+ The Camp Fire, which leveled the Sierra foothills town of Paradise (pop. 27,000), is now the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the history of California. As of Friday morning: + 63 people are dead + 630 people are missing + 11,000 structures have been destroyed, including nearly 9,000 homes + 52,000 people have been [...]
Jeffrey St. Clair’s Roaming Charges column
After Trump’s election and the announcement that Chuck Schumer would lead the Democratic Resistance©, I predicted that Schumer’s infamous “Plan B” (pandering to upper-middle class suburban voters and disaffected Republicans with college degrees at the expense of blue collar voters) would result in the Democrats losing 5 senate seats. I confess I was wrong. They only lost four, unless, like me, you consider the retention of Robert Menendez and Joe Manchin a result even worse than a loss.
When I heard that John Berger had died, an image flashed in my mind of a painting on a vast canvas I had stood captivated before a few years ago in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. A crowd is gathered before a small grave in the jaundiced light of a winter afternoon. The people huddle [...]
+ The migrant “caravan” from Honduras is composed of people seeking political asylum in the US. This is entirely legal under US and international law. Closing the border and calling out the military against asylum-seekers violates both US and international law. Far from hiding “criminals,” the caravan has exposed one in the Oval Office. + Remember [...]
In the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings, FoxNews pollster Frank Luntz whined that: “Any political decision made now is accompanied by one side screaming bloody murder. It’s terrible for civilized discourse. It’s terrible for our democracy.” Of course, these are largely ritualized fights, as predictable and scripted as Wrestlemania. When bloody murder is actually taking place (like in Yemen or Gaza) nobody can be heard screaming bloody murder–at least on television.
Let’s not get too carried away with high-minded talk about the sanctity of the Supremes. It’s nearly impossible for the sniveling brute Brett Kavanaugh to leave too much of a stain on the same Court that has decided Dred Scott, Plessy, the pro-eugenics ruling in Buck v. Bell, Korematsu and Citizens United. More likely Kavanaugh will blend right in with its sordid history. Real social change is driven by political movements not a few enlightened jurists.
+ The transformation of the Democrats into the party of the neocons is now complete. The Senate just passed a $674 billion military budget, the largest since the peak of Iraq War and a $17 billion increase from last year. There were only seven “No” votes, none of them Democrats: Rand Paul, Pat Toomey, Ben [...]
+ 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 [...]
+ Trump is acting like a mob boss. So sayeth Noah Rothman on the pages of Commentary. But surely hat’s giving Trump far too much credit. The Trump Syndicate is more like what Godfather III would have been like if Fredo was the only Corleone brother to survive and ended up running the show… in [...]
+ Aretha Franklin is dead and America will never be as great again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=U6etBsGEG88 + Aretha made her first recording when she was 14. She emerged almost fully formed as an artist, with killer chops on the piano and a voice that had the power of Howlin Wolf’s and fluidity of Sam Cooke’s… https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=G1p92gQTQCg + [...]
I have no idea if Paul Manafort will be convicted in his tax evasion trial in Alexandria, Virginia. But the financial crimes (tax evasion, bank fraud, embezzlement, money laundering) confessed to by the man Trump didn’t fire, Rick Gates, are fairly eye-popping…until you compare them to the $120 million Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is accused of grifting.
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?
Trump’s infantile performance in Helsinki didn’t do Putin any favors. The political over-reaction to Trump’s obsequiousness will almost certainly prevent the removal of sanctions on the Russian economy. It may even prompt the imposition of more onerous measures. Russian civilians will almost certainly bear most of the price.
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.
+ Someone should put together a volume of Trump’s lectures on natural resources. It will rival John Wesley Powell. This week’s lesson was delivered in West Virginia is on how coal is more vital to US national security than oil & gas because you bomb pipelines but coal is “indestructible.” Read closely, there will be [...]
+ “If the United States is accommodating, the North Koreans become accommodating. If the United States is hostile, they become hostile.” –Noam Chomsky. Complicated, right? We can always make things more complicated, with more possibilities for fatal misunderstandings, whose terms can only be divined by priests, specialists and experts. The challenge is to make diplomacy–or property [...]
In a Wednesday morning tantrum, Trump threatened to take away press credentials from the White House press corps. Good. A credentialed press is an obedient & captive press, ever fearful of losing its precious access. Credentialing by the government is itself an abridgment of press freedom, a form of censorship.
+ Rudy the Truth-Teller: Trump knew about the Stormy Daniels Non-Disclosure Agreement and repaid Michael Cohen on the installment plan; the NDA was meant to suppress the Daniels story prior to the 2016 election; James Comey is a pervert and pathological liar; Trump fired Comey because the FBI director wouldn’t publicly clear him in Russia probe; [...]
Understandably, George HW Bush spent much of his time far away from Barbara Bush’s icy boudoir, indulging in a discreet fling or two while earning his stripes as a master of the empire, leaving juvenile George to cower under the unstinting commands of his cruel mother, who his younger brother Jeb dubbed “the Enforcer.” This woman’s veins pulse with glacial melt. According to Neil Bush, his mother was devoted to corporal punishment and would “slap around” the Bush children. She was known in the family as “the one who instills fear.” She still does…with a global reach.
+ The Tweets that haunt: Trump: “Why do we keep broadcasting when we are going to attack Syria. Why can’t we just be quiet and, if we attack at all, catch them by surprise?” August 28, 2013 Trump: “I would not go into Syria, but if I did it would be by surprise and not [...]
+ The good news: Trump is pulling US troops out of Syria. The bad news: Trump, playing out his Black Jack Pershing fantasy, wants to put them on the Mexican border. Trump’s foreign policy strategy has been incoherent, but he’s always been quite clear about wanting to create a police (super-police) state on the home [...]
+ With the hiring of John Bolton, it looks like the Trump administration took the 15th anniversary of the Iraq War as a celebratory occasion. + As John Dowd flees the Trump legal team, Bolton is coming in hot to head a war cabinet (Mattis, Pompeo, Haley, and Haspel)…. Perhaps Trump intends to blow up [...]
+ Before attempting to see things from Trump’s point of view this week, I consulted the great EM Cioran: “Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, chaos is being yourself.” + I mourn Rexxon’s passing. He was the least lethal Secretary of State of my lifetime. Tillerson was no Kissinger, Haig, Powell, Clinton or Albright and [...]
+ The seismic activity recorded after the South Koreans announced that Trump would meet with Kim Jong Un in May was triggered by the detonation of John Bolton. + Bolton has been skulking around the White House grounds lately, angling to replace HR McMaster as Trump’s National Security Advisor. In a desperate attempt to abort [...]
+ As warped and fragmentary as the Nunes memo on FISA warrants may be, it provides a brief peak into the sleazy tactics used by law enforcement at every level of government, practices that go unlamented when they are used almost hourly to obtain wiretaps, search warrants and grand jury indictments against blacks, Hispanics and [...]