Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot

‘+ With the hiring of John Bolton, it looks like the Trump administration took the 15th anniversary of the Iraq War as a celebratory occasion.

+ As John Dowd flees the Trump legal team, Bolton is coming in hot to head a war cabinet (Mattis, Pompeo, Haley, and Haspel)…. Perhaps Trump intends to blow up the encircling Mueller probe by doing what Bolton has long wanted to do… bomb Iran.

+ Standing arm-in-arm with Bolton on Iran is, you guessed it, the Senator from Citibank, Chuck Schumer.

+ Pre-summit briefing material for Kim Jong-un: Bolton makes “legal” case for pre-emptive strike on North Korea.

+ Almost repeating his murderous mistakes about Iraqi WMDs, Bolton pressed to strike Cuba over what he alleged were “bio-weapons” labs, which were in fact medical research facilities working on treatments for Meningitis B. But that’s just how Cuba rolls

+ Here is Bolton appearing in an NRA-sponsored video urging Moscow to loosen it’s gun laws…

+ The world is making less and less sense every day.

+ One theory making the rounds is that Trump may be trying to keep his enemies (i.e., the neocons) close, as he preps to summit with Kim and Putin. But I seem to recall that Bush met and even had eye sex with Putin at Ljubljana in 2001 and still blew up Iraq.

+ The Senate Bombing Caucus is simply tumescent about Bolton’s appointment: “Selecting John Bolton as national security adviser is good news for America’s allies and bad news for America’s enemies,” said Lindsey Graham.

+ The failsafe against Bolton is that he is a pathological egomaniac and will, within weeks, clash fatally with the other pathological egomaniac in the White House. Trump hates anyone who steals the very spotlight which Bolton craves. So the Walrus is likely to have a shorter tenure than McMaster…if we survive that long.

+ Calling Orwell… U.S. Defense Secretary Mad Dog Mattis to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman: “Your significant amounts of humanitarian aid is critical to help the innocent caught up in this (Yemen) conflict. We applaud you for that.”

+ Civilians deaths from US drone strikes in the Middle East have more than doubled since Trump took office, suggesting that the man who keeps saying the Iraq War was a huge mistake doesn’t seem to have learned anything from saying the Iraq War was a huge mistake…

+ Trump is loosening the rules for the export of drones to US allies, ensuring that we maintain our trade surplus in death and destruction…

+ Doubling down on Apartheid in Israel …During his weekly sermon Yitzhak Yosef, one of Israel’s most prominent rabbis, called blacks “monkeys,” dubiously citing the authority of the Talmud.

+ Putin’s inner circle regularly used similar slurs to describe Barack Obama, while Russian department stores sold plates and calendars featuring Obama as a monkey and Russian students projected laser images of Obama eating a banana onto the facade of the US embassy in Moscow. Perhaps that reset button was dialed a little too far back…

+ Edward Snowden has guts. We all know that. But he demonstrates his fearlessness almost every day. Exiled in Russia and living at the mercy of the Putin regime, Snowden was one of the first to call out the flagrant fixing of  last week’s sh0w-trial elections. “The ballot stuffing seen today in Moscow and elsewhere in the Russian election is an effort to steal the influence of 140+ million people,” Snowden wrote in a Tweet. “Demand justice; demand laws and courts that matter. Take your future back.” Snowden is not naive about how dangerous this kind of whistleblowing might be. He’s acutely aware of the fate of Putin critics like Boris Nemtsov and Alexei Navalny. Yet he continues to speak his mind without apparent inhibition.

+ In Russia, the ballot boxes are flooded with phantom votes, in the US the voter rolls are purged of Hispanic and black voters. Pick your poison.

+ Looks like Guccifer 2.0 learned his tradecraft from the same seminar that Alice Donovan attended…

+ Trump lawyer John Dowd resigned on Thursday because the President consistently refused to take his legal advice, as Leonard Garment eventually did during Watergate. Garment’s exit presaged Nixon’s fall.

Nixon’s other attorney was my distant relative James St. Clair, who had tangled with Nixon & Joe McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings and was later offered the position of deputy prosecutor to Archibald Cox. But St. Clair preferred to conduct the show, even though the Nixonian tragi-comedy was doomed to an abbreviated run. He later redeemed himself by leading an investigation into police corruption in Boston.

+ Liberals astonished by Trump’s daily transgressions of so-called societal norms are caterwauling about the fact that “character” no longer matters in public life. Yet there was no pre-Lapsarian Era in American politics when “character” mattered. Four of the first five presidents were slave-owners and the exalted Jefferson was raping one of his (Sally Hemmings) almost nightly. It’s nearly impossible to plunge depths lower than that. The moral rot was there at the beginning of the Republic.

+ The Myth of Progressive Cities…Austin edition.

+ Kellyanne Conway on Fentanyl: “Eat the ice cream, have the French Fry, don’t buy the street drug.” What, no Freedom Fries? Now, that’s a kind of progress.

+ The most useful information on the Internet today… How to Download and Save Your Facebook Data Before Deleting.

+ Israeli hackers apparently gave Cambridge Analytics the stolen private emails of two world leaders, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari and Timothy Harris, prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis. Will this revelation spawn 1.5 years of dawn-to-midnight coverage on MSDNC?

+ A piece in Vanity Fair by T.A. Frank argues, rationally enough, that there are only two real threats to Trump’s presidency: recession and war. But I’d add a third: cholesterol….

+ Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has been bragging about having Jared Kushner “in his pocket,” while Kushner was trying to shake down the Qatari’s for a half-billion dollar loan.

+ Jared Kushner: “Little Pocket Man”?

+ The Scumlord tactics of the Kushner Companies were further exposed this week by the Associated Press, which reported on how Jared’s company fabricated documents with the NYC planning offices in order to break contracts with rent-controlled tenants in dozens of its buildings, which it later sold for huge profits. “It’s bare-faced greed,” said Aaron Carr, of Housing Rights Initiative, a tenants’ rights watchdog. “The fact that the company was falsifying all these applications with the government shows a sordid attempt to avert accountability and get a rapid return on its investment.”

+ Nora O’Donnell’s 60 Minutes interview with Mohammed bin Salman should have been rated “X” for Extreme Sycophancy….

+ Police Are Still Killing People, Why Isn’t It News Any More, asks Wesley Morris, a terrific writer at the Washington Post. He should ask his boss. I’m sure Jeff Bezos would tell him that if the Russians aren’t doing it, it’s not news…

+ Talking While Black in Sacramento

+ Since taking office in 2012, LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey has not brought charges against even one police officer for an on-duty shooting.

+ For decades, Iran has been killing drug dealers with no discernible effect on the number of drug addicts in the country, where there are still more 2.8 million drug users. Even the Mullahs are now phasing out the use of drug executions. Someone tell Beauregard.

+ Congress just increased spending on the malfunctioning and provocative missile defense system by $3.3 billion, for a total of $11.5 billion a year.

+ According to a new report from FAIR, between July 2, 2017 and March 20, 2018, MSDNC didn’t run a single report on the genocidal Saudi/US war in Yemen.

+ No wonder 10 Democrats were able to get away with sinking a bill co-sponsored by senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee and Chris Murphy to end US support for the Saudi air war in Yemen: Coons (DE), Cortez Masto (NV), Donnelly (IN), Heitkamp (ND), Jones (AL), Manchin (WV), Menendez (NJ), Nelson (FL), Reed (RI), Whitehouse (RI).

+ How many different headlines could you write that begin: “Dem Leaders Pull Back From [fill in the blank] …”

+ Al Jazeera has published a startling interactive graphic of every Saudi/US coalition airstrike on Yemen.

+ Here’s the trailer for Robert Pietri’s new film titled “The Velvet Underground Played at My High School”

+ And all we got at my high school in central Indiana was Up With People, which was enough turn anyone into a misanthrope…

+ How do you like your FBI now, liberals?

+ “Hello, I’m from the FBI and I’m here to protect your democracy. Now, get your hands up and assume the position!”

+ We are all just suspects-to-be in the Google Panopticon

+ So a world-class liar (Trump) instructs a perjurer (Sessions) to fire an FBI agent (McCabe) for being “less than candid,” who was investigating Sessions for lying to congress on behalf of Trump. Martha Stewart must be gleefully popping a cork somewhere. Hopefully they’ll all go down together…Sessions, McCabe, Comey, Trump, Pence, et. al.

+ EPA wants to slash regulations preventing children from using toxic pesticides. Pruitt the child abuser…

+ My friend Lloyd Clayton died this week. He was an American original, someone who could have stepped right out of an Edward Abbey novel by way of Flannery O’Connor. Lloyd lived in one of the most environmentally hostile places on the continent (exceeded only by Washington, DC), the Bankhead Forest in the hills of Alabama. He had a zest for life, for wild forests and rushing rivers, and a passion for those who defended them. He was one of the few people to pony up money for our radical environmental magazine, Wild Forest Review, but beyond the money he infused our little movement with a fierce commitment to the natural world. Nobody lived a fuller existence. He died years too soon. See you on the other side, Lloyd.

Lloyd’s the one in the hat. The other fellow, Mike Roselle, is someone who co-founded Earth First! and then went on to live a quiet life of meditation, passive contemplation and abstinence…not.

+ One of North America’s most important bird refuges, Salineño Preserve, is imperiled by Trump’s border wall…

+ A steady decline in hunters is leading to a short-fall in funding for state and federal conservation programs financed by licenses. That’s what happens when you keep shooting each other…

+ Carrying a Gun Update: At least 17 people were killed by guns yesterday in the US, including a 13-year-old Mississippi girl shot in the back of the head by her 9-year-old brother for refusing to hand over a video game controller.

+ We are averaging one school shooting per week in 2018….

+ The Political Economy of Guns in America…

+ Bang Bang, Shoot Shoot: “Since 2015, at least 47 people have shot friends, loved ones, roommates, or emergency responders they said they’d mistaken for home intruders, killing 15, according to an analysis of US gun violence incidents by BuzzFeed News and the Trace.”

+ Millions are poised to flood the streets to protect Robert Mueller. What will it take for The Resistance© to “take to the streets” over the ongoing war on Afghanistan or the bombing of Yemen or rising sea levels or the 278 people who have already been killed this year by police?

+ Last week Don Jr., this week Dan Scavino: The wives of the rats are jumping ship!

+ The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point announced plans to drop 13 majors, including English, History and Philosophy. I feel like an endangered species.

+ The late great Murray Kempton on his equally great colleague at Newsday, Les Payne, who died this week at the age of 76: “He acts like he is nobody’s subordinate. And he acts like he has no subordinates below him. He has a perfect sense of equality.”

+ Holocaust denier Arthur Jones, a former member of the American Nazi Party, just won the Republican nomination for congress in the Third Congressional District of Illinois, recalling this scene from “Blues Brothers.”

+ If you’re going to impeach Trump impeach him for the kind of governmental criminality taking place in Puerto Rico, where desperate pleas for emergency fuel and food went unheeded by FEMA, causing tons of perishable food to go to waste as people starved

+ As Joe Biden cranks the engine on his Apple II Era campaign machine for 2020, let us never forget his vote for the Iraq War or his treatment of Anita Hill or the bankruptcy bill or …

+ You’re on your own, Joshua Frank, I’m taking the next three days off….

+ We used to sarcastically call the BLM the Bureau of Livestock and Mining. Under Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department, the Bureau seems to have taken this to heart as staffers are now wearing oil rig pins on their lapels.

+ Once we were fashionably alienated. What happened?

+ A Monmouth survey suggests that a majority of Americans now believe that the “Deep State” manipulates US policy. I’m just a little confused as to why the Deep State didn’t fix this poll…

+ There’s nothing more boring than a Rothschild Conspiracy, such as the one promoted by DC City Council member Trayon White Sr., who warned Washingtonians that the snowfalls hitting the capital this spring were generated by the Jewish banking family’s secret scheme to “control the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.” But I’m still waiting on one which will explain the genius and generosity of Pannonica Rothschild, the Baroness of BeBop & the patron of Bird and Monk. In the 70s, Alexander Cockburn and his former partner the historian Emma Rothschild used to visit Pannonica and Monk in New Jersey. If only those two had been controlling the levers of the world and its climate.

+ My literary hero Thomas Pynchon was just awarded a $100,000 prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. There’s a precedent here. In 1974, Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow won the National Book Award. At the ceremony, Pynchon sent Professor Irwin Corey, the master of double speak, to refuse the award on his behalf in front of a bewildered audience. Corey’s dead. So who will Pynchon send to decline the honor this year? I nominate Sean Spicer and if Sean finds himself otherwise detained (or indicted) perhaps Lisa Simpson could fill in for him….

+ I was stunned to learn this morning of our friend Julie Hilden’s death. Julie was a brilliant legal writer, a memoirist, a novelist and a screenwriter, who was a frequent contributor to CounterPunch. She had a first-rate mind and a wicked sense of humor. Julie was born in Hawaii, but made it through Harvard and then Yale Law School. She clerked for Justice Breyer and Judge Kimba Wood. Julie practiced first amendment law in DC and NYC and worked as an editor at FindLaw for many years. But she really wanted to be a writer and she became a very good one, getting a degree in creative writing a Cornell. I highly recommend her darkly erotic novel “3” and her bracing memoir, The Bad Daughter, about her mother’s rapid descent into early-onset Alzheimer’s, a disease which cruelly resurfaced to claim Julie herself.

+ Nokie Edwards, the innovative guitarist for the Ventures, died this week at 82. His riffs are the main reason surfing sounds a lot more fun than it actually is…

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Still recreating my vinyl collection. Here are this week’s acquisitions…

26. Country Life by Roxy Music

27. Soul Station by Hank Mobley

28. The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff

29. Astral Weeks by Van Morrison

30. Our Man in Paris by Dexter Gordon


Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression by Johann Hari

What Are We Doing Here? by Marilyn Robinson

Hippie Food by Jonathan Kaufman

A Conspiracy of Orphans

John Berger: “I propose a conspiracy of orphans. We exchange winks. We reject hierarchies. All hierarchies. We take the shit of the world for granted and we exchange stories about how we nevertheless get by. We are impertinent. More than half the stars in the universe are orphan-stars belonging to no constellation. And they give off more light than all the constellation stars.”


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