The Lichtman Factors — The winds favor Biden, but it’s a long way to shore

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

April 30th 2024

There is a list of election factors, compiled by American University’s Distinguished Professor of History Allan Lichtman clear back in 1984, that he used to forecast the results of presidential elections.

He predicts the results of the popular vote, and thus has accurately forecast all ten of the last elections. In 2000 Bush wound up President through a corrupt decision by the Supreme Court, and in 2016 the Electoral College robbed both Lichtman and the American people.

I’m going to go down Lichtman’s list now (the factors are pretty self-explanatory) and give an overview of where we stand in relation to each factor. Since the election is a good six months away, I plan to revisit the list in October when most of the various bugger factors have sorted themselves out. For example, while Biden will almost certainly be the Democratic nominee, I think the odds are less than even that Trump will be the Republican nominee. It’s too early to tell how well the National Association of Zealots and Ideologues will do at corrupting and possibly ending democracy. (They are underwriting a group calling itself “We The People” which opposes Democracy. Think about that for a moment). And of course, a lot of unexpected but far-from-unlikely events could take place between now an then: a war, a economic crash, one or both candidates dies, etc.

Forecasting an election now is every bit as accurate as forecasting the weather for six months from now. In other words, utterly useless. But using Lichtman’s list, we can get a sense of the current trend, and that trend favors Biden. He is favored by keys 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 13 right now. If he enjoys that same trend six months from now, I would say he has the election all but wrapped up.

So, let’s look over that list:

1. Party mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the US House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections.

Obviously, the Dems lost ground in the last midterm and the GOP took the House. That’s a common thing in American politics, but this year the GOP are so inept and in such disarray that it’s possible that they could lose control of the House before the election. In some ways, they already have. The only reason Mike Johnson is still Speaker (or that we even HAVE a Speaker) is because the Dems are propping him up to avoid chaos. Which means the Dems expect support for some of Biden’s policies over the next few months.

2. Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.

Obviously this is the case for Biden. And if you want to argue that Trump is ALSO an incumbent, albeit one term removed, keep in mind that while the last of his in-party opposition has formally left the race, the “anyone-but-Trump” Republican vote is surprisingly strong, ranging from 25% to 33%.

3. Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.


4. Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign.

“No Labels” is dead in the water, and RFK’s quixotic campaign is in real trouble now that Republicans realize that his reactionary and conspiracy-laden campaign is going to impact Trump’s base far more than it would Biden’s. One major bugger factor here is that if Trump is in prison or clearly mentally incapable, a conservative consensus for a third-party GOP alternative might emerge. Such would be a mainstream Republican such as Liz Cheney or Mitt Romney. No guesses at this time how such a shit show might play out.

5. Short term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.

There are a few clouds on the horizon (last month’s GDP slow-down) but that’s always the case. This strongly favors Biden.

6. Long term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.

If the Republicans keep running on the “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” chestnut, Biden should end up with 400 electoral votes. But he needs to beware the power of right wing propaganda.

7. Policy change: The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.

Strongly in Biden’s favor, and he has a slew of new policy changes coming over the next few weeks. And with Mike Johnson pinned, he may be able to get some of them through the House.

8. Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term.

This one could make or break Biden. Campuses are erupting over the slaughter in Gaza, and right wingers are anxious to exploit the unrest and create a “generation gap.” It could, in many ways, be a replay of 1968. Chances are Biden knows the costs of supporting Netanyahu, just as Lyndon Johnson knew continuing to escalate in Vietnam would cost him the presidency. Biden supporters, upset over the war, won’t vote for Trump. But they might not vote at all, which is just as bad. Biden has to navigate the choppy waters of defying Netanyahu without appearing to abandon Israel. Meanwhile, Trump is actively trying to foment social unrest and failing miserably.

9. Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.

Gosh, where to begin? Why, that horrible Mister Biden didn’t even shoot his dog! Meanwhile, the Republicans may have a felon candidate running from a jail cell.

10. Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.

Of course the known bugger factor here is Gaza. The pretend ‘border crisis’ will be flogged by every fascist in the GOP, but Biden just needs to remind voters, over and over, that the GOP themselves sabotaged their own solution to the border problems.

11. Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.

Critical for Biden at this time. He must solve the Netanyahu/Gaza mess.

12. Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.

Biden has both, but is leaning into the strong headwinds of fascist propaganda. He simply doesn’t get the credit he has earned.

13. Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

OK, give me a minute to stop laughing. There are many MAGAts who still believe Trump is Jesus, Jefferson and Reagan all rolled up into one, and really does shoot 18-under-par. But strongman popularity is pretty brittle, and Trump’s bubble is in the process of popping.

So there you have it. Right now, the election is Biden’s to lose.

But it’s still an eternity off. We’ll revisit this in October.

Republicans versus America — The far right is nowhere near American values

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

April 7th 2024


Even as the NY Times blatted on about Trump leading in tossup states according to their latest “let’s scare the shit out of everyone and boost ratings” poll, another poll from the somewhat more reputable NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist organization painted a vivid picture of just how far out of step Trump, MAGAts, and Republicans in general are with the rest of the population.

The most glaring example is that of abortion. 84% of voters said abortion should not be criminalized. (Support for the right to abortion has strengthened significantly since the Dobbs decision. At that time, about half the population agreed that all first trimester abortions should be legal and on demand. It’s closer to two-thirds now.) However, over 35% of Republicans want abortion to be a crime. Both for the woman and the doctor. It’s clear that outside of the fundamentalist hate bubble, the vast majority (93% of non-Republicans) of people support a woman’s right to choose.

Another huge chasm exists between the far right and normal America. While 51% say all “illegal” immigrants should be subject to immediate deportation (which would cause an economic crash were it to happen), 84% of Republicans subscribe to that hateful lunacy. They also believe such falsehoods as that undocumented workers cost the country money (in reality, the country gains an estimated $8 trillion a year from their labor and taxes) and that they cause crime (crime rate among aliens, both documented and not, is lower than the citizen population, and far lower rates of violent crime). However, with the economy booming, fascist propaganda organs go on endlessly about “the open border” (it isn’t) and “the immigrant problem” which bears a startling resemblance to Hitler’s “Jewish problem.”

Over three out of four Republicans whine that white people are the victims of racism. Only one in four people outside the GOP hold that self-pitying view.

Therefore it’s probably no surprise that over six in ten Republicans believe people should be allowed to have military-style assault weapons. They don’t care how many children get turned into hamburger, even when it’s their own children. They need to be safe from their racist oppressors. It takes a really special type of emotional and psychological cowardice to feel that way.

While only four in ten Republicans believe religion should influence government policy, that puts them well above the 16% of the rest of us who feel that way. And I’ll bet that most of that 16% are going on the assumption that laws against murder or theft have a purely religious basis.

Other findings in the poll, as reported by NPR:

Strong majorities said:

  • Americans should not have to resort to violence in order to get the country back on track (79%)
  • A president should not be immune from crimes committed as president (75%)
  • Religion should not influence government policy (75%)
  • Corporate greed is a major cause of inflation (72%) – a majority of Republicans said so, too
  • Biden won the 2020 election (71%)
  • People should not be allowed to own military-style assault weapons (61%)

There was another poll last week that showed the striking power of GOP propaganda. Only about 1/3 thought the US economy was doing well. That by itself is amazing, given that the US is enjoying the biggest economic boom since the 1960s, spurred in large measure by the economic recovery bills Biden and Pelosi were able to shepherd through Congress in 2021-3. But respondents were then asked how they viewed the economy in their own state. The responses there measured reality a bit better, with majorities—sometimes near 70%—saying that the state economy was doing well. In about half the states where this was asked, the state economy, while doing well, actually lagged behind the national economy. I saw an amazing example of that on Fox News last week. Over 300,000 new jobs were added in February, half again what was forecast. Some propagandistic bimbo posing as a reporter announced that unemployment fell to 3.8%, which she described as “the second highest unemployment rate in two years.” Never mind that was also the lowest two-year rate of unemployment in the country’s economic history. Economists consider 5% “full employment.” Faux has to pretend unemployment is a administration failure, even when it is a glittering success.

Even as the Supreme Court pretends to mull over whether a president should be held unaccountable for any and all crimes he commits as president, 34% of Republicans agree with that lunatic notion. I would imagine that number might drop if they mean Biden has the legal right to order Trump to be taken out and shot. Or that any and all charges against Hunter Biden should be immediately dismissed because he was acting as Biden’s agent. There’s a reason people think Trump supporters are stupid.

No, actually, there are MANY reasons people think Trump supporters are stupid. We only covered a few of them today…



On the Sunny Side of the Street — Biden and the new New Deal brings about new hope

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 16th 2023

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about why, if the economy is doing so well, a lot of people are sour on it. I discussed the six-pronged attack of the fascist movement designed to strip workers and consumers of power and hand it to corporations and plutocrats: Deregulation; Tax “Reform”; “Tort Reform”; State’s rights; Freedom of (certain) religions; and the Takeover of channels of information by moneyed interests and fascists.

The result is that average people like you and me have been stripped, not just of power and security, but even agency. We have been told for decades that questioning the right of the rich to having it all amounts to treason. I know I’ve been called a communist for arguing for public campaign funding, or improving public schools. I’m sure most of you have, as well.

Dating back to the White Revolution in 1917, the aristocracy have worked hard to utterly control the lot of both employees and shoppers. When their excesses caused the Great Capitalistic Collapse of 1929 (the original Black Friday and subsequent Great Depression) they had to back off from the mess they themselves had created and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was able to implement his New Deal. The result was the strongest and richest economy in the history of the world, since his reforms and the rise of unions help mold a vast middle class, and what I call “demand-side economics,” unlike trickle-down, really did raise all boats—including, paradoxically, the rich.

Unfortunately, the rich tend to be stupid and greedy, and can never understand that ripping off the rest of society undermines their own wealth and power. They would rather have 90% of grinding poverty than 20% of massive abundance. 90% of almost nothing is better than 20% of a lot, right? As I said, stupid and greedy. When a society’s wealth concentrates to a small enough portion of the population, the whole thing implodes. Over and over, throughout history. The Great Depression wasn’t a fluke; it was a built-in design flaw.

Yes, their depredations sour the rest of us. But there are signs that even here, change is coming, and with any luck at all, we won’t need another Great Depression or communist revolution to effect that change.

Workers are taking back their power. Backed by President Biden, unions scored a massive victory when the government implemented a new rule that any company caught tampering or interfering with workers’ efforts to organize would immediately become a union shop. No ifs, ands, or buts. It won’t stop sleazy employers like Amazon or Starbucks, but it will make them a hell of a lot more careful. This NLRB directive (, which got almost no attention at all in the captive corporate press (let alone in the fascist propaganda outlets, except for the Wall Street Journal, who were alarmed!) was hailed by organizers. The NLRB took a victory lap, writing, “The new standard will promote a fair election environment by more effectively disincentivizing employers from committing unfair labor practices.”

Unions are on the rise already, with resounding victories in recent months against the Big Three Auto Makers, American Airlines, Kaiser Permanente, UPS and other delivery services, the LA School District, and Providence Hospitals in Portland, OR. According to the Guardian, “Feeling angry and emboldened, workers have been flexing their muscles. There were 301 strikes in the first nine months of his year, up from 172 over the same period in 2021, according to ILR Labor Action Tracker.” Even Tesla, with some of the worst labor abuses in the world, is in deep trouble, with union sentiment growing not just in the US, but in Europe as well.

This is partially why for the first time in ten years, average wages this year rose faster (4.2%) than the rate of inflation (3.2%).

Democrats in Congress have been pushing to make the ongoing thievery of so-called “contract workers” a thing of the pass. If they gain control next year, expect to see the sleaziest and most abusive outfits either have to give their workers decent pay and rights, or go out of business. (And any outfit that can’t afford even minimum wage and overtime pay needs to go out of business and won’t be missed.)

Consumers are starting to make their voices heard. Biden is still challenging the organized theft and ruination known as ‘student loans’ and bringing pressure to bear on those usurious payday-loan and other predatory outfits. Other protections are taking effect in blue states. I benefited from one such: a medium-sized snow storm caused my solar panels to crash to the ground last March, and the contractor’s response was “Gee, hope you have home owners’ insurance.” But California mandates full warranty of home construction projects for a period of ten years. A friend made me aware of the law (again, not mentioned in the media) and as a result, not only were the panels repaired, but the installation beefed up so as to survive similar storms in the future—at no cost to me.

And another sign of emerging change: the fascists are learning that they cannot lie to us with impunity. Fox News shelled out $787 million in damages for the lies they told about Dominion Voting Systems and the election supposedly being stolen from Trump. (I’m amused how fast Fox gets rid of the lying clowns—including the ex-President—who come on and still try to claim the election was stolen. But then, they have other lawsuits pending for their lies. So do some of the other propaganda outfits). Giuliani just got dinged to the tune of $148 million for defaming and ruining the lives of two election precinct volunteers. Trump himself lost a suit for battery and defamation to E. Jean Carroll, and now faces another suit for $50 for repeating the same lies he told about her that led to the first case.

The United States is willing to fight for its right to exist in the face of the “I-live-America-but-hate-the-US” crowd. Over a thousands individuals participating in the January 6th insurrection have been fined or imprisoned.

Mainstream media, for all its faults, sees the writing on the wall, and some have dropped the pretense that “conservatives” or “libertarians” are anything other than fascists, and are using the word. It’s about time.

Trump, beset on all sides by the fruits of his vile actions, is watching his support slowly erode. You can only lose so much before your followers start noticing and wondering if it really is all a deep-state conspiracy.

The Solstice is coming, and I always write a piece where the central theme is “the sun will be back, don’t lose hope.” Well, I’ve already written the one for this year (and you’ll have to wait until the 21st to read it. Deal), but hope is definitely a factor in discussion about how people feel about living in America today. There is hope, and the reason for the hope gets stronger by the day.

Never lose hope.

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

The Economy is Great

Except for 90% of us, that is

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 4th 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It all leads to plutocratic authoritarianism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier…–Trump Audio recording eliminates any defense he had

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 31st, 2023

The denouement of Trump’s defense in the documents scandal came from a New Yorker story by Susan Glasser that, by itself, was utterly horrifying. The story details how Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley opposed Trump, both openly and behind the scenes, to stymie Trump’s impulse to launch a full-scale military invasion of Iran.

Milley presumably realized that this would be the greatest military blunder in American history. Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam and Korea would all pale next to it. Those were all small, comparatively weak nations and time after time the US sank into a quagmire they eventually lost. Iran is neither small nor weak, and an attack there would almost certainly draw in the Russians. It probably would be the start of World War III. Milley went so far, according to the story, to surreptitiously tell the military to ignore any “illegal orders” that might come from the President.

The story utterly infuriated Trump (OK, for once I can at least understand why he would be pissed). But his endless need to self-justify and his thin skin led him to what perhaps was the most damning error he has made, post-presidency.

Per CNN, “President Donald Trump acknowledges he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, multiple sources told CNN, undercutting his argument that he declassified everything.”

The story goes that two writers for Mark Meadows “autobiography” met with Trump at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. That autobiography contains an account where Trump “recalls a four-page report typed up by (Trump’s former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) Mark Milley himself. It contained the general’s own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency.” It’s anyone’s guess if Milley was contradicting himself, or this is just one of the obligatory scenarios the military delight in creating (“What happens if Lower Slobbovia invades Delaware? Or vice-versa?”) but Trump seized on it as proof Milley was lying.

Trump rattled some papers at the interviewers, and said that these were classified documents that showed the truth of the Meadows claims, and he would like to show them to the interviewers, but the documents were classified, so he couldn’t.

How do we know this?

Oh, lord, there are tapes, part XI. The interviewees, with Trump’s knowledge and consent, were recording the meeting. Trump either forgot, or was so irate he simply lost his temper, or both.

And Jack Smith has that tape. Lawdy, lawdy.

I can envision dozens of felony counts awaiting Trump just on the documents case. But for the first time, I think the DoJ has a prima facie case to persecute Trump for espionage. Combined with the probable indictments for the January 6th case (insurrection) and the Georgia vote count (election tampering) Trump’s most likely future will include dying in prison. This one tape demonstrates that Trump was lying about declassifying the documents, or that he COULD declassify them, or that he didn’t know he had them, or that he ever misused them in any way. This tape is more damning than all the Nixon tapes combined, including the infamous missing “14 ½ minutes.”

It came at the same time that Trump revealed just how far his contempt for the Constitution went by vowing to rescind the 14th amendment through executive order. Even Slappy Thomas would have trouble justifying that one. Trump is irked that the constitution specifies that anyone born in the territories of the US are American citizens, including babies who don’t speak English. (That would be most of them, I would hazard.)

He also threw his weight behind preventing the impeachment of Ken Paxton in Texas who was, of course, promptly impeached. It shows how weak his grasp on the party has become, even as the marching morons continue to chant his praises.

Trump legally, is a dead man walking. He won’t be a candidate in 2024 because he will be in prison. He may still claim to be a candidate, but his campaign will be as quixotically ridiculous as the one run by Lyndon LaRouche back about 30 years ago. The Republicans who, under Trump, let the lunatic fringe take over their party are in such disarray that they will have severe trouble coming up with any candidate at all. They may no longer even be a single discrete party at that point.

The voting on the debt ceiling limit is taking place as I write this, and its passage is extremely likely. For a small number of concessions, Biden got the Republicans to throw away the only real weapon they still possessed, eliminating the debt ceiling until after the 2024 election. Yes, Biden is smarter than the GOP—combined. I was of the strong opinion that Biden shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists, but the implications of this agreement please even me. Biden lost a couple of minor skirmishes, but won the war. The same Republicans who had been howling that Biden was so senile and/or incompetent he couldn’t find his trousers just learned they lost their own pants in a poker match against him.

I’m starting to feel hope that America is going to survive Trump, and MAGA, and Qanon.

In any event, the next few weeks should be entertaining as all hell.

Hawks and Owls — GOP continues lemming plunge

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 18th, 2023

I wonder which will happen first? Will the Republicans’ extremism that sometimes slops over into outright treason and fascism cost them enough votes to neuter them, or will they destroy the country first in a mindless attempt at extortion?

Of course, things aren’t going well for them. They lost two mayoral elections Tuesday, both in deep red areas, one under the purview of Ron DeSantis, and the other in the district to Lauren Boebert. Both had been considered locks for the GOP.

Speaking of Bo-bo, she’s getting divorced, and that’s already turning into a white trash rodeo, Palin-style. Maggie Armpits is also getting divorced. Family values and all that.

The GOP is clinging to George Santos because they need his vote so desperately, and the Dems gleefully maneuvered them into voting against expelling the con artist. The Republicans think they can strike back by voting to expel Adam Schiff, because two actions are always the same no matter what. Just like having Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court is exactly the same as having Thurgood Marshall.

Speaking of the “all things being equal” mentality, Armpits is whining that “white nationalism” is the same as the N word, because ‘slaveholder’ means exactly the same thing as ‘enslaved.’

Trump is claiming the Durham report proves that he tried to stop Biden from committing war crimes or something. Trump’s buddy Putin has his mercenaries firing on his own troops and he just fired the scientists who developed their hypersonic missiles because, like the jet planes under Hitler, it failed to change the course of the war. Stay in your bunker, Putie. Someone will be by shortly to scrape you up.

Then there’s the Jordan ‘hearings.’ How many courts could a kangaroo court if a kangaroo could quartz courts? The clowns in the little car are the only part that makes any sense. It seems the dawg ate Gym’s homework.

In Arizona, election and reality denier Kari Lake called her star witness, Jacqueline Onigkeit, She was supposed to establish improper verification of voter ballots. She did the exact opposite. The Arizona Republic bemusedly reported, “As a witness for the defense, Onigkeit was dynamite. The problem is, she was supposed to be the star witness for Lake.”

But of course, there is the budget blackmail that is still ongoing. Republicans are hoping Democrats will cave before they have to murder the country, and Biden doesn’t look to be in a caving mood. The crazier boobs of the Republican Party are hoping that they can stay with their tried-and-true approach to governance: Fuck things up, and leave it for the Democrats to fix. This would be more of the same, piled higher and deeper.

Racking up bills is always more enjoyable than is paying them, and for many years, Republicans have gotten away with the lie that the Dems rack up the bills. Don’t believe me? Here’s something my friend Isaac in the Weasels posted this morning: It shows that over nine out of every ten dollars in the debt is from Republican policies and misadventures. It’s only gotten worse since it began with Reagan. It also shows the Democrats tried to staunch the flow of Republican largess to the rich. Read it and weep:

Here’s a look at the budget deficit each president since Lyndon Baines Johnson inherited from his predecessor, and what the budget deficit was when he left office.

Lyndon Baines Johnson (D)
Assumed office November 1963: $5 billion deficit
Left office January 1969: $3 billion surplus
Reduced the deficit by $8 billion

Richard Nixon (R)
Assumed office January 1969: $3 billion surplus
Left office August 1974: $6 billion deficit
Increased the deficit by $9 billion

Gerald Ford (R)
Assumed office August 1974: $6 billion deficit
Left office January 1977: $54 billion deficit
Increased the deficit by $48 billion

Jimmy Carter (D)
Assumed office January 1977: $54 billion deficit
Left office January 1981: $79 billion deficit
Increased the deficit by $25 billion

Ronald Reagan (R)
Assumed office January 1981: $79 billion deficit
Left office January 1989: $153 billion deficit
Increased the deficit by $74 billion

George H.W Bush (R)
Assumed office January 1989: $153 billion deficit
Left office January 1993: $255 billion deficit
Increased the deficit by $102 billion

Bill Clinton (D)
Assumed office January 1993: $255 billion deficit
Left office January 2001: $128 billion surplus
Reduced the deficit by $383 billion

George W. Bush (R)
Assumed office January 2001: $128 billion surplus
Left office January 2009: $1.4 trillion deficit
Increased the deficit by $1.5 trillion

Barack Obama (D)
Assumed office January 2009: $1.4 trillion deficit
Left office January 2017: $665 billion deficit
Reduced the deficit by $735 billion

Donald Trump (R)
Assumed office January 2017: $665 billion deficit
Left office January 2020: $3.7 trillion deficit
Increased the deficit by $3 trillion

Joe Biden (D)
Assumed office January 2021: $3.7 trillion deficit
Fiscal year 2022: $2.775 trillion deficit
Fiscal year 2023: $1.376 trillion deficit
Reduced the deficit by $2.3 trillion (so far)

So in the past 60 years, only one Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, had a larger budget deficit in his last year in office than he inherited from his predecessor. All six Republican presidents had larger deficits in their last budgets than they were handed at the start of their term.

In other words, Republicans love to spend taxpayer money. And yet so many gullible voters have swallowed the GOP line that it’s the Democrats who are spendthrifts, the basis for McCarthy’s current threat to refuse to pay the nation’s bills — something Republicans never did as Trump was adding $8 trillion to the national debt in just four years.

Yes, the party of Trump, DeSantis, Greene, Santos, Luna, Boebert, Lake and Jordan is going to save us all for irresponsibility and financial ruin. Oh, did I say “for.” Cough. I’m aFreud I made a typo…

Let me put it as plainly and as bluntly as I possibly can: if you think the Republicans want to help you, and help the country, and the Democrats don’t, well, you’re a fucking fool.

The Debt Ceiling — Republicans hate black males, but love blackmail

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

April 29th 2023

Imagine that you are the owner of a small business. Tax time is approaching, and you’ve spent much of the previous month conferring with your tax accountant agency, ensuring that they have all the proper documentation and a full assessment of all credits and liabilities. Your main preparer has told you will will owe a certain amount on your income, but that comes as no surprise. Just part of the cost of doing business.

But then, a week before the tax deadline, your preparer comes to you with an offer he thinks you can’t refuse. He’ll send in the documents and a check, but only if you fire 10% of your employees, raise prices for your customers, and buy lower quality raw materials for your product. And he wants you to hire only people who attend his church. Or he’ll withhold the tax documents, leaving you to face a load of penalties, a possible audit, and damage to your credit.

Under the law, that is extortion. It’s a felony. The accountant would face many years in prison for pulling such a stunt. He’s abusing your legal obligations for his own gain.

The Republicans in the House are pulling that type of stunt right now. It’s not the first time they’ve used a constitutionally dubious provision in the law to threaten to ruin the credit of the United States. They’ve been doing it, always during Democratic administrations, going back to when it was the brainstorm of the vicious and feckless Newt Gingrich during the Clinton administration. He was the first to hit on the idea of blackmail as official legislative policy. (He and the Republicans tried a similar stunt with the budget, and that blew up massively in their own faces when the country discovered that holding the budget hostage included shutting down Social Security checks, national parks, post offices and many other beloved government functions. Newt, beaten badly on that and facing personal scandal, backed down.

But the Republicans knew a good blackmail ploy when they saw it. Simply threaten to withhold mandated action and demand things that could never ever pass legislatively, such as cutting veterans’ benefits or food stamps or school funding, and leave the Democratic administration to take the blame for it since it would be his signature on a non-bill no member of Congress could be held responsible for.

In 2011, the Democrats called their bluff, and the early stages of a fiscal avalanche that is default began. It cost the country an estimated $2.4 trillion (yes, trillion, with a “tr” – 2,400 billion) and provoked a mild but long-lasting recession.

Republicans can’t govern. Even when they had a Speaker who wasn’t a beholden wimp, and a reasonable majority, they couldn’t get a budget passed, but had to punt the ball down the field, in the form of a “continuing resolution” which basically rubber-stamped the previous years’ budget onto the next one. Between the inflexibility and inflation, it amounted to a slow strangulation of the economy. But, knowing the majority of voters hated what they wanted to see done, they didn’t dare put it out there in black and white, but instead, simply tried to blackmail the country.

They’re at it again, and between the civil war that exists between the zealots and the banksters, and the tiny amount of votes they have in the House (5) they can’t even really say what it is they want. The poison-pill laden extension McCarthy managed to get through by just two votes took a meat-cleaver approach: The plan would cut a wide swath of government spending to last year’s levels, a decrease of about 9%. From that point, growth would be capped at 1% annually over the next 10 years. More of that slow strangulation Republicans so love, and nobody’s fingerprints on the pain. One of the few specifics was to cut the $80 billion or so left from funds to battle COVID, although the Administration has already earmarked that money, reallocating it to veterans’ health care and medical research. It would eliminate Biden’s $400 billion student debt relief, a program Republicans hate because it is popular and prevents the cost of education from making a life-long fiscal slave of the student. It cuts increases to the IRS because the IRS is inconvenient to plutocrats, who resent having to give 1% of their income to the country that wet-nursed them. It would repeal incentives for electric vehicles and sustainable energy because that might annoy the fossil-fuel companies that pay for those Republicans. And they would mandate work for people on Medicare or food stamps because employers would welcome would-be workers who are destitute, desperate, and with no options. It’s the capitalist dream, you know.

None of these poll well, but the Republicans don’t really care about cutting the deficit. (If they did, they would repeal the Trump tax cuts and the huge incentives paid to oil companies, and reduce funding for military allocations, but they won’t.) They just want to threaten the country to weaken Biden, and hope that whether he accepts the blackmail or he doesn’t that he, and not the Republicans, will be blamed for the ensuing fallout.

It’s tawdry, it’s cynical, and it’s a betrayal of the country. It’s the entire Republican package, rolled up into one sleazy political gambit that less than 1/100th of one percent of the country would benefit from.

Ask Biden to stand firm on his demand for a “clean” debt-ceiling raise. Allow no blackmail from these vicious sleazeballs.

SOTU 2023 — Biden—his time

SOTU 2023

Biden—his time

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

February 7th 2023

I had been kind of ignoring the State of the Union address in recent years. They were pretty bland and formulaic under most presidents—yes, folks, the state of the union is strong and gawd bless the troops. And under Trump, as with most things under Trump, it was a grotesque travesty.

But I had a feeling I might want to watch this, and boy, am I glad I heeded that sense.

Biden staged a masterwork in challenging the GOP in the most conciliatory way possible. It was amazing to watch. He started out lavishing praise on the GOP for all the bipartisan legislation that got passed (some of which only had a handful of GOP votes and caused considerable discomfort amongst the Republicans, who really hate to be seen as cooperating with the Democrats in any way, shape or form.

Then he put the Republicans on the spot by making them sit on their hands while reciting facts that brought thunderous applause from Democrats and the vast majority of Americans watching: the twelve million new jobs, the lowest unemployment since 1969, the rise in working class pay, the explosion in domestic manufacturing jobs, the CHIPS act, the IRA, the COVID relief measures. Republicans had to show they oppose all those things.

Then he spoke about the deficit, which has been falling at record levels since he took office, and noted that a full quarter of the national debt had been racked up under “my predecessor.” While he hid it extremely well (I don’t want to play poker against Joe Biden) this last caused the MAGA caucus to lose their little minds and start screaming at him.

He didn’t try to shut them down, but then, why should he? HE wasn’t the one being embarrassed by them. Instead, he invited them to stop by the White House and he would give them the facts and figures.

He was able to goad the Coo-Coo Caucus a couple of more times, on abortion rights and gun control, and there were loud shouts of “order!” which is was interest to note came, not from Democrats (THEY weren’t embarrassed by these fools, either) but Republicans.

Biden, with surgical skill, went on to recite a number of issues where the majority of Republicans at least tacitly agree with him (debt ceiling, pay for school teachers, etc.) and and really worked the intraparty divisions that exist within the GOP. Biden put his thumb in the gap and twisted, mentioning securing the border and stopping fentanyl.

Watching Kevin McCarthy was a treat. Yes, I just said that. He isn’t a good poker player, and his growing discomfort over the antics of the MAGAts eventually turned into an open glare after the fifth or so outburst from the “Toilet Training is for Sissies” contingent.

So Biden managed the very neat trick of taking the role of “Together, we can make it work” and simultaneously opening the rift between the crazies and the rest of the country wider. And there was no duplicity involved, which is the amazing thing. He did it simply by saying what he had accomplished, what he wanted to accomplish, and why he wanted to do so, and watched as Voltaire’s prayer was answered. “I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it.” Biden defeated the zanies and zealots with the one weapon they cannot counter: sweet reason and even temperament.

It made for the most entertaining SOTU since the days of Clinton, and while the zanies aren’t going to shrivel up and blow away, Biden has done a tremendous job of defanging them by making the show their fangs in response to friendly overtures.

Listening to Huckabye now. She is a hero because her mom survived cancer, and Trump was the greatest leader in history, and Biden has surrendered to a Chinese balloon. She isn’t staging a great comeback. Trump was a great hero. OK, Huckster. Whatever. Not one word about policy or goals; just the usual pseudo-patriotic pablum mixed with the usual god-flogging. America is in danger and god hates us, waaaaugh!

So: all in all a satisfying evening.

One thing for sure: the people who caught the SOTU in order to hate-watch are going to find it a whole lot harder to dismiss Biden as senile or foolish. He’s neither, and he’s smarter than most of you.

Two Proposals to Destroy the Economy — And if that doesn’t work, kill the pensions and what little health care there is

Two Proposals to Destroy the Economy

And if that doesn’t work, kill the pensions and what little health care there is

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

January 29th, 2023

If you need evidence that the Republican party has been taken over by lunatics, consider this: As part of his deal to get the votes needed to become speaker, Keven McCarthy agreed to let a proposal for a thirty percent national sales tax to sail through committee and get a vote on the House floor.

In most countries, a 30% national sales tax would provoke widespread rioting in the streets, and could possibly lead to a coup or a revolution. Even sales taxes at the state level that are about one fifth or less that big are widely unpopular. For working people and the poor, who have been steadily losing ground ever since Reagan decided to feed the birds by giving all the grain to the horse, it would be a death blow. Groceries that cost $100 a week would now cost $130. Gas would jump between a buck a gallon and $1.50 depending on base price. Just about anything you buy retail other than labor would jump 30% overnight. If you thought 8% inflation was bad, this is dozens of times worse.

Of course, to even be seen as even thinking about such a mad idea is political suicide, but the MAGA and Qanon extremists who hold McCarthy’s leash seems to have convinced themselves that imposing such a tax would take much of the burden off our poor suffering billionaires, and give working people a sense that they were contributing to our society. No, really. That’s what they think. Did I mention the same bill would abolish the IRS outright? Billionaires would only have to pay taxes if they felt like it.

Any second semester economics course will teach that a large spending tax is far more likely to depress an economy than any earning tax. Earning taxes, particularly progressive ones, tax those who can afford to pay the taxes, and in the 50s and 60s, when the top income bracket was 93%, the government cleverly allowed tax breaks for investing back into the economy, such as local manufacturing and retail, and paying employees well. It’s one of the things that made America’s economy the strongest in the world.

Spending taxes (which is what a sales tax is) hits the poorest the hardest. If they can no longer afford food and clothing, they do without. And the billionaires who were hoping the sales tax would cover their new life free of income taxes suddenly find that without sales, there is no sales tax. In short order, they discover a great depression is even more expensive. One reason the New Deal arose in the first place was that unrestrained capitalism and increasing burdens on the working people was what caused the crash, and the New Deal was the only thing that could save capitalism for itself.

Needless to say, Democrats are overjoyed that the Republicans have wrapped this sales tax albatross around their necks. It doesn’t have a prayer of even passing the House: not all Republicans are mad, and the sane ones will vote against it by the dozens. But the self-inflicted damage will be done. The genius who is forcing this vote is Andrew Clyde of Georgia, the same clown called the Sixth of January rioters just regular tourists. He’s both nuts and stupid.

The other proposal the GOP are making is the old tried-and-true gambit of refusing to permit payment of bills already incurred, known as “the debt limit.” This would also crash the economy by wiping out the good credit of the United States, which by itself would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. They want vast spending cuts or they’ll push debt through the roof, which is a bit like saying “fix the crack in my windshield or I’ll drive us at 90mph into a brick wall.” Yeah, that’ll show that old windshield. They won’t admit it, but the Republicans want to decimate Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare. They’re popular, they help people, and people associate them with Democrats. Therefore they must go.

They also want big military cuts, and since I’ve argued for the same thing for years, I can’t just condemn it out of hand because Republicans are proposing it. But the devil is in the details: WHAT do they want to cut, and WHY do they want to cut it? Remember, several dozen of them happily side with Putin over their own country and are not to be trusted.

At least some of this is driven by Republican desperation. Although the fascist bullhorns of Fox and other propaganda outlets obsess on inflation, the truth is the overall economy has absolutely boomed since Biden became President, breaking records in employment growth, worker income, and small business gains. All those bills he and the Congress passed lit a fire under an economy that was contracting under Trump, and pulled us back from a recession. Because it’s good for Americans, it’s good for Democrats, and therefore Republicans must destroy it.

By the way, this sort of fiscal lunacy isn’t limited to the House MAGAts. Rick Scott, considered a leading GOP contender in ‘24, wants this. Not quite as instant death to the economy as Clyde’s crackpot scheme is, but still plenty bad.

Since Clyde’s deal is dead on arrival, and Biden is likely to call the Republican bluff on the debt ceiling, there may actually still be an economy for Scott to try and destroy as his campaign promises broaden.

Remember, billionaires and big corporations are not your friends. They pretend to like you, but if you get in their way, they’ll cheerfully crush you. And Republicans serve billionaires and big corporations. They are not your friends.

Smoke and Mirrors – The war in Ukraine

Smoke and Mirrors

The war in Ukraine

March 16th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

I’ve been fairly quiet the past few weeks since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. One reason for that is “the fog of war”–I have no idea of what the actual situation is beyond the blatantly obvious that you can see for yourself just by tuning into any non-fascist news network. For me, that would be the BBC, the CBC, and the Guardian. The US commercial networks (and again, I am limiting myself to the non-fascist ones, which means I’m not wasting time watching Fox or Newsmax or OAN) are, in the confusion and uncertainty, substituting speculation and wishful thinking for actual factual reporting.

Non-factual reporting, no matter how well-intentioned and sincere, is only one step removed from propaganda, and when there is evident bias, then it IS propaganda.

Since none of us know what is going on in Putin’s head, or in the Kremlin at large, take reports that he is desperate, on the ropes, facing a possible coup, etc., with a large grain of salt. Some of it may prove to be true, but at this time consider it on the same level of defamation of the foe that we see in all wars.

Back when the Germans captured Paris, a video circulated showing Hitler doing an absurd little “dance of joy.” The video was fake, just an snippet of Hitler looped to make it appear he was dancing. The intent was to make him look absurd and petty, and while he in many ways was, it actually backfired in some ways in that it humanized him and made him look like he had a sense of humor, neither of which were particularly accurate.

The pictures of Putin at his absurdly long table also needs to be deprecated, even though the image is accurate. Pundits say it shows a dictator who is paranoid, estranged from everyone except a few sycophants, isolated, and out of touch. It may be true, but it’s also exactly what you might expect to hear of a adversarial leader in time of war. Nor does it prove weakness on Putin’s part: Russia has a long history of leaders, strong-arm dictators who were widely hated but who nonetheless held power for decades. Much as I would like to see Putin fall, I interpret the media analyses of his isolation and weakness as being wishful thinking. Kremlin watching has been a major US government pastime since 1920, but nearly every major development over that century has taken American strategists by surprise. Little has changed.

As to the military situation in Ukraine, some generalities can be made. It isn’t going well for the Russians, they have taken significant losses in personnel and materiel. All these are also standard wartime claims, made by both sides, but there is a wealth of evidence to support the three items mentioned. As for anything more specific, the military leaders on either side generally understand the tactical and strategic maps little more than the armchair generals watching CNN. There’s an old saying “All plans die at the start of battle,” and leaders on both sides are tearing their hair out trying to figure out the true situation on the ground. It’s almost always going to be chaotic.

Claims of losses are also good reason for skepticism. Both sides will inflate enemy losses and minimize own casualties. Remember Vietnam, when you might hears that half a dozen Marines were injured, one by a misfiring beer can opener, while killing 12,500 Viet Cong? And that was from a country that had a free press at the time.

Claims about morale should be weighed carefully. That the Ukrainians are courageous, determined, and largely united in defense of their homeland is almost a given. Anyone raised in post-war London knows nothing stiffens the backbone of the resident population than lobbing bombs at them. Claims of Russian morale are backed by the mass arrests for protest (including one case where a silent “protester” was arrested for waving A BLANK PROTEST sign. It’s also a fact that Putin has mandated 15 years in prison for calling his “special operation” a war. Claims about the state of morale in the Russian military are harder to evaluate. Few Russian soldiers are willing to grant ‘man in the street’ interviews, it seems. I think it’s safe to say they aren’t exuberant about the way this situation is developing, though.

Russians do seem to be targeting cities and the civilian population, a curious approach for a country that is simply trying to bring lost children back into the fold of Mother Russia, but it’s hard to get a sense of the true scale when the cable news is showing the same dozen over and over, either because they can’t or won’t show more. There’s little doubt that the maternity hospital in Mariupol was hit by a large rocket shell, and while the Russians deny it, Occam’s Razor says it was them, although intent is less clear. In the instance of the Mariupol Drama Theatre, where hundreds of civilians, half of them children, had sheltered, intent seems more obvious. The theater had the word “children” written in large letters in the grounds surrounding the theater, and even after reporting began of the atrocity, Russian air strikes continued. That’s why, over 24 hours later, we still have no idea of the death toll.

It is safe to say the Russian economy has taken massive damage. Their stock market has remained closed for over three weeks now, and the ruble is quite literally worth less than a square of American toilet paper. This won’t translate to a popular uprising—Russian history makes that fairly self-evident. Nor is a revolt by the oligarchs likely. Like Putin’s pet American oligarch, Trump, most are bound to Putin because he maintains control over their reputations, their families, and their ability to enjoy their wealth. If they couldn’t overthrow Putin when they had money, what are they going to do now?

Yes, Putin has bitten off more than he can chew, and yes, what he is doing is a crime against humanity. And it is costing Russia and the Russian people almost as dearly as it’s costing the Ukrainians.

But beyond that, it’s all smoke and mirror, wishful thinking, and propaganda. If you think you know how it ends, you are delusional.

But to quote a line I’m known for using, “Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.”


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