Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, October 22 through Friday, October 28, 2022 [Vol.4 No.15]
Where is Nancy?
Rule of Law
The Week’s Most Notable
Two weeks ago, during the session of the House Jan. 6 Committee, Americans saw the video of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, third in line to the presidency, working the phones seeking military or police help from a room near the Capitol, a Capitol which at that moment was swarming with insurrectionists, some of whom were looking to find, capture, and perhaps kill Nancy Pelosi. This week, on Friday, the animus that was set loose hunting Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol showed up at Pelosi’s home in San Francisco by a Pelosi-hating man bearing a hammer. He used the hammer to smash through a patio door and to crack the skull of Paul Pelosi, Nancy’s eighty-two-year-old husband. Nancy Pelosi was in Washington D.C. at the time. Paul Pelosi was gravely injured, but will survive.
This was a powerfully evocative moment because it actualized the surfacing violence and vitriol of the Trump-Republican party, the predictable end-result of right-wing demonizing of people like Pelosi. The power of the incident to remind people (potential voters) of what lies behind Republican rhetoric was so obvious that within the day, the right-wing propaganda machine churned out deflections such as words of consolation that morphed into the GOP campaign rant on crime.
In an election where control of the House and Senate depends on a handful of knife-edged races, will this incident be enough to move the relatively small number of voters toward Democrats needed to affect the outcome? It’s possible, but not likely. Many have already voted. Many will never hear of this incident. Many will see it covered by Fox News and its ilk as unfortunate but not significant. Some will say, “They had it coming.” As the writer David Frum put it, “Only the GOP celebrates political violence.”
Not many weeks have seen the news highlighted by a debate, especially a non-presidential debate; but this one was different. When John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz met to debate who should be the next senator from Pennsylvania, it was already one of the highest profile contests in the country – a swing state, a Trump installed celebrity candidate (Oz), a somewhat iconoclastic Lieutenant Governor (Fetterman), and all the key issues plus one. Fetterman suffered a serious stroke five months before, and though much improved, remains on the recovery path (doctor certified). That meant while his cognitive ability is unimpaired, he still struggles verbally from time to time. It’s a temporary disability that millions go through. Of course, for Republicans, where cruelty is the point, it’s routine to highlight disabilities as politically toxic. At the same time as this debate, the head of the Republican National Committee ridiculed both Biden’s and Fetterman’s speech difficulties. From such people, a classy approach is expected. Less expected and more damaging was the media pile-on to continually highlight Fetterman’s verbal struggles, while mostly ignoring the political issues. The media in general quickly became part of the right-wing “reverb-box” (a different concept from the right-wing echo chamber), where negative coverage is repeated in many variations as long it still gets attention. It’s a media effect exploited by the likes of GOP shock-troopers (Greene, Gates, etc.). Will it be effective in this case?
Saturday, October 22
[Ukraine] Russian Military HQ Removed from Kherson – It probably was a sign that either the Russian army is going to put up a terrific fight, probably leaving the city in ruins, or that a pullout was near. Given Putin’s apocalyptic recent statements, do-or-die in Kherson seems on the agenda, but the military situation in Ukraine is not always what it seems. It’s been reported Russia has been moving many “new recruits” (draftees) to the Kherson front; such troops are highly unreliable. They can become cannon-fodder in either a desperate defense or the expendable cover for a withdrawal. Winter is coming; this will unfold relatively quickly.
[Iran] Demonstrations Against the Iranian Regime Occur in Europe, U.S. – The resistance to the Iranian government suppression of rights is nothing if not persistent. It seems like a stubborn pilot light the regime cannot snuff out, but which so far has not ignited the fire of a much larger movement. [Update: Police clashed with thousands of mourners at the Mahsa Amini funeral.]
Sunday, October 23
[China] Xi Jinping Accorded Unprecedented Third Presidency – The official moment was highly scripted, no surprises, even the physical removal from the ceremony hall of the former president, Hu Jintao, was planned and recorded for western media. U.S. media noted the event in passing (nothing to see here, no drama, no blood). There were a few protests in China, as some people recognized Xi was moving into a new phase, Mao 2.0 – becoming an absolute strongman surrounded by loyalists (the Putin model). Western diplomats, as ever, poured over the tea leaves, and decided Xi was going to take tighter control of almost everything, including the foreign policy toward Taiwan. “More confrontational” is probably the operative phrase, though generally it’s business as usual.
[Ukraine] Dirty Bomb Charades – Wrap a conventional bomb in nuclear material (old reactor detritus for example) and you get a “dirty bomb”; it’s not a nuclear explosion, but it spreads deadly radioactivity. Russia started this threat by accusing Ukraine of preparing a “false flag” dirty bomb to be planted in Kyiv. Of course not, replied the Ukrainians, this is a cover for what the Russians plan to do. Claim and counterclaim all week. Russia got a nuclear threat back in the news, which was the goal all along. [Update: Russia says it has no plans for using any nuclear weapons.]
[Jan. 6 Investigation] Trump Subpoena Charade – Trump made noises that he might testify before the House Jan. 6 Committee if it were on live TV (no mention of under oath). Vice Chair Liz Chaney basically replied, “No thanks, no circus.”
[Trump Tapes] Woodward Releases Trump Tapes to Reveal “Unparalleled Danger” – The recordings document Trump’s attitudes that go well beyond what Bob Woodward’s Rage book revealed. Woodward highlighted that he “didn’t go far enough” to make clear Trump’s total self-focus and his evolving use of presidential power. Fake news, reported Fox News.
Monday, October 24
[Great Britain] Rishi Sunak to Become Next Prime Minister – Since his only two rivals, Penny Mordaunt, and former PM Boris Johnson dropped out, Sunak is able take the post without an election, even by Conservative party members. He inherits a political, social, and economic mess. Three Prime Ministers in two months. High energy prices, cost of living crisis, electoral chaos, and strikes are among the many pressing problems. Then there’s also Brexit, the Ukraine War, Northern Ireland, and other super-issues. Sunak is a technocrat, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the wealthiest man to ever hold government office in Britain (ca. $800 million); he should be able to stabilize the financial markets. More than that remains to be seen. Of Indian heritage, he’s also the first Prime Minister of color.
[DOJ] DOJ Charges 13 Chinese as Spies – Just as the big Chinese political convention ended, making Xi Jinping into Mao 2.0, the DOJ completed its sweep of the Chinese communications scandal involving Huawei. Turbulent times ahead.
[School Shooting] Gunman in St. Louis School Kills 2, Wounds 4 – Using an AR-15 style rifle, the 19-year-old former student was also killed in the police shootout.
[Coronavirus] Pandemic Killed U.S. Student Scores – The school lockdowns, missed classes, and loss of academic progress resulting from COVID dropped test scores below that of 2019 and into the worst drop since 1990. The just released National Assessment of Educational Progress prompted The New York Times to write, “the most definitive indictment yet of the pandemic’s impact on millions of schoolchildren.” The question is: What will we be ready to do if another such emergency comes along?
[Supreme Court] Justice Thomas Temporarily Blocks Lindsey Graham Subpoena – Much ado about very little, as it is routine to postpone consideration until the full court can read and process a filing. Graham is seeking to use congressional immunity to duck grand jury testimony in the Georgia “find 11,780 votes” case. An actual ruling is likely next week.
Tuesday, October 25
[Pennsylvania] Fetterman or Oz Senate Debate – Fetterman loses by a stroke, or so says Oz and most of the national media. Depending on perspective: either Fetterman was brave and successfully debated only five months after a stroke, or it was painful to watch. Actually, it was both. Depending on where sympathies lie may determine if there is an impact on the election. There were also issues in the debate. Key moment on abortion: Oz said abortion should be left up to “women, doctors, and local political leaders.”
[Brittney Griner] Griner Loses Appeal in Russian Court – The U.S. basketball star – and political football – will probably remain in a Russian prison until some kind of swap-deal is arranged.
Wednesday, October 26
[Michigan Kidnap Plot] Jury Finds 3 Men Guilty of Planning Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping – In related cases, seven others have pled or been found guilty.
[Economy] U.S. Mortgage Rate Exceeds 7 Percent – It’s been more than 20 years since the popular 30-year mortgage rate was this high (7.16%). Correspondingly, home sales dropped in September by 1.7%, the lowest since 1997. On the other hand, home prices fell by 1.3% in August. With the Fed promising further interest rate increases, expect similar repercussions in the mortgage market.
[Georgia Senate] Second Woman Claims Hershel Walker Pushed Her to Have Abortion – “I’ve already told people this was a lie,” said Walker. That’s where this will probably sit through the election.
Thursday, October 27
[Economy] U.S. Economy Grows by 2.6% – This is the first growth after two quarters of contraction, temporarily ending cries about impending recession. It’s not spectacular growth, but healthy – for now. Analysts are split on whether further interest rate hikes by the Fed will still tip the economy into recession.
[Trump Taxes] Appeals Court Okays Release of Trump Tax Returns to House Committee – Okay, but it ain’t over yet; next stop, the Supreme Court. According to recent precedent SCOTUS should move this along; however, no breath holding.
[Jan. 6 Riot] Jan. 6 Rioter Sentenced to 7.5 Years in Prison – Convicted of dragging Met Police Officer Michael Fanone into a crowd that nearly beat him to death, Kyle Young gets the longest sentence so far for Capitol attack.
Friday, October 28
[Pelosi Attack] Speaker Pelosi’s Home Invaded, Husband Paul Pelosi Beaten with Hammer – Octogenarian Pelosi required brain surgery from a cracked skull; he is expected to fully recover physically. Attacker David DePape has been charged with attempted murder and numerous other felonies. His background, blog posts, and other facts indicate he should also be charged with GOP induced hate crime. [Update: This story was off The New York Times web page by Saturday night, apparently not a priority.]
[Ukraine] UN Files Report Cataloging Russian War Crimes – Allegations include: torture, summary execution, graphic sexual violence, and rape (including children as young as four). The report is based on more than 200 interviews, but was not a formal criminal investigation. That should come later.
[Transgender Medicine] Florida Board of Medicine Begins Process to Deny Gender-Affirming Treatment – Following a pattern set in Texas, and under the instruction of Gov. DeSantis (R), a committee has begun changing the language of the state’s guidance. The committee claims there is insufficient evidence of safety for children; the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association both say gender-affirming care is safe and effective (and been in use for decades).
[Twitter] Musk Takes Over Twitter, Calls Himself Chief Twit – The world’s richest man just got himself a big but peculiar media megaphone for the price of $44 billion. The final deal (after many flip-flops) came together quickly and will need to survive burdensome debt payments in the future. So far, Musk has just begun firing people and says he’ll invite Trump back; Trump says he’s not interested. Musk says he will convene a “content moderation council” and that “No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before the council convenes.” The serio-comical saga continues. . . .
Quote of the Week
Texas is the most populous state to do away with handgun permit requirements. Five of the nation’s 15 biggest cities are in Texas, making the permitless approach to handguns a new fact of life in urban areas to an extent not seen in other states.
- Goodman, “Texas Goes Permitless on Guns,” The New York Times, 10/26/2022.
[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]