Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, February 12 through Friday, February 18, 2022 [Vol.3 No.31]
The Week’s Most Notable
Rather than think about the unthinkable (a real war in Ukraine), much of the week was taken up with a string of stories about Trump and his legal problems. A bit of perspective might help here: How many times in the past six years has Trump personally been in a courtroom? Remember the various potential criminal charges associated with the Mueller investigation – Russian conspiracy, emoluments constitutional violation, sexual assault charges, lying to Congress – literally a dozen or more. Mostly what’s been proven is how difficult it is to formulate successful charges against a sitting or former president. Some of his associates were picked off, but like ducks in a shooting gallery were set back up by presidential pardon. Now we’re down to essentially three cases, two of which are relatively new: Election interference in Georgia (find 11,780 votes), spiriting away classified documents to Mar-a-Lago (violation of Official Documents Act), and the long time, ongoing investigations by the State of New York and the District of Manhattan into Trump and Trump Corporation’s financial behavior (various types of fraud). As far as we know, Trump’s sedition before during, and after the attack on the Capitol is not under criminal investigation by the DOJ, just under civil suit.
Technically, Trump’s presidency provides some legal protection for his actions, that’s one problem for prosecutors. Secondly, as with most criminal cases, proof of intent must be present and preferably apparent. Did he intend to steal classified documents? Easy to claim he wasn’t even aware of it. Similar arguments can be made for the Georgia and New York cases, although with far less credibility. Still, it’s a problem for prosecutors. All of this is to say that the chances of Trump getting his ass hauled into court are . . . probably slim. Civil and financial damage, on the other hand. . . ..
One very significant thing happened this week in relation to Trump’s finances – Mazars, his accounting firm, quit; quit him and his company. Citing “nonwaivable conflict of interest” and that they could no longer stand behind 10 years of financial statements, implied that Trump had been lying to them. They may be cooperating with the investigation, but more importantly, in a sense, their withdrawal will make it very difficult for Trump to get legitimate financial support for his enormous debt and financial responsibilities. Whatever happens from the investigation – it’s quite likely that there will be indictments of Trump associates, possibly even family – and the consequent hit to his corporation, when the dust settles a year or two from now, he is not likely to be financially solvent. Possibly, also, politically insolvent.
Ukraine on the cusp: Analysts said there was a piece missing from the picture demagogues put together before making a very risky move: Unleash propaganda to get their base behind them. As of last week, Putin turned up the heat on the domestic propaganda machine – preparing the Russian populace for war, the no longer missing piece. Meanwhile, more troops were sent to the Ukrainian and Belarus borders, while proclaiming some troops were being demobilized and sent home. Then on Friday Biden continued the extraordinary, and possibly unprecedented, tactic of saying out loud what the intelligence services were detecting from the Russians. In this case, Biden announced that Putin had made his decision to invade Ukraine and to drive as quickly as possible to capture the capital city of Kyiv. Ukrainian officials initially demurred on Biden’s statement but they and government services were already moving to Lviv, further west. The situation is an odd, third party, form of brinksmanship.
Putin knows that he will encounter no direct military resistance from NATO. He also knows that there will be a cost to Russia – lives, money, world standing, among other things. How he evaluates the various things he knows – we don’t know. For most Americans, all of this seems somewhat remote. It’s not our fight, exactly, but as many are pointing out, the ripples from a Russian invasion would have an economic impact on the whole world, not the least of which would be energy prices. The world is not exactly in a robust economic condition for a major oil shock. So, we wait; much of the world could be in convulsion in a week, or not.
Saturday, February 12
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 79,397,361; Deaths: 946,398
[Canadian Truckers] Protestors Linger on Ambassador Bridge – During the weekend trucks were cleared from the bridge. Most of the demonstrators were removed a few days later, but the remainder continued to clog downtown Ottawa. Eventually provincial and city police began a relatively slow process of removing and arresting protesters, so that by week’s end the incident was all but over, physically. Violence had largely been avoided, probably due to the relatively deft handling; but the emotional and political scars, running in many directions, remain. [Update: A similar “Freedom Convoy” was scheduled for Paris, but police halted over 500 trucks outside of Paris and arrested or tear gassed hundreds around the Arc de Triomphe.]
[Ukraine] U.S. Officially Evacuates Kyiv Embassy – The move is not considered a definitive harbinger of war, but not only is it disruptive, and expensive, but it highlights the seriousness of the situation. Biden also had another phone conversation with Putin, which in itself is somewhat peculiar given the tensions – it was interpreted to be a last-ditch attempt to find diplomatic solutions. Howsoever the U.S. is being consistently proactive.
[Clinton Spy] Durham Footnote in Filing Reported to Allege Attempt to Infiltrate Trump Campaign Servers – This peculiar allegation arose from a footnote in Special Counsel John Durham’s filing in the case of Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer with links to the Democratic 2016 campaign. Trump, right-wing media, Fox News in the lead, claimed “This in itself is a scandal, the fact that a story so big, so powerful and so important for the future of our nation is getting zero coverage from the lame-stream, is being talked about all over the world.” In fact, the Durham footnote was in reference to something that happened during the Obama administration.
Sunday, February 13
[Super Bowl] Super Sunday Passes without Incident – There had been fears of a truckers’ protest at the Super Bowl game in Los Angeles, but nothing materialized. The halftime show was considered highly successful, if inscrutable or unpalatable to the more elderly Trump-leaning viewers. Advertising time cost $7 million per half minute and had a pre-pandemic look. There was also a football game, won by the Los Angeles Rams 23-20 over the Cincinnati Bengals; it was a good game as Super Bowls go.
Monday, February 14
[Trump Accounting] Trump Accounting Firm Cuts All Ties – Mazars USA, the accounting firm for the Trump Organization, wrote in a letter that it can no longer stand by the financial statements prepared for Trump, based on information he had given them – read: he lied. In terms of legal procedure, this may be the most damning and consequential revelation not only for Trump investigations, but his real-world need for help with his massive financial machinations. No legitimate bank or lender would touch a client abandoned by his long-term accounting firm.
[Canadian Emergency] Trudeau Invokes Emergency Powers against Trucker Protests – The move was seen as necessary to provide the legal foundation for removing protesters and in many cases arresting them. On the other hand, some saw it as another questionable act by Trudeau. Meanwhile the Omicron wave is subsiding in Canada and many of the provinces are rapidly relaxing their mitigation efforts (the purported reason for the protest).
[Climate Change] Western Megadrought Worst in 1,200 Years – In a study published by the journal Nature Climate Change, the Western drought that started in 2000 deepened in 2021, becoming the worst drought on record in two thirds of the West. The study emphasized that human factors such as habitat destruction and global atmospheric pollution were responsible for worsening the condition.
Tuesday, February 15
[Sandy Hook] Remington Agrees to $73 Million Settlement – After three decades of bucking the American judicial system and the legal power of the gun manufacturers, the settlement was struck not over the manufacturing or availability of guns, but on the aggressive and blatant promotion of gun sales to young people, including the killer in the Sandy Hook massacre. As one father put it, “Marketing weapons of war directly to young people known to have a strong fascination with firearms is reckless and, as too many families know, deadly conduct.”
[Ukraine] Russia Claims Partial Withdrawal, Biden Says is Not Happening – Typical of rhetorical badminton, the claims of troop movements and other military signs of “good faith” should be taken lightly. Biden has been consistently adroit with his badinage, which has drawn irritation from Russia and the pro-Putin American right-wing.
[Palin vs. New York Times] Jury Rules against Palin Libel Suit – Palin sued the New York Times for libel against her reputation. The jury found that she had not proven a key element, actual malice on the part of the Times. The trial judge echoed that verdict by saying he would dismiss the case as being far short of the standards necessary for a public figure to win a defamation case. Palin is expected to appeal.
[San Francisco School Board] San Francisco Voters Recall Three Liberal School Board Members – Important background: the school district is one of the most liberal in the United States. This was not a nationally representative case; it hinged on two key elements: Voters were very angry about long-duration closure of schools for the pandemic, and the general handling of the situation by what appeared to be incompetent board members. Case in point: The board members were trying to change the name of schools so to be politically correct when the schools were closed.
Wednesday, February 16
[Jan.6 Investigation] Biden to Release Trump-Era White House Visitor Logs – Trump had claimed executive privilege over the logs, which Biden rejected. The logs will be released to the House Jan. 6 Committee.
[Government Ethics] Blast from the Past: Ryan Zinke Broke Ethics Rules – in 2018, the former Trump Interior Secretary was accused of negotiating for developers in a Whitefish, Montana land deal. The Department of Interior internal watchdog said “These communications show that Sec. Zinke played an extensive direct, and substantive role” in negotiations on the project. Since this is years after the fact, and merely an ethical violation, that will probably be that. (Zinke is currently running for the U.S. House in Montana.)
Thursday, February 17
[Ukraine] Biden Shocks: Says Russia Likely to Invade Ukraine – Saying that Putin has already decided and the invasion would “occur in the next several days,” Biden continued the strategy of revealing Russian plans. This one, more shocking than most, puts Biden on the hook if Russia fails to invade. If that happens, he would say, “Good, mission accomplished.” He also added that he expected Russia to initiate false flag operations to find an excuse for invading.
[Trump Investigation] Judge Rules That Trump, Ivanka, Don Jr. Must Testify about Business Practices – The case is the one being investigated by New York State AG Letitia James. State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron said in his ruling “there is copious evidence of possible financial fraud,” and that the AG has the authority to question the company’s principals under oath.
[Olympics] The Tragedy of Kamila Valieva – The situation has cast a pall not only over figure skating, but over the Olympics, and modern sports in general. The background is the Russian history of cheating with performance drugs and the “winning is everything” ethos of much modern sport. Valieva’s story fits the classic Greek definition of tragedy: A person of importance and outstanding personal qualities (Valieva was widely considered a once-in-a-generation skater, the first to fully demonstrate the highest levels of both athletic ability and artistic expression), who descends into disaster through a combination of personal failing and circumstances which she cannot control (wittingly or unwittingly taking performance-enhancing drugs, was tested positive, should not have been allowed to skate, but skated in the Olympics women’s figure skating finals, skated disastrously and failed to reach the podium; career destroyed). It was a unique and emotionally wrenching public spectacle that will have repercussions for a long time to come.
Friday, February 18
[Trump Archives] National Archives Verifies That Trump Took Classified Documents – Among the papers in the 15 boxes taken from the White House to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence were classified national security documents. Removal of such documents from government control is a federal offense.
[Ukraine] Putin Orders Military Drills with Nuclear Weapons – The drills will not actually include live weapons, but, are a piece of theater. Meanwhile, Eastern Ukrainian separatists were told to evacuate 700,000 women and children.
[Ukraine] Intense Shelling Begins in Eastern Ukrainian Regions – Russia is claiming the shelling is coming from Ukrainian forces; the claimed incidents are considered classic false flag operations.
[Trump Investigation] Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss Jan. 6 Trump Civil Lawsuits – Trump’s lawyers were seeking to quash lawsuits from one congressman and two policemen on the grounds that presidents are immune under the Official Actions laws. The judge ruled that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 were outside the scope of his official duties.
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 80,031,118; Deaths: 958,415
Politics, Legislation, Election Notes
After a week of scanning political media (as punishment for missing a deadline) a few depressing observations: Neither Republicans nor Democrats take the threat to democracy seriously; that is, it remains in the realm of rhetoric rather than any kind of emotional reality. Most Republicans subscribe to the Big Lie, which does not mean they believe it wholeheartedly, but they believe it enough to prove loyalty to Trump. The “patriotism” of the Capitol insurrection is a bit more dubious even to Republicans, but at this point it’s chapter and verse from which all Republicans have memorized the catechism. Democrats have so far failed to properly estimate the impact of propaganda: Defunding the police, being called socialists, apparently being in favor of weakening education (critical race theory), COVID mandates, etc., and in doing nothing about inflation. It’s easy to forget that roughly half the nation is politically already in Republican hands, and that is likely to be enhanced in the coming midterms. Unless – the pandemic is really winding down, inflation levels off or declines, and the Democrats get their story straight – and punch it out.
Pinned Point: Until the filibuster rules are modified, most of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate.
Quote of the Week
Some polls indicate that millions of people still believe that Q is a top military insider whose messages have revealed that former President Trump will save the world from a cabal of ‘deep state’ Democratic pedophiles.
David D. Kirkpatrick, “Who Is Behind QAnon? Linguistic Detectives Find Fingerprints,” The New York Times, 2/18/2022.
[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]