Roaming Charges: Back in Blackface

South jetty, Columbia River. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ 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 a dance contest. And I won!

+ Apparently, Neera’s a YUGE Michael Jackson fan…

+ The odds are pretty high that Northam’s Eastern Virginia “medical school” used Pernkopf’s Nazi anatomy atlas for a text book, don’t you think?

+ Ralph Northam should do the “hard work” of learning about racial justice by laying face down in a muddy field for 12 hours a day for the next four years, playing one of the Confederate dead on the battlefield at Chancellorsville.

But come on, come on down Sweet Virginia
Come on, honey child, beg you
Come on, come on down, you got it in ya
Got to scrape the shit right off your shoes

+ Tukkker Carlson warns that Stacey Abrams, who was assigned the unenviable task of giving the response to Trump’s SOTU (usually the death-kneel for any aspiring politician), wants to “overthrow” white men. (They seem to be doing this quite well on their own without any help from her, Tukkker.)

+ “Dark Makeup” is apparently the new euphemism in the New York Times stylesheet for “blackface” when worn by Democratic Party politicians.

+ What was worse for black America? A sitting governor who dressed up in blackface in 1984? Or a member of congress (Bernard Sanders) who voted for the Clinton Crime Bill a decade later?

+ Stanley Rogouski: “Prussia was abolished after the Second World War. Why wasn’t Virginia abolished after the Civil War?”

+ Ralph Northam’s alma mater, VMI, still proudly displays the stuffed remains of Little Sorrel, Stonewall Jackson’s horse…

+ Joe Lieberman is that old man whose voice you never want to hear again, but he just won’t stop talking, this week he was urging Northam not to resign because the attacks on him have been “an unfair rush to judgment.

+ With the sudden resurgence of “blackface” in America, perhaps it’s time to revisit Nick Tosches’ scorching biography of the 20s minstrel-jazzman Emmett Miller, Where the Dead Voices Gather….

+ During 2015, 2016 and 2017, Baltimore police arrested 1,448 adults and 66 juveniles for cannabis possession, according to Baltimore Police Department data supplied by the FBI. Of those arrestees, 1,450 were black. That’s 96 percent of the total number of marijuana arrests.

+ What if you spent a year plotting a coup and no one came?

+ Still waiting for AOC to say anything in her own words about Venezuela, though perhaps she remains confused by the mendacious statement of her mentor, the Master of Mystification, Bernard Sanders.

Maduro is “genuinely awful,” as compared to whom, Hayes? Bibi, Trump, Macron, Merkel, May, Putin, MBS, Orban, Xi, Erdogan, Assad, Sisi? Ok, perhaps in comparison to AMLO, but give him time…

+ Convicted felon Elliott Abrams vs. Sam Husseini…

+ Pelosi seems to be “all in” on Trump’s Venezuela coup plot…

+ You’ve come a long way from Edward Boland, baby…

+ In a stretch of 85 days, Trump attended only 17 intelligence briefings. That sounds reasonable to me. (Jimmy Carter only met once with his CIA director, the certifiable James Woolsey). Honestly, how many times would you like to be lectured and scolded by Bloody Gina Haspel or John Bolton?

+ Shouldn’t we be grateful that Trump spends 3 X  more time watching TV, playing golf and letting his 137 strands of hair air-dry than playing at being president?

+ On the revelations in Chris Christie’s score-settling book, Let Me Finish,

TRUMP: He was not nice to my people. Some of them. Some of them he was.
HABERMAN: Well your family, he was not totally nice to your family.
TRUMP: No, but he was unbelievably nice to me, actually.
HABERMAN: So, you’re fine with it?

+ In his book, Christie describes introducing Trump to Mike Pence, at a meeting where Pence said a short prayer. “Does he do that all the time?” Trump later asked Christie. After Christie said “yes,” Trump replied, “Interesting.”

+ The transcript of Trump’s Face the Nation interview, which aired shortly before the SuperBore game, has to be read in its entirety for the full entertainment value, but here are some lowlights, sowing confusion with every sentence…

Trump: I did them [the NFL] a big favor in negotiating the USMCA, which is basically the replacement to NAFTA, which is one of the worst trade deals ever made. And I said to Canada, look we have a great American company known as the NFL, and they were being hurt and treated unfairly, the NFL, by Canada for a long time.


MARGARET BRENNAN: But you- but you also campaigned saying that, you know, President Obama made a big mistake by telegraphing his military moves. You’re telegraphing your retreat.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’m not telegraphing anything. No, no, no. There’s a difference. When President Obama pulled out of Iraq in theory we had Iraq. In other words, we had Iraq. We never had Syria because President Obama never wanted to violate the red line in the sand. So we never had Syria. I was the one that actually violated the red line when I hit Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles, if you remember. But President Obama chose not to do that. When he chose not to do that, he showed tremendous weakness. But we didn’t have Syria whereas we had Iraq. So when he did what he did in Iraq, which was a mistake. Being in Iraq was a mistake. Okay. Being in Iraq- it was a big mistake to go- one of the greatest mistakes going into the Middle East that our country has ever made. One of the greatest mistakes that we’ve ever made–

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you want to keep troops there now?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –but when it was chosen– well, we spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Whoa, that’s news. You’re keeping troops in Iraq because you want to be able to strike in Iran?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch. We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It’s perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up. And this is what a lot of people don’t understand. We’re going to keep watching and we’re going to keep seeing and if there’s trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we’re going to know it before they do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How many troops are still in Syria? When are they coming home?


MARGARET BRENNAN: When are they coming home?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They’re starting to, as we gain the remainder, the final remainder of the caliphate of the area, they’ll be going to our base in Iraq, and ultimately some will be coming home. But we’re going to be there and we’re going to be staying–

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that’s a matter of months?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to protect Israel. We have to protect other things that we have.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Can you trust the Taliban? Can you actually broker a deal?

DONALD TRUMP: Look, whether we should have been there in the first place, that’s first question.

+ Based on the last answer, Trump should ditch Pence in 2020 and run with Barbara Lee, the only vote in Congress back in 2001 against invading Afghanistan…Of course, in true Trump style, he contradicted himself seconds later.

+ These posters, which seem to conflate MAGAHatBrat with George Zimmerman, are now sprouting up on college campuses across the country. This one at ASU in Tempe, a campus with a large cohort of Native American students…

+ Hunger-striking ICE detainees are now being force-fed, much as Gitmo detainees have been. These are de facto human rights crimes. Thus does “sin pluck on sin.”

+ Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir on murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi: “Mistakes happen. We acknowledge that this was a huge mistake.” Why didn’t the Manson Family try this defense?

+ Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, provided this useful bit of information this morning to deflate Trump’s plan to declare an national “emergency” on the southern border…

“According to CBP, total southwest border apprehensions of illegal aliens in FY2017 was 303,916—the lowest since 1971. The figure went up to 396,579 in FY2018—but that’s still lower than the numbers for 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 …”

+ Trump has sent 3,000 more US military troops to the southern border. Their mission: Find the Duct-taped women!

+ Ex-White House aide Cliff Sims quoting Stephen Miller in his new book, Team of Vipers: “I would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil.”

+ It used to be that when the American Right said “Socialism,” they meant “Jew.” Now when they say “Socialism,” they mean anyone who looks like their ancestors may have inhabited the Western Hemisphere before the Pilgrims stepped foot on Plymouth Rock…

+ Call Tom Brokaw! Looks like some kids down in Arkansas aren’t working hard enough to assimilate…Brokaw should work harder to disappear from public view.

+ Texas and Florida received $100 million from FEMA in the first nine days after Hurricane Harvey and Irma’s landfall. Puerto Rico received only $6 million in the same time period after Hurricane Maria’s landfall.

+ Steve Mnuchin took a few moments this week from counting his stacks of cash to inform the nation that Trump’s economic policies are working as planned and the country’s “not going back to socialism.” Going back, Steve?

+ Speaking of socialism, even 50 percent of Republicans support Elizabeth “I am Not an Indian” Warren’s “wealth tax.” The one-percent fear a wealth tax much more than AOC’s proposed  income tax, since under current tax law most of the rich’s “income” isn’t considered “income”.

+ A revealing graph from the Urban Institute depicting the widening wealth inequality between white and black families since 1943…

+ Nancy Pelosi sent one of her top aids, Wendell Primus, to reassure executives at the nation’s top insurance companies that “medicare-for-all” (i.e., single payer health care) was dead on arrival in the House. For all the talk of “Trump treason,” backroom betrayals like this, that the Democrats pull all the time, will end up harming and killing more people. Hundred of thousands more.

+ Pop goes another weasel…working-class hero Sherrod Brown was supposed to be on listening tour to see if people are interested in him running for president (they aren’t). Instead, he was attempting to crushing the single-payer movement by announcing on as many cable TV shows as possible that medicare-for-all is “not practical.” Brown has turned into a one-man version of the old Harry and Louise ads that doomed the Clinton health care plan in the 90s.

+ Kamala Harris: She’s tough on petty “crimes,” but a wimp on what was the only possible reason to vote for her, retreating from her endorsement of Medicare-for-All at the first little backlash from the health insurance lobby…

+ Harris’ abysmal record as a prosecutor and Attorney General would only matter if she had made some remark supporting the Palestinians’ right of return, in which case she’d have been driven from the Democratic Party by now…

+ Pelosi, Brown and Harris are treading down a path blazed by Ronald Reagan (the man Pelosi loves to quote), who recorded an entire LP in 1961 warning America that a single-payer health care system was actually a communist plot…

+ As a politician, Joe Biden shares all of HRC’s worst qualities and boasts a few more that are uniquely his own.

+ Madeliene Albright when on CNN this week to castigate Trump for blowing off his intelligence advisors. “He doesn’t want to learn,” Albright snarled. But what the hell did she learn from enforcing a murderous sanctions policy that killed 500,000 Iraqi kids, except that their deaths were “worth it” to advance her career?

+ Bill Richardson has been nominated for a Nobel Peace prize for his work (dubious as best) on North Korea. Yes, this is the very same man who is currently pushing for a coup in Venezuela and praised Trump for turning his foreign policy over to Bolton and Abrams…

+ Democrats, the party that kills and devours its young.

+ In January, cops in the United States killed at least 77 people. That’s 30 more people than police in the UK have killed in the last…20 years!

+ The INF Treaty, shredded this week by Trump and Putin, was by far the best thing Reagan and Gorby ever did. Here’s a map of the nuclear missiles it eliminated from the European “Theater”…

Arms Control Center.

+ If carried out, the plans for nuclear forces delineated in the Department of Defense’s and the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) fiscal year 2019 budget requests would cost a total of $494 billion over the 2019–2028 period, for an average of just under $50 billion a year, according to a new Congressional Budget Office estimate. The current 10-year total is 23 percent higher than CBO’s 2017 estimate of the 10-year costs of nuclear forces, $400 billion over the 2017–2026 period.

+ In the new Emerson poll, Trump would beat every Democrat except Biden (including Bernie, however he self-identifies) in Iowa. If Howard the Duck Schultz runs as an independent, Trump would win big in Iowa against anyone the Dems have in their lineup…

+ If you wanted another reason to hate the Patriots, Trump’s favorite quarterback, Tom Brady, shouts “Reagan” to signal his audibles at the line of scrimmage.

+ From now on, they should just project a hologram of Prince’s performance at every Super Bowl halftime show…

+ Jared’s peace plan at work: US Ends All Aid to Palestinians.

+ Dear Resistance© don’t you feel at all creepy at the prospect of Mitch McConnell and Co. leading your efforts to prolong the Afghan and Syrian wars?

+ Kentucky Governor, Matt Bevin, ranted publicly at schools that were closing in advance of the polar vortex, which gripped the Bluegrass State with sub-zero temperatures for two days. “We’re getting soft,” Bevins huffed. Of course, his wife has been saying that for years…

+ There Trump goes speaking in tongues as usual and suddenly the truth spills out: “the abolition of civil rights” has been led by people of faith….

+ Mike Pence wagged his finger furiously at Aung San Suu Kyi (once the darling of the human rights crowd)  over Myanmar’s slaughter of the Rohingya, saying that the atrocities had been committed “without excuse”–meaning one supposes that the Rohingya weren’t inconveniently occupying any known oil and gas reserves. Still, I wonder: did Pence meet one-on-one with Suu Kyi or did Mother chaperone?

+ According to Asad Abukhalil, a professor at Cal State-Stanislaus, “in the new Netflix ‘Mossad’ series, there is a scene where Lebanese youth are seen chanting ‘O, Nasrallah’. The English subtitles read: ‘death to Israel.’. Kid you not.”

+ You don’t have to look very far to find some genuine “collusion” in the Trump administration: collusion with big oil, big coal, big pharma and Wall Street. Take David Bernhardt, the former oil industry lobbyist who has been tapped by Trump to become the next Secretary of the Interior.

+ Then there’s Cory Booker, Wall Street’s 1.8 Million Dollar Man.

+ ABC/WaPO poll: Would you vote for Trump in ‘20?

Definitely: 28%
Consider it: 14%
Definitely not: 56%

Dec. 2010: Would you vote for Obama in ‘12?

Definitely: 26%
Consider it: 30%
Definitely not: 43%

+ Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has pocketed more than $160,000 in contributions from weapons companies. As reward for her industriousness, Nancy Pelosi picked Wasserman-Schultz to chair the House Committee on Military Spending. Now Debbie will get a chance to do Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon…

+ A new study in Nature assess the impact of major federal and state subsidies on US crude oil producers. The study find that, at recent oil prices of $50 per barrel, tax preferences and other subsidies push nearly half of new, yet-to-be-developed oil investments into profitability, potentially increasing US oil production by 17 billion barrels over the next few decades. This oil is the equivalent  6 billion tons of CO2 and could make up as much as 20% of US oil production through 2050.

+ MSDNC commentator Hugh Hewitt on AOC and the Green New Deal…

“It is despotic. That’s it. It is not socialism, it is communism, it is fascism, it is despotism. It drains all freedom out of America and if we had a media class that understood a lick about history, they would know this…Those who are immodest about their ability to shape humans end up murdering millions of them.”

+ The BLM announced that it will begin auctioning oil leases on the outskirts of the Sistine Chapel of the American Southwest, Chaco Canyon. Let me repeat: the BLM wants to drill for oil adjacent to CHACO CANYON.

+ The initial reports of damage done to Joshua Tree National Park during the government shutdown suggest that it may take 200 or more years for the ecosystem to recover. They should build a wall around Joshua Tree and lock the gates for the next 50 years.

+ It’s been 20 years since the NYPD shot Amadou Diallo … 41 times…

+  Cindy McCain, the wife of the late, unlamented Senator from Arizona, called into an Arizona radio station this week to tell an astounding story of how she sniffed out and stopped a case of human trackifficking at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix.  “I came in from a trip I’d been on and I spotted — it looked odd,” McCain, told KTAR News. “It was a woman of a different ethnicity than the child, this little toddler she had, and something didn’t click with me. I tell people: Trust your gut. I went over to the police and told them what I thought, and they went over and questioned her. And by God, she was trafficking that kid. A toddler. It was a toddler. She was waiting for the guy who brought the child to get off the airplane.”

Not so fast, say the Phoenix Police, who on McCain’s tip confronted the woman McCain had fingered.  After conducting what the cops called a “child welfare” check, they determined that the the child wasn’t being trafficked, wasn’t kidnapped and wasn’t endanger. In fact, it was just another instance of racial profiling of interracial parents. Will someone make a “welfare check” on Cindy’s purse just to make sure she’s not back on stolen narcotics again?

+ From the What a Friggin’ Country Wire: the Kel-Tec PF9 9mm handgun that George Zimmerman used to murder Trayvon Martin, who should have been 24 this week, sold at an online auction for $250,000.

+ Trump once again promoted disgraced White House physician Ronny Jackson, making him his top medical advisor. But if Ronny’s passed out or his hands are a little shaky from a hangover, Trump should consider calling on the services of Dr. Ralph Northam, who knows a lot about getting just the right facial tone from the tanning lotion…

+ Andrew Cockburn wrote a terrific profile of the legendary Pentagon whistleblower, Ernie Fitzgerald, who died last week at the age of 93. I got to know Ernie pretty well in the 1990s. He  secured funding for my reporting on the World Trade Organization and the Seattle protests. But he was irate when our book, Five Days that Shook the World, came out because the photos by Alan Sekula didn’t show cops beating up and shooting protesters with “rubber” bullets. Alex Cockburn rejected the bloodiest photos saying (perhaps correctly) that who’d want to go to a protests if they saw a graphic depiction of what the cops might do to them…

+ Set aside that Zen koan you’ve been fixating on and meditate on the metaphysical meaning of Rep. Louis Gohmert’s remarks during the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday: “If the climate change and the Green New Deal comes into law, it’s saying, we’re giving up our freedom and putting all of our faith in the government that caused the civil rights violations to begin with.”

+ Mr. Whitaker, I have just one question. Can you tell the committee again precisely how many years you played football without a helmet?

+ Here’s a fine essay on the long-overdue revival of interest in Bobbie Gentry, though I guess I was mistaken in my long-held belief that the mysterious object that Billie Joe McAllister threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge was the body of Emmett Till. (If you’re in LA, I strongly recommend a trip up to the Getty Museum to view the Sally Mann retrospective, especially her Civil War battlefield suite of photographs and her Emmett Till series, which includes a haunting image (Deep South: Untitled) of the bridge from which Till’s body was dumped into the Tallahatchie River.)

+ Not a single word about climate change (except gloating over the US’s status–thanks to Obama–as the world’s No. 1 oil & gas producer) or Puerto Rico in Trump’s “unity” speech, which is, of course, one way to unify the opposition.

+ This year sea ice in Antarctica has shrunk to record lows, at the same time that giant cavities are opening in the Antarctic Ice Sheet, a resulting of accelerated melting from climate change…

+ Got an alien space ship in the sky? Who you gonna call? SPACE FORCE….

+ How saxman Illinois Jacquet integrated Houston

+ Samuel L. Jackson owns the word “motherfucker.” But he’s willing to lease to you for free. There’s just one condition

+ I watched the terrific HBO documentary Deadline Artists on Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill this week, which includes a clip of a very chic-looking Alexander Cockburn debating a bombastic, and perhaps blitzed, Breslin over his exploitation of the Son of Sam letters. Very good stuff.

+ At 81, Archie Shepp still “plays like a god.”

+ Documentarian Stanley Nelson on his new film about Miles Davis, “Birth of the Cool,” which premiered this week at Sundance:

“It’s a music film, a biography of this genius, but it’s also a film about racism in America. This is a unique position that you don’t see very often. He had everything, but Miles could say that he didn’t have anything, because he didn’t have the respect or freedom to operate safely in the United States.”

+ For the past six months, I’ve been plowing my way through Balzac’s La Comédie Humaine sequence of 91 stories and novels set during the Restoration and July Monarchy, a remarkable description of the rise of French capitalism and its villains and victims. Eat, drink, fuck, write and die young seems to be all that Balzac did, with a ferocity that would shame any rock star.

+ RIP Albert Finney. Was he ever better than as the dipsomaniacal British consul Geoffrey Firmin in John Huston’s film of Malcolm Lowry’s great novel Under the Volcano?

+ Finney also played Dr. Monygham in a serviceable made-for-TV version of Jospeh Conrad’s Nostromo. Here’s Russell Baker’s intro to the first episode, where he actually references the cruel consequences of American Imperialism in Central America. How’d the ideological censors at Masterpiece Theater let that forbidden word slip into the vernacular on PBS…?

Got Some News This Mornin’ From Choctaw Ridge

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Fyah by Theon Cross (Gearbox Records)

Swingin’ in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse by Cannonball Adderley (Reel to Real)

Weird by Juliana Hatfield (American Laundromat)

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

The Coming of the American Behemoth: the Origins of Fascism in the United States, 1920-1940 by Michael Joseph Roberto (Monthly Review Press)

Soldier, Priest & God: a Life of Alexander the Great by FS Naiden (Oxford)

The Great Catastrophe: Armenians and Turks in the Shadow of Genocide by Thomas de Waal (Oxford)

Moronic Delight in Killing

Rachel Carson: “Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is — whether its victim is human or animal — we cannot expect things to be much better in this world. We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature. By every act that glorifies or even tolerates such moronic delight in killing, we set back the progress of humanity.”

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