37 Counts — Florida grand jury nails Trump to the wall

37 Counts

Florida grand jury nails Trump to the wall

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

June 12th 2023


The indictment is utterly damning. I know that pundits world wide have been saying that very thing thousands of times on the vast majority of news outlets around the world, but that’s only because it is so self-evidently true.

Yes, it’s 49 pages long, but it’s double-spaced and with a lot of images and lists, I would be surprised if it contains 8,000 words. Perhaps a dozen pages single-spaced and without images or annotations.

So perhaps a twenty-minute read. And the language is clear and straightforward, lacking either legalese or obfuscation. The laws cited are clear and direct, and the evidence that demonstrates violation of those laws is about as clear as it can possibly be.

Of course, Republicans are refuting it. The very worst of them are making veiled and sometimes not-so-veiled demands for violence and insurrection. Some of them, including a couple of Congressmen, might expect visits from the FBI in the not too distant future. Clay Higgins, in an act bordering on treason, tweeted, “President Trump said he has ‘been summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, at 3 PM.’ This is a perimeter probe from the oppressors. Hold. rPOTUS has this,” he wrote. “Buckle up. 1/50K know your bridges. Rock steady calm. That is all.” Andy Biggs tweeted, “We have now reached a war phase. Eye for an eye.” I doubt either of them will actually lead any kind of armed protest, but if they did, and got arrested by National Guardsmen or Police defending the courthouse, I wouldn’t shed a tear.

Gym Jordan made the amazing claim that Trump declassified the documents before he stole them, which Trump himself directly contradicts on tape. Some of the more-ordinary-but-still-bloody-stupid Republicans are whining about “witch hunts” and how Trump is being persecuted by a “weaponized DoJ.” Most of them aren’t smart enough to come up with their own talking points and get their pretense at knowledgeability from the likes of Tucker Carlson and OANN.

Mind you, these are the same Republicans who demanded the death penalty for Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Katherine Gun, Erin Brockovich, and Julian Assange. They screamed “Lock her up” because they believed Hillary Clinton had secret documents on a server and, with no evidence, that she leaked them. They want a full investigation of Joe Biden over documents, but curiously not for Mike Pence who, like Biden, had some classified materials in his possession, and like Biden, notified the Archives as soon as he realized he had them. Unlike Trump, who concealed them and lied about it.

We don’t know who Trump shared the documents with. We know he liked to boast about possessing them, and we know he had suspicious relationships with the leaders of Russia and Saudi Arabia, neither of whom are friends of the United States. We know that the boxes were in areas that weren’t even remotely secure, and we know that Mar-a-Lago was a favorite target for spies familiar with Trump’s fecklessness and corruption.

We also know some of the material in the wrong hands could do immense damage to the United States, and to intelligence and military personnel involved with any of the secret activities the documents detailed.

We also know that Trump will stop at nothing for money or power, and personally, I have no doubt he will gleefully sell us out and do damage to the country for material gain.

Trump’s arraignment is on Tuesday, and I plan on writing another piece after that occurs. While I won’t try to predict the actual court proceedings themselves, I will predict what will become of the crowd that are calling for demonstrations and resistance on Trump’s behalf.

Nothing much.

Oh, a few hundred might turn up, and they might be noisy and even bellicose, but they will be out-numbered, not just by police but by counter-demonstrators chanting “Lock him up.”

The Trump MAGA movement has been slowly deflating over the past year. All the predicted horrors of a Biden tyranny failed to come to pass, and indeed, the economy is in amazingly good shape. We aren’t at war, not even with the Republicans who want war against Americans. Gas stoves aren’t banned, and nor are ICE vehicles. They will be phased out, but that’s called “progress.” Horse and carts didn’t get banned, either, but you don’t see them on the freeways.

Further, Trump’s self-pitying screeches and bellows are getting boring beyond belief. Even his followers are getting bored. It doesn’t help that he turns ANY occasion into a chance to whine about his alleged victimhood. Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Easter, any time people stop to think about things that really matter to them, here’s Donald, whining, trying to make it all about himself. The schtick is as dead as Vaudeville.

And there’s a growing realization that the law really is catching up to him. He was found liable in that defamation case. He has 31 counts arrayed against him in New York State on tax fraud. He has pending indictments under consideration for January 6th and for vote tampering in Georgia.

And Faux News is fully discredited because of it’s lying on his behalf. They still do lie, of course, but they’re a lot more circumspect about it. Like Trump, they still face massive legal sanctions for their behavior surrounding the 2020 election. As for some of the other right-wing flacks and outlets that tried to raise a revolution against democracy and America.

Finally, there’s the fact that a lot of Donald’s remaining followers are certifiable. A lot will stay away because of a conspiracy theory that the feds are holding the arraignment as a trap, with Trump as the honey pot. They’ll round up Trump supporters, the theory goes, and do unspeakable things to them to make them disappear. Something lurid, no doubt, and painful. MAGAts, let your imaginations run wild!

But Tuesday should be, for the rest of us, gratifying, and perhaps a bit amusing. And above all, reassuring. If the law can’t apply here, it is worthless.

A Trifecta Kind of Day — Maybe good things come in threes

A Trifecta Kind of Day

Maybe good things come in threes

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

June 8th 2023


There were three news stories today that were a refreshing change from the unrelievedly grim news out of such diverse places as the Ukraine, the Canadian North, and Florida.

In ascending order of importance:

Pat Robertson is dead, age 93. This hateful televangelist has been a stain on American discourse for decades, and frankly, I’m glad he’s dead. He had his professed opinion on the nature of the afterlife, and I believe that when you die you simply wink out of existence and revert to the state of being you had for the 14 billion years before you were born. Ironically, he may be lucky if it turns out I was the one who was right.

The second most important story was the federal indictments that the justice department will unseal Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. This is the documents case, and there are reports that they include willful obstruction of justice and violations of the espionage act. The indictments will come from a Florida Grand Jury whose existence was a very well-kept secret until next week. This means the trial will be in Florida, negating Trump’s planned howls that he couldn’t get a fair trial in Washington or New York. The back up plan of course was to pretend the indictments were political and partisan. A Faux News “journalist” wanted to know if there was a REASON this was all happening “in the middle of a presidential election campaign.” I’m told that the respondee was unable to keep a straight face. Propaganda has to have at least a kernel of plausibility among the True Believers, and that one won’t even reach that low bar. To me, it reveals the vacuous desperation of the Republican party. I think Trump will be pretty much reduced to arguing he was innocent of breaking law because he was accused of abusing powers he didn’t actually have.

The most important story was the Supreme Court ruling on Allen v Milligan. By a 5-4 majority, the court ruled that the redistricting in Alabama was a clear violation of section two of the Voting Rights Act and was discriminatory based on race.

That the redistricting was discriminatory was pretty much indisputable on the face of it, and instead, what Alabama was asking the SC to do was simply junk the law the action violated. This was a step too far for John Roberts, who wrote, “The heart of these cases is not about the law as it exists. It is about Alabama’s attempt to remake our §2 jurisprudence anew. We find Alabama’s new approach to §2 compelling neither in theory nor in practice. We accordingly decline to recast our §2 case law as Alabama requests.” Brett Kavanaugh joined Roberts in crossing over to the Dark Side (“We have cookies!”).

Nobody thinks for an instant that these two puppets of the National Association of Zealots and Ideologues have had a change of heart and want to uphold Civil Rights in the US. They may have simply realized that the legitimacy of the Court, already in tatters, could collapse entirely with a second incendiary and highly unpopular ruling in the same year. At least they could hide behind stare decisis and explain to those holding their leashes that they had to pretend to uphold case law, at least for now. I don’t trust their motives, whatever they are. But they flat-out declared the redistricting done by the bigots of Alabama to be unconstitutional.

But the results in the short term are monumental. Alabama will have to redraw their districts well before the next election, and further, similar cases in Louisiana, Texas, and Georgia are now effectively decided. That means that four states with 73 electoral votes will have to hurriedly redistrict, and the resulting shifts should create about 20 black-majority districts that didn’t previously exist. While it may not affect the presidential race (all four states have a winner-takes-all for the president candidate with the most votes statewide) it will affect congressional races—up to 20 seats may change. Had these redistricting had been struck down in 2021, the Democrats would currently enjoy at least a 5 seat majority in the House.

And for now, at least, Section Two of the Voting Rights Act remains the law of the land. It’s an encouraging development at at time when the Supreme Court is normally in the vanguard of a fascist coup against the country.

Robertson dead. Trump indicted (some more, this time federal). The VRA still alive.

Yup. Good things come in threes.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier…–Trump Audio recording eliminates any defense he had

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 31st, 2023


The denouement of Trump’s defense in the documents scandal came from a New Yorker story by Susan Glasser that, by itself, was utterly horrifying. The story details how Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley opposed Trump, both openly and behind the scenes, to stymie Trump’s impulse to launch a full-scale military invasion of Iran.

Milley presumably realized that this would be the greatest military blunder in American history. Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam and Korea would all pale next to it. Those were all small, comparatively weak nations and time after time the US sank into a quagmire they eventually lost. Iran is neither small nor weak, and an attack there would almost certainly draw in the Russians. It probably would be the start of World War III. Milley went so far, according to the story, to surreptitiously tell the military to ignore any “illegal orders” that might come from the President.

The story utterly infuriated Trump (OK, for once I can at least understand why he would be pissed). But his endless need to self-justify and his thin skin led him to what perhaps was the most damning error he has made, post-presidency.

Per CNN, “President Donald Trump acknowledges he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, multiple sources told CNN, undercutting his argument that he declassified everything.”

The story goes that two writers for Mark Meadows “autobiography” met with Trump at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. That autobiography contains an account where Trump “recalls a four-page report typed up by (Trump’s former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) Mark Milley himself. It contained the general’s own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency.” It’s anyone’s guess if Milley was contradicting himself, or this is just one of the obligatory scenarios the military delight in creating (“What happens if Lower Slobbovia invades Delaware? Or vice-versa?”) but Trump seized on it as proof Milley was lying.

Trump rattled some papers at the interviewers, and said that these were classified documents that showed the truth of the Meadows claims, and he would like to show them to the interviewers, but the documents were classified, so he couldn’t.

How do we know this?

Oh, lord, there are tapes, part XI. The interviewees, with Trump’s knowledge and consent, were recording the meeting. Trump either forgot, or was so irate he simply lost his temper, or both.

And Jack Smith has that tape. Lawdy, lawdy.

I can envision dozens of felony counts awaiting Trump just on the documents case. But for the first time, I think the DoJ has a prima facie case to persecute Trump for espionage. Combined with the probable indictments for the January 6th case (insurrection) and the Georgia vote count (election tampering) Trump’s most likely future will include dying in prison. This one tape demonstrates that Trump was lying about declassifying the documents, or that he COULD declassify them, or that he didn’t know he had them, or that he ever misused them in any way. This tape is more damning than all the Nixon tapes combined, including the infamous missing “14 ½ minutes.”

It came at the same time that Trump revealed just how far his contempt for the Constitution went by vowing to rescind the 14th amendment through executive order. Even Slappy Thomas would have trouble justifying that one. Trump is irked that the constitution specifies that anyone born in the territories of the US are American citizens, including babies who don’t speak English. (That would be most of them, I would hazard.)

He also threw his weight behind preventing the impeachment of Ken Paxton in Texas who was, of course, promptly impeached. It shows how weak his grasp on the party has become, even as the marching morons continue to chant his praises.

Trump legally, is a dead man walking. He won’t be a candidate in 2024 because he will be in prison. He may still claim to be a candidate, but his campaign will be as quixotically ridiculous as the one run by Lyndon LaRouche back about 30 years ago. The Republicans who, under Trump, let the lunatic fringe take over their party are in such disarray that they will have severe trouble coming up with any candidate at all. They may no longer even be a single discrete party at that point.

The voting on the debt ceiling limit is taking place as I write this, and its passage is extremely likely. For a small number of concessions, Biden got the Republicans to throw away the only real weapon they still possessed, eliminating the debt ceiling until after the 2024 election. Yes, Biden is smarter than the GOP—combined. I was of the strong opinion that Biden shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists, but the implications of this agreement please even me. Biden lost a couple of minor skirmishes, but won the war. The same Republicans who had been howling that Biden was so senile and/or incompetent he couldn’t find his trousers just learned they lost their own pants in a poker match against him.

I’m starting to feel hope that America is going to survive Trump, and MAGA, and Qanon.

In any event, the next few weeks should be entertaining as all hell.

“But Everyone Loves The Leader!” — Well, maybe not so much, it seems…

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 28th 2023


Talk to a Trump supporter for more than a few moments, and the absurdities begin to pile up like newspaper wrappings and plastic bags in a blind alley. Trump is a victim of Antifa and George Soros. The communist leftist radicals plotted for years to bring him down. America was never richer nor more powerful than it was during his presidency. Trump built the wall and solved the border crisis, only to have the Democrats destroy it. Trump cured COVID. Trump exemplifies probity, patriotism and piety. It goes on and on.

It reminds me of some of the claims I’ve heard about North Korean strongmen: they can shoot a perfect 18 in a round of golf, impregnated one thousand virgins in a single night, and lift a starving and benighted nation to glory.

I’m sure most of you have seen examples of what I call Trump Tractor Art; hagiographic images that portray Trump as a hero, a leader, even as Jesus. Some of them made it onto those ridiculous NFT ‘trading cards’ that Trump was peddling last year.

I understand they’re selling “Trump dollars” now at an inflated price that have exactly zero value. A few years ago I gifted a friend with a Trump coin, which basically resembled a fifty cent piece only the presidential seal replaced the national one, and Trump replaced Kennedy. It was a brass alloy designed to be golden, and the quality was actually surprisingly good. I paid $4.99 for it. I’m a jokester, not an idiot. I’m kinda sorry I didn’t get one for myself: it was unique amongst the trolling-for-morons marketplace of MAGAland in that it wasn’t utter garbage and was reasonably priced.

In much of the tractor art emitted by Trump sycophants, he bears an unnerving resemblance to The Homelander, arch-villain in Garth Ennis’ HBO production of The Boys. Given Trump’s personality problems, the notion of a Trump with superpowers is horrifying. Vain, brittle, narcissistic, delusional and devoid on any personal ethics or morality. I’ve wondered in the past if Garth Ennis drew some of his inspiration for The Homelander from Trump. A similar emotionally damaged human with superpowers was Alan Moore’s “Kid Miracleman” and while his physical appearance was drawn from David Bowie, his empty malevolence seemed familiar more to that of Trump’s.

Which brings me to a claim a Trump supporter made recently that stopped me in my tracks in utter disbelief. The claim was that Trump was far more popular before he decided to run for president and he sacrificed that to the howling mob of haters who opposed Trump because he was strong and noble and pure. Or something.

The thing is, a lot of people saw Trump for what he was long before he decided to run for president. His notoriety was such that he became a frequent target in such well known daily comic strips of the 1980s and 1990s as “Bloom County” and “Doonesbury.” Berkeley Breathed, the creator of Bloom County, quit mocking Trump for the simple reason that he wanted people to smile and feel better, not worse. (Reports that Trump hit him with a cease-and-desist order, while certainly plausible enough with the thin-skinned Trump, turned out to be myth.) Garry Trudeau had no such qualms, and made Trump a mainstay in his strip from the early eighties right up to this morning’s strip. He even had Trump running for president in 2000. The idea was that a man so vile and vulgar would get a rabid following but end up flaming out in scandal. This was back in the days when it was believed that rank-and-file Republicans at least possessed some of the integrity and values that they loved to inflict upon others. Then, as now, Trump was vile, he was vulgar, and he was ridden with scandal. He was a cheat, a liar, a bigot and vicious as hell in the 1980s, and everyone knew it.

Even he knew it. Shock-jock Howard Stern asked him about running for President back about that time, and he said that with his history with women and the law, he could never get elected.

Just his history in the court system revealed a man who cheated his customers and clients, didn’t pay his bills, and ran endless scams. He even had to settle on cheating a children’s cancer charity, and is forbidden from being involved in such charities in New York state. His relationship with the courts is one of using an army of lawyers to obfuscate and delay, and eventually to get away with a vast panoply of misdeeds, not through justice, but through attrition.

One of his most infamous moments came with the 1989 case of the Central Park 5. A young woman, Trisha Meili. was viciously assaulted and raped and left for dead while jogging in Central Park. The assault was so vicious that to this day she has no memory of it, having lost 80% of her blood, sustained significant brain injuries, and was left tied up to die. Suspicion immediately fell on a group of black children who had been nearby, youths aged 14 and 15 who had been hassling but not really threatening people in the park. Police coerced confessions from the bewildered kids, and Trump blew $85,000 on a full page ad that read, in part “I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer… Yes, Mayor Koch, I want to hate these murderers and I always will…. How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their Civil Liberties End When an Attack On Our Safety Begins!”

He wanted the death penalty brought back specifically to punish those kids. (Then, as now, he was wholly ignorant of the Constitution and its prohibition against Bills of Attainder and ex post facto enforcement of laws.) That would have been bad enough, but the totally mismatched DNA (which the NY pigs called “inconclusive”) was found to match that of a man who confessed to the crime, Matias Reyes.

That was in 2001, twelve years later. The kids, now adults, were released and several won large suits against NYC due to the massive miscarriage of justice they suffered. (Reyes never was tried for the rape and near-murder of Meili, due to the statue of limitations. Oddly, Trump didn’t weigh in on that injustice, perhaps because Reyes isn’t black.)

Now, most demagogues would be content to slither under their rocks and pretend their calls for the execution of five kids was due to bad information at the time. Not Trump. He snorted, “You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt.” Under duress, and of course, police station confessions are a favorite tool of dictators world wide. Stalin was very fond of those.

Trump likes to deflect, claiming without evidence that the kids “mugged” dozens of other people in the park at the time. He’s let it be known that he would have liked to see those five boys executed ANYWAY, regardless of whether they committed the crime or not.

So no, Trump was NOT ‘more popular’ then. He may not have been as unpopular, but that’s not quite the same thing. He was widely derided, scorned, even hated, and he gave ample cause.

We didn’t like Trump than, and we don’t like him now, and no amount of myth-building amongst his dwindling band of followers is going to change that.

Hawks and Owls — GOP continues lemming plunge

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 18th, 2023


I wonder which will happen first? Will the Republicans’ extremism that sometimes slops over into outright treason and fascism cost them enough votes to neuter them, or will they destroy the country first in a mindless attempt at extortion?

Of course, things aren’t going well for them. They lost two mayoral elections Tuesday, both in deep red areas, one under the purview of Ron DeSantis, and the other in the district to Lauren Boebert. Both had been considered locks for the GOP.

Speaking of Bo-bo, she’s getting divorced, and that’s already turning into a white trash rodeo, Palin-style. Maggie Armpits is also getting divorced. Family values and all that.

The GOP is clinging to George Santos because they need his vote so desperately, and the Dems gleefully maneuvered them into voting against expelling the con artist. The Republicans think they can strike back by voting to expel Adam Schiff, because two actions are always the same no matter what. Just like having Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court is exactly the same as having Thurgood Marshall.

Speaking of the “all things being equal” mentality, Armpits is whining that “white nationalism” is the same as the N word, because ‘slaveholder’ means exactly the same thing as ‘enslaved.’

Trump is claiming the Durham report proves that he tried to stop Biden from committing war crimes or something. Trump’s buddy Putin has his mercenaries firing on his own troops and he just fired the scientists who developed their hypersonic missiles because, like the jet planes under Hitler, it failed to change the course of the war. Stay in your bunker, Putie. Someone will be by shortly to scrape you up.

Then there’s the Jordan ‘hearings.’ How many courts could a kangaroo court if a kangaroo could quartz courts? The clowns in the little car are the only part that makes any sense. It seems the dawg ate Gym’s homework.

In Arizona, election and reality denier Kari Lake called her star witness, Jacqueline Onigkeit, She was supposed to establish improper verification of voter ballots. She did the exact opposite. The Arizona Republic bemusedly reported, “As a witness for the defense, Onigkeit was dynamite. The problem is, she was supposed to be the star witness for Lake.”

But of course, there is the budget blackmail that is still ongoing. Republicans are hoping Democrats will cave before they have to murder the country, and Biden doesn’t look to be in a caving mood. The crazier boobs of the Republican Party are hoping that they can stay with their tried-and-true approach to governance: Fuck things up, and leave it for the Democrats to fix. This would be more of the same, piled higher and deeper.

Racking up bills is always more enjoyable than is paying them, and for many years, Republicans have gotten away with the lie that the Dems rack up the bills. Don’t believe me? Here’s something my friend Isaac in the Weasels posted this morning: It shows that over nine out of every ten dollars in the debt is from Republican policies and misadventures. It’s only gotten worse since it began with Reagan. It also shows the Democrats tried to staunch the flow of Republican largess to the rich. Read it and weep:

Here’s a look at the budget deficit each president since Lyndon Baines Johnson inherited from his predecessor, and what the budget deficit was when he left office.

Lyndon Baines Johnson (D)
Assumed office November 1963: $5 billion deficit
Left office January 1969: $3 billion surplus
Reduced the deficit by $8 billion

Richard Nixon (R)
Assumed office January 1969: $3 billion surplus
Left office August 1974: $6 billion deficit
Increased the deficit by $9 billion

Gerald Ford (R)
Assumed office August 1974: $6 billion deficit
Left office January 1977: $54 billion deficit
Increased the deficit by $48 billion

Jimmy Carter (D)
Assumed office January 1977: $54 billion deficit
Left office January 1981: $79 billion deficit
Increased the deficit by $25 billion

Ronald Reagan (R)
Assumed office January 1981: $79 billion deficit
Left office January 1989: $153 billion deficit
Increased the deficit by $74 billion

George H.W Bush (R)
Assumed office January 1989: $153 billion deficit
Left office January 1993: $255 billion deficit
Increased the deficit by $102 billion

Bill Clinton (D)
Assumed office January 1993: $255 billion deficit
Left office January 2001: $128 billion surplus
Reduced the deficit by $383 billion

George W. Bush (R)
Assumed office January 2001: $128 billion surplus
Left office January 2009: $1.4 trillion deficit
Increased the deficit by $1.5 trillion

Barack Obama (D)
Assumed office January 2009: $1.4 trillion deficit
Left office January 2017: $665 billion deficit
Reduced the deficit by $735 billion

Donald Trump (R)
Assumed office January 2017: $665 billion deficit
Left office January 2020: $3.7 trillion deficit
Increased the deficit by $3 trillion

Joe Biden (D)
Assumed office January 2021: $3.7 trillion deficit
Fiscal year 2022: $2.775 trillion deficit
Fiscal year 2023: $1.376 trillion deficit
Reduced the deficit by $2.3 trillion (so far)

So in the past 60 years, only one Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, had a larger budget deficit in his last year in office than he inherited from his predecessor. All six Republican presidents had larger deficits in their last budgets than they were handed at the start of their term.

In other words, Republicans love to spend taxpayer money. And yet so many gullible voters have swallowed the GOP line that it’s the Democrats who are spendthrifts, the basis for McCarthy’s current threat to refuse to pay the nation’s bills — something Republicans never did as Trump was adding $8 trillion to the national debt in just four years.

Yes, the party of Trump, DeSantis, Greene, Santos, Luna, Boebert, Lake and Jordan is going to save us all for irresponsibility and financial ruin. Oh, did I say “for.” Cough. I’m aFreud I made a typo…

Let me put it as plainly and as bluntly as I possibly can: if you think the Republicans want to help you, and help the country, and the Democrats don’t, well, you’re a fucking fool.

We’re Not From the Government — And We’re Not Here to Help

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

May 6th 2023


In the wake of the latest mass shooting in Texas, Greg Abbott, putative governor of that benighted state, blamed the shooting on the government.

My comment on Facebook was “Someone notify this stupid bastard that in Texas, HE is ‘the government.’”

I drew a good response from one fellow who wrote, “That’s one of the strangest things these aholes are allowed to get away with when addressing their base; ‘It’s somebody else’s problem. Sure you elected me to fix the problems, but that still doesn’t make them my problems.’”

Well, that’s not by accident. I wrote back, “Ever since the Kochs hit on the realization that the only way they could seize power was to divorce government from the people. Thus elected Republicans would pretend that they were the freedom fighters and ‘government’ the enemy they struggled against, And as they made government less representative, less helpful, less honest, they would say, ‘See? Our self-fulfilling prophecy has come true!’ Only fools elect people to government who want to destroy government.”

Did the Founders consider this when they wrote the Constitution?

Of course they did. They recognized that in order to have a viable representative Democracy, there were two major social forces that had to be curbed and held in check: The aristocracy, and the churches. James Madison, considered the chief architect of the Constitution wrote some twenty years later, “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.” While he was working on the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, then in Paris (and an early supporter of what eventually became the French Revolution) petitioned Madison strongly for a bill of rights, one of which would include what amounted to a 100% real property estate tax in order to prevent the rise of an aristocracy like the ones he saw enslaving England and France. (Unfortunately, that one didn’t make the list.)

Churches are still churches, and no matter how well-intentioned, breed malevolent zealots. The aristocracy goes by a wide variety of names: Royalty, plutocrats, corporations, fascists, ‘captains of industry,’ and more recently, “disrupters” and “libertarians.”

Both are fueled by authoritarian impulses, and want, among other things, unswerving loyalties from the masses, a captive audience, and a complete lack of accountability.

Madison and Jefferson, along with most of the Founders, saw the twin threats to freedom for what they were, and resolved to keep them contained.

The results were mixed; many states sneaked through laws against blasphemy and enforced cruel dictates against behavior that didn’t hurt anyone. The aristocracy caused one civil war in support of slavery, the ultima thule of capitalism. They’ve crashed the economy dozens of times, including one that very nearly destroyed the country. They, too, have pushed for cruel and repressive laws, and demanded authority they neither deserved or could handle responsibly or fairly. But overall, the dream of Jefferson and Madison kept those forces of tyranny somewhat in check.

In the wake of the Great Depression and World War II, with the reputation of fascism and capitalism in ruins with the American public, the wealthy elites formed an alliance with the one authoritarian power nexus that working people didn’t instinctively recognize as an adversary: Religion. The preachers, stymied by popular skepticism toward cross-wavers in power, were quite willing to accept an allegiance with the plutocrats. The plutocrats needed help in convincing people that the government was inept, overbearing, and an enemy of the people. They knew the only effective way to do that was have their preachers teach that government is evil. They had jovial clowns like Ronald Reagan to quip, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” and to persuade people that turning over the tax revenue to the super-rich would somehow help the poor.

What they needed was some sort of high-octane moral issue. The ones that galvanized the public, such as civil rights, the environment, and education, weren’t what they had in mind. They wanted angry pitchfork wavers who wouldn’t threaten profits or strengthen the labor pool.

They hit on abortion, an issue of importance only to the type of loons who felt dancing should be a criminal offense, those, and the Catholic Church, which still hadn’t gotten over Galileo.

After that, all they needed was an extreme propaganda network that could block truth and promote lies. Enter Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch, the world’s greatest merchants of hate.

The message was a drumbeat: government bad and evil, profits and gawd good.

So when Abbott blames a mess he contributed to making on “the government,” nobody should be surprised. Republicans have spent generations working to make government weak and ineffectual, and then bitterly blaming it for not being strong and effective. Although when pressed to make government strong and effective, say through gun control laws, effective laws against monopolies and dishonest business practices, or protect the rights of minorities, they claim this would make government overbearing and tyrannical. It’s a three-card monte of a philosophy.

They want government limited to only defending their interests, and only a fool thinks the interests of billionaires or televangelists coincide in any way with the interests of the average person.

All autocracies, whether theocratic, or fascist, or (usually) both rapidly become corrupt, cruel, and detrimental to the security and safety of the society they have sought to enslave.

Need proof? Looks at the studied viciousness and cruelty of the anti-abortion freaks now that they’ve been unleashed. Look at the corrupt members of the Supreme Court that unleashed them. Look at the blossoming corruption in the financial sector, and the next coming crash.

Authoritarians are authoritarians, and waving crosses and flags doesn’t make them “more American.” They are the antithesis of what America is meant to be about. They are not your friends, they are not your protectors, and they will make your life hell if they take over, just as has happened throughout history.

America is not immune to this nonsense; they’ve just had the incredible good fortune to be guided by people who saw religion and landed wealth for the threats that they are.

Until now.


The Debt Ceiling — Republicans hate black males, but love blackmail

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

April 29th 2023


Imagine that you are the owner of a small business. Tax time is approaching, and you’ve spent much of the previous month conferring with your tax accountant agency, ensuring that they have all the proper documentation and a full assessment of all credits and liabilities. Your main preparer has told you will will owe a certain amount on your income, but that comes as no surprise. Just part of the cost of doing business.

But then, a week before the tax deadline, your preparer comes to you with an offer he thinks you can’t refuse. He’ll send in the documents and a check, but only if you fire 10% of your employees, raise prices for your customers, and buy lower quality raw materials for your product. And he wants you to hire only people who attend his church. Or he’ll withhold the tax documents, leaving you to face a load of penalties, a possible audit, and damage to your credit.

Under the law, that is extortion. It’s a felony. The accountant would face many years in prison for pulling such a stunt. He’s abusing your legal obligations for his own gain.

The Republicans in the House are pulling that type of stunt right now. It’s not the first time they’ve used a constitutionally dubious provision in the law to threaten to ruin the credit of the United States. They’ve been doing it, always during Democratic administrations, going back to when it was the brainstorm of the vicious and feckless Newt Gingrich during the Clinton administration. He was the first to hit on the idea of blackmail as official legislative policy. (He and the Republicans tried a similar stunt with the budget, and that blew up massively in their own faces when the country discovered that holding the budget hostage included shutting down Social Security checks, national parks, post offices and many other beloved government functions. Newt, beaten badly on that and facing personal scandal, backed down.

But the Republicans knew a good blackmail ploy when they saw it. Simply threaten to withhold mandated action and demand things that could never ever pass legislatively, such as cutting veterans’ benefits or food stamps or school funding, and leave the Democratic administration to take the blame for it since it would be his signature on a non-bill no member of Congress could be held responsible for.

In 2011, the Democrats called their bluff, and the early stages of a fiscal avalanche that is default began. It cost the country an estimated $2.4 trillion (yes, trillion, with a “tr” – 2,400 billion) and provoked a mild but long-lasting recession.

Republicans can’t govern. Even when they had a Speaker who wasn’t a beholden wimp, and a reasonable majority, they couldn’t get a budget passed, but had to punt the ball down the field, in the form of a “continuing resolution” which basically rubber-stamped the previous years’ budget onto the next one. Between the inflexibility and inflation, it amounted to a slow strangulation of the economy. But, knowing the majority of voters hated what they wanted to see done, they didn’t dare put it out there in black and white, but instead, simply tried to blackmail the country.

They’re at it again, and between the civil war that exists between the zealots and the banksters, and the tiny amount of votes they have in the House (5) they can’t even really say what it is they want. The poison-pill laden extension McCarthy managed to get through by just two votes took a meat-cleaver approach: The plan would cut a wide swath of government spending to last year’s levels, a decrease of about 9%. From that point, growth would be capped at 1% annually over the next 10 years. More of that slow strangulation Republicans so love, and nobody’s fingerprints on the pain. One of the few specifics was to cut the $80 billion or so left from funds to battle COVID, although the Administration has already earmarked that money, reallocating it to veterans’ health care and medical research. It would eliminate Biden’s $400 billion student debt relief, a program Republicans hate because it is popular and prevents the cost of education from making a life-long fiscal slave of the student. It cuts increases to the IRS because the IRS is inconvenient to plutocrats, who resent having to give 1% of their income to the country that wet-nursed them. It would repeal incentives for electric vehicles and sustainable energy because that might annoy the fossil-fuel companies that pay for those Republicans. And they would mandate work for people on Medicare or food stamps because employers would welcome would-be workers who are destitute, desperate, and with no options. It’s the capitalist dream, you know.

None of these poll well, but the Republicans don’t really care about cutting the deficit. (If they did, they would repeal the Trump tax cuts and the huge incentives paid to oil companies, and reduce funding for military allocations, but they won’t.) They just want to threaten the country to weaken Biden, and hope that whether he accepts the blackmail or he doesn’t that he, and not the Republicans, will be blamed for the ensuing fallout.

It’s tawdry, it’s cynical, and it’s a betrayal of the country. It’s the entire Republican package, rolled up into one sleazy political gambit that less than 1/100th of one percent of the country would benefit from.

Ask Biden to stand firm on his demand for a “clean” debt-ceiling raise. Allow no blackmail from these vicious sleazeballs.

Tucker vs The Weasels –Then, as now, he neither knew or cared if he was telling the truth

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

April 25th, 2023


I have been thoroughly enjoying reading about the firing of Tucker Carlson, and the widespread consternation on the far right over the slap down of their little tin god. I doubt he’s gone from the public eye; he’s fucked up several previous jobs with MSNBC and CNN and bounced back. If Fox had a yellow-dog clause forbidding him from working broadcast for a rival for a set amount of time, he’ll either enter politics or try to set himself up as a religious leader. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the last of that dirt bag.

But for me, it isn’t just the weary disgust I have for the vicious paid liars at Fox and the loony-toon shouty-boys on the web or lurking in the corners on Newsmax or OANN. My hatred and disgust for Carlson is personal.

As regular readers know, I’m a member of a group known as the Lying Socialist Weasels. This group was established by a group of Usenet liberals some 30 years ago. There was a Usenet user, a Reagan supporter named Brett Kottman. He was in the habit of screaming that any critic of Reagan, no matter how mild, was a “lying socialist weasel!”

So we formed a club. The Weasels included some of the leading voices in online liberalism at the time: Howie Klein, Bartcop, Milt Shook, Milt Brewster, Glen Yeadon, Isaac Peterson, Jim Kennemur and, well, me. I wasn’t a founder: I was the first of the second-generation Weasels, invited in by Jim. Several of us are Weasels to this very day. Usenet has dwindled to a wasteland of Nazis and child molesters, and the Weasels all drifted away. But not from one another. We’ve added many wonderful people since then, and at least four of the originals are still alive, active and involved with the group both online and in email.

One of our most prominent members was a fellow named Steve Kangas. Steve had a website, Liberalism Resurgent, which stood out as one of the most literate, informed, and conscientiously factual websites around. Some of the Weasels were bigger names and more influential, but we all looked to Steve when we needed to fact check ourselves or simply learn more on nearly any given topic.

On February 8, 1999 Steve died under the most mysterious of circumstances. His body was supposedly found in a restroom on the 39th floor of a Pittsburgh skyscraper owned by Richard Mellon Scaife, billionaire and funding father of what we were already referring to as the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. It was only feet away from Scaife’s office. His body was allegedly found at two AM that morning, long after the tower had closed for the night.

It was announced that Steve had shot himself at 2am in that restroom, 2,000 miles from his Nevada home and in the headquarters of a man who had every reason to hate and fear the careful factuality of Liberalism Resurgent. In direct contravention of Pennsylvania law, there was no autopsy. There was a rumor that Steve had somehow managed to kill himself by shooting himself twice in the back of the head. The following day, a man later associated with Scaife turned up at Kangas’ parents home and removed the hard drives from Steve’s computer.

Enter Tucker Carlson, then a silver-spoon nobody writing for VRWC flagship magazine The Weekly Standard, jumped in. He began a campaign of defamation against Kangas, claiming, among other things, that Kangas was heavily armed (Kangas was a champion of gun control) and that he carried on his person that night a copy of Mein Kampf (unlikely under pretty much any circumstance.) Both claims are still on Steve’s Wikipedia page, with no corroboration, of course.

A couple of former Usenet Nazis celebrate Steve’s death every February. These are people who love Trump and can’t bring themselves to spell “Jew” with a capital ‘J.’ They weren’t celebrating Steve carrying Mein Kampf. Even for them, that was a bridge too far. Didn’t stop old Tucker, though.

He also argued that Steve was intrinsically suicidal, self-loathing and with absolutely horrible self-image. Uncharacteristically, he actually offered a factoid to support this claim. He reported that on Usenet, Steve often referred to himself as a “weasel.”

Yes, Steve was a Weasel. A Lying Socialist Weasel. He was quite proud of that, and respected us as much as he respected himself.

Had Tucker spent five minutes reading the posts of people Steve communicated with, he would have learned that amongst Usenet liberals, “Weasel” was the exact opposite of disparaging. But he wasn’t there to report: as he does to this very day, he was there to hate-monger, divide, and smear. He was a disgusting parody of a reporter then, just as he is to this day.

He’s one of the big reasons why America is the septic mess it is today. There’s a number of reasons why even Kangarupe Murdoch finally decided he was too vicious, too out-of-control. Some say it was his role in promoting, knowingly, the lies leading the the disastrous defamation suits against Fox. Some say it was sexual harassment and creating a toxic workplace. Reports of a possible defamation suit from Ray Epps that the January 6th participant was supposedly an undercover agent for the FBI, a theory that Carlson has been promoting. One of the more arresting theories is that Murdoch broke off his short-lived engagement when he realized the woman was extremely religious, and Tucker just happened to pick right then to start trying to lead his audience in prayer. Who knows? Maybe Kangarupe realized that Zealots are extremely dangerous allies. Well, it’s a nice idea, right?

Tucker is gone, for now, but his stench lingers over the body politic.

But for us Lying Socialist Weasels, its a good time to lift one to Steve, and say, “This one’s for you, Mister Kangas.”

The Settlement — How Fax Fux Fox

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

April 19th 2023


My kneejerk reaction to the news yesterday that Fox and Dominion had settled their defamation suit for $787.5 million was disgust. “Take the money and run,” I muttered to myself.

But then I told my knee to shut up and started thinking. First; the settlement is monumental, just huge. Has there ever been a settlement in a suit this big in history? There are class-action settlements that were far bigger, ranging from Enron ($7.2 billion) up to the 1998 Big Tobacco settlement of $206 billion.) But those were class-action suits, with plaintiffs in the hundreds (Enron) to the millions (Big Tobacco. This was one small company with 200 employees and annual revenues around $17 million a year. The biggest personal injury settlement I could find was for $60 million (a gas station manager injured by a train derailment). But even there, there was a permanent, crippling injury that would require lifetime care. A small company taking on a media giant usually, if it were very, very lucky, results in the media giant saying, “Here’s five million, kid. Now go away.”

So make no mistake: three quarters of a billion dollars is a titanic settlement, and shows just how hopeless Fox’s defense was just on the face of it.

Fox made one of the most witless efforts of putting a good face on it that I’ve ever heard of. Their official statement following the settlement read, “We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”

Journalists reading it on air burst in to open laughter. “Highest journalistic standards?” Fox News? Oh, that ship has sailed, hit an iceberg, hit it ten more times, and then sunk without a trace!

The fact that Fox didn’t have to agree to tell their viewers they had deliberately and knowingly lied to them about the election all along bothered a lot of people, who surmise (correctly) that Fox will simply not even tell their viewers about the settlement or the circumstances that caused it to be so huge. And while there is no cult so corrupt, so ridiculous, and so compromised that it can’t keep and maintain its cadre of True Believers, Fox will experience attrition, for a variety of reasons.

The thing is, all that stuff from the discovery process is out there. The admission that the election theft claims were fabricated; the admission that they lied about the election in order to maintain ratings, the admission of open contempt for Donald Trump and his followers. They are claims made against Fox; they are admissions right out of Fox’s official representatives in the discovery process. There’s no unringing that bell.

It was a hideous (read ‘wonderful’) mistake on the part of Fox. As Robert Harrington over at The Palmer Report noted, “Fox made a huge mistake by not settling early. Had they come forward with the $787.5 million in the early days of the suit, they could have avoided all of the revelations of lies they told. Internal squabbling and nuggets like Tucker Carlson’s ‘passionate hatred’ for Donald Trump came to light as a direct result of the summary judgement. Had Fox News settled early none of those revelations would be general knowledge. According to Dominion lawyer Stephen Shackleford, there were no further shocking revelations to be told, no bombshells yet undetonated. In short, Fox screwed themselves with their own myopia.”

Some other right wing media outfits, hoping to supplant or even replace Fox, are telling their followers that Fox lied, but they won’t lie. (Obviously this doesn’t include OANN or Newsmax, who are facing their own lawsuits for lying about the election.)

You know that loudmouth in the bar, or the obnoxious uncle at the family gatherings who is always rabbiting on about how Trump is the “real” president? They are going to be talking to people who have indisputable evidence that Fox and the rest lied. Trump supporters have already all but vanished from social media outside of fringe areas like Truth Social and Twitter. There’s going to be a strong element of attrition as these people are finally facing reality.

The True Believers will become ever more insular and more cut off from mainstream society. But they will have muted themselves, reduced to agreeing with one another that everything is one vast conspiracy.

There’s a reason flat-Earth theories never gained any credence. There is just too much evidence. The “stolen election” cult will find themselves in a similar position. I suspect that, as with flat-Earthers, eventually a majority of “followers” will be con artists looking for easy marks amongst their indisputably stupid new-found brethren, and trolls who profess such a belief just to be annoying and aggravating.

Meanwhile, an avalanche of reality awaits. Dominion has suits pending against former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell—and now have the resources to press a full legal suit, even if the individuals named won’t be able to pay more than pocket change. Dominion might ‘settle’ for the admission of malicious falsehoods that they didn’t get from Fox.

And Fox itself faces an even bigger defamation next year from Smartmatic, which has their own huge discovery process going on now, and access to all of the discovery performed by Dominion. $2.7 billion. Fox won’t get away with a mere $750m on that one. They will have to settle, not just for a huge number, but for public admissions of wrong-doing. They may even have to shop Trump, who first launched the conspiracy theory that they “flipped” votes in Georgia and Wisconsin (Smartmatic had no machines in either state, or any contested state for that matter).

By then, Trump may be on trial for the Georgia vote tampering and quite possibly for his role in taking classified materials and then lying about it. His approval ratings, already in the twenties, may plummet to single digits by then, removing the one cudgel Fox and the rest might have to try and threaten and bluster their way out of it.

The settlement isn’t a death blow for Trump and Fox, but it has weakened them and left them open for the actions that will be a death blow.

And the rest of the “advocacy journalism” crowd just got an important lesson in accountability. Lie maliciously, get sued, get sued big time.

The McCurtain Cunts — Petty authority out of control, called to account

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

April 18th, 2023



The word “cunt” is one of the most radioactive in the United States. Even George Carlin shied away from it.

But in the UK and portions of Canada, where I was raised, it has another meaning. Oh, it is still a ugly term for vagina, but the far more pervasive usage is to describe a weak, nasty, contemptible and generally pathetic and/or despicable person. For example: Boris Johnson is a cunt. So is King Charles. Outside of World War 2, Winston Churchill was an immense cunt. Every member of the Trump family covering four generations are cunts. Yes, under this definition, women can be cunts, too. Margaret Thatcher was a cunt. So was that 30 day wonder last year at 10 Downing—wossname the Tory cunt. (Yeah, I’m going to make you look that one up.) Here in the States, Armpit Maggie and Bobo are cunts. With Elon Musk it has to be in all caps and with a blue verified tick.

While I don’t avoid the word, I kinda save it for special occasions, special people. Besides, all the words you couldn’t say on TV ten years ago are all over the place in this era of Trump. If you say ‘shite’ a nun might look at you and try to correct your pronunciation. Cunt is about the only word left with any shock value. (Cussing is a human universal custom; new words will come along. Don’t worry.)

This all brings us to one of the more obscure corners of Oklahoma, McCurtain County. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry. There are probably people in the Oklahoma state government who hadn’t heard of it before last week. It’s about 30,000 people, 70% of which are white and 9% are black. Agriculture and forestry are the main industries, along with a tourist trade exploiting the legacy of the Choctaw nation now that it has been safely destroyed. It went for Trump by 67 points in 2016. If the county doesn’t already have a motto, I suggest a line from Gene McDaniels’ ‘Compared To What’: “Poor Dumb Rednecks, Rollin’ Along.”

What McCurtain County DOES have, though, is something lamentably missing in much of the rest of the country: an independent, engaged local journalism. Most of that element of democracy has been bought up by plutocrats and corporations, which is a leading reason why the country as a whole is so fucked up.

McCurtain Gazette-News is an actual on-paper newspaper. It doesn’t have a website. The owner and publisher is one local guy, Bruce Willingham, and the leading reporter is his son, Chris Willingham.

Over the past several years, the two have run some 30 articles detailing corruption in the county sheriff’s department. Like most cops who get held to account (still far too seldom an occurrence) this lot were unamused. They didn’t like the Willinghams and their snitchy little paper, not one bit.

It came to Chris Willingham’s notice that the Sheriff, along with the County Board of Supes, were having informal “off the record” meetings in which official business was being discussed. That contravenes Oklahoma state law on open meetings concerning official proceedings. So he set out to show this was going on. He left a voice activated recorder in the room he believed the meetings were taking place.

He did catch the usual suspects (Sheriff Kevin Clardy, District 2 Commissioner Mark Jennings, Investigator Alicia Manning, and Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix, hereafter referred to as “a pack of cunts”) having a meeting. But they weren’t discussing official business. At least, I hope to christfuck it wasn’t considered official business. Judging from the scalded-cat reactions of various officials in OK all the way up to the governor, it was something they knew was wrong, and we’ll save whether they believed it was wrong for another time. “Oklahoma Crude” refers to more than just oil.

The pack of cunts were discussing the Willinghams and their newspaper. The elder Willingham had just filed a defamation suit against the four, and they were not happy about it.

Alicia Manning, who investigates crimes, is heard suggesting that she needed to take some packages to a shipping center near the newspaper’s office. Without context it seems an innocent enough remark. In context, though, where they are discussing killing the Willinghams and disposing of their bodies, it’s pretty clearly a terrorist threat. Cunt Commish Mark Jennings just happened to know of “two big deep holes” that might be of use. Sheriff Kevin (Big Cunt) Clardy just happened to mention he had an excavator should a need for holes in a different locale arise. Jennings, apparently realizing what was needed in order to fill these holes, hypothetical or otherwise, said, “I’ve known two or three hit men, they’re very quiet guys…” Probably less messy than what dear sweet Alicia had in mind for her local shipping center.

Moving on from the fascist fantasies of assassinating the local journalists, they turned to another, more racist theme. I should mention at this point that nearly all fascists and by definition, all racists are cunts. You have to be a cunt to feel the way these people do, and to feel the way they do, you have to be a cunt. It’s a closed circle of cuntishness.

Jennings, the cunt with the holes, lamented the fact that they couldn’t just take “[the Willinghams] down to Mud Creek and hang them up with damned rope. But you can’t do that anymore. They’ve got more rights than we’ve got.” It’s safe to assume the “they” in the latter sentence isn’t referring to the Willinghams. In a motif often heard amongst the trashier elements of the far right, it’s often believed that African Americans have more rights then poor, meek, timid little white people. Why, they have a right not to be lynched! Can you imagine? White people don’t have a right not to be lynched! Why, any Ken or Barbie poking their pink noses outside are liable to find a sheriff and some commissioners waiting outside with ropes, ticking packages, and maybe an excavator or two. I tell you, it’s just so unjust! Cunts everywhere are crying over that injustice.

Even worse on the cunt scale of “put-upon-ness” was the fact that the recording was done without their consent, and thus was a far greater crime than plotting murder and terrorist bombings. Cause, you know, snitches get stitches. Can’t trust those reporters to allow cunts to go about their business unmolested.

Now, as horrible as this story is, there is a bright side. All four have been suspended and will probably lose their jobs. All are likely to face criminal charges, state level for certain, and in the case of the implied threats to bomb or lynch, federal charges as well. The cunts can whine about how unfair it all is, but the fact is they blew themselves up, and good riddence.

Most of the people in McCurtain County, I’m happy to say, seem shocked and appalled.

Many county governments are corrupt, some viciously so. Petty authority attracts cunts. Local journalism used to keep them in check, but most of the US doesn’t have anyone like the Willinghams, and so the cunts get away with it.

First thing to control the cunts: fight for strong, independent and engaged local journalism. We won’t survive without it.