Cassidy Hutchinson — Blowing the fucking doors off the Beast

 

Cassidy Hutchinson

Blowing the fucking doors off the Beast

June 28th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

zeppscommentaries.online

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dog Days — Moral dilemmas for Republicans

Dog Days

Moral dilemmas for Republicans

June 22nd 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

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

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

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

“What meeting is that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Committee’s Latrine — The Trump Dump

Committee’s Latrine

The Trump Dump

June 16th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revolution — Means “going in circles”

Revolution

Means “going in circles”

June 10th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sump Pump that is Trump — Garbage in, Sewage Out

The Sump Pump that is Trump

Garbage in, Sewage Out

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

March 30th 2022

In any other Democracy, and at nearly any other time in US history, Donald Trump would be in prison by now. In a place like China or Russia, he might well have been executed.

Trump’s career has been an amazing journal of privilege and contempt for people, a rapacious and degrading odyssey of greed, venality, and lawlessness. Historians will never understand how anyone as openly tawdry and corrupt as Donald Trump somehow became President. While the ensuing events have historical parallels, his ascent to office does not.

The open treason against the country that created this monster was pretty much inevitable, but the reaction of the country, like his ascent, defies reason and logic.

Yesterday, Trump came up with the most tone-deaf statement he’s uttered to date, In an interview on some right wing outfit that was widely spread on social media, Trump called for Putin to release dirt on the Biden family right now since now “he’s not exactly a fan of our country” during an interview with Real America’s Voice.

You read that right. He’s counting on what he hopes is Putin’s rage and malice toward America’s reaction over the Ukraine invasion to do his buddy Trump a solid and smear Hunter Biden and by extension, his family. Hey, people who aren’t “exactly a fan of our country” gotta stick together, right?

The GOP is dead silent on this, but I expect that from the cowardly and craven pack of goosesteppers who sold out America in favor of power under Trump. But the Democrats and the Justice Department and mostly just wringing their hands and dithering over how it would look if a former President had to be punished for the things he said and did.

We experienced this lack of resolve disguised as higher tone in 1974, when Gerald Ford decided it would look bad and demoralize the country if Nixon were held to account and tried in public. So he preemptively pardoned Nixon…which looked bad and demoralized the country. Justice never was perfect in America, but this high-sounding lack of resolve and determination has turned it into a corrupt joke, a system that favors the rich over the poor, the powerful over the powerless, white over black, and flag waver and bible pounders over people with self-respect and dignity.

So we look at the mountains of evidence and prima facie guilt surrounding Trump, and we wonder why he hasn’t been indicted yet, let alone tried and convicted. Siding with an adversarial leader in hopes of gaining political favors and attacking the President’s family would get him hanged in some countries.

The January 6th committee released the phone logs from the date in question, and there’s a mysterious 7 ½ hour gap in them. Part of it can be explained by the fact that Trump was riling up the goons and loons, promising the nutsis and natsis that he would lead them to shut down Congress and prevent certification of the vote. (He lied about leading them, of course). But what of the remaining five hours? We know that at least a dozen members of Congress spoke with him during that period. We know he called at least a half dozen. We know the contents of some of those calls. But they aren’t in the logs. Perhaps Trump used a burner phone. He claimed that he didn’t even know what a burner phone was, but John Bolton promptly said that he and Trump had discussed using burners in the weeks prior to the assault on the Capitol. The lies never stop, do they?

We’re seeing similar weakness regarding Clarence Thomas. Most Dems rub their knuckles and say, “Oh, he really should consider recusing himself in cases where his wife may be criminally complicit. But we don’t want to pressure him.” And a handful—AOC and Elizabeth Warren, for example, say he should resign or be impeached which is what is supposed to happen to judges that are openly corrupt.

If Trump gets away with it, if Clarence Thomas gets away with it, the US is done as a functioning country. It’s just an empty shell, nothing but flags and bibles and bigots, and will sink, slowly and painfully.

Still there is some hope. The select committee has been doing an admirable job of holding the right feet to the right fires. And the Justice Department, which had been so quiet people were openly wondering if the Department had been hopelessly compromised by the foul and venal previous administration, showed signs of movement today.

The Washington Post on Wednesday published a major new report on Attorney General Merrick Garland’s investigations. The paper reported, “The criminal investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has expanded to examine the preparations for the rally that preceded the riot, as the Justice Department aims to determine the full extent of any conspiracy to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory, according to people familiar with the matter. In the past two months, a federal grand jury in Washington has issued subpoena requests to some officials in former president Donald Trump’s orbit who assisted in planning, funding and executing the Jan. 6 rally…”The development shows the degree to which the Justice Department investigation — which already involves more defendants than any other criminal prosecution in the nation’s history — has moved further beyond the storming of the Capitol to examine events preceding the attack,” the newspaper reported. “Grand jury subpoenas are a legal mechanism used by prosecutors to gather information for a criminal investigation, and a subpoena in and of itself doesn’t mean any particular recipient is under investigation or likely to face charges. But the subpoena demands issued in recent weeks do indicate that the aperture of the investigation has widened, after Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged in a speech this Jan. 5, the day before the first anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, to follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

OK, that’s what we want to hear. We don’t want mob justice, or political vendettas. But we do want justice. Real justice. Without it, you don’t have a Real country.

Sloppy Slappy – And his nutball souse, Gin-soaked

Sloppy Slappy

And his nutball souse, Gin-soaked

March 24th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Back in the early nineties, in the wake of the Anita Hill testimony during the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, a fellow named Bartcop, host of a website then known as “Rush Limbaugh: Lying Nazi Whore” (eventually Bartcop.com) bestowed an ineradicable nickname on Thomas: “Slappy.” Bartcop, sadly, has since died, but I still use the nickname he bestowed gleefully.

Various right wingers have tried telling me that calling him “Slappy” is racist, somehow. One fellow even tried telling me that it was a veiled reference to vaudeville comedian Slappy White, an allegation that collapsed when it came about that the only thing remotely racist about this almost-forgotten comedian was his last name.

“Slappy” is demeaning and vulgar, but Slappy has that coming, now more so than ever. Bartcop used it to refer to the man’s predilection for pornography. He knew, as many of us did, that Slappy would always be a bad joke on the court, a result of the Republicans sneering effort at tokenism, replacing the brilliant Thurgood Marshall with the notion that one Negro is just as good as any other Negro. Just the fact that Slappy lacked the self-respect to balk at an open slap at African-Americans told us he was intellectually and emotionally unsuited to the position. The thinly veiled racist antics of the Senate committee, the same as what we are seeing now, included Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy. It was a disgraceful performance, one that the Senate has made a standard rather than a failure.

On January 19th, 2022, the Court ruled 8-1 that Trump must turn over emails and texts to the Select Committee for Investigation into the events of January 6th, when Trump supporters attempted a coup against the United States.

Slappy was the lone dissenting vote. By itself, that wasn’t too noteworthy. Slappy is often the lone dissenting vote in what might otherwise be ‘slam the door, Katie’ cases, based on his inimical opposition to rights, especially of minorities, and a deep misunderstanding of what the Constitution stands for. We just waved our hands and muttered “Slappy” in the same tone of voice we use when the neighbor’s dog craps in the yard.

Today more of the texts and emails Trump had to turn over despite Slappy’s opposition came to light, and it turns out that some of the most damning ones were between then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and…Slappy’s wife, Virginia “Ginny” Thomas. Let’s just call her “Gin Soaked.” I have no idea if she has a drinking problem, or drinks at all, but she sure behaves like someone with a serious emotional and mental impairment.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, The messages – 29 in all – reveal an extraordinary pipeline between Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, and President Donald Trump’s top aide during a period when Trump and his allies were vowing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to negate the election results.

On Nov. 10, after news organizations had projected Joe Biden the winner based on state vote totals, Thomas wrote to Meadows: ‘Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!…You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.’”

Among Thomas’s stated goals in the messages was for lawyer Sidney Powell, who promoted incendiary and unsupported claims about the election, to be ‘the lead and the face’ of Trump’s legal team.”

Some of you may remember Sidney Powell. She is the “release the Kraken” conspiracy theorist who was in fact the litigious face of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election until her antics caught up to her and she was sanctioned for “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

The emails, by themselves, are prima facie evidence that Gin-Soaked was complicit in efforts to overturn, negate, and otherwise rescind the election (‘rescind’ was the word Trump used in conversations with former ally Mo Brooks on numerous occasions). Gin-Soaked may end up being subpoenaed to explain some of what she wrote, and asked about how involved Slappy may have been in this. It’s even possible she could face criminal charges.

Were it not for his vote to hide the emails, which included hers, Slappy may have survived this disgrace as he has survived so many others. But his vote, a clear and self-evident conflict of interest, would have been a criminal act on any other court in the country. Only the Supreme Court is self-excused from the standards expected of every other judge in the country.

In a normal, non-corrupt government, a Supreme Court Justice embarrassed by such wanton and outlandish antics of a family member would resign. But Slappy is a sad little creature, bereft of self-respect and clinging desperately to his unearned power. He won’t resign.

And the Senate won’t impeach him. Far too many Republicans are too corrupt, too cowardly, too contemptuous of the American people. This week’s hearings for the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson showed the depraved ethical and moral depths Republicans have sunk to, between vicious racial attacks, ridiculous flouncing and performance art, and the unbridled efforts of Christian fascists to block people of impure faith, which would be about 85% of the country. They couldn’t impeach Trump, who belongs in prison. They won’t impeach Slappy.

No, the members of the Supreme Court are going to have to sit down with Slappy and pressure him to resign. Some of them—including some of the right wingers—are uneasily aware that their credibility is hanging by a thread, and if the Slappy scandal goes the way I think it will go, it may destroy the consensual basis that the Court needs to function. Only they can do it.

Clarence “Slappy” Thomas must go.

Jan 6 No Trump — Bridging the year

Jan 6 No Trump

Bridging the year

January 7th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

I feel a lot better this January 7th compared to the same date last year. Back then, I was wondering if the United States had any sort of future, or was destined to fall into neo-Nazi fascism headed by one of the most vicious and corrupt swine ever to hold public office.

We’re a long way from out of the woods, of course, but at least it stopped snowing and the wolves seem to have buggered off. Yes, the Republican party is now a fully-formed death cult, and yes, Trump is still in the news a lot, but they aren’t quite as scary as they were the day they tried to destroy America. And America seems to be gaining a bit of a lease on life, at least until the mid-terms.

Biden and the Democrats seem to be finally taking the gloves off. Biden gave a barn burner of a speech on the anniversary, pounding Trump into the ground without ever mentioning him by name. How effective was the speech? Well, two days later, and Trump is still yowling like a cat shitting a porcupine. Fox “News” couldn’t even bear to discuss the speech, instead trying to pretend the assault on the Capitol was no big deal really, BLM and Antifa were worse, and why hasn’t Biden controlled inflation and COVID? The Lord Haw-Haws of that propaganda pit have their loyal viewers, of course, but it’s eroding as Trump’s Big Lie continues to shrink under the assault of facts and evidence.

Merrick Garland also gave a speech, detailing why the Justice Department investigations were flying under the radar, and reassuring people that the trials and convictions of the small fry at the riots was only the opening act. In the state of New York, at least two Trump whelps, Donny the Lesser and Ivanka the Skanka, have been subpoenaed, and there are reports that Melania the Melanoma has been selling off some of her wardrobe and other personal possessions to make ends meet.

Things aren’t going well for Trump loyalists, either. The Brownshirts have lost a really big civil case in the wake of the Unite the Right rally and are being sued out of existence. Devin Nunes, Trump’s biggest cow in Congress, suddenly quit in order to run Trump’s social media empire. If you’re asking, “what social media empire?”, my answer is “exactly.” The January 6th Commission has shown it isn’t screwing around, and is handing out subpoenas left and right, including Bannon, Meadows, Alexander (“Victory or Death!”), Ali with subpoenas expected for various members of Congress who might have to be forced to testify under oath, such as Gym Jordan (OH! Jimmy!), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Louie Gohmert (Texas.). It occurs to me that just by tossing those eight out of the House and into prison would raise the average IQ of Congress by at least 10 points.

While Republicans are still working feverishly to try to turn the next American elections into a Soviet-style joke, they aren’t making the headway they were hoping for. Cyber Ninjas, the redoubtable firm in charge of the of-course-it’s-legitimate! Arizona recount, are facing $50,000 a day in fines for refusing to turn over records that are in the public domain regarding how the count was conducted. Given that the count not only confirmed the results, but actually gave Biden a couple of hundred votes he didn’t have before, you have to wonder how much gaming and cheating went in to achieving a result that was only slightly unfavorable to their cause. And how much of that was flat-out illegal. None of the dozens of other state audits seem to have gained much traction. Even notoriously corrupt Wisconsin seems to have given up on party-run recounts as a bad idea. In the meantime, Republican efforts at gerrymandering seem to have stalled out. In places like Texas, it’s because it was already so gerrymandered they could no longer maintain plausible deniability. And I suspect some Republicans, aware of the growing fragility of the Trump cult, are hedging their bets.

For all we hear about Trump “running out the clock” in hopes Republicans can take the House and make the January 6th commission go away, other legal proceedings that the House cannot interfere with are continuing apace. Garland already made that clear in his speech, and there are a swirl of well-informed reports that the State of New York is going to be dropping the hammer on Trump in the immediate future. Tax fraud, tax evasion, corrupt business practices, it’s a very long list. And remember, Trump’s most efficient henchmen are gone; Former CFO Weisselberg is fighting to keep his own ass out of jail, and former torpedo Michael Cohen is an active enemy gleefully providing evidence (many, MANY skeletons in THAT closet!) against Trump. Trump, in Cohen’s mind, tried to kill Cohen by sending him back to his cell in the height of the pandemic last year. He didn’t appreciate that.

A lot has been made of the poll showing that only 21% of Republican voters think Biden won legitimately. Granted, there are a lot of brainwashed fools and just plain fools in the GOP, but I suspect a lot of them are joining that chorus not from any personal belief, but because they know the cost of disloyalty to the party. “Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding.” The GOP have been a lot like Russia’s Communist Party for many years, and should the party destroy democracy and become, like the USSR, a one-party state, there would be a dear price for showing disloyalty. Nobody doubts the viciousness and cruelty of the GOP, but if they can’t seize power, support for them will erode like cotton candy under Niagara Falls. Conviction persists; fear cannot.

A lot of that will erode as the legal investigations dissect GOP efforts to stage a coup. Fox News might ignore the stories and whine about Hunter Biden, but the rest of America’s media will not ignore it—and even Fox will turn when they can no longer sustain their fear of Trump and start to fear the American people instead.

So on this anniversary, we’ve gained a lot of ground in defeating Trump and his swinish followers. Much remains to be done, and of course, any number of things could go wrong. Remember, we are saddled with a major party that WANTS things to go wrong.

We’re not home free, and won’t be for some time to come. But we’re at least moving in the right direction.

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Pearl Harbor — And other attacks on government facilities

Pearl Harbor

And other attacks on government facilities

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 11th, 2021

I wrote a piece the other day about the burning of the Christmas tree in front on the Fox News New York headquarters that was mildly sympathetic to Fox.  I pointed out that they could turn the arson into a positive by reaching out and helping the homeless man accused of setting the fire in the spirit of the holiday. OK, we both know that was never going to happen.  I like teasing fascists.

Instead, Fox went into breast-beating and garment-rending mode.  They gave it more air time than they did the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol.  They praised themselves for having the courage to stand up to this assault on everything is good and decent and pure.

Then they tried comparing it to the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Inspired, perhaps, by the fact that the man accused of setting the blaze is Hawaiian.

If you have a sufficiently depraved mind, one capable of pulling up phrases that would make Satan blush and Trump avert his eyes awkwardly, then you can guess at what my attitude toward Fox News is now.

Pearl Harbor.  Christ…

OK, the arson did occur on December 7th. Going by that logic, if I sneak into one of their loos and drop a cherry bomb in the crapper, blowing it up, that would be comparable to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima if I did it on 6th August? My mum was born on January 6th. If word gets out, will QAnon make her a saint?

If we want to mess with these people, we could dump a bunch of ladyfingers under Mar-A-Lago along with a picture of Amy Comey Barrett on November 5th. Just have some rando Englishman explain it to you. Make sure it’s a real Englishman and not just some Brit. You want the full piquancy of the arched-eyebrow condescension.

OK, moving on…

What? You wanted a dissertation on the morals and ethics of Fox News? Well, they don’t got none. Finito! Moving on. Delivered in the tone of an archaeology professor explaining for the fifth time why the story of Noah’s Ark isn’t in the syllabus.

We done with “My dog is plotting against me” type nuttiness. Now we’re going to Kesey’s ever-loving bull goose loony assortment. But which I mean, a version, perhaps THE version, of the 32 page Power Point memo the GOP were passing around on how to overthrow the government and destroy the United States. The official title of this document, dated January 5th 2021, wasElection Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” If you want to read it for yourself (and it’s actually about three typewritten pages long) then you can find it at Archive.org 

The talking points show the direction this is headed. “The Chinese systematically gained control over our election system constituting a national security emergency – The electronic voting machines were compromised and cannot be trusted to provide an accurate vote count – To restore confidence the “failsafe” of counting the paper ballots must be used to determine who won the election for President, Senators, Congressional Representatives – Hand counts reported by the media are not really hand counts and easily subverted.”

Got all that? The Chinese Communists (who are actually capitalists), headed by that noted Chinese Leader Hugo Chavez (who was at least a socialist, but still not a communist) subverted the election by using Chinese voting machines made in the well-known Chinese province of Canada.

It goes downhill from there.

Back in 1954, there was a book, How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. The title is pretty self-explanatory. Someone needs to write a similar book, “How to bullshit with charts.” The FF, FI & O tries strenuously to do just that. On slide 5, for example, there are charts purporting to show huge Trump leads in states he subsequently lost, alluding to a “pause” in the counting. There’s nothing to show where the charts came from, when they were tabulated, or what the “pause” was. But boy-howdy, they shore looks like real honest-to-gaw charts. A series of charts purporting to show “fixing the vote” follows, all with official looking and undescribed synoptic lines beneath to make it look like someone was using actual arithmetic. This is followed by “The Algorhythm” which is a more complicated chart designed to awe and impress Republican Congressmen smart enough to know what a chart is but not what it’s supposed to do. This is followed by “Where and How It’s Done” which would look right at home on a corkboard in a basement, with random paper clipping and scribbled notes connected by red yarn with a big box saying “Illuminati” in the middle. This is followed by a page, ironically advising, “One Tactic that is part of a larger Strategic Plan. Other tactics include riots, threats, censorship, looting, etc.” Eek! Scary! “Riots, Threats, Censorship, Looting, etc.,” you say? Oh, what’s a poor Republican to do! Summon the Proud Boys! They’ll protect us!

It then dips back into the tin-foil helmet zone. “China has leveraged financial, non-governmental and foreign allies including Venezuela to acquire INFLUENCE and CONTROL US Voting Infrastructure in at least 28 States. KEY Issue in 2020: Critical Infrastructure control utilized as part of ongoing globalist/socialist operation to subvert the will of United States Voters and install a China ally.”

Well, here you were, all fat, dumb and happy, and you had no idea your will had been subverted by Hugo Chavez. Pretty smart for a dead guy! You have to give him credit.

It rants about perfidious Venezuelans, Chinese and Canadians for a bit, noting that like all commies, they have for-profit corporations (eek!). Then it gets around to “Perpetrators” Those are: “•Local Zealots –illegal ballot harvesting, illegal voter roles, counterfeit mail-in and absentee ballots, and illegal adjudication changes •Electronic Voting machines that shift votes from one candidate to another either through an algorithm or adjudications •Foreign Actors that shift votes and/or add votes all across the country either through adjudications or outright database overwrites •In this election, all 3 demonstrably occurred, but not necessarily in a coordinated fashion.”

Good thing they weren’t in a coordinated fashion. If only those zealots knew how to speak Cantonese, or even Mandarin!

You get the drift. This may not be the exact copy of the one shown to Republican congressionals on the 5th of January, but I’ll bet that copy is essentially the same. And they were advised to hunker down and expect a serious effort to stop the electoral college vote.

Psst! Think we should teach them how to spell ‘algorithm’?

It’s easy to laugh, but remember this: Hitler’s Nazis were widely seen as ineffectual, too nasty to get elected, and really, really ridiculous.

This lot are the same. Laugh, but don’t dismiss the threat they pose. These are the same people.

Doug LaMalfa — What it’s like to have an embarrassing GOP drone

Doug LaMalfa

What it’s like to have an embarrassing GOP drone

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 17th, 2021

Back in December 2020, Doug LaMalfa, Republican Congressman from California’s first district, was the sole Republican to talk to the press after a frivolous and essentially idiotic lawsuit by Texas to overturn the election was dismissed out of hand by the Supreme Court.

In his interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, the interview quickly turned weird.

“You got any proof that anything was done that was fraudulent in any election?” Cuomo asked.

“You know, I don’t have proof that men landed on the moon in 1969 because I wasn’t there,” LaMalfa replied.

“Really?” an incredulous Cuomo asked.

“Yeah,” LaMalfa shrugged.

“Do you believe the world is round?” Cuomo pressed.

“I think we’ve proven that,” said LaMalfa.

OK, at least he knows the world is round. That’s a start, I suppose. He makes his living growing rice in one of the most drought-stricken places in America, so you kind of have to expect that he’s going to be a little out of touch about stuff like moon landings or budgets or things like that.

In the same interview, he said he would not “’recognize Biden’s victory until he is formally sworn in on January 20th.’ LaMalfa’s comments seem to suggest the House GOP is planning on disrupting the ratification of the electoral college results on January 6, which is their final chance to contest the election before the inauguration.” Lo and behold, they did. I guess that qualifies as insurrection-light. Dougie is kind of a boutique revolutionary.

While LaMalfa doesn’t enjoy the notoriety of a Marjorie Taylor-Greene or a Paul Gosar, that in part is because he is from California’s First District. (Look it up. It’s the area on the map that’s covered with the cartographer’s sigil and a sign saying “Hyere bee dragons.” Before LaMalfa, the area was California’s 2nd district, and from 1987 to 2013 it was represented by Wally Herger. The region has a history of electing rural non-entities who fail to make any marks on the House.

After five terms, his committee membership is, to put it mildly, a bit thin: House Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry subcommittee Ranking Member, Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit subcommittees, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Highways and Transit, Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, Water Resources and Environment subcommittees

He’s the primary sponsor of three bills that were enacted, one of which was the renaming of a post office.

At that, he’s doing better than Herger, who didn’t even get his first committee chair until his seventh term. Herger voted with his party 94.4% of the time, which by GOP standards made him a screaming dissident. (Seriously—in party line votes he ranked 46th.)

On the listing of liberal/conservative votes, LaMalfa is in a flat tie with Paul Gosar (and now has more committee assignments than Gosar, provided he doesn’t threaten to shoot the President or something.) As a goosestepping GOP fascist, he is extraordinarily good at his job. In recent years, he voted for Trump Care, which would have stripped over 100,000 of his own constituents of medical coverage under Obamacare, and has voted loudly against every bill designed to allow the government to negotiate the prices on drugs they buy for Medicare. He has voted against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, even though a majority of his working constituents would be making less than that had the State of California not already gone ahead and raised the minimum wage on its own. It would not have cost him a dime to support a federal law doing the same thing—it was just gratuitous cruelty on his part.

He toes the party line on all votes, often contradicting the wishes of his own constituents and sometimes even his own supporters.

His votes often come with a large helping of hypocrisy. He voted for Trump’s financial stimulus package in 2020 ($1.7 trillion) but against the subsequent aid packages put forth under Biden, even though America’s situation had worsened (a lot of Trump’s bill was allocated for employers to continue paying employees idled by the pandemic, but of course most of them just pocketed the money and screwed their workers over.) But he voted against the Biden stimulus package, $1.9 trillion, which would have funneled an estimated $4 billion into his district, supporting workers, families, and small businesses—including his own. (He’s been whining loudly about how the pandemic and subsequent shipping problems means he can’t sell his rice to China.)

On the infrastructure bill, he voted no because everyone knows the ungrateful peons in his district don’t need roads, schools, water works, sewers or family support of any kind.

On that last vote, taken last week, he had a characteristically strange take on it. KRCR, a Sinclair broadcast station that is one of the biggest in this district, interviewed John Garamendi, the Democrat representing the 3rd district, adjoining LaMalfa’s. Garamendi gave the station a list of the benefits and projects the infrastructure bill represented and what it would mean for Northern California.

So it made sense to get LaMalfa’s take on the just-passed legislation. This is what KRCR reported: “LaMalfa, speaking with KRCR’s Dylan Brown, responded that President Trump has not spoken to him about the matter.”

OK then. Never mind that LaMalfa is on the Infrastructure committee and might possibly know something about it—anything about it. But what’s this “..President Trump has not spoken to him about the matter.” crap? Trump has no role in this; he’s an ex-president almost certain to be in prison by the time the next presidential election rolls around. Is LaMalfa one of the loony and ignorant morons who thinks Trump is somehow still president? Is he expecting a Trump/JFK, Jr ticket in 2024? What’s the story here?

Meanwhile, LaMalfa voted twice to acquit Trump of impeachment charges. He voted to not censure Marjorie Taylor-Green, and just today, to not censure the evidently insane Paul Gosar. He does support censuring the 13 Republicans that supported the infrastructure bill, which kind of destroys his claim that it is unwise to censure frivolously.

With his lockstep support of fascist GOP policies, he is not representing his constituents. With his support of Trumpism and people like Taylor-Greene and Gosar, he isn’t even representing humanity.

Contempt — The fascist right can dish it out. Can they take it?

Contempt

The fascist right can dish it out. Can they take it?

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 12th 2021

[Steve] Bannon, 67, is charged with one contempt count involving his refusal to appear for a deposition and another involving his refusal to produce documents.” With that a federal grand jury today indicted Bannon with two felony counts. The Select Committee investigating the January 6th riots promptly announced that it would seek similar indictments against Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on similar charges.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law. Today’s charges reflect the department’s steadfast commitment to these principles.”

It couldn’t have come at a better time. The fascist right, including that organized crime cartel The Republican Party, have been further and further outside of the constraints of the law, and growing ever more egregious and assertive in their sneers at the law. People, including me, were wondering if the Democrats and the legal and judicial authorities of the land had the resolve and courage to stand up to these fascist scofflaws.

It came at a time when at least some of the more egregious rioters at the January 6th insurrection were getting some serious jail sentences, four years or more. Decent people in America were sickened and disgusted by a parade of stories of people who beat cops and threatened the lives of public officials who were being treated with kid gloves. It came as a time when a flag-wagging clown of a judge was openly rooting for the defendant, who was accused of murdering two unarmed protesters at a Black Lives Matter rally and injuring another. Another murder case, in which two white men waylaid and killed a black man for the crime of jogging on a public street (or at least, that’s the excuse they offered) had a defense attorney comfortable enough in his ignorant racism to complain in open court in front of the judge and jury about the “black pastors” allowed to sit with the family of the victims. That was too much even for that judge, who upbraided the attorney for his swinish remark.

Of course, death threats are proliferating. A Republican Congressman got death threats from some anonymous piece of shit for the ‘crime’ of voting for the infrastructure bill that passed Congress last week. Another guy, Kenneth Gasper, 64, was arrested Wednesday for a telephoned death threat against Rep. Andrew Garbarino, who also broke ranks with the party on that vote.

Both threatening calls came in the wake of Congressional Joke of the Month Marjorie Taylor-Greene, who slammed the 13 Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill as traitors, and America’s Jabba the Hut gone rancid, Donald Trump, who whined long and loudly about a bill that he himself used to say he was going to present to Congress, He would do this every six months or so, grandly announcing it was “Infrastructure Week.” Of course nothing would happen because of Donald’s greatest strength as President—his utter incompetence and inability to lead.

It isn’t enough that Republicans have abandoned the values and beliefs they once held as Americans: they’ve abandoned the values and beliefs they once held as Republicans. According to Michael Moline at the Florida Phoenix, “The state of Florida would pay workers to quit their jobs by giving them unemployment benefits rather than submit to vaccine mandates under legislation filed for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ special session of the Legislature, due to convene next week.” Imagine: Republicans, paying people for refusing to work. Savor it.

If you need evidence of the hypocrisy and profound stupidity of Trump’s followers, there it is in a nutshell. They want to murder people for supporting something Trump was for just a year ago.

And there have been myriad incidents of people assaulting hapless employees for requesting people to wear masks per the law, or even for obeying federal rules regarding vaccines. One guy assaulted an American Airlines flight attendant so badly she needed surgery for facial damage. AA, to their credit, banned the guy from their planes for life, but he needs to be up on felony assault charges.

Heroes of the Heil Trump Brigade have been threatening and abusing school boards, voter registrars and volunteers, and regular employees.

If you threaten the life of anyone, it is a felony. If you make lesser threats against a public official, that is also a felony, and no, it isn’t free speech under the Constitution.

It’s time we went after Trump’s scofflaws. They need to be tracked down, reported, and arraigned.

Today’s move against Steve Bannon was a good start.

 

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