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SPICER DOUBLES DOWN; TRUMP ACCUSES BO OF INFLATION
After White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer angrily accused the mainstream media of manipulating photographs to underestimate the crowds at Donald Trump’s inauguration and Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway said he was just offering “alternative facts,” Spicer doubled down on a Monday morning talk show, claiming he had evidence to prove Trump’s turnout was larger than Barack Obama’s back in 2008.
“Obama’s crowd was mostly black people,” Spicer declared. “Since everyone knows blacks are only three-fifths of a person, that means the media were immediately over estimating the numbers. At best, only a little over 60 percent of the people they say were there were actually there. All of Trump’s crowd was white, so they all count 100 percent.”
Meanwhile, the 45th president was outraged by a report on BuzzFeed about another measurement technique which studied profiles of Trump and Obama during the inauguration by examining bulges in their clothing. Anatomy analysts concluded from high-resolution inauguration photographs that Trump’s penis underneath his trousers is only one-third as large as Obama’s.
Trump took to Twitter and said, “#Obama’sbigpenis more fake news! CIA says he was wearing inflationary device. So sad.”
CommentaryTomorrow Is Today
By Robert C. Koehler
The icon’s day has come and gone, and — oh, the irony — eight people were fatally shot in Chicago on his weekend. Another eight were shot during a Martin Luther King rally and celebration in Miami.
God knows how many more died this past weekend: around the country, around the world.
An enormous wrong called human violence continues to roll across Planet Earth, but we bring less understanding to it than we had 50 years ago, when King spoke at Riverside Church in New York City and stood courageously against the war in Vietnam.
“We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation,” King said in his electrifying and disturbing speech, which merged the movement for civil rights and social justice with the growing national outrage against war. “The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. . . .
“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today.”
As I say, this was 50 years ago: April 4, 1967, a year to the day before he was assassinated. And tomorrow is still today.
“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. . . . We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.”
Consider the dystopia on display in this Chicago Sun-Times story about the eight fatal (and 24 non-fatal) shootings across Chicagoland on the weekend of Jan. 14-16. Each fatality in this irony-permeated account is meticulously listed, along with the street and block on which it occurred, the precise time of day (1:13 a.m., 6:55 p.m., etc.) and, my God, the lethal bullet’s entry location on each victim’s body. Thus we learn that there were two chest wounds, a head wound, head and chest wounds, abdomen and face wounds, and three multiple gunshot wounds. That’s it. No larger understanding is conveyed, no outrage, no despair. What’s the point?
The story ends: “Nine people were shot in Chicago last weekend.”
This is no fantasy dystopia but the world we actually live in — the “tomorrow” of King’s passionate warning cry half a century ago: “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy,” he wrote in his 1967 book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? “Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.”
We’re watching his prescience come to life, even as we honor him — and in the process, ignore him. As I wrote a decade ago: “The public accolades ladled upon this fallen leader embalm him in sentimentality, in some glass case in the pantheon of national heroes, next to Washington, Lincoln, Elvis, et al. Then once a year we cherry-pick a memorable phrase here or there (‘I have a dream’ comes to mind for some reason), as though the words are frozen in history, part of a time when there was struggle and disagreement and prejudice.
“The shocking thing about King is that his words are as alive and unsettling as they’ve ever been.”
So the best we can do is try to pull them loose from yesterday’s context and look at them, absorb them and embody them in today’s. If anything, however, the wall of cynicism that prevents his words from entering the American political consciousness is more formidable than ever.
“This I believe,” he said in his Riverside address, “to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls ‘enemy,’ for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.
“And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. . . . (It) is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.”
These words tear me open, not simply because of the truth they manifest but because, despite that truth — wrenchingly apparent as it is in the wake of 50 further years of U.S. militarism — they still fail to penetrate the wall that separates policy from sanity.
Hear the broken cries of those who join ISIS? Of course not. But Erik Prince, mercenary extraordinaire, founder of Blackwater (and brother of Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos), apparently has the ear of President-elect Donald Trump, and, as Jeremy Scahill reports, has been pushing for the Trump administration to “recreate a version of the Phoenix Program, the CIA assassination ring that operated during the Vietnam War, to fight ISIS.”
And the global dystopia rolls on.
I repeat: “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.”
Welcome to tomorrow.
Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.
LocalCOMMISSIONER JOHN VASQUEZ SCHEDULES COMMUNITY MEETINGS
District 5 Doña Ana County Commissioner John L. Vasquez has scheduled two community meetings to address issues of concern.
Meetings are scheduled at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the Doña Ana County Community Resource Center, 5745 Ledesma Drive in Doña Ana, and Wednesday, Jan. 11, at the Village of Hatch Community Center, 837 Highway 187 (West Hall Street) in Hatch.
Commissioner Vasquez will be joined by New Mexico State Sen. Jeff Steinborn and State Representatives Rudy Martinez and Nathan Small.
Also on hand will be county staff from the Animal Control/Codes Enforcement division, Engineering/Roads Department, Community and Constituent Services Office, Flood Commission and the Sheriff’s Department.
District 5 encompasses a portion of northwestern Las Cruces and extends north to the Sierra County line, taking in all or part of the communities of Doña Ana, Radium Springs, Leasburg, Hatch, Salem and Garfield.
Doña Ana County will ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities and will, upon request, provide auxiliary communication aids and services to afford those individuals equal opportunity for participation in Doña Ana County sponsored meetings, events or activities. Any request should be made to the Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator, in writing, or by phone, at least two business days prior to the event at which accommodation is needed. Questions regarding examples of reasonable accommodations can be directed to the county’s ADA coordinator at (575) 525-5884 (voice) or (575) 525-2951 (TTY), 845 N. Motel Blvd. Las Cruces, NM 88007.
Spanish language interpretation services also are available upon request for participation in Doña Ana County sponsored meetings, events or activities. To arrange for translation services, contact the Community & Constituent Services Office at (575) 525-6163 at least 48 hours prior to the event.
EnvironmentSWEC ready to resist rollbacks on wildlife protection
Why we marched
As many of you know, the Southwest Environmental Center participated in the United Communities Action event in Las Cruces this past Saturday in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington. SWEC’s director Kevin Bixby was a speaker.
Some of you have wondered what, if anything, our participation implies in terms of SWEC’s position on certain issues and elected officials. Let me assure you: our focus remains laserlike on protecting wildlife and habitats in the Southwest. We were honored to participate in the event because it was an opportunity to join with millions of people around the world (including an estimated 2000 at the Las Cruces event) in showing our resolve to fight for the things that matter most.
We know there will be many attempts by Congress and the Administration to roll back protections for wildlife and wild places in the coming months, including the sell-off of public lands, reversal of progress on climate change, removal of protections for Mexican wolves, and repeal of the Endangered Species Act, to name just a few. Saturday’s event was a line drawn in the sand. We are determined to fight these efforts. By joining with others, we are stronger.
We need your help
The New Mexico legislature is in session, and the Southwest Environmental Center is working hard to pass a bill banning coyote killing contests, but we need your help. That’s why we’ve launched a grassroots campaign, to connect concerned citizens to lawmakers who need to hear from you. Follow this link to our action page, where you’ll find everything you need to join the effort, including talking points, contact information for elected officials, and guidelines for writing letters to the editor. Then, ask a friend, family member, or coworker to act as well. Together, we can make history and stand up for wildlife.
Newspapers get it right
In case you missed it… The two largest newspapers in New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal and the Las Cruces Sun-News, both editorialized this weekend in support of banning coyote killing contests! The Journal wrote, “The contests are not about removing a predatory threat or gathering pelts and meat or a trophy; like cockfighting, which the Legislature banned, they are only about blood sport.” The Sun-News put it a bit more directly: “There is no good argument for coyote killing contests.” With this kind of momentum building, we are more confident than ever that we will succeed. Read both columns in full by following this link. And learn more about how coyotes regulate their own numbers by clicking here.
SWEC is hiring for youth project
We are hiring 4-6 crew members, ages 18-25, to do habitat restoration around Las Cruces as part of a NM Youth Conservation Corps project. Must be a New Mexico resident and unemployed at least two weeks prior to hiring. Click here for details.
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