Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, October 1 through Friday, October 7, 2022 [Vol.4 No.12]
Rule of Law
The Week’s Most Notable
It is some kind of sign that the media-prominent story of the week is about the scandal of a senatorial candidate in Georgia. Just this week: paying for abortion, lying about his kids (and being denounced by a son). It may be some kind of cosmic witticism, but to make Herschel Walker into a week’s worth of near-constant media coverage – well – he does bring so many media-rich threads together: abortion, religion, lying, politics, family values, forgiveness, fate of the nation, racism, mental health, celebrity, gun control, tribalism, unintelligibility, repetitive scandals, political puppetry, moral turpitude . . .there’s more. [Note: See a conservative’s view of Walker in the Quotes section.] All of this goes to highlight his opponent, Senator and Rev. Raphael Warnock, one of the most eloquent and promising moderate Democrats, who at least so far hasn’t got a scandal to his name.
The contrast between the men comes off like bad parody. In fact, it is unbridled arrogance on the part of Trump and the GOP – it seems Walker’s Republican handlers really believe they can pick a suitable celebrity (no need to spend ad dollars on name recognition), put an (R) behind the name, have Trump give his in nomine patris et filii, back the campaign with multiple millions in propaganda and PRESTO, a newly minted senator, one of the 100 most powerful legislators in the country. Does Walker know he’s a pawn in all this? Maybe, but he gets paid to keep on truckin’ no matter what baggage he’s hauling. That’s where the lying comes in. He’s not good at it; he doesn’t have the wit or experience (unlike Trump) to make the lies either believable or entertaining. But he gives it the old college try in one excruciating interview or press conference after another. Somebody must be whispering in his ear, “Don’t worry. it doesn’t matter; we got this.”
They may be right, and THEY are the real story here. THEY are Walker’s handlers, the GOP planners, the big donors, the propagandists, the Fox News and other right-wing media. They know how to create politicians and issues out of next to nothing. It doesn’t always work, but they are confident that the percentages are on their side. Why wouldn’t they think that? Their advantage is asymmetric; the Democrats have nothing like it. The political colonization of agricultural states assures them of a near-majority platform for the U.S. Senate and state-wide control. Only the right-wing commands a true and effective national network of propaganda media (e.g., Fox News, OANN, Newsmax, talk-radio, etc.). Over the years, culminating with Trump, they have built a closed-circuit partisanship, a self-reinforcing quasi-politico-religious cult, that can use rhetoric that mirrors the Democrats (such as support for the U.S. workers), while enabling actions completely at odds with the rhetoric (such as tax breaks for corporations and the rich). They have inoculated their followers with fear and loathing of the Democrats and the ability to repel any argument they can’t avoid (fake news! deep state! Socialist!). When a true MAGA believer steps into a voting booth, every choice (such as any that may exist) comes down to a visceral avoidance – “I CAN’T vote for a Democrat.” In short, propaganda works, until, somehow, it’s made not to work. Making propaganda not work, that’s another big, unfinished story.
Saturday, October 1
[DOJ Documents] The National Archives Reported Presidential Records Still Missing– A letter this week to Congress from the National Archives and Records Administration signaled an upcoming week of accusations about Trump still withholding general government material and classified documents from the DOJ. The big question: Why did Trump amass so many classified documents – 323 at last count? What did he want with them? [Sneak Preview: One plausible explanation appeared late Friday.]
Sunday, October 2
[Indonesia] 131 Dead in Soccer Game Panic Stampede – The game ended 3-2 Arema FC over Persebaya Surabaya and there was some resentment, creating outbreaks of violence among the 42,000 spectators. Then the police attacked using tear gas indiscriminately, and people stampeded for the exits, which were locked. The ensuing crush resulted in the deadliest sports event in Indonesian history. For perspective, in the Ian hurricane, one of the worst storms in U.S. history, amid the wreckage about 130 (so far) have died.
[Brazil Election] Brazil Votes into a Runoff Between Lula and Bolsonaro – Polls showed Lula far ahead; they were wrong. Neither candidate had more than 50%, thus the runoff. Bolsonaro’s brand of fascism lives to fight, and deny the election results, on another day (October 30).
[Ukraine] Ukrainian Military Continues Advances in Donbas Regions – On top of the re-taking of the Kharkiv region with about 3,000 square miles of territory, Ukraine rolled up another 1,300 square miles in Donetsk and Kherson regions. The advances generally follow pullout by the Russian forces, usually after fierce fighting. Military analysts say the impression is that Russia is conceding territory in anticipation of winter, with the expectation that newly drafted troops (300,000+) will be available for a spring offensive. However, the loss of Lyman, a key distribution point, and what appears to be a pending loss of Kherson city, a key port, may be difficult to reverse. Worse yet, the losses contribute to the sense of Russian weakness, which accelerates war resistance in Russia and encourages insurrection by the historically rebellious provinces in the east.
Monday, October 3
[Supreme Court] Supreme Court Opens New Term – The radical conservative block of the 6-3 court has agendas, particularly on voting rights, affirmative action, gun rights, restricting climate change authority, expanding gun rights, and reducing separation of church and state. None are as stark or clear as its abortion ruling (Dobbs) of last year, but the overall effect may be as great. (To paraphrase a movie quote, “Precedence? We don’t need no steenking precedence.”)
[British Budget] Truss Capitulates, Rolls Back Part of Tax Reduction for the Wealthy – Actually, the Truss/Kwarteng budget is still a mess/threat to the Conservative Party, as both Truss (PM) and Kwarteng (Chancellor) continue to chew shoe-leather. The Tories now generally trail Labor in the polls by 30 points.
[Trump – Legal] Trump Files Defamation Suit Against CNN – It’s part of the legal whack-a-mole strategy: file hopeless, losing, but distracting lawsuits everywhere a slow-down or smokescreen is needed. This suit against CNN is patently First-Amendment unconstitutional, but will get dandy and incendiary headlines (deep state!) to please the MAGA base.
[Biden] Biden Visits Post-Fiona Puerto Rico and Promises Help – At least this administration shows up with money ($60 million) and not paper towels.
[Nobel Prize] Medicine and Physiology: Svante Pääbo (Sweden) for Neanderthal Genome Sequencing
Tuesday, October 4
[Biden] Biden Visits Ian-Ravaged Florida – Biden and the First Lady toured the storm’s damage and saw its victims. The media seemed more interested in the pairing of Biden and DeSantis, noting that DeSantis had voted against hurricane relief after other storms in other states, but now has his hat out for big federal money.
[Abortion] Herschel Walker Accused of Paying for Abortion, GOP Rallies for Him – Walker is the GOP Senate candidate for Georgia, former star football player, and conspicuous anti-abortion advocate. Walker said the accusation was a lie; the accuser said here’s the receipt ($700), the check (with signature), and a get-well card. [Update: This turned out to be the opening round of escalating accusations, such as the same woman claiming she is the mother of one of his (previously undeclared) children.]
[Trump – Legal] Trump Files with Supreme Court to Intervene in Mar-a-Lago Documents Case – Another instance of whack-a-mole legal strategy; this time an attempt to block the ruling of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that overruled the rogue ruling of Judge Cannon and permitted the DOJ to continue its investigations. Trump lawyers are asking SCOTUS to order a review of all classified documents by the special master, Judge Dearie – a delaying tactic. Justice Thomas is the liaison in this case, and is likely to recommend consideration by the full court where, after a certain time, the appeal will be denied.
[Nobel Prize] Physics: Alain Aspect (France), John Clauser (U.S.), Anton Zeilinger (Austria) for Groundbreaking Work in Quantum Physics
Loretta Lynn 1932 – 2022 (90) The Queen of country music, six decades of performing, and the most awarded woman in country music history. Wrote and/or performed scores of songs including “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
Wednesday, October 5
[Mass Murder] Thai Killer Stabs and Shoots 22 Children, 12 Others – Not just in the U.S: a former police officer, high on meth, attacks a pre-school facility.
[Energy] OPEC Plus Agrees to Cut Oil Production by 2 Million Barrels to Sustain Price – Just what the world needs as it has a recession coming. For the U.S. it signaled a Saudi Arabian deal with the Russians, not what Biden had lobbied for. When this current economic crisis sorts itself out, there may be some significant new alignments.
[Nobel Prize] Chemistry: Carolyn Bertozzi (U.S.), Morten Meldal (Denmark), K. Barry Sharpless (U.S.) for Developing “Click Chemistry” – Dr. Sharpless has earned the Nobel Prize twice, only the fifth person to do so.
Thursday, October 6
[Marijuana] Biden Pardons More than 6,000 Convicted of Marijuana Possession – It was a Biden campaign promise; the timing is a midterm political boost; it made the Republicans livid; a smart move that solidifies Democratic support for liberalizing marijuana laws.
[Ukraine] Biden Identifies Russian Nuclear Threat over Ukraine as Worst Risk since Cuban Missile Crisis – Both the U.S. and Russia are currently engaged in heavy-duty gaslighting about a nuclear threat. Russia specifically means defense of its newly annexed provinces, which are already being overrun by Ukrainian forces. Biden means the deteriorating Russian military situation, which seems to be descending into mutiny, undiscipline, and failure. Supposedly if Putin feels his authority slipping away, he may resort to tactical nukes on the Ukrainian battlefields. Most experts think this won’t work: (1 Nukes are a very blunt instrument and may damage Russian forces as well, 2. The world will be outraged, which won’t help Russia at all; 3. The U.S. and NATO will retaliate – like destroying the Russian Black Sea fleet.
[Nobel Prize] Literature: Annie Ernaux (France) for Deeply Personal Writing about Her Life and Experiences
Friday, October 7
[Ukraine] Kerch Bridge, Main Link to Crimea Damaged by Truck Bomb – “Putin’s Baby”, a $4 billion project linking the newly annexed provinces to the Crimean Peninsula was damaged, though not cut off. Rail and limited vehicle traffic resumed within 36 hours – HOWEVER – this was a major PR blow for Putin, as the bridge was assumed to be unassailable. The successful attack and stunning video clips advance the feeling that the Ukraine war is spinning out of control for Russia.
[Mar-a-Lago Documents] The New York Times Publishes Credible Explanation for Trump Classified Docs Obsession – Under the auspicious byline of Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt, the reporters propose that Trump collected, read, annotated and withheld classified documents as he searched for evidence of government (deep state) malfeasance in the Russia/Trump Campaign conspiracy investigation. While holding the documents Trump used legal staff to vouch for (lie about) his collection; some of the staff refused. There may have also been people (illegally) involved in helping him search through the papers. [Note: There is some confusion over the number of classified documents: So far, the DOJ has identified 323 documents at all levels of classification found at Mar-a-Lago. However, DOJ filings consistently refer to about 100 documents (actually, 103). This is a select group, presumably with higher classifications and very significant content.]
[Nobel Prize] Peace: Memorial (Russia), Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine), Ales Bialiatski (Belarus) for Advocating Human Rights in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine
Pinned Point: Until the filibuster rules are modified, most of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate.
Quotes of the Week
So here we have a celebrity candidate [Walker] with no political experience, neither eloquent nor honest, who abandoned his kids, threatened to kill his ex-wife, and has serious mental health problems,, , who may hold the balance of the Senate in his hands. That’s what the GOP now is. And if he actually paid for an abortion, i.e., in the view of sincere evangelicals, paid for the murder of an innocent child? Here’s Dana Loesch’s response:
“Does this change anything? Not a damn thing. How many times have I said four very important words? These four words: Winning. Is. A. Virtue. I don’t know if he did it or not. I don’t even care.”
It’s rare to see this kind of nihilist consequentialism expressed so nakedly. It’s rare to hear someone publicly say something so deeply hostile to any shred of Christianity. (Christians never believe the ends justify any means. Christianism is defined by that principle.) But nothing matters to the current GOP more than victory, by fair means or foul, by democratic processes or not.
Andrew Sullivan, Weekly Dish, 10/7/2022.
Of the nearly 300 [election deniers] seeking federal or state office, 174 are running for safely Republican seats. Another 51 will appear on the ballot in tightly contested races. The implications for the 2024 presidential race, and for American democracy, could be profound.
Amy Gardner, “A Majority of GOP Nominees – 299 in All – Deny the 2020 Election Results, Washington Post, 10/6/2022.
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