Two Proposals to Destroy the Economy — And if that doesn’t work, kill the pensions and what little health care there is

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

January 29th, 2023

http://www.zeppscommentaries.online

If you need evidence that the Republican party has been taken over by lunatics, consider this: As part of his deal to get the votes needed to become speaker, Keven McCarthy agreed to let a proposal for a thirty percent national sales tax to sail through committee and get a vote on the House floor.

In most countries, a 30% national sales tax would provoke widespread rioting in the streets, and could possibly lead to a coup or a revolution. Even sales taxes at the state level that are about one fifth or less that big are widely unpopular. For working people and the poor, who have been steadily losing ground ever since Reagan decided to feed the birds by giving all the grain to the horse, it would be a death blow. Groceries that cost $100 a week would now cost $130. Gas would jump between a buck a gallon and $1.50 depending on base price. Just about anything you buy retail other than labor would jump 30% overnight. If you thought 8% inflation was bad, this is dozens of times worse.

Of course, to even be seen as even thinking about such a mad idea is political suicide, but the MAGA and Qanon extremists who hold McCarthy’s leash seems to have convinced themselves that imposing such a tax would take much of the burden off our poor suffering billionaires, and give working people a sense that they were contributing to our society. No, really. That’s what they think. Did I mention the same bill would abolish the IRS outright? Billionaires would only have to pay taxes if they felt like it.

Any second semester economics course will teach that a large spending tax is far more likely to depress an economy than any earning tax. Earning taxes, particularly progressive ones, tax those who can afford to pay the taxes, and in the 50s and 60s, when the top income bracket was 93%, the government cleverly allowed tax breaks for investing back into the economy, such as local manufacturing and retail, and paying employees well. It’s one of the things that made America’s economy the strongest in the world.

Spending taxes (which is what a sales tax is) hits the poorest the hardest. If they can no longer afford food and clothing, they do without. And the billionaires who were hoping the sales tax would cover their new life free of income taxes suddenly find that without sales, there is no sales tax. In short order, they discover a great depression is even more expensive. One reason the New Deal arose in the first place was that unrestrained capitalism and increasing burdens on the working people was what caused the crash, and the New Deal was the only thing that could save capitalism for itself.

Needless to say, Democrats are overjoyed that the Republicans have wrapped this sales tax albatross around their necks. It doesn’t have a prayer of even passing the House: not all Republicans are mad, and the sane ones will vote against it by the dozens. But the self-inflicted damage will be done. The genius who is forcing this vote is Andrew Clyde of Georgia, the same clown called the Sixth of January rioters just regular tourists. He’s both nuts and stupid.

The other proposal the GOP are making is the old tried-and-true gambit of refusing to permit payment of bills already incurred, known as “the debt limit.” This would also crash the economy by wiping out the good credit of the United States, which by itself would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. They want vast spending cuts or they’ll push debt through the roof, which is a bit like saying “fix the crack in my windshield or I’ll drive us at 90mph into a brick wall.” Yeah, that’ll show that old windshield. They won’t admit it, but the Republicans want to decimate Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare. They’re popular, they help people, and people associate them with Democrats. Therefore they must go.

They also want big military cuts, and since I’ve argued for the same thing for years, I can’t just condemn it out of hand because Republicans are proposing it. But the devil is in the details: WHAT do they want to cut, and WHY do they want to cut it? Remember, several dozen of them happily side with Putin over their own country and are not to be trusted.

At least some of this is driven by Republican desperation. Although the fascist bullhorns of Fox and other propaganda outlets obsess on inflation, the truth is the overall economy has absolutely boomed since Biden became President, breaking records in employment growth, worker income, and small business gains. All those bills he and the Congress passed lit a fire under an economy that was contracting under Trump, and pulled us back from a recession. Because it’s good for Americans, it’s good for Democrats, and therefore Republicans must destroy it.

By the way, this sort of fiscal lunacy isn’t limited to the House MAGAts. Rick Scott, considered a leading GOP contender in ‘24, wants this. Not quite as instant death to the economy as Clyde’s crackpot scheme is, but still plenty bad.

Since Clyde’s deal is dead on arrival, and Biden is likely to call the Republican bluff on the debt ceiling, there may actually still be an economy for Scott to try and destroy as his campaign promises broaden.

Remember, billionaires and big corporations are not your friends. They pretend to like you, but if you get in their way, they’ll cheerfully crush you. And Republicans serve billionaires and big corporations. They are not your friends.

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Trump’s Cross to Bear — or why cross people can’t bear him

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

January 22nd, 2023

http://www.zeppscommentaries.online

It’s not clear why Donald Trump decided to start attacking the Christian evangelicals who had been the backbone of his support. Perhaps it was Trump’s well-known propensity for shooting himself in the foot. Or perhaps it was because he always regarded the evangelicals as idiots and had an unguarded moment. He does that a lot, recently furnishing prosecutors for a motive for stealing all those classified documents (he apparently was looking for evidence to support the ludicrous “crossfire hurricane” election theft conspiracy theory). When his lawyers got fined nearly a million bucks for frivolous abuse of the legal system, he promptly withdrew another, similar case against Hillary Clinton et al, a tacit admission that it, too, was frivolous and would be seen as a waste of the court’s time. He does that a lot, too.

But I suspect that it’s mostly because the evangelicals have been souring on him. The flock are finally noticing that he isn’t really the second coming of Christ (and yes, a few of them literally believed that) and in fact, he might not be all that godly at all (paging Captain Obvious!). The evangelical leadership, safely inured from such inconveniences as faith or belief, saw that not only was Trump’s power slipping, but he was dragging the entire evangelical movement down. Yes, the evangelical movement had always been viewed from outside with a mixture of pity and disgust but that didn’t bother the leadership as long as their political stock remained firm. Now that it isn’t, it suddenly bothers them a lot.

The blob squad, the vicious biblical demagogues who hilariously characterize themselves as ‘pro life,’ have lost a certain amount of interest in the presidential race. They only supported candidates who promised to put anti-choice zealots on the courts, and Trump obliged them, giving them what they wanted. Now, they have a brighter fascistic zealot to worship: Ron DeSantis, who is intent on getting rid of all that “individual liberties” and “personal freedoms” shit and make the right people safe in the arms of Jeezus. At a recent blob squad convention, DeSantis outpolled Trump for President by about 54% to 20%. After all, he’s most likely to destroy women’s rights and keep the ‘lower races’ in their place.

Without the zealots, Trump is going nowhere. He didn’t have a prayer in ‘16 or ‘20 without them (and in fact lost the popular vote in both elections anyway) and even if he stays out of jail, he won’t have their support in ‘24.

Sic transit gloria mon dieu.

The MAGA crowd are evaporating, as well. That decline began the evening of January 6th, 2021, when the implications of what that mob in Washington were trying to do started to sink in with those followers who weren’t completely nihilistic zombies. That unease has slowly snowballed since, with the January 6th Select Committee erasing any and all doubt that these were not just enthusiastic Trump tourists agitated by dark AntiFa forces. Or that Trump didn’t really mean to have Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi hanged for daring to oppose his attempted coup.

As the legal system closes in on Trump himself, the legal penalties his hirelings and supporters face have sharply increased of late. A lot of the defendants haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory, offering excuses that are ridiculous on the face of it (Just wanted to go to the bathroom and somehow wound up with his feet up on Pelosi’s desk) and some are just cowards. A lot of them blamed Trump for misleading them into their predicaments.

Then there’s the matter of the sorts of people who have infiltrated the Republican party and turned it into a grotesque unintentional parody of the Sturmabteilung, Hitler’s brownshirts. While a lot of that indisputably preceded Trump (Newt Gingrich did much to create the present face of the GOP) he has encouraged and empowered the likes of George Santos (or whatever the hell he calls himself) and Marjorie Taylor-Greene and Lauren Boebert.

Then there’s Trump’s basic personality. We got a sample of that just today. There was a horrible mass shooting in Los Angeles at Monterey Park, where ten were killed and ten more wounded when someone attacked a Chinese New Years’ party. He wrote on his fake Twitter, “10 dead in California shooting, horrible gun wielding ANTIFA protest against our great police in Atlanta – Nothing will happen to them despite night of rage and destruction.” Yes, he really compared largely peaceful (and unarmed) protesters to a gunsel who massacred innocent people. He went on to say things like that wouldn’t happen if he was president, even though many of the nation’s worst mass shooting DID happen during his four years in office. But he was too busy trying to get the Army to teargas peaceful protesters in front of a church he was using as a stage prop.

A lot of people, myself included, believe that at this point, to support a man like this means you are utter filth yourself. And that view, increasingly, is becoming widespread, and Trump supporters are finally realizing that not only are their views unpopular, but many people see them as vile and anti-American. Yes, even the evangelicals, who pride themselves on being cruel, disagreeable and anti-American in the name of Christ.

Unfortunately, this crowd is impervious to the concept of “a learning experience.” Some other opportunistic demagogue will come along for them to glom on to. Church of George Santos, anyone?

The Squeaker Speaker — The vote was close; the winner’s a rat

The Squeaker Speaker

The vote was close; the winner’s a rat

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

January 7th 2023

http://www.zeppscommentaries.online

You may not have heard about this, but there was a little bit of confusion surrounding what is normally the routine election for Speaker of the House. Oh, you say you have heard about it and for gods’ sake, Zepp, don’t natter on more about it? You say you’re sick to death about it?

Well, that’s understandable. Five days of eating popcorn and laughing can get a bit stale. By about half-way through, I was paying more attention to the weather myself. Granted, northern California has been having …interesting… weather. More interesting than Kevin McCarthy, at least.

Now, in defense of the weather, it doesn’t have McCarthy, Boebert, Taylor-Greene, Gaetz or Jordan falling from the sky, attractive as that mental image might be. And have I just invented a necessary new genre? Splatter/Political Commentary? Gym Jordan is sure the Founders had something like that in mind when they invented MAGA.

Kevin McCarthy is finally Speaker, and despite the general support he had in the caucus, he’s widely viewed as the Ted Cruz of the House; a dishonest and unnecessarily vicious snake, one whose malevolence is blunted by his utter nihilism and lack of any personal courage. Adam Schiff gave an interview a few days ago where he explained exactly what sort of creature McCarthy really is. Yes, Twitter is still a thing. For now.

We should do a ripoff of an English newspaper who, in the dying days of Liz Truss’ doomed Prime Ministry, put up a picture of her and a head of lettuce, and asked readers which they thought might last longer. The results for our present moment here in the States might look like this:

McCarthy gave away so much in his frantic efforts to gain a majority vote that any whim by any member of the House could force what in effect would be a vote of no-confidence. The first time Kevin breaks a promise to the insurrectionists (and maybe we would need a soap bubble for a shelf-life comparison on that one), or even if he simply refuses further blackmail (“do as I say or I’ll call a vote!”) we’re start seeing such votes. A few of those and you’ll see Democrats gleefully joining in just to further the chaos on the GOP side.

And while that’s an ugly prospect, a stable contingent of Republicans in the House is even uglier. “Stable” is a relative term here, folks. Republicans don’t have any policy or even philosophy per se: they want to investigate Hunter Biden in hopes of embarrassing the President (and they will have to subvert the DoJ to have anything they uncover bear fruit, unless they somehow come up with the sort of rock solid evidence the January 6th Commission did). They want to undermine investigative agencies and the IRS for much the same reason the Mafia would if they had the power. They firmly believe that if Republican criminals aren’t safe, then no criminal is safe, and they want to be safe. They don’t want to neuter the FBI or revenooers because they are a threat to us; they want to do it because they are a threat to them. They don’t mind America being saddled with over half a million cops, many of whom are ill-trained, sadistic, racist and stupid, but the thought of the IRS having 74,000 agents who might look at what Nepo Children are doing with their unearned income is utterly horrifying.

The GOP are out to destroy America. They’ve managed to persuade enough people that government is the enemy of America (and America as a country doesn’t exist without government) that they have some of these opportunistic traitors running the House. Some were involved in January 6th. Some deserve to spend the rest of their lives in prison. The rest are just your usual opportunist crooks and greedheads, of no value to society (America doesn’t exist without government, but it will do just fine without the people the GOP really represent.)

So if the Republicans remain chaotic and totally subsumed in their own petty strife, that’s actually doing the rest of us a favor.

Meanwhile, the population of America gets two more years to see, once and for all, what we’re really dealing with.

Glass Onion — “You know a place where nothing is real”

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 28th 2022

http://www.zeppscommentaries.online

Ben Shapiro didn’t like Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. He wrote on Twatter, “We only find out about the actual murder we’re supposed to investigate full one hour and 10 minutes into the film, as well as an entirely new backstory,” he complained.

Well, Benny, if you’re going to set yourself up as a film critic, you really ought to know something about the genre of film you are reviewing. This is what’s called a “murder mystery” or a “whodunnit.” Misdirection is one of the main elements in such films. The viewer is led in one direction, and if the filmmaker is honest (and in this instance they are extremely honest) then all the clues that would lead the viewer to the right deductions are there in plain sight.

But the main thing that upset Benny, protector of the privileged and sneerer at the non-privileged, was that the movie very clearly parodized, nay, MOCKED a titan of finance/industry/tech. One of the main characters is a billionaire who has an entire corporate empire, with dozens of inventions and new concepts to his credit, widely regarded as a great genius and, in his own estimation, a “disruptor,” someone who challenges and eventually supplants societal norms and the status quo.

While there are several dozen such creatures roaming the American landscape, there was little doubt in Shapiro’s mind that the movie targeted one particular tech scion: Elon Musk. I won’t argue that bit. Main showrunner Rian Johnson has said that he saw his billionaire, Miles Bron, as an amalgamation of three different real-life characters. A partner of Bron’s was cheated of the fame and fortune of the Alpha network of companies, something we learn she played a greater role in creating than did Bron. One of the characters even says she got “social networked.” So: elements of Zuckerberg there. Bron also makes reckless and idiotic decisions, needlessly shafting the people he might need most as allies, and committing very public and conspicuous crimes secure in the belief that he is above social consequences. Donald Trump, anyone?

But most people spotted Elon Musk as the real-life exemplar of Miles Bron.

I thought about it. Rian Johnson and his crew probably began writing the script for this movie when Musk was still a public hero and inventor, supposedly, of the Tesla electric vehicle, genius behind Space X, and mastermind of such future wonders as the Boring tunnels and the Hyperloop. The first disturbing elements that caused people to question his personality and judgment, such as the flamethrower giveaway or the smearing of the rescuer of those children trapped in a Thai cave, had just come out.

But it took a lot more time for Musk to self-immolate, to the point where the larger segment of society realized he wasn’t a genius, wasn’t a leader, isn’t even particularly stable.

Indeed, I’m reading a book now, a well-done hi-tech spy thriller called “Portals” by Douglas E. Richards. Tech-aware and sophisticated, it holds Musk as an ongoing brilliant tech leader who has brought the world such marvels as humanoid AI Tesla robots and mind implants (and Musk is actually supposedly working on the latter, but has nothing to show for it but some 1,500 dead lab animals to date). For all Richards’ obvious savvy and political and tech awareness, his 2022 book still presents Musk as a tech wizard and leader. And, of course, that’s how Ben Shapiro sees Musk. He’s offended that anyone could even question it.

But in the movie’s denouement, Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) says of Bron: “His dock doesn’t float. His wonder fuel is a disaster. His grasp of disruption theory is remedial at best. He didn’t design the puzzle boxes. He didn’t write the mystery. Et voilà! It all adds up. The key to this entire case! And it was staring me right in the face. Like everyone in the world, I assumed Miles Bron was a complicated genius. But why? Look into the clear center of this Glass Onion… Miles Bron is an idiot!”

In the face of the Twitter débacle, the face of Musk is revealed. He wasn’t self-made, but is the heir to an emerald mine. He didn’t invent Tesla—he bought it out. For Space X, he just hired the right people and threw money at them. He’s an entrepreneur, which in the minds of America’s Shapiros is akin to being a genius leader, but he is neither a genius nor a leader. His Boring company which supposedly could drill tunnels four times faster than anyone else also only drilled a tunnel one half the diameter, thus displacing the same amount of dirt in the same time. His underground freeway system for LA was ridiculous on the face of it. His Hyperloop, based on proof-of-concept projects from the 1840s, has gone nowhere. He has an evil reputation as a union buster and workforce abuser. He insisted, for no good reason, that people work in close quarters during the most deadly stage of the coronavirus pandemic. The freedom of speech he promised for Twitter turned out to be the usual libertarian/fascist bullshit, in which free speech is for the rich and powerful only. Fascists for Free Speech, I call it.

So yes, Bron could be any of dozens of such monsters of American capitalism, but he’s most clearly Elon Musk.

Shapiro no doubt was dismayed that the hangers-on, Bron’s friends “The Disruptors” each represented a segment of American capitalist society. Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr) represented the commercial science segment, and was being pressured by Bron to sign off on an unproven and potentially hazardous new hydrogen-based energy substance called ‘Klear’. Clair Debella (Kathryn Hahn) was the political segment, a governor Bron gave a huge donation to in order to rush through a project for the first Klear power plant, Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) was a past-her-prime supermodel using the fashion industry to promote Bron’s ‘coolness,’ and Duke Cody, (Dave Bautista) was a blogger who is an incel/right winger who promotes men’s rights. Jay and Cody help Bron fight ‘wokeness’ by being politically incorrect (Jay was in hot water for describing a cheap person as ‘Jewy’ (not to be confused with another right wing moron who recently described his Catholic self as ‘Jew-ish’) and Cody always carries a large, ornate pistol that he likes to fire off randomly. Both appeal to the MAGAt crowd, of course.

Cody is also a cuckold and gets slapped around by a domineering if diminuitive mother and, it’s hinted, lives with mummy. I’m wondering if his character was the main reason Shapiro got so offended.

Glass Onion, like another movie earlier this year called Don’t Look Up, offends all the right people. It offends the far right, and it offends the people who still cling to the belief that fantastically rich billionaires are somehow beneficial to society and that because they are rich, they must be of superior intelligence, wisdom and morals. Even as Musk, Trump, Bezos and all the rest of the ultra-rich crowd prove that if anything, the opposite is true.

Glass Onion is a wildly entertaining movie, a first-class Agatha Christie-style whodunnit, and above all, a searingly sharp-edged social satire that comes along at just the right time. You can see it for yourself on Netflix.

冬至大如年 (Dōngzhì dà rú nián)– In China, “the winter solstice is as big as the new year.”

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 21st, 2022

www.zeppscommentaries.online

www.zeppjamiesonfiction.com

www.thebigweasel.wordpress.com

Back about 500 BCE, some 250 years before Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth using nothing more than two sticks planted about 250 miles apart, a Chinese savant named Zhougfong, using nothing more than a stick in the sand, calculated Earth’s axial tilt and concluded that for the phenomenon to work, the Earth had to be a globe circling the sun at a rakish angle of 23.44 degrees. By measuring the angle of the sun at local noon each day over a year, he determined that the solstices fell six months apart on the dates we now know as December 20-22 and June 20-22. The equinoxes fell exactly halfway through the solstices, and the days and nights were equal, and the shadow of his stick ended exactly halfway through the shadows cast on the solstices.

While Chinese farmers had already doubtlessly noted the variations in the length of the day, the positions of sunrise and sunset, and the angle of the sun at noon, Zhougfong was the first known to carefully measure it and reason out the implications.

China, then as now, was a land of great seasonal variation, and the Solstices indicated the onset of deep winter and blazing hot summer. So, as with many similar places on Earth, the occasion of the Winter Solstice, the date on which the days stopped getting shorter, was marked with special celebrations and songs.

In China, the Winter Solstice is known as Dōngzhì, which can mean “Winter’s extreme” or “Winter is coming.” The Chinese take on Solstice is a bit different from most other cultures. Most note it as the date when the days begin getting longer, the sun is higher in the sky, and spring is coming. The Chinese, however, see it as the onset of the great cold and desolation of winter, something to be endured in order to anticipate spring.

Solstice marks the beginning of “The Nines of Winter.” A folk song (Shujiu) describes those stages of winter in a way that anyone from the northern lands would instantly relate to:

1st nine days, 2nd nine days, don’t take hands out of your pockets;

3rd nine days, 4th nine days, you can walk on ice;

5th nine days, 6th nine days, willows at the river’s edge start to sprout;

7th nine days, ice dissolves and water flows in the river;

8th nine days, wild geese fly back to northern areas;

9th nine days and the following days, farm cattle start to work in the field.

Despite the comparatively negative view of the Solstice, traditional Chinese belief maintains the theme of optimism that is shared throughout the West. Yin and Yang is an important concept and one strongly linked to the reversal of the decline to greater darkness. Yin energy is believed to be at its most powerful winter solstice day. But after that, as the daytime becomes longer, Yang’s energy increases, a positive influence.

While not an official holiday, it is nonetheless celebrated throughout China. It’s a time for friends and family to gather for traditional dinners of lamb dumplings and tangyuan, and is sometimes referred to as “Chinese Thanksgiving Day.” There’s more than a bit of similarity between Dōngzhì and Thanksgiving: both started as holidays celebrating the harvest. By the time of Eratosthenes, the Chinese Emperor mandated food sacrifices to show respect to the heavens and the ancestors. There was a widely held belief in the day that lamb dumplings could cure frostbite. While the science might be a bit problematic, I would be happy to tell someone my toes were a bit numb if I could get some fresh hot lamb dumplings out of it. Perhaps that’s how that notion started.

But China is a big country with wildly varying climates, and where frostbite isn’t a serious public health threat, tangyuan is popular—a rice ball leavened with sesame, red bean paste, and sweets. A China travel guide explains, “wonton is very popular in Suzhou; while mutton soup is must-eat festival food in Western and Northern China. Roasted Duck is the favorite food for People in Guangdong Province, and Jiangsu Duck, or Gingerbread Duck is popular in Xiamen.” Hmmm. Gingerbread duck. Yum.

But the theme is the same throughout China: gratitude, gatherings, respect for ancestors and elders, and quiet feasts as they hunker down for winter.

Counting the Nines is an act of hope, and by the seventh nine, the first clear signs of spring and rebirth emerge. Even the pragmatism of having to bear through the winter is leavened by that ever-rebirthing sign of humanity, hope.

Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.

The Trump Dump — January 6th Committee gives its referrals

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 19th, 2022

http://www.zeppscommentaries.online

The January 6th committee held its final meeting today, and voted to make a criminal referral to the Department of Justice on Trump for four potential felony counts. Those referrals included obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, assisting an insurrection and conspiring to defraud the United States. The committee also said Trump may have committed seditious conspiracy. Should the Department of Justice elect to act on these referrals, the resultant indictments could amount to 35 years in jail. Given Trump’s age and health, even a ten year sentence would ensure he never walked free again.

The seditious conspiracy charge is both the rarest and the most serious. It’s one step short of a charge of treason.

The committee also referred ethics charges against four congressmen, all Republicans for their involvement in the events of January 6. Those four are Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs and Scott Perry. McCarthy is the leading candidate to be Speaker (second in line to the Presidency) and Jordan is expected to become chair of the Judiciary Committee. If nothing else shows how incredibly low the Republican Party has sunk, that would be it.

Jordan plans to launch endless investigations, of Biden, of Biden family members, of Special Counsel Jack Smith, Attorney-General Merrick Garland, the FBI, the CIA, and pretty much anyone who isn’t part of the nutball right. It’s going to be fun watching him issue subpoenas while under investigations for an ethics breach, the nature of which includes refusing to obey a congressional subpoena.

Andy Biggs spent the rest of his day on Twitter, or what’s left of it, raving about the “open border” and all the terrible people swarming over and replacing the white race. (That last bit was implied. Evidently the Canadian border, which is far less guarded, isn’t a problem.)

Special Counsel Jack Smith hasn’t been showing any signs he’s just screwing around, but the Committee’s finding today, combined with the thousand pages of evidence coming out Wednesday, should make formal DOJ indictments against Trump, some of his co-conspirators, and members of Congress almost inevitable.

The January Sixth Committee will go down as one of the legendary committees in Congressional history, along with the 9/11 Committee, the Watergate Committees, the Army-McCarthy hearings. It will be something the public will want to remember, particularly the fairness and decorum and the investigative depth shown, when the clown show convenes next January, and we are once again treated to the spectacle of amoral slime like Jim Jordan screaming down witnesses as they try to answer ridiculously contrived questions about scandals that didn’t actually exist. Kevin McCarthy has vowed to throw all Democrats who were on the 1/6 Committee out of all committee memberships in an open act of childish and improper retaliation.

The Republicans will look like scum, not just because they are scum, but because with the 1/6 Committee, the public saw Congress doing its job, protecting the Constitution and finding the truth.

An amazing 62% of the public say they want to read the Committee’s final report, which is said to be over 1,000 pages long. Just the introduction is 100 pages, and I’ll be surprised if 10% actually read that. (I hope to be in that 10%, but I’ll be the first to admit that a thousand pages might be too much for me).

I notice today that very few Republicans were out there defending Trump. Mitch McConnell annoyed some of the more servile members of the party by observing, “’The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day. Beyond that, I don’t have any immediate observations.” McConnell is belatedly realizing what his legacy in all this is going to be.

Even Trump himself seems to have gone silent. I doubt that will last. Trump can’t ignore any sort of attack for long. And I suppose his response will only implicate him further.

A hundred years from now, some overimaginative playwright will hit on the notion of Trump as a heroic, tragic, flawed figure, one who brought about his own demise from his sterling belief that he was acting only in the interests of what was best for all. A King Lear figure, perhaps, even Prometheus.

But we know better. Trump was never anything more than a third-rater, born to far too much wealth and power, protected his entire life from consequences, and never forced to consider treating others as humans rather than objects to be manipulated. His fall comes, not from good intentions, but only the lowliest and tawdriest, the Faginesque grasping of an amoral man seeking ultimate power.

The Committee didn’t save Americans from the vice of worshiping such men, but they may have broken them of the vice of worshiping this particular specimen.

Musk Rat Love — Elon’s Reign at Twitter is like a Marx Brothers Movie

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 18th 2022

www.zeppscommentaries.online

Well, Elon finally did something popular. He posted a tweet this afternoon, a poll, the sole question in which was, “Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.”

At last glance, with some 9 million votes cast, he was trailing badly, with Yes getting 58% of the vote. Now, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether that’s an actual legitimate count, and if Musk plans on honoring the results or not. He discarded one vote he lost badly on, blaming the overwhelming majority of votes on bots.

In any event, his aim isn’t to restore order in the wake of the chaos he has created. He wrote, “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor.” Hmm. Has anyone thought of asking Jack Dorsey? Oh, wait. The former Twitter CEO is running a rival social media known as Nostr. He is professing puzzlement at Musk’s antics, but in private he has to be laughing his ass off, to coin an internet phrase.

Mind you, in just the last 24 hours, Musk banned accounts that promoted or even linked to rival social media sites. He wrote, “we will remove accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social platforms and content that contains links or usernames for the following platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr and Post.” One interesting omission there: TikTok. They are the Yellow Peril Panic of the week in right wing circles, and it’s strange that Musk didn’t pander to them.

The EU wasn’t amused by all this, even if the rest of us were. Per Brad Reed at Raw Story: Éric Freyssinet, the deputy director of France’s Cyberspace Gendarmerie Command, warned Twitter CEO Elon Musk that his company could lose protections against both civil and criminal legal liabilities if it really enforces this policy.

“Any attempt to remove my tweets that link to my other social media accounts, not violating any law, would actually make Twitter an editorial media, and no longer a social media platform, with civil and criminal liability for *any* illegal content therein,” he explained.

Oh, dear. Just Kanye West’s posts about Jews would qualify as illegal content under EU rules. Hate speech is against the law in that civilized corner of the world. Even in the US, editorial media—papers, cable news networks and so forth, steer clear of libelous and/or defamatory content, or like some of the less disreputable outfits that dabbled in it last year, they could face ruinous lawsuits of, oh, say, $1.6 billion. I’m sure you can think of a few examples, and none of them sound very happy about those suits right now.

After that, Musk jaunted off to Qatar to watch the final of the World Cup, aka the Merde! Bowl. He got photographed with Jared Kushner and Qatari leaders, which brought to mind Mos Eisley spaceport from Star Wars. You know the one. “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” The only thing missing was The Former Guy.

Imagine you get a call tomorrow morning from some clerk at Twitter headquarters. “Musk just walked out! It’s bedlam! It’s chaos!” You might ask what Musk walking out had to do with the bedlam and chaos, since it’s a bit like saying the traffic light just turned red and that’s why there’s a full moon. The clerk, sobbing convulsively, screams “Save us, Obi-Wan! You’re our only hope.” (Yeah, I know, you start with one quote from that damn movie and it metastasizes…).

OK, snow’s ploughed, gifts are under the tree, wife just left you for a television repairman. You say, what the fuck? Demand an iron clad contract that says you get a few million for three months work no matter what, put on a firefighter’s gear, and wade in.

What would you do first?

I would do an instant reset. Undo every change that Musk made that still survived his mercurial moods. Invite every employee that Musk canned or forced out back, at the same pay, and with a promise for a fat bonus if at the end of your three month period, they had managed to right the ship. Bring back the voluntary council that Musk just canned earlier this week and tell them to get cracking on rules that were consistent and, even more importantly, able to be applied consistently. Hate speech, disinformation, doxxing and defamatory attacks would once again result in suspension.

Reset to last known version that worked. And then carefully build from there. If you have to move slowly and cautiously, so be it. We’ve seen what brash and impulsive rule looks like. It looks like the Qatari mens’ soccer team.

Musk should help to further degrade the cult-like faith people have that those who are rich and famous must therefore be wise and capable of strong leadership. Gawd knows America has no shortage of overprivileged libertarian cnuts that show, if anything that the exact opposite is true. Billionaires are not your buddy, and don’t care about your interests and needs. In fact, they’re sure that if they had, they wouldn’t be billionaires in the first place. Stop worshipping them.

In the meantime, keep watching Twitter. It’s the best Marx Brothers movie they’ve made in 75 years.

And the next Speaker is… — Well, now, I have a suggestion

December 12th 2022

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

http://www.zeppscommentaries.online

The Republicans won the House in the November election, but only barely. In a year when usually the party out of power makes huge gains, the Republicans were only able to secure a six seat majority (one is still being recounted and remains too close to call). It was, by any standard, an underwhelming performance.

Trump’s endorsement was a death kiss. Nearly all his hand-picked candidates lost, and most incumbents that enthusiastically sought his support under-performed. Unfortunately, enough of the lunatics and MAGA cultists squeaked in, which brings us to the current mess the House is going to be in.

The Freedom Caucus doesn’t disclose who its members are (something to keep in mind when they prattle on about transparency in government) but some have come out and admitted that they are members of this secretive and authoritarian group (they have a rule that if 80% of the members support a certain stance, the remainder MUST support it as well; there is zero room for dissent) and include such luminaries as Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor-Green, Scott Perry, Louis Gohmert, and for the sake of grade-A medical grovelling, Ronny Jackson. There are some on that list who belong in mental institutions, and a few more that are lucky they aren’t in prison. Just the fact that they are in Congress tells you how intellectually and ethically broken the American right is these days. In all, there’s a reputed 53 members, and it’s worth noting that in this past election, they gained no seats.

Since the House did (barely) change hands, a new Speaker has to be elected by a majority of the House. The presumptive candidate is Kevin McCarthy, who is widely disliked both in his own party and nationally. He’s considered too spineless to be a reliable member of the Freedom Caucus, and too spineless to be considered capable of standing up to them, let alone whipping them into line. Elise Stefanik wants the job, but she’s considered too vile for most mainstream Republicans. (She is claiming that $20,000 in donor checks was stolen by USPS, but the one bit of evidence she has shown is a torn envelope on which it clearly states nothing was paid in postage). Some other members of the Freedom Caucus are hoping to shoehorn into the position and be well situated to run what is going to be an absolute clown show.

McCarthy is more than willing to surrender to the Freedom Caucus and help carry out their mad designs, but it’s not clear the saner members of the party will go along with it. They know that it wasn’t just Trump that cost them in this election; the extremism of the MAGA contingent along with the utter madness of some cost them, and they know the public is watching.

So the party is split in three factions: the sane, the weak, and the nuts. The Democrats are not divided, but no Republican would vote for a Democratic speaker no matter how badly fractured their side is.

But I have a modest proposal. Jonathan Swift is my personal guide and mentor, so when I say ‘modest proposal’ it might stir a bit of controversy.

I would nominate for Speaker of the House…Liz Cheney. Yes, I know she’s extremely conservative, and there probably isn’t a single policy point on which she and progressives would agree. But she IS Republican, and that gives Republican members of the House who aren’t in the freedom caucus (130 or so) an ‘out’ – they aren’t betraying their party if they vote for a member of that party, are they? And it’s possible that fifty-some Democrats might support her simply because she would help keep the loons of the Freedom Caucus in line. Keep in mind that in that group, there has been talk of nominating Donald Trump or Elon Musk speaker of the House, or even an active member, such as Marjorie Taylor-Greene (who yesterday said she would have seen to it the crowd that besieged the Capitol on January 6th would be better armed).

Oh, in case you’re wondering, the Constitution doesn’t specify that the Speaker of the House actually has to be a member of the House. In theory, my dog would become Speaker. (He would probably finish up as a middling-good Speaker at that.)

Cheney is both sane, and while her policies suck, she is at least loyal to the Constitution and to her Country. She hasn’t subscribed to the vicious hate-mongering against LGTBQ people or Hispanics or Moslems. She doesn’t think non-Christians should be banned from holding office, or that taxpayers should have to fund churches.

With the Senate under Democratic control and Joe Biden in the White House, the amount of damage a Republican House could do would be limited.

The Freedom Caucus wants endless investigations and revenge impeachments. They want to just defund anything they find inconvenient, such as the Department of Justice or Homeland Security. None of them have ever heard of the phrase “non-discretionary spending,” it would seem. Liz Cheney has. She also knows you can’t impeach private citizens for crimes committed overseas, or retired public servants. She knows that when a whistleblower says there was no sign of government involvement, that doesn’t mean there was government censorship. (Elon Musk is one of the zanier possibilities the Freedom Caucus has mooted about just because he backs their claims that they are being censored by the government that they, um, are part of.)

I’m tempted to just shrug and say, “Let the lunatics do their worst” and watch it bounce back on them. But damn it, I like this country, and want to spare it the humiliation. I think Liz Cheney has what it would take to keep the loonies in check.

The Stump of Trump — Has he finally self-destructed?

The Stump of Trump

Has he finally self-destructed?

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

December 4th 2022

http://www.zeppscommentaries.online

Going back to the days of Reagan, we’ve talked about politicians who had a kind of a magic Teflon(TM) shield that protected them, no matter how corrupt, dim-witted or objectionable their actions might be. Democrats attributed this magic to Reagan, Gingrich and both Bushes. Republicans declared it gleamed over the horrors of Obama and the Clintons. In most cases rather than magic, it was just a matter of political inertia combined with a rather dim public that couldn’t really be bothered with the goings-on of government. In the case of the Clintons, they were blessed with getting absolute morons for detractors.

But Donald Trump broke the mold when it came to Teflon(TM) magic. It’s impossible to count the number of events and actions he took that would have driven him from public view and into well-deserved obscurity and contempt. From his “grab them by the pussy” and “some of them are rapists” debut up to his stunning string of rebukes from the courts and from reality, he should have been consigned to a vague lingering foulness on the public mind, a fart in the collective elevator.

Indeed, his supporters had to develop iron-strength shells of denial, disbelief and malevolence of the sort one associates with members of particularly nasty cults that end in mass suicide. It’s normal for followers of any given politician to encounter those who question their intelligence and judgment, but Trump supporters were at such odds with the rest of society that they found their character, sanity and patriotism were open to question, and more and more often, people weren’t listening to their rationalization.

The movement (and it is now a cult movement) reacted defensively by becoming ever more extreme, more violent, more hateful. Most of mass gun shootings in America this year were committed by Trump supporters, often in openly political actions of pure hatred.

Trump himself, now under enormous pressure from all sides, followed and encouraged this same path of psychological crises, leading to a sort of ultimate breakdown.

A psychologist would have no trouble recognizing the mental route Trump is following. He was a child of privilege and believed, with good reason, that he was above the petty laws of the land. With wealth and power he could easily crush those who stood against him in any way, even just honest contractors expecting to be paid for their work. His lawyers could manipulate the law and the courts to ensure that any suit or complaint brought against him could linger for decades unresolved, and proving an unendurable financial burden to those who opposed him.

He is also a narcissist, smug in his belief that he is the only real person in the world and the rest of us just spear carriers arrayed about him for his own personal use, manipulation and gratification. We are wraiths to him, little more than characters in a high-end video game.

But now that is all crashing down. The legal threats, some deferred for decades, have all become very real and very immediate. Actions he assumed he would never be held to account for may result in prison time within a year. He has been forced to confront the fact that his political power has slipped greatly, and the pack of skulking, cowardly dogs that propped him up through two impeachments and endless scandals are deserting and even turning on him. There is blood in the water, and it is his blood.

If he had enough power, he would be extraordinarily dangerous right now. His back is to the wall, and he must lash out.

Fortunately for us, much of that power is gone, residing only in the most craven members of the party, and the vicious and racist trash that have come to dominate the MAGA movement.

But lash out he will. He attacked the wife of the Special Counsel sent to bedevil him. He attacked the wife of his erstwhile ally, the Senate Minority Leader—a racist attack, at that. He applauded the attack on the husband of the House speaker. (See a pattern here? When he can’t quite work up the nerve to attack individuals, he goes after members of their families. He is what Stephen King would characterize as “a Low Man.”)

The latest events would be hilarious if the intent behind them weren’t so grotesque. His meeting with the troubled Klanye West (also an individual in psychological crisis) and the despicable Nick Fuentes (an open holocaust denier, and West subsequently went on to praise Hitler) was incredibly over the top even by the tawdry standards of Trump. He then followed it with his usual lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him with the demand “for the termination of all our rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”

Even Republicans found his assertion that the Constitution itself should be terminated for his personal benefit to be too much, and recognized that the greater danger now lay in supporting Trump rather than standing up to him.

Don’t mistake the Republican refutation of Trump for courage; it isn’t. It’s just self-preservation by people who have little to justify their existence to begin with. But it is happening, and with it, the last tattered remains of Trump’s power. He has finally destroyed himself.

Expect wilder and more insane outbursts from him. Except more and more shrugs from his once-avid supporters. MAGA will vanish in much the same way that Nazis vanished in Germany in 1945.

And the wheels of justice will grind him to dust.

He’s finally going down.

The Wave Breaks — But the sand persists

The Wave Breaks

But the sand persists

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

November 20th, 2022

zeppscommentaries.online

In a way, the election last week didn’t change a whole lot. The Democrats held the Senate and maybe will add a seat in two weeks, and while they lost the House, the number of seats lost by the party holding the White House was the second-least in over 70 years.

Very little changed, and yet it feels like everything has changed.

About 90% of political power is illusory, and that was the case with the out-of-office Donald Trump. Not only did he fail to avail himself of the standard political winds to get his party a large majority in both Houses, but he was actually a drag on the ticket, with many of his hand-picked candidates losing in races they ought to have handily won, and a lot of Qanon “the election was stolen” nuts getting rejected en masse.

And most of Trump’s political power collapsed like a soap bubble. Suddenly the Voice of Donald, which thundered in GOP ranks, provoking shivers and submissive urination, became a shrill whine which Republicans felt free to swat at in irritation, like a mosquito. Suddenly, Trump found himself being rejected and even dismissed by his former sycophants, and even publicly challenged.

The Congressional Republicans decided to pretend that the narrow three-or-four seat majority they had in the House amounted to a mighty 1932-style mandate, and immediately chorused that they would start fresh rounds of the indeterminable hearings that were usually investigations in search of a crime, the same tiresome nonsense they’ve inflicted on the country since Newt Gingrich started pointless but politically damaging congressional investigations of the Clintons. They were already losing what little potency they possessed before January 6th, 2021. The eight different Benghazi investigations, including 11 hours of testimony from Hillary Clinton hurt her so badly that she only got three million more votes than Donald.

But the January 6th Committee hearing showed the nation what honest, conscientious Congressional hearings were like. There was no shouting down of witnesses (despite the fact that most of the witnesses were Republicans and members of the Trump team), actual evidence was presented with strong documentation, video and written records. There was no grandstanding, no shouted promises to convict as soon as something came up that could result in actual charges. It showed the prior “investigations” to be the silly, pointless, futile clown shows that in the end, were all the GOP had to offer. Even the one investigation over the past almost 30 years that actually found wrong doing and resulted in charges was so petty, mean, and rankly hypocritical that the impeachment of Bill Clinton for getting a blow job actually resulted in an increase in his popularity. People might have honestly disapproved of Bill’s behavior, but they didn’t need the likes of Newt Gingrich and Harry Hyde lecturing them on what proper moral behavior might be.

So now we have the likes of Gym Jordan, Margie “Armpits” Taylor-Greene and Bobo Boebert to tell us that investigations of criminals by the Department of Justice and the FBI are bad, bad, bad. If Republican criminals aren’t safe, then by gawd, no criminal is safe!

They’re even talking about resurrecting Benghazi. After nearly two years of trying to defend, or at least excuse or even deny the events of January 6th, they want to tell us all that an armed mob attacking a US government facility resulting in the deaths of Americans is bad, and someone needs to pay. Think about that. Just brimming with moral authority there, aren’t we?

They want to impeach Joe Biden because Hunter something. Hunter is a sleaze and probably will end up getting tried at some point for some sort of malfeasance (high crimes that in Trump world are known as “Wednesday”) but the investigations will turn themselves inside out trying to show, with no evidence, that Joe orchestrated it all. They want to impeach Merrick Garland because he’s investigating Trump. They want to impeach Jack Smith for being named Special Counsel, apparently unaware of the fact that they cannot impeach a Special Counsel.

Having already lost the moderates and independents they hoped to corral in the election, they now face a slow, steady withdrawal of those supporting them – the so-called “mainstream Republicans” – the corporate types, the actual conservatives, and Republicans who don’t fancy clown shows, fascism, hate mongering or theocracies. There was a glaring example of that withdrawal from the bat-shit wing of the party by Murdoch’s New York Post, which noted Trump’s ill-advised declaration of candidacy for 2024 by putting on the bottom of their front page, “Florida Man makes announcement. Page 27”. Leading Republicans, including fascist slimes Ted Cruz and DeSantis, openly challenged the Trump announcement. Both have been fervent belly-crawlers for Trump, and if those two whipped dogs could work up the courage to disobey Trump then truly his star has dimmed.

Given the unbridled glee and enthusiasm of the bat-shit contingent, and the pulling back of the saner elements in the GOP, a civil war in the party, particularly in the House, seems likely. Pass the popcorn. I’m actually hoping the zanies will prevail, not just for their ability to do damage to themselves and their party, but because it may lead to some Republican congressionals leaving the party, becoming independents, putting control of the House back in Democratic hands. The Dems not only need to consider who the minority leader will be to replace Nancy Pelosi, but potentially who the Speaker will be.

We’re seeing a sea change. Americans got to see what Trump, Qanon and the various other extreme right factions had to offer—the hatred, the racism, the cruelty and the vicious imposition of religion—and don’t want it. This election, for all that it changed little, moved mountains.