Category Archives: History

Graphic Representation: Echoes of a fascist past


We begin with a militant two-word theme sounded in Donald Trump’s inaugural address [emphasis added]:

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first.

It’s a theme deftly captured by the editorial cartoonist for the Philadelhpia Daily News:

Signe Wilkinson: Donald Trump inauguration

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And for a look at that phrase’s deep roots, here’s are two ominous historical parallels via Russel Neiss from Dr. Seuss [Theodor Geisel] during his years as an editorial cartoonist, starting with a 1939-40 depiction of the powerful Hitler-endorsed isolationist, racist, and religiously intolerant America First lobby.

The communists are included because they also held to an isolationist policy toward Europe because of the Hitler/Stalin non-aggression pact, an agreement that last from August 1939 to June 1941, when Hitler unleashed his military against Stalin’s unprepared forces:

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The second image comes from later in 1941, with the communists now on the warpath and on the outs with America First following the invasion:

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Birgitta Jónsdóttir tweeted Trump’s personal America First policy:

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The original America First legions disbanded after the Japanese aerial attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor.

Bur during their heyday, celebrity icon aviator Charles Lindbergh was a prominent spokesperson, earning the Hitler regime’s highest award for a non-German citizen.

The movement also had one of the nation’s most powerful news empires as an outlet, with the papers and radio stations of William Randolph Hearst the predecessors of the Fox News propaganda machine.

Other graphic commentaries on TrumpAmerica™

We begin with a take on inaugural actions with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mike Luckovich: UUGE!

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Another take on the protests from the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Joel Pett: Grab them by their convictions

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And from the Guardian, another take on the inaugurations:

Martin Rowson: The presidential inauguration

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From the Charlotte Observer, avarice triumphant:

Kevin Siers: Populist POTUS

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From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Clay Bennett: President Trump

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Next, sealing the death with the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Steve Breen: A change of logos

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From the Washington Post, Venn to begin?:

Tom Toles: The Trump administration will operate like a web-based company

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Finally, the Minneapolis Star Tribune offers a modest proposal:

Steve Sack: Tweet inhibition

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Brace for a flood of GMOs after TrumpAscension™


Each of them accompanied by a Rebel Yell.

From teleSur English:

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump picked the last member of his cabinet on Wednesday. Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue — who has been linked to big agribusiness and has sympathized with confederate history — has been tapped to become the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Unsurprisingly, like Trump and the rest of his cabinet, Perdue has links to big business and in particular corporate agriculture. He has been a supporter of factory farms, and in 2009 he signed a bill to stop the local regulation of the industry to prevent animal cruelty.

In 2009, he was named “Governor of the Year” by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, which the Organic Consumers Association referred to as “a front group for the GMO industry.” During his campaigns for governor, he also received donations from pesticide companies. After finishing up as governor, he founded his global exporting business Perdue Partners.

The 70-year-old was on Trump’s agricultural advisory committee during last year’s presidential campaign. During his time as Georgia governor from 2003 to 2011, Perdue drew the support of many disillusioned white voters and was well known for leading a service at the state capital building in Atlanta to literally pray for rain during a harsh drought in 2007.

“Farmers need a champion in the USDA who will fight for conservation programs to help farmers be more resilient in the face of extreme weather, not pray for rain,” Kari Hamerschlag, from Friends of the Earth, said in a statement.

In 2010, Perdue signed a law that proclaimed April “Confederate History and Heritage Month.” The month, which was also declared in six other southern states, is particularly controversial because it failed to mention the history of slavery in its proclamation.

Fueled by Trump, the Game of Zones heats up


The Donald’s provocative moves in the delicate multi-power game underway in the China Seas have include incendiary tweets, numerous campaign declarations, and, in particular, two meetings.

The first came in the form of the first post-election visit by a foreign leader, Shinzo Abe’s 18 November visit to the President-elects Trump Tower suite, a meeting also attended by the first-daughter-to-be Ivanka and her real estate mogul/media baron spouse.

The meeting, Trump’s first-ever flesh-presser with a foreign head of state, also came while Ivanka was sealing a business deal with a Japanese company. business negotiations.

Then, on 2 December came another foreign visitor, this time by telephone, when Trump reversed decades of American foreign policy by engaging in direct conversation with the President of Tawan, a government most of the world doesn’t recognize, in part because of its claims to be the only legitimate government of the Chinese mainland.

Besides appealing to the Cold War strains still resonating in the Grand Old Party, Trump’s conversation with Tsai Ing-wen inflamed Beijing — probably intentionally — even though he’s the first Taiwanese leader who hasn’t endorsed claims to rightly rule the mainland.

Oh, and former U.S. Senator-turned-lobbyist Bob Dole spent months setting up the meeting, his firm pocketing more than $140,000 for Dole’s labors.

Abe takes heart from Trump’s glad-handing

Bolstered by his meeting with the anti-Beijing Trump, Japan’s prime minister is beefing up his country’s military agenda in the Game of Zones.

We begin with a map from the Yomiuri Shimbun, a conservative Japanese paper charting the competing powers in the Game of Zones:

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From the accompanying story:

The government plans to formulate by this summer an integrated defense strategy, which outlines how the Self-Defense Forces would respond in the event of a contingency involving China over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, according to government sources.

The measure is aimed at devising scenarios for a possible clash between Japan and China.

To strengthen the defense of the Nansei Islands through cooperation between the SDF and U.S. forces, the government will also compile a Japan-U.S. joint operation plan at the same time, the sources said.

With these measures, the government intends to become fully prepared and, at the same time, to develop a deterrent effect against China, which has been stepping up its military activities in areas around Japan.

Possible scenarios for a contingency over the Senkakus likely include an accidental clash between a Chinese fisheries patrol boat and a Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel, the dispatch by China of patrol vessels en masse, the deployment of Chinese naval vessels, and landing on any of the islands by a Chinese airborne unit.

The strategy is expected to stipulate operations to be conducted in the form of exercising the right to self-defense within Japan’s territories and waters, such as preventing a military vessel from approaching a remote island by using surface-to-ship missiles of the Ground Self-Defense Force, bringing enemy forces under control with ground strafing from an Air Self-Defense Force fighter jet or fire from a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer, and having GSDF personnel land on the island.

So what are Trump’s motives

Here’s what a Chinese government paper came up with when it looked across the Pacific.

From China Daily:

In light of US President-Elect Donald Trump’s hawkish remarks about China, allied to a number of unexpected moves in the wake of his election victory, experts in Sino-US studies around the world have expressed deep concerns about the key relationship.

Many of the experts have warned that the Sino-US relationship may revert to the deep, mutual distrust that characterized relations between the countries during the 1960s.

Ted Carpenter, senior fellow of defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute in Washington, said he is “increasingly worried” about Trump’s policies regarding China.

“At first, I thought that Trump was engaging in the ‘China-bashing’ that is fairly typical of US presidential campaigns. Yet once in office, new presidents have pursued policies very similar to those of their predecessors since the early 1970s,” he said, adding that Trump’s post-election actions suggest that something else may be going on.

“The telephone conversation with Tsai Ing-wen was startling enough, but the Trump transition team’s insistence on referring to her as the ‘President of Taiwan’ indicated sympathy with hard-line Taiwanese separatists,” he said, referring to a phone call between Trump and the Taiwan leader on Dec 2, which broke with decades of diplomatic precedent.

The irony is that China turned to the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank that gave birth to the first draft of Reaganomics.

And China signals possible reprisals to come

More on China/U.S. relations in the Age of Trump from the Financial Times:

Senior Chinese officials have warned the US that Beijing is ready to retaliate if Donald Trump’s incoming administration imposes new tariffs, highlighting the risk of a destructive trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Penny Pritzker, the outgoing US commerce secretary, said in an interview with the Financial Times that Chinese officials had informed their US counterparts in a meeting after November’s election that they would be forced to respond to trade measures taken by the new administration.

“The Chinese leadership said to me ‘If you guys put an import duty on us we are going to do it on you’,” Ms Pritzker said. “And then they said ‘That will be bad for both of us’.”

She said that the next administration needed to decide “the fine line between being tough and a trade war”, cautioning that such a confrontation would have “enormous consequence” for the US.

The move highlights the concern in China over the risk to relations presented by Mr Trump, who has also offended Beijing by breaking with traditional US policy on Taiwan.

In the words of that venerable China-watcher Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street,  “Come Watson! The game is afoot.”

Mr. Fish: Making America Great Again


From Clowncrack, his blog of patrial puissance:

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The image is based on one of the most famous photographs taken during the Vietnam War and captured by Eddie Adams of the Associated Press, the summary execution by South Vietnam’s chief of the National Police Nguyen Ngoc Loan of a handcuffed prisoner on 1 February 1968 during the famous Tet Offensive:

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Mexican violence surges; the body count rises


People use drugs for a variety of reasons, many of them a direct result of the alienation inherent in the rapacious finance capitalism that robs people of the livelihoods and their dignity so that a very few can reap huge rewards.

But whatever the reasons, the demand needs a suppliers, and as the example of alcohol prohibition in the earlier 20th Century reveals, the need will be met by armed syndicates engaged in fierce, violent competition in its purest form in order to reap rich rewards.

The criminalization of intoxicants north of the border has resulted in the creation of cartels south of the border, violent gangs engaged in bloody combat to control the huge market in the north.

And 2016 is set to yield a record body count in Mexico.

From El País:

For Mexico, 2016 will be remembered as the country’s most violent in recent years, with 20,858 murders registered between January and November, the highest number so far in President Enrique Peña Nieto’s four years in office, according to figures compiled by the National Public Security System.

The figures are based on investigations undertaken by state-level public prosecutors, and show that November was the bloodiest month so far this year, with 2,018 murders, 25% up from the same month in 2015. The total number of homicides for 2015 was 18,673, up from the 17,324 for 2014.

Mexico’s murder rate spiked this summer, with 2,094 killings reported in July, and never falling below 2,000 a month since then, a trend unseen up to that point during the Peña Nieto administration. The government’s security strategy has failed to halt the killings, which have increased in 24 of the country’s 32 states. August saw an increase, followed by September’s 2,189 homicides. That was the worst month since May 2012, when Mexico was still under Felipe Calderón, who launched a massive crackdown on drug cartels after his election in 2006.

The reasons for this year’s increase lie with renewed turf wars between the country’s drug cartels. Colima, a small state on Mexico’s Pacific coast that had largely escaped the violence, was the setting for bloodletting between the Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel and other criminal gangs for control of the port of Manzanillo. This sent the murder rate soaring by almost 300%. Colima, with just 350,000 inhabitants, now has the highest per capita murder rate in the country at 89 per 100,000.

And gangsters aren’t the only victims

Perhaps the most infamous single incident of cartel violence, a crime abetted by police and the military, was the 26 September 2014 abduction and disappearance of 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in Ayotzinapa [previously].

But it’s not just students and folks who catch stray bullets during gangland shootouts.

The cartels are also killing priests who dare to speak up against the reign of terror,

From teleSUR English:

While Mexico is one of the most devout Catholic countries in the world, for eight consecutive years it has been the world’s most dangerous country for priests, who are being killed and attacked at record rates, according to a report from the Catholic Media Centre.

In 2016, three Mexican priests were killed and four other Catholic teachers were also killed, according to the report from the Catholic Media Centre, which said that 2016 has been the deadliest year for priests since they started keeping records.

Between 1990 and 2016, the rate of murdered priests increased by a staggering 375 percent, where 38 priests have either been killed or gone missing. According to reports, more than 80 percent of priest murders have gone unsolved.

The report comes amid increased attacks against religious figures including violent threats and extortion, where Mexico has been labeled the most dangerous country in the world for religious officials for eight years running.

Between 1990 and 2016, 61 attacks were reported against Catholic Church members in the country. In 2016, extortions, at least those that were reported, rose by 70 percent.

The Catholic Media Centre said that while the majority of violence against the church was due to a spilling over of violence from organized crime groups, Mexican security forces were also involved in some incidents.

Chart of the day: An election-rigging score card


From When the Great Power Gets a Vote: The Effects of Great Power, by Dov H. Levin, Post Doctoral Fellow in the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie-Mellon University, and published as an open access report in International Studies Quarterly, a look at electoion-fixing efforts by the U.S. and the Soviet Union between 1946 and 2000.

From When the Great Power Gets a Vote: The Effects of Great Power, by Dov H. Levin, Post Doctoral Fellow in the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie-Mellon University, and published as an open access report in International Studies Quarterly, a look at election-fixing efforts by the U.S. and the Soviet Union between 1946 and 2000.

More from the Los Angeles Times:

The CIA has accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 presidential election by hacking into Democratic and Republican computer networks and selectively releasing  emails. But critics might point out the U.S. has done similar things.

The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it’s done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.

That number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.

Levin defines intervention as “a costly act which is designed to determine the election results [in favor of] one of the two sides.” These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid.

Quote of the day: The right F-word for Trump


And, yeah, the other F-word’s also appr0priate  when employed as an imperative verb preceding his name.

From Seven Theses on Trump, a Critical Legal Thinking essay by Drucilla Cornell, Professor of Political Science, Women’s Studies, and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University, and Stephen D. Seely, doctoral candidate in the Rutgers Department of Women’s and Gender Studies:

From the announcement of Trump’s campaign to the days after the election, there has been much debate among commenters about whether or not “fascism” is an appropriate description. For us, Trump and his movement are unambiguously fascist. We are not using the word “fascist” glibly here. Nor are we referencing only the so-called “alt-right” contingent of his supporters. No, Trump’s entire movement is rooted in an ethnic, racial, and linguistic nationalism that sanctions and glorifies violence against designated enemies and outsiders, is animated by a myth of decline and nostalgic renewal and centered on a masculine cult of personality. Indeed, Trump’s “program” meets the fourteen characteristics of fascism famously outlined by Umberto Eco in every way. We therefore disagree with those who prefer to label Trump an autocrat rather than a fascist. While a fascist leader can certainly be an autocrat—and Trump may well turn out to be just that—fascism can be distinguished from autocracy precisely by the dimension of mass support. The important, and frightening, phenomenon here, for us, is not the consolidation of power in the hands of one person, but rather the powerful movement Trump has mobilized, and it is this movement that needs to be understood on a deeper level.