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.

Shooting Gallery — The universe didn’t like dinosaurs, either

Shooting Gallery

The universe didn’t like dinosaurs, either

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Oct 26th 2022

www.zeppscommentaries.online

OK: Don’t look up. There. I said it.

According to Watchers, a truly excellent site that chronicles natural events, “A newly-discovered asteroid designated 2022 UR4 flew past Earth at a distance of 0.04 LD / 0.00011 AU (17 043 km / 10 591 miles) from the center of our planet at 22:45 UTC on October 20, 2022.” The asteroid is 32 feet long and 14 feet wide. So it passed about 6,500 miles above the surface of the Earth.

That doesn’t sound very close by Earthly standards. It’s a hair more than the distance between Los Angeles and Warsaw, Poland. But by astronomical standards, it’s a gnat’s whisker. The Moon orbits some 25 times further away. The illustration below shows Earth, with a white circle representing the Moon’s orbit, and the trajectory of 2022 UR4 shown as a green line. A close look shows that the flyby was so close the Earth’s gravity affected the course of the asteroid. If the amount of the perturbation is known, then you can calculate the speed the object flew by at (orbital velocity at that altitude is about 5 km/sec). It was going pretty fast. Had it scored a direct hit, it would have caused local, but significant damage. (It was part of a group of asteroids known as the Apollo group, of about 25,000 asteroids. One of them hit near Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, injuring 1,500 people and shattering millions of windows).

The Apollo group is the best-known group of asteroids since their orbit intersects ours on a regular basis. There are over 10,000 of them that we know about, and 1,648 are classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, which loosely means “could possibly hit us at some point or other.” A much smaller group, 17, are on the Sentry Risk Table, which means a measurable chance of hitting Earth in the next one hundred years. Most of those are roughly the same size as 2022 UR4. The rest are just cosmic hemorrhoids; annoying at worst, usually not a serious concern.

According to Watchers, “[2022 UR4] is the 91st known asteroid to fly past Earth within 1 lunar distance and the 3rd closest since the start of the year…It is also the 13th closest flyby on record (since the year 1900).”

Of course, direct hits are common. “Shooting stars” are nightly occurrences, and fireballs bright enough to cast shadows pretty much a daily occurrence at some point or another around the globe. Even the Webb telescope had one of its mirrors holed by a grain of dust a few days after it was unfurled. Not enough to affect the operation of the scope, but a reminder that space isn’t empty. (Granted, it’s in a LaGrange point, a gravitational nexus that tends to attract debris)

Our mapping of potential celestial risks is expanding rapidly, but still has a long way to go. “2022 UR4 was first observed at ATLAS-MLO, Mauna Loa, Hawai’i on October 20.” some 24 hours before it flew by. We didn’t spot the one that hit Chelyabinsk at all. Astronomers think that if we’re lucky, we know about perhaps 10% of the potentially hazardous objects; space is big, and many objects have dark, non-reflective surfaces, making them extremely hard to spot.

A few weeks ago, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impacted an asteroid, Dimorphos, and the kinetic energy changed the object’s orbit. It was basically a feasibility test, and showed that we do have at least some limited ability to change the course of a rock aimed at our heads.

This week’s close call shows the need to discover and avert such threats. Granted, as immediate threats to humanity, it isn’t in the same league as climate change, ecological collapse, or the ever-present threat of war, all of which will deeply affect humanity in the next 100 years. There are some existential threats we can’t do anything to avoid: megavolcanoes, a truly huge solar flare (and the sun popped off an X3 flare, big enough to seriously screw things up here, but fortunately pointed away from us, just six weeks ago) or gamma burst from a supernova. “Dinosaur killers” are on that list, but we can address that particular threat with existing technology. We don’t even need Bruce Willis.

But the threat is real, and we need to continue to prepare. The universe doesn’t consider us important, won’t even notice if we’re gone. So it’s up to us.

It would be ghoulishly ironic if we somehow managed to save ourselves from our selves, only to be plastered by an avoidable cosmic hemorrhoid.

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/

Power Around the Dragon — Hollywood brings them out, doesn’t it?

Power Around the Dragon

Hollywood brings them out, doesn’t it?

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

September 18th, 2022

zeppscommentaries.online

I could be writing about Trump’s possible (likely) treason, and the increasingly vicious tactics of his brownshirt followers. I could discuss Ukraine’s resurgence against the Russians. That would cheer most folk up. I could talk about the looming catastrophe in the UK, where they named as prime minister someone who physically and ideologically looks like the discards from Margaret Thatcher’s embalming. Hell, I could even talk about how the Dodgers might win 113 games this year, but how they had an unfair advantage because they play in the same division as the San Francisco Giants.

Instead, I’m going to talk about two sort-of competing television extravaganzas, and the flat-out weird response some of the viewers have had.

They’re both prequels, one to Game of Thrones (GoT) and the other to the Lord of the Rings (LotR). Both have massive budgets and a plethora of special effects. HBO’s House of the Dragon (HotD) features everyone’s favorite family of firebugs, the Targaryens. It stars Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, and Rhys Ifans. Amazon has Rings of Power (RoP), with a mostly British cast, and the story takes place over thousands of years long before LotR. For the TV series, thousands of years is compressed to several dozen years, meaning a few corners got cut.

Four episodes in, I think RoP is the better of the two, but that’s not saying much. Remember how GoT sagged and stumbled in the final two seasons? HotD seems to be following that sad legacy, only without the memorable characters still alive in the final years of GoT. So far, none of the characters (except Matt Smith, who should have stayed a Doctor) are particularly memorable, and even Smith sees the wheels come off his role in a painfully awkward and utterly unnecessary sex scene with the princess, his teenage cousin (Ew…) For some reason, this grim encounter makes the now-retired-virgin princess decide to rape the captain of the guard. I don’t see things looking up from there. The dialogue is strained and wooden, to the point where it reminded me less of GoT and more of Star Wars’ second trilogy. Honestly, they could add Jar-Jar Binks and it would be an improvement. RoP has better acting and dialogue, but feels horribly crowded, as if they were trying to compress the entire Harry Potter series into one 24 page comic book.

So as you might imagine, I’m not writing in the role of a fan-boy outraged by attacks on my precious.

While I enjoy the spectacle of the series, which is where most of the budget went instead of good writers, the spectacle of the fen is even wilder, but lower budget and much less enjoyable.

Fans are howling in outrage because of the shows’ casting choices. Some of the actors aren’t white, or of pure European culture, or woke. This includes Elves, Trolls, Dwarves, Harfoots (Harfeet?) who were the pre-production run of Hobbits before they found New Zealand and settled down, along with Lannisters, Targaryens, Crab people, and the Snakes.

I can almost see the objection when it comes to the Targaryens, who all sport Johnny and Edger Winters’ style platinum-blonde hair. Mind you, none of the actors have that hair color in real life; they all either dye or sport wigs. Yes, even Daenerys. That doesn’t bother the dumb mouth breathers; they don’t care about the hair color. It’s the color of the skin that has them biting rocks and screaming incoherently whilst flinging their shit through the bars.

Anyone who thinks members of a royal family are all the same color don’t know much about history, European history in particular. The only reason the royal families have full sets of DNA at all is because politics required outmarriages to foreign potentates, including North Africa, Egypt, Turkey, and other locales. At least one of Henry VIII’s wives had skin darker than that of Mohammad Ali. The powerful families in George RR Martin’s universe aren’t any better behaved than royals in real life, and you can bet there’s all sorts of dotted lines and the occasional virgin birth cluttering up the royal genealogy. And swans. Lots of swans. So it’s utterly unremarkable that there should be a certain amount of variety.

As for elves, hobbits, faeries, etc: Listen, you shambling idiots. They are IMAGINARY. They don’t really exist. They have physical characteristics, of course. Dwarves are short and built like brick shithouses. Elves have those ear thingees. Harfeet have big hairy feet. Faeries have wings. Cardassians have vulvae in the middle of their foreheads. But rarely, if ever, is skin color or accent mentioned. Which means the show runners have free latitude to pick the best actor, as opposed to the best white actor.

Racism is silly on the face of it, since there really is no such thing as human races. Tolkien lived in an era when it was believed races had certain defining characteristics (blacks were of inferior intelligence, Japanese industrious, whites dumb bastards who vote for people like Trump) and it may or may not have informed the characteristics of the races with which he populated Middle Earth. But those races weren’t human—they were all imaginary. Even more imaginary than the traits bigots of the time attributed to others. Japan has hundreds of fables about the lazy farmer, or an indolent son, or a layabout wife, to demolish the notion that all Japanese were hard-working and driven. Sometimes the lazy character was the hero in the story!

The other big objection is that Tolkien based Middle Earth on “European culture.” It’s even been suggested that Mordor was modeled on Nazi Germany.

OK, good point.

European culture is real, you know. Anyone who has traveled to Europe knows that the Norwegians and the Italians are identical. Same appearance, same language, same culture, same religion. You can’t tell one from the other. Likewise the Flemish and the Turks. Identical, right down to the shoelaces.

Obviously, European culture is as real as dwarves, orcs, dragons or intelligence in Trump world.

So my message to the crowd screaming about how “woke” the shows are is this: Grow up, you idiots. It’s fantasy, just as your views on race and culture are fantasy, only much less obnoxious and self-serving. Find something better to worry about, such as why nobody wants to sleep with you.

 

EIIR — Nobility that didn’t need a crown

EIIR

Nobility that didn’t need a crown

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

September 8th, 2022

www.zeppscommentaries.online

It’s going to be strange. Elizabeth was monarch since before I was born. As a kid, she seemed to be everywhere: her image peered over every classroom. Her face was on every coin and bill. Her insignia initials, EIIR, Elizabeth 2 Regina were on the stamps (as was she) and the cap of my dad’s naval uniform.

She oversaw the most tumultuous period of all of Britain’s history. Since 1066, England has seen periods of more violence, of more tragedy (the 17th century alone) but never a 70 year period of more change. During that convulsive and often strange and challenging time, she managed to be the soul of an entire nation. It was a fantastically difficult role, and she was often beset on all sides, but right to her final day, she carried out her duties and was, in the strongest sense of the word, a true trouper.

She grew up not expecting to be Queen. She was the eldest daughter of the second son of George V, and seemed to be just another spear-carrier royal, close enough to the throne that she would appear at various official functions such as royal weddings or Epsom Downs, but far enough out of the limelight that she could, if she wished, shop for herself at her local grocers’.

That changed in 1936, when she was 9. Her grandfather died, and her uncle Albert became King Edward VIII. But Edward wanted to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, and the nation found it unacceptable that the monarch and head of the state church would marry a twice-divorced Yank. While not widely known at the time, England dodged a bullet: Uncle Albert was a big admirer of Adolf Hitler and when he married Simpson in 1937, they took their honeymoon in Nazi Germany.

His brother, now George VI proved to be a very different sort of royal. Far from being a Nazi sympathizer, he was second only to Winston Churchill in stiffening British resolve against the mad dictator.

At the age of ten, Elizabeth was suddenly the heir to the throne. It wasn’t supposed to happen, and what’s more, it happened during one of the darkest moments in British history, an existential threat to end the United Kingdom. Elizabeth was doubtlessly very high on Hitler’s list of planned executions once he held London.

At the age of 14, Princess Elizabeth addressed the nation for the first time over the BBC. It became clear instantly that she had inherited her father’s courage and resolve, and her piping but lucid teenage voice galvanized the nation. It was 1940, and many believed England was doomed.

During the war she worked full-time as a mechanic in the Royal Army motor pool. This was an era before the notion of ‘photo ops’; she really did work as a mechanic, and the overalls and oil-and-grease stains were real, and legitimately earned. She exemplified the spirit of “we’re all in this together” that raised British spirits.

Hitler was defeated, and the greatest period of change in British history began. The once mighty British Empire was now the British Commonwealth, and major possessions—America, Canada, Australia, and most recently India—had declared independence. It was a shell of its former self, and in the first dozen years of Elizabeth’s reign, nearly all of the remaining colonies left. The map of the world, once dominated by the characteristic pink tones of the Empire, was changed beyond recognition.

My parents bought a television set—nearly a month’s salary—just so they could watch Elizabeth’s coronation two years after it happened, on an 11 inch black and white screen. It was one of the very first things broadcast in Canada, and while I don’t remember that, I remember the TV set.

Since she ascended, England saw the discovery of DNA, the four minute mile fell, the ITV was formed, the first nuclear power plant was built, the death penalty was abolished, homosexuality was decriminalized, abortion was legalized, and the Concorde became the first supersonic commercial jet. That was just in the first 15 years of her reign. In 1971 the very money changed, going from pounds, shillings and pence to the 100 pence to the pound we have today. The continuity, of course, was her visage on the reverse of every coin struck.

Elizabeth was the face of Britain during the Troubles, andwhen the UK joined the Common Market (later the European Union). National Health was thoroughly ingrained in the culture, and England led in such developments as in vitro fertilization. Charles married Diana, one of the most jubilant and popular moments in all of England’s history. The Chunnel was an item of trust, removing the barrier the Channel always posed to thwart European depredations. Dolly was born and Diana died. The millennium happened.

In 2002 Elizabeth’s younger sister, Margaret, died as did her mother, the much-beloved “Queen Mum”. Scotland decided to Remain, but the UK voted to Leave, the disastrous ‘Brexit’ vote.

Then came the pandemic, and the near-total collapse of the British economy.

Throughout it all, she was the one constant. Her image on the money was updated every 12 years or so to allow for the passage of the years, but she was always there, and her voice was a part of every British Christmas.

To give you some idea of the length, if not the breadth of her reign, her first Prime Minister, Winston S. Churchill, was born in 1874. Her nineteenth and final PM was Liz Truss, born in 1975.

She was one of the few monarchs in history to voluntarily relinquish some of the royal powers, allowing England to escape some of the shackles of the dead past.

She was subjected to attacks on all sides, particular the trashy tabloid press. It would have destroyed a weaker person.

I’m a republican, ideologically opposed to monarchies and monarchs. But I always had love and respect for her, not because of the jewelry, but because of who she was.

And I admit, even as I am very dubious about King Charles III, I’ll be intensely curious to see what next year’s coins look like in Canada and the UK. I’ve never seen that face change before.

She was far better than the system that produced her.

To quote what she told the world in 1940, 82 years ago:

Before I finish I can truthfully say to you all that we children at home are full of cheerfulness and courage. We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying, too, to bear our own share of the danger and sadness of war.

We know, everyone of us, that in the end all will be well; for God will care for us and give us victory and peace. And when peace comes, remember it will be for us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place.

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.

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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