Roaming Charges: See No Evil

In 2021, there were 1055 people killed by police in the US. In the same year, 31 people were killed by police in all of Europe (Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Malta, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Poland, Denmark, and Norway) combined.

Roaming Charges: The Ugliest Thing in America

Earlier this week, while driving across the Oregon outback, I switched on the radio hoping to pick up a recorded sermon by one of the great old-time evangelists of the 50s and 60s on a subject like demonic possession and communism that you often find lurking on the far end of the dial. But the only channel with a static-free signal was pumping out the Glenn Beck Show, who I hadn’t heard since he blew his Faustian deal with CNN.

Roaming Charges: The Specter of Equity and Other Evils

+ Having saved once again saved Christmas from the cultural Marxists, FoxNews’ Greg Gutfeld, another man who failed at comedy and took up political commentary, has now declared war on “equity,” calling it an “evil word…a word that causes communism…and leads to (class?) war.” It’s like the movie Candyman. Say “Equity” three times in the [...]

Roaming Charges: Woke Me When It’s Over

One begins to see the emerging contours of how Biden will triangulate with the House Republicans: gut Social Security (which he’s always wanted to do anyway) to fund his Ukraine war (which the Republicans want to do anyway). What Bill Clinton used to call the Old Win-Win. As people who managed to live through it will remember, one of the hallmarks of the Clintonian Win-Win Solution is that in reality almost everyone loses, except for Wall Street and the weapons contractors, who are, of course, the only ones who matter …

Roaming Charges: No Speaker, No Cry

Only bad things can emerge from a united and functional House under the control of relatively orthodox politicians like McCarthy, with whom Biden will be tempted to “triangulate” in the name of political comity. Let chaos reign….

Roaming Charges: Hotrails to Hell, the Year in Climate

Once our nation ran on slave labor. But since the end of the Civil War, the country has run on fossil fuels. Every institution of the government has been constructed to exploit and safeguard that power source. It’s not merely that the government won’t confront the climate crisis, but that it is incapable of confronting the climate crisis. To confront it would require the government to go to war against itself. For all practical purposes, the government of the US is the fossil fuel industry.

Roaming Charges: Railroaded, Again

You can’t call the Democratic Party’s almost unanimous decision to back a strikebusting bill against railroad workers a “betrayal.” It’s more like the ultimate fulfillment of a project begun in 1985 with the birth of DLC designed to unshackle the party from its decades-long bond with organized labor so that it could free itself up to fill its campaign coffers with corporate cash.

Roaming Charges: The Upside-Down World

General Milley seems to understand what joystick bombardiers like Victoria Nuland and Tony Blinken don’t: that the only predictable event in war is that something unpredictable will happen to dramatically change its course, usually for the worse.

Roaming Charges: The Search for Intelligent Life in American Politics

The fact Democrats are relieved at the narrowness of their loss and Republicans outraged by the thinness of their win speaks to the different psychologies of the two parties. One lives in fear, unsure (with reason) about its own beliefs. The other perpetually angry that not everyone bends to their will.

Roaming Charges: History Ain’t Changed

When the votes come in on Tuesday night and some of the most rancid characters we’ve ever seen get elected and the GOP takes back both the House and Senate, remember that Pelosi and Schumer funded many of the primary campaigns of these pied piper candidates, thinking–wrongly, as ever–they’d be unelectable–just as unelectable as Trump.

Roaming Charges: Tales From the Democratic Crypt

The Democrats have become so adept at the art of the political quickie that you’re often not quite sure how thoroughly you’ve just been screwed. By the time I learned that the Progressive Caucus had issued a letter calling on Biden to pursue negotiations with Putin for a path toward ending the Ukraine war, the letter had already been withdrawn, retracted and renounced. There wasn’t even a momentary endorphin rush that at last someone in Congress had shown a little fortitude. Like a V-2 rocket, the Ukraine letter had exploded in the Democrats’ faces before most people even heard the sound of its flight.

Roaming Charges: Vincent, Duck! Soup!

Before casting stones at the soup-flingers, one might consider the role that corporate sponsorship of art exhibitions–including Van Gogh exhibits–have played in helping to greenwash the reputations of villainous enterprises, including the fossil fuel industry, and the tax write-offs they enjoy for such “sponsorships.” Van Gogh is one of the most commodified artists in history. His work has been bastardized by corporations for over 50 years. A car company literally purchased the rights to use his work to promote their planet killing products. He’d be horrified…

Roaming Charges: Special Master Blaster

“I grew up hearing over and over, to the point of tedium, that “hard work” was the secret of success: “Work hard and you’ll get ahead” or “It’s hard work that got us where we are.” No one ever said that you could work hard – harder even than you ever thought possible – and [...]

Roaming Charges: Losing It

The scale of the destruction defies the imagination. There are images and maps. But still you can’t quite wrap your mind around it. With reason. We’ve never seen anything like this. Never experienced it. Heard stories about it. There’s nothing to compare it to, not even the Biblical floods. We’ve gone beyond our own myths and legends.

Roaming Charges: Nuclear Midnight’s Children

As one of the world’s largest, and most troubled, nuclear power facilities has become a radioactive pawn in an increasingly savage and internecine war. the atomic clock is about as close to ringing Midnight as it can get. Yet most of the world seems to be sleeping–or sleepwalking–soundly, either unaware or unruffled by the immediacy of the peril in Ukraine. How can this be? In large measure, it’s because of the deepening fractures in the global environmental movement, a large swath of which has desperately embraced nuclear power as an atomic shield–dubious though it will prove to be–against cataclysmic climate change.

Roaming Charges: Dizzy Miss Lizzy, the Last Spin

Ideologically Liz Cheney was pretty much in lockstep with Trump, backing nearly every vicious social and economic policy he sent to the Hill. (She voted for Trump bills 93% of the time.) She might as well be Stephen Miller’s political doppelgänger. Liz only diverged from Trump on those few occasions when he went soft on foreign policy–on Russia, Iraq, Syria, North Korea and Afghanistan. She’s always been a guard dog of her father’s ruinous legacy. Her objections to the J6th insurrection were to its overtness, which risked exposing the way the continuity of power–real power–is maintained in the US, from one administration to the next, with little real change in policy.

Roaming Charges: Gaza by Bomblight

The objectives for the bombing of Gaza will never be realized. Gaza cannot be eliminated. Gaza will exist. Therefore it must always be bombed. The question is not why. But, like some macabre moveable feast, only when. Is it time? Time to bomb Gaza again? It must be. Yes, look, there’s the bomblight! It came early this year.

Roaming Charges: The Mad-Eyed Lady of Pac Heights

The brazenness–one is tempted to say, desperation–of Pelosi’s Taiwan junket is a pretty clear sign of imperial (as well as mental) slippage. Far from a show of strength, Pelosi’s antics in Taipei revealed the frailty of the US hegemon in the Pacific. Sure, China postured a bit in response with naval exercises encircling Taiwan, but Beijing, a much more reflective (if equally lethal) government than our own, must have viewed Pelosi’s frantic finger-wagging as little more than a parody of power, a shrill manifestation of America’s political decrepitude.

Roaming Charges: Tell Tom Joad the News

Ticket prices for Springsteen’s Born to Run tour in 1975 averaged about $8 for general admission. ($7.50 in Upper Darby, PA, when he played venues that small.) The minimum wage was $2.10 per hour. So a kid had to work less than half a day to earn enough to go to the gig. Today the minimum wage is a miserly $7.25 an hour. But the price of tickets for this fall’s Springsteen tour ranges from $90 to nearly $4000 a piece. The cheapest price I could find for the Portland show was a restricted view seat from behind the stage selling for $136–which means that a Springsteen fan who works at a minimum wage job (assuming he has any left) would have to work nearly 3 full days to buy a crappy ticket. They call him the boss for a reason. Now go tell Tom Joad the news.

Roaming Charges: The Sky is Frying

Once our nation ran on slave labor. But since the end of the Civil War, the country has run on fossil fuels. Every institution of the government has been constructed to exploit and safeguard that power source. It’s not merely that the government won’t confront the climate crisis, but that it is incapable of confronting the climate crisis. To confront it would require the government to go to war against itself. For all practical purposes, the government of the US is the fossil fuel industry.

Roaming Charges: The Screams of the Children Have Been Edited Out

More time passes. Two minutes. Five minutes. Seven minutes. Nine minutes. It’s now 12:30. Fifty-seven minutes after the killer entered the building.  Fifty-four minutes after the first police set foot in the hallway. Thirty-eight minutes after the SWAT team showed up with the ballistic shields. Still no entry has been made. No entry has even been attempted.

Roaming Charges: Knocked Out and Re-Loaded

 There’s no more fragrant emblem of what American freedom has been distilled down to than a mass shooting at an Independence Day parade. For the last century, much of the world has been compelled to witness the imposition of American’s peculiar concept of freedom at automatic gunpoint and now the message is being brought forcefully home.

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

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.

Roaming Charges: the Anal Stage of Constitutional Analysis

In 1973 the Espionage Act case against Daniel Ellsberg for violating  was dismissed by Judge William Byrnes after it was revealed that the Nixon administration had bugged Ellsberg’s phones and broken into his shrink’s office. There was also a plot by Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy to use a Cuban exile hit team to “totally incapacitate” (ie, assassinate) him. Surely, the CIA’s very similar plot to kill Julian Assange is at least as odious as what Nixon’s plumbers did to Ellsberg and the thinly manufactured case against Assange is deserving of the same peremptory fate.

Roaming Charges: A River Ran Through It

If ever a river had a consciousness, an agency of its own, it would be the Yellowstone, shredding the roads, bridges and cars that have become the bane of the park’s existence, the driving forces behind so many of its ecological ailments. Yellowstone is big, but not big enough for the burden it bears. Nearly 5 million people drive through Yellowstone each year–a hissing, carbon-spewing, bison harassing traffic jam from May to October.

Roaming Charges: The Politics of Limbo

America’s shooters–sports and mass–can thank the Mad Bomber himself General Curtis LeMay for the current popularity of the AR-15. In the early 1960s, when the US was scrambling to develop a combat weapon to counter the lethality and reliability of the Soviet-made AK-47, LeMay began talking up a rifle manufactured by his buddies at Colt: the AR-15. The Pentagon brass weren’t convinced, but LeMay plunged forward on his own, ordering 8,5000 guns for the Air Force to use in Vietnam. The purchase increased the press on the US Army to make a decision. Ballistic testing was ordered. The US Army  wanted to find out how fast the gun fired and how much damage a bullet fired from the gun would do. First they used the gun to shoot 176 live goats tethered to a cart on a moving track, from distances of 25 to 500 meters.

Roaming Charges: Tears of Rage, Tears of Grief

Police lie. They lie as a matter of course. They lie incidentally. They lie strategically. They lie habitually. They lie when lives are on the line. They lie to protect their own skin. They lie to protect their buddies. They change their stories to fit the facts. They change the “facts” to fit their stories. They lie when they interrogate you. They lie in affidavits and depositions. They lie on TV. They lie in court testimony. They lie to put you away. When the lies run out, they stop talking. They refuse to cooperate. They blame you for not trusting them.

Roaming Charges: The End of the Innocents

+ Though many police departments use the motto “protect and serve,” cops don’t have to come to your rescue, help you when you’re in distress or try to save your child from being shot. Under a Supreme Court case called Castle Rock v. Gonzalez, the police can’t be held accountable for not coming to your aid, even if the lives of your children are at stake. Yet they have the absolute right to taser, cuff and arrest you, if you complain too loudly about them sitting on their asses as kids are being shot in front of them.

Roaming Charges: Caught in a Classic Trap

The US running out of infant formula at the same time the Domestic Infant Supply is about to increase sets up the next GOP bodily mandate: compulsory breast-feeding (though not in public).

Roaming Charges: Playing for Keeps

Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which wipes away a fundamental right to bodily autonomy and sets the groundwork for abolishing dozens of other personal rights, also exposes how fraudulent and cynical the GOP rhetoric about individual liberty has become, from vaccines to guns. We’re seeing a deeply reactionary ideological agenda come to fruition and the Alito Court (I guess we should call it that now) is going to be the wrecking ball that smashes any legal impediments to its completion.

Roaming Charges: Was That Some Kind of Joke?

What’s the difference between liberals and neoliberals? The liberals gave us Japanese-American concentration camps, the use of A- and H-bombs as tactical weapons, the CIA, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Neoliberals gave us the wars on Afghanistan, Serbia, Libya, Yemen and the poor.

Roaming Charges: The Windfalls of War

While FDR blocked arms sales to the beleaguered Republican forces in Spain and tried to prevent Americans from joining the Lincoln Brigades, he let the oil flow…to Franco and the Fascists, largely from the spigots of Texaco, then run out of his suites in the Chrysler Building by a Hitler admirer called Torkild Rieber, who wore a tuxedo to work every day, dined at the 21 Club with the likes of Humphrey Bogart and bragged that he preferred dealing with autocrats like Hitler and Franco because “you only had to bribe them once.”

Roaming Charges: News From Never-Neverland

What needs to be done? Nothing less than a revolution in the way the world’s economy functions and the fuels that drive it. What can be done? Not much. What will be done? Almost nothing. That’s my read on the latest (and reportedly the final) consensus report from the IPCC, a document reads less like the Book of Revelations than an after-bombing damage assessment. The bottom-line is that the 1.5C warming goal set by the panel in 2015 is obsolete. It’s unattainable. Defunct. Moreover, it’s always been unattainable.

Roaming Charges: An Unconquerable Thing

A year of fighting on the eastern front in 1915 generated six million refugees in Ukraine and the Balkans. On his way to assume command from the Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, the Tsar rode in his Rolls Royce past one stream of refugees that stretched 20 miles long. There’ve been nearly twice that many people displaced in Ukraine alone in the last 30 days.

Roaming Charges: Both Ends Burning

Madeleine Albright may be dead. But her policy of “hands-off” killing through sanctions continues to function as the most lethal weapon in the US arsenal. Look no further than Afghanistan where upwards of 175 newborns are dying every day as a consequence of crippling sanctions. The moral stench of her policies is made more ghoulish by the fact that Albright justified the deaths of children, women, the old, the infirm and the destitute on humanitarian grounds. Few people in history have overseen the deaths of so many civilians they claimed they were acting to protect.

Roaming Charges: The Thoughts That Pulled the Trigger

You could count on 35% of Americans supporting any ludicrous thing Trump said, which as bigoted and stupid as they were usually didn’t include (initial histrionics about Lil Rocketman excepted) a nuclear holocaust. Now we see the flip side with the 35% coming from the MSDNC demographic, who are ready to support nuclear war over a conflict whose context they only learned about from Maddow’s Russophobic show, which many of them likely watched while peddling furiously to nowhere on their Pelotons…

Roaming Charges: The Trembling Air

Alexei’s witnessing that moral corruption up close now. Obscene phone calls, death threats, garbage and dog shit tossed on his driveway. “For all they know, I could be Ukrainian,” he quips. “Americans lack the power to differentiate.” The meaning is implicit. Here is a man who fled Putin’s regime being swept up in the manufactured ire and bigotry against it.

Roaming Charges: Hate and War, It’s the Currency

At some point, our oligarchs & their oligarchs are going to decide that sanctions on oligarchs are “counterproductive” & return to the tried-and-true sanctions on the poor, the sick, the old and the young. These sanctions will have no effect on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But they will make everyone feel better about themselves that they’ve finally done something. And they’d rather not know the consequences, thank you very much. But be assured that whatever the price–and whoever pays it–the cost will be worth it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Roaming Charges: Insane in the Ukraine

Most wars aren’t “rational” and become more irrational the longer they go on (See Afghanistan). And most attempts to “rationalize” them are freighted with the very biases that will serve to perpetuate them. It’s one reason Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August will never go out of date. Almost all of the “lessons” learned from the insane bloodbath of World War I were wrong and helped to set the stage for the even more genocidal World War two decades later, was itself a war that produced  not global peace but a world at perpetual war with itself, with antagonistic nuclear powers still fighting over the same scraps of land and oil reserves, insensate to the future of the planet itself.

Roaming Charges: Of Fathers and Their Countries

George Washington was a patrician dandy of no exceptional military or administrative genius, who abused his troops, committed war crimes, bought his first election to public office with booze, and held 100s of slaves, often treating them cruelly in response to his own ineptitudes as a gentleman plantation owner.

Roaming Charges: This Week’s Episodes in “That’s Psychotic!”

“There’s a difference between saying: ‘Look, I’m going to kick him in the face because I want what he has,’ and the American way, which is to say ‘I’m going to kick him in the face because that’s right and just, and if he tries to get out of the way, he’s a criminal.’ That’s [...]

Roaming Charges: Ain’t No Use to Sit and Wonder Why, Babe

This is what it sounds like when Democrats gear up for war. Silence from the stalwarts. No mass demonstrations. No protest songs. No campus sit-ins. Those will only come later, after the administrations change hands and the body bags start coming home–if we’re all not turned into piles of irradiated ash first.

Roaming Charges: Lookout, Joe

+ I was asked this morning to name my favorite Neil Young song and said, Lookout Joe, for obvious reasons. There’s at least one Young song for each decade of my life. But I keep coming back to Tonight’s the Night. One of my best friends in HS was killed on his first date (and [...]

Roaming Charges: Is This Tomorrow or Just the End of Time?

Given the speed at which the most cherished landmarks of American liberalism–reproductive rights, workplace safety, voting rights and the regulatory power of the state–are being shredded, a recently-arrived foreign exchange student (assuming there are any left who want to come here, except to sample the potent quality of our fentanyl) might be forgiven for assuming that rightwing vandals seized the capitol 15 years ago and began ransacking the government.

Roaming Charges: Republic of the Tormented

If your country (unlike Cuba) isn’t willing to rapidly vaccinate the global population, then it doesn’t have much moral or epidemiological standing to demonize the unvaccinated within its own borders, since the virus doesn’t recognize & isn’t impeded by borders or border walls. The virus doesn’t care why you are unvaccinated, whether it’s for reasons of politics, religion, fear, ignorance, poverty or governmental neglect. It is likely to infect you and be passed on by you to others, across rivers, oceans, borders and border walls. And the longer it circulates, the more it has a chance to mutate and resist the defenses against it. As long as some are vulnerable, we all are.

Roaming Charges: Emissions Impossible

It’s not surprising to me that Omicron is a more contagious but less lethal version of COVID. Unlike humans, viruses get tend to get smarter over time and don’t want to go extinct by killing off their host environment all at once.

Roaming Charges: When the Old Anomaly Became the New Normal–2021, the Year in Climate

As a review of the year climate politics should make clear, much more dangerous than the politicians who tell you “Don’t Look Up” are the politicians who encourage you to “Look Up” and then, while your attention is diverting from looking up, quietly offer oil leases on 82 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico.

Roaming Charges: Police Crime Blotter, 2021

Fourteen-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta was in a dressing room at a Burlington department store in North Hollywood and police officers opened fire on an assault suspect. After the shooting, the investigators found a hole in a wall of the store and behind it found Valentina on the floor of the room where she’d been trying on dresses for her quinceañera, dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Roaming Charges: Recycling History: First as Tragedy, Next as Farce…Then What?

+ Let us return to Baghdad in the sweltering summer of 2007, four years into the bipartisan war that destroyed Iraq. It is day one of Operation Ilaaj, a maneuver in the Sunni section of town known as New Baghdad that was designed to “clear” neighborhoods of “insurgents” and “caches of weapons.” Thanks to onboard [...]

Roaming Charges: King of Tides

Biden told many stammering whoppers during the primary campaign, but perhaps none more ludicrous than this one back on November 20, 2019: “And I would make it very clear we were not going to, in fact, sell more weapons to them [Saudi Arabia], we were going to, in fact, make them pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are. There’s very little social redeeming value of the — in the present government in Saudi Arabia.”