The Economy is Great — Except for 90% of us, that is

The Economy is Great

Except for 90% of us, that is

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 4th 2023

One thing I hear fairly often—and I wager you do, too—is a plaint from liberal and/or Democratic pundits that goes something like this: “The economy is doing great. Unemployment is down, inflation is down, productivity is up, and the stock market is roaring. Why doesn’t Biden get credit for that?”

That’s all true as far as it goes. Part of it is that the media doesn’t much report good news because it’s boring. Having some idiot on Faux News winge that he paid $90 for a turkey is much more entertaining than noting that turkeys cost less than they have in five years. (We paid $23 for ours, and it was a damned good turkey). It’s easier to remember what some overpriced bird cost some overstuffed and self-important pundit than what people’s own turkeys cost in the checkout—or that such things as eggs, milk, and veggies had shown similar declines.

Part of it is a historical oddity in social psychology: societies as a whole become more discontented and restive as things begin to improve. We really are making our way back from the twin disasters of COVID and Trump. The dim light of early dawn is somehow more depressing than the depth of darkness a few hours earlier.

The main part of the answer is in the part of that quote, “productivity is up, and the stock market is roaring.” Both usually come at the expense of middle class people. They aren’t good news for the very people who are most sour on the economy.

The indicators cited really don’t speak to the welfare of the working class. Yes, there are more jobs. But by the standards of other developed nations, they remain shit jobs. Minimum wage remains $7.25 an hour in the most backward states. Most jobs don’t offer health insurance (and shouldn’t—that should be a public sector function). Many offer no vacation time. Maternity benefits remain crappy even as the GOP moves to outlaw abortion and birth control. There’s no job security; in most states an employee can be laid off without warning, and for no reason given. Then there’s the sleazy low-end outfits that call their victims “independent contractors” which eliminates otherwise legally required things such as overtime, minimum wage, or scheduled hours, and the shittiest ones even require their subjects to provide and/or pay for work related items, such as computers. Because regulation was pared down beginning with Reagan, the government does little to combat such abuses as wage theft, cheating employees on overtime, and job safety and health measures. The lowest states are fighting to bring back child labor, an absolute disgrace in what is purportedly the richest country on Earth. Who can love a system that enslaves children but where plutocrats whine loudly about having to pay to provide those children with food? Even in the Confederate south, most slaveowners had more decency than that, and man, is that one fucking low bar!

Even with full employment, 80% of full-time workers have less than $400 in their bank accounts in case of emergency. Most have none, and are skipping meals to pay rent, feed the kids, and pay $150 a month for TV so rich assholes can pontificate to them about how good they have it, riding on the backs of beleaguered billionaires.

Plutocrats spend billions on that propaganda, and on the legalized bribery of elected officials to push the notion that only they are deserving and that the poor are nothing but a burden. Faux News has spent billions and billions of dollars persuading us that single mothers on welfare are the problem and carefully don’t mention the thousand or so billionaires who have been dismantling the economic system and raping it to death.

The Koch brothers tried rebranding fascism as “Libertarian Party” and when that failed, simply started taking over the once-sane GOP and populating it with the same broken and twisted creatures and fought so hard against civil rights, worker rights, compassion or fairness, beginning with Donald Trump. Those crazy bastards that have paralyzed Congress didn’t come out of nowhere; they were homegrown by the fascistic plutocracy. Most of the mainstream media is owned by corporate entities that are part of this same cabal, and they lean heavily on their “journalistic” outlets to complain that the problems are liberalism and throwing money at social problems, and not Wall Street types dismantling, destroying, and packaging out once-useful companies. Look at what Musk has deliberately done to destroy Twitter, once a semi-respectable source of information. Everyone has tales to tell of good companies that provided decent jobs and good service that fell apart after being bought out by some semi-anonymous hedge fund entity.

Most people sense the system is deeply flawed and purposefully broken. And the very worst problems remain unaddressed.

This attack on the US has been going for decades, and featured six major prongs by the interests that wanted to create a power vacuum by destroying the peoples’ government:

Deregulation: lots of whines about the burden of regulation that somehow failed to create the richest and most powerful country on Earth. Now we have deregulation. Feeling particularly rich or powerful now? Ninety-nine percent of you will say no.

Tax Reform: AKA trickle down, or supply side. Top tax brackets fell from 90% to 20%. Working people made up a bit of the difference. But we’re still $23 trillion in the hole. It wasn’t school lunches for kids that caused that: it was billionaires cheating the country.

Tort Reform: essentially makes it impossible for regular people to sue major corporations.

State’s rights: take power from the federal government and give it to corrupt, petty, venal states like Mississippi or Louisiana. Gape in amazement as civil rights vanish along with worker rights and environmental protections.

Freedom of religion: Make pets out of gullible zealots and promise to let them inflict their idolatry on others in return for their votes. Notice that you aren’t free from religions you don’t believe in any more?

Combine liberalism and social justice with communism and other authoritarian regimes in the public mind. Spend billions on propaganda to promote this and all the other prongs.

It all leads to plutocratic authoritarianism.

A lot of people, including one of the main architects of this attack, David Koch, have looked at Donald Trump and his followers, and the vicious excesses of the so-called Christian Right, and realized that, in line with historical precedent, their movement has attracted a dark element of broken and twisted creatures who revel in the suffering of others and live only to serve their masters and share a few crumbs from the table. Scratch a strutting and bellicose MAGAt and find a cold concentration camp prison guard, or the block party commissar.

Fascist regimes, like theocratic regimes, begin as cruel and incompetent, and go downhill from there.

I’m not sure it can be reversed. But it must be if we are to avoid the fate of such regimes.

But even though Biden can’t wave a magic wand and fix all these things, he at least wants to. And you can bet your life (and you probably are) that Trump and his lot in the GOP will only make things worse.

You want a decent job that pays for a good home, security and decent medical care? Reject the GOP.

And yes, that includes people who cheered for that six pronged attack and expected a sane outcome. The dream is over. Time to wake up.

Quadrophobia — Working the Numbers


Working the Numbers

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 26th, 2023

In the huge uproar surrounding the sudden sacking, and even more unexpected rehiring of Sam Altman at ChatGPT, and the revitalization of discussion over the benefits and perils of Artificial Intelligence, there was a throw-away line in one article that seized my attention.

The line stated, with no elaboration, that their AI program had solved a math formula problem that it hadn’t seen before. Being a mainstream media source, it didn’t elaborate, since numbers bigger than about six hurt readers, make branes hurt.

Michael Parekh on his blog “AI: Reset to Zero” elaborated in a much more meaningful way:

“In the following months, senior OpenAI researchers used the innovation to build systems that could solve basic math problems, a difficult task for existing AI models. Jakub Pachocki and Szymon Sidor, two top researchers, used Sutskever’s work to build a model called Q* (pronounced “Q-Star”) that was able to solve math problems that it hadn’t seen before, an important technical milestone. A demo of the model circulated within OpenAI in recent weeks, and the pace of development alarmed some researchers focused on AI safety.

“The work of Sutskever’s team, which has not previously been reported, and the concern inside the organization, suggest that tensions within OpenAI about the pace of its work will continue even after Altman was reinstated as CEO Tuesday night, and highlights a potential divide among executives. (See more about the safety conflicts at OpenAI.)

“Last week, Pachocki and Sidor were among the first senior employees to resign following Altman’s ouster. Details of Sutskever’s breakthrough, and his concerns about AI safety, help explain his participation in Altman’s high-profile ouster, as well as why Sidor and Pachocki resigned quickly after Altman was fired. The two returned to the company after Altman’s reinstatement.” ( )

Solving previously unseen math problems is HUGE. It involves extrapolative logic, something computers have not been able to accomplish. The vast majority of humans can’t manage that. I’m going to give you an example:

3 + 14t − 5t2 = 0

OK, most of you will recognize that with widely varying degrees of fondness from middle school or perhaps high school. It’s called a quadratic, and it was a sneaky introduction to the basics of calculus. Most teachers couldn’t be arsed to explain what those were for back in my day, and the best ones would come up with seemingly incoherent examples, such as measuring the perimeter area of a room around a carpet, or what happens if you toss a ball in the air at a certain speed. There are, in fact, a lot of occupations where they can be massively useful, but for most students they were just an annoying form of sudoku. Just to add to the general merriment, quadratics had two solutions, one of which was physically impossible. In this case, the solutions are t =−0.2 or t = 3. Three is the one that is possible. You could make a graph from quadratics which is where my brane broke and it had to be sent off to the knackers. I was left with a choice: be an innumerate annoying smart-ass, or be a Republican. You decide.

Now suppose you had never ever seen a quadratic before in your life. Would you be able to figure out what its purpose was? From that, could you solve it, knowing you would have to factor it and possibly use the imaginary number i, the square root of minus one?

Hell, most of you DID take quadratics in grade seven, taught by Ben Stein’s boring brother, and you couldn’t even begin to start on it. I did, but I admit I looked up the answer to make sure I hadn’t embarrassed myself. Just don’t ask me to draw a chart. The results would probably be painful for both of us.

OK, so this algorithm looked at some math function it hadn’t seen before, and, understanding only the variables, the operatives, and the numbers themselves, worked out the correct answer on its own. I don’t know that it was a quadratic that was the formula or what, but it represents a huge step forward, the first time a computer has demonstrated autonomous intellectual logic.

There are a lot of very genuine concerns about AI (I recently read a very good SF novel about an AI tasked with preparing the North American West Coast against a Cascadian fault movement of 9.0, forestalling the quake itself by planned explosives and moving fifty or so million people out of harm’s way. Someone made the horrible mistake of feeding the AI a concept of Occam’s Razor, “The simplest solution is usually the best.” Armed with that, the AI realizes the smart and efficient thing is to just let ‘er rip, cost less, and have much less rebuilding to do afterward because there would be less people. So it let the earthquake proceed.)

Of course AI has been a popular notion in SF going back to the first robot novel, “RUR,” back in 1927. Even in the 60’s, it was assumed that if you just gave a computer enough processing power and data, it would “wake up,” like Mycroft Holmes (Mike) in Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” It’s clearly much more involved then that (even back then, I viewed the “wake up” notion as being similar to stacking hamburger meat seven feet high and getting a basketball player).

But it also appears that the point of self-awareness is now very near, and autonomous decision making really does need something like Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:

  • The First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

  • The Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • The Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

If we want machines to have autonomous judgment, we need to up our game and have some autonomous judgment of our own. Asimov made a career of finding loopholes and workarounds in his own three laws. For us, the work will be far more difficult, and the consequences far further reaching.

Frank Zappa and the Dominionists — He would have been appalled, but oh, the songs he would write!

Frank Zappa and the Dominionists

He would have been appalled, but oh, the songs he would write!

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 19th, 2023

While noodling around Facebook today, I came across this quote, attributed to the legendary musician Frank Zappa: “Socialism produces bad music, bad art, social stagnation, and really unhappy people.”

Well, that didn’t really sound like Zappa, who, while a staunch idealistic libertarian, openly admired the freedoms and personal spaciousness afforded by such socialist countries such as Finland, Sweden, France or Denmark. He would have understood that socialism isn’t what most Americans think it is. On that, he did say: “Communism doesn’t work because it is out of phase with human nature. Are we going to wake up one day to find this statement equally true when applied to the concept of Western democracy?” He did know the difference. He was a fierce defender of personal and artistic rights, and respected societies that observed those rights, having little interest in the political apparatus that was involved. On that he said, “Government is the Entertainment division of the military-industrial complex.” Oh, yeah. Current events sure support that notion.

I did look to see if the socialism quote held up to scrutiny, since as Geoffrey Chaucer once famously observed, “Depende not what thou mightst encountre upon thee internets and lendist not unto it thy minde, for it bee swarming with crappe.” The only source I could find (uncited) was on a ‘mens’ rights website. So safe to assume he never said it.

I doubt Frank would be impressed with what passes for Libertarianism these days, and may well have seen it as fascism in drag, a cynical ploy by moneyed interests to strip government and people of power in order to create a power vacuum for churches and corporations to fill. He regarded those as threats to freedoms and creativity, saying: “The biggest threat to America today is not communism, it’s moving America toward a fascist theocracy, and everything that’s happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe. […] When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view, and if that code happens to be very very right wing, almost toward Attila the Hun.”

Now, comparing the fascist right to Attila the Hun would be considered mild. We have a Hitler-spouting authoritarian as the lead candidate for President in one major party, and the second-in-line for the entire country an open Dominionist who wants to subject the citizenry to his own toxic brand of Christianity.

I suspect Zappa would be appalled.

Certainly the Founders would be. Mike Johnson, the so-called Speaker who wants Jesus as King of America said, “The separation of church and state is a misnomer. People misunderstand it. Of course, it comes from a phrase that was in a letter that Jefferson wrote. It’s not in the Constitution. And what he was explaining is they did not want the government to encroach upon the church — not that they didn’t want principles of faith to have influence on our public life. It’s exactly the opposite.”

He’s referring, of course, to the Danbury letter in which Jefferson wrote, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.” While Jefferson was reassuring the Danbury Baptists that government would not be used against them, what they were concerned about were non-Baptists. Non-Baptists, using government to repress them or punish them for not being of the True Faith. They, like Jefferson and nearly all of the Founders, came from the British Isles, which had, at that time, a long and storied history of various factions within Christianity seizing secular power and using it to promote themselves and punish and repress others. Jefferson in particular loathed Britain’s Test Act, which denied public office to Catholics, Jews, and other non-believers. He insisted on the “No Religious Test” phrase in the Constitution, which, by its own language, is the only phrase in the Constitution which cannot be amended. “shall EVER be…” is what follows. He wanted anyone of any faith to be able to hold office, but he also wanted to make damned sure that none of those office-holders would abuse it to promote their own faith at the expense of others.

Far right nativists in America like to claim they are of “Scots-Irish” descent, a term that makes about as little sense as “Judeo-Christian.” Scotland and Ireland are two different lands, culturally and socially, and as a rule don’t like one another very much. But both, along with England, have people whose ancestors were punished, imprisoned, sometimes killed for being a member of the wrong religion at the wrong time. For Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists, that was recent history. In fact, in the UK it was also future history: freedom of religion wasn’t formally codified until 1998. Until then, it was illegal for a Catholic to be prime minister (yes, Tony Blair lied about his religious beliefs to hold office), and the monarch must still be Anglican. Scotland and Wales didn’t have separation of church and state until the early 1920s. Every year, England celebrates Guy Fawkes day. It’s a harmless and festive event now, fun for the whole family, but it started out celebrating Catholic traitors by burning them in effigy.

Dominionists don’t understand their their own country nor their own religion. And they don’t know history, which teaches that all theocracies, without exception, become cruel, corrupt and incompetent because the source authority is forever silent and thus easy for monsters, such as Johnson and Trump, to “interpret.” Dominionists are the yellow snow of politics.

Frank Zappa would have used something stronger than “Attila the Hun” to describe it. Cromwell, perhaps, or Pope Benedict IX, or even Hitler.

I’m glad he isn’t here to see this. But oh! The songs he could write!

No Labels, No Brains — They’ll appeal to Never Trumpers, and nobody else

No Labels, No Brains

They’ll appeal to Never Trumpers, and nobody else

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 12th, 2023

Progressives have been all a-flutter over the so-called “moderate movement” calling itself “No Labels.” In fact, it’s neither moderate nor a movement. It lacks a platform, a goal, a focus, identifiable leadership or, for that matter, actual followers. I don’t think it even has House or Senate candidates yet.

The fuss ratcheted up this week when Joe Manchin (D-Coal) announced he wouldn’t be running for office again. Rumors immediately started that he would be the lead presidential candidate for the No Hopers instead of ancient Joe Lieberman (D-AIPAC). This would surely split the Democratic vote, giving Trump a second term even if he only got 38% of the vote, like Lincoln did. (Astute readers will note that I don’t perceive any other similarities between Trump and Lincoln, starting with the fact that Lincoln didn’t look like a Kewpie Doll mated with a Bratwurst).

Of course, Manchin has no popularity at all with any Democrats outside of West Virginia. He’s no more popular than Joe Lieberman or Kyrsten Sinema. He, like those other two, is a corporate creature, more likely to vote with the Heritage Foundation than with Joe Biden. The Foundation (which I often refer to as the National Association of Zealots and Ideologues) had considerable sway in the Democratic Party starting with Bill Clinton, when the “New Democratic” wave embraced the stances of moderate Republicans and weakened labor and consumer rights and gave big business free rein.

Adopting “Reaganomics Lite” worked out about the way Reaganomics did, and now the bloom has fallen off that particular rose. You may have noticed that labor unions have staged a huge comeback in recent years, and voter approval of unions has risen from a low in the high thirties twenty years ago to the mid seventies now. Largely successful attacks on women’s rights, voter rights, and the rights of minorities have sharpened focus on the realization that the American right is no ally to the American people. Even if you don’t care about women, voters or minorities, you have to be pretty damned daft not to realize that they will come for you next.

Being pro-business isn’t a great voter draw when most voters are realizing that big business is not their friend and savior.

Joe Manchin would be running as the Heritage Foundation candidate, which means he’ll be effectively be the Libertarian candidate, and he’ll stay very quiet about civil rights, income equality, and the rights of workers and consumers. He’ll be in the extremely awkward position of hoping the zealots and neo-nazis will continue to loudly identify with Trump whilst secretly voting for him, which isn’t very likely.

In theory, Joe Lieberman is supposed to draw the Jewish vote, but I don’t think he did that very well in 2000 when he was Al Gore’s running mate. I suspect most American Jews who voted Democratic looked at Lieberman, held their noses, and voted for Al Gore because they liked Al Gore. And now his perceived ties to Netanyahu will flat-out alienate him from most Jews and a large majority of Democratic voters. Even if the slaughter in Gaza ended tomorrow, it’s the sort of thing voters will remember a year later. There was a time when supporting Netanyahu meant you were pro-Israel and thus one of the good guys, but Netanyahu’s viciousness and corruption has made that a thing of the past.

Speaking of viciousness and corruption, there’s the matter of Trump. The media are frantically pretending that he isn’t just viable, but the only possible candidate the Republicans will have next year. That makes several large assumptions. First, there’s the very real possibility that Trump will be appealing several large felony convictions before the election, if not flat-out in jail. If some idiot tries to shoot one of the judges or court officials and then blabs that he did it for Trump, Trump’s odds of staying out of prison effectively drop to zero. Trump might say something under oath that will really finish him off, legally, such as boasting that he sold national secrets to Putin. That might sound like an insane thing for him to do, but that’s another issue in itself that I’ll get to in a minute. Two minutes, if you’re a slow reader.

Second, the fiasco that is the House of Representatives may alienate millions of voters from the GOP. They’ve tried like hell to blame Democrats for that insane mess, but that hasn’t worked. If they blow it with the budget next week (and I’m as close to certain as I will ever get that they will) voters will know it was they who fucked things up. Blaming the bad economy on the Democrats won’t work.

Third, public outrage over such things as the Dobbs decision and gerrymandering isn’t going away, and the No Labels crowd don’t dare take a stand on those. Remember, they want to play footsie with the MAGAts and don’t want to piss them off without sounding like the Me-Tooers running against Trump in the GOP.

Third is the matter of age. Manchin is mentally and physically in far better shape than Trump, but he’s no spring chicken. He was born in 1947, which means he’ll be 77 next year. Trump, if he’s still alive, will be 79, and Biden 81. Guess which of the three I think is in the best shape, physically and mentally? Bingo! In one. Biden, of course. Manchin is close. Trump isn’t.

As for Trump, if he isn’t dead or in jail, there’s a possibility he’ll be drooling in a wheelchair and slapping irritably but ineffectually at the day nurse who is trying to feed him his Ensure. The man is in bad shape and declining rapidly. When he isn’t insisting that he’s still the President, he now seems to think Obama is still the President.

His speeches are getting wilder and nastier. He’s actually using some of the same language that Hitler used, saying that liberals and socialists are “vermin” who need to be eradicated. His followers may be the biggest bunch of dumb bastards in American history, but at least some of them are going to notice just how dangerously erratic he has become, and look to Manchin as an alternative.

So: let’s assume a three way race next year. The Greens aren’t going to matter, especially since Biden has adopted a lot of their platform, and the No Labels will make the Libertarians redundant. Three candidates: Biden, Trump, Manchin.

Trump maght get about 30% of the vote. His ceiling is 35%, and his floor is about 20%, assuming he stays out of jail and is still capable of running. Manchin might get 10% of the Democratic vote, and it’s reasonable to assume he’ll get the Never-Trumper Republican vote. So he might get 30% of the vote. Maybe. Americans generally don’t like third party candidates, and if the No Labels party don’t get cracking and get candidates in all 435 Congressional races and 34 Senate races, then their presidential candidate will be a no-hoper fluke, doomed even if he could somehow win.

That leaves Biden with a rock-bottom minimum of 40% of the vote, and that’s assuming a sour economy and the House getting its act together, if too late for the economy. Realistically, the vote would probably go 60-25-15 and Biden would win 40 states. Most of the independent voters would go for him, and Manchin will peel off far more Republican votes than Democratic.

So ignore the pundits who say Manchin has doomed Biden and the Democrats. The opposite is true.

This election remains Biden’s to lose.

“The Lady Said ‘No’” — Voters reject abortion and book bans, zealot rule, and Trump

The Lady Said ‘No’”

Voters reject abortion and book bans, zealot rule, and Trump

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 9th, 2023

Off-off-year elections usually don’t make the front page, other than in the local areas and handful of states where they occur. Normally there’s little reason to care if some state you never plan to live in wants to amend their constitution, or a congressional district is voting to replace a deceased member of the House. In normal times, school board elections are of little interest, even in the school districts in which they occur. It’s not uncommon for a winner to be elected with less than 5% of the eligible vote, even when the local high school football team is losing. Normally a typical voter wouldn’t be able to name a single member of his own State Supreme Court, or even if the members were elected or appointed. Said voter might remember something or other about someone running for judge unopposed. Fratzweiner, something like that. Boy judge or girl judge? Can’t remember if a vote was cast or not.

But these are fraught times, with America facing an ongoing coup from the far right. And as has happened before in history, the haters of democracy and freedom are trying to use those very foundations of society in order to rid themselves of democracy and freedom. So voters were confronted with religious zealots who want to ban abortion, books, and even science. They had to choose between little Trump clones and never-Trumpers. There were even candidates who openly stated that the voters should have no role on the candidates or issues upon which they were running for votes.

Despite hundreds of millions of dollars from right wing propaganda pits (aka the National Associations of Zealots and Ideologues) and thousands of air-time hours spend by the Lord Haw-Haws and Tokyo Roses from the far right, and the threats, open and implied, from Trump and the MAGAts, the voters slapped down the far right resoundingly.

In Ohio, voters amended the state constitution to ensure the right to safe and legal abortions by a whopping half-million votes, 56.6% to 43.4%. Only a long-overdue measure to legalize cannabis for personal use was more popular (it got 57% of the vote). In Kentucky, the Democratic governor Andy Bashear, who was elected by a 5,000 vote margin in 2019, walloped his opponent, Daniel Cameron, by 67,000 votes. Cameron pretended to be a “moderate” on abortion, offering a horrible ‘split the baby’ compromise of banning abortion after 15 weeks. Worse, he tried to be a McConnell corporate fascist AND a Trump neo-Nazi at the same time, which only exacerbated the rift between Republicans who want to destroy the United States and Republicans who merely want to own it.

Even infamous Shasta County followed the trend. I was a bit surprised they had results, given they were insisting on hand-counting votes at last word (the state had ordered them to use the machines, which may be the totals reported unofficially). But then, only 6,000 votes were cast. In any event, Casey Bowden, a moderate who said he’s focused on giving teachers confidence to do their jobs, handily beat Camille King a “parental rights” advocate by a 58-42 margin.

In Kentucky, Democrats not only maintained control of the Senate, but took back the House.

Two states bucking the tide were Mississippi, where being related to Elvis Presley wasn’t enough (Republican Tate Reeves beat the Tupelo Honey 51-47) and Maine, which resoundingly rejected creation of a public-owned electric utility.

But mostly it was rejection of authoritarians and Republicans in general across the board. Moms for Liberty, the anti-trans book-banning hate group had been an ascendant force in 2022, and now found themselves on the losing end in over 60% of the school board races they participated in. Quite a few of the losers were running as incumbents.

Republican reaction was about what you might expect. Trump blamed McConnell in particular and RINOs in general, even though Trump-backed and Trump-supporting candidates performed even more dismally than the “mainstream” Republican candidates. MAGAts claimed the GOP was too moderate and needed to bear down on electing Trump, eliminating separation of church and state, banning abortion AND birth control, and imprisoning criminals, including refugees, Palestinians, and members of the FBI or IRS. One GOP candidate in NY who lost by a 70-20 margin howled that all Jews should leave New York City immediately because the Nazis had won. Mental health may have been an issue there.

The New York Times trying to game the elections with an amazingly fortuitous Siena polls just days before the election that claimed Trump was leading Biden in six key states, all of which Biden had won in 2020. Siena is a privately owned college (by the Franciscans) and I was unable to find their methodology beyond a claim that 600 where interviewed in each state, and a bland assurance that it was evenly spread to reflect the population at large, neither of which inspire much confidence in the accuracy of the poll.

But boy, I bet it sold newspapers and got lots of visits to the NYT website! Long time readers will recall that the Times flat out lied about the results of a in-depth survey of the vote count in Florida in 2000, and of course cheer-led and lied about the run-up to war with Iraq a couple of years later. An “independent” poll showing spectacular if problematic results gives them hits and plausible deniability, all at once. Win-win!

But it seems the voters weren’t interested in such efforts to pump up Trump and the GOP, and resoundingly rejected both.

Netanyahu versus Hamas — Terrorists and Tyrants versus the world

Netanyahu versus Hamas

Terrorists and Tyrants versus the world

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 4th, 2023

I was one of the first voices expressing concern for the welfare of the civilians in Gaza in the face of a reaction by Benjamin Netanyahu that I knew, based on the man’s record, would be vicious and murderous and disproportionate, yes, even disproportionate to the hideous crimes Hamas committed.

We’ve been to this rodeo before, of course. After the attacks on the Twin Towers which killed some three thousand innocent people, America overreacted with two wars against countries that played no role in the 9/11 attacks, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people and setting America back, politically and diplomatically, by decades.

Mind you, America wasn’t ruled by a vicious authoritarian tyrant. It was run by a soulless and opportunistic capitalist, Dick Cheney, and his feckless puppet president, George W. Bush.

They had some of the same motives for their response that Netanyahu has now. They wanted to show they were responding in order to deflect from misjudgments and incompetence that a) gave rise to a determined foe intent on asymmetric warfare and b) provided an opportunity for said foes to attack. They, like Netanyahu, wanted to ride a huge wave of rage and revulsion against the attacks. They might have shared that wave of outrage, but mostly they needed to spackle over their unpopular and corrupt regimes.

But where the two governments parted was that where Cheney and Bush were sniffing after money and economic power, Netanyahu is motivated by hatred and a willingness to use fear to punish his enemies and frighten the rest into submission. He is cut from the same mold as every tyrant in history, like Orbán or Jong-Il or Stalin or—yes—Hitler. I got my measure of the man 30 years ago, when he went out of his way to desecrate a Mosque as a part of this campaign. He views Palestinians – and it’s safe to say all Moslems – exactly the way Hitler viewed Jews; both as objects of personal hate, and as scapegoats to try to ride public hatred to power, a tidal wave of vomit and vile.

So the immediacy of his response is no surprise. Given his way, he would cheerfully slaughter every Palestinian on the face of the Earth. And he’s doing it in the name of a nation founded on the premise that monsters like him must never again be allowed to wreak havoc on entire populations out of hatred.

Which brings us to a second great branching. Most Israelis, in overwhelming numbers, have NOT forgotten the lessons of history. They see what Netanyahu is doing and are appalled. When 9/11 happened, Bush’s popularity ratings went from 35% approval to the mid 90s literally overnight. Netanyahu’s approval ratings were around 35% and have actually DROPPED since the attack on Gaza began.

Hamas are terrorists and must be stopped. Netanyahu is a tyrant, and he, too, must be stopped. In a just world, he and his main supporters would be locked up for life in a cell with the leaders of Hamas. Let them sort it out for themselves.

The people of Gaza are not responsible for the actions of Hamas, just as the people of Israel are not responsible for Netanyahu. Yes, both were elected, both by a relatively small percentage of the population. Are you responsible for Trump? Two-thirds of Americans despise the man, don’t want him anywhere near power ever again. If he were to reobtain power, his death toll would easily exceed Netanyahu’s, since he is a vengeful, petty, vicious little man who has far more enemies and needs far more scapegoats than does Netanyahu. Nonetheless, there’s a very real risk he could end up in the Oval Office again. Are you responsible? Would it be right to bomb you or launch terrorist attacks against you because you have a despicable leader?

The conflict has given rise to all sorts of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Both, I note, are phrases so common I didn’t need to teach them to my spell checker, and isn’t that a depressing indication of human fallibility? We all heard about the insane bastard that killed the six year old boy here in the States for “being Palestinian,” but the grim reality is that all people who look Semitic or even dress differently are at risk from people filled with ersatz moral rage over the conflict. Swastikas are getting painted on Synagogues and other places associated with Jews. Anyone with brown skin and a beard is at risk, or any woman with a head coverings. (It was only three generations ago that most London women wore scarves over their heads when they went out. Would they dare do so in today’s “free” America?) Sikhs are being targeted, even though they are neither Jewish or Islamic. But they look different. That’s enough for the “Haters against Hate” crowd.

I don’t know many Jews who support what Netanyahu is doing (and their numbers are dwindling) and I don’t know any Moslems who support Hamas. The vast majority are simply appalled at the killing and want it to stop—just like most of the rest of us.

Only a fool or a hater supports Netanyahu or Hamas. If you want to spray paint swastikas on images of Netanyahu, or send Hamas messages that they are najis and a disgrace in the eyes of Allah, go right ahead. It isn’t very nice, but at least you aren’t attacking innocents.

But what’s happening in Gaza isn’t a Jewish thing. It isn’t an Islamic thing. It isn’t an Israeli thing, not really. And it isn’t a Palestinian thing.

The people of Gaza, and the people of Israel, and their respective faiths are just innocents caught in the grindstone between terrorists and tyrants.

Too many innocents—on both sides and on all sides—have died already.

Dominion Over Us — By your nose you be known

Bryan Zepp Jamieson
October 28th 2023

Mike Johnson is our new speaker, 51, a Dominionist, a MAGAt, and an insurrectionist supporter. In short, nobody who should be within a thousand miles of American power.
I wasn’t going to waste an essay on him for the simple reason that just about every person in this country who loves the Constitution is loudly warning everyone just what a danger this person is to our rights and freedoms.
But then I came across this quote from Johnson: “This is not about the people themselves. I am a Bible-believing Christian. Someone asked me today in the media, they said, ‘… People are curious. What does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?’ I said, well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it – that’s my worldview. That’s what I believe and so I make no apologies for it.”
Well, OK, then. Game on.
Citing weird biblical beliefs is nothing new, of course. Nor is citing the hypocrisy of most bible pounders. The very first episode of West Wing had President Bartlett give a wonderful example of this when pressed to embrace biblical values for America by a pushy fundie.
But it’s always worth selecting a few choice things the bible mandates people believe that aren’t exactly congruent with 21st century American values. So here’s a list of things that Mike Johnson apparently professes to believe.
A man can force his wife to get an abortion if he believes she has been unfaithful. Numbers 5:11-31.
It’s even worse if a man is unfaithful to his wife: If a man cheateth on his wife, or vice versa, both the man and the woman must die. Leviticus 20:10. Helluva note: the poor wife gets smote, too. Or is it “the other woman.” Who dies? Melania or Stormy? I wonder if Johnson wants to form a wife-smiting committee or just make it part of Health and Human Resources.
Churches can eliminate those handicap parking spots. People who have flat noses, or are blind or lame, cannot go to an altar of God. Leviticus 21:17-18. I’m sure that one mega-church pastor who has been whinging about handicap access can help Congress on that one. Have a law where if the tip of the nose fails to protrude more than 1.5 inches from the back of the nostrils, ain’t no praying allowed for that freak of nature! God is pleased by lordly beaks. I think Johnson may be in trouble himself over that one.
Another one that Johnson might find awkward is Leviticus 19:27: Don’t cut your hair nor shave.
The bible says If you find out a city worships a different god, destroy the city and kill all of its inhabitants, even the animals. Deuteronomy 13:12-16. OK, I can see killing all the cats, especially the black ones. Christianity has a long and storied history of killing cats, tossing them off towers and whatnot. That makes perfect sense. But the dogs, too?
Pagan cities don’t do well when it’s the Israelites smiting them. The bible suggests ripping infants from their mothers’ wombs and dashing their brains out against rocks. Hosea 13-16. Even though it calls fetuses “infants,” the anti-abortion crowd don’t like to cite that one. I think we can guess what Johnson thinks Israel should do to Gaza. And their little dogs, too!
The blob squad like to run around claiming that ‘libruls’ want to abort babies after they’re born.
Anyone who actually believes that has to be a little bit psychotic, but Johnson may have to make that a new law, it seems. “If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, 28 then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. 29 You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.” Leviticus 26:27-30. That one should produce some interesting debate in Congress. Do you have to eat ALL your sons and daughters, or just one per transgression? And is there a cut-off age where you don’t have to eat them, but simply be stoned to death instead? Do kids with flat noses count?
Women should be generally submissive and should be quiet, never teach or hold any authority over men. They should just be silent. 1 Timothy 2:12. OK, I’m looking at Marjorie Taylor-Greene and Lauren Boebert, and I’m thinking Johnson could make good use of this. I wonder if his first act will be to remove all female members of Congress and the Vice President?
While the bible does demand that all non-believers be put to death, there is a loophole. If you are lucky enough to have hemorrhoids and rats, get them bronzed and send them on in as an offering. Or as the bible says, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and give glory to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land.” 1 Samuel 6:4-5. I wonder if those are tax deductible. Mike? You’re the God Squad guy. Whaddaya say?
The NRA isn’t going to be happy with Mike’s godlaw. According to Exodus 22, you can only use lethal force to defend your home at night. Now, how can you have a happy and stable society if paranoid whacks with weapons of war can’t blast away at any stray noise they hear outside their front door at 11am? Crime never sleeps, you know!
So: this is the zealot creature who is now two bullets from the Oval Office.
Sleep tight.



Meltdown — Making our brains run in slime


Making our brains run in slime

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

October 24th 2023

Some cheeky sort named “Anotherdumblib” posted this on Truth Social today: “First the Kraken, then the Cheeseball, and now Tell Us Ellis. $5,000 fine, five years probation, gotta write a letter of apology, and some community service. Fani Willis has to be pretty happy right now.” That should push Donnie’s diastolic into the triple digits.

He hasn’t been doing well lately. The other day, he confused Turkey and Hungary. Granted, he’s getting on, and the nurse probably forgot to give him his Ensure before he went on stage and started babbling. He KNOWS Turkey is in Argentina and Hungary is a Canadian province. He was just feeling peckish, is all.

But his mind is still ticking like one of those boxes where you turn the crank and a clown pops out. He was, according to himself, the first to ever notice that the abbreviation for the United States and the pronoun “us” were spelled exactly the same! Ha! Top THAT, Neil Degrasse-Tyson!

That Jenna Ellis became the third of Trump’s lawyers to cop a plea in the Georgia election tampering case and, like Powell and Cheseboro, got slaps on the wrist, bodes very poorly for our Donnie. Those three, among them, pretty much know where ALL the bodies are buried.

I doubt Trump is going to be the Republican candidate next year. In fact, I’m not sure that party will even HAVE a candidate. Or rather, several versions of the party, all calling themselves “The REAL Republican Party” will have candidates. I mean, look at the House. These are the same pack of clowns who have to figure out who their presidential candidate should be—and the main guy is now very clearly going down in flames. One of the candidates—probably a pro-Israel holocaust-denying civil libertarian who wants Jesus to run the country and birth control outlawed—might win pluralities in some place like Oklahoma or Idaho, but essentially, Biden will run unopposed. Not that I think Biden hasn’t earned a second term, but one-party rule is a bad thing, even if it’s the party with the grown-ups.

The Republicans who aren’t convulsing in the House are planning another unwatched shouty match. NBC, who really should know better, will be carrying it. I don’t plan to watch, but the expressions on Rachel Maddow’s face afterward should be entertaining as hell. Imagine the look on King Charles’ face if you walked up to him and offered to slip a live trout down his pants. Yeah. That expression. Rachel is sane and intelligent. Sane and intelligent people shouldn’t have to deal with Republican candidates. In fairness, the king of England shouldn’t have to deal with people like me, who suggest accosting the royal personage with fish.

The debate is going to be streamed exclusively by Rumble, a place that brags that it is home to people too disgusting and bent for any of the other streaming services. Lots of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and conspiracy theories. One of the sponsors of the debate is an outfit called “The Republican Jewish Coalition” which apparently is fine with a venue that is holocaust-denying (except for the ones who are pro-holocaust) and Hitler-praising. Yeah, that seems like an apt site for the GOP to engage in Jewish outreach.

Between Russia’s inept invasion of Ukraine, and the vicious attack by Hamas on Israel followed by the even more vicious Netanyahu retaliation, the world is teetering on the brink of a possible global war. But Vivek Ramaswamy thinks this is a good time for the US to pull out of NATO, and maybe the UN, as well. Because, like the GOP in the late 1930s, this iteration also believes the best way to deal with those foreign dictators they admire so much (they make the trains run on thyme, you know, very aromatic) is to embrace isolationism. Vivek isn’t the only Republican who feels that way, of course. Most of the ones getting their strings pulled by the rapidly-dwindling Trump profess the same nonsense.

Putin is continuing his not-so-subtle sabre-rattling, and is now threatening to pull out of the 1963 test ban treaty. But Donnie and his crowd still worship Putin. He makes the trains run in rhyme, you know, very poetic.

Meanwhile, there’s this: Dr Christopher Wolf, at Oregon State University (OSU) in the US and a lead author of the report, [told the Guardian]: “Without actions that address the root problem of humanity taking more from Earth than it can safely give, we’re on our way to the potential collapse of natural and socioeconomic systems and a world with unbearable heat and shortages of food and freshwater.

“By 2100, as many as 3 billion to 6 billion people may find themselves outside Earth’s livable regions, meaning they will be encountering severe heat, limited food availability and elevated mortality rates.”

We won’t need to wait until 2100. Our current “Super El Nino” is building, and this winter should see weather that will displace millions of people and kill thousands. Meanwhile, south of the equator, this summer should be a real horror show. About the only thing in Australia not at risk of burning is Ayer’s Rock (now called Uluru, but since Australians voted last week to not give Aboriginals full citizenship, perhaps they’ll show the same grace and charm of our Republicans and change the name back to the British appellation.)

Grim times, yes. You a gotta laugh, right? It’s that, or walk into a jet intake.

Hm. I wonder if we can convince Donnie to wear a longer tie when he’s around Trump Farce One. Or would that suggestion just get me a visit from the Secret Service?

At the End of the Long Dash — The time will be past

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

October 13th, 2023

“At the beginning of the long dash the time will be exactly…”

For the vast majority of Canadians alive or dead (a few of this group were born before Canada became a country) the daily signal at 1pm Ottawa (ET) from CBC notifying listeners of the exact time was a small but significant part of our lives. Known officially as the National Research Council official time signal, the Dominion Observatory where the signal originated was less than a mile east of me. My Dad used to joke that meant the time signal was actually a couple of seconds fast, local time. I used to go by it about once a week when I rode the bus downtown.

It was a small part of my life. When I moved to the States, I have no conscious memory of missing it. Perhaps I was bedazzled by the fact there were THREE nearby radio stations that played nothing but top 40 twenty-four hours a day (14 hours when you subtract ads), or that in LA, they had NINE television stations, all different and all in English.

But many years later, the internet arrived, and I learned I could stream the CBC. Decades made life in my old home town seem pretty alien in a lot of ways. My years in southern California didn’t prepare me for a radio announcer cheerfully telling his listeners, “It’s a beautiful sunny day with a forecast high of twenty below, so come on down and enjoy the show!” Usually I would just catch the news, especially since news on American radio had all but vanished, replaced by shouty fascists and bible bangers.

But along about 1994 or so, I discovered Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe. A variety hour, it featured original music and featured major Canadian artists, and a series of monologues by McLean about “Dave and Morley” a fictional Toronto family whose touching and often hilarious exploits made for some twenty or thirty minutes of pure radio magic.

The only American equivalent was Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” but where Keillor’s show was affectedly and somewhat stereotypically rural (not that Ottawa lacked for Norwegian Bachelor Farmers or the Fargo accents) Vinyl Cafe was contemporaneous. It was unaffectedly genuine. A strange line like “At night, there are rabbits” could be spellbinding in McLean’s voice. Sadly, he died in 2017.

Being an early riser, I started tuning in on the Halifax CBC stream, which was four hours ahead. The noon show was at 8am, Pacific Time. I discovered that what followed Vinyl Cafe was another good hour—sometimes “Madly Off In All Directions” and sometimes some really good jazz. But there was something after that…

At 2pm, Haligonian time, 10 am my time, I heard “At the beginning of the long dash the time will be exactly 1pm, Eastern Standard (or Daylight) Time.”

The first time I heard it, I just grinned from ear to ear as memories came flooding back. So simple, such a small thing, and yet such a significant daily milestone. They were still doing it, I marvelled.

The only way I can explain it is if on the morning commute to work you’ve driven for years, you pass a fast food joint with some big, ugly, colorful statue of a clown or a grotesque kid or something like that. You may never eat there, or even want to eat there. But then, one morning, you drive by, and you see the statue has been torn down. Even though it was stupid and ugly, you find you miss the goddam thing. And of course, if it had any sort of milestone status in your life, you used to meet with friends in high school there, or it happens to be the exact halfway mark on the commute home from work…well.

The time tone played a vital role in people’s everyday lives from 1939 up until the end of the century, when technology made it obsolete. I certainly don’t need to stream CBC to know the time: my computer checks in daily to make sure it’s accurate, and my little weather station next to me has a link to the atomic clock in Colorado.

It got me thinking (and not for the first time) about the role the CBC plays in Canadian life, and the outsize role it plays in demarcating the difference between Canadian and US life. Both countries have very similar cultures (most foreigners can’t tell a Canadian apart from an American), and both have daunting social, cultural and political divides. Canada has the French/English thing, East vs. West, rural vs. urban, highly regionalized economic structures, and an even larger element proportionally of indigenous and immigrant populations.

So why isn’t it the howling mess the US is today? At least one American figured it out. A lot of people think Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” is an anti-gun movie. It isn’t. Moore, then an NRA member himself, went to Toronto and was surprised to learn that gun ownership in Canada is, if anything, higher than in the United States. And while violent crime is much lower, places like Toronto have similar levels of property crime. Yet in Toronto, people didn’t shy away from others that were ‘different’ in some way (and over 100 languages are spoken in Toronto!) or even lock their doors at night. Robin Williams once famously observed that being Canadian was like living in a really nice apartment over a meth lab.

The difference, Moore realized (and he was right) was that the news in Canada, principally through the CBC, was sedate, factual, and non-exploitative. Unlike almost all media in America, the news doesn’t jack up people’s fears and send them careening from one moral panic to the next in hopes of attracting viewers, and thus ratings.

The CBC, like the BBC in the UK, is a private not-for-profit corporation that is subsidized through tax dollars. It isn’t “owned by the government” or any part of it. The government has little or no say in how the funding is used. And since the CBC doesn’t have to worry about ratings, it doesn’t amp up the fear and controversy angles, scaring the piss out of their viewers.

US television used to be like that. The government mandated no ads during the half-hour news broadcasts in the evenings, making them free of the ratings chase. Further, there was the Fairness Doctrine, which stipulated if they opined, they had to provide equal space for responsible opposing viewpoints. It worked beautifully, but the corporations and their puppets in the Republican Party smashed all that.

It can be summed up very simply: when the news is put on a for-profit basis, it stops being journalism. When it’s put on a ideological for-profit basis, then it is nothing but propaganda. Do you really think the shouty boys on Faux have your best interests at heart? That they’re doing all that for you?

America has the Public Broadcast System and National Public Radio, but the corporate propagandists have eviscerated them, claiming they are “government funded” and thus not to be trusted, Almost all their financial support comes from private donations, and unfortunately, the same corporate entities that fuel America’s ongoing panic make up the majority of those donations. Yes, they play a hypocritical shell game with our information.

In addition to beefing up NPR and PBS, America badly needs a not-for-profit online news system, a clearing house for news and information, one accountable only to the legal rules and constraints it is founded on. Funding will come from tax dollars, and Congress would have no say whatever in how those funds were allocated for what stories. Look at Congress: do you really want those clowns controlling what you know and know about? They can’t govern themselves, and half of them want to rule you. No, thank you!

It could even have a daily time signal. A small thing, unimportant, perhaps even obsolete. But it’s the little things like that that bind Canadians together. As it did for nearly every Canadian born between about 1849 and 2017, who heard, “At the beginning of the long dash the time will be exactly…”

The Hamas Attack — How? Why Now? How Now?

The Hamas Attack

How? Why Now? How Now?

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

October 10th, 2023

The scenes out of Israel and the occupied area of Gaza are horrific beyond belief. Hamas cold-bloodedly slaughtered hundreds of people who were doing nothing more than enjoying an outdoor concert on a lovely day. They’ve abducted hundreds of innocent people, and killed hundreds more. Some people are calling it “Israel’s 9/11” and that’s not off the mark. It was a despicable, cowardly sneak attack and it will result in the deaths of tens if not hundreds of thousands of people before it’s all over.

Israel’s response is every bit as vicious and inhumane. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant moved to cut off all food, medicine, water and fuel to the Gaza Ghetto (let’s call it what it is; it’s just a bigger version of the Warsaw Ghetto in World War II) which, if sustained for more than a few days, will result in mass deaths. In the meantime, Israel is engaging in “targeted strikes.” This term means dropping huge explosives pretty much at random on urban areas, including schools, hospitals and other centers, killing large numbers of people indiscriminately, and calling the slain “fighters” or better still “terrorists.” If a child is so thoroughly blown apart you can’t even tell what gender it was, you can decide for yourself whether to tell a compliant press if the remains were a terrorist or a fighter. Israel excels at prettying up slaughter; they learned it from the Americans.

There is also the frightening possibility of it becoming a wider war. Hezbollah is acting up along Israel’s northern border, and Iran and possibly Russia are almost certainly planning at least some involvement. The US, while still partially paralyzed by the GOP, is sending planes to Israel to help target strike more terrorist fighters because that’s the main talent of the US.

That something like this would happen eventually was a given. Israel has turned Gaza into an open air prison, a ghetto, no different from the scenes in Poland in World War II. You can’t hold populations like that forever. Despite that authoritarians fondly imagine, people aren’t willing to give up, lie down and die so they won’t be inconvenient. Bomb them? Ask any Londoner about how well bombing works. They surrendered straightaway to that Hitler fellow, didn’t they? Only bloodthirsty bastards talk about “targeted strikes” in urban areas and only dumb bastards believe them.

It’s a pity the UN or the Hague don’t have any real teeth. The leaders both of Hamas and Israel should be arrested, tried as war criminals and for crimes against humanity, and locked up for life—preferably sharing cells together.

There are no heroes in this: only victims. If you cheer for either side in this there’s something deeply wrong with you as a human being.

How did it happen the way it did, and why now? Part of it, of course was that it was the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war, and the day in question was a holiday, Sukkot, which is kind of a Jewish Thanksgiving. It’s normally a festive, happy day.

I’m sure that the collapse of the House of Representatives though GOP insanity emboldened Hamas. It was a given that the US would come in on Israel’s side, but only the House can add funding and provide emergency requisitions beyond that already budgeted. And the House cannot formally meet because it doesn’t have a Speaker.

The Republicans, of course, reacted despicably. They tried blaming Biden for the sneak attack. The theory was Biden gave Iran $150 billion so they could fund Hamas. This was based on the agreement the US reached a couple of years ago where in exchange for hostages, the US would unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian assets (not $150 billion, and it was money that already belonged to Iran, not that Republicans bother to make their lies consistent or even sane) – and that money hasn’t been released yet. And some of the nuttier specimens on the far right are yammering about thousands of Hamas terrorists on the Mexican border because…well, Mexicans, Palestinians, who the hell can tell the difference anyway? They’re brown, they’re scary, and they don’t talk English. What else do you need to know?

With Republicans, when they shout accusations, it’s almost always based on something they themselves did, or suspect they might have done. And in the case of the Hamas attack, that might be a doozy.

Thom Hartmann tweeted Saturday: “Hamas apparently knew how to get around Israel’s Iron Dome defenses. They probably learned this from Iran. Iran almost certainly got the information from Russia. And who gave it to Russia? Sure looks like it was Donald Trump, at the request of Putin.”

Hartmann’s piece ( ) contains damning evidence to back up his theory.

It comes just days after the story broke that Trump shared some of America’s deepest nuclear sub secrets with some Australian billionaire who enticed Trump to divulge this information so he could go to his government and perhaps persuade them to buy more American submarines. It’s no secret that Trump was far too cozy with Putin, and a blabbermouth.

One thing Hartmann didn’t mention: along about 2018, Israel let it be known they would no longer be sharing sensitive information with the American government unless there was some immediate urgency because they no longer trusted the President to keep such information secure.

It’s entirely possible that Trump’s mouth and ego made the Hamas sneak attack possible. Hartmann reports that his tweet caused thousand of right wingers to lose their minds in fear and rage.

But it rings true. I believe it. Trump is stupid, megalomaniacal, reckless and disdainful of the US. Putin is calculating, manipulative, and knew that praise and business opportunity promises could cajole Trump into reckless actions. Russia supports Iran, something the right likes to ignore. And Iran supports Hamas. Not the Palestinians—Iran doesn’t give a shit about them. But anything that can hurt Israel is OK by them. I think Hartmann nailed it.

If it comes out in the wash like this, then throw Trump in that same cell with the leaders of Hamas and Israel. They all deserve one another, and the rest of us deserve none of them.

While, let’s all just hope the fighting ends soon, and relief can come to the region. The people there don’t deserve this; just their leaders.