Roaming Charges: Ask Your Local Death Squad

Haida totem carving, British Columbia. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Forget about Hope Hicks. If the Democrats had any sense, they’d invite E. Jean Carroll to testify publicly about how Trump raped her in the dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman.

When Trump asks Carroll to advise him on what to buy, she agrees, and the two eventually make their way to the lingerie section. Trump suggests a lace bodysuit and encourages Carroll to try it on; she, deflecting, jokingly suggests that he try it on instead. After they reach the dressing rooms, events turn violent. In Carroll’s account, Trump shoves her against a wall inside a dressing room, pulls down her tights, and, “forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.

+ Trump kicked off his re-election campaign this week in Orlando. In the shadow of DisneyWorld, the president brayed that his ICE agents were poised to launch a nationwide dragnet, rounding up his favorite scapegoats: immigrants. Millions, of them. This might be written off as the ravings of a blowhard. Millions won’t be locked up. But millions will be scared shitless. And that’s the point.

+ Thousands of people trembling in their rooms trying to understand the meaning of Trump’s vile bombast are refugees nervously awaiting some resolution of their asylum claims.

+ In 2018, there were 70 million refugees, seeking safety from the world’s conflict zone. One person was forced to flee their home because of war and violence every two seconds.

+ Chuck Schumer announced that the Democrats are pushing to include a provision in the government funding bill to “allow people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to ask for asylum in their home countries” in order to discourage the journey up to the US border.

+ In other words, the Democrats’ plan to resolve the growing crisis of political and economic refugees from Central America is to: Ask Your Local Death Squad.

+ On Tuesday night at a fundraiser with big donors in New York City, Biden wistfully recalled serving with a leading segregationist Mississippi senator: “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland … he never called me boy, he always called me son. At least there was some civility. We got things done.” Eastland was more than a segregationist. He was a full-on racist and virulent anti-Communist, who called black men boys.

+ We constantly hear the MSDNC crowd castigating the Republicans for not standing up to Trump’s race-baiting. But where are the Democrats who will condemn Biden for this nostalgia for the lost comity of the Jim Crow Senate?

+ If you want to know who Biden’s pal, Sen. James Eastland, really was, read Robert Sherrill’s Gothic Politics in the Deep South, one of the most fearless books ever written on American politics.

+ Here’s a taste of the rhetorical stylings of James Eastland :

“In every stage of the [Montgomery] bus boycott we have been oppressed and degraded because of black, slimy, juicy, unbearably stinking niggers…African flesh-eaters. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to abolish the Negro race, proper methods should be used. Among these are guns, bows and arrows, slingshots and knives…All whites are created equal with certain rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of dead niggers.” (James O. Eastland at a rally of the White Citizens Council in the Montgomery Agricultural Coliseum, 1956, as quoted in Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate.)

+ Here’s Biden writing a love letter to Eastland, on June 30, 1977:

“I want you [i.e., Eastland] to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my ANTIBUSING legislation to a vote.”


+ Biden on Strom Thurmond:

“Long before he was a committee chairman; indeed long before he came to the Senate so many years ago, Strom Thurmond was the consummate public servant. Though he holds the record for the Senate’s longest filibuster, Strom Thurmond is a doer rather than a talker.”

In his tribute to Strom, Biden neglected to mention that Thurmond’s “filibuster” was against the Civil Rights Act.

Strom was a “doer” alright. He shared Biden’s sexual appetite, though perhaps not Creepy Joe’s trichophilia (hair fetish). Strom famously boasted that when he died they’d have to “whack my pecker down with an axe to get the coffin closed.”

+ “Segregationist” is far too many syllables to waste on Eastland, Herman Talmadge, Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, and Jesse Helms. It makes them seem like grand figures of a lost age, as if their vile creed was based on some archaic political theory. One syllable will do: Scum.

(I say this as someone whose ancestry is so deeply rooted in Virginia that my middle name is Talmage.)

+ At that same gathering of Wall Street fat cats, Biden vowed not to “demonize” the rich and promised that “no one’s standard of living would change” as a result of his economic policies. (He’d rather demonize black kids, instead…)

+ I understand where Biden’s coming from when he says he won’t apologize to anyone for his record on civil rights. After all, he did help put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.

+ The GOP is on a kick to expose the racist roots of the Democratic Party. Joe Biden makes the GOP’s case with every speech he gives. In fact, he’s so successful at it that I’m surprised he’s not the star of that D’Souza movie.

+ Team Biden must be scrambling to find a new way to fundraise. How can they raise the big bucks from super-donors, if he can’t be trusted to talk to them & not say something Bidenesque. Biden was making so few “gaffes,” when he was spending his days at the spa fine-tuning his tan and saying nothing at all.

+ Bartlett’s Dictionary of Racist Quotations: “I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”

+ As John Lewis defends Biden’s palling around with Jim Crow senators, it’s instructive to go back to 1966 when Stokely Carmichael defeated him for chairman of SNCC, a loss Lewis couldn’t handle. Lewis quit SNCC in a fit and denounced Stokely and the Black Power movement as too radical

+ I wonder if Lewis ever read this interview with Biden on the eve of his first run for the US Senate in November 1970:

“I have some friends on the far left, and they can justify to me the murder of a white deaf mute for a nickel by five colored guys. They say the black men had been oppressed and so on. But they can’t justify some Alabama farmers tar and feathering an old colored woman.”

How is this obscene “argument” by Biden any different than Trump’s rightly condemned “both sides” statement in the wake of Charlottesville…?

+ Though Democrats are contorting themselves into knots to do so, it’s hard to make much of a moral distinction between George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door and Biden using his power as a US senator to prevent the integration of public schools in Wilmington and Dover.

+ Hunter Biden (he of the sketchy dealings in Ukraine and China) has a now been accused of fathering a child with an “Arkansas woman.” Is this the real reason Papa Joe Biden reconsidered his support for the Hyde Amendment?

+ What are the odds in Vegas that Biden, already punch drunk in his corner after shadowboxing with his past, lasts until the first Democratic primary?

+ Biden’s already bleeding from every orifice and no one’s even taken a shot at him yet.

+ Biden is completely dependent on the big money donors in the party. He has no real base. And, unlike HRC, Biden doesn’t control the DNC. I bet they pull the plug soon. It’s only going to get worse.

+ “Premature withdrawal” has been Biden’s pattern in his previous presidential campaigns.

+ The last time Biden “worked across the aisle” as Obama’s negotiator with the likes of McConnell and Boehner he almost struck a deal that would have jacked up defense spending and slashed entitlements–fortunately the refuseniks in the Tea Party blew up the “Grand Bargain”.

+ Obama could put Biden out of his misery with one Tweet. But he won’t because Obama knows that the longer Trump stays in power the less glaring his own atrocities look in the rearview mirror.

+ I think we can anticipate Biden’s response to criticism (assuming he gets any) of his Iraq War vote: “How dare you! I’ve been a peace advocate my entire life. I don’t have a pro-war bone in my body. You should apologize for even bringing that vote up.”

+ You have to hand it to AOC. In a single day, she unnerved Jeff Bezos, Liz Cheney and Chris Hayes.

+ AOC’s description of Trump’s migrant prisons on the border as “concentration camps” was morally clear, politically potent and historically accurate. Hayes’ wimpish compromise is none of these things. In fact, it strains to the breaking point the definition of “detained.”

+ Typically, Nancy Pelosi castigated AOC for her inflammatory word choice. But let’s not forget that it was the politicians of the Bay Area and Los Angeles, , many of whom considered themselves “liberals,” who were the driving force behind the internment of Japanese-Americans…

+ What do you call this, Nancy?

“Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met.Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.”

+ We can, I think, all agree with Senator Bernard Sanders that ripping children from their parents and locking them in cages is “unacceptable.” But it’s certainly not “un-American.”

+ In this atmosphere, it’s probably useless to point out that the “internment camps” for Japanese-Americans were originally called “concentration camps” in internal documents by the FDR administration.

+ George Takei: “I know what concentration camps are. I was inside two of them, in America.”

+ Jacob T. Levy: “‘You can’t make Hitler analogies until there are at least six million dead,’ say people who make Stalin analogies when the top marginal tax rate goes up by 3%.”

+ The Trump administration told the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday that the government is not required to give soap or toothbrushes to children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border and can make them sleep on concrete floors in frigid, overcrowded cells.

+ ICE is now holding more than 53,000 immigrants, 10,000 more than last year.

+ Laura Ingraham: “Democrats are successfully repopulating the country with new people who don’t really have an affinity for America.” Make America Blonde Again!

+ Turns out that Trump has deported fewer people than Obama, making him the Mini-Deporter-in-Chief. (Don’t tell him these kinds of things. It will only piss him off and make him try harder.)

+ This week Trump put the shackles on Bolton and Pompeo Maximus by calling the tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman “very minor events.” Pelosi on the other hand…

+ Nancy Pelosi on “Meet the Press” (November 17th, 2002): “Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There’s no question about that.”

+ Then on Thursday Iran shot down a US drone that may or may not have been in international waters but was certainly flying low off the coast of Iran and spying on Iranian military installations.

+ The Global Hawk ($220 million per plane) is not your average drone

+ Trump quavered back and forth in his response, first implying that it was probably a accidental or the act of a rogue general, then threatening that the Iranians, who “made a big mistake,” would soon get a response from the US, then observing in his own special way: “We didn’t have a man or a woman in the drone. It would have made a big, big difference.”

+ How soon before the Roberts Court rules that drones are people, too?

+ Lindsey Graham: “We’re talking about destroying their ability to refine oil. I’m talking about blowing it up.”

+ What would Judith Miller do?

+ Trump cabinet officials who voted to bomb Iran:

Pompeo Maximus
John Bolton
Gina Haspel

The currently leaderless Pentagon objected. Does that mean the “Deep State” saved us from war with Iran?

+ Perhaps Trump got a late night call from Madeliene Albright, who told him there are quieter ways to kill without getting all the bad PR.

+ According to Middle East correspondent Elijah J. Magnier,

Iran rejected a proposal by US intelligence–delivered by a third party–that Trump be allowed to bomb one or two clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face.

+ Since James Eastland and Jesse Helms aren’t around to talk him out of it, I’m 99% sure that Joe Biden wouldn’t have called off a strike on Iran. Let’s hope this doesn’t became his campaign slogan.

+ According to Business Insider, Trump backed off plans to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela when it proved “too complicated” and he got “bored.” Trump believed that taking Maduro’s head would be like “picking the low-hanging fruit” and would be an “easy win” he could “tout as a major foreign policy victory.” Six months later Maduro remains in office and the opposition has been exposed as inept and corrupt. There’s something to be said for having a president who suffers from extreme ADHD…

+ Tulsi Gabbard tells the NYT that she opposes the death penalty because innocent people might be killed. That’s about the lowest moral bar you could imagine. Everyone but Scalia and Thomas could agree that we shouldn’t execute innocent people.

+ The problem with the death penalty is not that it’s racist or that innocent people have been executed (both true). It’s that the state should not be in the business of killing people.

+ Makes you wonder why Colorado Senator Michael Bennet is running for the presidency of the US, if Israel is the only “essential country” in the world…

Would there be American troops in Afghanistan at the end of your first term? (Note the typical equivocation from Sanders, who voted to go to war in Afghanistan but won’t fully commit to ending it.)

Sanders (“I suspect not”)

+ The UN Report on the murder and butchering of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi makes for harrowing reading. According to Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, the original plan was to kidnap Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and bring him back to Saudi for torture and interrogation under the supervision of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salmon himself. When Khashoggi resisted, the Saudi snatch squad swiftly moved to “Plan B”: murder, dismemberment and cover up. Callamard concludes that the entire scheme was “managed at high levels of the Saudi government.”

+ Trump on Khashoggi: “Of course he [MBS] killed him – he probably had good reason. Who gives a fuck?” (Siege, p. 252)

+  At the Pentagon, looks like Boeing (Shanahan) is out and Raytheon (Esper) in…

+ Trump says Patrick Shanahan withdrew his nomination for Defense Secretary to spend more time with his family. Shanahan was divorced after a domestic violence incident 10 years ago. His children are grown. He hasn’t remarried.

+ The new Trump nuclear doctrine was posted online for a few hours. When the Federation of American Scientists drew attention this rather chilling passage, “Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability,” it suddenly disappeared.

+ How’d corporations spend those tax cuts? Not by investing in R&D or giving raises to their workers, but by buying back their own stock

+ What about those promised worker bonuses? Turns out they fell by 22% after the tax cuts went into effect…

+ Mitch McConnell said reparations for slavery were rendered unnecessary after Barack Obama became president. But Mitch does believe in reparations: for the descendants of slave owners for their lost “property.”

+ FoxNews talking blonde head Laura Ingraham on reparation:  “It’s called conquest … We won, you lost, that’s that…No do-overs.”

+ The Right is having a spasm because racist Tweets by a Florida teenager cost him admission to Harvard (How could you hold something he did as a kid against him?). Meanwhile, Georgia prepared to execute a black man for a crime he committed when he was 19…

+ I think Harvard had every right to reject the admission of the potty-mouthed kid from Florida. But the University has hired much more odious figures to run the place and teach there, such as Henry Kissinger, Larry Summers and Alan Dershowitz.

+ Half of the Democrats “running” for president stand at exactly 0 level of support in the latest USAToday poll…

Biden 30%
Sanders 15
Warren 10
Buttigieg 9
Harris 8
O’Rourke 2
Booker 2
Castro 1
Hickenlooper 1
Bullock 1
Ryan 1
Yang 1
de Blasio 0
Klobuchar 0
Moulton 0
Williamson 0
Bennet 0
Delaney 0
Gabbard 0
Gillibrand 0
Gravel 0
Inslee 0
Messam 0
Swalwell 0

+ Aurelia Skipwith, a former Monsanto exec who is now an Interior political appointee, used her position to rescind a ban of the use of bee-killing pesticides in National Wildlife Refuges. (“Aurelia Skipwith” is a name worthy of Thackeray.)

+ Trump keeps ranting to anyone who’ll listen (that’s you Sean Hannity) that he wants to get rid of the man he picked to run the Federal Reserver, Jerome Powell. I envision an Oval Office ceremony carried live on the Fox Business channel, like the opening of the old Chuck Connors TV show Branded, where Trump furiously rips off the breast-pocket of Powell as he demotes him for his insubordinate policies at the Fed…

+ The US doesn’t currently have a Senate confirmed…

—  Defense Secretary
—  Homeland Security Secretary
—  United Nations Ambassador
— Small Business Admin. administrator
— FEMA director
— ICE director
— FAA administrator
— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director
—  White House Chief of Staff

So despite his tweets, Trump is literally handing over the manage of his administration to the permanent government, i.e., the Deep State.

+ According to a new report from Gallup, more than 25% of Americans are skipping necessary medical treatments because they can’t afford the costs.

+ How many shots is it reasonable for 6 police officers to fire at a young black man sleeping in his with a gun on his lap? The correct answer would be 55 in 3.5 seconds, according to a report commissioned by the Vallejo Police Department.

+ Trump, when asked if he was willing to apologize for demanding that the Central Park Five be executed for a crime they were later exonerated of: “Why do you bring that up now? It’s an interesting time to bring that up. You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt. Some of the prosecutors think the city should never have settled that case, and we’ll leave it at that.”

+ It might surprise you that Los Angeles has sentenced more people to death than any other city in the United States. Current LA County District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, has alone secured death sentences in 22 cases. Not one of the defendants was white.

+ Sometimes what sounds logical actually turns out to be true…a new study from the University of Washington and the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that states which have decriminalized use and possession of marijuana showed a huge decrease in arrests and jailings  and no evidence of an uptick in marijuana use by teenagers.

+ 13 states in some of the hottest regions of the country refuse to install air conditioning in their prisons.

+ In Oregon (a state Trump has improbably targeted as a potential steal for him in the 2020 elections), state officials have spent more than $1 million this spring dumping sharp edged boulders and rocks on median strips, flower beds and cloverleafs in a cruel attempt to deter homeless camps.

+ Hope Hicks was escorted by six lawyers to her House Judiciary Committee testimony: two private attorneys, three White House lawyers, and one attorney from the Justice Department. This chorus lawyers objected to questions more than 150 times on the basis of “absolute immunity.”

+ You have to wonder about the depth of Hope Hicks’ loyalty to the House of Trump, especially if some of the things Michael Wolff writes about Don and Don Jr.’s banter about her are true:

Hicks–”Hope-y” to Trump–was both the president’s gatekeeper and his comfort blanket. She was also a frequent subject of his prurient interest: Trump preferred business, even in the White House, to be personal. “Who’s fucking Hope?” he would demand to know. The topic also interested his son Don Jr., who often professed his intention to “fuck Hope.” (Siege, page 7)

+ More proof that professional bigots, like Katie Hopkins, really are as stupid as they appear to be….

+ “Rev” Jim Bakker (convicted con artist) on what God told him is gonna happen if Trump loses in 2020:

“I’m going to say something I probably shouldn’t say. What’s coming next, if we keep losing, you’re going to see the leaders of the church and the leaders of the gospel and the political conservative leaders that are powerful, you are going to see them suddenly die, suddenly killed—suddenly as they were driving, suddenly as they were in a boat, suddenly in an airplane—you’re going to see it one after another.”

+ God’s powers must be weakening in his old age. He used to smite the fornicators himself or turn them into pillars of salt or drown them in genocidal floods. Now…

+ Richard Nixon: “The US Nixon must make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, to our land and to our water.” Nixon was our greatest environmental president by a long shot, even if his environmentalism was largely motivated by a desire to split the anti-war movement.

+ The climate is now warmer than at any time in last 5,000 years and the Arctic permafrost is melting 70 years faster than any climate models predicted with “huge blocks of ice solid for thousands of years” suddenly destabilizing.

The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.

+ Himalayan glaciers have lost a foot-and-a-half of ice every year since 2000, about about eight billion tons of water a year.

+ It may cost as much as $400 billion to protect US coastal cities from rising sea levels over the next 20 years.

+ It’s only the middle of June and the West is already burning…

+ When one of the largest wildfires ever seen in Siberia meets the “Mouth of Hell“…

+ Tucson, like many other cities in the West, is losing trees faster than it can replace them

+ On a related note, the tree that inspired Dr. Seuss to write The Lorax just toppled in San Diego

+ At least 500,000 Texans live in communities with contaminated ground water.

+ A new study by Pew predicts that the global population will stop growing by 2100 (if the planet survives that long). This may finally force the neo-Malthusians to confront capitalism as the driving force behind planetary annihilation…Nah.

+ The average resident of the United States consumes 40 times as much as the average resident of sub-Saharan Africa.

+ Chennai, India, a city of about 8.5 million, ran out of water this week.

+ 97% of the residents of Pine Ridge live below the poverty line. Many of them also found their homes and fields flooded for much of the spring. The reservation needs federal aid. Now.

+ Congratulations to Joy Harjo for being the first Native American to be named Poet Laureate of the United States. Harjo certainly deserves it, but the honor should have gone to Simon Ortiz 40 years ago…

+ Free jazz genius Anthony Braxton to Rolling Stone: “People tend to think, ‘Oh, Anthony Braxton, he’s like some kind of robot guy. All he does is look at equations. But in fact, I’m a guy who grew up on the South Side of Chicago. I had my own doo-wop group in the early ’50s…”

+ Why Joni Mitchell hated singing with Bob Dylan:

“On the third night they stuck Bob at the mic with me and that’s the one that went out on tape. And if you look closely at it, you can see the little brat, he’s up in my face — and he never brushes his teeth, so his breath was like… right in my face — and he’s mouthing the words at me like a prompter, and he’s pushing me off the mic.” (Both Sides Now, Brian Hinton, 1996)

I Remember Every Face of Every Man Who Put Me Here

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Ride Me Back Home by Willie Nelson (Sony)

Originals by Prince (Warner)

Getz at the Gate by Stan Getz Quartet (Verve)

Booked Up

What I’m reading to this week…

Underland: a Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane (Norton)

Life With Picasso by Françoise Gilot (NYRB)

Give Them an Argument: Logic for the Left by Ben Burgis (Zero Books)

How to Talk to Iran

Hans Blix: “Negotiations with Iran, especially, will not be easy under any circumstances, but I suspect that they might be somewhat less difficult if the nuclear-weapon states could show that their requests are part of a broader effort to lead the world, including themselves, toward nuclear disarmament. Preventing further proliferation is essential, but it is not a recipe for success to preach to the rest of the world to stay away from the very weapons that nuclear states claim are indispensable to their own security.” (Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters.)

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