Roaming Charges: America, Unchecked and Unbalanced

‘+ Someone should put together a volume of Trump’s lectures on natural resources. It will rival John Wesley Powell. This week’s  lesson was delivered in West Virginia is on how coal is more vital to US national security than oil & gas because you bomb pipelines but coal is “indestructible.” Read closely, there will be a quiz.

+ Jacques Derrida could’ve written an entire book trying to deconstruct these two sentences, plus fragment. Trump: “We also love the European Union. I was there many many years ago. Meaning my parents were born in the European Union.”

+ According to the Wall Street Journal, Silvio Berlusconi’s brand of populism is finally beginning to fade.  Looking back on those bizarre years, I find that I much prefer the Bunga-Bunga of Berlusconi’s proto-fascist Italy to the Womp-Womp of Trump’s proto-fascist America.

+ The kids at Mighty Writers’ El Futuro branch, an after-school writing academy in South Philly, had a great idea: collect Spanish language children’s books and deliver them to the kids locked up in  immigration detention centers. They got a grant to buy 700 books, most of them for the Berks Detention Center 75 miles north of Philly. The Mighty Writers packed the books in boxes and were prepared to deliver them, when ICE rang up to reject the offer. No explanation given. This is cruelty as policy.

+ In Philly, you can change the DA for the better, but the cops remain the same, which is to say eager to manhandle and cuff a disabled 85-year-old rabbi who was passively protesting ICE…

+ Meanwhile, a groups of NFL players headed to the border this week to deliver much-needed supplies to immigrants in detention camps. SOBs, Mr. Trump?

+ Infrastructure Week finally materializes: Trump’s plan to expanded detention centers for adult and juvenile immigrants is boosting the fortunes of the private prison industrial complex.

+ Who is making money from ICE in your state?

+ From the moment Obama picked Timothy Geithner as his Secretary of the Treasury, he put his presidency in the hands of people he once claimed to be against…

+ Economic growth in the first quarter of 2018 was downgraded to 2 percent. It looks like those tax cuts weren’t exactly rocket fuel after all…

+ It started with your ID, which among other things prevents you from selling a plane ticket you couldn’t use. Then TSA wanted to look in your carry-on, examine your shoes and take your water bottles. Now they are seizing your food and snacks. Next they’ll want your underwear, so keep them on a few days before you fly…

+ Bono the Banal is warning that the new populism is endangering the future of the UN, NATO, EU and the WTO. He says that like it would be a bad thing…

+ Veep Mike “WTF did he just say” Pence just returned from Brasilia where he scolded the leaders of Latin American nations: “Just as the United States respects your Borders and your sovereignty, We insist that you respect ours.”

Except, of course, for those times we invaded your countries, assassinated your leaders or tried to overthrow your governments.

Cuba (1898)
Puerto Rico (1898)
Nicaragua (1912-1933)
Mexico (1914), Haiti (1915-1934)
Dominican Republic (1916-1924, 1965)
Cuba (1953- present)
Guatemala (1954) (1960-1996)
Brazil (1964)
Chile (1973)
Nicaragua (1979-90) (2018)
El Salvador (1980-92)
Honduras (1980-92) (2009)
Grenada (1983)
Panama (1989)

+ According to Sanho Tree, drug policy expert at the Institute for Policy Studies, Trump’s border agents are now giving Canadian cannabis workers lifetime bans from entering the US:
“Saunders said he believes border guards spend time on Canadian cannabis companies’ websites, taking note of the individuals listed as staff members in case one of them tries to cross into the US. ‘They’re putting ‘lookouts’ on them.’”

+ A bill weaving its way through the Ohio state legislature would require teachers and health care providers to inform the parents of children they suspect might identify as “transgender.” How is this incursion into the right of privacy possible? Because as opposed to fetuses, these esteemed lawmakers believe children have no rights…

+ Bess Kalb: “It’s nice to know women will always have access to a free abortion so long as they get pregnant by a married Republican congressman.”

+ In the latest episode of the Real Housewives of the EPA, we find Scott Pruitt instructing his aides the EPA to find his wife a job that paid $200,000 or more a year. Pruitt suggested they might promote her for a position at the Republican Attorney Generals Association, an organization he once led.

+ From Pruitt’s resignation letter:

My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions for the American people. I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service. I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead the American people. Thank you again Mr. President for the honor of serving you and I wish you Godspeed in all that you put your hand to.

Your Faithful Friend,

Scott Pruitt

And that “Providence” would be … Mammon or Moloch?

+ What was the final straw for Pruitt, the moisturizer fetish?

+ Will the Pruitts finally get their mattress as a parting gift from Trump?

+ Pruitt out, coal lobbyist in. Unlike Pruitt, his replacement, Andrew Wheeler, former staffer for climate denier James Inhofe, will only have to collude with himself.

+ A Washington Post columnist named Megan McCardle wrote an absurd column for the Fourth of July laboriously arguing that America needs more displays of gratuitous flag-waving and patriotism not less. The column was illustrated with a photo of the Washington football team standing for the national anthem with hands over their hearts, driving home the point that blind patriotism goes hand-in-hand with racist nicknames, slogans and logos….

+ Trump is back to smearing families fleeing horrid conditions in Central America as “invaders.” This from the man who commands more than 800 US military bases in 70 different countries around the globe.

+ At a meeting last August, Trump the Isolationist berated his staff about why the US couldn’t send troops to Venezuela to overthrow the Maduro regime and, no doubt, seize the nation’s oil reserves. The Monroe Doctrine lives with “non-interventionist” right, who violently oppose immigration but don’t hesitate to support destroying another country in the hemisphere and unleash another stream of desperate immigrants north.

Korean media: Trump asked Kim Jong Un, whom he had called Rocket Man, if he knows the Elton John song Rocket Man, and Kim said no, so Pompeo is bringing Kim the CD, which Trump has autographed. Trump seems to be fixated on Elton John lately. He had a very weird John moment in his Montana speech on Thursday night about Elton having an “organ” and he doesn’t.

I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because you know, look I only need this space. They need much more room. For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot of room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we break all of these records. Really we do it without like, the musical instruments. This is the only musical: the mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain. The brain is much more important.

+ Campaigning while black: Janelle Bynum represents the 51st district in the Oregon Legislature. A few days ago, she was going door-to-door a neighborhood on the southeast side of Portland, when she was confronted a sheriff’s deputy who said a local resident had called 911 to report her “suspicious activity.” Bynum is, of course, black, which automatically makes you a target in one America’s whitest enclaves.

+ One in every two arrests made by Portland police last year was of a homeless person.

+ A homeless man in rural Detroit, Oregon was repeatedly punched by a Marion County sheriff’s deputy, despite screaming that he wasn’t resisting. The cop will not be prosecuted.

+ Meanwhile, in Georgia a white woman called 911 in full-freakout mode over a black woman smoking a cigarette in a parking garage. I’m getting the sense that coverage of these incidents only serves to encourage not deter the racists from hitting the Black Panic button on their phones…

+ Ron Paul has taken many admirable stands against war and for civil liberties, but this bigoted post on Twitter about the supposed threat of “cultural Marxism” (whatever that is) ain’t one of them. Not his lowest moment, perhaps, but in the ballpark…

+ On Saturday there was a far-right “Proud Boy” rally in Portland and counter-protest. Homeland Security cops fired pepper balls at counter-protesters who were on the sidewalk across the street from the rally. After police shot at the counter-protesters, the Proud Boys chanted “USA! USA!!”

+ So “Womp, Womp” is going to become the rallying cry of the Nativists?

+ Countries where school shooters in 2018 were born …

Libya- 0
Syria- 0
Somalia- 0
Yemen- 0
Iran- 0

United States- 22

+ Last year, there were 17,000 students from the list of banned countries studying in American colleges and universities. More than 12,000 them were Iranian.

+ Percent of Americans who believe immigration is a good thing for the country & should increase. Way to go Trump!

2014: 63%
2018: 75%

+ Suddenly Democrats are describing John Roberts as a “traditional conservative” & a model for Trump’s pick to replace Kennedy. God help us all…

+ Cocaine Mitch McMcConnell on replacing Kennedy: “It’s imperative that the president’s nominee be treated fairly.” Snort, snort, Mitch!

+ In a delicious bit of prime-time pre-summit trolling, a Russian news anchor proclaimed: “What trouble did we cause? We just elected Trump, that’s all.” Deal with it, John Bolton…

+ The beautiful Christ Church on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis placed statues of the Holy Family, the world’s most famous asylum-seeking immigrants, inside of a cage on the lawn of the Episcopal church’s grounds. It makes a Naptown boy swell with pride.

+ Former Supreme Court Justice SC  Tom Clark on FDR’s Executive Order for the internment of Japanese-Americans: “The truth is—as this deplorable experience proves—that constitutions and laws are not sufficient of themselves…Despite the unequivocal language of the Constitution of the United States that the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, and despite the Fifth Amendment’s command that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, both of these constitutional safeguards were denied by military action under Executive Order 9066.” Clark defended the US government in the Korematsu case.

+ Congrats to the FBI, which busted another terror “plot” its own agents manufactured. But we know the FBI isn’t perfect, so you wonder how many of their own “stings” they miss?

+ If Rep. Jim Jordan, head of the noxious freedom caucus, loses his seat this fall for turning a blind eye to sexual abuse at Ohio State University, he can always take that job as executive director of the Denny Hastert Foundation for Boys Wrestling.

+ Bill Clinton says that Trump has “poured poison down the throat of America.” Better heed his warning, because Bill would know. He helped pry the mouth open…

+ Did climate change spark the border crisis? Well, that and the death squads.

+ When the overnight low (109F) would be a record high in many places, you know your planet is in trouble.

+ From 1872 to 1999, Washington, DC had lows of 80F or more just 26 times, that’s once every 5 years on average. Since 2000, it has happened 37 times, or an average of twice a year.

+ Robust runs of salmon are finally returning to the Rogue River in southern Oregon. Why? Because the dams have been removed. Tear them all down!

+ In San Francisco, real estate is so expensive that you can earn six figures and still be considered “low income” by lenders…

Saw a Dead Head sticker on a Google bus
And a voice inside my head said,
You can’t afford that, you’ll never afford that….

+ As he prepares to descend on the NATO summit, Trump wants the Pentagon to analyze the cost of keeping 35,000 US troops in Germany. Don’t worry about the cost-benefit analysis, Donald, just pull them out. They’ve been there for 75 years. The wall came down and the troops remained.

+ These jolly folks are trying to bring back the Knights Templar after 700 years. But I’d much rather see a return of the Knights Who Say: “Ni!” (and their shrubbery, of course).

+ BDS: Boycott Dershowitz Socially.

+ Dershowitz is fortunate she didn’t threaten to stab him in, to use Trump’s word of the week, an “organ” he actually possesses…


+ A Michigan judge ruled this week that American kids don’t enjoy a fundamental right to literacy. It’s hard to deny that America keeps getting greater and greater every day…

+ Is it fair to say that two of the greatest “lost and found” albums both feature John Coltrane: Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane Live at Carnegie Hall, recorded in 1957 and released in 2005, and Both Directions at Once, recorded in 1963 and released in 2018. Are there even any close rivals?

+ The irascible Harlan Ellison died last week at 84: “I hate when a director says to me ‘Here’s how I envision this scene’, excuse me? It’s right here in the script – I ‘envisioned’ it FOR you. Do what I wrote. If you want to ‘envision’, you should become a writer. Where the fuck were you when the page was blank?”

+ Fox News’ CEO Suzanne Scott warned the network’s producers that she would not tolerate any more “inappropriate remarks” on its shows. But if Fox News eliminates all “inappropriate remarks” that would leave a lot of dead air, wouldn’t it?

+ Meet Bernie Pelosi: “Sarah Sanders has the right to go into a restaurant and have dinner.”

+ Hours after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dethroned Joe Crowley, a top lieutenant the Pelosi machine, Donald Trump, Jr. proclaimed that the Democrats “are now the party of unbridled socialism.” If only it were true, Jr.

+ Bronx Borough President pretty much sums up how corrupt and decrepit the Democratic Party has become in lamenting insider Joe Crowley’s defeat by Ocasio-Cortez: “It’s unfortunate that he had a primary. We need him in Washington DC. Washington is about consistency and seniority.”

+ I don’t know how you begin your Fridays, but I usually start mine with a cup of coffee and a peak at former NYT columnist and Member of Parliament Louise Mensch’s Twitter feed for a laugh. This morning she has discovered that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Russian shill run by Roger Stone.

+ If Robert Mueller finds no collusion with the Russians will Trump believe him?

+ Tucker Carlson is warning America that the Democrats are using the immigration protests to plot a coup against Trump. So many plots, so few coups…

+ Old State Department joke…

Q. Why can there never be a coup in Washington?

A. Because there’s no U.S. embassy there.

+ I stumbled across this photo from the Bronze Age. It depicts the debut of our grassroots eco-group ForestWatch in early 1980s. It may have been the first Earth First!-style action in Indiana. We occupied a Forest Service clearcut and logging road project in a roadless area next to the Charles Deem Wilderness in southern Indiana. I’m on the far right next to the Arch Druid, David Brower. Next to Dave is Peggy Webb (now Johnson), next to Peggy is environmental photographer Buddy Vibbert (who was also a great catcher on our HS baseball team). We all had great hair then, even Dave. A few years later during the apex of Reaganism, we succeeded to shut down all commercial logging on the forest and stopped the Forest Service’s demented plan to construct 100s of miles of ORV and motorcycle trails.

+ Steven Salaita: “No nation-state should celebrate independence day until all its inhabitants are free.” Or at least 51% of them…

+ Melania Trump made somewhere between $100,000 and $1 million last year from the use of her photos through Getty Images, on the proviso that they could only be used for stories that had “positive coverage” about her. You bet she cares…

+ Whatever happened to the raft of pardons Trump promised to issue, one of the very few positive things he has done domestically? Let’s hope Kim K., instead of Stephen Miller, is doing the vetting.

+ Hilarious:  Unbeknownst to many of us locals, Portland dog parks have become manifestations of rape culture. This eye-popping article introduced me to the word “performativity”, (apparently coined by Judith Butler) which should be immediately pitched into the tumbrils before it reproduces.

+ An Independence Week message from Allen Ginsberg and Tom Waits. America go f-…well…you know what to do with your atomic bomb…

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week. Still recreating my vinyl collection, this week by adding a little Coltrane…

Live at Carnegie Hall by Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane

The Final Tour: Copenhagen, March 24, 1960 by Miles Davis and John Coltrane

Both Directions at Once: the Lost Album by John Coltrane

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy by Michael Mann

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America by Alissa Quart

The Biggest Con in the Land of the Free

Chrissie Hynde: “Everybody had to own and maintain a car. It was the biggest con in the Land of the Free. Well, along with the tobacco and alcohol industries, which also pumped out poison and had the nation in their grip. Pharmaceuticals and firearms would join the party in due course.” (Reckless: My Life as a Pretender)

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