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.

The Long Con — Trump is just returning to form

The Long Con

Trump is just returning to form

June 15th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

“Not only was there the Big Lie, there was the Big Ripoff.”

Zoe Lofgren, Congressperson from California, may have understated it. She cited the quarter of a billion dollars that Trump raised that was meant to go to the “Official Election Defense Fund.” The money would be used, he said, to “ensure election integrity.” That, of course, was the Big Lie: that the election was stolen from Trump.

But there is just one little problem with the “Official Election Defense Fund”: it doesn’t exist. Papers for such an entity haven’t been filed anywhere, and there are no filings with the federal or any state tax agency.

A quarter of a billion dollars. If a million people donated, it would be $250 each. Even if you factored in the usual gullible and/or fascistic billionaires, Trump hornswoggled a hell of a lot of people for his fake cause.

It would be somewhat understandable if the money went to Trump’s legal fees, but the GOP is paying those—yes, including ones that have nothing to do with his membership in the GOP. Republicans have been pretty much reduced to humping daddy’s leg in hopes of getting a pat on the head.

So where did all that money go?

According to Ryan Bort over at Rolling Stone, “…Save America PAC. The PAC then made contributions to Mark Meadows’ charity, to a conservative organization employing former Trump staffers, to the Trump Hotel Collection, and to the company that organized the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol last Jan. 6.”

Hold up. “[T]he company that organized the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol last Jan. 6.”?

Yup. Among other things, they shelled out $60,000 to have Kimberley Guilfoyle rant incoherently at the audience for all of two minutes. Nice work, eh? If you haven’t heard her speak, just imagine what might happen if you fed some meth to Donald Duck.

At least she didn’t incite the street Nazis of the GOP (the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, similar white trash) to attack the Capitol. They had already left to do that before the rally even began, it all having been carefully planned beginning before the election was even held. Guilfoyle was ranting at the same sorts of dupes that donated to the Official Election Defense Fund, mostly people who thought they were attending a peaceful pro-Trump rally. The real traitors had gone on ahead to try and overthrow the United States.

Trump has always been a huckster and a swindler. Trump charged $35,000 tuition for his “university” which had no accreditation, no actual physical existence, and a faculty that the Atlantic described as “a motley bunch if misfits.” Trump, in the late days of the 2016 campaign, wound up settling out of court against all the lawsuits filed for $15 million.

USA Today had a lengthy list of contractors and workers that Trump flat out swindled over the years.

Trump has a long and tawdry list of swindles and cons and flat out cheats, hundreds and thousands of them, destroying small businesses, cheating workers and tenants, and bilking billions of dollars. Perhaps most disgraceful of all was his theft of $100,000 from a charity for children’s cancer.

It’s an indictment of American culture—and its utter servility to the wealthy—that this man wasn’t sent to prison to rot decades ago.

So is anyone even remotely surprised that Trump’s motives for political office and his efforts to destroy the country were motivated by anything other than a desire to feather his own bloated nest further? Given his tawdry history, his entire political career is about the same as a dog coming back to lap up his own vomit.

We’ve had two public hearings by the January 6th Select Committee, and Americans, in the tens of millions, have tuned in, either directly on live television, or streaming, or video (the proceedings in full can be found on YouTube as they are public domain, and you can watch and/or download at will). The third one is tomorrow evening, prime time again. Democrats will fume, Republicans will bow and scrape to their master even as they condemn the enemies of Trump. The ability of Republicans to simultaneously strut and cringe is a wonder to behold.

Evidence will continue to mount. We’re probably going to learn of direct donations from the “Official Election Defense Fund” to the street Nazis. We may even learn which members of the Trump administration managed those payments on Trump’s behalf, and what, if any instructions to kill Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence were discussed. It will be damning.

Trump’s personal history leaves me baffled as to why he has escaped justice all these years. His political career, unsurprisingly, has been even more vicious, corrupt, and self-serving.

I’m against the death penalty, so I won’t say Trump should face a sentence of hanging. But if, in light of all we know, he doesn’t die in prison, it’s an indictment of America and its ability to be a free and just country.

Revolution — Means “going in circles”

Revolution

Means “going in circles”

June 10th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Head Hardening — Idiot “solutions” to school shootings

Head Hardening

Idiot “solutions” to school shootings

May 29th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

A friend of mine wrote me and said, “Twenty bucks says if that classroom had been full of little white girls those Rangers would’ve charged in guns a-blazin’.” Given that murdering a white person in America is seen as a far more serious crime than murdering someone who isn’t white, that may well be true. I’m sure that among the sociopaths who are trying to downplay the shootings at Robb Elementary, there are some who would be taking a different approach if the victims had been “little white girls.” Not that it would be easy to tell their race or gender after an AR-15 was done with them.

But what I said to my friend was “That was kinda my first thought, too—until I discovered the town clowns were 90% Hispanic themselves. That was almost a relief; cowardly and incompetent was bad enough without throwing racism into the mix.” There’s damn few things you can say about the shooting that don’t sicken the soul, but for once it wasn’t the racist impulse that is rapidly destroying America.

The morally and ethically dead imbeciles have come out on full parade, of course. I won’t bother with the Trumps or the Congressional trolls; they just want attention and the only attention they deserve is a loud “Fuck YOU!” But the gun apologists in general have been trying their usual efforts to defray the situation in any way they can.

I’ve had several people tell me that the teachers need to be armed. You hear that pretty much every time this happens, which means you hear it a lot.

Let’s suppose the two teachers in the classroom had been armed. They could not safely carry guns on their persons, not surrounded by 30 inquisitive and clever kids who would be daring one another to figure out how to get the gun off the teacher. OK, the girls, not so much, but if you think knowing the teacher had a gun wouldn’t be taken by the boys as a challenge, then you don’t know kids very well.

Putting the gun somewhere out of sight wouldn’t work, either. Even if the kids didn’t know about the gun, they get into everything. The same day as the shooting, a second grader, age 7, showed up at a Sacramento school with a loaded handgun. The parents probably thought the gun was safely hidden. But kids get into everything.

So put the gun in a safe. That way, the teacher can fumble for a key or try to remember a combination while trying to shield kids from explosive rounds where even a shot to a limb would be fatal. Piece of cake, right? There’s a reason we pay teachers as lavishly as we do, and it isn’t to educate the kids. Yes, that was sarcasm.

Sort of. Remember Texas is one of those states that refuses to teach about civics, sex, or history. Even math books get banned for failing political purity tests. About all teachers can tell the kids is that Santa Claus founded the Confederacy to prepare the land for the second coming of Jesus.

One guy—and I hope to fuck he was kidding, but somehow I doubt it—suggested arming the kids. Well, maybe not the fourth-graders. I think he had in mind high school kids. Because 15-year-olds are known for their good judgment and emotional stability. So you have thirty kids with guns, and a shooter shows up, and thirty kids greet him by pulling thirty weapons. That’ll show him, right?

Except in the panic and confusion, kids will fire in wrong, if not totally random directions, making it impossible to guess who the original shooter was. (And NONE of the kids kindly furnished guns by Governor Abbott will turn out to be shooters themselves?). If the shooter is from outside, all he has to do is duck back out into the hallway and wait for the shooting and massive crossfire to end, and then nip around and pick off the survivors, if any.

Another bit of idiocy being flung around is “harden the schools.” Part of it is having armed guards around. Well, Robb Elementary did have an armed guard. He was out fucking off somewhere, and there are unconfirmed reports he might have been the one who left the door open that the gunman used for entry. Nearly every school that has been shot up since before Columbine—dozens of them—had armed guards. There isn’t an instance where they’ve avoided a single death, and far too many where they bullied and arrested and threatened young kids for minor disciplinary transgressions. People want a cross between Officer Friendly and the Batman, but what they get is some retired buffoon whose only accomplishment as a cop was not getting fired over thirty years.

One suggestion that left me slapping my forehead in complete abandonment of hope for humanity was that they only have ONE entrance and exit to a school, and it be locked. Likewise all the classrooms. One door. Locked.

Because schools never catch fire, no place ever gets earthquakes, and there’s never any other kind of emergency that might require a fast and orderly evacuation of the school.

And a would-be school shooter would grin at the notion that the school had very thoughtfully created a killing field for him, a blind cul-de-sac full of kids who had absolutely no place to go, save where the shooter was standing.

Of course, thanks to the NRA and the gun industry, shooters don’t even have to enter the classrooms. The can just stroll down the hallway, firing into the walls. Random semi-automatic bursts through drywall will kill kids by the dozens. If he wants to see the carnage, well, there’s aren’t many door locks that can stand up to an AR-15. The gun, after all, is designed to kill large numbers of people very quickly. You don’t even have to have a good aim.

The only solution—and it won’t happen overnight—is to ban weapons beyond those for home defense, or hunting. Weapons of mass destruction like AR-15s must be banned. And gun owners should be licensed, and their weapons registered. That won’t stop the carnage, but it will start to slow it down some.

If these changes aren’t made, than reflect on the fact that in a couple of more years, we’ll be looking at Robb Elementary as “the good old days.” and wonder how we’re supposed to educate our surviving kids.

Because it’s going to get worse. Much worse.

GOP Gun Bravado — Justifying piles of dead kids

GOP Gun Bravado

Justifying piles of dead kids

May 25th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Stephen King tweeted today, “The cable news washing machine is asking what motivated Salvador Ramos to kill all those children. The answer is simple: He did it because he could.”

King is in the unfortunate position of feeling some responsibility for school shootings. Back in 1977—yes, 45 years ago—he wrote a novel, “Rage” under the pseudonym of Richard Bachmann. School shootings were nearly unheard of back then, and King wrote it both as a horror story and as a cautionary tale. He’s not to blame for the horror that envelops our lives now, no more so than “All Quiet on the Western Front” was responsible for World War II.

But King is an expert on the dark side of human nature, and when he wrote “Rage,” he knew the potential was there. Unlike stories about vampires and other-dimensional westerns, this depended on just three elements: the rage that lies within many teens, the vulnerability of school children, and the American love affair with guns. King felt responsibility because at heart he’s a decent human being: but the school shootings we’ve seen would have happened whether he wrote “Rage” or not.

But there’s the thing: even if some child assassin stood up and declared, “Yes, I shot those kids because I was inspired by ‘Rage,’” King’s moral and ethical positions would still be better than that of nearly every elected Republican in the country.

Yes, King described a possible horror with considerable psychological and mental accuracy; there’s a reason he’s one of the best-selling authors of all time. He accurately portrays the human condition. But as school shootings became common, he acknowledged his role, and took “Rage” out of active sales. And he has been one of the strongest voices in the country for gun control.

Compare to the heartless, gutless, cowardly Republicans who lean on increasingly empty talking points to justify their inaction in the face of the ongoing slaughter of children. (Read that line again and ask if it’s even possible for a human to find a lower stance to take.) None of them will say, “It’s time to address the problem.” Most will try to pretend it isn’t a problem they can address, and prattle on about mental illness, or video games, or protecting us from government—yes, the same government they are a part off. Kids are getting shot to protect them from government officials who let them get shot because second amendment, which is there to protect the kids from feckless politicians like…um, them.

The reason it has taken so long to identify the dead is that AR-15 bullets, which turn humans into hamburger, left many of the bodies unrecognizable. They had to depend on DNA for a lot of the piles of guts on the classroom floor. Lots of closed-casket funerals coming up, thanks to the Republican Party.

As many have pointed out, other countries have people who are mentally ill, video games, and have oppressive governments. If you want to annoy one of those paranoid nuts who believe the constitution was written by people who wanted the government they created overthrown violently, just point out that the USSR, one of the most repressive regimes on Earth, fell to an unarmed populace with only a few dozen shots being fired. Meanwhile, we have idiots running around pretending they can protect us from the military, robbers, and apparently, ten-year-old children.

There’s no lower position a human can take. They would need to climb a very tall ladder just to reach the level of cowardly filth.

But they are cowards. The best way to change their minds is to make them open to the same risks they inflict on us.

Therefore, I call on the NRA to allow anyone who wants to to carry a loaded weapon into their convention Friday. Just like they can just about anywhere else in Texas. I don’t want to see more death, so I’ll be happy to keep my fingers crossed for them. I’m sure the NRA will welcome all thoughts and prayers, both in advance and in the event of any bloody aftermath.

Republican politicians, tell your guards and police escort to take a few weeks off. Go out like a normal person, and take the same risks that you want the rest of us to take. Is that too much to ask?

They let our children die because they are moral and ethical cowards. There is no inner humanity to reach within them. Abbott, Cruz and Trump made that clear already this week. Let Trump bloviate to the NRA with a room full of loaded guns and no Secret Service. Oh, they can have a security guard—he’s entitled to the same amount of protection school children can get. He can have fun explaining how he was the greatest president of all time because one of his first acts was to make it easier for the mentally ill to get guns, all the time sweating profusely whilst scanning the room, ready to duck behind his little wood rostrum In The Event Of. The amount of grotesque gun bravado espoused by this lot will vanish quickly.

I don’t want an assassination—that would only make things worse. But I do want him to feel the same fear every schoolkid is feeling tonight.

They are cowards, these gun heroes. Trump alone is a novel of cowardice in action.

Make them take the same risks the rest of us face, and watch them cave like Halloween pumpkins in January. Unlike King, who is courageous, they will crumble if they have to accept responsibility for their actions.

Facing Fascism — By their crazy ye shall know them

 

Facing Fascism

By their crazy ye shall know them

 

May 21st, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

 

More and more, we’re seeing a dangerous rise of the racist, neo-Nazi right, as witness the horrible shooting in Buffalo last week where one of the spawn of Fox News and the GOP massacred 10 people who were doing nothing more criminal than a bit of grocery shopping.

We’re also seeing a rise in the sheer lunacy of the people the far-right is putting up as their voices and leaders. It isn’t just Trump and the idiotic trolls that infest Congress; it’s people who say utterly insane things to disguise what they really are.

On the Christian fascist front, as god-floggers in dozens of states race to convert the United States into a 12th century theocracy, one of the great movers and shakers of this poisonous movement appeared before Congress, to explain, under oath, why abortion needs to be illegal. Since there’s no sane secular or religious reason to support this point of view, she had to wax inventive—under oath, no less.

She said, “Bodies [are] thrown in medical waste bins, and in places like Washington, D.C., burned to power the lights of the cities’ homes and streets.”

Americans United for Life President Catherine Glenn Foster proclaimed.“Let that image sink in with you for a moment,” she continued. “The next time you turn on the light, think of the incinerators, think of what we’re doing to ourselves so callously and so numbly.”

OK, I thought about that. If the street lights have a bluish glow, they are running on little boy fetuses. If it’s little girl fetuses being burned, the lights are pinkish.

And if it’s the brains of right-wing god-floggers, the lights are dark.

She proclaimed this amazing idiocy under oath. To the House Judiciary Committee. She gets paid $190,000 a year to justify the actions of the Christian fascists’ most hateful and paranoid anti-choice group. The group claims “We are the voice for millions, a nonpartisan force working to create lifelong connections between persons of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs.” People of all white race, male, stupid and anti-women beliefs, of course. The rest of us can go hang. We’re burning fetuses to power streetlights, you see.

The Democrats should charge this nut with perjury and contempt of Congress. Granted, she’ll probably get off on a sanity clause plea.

Chip Roy of Texas, because of course Texas, wanted to know if it was OK to abort a baby as it was being born. This is a favorite lurid fantasy of the far right religious nuts; that a woman will go all the way to term and then decide on a whim to abort. That they believe that this can even happen, let alone is a common occurrence, just shows the utter moral and mental bankruptcy of this movement. After the second trimester, abortions only happen if there is something gone catastrophically wrong—the fetus is dead, or both are unlikely to survive birth. But these pseudo-religious whacks like to believe the very worst in others so they can tell themselves they are superior.

Republicans proved what utter hypocrites they are. Even as they pushed to make all abortions and even contraception illegal, they unanimously voted against a bill to increase the supply of baby formula in the face of a critical shortage created by criminal corporate malfeasance. The GOP motto is “every fetus is sacred—until birth. At that point, fuck it.”

Democrats in the House reintroduced a bill to increase government response to domestic terrorism. Last year, the same bill got a majority of GOP votes, and in fact was sponsored by three GOP members.

According to Raw Story: “Senate Republican Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota immediately poured cold water on a just-passed House bill to help fight rising domestic terrorism, in the wake of his past weekend’s massacre of ten Black people in Buffalo by a self-avowed white nationalist and antisemite and a California church shooting deemed a ‘politically motivated hate incident’ by local law enforcement. The House bill passed with all Democrats and just one Republican voting for it. 203 Republicans voted against the legislation that would establish new offices across three federal agencies to help identify and combat domestic terrorism. Three of the Republicans who voted against the legislation are original co-sponsors of the bill, and many who voted for a very similar bill two years ago voted against this bill Wednesday. The final tally was 222-203. Conservative Tom Nichols, interviewed on the Joy Reid Show, said, ‘there is a nihilistic, fear-driven alliance here with a group of opportunists, and I want to get back to this issue of about Hungary, the really dangerous thing here is that some of these people believe very deeply in — in some of this stuff and yet others, and I would say people like [Tucker] Carlson and Matt Schlapp and some of the other people capering about in Budapest, don’t believe in any of this and don’t believe in anything of this other than the extension of their own personal power and wealth. And when you have this coalition of shallow, empty opportunists along with with a group of paranoids, basically, then you have a really dangerous movement because each side has to keep upping the ante to kind of justify why they are doing the things they are doing,’”

So the stance of the GOP is this: They don’t want to work against bad domestic terrorists because it may inconvenience some of the good domestic terrorists. If people are slaughtering Americans in the name of the Koran, or Karl Marx, or Xi, then it’s OK to prosecute them. But if they are home-grown cowards and murders, waving the cross and the flag and avidly watching Tucker Carlson for tips on how to annoy liberals by behaving like Nazis, well, that’s just political persecution, isn’t it? Republican mass murderers good, other mass murderers bad.

Tucker Carlson and CPAC are meeting in Hungary this week. Featured guest of honor was Viktor Mihály Orbán, the dictator of Hungary. Tucker and his crowd worship this five-and-dime tyrant, you see.

Orbán this week made it illegal to call him a dictator. No, really—he did. There’s a technical term for leaders who make it illegal to call them dictators. That term is “dictator.” Orbán pretty much personifies it.

Trump addressed this dumpster-fire remotely, joining a line-up that included Zsolt Bayer, who likes to refer to Jews as “stinking execrement.” Now, I realize Trump is the most trash president America has ever had, but “stinking execrement?” Well, this is the level of crazy Carlson and Fox News have brought us to. Remember, Donnie: if you march with Nazis, you are a Nazi.

OK, these people are crazy, and stupid, and about half of them are play acting for malevolent ends. But they are dangerous.

Nations routinely fall to fascism, both religious and secular. There really isn’t much difference, except religious dictatorships usually move quicker to open concentration camps to “protect us all” from non-believers, which is usually a majority of any given population.

But getting rid of these pests is nearly impossible. It usually requires great amounts of sacrifice, blood, death and misery, because they will never relinquish power voluntarily.

If this lot take over, expect to see your children sacrificing their lives to overthrow them. The only thing worse would be to see your children shooting people in the name of God in a vile new regime.

 

 

White Inferiors — Two individuals roil America

White Inferiors

Two individuals roil America

May 15th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Yesterday, a racist gunman, armed with an AR-15 and wearing militia gear, entered a Tops Friendly grocery story in Buffalo and shot up the place, killing 10 and injuring three others. The gunman had a camera strapped to his helmet and videoed the assault for two minutes until his social media outlet caught on and shut the recording down. Payton Gendron, 18, has been accused of the crimes. He supposedly posted a 109 page tract on social media, citing the “Great Replacement Theory” a paranoid white racist conspiracy theory, as the reason for attacking the mostly black victims at the grocery story. He supposedly drove 200 miles from Conklin, in central NY state, to commit this action, which suggests to me that he had some sort of history with this market. No matter how stupid a white racist you are, there are few places in the US where you have to drive 200 miles to find black people to kill.

It happened within 24 hours of the announcement that far-right Ruby Ridge icon Randy Weaver had died. Weaver had resisted arrest on illegal gun trafficking (Gendron had gotten his WMD legally) and federal marshals tried to serve a warrant, which resulted in a couple of gun fights, in which Weaver’s wife and son died, along with a federal marshal.

Weaver highlighted a serious issue that roils America to this day: cops of all kinds are far too likely to shoot and kill in situations where force isn’t even required. The movement that sprung up in support of Weaver did so originally for the exact same reasons why Colin Kaepernick took a knee and Black Lives Matter sprung up. If you think Randy Weaver was a martyr to excessive police force but Duane Wright, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and hundreds of others were not, then you are a fucking racist. You’re a coward and a cheat. Go away.

Weaver had legitimate grounds for resisting, and his family certainly did not deserve to die. But Weaver was a fairly poisonous individual who believed, amongst other things, that Jews are imposters and white Protestants are the true descendants of Israel, that the Founders meant for the United States to be under a white Christian god, and that interracial marriages were a sin. Note that it neither a crime nor a provocation to police to hold such views. You may be a dirtbag with dirtbag views, but you are a constitutionally protected dirtbag.

But Weaver’s views make him a hero not only to skeptics of government overreach, but the whole Christian Identity movement, the Sagebrush Rebellion clowns, and the neo-Nazis. Ruby Ridge supposedly inspired Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Oklahoma Federal Building a couple of years later.

The horror and revulsion of that act drove the militia neo-nazi types back under their rocks for some time. Their philosophy turned up in the diatribes and screeds of various mass killers over the years, but there were so many mass murderers acting on so many different behavioral syndromes that it just became another part of the gun lunacy in America.

But then Obama got elected and the racist right lost their collective minds (small change, I admit.) Paraphrasing Blazing Saddles, they screamed, “The new President’s a [clang!]” and came piling out to protect the White Race from being replaced by mud races.

Obama served two terms, during which time the haters multiplied and gained a major foothold in such ethically weak parts of the country such as Fox News and the Republican Party. The 2016 nominee for president was a vicious racist, Donald Trump, who among other things demanded the execution of the Central Park Five EVEN AFTER THEY WERE EXONERATED OF THE CRIME, and promoted the paranoid racist theory that Obama was born in Kenya.

Like most adherents to such a broken and twisted philosophy, Trump himself was a broken and twisted man and he promoted scum like himself to high positions, not just in party ranks but in the courts and among the allies he could find in the media.

It will come as a surprise to nobody that in the days prior to the Buffalo mass shooting, two of the more twisted creatures of the Nazi right, Tucker Carlson and Elise Stefanik, openly promoted the Great Replacement Theory. While this carry-over from Nazi Germany was aimed primarily at Jews, the American neo-Nazi right have included Muslims, Mexicans and other foreigners, gays, scientists, writers, historians, trade unionists and liberals. If that sounds familiar, it’s exactly the approach Hitler took in the twenties and thirties to consolidate power in Germany. Another term for Great Replacement Theory is Final Solution, the term Hitler used to describe his plan to rid the world of those he considered sub-human.

The results would be pretty much the same.

It’s horrifying that people like Trump, Carlson and Stefanik are making the same claims and offering the same solutions that Adolf Hitler did. Or that much of the Republican party, lacking any courage or resolve, meekly follow such creatures.

They must be stopped.

They will kill you if they seize power.

Three Crises — Any one of which can kill you

Three Crises

Any one of which can kill you

April 16th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

There are three situations that are edging closer and closer to flash points that could create immense damage and in one instance, kill a sizable percentage of the human race.

The first is Putin and the Ukraine. The invasion and war has not gone well for Russia. Ukraine not only failed to fall in days to a Russian blitzkrieg, but the blitzkrieg itself flopped, something that was self evident the moment we saw that forty-file long convoy of tanks and other mechanized units along that two-lane highway. Poland and France didn’t fall because the Germans approached in single file. And at that, the Russians got off lightly; Ukraine could have turned it into a “highway of death.” As it stands, reports are that Russia has lost a full 10% of their overall military might in the seven weeks that they have tried to smash Ukraine.

Adding to Putin’s woes is the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of the Russian navy. While the military impact is negligible (the Russian flotilla in the Black Sea was there to look intimidating, since there was little in the way of practical military applications to be brought to bear. Turns out you can’t sink a country) the morale damage was massive.

Additionally, and of far greater impact strategically and tactically, Putin’s declared aim of pushing back on perceived encroachment by NATO on Russian borders has backfired massively. Finland, historically a thorn in the side of the Russian bear, is expected to petition for membership in the pact in the next couple of weeks, and Sweden is likely to be not far behind. Putin has made it clear that nearby nations not servile to Russia that aren’t in NATO are targets.

So speculation that Putin may resort to nukes both as part of his campaign of terror against Ukraine and his efforts to intimidate the west is growing. There’s no doubt in my mind that Putin has the requisite viciousness. Is he that insane, though?

The west, including the US, must make it clear that nuclear strikes against Ukraine or anywhere else is a line that cannot be crossed without dire and immediate consequences. We’ve managed to avoid a nuclear holocaust partially through dumb luck (we’ve had some really scary close calls, and those are just the ones we know about) and partially through the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction. Any country that launches nukes dies. Much, and perhaps all of the world dies with it. Putin must be reminded of this, and be aware that a first strike will result in global nuclear war on the grounds that all is lost anyway. The last thing the world needs or can tolerate is a dictator that gets away with a nuclear strike. Perhaps, once again, we can step back from the abyss. Putin must know that we aren’t bluffing because we can’t afford to bluff.

The second is the behavior of the fascist right in America. Have you ever heard the term, “blood libel?” It’s a hateful story that first grew in medieval Britain and has spread throughout much of the world over the centuries. The most common variant is that Jews capture and kill a young Christian boy at Easter in order to put his blood in matzo balls. Supposedly, if Jews do this each year, in a different land, they will get the Holy Land back. If you’re thinking about 1947 and the State of Israel and how that might have diffused the libel then you don’t know conspiracy theorists very well. They still believe Jews drink the blood of virgin Christian boys. Who needs a reason when you’ve got a hobby?

The thing about conspiracy theorists is that they are gullible and easy to manipulate. To them, the world is a dark and dangerous place, filled with looming, sneering villains who stop at nothing to augment their power. Giving them “secret knowledge” of such horrors both allays and augments their fear and credulity.

All you need to do is invent an unspeakable act by a minority or adversarial group and then promote the hell out of it.

Claims that the Clintons and various other liberals run child sex rings have been making the rounds since about 2015, which was about when Trump and Putin decided America needed Trump. Supposedly, the sex ring was run in the basement of a pizza parlor. Never mind that the pizza place in question didn’t have a basement—weren’t you paying attention when I asked if you knew what conspiracy theorists were like? One guy even went in there with a semi-automatic and shot up the place.

Republicans have been deliberately electing—there’s no other phrase for it—the most vicious and stupid trash they can find to public office. People too stupid and too gullible to know they are being played, or the worse variant, the ones who know the truth and are part of the plan. That’s why the Jackson nominating process was smeared with political porn about how she was “soft on child pornographers” and why some of the louder specimens of the trash-American GOP have been calling teachers and supporters of Ukraine “child abusers.” Blood libels are great for the libelers, since they can pretend to a position of “protecting the children” while simply sinking to about the same level as a child molester.

The third flash point rapidly approaching is the climate. The physical climate. True to the models, as it gets warmer on average, it is also becoming wilder and more unpredictable. Antarctica saw temperatures last month that went a full SEVENTY DEGREES above normal. Yes, that’s Fahrenheit, but still… This time of year the normal day time high in New York City is 63 degrees. In order to replicate what happened in Antarctica, it would have to reach 133. In Mid April. Let’s not even think about July or August.

We all remember the heat dome that hit the Pacific Northwest last summer, sending temperatures as high as 118 in British Columbia. That was only 40 degrees above normal.

In addition to all the myriad problems we’re expecting in the near future, heat domes seem to be a New Thing, and a potentially hideous one. Few cities in the world are prepared for temperatures in summer that are 40 degrees above the local norm. The death toll could be in the millions. Kim Stanley Robinson, in his recent novel “Ministry of the Future” had a three week heat wave strike India that was only 15 degrees above normal, and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Suddenly we have to consider possibilities like 145 in Los Angeles, 120 in London, 145 in Sydney. We aren’t prepared for it because we can’t prepare for it.

In the meantime, the oil plutocrats—many are the same people who underwrite the blood libel crowd and are profiteering off the Ukraine war—are doubling down on fighting any effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption. And yes, that includes the oil companies that run those expensive ads about how green and responsible they are. They’re corporations; they exist to lie to us for profit. They are what prop up the disgraceful anti-American whores in congress, and they have think tanks devoted to the nomenclature used by conspiracy theorists and Putin about how “woke” child molesters spread “fake news” and the press cannot be trusted.

They are authoritarians, and they are herding us towards the edge of some very large cliffs, thinking they can control the situations and profit from them at the same time.

But it’s all coming to a head, and no, they won’t be able to control it when it does.

Unfortunately, nobody will be able to.

Still in the Fog — War continues to Russia’s detriment

Still in the Fog

War continues to Russia’s detriment

March 29th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

While the usual caveats about “the fog of war” still apply (nothing said by either side is true until proven) there are some things we can determine from the actual evidence.

Putin’s dream of a quick blitzkrieg takeover of Ukraine is in tatters. The battle lines haven’t moved in over three weeks now, and there are reports that Ukraine has actually recovered small amounts of ground back in a couple of areas. While actual numbers are not available, it’s clear that the Russians have paid a very heavy price in terms of both personnel and materiel, and the Ukrainians have suffered large civilian losses, mostly from the wanton shelling and bombing of civilian centers.

Russia has lost at least ten thousand soldiers, including six generals. There are unconfirmed reports of large defections and desertions, and one confirmed report of a Russian colonel who was fragged by his own troops, apparently by being run over by a tank. Not subtle, these Russians.

Peace negotiations are expected to open in Istanbul in a couple of days, and it’s widely believed that Putin is seeking a compartmentalization of Ukraine, as was done in the 50s in Korea, or the 60s in Vietnam. DMZs, in other words, with Russia holding a strip of land linking them with Crimea, which they already stole. There’s no reason to suppose that would work out any better than previous DMZs did, unless Putin is prepared to following in the footsteps of the Kim dynasty of North Korea and inflict such horror and deprivation on the people in his region that they remain too weak and cowed to put up any real resistance. Granted, as we learned with the Chechnyans, Putin is quite willing to engage in ongoing domestic terrorism against the populace.

Putin claims Russian bombing and shelling campaigns against Kyiv and other cities in the north will abate, although neither the Ukrainian government nor the west are inclined to believe that. Putin has already suffered an embarrassing set-back; he may not want to risk looking weak in the bargain.

Biden came out and said of Putin, “This guy has to go.” He later explained that he meant exactly what he said, but that it did not reflect a formal change in policy. The media is trying to describe that as a backing away from the original statement and twittering about how undiplomatic it all is, as if America didn’t invent the expression “regime change” back in the 90s. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, the heart and soul of today’s GQP, suggested (and I’m not making this up) that America fly planes painted with Chinese markings into Russia and bomb them, in hopes of sparking a major war between the two major powers. Perhaps he’s hoping for lower land prices in both nations that he can exploit. And today—today!–he publicly asked Putin to drop whatever he was doing and dig up dirt on Hunter Biden. Aren’t you glad we got rid of that loon? One down, one to go.

Putin’s response? “It is time for us, for our people, to call on the people of the United States to change the regime in the U.S. early,” Russian TV host Evgeny Popov said, “And to again help our partner Trump to become president.” State TV being the bastion of independent journalism that it is, you know.

In the meantime, at least ten million civilians have been displaced in the Ukraine, with an estimated four to five million having fled the country altogether. The US has vowed to accept 100,000 refugees, and Canada has a three-year refugee status program with no limit on the number of refugees. The UK is offering £350/month to any household accepting refugees. While a welcome move, it’s unlikely to address the needs of more than about 10% of the refugees. Poland is taking the brunt of the exodus, and they are poorly equipped to handle it, and anti-Russian sentiment will only last so long as a buffer against Poland’s notoriously xenophobic culture.

And there’s also the possibility that the war will reduce one or both sides to pauperized failed states. Russia has been shown to be far weaker in terms of economy and morale than expected, and Ukraine is suffering bombardment the like of which Europe hasn’t seen since World War II. (American campaigns against Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq were far worse, of course, but the victims weren’t white, you know.)

One of the curious items is the reports that two negotiators in previous talks with Russia came down with symptoms consistent with novichok poisoning. The Guardian had a piece on this today, writing,

Guardian reporter based in Kyiv, Shaun Walker, brings us this analysis piece, asking: Why is Abramovich playing peacemaker after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

Sanctioned billionaire Roman Abramovich is not officially part of the Russian delegation, but has apparently played a major role behind the scenes, jetting between Moscow, Kyiv and Istanbul since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Further questions about what role Abramovich was playing, and why, were raised on Monday, when the Wall Street Journal and investigative outlet Bellingcat claimed Abramovich and a Ukrainian MP were among three people to fall ill with symptoms consistent with chemical poisoning, during a round of negotiations in Kyiv in early March.

A source confirmed to the Guardian that Abramovich had fallen ill after the meeting, and had lost his sight for several hours. He soon recovered and was able to take part in later rounds of negotiations.

Aside from the poisoning claims, the emergence of the publicity-shy oligarch at the heart of peace negotiations has also surprised many.”

The West has brought many sanctions to bear, many aimed at Russia’s plutocrats. Perhaps they are having an effect. Certainly Putin uses kompromat and extortion to control his billionaires (including, it’s rumored, Donald Trump) but that can only carry him so far in the face of ruin.

Biden is right: no matter what happens in Ukraine, this guy needs to go. He won’t stop with an eastern partition of Ukraine. You can take that to the bank.

Smoke and Mirrors – The war in Ukraine

Smoke and Mirrors

The war in Ukraine

March 16th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

error

Enjoy Zepps Commentaries? Please spread the word :)