The Wave Breaks — But the sand persists

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 20th, 2022

zeppscommentaries.online

In a way, the election last week didn’t change a whole lot. The Democrats held the Senate and maybe will add a seat in two weeks, and while they lost the House, the number of seats lost by the party holding the White House was the second-least in over 70 years.

Very little changed, and yet it feels like everything has changed.

About 90% of political power is illusory, and that was the case with the out-of-office Donald Trump. Not only did he fail to avail himself of the standard political winds to get his party a large majority in both Houses, but he was actually a drag on the ticket, with many of his hand-picked candidates losing in races they ought to have handily won, and a lot of Qanon “the election was stolen” nuts getting rejected en masse.

And most of Trump’s political power collapsed like a soap bubble. Suddenly the Voice of Donald, which thundered in GOP ranks, provoking shivers and submissive urination, became a shrill whine which Republicans felt free to swat at in irritation, like a mosquito. Suddenly, Trump found himself being rejected and even dismissed by his former sycophants, and even publicly challenged.

The Congressional Republicans decided to pretend that the narrow three-or-four seat majority they had in the House amounted to a mighty 1932-style mandate, and immediately chorused that they would start fresh rounds of the indeterminable hearings that were usually investigations in search of a crime, the same tiresome nonsense they’ve inflicted on the country since Newt Gingrich started pointless but politically damaging congressional investigations of the Clintons. They were already losing what little potency they possessed before January 6th, 2021. The eight different Benghazi investigations, including 11 hours of testimony from Hillary Clinton hurt her so badly that she only got three million more votes than Donald.

But the January 6th Committee hearing showed the nation what honest, conscientious Congressional hearings were like. There was no shouting down of witnesses (despite the fact that most of the witnesses were Republicans and members of the Trump team), actual evidence was presented with strong documentation, video and written records. There was no grandstanding, no shouted promises to convict as soon as something came up that could result in actual charges. It showed the prior “investigations” to be the silly, pointless, futile clown shows that in the end, were all the GOP had to offer. Even the one investigation over the past almost 30 years that actually found wrong doing and resulted in charges was so petty, mean, and rankly hypocritical that the impeachment of Bill Clinton for getting a blow job actually resulted in an increase in his popularity. People might have honestly disapproved of Bill’s behavior, but they didn’t need the likes of Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde lecturing them on what proper moral behavior might be.

So now we have the likes of Gym Jordan, Margie “Armpits” Taylor-Greene and Bobo Boebert to tell us that investigations of criminals by the Department of Justice and the FBI are bad, bad, bad. If Republican criminals aren’t safe, then by gawd, no criminal is safe!

They’re even talking about resurrecting Benghazi. After nearly two years of trying to defend, or at least excuse or even deny the events of January 6th, they want to tell us all that an armed mob attacking a US government facility resulting in the deaths of Americans is bad, and someone needs to pay. Think about that. Just brimming with moral authority there, aren’t we?

They want to impeach Joe Biden because Hunter something. Hunter is a sleaze and probably will end up getting tried at some point for some sort of malfeasance (high crimes that in Trump world are known as “Wednesday”) but the investigations will turn themselves inside out trying to show, with no evidence, that Joe orchestrated it all. They want to impeach Merrick Garland because he’s investigating Trump. They want to impeach Jack Smith for being named Special Counsel, apparently unaware of the fact that they cannot impeach a Special Counsel.

Having already lost the moderates and independents they hoped to corral in the election, they now face a slow, steady withdrawal of those supporting them – the so-called “mainstream Republicans” – the corporate types, the actual conservatives, and Republicans who don’t fancy clown shows, fascism, hate mongering or theocracies. There was a glaring example of that withdrawal from the bat-shit wing of the party by Murdoch’s New York Post, which noted Trump’s ill-advised declaration of candidacy for 2024 by putting on the bottom of their front page, “Florida Man makes announcement. Page 27”. Leading Republicans, including fascist slimes Ted Cruz and DeSantis, openly challenged the Trump announcement. Both have been fervent belly-crawlers for Trump, and if those two whipped dogs could work up the courage to disobey Trump then truly his star has dimmed.

Given the unbridled glee and enthusiasm of the bat-shit contingent, and the pulling back of the saner elements in the GOP, a civil war in the party, particularly in the House, seems likely. Pass the popcorn. I’m actually hoping the zanies will prevail, not just for their ability to do damage to themselves and their party, but because it may lead to some Republican congressionals leaving the party, becoming independents, putting control of the House back in Democratic hands. The Dems not only need to consider who the minority leader will be to replace Nancy Pelosi, but potentially who the Speaker will be.

We’re seeing a sea change. Americans got to see what Trump, Qanon and the various other extreme right factions had to offer—the hatred, the racism, the cruelty and the vicious imposition of religion—and don’t want it. This election, for all that it changed little, moved mountains.

Last Election? — Or jumping off place?

Last Election?

Or jumping off place?

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 5th 2023

zeppscommentaries.online

Trump has been teasing his cult that he will announce if he’s running for President in 2024 or not on November 14th. That happens to be the day he has to comply with the January 6th Committee’s subpoena to appear, but I don’t think that is it. For one thing, the committee gave him an extra week.

No, the main thinking is that it’s his time after the mid-term elections. His entire strategy for the next two years rests on whether the GOP win the House and Senate or not.

If the Democrats keep the House, he might want to rile up his base whether he complies or not. Being morally bereft, they’ll be fine with it either way. He’ll be pushing the ‘stolen election’ narrative and hoping to foment a revolution.

What happens if the Republicans take Congress?

He might see that happen. Fivethirtyeight.com is one of the few outfits not interested in blowing smoke up the asses of one side or the other, but even then, a lot of the polls they use have become increasingly suspect, partly from political influence, and partly from an out-of-date methodology (many voters, particularly younger ones, don’t even HAVE landlines, and because of the huge numbers of spam and scam calls we all get, anyone with caller ID tends to not answer calls from unfamiliar numbers). And this year, pollsters are ignoring the elephant in the room, and not asking about abortion.

And because “common sense” says that incumbent presidents lose seats in the midterm election, and the supposition that inflation hurts the party in power, so pollsters are uncritically saying it looks like a Republican election, with gains in the House and Senate. Add the factors of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and voter intimidation that the GOP is engaging in, and a Republican win seems likely. Certainly Donald must think so. But then, he didn’t expect to lose power in 2021, either.

If the Republicans do take the House and Senate, he will certainly announce that he’s running for President.

He can quit worrying about his legal problems. First thing the House will do is shut down the Congressional investigation. And they will launch endless “investigations” of the Department of Justice that should completely hogtie Merrick Garland. State cases will face increasingly hostile courts as suborned judges blindly rule in favor of Trump, going to any ludicrous length they can to protect him. We’ve already seen quite a bit of that. Sammy, Slappy, and the Three Trump Stooges will be Trump’s refuge from then on.

The House will revert to the kangaroo court hearings that were the mainstay of the GOP House Rule going back to the Newt Gingrich years, only this group are even crazier and nastier.

MAGA followers, emboldened, will intimidate and harass all dissenting opinion. I wouldn’t rule out pogroms and a Kristallnacht or two. Targets will be blacks, Hispanics, anyone suspected of “sexual deviancy,” Moslems (including Sikhs, Amish, and anyone who “looks like an Arab”), and Jews “who don’t support Israel.”

Then Donald can run without any impediment from the law or popular sentiment.

Nor will he have to worry about losing the election. If the GOP control the methods of counting the votes and determining who will be permitted to vote, it won’t matter if the voters hate Donald or not. He will get elected, just the same way Stalin and Xi and other autocrats got elected. Republicans know they can’t win an honest election; they make sure they can’t lose a dishonest one.

The GOP have promised to do away with Social Security and Medicare, and will go after workers’ rights, civil rights, environmental protections, and anything that might annoy or inconvenience a major corporation.

Voters will be too busy fighting to survive to care about fighting the government, and will be hit with a wave of propaganda about how the new misery that makes up their lives is a result of the failed “great experiment” that imposed liberalism and godlessness on the citizenry. They just won’t mention that that experiment began in 1789.

Personally, I fully expect to end up in the camps if the Republicans win this time. I’m a blasphemer, you see, a liberal, an intellectual, and a socialist. Why, with a record like that I don’t even have to be guilty of any crime, but no worries: courts in the land of Trump will be happy to secure convictions for the greater good of the party.

Think I’m exaggerating? Boy, I sure would like to think so. But I’ve read history, you see. I know how this sort of thing goes, and I don’t for an instant believe Americans are immune. There’s a reason the French and the Germans are watching events here with a mixture of horror and disgust. They’ve been down that road. They know all about having a Strong Leader to Make the Country Great Again in the Name of God. The leader won’t be strong; he’ll be brittle and cruel. The country won’t be great again; you’ll just get propaganda telling you it will become great only when enemies both inside and out have been eliminated, and they are the reason there is no food or services. And as usual, God will be silent, but every vicious opportunistic jackass in the country will be willing to speak up on his behalf—and amazingly, it turns out God hates anyone who so much as doubts Trump.

Can’t happen here? Folks, it very nearly has. We’re only one step away. And we might take that step Tuesday.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Revolution — Means “going in circles”

Revolution

Means “going in circles”

June 10th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

When it comes to stuff like treason, sedition, resistance, whatever you want to call it, there is an old saying: “It is unwise to shoot at the King—and miss.” The logic is simple enough to follow: if you’re going to overthrow the government, make damned sure you have a solid shot at pulling it off, because kings (and governments in general) tend to take a dim view of insurrectionists. A real dim view. A “hang, draw and quarter” sort of dim view. There have been any number of revolutions in human history, and they rarely end well for the would-be revolutionaries. Even when they WIN it often goes poorly—Mao, Hitler, Lenin and Pol Pot conducted vast, murderous purges of their own in the wake of seizing control of their respective countries. It seems that if you’ve betrayed your country once, you are seen as a bit of a risk of being a repeat offender.

For all the romanticism and (sometimes) idealism, being a revolutionary is a shit way to make a living.

For these and other reasons (including the approbation of neighbors) most revolutionaries are fairly circumspect about being, well, revolutionaries. Not only do they have to deal with an unamused government, but social circumstances that foster rebellion usually foster deep schisms amongst the insurrectionists, with the result that your deadliest and most treacherous enemy might not be the palace guard, but the guy at the next table who is making IEDs for the Cause. There’s also the fact that it’s rare for more than a third of the general population to support revolution, and usually it’s a far lower percentage than that. Most people have jobs, families, some stability, and don’t want to trade it in for party proctors and kangaroo courts that need a steady stream of imagined enemies to paper over the failures of the new regime.

So it’s kind of unusual for the terminally disaffected to run around yelling that they’re out to overthrow the government and they’ve got the flags and bibles and guns to do it with. T’aint healthy to be sayin’ that sort of shit.

Until 21st century America, that is. Between Faux News and Donald Trump, the country got a special kind of revolutionary, a short bus rider with a big mouth and a small brain. These guys tended to run around saying stuff like “overthrow the government!” and even more puzzling, the ones smart enough to keep their yaps shut suffered having such loud fools in their ranks.

I was puzzled when I heard over the past few days that the Department of Justice had filed indictments of seditious conspiracy against a dozen or so leaders of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. It wasn’t because I thought these two groups were innocent of such activities: it’s just that in the entire history of the country after Benedict Arnold, no government had made that sort of charge stick outside of war time. Proving intent is nearly impossible in most cases. So it’s rare. It’s very rare.

The first two hours of the January Sixth Select Committee hearings last night showed what an overwhelming case the government had against the leaders of those two groups. Not only did the committee have a plethora of emails and videos (!) and testimony showing clear and evident intent to assault Congress, but they showed that, contrary to the fiction that they were so worked up by Trump’s speech that they just got overenthused, they didn’t even hear the speech—they had already started their march on Congress before Trump started whipping up the crowd. The weapons and militia gear and so on? Oh, just the sort of stuff tourists usually carry, right?

The attack on Congress was premeditated and carefully planned. Subsequent hearings ought to tell us who the insurrectionists liaised with in the Trump administration.

The DOJ is carrying out a deft divide-and-conquer approach to Trump’s insurrection. Go after the brown shirt crowd first: that’s where you’ll find the biggest mouths and the smallest brains. The committee showed just how solid a case they have last night. They produced solid evidence that Trump knew his claims of an election steal were, in the words of Bill Barr, “bullshit” and dropped hints of similar proof of efforts to overthrow the election at the state level, and a bombshell leak that at least four Republican congressmen begged Trump for a pre-emptive pardon in order to avoid criminal culpability.

There’s an old Flemish proverb: “We must hang together or we shall all hang separately.” A similar quote is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but Franklin, like most good political theorists, pinched most of his juicier quotes. The Mob has its code, and street gangs have “Snitches get stitches.” The committee, and the DOJ are kicking apart any possible unity amongst Trump’s minions—not just the SA thugs in the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, but the inept clowns that Trump brought in to run the government in his name.

Everyone will be watching the committee over the next two weeks, of course. If the next five broadcasts are as sensational as this first one, then this will be the biggest story of its type in American history.

What makes this different from Teapot Dome or the attempted Putsch against FDR or Watergate is that the leaders of this mob don’t have enough brains to shut up and slink back into the shadows. Trump doesn’t think his followers are fools; he knows they are fools. But the drawback is that they don’t do subtle. So Trump has to tell them to keep taking bullets for the cause. Which exposes him, of course.

But that will only take him so far, especially since he routinely betrays his followers. (Including January 6th, when he promised his crowd he would lead them to the steps of Congress, and then sneaked off back to the West Wing to watch events unfold on television). Congress, and presumably the DOJ, are exploiting these weaknesses.

The committee meetings should remain utterly fascinating. But the really entertaining show is going to be amongst Trump’s supporters and followers, especially the ones who have been criminally complicit and are now feel as exposed as a no-pants-in-class nightmare. They are going to turn on one another, and that should make for an entertaining, if very messy show.

Don’t bother popping corn for this: just hold the bag up in front of the TV with the news on, and watch it pop itself.

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