. 1
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson

Cat Power Sings Dylan: the 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert
Cat Power

American Witchwords

“We invent witchwords. If in 1850, Americans disliked slavery, the word of exorcism was ‘abolitionist.’ He was a ‘nigger lover.’ He believed in free love and murder of kind slave masters. He ought to be lynched and mobbed.  Today the word is ‘communist.’ Never mind its meaning in a man’s mind. If anybody questions the power of wealth, wants to build more TVAs, or advocates civil rights for negroes, he is a communist, revolutionist, a scoundrel and is liable to lose his job or land in jail.”

– W.E.B. DuBois,  1948

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