Category Archives: Uncategorized

Headline of the day: Red state Trump rage


From the London Daily Mail:

‘Do your job!’ Angry protesters drown out leading Republican congressman – in deep-red Utah! – as they wave signs reading ‘DISAGREE’ and complain that he won’t investigate Trump’s conflicts of interest

  • House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz tried to face down an angry crowd when he hold a town hall meeting in his district
  • Constituents blasted him for failing to sufficiently investigate President Donald Trump and on a local lands issue
  •  He faced chants of ‘Do your job!’ and ‘Vote him out’
  • Chaffetz met privately with Trump this week
  • He joined a letter with the leading Democrat on his committee criticizing Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway for touting Ivanka Trump’s products from the White House 
  • ‘I would like to know why if Trump is too despicable for your 15-year-old daughter, why is he fine for me?’

A treat: Chris Hedges interviews Mr. Fish


In the 51 years we’ve been involved in the world of journalism, we’ve seen a sad abdication of the role in mainstream media in fulfilling its prime directive: Speaking truth to power to inform the citizenry.

We use that word citizenry because journalism should be all about educating citizens to enable them to act politically at all levels of what is laughably called a democracy.

The journalist is morally obligated to expose hidden and shadowy influences impacting the lives of her readers, viewers, and listeners.

And while many of the dwindling numbers of people who manage to make enough to survive by dedicating their lives to honest service, their voices are drowned out if a flood of diversions and propaganda designed to distract the public from gaining a real and complex grasp of the predators who see them simply as veins to be mined for the sake of profits and power.

Folks who drop by our humble digital abode quickly discover our love of the editorial/political cartoon, one of the most powerful and immediate of all forms of journalism.

We fell in live with editorial cartoons when we were about six or seven years old, about the time the television set first appeared in our home [and we were early adapters], Suddenly, thee was something else beside the funny pages to catch our childish attention, and the inages in the midst of the gray type of the editorial page dealt with figures appearing on that 18-inch flickering electronic hearth that now dominated the living room.

Not only were the images fascinating and often funny; they made sense of the cascade of images and words emanating from that attention-grabbing box which now dominated so much of family time.

The 1960’s brought an engaged and self-sacrificing civil rights movement, the first stirrings of contemporary feminism, and the rise of a vocal and demonstrative opposition to the growing American military violence in Vietnam.

The Sixties also gave rise to an incredible flowering of independent, community-based alternative newspapers, many of them featuring their own political cartoonists. R. Cobb [previously], one of the greatest of all the political cartoonists of the last century, worked for the Los Angeles Free Press. His drawings remain both strikingly contemporary and searingly on point as when he first drew them five decades before,

Cobb’s counterpart today is Dwayne Booth, the Mr. Fish whose creations make regular appearances here at esnl.

Booth is an immensely gifted artist, veering from almost photographic hyperrealism to childlike pastiches, all of them created freehand [An editorial cartoonist we know once complained that Mr. Fish simply Pgotoshopped photographs; he doesn’t].

The images Mr. Fish creates are vivid, immediate, and compelling, conveying messages we should all hear. He is, we think, America’s finest editorial cartoonist.

And with that, here’s a real treat, an interview of Mr. Fish by a Pulitzer-winning journalist, the former New York Times Mideast Bureau Chief Chris Hedges, conducted for Hedges’ show on RT America:

On Contact: The Power of Political Cartoons with Mr. Fish


Program notes:

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges discusses the influence of editorial cartoons and the plight of the artists who make them with political cartoonist Dwayne Booth, also known as Mr. Fish. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil explores what we have done to dissident artists throughout American history.

Philippine cops, vigilantes paid cash for killings


More than 7,000 people have been murdered since Rodrigo Duterte took the helm as president of the Philippines last 30 June, and the government is paying bounties for each body.

And the killers are cops and vigilantes, eager to capture some of that wealth for themselves.

The slain are alleged drug dealers as well as folks who merely used drugs, but if they were, we’ll never know, since the rewards are paid only for killings, not captures.

Duterte is no stranger to murder. He’s boasted about it, telling this to an audience of business owners last month:

“In Davao [where he served as mayor] I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys [police officers] that if I can do it, why can’t you. And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”

And back in September, when then-President Barack Obama dared to criticize Duterte’s bloody vigilantism, here’s how Duterte responded prior to a meeting with Obama and other regional leaders, via Agence France Presse:

“If you are poor you are killed”: Extrajudicial Executions in the Philippines’ “War on Drugs,” a devasting new report from Amnesty International, provides a look at both the killers and some of their victims, and it’s truly sobering.

From the organization’s announcement of the report some detail about the bounties and the killers:

Incited by the rhetoric of President Rodrigo Duterte, the police, paid killers on their payroll, and unknown armed individuals have slain more than a thousand people a month under the guise of a national campaign to eradicate drugs. Since President Rodrigo Duterte came to office seven months ago, there have been more than 7,000 drug-related killings, with the police directly killing at least 2,500 alleged drug offenders.

Amnesty International’s investigation, documents in detail 33 cases that involved the killings of 59 people. Researchers interviewed 110 people across the Philippines’ three main geographical divisions, detailing extrajudicial executions in 20 cities across the archipelago. The organisation also examined documents, including police reports.

>snip<

The police killings are driven by pressures from the top, including an order to “neutralize” alleged drug offenders, as well as financial incentives they have created an informal economy of death, the report details.

Speaking to Amnesty International, a police officer with the rank of Senior Police Officer 1, who has served in the force for a decade and conducts operations as part of an anti-illegal drugs unit in Metro Manila, described how the police are paid per “encounter” the term used to falsely present extrajudicial executions as legitimate operations.

“We always get paid by the encounter…The amount ranges from 8,000 pesos (US $161) to 15,000 pesos (US $302)… That amount is per head. So if the operation is against four people, that’s 32,000 pesos (US $644)… We’re paid in cash, secretly, by headquarters…There’s no incentive for arresting. We’re not paid anything.”

The chilling incentive to kill people rather than arrest them was underscored by the Senior Police Officer, who added: “It never happens that there’s a shootout and no one is killed.”

The experienced frontline police officer told Amnesty International that some police have established a racket with funeral homes, who reward them for each dead body sent their way. Witnesses told Amnesty International that the police also enrich themselves by stealing from the victims’ homes, including objects of sentimental value.

The police are behaving like the criminal underworld that they are supposed to be enforcing the law against, by carrying out extrajudicial executions disguised as unknown killers and “contracting out” killings.

More than 4,100 of the drug-related killings in the Philippines over the past six months have been carried out by unknown armed individuals. “Riding in tandem”, as the phenomenon is known locally, two motorcycle-borne people arrive, shoot their targets dead, and speed away.

Two paid killers told Amnesty International that they take orders from a police officer who pays them 5,000 pesos (US $100) for each drug user killed and 10,000 to 15,000 pesos (US $200-300) for each “drug pusher” killed. Before Duterte took power, the paid killers said, they had two “jobs” a month. Now, they have three or four a week.

The targets often come from unverified lists of people suspected to use or sell drugs drawn up by local government officials. Regardless of how long ago someone may have taken drugs, or how little they used or sold, they can find their names irrevocably added to the lists.

In other cases, their names could be added arbitrarily, because of a vendetta or because there are incentives to kill greater numbers of people deemed drug users and sellers.

DroughtWatch: Storms bring dramatic relief


The major rain storms hitting California over the past week have brought the most dramatic relief yet to a parched Golden State, with reductions at all levels, according to the latest map from the United States Drought Monitor.

The most telling dropoff was in the worst category, Exceptional Drought, which fell from 18.31 percent of California’s land area to 2.13 percent in the course of seven days.

More than a third of California [34.62 percent] is now drought-free, compared to 18.07 percent last week:

blog-drought

Quote of the day: The goddess of today’s GOP


Gore Vidal, one of the most perceptive writers America has ever produced, cast a discerning eye on the monster who birthed the modern Republican Party, a Russian exile whose writing inspired Paul Ryan and a whole host of modern monsters who use who narcissistic scribblings as justification for as politics for politics as eugenic cleansing, waging war on the poor and disadvantaged for the sake of the almighty dollar.

Writing in an Esquire commentary in July, 1961, Vidal said it better than anyone else ever has:

Ayn Rand is a rhetorician who writes novels I have never been able to read. She has just published a book, For the New Intellectual, subtitled The Philosophy of Ayn Rand; it is a collection of pensées and arias from her novels and it must be read to be believed. Herewith, a few excerpts from the Rand collection.

  • “It was the morality of altruism that undercut American and is now destroying her.”
  • “Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society. Today, the conflict has reached its ultimate climax; the choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequence of freedom…or the primordial morality of altruism with its consequences of slavery, etc.”
  • Then from one of her arias for heldentenor: “I am done with the monster of ‘we,’ the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: ‘I.'”
  • “The first right on earth is the right of the ego. Man’s first duty is to himself.”
  • “To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men.”
  • “The creed of sacrifice is a morality for the immoral….”

This odd little woman is attempting to give a moral sanction to greed and self interest, and to pull it off she must at times indulge in purest Orwellian newspeak of the “freedom is slavery” sort. What interests me most about her is not the absurdity of her “philosophy,” but the size of her audience (in my campaign for the House she was the one writer people knew and talked about). She has a great attraction for simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who dislike the “welfare” state, who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their hearts. For them, she has an enticing prescription: altruism is the root of all evil, self-interest is the only good, and if you’re dumb or incompetent that’s your lookout.

Chart of the day II: Most Americans reject GMO food


From a new report from the Pew Research Center:

blog-gmos

Yet another racist in The Donald’s cabinet lineup


It’s either a still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a 1920 classic German horror film, or Trump administration Chief Strategist and Breitbart.com mastermind Steve Bannon introducing the latest name on the Trump cabinet short list, as American women look on in horror.

It’s either a still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a 1920 classic German horror film, or Trump administration Chief Strategist and Breitbart.com mastermind Steve Bannon introducing the latest name on the Trump cabinet short list, as American women look on in horror.

The Breitbart Administration may about to pick yet another loathesome member to Dr. Caligari’s Cabinet.

The New York Times reports that Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, is on the short list to become Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration.

Gee, another Southern Republican. Surprise, surprise.

But there more, reported in a second Times story:

In 1981, a Justice Department prosecutor from Washington stopped by to see Jeff Sessions, the United States attorney in Mobile, Ala., at the time. The prosecutor, J. Gerald Hebert, said he had heard a shocking story: A federal judge had called a prominent white lawyer “a disgrace to his race” for representing black clients.

“Well,” Mr. Sessions replied, according to Mr. Hebert, “maybe he is.”

In testimony before Congress in 1986, Mr. Hebert and others painted an unflattering portrait of Mr. Sessions, who would go on to become a senator from Alabama and now, according to numerous sources close to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team, is a potential nominee for attorney general or secretary of defense. Mr. Hebert testified that Mr. Sessions had referred to the American Civil Liberties Union and the N.A.A.C.P. as “un-American” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.”

One African-American prosecutor testified that Mr. Sessions had called him “boy” and joked that he thought that the Ku Klux Klan “was O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.”

Mr. Sessions denied calling the lawyer “boy” but acknowledged or did not dispute the substance of the other remarks. The bitter testimony sank his nomination by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal district court judge and foreshadowed the questions that Mr. Sessions could face at another set of Senate confirmation hearings if Mr. Trump nominates him for a cabinet position.