Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran

The Battle of Borodino by Peter Von Hess, 1843.

+ It’s easy to plot wars when you’re at no personal risk after your plans go to shit. At the Battle of La Moscova (or Borodino, if you’re Russian) in 1812, 70 generals were killed in a single day. In all US military campaigns since the beginning of World War  Two, only 23 generals or admirals have been killed in action.

+ Before the tear gas had cleared from the streets of Caracas after the failed Trump-coup plot in Venezuela, his laptop generals were instigating another quarrelsome action against a much more dangerous target: Iran. The Trump War Trust sent the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Persian Gulf, re-installed a Patriot missile battery near the Iranian border, directed the amphibious transport dock Arlington to the Persian Gulf, moved B-52H Stratofortress bombers to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar and sent scurrying home all “non-essential” US personnel from US embassies in Erbil and Baghdad, The US embassy in Baghdad was once billed as the largest, most fortified embassy in the solar system, all nebulous threat from Iran cooked up by Pompeo and Bolton and quickly swatted down as non-existent by British Army Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, who said flatly “there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.”

+ Well, I guess that’s one way to finally get of out Iraq.

+ This week John Bolton also ordered the Pentagon to submit to the White House plans for military action against Iran, including moving 120,000 US troops to the region. No word yet on whether the planning includes a coordinated PR effort involving a string of war-mongering fabulations in the New York Times.

+ Whoever leaked these plans may have prevented, or at the very least delayed, a war and given the recent crackdowns on whistleblowers by the Trump administration they did so at great personal risk. Fortunately, they didn’t leak them to The Intercept, which has now seen three of its sources (Reality Winner, Terry Albury and Daniel Everette Hale) arrested.

+ The US embassy in Baghdad was once billed as the largest, most fortified embassy in the solar system, now embassy staff are scurrying home because of a nebulous threat from Iran cooked up by Pompeo and Bolton..

+ Every Middle East war needs a Cheney, and it looks like the Iran War, long dreamed of by the neocons, just got Liz

+ Sen. Michael Bennett (Demwit-CO): “I believe our intelligence on Iran.”

+ Senator Tom Cotton told Firing Line if it comes to war with Iran, he is confident the United States would win, and would win swiftly. “Two strikes, the first strike and the last strike,” says the Senator. (See: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol.)

+ As Alabama moves to criminalize abortion, let’s remember that the Democratic standard bearer, Joe Biden, once voted to overturn Roe v. Wade

+ Is there any issue (aside from RussiaGate) that the Left has pursued with the same unrelenting ferociousness as the right’s campaign to end the Constitutional Right to an abortion?

+ Ruth Hopkins: “As a Dakota/Lakota woman who practices the culture & spirituality of my ancestors seeing the news unfold out of Georgia & Alabama has been beyond disturbing. Men have no business dictating women’s ways. Women must have control over their own reproductive systems. While much of Native history has not been made public for various reasons, in precolonial Times our people had methods & means of contraception & yes, abortion. We had ceremonies dealing with women’s reproduction too. The U.S. is now more primitive & backward than we ever were.”

+ After communing with the Supreme Deity on the divine strategy for overturning Roe v. Wade, Pat Robertson has a message to the politicians in Alabama:

+ The new heroine of the “Right to Life” Movement, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, has executed 6 people since taking office in April 2017.

+ Democrats who are focusing on how extreme the Alabama law is because it doesn’t include an exception for “rape and incest” have already surrendered on the real issue: the constitutional right to an abortion for all women. That’s precisely the timid kind of strategy that has led us to where we are now.

+ Under the new Georgia anti-abortion law, a woman who miscarries could be liable for second-degree murder. If prosecutors can prove that she is somehow responsible, she can be imprisoned for 30 years. A woman who travels out of Georgia to obtain a legal abortion elsewhere could still be prosecuted under the new law, and imprisoned for up to ten years.

+ The states that have passed abortion bans have the lowest rates of women in positions of political power.

+ The next 9 states likely to vote on hardline anti-abortion bills: Louisiana, Missouri, S. Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Texas, W. Virginia.

+ The EPA is slashing funding for studies of children’s health. Why? Because the kids only matter while in the womb…

+ Interior Secretary David Bernhardt: “I haven’t lost sleep over record CO2 levels.”

+ The temperature hit 29 celsius (85 F) on the coast of Arctic ocean at Arkhangelsk, Russia on Monday.

+ CO2 levels have risen 50 ppm since the hockey stick curve showing the rapid warming of the planet in the 20th century was published in 1998.

+ Our rulers are insane. Exhibit 1(a): Secretary of State Pompeo Maximus: “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade, that can potentially slashing the time it takes for ships to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days.”

+ The problem isn’t the people (largely Americans) who don’t “believe” in climate change. The problem resides with those who know what’s going on and do nothing about it and/or exploit it for profit.

+ Subsidies to the US fossil fuel industry now exceed the Pentagon’s budget.

+ A quarter of Antarctica’s ice is now deemed “unstable,” though likely not as unstable as our politicians.

+ Biden’s top climate advisor, Heather Zichal, left her White House job in 2013. A year later, she landed on the board of Cheniere Energy, a leading exporter of fracked gas, where she pocketed over a million dollars. in 2018 became the Nature Conservancy’s Vice President for “corporate engagement.”

+ Biden, explaining the political economy of his campaign: “If you go out and bundle $250K for me, all legal, and then you call me after I’m elected and say ‘Joe, I’d like to talk to you about something.’ I’m gonna say ‘Come on in.’ It’s human nature.”

+ Senator Kamala Harris has vowed to ban the import of some high-powered weapons into the US. The key word here, of course, is “some,” which “sums” up Harris’ whole approach to politics…

+ While in New Hampshire, Joe Biden predicted that once President Trump is out of office, Republicans will have “an epiphany” and work with Democrats toward consensus (Did he check this with Mitch?)….Look out Social Security!

+ “This is not your father’s Republican party. This is a different outfit” — Joe Biden in 2008

“Folks, this is not your father’s Republican Party” — Joe Biden in 2012

“This is not your father’s Republican Party, by the way. This is a different outfit” — Joe Biden this week. (But once Trump’s gone, they’ll be knock on his door to cut deals.)

+ Joe Biden in 2006: “Folks, I voted for a fence. I voted, unlike most Democrats ― and some of you won’t like it ― I voted for 700 miles of fence.”

+ Number of children adopted by American families who could be deported because they don’t have citizenship: 49,000.

+ Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants to strip children of LGBT U.S. citizens of their birthright citizenship through a federal policy that would de-recognize their parents’ marriage.

+ The latest from the Dept. of Cruelty…HUD is planning to evicted undocumented immigrants from public housing, a move which could displace as many as 55,000 children.

+ A fourth child died in US custody after being arrested at the border, after spending 3 days in an internment camp and several weeks in a hospital. The Washington Post headlined its story on this atrocity: “Toddler Apprehended on the Border Dies After Weeks in the Hospital.” Toddler apprehended, roll that pungent phrase around in your head for a few minutes…

+ On the same day that a three-year-old immigrant died in US custody, Mark Morgan, Trump’s choice to run ICE, was on Tukkker Carlson’s show telling the Fox audience how he has looked into the eyes of child migrants and seen the gang-banger lurking within…

“I’ve been to detention facilities where I’ve walked up to these individuals that are so-called minors, 17 or under. I’ve looked at them and I’ve looked at their eyes. And I’ve said: that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It’s unequivocal.”

+ Despite the garishness of most Trump buildings, Trump still considers himself something of an expert in design, thus it comes as no surprise that the president has been flooding the Department of Homeland Security with ideas about how to make his border wall more imposing, including having it painted “a flat black” in order to burn the hands of would-be climbers and having it studded with spikes set at angles that will inflict the maximum amount of pain and bodily injury.

+ David (Big Papi) Ortiz on Red Sox manager Alex Cora skipping the White House visit: “You don’t want to go and shake hands with a guy who is treating immigrants like shit.”

+ If you want government help, you’ve got to lose millions. Otherwise, fend for yourselves

+ These days people read Dickens in order to get ideas about how to torment poor kids. “Students who owe lunch money will only get a cold jelly sandwich, district says.”

+ There’s a black kid standing behind Trump as he jokes about shooting refugees and I couldn’t help but think about the “knee-slappers” they must have told in the senate cloakroom while debating the Fugitive Slave Act. The moral rot has gone systemic. Perhaps it always was.

+ Recall when HRC scolded Merkel that unless she cracked down on refugees (many driven by HRC backed wars in Syria, Iraq and Libya) the fascists would take over Germany. Funny how that turned out, as immigrants have been a driving force behind Germany’s economy.

+ There’s something morbidly poetic about the fact that the only other president to invite Hungarian despot Viktor Orban to the White House was … Bill Clinton.

+ For the MSDNCers who thought HR McMaster was the “adult” in the Oval Office: “A young student stood up and said ‘all I’ve known my whole life is war.’ Now, he’s never been to war, but he’s been subjected, I think, to this narrative of war-weariness.”

+ As Eric Garner was being asphyxiated by police officer Daniel Pantaleo, a police commander texted one of his subordinates that his death was “no big deal.” When these texts were read aloud a disciplinary hearing for Pantaleo, the NYT reported that their were “audible gasps” in the room. Surely, the gasps in the room were because the police commander said openly what they all believe in private. (The NYPD is still paying Garner’s killer 6 figures a year.)

+ Cop: “Show me your ID.”
Man: “No. You just pulled up in front of my fucking house & told me I have a warrant from Louisiana.”
Cop: “Because you had a dog walking.”
Man: “So what? That’s my fucking dog!”

+ The webcast of Israel’s EuroVision semi-finals was hacked to display bomb blasts and missile strikes. That deserves some kind of Emmy award.

+ Denying entry to Hanan Ashrawi is a heckuva way to demonstrate the neutrality of your “peace plan,” eh Jared..?

+ You want to keep eye out for young those communists. Like John Brennan, James Comey started out as a “communist,” only to end up targeting them as a grandee in the National Security State. Comey confessed to New York magazine in 2003: “I’d moved from Communist to whatever I am now.”

+ Listen to the inchoate ramblings of the members of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat and Republican, during the debate on finding Bill Barr in contempt and then consider for a moment that these politicians are the “best” our country has to offer…

+ Trump’s lawyers told a federal judge on Tuesday that Congress didn’t have the power to investigate him for corruption, and argued that both the Whitewater and Watergate investigations were invalid attempts at “law enforcement.”

+ Executive privilege claims used to be a third rail of American politics. Trump plans to make it standard operating procedure and the Democrats look too weak to stop him.

+ Greatest economy EVER…except for the 1 in 4 babies born into poverty (37% in New Mexico!)…

+ What winning the trade war looks like: manufacturing output fell 0.5 percent in April and is now down 0.2 percent over the last year.

+ Trump’s NLRB in action, defending the working-class: The federal labor board issued an opinion this week saying Uber employees are contractors, not legal employees, thus they’re not entitled to union membership and can’t file complaints if Uber retaliates for organizing.

+ While job prospects are better for 2019 college graduates, wages remain about what they were twenty years ago…

+ A decade after the Great Recession, 40% of American families are still struggling. But, chin up, prosperity is just a tariff away…

+ The richest Americans live 10-15 years longer than the rest of us…

+ Half of all Americans are just one missed paycheck away from financial ruin…

+ Black women are nearly four times as likely to die as a result of childbirth, even after  factoring in education/income. This disparity hasn’t improved in the last 30 years.

+ The reverse-Midas touch: Trump Tower’s occupancy rate has plunged over the last seven years to 83% from 99%, giving it a vacancy rate that’s about twice Manhattan’s average. Meanwhile, operating revenues at Trump’s elite Doral Country Club in Miami have plunged by 69 percent in the last two years.

+ Does the Emoluments Clause apply if, despite a lot of bookings from Saudis, Qataris and Israelis, the Trump properties are still losing money?

+ I guess if you lose a billion, as Trump claims to have done on federal taxes according to an electric story in the New York Times, you’ve earned the right to call yourself a billion-“air”…

+ NYT: “The new information also suggests that Mr. Trump’s 1990 collapse might have struck several years earlier if not for his brief side career posing as a corporate raider. From 1986 through 1988, while his core businesses languished under increasingly unsupportable debt, Mr. Trump made millions of dollars in the stock market by suggesting that he was about to take over companies. But the figures show that he lost most, if not all, of those gains after investors stopped taking his takeover talk seriously.”

+ NYT: “In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer, The Times found when it compared his results with detailed information the I.R.S. compiles on an annual sampling of high-income earners.”

+ NYT: “Mr. Trump was able to lose all that money without facing the usual consequences — such as a steep drop in his standard of living — in part because most of it belonged to others, to the banks and bond investors who had supplied the cash to fuel his acquisitions.”

+ So the only successful business gig Trump ever had was to make a big show out of firing people he didn’t actually employ.

+ Tony Schwartz, who wrote “Trump’s” Art of the Deal: “Given the Times report on Trump’s staggering losses, I’d be fine if Random House simply took the book out of print. Or recategorized it as fiction.”

+ David Brooks claims Trump is the “greatest con man” in American history. Nonsense. The great Wayne Barrett exposed Trump as an incompetent grifter in the the late 1970s: “Trump is a user of other users.” Truly great con men, like Bill Gates or Jamie Dimon, don’t let their marks see their sleights of hand so blatantly…

+ Only 8% of Trump voters say that reporting over $1 billion in business losses makes Trump a bad businessman.

+ There will only be a Constitutional Crisis if the Democrats lack the nerve to use the Constitution to solve the current crisis.

+ Former Colorado Governor John Frackenlooper is going around smearing Bernard Sanders as a Stalinist. Stalin? Hell, Bernie’s not even Ralph Nader…

+ South Carolina: Democrats 2020 poll (change since Feb.)

Biden 46% (+10)
Sanders 15% (+1)
Harris 10% (-3)
Buttigieg 8% (+8)
Warren 8% (-1)
Booker 4% (-6)
O’Rourke 2% (-6)
Yang 2% (+1)

+ Longtime black organizers can explain why Sanders is now 45 points behind Biden in South Carolina with the black vote. In 2016, Sanders came into the state riding high from Iowa and New Hampshire, rejected advice of local organizers, hired outsiders & acted like the pompous scold he is. They remember.

+ Aside from saying it’s rigged, I’d be curious to hear what Sandernistas have to say about the latest poll numbers out of New Hampshire, where Biden is doubling up Bernie. For the last few weeks, they’ve pointing to Sander’s narrow lead in his neighboring state as evidence of Bernie’s strength. Now that seems to have collapsed. My view is the same as it’s always been: Democrats will support a bad Democrat, even an historically bad Democrat, over someone who is not a member of their party, no matter how loyal he has shown himself to be when the cameras are off.

+ Suddenly the Democrats are calling Trump a “king.” Did they focus group test this? Given how obsessed Americans are with the “British” (actually German) “Royal” Family, Trump will probably see his poll numbers go up…

+ George W. Bush’s visit to South Korea for a memorial commemorating former President Roh Moo-hyun was arranged by a local arms manufacturer Poongsan Corp. with longstanding ties to the Bush family.

+ Here’s Trump spraying some primo bullshit about Puerto Rico:

“Puerto Rico — just so you understand, we gave Puerto Rico $91 billion for the hurricane. That’s the largest amount of money ever given to any state — talking about states and Puerto Rico, a little different — $91 billion. Texas got $30. Florida got $12. Puerto Rico got $91 billion. So I think the people of Puerto Rico should really like President Trump. Now that money was given by Congress, but they got $91 billion. Now you remember how big the hurricane was in Texas, the largest water dump in the history of our country, they say. Three times it went in, went out, went in. Texas got $30 billion. Florida got actually anywhere between $9 and $12. Puerto Rico got $91 billion, and now the Democrats are trying to hold up the money from Georgia, from South Carolina, from Alabama, to Florida. They’re trying to hold it up. They’re hurting Florida. They’re holding — I mean, what they’re doing to North Carolina, to Louisiana, they’re trying to hold relief aid because Puerto Rico, which got $91 billion, have to love their president, they want to get Puerto Rico more money. So they’re willing to sacrifice Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and other states. The Democrats are doing that. They are very divisive people.”

+ A new study in Nature finds that “free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals.”

+ It’s looking more and more likely that Bengal tigers will be driven to extinction by climate change

Tiger, tiger burning out
in a blaze of climate doubt
what hateful scam or lie
could snuff your stunning symmetry?

+ As I predicted, the “royal” baby and the Starbucks cup on GoT would eclipse the dire UN report on extinction on cable news. Now we know: “ABC, NBC, and MSNBC did not air a single prime-time mention of the major new U.N. biodiversity report warning of ecosystem collapse.”

+ Tiger Woods bent his head to receive the Medal of Freedom from Conscience Award from Donald Trump.

+ We need to guillotine the word “threat-stream” before it proliferates across the lexicon…

+ Barbara Ehrenreich: “David Brooks, who divorced his wife of 27 years and simultaneously dropped Judaism for Christianity, used his latest column to chide ‘working class men’ for their lack of commitment to family or church. Anything you don’t like about America: Just blame the working class.”

+ AOC to Daniel O’Day, CEO of AIDS drug maker Gilead Sciences, Inc: “The list price for Truvada is almost $2,000 in the US. Why is it $8 in Australia?”

Needless to say, O’Day didn’t have a convincing answer for that question.

+ Trump: “Our criminal justice reform bill had a lot of support from Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals and I guess we could also use the word ‘progressives.’ A new word that has come about.” (The first Progressive Party in the United States was founded in 1912 by Teddy Roosevelt.)

+ On Friday morning, Trump went on a Twitter rampage about “treason,” without seeming to have any understanding of the word.

Here’s some real “tree-son” for you, Mr. President:  The scalping of the north Oregon Coast Range, where most of the timber is exported as raw logs to China, Korea and Vietnam without ever passing through an America mill. You can view this “American Carnage” yourself the next time you fly across the PNW on your way to parlay with Chairman Kim…

+ Air pollution damages every organ in the body, especially the brain considering the anecdotal evidence displayed on the nightly broadcasts from MSDNC, CNN and FoxNews…

+ Madonna is so desperate for attention she’d have performed the “Horst Wessel Song” at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin…

+ Only in America: Kenny Burrell, perhaps the greatest living jazz guitarist, is very ill, burdened by medical  debt and facing eviction

+ Here’s a revealing interview of Bill Evans by Allan Chase from 1979  on the making of Kind of Blue and his relationship with Miles….

+ The entertainment industry in a nutshell: According to guitarist Brian May, although the film Bohemian Rhapsody has now made over a billion dollars, the members of the band Queen haven’t made a penny.

+ People hunger for  good news. So here’s some from last week…

+ Gov Jay Inslee came out against Tacoma LNG terminal.
+ A Federal Court struck down the BLM’s fracking permit process for Chaco Canyon.
+ The Oregon DEQ denied a permit for the Jordan Cove LNG terminal.
* And TCEnergy delayed KXL pipeline construction.

If You Haven’t Heard Sun Ra Sing, I Guess You’ll Want to Soon…

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Producers, Parasites, Patriots: Race and the New Right-Wing Politics of Precarity by Daniel Martines Hosang and Joseph E. Lowndes (Minnesota)

Notebooks: 1936-1947 by Victor Serge (NYRB)

In the Company of Rebels by Chellis Glendinning (New Village Press)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

There is No Other by Rhiannon Giddens (Nonesuch)

After the Rain: a Night for Coltrane by Teodross Avery (Tompkins Square)

Mettavolution by Rodrigo y Gabriela (ATO)

A Thing Which Could Not Be Put Back

Cormac McCarthy: “Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.” (The Road).

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