Roaming Charges: Singapore Fling

Photo by Dan Scavino Jr. | Public Domain

+ “If the United States is accommodating, the North Koreans become accommodating. If the United States is hostile, they become hostile.” –Noam Chomsky.

Complicated, right?

We can always make things more complicated, with more possibilities for fatal misunderstandings, whose terms can only be divined by priests, specialists and experts. The challenge is to make diplomacy–or property disputes (see Rand Paul)–clearer and simpler.

+ Had Obama arranged a similar meet-and-greet with Kim (as he vowed to during the 2008 campaign), the Republicans would have likely initiated impeachment proceedings and Hillary might have plotted a White House coup. It’s a measure of his lack of moral spine that didn’t do so anyway. The Republicans, however, should be commended for their hypocrisy. Most of them didn’t let their previous violently expressed objections to any such parlay with Kim deter them from endorsing Trump’s impetuous gambit.

+ The post-Singapore dilemma for the Democrats and the Neocons: If there’s nothing to fear, how can you monger your way into power?

+ The Resistance© is in full flag worship mode today, outraged the US flag snuggled next to the North Korean flag. Will they soon be joining the Colin Kaepernick lynch mob?

+ Trump: “The World has taken a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe! No more rocket launches, nuclear testing or research!” Let’s not get carried away, Donald. The US hasn’t agreed to stop testing rockets, or halt nuclear testing or research. While Kim is denuclearizing, you’re building a new generation of nuclear weapons, keeping the world pretty much on the brink of nuclear catastrophe…

+ Give him credit. Trump is willing to meet with anyone. Except: the Palestinians, the Iranians, the Venezuelans, the Cubans, the Nicaraguans and, of course, the Philadelphia Eagles.

+ Did each side have their own Body Language Translators?

+ Trump is being crushed in the press for not chastising Kim on North Korea’s human rights abuses. But once that conversation started, Kim would have had no choice but to confront Trump over the US’s equally appalling human rights record, from police shootings to drones to assassinations and the forcible separation of immigrant mothers from their infants. As autocrats heading two carceral states, the back-and-forth could have gone on for weeks.

+ So Trump played a cheesy video to pitch Kim on some coastal condo units. It’s better than the normal sales job at summits like this, when the Secretary of Defense is called in to cue up some Raytheon videos hawking the latest version of the Patriot Missile system.

+ Any deal that ends US war games makes the world a little safer this morning than it was yesterday.

+ But will someone please brief Pence on what his Daddy just promised? And brief Darling Nikki, while you’re at it.

+ The real sign of how well Trump and Kim hit it off is whether Trump sends one of his black Cadillacs to Pyongyang…(He’ll charge it to Scott Pruitt’s account.)

+ Rodman Nobel Update…”WH Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called Dennis Rodman to thank him for his effort in Singapore and his support of President Trump, according to Rodman’s agent, Darren Prince.”

+ By and large, Americans are pragmatic. That’s why upwards of 70% think it’s a good thing that our autocrat sat down to talk with the North Korean autocrat. Suspicion and skepticism about the meeting must be relentlessly pounded into their minds by experts. This is, of course, the function of Rachel Maddow, who carpet-bombed her cultish audience with a bizarre 18-minute-long seminar purporting to disclose that North Korea, get this, shares a border with…RUSSIA, thus Putin must’ve been the secret puppeteer pulling the strings at the Singapore Fling.

+ Trump on Kim Jong Un: “He speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same.” If at some point Trump wants us all to kneel before him, do we continue to do so when the National Anthem is playing?

+ Democrats: “All we are saying is … Give War Games a Chance!

+ If Trump really wanted to do some fancy deal-making with Kim, he could offer to give up 50 US nuclear weapons for each one of North Korea’s 60 nukes and still have more than 1000 H-bombs left over to scare into submission the rest of the planet!

+ If, as Bob Corker declares, the GOP has turned into a Trump cult, the Democrats have turned into an anti-Trump cult, with Maddow as their High Priestess, reflexively attacking Trump for pursuing policies, such as talks with North Korea and junking awful trade pacts, that they once supported.

+ The Trump administration is planning to set up tent encampments to house immigrant children separated from their parents. Will Joe Arpaio be Kamp Komandante?

+ At a detention camp in Texas, a baby was ripped from the arms of her Honduran mother while breastfeeding. When the mother resisted, she was restrained by Immigration Police and placed in handcuffs, as her child was taken away. Speaking of a special place in Hell…

+ At a New Mexico border crossing a woman from Brazil seeking asylum in the US was arrested, separated from her disabled grandson and sent to an immigration prison in El Paso, where she remains. Her grandson suffers from epilepsy and autism. It’s been 10 months. Where is he? Who is taking care of him? When we they be reunited?

+ When asked asked about the Biblical morality of separating children from parents at the border, Sarah Sanders said,  “It’s very Biblical to enforce the law.”

Pharaoh: Listen closely. Whenever you are looking after a Hebrew woman who is in labor and ready to deliver, if she gives birth to a son, then kill the baby. [Exodus 1:15]

+ When the disoriented and scared immigrant children are shunted into the detention center in Casa Padre, Texas, they are confronted by wall featuring the smirking visage of Donald Trump imposed over a US flag rising up from the White House relocated on a putting green and a quote in English and Spanish reading: “Sometimes by losing the battle you find a new way to win the war”–the “Arbeit Mach Frei” of our miserable time.

+ Where are the Pizzagaters when it comes to confronting the child abduction ring being run by Jeff Sessions and ICE?

+ Why risk confusing people by comparing Trump’s internment camps for kids to the Nazis, when you can go straight to the source: the British, who perfected the heinous concentration camp system during the Boer War in South Africa, including camps for children.

+ As with most vile policies over the last 25 years, when it comes to deportations it was Clinton who led the way:

Total Deportations

Clinton: 12.3 Million
GW Bush: 10.3 Million
Obama: 5.2 million

+ This just in from the the Whitaker Chambers Desk at the State Department: a former wine blogger named Mari Stull, who went by the name “Vino Vixen,” was given a job at the State Department two months, where she has been reviewing the social media postings of employees at the department and the United Nations in order to compile a “loyalty list,” loyal to Trump not the US.

+ Trump is expected to yank the US out of the UN Human Rights Council.  The move should probably cheered. Usually, the US exploited its position on the UN Human Rights Council for malign purposes: to launch military interventions in the name of humanitarianism or impose savage sanctions that deny the poor of food & the sick of medicine in order to squeeze a dictator who wouldn’t toe the US line.

+ Michael Cohen, 2016: “I’d take a bullet for Trump.”

Michael Cohen, 2018:  “I didn’t say ‘bullet’, you press punk. I said, ‘bill it to Trump.'”

+ Vegas’s leading pimp just defeated a GOP incumbent in the Nevada primaries. Who will tell Giuliani?

+ Fewer than 20% of Americans now read in their spare time. Meanwhile, the president doesn’t have the attention span to even read his daily briefings

+ This season on the Real Housewives of the EPA: Scott Pruitt’s wife, Marlyn, loses out on Chik-Fil-A franchise but landed a position at the rightwing Judicial Crisis Network with the help of a top EPA aid and the intervention of one of Pruitt’s big donors.

+ Even James Inhofe is now calling for Scott Pruitt’s resignation. In the cult of climate deniers, losing the faith of Inhofe is like losing the Holy Ghost …

+ Here’s a map of Pipeline Oil Spills in the Last Five Years…

There aren’t many jobs in constructing pipelines, but there’s a never-ending demand for clean-up crew after they’re put in the ground…

+ So much for states’ right, the GOP is moving forward with a plan that would fine states that take action to stop off-shore drilling.

+ The Antarctic ice pack is melting twice as fast this year as it was in 2012. Full-speed ahead!

+ While sea levels are rising, freshwater is disappearing around the globe.

+ We’re emptying the oceans of fish and filling them with plastic

+ Meanwhile, as the planet warms and sea levels encroach, US cities are losing an estimated 36 million trees every year.

+ The Colorado River flows this spring are the fourth driest recorded in the last 50 years.

+ Why We Call Them Gang Green: As part of the new farm bill, several so-called environmental groups, along with numerous timber entities, are going to be paid to advocate for increased logging on the National Forests. Here’s the list from Jeff Merkley’s press release: “The funding expansion, from $40 million to $80 million per year, is supported by a broad cross-section of the timber industry, rural economic development entities, and environmental organizations, including Sustainable Northwest, Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, Collins Pine Company, Ochoco Lumber, Vaagen Bros Lumber, Avista, The Wilderness Society, American Forests, Society of American Foresters, Pinchot Institute, Forest Business Network, Blue Mountains Forest Partners, Lake County Resources Initiative, The Forest Stewards Guild, Siuslaw Institute, Wallowa Resources, Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, The Lands Council, Western Environmental Law Center, Grand Canyon Trust, Mt. Adams Resource Stewards, The Watershed Center, Salmon Valley Stewardship, Western Landowners Alliance, The Coalition for the Upper South Platte, Choose Outdoors, Western Slope Conservation Center, and Western Colorado Progress.” 

+ Since the election of Trump, a coal-fired power plant has closed down every 15 days. Keep it up, Donald. You’re winning the war on coal!

+ Does this language from the 2019 Defense Appropriations Act make you feel safer?

+ Does anyone have the exact date for when Mother Jones completed its reassignment surgery into Dylan’s Mister Jones? When they fired Michael Moore? When Cockburn resigned? When they hired Corn? When they canned Ridgeway? When they hired Kevin Drum? “There’s something happening but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mistuh Jones?”

+ JaVanka, Inc., which made $82 million in 2017, had a very good year on the public dime…

+ Michael Cohen might want to take note of this anecdote about John Mitchell from Sy Hersh’s book, Reporter:

“I knew Mitchell slightly, having interviewed him a few times, and was surprised when he showed up with two of his lawyers for a late lunch in downtown Washington amid his 1974 Watergate trial on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. I nodded at him but left the group alone until the end of the meal. The lawyers had departed, and Mitchell was signing a credit card bill–clients always seem to pay for lunch with their lawyers–when I sat down. Mitchell had a terrible reputation, based on his fervent support for Nixon, but he was hard to dislike. I asked how it was going. He tore off the credit card receipt, wrote something on its back, folded it, handed it to me and said, “This will tell you all you need to know in life, kiddo.” I waited until he left the restaurant before looking at the note. It said, “Next time take the fifth.” He was convicted the next year on all counts and spent nineteen months in jail, the only senior Nixon administration official to do so.”

+ Here’s the Roberts Court in a nutshell. One day it tightly restricts who can vote. A few days later, it allows those few lucky white people to wear whatever the hell they want to the polls.

+ Things Bill Clinton says: “Norms have changed for what you can do to somebody against their will.”

+ Meet the Democrat from The Shining, who beat his wife and terrorized her with a crowbar. “Heeeere’s Archie!

+ Trump trade hawk Peter Navarro took to FoxNews to declare that there was a “a special place in Hell” reserved for Justin Trudeau for betraying Trump. It’s odd to see the Trumpers quoting Madeliene Albright. How many Canadian children will they starve to restore Trump’s honor?

+ Richard Nixon: “Pierre Trudeau’s an asshole.”

Pierre Trudeau: “I’ve been called much worse things by much better people.”

+ Dinesh D’Souza is busy making a film comparing Trump to Lincoln. Why? Because Lincoln freed the slaves and Trump freed Arpaio and D’Souza…

+ Meet the four Democratic Party Senators who vote with Trump more than 50 percent of the time:

+ Hundreds of Israelis took to the streets of Afula to protest the sale of a home to an Arab family. Former mayor the town said, “The residents of Afula don’t want a mixed city, but rather a Jewish city, and it’s their right. This is not racism.”

+ Despite what we’re hearing from nearly every media outlet, suicide is not necessarily the result of an untreated mental illness. Suicide can be a rationale act in the face of irrational and impossible circumstances. Were the Buddhist who immolated themselves to protest the insane violence of the Vietnam War suffering from a “mental illness”?

+ A fake pardon of Muhammad Ali would invalidate a precedent setting Supreme Court decision that applies to all (in theory) in favor of an imperial fiat handed down for the benefit of a single (dead) individual based on a political whim.

+ The University of Chicago has become the first “elite” university to drop the requirement that applicants take either the ACT or SAT standardized tests for admission. Instead of the SAT, the University of Chicago is making prospective students take the Austerity Test: How many people would you be willing to starve in order to advance the goals global capitalism?

+ I think we’ve finally reached PEAK BEER….

+ From the Sanders rallies I attended, it always seemed obvious that the most fervent Bernie supporters were women–between 20 and 40 years old–not men. This Economist poll backs that up. The myth of the Bernie Bro was a pernicious meme birthed by the Hillary campaign…

+ 538 has issued its World Cup predictions for the Group Stage, which will likely be as accurate as its 2016 electoral projections.

Here’s who I’m pulling for in each group: A. Uruguay, B. Iran, C. Peru, D. Iceland, E. Brazil, F. Mexico, G. Tunisia; H. Colombia.

+ Breaking News: Triple Crown winner Justify refuses in advance an invitation to the White House.

+ This week’s phrases to scrub from the language: “charm offensive,” “live round” and “didn’t die in vain.”

Bring My Nightshirt; Put On Your Mornin’ Gown

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

The Duty to Stand Aside: 1984 and the Wartime Quarrel of George Orwell and Alex Comfort by Eric Laursen

The World as It Is: a Memoir of the Obama White House by Ben Rhodes

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

Sound Grammar 

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

91. Queen of the Blues by Koko Taylor

92. Before and After Science by Brian Eno

93. With the New Yorkers by Sonny Stitt

94. The Epic by Kamasi Washington

95. Express Yourself by Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band


Policeman of the World

Bruce Cumings: “It was this [the Korean] war and not World War II which established a far-flung American base structure abroad and a national security state at home, as defense spending nearly quadrupled in the last six months of 1950, and turned the United States in the policeman of the world.” (The Korean War: a History.)


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