A Message from Trumpworld — At least they can count to twenty…

A Message from Trumpworld

At least they can count to twenty…

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

August 11th, 2022

www.zeppscommentaries.online

A buddy of mine in the Weasels passed this list of twenty complaints about the general state of affairs along to me the other day. It was posted on the web by a fellow named P. Ritter. It strikes me as a fairly good example of the sort of stuff that is circulating amongst the information-deprived and increasingly cultish right.

Now, I don’t know this Ritter fellow, so I won’t speculate on his motives or level of knowledge. But most of the items bear examination, and a response. His text is in italics. Mine is in English.

It’s not a question of right and wrong anymore. There have been plenty of examples of wrong in recent history. I will list them so there’s no equivocating about it:

  1. Supreme Court Justices intimidated without law enforcement action. No public official should ever be intimidated or threatened. This includes death threats (such as the one judge who issued the Mar-A-Lago warrant has received), doxxing, or threats against family members. Peaceful protests, on the other hand, are legal and should be encouraged.
  1. Prosecution of innocent Americans for political gain and judges that become the prosecutors.Anyone formally accused of a crime is entitled to a presumption of innocence. It is why newspapers refer to “suspects” rather than “criminals” until the accused are found guilty. It is why anyone being investigated for a crime is entitled to legal representation, reasonable bail, warrants and searches based upon probable cause, and trial by jury. It does NOT include whipping up mobs that chant “Lock Her Up!” or demands that men cleared of guilty verdicts upon the presentation of new evidence be executed anyway, as happened with the Central Park Five.
  2. District Attornies [sic] who refuse to prosecute and release criminals back into the population. America still has over two million people in jail, the highest prison population outside of China. The problem isn’t that District Attorneys don’t want convictions. In too many cases, DA’s regard convictions as notches on their belts, ones that could lead to higher office or a judgeship. It’s a system that breeds cruelty and corruption. I suspect Ritter is referring to the DA DeSantis just fired for saying he would not enforce Florida’s cruel new anti-choice laws. DeSantis has that right, but I would sooner have prosecutors that won’t uphold unjust laws over politicians to avidly support such in an appeal to their base.
  3. Juries that decide criminal cases based upon political affiliation and not evidence. Juries are usually better than we deserve. It used to be the sort of corruption that we see in “To Kill a Mockingbird” was widespread and socially acceptable. Our track record has improved. Demanding verdicts from juries based on politics is every bit as bad as a corrupt jury.
  1. No cash bail! See point 2. Bail has been used as a fundraising system by towns and even some states, with the result that people who haven’t been convicted of any crime are thousands and tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Financing a judicial and police system through traffic violations corrupts. Letting police seize and KEEP property is a recipe for a banana republic.
  2. Judges who let criminals off despite their prior convictions. We tried “three strikes” for some 20 years, and it turned out to be a horrible mistake. You had people getting 20-to-life for a third conviction, which might include stealing a bicycle, or a piece of pizza. Yes, both extremes actually happened. In the other direction, you had juries or DA s not convicting because it was clear that they would be giving a petty thief a life sentence for an action that might normally be a fine, or probation.
  3. Criminals killing innocent people at random in our largest cities. And smaller cities. And towns. But you know where the highest murder rate is? Rural areas! By way of example, my county, with some 40,000 people, had one murder in the past five years. To match that rate, Los Angeles County would have to have 2,500 murders over the same period.
  4. Schools, districts, and teacher’s unions want children to learn everything but what they should.That one is so ridiculously vague I can’t even respond. Ritter should check with the local public school district to see what the actual curriculum is. It’s public record. It will not include “critical race theory” which is taught only at a handful of universities and on the graduate level. As for what IS taught, Ritter may or may not agree, but he’ll have to be a bit more specific about what he disapproves of.
  5. Politicians doing insider trading right in front of our eyes and getting away with it.Absolutely! And any politician convicted of insider trading should be banned from running for office again. There is a bill, H.R.2655 – Insider Trading Prohibition Act, that passed the House by a huge margin, 350-75. An earlier version was passed in 2021 410-13. It is currently languishing in the Senate, lacking votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.
  6. Congress is fixated on prosecuting Donald Trump than on doing anything positive for America.Donald Trump is credibly accused of attempting to stage a coup against the United States. The Select Committee issued invitations to Trump and members of his administration to testify under oath on a voluntary basis. Some acceded, others refused. But insurrection is an extremely grave charge to make against any public official, and must be investigated. Why isn’t Trump raising a defense above the level of personal attacks on the members of the committee? Why have so many members of his administration been material witnesses?
  7. Taxpayer money is wasted on useless programs designed to weaken the economy and nation.Again, too vague to be of any use. I would agree that the F-35, and tens of billions in tax subsidies to oil companies weaken the economy and the nation. For all I know, Ritter had those in mind. Or perhaps not. He’ll have to let us know.
  8. China is in charge along with Russia. I’m not sure what “in charge” means. Russia is failing to conquer the Ukraine, a country about the size of California but with a much smaller economy. China is much more powerful, but remains no match for the United States.
  9. Our borders are more like open sewer lines flowing into the country. That’s not a very nice thing to say about your neighbors. It’s worth noting that the crime rate amongst aliens, documented or not, is lower than it is amongst Americans.
  10. Homelessness is so rampant that cities are incapable of dealing with the problem. True. But homelessness isn’t a crime or even a moral issue. It represents a failing by society, one that needs to be addressed.
  11. Food shortages, supply chain issues, and our President thinks things are hunky-dory. I doubt Biden thinks these issues are “hunky-dory.” Food shortages mostly stem from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and climate disruption. Accordingly, they will get worse. Supply chain issues stem from capitalism’s inability to adapt to the pandemic.
  12. Inflation is at its highest since it has been recorded.Nonsense. It was half again as high in 1974 compared to June. And the inflation rate in July of this year – last month – was ZERO.
  13. The President shuts down oil production and begs for oil from our enemies. Biden has shut down no production. I wish he would. He did negotiate prices with Saudi Arabia, which I don’t like, because I loathe theocracies. But he didn’t engage in begging, and he even managed to avoid ridiculous photo-ops with the Saudi royals and a glowing orb.
  14. The President sells our national emergency reserve oil to our enemies.Utter nonsense. Cite an example. Show your work.
  15. The President makes money off of our enemies with impunity. Again, utter nonsense. Cite an example. Show your work.
  16. The President’s family is immune from prosecution despite numerous criminal acts. Donald Trump Junior might beg to disagree. Oh, he won’t agree that he performed “numerous criminal acts”, but certainly the prosecution, although he’ll pronounce it ‘persecution.’ There are rumors that Jared Kushner may have provided evidence to the FBI for their warrant at Mar-a-Lago. Just rumors, but if that is the case, then the Feds had to have a fair bit of dirt on him to goad him into flipping on dear old daddy-in-law.

This is Trumpworld in a nutshell. Unsupported allegations, vague claims, a total lack of self-awareness, hypocrisy, and above all, projection. Recognize it when you see it.

Zealotry Aborted — Kansas shows America not ready for religious fascism

Zealotry Aborted

Kansas shows America not ready for religious fascism

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

August 5th 2022

The only thing about the Kansas vote to reaffirm the state Supreme Court upholding the right to abortion that surprised me was the amount it won by: 59-41. I figured it would pass, but I wasn’t expecting the blowout margin.

Poll after poll has shown that the usurpation of the Constitution by the zealots on the federal Supreme Court is wildly unpopular, and free states are hustling to encode abortion rights if needed, and vowing to provide such rights to enslaved women in the zealot states. That’s why Kansas wasn’t a surprise so far as the result went. Abortion, and separation of church and state, cross partisan lines. It’s one thing to say that Kansas is one of the reddest states in the union; but not all Republicans march in lockstep with the preachers and demagogues that dominate that beleaguered party. And independents in particular will break ranks when it comes to maintaining rights and freedoms.

Kansas all but invented the term “prairie populism.” Often deeply religious, and conservative, but also strong-willed and independent. They may like and respect their Sunday preacher just fine, but they aren’t about to let him dictate how they should vote, or what rights the church can take away that the Constitution promises.

Kansas is one of the most heavily propagandized states in America, with all radio and much television devoted to reactionary Protestant broadcasting, or the endless lies and undermining of freedom that stems from hate radio. I figured that there were maybe 5% of the voters there brainwashed enough to cut off their own noses to “own the libs.” Well, it’s happened before. Look at the obviously incompetent, unfit, and inept trolls in Congress who got there despite having nothing—nothing at all—to offer other than snark and clownish defiance.

I’m happy to see that I was wrong, by about 7% of Kansas’ population. I figured abortion rights would win, but I was expecting a 52-48 margin. That it went the way it did is cause for considerable optimism.

One phenomenon that may have underlay the result was the open, gleeful, and acquisitive viciousness and cruelty that the zealots and the fascists of the GOP displayed. A few days after the Supreme Court (Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Comey Barrett) decided to kick the rights of hundreds of millions of people under the nearest Bible, a nightmare scenario emerged, of a ten year old rape victim who had to travel to a neighboring state for an abortion. Any reasonable or rational people would look at that situation and consider making the new law less strident, more humane. There is no situation in which any government, no matter how god-burdened, should force a ten-year-old to give birth to her rapist’s baby.

The Washington Times is one of the shabbier exercises in propaganda journalism given birth by a different set of Zealots, the Moonies, although they dumped the rag a few years back, but it’s still a rag. That exercise in dysfunctional journalism cast doubt on the story, writing, “If there was a 10-year-old girl out there who had been impregnated, certainly there’d be a criminal investigation into her rape.

“But Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said this week that there was “not a whisper” of evidence to back up the story. ‘The bottom line is it is a crime if you’re a mandated reporter to fail to report. It’s also the fact that in Ohio the rape of a 10-year-old means life in prison,’Mr. Yost said on Fox News.” Yost either had no idea what he was talking about and didn’t bother to fact check first, or he was flat-out lying. The rape and rapist had been reported, and he is awaiting trial. But that didn’t stop zealots from sending death threats meant for the girl for the crime of getting raped and being a political embarrassment to them.

And then there’s the lies. Several “justices” on the Supreme Court lied, blatantly and with malice, declaring before the Senate and while under oath that Roe Vs. Wade was “established law” and they would respect stare decisis, which is the legal notion that precedent should determine legal decision making in a case involving similar facts. They lied, and got appointed under fraudulent circumstances.

All the anti-abortion crowd who said they just wanted to limit abortion, and didn’t want to interfere with contraception or a woman’s right to private medical counsel immediately started passing pre-written laws contradicting those stances. Some states are even trying to make it illegal to go to another state for an abortion, or even protest against the law.

Religious zealots believe that they have to be cruel in god’s name either because a) god is cruel, or b) god is kind, but wants to test his followers by making them be cruel. Zealots also believe that it’s ok to lie to “unbelievers” (everyone else) in the name of god. The zealots and corrupt toadies on the Supreme Court have unleashed this miasma of humanity loose on the land, and hideous stories of repression, cruelty, and oppression are emerging every where.

It’s how theocracies—all theocracies—work. The starry-eyed idiots who declare that life would be perfect if we put [god, allah, jesus] in charge miss an important fact: god isn’t running the show. It never has. It doesn’t exist. What a theocracy is is a group of politicians who find god to be the perfect figleaf for their own corruption and viciousness. God is the trump card that ends debate. You end up with The Church running the country, and it’s accountable only to an imaginary doormat that says whatever it is The Church wants it to say and says so on its behalf. It’s the ultimate scam, the Saudi Arabia, the 14th century Europe, and Cromwell’s England. The lowest misery of history, repeated over and over.

Kansas voters may or may not have figured that out. But a significant number of them realize that these people, these zealots, are not to be trusted, and allowed to run loose, will destroy America and everyone in her.

The naked face of religious and fascist zealotry has been exposed. People who wanted to believe are turning away.

The Fall Approaches — Wild, hot July presages

The Fall Approaches

Wild, hot July presages

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

July 24th, 2022

www.zeppscommentaries.online

Well, it’s been a week.

The Jan 6 committee wrapped up what turned to only be the first round of public hearings, showing beyond any possible doubt that not only did Trump fail to act to end the riot (he inspired) to protect Congress and his own Vice President, but that he did fail to act as a matter of cold calculation. Combined with the rest of the evidence the committee presented over the past three weeks, there’s little room for doubt that he planned to ignore the results of the vote, claim he won anyway, and stage a coup in order to stay in power. In most countries, a leader behaving in such a manner would have been hanged by now. Trump is lucky in that the United States is somewhat less barbaric, despite his own best efforts to coarsen the country. He won’t get hanged, but I won’t complain if he dies in prison.

Trump’s die-hard contingent, along with Rupert Murdoch’s fascists-for-hire squad, are still trying to pretend the hearings are just a partisan kangaroo court.

Oddly enough, it was originally going to be eight Democrats and seven Republicans, but McCarthy hit on the cute idea of putting members who may have participated in the attempted overthrow onto the committee. Pelosi rejected the two worst candidates, and McCarthy, in one of the most self-destructive snit fits in the history of Congress, withdrew all Republican candidates, leaving the Democrats to select the committee themselves. They did include two Republicans, both deeply conservative. And of course, most of the witnesses were Republican, including more than a few Trump loyalists. Anyone claiming the hearings were partisan didn’t watch the hearings, and is just depending on what the fascist media, Fox, OAN and Newsmax, are ‘interpreting’ for them.

We had gotten used to an endless parade of farcical “investigations” by Congress during the Clinton and Obama years (Whitewater, Monica, emails, Benghazi, and a bunch of other idiotic conspiracy theories) and so the public was stunned by how well Congress could do when the grownups were in charge. The hearings were sober, deliberate, methodical, relying heavily on sworn testimony and actual evidence, and have proved utterly devastating. Two Murdoch organs, the Wall Street Journal and the NY Post, threw Trump under the bus. They didn’t grow any ethics; they just realized Trump was now hopelessly damaged goods. They’ll probably start promoting Tucker Carlson as their new fascist proxy and hope he doesn’t implode as well.

Manchin of West Virginia ended 18 months of bad-faith “negotiation” with his supposedly fellow Democrats by shutting down proposals to deal with the climate crisis on the same day it hit 104 in London. A vast heat wave gripped the rest of the country as fires exploded across the west and throughout the boreal forests to the north. It’s going to get worse. Much worse.

Manchin and Trump are poster boys for why a sensible electorate should never vote for corrupt plutocrats: wealth doesn’t translate to good moral character and social responsibility. Usually it’s quite the opposite. Both men are vicious, greedy, stupid, and selfish. What makes any voter think they’re going to look out for the interests of said voter?

Boris Johnson’s sad primacy came to a shuddering halt, but don’t worry. It’s too late to save England from Brexit, and the Tories will just replace their version of Trump with someone a bit less cartoonishly evil. Not less evil, mind you. Just a bit less blatantly idiotic about it. Their version of Ron DeSantis, perhaps. It’s England; many toes will have to be stubbed before they stop blundering about in the dark.

There’s a new phrase in the political lexicon: “Hawlin’ Ass” It means to run away from the consequences of actions you deliberately caused. Josh Hawley always was an imbecile. Now he’s just a joke. Neil Gaiman once wrote, “It is unwise to summon that which you cannot dismiss.” It’s one thing to call up a mob, quite another to control one.

It’s heartening how many state Attorneys-General and D.A.s and judges are planning to simply defy the Cobb ruling and protect a woman’s right of access to abortion. The only thing crueler and more vicious than a religious zealot are the toadying politicians who try to cater to them. Frantic Christian fascists in Texas are already trying to make it illegal to leave the state in order to get an abortion. East Germany much? Having already tossed out the Ninth Amendment, the Supine Court will have to now toss the 14th Amendment. By the time those clowns are done, all that will be left is the second half of the Second Amendment.

At that point, all the mindless flag-wavers who love America and hate the United States will learn the hard way that America is just another patch of land, and it was the United States, and its constitution, that made the place special.

I think if the Republicans seize control of Congress, legitimately or not, next November, the United States is finished. Republicans want an autocratic theocracy, and there has never been one in history that didn’t rapidly turn corrupt, incompetent, and murderous. When you are the Authority, answerable only to gods, then you are an Authority with no accountability to anyone, and you can do what you bloody well please and hire shamans to explain how it’s all god’s will. It won’t end well. It never does.

There’s already talk of secession amongst blue states in the event that the GOP complete their coup. Gavin Newsom has taken up referring to our state as “Free California” as opposed to Florida, which is now a fascist shithole.

Don’t expect things to calm down. August might bring about a bit of a respite, but this fall is going to be a monster of a time. Back in April of 1945, the London Times wrote that “Events seem to be occurring with exceptional rapidity.”

This fall is going to be another one of those times.

London Broil — Climate Crisis is here

London Broil

Climate Crisis is here

July 20th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

www.zeppscommentaries.online

Of course, it’s not at all unusual for it to be seven degrees warmer in London than it is here in the northern California mountains. On a January day, when it is 30 degrees with blowing and drifting snow (an increasingly rare event, to be sure), I would be totally unsurprised to learn it was 37 and raining over there. After all, cold drizzle epitomizes London. Even in summer, if you factor in the time difference it wouldn’t be unusual to get up and find it’s 55 here at sunrise, and in London it’s mid afternoon and 62.

But yesterday, it was 97 here. Thirty years ago it probably would set a local record for the date. Even now, it’s warmer than usual.

But afternoon on the same date, London saw a high of 104.2 degrees. It shattered the all-time record for London by three full degrees (reliable records go back 350 years there!). We still don’t know the full extent of the damage; we can only hope for a low death toll. We saw blazes along the M-25 that looked more like the fires one might see alongside US101. Airports closed because runways melted. Because of thermal expansion, railroads added some 5 miles of track that didn’t exist that morning.

I remarked, half-jokingly, that the firefighters were probably relieved to find their hoses actually work. Usually, I said, when a vegetation fire breaks out, they just quietly wait around for the next rain to put it out. (Actually they acquitted themselves quite well, given that most had never seen conditions quite like those that hit England yesterday). Bad news for the fires today: it’s 40 degrees cooler and raining. Back to normal…for now. Only not quite the same normal.

It came on a day when professional coal grifter and greedhead Joe Manchin killed the climate change initiative once and for all after 18 months of bad-faith bargaining. As fires ignite this summer, he stands to become America’s Guy Fawkes. Reviled. For centuries.

Much as I hate to imagine the misery Europe and the UK went through yesterday I’m hoping it has the same galvanic effect that Kim Stanley Robinson’s horrific fictional heat wave in Delhi had on world resolve to address climate change in “Ministry of the Future.” If it doesn’t, other near-future events will. But we’re past the point where we can avoid massive damage and loss of life.

I live in one of the wettest parts of California. Our average precipitation during the 20th century exceeded that of London’s; or Seattle’s! Just a hair short of 50” in liquid amounts a year, mostly in the form of snow.

We just got notice Sunday that we are going on severe water rationing effective immediately. Outdoor watering is limited to one day a week, before 10am and after 7pm. And it might get much worse without notice. We could end up having to import drinking water, like many other small towns in the central valley.

We live on the low slopes of a 14,000 foot mountain, and over the past two decades, the glaciers have been melting and weakening. Last June, the heat dome that destroyed Lytton, BC and sent temperatures into the hundred-and-oh-my-gods in the PNW brushed us. We didn’t have record-breaking heat in town, but on the higher slopes of Shasta, temperatures soared. The Konwakiton Glacier collapsed, sending a huge debris flow down the aptly-named Mud Creek. Half a mile wide and up to thirty feet deep, it buried the main N to S route east of the mountain, taking out a new bridge and adding thirty miles to the commute of a small settlement in the area north of the flow. It’s now a slow motion avalanche, threatening the main water pipeline, the pumping house, and could even move into parts of the town itself. (I’m on a hill on the other side of town, and won’t get buried). So climate change just got real for us.

But like the debris flow, the climate crisis is a slow moving avalanche. While unlikely spots like London and Lytton bake in temperatures normally seen in the middle east or the Outback, California has experienced an ongoing and self-reinforcing cycle of drought, heat, and creeping disaster.

Consider: temperatures rise. In the winter, even when there isn’t a drought, less of the rain falls as snow because the snowline is higher. Even a modest increase can have a huge loss in snowpack. Consider the area of a cone, one half the way up and three quarters the way up  (πr(r+√(h2+r2)) where r is the radius of the circular base, and h is the height of cone, for those who don’t have to pull off a shoe to count to 11). Mountains are very roughly conical, so you get the idea. And then consider that the snow in the areas that still get snow will have less snow, and what there is will melt faster.

But there’s more. Increased heat means a faster rate of evaporation, resulting in drier ground. At my altitude, snow, which used to be around through April, is gone by early March if it was there at all. So soil covered by snow and wetted as the snow melts is now drying out during that critical period. Further downslope, there is no run-off. Things desiccate.

Dry soil warms faster than moist soil, increasing air temperature at ground level. This results in a decrease in water vapor, increasing the heat. (Water takes 10,000 times the energy to heat the same amount as dry air does).

Because of this, what used to be normal amounts of precipitation only add to the water deficit since it melts and evaporates away faster. And for the past two years, we’ve barely had two-thirds of normal, so what might be an inconvenient drought is now a crippling drought.

This is the vicious cycle that California—and much of the west—is in. Alaska is burning, the Canadian and Russia arctics are losing their permafrost, releasing vast amounts of methane (the stuff the Manchin lobby are promoting as “clean, safe propane” this week) making things worse.

I’m afraid there’s worse news. For the past two years, the world has seen a La Niña, a swing in the vast El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle that is driven by trade winds and upwelling of colder waters. La Niña tends to depress global temperatures by a degree or two. All these heat records we see over the past two years are happening at a time when generally, the world should be a bit cooler than normal. Early indications suggest that we may have an unprecedented third straight winter of La Niña conditions, which is bad news for California since it often means drier than normal winter.

However, the opposite of La Niña is El Niño, which elevates global temperatures by up to two degrees. Going by past history, I estimate there is a 75% chance of a routine El Niño in the next three years, and a 33% chance of a major El Niño in the same period. Ready for a significant rise in temperatures over and above what we have now? It’s dead certain to happen. Along with knock-on effects like drought, fire, floods, crop failures and mass migrations. And as always happens in such cases, war.

We can’t avoid it any more. But if we stop letting idiots like Manchin profit off our slow avalanche, we might salvage enough that our grandchildren might survive.

It’s no longer a significant crisis. It’s existential. Ask any Londoner. Ask a former resident of Lytton.

Ask anyone from my own town.

“Not flag or fail” — No time to lose hope

Not flag or fail”

No time to lose hope

July 4th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

I wasn’t going to fly the US flag today. Even said so several times in posts around the web. But George Takei changed my mind. He wrote on Twitter,

 

@GeorgeTakei

·If you have trouble celebrating July 4th, I can sympathize. For years, we did so within internment camp barbed wire fencing, guns pointed in at us. We honored the promise of America even as it was broken to us every day. But still, we kept faith. And a brighter day finally came.

I wrote in response, “I wasn’t going to fly the flag today. But you just changed my mind. Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.”

Takei, of course, is the author of the autobiographical graphic novel, ‘They Called Us Enemy’ (They Called Us Enemy by George Takei Co-written with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott and illustrated by Harmony Becker. Top Shelf Productions 2019, 204 pages) which recounts the arrest and internment of his family in 1942 for the crime of looking Japanese in public. They spent the better part of four years in American internment camps including the most desolate and remote corner of California, perhaps two hours drive from where I live.

Takei’s father had left Japan decades before at the age of 12. Nobody else in his family had so much as set foot in Japan, and none felt any loyalty to Emperor Hirohito. But westerners were fearful, cowardly and paranoid, driven by transitory panic. Governor Earl Warren summed up social attitudes when he said, “We have no reports of spying, or sabotage, or fifth column activities by Japanese Americans, and that is ominous, because the Japanese are inscrutable.”

It’s the sort of thinking you associate with zealots and extremists, and Warren normally was neither—quite the opposite, in fact. But the moral and social panics that afflict societies on a regular basis cause reasonable people to utter madness.

As I read Takei’s story, I was struck by the dignity and patriotism of the internees. They only resisted against one demand by the government, that they sign a loyalty oath and a pledge to serve if called upon. The reason for the resistance was NOT that they were unwilling to serve their country (and the vast majority of internees were native-born Americans or naturalized citizens) but the insulting demand that they renounce Emperor Hirohito.

Takei explained it in this passage: “Takei, then adolescent and judgmental, responded to a remark the elder Takei made that ‘…of all the forms of government that we have, American democracy is still the best.’ with ‘Daddy, how can you say that? After all you went through, losing everything you and mama worked for?’ His father replied, ‘Roosevelt pulled us out of the Depression and he did great things. But he was also a fallible human being, and he made a disastrous mistake that affected us calamitously. But despite all that, our democracy is still the best in the world because it is a people’s democracy.’”

Every December, I write a piece dealing in some way with the winter solstice. The theme, always, is that of hope. My tag line on those essays is “Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.” If I am to be true to that promise, then I have to have hope myself, now more than ever. I owe it to George Takei. I owe it to my readers. I owe it to myself. And I owe it to what America stands for.

Yes, there are bigots and fools and religious zealots in positions of power, and they are demonstrating the deep and abiding threat to freedom and sanity that they always have. The GOP, fascist billionaires and corrupt churches egg on a moral and social panic to their own selfish and vicious ends. Many are the same sort of people who build internment camps and worse. Many are good people made temporarily insane by the transitory gusts of rage and fear, like Earl Warren was during the war. (Warren went on to codify many of the same rights the zealots of the Supreme Court are trying to take away now).

So the flag is out front this morning. It’s not a typical Fourth of July morning: it’s cool, and raining, and probably won’t get very warm today. Usually it’s hot and sunny. But then, it wasn’t going to be a typical Independence Day anyway. Storm clouds aren’t always meteorological.

We will defeat the zealots and the fascists and the haters, and drive them back under their rocks. Our own panic and fear will evolve into resolve, and we will fight the monsters of the right and take back what is ours by Constitutional right. They will not prevail. They have Trump; we have Takei. We will win.

Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.

 

Cassidy Hutchinson — Blowing the fucking doors off the Beast

 

Cassidy Hutchinson

Blowing the fucking doors off the Beast

June 28th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

zeppscommentaries.online

When the announcement came, just 24 hours prior, that the January 6th Select Committee was going to have an unexpected public meeting today, it was safe to assume that they had found something big. While not as legally damning as some of the testimony in prior sessions, it was nonetheless riveting, and while a fair bit of it was he-said she-said and thus of little use at trial, I suspect a great deal of further evidence awaits in the wings.

Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony was pretty amazing. It’s not often a President tries to force the Secret Service to allow heavily armed men into the area where he is giving a speech on the grounds of “They aren’t here to hurt me!”. Never heard of a president trying to grab the steering wheel of the presidential limo to override security mandates, or throwing his lunch against the wall of the White House.

I had always assumed that when Trump returned to the White House rather than leading his coalition of neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists and dingbats to conquer Congress, it was just Trump being a coward and leaving others out hanging in the wind while he ran to safety.

It turns out, according to Hutchinson, that this was far from the case. Trump was furious, and having a complete tantrum when the Secret Service refused to allow him to take part in an armed assault on Congress. He screamed, he cursed, he threw his happy meal against the walls of the executive dining room (Hutchinson relates how she helped a hapless valet to clean the ketchup stains from the wall) and he even tried to throttle the Secret Service agent who was driving “the Beast”, i.e., the Presidential limo.

There’s an old Jim Croce song that comes to mind here: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit in the wind, you don’t pull the mask of the old Lone Ranger and you don’t [paraphrasing a bit here] fuck with the Secret Service.” The idea of bloated, aged, out-of-shape Donald Trump trying to throttle a guy who could probably hog-tie him in ten seconds flat is both silly and horrifying.

Trump shouted, “I’m the fucking president! Take me up to the Capitol now!” But the driver had his orders. Protect the country, protect the President. It probably never occurred to his bosses that the decision was actually to protect the country from the President.

Trump was probably hoping to envision a triumphant meeting with Pence and the Congress, one similar to the one a triumphant Hitler had with von Hindenberg and the Reichstag in January 1933 where he wrested unearned power from a weakened and demoralized opposition. Or at least, some demented Riefenstahl version of that event that he probably held near and dear.

Gleichschaltung, or Nazification, would be sure to follow. Think I’m kidding? Trump for years kept a copy of Hitler’s “My New Order” in his bedside stand. He was (and probably still is) a great admirer of Hitler, and considered the collection of speeches a primer on how to go about amassing and sustaining power. America may never really know how close to a fall into the horrors of Nazism it came that day.

“Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol,” White House counsel Pat Cippollone had told Hutchinson on the morning of Jan. 6. “‘We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.'” That is why the Secret Service drove a kicking and screaming Trump to the West Wing rather than Congress. Cippollone probably did Trump a big favor. Had Trump waddled onto the House for in a dramatic recreation of Hitler and von Hindenburg, flanked by the Qanon shaman and all the rest of the crazies, he probably would have been hanged or shot by now.

One of the most striking moments came when Hutchinson related how a frantic and desperate Trump tried to get the Secret Service to permit people armed with AR-15s and other weaponry into the area immediately in front of where he gave his January 6th speech. “I don’t fucking care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson. “Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in, take the mags away.”

They weren’t there to hurt Trump. But they were there to hurt someone. If they can prove Trump said that, it might be the single most self-incriminating thing he said that day.

I had been wondering why the Committee suddenly sprung Hutchinson on the public the way they did. Her testimony, lurid as it was, wasn’t anything that couldn’t have waiting until the Committee had its next scheduled session sometime around mid-July. Presented with little corroborating evidence, it wouldn’t rise to the level of admissibility, although I’m sure there is corroborating evidence, and lots of it.

There are seven primaries today, including in Wyoming, where Liz Cheney is widely expected to be primaried. There’s nothing Republicans hate more than politicians who put country ahead of party, so she’s probably toast. Several pundits suggested that the session was timed to influence the primaries, but that’s nonsense. The political fallout from the meetings takes several days to percolate out into broad public consciousness, and it’s unlikely that 10% of those voting today would have known about the events of today’s session when they voted.

I suspect that the real reason for the rush was that hundreds of Trump supporters wanted Hutchinson dead before she could testify. It may have been problematic keeping her alive for three or four weeks as scalded-cat outrage from Trump galvanized the People Who Aren’t Here to Hurt Trump to go out and do plenty of hurt to the target that Trump clearly feared.

Now that she has testified, most of Trump’s more rabid brownshirts might realize that the cost/benefit ratio of shooting this twenty-five year old woman would no longer work in their favor. That, and the public knows who she is now, and they can’t quite risk attacking a figure that public. She should be reasonably safe now. Besides, between gays, teachers, town councils and all the traditional enemies of Nazism, Trump’s brownshirts have many others to threaten and intimidate.

In the meanwhile, thank you, Cassidy Hutchinson. You truly have done your country a service, and hopefully there’s a Presidential Citizens Medal in your future.

Zealots — The battle is joined

Zealots

The battle is joined

June 25th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Nothing exposes the utter ethical and logical bankruptcy of zealotry than the two decisions the once-and-not-bright-future Supreme Court handed down this week.

First, they celebrated the ever-growing piles of dead children by ruling that states could not put any limitations on concealed-carry except, of course, for “sensitive areas” such as…the Supreme Court. They don’t want to have to take the same risks they want to impose on the rest of us.

Then two days later the Court struck down Roe vs. Wade, ruling that states had the right to put limitations on abortion, including making it illegal under any and all circumstances.

So in the space of just 48 hours, the Court ruled that the Court could not impose limitations on the second amendment, and then ruled that states could impose limitations on the ninth and fourteenth amendments.

The first ruling ensures greater numbers of dead people, including children. The second was done in the nebulous name of “saving children.” It’s the kind of inconsistency that lies at the heart of the zealot’s mindset.

Zealotry is hard to tell apart from insanity. Zealotry is an externalized morality and intellect, one aptly described by Voltaire who said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Most (but far from all) zealots aren’t lacking sanity—they merely reject it.

Donald Trump isn’t a zealot. It’s perhaps an interesting paradox that nihilism is a good emotional defense against zealotry. If you believe in nothing, you are much less likely to believe absurdities, right? Of course, the drawback is that nihilists also commit atrocities, and unlike many zealots, do so with the full recognition of what their actions entail—they just don’t care. In fact they may even enjoy the suffering they cause.

Trump is a nihilist posing as a zealot. So today, he praised the court ruling on abortion as “God made the decision.” Of course, he then went on to take the credit from God, saying that the decision wouldn’t have been possible without his three disgraceful Supreme Court picks. Anyone who thinks God and Trump are interchangeable on any level has one shit God. They already had a shit President.

The zealots control the Court. They have a stranglehold on Congress. They threaten to take over the entire country in the next six months. It’s not something new in history: Zealots have taken over many countries in history, and the result, without exception, is misery, deprivation, and slaughter. All the worst “revolutionary governments” in history were controlled and largely were composed of zealots; revolutionary France, Nazi Germany, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Kampuchea, Lenin’s Russia, Pinochet’s Chile, Iran’s Islamic Republic, Cromwell’s England…the list is endless.

Usually countries so afflicted need decades to recover. Some, such as the Congo or Cambodia, never do fully recover.

When zealots take over, personal and legal freedoms cease to exist. The same people who like to claim rights are God-given don’t hesitate to ensure they are God-taken, and as always, God is an obliging doormat who shares all of a zealot’s most cherished beliefs.

The Court decisions this week show how close to the maw of authoritarian zealotry America has already come. Clarence Thomas, disgraced justice on that same court, publicly stated in his decision that the court now needs to “revisit” rulings upholding the right to contraception and same-sex marriages. No word on how the esteemed judge feels about mixed-race marriages or laws against slavery.

States run by zealots are rushing to put laws into effect that make it criminal to give or receive abortions, to travel to other states for abortions, or to even advocate for the right to an abortion. Some are trying to outlaw “morning after” pills, along with contraception. A couple of states are trying to fig leaf their assault on the rights and freedoms of women by promising to expand state assistance to mothers and their young children, but in the few cases where any details are available, the measures are ridiculously inadequate, showing their mitigation measures to be nothing more than a half-hearted swipe at the pretense that they are “caring about the children.”

The hearings by the January 6th Select Committee, and the reception they are getting, show that there are still many people in America who value justice and freedom and rationality.

I think we’re going to need every single one of those types of people. This isn’t just an assault on rights and freedoms; it’s the opening shot in a war that can only be prevented by enough people facing the zealots down and saying, “Enough.”

Zealots won’t back off. They won’t settle for a half loaf. They’ll take it all, and laugh at your suffering.

Resist as hard as you can now, or you will be fighting for “life, liberty and freedom” later—and it won’t be cheap.

But don’t despair. We’re not dead yet. Voltaire also said, “‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”

Sing as you resist.

Dog Days — Moral dilemmas for Republicans

Dog Days

Moral dilemmas for Republicans

June 22nd 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Summer’s here, and my time to take the dog for his morning walk has shifted to an earlier hour. Temperatures are no longer at or below freezing (yes, that happens here in May) and this being the mountains, by 9:30, even if it’s still only 65 out, the sun is just beating down. So an earlier summer walk time accommodates both his desire not to freeze, and my desire not to bake.

As we were walking up the lane toward the house, I spotted a neighbor loading construction scrap into a trailer. Nice fellow, about my age, clearly intelligent and articulate. Friendly without being nosy, which is a definite plus in a small town. I had noticed that he had a Gadsden flag on his porch, alongside the American flag, which suggested his politics had a rightward, possibly libertarian bent. Not too uncommon in these parts. I figure if he can tolerate my politics (I’m a senior member of a group whose informal motto is “We’ll tread where we please”, and I fly the Flying Spaghetti Monster flag, which I’m sure some people think is Antifa or BLM) then I can tolerate his.

We chatted for a bit, and I glanced at my watch and said, “I’m going to move on. Have some chores, and I don’t want to miss the meeting.”

“What meeting is that?”

“January 6th Committee. Raffensperger is supposed to testify today.”

He actually snorted. “I’m not paying any attention to that farce.”

Well, OK then. I smiled, said, “Some of the testimony is pretty compelling” and let it go at that. I wasn’t looking for a fight. We exchanged pleasantries and I went home to watch the strongest session yet.

I think that decent Republicans have two choices at this point: refuse to pay attention to the Select Committee, or admit that Trump not only acted criminally, but perhaps treasonously. There’s the mad dogs of the sort that threaten poll workers and email death threats to terminally ill relatives of elected officials who refused to do Trump’s bidding (the centerpiece of the testimony in that session) and eventually America is going to have to deal with those after Trump is finished, but I think their numbers are already dwindling. After just the first three sessions, the percentage of voters who believe Trump should face criminal charges for his actions jumped from 52% to 60%, a huge one-week jump in these polarized times.

I suspect my neighbor will only be able to ignore the findings of the committee for so long. It’s one thing to say that “only” twenty or thirty million people are watching the proceedings, but it doesn’t count the streamers, and those who watched the wrap-up coverage on the evening news. A lot of people who pay scant attention to, or deliberately try to ignore “politics” are going to experience exposure to the meetings through a kind of social osmosis.

It doesn’t work to howl that the committee is nearly all Democrats. Originally, the committee was meant to be 8 Democrats and 7 Republicans but McCarthy tried naming such attack dogs as Gym Jordan and Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs to the committee—howling, vicious demagogues who voted to overturn the election on January 6th. In effect, McCarthy was in the position of naming jurors in a bank robbery trial and thought it would be clever to name some people who drove the getaway car. When Pelosi rejected two of the candidates, McCarthy did something very childish and weird: he withdrew all the Republican nominations.

Even Trump admits that was an own-goal, saying, “Well, I think in retrospect, I think it would have been very smart to put [Republicans on the committee] and again, I wasn’t involved in it from a standpoint so I never looked at it too closely. But I think it would have been good if we had representation. …I think in retrospect [McCarthy should’ve put Republicans on] to just have a voice. The Republicans don’t have a voice. They don’t even have anything to say.”

Anyone who watched the Mueller hearings or Benghazi or Emails knows that the Republicans operate by shouting, interrupting, making ridiculous accusations, and engaging in personal smears. It’s soul-sickening to watch. But the committee that evolved, which included Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, had a group of sober, serious, diligent people.

For all the damning testimony, perhaps the most revelatory thing about the Committee is that it shows the American people what it’s like when the grown-ups are in charge. Witnesses aren’t shouted at, called names, interrupted or deliberately misconstrued. It’s a reminder that yes, democratic governance can work. Which undermines the heart of the fascist philosophy that democracy is weak, and only a strongman can save us.

And while the committee is mostly composed of Democrats, nearly all the witnesses called have been Republicans (with the exception of Lady Ruby). Many were even Trump supporters. Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who gave spellbinding testimony revealing the moral courage it took to stand up to Trump, said he not only had voted for Trump, but would again. And yes, I think that undermines the foundation of his moral stance. But it shows clearly that most of these witnesses were Trump people at one time, and he drove them away with his bullying, corruption, and viciousness.

This session was a very bright spot in some dark times. I only wish my neighbor had watched.

Committee’s Latrine — The Trump Dump

Committee’s Latrine

The Trump Dump

June 16th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Hours before today’s utterly damning third January 6th Select Committee hearing, Trump finally had his long-awaited nuclear meltdown. (OK, it was more like a cake collapsing in the oven, but still kind of fun to watch). He got on his ersatz network, Truth Social, to rage, “The Fake News Networks are perpetuating lies, falsehoods, and Russia, Russia, Russia type disinformation (same sick people, here we go again!) by allowing the low rated but nevertheless one sided and slanderous Unselect Committee hearings to go endlessly and aimlessly on (and on and on!). It is a one sided, highly partisan Witch Hunt, the likes of which has never been seen in Congress before. Therefore, I am hereby demanding EQUAL TIME to spell out the massive Voter Fraud & Dem Security Breach! I DEMAND EQUAL TIME!!!

I’m sure several tens of millions of people had the same thought. OK, let’s give him twelve hours in front of the committee, responding to questions under oath. Isaac III wrote, “With 6 hearings, 2 hours each, equal time would come out to 12 hours of that tub of orange lard sitting there, sweating it out and corroding the upholstery. Let him go for the record, 11 hours, set by one Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

“A couple hours of trumpy ranting, with maybe a commentator to prod/goad (Proof. Where’s the proof. Do you know what proof is?) him about election fraud might be must see TV.” – grunt

Both Presidents and former presidents have testified in front of Congressional committees According to the far-right American Liberty blog in an unsigned piece, “Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Gerald Ford all testified before Congress when they were in office. Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Harry Truman and Gerald Ford all testified before Congress after they left office – about scandals that happened while they were in office. Taft was called back to testify on 12 separate occasions before eight different congressional committees.” The link leads to some utterly hilarious reading in which the author is urging Lindsey Graham to investigate Russiagate and the attempted theft of the election by … Barack Obama. No, really. The irony is palpable.

So, yes, the committee could ask and even compel Trump to testify. Then put him under oath, and subject to the same rules of conduct the other witnesses all have to follow. He would have counsel of course, although the best he might be able to get might be Rudy and a case of gin. He would of course have the right to plead the Fifth (and Rudy would retort, “I’m not done with it yet!”). Even without Rudy, the Fifth is a popular item among Trumpkins. Don, Junior invoked it over FIVE HUNDRED times in one deposition lately. But even Trump has to know that doing so on live TV in front of tens of millions of people would look bad.

Of course Trump would probably just scream and rant and generally try to make an utter circus out of the proceedings, and that would leave the Committee in a bind. Arrest him for contempt? Gag him? There wouldn’t be any way to maintain decorum that wouldn’t be political poison. OK, save Trump for the actual trials. Judges don’t face the same political constraints. Judge Dredd can put Trump in the cooler for 48 to calm down and get away with it.

Ginni Thomas (another member of the Too Much Gin brigade) also wants to testify. It’s become more and more clear that her part was more than just cheerleading for team Trump, and that she was playing an active role in conspiring to interfere with the slates of electors in Arizona, and promoting Eastman’s paranoid and treasonous legal theories. The committee would not only want to know the extent of her activities (which may have crossed a line from politicking to conspiracy), but her husband’s knowledge of them. With Republicans in the Senate, Slappy Thomas would never be impeached, but the Court itself, already widely seen as a shadow kangaroo court for the religious right and corporations, might compel Thomas to resign just to try to preserve whatever gravitas it has left. So it’s definitely worth the while of the Committee to take Thomas up on her offer.

Finally: it feels very strange to credit Mike Pence with resolve and courage, but it appears that he showed both on January 6th in the face of overwhelming pressure to betray his country. His reasons may have been noble or base, but in the end he did the right thing, even with a mob braying literally to hang him. I’ll never respect the man’s philosophy or methods, but let it be said that when it really mattered, he really mattered.

The Long Con — Trump is just returning to form

The Long Con

Trump is just returning to form

June 15th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

“Not only was there the Big Lie, there was the Big Ripoff.”

Zoe Lofgren, Congressperson from California, may have understated it. She cited the quarter of a billion dollars that Trump raised that was meant to go to the “Official Election Defense Fund.” The money would be used, he said, to “ensure election integrity.” That, of course, was the Big Lie: that the election was stolen from Trump.

But there is just one little problem with the “Official Election Defense Fund”: it doesn’t exist. Papers for such an entity haven’t been filed anywhere, and there are no filings with the federal or any state tax agency.

A quarter of a billion dollars. If a million people donated, it would be $250 each. Even if you factored in the usual gullible and/or fascistic billionaires, Trump hornswoggled a hell of a lot of people for his fake cause.

It would be somewhat understandable if the money went to Trump’s legal fees, but the GOP is paying those—yes, including ones that have nothing to do with his membership in the GOP. Republicans have been pretty much reduced to humping daddy’s leg in hopes of getting a pat on the head.

So where did all that money go?

According to Ryan Bort over at Rolling Stone, “…Save America PAC. The PAC then made contributions to Mark Meadows’ charity, to a conservative organization employing former Trump staffers, to the Trump Hotel Collection, and to the company that organized the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol last Jan. 6.”

Hold up. “[T]he company that organized the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol last Jan. 6.”?

Yup. Among other things, they shelled out $60,000 to have Kimberley Guilfoyle rant incoherently at the audience for all of two minutes. Nice work, eh? If you haven’t heard her speak, just imagine what might happen if you fed some meth to Donald Duck.

At least she didn’t incite the street Nazis of the GOP (the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, similar white trash) to attack the Capitol. They had already left to do that before the rally even began, it all having been carefully planned beginning before the election was even held. Guilfoyle was ranting at the same sorts of dupes that donated to the Official Election Defense Fund, mostly people who thought they were attending a peaceful pro-Trump rally. The real traitors had gone on ahead to try and overthrow the United States.

Trump has always been a huckster and a swindler. Trump charged $35,000 tuition for his “university” which had no accreditation, no actual physical existence, and a faculty that the Atlantic described as “a motley bunch if misfits.” Trump, in the late days of the 2016 campaign, wound up settling out of court against all the lawsuits filed for $15 million.

USA Today had a lengthy list of contractors and workers that Trump flat out swindled over the years.

Trump has a long and tawdry list of swindles and cons and flat out cheats, hundreds and thousands of them, destroying small businesses, cheating workers and tenants, and bilking billions of dollars. Perhaps most disgraceful of all was his theft of $100,000 from a charity for children’s cancer.

It’s an indictment of American culture—and its utter servility to the wealthy—that this man wasn’t sent to prison to rot decades ago.

So is anyone even remotely surprised that Trump’s motives for political office and his efforts to destroy the country were motivated by anything other than a desire to feather his own bloated nest further? Given his tawdry history, his entire political career is about the same as a dog coming back to lap up his own vomit.

We’ve had two public hearings by the January 6th Select Committee, and Americans, in the tens of millions, have tuned in, either directly on live television, or streaming, or video (the proceedings in full can be found on YouTube as they are public domain, and you can watch and/or download at will). The third one is tomorrow evening, prime time again. Democrats will fume, Republicans will bow and scrape to their master even as they condemn the enemies of Trump. The ability of Republicans to simultaneously strut and cringe is a wonder to behold.

Evidence will continue to mount. We’re probably going to learn of direct donations from the “Official Election Defense Fund” to the street Nazis. We may even learn which members of the Trump administration managed those payments on Trump’s behalf, and what, if any instructions to kill Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence were discussed. It will be damning.

Trump’s personal history leaves me baffled as to why he has escaped justice all these years. His political career, unsurprisingly, has been even more vicious, corrupt, and self-serving.

I’m against the death penalty, so I won’t say Trump should face a sentence of hanging. But if, in light of all we know, he doesn’t die in prison, it’s an indictment of America and its ability to be a free and just country.