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.

The Wave Breaks — Purple Reign Ensues

The Wave Breaks

Purple Reign Ensues

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 13th 2022

www.zeppscommentaries.online

One of the Weasels described this past week’s election for MAGAts as “Owning the Libs turned into Own Goal.” There’s more than a bit of truth to that. Annoying liberals became a sort of a group pastime beginning with the rise of Rush Limbaugh, and people thought the best way to deal with liberals was to be as inane, infantile, obnoxious, ignorant and condescending as possible, and totally missed the fact that 30% of population is liberal, another 40% are moderates and 20% more are conservative-but-still-sane. So you had 10% of the population that was nuts and/or gleefully vile, and another 30% or so willing to at least tolerate them for the sake of the extra votes they pulled in.

So the lib owners very loudly did their thing, and with the help of billionaires and the propaganda networks they formed, even got some of their own elected. What they missed was that a large portion of the population took them at their word, and assumed they were inane, infantile, obnoxious, ignorant and condescending. Few people see these as virtues.

There were plenty of other reasons why the GOP failed to sweep to total power this election. Nobody likes the theocrats on the Court or that surge by the fundie crowd to turn America into a pseudo-Christian version of Iran. The Republicans who weren’t MAGAts pandered to the billionaire class, promising to cut taxes on the rich and paying for it by raising taxes on the middle class and by slashing or even eliminating Social Security and Medicare. It got them campaign donations, but it turned out nobody was willing to give up their pension or medical coverage so they could see more political ads on TV.

Trump, of course, was a big part of it. As long as he held power, Republicans were willing to disbelieve or turn a blind eye to the fact that he is a loathsome, greedy, self-centered, boorish and destructive dirtbag. Yes, the thinking went, he might be a loathsome, greedy, self-centered, boorish and destructive dirtbag, but by gawd, he’s OUR loathsome, greedy, self-centered, boorish and destructive dirtbag (Yes, I get paid by the word, why do you ask?) and he can win elections for us. In point of fact, he’s never won an election for the GOP, but the illusion of success was adequate for some. So despite his pyramid of scandals and obvious incompetence, he was able to persuade primary voters to go for his picks to run in the mid-terms, and a motley collection of losers they were. You had the election deniers, some of whom promised not to accept the results of the election unless they won. One promised that if elected, his party would never lose another election again. Others ran on openly racist themes, decrying the non-existent “open border” or complaining about crime in the inner cities. (The crime rate is actually higher in rural areas, but they aren’t black there, you see). Some appealed to fear, flogging gays and transgendered (an average child is at far greater risk from his church’s pastor than he is from any drag queen) or drifting off into the land of utter lunacy (litter boxes in school restrooms to accommodate “furries”). One snake-oil “doctor” ran on a platform of mocking his opponent for having had a stroke. Perhaps Trump can sink that low, but most people can’t. The doctor lost, costing the GOP the Senate. Back to Trump in a minute.

The Dobbs decision striking down Roe v. Wade galvanized female and young voters. Both turned out in record numbers, and voted Democratic. We’re already hearing calls from disappointed MAGAts to raise the voting age to 21. (I can imagine a case based on that reaching the Supreme Court. Alito, who already bald-faced that there is no such thing as “unenumerated rights” will probably declare the Constitution has no opinion on voting age. If he can wave the 9th Amendment out of existence, why not do the same to the 26th?) I’m sure MAGAts are trying to figure out how to deter female voters the way they try to deter African-American voters. Joan Crow, anyone?

Finally, and the least recognized reason, is that the fact is that Biden and the Democrats did a hell of a good job over his first two years, and did so with absolutely no help from Republicans. Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a 1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill, and limited gun and health care reform. He managed to cap insulin prices, and gave the government power to negotiate drug and medical equipment prices. He got the 1.9 trillion dollar COVID relief bill through, which kept millions of Americans afloat and off the streets while saving thousands of businesses. He got a bill passed to forgive student loans, an execrable scam that kept millions of American in economic slavery.

I said last week that Trump’s decision to run would depend on how the election went. If the Pubs swept, all his scandals and looming criminal cases and civil suits would go away, courtesy of a morally bankrupt Congress and a stacked Supreme Court, and he would run. If Dems kept the Senate (as they have) and even won the House (which they still might) he wouldn’t run. Even he has to know the midterm results weakened him badly. His chosen candidates nearly all lost. Republicans are daring to criticize him. I believe that for now, he won’t announce. Too much risk of sparking an intra-party revolt or even a civil war. He wouldn’t mind that, understand. But the prospect he might lose will scare him off.

But don’t rule him out. He still has a rabid following, and we’ve seen instances in the past where he should have been wiped out politically for his egregious excesses (the bus conversation with Bush the Least, mocking the disabled reporter, smearing gold-star families, and above all January 6th) only to see him crack the whip and Republicans went crawling back to him like abused junkyard dogs with no recourse but to obey the cruel master. They are a cowardly and revolting lot, and answer the question, “Could it happen here?” Yes, some people are that weak and dependent on the illusion of a strong leader. So yes, Trump may yet return.

In the meantime, if the GOP takes the House (and that is probably going to happen) then the first thing they will do is shut down any further Congressional investigations into Trump or the insurrection. They may even demand that the January 6th committee turn over all evidence gathered so they can destroy it. So my advice for the committee is Publish Everything. Do it in the last day of the existing Congress. Let the world see everything you’ve discovered. All of it. Spare nobody. Republicans, after all, won’t spare you.

Depending on how slim a majority the Republicans have, and how heated the battle for Speakership and committee chairs gets (and it may be a bloody affair) and above all, who wins those battles, the House may or may not launch endless revenge investigations and impeachment hearings against the Bidens and anyone else they don’t like. Expect to start hearing about Benghazi again, because Republicans will suddenly change their minds and decide that angry mobs attacking an American government facility resulting in the deaths of Americans is a bad thing again. And of course, they’ll block anything that might help the country because they don’t want Biden to look good.

But for now, we’ve managed to avoid waltzing off the edge of the cliff. MAGAts showed Americans who they were, and Americans told them to go to hell. They still don’t like fascists.

There is hope.

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.

Big Liars tell Big Lies — Refuting a string of whoppers

Big Liars tell Big Lies

Refuting a string of whoppers

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

October 25th 2022

zeppscommentaries.online

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

(Goebbels) 

The OSS psychological profile of Hitler described his use of the big lie:

His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

Even though he hasn’t officially declared for President, Trump released an unabashed campaign ad the other day. It’s worth noting that I was shown the ad by an indignant Trump supporter who showed that Facebook declared that the ad had “sensitive content” and “may show violent or graphic content.” and had to be clicked in order to view. Facebook has absurd censorship policies, and they were just as stupid here: the ad is not violent or graphic.

While like all things Trump, it was long-winded (almost four minutes) and self-serving, compared to his multi-hour harangues of the sort that dictators seem to delight in, it did put his top twenty (actually, only nineteen here) lies and mistruths in one easy-to-discuss spot. So lets discuss it.

We are a nation in decline. We are a failing nation.”

People have been saying that about the United States dating back to the 18th century. Trump is hoping that his followers will think this is a new development that only started in 2021. Yes, the country is in trouble, but he and his cult following are the biggest single threat now.

We are a nation that has the highest inflation in over 40 years.”

Yup, and it’s a world-wide phenomenon. Indeed, the US has the lowest inflation rate of nearly all developed nations. Some, like Germany, are nearly double the rate afflicting the US. No Republican has offered a solution to this, while Biden has worked to release oil reserves and undercut corporate gouging on oil prices.

The stock market just finished the worst first-half of the year in more than five decades.”

Carefully phased, since the second half of 2019 saw a far bigger decline. Incidentally, despite being generally bearish this year, the Dow is STILL above the peak it reached under Trump.

We are a nation that has the highest energy costs in its history.”

True, but that’s the fault of Putin, the Saudis, and oil companies. The big three had net profits of over $110 billion in the second quarter, nearly double what they made in the same quarter the year before.

We are no longer energy independent or energy dominant, which we were just two short years ago.”

On fossil fuels, the US is energy-even so far as imports and exports go. On alternate energy sources, we enjoy a clear surplus. The only thing we are dependent on is the charity and good faith of multinational oil companies, which means we are trying to live on a soap bubble.

We are a nation that is begging Venezuela and Saudi Arabia for oil.”

Saudi Arabia cut production in a bald-faced attempt to manipulate the American election. They want corporate fascists running America, because they know that they will work hard to keep Americans dependent on oil, the world’s biggest suicide pact. Biden did sound out an agreement with Venezuela, but you can’t have your cake and eat it: either Biden should be looking to lower oil prices, or shut the fuck up.

We are a nation that surrendered in Afghanistan leaving behind dead soldiers, American citizens, and $85 billion of the finest military equipment in the world.”

Trump unilaterally issued a treaty that would have pulled all US troops out within a month. The Pentagon, utterly appalled, managed to get it reworked to the bug-out date was moved to March 2021. That was still far too soon, with predicable results. Trump certainly could predict them; he created them by ordering the release of 10,000 Taliban members the US had in prison in Afghanistan the week before he announced the unilateral pull-out.

We are a nation that allowed Russia to devastate a country, Ukraine, killing hundreds of thousands of people and it will only get worse.”

I invite anyone to explain how Trump would have stood up to Putin on anything. I wonder how much confidential military information on Ukraine were in those stolen documents that Trump left office with, and how many of them got passed along to his buddy Putin.

We are a nation that has weaponized its law enforcement against the opposing political party like never before”

Well, law enforcement is supposed to catch law breakers. Deal with it Donald. But you can scare your supporters by pointing out that if Republican criminals aren’t safe, than no criminal is safe.

We are a nation that no longer has a free and fair press. Fake news is about all you get.”

See Goebbels quote above.

We are a nation where free speech is not allowed…”

Well, I suppose he did have to pay in advance for that ad. It’s pretty bloody silly to tell an audience of millions that your voice is being repressed.

We are a nation where crime is rampant like never before…”

The crime rate did go up between 2019 and 2020, the latest year we have statistics for. It’s still 40% below the crime rate in 1990, which in turn was far below that of 1975. By the way, who was President in 2020?

We are a nation where the economy is collapsing…”

No, Trump. Your criminal business empire is collapsing. Capitalism may implode, but Republicans will be one of the main reasons for that, allowing an unprecedented concentration of wealth that exceeds the Gilded Age of the 1920s, or the decade leading up to the French revolution.

We are a nation where more people died of COVID in 2021 than in 2020…”

New virus variants—Delta and Omicron—were responsible for that. The death rate has been sharply declining (about 250/day now compared to up to 4,000/day early in 2021) but here’s an interesting stat: the majority of those dying from COVID are registered Republicans, who only make up 29% of the population.

.”We are a nation where that is allowing Iran to build a massive nuclear weapon and China to use the trillions and trillions of dollars it has taken from the United States to build a military to rival our own…”

There’s no evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, although thanks to Trump unilaterally ending the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West, there’s no mechanism to prevent them now beyond their own distaste for such weapons, which are considered fatwa—an affront to Allah. And while China has a formidable military, the “Trillions and Trillions of dollars” weren’t taken from the US: the corporations gave that money to China for cheap labor and lax health and safety standards. Trump himself has added billions to the Chinese treasury, including much of the rubbish he sells to his gullible followers at his endless rallies.

We are a nation that over the past two years is no longer respected or listened to all around the world…”

Does that one even need a response? I’ll just note that Trump was not invited to the Queen’s funeral. Biden was. Trump was hurt. He wanted to sit on the Queen’s coffin so everyone would be looking at him.

We are a nation that is hostile to liberty and freedom and faith…”

Americans are hostile to the notion that only a small portion of the population is entitled to liberty, freedom and religious choice. Those rights are for EVERYONE, not just white Republicans.

We are a nation whose economy is floundering and stores are not stocked and whose deliveries are not coming and whose educational system is ranked at the bottom of everyone else…”

The US educational system is in trouble, under unceasing attacks from fascists and zealots on the far right. The LAST thing Trump and his people want is an educated populace.

We are a nation that in many ways has become a joke.”

No, Trump. You are the joke. A very bad joke.

We are Americans and Americans kneel to god and god alone.”

My only response to that is “Fuck you and whatever trash religion you pretend to observe.” Free Americans kneel to nobody against their will. The Constitution’s main promise is that no church can avail itself of state power to further its ends.

1932 vs 2022 — The ‘last chance’ election

1932 vs 2022

The ‘last chance’ election

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

October 20th, 2022

www.zeppscommentaries.online

Back in the 1930s a lot of industrialists, not just in Germany but among most of the western democracies, gave aid and support to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party of Germany. The Nazis. Part of it was fear of communism. They had seen a successful revolution in Russia, and the popularity of communist and less extreme socialist parties was on the rise as the world was in the grip of a seemingly unending depression. Capitalism had suffered an economic collapse, and capitalists are like housecats: they consider themselves wholly independent and self-reliant and are totally oblivious to their complete need for the system that supports them.

In America, it was Franklin D. Roosevelt and the First One Hundred Days that prevented complete and utter economic collapse. Few people know that the day FDR took office, one third of American states were accepting script in lieu of American currency. Despite that, as the nation slowly and painfully backed away from the precipice, capitalists tried an abortive coup against FDR just months into his first term.

They felt that the solutions offered by Hitler were more likely to save them, and possibly the nation, than those offered by FDR. Then, like now, they had a disgraced General to be the face of the revolution: Smedley Butler then, and Michael Flynn now. Many of the same families that fed money and resources into the coup attempt then—the Bush family, the Morgans, the Scaifes, the DuPonts—now support MAGA.

They knew the odds of overthrowing the US government were slim, but they had promoted the Nazi Party. The reasoning then was the same as the reasoning their 21st century correlates have now: they knew they were supporting an erratic megalomaniac and risked totally destabilizing the country and throwing an already divided and desperate population into a nightmare age, but they believed that they could control the monster, stop some of his excesses, and ensure that he didn’t destroy his entire country, taking them down with him. They were wrong then. There is little reason to hope they won’t be wrong now.

As was the case then, they played up economic desperation, trumped-up fears of “others”, and vast amounts of propaganda to bend popular sentiment.

The problem is that had Trump or Hitler been working in a political vacuum, hated and reviled by the vast majority of the population, then they would have been able to control them, although that’s little guarantee that the results would have been much better. Capitalists by nature are fascist, and fascists are cruel, incompetent, and corrupt. Always. Without exception.

After four years of the most inept, dishonest and vicious administration, perhaps in all of US history, Trump was still able to attract over 74 million votes. His party is riddled with Trump acolytes, some of whom are certifiable lunatics. Which is why you have states declaring foetuses to be people, or banning the mention of the existence of transsexuals, or declaring openly that they will challenge any election they don’t win, but not any they do win. At least two Congressional candidates—one of whom is an incumbent—have the unanimous opposition of their own families, who are begging the public to reject their own flesh and blood on the grounds that they are destructive and dangerous maniacs. Both are MAGA Republicans, of course. Ron DeSantis has taken up shipping people and stranding them, only a step removed from sending them to camps. House Minority Leader McCarthy has said he will cut aid to Ukraine, and Republicans are promising to force defaults on the debt unless Democrats agree to the same draconian economic policies that bombed the British economy and got Liz Truss tossed from office after just 45 days.

Remember, America doesn’t have a Parliamentary democracy. There are no votes of no-confidence, no easy mechanism to remove the stupid and the dangerous. We’re pretty much stuck with them. And America’s one brake on congressional and state misgovernance, the courts, have been badly suborned by the Republicans. Most judges are honest, but that’s not true of the Supreme Court, which is now run by fascists and religious nuts.

Comparisons between MAGA and the Nazis, between Germany in 1932 and America right now, are not hyperbole. In both cases, you have powerful moneyed interests working hard to appeal to the disaffected with vicious propaganda and promises to make the country great, spearheaded by a vicious charlatan who openly flaunts his personal viciousness and ethical, moral bankruptcy.

If Republicans take over the House, it’s all over. Abortion will be banned nationwide. Gays and transgenders are next on the chopping block, followed by Muslims, immigrants, Hispanics and other minorities. More books will burn. More workers rights will vanish, along with consumer protections. Major oil companies will decide what is best for us to know about the burning of fossil fuels. And your vote will be utterly pointless because the Republicans will control how those votes are counted.

In three weeks, we’ll know if the US has a future or not, and if we have a future or not. Remember Germany in 1932, and try to turn back now. There won’t be any other chances.

The U.S. and the Holocaust — Ken Burns’ most important work

The U.S. and the Holocaust

Ken Burns’ most important work

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

October 8, 2022

zeppscommentaries.online

Over the past 30+ years, Ken Burns has established himself as America’s premier documentarian. His signature style (vivid voiceovers describing an amazing array of images and videos from the people and times described) combined with meticulous proofing and great curation has created a national film library of inestimable value.

His most recent, The U.S. and the Holocaust, is unequivocally his most important. The three-part six-hour production focuses on the rise of Nazism in Germany, the war years themselves, and the searing, bloody wreckage Hitler and his ghouls left behind.

The focus is on the role of America during the years 1932-1945: what was known about Hitler’s extermination of millions, Jews being the greatest number, what America tried to do about it, what was actually done about it, what could have been done about it, and how we responded as the horrors of the camps were made visceral and undeniable.

A lot of people are going to take that as America-bashing, but Burns makes it crystal clear right from the outset that, poor as the American response was to Hitler and his crimes, it was the best from amongst what later came to be known as the Allied Nations.

Burns doesn’t try to justify the poor response, but he breaks it down into its constituent parts, and explains why the response was so poor.

Some of it was economic pressure brought to bear by Germany, which then was much more powerful than the United States. One of the most striking examples was Hollywood, which bowed to German warnings that “unsuitable” movies that disparaged the German government would be banned in Germany and as a result, no movie mentioned Hitler’s treatment of the Jews until after war had been declared. And yes, Burns mentions (although not by name) that some of the major Hollywood figures behind this were, themselves, Jewish. Similarly, a lot of papers downplayed the growing persecutions in Germany, although the source of pressure was domestic; papers had readers who didn’t want a bunch of immigrants polluting their culture and stealing their jobs. They didn’t want war. And they didn’t care about Jews.

Propaganda played a role, as well. Tailored for American consumption, the tales woven featured a beleaguered nation fighting a depression and inflation and being undercut by domestic enemies and vilified by the vengeful victors of the Great War. People were willing to accept that some excesses could be excused in the name of national self-defense.

America has always had a powerful fascist movement, one supported and financed by the richest segment of America, the industrialists (the polite word for plutocrats) and filled out by the dispossessed, the frustrated, the ignorant and the hateful. They coalesced in massive numbers around the America First Committee, the face of which was aviation hero Charles Lindbergh. He became the face of American isolationism, saying at one point that the sinister figures “pressing this country toward war;” [were] “the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt Administration” Unlike many of the openly antisemitic people in his following, Lindbergh had a modicum of decency, saying “It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany. The persecution they suffered in Germany would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any race. No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany.” Unfortunately, he went on to say, “But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences.”

Hitler had one tactic that worked with the west as well as with his own people: he played on the decent but often misguided will of people to disbelieve in true horrors, to expect better of people. Even with ample evidence, few people guessed within a magnitude the true scale of Hitler’s atrocities.

Once the war was joined, allied opportunities to save millions from Hitler’s depredations were limited. Roosevelt and Churchill surmised (correctly in my opinion) that the only way to stop Hitler would be through the utter destruction of the Third Reich. The existence (if not the horrific scale) of the death camps in Poland was known to the allies after D-Day, when it became physically possible to bomb the camps, but “precision bombing,” a fiction today, was a complete fantasy back then, when only about 20% of the bombs landed within a mile of their intended target. And to paraphrase a later murderous folly, it wasn’t possible to bomb the prisoners in order to save them.

Burns pulls no punches, and the six hours are grim and horrific. But it’s very important, and every adult and child over the age of 10 should see it. There’s a reason Nazis and white nationalists are so disgusting and so widely hated.

While it’s important to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, especially with so many scumbags trying to pretend it never happened, one of the most disturbing elements is the eerie parallels to the present day. There are murderous right wing monsters on the loose (yes, I’ll include Donald Trump by name) and there are plutocrats willing to fund and defend such monsters in the belief they can control them once in power. There are jackbooted street thugs threatening teachers, poll workers, school boards and any other element of a functioning democracy, trying to tear democracy down with lies and fear. There are churches, including the Catholic Church, willing to ride a rising tide of human sewage to power. And there is the race-baiting. The main targets are Muslims and immigrants, but Jews, intellectuals, leftists and the disabled are on the list of people today’s fascists think America would be better off without.

The parallels are obvious in the first episode, but Burns deftly lets them present themselves, unremarked upon. He makes the similarities between brownshirts and MAGA, and the world-wide rise of fascism more obvious in the third and final episodes.

He isn’t wrong. He isn’t exaggerating. Take his warning to heart.

Now available free for streaming at https://www.pbs.org/kenburns/us-and-the-holocaust/

MYOB — Republicans have curious way of promoting freedom of information

MYOB

Republicans have curious way of promoting freedom of information

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

September 23rd, 2022

www.zeppscommentaries.online

Watching Donald tie himself in knots over the classified materials found at Mar-A-Lardo is funnier than hell if you overlook the elements of criminality, national betrayal and possible treason. Donald’s latest approach is that he declassified documents using the power of his mind. If Uri Geller could bend keys with his mind as easily as Donald bends the truth with his, um, mind, Uri would be a billionaire by now. It’s fascinating watching Donald and his little flock of D-list lawyers claim that the documents were declassified and thus Donald’s property but refusing to make the same claim in front of Judge Dearie, Trump’s choice to be “Special Master” that the idiot Aileen Cannon thought could protect Donald. Dearie already let it be known that if the documents weren’t classified, he was wasting his time, and if they were, Donald had already lost.

Donald also claims that it’s really nobody’s business why he took the documents or what they were. If they are unclassified he can say they’re none of our business, and if they’re classified he can’t discuss them with us because they’re classified. Paging Doc Daneeka!

With a massive fraud case brought by the state of New York looming and likely to utterly destroy the Trump financial empire, you might think that Donald and his sons would try to come up with something better than MYOB in their under-oath dealings with the state DA’s office. But no; they pled the fifth, Donald and Junior over 900 times between them. Keep in mind that this is a CIVIL suit, not a criminal one. (Although that’s likely pending). In a civil suit, unlike in a criminal trial, pleading the Fifth is considered evidentiary, in other words, something the jury can consider as an effort to hide culpability. They can go, “Aha, this bozo is hiding something!”

I’ll note that in Congressional investigations, Hillary Clinton didn’t plead the fifth once. All of those investigations, including the nine hours of testimony the Republican House put her through.

Needless to say, the large majority of Americans see this for the mendacious nonsense it is. You would think that other Republicans would look at this and back away. But no.

Hershel Walker, who bragged of his charitable giving, when faced with the utter lack of evidence that he did anything of the sort, took the Donald defense. It was nobody’s business, he declared, who he gave the money to or what it was for. Fortunately for Hershel, he’s just trying to backtrack on some campaign bullshit. Donald tried that defense at trial, and it cost him millions of dollars and he’s banned from charitable associations in New York. Seems he was stealing donations from kids with cancer. Whatta sweet guy!

One goof running for Congress in Ohio, a J.R. Majewski, had been boasting of flying many missions into Afghanistan, which would be commendable, except the AP looked into the claims and could find nothing in his military record to show such activities from Majewski, who apparently actually worked at a supply depot in Qatar, far from Afghanistan. Majewski, not content with 48 hours of ‘stolen valour’ stories in the media, came out and claimed his missions were classified and that’s why they aren’t on his record. Hmm. Well, doesn’t that mean he broke the law by discussing those missions in the first place? Or is he lying again?

I know, I know. It’s none of my business.

Republicans as a whole have decided that they are not going to participate in debates over the next five weeks before the election. Bad enough that moderators ask questions they don’t want to answer like “Who is the President of the United States?” or “Shouldn’t billionaires contribute more of what America gave them back?” or “Did the Moon landings really happen?” But their opponents might point to erroneous statements, false claims, investigations for fraud and criminal activity, and past criminal proceedings.

Why, they done rehabilitated themselves. Ain’t nobody’s business if they are criminals or con artists or raving far-right loons. They don’t have to explain themselves to a bunch of randos known as “the voters”!

Even Newt Gingrich, father of the modern puddle of vomit that is today’s GOP, is snarling that anyone who asks why the January 6th Committee wants to talk to him about his role in the coup “has a learning disability.” People with such disabilities shouldn’t be rude to their betters by asking awkward questions, right? Especially those reporters.

The House Republicans blocked a bill that would have revealed the sources of dark money flooding campaigns.

It’s nobody’s concern who’s buying up your country.

Mind Your Own Business.

Let’s Go, Brandon! — Biden takes MAGA behind the woodshed

September 4th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

www.zeppscommentaries.online

The whole world knows that Biden called out the MAGAts—the Trump supporters who cling stubbornly to the lie that the election was stolen and Trump is the legitimate president. That all elections are rigged except of course for the ones Republicans win. (Ok, there was one case where a Republican won and charges of rigged election were brought up—by another Republican in the race who lost). He called out the violent clowns who terrorize poll workers and school boards, and who loudly proclaim that they and only they have rights, and liberals are just pedophile snowflakes.

MAGAts are disgusting anti-American people, and Biden was right to call them out.

While the reaction in the vast right wing media circus was predictable (scalded cats, meet outraged nuns who just found a porn magazine) it was somewhat muted and not as convincing as it might otherwise have been. After all, these are the people who thundered endlessly for years over such silly made-up crap such as Whitewater, the Arkansas assassinations, Vince Foster, tan suits, Grey Poupon mustard, Benghazi, “her emails” and, horror of horrors, Sandy Duncan taking home A classified file. They turned the once-reputable Kenneth Starr into a porn writer in an effort to get Bill Clinton on Monica. And of course they embraced all the fruitloop theories propounded by Alex Jones and the trash far right, about how liberals are “groomers” and want to ban Christianity and on and on and on.

Given how readily they slip into moral outrage on a moment’s notice, you might think the explosion that greeted Biden’s speech would have shook the world.

Granted, it is a holiday weekend, and that may have muted them a bit. It may be that they’ll wait until the survivors return from the last holiday of the summer before demanding Biden’s impeachment and/or execution, and claim that the 4% of the country that support him are commies and/or pedophiles (honestly, can any of these morons even SPELL “pedophile”? Or know what it is? OK, I spell it paedophile, but I was raised in England and Canada, and there is no cure.)

Or could it be that more and more Republicans are realizing that Donald Trump is a really stupid bet for 2024, or the future of the party?

Biden certainly knows that. He very carefully pointed out that most Republicans no longer support MAGA if they ever did, and that is a number that is dwindling rapidly. Even the true believers who are convinced the impeachments were hoaxes and that January 6th was a false-flag operation staged by AntiFa (and you have to be pretty stupid and/or mental to believe those things to begin with) are beginning to realize that the secret files that the FBI seized at Mar-A-Lago are clear and compelling evidence that major felonies were committed by Trump, up to and including treason. Trump himself has been increasingly shrill and desperate, his wild and often contradictory reactions less and less plausible, and the efforts of more and more Republicans to distance themselves from this vast, mushrooming nuclear scandal ever more apparent.

Even Doctor Oz, who is running one of the most tone-deaf campaigns in the country, has shown enough sense to try to back away from Trump, which he did at that pathetic rally in Philadelphia last night.

One of the most striking things about that rally came in the wee hours, when Trump took to his failing “Truth Social” to declare, “Thank you to everyone who attended the Rally last night. It was a two-hour speech, and the only disappointment was that they were screaming, ‘Please, please, go longer.’ They love our Country, and I love them!” It was such a pitch-perfect evocation of Groucho Marx’ Dictator that I was prompted to write, “Remember, Donald Trump shoots a perfect 18 on every round of golf, impregnates a thousand virgins a night, and won the War of 1812.” The leader is infallible, medals for everyone, yes.

Despite the billions spent by the autocratic aristocracy (one clown gave $1.6 billion to the Federalist Society to aid their never-ending search for corporate buffoons and religious nuts to put on the courts) and the millions of man-hours in the echoverse of right wing media, Trump’s support is diminishing, and the GOP is dwindling with him. I won’t be surprised along about late October to see more Republicans openly breaking ranks with Trump and essentially declaring themselves to be “Biden Republicans”—not vicious nuts who want to destroy democracy. Oh, they won’t call themselves that; that would be a death sentence. But they would be using that very demarcation to persuade voters that they are sane, respect rights, and don’t want to destroy the United States. It may even help, a bit.

Trump will still be twisting in the wind at that point. The Department of Justice won’t indict him on the grounds that it’s too close to an election that Trump isn’t even running for office in. It’s moments like these when I wonder if the colonists are really ready for self-rule, but then I look at the messy national suicide that is Britain, and I just hush mah mouf. I don’t think England is ready for self-rule, either. Someone call the Saxon suicide watch line.

Trump will continue to lose ground both legally and politically, and between him and the Dobbs decision, which unleashed the theocratic lunatics on America, the Democrats should do quite well in the November elections.

Trump, of course, will blame it on lack of resolve by his followers. That’s what failed megalomaniacs always do.

Enemy of the State — What to do about Trump if the legal system fails?

Enemy of the State

What to do about Trump if the legal system fails?

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

August 23rd, 2022

Ever since the FBI served a subpoena on Trump at his residence at Mar-A-Lago, things have just looked worse and worse for the disgraced former president. The New York Times reported yesterday that the FBI secured more than 300 documents that were classified ‘secret’ or ‘top secret’, totaling some 600 pages. Trump had no business having them in the first place, and it has now come to light, according to the Times, that “the 15 boxes Mr. Trump turned over to the archives in January, nearly a year after he left office, included documents from the C.I.A., the National Security Agency and the F.B.I. spanning a variety of topics of national security interest.” The Times goes on to say that Trump went through the boxes himself in “late 2021” which means he had to know what the contents were. Even if he wasn’t bright enough to understand the nuances of what he was stealing, he could clearly see the security designations on each one.

Trump’s guilt is evident. His latest filing admits he knowingly took the documents. He lied about having the documents. When he finally turned some over in January, he lied again and said he didn’t have any more. He admits that he went through them personally. I can’t help but marvel at the aching silence of Republicans who screamed for years about Sandy Berger, who took secure documents home but with no malign intent and was tried and punished, or Hillary Clinton, who had some emails on an unsecured server. Neither was 1% as serious as what Trump did.

It doesn’t help that Trump is making veiled threats both on his ridiculous Twitter knock-off, and on Faux News. He said, “People are so angry at what is taking place. Whatever we can do to help— because the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen.”

Trump’s support is eroding quickly, so it may be an increasingly empty threat. Even the must rabid cult followers have to realize that if Trump is, in fact, a traitor, supporting him could damage reputations. As if being a MAGAt doesn’t.

Nice country youse got here. It would be a shame if SOMETHING should happen to it.

Given Trump’s level of literacy and intellectual laziness, I think we can dismiss the explanation offered by some Trump apologists that he took the documents (illegally) in order to do research for his memoirs. The man would be held back in the third grade, for Pete’s sake! He is no writer; one of his most vocal critics is the fellow who actually wrote “The Art of the Deal.”

Trump loved the trappings of office, and it’s been suggested that he wanted mementos of his time in power. But Trump loves the gaudy, the crass. He wouldn’t steal dry double-spaced documents; he would steal the White House cutlery, White House statuary, pictures of himself with world leaders.

It’s also been suggested that he took the documents in hopes of selling them to foreign powers. Certainly there is a market there; China, possibly, and almost certainly Russia. Trump may well have GIVEN Putin national secrets as a quid pro quo for the Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

But I think Michael Powell, former Trump personal lawyer and torpedo, a man who has spent decades immersed in the absolute depravity, dishonesty and cruelty of Trumpworld, has the right idea. He thinks Trump is planning to extort America. It’s his ‘get out of jail free’ card.

That makes sense. Beyond all the “stolen election” bluster, Trump had to know he lost, and that the Republicans had lost the House, as well. He still had the Senate, but as the January 6th primary drew near, his advisors had to know there was a chance that Democrats might win both special elections in Georgia (which they did) and at that point, he would be open to Congressional investigations. After his failed coup attempt, he probably took some chances, stealing documents that could cripple America.

The FBI taking those boxes hasn’t ended that threat: we don’t know they got everything he stole, or how much he scanned and put in a safe spot on the internet for release In The Event Of.

He suspects (with good cause) that he might be able to threaten the legal system into dropping the matter. Should the voters give Republicans control of the House, any pretense of serving national interest will vanish overnight and the January 6th Committee disbanded and its members, along with the DOJ, at the mercy of some of the scummiest creatures in America in a parade of endless showcase ‘investigation.’ Republican have already openly made that threat.

Capitalism, which Trump epitomizes, and a degraded form of Christianity have corrupted the judicial system just enough that Trump could get convictions overturned there. Do you really think THIS Supreme Court would uphold convictions for Insurrection or even Treason?

The remaining question is how badly Trump has corrupted the intelligence services. We know the Secret Service is corrupt. There is strong evidence that the Homeland Security Inspector-General is corrupt. But is it corrupt enough?

Well, Trump might be betting his life on that. If the CIA is still true to its mission, and believes that Trump is willfully extorting or profiting from national secrets, then they might just respond in the time-honored fashion of spy agencies, and engage in some black ops against Trump. I doubt the Secret Service would want to face that particular threat. And the MAGA crowd, no matter how loyal to Trump, wouldn’t have a chance.

Obviously, the far better recourse is to have Trump stand trial, fair and open and scrupulously honest, and if convicted, go to jail. That beats the hell out of seeing a former President assassinated by the government, which no matter what the circumstances, is a horrible route for America to take. But Trump isn’t in the habit of offering reasonable options, so this has to be on someone’s mind at DHS headquarters.

Hopefully, Trump will consider that—and take his chances with an honest trial without threats against the country.

Will that happen? Well, this IS Trump.

Prepare for the worse.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier…Donald Trump — Disgraced Ex-President facing charges of espionage

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier…Donald Trump

Disgraced President facing charges of espionage

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

August 12th 2022

www.zeppscommentaries.online

Property to be seized

“All physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 793, 2071, or 1519, including the following:
a. Any physical documents with classification markings, along with any containers/boxes (including any other contents) in which such documents are located, as well as any other containers/boxes that are collectively stored or found together with the aforementioned documents and containers/boxes;
b. Information, including communications in any form, regarding the retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material ;
c. Any government and/or Presidential Records created between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021; or
d. Any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of any government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings.”

The search warrant that was served on Donald Trump includes cites of the United States Code that could result in prison sentences of 3, 10, and 20 years on each count by which Trump ends up convicted. And each seemingly has evidence supporting multiple counts.

First, a quick glance at the codes Trump apparently has violated. I included links to the actual text so people can see for themselves. 793 alone runs several pages. It’s the one Trump needs to worry the most about: it’s not an accusation of actual espionage, but rather a basis for which a criminal charge of espionage might be made. In essence it says, “this is what the guy had, and it’s clear he had no legitimate reason to have it and it could be given or sold to people to use against us.” By itself it’s a grave charge, and if convicted, Trump would be banned from ever holding any office or position of public trust ever again. Assuming, of course, he lived long enough to get out of jail. Maybe he can hope President Boebert will pardon him.

Let’s start with the statutes cited as the basis for the warrant. 18 U.S.C. §§ 793 begins, Whoever, for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation…Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Then there’s 18 U.S.C. §§ 2071.

(a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.

Finally, there’s 18 U.S.C. §§ 1519

Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

It crossed my mind from time to time starting in mid 2020 when it was becoming clear that Trump wasn’t going to win the election that he might try to grab sensitive secrets through his office and use them to blackmail the United States or simply help his buddy Putin. While I had an accurate view of his viciousness and moral depravity, I once again overestimated his intelligence. He kept this stuff at his Mar-a-Lago compound in a safe that one agent described as “being the type of safe you find in hotel rooms that are pieces of junk good only for preventing the maid from stealing your laptop.” The man is fantastically arrogant and profoundly stupid. I’ve said before that Trump’s incompetence is his best feature, in that it will save us all from Trump, and here we are.

There are reasonably credible reports that at least some of the top secret material he had stashed was nuclear. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for conspiring to give away nuclear secrets. There apparently is other material relating to top secret process procedures the US uses in dealing with adversarial nations.

If this is all true, then Trump will end up on trial for espionage.

And his followers are already up in arms. One bozo tried to attack an FBI office in Cincinnati with a nailgun. The judge who signed the search warrant has been getting death threats and antisemitic smears. Fox News linked him to Jeffrey Epstein, which would have been a legitimate story (if irrelevant) but then, being Fox, fabricated a picture of the Judge hanging out with Epstein. Fox News is utter trash, the lowest form of propaganda. There’s talk amongst the dupes of civil war.

So my suggestion to these people is mellow your shit out and see what happens. Donald fucked around. Now we all get to find out. In the meantime, remember that Donald Trump is a really stupid hill to die on. Don’t do it. Serve your country by exercising a little patience and common sense.

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