“Not flag or fail” — No time to lose hope

Not flag or fail”

No time to lose hope

July 4th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

I wasn’t going to fly the US flag today. Even said so several times in posts around the web. But George Takei changed my mind. He wrote on Twitter,

 

@GeorgeTakei

·If you have trouble celebrating July 4th, I can sympathize. For years, we did so within internment camp barbed wire fencing, guns pointed in at us. We honored the promise of America even as it was broken to us every day. But still, we kept faith. And a brighter day finally came.

I wrote in response, “I wasn’t going to fly the flag today. But you just changed my mind. Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.”

Takei, of course, is the author of the autobiographical graphic novel, ‘They Called Us Enemy’ (They Called Us Enemy by George Takei Co-written with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott and illustrated by Harmony Becker. Top Shelf Productions 2019, 204 pages) which recounts the arrest and internment of his family in 1942 for the crime of looking Japanese in public. They spent the better part of four years in American internment camps including the most desolate and remote corner of California, perhaps two hours drive from where I live.

Takei’s father had left Japan decades before at the age of 12. Nobody else in his family had so much as set foot in Japan, and none felt any loyalty to Emperor Hirohito. But westerners were fearful, cowardly and paranoid, driven by transitory panic. Governor Earl Warren summed up social attitudes when he said, “We have no reports of spying, or sabotage, or fifth column activities by Japanese Americans, and that is ominous, because the Japanese are inscrutable.”

It’s the sort of thinking you associate with zealots and extremists, and Warren normally was neither—quite the opposite, in fact. But the moral and social panics that afflict societies on a regular basis cause reasonable people to utter madness.

As I read Takei’s story, I was struck by the dignity and patriotism of the internees. They only resisted against one demand by the government, that they sign a loyalty oath and a pledge to serve if called upon. The reason for the resistance was NOT that they were unwilling to serve their country (and the vast majority of internees were native-born Americans or naturalized citizens) but the insulting demand that they renounce Emperor Hirohito.

Takei explained it in this passage: “Takei, then adolescent and judgmental, responded to a remark the elder Takei made that ‘…of all the forms of government that we have, American democracy is still the best.’ with ‘Daddy, how can you say that? After all you went through, losing everything you and mama worked for?’ His father replied, ‘Roosevelt pulled us out of the Depression and he did great things. But he was also a fallible human being, and he made a disastrous mistake that affected us calamitously. But despite all that, our democracy is still the best in the world because it is a people’s democracy.’”

Every December, I write a piece dealing in some way with the winter solstice. The theme, always, is that of hope. My tag line on those essays is “Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.” If I am to be true to that promise, then I have to have hope myself, now more than ever. I owe it to George Takei. I owe it to my readers. I owe it to myself. And I owe it to what America stands for.

Yes, there are bigots and fools and religious zealots in positions of power, and they are demonstrating the deep and abiding threat to freedom and sanity that they always have. The GOP, fascist billionaires and corrupt churches egg on a moral and social panic to their own selfish and vicious ends. Many are the same sort of people who build internment camps and worse. Many are good people made temporarily insane by the transitory gusts of rage and fear, like Earl Warren was during the war. (Warren went on to codify many of the same rights the zealots of the Supreme Court are trying to take away now).

So the flag is out front this morning. It’s not a typical Fourth of July morning: it’s cool, and raining, and probably won’t get very warm today. Usually it’s hot and sunny. But then, it wasn’t going to be a typical Independence Day anyway. Storm clouds aren’t always meteorological.

We will defeat the zealots and the fascists and the haters, and drive them back under their rocks. Our own panic and fear will evolve into resolve, and we will fight the monsters of the right and take back what is ours by Constitutional right. They will not prevail. They have Trump; we have Takei. We will win.

Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.

 

Cassidy Hutchinson — Blowing the fucking doors off the Beast

 

Cassidy Hutchinson

Blowing the fucking doors off the Beast

June 28th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

zeppscommentaries.online

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zealots — The battle is joined

Zealots

The battle is joined

June 25th, 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Nothing exposes the utter ethical and logical bankruptcy of zealotry than the two decisions the once-and-not-bright-future Supreme Court handed down this week.

First, they celebrated the ever-growing piles of dead children by ruling that states could not put any limitations on concealed-carry except, of course, for “sensitive areas” such as…the Supreme Court. They don’t want to have to take the same risks they want to impose on the rest of us.

Then two days later the Court struck down Roe vs. Wade, ruling that states had the right to put limitations on abortion, including making it illegal under any and all circumstances.

So in the space of just 48 hours, the Court ruled that the Court could not impose limitations on the second amendment, and then ruled that states could impose limitations on the ninth and fourteenth amendments.

The first ruling ensures greater numbers of dead people, including children. The second was done in the nebulous name of “saving children.” It’s the kind of inconsistency that lies at the heart of the zealot’s mindset.

Zealotry is hard to tell apart from insanity. Zealotry is an externalized morality and intellect, one aptly described by Voltaire who said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Most (but far from all) zealots aren’t lacking sanity—they merely reject it.

Donald Trump isn’t a zealot. It’s perhaps an interesting paradox that nihilism is a good emotional defense against zealotry. If you believe in nothing, you are much less likely to believe absurdities, right? Of course, the drawback is that nihilists also commit atrocities, and unlike many zealots, do so with the full recognition of what their actions entail—they just don’t care. In fact they may even enjoy the suffering they cause.

Trump is a nihilist posing as a zealot. So today, he praised the court ruling on abortion as “God made the decision.” Of course, he then went on to take the credit from God, saying that the decision wouldn’t have been possible without his three disgraceful Supreme Court picks. Anyone who thinks God and Trump are interchangeable on any level has one shit God. They already had a shit President.

The zealots control the Court. They have a stranglehold on Congress. They threaten to take over the entire country in the next six months. It’s not something new in history: Zealots have taken over many countries in history, and the result, without exception, is misery, deprivation, and slaughter. All the worst “revolutionary governments” in history were controlled and largely were composed of zealots; revolutionary France, Nazi Germany, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Kampuchea, Lenin’s Russia, Pinochet’s Chile, Iran’s Islamic Republic, Cromwell’s England…the list is endless.

Usually countries so afflicted need decades to recover. Some, such as the Congo or Cambodia, never do fully recover.

When zealots take over, personal and legal freedoms cease to exist. The same people who like to claim rights are God-given don’t hesitate to ensure they are God-taken, and as always, God is an obliging doormat who shares all of a zealot’s most cherished beliefs.

The Court decisions this week show how close to the maw of authoritarian zealotry America has already come. Clarence Thomas, disgraced justice on that same court, publicly stated in his decision that the court now needs to “revisit” rulings upholding the right to contraception and same-sex marriages. No word on how the esteemed judge feels about mixed-race marriages or laws against slavery.

States run by zealots are rushing to put laws into effect that make it criminal to give or receive abortions, to travel to other states for abortions, or to even advocate for the right to an abortion. Some are trying to outlaw “morning after” pills, along with contraception. A couple of states are trying to fig leaf their assault on the rights and freedoms of women by promising to expand state assistance to mothers and their young children, but in the few cases where any details are available, the measures are ridiculously inadequate, showing their mitigation measures to be nothing more than a half-hearted swipe at the pretense that they are “caring about the children.”

The hearings by the January 6th Select Committee, and the reception they are getting, show that there are still many people in America who value justice and freedom and rationality.

I think we’re going to need every single one of those types of people. This isn’t just an assault on rights and freedoms; it’s the opening shot in a war that can only be prevented by enough people facing the zealots down and saying, “Enough.”

Zealots won’t back off. They won’t settle for a half loaf. They’ll take it all, and laugh at your suffering.

Resist as hard as you can now, or you will be fighting for “life, liberty and freedom” later—and it won’t be cheap.

But don’t despair. We’re not dead yet. Voltaire also said, “‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”

Sing as you resist.

Dog Days — Moral dilemmas for Republicans

Dog Days

Moral dilemmas for Republicans

June 22nd 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

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

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

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

“What meeting is that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Committee’s Latrine — The Trump Dump

Committee’s Latrine

The Trump Dump

June 16th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.