Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, October 15 through Friday, October 21, 2022 [Vol.4 No.14]
Liz Truss Resigns
Rule of Law
The Week’s Most Notable
It was the kind of week that shares headlines with a head of lettuce. The Brits are nothing if not satirical and cheeky, so not too unexpectedly when Prime Minister Liz Truss began to seriously wilt in the polls, a media rag featured on its front page a head shot of Truss and a shot of a head of lettuce with the caption, “Will Liz Truss outlast this lettuce?” The lettuce won. Truss resigned this week, the shortest tenure as PM in history.
Other than a probably indelible and historic lettuce-meme, Truss’s passing of the guttering torch has another feature worth noting – she was undone (as much as anything) by her economic philosophy. Truss is a supply-sider; so much so that she co-authored a book about it. She believed, and presumably still does, that tax-cuts for the rich have a “trickle-down effect” (heard that phrase before?) because they will spend the additional cash on good-for-society things like hiring more workers, paying better wages, or investing in the future. She couldn’t wait as a newly installed Prime Minister to put her theories into practice. In reality, she had only one thing to do – save the British people from sky-high energy costs and an economy-threatening cost-of-living rise. She did address this, sort of, but the showpiece was a huge tax-cut for the wealthy and a spanking new supply-side “mini budget.” She seemed unaware of the army of supply-side haters, even in her own party.
Unfortunately for her, enriching bank accounts in the Caribbean was not evaluated in her piddle-for-the-masses economic philosophy and is not popular. Supply-side economic theory has such a bad track record – many decades of attempts to make it work – that only the most cretinous or fuddy-duddy politicians on either side of the Atlantic even mention it. It scares contemporary financiers. Within 24hours of her policy announcements, especially the unfunded tax cuts, the British pound fell almost 5%, causing an economic chain reaction that can easily be traced to Truss’s resignation.
There was more: unlike Boris Johnson or Donald Trump, who are congenital BS artists, Truss has no skill at lying or laying down a barrage of BS to cover awkward questions. Add this to an asynchronous sense of politics, and it took only six weeks for Truss to prove herself terminally incompetent at her exceedingly difficult job. So, she is going, and the British economy, not to mention the Conservative Party and its government, are in shambles.
How did the majority of her party not see this coming? Truss has been in Tory politics, as a high as cabinet minister no less, for many years. Maybe it’s like that college heart-throb, who you finally get to date, and then three-dates later you discover has a herpetology (reptile) fetish. It happens. In the U.S., Republicans knew what Trump was like (although he turned out to be even worse), but what does anybody really know Kari Lake or Ron DeSantis???
Saturday, October 15
[Ukraine] Russia Attacks Key Ukrainian Infrastructure – Send in the drones, Iranian drones at that. Kamikaze drones, essentially guided missiles, hit a slew of Ukrainian cities, power plants, and other locations likely to cause the most damage to essential civilian services (energy, food, water) just in time for winter. Ukrainian officials called it terrorism, and the U.N. agreed, but with no expected effect on Russian strategy, which routinely includes war crimes. The use of Iranian drones and military support people has kicked-off a new line of international complaint, the U.S. and EU leading the charge, which is likely to become an important (side) issue. The EU has already levied new sanctions against Iran, and Israel finds itself caught between Netanyahu’s coddling of Putin and his desire to have excuses for striking at arch-enemy Iran. Iran’s direct (boots-on-the-ground) involvement ups the complexity of the war.
[Ukraine War] Russia’s Military Shooting Range Attacked; 11 Killed, 15 Injured – The significance of the attack was that it was not perpetrated by Ukrainians, but by two men from Russian provinces. The newly drafted victims were on training exercises near Belgorod on the Ukrainian border. Putin’s mobilization program is not popular; this may be an expression of that.
Sunday, October 16
[Paris Protest] Soaring Cost-of-Living Provokes Paris Protest – The French are often first to protest, but this won’t be solitary. Tens of thousands marched in protest of high gas prices and the cost of living, but with characteristic French spin it included major corporations as culprits, along with a government that covers for them. BTW: French inflation stands at 6%, the lowest in Europe.
[Arizona Election] Kari Lake, Arizona GOP Governor Candidate, Refuses to Say She Will Accept Defeat – This is becoming typical of Republican candidates – only Republicans are legitimate winners (Democrats always cheat). It’s important to note that Kari Lake is charismatic, a former TV celebrity PR-pro, and a fast-rising star in the Republican firmament, despite – or because of – her extreme right-wing beliefs.
[Polio] Gates Foundation Pledges $1.2 Billion to Fight Polio – Normally, this is unqualified good news. But these are not normal times: polio, once thought eradicated, is making a comeback; the Gates Foundation, especially in issues involving vaccination, is always under attack; and vaccine denialism will be a serious roadblock.
Monday, October 17
[Ukraine] Russian Bomber Crashes Near Mariupol, Kills at Least 13 – It was a training exercise. The Su-34 bomber lost engine power and crashed with a full load of fuel into a residential nine-story apartment building in Yeysk.
[UK] New Finance Minister Scrubs Truss’s Tax Plan – The sudden, cataclysmic reversal of most of Truss’s supply-side tax policy is supposed to calm the finance markets. Right. Jeremy Hunt, the new (as in two days) Chancellor of the Exchequer is not the messenger of all-is-well for the mortgage, pension fund, currency exchange, and household finance markets.
Tuesday, October 18
[Durham Investigation] Special Counsel Durham Loses Second Case – John Durham’s investigation into alleged Trump-Russia ties – the golden vindicator for Trump and AG Barr – crashed into another jury verdict that concluded Igor Danchenko did not mislead the FBI about the infamous Steele Dossier. It may not matter if Durham continues.
[Midterms] Biden Promises Abortion Rights Bill, if Democrats Win – Of course, retaining control of both the House and Senate are at stake. The effort to codify something like Roe v. Wade into legislation is a longstanding Democratic goal, but Biden wishes to remind people of its election implications – riding on the wave of anger about the Dobbs decision. Abortion is on the Democrats’ marquee; inflation is on the Republicans’; maybe we’ll see which has the bigger draw.
Wednesday, October 19
[Ukraine] Putin Declares Martial Law in Annexed Ukraine Provinces – This increases his power to enforce emergency measures such as forced relocation and tougher movement restrictions. It’s also another internationally illegal act.
[Trump Rape Case] Trump Deposed in E. Jean Carrol’s Rape Defamation Case – The fact that the deposition actually took place, after years of legal wrangling, is the key point, until and if it goes to court.
[Trump Fraud] Judge Carter: Trump Signed a Court Document Intentionally Lying about Voter Fraud – U.S. District Court Judge David Carter said that Trump signed a court document affirming evidence of voter fraud in Georgia, which he knew to be false. At the time Trump was collaborating with his attorney, John Eastman, who advised Trump not to use claims of voter fraud. The evidence for this in Eastman’s email has been turned over to the House Jan.6 Committee.
[Coronavirus] Report: More White Americans Now Dying of COVID than Black Americans – This is a shift from earlier months of the pandemic, when three times as many blacks as whites died from COVID-19. The report in The Washington Post attributes most of this change to lack of mitigation among whites – especially vaccination and mask wearing in Republican regions. (Proof continues to mount that this kind of denialism costs lives.)
[U.S. Oil] Biden Announces Release of 15 million More Barrels of U.S. Reserve Oil – Anyone who doesn’t think this is a midterms political ploy, is, well, naïve. In reality it’s pointless, but it reflects the astounding fact that the fate of democracy might ride on the price of a gallon of gas.
[Student Loans] Taxpayer Group Asks Supreme Court to Quash the Student Loan Forgiveness Plan – The Brown County Taxpayer’s Association of Wisconsin filed the emergency request on the grounds that Biden’s program circumvents Congress’s control over government spending. They claimed it would cost $1 trillion. (CBO: $400 billion over 30 years.) This is only the first of several such cases now in the federal courts. [Update: Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected the request on the grounds that the group does not have standing (are not the ones suffering loss).]
Thursday, October 20
[Liz Truss] UK Prime Minister Liz Truss Resigns – On Wednesday Truss asserted she was “a fighter, not a quitter.” Then came the fisticuffs in the halls of Parliament and somebody must’ve delivered the message, “You’re done.” Conservative Party leaders asserted they would have a replacement team within a week – a tough assignment, since it is supposed to include a vote by the membership. Stepping more or less forward were Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, and (wait for it) Boris Johnson. Sunak has the pole position, but at this point in the chaos, anything is possible. Note: Conservatives already expect to lose the next election (whenever that is, between now and 2024) but their choice of a third Prime Minister in a year could seal the party’s fate for a generation.
[Georgia Voting Case] Appeals Court Orders Lindsey Graham to Testify – Graham has been ducking grand jury testimony concerning his phone calls about “lobbying” state officials to adjust vote counts. The 3-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that his calls were “not legislative activities protected by” the Constitution. [Update: As expected, Graham has made an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court.]
[Student Loans] Student Debt Relief Plan: Win Two, Lose One – Courts continue to rule on challenges to the Student Debt Relief Plan. Justice Barrett at the Supreme Court denied the Brown County Wisconsin Taxpayer’s Association case. Another case led by six Republican state AGs was also denied for lack of standing. However, on Friday the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals put a temporary stay on the six AG’s case, blocking the Biden administration from immediately beginning the program. The administration will file its rebuttal on Monday. And…
Friday, October 21
[Jan.6 Investigation] House Jan. 6 Committee Officially Subpoenas Trump Testimony and Documents – Having already given the committee a letter flipping them the bird about a subpoena, it is unlikely Trump will respond to this subpoena.
[Gun Control] Canada Bans Sale, Purchase, and Export of All Handguns – They did this triggered by the Uvalde shooting in the U.S. The U.S., of course, has no such reaction. This will not go down well in Canada either, but it made it into law.
[Ukraine] Infrastructure Bombing Leaves Thousands Without Power – Putin intends this to be a foretaste of winter. Ukrainians will largely be on their own for immediate repairs and cold-weather survival. The Ukrainian economy – and emergency services – are going to need lots of help.
[Italy] Giorgia Meloni Sworn-in as First Female Italian Prime Minister – And former PM Silvio Berlusconi of the Forza Italia party immediately set about undermining her coalition by picking a squabble over aid to Ukraine. Putin is, literally, one of Berlusconi’s best friends. Meloni has pledged to stay loyal to the EU and NATO. Italian government coalitions are like Vesuvius: subject to quakes, shakes, and occasional eruptions.
[Bannon] Bannon Sentenced to Four Months in Prison for Contempt of Congress – Bannon was also fined $6,500 (pocket change). He is, of course, making an appeal. Keep in mind that Bannon is also up for New York state litigation in the much more serious fraud case.
Politics, Legislation, Election Notes
Democrats: does it make a self-fulfilling prophecy to talk about bad polling trends just before an election? It may depend on who is listening. These days, when media starts to circulate stories of a “Republican surge,” it could very well be a gaslighting scheme. Or not. Sometimes amid the confusion of conflicting issues and claims, people just hunker down to where they usually go – Republicans are good with the economy or Democrats care more about people – no matter whether the stereotypes have any correlation with reality or not. That means the color of a state (red, blue, or purple) is relevant and indicates very close races, possibly trending one way or another. It also means the political priorities separate into issues involving money and survival (kitchen table issues – gas prices, rent) and “all other issues” (abortion, failing democracy, gun control, Mexican border, crime) that are important to many individuals but don’t establish deep lasting trends. That’s where we seem to be now. It doesn’t favor Democrats.
Rumor Mill of Horrors: Trump is talking to Marjorie Taylor Greene to run for Vice President with him in ’24.
Pinned Point: [Updated 10-21-22] Until the filibuster rules are modified, most of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate. Biden managed to get more than some of his agenda anyway, and after Nov. 8 it may be a moot point.
Quote of the Week
The loyalty to Mr. Walker reflects an approach conservative Christians successfully honed during the Trump era, overlooking the personal morality of candidates in exchange for political power to further their policy objectives.
Elizabeth Dias, “’Saved by Grace,’ Evangelicals Find a Way Forward with Herschel Walker,” The New York Times, 10/10/2022.
[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]