Roaming Charges: Iron Fist, Tiny Hand

‘+ A couple of intrepid reporters with Fox and Friends ventured down to Louisiana this week to record some oral history with Trump voters and interviewed a woman at the Butter Krisp Diner in Covington who declared: “I want a president who’s going to rule with an iron fist— finally. Someboy who’s going to stand up for America.”

But what if that Iron Fist is made of a Tiny Hand?

+ The much-anticipated Pompeo Maximus hearing before the Senate showed both parties (and Pompeo) trying to be more hawkish than the other on Russia and Iran and slavish in their devotion to NATO.

+ After about 15 minutes, MSDNC broke away from the Pompeo hearing to replay the Cohen/Trump tape 15 times. Why? Perhaps because Pompeo undermined their 24/7 narrative by spending most of his time beating his chest about Russia.

+ Yemen’s not a “covert war” like Afghanistan in the early 1980s. It only seems that way because MSDNC chooses not to cover it

+ In the last year, MSDNC has done 455 segments on Stormy Daniels and none on Yemen. I’m all for Stormy Daniels, but she’d probably get the Nobel Peace Prize if she went to Yemen for the weekend so that MSDNC and CNN would cover the US-backed genocidal war going on there …

+ Of course, if MSDNC starts covering Yemen, they may also have to cover Gaza, and climate change. Who knows where it will end or what will happen to all of Rachel Maddow’s graphics, including the ones with scary Cyrillic script she used to wrongly accuse the White House of redacting from the official Helsinki transcript Putin’s admission that he supported Trump in the 2016 elections.

+ Lil Marco Rubio wants to team up with EU go to war against China…But the EU has other plans.

+ Meanwhile, Henry Kissinger rose from the crypt shortly after dusk to croak out his advice to Trump that the US needs to work with Putin to “box in China.”

+ In a major disappointment to the RussiaGaters, Vladimir Putin blew off Trump’s invitation for a pre-midterm visit to DC. Even Putin realizes that it wouldn’t serve Russia’s interests to visit the White House in this frenzied climate…

+ On Monday morning, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that any US attack on Iran would result in the “mother of all wars.”  I cringed when I saw the word “mother”, knowing that it would  trigger an all-out defense reaction from the sub-basement of Trump’s Oedipally-charged psyche (See his recent hostile assault on breastfeeding).

+ A few hours later, Trump erupted with this…

+ After Trump’s Twitter abreaction about Iran, Major General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds forces, responded by warning Trump that if the US attacked Iran, the country would “destroy everything you own.” The Iranians might be surprised by how little that really is…

+ Instead of investigating what Trump actually owns, it might prove more fruitful to track down who actually owns Trump. Here’s a guide to the two banks that hold most of Trump’s debt.

+ Whatever few assets of value remain in Trump’s name, he may have to divest himself from after a federal judge allowed a case against Trump to go forward on the allegation that the president is in violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution.

+ Juror voir dire. Question 1: Can you spell, pronounce or define E-M-O-L-U-M-E-N-T? For most Americas, the answer is clearly “no.”

+ Too bad this case isn’t before Judge Judy, who is the only jurist with the chops to preside over cases involving the cast of characters in the Trump Family syndicate.

+ The Trump administration is restoring military aid to Egypt. Is this in spite of Egypt’s dire record of human rights abuses or because of it?

+ While Chinese sweatshop workers were busy sewing Trump 2020 banners, the White House hosted a Made-in-America event, spotlighting baseball bats, canoes, cowboy boots and balls of yarn. At the luncheon, the executives and politicians consumed their meal using silverware that was made in China.

Everywhere there’s lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching Chinese forks and knives

+ In the footsteps of Denny “Serial Child Molester” Hastert, Jim Jordan, former wrestling coach at Ohio State University, has announced his intention to run for Speaker of the House. In order to snag the evangelical vote, you have to have at least one pending sex abuse scandal and given the competition the more the better…

+ CNN’s White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins was banned from the White House pool after asking a few innocuous questions about Michael Cohen during Trump’s mini-press appearance with Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission. This stupid act of revenge prompted an eruption of self-righteous  outrage from the DC press corps, which even FoxNews joined. Too bad they didn’t show the same solidarity when Sam Husseini was dragged off by Finnish cops prior to the Hoedown in Helsinki.

+ Collins has one of the few voices on cable news that I can tolerate for more than about 30 seconds. Kaitlan is from Alabama. She speaks softly and is failingly polite, too polite for my tastes. I get the sense that this peevish stunt has more to do with Trump’s misogyny than his antagonism toward the press. He simply can’t abide critical questions from women. No surprise that Bill Shine, the man who covered up the misogyny and sexual harassment in the FoxNews room, was the man who did Trump’s bidding.

+ Michael Cohen, who once vowed to take a bullet for his boss, seems to have flipped and is now prepared to tell Mueller’s investigators that Trump is lying about not having advance knowledge about the Russians coming to Trump Tower seeking to peddle dirt on Hillary Clinton. Michael Cohen isn’t John Dean; he’s more like Sammy the Bull Gravano. Sit back and enjoy the bloodbath. There’s nothing quite like watching a crime syndicate go to war against itself.

+ This piece in the Daily Yonder (a must-read site about rural politics) succinctly explains why Trump won in 2016. The Trump electorate mirrored Romney’s in 2012: white Republicans, not any more or less racist or anti-immigrant than they had been four years earlier. Hillary voters, however, weren’t much like Obama’s. Clinton’s distended and presumptuous campaign shrank the electorate and in doing so she lost the core of the Obama coalition. Obama probably didn’t deserve the Obama coalition that took him to victory twice, but they definitely weren’t going to be cattle-prodded to the polls for Clinton. In Wisconsin alone, Hillary pulled in 200,000 fewer Obama voters and rightly so. They didn’t vote for Trump, Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. They lowered their electoral carbon footprint by staying home. No need to call on Vlad.

+ Trump Secretly Fears Joe Biden in 2020! (This story planted by…Joe Biden.)

+ As Donald “Tariffs are the greatest!” Trump vows to slap new tariffs on almost all Chinese imports, his odious daughter shutters her “fashion” line of overpriced crap made in Chinese sweatshops…

+ Some humanitarian untied Cruella DeVos’s $40 million yacht, The SeaQuest, and set it adrift into Lake Erie….Who says chivalry is dead?

+ It’s not clear if this act of well-intentioned piracy is related to Cruella’s insensate decision to curtail debt relief for students defrauded by for-profit colleges…

+ The Inspector General for the National Security Agency issued a scathing report this week condemning the Trump administration for failing to protect data on the millions Americans it has scooped up from electronic surveillance. Even when the NSA is “in compliance,” it’s running roughshod over the Constitution…

+ Jimmy Carter lamented the fact that under Trump the US has “lost its place as a human rights leader.” Of course, the US’s place as a human rights leader has always been eclipsed by its place as a human rights abuser…

+ Both Democrats and Republicans continue to freakout over the Lipstick Lenin, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ken Klippenstein: “Who is to the RIGHT of Putin, Genghis Khan?”

+ Steven Salaita: “Western lefties eagerly infantilize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (she’s “only” 28!) while much younger Palestinian women (Razan Najjar, Ahed Tamimi) are slaughtered and imprisoned by the settler colony on whose existence Ocasio-Cortez insists.”

+ J. Beauregard Sessions has announced his intention to expand the federal death penalty for drug crimes. This savage policy started with Bill Clinton whose infamous Crime Bill (unapologetically backed by Sen. Bernard Sanders) first authorized the imposition of the death penalty for crimes that do not involve murder. Sessions is taking this vile precedent to its malign conclusion.

+ The Attorney General ordered the Justice Department to refer to all “undocumented immigrants” as “illegal aliens.” And henceforth shall J. Beauregard be referred to as Obergruppenführer Sessions…

+ Impeach & jail them for this: More than 450 migrant parents seeking asylum in the US were deported without their children. And many others separated parents are being compelled to sign documents that they can’t read.

+ On Tuesday I got this note from Ruth Hopkins, a former tribal judge on the Yankton Reservation: “Natives in South Dakota are saying they’re being stopped by highway patrol and threatened with deportation if they don’t have tribal ID.” Deported to where?

+ According to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of reported acts of sexual abuse in US prison tripled over a four year period, rising from 8,768 allegations in 2011 to  24,661 allegations in 2015. It’s hard not to view this kind of systemic abuse as an unstated policy of the US carceral system…

+ Harvey’s gone, the Hollywood predators remain: A survey by the Writers Guild of America revealed that 64% of its women members have been sexually harassed while on the job.

+ Sgt. Dean Worthington, the chief spokesman for the Columbus (Ohio) Police Department, was indicted this week on child pornography charges.  Worthington is accused of using his cellphone to download videos and images of minors engaging in sex acts with adults. Yes, this is the same police department which conspired to entrap Stormy Daniels in a pre-planned arrest when she appeared at a local strip club. The charges against Daniels were dismissed 12-hours after she was hauled into jail.

+ The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Bloomington, Indiana spent their limited resources to buy an armored vehicle. This week it went out on its first call–a welfare check, which ended in a suicide. Protect and serve….

+ The venture capitalists at Tronc gutted the New York Daily News this week, firing half of their staff, including some of the papers best writers and editors. The number of people working at newspapers fell from 424,000 in 2000 to 183,300 last year. That’s a 57 percent drop with no bottom in sight.

+ Someone took a sledgehammer this week to one of the few public urinals in West Hollywood: Trump’s star on the walk of fame.

+ There are reports from Wisconsin that Gov. Scott Walker, the apostle of austerity, is trailing his Democratic opponent by more than 10 percentage points. Is it really possible that Walker will go slithering back to whatever petri dish he emerged from at the Heritage Foundation?

+ The endocrine disruptors in plastics seem to be shrinking human penises. This was, of course, the subliminal warning of “The Graduate.”

+ According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists as the Earth roasts under a hemisphere-wide heatwave, “Over a two-week period from late June to early July, ABC, CBS, and NBC aired a combined 127 segments or weathercasts that discussed the heat wave, but only one segment, on CBS This Morning, mentioned climate change.”

+ A new study reports that suicides in North America and Mexico are increasing as a result of rising temperatures from climate change.

+ Among the unsung victims of climate change are 1200 sheep in the Australian outback will be shot a rancher because they are starving from a prolonged drought in New South Wales.

+ Coal mining has destroyed 1.5 million acres of land in Appalachia (and counting.)

+ Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department has stopped demanding even token reparations from mining and oil companies for the damage they inflict on federal lands.

+ Faith Vander Voort, Ryan Zinke’s new spokesperson, once proclaimed to the Twittersphere that Muslims were not eligible to serve as president of the United States. Not surprisingly she got her start in politics working for Steve King, who has proclaimed Joe McCarthy a “hero for America.” Sasha Baron Cohen could do an entire season of “Who Is America?” and never leave the Interior Department’s headquarters.

+ The orcas of Puget Sound continue their free-fall, in part because of their dependence on the chinook salmon runs in the rivers and creeks of the Seattle metro area. When one declining species depends on another, the prospects for the survival of both are pretty grim…

+ Enter your street address to find out whose stolen land you’re living on..

+ Snap, crackle, and POP goes the housing market bubble…at least in the over-inflated southern California region, where prices are collapsing and people still can’t afford homes. A portent of things to come?

+ Now you know why your wine cooler keeps coming out hot: Cesium-137 with a Fukushima signature is showing up in California wines.

+ The censors of Hong Kong have declared Haruki Murakami’s new novel, Killing Commendatore, “indecent,” and have required that the book’s cover be wrapped in a warning label and prohibited its sale to minors. Having spent a couple of late nights this week finishing Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (a kind of Japanese version of This Side of Paradise), I regretted that it wasn’t a little more “indecent.”

+ Trump: “Get me a Coke!

One of America’s great national pastimes
Is poisoning rain
Acting insane
Inflicting pain
Ah, but the great taste of Coke has refreshed players
The hot and the tired the weary and the sore…

+ If Trump’s going to suspend security clearances, he should start with someone who is doing real damage: Nikki Haley

+ In 1954, J. Robert Oppenheimer fell under the scabrous gaze of Joe McCarthy for his supposed “communist sympathies.” As a result, Oppenheimer’s security clearance was stripped by the Eisenhower administration. Instead of swiping his security clearance, they should have revoked his license to practice physics and shipped him off to Nuremberg for crimes against humanity.

+ The spunky Russian redhead and gun-moll Maria Butina, now in federal custody on rather cloudy charges of espionage, made quite the lasting impression on professors and students at my alma mater, the American University in Washington, DC. She seems to have spent much of her time on campus cozying up to guest lecturers at School for International Studies (a notorious spook-shop), and partying at local bars. According to a sprightly profile in the Washington Post of the young woman who wanted to put Glocks in the hands of Russians (a prospect that probably wouldn’t be viewed favorably by Vladimir Putin),

In November 2016, just three months after arriving, she hosted a “Stars and Tsars”-themed costume party to celebrate her birthday at Cafe Deluxe, a restaurant in Cleveland Park. Erickson was there, dressed as the Russian mystic Rasputin, while Butina went as the Russian Empress Alexandra, the wife of the last emperor of Russia, as the Daily Beast first reported. One person who attended the party said there was a giant glass bottle shaped like a Kalashnakov rifle. Guests poured shots of vodka from the barrel of the glass gun.

The chatty piece, which is reminiscent of the old Style Section when it was in the hands of Sally Quinn, continues:

Butina’s cellphone case was emblazoned with a famous photo of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin riding shirtless on a horse. She would buy friends rounds of vodka at the Russia House, the Dupont Circle restaurant popular with the Russian diplomatic set, sometimes challenging male friends to down horseradish-infused shots.

I spent much of my time at AU in one state of inebriation or another, but I don’t recall parties remotely like these. But then I stayed as far away as I could from the CIA wannabes and debauched Saudis prowling the halls of SIS. AU was a different campus back in the late-70s. You were more likely to bump into someone at a party carrying a model of the head of Grand Duchess Anastasia on a pike, than a celebrant dressed up like her mother, the Empress Alexandria. Both my old school and the new Russia seemed to have followed a similar declining arc.

+ While all online traces of our troublesome troll Alice Donovan may have disappeared into the e-tomb of the Wayback Machine, her doppelgänger, Sophie Mangal, persists, churning out reportage for Inside Syria Media Center and other outlets, such as the Canada-based Global Research. Some may recall that Donovan and Mangal seem to have enjoyed a curious access to each other’s email, at least one of which landed in our inbox.  Like Donovan, Mangal was an accomplished and wide-ranging plagiarist. Sophie had also assumed a fictitious biography: Donovan presented herself as a young writer living in Manhattan, Mangal claimed to be a recent journalism graduate from Duke University. Unlike Donovan, Mangel was a prodigiously productive writer, regularly blasting out two or three stories a week. After our January exposé about Mangal (“Ghosts in the Propaganda Machine”), she discreetly withdrew from the Net for a few weeks. But we are pleased to report that she resurfaced in April with a dispatch on Global Research titled: Tragic Fate of Skripal’s Pets, where her bio now helpfully describes her as masquerading behind a “pen name.” But some things don’t change. This story, like most of her other reports, was cribbed wholesale from another writer, Frida Bruer, whose fascinating article with the same title appeared on Medium on April 7, 2018, the day before Mangal’s report ran on Global Research. Steal it while the pixels are still fresh…

+ The Left Bank is the only bank still paying dividends in Paris…

+ As beautiful as Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders trading licks…

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

A Bite-Sized History of France by Stephane Hénaut & Jeni Mitchell

Spying on Whales by Nick Pyenson

Chesapeake Requiem: a Year With the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island by Earl Swift

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…Still recreating my vinyl collection. Here are this week’s additions.

Plays Ellington by World Saxophone Quartet

Pyramid by Modern Jazz Quartet

Today! by Skip James

Creeping Strangulation

Edward Abbey: “My god! I’m thinking, what incredible shit we’ve put up with most of our lives. The domestic routine: same old jobs, insufferable arrogance of elected officials, the crafty cheating and the slimy advertising of the businessman, the tedious wars in which we kill our buddies instead of our real enemies back home in the capital, the foul diseased and hideous cities and towns we live in, the constant petty tyranny of automatic washers and automobiles and tv machines and telephones! Ah christ! I’m thinking, at the same time that I’m waving goodbye to that hollering idiot on shore, what intolerable garbage and what utterly useless crap we bury ourselves in day by day, while patiently enduring at the same time the creeping strangulation of the clean white collar and the rich but modest four-in-hand garrote.”

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