The Hottest Day in History — After a cool, tranquil start

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

July 6th 2024

www.zeppscommentaries.online

There really isn’t anything to suggest today is unusual. It’s 6:30, full light, and it’s 53 with a very slight breeze from the north. Perfect dog-walking weather, or so the dog, ancient but always eager, thinks. There’s a faint scorched smell in the air this July 6th, but it’s not residue from fireworks. They’re banned here, and residents, mindful of the fire situation, were happy to comply.

The faint odor is left over from the day before, until today the hottest day the town has ever recorded. For a few minutes yesterday, late in a bronze afternoon, it ticked 106.1, unheard-of in this mountain town.

It’s cool, it’s fresh, humidity is low. Thunderstorms are not in the offing, and there’s a mercy. Five miles away, the still-large snowfields of Shasta glisten in the morning sun. They look pristine, but weeks of heat have turned them into cornsnow, and the streams and rivers are all very cold white water.

It’s supposed to be 107 today, and experience suggests the forecast is a bit conservative. But the cool nights are a pleasant surprise; forecasts had us getting nights in the mid 60s, hideously hot for us. Nearly everyone in town depends on “mountain air conditioning”–using exhaust fans to suck the warm air out of the homes and replace them with fresh, cool night air. So after a silent mountain night, the house is fresh and cool.

There is birdsong, but this late in the year it’s subdued. A few whipoorwills and cheeseburger birds stake claims already taken, and in the distance a logging truck grunts its way up the hill.

There shouldn’t be a sense of gathering force, but I know better. In a couple of hours the morning sun will feel uncomfortably harsh. Insects will be silent, birds waiting under leafy canopies.

The heat is coming.

I think about the state of the world. Things there, too, have been unnaturally hot, a symptom of an underlying change. In the United States, the fever has been tumultuous. The Supreme Court has utterly abdicated its role as guardian of the constitution and ruled that yes, the president (or at least one particular president) is above the law. There is a historical precedent, even if the order is a bit different.

Then, as now, it won’t end well.

Biden seemed vague and confused during the debate as Trump mindlessly shouted the same prefabricated lies he has been shouting all along. It was painful to watch, but this, too, had a historical precedent, a warning from the past.

There was once a man who ran for high office. He was a criminal and even though he professed great love and patriotism, he led a violent effort to depose the government. He was hoarse, a hateful shouter who knew that you only needed to keep your lies simple and repeat them, over and over. He “uncovered” groups who were different, and could be scapegoated, and he could lie viciously about them. He worked up a social frenzy and convinced followers that they need only punish these groups and remove them from society and everything would then be fine.

After his conviction, he ran for office again. He was an absurd figure, short, dumpy, and not particularly bright. But he convinced his followers he was like unto a god, and there were hundreds of images of him, tall, muscular, chiseled, a stern, steely-eyed leader whose very presence challenged the sun itself. He, and only he, could restore lost greatness and respect to his land, and he could solve all problems. Sane people saw him as a bad joke, but his followers worshiped him. If he told them white was black, then by gawd white was black, although some moderates would argue it was a dark gray.

He didn’t win his election, getting only 32% of the vote, a plurality. But he came close enough that he could steal the rest, and all that lay in his path was one old man, a colossal figure in recent history, still a hero to many, but old, so very old.

The man bullied him mercilessly as his followers swarmed through the streets, beating political opponents and savaging members of the groups the man has scapegoated. The old hero gave in, and gave the man the role of leader.

Here’s where the order was changed. The man took power first, and then had the laws changed so that any “official act” he committed was legal. Once that took place, it was over. No more elections, and freedoms vanished in a growing morass of horror and lawlessness.

The Enabling Acts gave Hitler all the power he wanted and more, and yet they were nothing more than a change in the law that said any of his official acts were protected and he could not be punished for them.

The old hero he wore into submission was Paul von Hindenberg, a truly old man who died just a couple of years later. He wasn’t alone: before Hitler was done, some 45 million other people died.

The order has changed this time. The Supreme Court has passed its version of the Enabling Acts already, but Trump has yet to come close enough to seize power. Between him and that is an old man. Not as old as von Hindenberg was in 1932, and not nearly as feeble. But Trump and his brown shirts are working feverishly to cast him in that role, hoping, as always, that they can manufacture truth from lies.

Even the politicians and journalists who are shouting for Biden to drop his opposition to the new Leader haven’t paused to wonder why they aren’t shouting for Trump to step down. After all, the man is a criminal, a liar, a thief, a moral and ethical wastrel, and his only redeeming qualities are his incompetence and his short life expectancy. How does an evening of confusion in the face of shouted lies stack up against that?

We know what Trump and his followers want. Like Hitler, they make no secret of it, appealing to the same vile, vicious cretins that lie in the underbelly of any society. They betray in the name of patriotism, defile in the name of their god, and want simple answers to questions that don’t have answers.

But unlike the weather, this is reversible. Trump and his Nazis can be stopped.

It’s starting to warm up out there. The air is cool, but the sun is not fooled. It will put us to the test this day.

The morning chores are done, the garden is watered, pets are seen to, careful provisions for shade and water made. The house is cool, and even if we lose electricity, we should be comfortable and safe.

I know my history. I know what to expect, how to prepare.

How about you?

The Debate — Biden’s night off obscures Trump’s maliciousness

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

June 28th 2024

www.zeppscommentaries.com

It’s one thing to say that Biden performed extremely poorly during the debate, and he did, looking and sounding like an 82 year old man pushed beyond his limits. Democrats are asking hard questions about the viability of the Biden campaign, and there are suggestions he stand down, either as a candidate (leading to an open convention) or even as President, in which case Kamala Harris would be president, and in all likelihood, the candidate for office this year. I’m not going to even try to guess how this is going to unfold.

But the most important element of the debate was that Trump, as always, is a sociopathic, remorseless, malign, criminal liar. The Biden campaign listed 50 lies Trump told in just the 40 minutes in which he could speak. Yes, more than a lie a minute, and at that, he repeated many of them. But the campaign didn’t say what made them lies. So let me give it a go:

  1. We had the greatest economy in the history of our country. We have never done so well, and everybody was amazed by it.”

Mark that a partial lie. Trump had the greatest economy TO 2019, in terms of sheer size. But if you draw a straight line from the start of Trump’s term to today, leveling out the pandemic, then the economy has actually outperformed Trump’s, more than making up for the pandemic dislocations.

  1. The only jobs he created are for illegal immigrants and bounce-back jobs, they’re bounced back from the COVID.”

Eight million jobs were lost in the early stages of the pandemic. But since taking office, Biden has seen a job increase of over 16 million jobs, which is eight million jobs net in just over three years. That’s the biggest increase in American history. The “illegal immigrants” crack is just more Trump hate mongering.

  1. [10% universal tariff proposal is] not going to drive [prices] higher.”

Of course it will. The exporters in other countries aren’t running charities; they cover their increased costs by raising prices. A typical kindergartener could figure that one out.

  1. [Tariff proposal is] just going to just force [other countries] to pay us a lot of money.”

See number 3. There is no “just” about it. Also, the best estimate for tariff revenues is about $400 billion, and that’s assuming countries don’t redirect trade to less protectionist countries.

  1. I gave you the largest tax cut in history.”

He gave the top 1% the largest tax cut in history. It did nothing for working people, let alone the poor, and added 40% to the national debt.

  1. I was getting out of Afghanistan, but we’re getting out with dignity, with strength, with power.”

Initially, he wanted to get out of Afghanistan two weeks after he made the snap decision. A horrified Pentagon persuaded him to make the pull out date March of 2021. He then released 15,000 Taliban prisoners, and ordered the Pentagon to slow-walk the pullout process, deliberately leaving Biden with an unsolvable mess in his first six weeks in office. Trump is probably just sorry that more American “losers and suckers” weren’t killed by the mess he deliberately made.

  1. The tax cuts spurred the greatest economy that we’ve ever seen.”

In a word, no. “Trickle down” has never spurred the economy, and it didn’t this time.

 

  1. Now, when we cut the taxes…we took in more revenue with much less tax.”

In 2017, revenues were $3.32T. In 2020, they were $3.42T. That’s far less than inflation, or national economic growth—in other words, a loss.

  1. We had largely fixed [COVID].”

…He said, while trying to blame Biden for all the deaths after he left office. He did fast-track the vaccine program, the one thing he got right. But he bollixed everything else pertaining to the pandemic.

  1. Throughout the entire world, we’re no longer respected as a country. They don’t respect our leadership. They don’t respect the United States anymore. We’re like a third world nation.”

Biden’s leadership ratings world wide, according to Pew, are slightly underwater, 41-46. But Trump’s were a catastrophic 28-69 underwater. Nearly everyone hated and mistrusted Trump, and with good reason.

  1. He allowed millions of people to come in here from prisons, jails, and mental institutions to come into our country and destroy our country.”

Another hate-mongering lie. There is no evidence to support this. But Hitler would be proud.

  1. He’s destroying Medicare because all of these people are coming in.”

Medicare is doing just fine despite Republican efforts to destroy it. And while undocumented immigrants can get emergency medical care in some circumstances, for the most part they aren’t covered. Even though they contribute nearly $2T/year to the national economy.

  1. The Supreme Court just approved the abortion pill.”

No, they just deferred action on it. It’s a catastrophe politically for the Republicans, since the vast majority of American aren’t women-hating religious freaks.

  1. Every legal scholar throughout the world, the most respected, wanted [abortion] brought back to the states.”

Quite aside from being patently false, you would have to wonder why these foreign scholars would even give a fuck in the first place. It’s not like they have to live here.

  1. They’re radical because they will take the life of a child in the eighth month, the ninth month, and even after birth. After birth, if you look at the former governor of Virginia, he was willing to do this. He said, we’ll put the baby aside, I will determine what we do with the baby, meaning will kill the baby.”

An absolute and utter lie, told by and believed by women-hating psychotics. The alleged quote is an utter fabrication.

  1. Under Roe v. Wade, you have late term abortion. You can do whatever you want depending on the state. You can do whatever you want.”

The text of Roe v. Wade is online and easily available. It divides pregnancy into three “trimesters” and has increasing amounts of restrictions for each trimester. Abortion was never available after the sixth month “on demand.” It’s a zealot lie, and of course, it’s a Trump lie.

  1. He decided to open up our border, open up our country to people that are from prisons, people that are from mental institutions, insane asylum, terrorists.”

AKA “the Republican base.” Another Trump hate mongering lie. You have to be a pretty vile human being to believe it.

  1. He didn’t need legislation because I didn’t have legislation. I said close the border.”

A lie on the face of it. Immigration dropped, but that was the pandemic, and not Trump’s non-existent policy.

  1. [Migrants are] living in luxury hotels in New York City and other places.”

Some were put briefly in hotels when the human-trafficking scum in Florida and Georgia foisted immigrants, some legal, on them.

  1. He doesn’t care about our veterans. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t like the military at all, and he doesn’t care about our veterans.”

The VA budget in 2017 was $177.54 billion. This year, it’s $369.3 billion. Any questions?

  1. I had the highest approval rating for veterans taking care of the VA. He has the worst. He’s gotten rid of all the things that I approved.”

According to Business Insider, “Younger veterans prefer Biden, with 51% of veterans ages 35-54 backing Biden over Trump. Among veterans under the age of 35, 46% said they preferred Biden while 42% supported Trump.”

  1. First of all, that was a made-up quote, ‘suckers and losers.’ They made it up.”

No, they didn’t. His own JCOS reported he said it.

  1. Our veterans and our soldiers can’t stand this guy. They can’t stand him. They think he’s the worst Commander in Chief, if that’s what you call him, that we’ve ever had.”

I think it’s very unlikely Trump has spoken to any soldiers since leaving office. He didn’t have any respect for them while he was in office, after all.

  1. He did nothing to stop [Russia’s invasion of Ukraine]. In fact, I think he encouraged Russia from going in.”What was he supposed to do? Nuke Moscow? More Trump drivel, wholly invented.
  2. Iran was broke with me. I wouldn’t let anybody do business with them. They ran out of money. They were broke.”

He also destroyed the nuclear agreement we had with Iran and stood by meekly while Iran bombed American facilities in Iraq, injuring dozens of American troops. He even held up issuing purple heart medals because he didn’t want the public to know the damage his policies caused to US troops.

  1. You had no terror at all during my administration.”

You mean besides January 6th? Well, see answer 25, immediately above. It’s still terror if your own little Nazi shitbags commit it.

  1. Nancy Pelosi, if you just watched the news from two days ago, on tape to her daughter, who’s a documentary filmmaker they say, but she’s saying, ‘Oh, no, it’s my responsibility. I was responsible for this’ because I offered them 10,000 soldiers or National Guard. And she turned them down.”

Demonstrably false from the documentary itself, which shows Pelosi frantically asking the White House and other available authorities for National Guard protection while Trump watched TV and chortled.

  1. The unselect committee, which is basically two horrible Republicans that are all gone now, out of office, and Democrats, all Democrats, they destroyed and deleted all the information they found because they found out we were right. We were right. And they deleted and destroyed all of the information.”Republicans deleted and destroyed the information they could get their hands on. But the public records were all preserved, and it’s believed that some Democrats stashed the rest for historical purposes.
  2. Telling the Ukrainian people that we’re going to want a billion dollars or you change the prosecutor, otherwise you’re not getting a billion dollars. If I ever said that, that’s quid pro quo.” He did say that, during that ‘perfect phone call’ and was impeached for it, by the highest margin in history. Only the 2/3rds majority law in the Senate saved his ass.
  3. I didn’t have sex with a porn star.” Granted, she didn’t consider it much in the way of sex, but yeah, you banged Stormy Daniels and then falsified business records to cover it up. That’s why you’re a felon.
  4. He basically went after his political opponent because he thought it was going to damage me.” No need. Trump does plenty of damage to himself. That’s why he’s lost so many court cases in so many ways, including 34 felonies.
  5. He made up the Charlottesville story.” The Charlottesville event we all saw on our televisions?
  6. He caused the inflation and it’s killing Black families and Hispanic families.” Inflation was a bounce-back from the pandemic, fueled by corporate greed. At that, it was lower than in any other developed nation on Earth. Biden didn’t cause it.
  7. They can’t buy groceries anymore, they can’t, you look at the cost of food where it’s doubled and tripled and quadrupled. They can’t live, they’re not living anymore.” Groceries across the board went up 25-30%. Painful, yes, but again, not Biden’s fault.
  8. [European countries] don’t want anything that we have.” Trump clearly thinks America produces nothing but worthless shit. Looking at Trump, I could see where some people might see it that way. But they don’t. America is still the world’s top exporter.
  9. Almost every police group in the nation from every state is supporting Donald J. Trump. Almost every police group.” So far, most haven’t. Nor are they likely to support a felon who fostered a violent rebellion that got cops disabled and even killed.
  10. And what he’s done to the black population is horrible, including the fact that for ten years he called them super-predators.” Biden did that, and supported Slappy for the Supreme Court, and other bad mistakes. But tell me, Donald: did he ever buy ads in the New York Times demanding that five kids be executed, even after they were exonerated of the crime they had been accused of?
  11. And yet during my four years, I had the best environmental numbers ever.”Trump deliberately slow walked enforcement of nearly all environmental regulations. Granted, his numbers were the best from the viewpoint of major corporate polluters.
  12. The Paris accord was going to cost us $1 trillion and China nothing and Russia, nothing, and India nothing. It was a rip off of the United States and I ended it because I didn’t want to waste that money because they treated us horribly…. Nobody else was paying into it and it was, it was a disaster.” The one trillion is made up, and China got a grace period to implement required changes. Russia wasn’t involved.
  13. I’m the one that got the insulin down for the seniors. I took care of the seniors.” He reduced it, one time, to $200. Virtually no help at all to anyone. Biden got an ongoing monthly cap of $35, saving thousands of lives.
  14. On migrants: “They’re taking over our schools our hospitals, and they’re going to be taking over our schools or hospitals, and they’re going to be taking over Social Security.” More hate mongering from fascist filth. He is vicious trash, appealing to vicious trash.
  15. But Social Security – he’s destroying it because millions of people are pouring into our country and they are putting them onto Social Security. They’re putting them onto Medicare, Medicaid. They’re putting them in our hospitals.”

Republicans have been predicting doom for Social Security “any time now” since 1935. But undocumented aliens aren’t eligible for Social Security. But then, you knew that, didn’t you.

  1. He wants open borders. He wants our country to either be destroyed, or he wants to pick up those people as voters.”

Hatemongering. Insert the word “Jews” for “immigrants” and you’ll see where he gets it from.

  1. He wants the Trump tax cuts to expire.”

OK, that one is actually true. He does. America isn’t here to serve the superrich.

  1. He wants to raise your taxes by four times. He wants to raise everybody’s taxes by four times.”

If he means quadrupling taxes, that’s sort of true for the billionaire class. He wants to raise their tax rate from 6% to 25%. By comparison, the average middle-class family pays about 16%.

  1. We now have the largest [trade] deficit in the history of our country under this guy. We have the largest deficit with China.”

In terms of unadjusted dollars, yes, but in terms of percentage of GDP, not even close. Not even in the top 15 years.

  1. He gets paid by China. He’s a Manchurian candidate. He gets money from China. So I think he’s afraid to deal with them.”Trump needs a psych eval, I’m afraid. BTW, which candidate has hundreds of millions in business dealings with China again?
  2. We had two cases, we paid $6 billion for five people.”Does anybody know what the hell he’s talking about?
  3. They talk about a relatively small number of people that went to the Capitol, and in many cases were ushered in by the police.” There are a couple of instances of capital cops just letting the insurgents in, and I believe they are now gone. But we’ve all seen the images. Trump is lying, again.
  4. I would have much rather accepted these [election results in 2020], but the fraud and everything else was ridiculous.”And yet in 61 cases alleging fraud, courts tossed 60 of them, one third being decided by Trump appointed judges. And Faux news lost $757 billion in damages from repeated and promoting Trump’s lies.

So there are actually 47 demonstrable lies there, two that were somewhat true, and one too incoherent to tell.

No, Biden didn’t do well. And Democrats are going to have to waste no time sorting that out. But Trump was, and is, a malicious, vicious, remorseless and relentless liar, and if he gets back in, he will destroy America and take most of us with it.

If the Dems have to replace Biden, they will do so. But Trump is far worse, and the Republicans lack any character or courage. We’re stuck with him as a candidate, and there’s no circumstance where he’s better than Biden.

 

Exodus — The great exit that wasn’t

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

June21st, 2024

www.zeppscommentaries.com

Just about everyone likes Cecil B. DeMille’s second attempt at a movie about the exodus, the one with Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston. The special effects for the time were amazing, and Brynner and Heston had tons of fun chewing the scenery. It’s a great movie, and belongs in the same category as Lord of the Rings or Princess Bride.

If you protest that those two were action/fantasy fictional movies, then yes, they are. So is The Ten Commandments. Yes, there was (and is) a nation of Egypt. And yes, there was a pharaoh named Ramses II, considered the greatest of the pharaohs, During his 66 year reign, he changed the face of the Egyptian empire with many great and heroic constructions.

Sixty six years is a helluva long time to be a ruler (in recent times, Queen Elizabeth II reigned for 70 years, with modern amenities and medicine, and a fraction of the burdens of rule). During those years, there were doubtless many plagues, just as there have been over similar periods of time throughout Egypt’s 5,000 plus years of history. He had indentured labor for many of his projects, and there were slaves, although the conditions of servitude were much closer to the Roman variation than the American one. Slaves had rights, and often were manumitted and/or granted full citizenship after a set period of servitude.

So the movie got that part right, and thus has a better track record than the bible does.

There’s nothing in the record to indicate that Egypt ever had Israelite slaves. Ever. Yes, Israelites did sometimes go to Egypt, usually because Egypt provided a secure escape from the many enemies the Israelites fought and usually lost to. The bible claims Egypt held 600,000 Israelite slaves who were men over the age of twenty. Which would mean at the very least 1.5 million Israelites were supposedly enslaved by Egypt, and all left at once under Moses, and then spent forty years wandering around the Sinai desert. That’s quite a mob to have wandering around in a land with no food and hardly any water. I doubt a single scorpion survived. Yes, scorpions are edible. And keep in mind that after 40 years, even the children would be getting a bit long in the tooth to endure blisteringly hot days and freezing nights without good shelter, some decidedly worn-out clothing, and a steady diet of bugs.

So: The Exodus? Never happened. Pure fantasy.

But it has the main story element of the so-called ten commandments, the ones that zealots like the governor of Louisiana want to inflict upon us, in a party led by a criminal who probably can’t tell you what three of the commandments are. Supposedly Moses went up a mountain to talk to a burning bush (God) and God gave him two stone tablets (various translations identify the stones – three, rather than the popular two – as either sapphire or lapis lazuli). He came back down, and found the Israelites partying and carrying on and supposedly made a golden calf (quite a trick in deep desert lacking gold or fuel for a really hot fire). He throws the tablets down, shattering them. Later, after he and God have knocked back a few and gotten reflective, God gives Moses a long list of commandments, including the first set. All have the same weight as the first bunch, and there are hundreds of them. It’s immediately followed by instructions that a big cairn of raw rock be made, and any priest who climbs it should be put to death because the crowd, looking up at him, might see his balls. The next chapter deals with the care and feeding of slaves, and when it is appropriate to execute an ox, and sometimes the owner of the ox. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, all that stuff. And it goes on and on and on, listing thousands of offenses and various remedies and penalties. (MAGAts should be aware of these two commandments: 21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.) Amazing list of things you can be put to death for and/or an abomination in the eyes of God; heating your home on the sabbath, eating shellfish, wearing mixed blends, disobeying your parents. Some of the rules are pretty sensible, including the dietary restrictions, which for the most part are designed to head off food poisoning. Most are pretty ridiculous and draconian, and probably were back then, too. None, however, involved giant fingers reaching out of the clouds (apparently the Sinai desert is a very cloudy place) and writing in tablets of sapphire.

God and the Israelites were both pretty feckless about these holy edicts. The first edition got destroyed when Moses lost his shit. The second was put in the ark of the covenant, made famous in those Indiana Jones movies, but they, erm, lost the ark. Or it got stolen. Or maybe Pharaoh Ramses put a boot jack on it for repeated illegal parking. Some damn thing or another. Anyway, it’s gone the way of Ozymandias. Don’t look upon my works but despair anyway.

Now, the ten commandments that the zealots want to inflict upon us (but never themselves) are based on the story as outlined above. It carries the same moral and logical authority as how Superman or Spiderman got their powers, or how Baba Yar curdled the milk in all of Russia.

Ignoring the “thou shalt have no other gods before me” drivel, the remaining six are, at best, solid laws for any society and at worst good guideposts for decent behavior. But divine word of God they are not.

Leaving aside the promise of the founders that no one in America should ever be subjected to the whims of a religion underpinned by the power of the government, there is the fact that given the mythic nature of the ten commandments, schools may as well put up plaques detailing how Santa Claus delivers all those toys, or what orifice the Easter Bunny uses to make those chocolate eggs.

Religion and politics are toxic to one another, and should never be intertwined. Religion claims eternal truths (and has neither) and politics is always mutable and flexible, often to a fault, but as far removed from the fantasy of eternal truths as you can get.

The governor of Louisiana is a zealot and a fool. His disservice to the children of Louisiana should not be allowed to stand.

10 (again), Naturally — Revisited 23 years later

Twenty three years ago, in the wake of the Combine shootings, we were dealing with the nonsense of hanging the Ten Commandments in classrooms.  It was a stupid and destructive idea then, and it is now.  I wrote a piece mocking the idea (the Columbine shooters see the poster, realize that killing people is wrong, and go away) and then, on reflection, wrote WHY the Ten Commandments are wildly inappropriate for an American classroom.  Here’s what I wrote, nearly a quarter century ago:

10 (again), Naturally
© Bryan Zepp Jamieson 2/12/00

Back in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings, various right wing politicians and/or religious whacks were jumping up and down saying that if only the 10 Commandments were posted things like the shooting wouldn’t happen. The idea was absurd and idiotic, and I wrote a Usenet post (the previous article in this section) ridiculing it. I thought that after a few weeks, it would die a well-deserved death.

The religious right, however, thrives on absurd and idiotic Crusades, and a depressing number of politicians are perfectly willing to throw away the rights of Americans in order to pander to these noisy and overbearing cretins. Now we have various states seriously considering putting the 10 Commandments up in the schools, arguing that it will promote morality and good behavior. Presumably this would be the same sort of morality and good behavior that has been the hallmark of Christianity over 2,000 wars, when they alternated between murdering, torturing and discriminating against non-Christians and the other option, which was that of murdering, torturing and discriminating against the wrong type of Christians.

In the latest Crusade, the arguments are that the 10 Commandments apply to everyone, that they govern nothing more than everyday decent behavior, and that it won’t make anyone except evil doers uncomfortable, All three claims are false, and it’s easy to show why.

For starters, let’s do what right-wingers hate more than anything, and go right to the source. Well, one of the sources, anyway. The bible I have on hand is The New English Bible, the one used by Anglicans. Groups that consider that to be evil, profane and blasphemous are invited to put up their own editions up on
their own sites and explain why their versions won’t work, either.

1. You shall have no other god to set against me. (In other versions, this appears as “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”). So right away, kids who happen to be Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, Hindu or atheist (about 2.5 million children) are being told by school authorities that their  ome religious beliefs are wrong, wrong, wrong, and eeevil. Great way to start the school week, you gotta admit. For those fundamentalists out there wearing the blank looks, try turning it around. Imagine if your local school put up a big sign that read, “Want to be normal and decent, kid? Then stop believing all that cosmic sky muffin rubbish your church keeps stuffing down your throat!” I bet that would cause a bit of a stir at the next church meeting.

2. You shall not make a carved image for yourself, nor in the likeness of anything in the heavens above, or on the earth below, or in the waters under the earth. (“Thou shalt make no graven image”) Most people have never thought this one through, but in order to be consistent, the schools will have to shut down art and photography classes. People in art and photography are making “graven images.” Most people think this simply means you shouldn’t make any idols, but that’s not what it says. It says, “in the likeness of anything.” The school will have to get rid of books with pictures in them, and in the case of many schools, the mascot. It’s hard to see how this will augment scholastic achievement, let alone morality, but hey! It’s the holy word, and all that. Better tell the more religious kids who are wearing crosses to get rid of them. “Graven images,” don’t you know? (Part 2b). You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous god. I punish the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. But I keep faith with thousands, with those who love me and keep my commandments. Girls, tear down those Leonardo Di Caprio posters. Guy, that Michael Jordan poster is outta here. Not only do they mean you hate God, but your great great grandchilden will be punished for it.

3. You shall not make wrong use of the name of the Lord your God; the Lord will not leave unpunished the man who misuses his name. (“Thou shalt not take the name in vain” and other variants.) Indisputably,10 (again), Naturally this one has enriched our language. Phrases like “good grief” “blimey” “jumpin’ Jehosephat” and “zounds” all come from people making end-runs around this assurance that misusing the name will get you busted for an eternity. Of course, high schoolers will be particularly impressed with this admonition to curb their tongues, and will be extremely inventive in their compliance We might get a whole new host of interesting, albeit obscure phrases, which are bound to be more poetic than the succinct, but prosaic “you suck, dood!” Well, OK. Maybe we can keep that one, just because it encourages kids to develop their language skills. But how do you pronounce a song title like “G-d damn the Pusher Man,” anyway?

4. Remember to keep the sabbath day holy. There is, later on in the bible, a big long list of things that violate the Sabbath, such as heating your house, but in the interest of concision (after all, these were going on stone tablets, which that old fart Moses had to port down a mountain afterward) this  commandment settles for saying that it applies to you, your son or daughter, your slave or slave girl, and your cattle or the aliens within your gates. Disregarding for the moment the indecision over what the sabbath actually is
(generally it gets placed anywhere between sundown on Friday-which can get confusing at certain times of the year in northern Canada, Alaska, Russia or the Scandianian countries-and 12:01 am on Monday), eventually some smart ass kid is going to note that the NFL teams pay those players to punt one another on Sundays, and therefore are working on the sabbath, and they’ll have to ban weekend football. Whereupon American civilization will really collapse, except in Texas, where it already collapsed. We used to have what were called “blue laws” which forbade business of various kinds on the sabbath. We got rid of them because they were stupid and unfair. But now we want to teach the kids that we were wrong to get rid of them.

5. Honor your father and your mother, that you may live long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you (in forty years, give or take). That one, right there, should eliminate about half the conversations going on in any given high school in any given day. (Be honest-you used to whine about your parents when you were in high school, too. Admit it!) Of course, school authorities telling valley-girl wannabees that they should honor their mothers and fathers might just answer that age-old question: Just how far can teenagers roll those eyes, anyway? You’ll just have to trust me on this: no matter how many threats are made, and promises of a shortened life notwithstanding, this one just isn’t going to impress the kids very much.

6. You shall not commit murder. Whew! Well, this one seems safe enough, doesn’t it? “Don’t kill anyone”
In some cultures, that might seem like a rather low expectation to inflict on the kids, but this is Charlton
Heston’s NRA America. Of course, the definition of “murder” is subjective; in a well-known example,
Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses consider any taking of human life to be murder. Abortion opens the issue
of what a human life is. And in most bibles, it says, “thou shalt not kill” which some take to include
“justified” homicides such as occur in war, or American prisons. But for now, the 10c crowd are perfectly
willing to have the message of the day be, “Show you’re good Christians, kids. Don’t kill anyone today,
OK?”
7. You shall not commit adultery. Since few high-school students are married, this is expected to have little effect on dating patterns. As for the broader definition that adultery means “screwing around with anyone other than your wife,” kids for years have gotten around that by very narrowly defining sex. “Third base” also known as “The Stinky Pinkie” isn’t sex, and therefore not adultery. The only people who didn’t understand the distinctions Clinton made in regards to Lewinsky were the ones who didn’t get any in high school.

8. You shall not steal. This one is pretty hard to take any issue with. Clear, concise, unambiguous, and in mesh with nearly all religious and ethical philosophies. In fact, there’s only one real problem. America isn’t a religious and ethical philosophy. It’s a capitalist system. This commandment does not properly prepare our children to go out and thrive in our business community, does it?

9. You shall not give false evidence against your neighbor. This should eliminate the other half of the conversations in high school. My, but those kids are so quiet! Of course, kids whose parents are inveterate Clinton-haters and who consider him responsible for murders in Arkansas and Vince Foster and so on are going to be in a bit of a jam: How do they get their parents to listen to them about this one without violating commandment #5? This, at least, should get Rush Limbaugh knocked off the air. The 10 Commandments make the First Amendment moot, any way.

10, You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, his slave, his slave-girl, his ox, his ass, or anything that belongs to him. (Notice the air of authenticity gained from the British spellings, just like the ones they used in Sinai back then!) Madison Avenue and retailers discovered, to their delight, that no segment is more avidly or vapidly acquisitive than high school kids, or are as willing to spend more than they can afford on such. Thanks in large measure to the determined efforts of clothing and sports equipment manufacturers and their advertising flacks, high school culture is a roiling mass of envy, greed and acquisitiveness, steeped in oneupmanship and class distinctions. Given the amounts of money involved, it’s no wonder Wall Street Republicans are starting to back away more from the religious crowd. It’s a long-held American custom to drop piety like a hot potato when it becomes bad for business. Kids will also be unenthused when they discover that wanting new Nikes violates this commandment.
Another argument the Religious Right likes to use for plastering the 10 Commandments up before the numb faces of our poor kids is that American law depends from the commandments. This is purest codswallop. (“Codswallop” is another neat evasion of commandment #4). Let’s look over the 10, somewhat more briefly, and see what corollaries appear in American law.
1 though 4 are right out, dealing as they do with behavior toward a specific deity. American law doesn’t recognize any specific deity.
5- The sabbath. Courts have noted that schools and businesses have the right to close on any day they choose, but that others don’t have the right to make that choice for them. Which is why the NFL plays on Sunday, and why TV stations and supermarkets can stay open these days.
6- Honoring the old folks. A great idea, but not one easily enforced. The law can stop you from cheating, beating, or otherwise abusing your parents, but it can’t make you honor them. Given what utter turds some parents can be, there’s situations where maybe it doesn’t even qualify as a good idea.
7-Murder. American law recognizes the Biblical stance against murder. Of course, every other religion and philosophy in the world believes that murder is wrong, so this is hardly unique to Christianity, is it?
8-Stealing. Same as #7.
9-False witness. It’s illegal to give false testimony against another person in court, and libel/slander laws cover willful and malicious false representations of people. But technically, saying “All lawyers are thieves” is false witness, since there ARE honest lawyers who don’t steal. But it is something covered by the First Amendment, and to tell the truth, I would sooner live in a culture where casual but harmless calumnies are tolerated than one where you can be punished for running your mouth.
10-Coveting. Can you imagine a law in America demanding that people stop wanting more than they have? Can you, for even an instant? I can’t. Such a commandment isn’t just unenforceable, it’s flat out Unamerican.
So: out of 10 commandments, we have two that are specifically implemented into American law, and one that has partial secular parallels. Out of 10 inviolate rules, only 2 1⁄2 actually translate into law. So much for the 10 Commandments being the foundation of American law. If the 10 Commandments were a pack of ladyfingers, you would want your money back.

Taxing Trump — Making America Tariff-ic Again

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

June 16th 2024

zeppscommentaries.online

Donald is bad enough when he isn’t sounding like Grandpa Simpson on meth. It’s deeply alarming when this 78 year old dimwit prattles on about batteries and sharks. He has somehow concluded that an electric powered boat is far more hazardous in an accident because of the batteries, and you would get electrocuted before the sharks get you. Never mind that all boats with engines have batteries anyway, or that the sharks would get electrocuted, too. Windmills murder birds and cause cancer, it seems, although Trump tower has killed its share of birds and listening to Trump might make you wish you had cancer.

It’s when he drifts from the evils of conservation to the virtues of economic policy where he gets truly terrifying. Its bad enough when he rails about the national debt (40% of which came from his tax policies) or the horrible cost of “illegal” immigrants (who actually ADD about $1.3 trillion a year to the US economy) but now he’s decided that he, and he alone, can fix the cost of paying for the United States to be a going concern.

His proposed solution to our fiscal woes? Eliminate all federal income taxes. You know: our national revenue. Libertarians have come up with variations on that over the years going on the lunatic notion that the best way to cut household expenses is by quitting your job. It’s a reasonable idea: in fairly short order, you’ll no longer have any household expenses. Or any household.

But even Donald understands that government has to pay for stuff. So he proposes to fund the government through tariffs.

Tariffs are basically a tax on imported goods. Donald likes to pretend that the tariffs are a tax on importers, and not the American people, and hopes that none of his brain-dead supporters will stop to consider that importers will raise their prices to compensate, and those increased prices WILL be assayed against the consumers in America. Donald has spoken of a 10% across the board tariff on all imported goods. The US imports about $4 trillion a year, so that would be $400 billion in tariff revenues.

For 2025, the White House projects that revenue from income taxes will be about $2.6 trillion. Payroll taxes are about $2.2 trillion, and corporate taxes would be about $467 billion. (Fifty years ago, corporate taxes were about 60% of federal revenues—and corporations did just fine!) Call it $5.267 trillion in revenues.

It’s not real likely that Donald will keep payroll taxes, since destroying Social Security and Medicare has long been a republican dream. And if you have a calculator capable of multiplying by zero, you can get a good estimate of the chances he’ll want to keep corporate taxes going.

Now, the astute observer may have noted that $5.267 trillion is a larger number than $400 billion. In fact, it’s about thirteen times bigger.

Which means cuts would have to be made. One mandatory payment is interest on the national debt, of which over 80% was created by Republican policies and misadventures, and half of THAT by Donald Trump alone. Those interest payments are about $967 billion a year.

Let’s see: $400 billion minus $967 billion leaves…hmmm.

OK, so we cut EVERYTHING, and we are still in the hole by $567 billion a year. Tch. No military, so social programs, sell the capitol building, get rid of all regulatory agencies, no federal economic development, none of these public schools nonsense. Churches can take all that over, right? There’s about 70 million people who get social security, and for a large majority of them, that’s all that separates them from homelessness and starvation. Churches are gonna be busy, busy, busy.

Some people might take a negative view of that, being people and all. Banks will have huge on-paper wealth from all the homes they’ll foreclose on by the millions until they find out the homes can’t be sold because everyone is broke. Then they all crash, including the ones Donald owes money to. He’ll like that.

Well, Donald does have a solution. Bigger tariffs on countries he doesn’t like, which is pretty much all of them except Russia. He has already suggested a 50% tariff on all cars from China. Given how much he loves countries south of here or in Africa, expect him to levy huge tariffs there.

But there’s a fly in the ointment. Other countries might take exception, and impose tariffs of their own. The technical term for this is “trade war” and it’s destroyed many economies.

The US exports about $3.3 trillion a year. Losing a chunk of that to an economy already reeling from an economic slow-down of over $10 trillion a year and tens of millions starving isn’t going to be very helpful. The good news is it can’t do that much more damage.

Ever seen the Mad Max movies? Consider them to be the blueprint for Donald’s Five Year Plan.

If Trump gets elected, buy all the salt, spices, bullets and cat food you can. You’re gonna need it.

Guilty x 34 — It’s official—Trump is a felon

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 30th 2024

As soon as I heard that the jury in the Trump trial had reached a verdict, I glanced at the clock and realized that a) the jury had found the case to be a slam dunk and b) the use of the singular in the word “verdict” suggested strongly that the result was unanimous on all counts.
And in fact, that’s exactly how it turned out: guilty on all 34 counts.
They may be relatively low-level felonies, and on first offense jail time is rare. But Judge Merchan is going to be considering the demeanor and behavior of the multiple felon during the trial, the number of felonies committed, and whether he showed any remorse or contrition. Merchan is also going to reflect on the attacks on his family and court officials and gauge the viciousness of the convict, and he may even consider the sad spectacle of Republican congressionals lining up outside the court in a blatant effort to intimidate.
I don’t think judicial leniency is in the works.
Sentencing is several weeks away, and of course Trump is going to appeal. So we won’t be seeing him in an orange jumpsuit any time soon.
Trump’s sycophants are already churning out disinformation. I saw a claim that Trump had not been allowed to know what he was charged with until the trial is over. Obviously that would be a massive constitutional no-no, but I remember reading the charges, in detail, on the day Trump was arraigned many months ago. Perhaps Fox News forgot to mention it and so Trump didn’t know. He just showed up at court to cool off and catch forty winks, right?
One of the reporters covering the story noted that when the jury filed in to render its verdict, not one of them looked at Donald Trump. And I remembered the scene from “To Kill a Mockingbird” when Atticus tells Jeb that a jury that has found a defendant guilty they don’t meet his eye. Of course, that trial was a miscarriage of justice. This one wasn’t. The jurors can stand tall and look everyone in the eye.
I think this is a seminal moment for the country. Not only does it show that nobody is above the law, but it is a body blow to the fascist movement that has been backing Trump. They can claim the trial was rigged, and surely will, but the testimony and proceeding are all there in the public record. I carefully kept a copy of Judge Merchan’s jury instructions, which are an apotheosis of judicial fairness and acumen. In my estimation, Merchan is more of a judge than Roberts, Scalia, Kavanaugh, Thomas, Gorsuch and Coney-Barrett, combined.
But there is this: Donald John Trump is a felon. He is a criminal. That is engraved in stone. And while many of his supporters won’t care about that, any more than brownshirts cared that Hitler was a jailbird convicted of insurrection. If anything, their support for Trump will get tighter, because trash always clumps under pressure.
But many of his followers, the ones who suffer from lack of information rather than lack of ethics or values, are inevitably going to hear of today’s verdict, and say, “Hold up. He’s a criminal?”
Trump’s odds of winning in November were already very slim. They are nonexistent now, and I’m quite sure the GOP is debating the destruction of an inevitable civil war amongst the right wing against the certainty of an electoral bloodbath if this felon is the candidate.
I’ll close with this: Truth Social learned a verdict had been reached, and as divorced from reality as the inmates in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, quickly celebrated with this:
“LATER, LOSERS!”

 

 

Deliberations — A hanging in the balance

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 27th 2024

www.zeppscommentaries.online

I suspect that I’ll be writing a second piece later this week, should the Trump trial for falsification of business records jury return before next weekend. That would probably good news for anyone who believes Trump is guilty of the charges and should be convicted of some, if not all of them. A quick jury return would mean the jury found the case for the state to be a slam dunk and at that point all Judge Juan Marchan has to do is decide how many years Trump should get sentenced to. Given the behavior of Trump and his slimy cohorts during the trial, I doubt judicial leniency is in the cards. If convicted on all counts, it’s unlikely Trump would live long enough to serve out his sentence.

While Trump and his minions may disagree, that’s the best possible outcome for the nation and society in general. Yes, I know some of his fans have been making terrorist threats, but if we can’t stand up to those types of coward and bullies, then perhaps America isn’t worth the trouble.

Second best result—and least likely, in my opinion—is outright acquittal on all charges. I know it’s hard to imagine that the state didn’t have a strong enough case to convince the jurors on some of the charges, but then my perspective – and yours – is that of an outsider who depends on what is in the media. The jurors are remanded to a very specific set of criteria (which Merchan will be reiterating, spelling that out for them tomorrow) and they may decide that whatever they may think of Trump’s behavior and ethics, the actual charges weren’t backed by evidence.

The most likely outcome is that Trump may be found guilty on some or most of the charges. This would indicate a jury that takes its duties and responsibilities seriously, and is taking the time to carefully weigh each charge and determine if it rose to the level of actual legal culpability. So if it’s June the third and we’re still waiting on the jury, don’t panic. It may just mean they are all doing their job in good faith, and even if on some of the charges there’s a hung jury, that may mean one or more of the jurors legitimately thought the state didn’t rise above the required level of reasonable doubt.

If we get to the tenth of June and there’s still no verdict, then the nightmare scenario comes into play. At that point it’s possible that the jury reports back to Merchan that it is unable to get a unanimous verdict on all charges. If it further comes to light that the vote on nearly all the charges was 10 or 11 to convict, then it would be clear that Trump and his crowd managed to get a ringer empaneled who planned to vote to acquit on all charges no matter what.

That would be a devastating blow to the nation’s self-image of being a nation of laws. It might even do more damage than Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon. Trump’s known crimes, and his flagrant abuse of the pardon power are far worse than we saw in 1974, but in that half century, standards have slipped, especially amongst Republicans. They enjoy the privilege of lowered expectations. They get away with this shit in large measure because they’re no better than they ought to have been.

But while Trump may dismay but never disappoint, the jury is a different story. We expect better from them, and if Trump has managed to corrupt them, then it’s another victory for the immoral and unethical trash.

Exactly how the nation would react to that outcome would be pretty much determinative.

I would love to say that this wouldn’t happen, but I can’t. Not honestly. Trump’s corruption is very far-reaching, and while the large majority of his followers are disaffected and ineffectual clowns, there are some very powerful interests devoted to the rise of a fascist state who see Trump as their perfect agent.

Americans are notoriously slow to react to that sort of threat. Usually they don’t really react until it morphs into an actual attack, whether it be Fort Sumter, Pearl Harbor or 9/11. And in this instance, the attacker may well have possession of the very instruments Americans would need to respond; the government, the military, and the directed will of the population.

A verdict widely seen as honestly arrived at will do much to defray such a eventuality.

Eric Trump (“Butthead”) whined that nobody has sacrificed more for this country than his family. The usual self-pitying, self-aggrandizing crap you expect from the Trumps. But he picked Memorial Day weekend to do that.

Anyone who is inclined to prayers or thinking good thoughts, give those who died a “thank you.” And honor them by fighting tyranny.

Executing the Opposition — Not just a pretty idea

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 19th 2024

www.zeppscommentaries.online

Last night, Donald Trump stood in front of the National Rifle Association and discussed the execution of President Joe Biden. He didn’t call for Biden’s assassination, mind you; there’s enough neurons firing in that diseased mess he calls a brain to understand that would immediately finish him and he would have been arrested by now, the following morning. But he talked about it. He just kinda wanted people to leave with the concept of a dead President Biden in the back of their minds.

And he did it in front of a desperate group of gun nuts who are still struggling to survive the scandal of their ties to Putin, a group most likely to have a deranged individual with the motive, means, and inclination to kill any politician with whom Trump disparages. If said individual approves of Trump at this stage, then he’s already a half dozen stations down the crazytown train route.

Discussing execution of one’s opponent is unheard of. Doing it in front of an angry and alienated group of gun nuts is flat out obscene.

It wasn’t the only Trump moment yesterday that should have ended his campaign in the eyes of any sane person. While delivering his standard mash of lies and smears, he suddenly stopped mid speech and for about forty-five seconds, just gazed around himself, seemingly unaware of where he was or what he was doing. It resembled the fugue state that gripped Mitch McConnell a few times before he announced his retirement.

His handlers claimed that his teleprompter had seized up. It was a curious admission from a campaign—hell, from an entire party—that likes to pretend that Democrats are all utterly dependent on teleprompters in order to give a coherent speech. Donald, it seems, relies on a teleprompter just to give an incoherent speech. The wonder of it all. (The whole “Dems need cue cards” thing didn’t start with Trump; they were making the same claim about Obama and both Clintons. Bill Clinton famously gave an SOTU address during the first few minutes of which his teleprompter crapped out. He calmly went ahead and gave an hour and fifteen minute speech chock-full of facts and figures, winging it the whole way. Even his speechwriter didn’t know anything was amiss. The fact is Democrats are more intelligent than Republicans, almost without exception.)

Trump and some of the lower Republicans have been claiming that when Biden gave his fiery SOTU speech in March that so thoroughly destroyed the cultivated GOP myth that Biden was a senescent and feeble drooler, he did so jacked up on something (“probably cocaine” because cocaine is so good for the concentration). Trump lacks the wit or imagination to come up with a replacement fable, and so challenged Biden to take a drug test prior to each of the two debates. I think he was honestly astonished when Biden cheerfully agreed to the stipulation, but only if Trump also took a drug test. He wasn’t supposed to react that way, dammit! Trump, like most flailing con artists, is beginning to believe his own lies.

Trump also had his whipped dogs in the Republican House leadership come out and perform a little monkey dance for him at his trial. The men all dressed like Trump in a stunning display of servility, and the women might have as well except their asses weren’t big enough to carry it off. While it served as a good reminder of just how pathetic that contingent really are, it served a more sinister purpose: while the saddest possible examples of the offices they hold, they do, in fact, hold the most powerful offices in the country, and the whole reason for this sad spectacle was to display Power—corrupt, vicious power—in a ploy to intimidate the jurors and court officials, including the judge. Trump’s dogs dutifully disobeyed the gag order to smear the judge’s daughter. Trump is filth. They are filth. It may be the low point in American governance.

Speaking of the judge, did you know he was a Democratic donor? I’m sure you do, because since the story broke two days ago, Republicans have been screaming it to the skies.

And what was this donation that proves the judge can’t possibly not be biased? He donated $35 dollars to a liberal organization that usually supports Democrats called Act Blue. It happened in 2020 during the campaign, before anyone considered that Trump would do anything including insurrection and treason to try to stay in office. Unlike certain members of the Supreme Court, Judge Juan Merchan had no inkling he might end up overseeing the trial in a case in which he might be ruling on something his donation addressed. It was improper for a judge to do that, of course, but given the tiny amount, the fact that it wasn’t directly to a candidate or a political party, meant that it was a transgression, and not a punishable offense. A judicial ethics board criticized Merchan for it, he apologized and promised not to do it again. Normally, that would be the end of it.

I wonder if they’ll get Slappy Thomas to come out and lecture Merchan on judicial ethics. They could have him dress up in a blue suit and red tie and join the other doggies parading in front of the trial tomorrow. Maybe they could get Alito, in matching dress, to proclaim that no responsible judge ever allows personal political or religious views to interfere with a proper legal decision. Yeah, that’ll own the libs.

I’ve been saying for some time that Trump will be lucky if he makes it to the convention in July as a viable candidate, and if he does, it means the end of the GOP. At the rate he’s going, he could give Biden 400 electoral votes.

I haven’t seen anything this week to change my mind on that. Trump is falling apart, and taking the GOP with him.

And part of him knows it. That’s why he was making a veiled suggestion to America’s biggest collection of gun nuts.

Facebook Caprice — Meta is ever-more capricious, sneaky and unfair—or is it just incompetence?

Facebook Caprice

Meta is ever-more capricious, sneaky and unfair—or is it just incompetence?

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 18th 2024

www.zeppscommentaries.online

It started out simply enough. My Linux system was over ten years old and beginning to gasp and wheeze a bit. My Windows system was newer and more powerful, and I thought, well, I’ll make that my new Linux system and get a new Windows machine. Which is what I did.

I’ve done this sort of thing a lot of times during the nearly forty years that I’ve had computers, and can avoid most of the pitfalls. My work and personal hard drives are all kept carefully off line while I juggle new installs and getting software passwords and codes updated. Windows, of course, is far more complex since you have to reinstall commercial software and you better have the access codes for that or you risk paying again for a program that was barely worth it in the first place.

In an operation this complex, you’re bound to miss a spot or two. Not too long ago—three months, perhaps—I had changed my Facebook password. I had been worried that I might have made myself vulnerable to my account getting hacked—unfounded, I’m happy to say—but the PW was due to be changed anyway.

My password minding app didn’t know about the change. I’m guessing I was in a hurry, and when it asked if I wanted to update, I told it “later” and then forgot. My browser also tracks my PWs, and it did notice. Since I could still log on without any problem, I forgot about it.

Both my old browser, and the password for my browser sync file, were on the old system. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. What was the password? Chinese city, more than 10,000 population, but was it in Cantonese or Mandarin? Tch. What did I have for breakfast? Um, erm, food?

Well, no worries. I have double verification code set up, so all I had to do was hit “change password” and my cellphone would get a six-digit code which I would enter, and then go ahead and create a new password (I hear “password” is a good one).

Got the code, went back to the page and entered it. Facebook came up with a “This function is not available at this time.”

Eh. Facebook. Whaddyagonna do?

Well, I still had other computer tweaking to do. And other chores.

I tried a few hours later, and got the same message. “Come on, Facebook,” I thought, “Get your act together.”

So the next morning I tried again. This time the results were jarring. It told me that I was on a restricted status, followed by a list of policy violations that may or may not apply to me (and most of them didn’t apply at all) and therefore the function of changing my password was not available to me.

To say I was flabbergasted is an understatement. They had a little box giving me 500 characters to respond, so I sent a message asking what this was about, and noting that it had been over a year since I had any kind of run-in with Facebook proctors. (That was incorrect, as it turns out; the last such thing was well over TWO years ago, in March 2022.)

From experience, I wasn’t going to hold my breath waiting for a reply. So I fired up my old Linux machine and retrieved my hopefully-still-active password along with a few other odds and ends I had missed on the first go around.

I retrieved my password and fired up the ‘new’ machine. Entered password, got a “we don’t recognize this device” message and a promise to send a six-digit checksum code to my cell. Heart sinking, I checked the phone, entered the code. It mulled it over for about ten seconds, and then let me in.

No remonstrations from Facebook, and I could post at will.

Now, I’ve had my share of run-ins with Facebook proctors, and been in Facebook jail on three-day stints three times. The third one outraged me enough that I left Facebook for a while. At the time, I emailed friends the following, with present day annotations in square brackets:

As of March 2nd , [2022] I’m no longer maintaining an active account on Facebook. Their censorship has been irrational to begin with, and now it is flat-out capricious.

A few months ago, someone asked jokingly if it was legal to shoot Republicans in California. I replied that you had to get a license, which was expensive, and there was a ton of paperwork involved. Three days in Facebook jail for hate speech. [Apparently it’s hate speech to discourage shooting Republicans in California. Who da guessed?]

The last one was when a friend posted a link from Weatherwest (a blog I habituate) that gave a rather dire forecast for the rest of February, promising intensifying drought. Riffing off Shakespeare, I wrote, “First thing we do, let’s kill all the meteorologists.” Unlike the first suspension, which I was able to successfully appeal, there was no appeal. Facebook cited COVID [disinformation] as the reason. [No, I don’t get that at all. And yes, apparently, that’s hate speech, too. I don’t know if Shakespeare got banned. After all, he made mention of the weather, too.]

I discovered yesterday that I had been suspended again for hate speech. No reason was given. I thought at first it was perhaps because I remarked that for the Russian people, the best thing that could happen would be if Putin was deposed or assassinated, but that particular post was still up, so I have no idea why I was banned. [In Facebook jail on a three-day, not actually banned.]

In any event, I’m out of there. Yes, Facebook has the right to control who posts what, but when it becomes illogical and even capricious, it’s a bad business model and not a forum I want to waste time in.

A couple of weeks later, I reconsidered. There were a couple of pages where I do volunteer work, posting events and news and ferrying information between their Facebook pages and their websites. It didn’t seem fair to short them because I wasn’t getting on with the powers-that-be at Facebook.

I resumed posting. Facebook had said that unspecified limitations and restrictions would be applied to my account, and I figured that meant they would keep me on a short leash to see if I behaved. (I maintain that I hadn’t actually misbehaved, not by any sane metric.)

In fact, the opposite seemed to be the case. Not only were there not any restrictions or limitations that I could discern, but they seemed content to back off and leave me alone. I only had one minor incident, about six months ago. At the height of the “Barbieheimer” fad, a user in a private group I moderate posted a picture of a bare-chested Putin atop a bright pink horse with a servile Trump holding the reins. It was blurred “for content some might find objectionable.” I got a thing from Facebook saying that as moderator I had a responsibility to ensure that my users didn’t violate Facebook policy. I wondered in the group if it was Trump, the pink horse, or Putin’s nips that triggered some proctor. The next time I logged in, the picture was un-blurred.

And that’s been it. So I can’t explain this week’s problem.

It’s possible that my initial suspicion, that the problems could be laid to Facebook’s incompetence, was all that was going on. Incompetence, by its nature, resembles capriciousness.

But there’s one thing that leaves me wondering if it wasn’t something more deliberate. As mentioned, I used the “forgot your password” function twice, and then had to affirm my new machine with them once I retrieved my old password. I happened to look at my email queue that day I returned, and noticed that in all three instances, the code given was identical.

It doesn’t work that way. Most outfits give you a certain time to respond, and if you don’t make it, you have to reapply for a new code. And it’s always different each time. Always. It’s a security thing: the code is a back door for anyone spying on an unsecured connection.

Except In my case with FB. Am I being paranoid, or was that code assigned to me, one that says something like, “This guy’s a troublemaker, don’t cooperate.”

It’s the passive-aggressive quality that I don’t understand. Our last contrétemps was in March 2022, and I never did find out what they were annoyed about. And everything seemed normal. Until this week. Then suddenly Facebook “remembered” that long-ago incident, and levied a strange hidden punishment on me and so I’m not allowed to change my password. Maybe?

Remember, it DID let me change my password about three months ago.

Does this seem paranoid, or have others had this experience?

Facebook’s no help: I haven’t gotten a human response from them on anything in three years. Maybe not talking to me is part of their punishment, I don’t know.

But if I do suddenly vanish, don’t assume the worst. I may have broken one of Facebook’s unguessable interpretations of their own rules and received an invisible and unexplained penalty. Or I forgot my password (in Mandarin, of course).

The people who run Meta, and various other major corporations, want to run America. That’s why most of them support the GOP.

Figure that if they do get total control, this incident is a pretty good example of the ‘justice’ you might expect.

Hell, bizarre as it is, it’s probably the best you can hope for.

Going to the Dogs — The party of mutt sluts

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 5th 2024

The saga of
Kristi Noem and her dead puppy keeps staying in the news. It isn’t
because gleeful Democrats are hyping the story. It’s because Noem
herself won’t back down, and just keeps digging herself into an
ever-deeper hole. First she tried implying that she didn’t know
the story survived the first draft and shouldn’t have been in the
book. The classic Scooby-Doo “If it weren’t for you meddling
kids” defense. That blew up when it came out that she did the
audiobook herself—including the happy tale of the demise of
Cricket. The initial “farmers have to made hard choices” excuse
died stillborn when she wrote, “I really hated that dog.”

Now
she’s pointing to Biden’s German shepherd, Champion, who
reportedly bit a dozen or so Secret Service agents. She’s saying
that Biden should have shot the dog. She didn’t say if Biden
should have dispatched Champion live from the oval office, or in
front of a joint session of Congress (it really could have been an
excellent opportunity for Biden to turn to the Republican side and
say, “If the Supreme Courts says I have absolute immunity, you lot
are next.”). Maybe Biden could have discussed responsible pet
ownership while in the backdrop behind him, a couple of vengeful
secret service agents stuffed a yelping Champion into a running wood
chipper. It would have given Biden true Sarah Palin cred, you know?

But
Noem, Republican to her empty core, refuses to back down, still
hoping she can turn it into a campaign where she is the innocent
victim of “woke” libs. Maybe she could have took a flamethrower
to a couple of live kittens just to show she can’t be bullied by
lunatic leftist pansies and commies.

But
even Donald Trump, yes, Donald Fucking Trump, wondered aloud what was
wrong with her. It takes real talent to make him feign being
appalled. This is the guy who ripped off a children’s cancer
charity, right? His standards are...flexible.

To
be sure, his reaction is performance art. He’s probably watching
to see if she survives the political storm, and even though she
didn’t get invited to Donald’s meat parade of Veep picks for
billionaires, she’s probably still on his list. He doesn’t care
how vile she is. In fact, he prefers vile. He just wants to know
how mindlessly loyal she would be. His last Veep toad was such a
disappointment, you know.

His
fans, while shrinking, are even more vehement. They adore it when he
behaves like a pig. That’ll show those libs! They push for worse
and worse behavior from GOP candidates, since viciousness, cruelty,
rudeness and pure arrogant stupidity are seen as virtues among those
deplorables. After all, those are what Trump expects from his
closest minions. Michael Cohen wasn’t his main lawyer for twenty
years because Cohen was a nice guy. He was as dirty and nasty as any
mafia torpedo. His autobiography could have just as easily been
titled “...But Take the Cannoli.”

Meanwhile,
Republicans keep vilifying refugees, immigrants, Muslims,
African-Americans, and now students. Never mind that America’s
Nazi population have all gravitated to the GOP; Republicans are
attacking all critics of Netanyahu as being “anti-Semitic” even
though most of them value Israel for the demented Bible-based
Revelation belief that the state of Israel must exist in order for
the Rapture to occur. Jews are just God bait in their eyes.
Netanyahu isn’t their friend, but he is chum. Trump praises people
who are Nazis as “very fine people” and attacks critics of Israel
and in his base, at least, gets away with it.

AIPAC
support Trump, of course.

What
Trump supporters don't understand is that supporting him doesn't
automatically make them safe in his New World Order. History suggests
the opposite, in fact. Strongman leaders know their truest believers
are gullible, feckless, erratic, easy to manipulate, and unreliable.
After all, they already betrayed their country once. So unless Trump
supporters can find a way fast to make themselves useful to the new
Fuhrer, he's just going to throw them away like used condoms. Read
recent history: the early years of Lenin, Hitler, and Mao. They
quickly filled the camps with their truest believers, and executed
many more. Look up “Night of the Long Knives.”

The
corporate execs who back Trump doubtlessly think they can control him
once he takes office. But Trump sees them as a useful prop. He
isn’t going to reciprocate their loyalty, and once his mass
deportations and tariffs create a Great Depression, he’ll blame
them bitterly for the chaos and deprivation his policies have caused.
If the Supreme Court has anointed him King at that point, expect him
to start hanging CEOs publicly.

Oh,
yes, and Republican office-holders can feel free to resume shooting
puppies in this Brave New World. It’s not like they’ll be good
for anything else under Glorious Leader. They will be justice of
Champions. And not playing proper Cricket to do so.

FOOTNOTE:
After I wrote this but prior to publishing it, I came across this,
from Sophia Cai, national politics reporter for Axios:

"Trump
says he loves Kristi Noem despite puppy killing controversy, per
Mar-a-Lago audio obtained by Axios," she reported Sunday.

“In the audio, Trump at a private luncheon commented on each of the following lawmakers, giving some insight into his thinking,” according to her published report.

The article reveals that Trump’s response to Noem was that the GOP governor is, “Somebody that I love. She’s been with me, a supporter of mine and I’ve been a supporter of hers for a long time.”

See? Told you his outrage was fake.