Roaming Charges: “I Am Not Spartacus!”

‘+ The big question now circulating amid the cubicles of the Gray Lady:  Who will Anonymous replace as a regular columnist at the New York Times?

A. Brett Stephens
B. David Brooks
C. Thomas Friedman

+ Will anyone notice the difference?

+ Anyone who denied being Anonymous should be suspected of being Anonymous. Those who denied the quickest and most vehemently (Mike Pence and Melania) are, naturally, the leading suspects.

+ As Claud Cockburn advised us many years ago: “Never believe anything until it has be officially denied.”

+ Trump wants Anon to be turned over to the government and tried for treason. He would set up his own band of White House plumbers, but the only people he know trusts are family and none of them have any experience with a basin wrench. Except for Melania, who is a suspect.

+ Noted civil libertarian Rand Paul advised Trump to subject his entire administration to lie detector tests to ferret out the traitorous columnist. The Trump administration has apparently come up with a list of 12 suspects. JC had his 12 apostles, Trump has his 12 apostates. Could it all end like Murder on the Orient Express: they all did it?

+ 10 days after the publication of All the President’s Men, this article appears in the Wall Street Journal, where the FBI’s Mark Felt denies being “Deep Throat”…

+ Ironically, Felt, it will be recalled by connoisseurs of Watergate, was charged by Nixon to track down who was leaking to Woodward and Bernstein…

+ Trump wants Beauregard to investigate the New York Times. But if he really wants to put the Times out of business, shouldn’t he simply resign? After all, in Billings on Thursday night Trump said the paper wouldn’t “exist without me.”

+ Did Mike Pence just shoot his “lodestar“?

+ Evidence for Mike Pence being Anonymous:

1. Gutless: Check
2. Coward: Check
3. Moral Prude: Check
4. Lodestar: Check
5. Denied being Anonymous: Check

+ Of course, Melania is a serial plagiarist. Maybe she lifted “lodestar” from Pence? Admittedly she usually swipes better material.

+ A summary of Anonymous’s op-ed: “Trump’s irrationality is threatening our tax cuts, our defense contracts and our carbon emissions!”

+ Following Anon’s lead, Elizabeth Warren is now calling for Trump to be removed from power through the cumbersome process set forth in the 25th Amendment, which would turn the Cabinet and the Congress into a kind of bicameral psychiatric review board, charged with evaluating the mental competency of the President, a task they are even less quipped for than determining whether he has committed a high crime or misdemeanor.

+ We have endured our share of demented executives in the recent past. Surely, Harry Truman was psychotic the moment he gave the order to nuke Nagasaki, after having witnessed the atomic horrors inflicted on Hiroshima.  LBJ staffer Richard Goodwin argued that Johnson suffered from paranoid delusions and that his “mental disintegration” led the president plunge the nation deeper and deeper into the Vietnam War. James Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense during the final months of the Nixon administration, instructed the Chiefs of Staff to ignore any orders for military action given by the president that didn’t contain Schlesinger’s own signature. Schlesinger feared that Nixon might summon the Marines to the White House grounds or launch nuclear weapons to save his presidency. As Reagan’s mind began to melt in his second term, chief of staff Don Regan fought furiously with Nancy Reagan, and her astrologer Joan Quigley, over running day-to-day operations at the White House, with Regan later charging in his memoir For the Record that: “virtually every major move and decision the Reagans made during my time as White House Chief of Staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise.” It doesn’t get much crazier than that.

+ Lewis Lapham: “People may expect too much of journalism. Not only do they expect it to be entertaining, they expect it to be true.”

+ With Lapham’s caveat in mind, I’m going to save you the $17.99 list price for Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House and give you the book’s greatest hits:

+ Sean Spicer tried several times to persuade Mattis to appear on Sunday talk shows The answer was always no. ‘Sean,” Mattis finally said, “I’ve killed people for a living. If you
call me again, I’m going to fucking send you to Afghanistan. Are we clear?”

+ Trump told [serial wife beater Rob] Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions’s accent, Trump added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”

+ Trump disputed this by saying he’d never used the word “retarded,” then from the vaults of Howard Stern this emerged…

+ Trump demeaned [if that’s possible] former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to his face, when Giuliani was the only campaign surrogate willing to defend then-candidate Trump on television after the “Access Hollywood” tape, a bombshell video where Trump described sexually assaulting women. “Rudy, you’re a baby,” Trump told the man who is now his attorney. “I’ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life. They took your diaper off right there. You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed. When are you going to be a man?”

+ In this instance, perhaps Trump has a point…

+ Ivanka: “I’m not a staffer! I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter.”

+  Trump attorney John Dowd to Mueller: “I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’ ”

“John, I understand,” Mueller replied.

+  Everybody threatens to quit, nobody does: “When [Gary] Cohn met with Trump to deliver his resignation letter after Charlottesville, the president told him, “This is treason!” Cohn folded under the president’s bluster and stayed on until he got what he wanted out of Trump: the tax. Gen. John Kelly  told Cohn that he shared Cohn’s revulsion at Trump’s response to the neo-Nazi rampage in Charlottesville.“I would have taken that resignation letter and shoved it up his ass six different times,” Kelly told Cohn. Kelly has also threatened to quit several times, but now says he’s onboard until 2020.

+ John Kelly on Trump: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

+ “Trump went off on his generals. ‘You should be killing guys. You don’t need a strategy to kill people,’ Trump said of Afghanistan.”

+ “One month into his presidency, Trump asked Dunford for a plan for a preemptive military strike on North Korea, which rattled the combat veteran.”

+ Chatting with his new favorite Sen. Lindsey Graham, Trump called Barack Obama a “weak dick” for not bombing Syria.

“After Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them.”

+ Looks like we just found out what’s madder than a mad dog: “Mattis ignored Trump’s order to assassinate Assad.”

+ It sounds like the Deep State intervened to save Assad’s ass.

+ Cory Booker made a big show at the Brett Kavanagh hearings by releasing documents stamped confidential by the Republican majority on the committee revealing the judge’s appalling views on racial profiling by cops.  Booker said the documents were so vital to the inquiry that he was willing to risk being expelled from the senate for violating the chamber’s arcane rules of conduct. (It turns out that Kavanagh’s lawyer, Bill Burck, had cleared the documents for release the previous evening, so it was all for show.) It’s the least Booker could do, after years of violating basic rules of human decency by going to bat for Big Pharma against the sick and dying…

+ There’s a lot of auditioning and grandstanding going on by Presidential aspirants during this hearing, but so far very little real obstruction of an odious jurist.

+ Why is anyone surprised that memos leaked to the New York Times show that Brett Kavanagh wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and Affirmative Action? Kavanagh (aka, Yoo’s Apprentice) wouldn’t have made it onto the Federalist Society All-Star Team if he didn’t have knocking off Roe and Affirmative Action at the top of his hit list…

+ Some showboating senator should have had the guts to ask Kavanagh, who appears to have lied at least five times during his senate testimony, whether a sitting Supreme Court justice could be indicted for perjury…

+ After watching the Kavanagh hearings be repeatedly disrupting by demonstrators, most of them women, many with pre-existing medical conditions, Trump said that protesting should be illegal. “I don’t know why they don’t take care of a situation like that,” Trump told the Daily Caller. “I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters.”

+ The protesters were hauled off and arrested by Capitol Hill police. What more does Trump want done? Their tongues pulled out? Best not to give him any ideas, I guess.

+ Liliana Segura: “It was smart of everyone to get arrested before having to listen to Ted Cruz.”

+ There’s been a lot of talk about whether Kavanagh considers Roe “settled law.” It’s a silly question. Some of the most infamous rulings in the Court’s history – Dred Scott, Plessy, and Korematsu were all considered “settled law” for decades. Settled Law is really just the Law of the Settler.

+ The Kavanagh hearings are bad news. This is worse.

+ Racial profiling goes digital, as IBM and the NYPD team up on a software program to track people by skin color.

+ Tell us something we didn’t know, Joe: “My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democrat. I loved John McCain.”

+ A devotional piece in The Daily Beast lauds McCain for modeling himself after Hemingway’s hero in For Whom the Bell Tolls, Robert Jordan. Come again. “Robert Jordan” fought with peasants against fascists. John McCain bombed peasants in an imperialist war. The Jordan character was based on Irving Goff, a communist jew from Coney Island, who performed as an acrobat and an adagio dancer. Just like McCain. Studs Terkel interviewed Goff in his book The Good War: an Oral History of World War II. Goff told Terkel: “I never ran into Ingrid Bergman in Spain. If I had, I might have stayed there longer than I did.”

+ For Whom the Bell Tolls is an over-rated novel, but Hemingway wrote worse: The Green Hills of Africa, Death in the Afternoon, and Torrents of Spring (though that early work was written with with an eye toward getting out of a bad contract.)

+ For the record, George, McCain abided the Shah of Iran, Pinochet, Somoza, Roberto D’Aubuisson, Rioss Montt, Pik Botha, Jonas Savimbi, Dick Cheney and Charles Keating to name only a few of the global all-stars of despotism & corruption…

+ How many crimes against humanity have been committed by the people gathered in the National Cathedral to honor McCain?

+ Dr. Katie Grimes: “Live your life so that Henry Kissinger would never show up at your funeral.”

+ Admittedly, I don’t understand the Christian religion very well, but it must be a maxim of the faith that the longer the funeral the more indelible sins that must be atoned for?

+ It only took Jesus three days to be crucified, buried, rise from the dead, make his final proclamations and ascend to heaven. McCain’s funeral has been sputtering along for a week and still hasn’t achieved lift-off…

+ Watching Joe Lieberman eulogize McCain was like having toxic waste injected in your eyeballs.

+ With W & Barack headlining the final set of McCainstock, how long before historians refer to the years 2001-2016 as the Bush-Obama Administration?

+ In a world ruled by Karma, the Democrats would come within one seat of taking back the Senate, only to have the notoriously corrupt Robert Menendez lose an otherwise secure seat in New Jersey…

+ The Trump administration is desperately trying to overturn or simply ignore the Flores Rule, a court settlement that limits the holding of immigrant children for more than 30 days. The Trump administration wants to detain these kids “indefinitely.” Ivanka better gobble a fistful of Prozac. Looks like she’s about to experience another “low moment”. They can always go lower. There is no bottom…

+ 497 of the 2,600 migrant kids stolen from their parents by the Trump administration are still in federal custody.

+ According to Monica Muñoz Martinez’s vitally important new book The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas, at the height of Texas Ranger violence against Mexicans, 300 people were murdered by the Rangers between 1915-1916…

+ San Francisco 1959: average home costs 3 times the average teacher salary.

San Francisco 2018: average home costs 22 times the average teacher salary.

Jeff Ballinger and I (and many others) tried for years to get people to burn their Nikes. It took Colin Kaepernick to just do it.

+ Trump: “Nike is a tenant of mine. They pay a lot of rent.”

+ Back in 2010, a blogger on a site called Gucci Little Piggy (a nod to a Radiohead song) posted the following stream of bile:

Black people walk slow – everywhere. This is especially puzzling since they tend to run so fast. Blacks meander through cross walks in traffic. They jaywalk in front of oncoming vehicles. They do the “Dougie” on two-way streets. Don’t get stuck behind them in a crowded mall or in line somewhere; they’ll walk slow just to go against the grain or force you (white person) to swerve around them. Inevitably, they’ll make fun of you for being a goofy, neurotic white person.

The same writer later posted an even more rancid torrent of racist dogma:

Let’s use blacks – especially African Americans – as an example. Blacks’ higher testosterone levels lead to increased aggression which in today’s confined society inevitably leads to increased violence and crime. In fact, African-Americans’ ancestors – slaves – were bred for high testosterone levels. A properly implemented penal code would account for the difference in nature to curb the problem. Laws and punishments that seek to reprimand outlying behavior on the “normal” (white) distribution of lawfullness may not fit the distribution of lawfullness for blacks.

Obviously, the U.S.’s penal code has led to blowback on the black community. A never-ending cycle of criminality and incarceration of blacks is one of the reasons for their low socio-economic status, low education levels, and higher crime. While individuals are responsible for their actions on the micro level, systematic incongruency will lead to higher incarceration rates on the aggregate. It’s nice to think that an individual will behave in accordance with the law, but its a pipe dream that a whole group will act against their nature to live by the letter of the law.

The writer’s name is Chuck Ross. Four years after publishing these curdled commentaries he was hired by Tucker Carlson to join the stable of rightwing scribes at the Daily Caller, a venue that is now on Trump’s speed dial. Ross will probably highlight these clips in an application to land a gig at FoxNews…

+ As drug companies invent diseases for ailments you didn’t know you had to sell you drugs that will do you more harm than good, the defense contractors manufacture threats that don’t exist to sell the Pentagon weapons that will make you poorer and less secure…

+ Business as usual: Israel confirmed that it has conducted more than 200 airstrikes inside Syria over the last year and a half.

+ A blast of social Darwinism (a polite description) from Benjamin Netanyahu…

+ Paraguay leads the way, moves embassy back to Tel Aviv, ignites wrath of Netanyahu and Nikki Haley.

+ “Hi Matteo, I’m Tony Blair. I wanna be your poodle.”

+ The funniest thing I’ve seen since Bill Clinton got caught eyeball-groping Ariana Grande at Aretha’s funeral is the encounter in a senate hallway between two professional puffballs: Alex Jones and Marco Rubio.

+ Promise Made, Promise Unfulfilled: Trump says he has “hundreds of photos” of Robert Mueller and James Comey “hugging and kissing each other.” Just move your little fingers over the Add Photos button on your Twitter feed, Donald, and click upload…

+ Trump: “They want to raid Medicare to pay for socialism.” Even Zen masters don’t come up with koans as perplexing as this…

+ Al Goldstein, publisher of Screw magazine, demolishes Trump, circa. 1986…

+ Trump took a lot of heat for telling Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he recalled the bombing of Pearl Harbor, even though he was born four years after the raid. That’s nothing. I was telling an Iranian friend last week how well I recall the battle of Salamis. Foggy morning. We were very nervous, not really trusting the oracular advice from the Pythian Priestess at Delphi. If it wasn’t for those tricky tides, it might have all ended differently…

+ America, 2018… Isabella Messer a 15-year old student at Hopkinsville High School Kentucky was arrested on August 23 for twice violating the school’s dress code. First for wearing a shirt that exposed her shoulders and a few days later for wearing a t-shirt that read on the front  “Do my shoulders turn you on?” and on the back: “If so, return to the 1920’s.” For this serious affront to the civil order, Messer was held in a juvenile detention jail for six days.

+ Remember when we used to fiercely debate paddling in schools? Those days are long gone. Now school cops are tasering students for napping…

+ Vladimir Putin, the Doug Peacock of Siberia? “Imagine, bears aren’t idiots,” proclaimed Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, when asked on Rossiya 1’s new reality show “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin.” if the Russian president’s frequent trips into the mountains were dangerous. “If they see Putin, they will behave properly.” The program is apparently “must viewing” in Russia.

+ All aboard the Crazy Train. The latest addition to the National Security  Council is Will Happer, who Trump has made “senior director for emerging technologies.” Happer, a theoretical physicist from Princeton, has compared climate science to “Nazi propaganda” and took to the Wall Street Journal editorial page to advance his view that increased emissions of carbon dioxide will be a boon to humanity.

+ Salem, Oregon has now set a record, going 79 days without any measurable rain. For those of you who don’t know Oregon geography, Salem is on the west (i.e., rainy) side of the Cascades…

+ They’ve been keeping temperature records in Amherst, Mass. since 1834. This was the hottest August on record…by more than 1F.

+ Meanwhile, I-5 is closed by fires and Redding is burning again.

+ Florence and the (Climate) Machine picks her targets:

+ Ed Marston, longtime publisher of High Country News, died this week much too soon at the age of 78, a victim of West Nile disease. Ed and I had our differences, over Democrats, collaboration with timber companies and livestock grazing, but he published many of my stories over the years and I spent a very enjoyable weekend with him outside of Moab, drinking Scotch and listening to coyotes laugh at us from the rim of the canyon. I read almost ever issue of High Country News when Ed and Betsy ran it.

+ Whatever happened to Kansas, asked native son Tom Frank? Here’s one big thing: Kansas residents have been drinking toxic water for years. The state knew and didn’t tell anyone.

+ Your kids can’t drink the school water
And they can’t breathe the school air
But Cruella DeVos will make sure
They all learn to say their school prayers…

+ The Big Coal (WV) and Big Oil (AK) states have the two worst economies in the US…

+ Is there a better metaphor for the current state of the nation than the burgeoning demand for bulletproof school backpacks…?

+ Bono: First you lose your conscience, then 25 years later your voice

+ Okay, class, read and discuss: “Kanye West told Power 92 in Chicago that Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Mahatma Gandhi’s deaths were all because they were liberal and that reason alone caused them to “f*ck up the paper.” He added “If you f**kin’ up the paper, your head gon’ get knocked off.” He also not surprisingly says that Trump never f*cks up the paper.”

+ When Life magazine asked Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Carter to demonstrate hand signs only bebop musicians understand…

Do You Think He’s One of Them?

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Palestine: a Four Thousand Year History by Nur Masalha

House of Trump, House of Putin: the Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia by Craig Unger

Lake Success: a Novel by Gary Shteyngart

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to (on vinyl) this week…

Mulligan Meets Monk by Gerry Mulligan and Thelonious Monk

Blue and Sentimental by Ike Quebec

Black Market Clash by The Clash

The Only Hope for America

Phil Ochs: “And if there’s any hope for America, it lies in a revolution, and if there’s any hope for a revolution in America, it lies in getting Elvis Presley to become Che Guevara.”

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