Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, June 11 through Friday, June 17, 2022 [Vol.3 No.48]
Jan. 6 Committee Public Hearings Continued
The Week’s Most Notable
The week continued televised hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. There were two hearings this week, both aimed at filling in aspects of Trump’s overall attempts to nullify the 2020 presidential election in key states. As it was with the opening hearing, the first order of business for the second hearing was the Big Lie; in this case to specify in some detail the Trump-Republican lie that Biden did not win the election and that the Democrats had stolen it. The committee relied almost exclusively on Republican testimony, typically campaign officials, White House and campaign lawyers, and most notably former AG William Barr and Trump’s daughter Ivanka. Trump, Republicans, and the right-wing media have used the Big Lie to justify almost every other related activity, including the attack on the Capitol (undo an illegitimate election). Fidelity to the Big Lie has become the litmus test for Republican candidates, and almost an article of faith among the Trump base. It’s been the keystone of their propaganda and will be difficult to shake.
The third hearing focused on Trump and lawyer John Eastman’s bogus scheme asserting that Vice President Pence could “nullify the illegitimate votes from key states” and either declare Trump the winner or demand that the states involved use their legislatures to determine who won the votes in the electoral college. For much of the hearing, the pressure on VP Pence and what happened to him during the violent insurrection in the capital, culminated with evidence that Trump had deliberately fingered Pence for disloyalty and made him a target of the rioters. “Hang Mike Pence.”
So far, there has been a wealth of details, but the consistent impression is that Trump tried many ways to subvert the constitutional transition of power (stage a coup) and was repeatedly told by his aides, legal advisors, and prominent Republicans that he could not legally do this. It did not matter, because Trump had his own strategy. (A strategy, that the committee is now warning, is a blueprint for future elections and especially 2024.)
Because they have been effective as media events, reaction to the hearings (Who’s listening?) has gradually become a key issue. So far, the reactions are predictable:
Dems and others: So that’s how it went down.
The hearings and their accompanying bombshell revelations have made it difficult to ignore. Disaffected Democrats and nihilist Republicans alike have been scrambling to justify their positions – and the hearings aren’t finished.
This week Fox News joined the other networks in covering the hearings live. Scuttlebutt has it that high ratings and very unfavorable commentary by other media forced their hand. Perhaps, but every effort is being made by the right-wing media to make sure their viewers do not hear or see anything of impact without it being simultaneously accompanied by on-air commentary disparaging the coverage. Nevertheless, there is some evidence that the information presented in the hearings is leaking through – for example, right wing outlets are already debating whether they should acknowledge Barr’s or Ivanka’s testimony.
It’s not easy to get an accurate schedule of the committee hearings. There have been rearrangements and time changes due to adjustments for new information, not to mention blockbuster stories in the media. Officially, there will be six hearings, including a summary session in September, but additional hearings seem possible. Keep in mind that sometime in the next two weeks, the Supreme Court will dump a truckload of very disturbing decisions, which are guaranteed to create media chaos.
Thursday, June 9, 10 AM – I. Overview, Trump’s coup, video of the violent attack on the Capitol
Monday, June 13, 10 AM – II. The Big Lie, $250 million dollar fundraising fraud
Thursday, June 16, 1 PM – III. Pence in the crosshairs
Tuesday, June 21, 1 PM – IV. Trump tries to suborn DOJ (rescheduled from Wednesday, June 15)
Thursday, June 23, 1 PM – V. Trump vote counting schemes in the states
[TBA, Trump collaboration with various organizations.]
[TBA, Trump dereliction of duty and failure to stop the insurrection.]
Summary of Report, September – VI. The committee is scheduled to deliver its final report and has said it will present the report in a live event.
Inflation. The state of the American economy is dominated by one issue: consumers are afraid and economists are baffled by inflation. This is not new. American history is punctuated by periods of more or less dramatic inflation, usually with vague causes, spurious political accountability, and very little in the way of actual leverage to do anything about it. This week, the Fed did what it could and raised interest rates by three quarters of a point, a huge increase. This will make mortgages and other loans more difficult to get, which means that price cutting in housing and other markets will begin. But it will take time, and nobody is predicting a significant improvement in the months before the midterm elections. In fact, attempts to fix inflation might well lead to recession, and that will not be popular. It also means that inflation will continue to be the number one issue.
Floods, fires, and hurricanes – the season is upon us. The massive flooding in Yellowstone National Park might seem a regional problem, but Yellowstone is different. More than 100 million people have visited the park over the years and, as was proven during the fires of 1988, it has an international following. So when it suffered a true once in the millennium natural disaster, it woke up a lot of people, and made a lot of people think about the connections to climate change, and about the extreme heat in the U.S., and about California fires, and the coming hurricane season.
Saturday, June 11
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 87,414,160; Deaths: 1,036,702
[Gun Control] March for Our Lives 2022 – A similar march was held in 2018, which is worth mentioning because another march was necessary four years later. If anything, the situation is worse with the recent shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde on everybody’s mind. Even more than before this was a young people’s event taking place in more than 400 locations in all 50 states. It coincides with a concerted push in Congress, namely negotiations in the Senate, to find some kind of gun control bill that could actually be passed.
[Climate Change] 70 Million People under Extreme Heat Warning – From California to Tennessee record temperatures, such as 123° in Death Valley and 113° in Phoenix, are occurring before it’s even officially summer. [Update: Early in the week an additional 108 million Americans were told to brace for extreme heat.]
Sunday, June 12
[Gun Control] Senators Negotiate Potential Bipartisan Gun Control Proposal – The PR pressure is considerable, enough to send a handful of Democrats and Republicans to the negotiating table, trying to find elements of a gun control bill that might make its way through the Senate. The House has already passed legislation, which is expected not to make it. [Update: Hopes went up and down through the week for a negotiated agreement, but as Congress went on break, it appears Republicans are prepared to obstruct on the issues of the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and the “red flag regulations.” Despite the enormous shove given by the American public and the ongoing epidemic of mass shootings, the mood in Congress was pessimistic.]
[White Nationalism] Idaho Authorities Arrest 31 White Nationalists – Just before their planned attack on a LGBTQ parade in Coeur d’Alene, police swooped in and arrested 31 members of the Patriot Front group. The police had been tipped that a well-armed and violent-minded group was heading for the parade. That area of Idaho has a long history of right-wing militias, so the event was not unusual, but it immediately attracted national attention and highlights the volatility created by the recent Republican emphasis on attacking LGBTQ issues.
[Ukraine] Ukraine about to Lose Control of Key Eastern Province City – According to Ukrainian officials, the strategically important city of Sievierodonetsk could fall to the Russians at any time. On the other hand, general reports from the front indicate the Russians are making very little progress and suffering heavy casualties – so too for the Ukrainians. Reporting for the week is full of gloomy predictions about a very long-term stalemate in that part of Ukraine.
Monday, June 13
[Jan. 6 Hearing] Hearing II: Barr Testifies Election Fraud Claims Were BS – Along with several other witnesses, the point was made that Trump was told many times that he did not win the election, the Democrats did not steal election, and that the close votes in key electoral college states were legitimate. Nevertheless, he persisted with the Big Lie. It may be ironic but the seemingly most common takeaways from this hearing were that Barr used an expletive, Rudy Giuliani was drunk when he advised Trump to make the fateful decision to attack the election results, and the inner circle of the White House was separated into “Team Crazy” and “Team Normal.”
[Gun Control] Ohio Initiates Law That Allows Armed School Staff– Basically, put a gun in the hands of every teacher, janitor, and administrator in every school – no training required – and the schools will be safer. Interestingly, the Ohio State Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that school staff could only carry a gun if they matched police training of 700 hours. Some state legislatures are remarkably tone deaf.
[Stock Market] Anticipating Fed Rate Hike, Wall Street Enters Bear Market – Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if Wall Street’s bleak outlook is a result or cause of a shaky economy, slipping, perhaps, into recession. Markets were down 2% to 5% on Monday and have been dropping consistently since January, hence the ursine outlook.
[Climate Change] Once in a Millennium Floods around Yellowstone, 10,000 Evacuated – The combination of heavy spring runoff and three inches of rain was extraordinary. The extent of the damage will not be known for days, but bridges, roads, and the entire regional infrastructure – at the very beginning of the economically vital tourist season – has been shredded.
Tuesday, June 14
[Economy] Supplier Prices Surge – For economists the increases in supplier prices, particularly in energy and food, are behind the rise of the consumer price index to 8.6% year-on-year in May. They are also looking for a sign of a peak; as expected interest rate changes by the Fed, and a recovery from the coronavirus induced economic pattern, should – repeat should – cause prices to start a downward trend.
[Primary Elections] Election Deniers Win in Nevada – Nationwide, Republican candidates that support Trump and the Big Lie continue to win primaries. There is some indication that Republicans are becoming more loyal to the notion of controlling elections with or without Trump.
Wednesday, June 15
[Economy] Fed Announces Interest Rate Hike of Three Quarters of a Percentage Point – It’s the largest interest rate hike in 28 years and is intended to clamp a sharp brake on the rise of inflation. More hikes are coming, as the Fed has finally found religion after being crucified for allowing inflation to get out of hand.
[LGBTQ Rights] Biden Signs Executive Order with Additional LGBTQ Protection– Just when the Republicans are going into hyperdrive to attack everything LGBTQ, Biden goes in the opposite direction. Good politics for him.
[Ukraine] Biden Announces Additional $1 Billion for Ukraine Military Aid – The announcement was timed to match the arrival of the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy in Kyiv.
[Coronavirus] Fauci Tests Positive for COVID-19 – These days this should hardly be considered news, except for the fact that the right-wing media, especially Fox News, jumped on it as if it were some kind of epiphany. Fauci is doing home quarantine with mild symptoms, and he was fully vaccinated.
[EPA] ”Forever Chemicals” More Dangerous Than Thought – New studies into the effects of substances known as PFAS, such as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl, which are used in cosmetics and food packaging, are now found in the drinking water supply at levels that can harm immune and cardiovascular systems. This is a major health concern that is getting way too little attention.
[Inflation] Biden Calls on Energy Companies to Produce More Gas, Cut Profits – Classic PR move, “just pointing out” or all mouth and no teeth. Of course, energy companies are getting too much money – windfall profits – but given the world crisis in energy distribution, very few countries are willing to mess with the corporations.
Jan. 6 Investigation] The Loudermilk Tour – The House Jan. 6 committee released video of a “tour” of the Capitol building on January 5, 2021. It was being conducted by Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA). Back in 2021 he said there was no tour. Later he said there might’ve been a tour but it was his family. That was amended to people wearing MAGA hats, but just looking at touristy things. Then recently with the new video evidence, they were looking not at touristy things but tunnels, doorways, name plates – just the kind of stuff you need if you’re going to take over the place. Plus, one of the people identified in the tour video was also arrested for being in the Capitol building January 6. Significance: at least one member of Congress was abetting potential insurrectionists; there were probably more, which may come out in further testimony during the hearings.
Thursday, June 16
[Jan. 6 Hearing] Hearing III: This Was the Hearing That Almost Made VP Pence Seem Like a Hero – Testimony from Greg Jacobs, legal advisor to VP Pence, and highly respected conservative federal judge retiree J. Michael Luttig, in no uncertain terms indicated that the John Eastman scheme to legally permit Pence to decertify some election results was bogus. Luttig said “if the vice president had done what Trump demanded, he would’ve sparked a revolution within a constitutional crisis.” The committee also went into some detail about how Pence’s life was in danger from the Capitol rioters, who in one instance came within 40 feet of Pence and his family. It also made clear that Trump knew Pence was in danger, and still issued a tweet that made the situation worse: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify.”
[Ukraine] European Leaders Visit Kyiv, Discuss Ukraine Entry into EU – In some respects, in the middle of a grinding war of attrition, which is far from over, the European leaders from France, Germany, and Italy are openly discussing Ukraine making a formal application to join the EU. This is guaranteed to not make Putin happy, which could be the whole point. Even under optimal circumstances, it would be years before Ukraine could enter the EU – unless of course the 27 EU countries decide to speed it up. Reality or not, the very idea of Ukraine joining the EU is monumental. [Update: EU Commission recommends EU candidate status for Ukraine. The typical EU accession cycle requires 10 years, but as EU President Ursula von der Leyen put it, “Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream.”]
[China] China Launches Its Third Aircraft Carrier – Without much fanfare, China is working toward naval parity with the United States.
[NBA Finals] Steph Curry Vindicated: Golden State Wins Fourth NBA Championship in Eight Years
Friday, June 17
[Coronavirus] FDA Approves Moderna and Pfizer Vaccines for Kids Under Six Years Old – It’s been over a year in the works, but vaccines for infants and toddlers have finally been cleared for general use (pending a perfunctory CDC approval this weekend). While the pandemic emergency seems to be abating, the medical community expressed the desirability of “closing the circle” on vaccines for COVID-19. The vaccine for infants is the final missing piece.
[Economy] Wall Street, Cryptocurrencies Tank – With the coming of interest rate hikes, inflationary uncertainty, world energy price instability, the war in Ukraine, etc. – some investment institutions are beginning to suffer. Cryptocurrency in particular, always a bit unsteady in its fundamentals, is having a bad time of it. Bitcoin lost 30% of its value just this week. In general, consensus view is that the world has entered a dicey time for investment. As one broker put it, “It’s possible investors could lose a lot more money before things get better.”
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 87,968,879; Deaths: 1,038,265
Pinned Point: Until the filibuster rules are modified, most of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate.
Quote of the Week
[T]the panel has a more crucial mission: making sure that such an effort to overturn the result of a legitimate election does not happen again. The potential is there, because the sedition continues. That should not be lost as the bipartisan House panel lays its case before the American people. Jan. 6 was not just a day; it was the opening salvo of a movement to undermine democracy.
Karen Tumulty, “The Sedition Didn’t Stop on Jan. 6. It Must Be Stopped,” The Washington Post, 6/12/2022.
[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]