Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey

‘+ A Bastille Day Message from Robespierre: “Kings, aristocrats, tyrants, whoever they be, are slaves rebelling against the sovereign of the Earth, which is the human race, and against the legislator of the universe, which is Nature.”

+ Tariq Ali: “The vaudeville President stirring NATO with attacks on the Germans for being Russian puppets. Bizarre, but the EU powers are so pathetic they can’t fight back because they’ve been ever so loyal to the US. Even now with Trump excreting on them…”

+ So Trump came Brussels not to kill off NATO, as both liberals and neocons feared, but to further weaponize it. He played the part of a blustery arms dealer, demanding that all NATO countries increase defense spending to 4% of GDP (double the current commitment), which would come as welcome news to Raytheon, Lockheed & Boeing. Of course, feeding defense corporations is what NATO has been about since the alliance became operationally obsolete in 1990.

+ Note that Trump’s call for NATO countries to increase military spending to 4% GDP would also mean another spike in US military spending, above the $718 billion check the Congress just wrote the Pentagon in the name of John McCain. Where are the protestations from the Deep State?

+ The Senate voted 97-2 to defend poor little NATO against Trump’s rhetorical blasts. Only Rand Paul and Mike Lee dissented…

+ Here’s an alert sent out by Ryan Air in advance of Trump’s visit to UK…

+ Best slogan at London protests? “Take Boris back with you!”

+ Trump tells Putin shit that Putin (and nearly everyone else) already knows, namely that many of his top aides are “stupid people.”

+ Senator Chris Coons, the Delaware Democrat, is very worried about what Trump might “give away” to Putin at their rendezvous in Helsinki. The problem is, what do you give the man who already has Crimea? What if he gifted-wrapped Stephen Miller? No returns, of course.

+ Robert Mueller just threw a stink bomb at the Trump/Putin summit with his indictment of 12 Russian GRU agents for hacking into the computer systems of the DNC, the DCCC and the Clinton campaign .

+ “Alice Donovan” lives …

+ The FBI apparently knew that “Alice Donovan,” who was writing about Syria one day and creating the DCLeaks Facebook page the next, was a fictitious personality as early as 2015, but did nothing about it. Why not? This would have been a fruitful line of inquiry for Peter Strzok at the psychodrama masquerading as a Congressional hearing this week, but don’t expect the Democrats, who have lionized the FBI, to ask these kinds of questions.

+ The indestructible Donovan survived the Great Twitter Purge.

+ Hopefully at the next congressional hearing some member of congress will hold up a poster featuring Alice’s Twitter profile…

+ Will Putin respond by indicting CIA agents for hacking into Russian computer systems?

+ Nothing in the Mueller indictments, as intriguing as they are, alter the fact that Donald Trump is president because the Democrats ran Hillary Clinton as their candidate.

+ Brett Kavanaugh, a DC native, was literally born in the Swamp, got spit polished at Yale Law, then returned to his natural habitat, which he has never left.

+ In Kavanaugh, Trump, a nominal opponent of the Iraq War, has nominated one of the Bush lawyers, along with the odious John Yoo, who crafted the fake legal justifications for some of the most heinous aspects of the GWOT.

+ Did Brett Kavanaugh perjure himself in his senate testimony regarding his role in the Bush Administration’s abusive “enemy combatant” detention policy?

+ Apparently Anthony Kennedy had been in negotiations with the Trump team for months over his replacement. Once John Kelly gave the justice his assurance that the pick would be his former clerk Kavanaugh, Kennedy felt comfortable retiring. Can we get a DNA test?

+ Gorsuch and Kavanaugh both went to Georgetown Prep. They both clerked for Justice Kennedy. But they’re not clones. One went to Harvard Law, the other to Yale…

+ Chase Madar: “We are all truly fortunate that Jeffrey Dahmer did not attend Yale Law School.”

+ There have been 113 Supreme Court justices in US history, all but six have been white men. If confirmed, Brett Kavanaugh would be the 108th white male justice.

+ Even though I suspected Trump’s pick for the court would be a white male, I was at least hoping he’d be Russian to spice things up. I guess Putin’s influence only goes so far…

+  Kavanaugh sees nothing wrong with NSA’s warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. Kavanaugh wrote: “In my view, the Government’s metadata collection program is entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment.”

+ George W. Bush praised Trump for nominating Kavanaugh. He owes the federal judge, who helped Bush steal the 2000 elections by scheming to stop the Florida recount. Don’t know if he cleared his herogram with Laura.

+ The “Love Me I’m a Liberal” NYT Op-Ed Page just can’t help itself. It sees the potential good in any graduate of an Ivy League law school, whether it’s Gorsuch, who wasted little time in drawing blood from the bench, or the odious Kavanaugh.


+ Percent of sitting SC Justices who went to Yale, Harvard, Columbia: 100%
Percent of Americans who went to Yale, Harvard, or Columbia: .00001%

+ The Supreme Court used to be a bastion of WASPs, but that’s changed radically since the appointment of Scalia and Kennedy. Now it’s a Jewish/Catholic court. For Republicans, Catholicism is a not-too-subtle signal about their real views on abortion. No more non-dominationalists like the treacherous Souter.

Percent of Catholics + Jews in US: 24%
Percent of Catholics + Jews on Supreme Court: 100%

+ Kavanaugh wears his Catholicism on his robe. But he and his wife, who also served in the Bush administration, have only two children? Does she take the pill? Has the rhythm method worked for them? Or have they been practicing abstinence for the last 8 years? And what does all this portend for the future of the Griswold decision on access to birth control?

+ Kavanaugh didn’t spend much time in the courtroom as a lawyer. His mother did. She was a prosecutor, Kavanaugh’s mother was, naturally, a prosecutor, which helps explain his grim record on the rights of defendants.

+ Before announcing his nomination of Kavanaugh, Trump dragged out Scalia’s widow and Ed Meese just to scare the children…

Congratulations to Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, whose statement  “I could vote either way” on Kavanaugh is one of the most concise definitions of what it means to be a Democrat I’ve ever come across.

+ Jess Dweck: “Even liberals have to admit, with his stellar education and experience, there is no one more qualified than Kavanaugh to make a 12-year-old carry a pregnancy against her will.”

+ Lay down with (MSDNC contributor) Bill Kristol, wake up with Bill Kristol….

+ Trump’s latest pardons were awarded to the rebel ranchers in eastern Oregon whose acts of arson on federal lands prompted the armed takeover the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge…

+ The description of the Hammonds as benign rustics is at striking variance to the virulent anti-government zealots I’ve watched and reported on for the past 22 years.

+ It may be worth noting that Trump’s pardon for the rebel ranchers & range arsonists Dwight and Stephen Hammond was issued on Cow Appreciation Day.

+ Is the kid who burned the Columbia Gorge on Trump’s pardon shortlist? Or do you have to have a political motive for your pyromania, which is, of course, one definition of terrorism?

+ The day after the Hammond were handed their pardons, Red Fawn Fallis was sentenced to 5 years in prison for her courageous actions at Standing Rock to protect treaty land and water from oil and gas companies. Unlike the Hammonds, Red Fawn didn’t threaten to kill federal officials, & didn’t have any allegations of child abuse against her–so no prospect of a Trump pardon for her.

+ The Hammonds flew back to Burns on a private jet owned by one of Mike Pence’s pals. How will Red Fawn get home?

+ In Trumpland, it’s ok to burn federal property, but treasonous to burn US flags made in China.

+ Here’s some vital background that helps clarify the Trump Administration’s otherwise bizarre crackdown on breastfeeding. When Ivana Trump was asked whether she breastfed her kids, she said “No, Donald would’ve never had sex with me again.” (See: Born Trump: Inside America’s First Family by Emily Jane Fox)

+ There’s also the time when Trump called a lawyer and breast-feeding mother named Elizabeth Beck “disgusting” after she requested short break from a deposition in order to pump some breastmilk. Beck recalled on CNN that Trump had “an absolute meltdown.”

“Trump got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me,” Beck said. “And he screamed, ‘You’re disgusting, you’re disgusting,’ and he ran out of there.”

+ Just in from Trump Endowment for the Humanities an editorial revision to Moby Dick… “Let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk (strike “milk” and substitute: “formula”) and sperm of kindness…”

+ Speaking of the formula-fed Trump off-spring, Ivanka Trump’s companies have never manufactured a single product on American soil

+ Trump is being ridiculed for bragging to Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun that his poll numbers are higher than Abe Lincoln’s. But this is inarguably true, even if Gallup wasn’t running daily tracking polls by telegraph in the 1860s. Lincoln had half the country in arms against him and had lost faith with nearly half of the North. Wake me when the Resistance© liberates a concentration camp for kids. Then we’ll know that there’s a revolt which begins to rival the one Lincoln confronted.

+ Famous Last Words of Pompeo Maximus, after his surprise visit to Kabul: “The Taliban can’t wait us out.” Another way of reading this is that the US has no intention of ever withdrawing from Afghanistan. But the Taliban will wait and the US will withdraw. Dating back to Alexander, all of the invaders eventually leave Afghanistan, but not on their own terms.

+ Two Navy warships cruised into the Taiwan Strait this week. Back up, in case Trump’s trade war with his good friend Xi goes south?

+ Too bad there was no mugshot of Manafort after he took money to whitewash the rivers of blood shed by Jonas Savimbi and Mobutu Sese Seko…

+ LGBTQ activists in Kansas City are holding a Sausage Fest in honor of Mike Pence’s visit to KC. Of course, if they really want Pence to show up for some BBQ’d bratwurst, they have to invite Mrs. Pence as well, who Mike calls “Mother.” They should feel right at home. Not sure how to address that invitation.

+ Boycott Dershowitz Socially (BDS): It’s only been a week without a dinner invitation, but Alan Dershowitz is clearly coming unhinged. On Monday, he pronounced that Americans “cannot question a president’s motives when the president acts,” a contention that echoes the German lawyer Robert Servatius’ argument on behalf of Adolf Eichmann during his trial in Jerusalem. What the hell will Dersh say after a month of social exile?

+ The only people still willing to be seen having a meal with Alan Dershowitz are reporters from the New York Times, who have met with the outcast lawyer three times in the last week …

+ The next time the NYTs feels the need to take lonely Alan Dershowitz out to lunch…

+ Stephen Miller tossing out an $80 order of sushi he’d already paid for after getting flipped off by a bartender is the same kind of weird self-defeating protest of those NRA-types who shot up the overpriced Yeti coolers they’d pilfered their kids’ lunch money to buy for $500…

+ Next time offer Miller a serving of Anthony Bourdain’s Monday night fugu?

+ Before we leave the New York Times, let’s look over David Brooks’s shoulder. This week he’s got a solution to the mass incarceration crisis. Reinstitute the draft! … but only for black men.

+ Things Dick Cheney does…autograph waterboarding kits.

+ The deplorable Democrats in Montana are so desperate to keep Jon Tester (who on most issues can be found somewhere between John Cornyn and Orin Hatch on the ideological spectrum)  in the senate that they went to court to boot the Greens off the ballot. Tester was being challenged by my old pal and CounterPunch contributor, Steve Kelly.

+ Officials in Riverside County outside Los Angeles want to put juveniles on probation for bad grades in public schools, arguing that poor marks in math and English are signs of “pre-delinquency.”

+ Within weeks, the number of immigrant children being housed at the Goodfellow Air Force Base in west Texas could outnumber military personal by a 4 to 1 ratio. When they talked about the Peace Dividend, how many scenarios envisioned that military bases would be “repurposed” into concentration camps for kids?

+ From Washington Gov. Jay Inslee: “My office recently learned the shocking revelation from @HHSGov that reunification could mean placing a separated child with ANY long-term sponsor — regardless of whether it’s their parents, other family in the US, family back in their home country or in long-term foster care.”

+ A man in Cook County, Illinois verbally assaulted a woman in a county park, shouting at her that she was “un-American” for wearing a shirt featuring the Puerto Rican flag. This outburst makes him almost stupid enough to run for congress.

+ Trump’s “de-naturalization” operation, which is scouring the country looking for immigrant Americans whose citizenship they can revoke on trivial grounds, claimed its first victim this week in Norma Borgono, a Peruvian-born grandmother who has lived in the US since 1989…

+ A pregnant woman from El Salvador was left bleeding for 8 days on the concrete floor of a detention jail in Arizona before getting medical care. She later miscarried. Let’s see the scriptural authority the evangelicals cite to rationalize this form of fetus-abuse by the state…

+ A train pulls into a station in Poland. People emerge from the cars. The men are sent in one direction, the women another, the children seized from their arms, scream “Don’t you love me anymore?” Is this really so different?

+ A 92-year-old man named Roberto Rodriguez was out for his daily walk in Los Angeles when he was accosted by a woman who told him to get back to his own country and then hit him with a brick. Rodriguez is a US citizen. Think how desperate conditions must be south of the border that people still want to come to this shithole country — or in this case how courageous to just walk down the sidewalk of your own city as a person of Mexican heritage knowing you may be “bricked” any moment.

+ Courtesy of Yasha Levine, this Soviet cartoon from 1952, still paying dividends 66 years…

(Pay Yasha back for his kindness by buying a copy of his revelatory new book on the creepy origins of the Net, Surveillance Valley.)

+ George W. Bush says that he is “disturbed” by the immigration and refuge crisis in the US because it “undermines the goodness of America.” This from the man who mocked Karla Faye Tucker’s plea for her life shortly before overseeing her execution.

+ Is it possible, or even likely, that Louie Gohmert is a “low IQ individual”?

+ Who is the more inept interrogator: Louie Gohmert or Rachel Maddow, who spent 15 minutes with Victoria Nuland on Thursday night and didn’t ask one question the bloody fingerprints she left on US foreign policy in eastern Europe and Libya?

The Republicans did prove during their hearing that there’s bias in the judicial system. How? All of the questions fired off by these former prosecutors for FBI agent and lothario Peter Strzok were so inept that they could have only won convictions in their old careers thru systemic bias against defendants.

+ Thanks in part to Trump, we’re getting a really good look at what this country’s all about at the operation level. Many of these people aren’t cranks, but government officials who make life-and-death decisions in courthouses across the country every day. Here’s one of the top prosecutors in San Bernadino County going off on Maxine Waters: “Being a loud-mouthed c#nt in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this bitch by now.”

+ Being “random” while black…“If you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries.”

+ A fascinating story in the New Yorker by Adam Entous suggests that Obama and John Kerry where shocked in 2015 when they saw a State Department generated map showing the extent of the incursions of illegal Israeli settlements into Palestinian territories on the West Bank. Yet only the willfully blind or ignorant could have been shocked by this map, and I don’t recall any press conferences from either Obama or Kerry alerting the nation to the ghoulish realities of the Occupation. Still, the belated epiphany represents something, I suppose, like consciousness of guilt?

+ Marc Lamont Hill: “Sitting in a Palestinian cafe. I asked for the WiFi code. The owner’s answer: ‘Jerusalem is Ours.’”

+ 95% of the Palestinian youths of East Jerusalem who have been arrested and detained by the IDF have been interrogated without their parents or a lawyer being present.

+ Book an NGO event at Mar-a-Lago get a $25,000 grant from Trump Foundation….

+ Awaiting a presidential tweet condemning the Corrupt, Lyin’ Fed’s attempt to undermine the Miracle Gro Formula for Trumponomics, after a Federal Reserve commissioned study found that the “growth benefits” of the Trump tax cuts may have been vastly overestimated.

+ About that rocket fuel for the economy: It turns out that many corporations took their tax cuts and used the money (more than $800 million, according to S&P) to buy back their own stock with the goal of increasing the share value. But they didn’t get much bang for their billions of bucks, since share prices have only risen a meager 1.3% since the enactment of the tax cuts.

+ According to Princeton University economist Angus Deaton,  5.3 million Americans live on less than $4 a day, an amount that includes government assistance.

+ When Trump claims to have tripled US GDP in a mere 1.5 years in office is he referring to the Gross Dotard Product? If so, he’s probably on target for once.

+ Trump’s personal driver for 25 years is suing the president for 3000 hours of unpaid overtime since 2012. The driver, Noel Cintron, says in addition to stiffing on his overtime pay Trump only raised his salary twice and after the second raise Trump quit paying his health insurance.  Two professions you really don’t want to piss off: strippers and chauffeurs…

+ This week the continent of Africa may have endured its highest ever temperature when the mercury hit 124F in Algeria, just seven degrees higher than the temperature in southern California on the same day.

+ 77% of southern Californians rarely or never ride the bus or Metro.

+ Up in the Bay Area, two-thirds of those banned from riding the BART are black.

+ Harassed by ship traffic, poisoned by dioxins and PCBs and starving from dwindling salmon runs, the Orcas of Puget Sound are hurtling toward extinction

+ This week China jailed hundreds of government officials who covered up thousands of violations of state environmental regulations, as part of Xi’s “war on pollution.” Can they spare a cell for Scott Pruitt?

+ With fish stocks collapsing in all oceans, a UN report called The State of the World’s Fisheries discloses that more than one-third of all of the fish caught are wasted…

+ An average of two amputations a week take place as a result of working in slaughterhouses and meat plants in the United States. And that’s only the cost to humans…

+ When the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina drove out the KKK

+ So Joe Crowley is staying on the ballot in New York on the Working Families Party ticket, apparently to exact a little revenge on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Democrats are peachy with this. Will they apologize to Jill Stein and Ralph Nader now?

+ It’s over Crowley. Just shut up and take that gig on K Street, where you can openly represent the corporations and banks you’ve covertly carried water for during your entire political career.

+ Kylie Jenner’s lips aren’t the only things about her that were artificially inflated. Although hyped by Forbes as a “self-made billionaire,” Kylie’s net worth is really about $100 million shy of that awesome threshold. Thankfully a GoFundMe page has materialized to help us push her over the line!

+ I found an original vinyl of Infidels this weekend, a little scratched up, but still a great Dylan record with a terrific band. “Union Sundown” is better than any Springsteen ode to the working class, with an edge that Bruce never would have risked…

Democracy don’t rule the world
You better get that in your head
This world is ruled by violence
But I guess that’s better left unsaid

+ I occasionally check out a site called Trump Golf Count to see how many hours the president has spent on the links. I hate golf. I would be a golf conscientious objector if drafted to play golf. But I’m happy that my tax dollars, such as they are, are paying Trump to play golf. I hope he gets in a few rounds every day. Think what else he could be doing with his time…

+ Pompeo Maximus’ visit to Pyongyang was a bust. The North Korea objected to the Secretary of State’s iron-fisted negotiating tactics, calling them “gangster-like.”

+ Trump’s strange fixation on Sir Elton climaxed with the president instructing Pompeo to hand Kim an autographed CD of Elton’s song “Rocketman.” Apparently, Kim wasn’t a fan. Try Tupac next time?

So excuse me forgetting, but these things I do
You see, I’ve forgotten if they’re fake or they’re true
Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean
Mine are the sweetest lies you’ve ever seen
And you can tell everybody this is my song
It may be quite simple, but now it’s not for free
I hope you don’t mind that this song’s about me
No, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is, now that I rule the world…

If It Feels This Good Being Used, Then Use Me Up

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination and the Invention of Los Angeles by Gary Krist

Three Roads to Magdalena: Coming of Age in the Southwest Borderland by David Wallace Adams

The Overstory by Richard Power

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week. Still recreating my vinyl collection…

Blue Bash!  by Kenny Burrell and Jimmy Smith

Solstice: Sound and Shadows by Ralph Towner

Infidels by Bob Dylan

Not Write, Write

Samuel Beckett: “I did not want to write, but I had to resign myself to it in the end. It is in order to know where I have got to, where he has got to. At first I did not want to write, I just said the thing. Then I forgot what I had said.”

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