+ Jimmy Breslin’s book The Good Rat tells the sordid story of drug dealer Burton Kaplan, an underling in the Luchese crime syndicate, who to save his own ass dropped a dime on two NYPD detectives, Luis Eppolito and Stephen Carapacca, as hired killers for the mob. Eppolito and Carapacca murdered 8 people before they [...]
Jeffrey St. Clair’s Roaming Charges column
+ The Third Rail of American politics used to be social security. If you even suggested cutting it, your career was fried. But Clinton & Obama legitimized such talk. Now the Third Rail is Israel, where even mentioning its power over the Hill gets you the political death penalty. + What horrible thing is it [...]
+ All of these Virginians running around in blackface better hope they don’t bump into Liam Neeson, when he’s out power-walking. + Ralph “Coonman” Northam: That’s not my name. That’s not me. I never said that. That’s not my yearbook page. I never saw the yearbook. When I dressed in blackface, it was as Michael Jackson at [...]
Gary Webb and I both grew up in Indianapolis. As teens we spent a lot of time in the nearby cultural mecca (for baseball fans) of Cincy. One of Webb’s first gigs as a young reporter was covering crime and politics in Covington, just across the Ohio River. He said it was one of the most corrupt & racist cities in the US and told me those years in northern Kentucky were the best training he got for probing the CIA. The antics of those punks wouldn’t surprise him.
Trump had to reach pretty deep into the recycling bin to extract the rusty figure of William Barr as a loyal replacement for J. Beauregard Sessions at the Justice Department. After he dusted him off, what did Trump see in this relic from the Poppy Bush era, that shining reign of triumphant globalists that Trump publicly claims to loath? A cursory scan of Barr’s CV, which is about as deep a look as Trump is likely to have given, shows all the field marks of a well-worn grey man of Swamptown, a malted Scotch institutionalist, if not an honorary member of the Deep State itself. Surely Trump hesitated when he read, or more likely was told, of Barr’s stint at the Central Intelligence Agency, though the president must have been at least partly placated upon learning that Barr was an Asia hand, who was eager to promote Red China as a more menacing rival to US imperial ambitions than the decaying Soviet Union. Still, once Barr landed in Washington in the early 70s, he quickly adapted to the local habitat and for the next 40 years didn’t migrant beyond the Beltway. So what attracted Trump to this unlikely character?
+ You believe pronouncements from this White House at your own peril. Two weeks ago it all seemed so clear. Trump announced out-of-the-blue that he was pulling US troops out of Syria immediately. Having “destroyed” ISIS (and killed several thousand innocent bystanders), the military’s role was finished. It was time for the US troops to leave [...]
Markets are plunging, the US is pulling out of Syria, the Pentagon is in chaos and the US government is shutting down. Maybe it will be a Merry Xmas after all…
Chances are that George W. Bush didn’t need to be tutored on how to pronounce Osama bin Laden’s name, after the president was informed about the events of 9/11 while reading the story about that goat to grade-schoolers in Sarasota, Florida. The Bin Ladens and the Bushes go way back. Exactly how far back remains [...]
+ 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 [...]
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.