Roaming Charges: A Working Class Hero is Something to Pretend to Be

‘+ 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 front. Strike that: Trump is keeping US troops in Syria and still sending troops to the border…until the wall is built.

+ But why is he sending troops to the border? In 2000, there were 1.7 million illegal border crossings. Last year there were 310,000, the fewest in more than 20 years.

+ Trump and his acolytes say the troops are needed to “stop a foreign invasion.” What foreign invasion? Asian Beetles? Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs? The “caravans” hyped by Fox News and Trump are of people displaced by a savage regime in Honduras installed by two US-sponsored coups and are legally seeking asylum from the agents of their misery…

+ Oregon Governor Kate Brown says she’ll refuse any request from the White House to send Oregon National Guard troops to the border. Good. But she should follow this up by mobilizing the National Guard to protect immigrants in Oregon from ICE…

+ Historically speaking, armies facing off against each other along borders hasn’t ended well, which is one reason to appreciate the Posse Comitatus Act, the greatest document Rutherford B. Hayes ever affixed his signature to…

+ Trump was in West Virginia on Thursday supposedly giving a speech glorifying his tax bill. Instead, he went off about migrants raping women. Meanwhile, his campaign hired serial wife-abuser Rob Porter.

+ Larry Summers has compared Trump to Mussolini. Nothing original there. But what does that make Summers, the architect of globalized misery? Eric Draitser: “Larry Mengele?” Craig Gordon: “An evil propellor head.”

+ As the Sputnik Left cheers Putin’s new nuclear ambitions, do they stop for a moment to ask what happens to the uranium in Russia’s two recent failed missile tests? Does the radioactive debris simply “dissolve” into the Arctic? I wrote a piece years ago, titled “When We Bombed the World,” on research estimating that open-air nuclear testing by the USA and USSR resulted in more than 100 million cancers in humans (& who knows how many in animals.) There were, in other words, millions of hot deaths in the Cold War. Are we heading back to those days? What if one of these missiles explodes in the atmosphere, as many feared about the Casini nuclear-powered space probe?

+ The concept of Mutually-Assured Destruction (MAD), which largely kept the US and USSR from engaging in a planet-destroying nuclear war, depended on the leaders of both nuclear super-powers being rational actors. But what are the prospects for nuclear war when the leaders of both nuclear super-powers are irrational, impulsive and petulant?

+ How to Turn the Swamp into a Strip Mine: Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy, donated $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration. Murray Energy donated $1 million to Trump’s super PAC. Last year, Murray wrote a memo listing 16 regulations he wanted rolled back. All 16 have been or are now being rolled back…

+ As with the Sykes-Picot Accord, everyone but the Syrians seem to be deciding the fate of Syria…

+ The best story of the week: Hillary was paid $7,000 less than Snooki for a recent speech at Rutgers University.  Next thing you know HRC will be the opening act for Tony Orlando at an assisted living facility in Ashtabula…

+ On her never-ending victimization tour, Hillary whined that “no one ever told a man who lost an election to shut up.” But isn’t that exactly what the Clintonoids have been telling Bernie for the last 2 years…?

+ A new study by Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity found that the black infant mortality rate (11.2 deaths per 1,000 births) remains twice that of the white infant mortality rates (five per 1,000 births) in the U.S. This is, of course, by By Malthusian design, not accident.

+ Looks like the Resistance© can’t count on Robert Mueller, who now says Trump isn’t a “target” of his investigation, to save their asses….

+ So if Mueller, as chief prosecutor of the Deep State, doesn’t indict Trump (as now seems likely), does that mean Trump has spilled enough blood during his initiation rituals to qualify as an honorary member?

+ If Mueller could only take one person down in this entire psychodrama, “lordy,” let it be Erik Prince

+ Memo to the Hippie Pope, Rancher Finds Entrance to Hell….Of course, the road to hell turns out to be a ruptured pipeline.

+ John Parker, a DNC official in Duval County, Florida, resigned this week after a public uproar over his use of the phrase “colored people.” This man was far more honorable than all of the Democrats who remained in office after supporting welfare reform, the Clinton Crime Bill, the Iraq War and assassination by drone. And, of course, we all know that the term “colored people” is much more odious than “super-predator.”

+ A Navy chaplain named Loften Thornton was fired this month after being caught on video having sex in a New Orleans bar. I don’t understand America anymore. Isn’t having sex in public what shore leave in New Orleans is all about?

+ According to OSHA, nearly 5,200 workers died on the job and another 2.9 million suffered serious workplace-related illness, injuries or disability. Yet Trump’s Labor Department is gutting or eliminating workplace safety panels across the country, including the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health, the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health and the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee. These advisory councils have been in place since the Nixon administration to advise the Labor Secretary on how to improve health, safety and whistleblower protections in nearly every facet of the workforce. Yes, a Working-Class Hero is Something to Pretend to Be…

+ The Pentagon is building detention centers in Syria to hold captured ISIS fighters. Will they eventually send them to Gitmo or just give them the Abu Ghraib / Gina Haspel treatment right there in Syria?

+ Kill their families, Trump said. Promise made, promise kept. And President Sicko fumes when the drone strikes somehow miss taking out the families of targets

+ Roseanne was riding high on the ratings for her new Trump-friendly show, then photos emerged from a spread in Heeb magazine of her dressed as Hitler putting a tray of human-shaped cookies into an oven. Is this more or less offensive than Kathy Griffin’s guillotine routine? And the last time I was on her radio show she called me an Anti-Semite for criticizing Israel’s use of white phosphorous in Gaza…

+ The median house price in the Bay Area has now topped $1.6 million. Too bad Gregory Corso didn’t live to write a poem about house-hunting in today’s San Francisco.

+ Apparently, Abbie Hoffman was reincarnated as a Texas woman named Tammy Talpas, who demanded that Ted Cruz take a DNA test to prove he’s human…

+ Meanwhile, down in Georgia, as the city council of Griffin (an Atlanta suburb) April Confederate History Month, a former councilman named Larry Johnson testified in favor of the resolution in this manner:

“I told you at that time that there were white folks, and there were black folks when I was growing up. There was white trash — my family — and there was n—–town. I lived next to Niggertown.”

Johnson was interrupted by Rodney McCord, a black city councilman. “You lived next to what town?” McCord asked Johnson, incredulously.

“Niggertown, son. I’m telling you son, now that changed. I’m no longer white trash …My skin is white, my neck is red, and I was born in Southern bed. Nothing wrong with that. I hope that doesn’t offend anybody.”

This exchange occurred on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of MLK, Jr.

+ 50 Years Ago Today, 2001 Premiered at the Uptown Theatre in DC. The Uptown, Blues Alley and Olson’s Books were where I spent most of my free time (and many skipped classes) during college…

+ Education Secretary Betsy Devos is on the hunt for whistleblowers in her own department, asking whether leakers can be prosecuted. Devos should be careful of the answer. I’m pretty sure Betsy leaked on her chair during that 60 Minutes interview…

+ Scott Pruitt was apparently homeless for a month after he lost his $50-a-night room at a Capitol Hill townhouse owned by an energy lobbyist. Surely there’s a park bench in Farragut Square  that Pruitt can slither under for the night. It’s right off of K Street, I’m sure an oil lobbyist will pitch him some coin for a hot meal…

+ Pruitt wanted his driver to use a siren to bust through DC traffic on his way to the chic Le Diplomate restaurant. When the security agent refused, he was transferred. What do “the Deplorables” back in Oklahoma think of Pruitt’s craving for over-priced French cuisine?

+ Antarctica weighs-in on Pruitt’s scheme to whack fuel efficiency standards: 8 of the continent’s major glaciers are now in rapid retreat, as shown in this image from NASA’s Goddard Space Center.

Credit: Goddard Space Center, NASA.

+ Eventually, there won’t be a “sub-Saharan” Africa. It will all be Saharan

+ Climate hucksterism, Trudeau-style: Canada’s carbon reduction plan will fall at least 59 million tons short of its goal under the Paris Accords.

+ Torturer Gina Haspel is set to run the CIA, while Crystal Mason will be spending the next five years in prison in Texas for voting “illegally” in 2016 elections while she was on parole for a 2011 fraud conviction.

+ USA: 6,800 nuclear warheads and still scared of everyone

+ What most people, including Rick Perry, don’t understand is that the Energy Department has very little to do with “energy” and a lot to do with nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and the atomic “labs.” So what Rick Perry doesn’t know really could kill him…and the rest of us.

+ For Trump, watching Fox News is the equivalent of a scouting trip through the dressing room at the Miss Universe contest…

+ Trump claims that his approval ratings or “7 or 8 points higher” than the polls show and that his penis is 7 or 8 inches longer than whatever Stormy says it is…

+ Who’s Ronnie Jackson, the new out-of-the-blue pick for VA chief, you ask? He’s the doctor who doctored Trump’s physical. He’ll fit right in…Don’t worry, it worked for Nicolae Ceausescu.

+ How far is it possible to suspend your disbelief? Bob Nonini is running for Lieutenant Governor of Idaho on the platform executing women who’ve had abortions. If this demented jerk loses in Idaho, he’ll probably get a gig working for Beauregard…But Nonini is not an outlier on the Right these days. National Review columnist Kevin Williamson, who had previously compared a 9-year-old black kid to a primate and smeared federal workers as “grotesque parasitic union goons”, called for women who’ve had to abortions to be hanged. Despite this views, Jeffrey Goldberg, who helped push the Iraq War, hired him as a columnist for The Atlantic, fully cognizant of Williamson’s views: “I have disagreed with him more than I have agreed with him (an irrelevant metric when you’re the editor; not when you’re a reader), but I recognized the power, contrariness, wit, and smart construction of many of his pieces.” Two weeks later, a staff and reader-led revolt forced Goldberg to change course and cut ties with Williamson, making him a martyr to right-to-life right.

+ Insurrection at Google: more than 3000 Google workers have a signed a petition urging CEO Sundar Pichai to cancel its role in Project Maven, an Artificial Intelligence software that would help the Pentagon improve the targeting of killer drones.

+ A few hours after the Chinese responded to Trump’s tariffs by slapping retaliatory tariffs across a range of US products, the Trump White House began its rapid retreat, followed by a late-night call to President Xi from the Trump himself: “Hello, President Eleven? Trump here. About that trade war. Uncle! Did you hear me? Uncle! Uncle!! If I send you some of the cake you & Madame Eleven enjoyed at Mar-a-Lago could you forgive and forget?”

+ So another shooter ended her spree by shooting herself. Can we expect NRA ads promoting unlimited ammo sales to ensure that all shooters have one last bullet to stop themselves?

+ Friedman Alert! NYT Columnist Has Gone Off His Meds! Repeat…Friedman Alert! NYT Columnist Has Gone Off His Meds!!

+ RIP Cecil Taylor, a genius, an American original, who turned our ideas about what music should and could be inside out and upside down. There was never anyone like him and there won’t be. Here’s a clip of Cecil playing at Ornette Coleman’s memorial…

+  I’ve got a bot, don’t know if it’s Russian-owned, that sends me a snippet of Finnegan’s Wake every morning. I’m still laughing at today’s installment. I only half understand what it means, but the mind tends to fill in the blanks. My grandmother, who was from Sheffield, was named Freda, who I can imagine describing a behind-the-bushes feeler from Jocko in similar, if not saltier, language:

“— Who fears all masters!

“Hi, Jocko Nowlong, my own sweet boosy love, which he puts his feeler to me behind the beggar’s bush, does Freda, don’t you be an emugee!”

+ Jane Meyer interviewed a friend of hedge-fund billionaire and Trump-backer Robert Mercer about what he thinks of teachers. “[Mercer] believes that human beings have no inherent value other than how much money they make. A cat has value, he says, because it provides pleasure to humans. But if someone is on welfare they have negative value. If he earns a thousand times more than a teacher, then he’s a thousand times more valuable. He thinks society is upside down–that government helps the weak people get strong, and makes the strong people weak by taking their money away through taxes.”

Several years ago I was on a panel with some “free market environmentalists” (funded by Chevron). One of them said that if the present net-value of grizzly bears dropped below zero it should be allowed to go extinct. I asked if he’d apply the same standard to humans. His answer: “In theory.”

+ College students are starving & that’s before they have to start paying off their student loans…

+ Easter in the US: Trump bragging about his $700 billion military budget to pre-schoolers and mothers tasering their teenagers to get them out of bed and off to church…

+ A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that states which have legalized recreational marijuana use have seen opioid use drop by more than 12 percent. Will someone tattoo these results to Beauregard’s forehead?

+ Apparently, smoking weed while black (along with driving, trespassing and talking on a cellphone) is a capital crime in South Carolina.

+ A Rasmussen daily tracking poll charted Trump’s job approval at 50 percent, an entirely predictable result given the fact that the Resistance© is resisting things that either don’t exist or which no one cares about and ignoring the real damage Trump is doing every day…

+ Ryan Zinke is purging the Interior Department of Native American staffers. In this respect, at least, Zinke is living up to his promise to be like Teddy Roosevelt…“I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are. And I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.” — Teddy Roosevelt, 1886.

+ In a single year, Wyoming killed one-quarter of its wolves.

+ Trump’s new Sex Education Policy: Trump “Just say No to condoms, kids. I mean sex.”

+ Did Israel plot to kill long-time CounterPunch columnist Uri Avnery?

+ After his dining suite debacle, Ben Carson made a desperate bid to keep his job by gutting the enforcement of fair housing regulations, which will certainly please the Trumps, Kushners, and similar scumlords.

+ Dolores Huerta has signed on to co-chair DiFi’s SuperPAC, after Feinstein was denied the endorsement of California Democratic Party. Huerta’s betrayal will come as no surprise to those who have read Frank Bardacke’s magisterial history of Chavez, Huerta and the UFW, Trampling Out the Vintage

+ The philosopher Julia Kristeva, who taught in Paris and New York, apparently worked as an agent for the Bulgaria’s military intelligence agency. If Kristeva’s reports back to her handlers in Sofia were as impenetrable as her books, she was probably sent to Columbia University to unwittingly spread confusion among generations of undergrads…

+ If Trump’s really thinking about pardoning people screwed over by the FBI, he should start with Leonard Peltier, now serving his 43rd year in prison….

Speak Electric Water

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week….

Radius Islamicus by Julian Samuel

Shrinking the Earth: the Rise and Decline of Natural Abundance by Donald Worster

Political Mind Games: How the 1% Manipulate Our Understanding of What’s Happening, What’s Right and What’s Possible by Roy Edelson

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Still recreating my vinyl collection. Here are the latest acquisitions…

36. Remain in Light by Talking Heads

37. Black Messiah by D’Angelo

38. Brilliant Corners by Thelonious Monk

39. My Feeling for the Blues by Freddie King

40. Closing Time by Tom Waits


When the Memory of What Was Lost is Lost

Jane Jacobs: “Some who are fortunate enough to have communities still do fight to keep them, but they have seldom prevailed. While people possess a community, they usually understand that they can’t afford to lose it; but after it is lost, gradually even the memory of what was lost is lost.”


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