Low-Rent Gods and Men — Does Trump reveal God’s Purpose?

Low-Rent Gods and Men

Does Trump reveal God’s Purpose?

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 27th 2023



A survey conducted by Denison University political scientist Paul Djupe found around 30 percent of Americans believe Trump “was anointed by God to become president.” Thirty percent.

Now, I don’t know anything about the methodology of this poll. Frankly, I doubt the number is anywhere near that high. Ten percent, tops. Trump’s support among the religious is pretty much limited to evangelicals, and they only make up 25% of the population. And the same Economist article that cited that number also reported, “In a Pew poll in 2021, more than a third of white evangelicals said the government should stop enforcing the separation of church and state.” Outside of that group, the notion that scrapping separation of church and state and making Trump some sort of god/emporer drops through the basement. I doubt very much 10% of Catholics buy into that, much less mainstream Protestants, non-Christian and unaffiliated/secular.

Still, there’s a lot of Americans who do believe that nonsense. One of the stranger ones is the notion that there are seven “mountains” to a godly life: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business and government. Daemons controlled those, but Trump has already climbed and taken over entertainment, business, media, government and family. This group thinks he’s taken over religion, as well. That would leave education to surmount.

OK, let’s take a pause while you get your breath back. Those of you still laughing, imagine being in bed with Marjorie Taylor-Greene. Yes, that’s a cruel thing to do to you, but if you don’t stop laughing you might hurt yourself.

There’s a saying popular amongst us secular sorts: “Science asks questions that demand an answer. Religion provides answers that demand no questions.” Obviously, that’s a simplification. There are many people of faith who do ask questions, including of their own beliefs. And some scientists are as hidebound and rigid in their intellectual structure as any 16th century preacher. But the fact remains that the true first commandment in many branches of religion is “Thou shalt not question.” Obviously, this is a fertile demographic for opportunists and demagogues.

Let’s see about those mountains that Trump is supposedly climbing. I’ll start out by noting that you’re far more likely to find a sea slug at the peak of Everest, just so you aren’t burdened by any suspense about the following.

Entertainment: Trump was a B-list celebrity with a reality TV show. The highest Neilson rating it ever got was 7.0. It never was anywhere near the most popular show in its timeslot.

Media: Trump had Faux News, and now, having cost them $787 million in costs from lying on his behalf, he doesn’t even have that. He has Truth Social, which is pretty pathetic, and lunatic-fringe outfits like Newsmax and OANN, both of which face massive defamation suits of their own.

Business: Until Elon Musk came along, Trump had lost more money than any individual in the history of America. He took over three casinos and they all went bust within a few years. Casinos are licenses to mint money! He’s been found guilty of tax fraud and is awaiting sentencing. He settled a vast class action suit for fraud for Trump University days before he took office. He is banned from running charities after he was found to have stolen from a children’s cancer charity he ran. Business attracts thieves, con artists and other filth, and it certainly attracted Trump. But he never was any good at it.

Entertainment: Well, his venality and endless personal scandals kept cartoonists and humorists busy for decades, so I suppose there’s that. And he attracts eyeballs, although the leading reasons are “What’s that idiot done now?” and “Oh, fuck, NO!”

Family: he’s had three wives and at least a dozen mistresses. He was banging Stormy Daniels while Melania was carrying his youngest son. His niece, Mary Trump, openly despises him. He buried one of his exes in an unmarked grave on one of his golf courses, and its rumored that her coffin contains incriminating evidence Trump wanted to go away forever.

Government: Yes, he was a one term president. He won despite losing the popular vote, and never has won a popular vote. The economy contracted during his term, the worst since Hoover, and the deficit exploded. He turned the Supreme Court into a sad joke. And because of the cowardice of mainstream Republicans, that party is now home to traitors, religious nuts, violent extremists, and the most ignorant fools America can scrape up.

Religion: Well, define “religion.” If love of money, power and self-aggrandizement is a religion, then Trump qualifies. Claiming to have god on his side doesn’t count. Nearly every dictator and tyrant in the history of this sad world has claimed to have god on his side. Fundamentalists cannot question and cannot learn. They are fodder and feeding ground for monsters. In stressful times, they are enough to put a Hitler or a Cromwell in power.

That leaves Education. Again, the term is subjective. When the evangelicals talk about that particular mountain, they have something entirely different from what most people think of when you mention education. Math and science are not a part of that particular equation. For that matter, the word ‘equation’ isn’t, either. Learning biblical writ, obeying and never questioning are considered virtues, and a child who questions is a child who must be beaten. So Trump may surmount Education, although, like Religion, it might be in a form none of us would recognize as such.

If ten percent of the population swallow the nonsense of Trump being “the Will of God,” that’s disturbing and a sad reflection on humanity in general. Thirty percent would be catastrophic, a certain sign that a culture has fully decompensated and slid into madness. Mass jailing and mass executions will follow, along with widespread misery. So that’s why I don’t buy that poll. America is having problems, but it isn’t in hospice.

But never forget that this type of religious fervor is toxic, and an infection in even the healthiest of societies.

Merry Trumpmas! — Seasons Gratings from the Donald

Merry Trumpmas!

Seasons Gratings from the Donald

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 26th 2023


According to a zealot blog calling itself County Local News, “President Trump Delivers Heartfelt Christmas Message, Celebrating the True Miracle of Jesus Christ.”

Zealots are disingenuous liars, and County Local News was no exception. Here is Trump’s Christmas message, in full: “Merry Christmas to all, including Crooked Joe Biden’s ONLY HOPE, Deranged Jack Smith, the out of control Lunatic who just hired outside attorneys, fresh from the SWAMP (unprecedented!), to help him with his poorly executed WITCH HUNT against ‘TRUMP’ and ‘MAGA.’ Included also are World Leaders, both good and bad, but none of which are as evil and ‘sick’ as the THUGS we have inside our Country who, with their Open Borders, INFLATION, Afghanistan Surrender, Green New Scam, High Taxes, No Energy Independence, Woke Military, Russia/Ukraine, Israel/Iran, All Electric Car Lunacy, and so much more, are looking to destroy our once great USA. MAY THEY ROT IN HELL. AGAIN, MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

Their version of Trump’s holiday greeting was a handout from the day before: “BREAKING: President Trump wishes everyone a Merry Christmas. ‘The birth of Jesus Christ is the true miracle we celebrate each year. He is the ultimate source of our joy, our hope, and our peace.’” For what it’s worth, the only other source that quoted this was John F. Kennedy Jr., presumably not the one who died in a plane crash a quarter century ago.

I doubt very much Trump wrote the version that had the zealot blog and the fake Kennedy so enamored. But the one he sent out on Christmas Day was very much Trump. Normal Christmas messages from American presidents don’t include the phrase, “ MAY THEY ROT IN HELL.” Compare with Biden’s message: “”From our family to yours: Merry Christmas, America,” Biden wrote in a post on Twitter, alongside an image of a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts on Monday morning. He went on to write, “This Christmas Eve, my wish for you and your family is that you take a few moments of quiet reflection and find that stillness that’s at the center of the Christmas story. May you find peace in this silent night. And warmth from those surrounding you.”

Trump wasn’t done with the peaceful introspection and jollity of the holiday. He raged, “”It’s hard to have a truly great Christmas when you have a Crooked and Incompetent President who wants to put his Political Opponent in jail, and who has been working hard (for a change!), illegally using all of the levers of Law Enforcement, to do so. We are in the fight of our lives to save our Country from MADNESS & DOOM. MAGA 2024!!! 2024 WILL GO DOWN AS THE YEAR OF GREAT AND FULLY COORDINATED ILLEGAL ELECTION INTERFERENCE BY CROOKED JOE BIDEN, THE WORST AND MOST CORRUPT PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, THE DOJ, FBI, A.G.’s, & D.A.’s THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, BUT DESPITE IT ALL, IN THE END, THERE WILL BE A BIG AND GLORIOUS VICTORY FOR THOSE BRAVE AND VALIANT PATRIOTS WHO WANT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!”


OK, there’s a wealth of this out of Trump and I don’t need to belabor the point. It should be clear to everyone that not only is he showing the emotional motility and perseveration characteristic of severe dementia, but he is flat-out mentally ill.

The raging paranoia and lies resonate with zealots, a group who believe they are being persecuted because they can’t force everyone else to live by their rules. It’s telling that this County Local News outfit totally ignored the psychological shitstorm on Truth Social and pretended that the bland handout that Trump surely had nothing to do with was the totality of Trump’s Christmas spirit.

Grinch, Scrooge, and Trump. Sounds like the law firm from hell, doesn’t it?

But it must be emphasized: Trump is mentally ill and an immediate danger to himself and others, and must never be allowed anywhere near power, ever again. And his followers are at best self-deluded, and at worst opportunistic and vicious liars.

Zealotry is a fulminating disease, containable in a healthy society, and dangerous in a society battered by crises and uncertainty. America has been battered, and as often happens, the worst abusers promise to fix it and make it right. It never works out that way.

A few months ago, I had a MAGAt rage at me that Trump was the most popular man in America in the 80s and 90s and he sacrificed that to lead the nation to greatness. I was alive back then, and I remember that Trump was seen, at best, as an obnoxious joke. There are hundreds of Doonesbury and Bloom County comic strips from the era attesting to the national reaction to his vainglorious venality. Amused disgust was about the lightest reaction. I could only walk away, laughing.

And now, Trump is both senile and decompensating. He is a grave danger, and must be stopped.

Cert Denied — But Justice neither delayed nor denied…yet

Cert Denied

But Justice neither delayed nor denied…yet

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 22nd, 2023


I shook my head in disgust when I read that the Supreme Court had denied cert on Jack Smith’s appeal to take up the issue of Trump’s immunity on an expedited basis. This is, after all, the same Court that accepted 19 other such appeals in order to expedite their right wing agenda. So now, I thought, they want to drag their feet?

But upon reflection, I realized that while the court had punted, it wasn’t likely to push Trump’s trials back significantly.

The US Court of Appeals in DC had already signaled that they would expedite their decision on this issue, and it’s very likely that they themselves will give a ruling and then request the Supreme Court take up their ruling on an expedited basis, citing the urgency of a swift resolution of the matter.

Court of Appeals is an Appellate Court, which means that rather than retry the issue at hand, they determine if proper legal procedures were followed in precursor motions, and if the law was applied fairly and impartially.

In this instance the motion is a legal hairball coughed up by the Trump side of unlimited immunity for any and all actions taken as president, combined with a claim that the courts had no constitutional authority over the president under separation of powers.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan leveled those claims, writing in her ruling, “The court cannot conclude that our constitution cloaks former presidents with absolute immunity for any federal crimes they committed while in office. Nothing in the constitution’s text or allocation of government powers requires exempting former presidents…Defendant’s four-year service as commander in chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens.”

So in about three weeks, a three judge sub-panel of the Appeals Court will issue their own ruling. It’s extremely likely that they will uphold Chutkan, whereupon Trump will appeal for an en banc review, engaging all the justices on the Court.

At that point, several possibilities exist. The Court may decide to take it up en banc but not on an expedited basis. Given that they have already accepted the urgency of the matter, this is extremely unlikely.

Second, they may strike down the panel’s findings. Since Trump is asserting that the Presidency is above the law and no action taken as President can be adjudicated, this, too, is very unlikely.

Third is they uphold the panel, whereupon Trump appeals, and they take up appealing their own decision. This, too, is unlikely.

Fourth is they uphold the panel, and immediately ask the Supreme Court to take it up on an expedited basis.

At that point, the Supreme Court has three options.

One, they take the case on a non-expedited basis and drag out a decision, possibly until the end of next term in 2025. This would be a blatant move, even for them, and would be extremely unpopular. And one way or another, their opinion on the matter would be moot by then.

Second, they make a ruling. Since Trump is essentially demanding that he be freed from all Constitutional restraints and any checks and balances by legalizing any action he (or Biden) take as President, this is extremely unlikely.

Third, they deny cert, which would uphold the Court of Appeals and end Trump’s appeal process. This is—by far—the most likely scenario. They might try to drag their feet on the matter, but with both sides urging a fast resolution, they may deny cert days after the en banc decision, which would end the matter by about the third week of January, allowing the trial for election interference to proceed.

Adding pressure on the Court is the ruling in Colorado (Anderson vs. Griswald) that struck Trump from the ballot on constitutional grounds, in a 4-3 ruling. What is especially noteworthy in this landmark decision is that all seven justices took it as a given that Trump did, in fact, aid and abet an insurrection and was trying to deny the results of the 2020 election. In effect, this is a de jure finding that Trump did engage in insurrection. That is bound to get mentioned in the appeals arguments by Jack Smith’s team. (Three of the Colorado judges deemed the banning improper on the grounds that the amendment doesn’t specify the office of the president, and further, he’s not an “official of the United States” even though he held office and had to take an oath of office to get there, and is seeking immunity on the grounds that the office he held is immune. Firesign Theatre couldn’t have come up with that convoluted logic!)

One indicator that is a couple of weeks ahead of this is the Court of Appeals and the gag order Judge Chutkan imposed on Trump. The Court is expected to give an en banc decision in a week or so if it feels inclined to hurry, and it probably does. The three judge panel loosened the restrictions of the gag order, but only a bit.

The Colorado judges got hit with a flood of death threats and other abuse from Trump’s scummier followers, and it’s likely they’ll try the same stunt with the Court of Appeals, giving the judges some personal experience as to why Chutkan ruled the way she did. That won’t help Trump.

What happens there next will tell the tale. The losing side will appeal to the Supreme Court. Whereupon, look at the options above. Same apply here.

I think we’ll have a clearer view of the legal road ahead no later than January 15th. Mark it on your calendar.

“Shall have engaged in insurrection…” — Colorado Supreme Court stunner

Shall have engaged in insurrection…”

Colorado Supreme Court stunner

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 19th 2023


Today’s ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court (Anderson vs. Griswald) set the US political scene upside down and inside out. The four-three decision ruled that Trump had engaged in insurrection against the United States of America and therefore was ineligible to hold office, and thus should be excluded from the Colorado primary ballot. It’s worth noting that the three justices who dissented did NOT dispute that Trump had engaged in insurrection, but that it wasn’t grounds to exclude him from the ballot. The decision was made by a court where, while all seven were appointed by Democratic leges, was infamous for originalist and conservative rulings, especially in regards to the Second Amendment, which could best be described as being in the Church of Yosemite Sam.

The dissent was based on whether a state elections board had the right to determine the participants in a federal election. This decision will get to the Supreme Court very quickly, I should think, and I imagine some, if not most of the justices are slapping their foreheads and wondering why they had to deal with this hot potato at a time when the legitimacy of the Court is teetering in the public eye. Given that valid arguments in this case can be made for both sides (Trump supporters are pointing out that Trump hasn’t been convicted, or even indicted for insurrection). But Trump is a clear and present danger to the country, and there is solid evidence that he did participate in insurrection, and that he gave aid and comfort to enemies of the United States.

So, lacking clear direction or meaningful precedent to base stare decisis upon, the Court essentially may use political calculation. Despite the reputation of the Court these days, that doesn’t mean their decision is a slam dunk. Yes, Trump appointed three of them, and two of the others are, respectively, a bought-out hack with the manners and morals of a Sudanese border guard, and a religious whack finding his cherished beliefs under worldwide attack for his authorship of the ruling undoing Roe V Wade.

But still not that easily determined. The justices are going to be uneasily aware of the fact that Trump has tried to overthrow an election, and that the propaganda net that made Trump possible is unraveling quickly, often because of court decisions. Trump is becoming a political liability.

They aren’t as insulated as they like to pretend, and have to be aware of Trump’s stated intentions should he become President again. He has made it clear that he will eviscerate the power of the courts, exactly in the same way that Netanyahu did with the Israel Supreme Court, now just an empty and token shell. Even Clarence Thomas has to realize that if the Court no longer has any clout, his sugar daddies aren’t going to be arsed supporting him in the style to which he has become accustomed. The Court has little incentive to support a man who will destroy it.

It’s a microcosm of the entire issue of what a state, including a free and democratic state, can do to protect itself against wannabe tyrants and demagogues. Freedom of speech is both the greatest strength of a free country and its greatest weakness. What do do about someone who runs for office advocating the downfall of the existing state?

There’s a case in recent history of someone running for the highest elected office in the land, a man who not only was indicted for trying to overthrow the state, but convicted and imprisoned for it. Once out of prison, he was free to run again, take office, and destroy the state.

That man was Adolf Hitler, architect of the Beer Hall Putsch and eventually, chancellor of Germany which became a nightmare of lawlessness and slaughter before self-destructing after just a dozen bloody years.

Under present German law, Hitler would be disqualified from holding office.

The Court will be in a position where they need to not only try to reestablish their legitimacy, but avoid their own destruction, since a Trump regime would at best regard courts as puppet apparatus for subjugation of anyone Trump found annoying.

The mere fact of the Colorado court decision does put yet another large dent in Trump’s political power, and it is certain that other states will now be encouraged to make similar moves.

Of course some of the red states will try to make a similar exclusion of Biden, claiming that he’s being impeached and he sold sex-slave children in pizza boxes to Lemurians and try to exclude Biden.

Yes, it’s a mess. It may be the court will rule that yes, Trump was in violation of the 14th amendment, but that it’s not the place of individual states to act on a federal crime. And then rule that only federal courts could rule, and proceed to uphold the Colorado case without it turning into a complete circus.

But this is all just guesswork. The only prediction I’ll stand behind is that the Court will act as quickly as possible on this one.

On the Sunny Side of the Street — Biden and the new New Deal brings about new hope

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 16th 2023


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about why, if the economy is doing so well, a lot of people are sour on it. I discussed the six-pronged attack of the fascist movement designed to strip workers and consumers of power and hand it to corporations and plutocrats: Deregulation; Tax “Reform”; “Tort Reform”; State’s rights; Freedom of (certain) religions; and the Takeover of channels of information by moneyed interests and fascists.

The result is that average people like you and me have been stripped, not just of power and security, but even agency. We have been told for decades that questioning the right of the rich to having it all amounts to treason. I know I’ve been called a communist for arguing for public campaign funding, or improving public schools. I’m sure most of you have, as well.

Dating back to the White Revolution in 1917, the aristocracy have worked hard to utterly control the lot of both employees and shoppers. When their excesses caused the Great Capitalistic Collapse of 1929 (the original Black Friday and subsequent Great Depression) they had to back off from the mess they themselves had created and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was able to implement his New Deal. The result was the strongest and richest economy in the history of the world, since his reforms and the rise of unions help mold a vast middle class, and what I call “demand-side economics,” unlike trickle-down, really did raise all boats—including, paradoxically, the rich.

Unfortunately, the rich tend to be stupid and greedy, and can never understand that ripping off the rest of society undermines their own wealth and power. They would rather have 90% of grinding poverty than 20% of massive abundance. 90% of almost nothing is better than 20% of a lot, right? As I said, stupid and greedy. When a society’s wealth concentrates to a small enough portion of the population, the whole thing implodes. Over and over, throughout history. The Great Depression wasn’t a fluke; it was a built-in design flaw.

Yes, their depredations sour the rest of us. But there are signs that even here, change is coming, and with any luck at all, we won’t need another Great Depression or communist revolution to effect that change.

Workers are taking back their power. Backed by President Biden, unions scored a massive victory when the government implemented a new rule that any company caught tampering or interfering with workers’ efforts to organize would immediately become a union shop. No ifs, ands, or buts. It won’t stop sleazy employers like Amazon or Starbucks, but it will make them a hell of a lot more careful. This NLRB directive (https://www.nlrb.gov/news-outreach/news-story/board-issues-decision-announcing-new-framework-for-union-representation), which got almost no attention at all in the captive corporate press (let alone in the fascist propaganda outlets, except for the Wall Street Journal, who were alarmed!) was hailed by organizers. The NLRB took a victory lap, writing, “The new standard will promote a fair election environment by more effectively disincentivizing employers from committing unfair labor practices.”

Unions are on the rise already, with resounding victories in recent months against the Big Three Auto Makers, American Airlines, Kaiser Permanente, UPS and other delivery services, the LA School District, and Providence Hospitals in Portland, OR. According to the Guardian, “Feeling angry and emboldened, workers have been flexing their muscles. There were 301 strikes in the first nine months of his year, up from 172 over the same period in 2021, according to ILR Labor Action Tracker.” Even Tesla, with some of the worst labor abuses in the world, is in deep trouble, with union sentiment growing not just in the US, but in Europe as well.

This is partially why for the first time in ten years, average wages this year rose faster (4.2%) than the rate of inflation (3.2%).

Democrats in Congress have been pushing to make the ongoing thievery of so-called “contract workers” a thing of the pass. If they gain control next year, expect to see the sleaziest and most abusive outfits either have to give their workers decent pay and rights, or go out of business. (And any outfit that can’t afford even minimum wage and overtime pay needs to go out of business and won’t be missed.)

Consumers are starting to make their voices heard. Biden is still challenging the organized theft and ruination known as ‘student loans’ and bringing pressure to bear on those usurious payday-loan and other predatory outfits. Other protections are taking effect in blue states. I benefited from one such: a medium-sized snow storm caused my solar panels to crash to the ground last March, and the contractor’s response was “Gee, hope you have home owners’ insurance.” But California mandates full warranty of home construction projects for a period of ten years. A friend made me aware of the law (again, not mentioned in the media) and as a result, not only were the panels repaired, but the installation beefed up so as to survive similar storms in the future—at no cost to me.

And another sign of emerging change: the fascists are learning that they cannot lie to us with impunity. Fox News shelled out $787 million in damages for the lies they told about Dominion Voting Systems and the election supposedly being stolen from Trump. (I’m amused how fast Fox gets rid of the lying clowns—including the ex-President—who come on and still try to claim the election was stolen. But then, they have other lawsuits pending for their lies. So do some of the other propaganda outfits). Giuliani just got dinged to the tune of $148 million for defaming and ruining the lives of two election precinct volunteers. Trump himself lost a suit for battery and defamation to E. Jean Carroll, and now faces another suit for $50 for repeating the same lies he told about her that led to the first case.

The United States is willing to fight for its right to exist in the face of the “I-live-America-but-hate-the-US” crowd. Over a thousands individuals participating in the January 6th insurrection have been fined or imprisoned.

Mainstream media, for all its faults, sees the writing on the wall, and some have dropped the pretense that “conservatives” or “libertarians” are anything other than fascists, and are using the word. It’s about time.

Trump, beset on all sides by the fruits of his vile actions, is watching his support slowly erode. You can only lose so much before your followers start noticing and wondering if it really is all a deep-state conspiracy.

The Solstice is coming, and I always write a piece where the central theme is “the sun will be back, don’t lose hope.” Well, I’ve already written the one for this year (and you’ll have to wait until the 21st to read it. Deal), but hope is definitely a factor in discussion about how people feel about living in America today. There is hope, and the reason for the hope gets stronger by the day.

Never lose hope.

Making the Trains Run — Time for real improvement to rail service

Making the Trains Run

Time for real improvement to rail service

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 10th, 2023


President Biden announced the other day that an additional $8.2 billion would be allocated toward improving Amtrak routes and service. This is a huge deal for the passenger rail service, which has survived decades of Republican efforts to destroy it by nickel-and-diming it to death.

The new funding will go to the following projects (per the DoT website):

Projects announced through the Federal State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail (Fed-State National) Program will advance two high-speed rail corridors and fund improvements to existing rail corridors for expanded service and performance. These investments will:

  • Help deliver high-speed rail service in California’s Central Valley
  • Create a brand-new high-speed rail corridor between Las Vegas, Nevada, and southern California, serving an estimated 11 million passengers annually
  • Make major upgrades to existing conventional rail corridors to better connect Northern Virginia and the Southeast with the Northeast Corridor
  • Expand and add frequencies to the Pennsylvania Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh
  • Extend the Piedmont Corridor in North Carolina north, as part of a higher-speed connection between Raleigh and Richmond, Virginia
  • Invest in Chicago Union Station, as an initial step toward future improvements to the critical Midwest corridors hub
  • Improve service in Maine, Montana, and Alaska

The DoT webpage adds, “At the same time, FRA is announcing 69 corridor selections across 44 states through the Corridor Identification and Development (Corridor ID) Program, which will drive future passenger rail expansion.

Corridor ID, a new planning program made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help guide intercity passenger rail development throughout the country. This inaugural round of selections aims to upgrade 15 existing rail routes, add or extend service on 47 new routes, and advance 7 new high-speed rail projects, creating a pipeline of intercity passenger rail projects ready for implementation and future investment. FRA will work closely with states, transportation agencies, host and operating railroads, and local governments to develop and build passenger rail projects faster than ever before.

Yes, that’s a big deal. It’s the biggest single investment in Amtrak in its history. America has the crappiest rail service in the developed world, and lags behind some third world nations (mostly because China invested heavily in foreign rail in order to open up trade routes). The freight lines are in dire shape because private companies are more interested in spending money on lobbyists to defeat rail regulation and ads boasting of their safety then they are on spending money on safety, 21st century technology, or even routine maintenance.

The Biden administration announced future plans to present to a Congress that hopefully by 2025 will be run by people who can work for the nation, rather than the futile, vulgar, strutting clowns that run the show now. Those plans include:

  • New high-speed rail service in the Cascadia High-Speed Rail Corridor between Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia
  • New high-speed rail service between Dallas and Houston
  • New and upgraded Midwest Chicago hub corridors:
    • Daily, multi-frequency service from Chicago to Indianapolis
    • Increased frequencies from Chicago to Milwaukee to the Twin Cities, with an extension to Madison, Wisconsin
    • Improved service and increased frequencies from Chicago to Detroit, with an extension to Windsor, providing a direct connection to Canada’s high-speed rail network
    • A comprehensive plan for the Chicago terminal and service chokepoints south of Lake Michigan benefiting all corridors and long-distance trains south and east of Chicago
  • New service between the Twin Cities and Duluth, Minnesota
  • New service from Fort Collins to Pueblo, Colorado, with intermediate stops at Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs
  • New service between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, with multiple daily frequencies
  • New service connecting Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana
  • New connections between the Northeast Corridor and Northern Delaware and Reading and Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Expanded connections and increased frequencies within California’s extensive conventional rail network
  • Expanded connections and service in Florida’s intercity rail network between the key travel markets of Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami
  • New service between Atlanta and Savanah, and from Atlanta to Nashville and Memphis via Chattanooga
  • Restoration of service between Chicago and Seattle, Washington, through multiple rural communities in North Dakota and Montana that are currently not served by passenger rail


It’s all part of the vast infrastructure bill that was passed a couple of years ago, some $1.3 trillion dollars. Over all, that plan, the biggest in American history (yes, even bigger than Eisenhower’s Interstate bill) will revolutionize transit and trade within the United States. It includes:

  • $110 billion for roads, bridges and other major projects;
  • $11 billion for transportation safety programs;
  • $39 billion to modernize transit and improve accessibility;
  • $66 billion for passenger and freight rail;
  • $7.5 billion to build a national network of electric vehicle chargers;
  • $73 billion to overhaul the nation’s power infrastructure, clean energy transmission, and overall energy policy;
  • $65 billion for broadband development

Of course, Biden boasted about this the other day, and made one of his characteristic verbal slip-ups. He said, “Over a billion three hundred million trillion three hundred million dollars!” when he was trying to say “Over one trillion three hundred billion dollars!” Of course, the Murdoch-owned Post was all over that shit, claiming it showed that Biden was losing it. But that senile guy got the biggest “infrastructure week” ever, after repeated boasts of Infrastructure Weeks from his predecessor, whose proclamations became empty jokes. Biden made it happen, rather than vacuous vaporbills. Of course, Murdoch lost three-quarters of a billion dollars (what Biden might call $750 trillion billion million bananas) because unlike Biden, he didn’t know who the fucking President of the United States was. Or at least, had his Lord Haw-Haws claim Trump had won. So there’s that.

Biden just keeps winning. And now, our infrastructure is climbing out of the 19th century.

The Economy is Great — Except for 90% of us, that is

The Economy is Great

Except for 90% of us, that is

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 4th 2023


One thing I hear fairly often—and I wager you do, too—is a plaint from liberal and/or Democratic pundits that goes something like this: “The economy is doing great. Unemployment is down, inflation is down, productivity is up, and the stock market is roaring. Why doesn’t Biden get credit for that?”

That’s all true as far as it goes. Part of it is that the media doesn’t much report good news because it’s boring. Having some idiot on Faux News winge that he paid $90 for a turkey is much more entertaining than noting that turkeys cost less than they have in five years. (We paid $23 for ours, and it was a damned good turkey). It’s easier to remember what some overpriced bird cost some overstuffed and self-important pundit than what people’s own turkeys cost in the checkout—or that such things as eggs, milk, and veggies had shown similar declines.

Part of it is a historical oddity in social psychology: societies as a whole become more discontented and restive as things begin to improve. We really are making our way back from the twin disasters of COVID and Trump. The dim light of early dawn is somehow more depressing than the depth of darkness a few hours earlier.

The main part of the answer is in the part of that quote, “productivity is up, and the stock market is roaring.” Both usually come at the expense of middle class people. They aren’t good news for the very people who are most sour on the economy.

The indicators cited really don’t speak to the welfare of the working class. Yes, there are more jobs. But by the standards of other developed nations, they remain shit jobs. Minimum wage remains $7.25 an hour in the most backward states. Most jobs don’t offer health insurance (and shouldn’t—that should be a public sector function). Many offer no vacation time. Maternity benefits remain crappy even as the GOP moves to outlaw abortion and birth control. There’s no job security; in most states an employee can be laid off without warning, and for no reason given. Then there’s the sleazy low-end outfits that call their victims “independent contractors” which eliminates otherwise legally required things such as overtime, minimum wage, or scheduled hours, and the shittiest ones even require their subjects to provide and/or pay for work related items, such as computers. Because regulation was pared down beginning with Reagan, the government does little to combat such abuses as wage theft, cheating employees on overtime, and job safety and health measures. The lowest states are fighting to bring back child labor, an absolute disgrace in what is purportedly the richest country on Earth. Who can love a system that enslaves children but where plutocrats whine loudly about having to pay to provide those children with food? Even in the Confederate south, most slaveowners had more decency than that, and man, is that one fucking low bar!

Even with full employment, 80% of full-time workers have less than $400 in their bank accounts in case of emergency. Most have none, and are skipping meals to pay rent, feed the kids, and pay $150 a month for TV so rich assholes can pontificate to them about how good they have it, riding on the backs of beleaguered billionaires.

Plutocrats spend billions on that propaganda, and on the legalized bribery of elected officials to push the notion that only they are deserving and that the poor are nothing but a burden. Faux News has spent billions and billions of dollars persuading us that single mothers on welfare are the problem and carefully don’t mention the thousand or so billionaires who have been dismantling the economic system and raping it to death.

The Koch brothers tried rebranding fascism as “Libertarian Party” and when that failed, simply started taking over the once-sane GOP and populating it with the same broken and twisted creatures and fought so hard against civil rights, worker rights, compassion or fairness, beginning with Donald Trump. Those crazy bastards that have paralyzed Congress didn’t come out of nowhere; they were homegrown by the fascistic plutocracy. Most of the mainstream media is owned by corporate entities that are part of this same cabal, and they lean heavily on their “journalistic” outlets to complain that the problems are liberalism and throwing money at social problems, and not Wall Street types dismantling, destroying, and packaging out once-useful companies. Look at what Musk has deliberately done to destroy Twitter, once a semi-respectable source of information. Everyone has tales to tell of good companies that provided decent jobs and good service that fell apart after being bought out by some semi-anonymous hedge fund entity.

Most people sense the system is deeply flawed and purposefully broken. And the very worst problems remain unaddressed.

This attack on the US has been going for decades, and featured six major prongs by the interests that wanted to create a power vacuum by destroying the peoples’ government:

Deregulation: lots of whines about the burden of regulation that somehow failed to create the richest and most powerful country on Earth. Now we have deregulation. Feeling particularly rich or powerful now? Ninety-nine percent of you will say no.

Tax Reform: AKA trickle down, or supply side. Top tax brackets fell from 90% to 20%. Working people made up a bit of the difference. But we’re still $23 trillion in the hole. It wasn’t school lunches for kids that caused that: it was billionaires cheating the country.

Tort Reform: essentially makes it impossible for regular people to sue major corporations.

State’s rights: take power from the federal government and give it to corrupt, petty, venal states like Mississippi or Louisiana. Gape in amazement as civil rights vanish along with worker rights and environmental protections.

Freedom of religion: Make pets out of gullible zealots and promise to let them inflict their idolatry on others in return for their votes. Notice that you aren’t free from religions you don’t believe in any more?

Combine liberalism and social justice with communism and other authoritarian regimes in the public mind. Spend billions on propaganda to promote this and all the other prongs.

It all leads to plutocratic authoritarianism.

A lot of people, including one of the main architects of this attack, David Koch, have looked at Donald Trump and his followers, and the vicious excesses of the so-called Christian Right, and realized that, in line with historical precedent, their movement has attracted a dark element of broken and twisted creatures who revel in the suffering of others and live only to serve their masters and share a few crumbs from the table. Scratch a strutting and bellicose MAGAt and find a cold concentration camp prison guard, or the block party commissar.

Fascist regimes, like theocratic regimes, begin as cruel and incompetent, and go downhill from there.

I’m not sure it can be reversed. But it must be if we are to avoid the fate of such regimes.

But even though Biden can’t wave a magic wand and fix all these things, he at least wants to. And you can bet your life (and you probably are) that Trump and his lot in the GOP will only make things worse.

You want a decent job that pays for a good home, security and decent medical care? Reject the GOP.

And yes, that includes people who cheered for that six pronged attack and expected a sane outcome. The dream is over. Time to wake up.


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