Indivisible Upper Yellowstone, Vol.4 No.28, Week of January 21 – 27, 2023 (More…Violence of the Week)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, January 21 through Friday, January 27, 2023 [Vol.4 No.28]

More…Violence of the Week

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

Two weeks ago, the theme for the journal was Violence of the Week; two days into last week there were already two bloody mass shootings in California with a total of 19 dead. By the end of the week, newly released video reminded the country – viscerally – about previous violence: the attack on Paul Pelosi, and the police killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. Consequently, the theme for this week is More . . . Violence of the Week.

When it comes to mass shootings by now (actually long ago) it’s obvious this is a pattern, a uniquely American phenomenon. The U.S. has had 39 mass shootings since the beginning of the year, the rest of the world, 6 (unofficial). Each is horrific, some more horrific than others. For each incident, the media vibrates for a few days. People feel the shock, briefly. Then comes political and legal blah blah, then fade out. Over, and over, and over. . ..

Then there is political violence. Incited by Trumpian right-wing rhetoric, Nancy Pelosi’s husband was attacked by a hammer wielding housebreaker and sustained near-fatal and life-changing head injuries. And institutional violence, when five Black Memphis policemen stopped a car, supposedly for reckless driving, and within minutes the driver, also Black, was beaten and tased to eventual death. Supposedly the police, members of a special squad, had training on “de-escalation” but their operative police culture produced a different approach. Both of these incidents happened more than a week ago, but became much more real this week because they had been recorded, and the recordings released. The national furor is still underway.

Force and violence are deeply ingrained in American culture. So are 360 million guns for 330 million people. Dating back to colonial America, where frontier life and threats, a small dispersed rural population, a near-egalitarian society, and mass-produced gun technology combined to develop a gun culture unlike any other. Over two centuries we’ve popularized the use of force, violence, and weapons as solutions to disputes and problems – and we’re historically disposed to extend that to politics. Even more so now, since the facilitating reality is that guns come all-too readily to hand. 

Many people consider American violence intractable, especially involving guns. Obviously, changing attitudes in a massively entrenched culture, especially if a significant minority doesn’t want or believe in change, is a quixotic task. It’s a platitude to say if there are solutions, they won’t be simple, quick, or complete. Nevertheless, it’s worth seriously considering less “reduce the number of guns” and more “reduce the situations where guns are believed effective.”

“Florida’s Flooding with Right-Wingers, Turning the State into a Fascist Swamp.” That’s one potential headline; Florida Governor DeSantis and his openly Christian-fascism agenda (book banning and the like) are the current media-visible symptoms of a state undergoing profound political change. But Florida is only one of several states which are participating in the newish tribal movement in the American population – roughly labeled geographic polarization. Florida, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas are other states where the influx of new “political migrants” has changed the voting landscape, turning blue into purple and purple into red. There is “self-sorting” going on, but there are now organizations and realty companies facilitating right-wing relocation. People are concentrating in certain suburban cities or counties where fellow wingers congregate (and it isn’t, for example, Houston, Austin, or central Dallas). Florida has become the prototype; formerly a 50-50 state, it has swung decidedly to the right in the last three election cycles. Expect the symptoms of change to become more obvious and numerous – and not just in Florida.

 

Saturday, January 21

[Mass Shooting] Ten Killed, Nine Injured in Monterey Dance Club – A gunman opened fire in a room crowded with people celebrating the Chinese New Year. [Update: The gunman, identified as Hu Can Tran, a 72-year-old-man, was initially at large but, surrounded by police, committed suicide in his van. An eleventh victim died in hospital.]       

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Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal, Vol.4 No.27, Week of January 14 – 20, 2023 (Violence of the Week)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, January 14 through Friday, January 20, 2023 [Vol.4 No.27]

Violence of the Week

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

Much of the news this week involves politically engaged violence. Unfortunately, most weeks will become like this. From the Ukraine war to the disgruntled Republican candidate in New Mexico who ordered his opponents’ homes riddled with bullets, political frustration is finding violence as an acceptable response. With January 6 still visible in the rear-view mirror, and the debacle of an insurrection in Brazil fresh in our minds (remember?), it’s the tip of the anti-democratic iceberg, and the most visible part of the incessant propaganda campaign – worldwide – to normalize authoritarian government.

It’s hard to believe violence and chaos are popular (and maybe they’re not) but the media dig it and some folks are willing to shell out hard earned cash to contribute to it. It’s difficult for progressives, or any people still using moral norms and evidence-based reasoning, to fully understand that millions of their fellow citizens are (1) Utterly convinced that people who don’t believe the same as they do are evilly motivated, and (2) Anything that resembles a counter-argument is false without question. “Get used to it,” is not an option. This may not be fully apt, but there’s a minister’s role in play here. Sin and evil are everywhere, and often seem to “win” – but that doesn’t mean capitulation. Patience and perseverance. . . .

Saturday, January 14

[Ukraine] Russian Missile Hits Apartment Building in Central Dnipro, Dozens Killed – The nine-story building was mostly levelled; rescue teams eventually found more than forty bodies, as the building was hit without warning on Saturday. Seventy-two apartments, home to about 1,700 people, were destroyed. It was one of the worst civilian losses of the war.                                                                                                                                             

[Peru] Continued Protests Force Peruvian State of Emergency – Ever since former president Pedro Castillo was removed from office for attempting a coup, riots and protests from his supporters have disrupted traffic and commerce in cities throughout the country. Forty-nine have died. The current president, Dina Boluarte, has curtailed some civil rights and enabled the army to take effective control of the cities. This is a town-versus-countryside struggle (wealth vs. poverty) with a long history. [Update: Protesters attack capitol building in Lima.]

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Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal, Vol.4 No.26, Week of January 7 – 13, 2023 (Atmospheric Rivers – California)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, January 7 through Friday, January 13, 2023 [Vol.4 No.26]

Atmospheric Rivers – California

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

This was a week for establishing patterns for (at least) the rest of the year. It seems like every week there will be some kind of weather-related crisis where significant property is destroyed, people die, and/or living conditions become worse. The effects of climate change are present in most cases though not necessarily obvious. A warmer global climate is for yearly averages; on a monthly or weekly basis the factor is variability (wide swings and quick changes in the weather) and augmentation (warming makes weather effects stronger, more severe – and that goes for cold and heat as well as precipitation, or lack thereof). The past week or two, California has been hit by repeating “atmospheric rivers,” streams of moisture coming off the Pacific bringing massive rains and snows with floods, mudslides, and power outages. So far, more than 20 deaths are associated with this weather. Atmospheric rivers are not new to California in winter, but these are unusually frequent and persistent.

Despite the gloom and doom of right-wing media, the U.S. economy is doing well enough – robust, even. Inflation is dropping (6.5%); still too high but some of the sting is receding for the majority of American families. Employment continues to be the bright spot and it’s possible the new world of labor, post-pandemic, with persistent shortages of people to fill jobs, might provide some kind of buffer for the impending world recession. Speaking of that recession, most of Europe, China, and the developing world are still staggering from COVID, broken supply chains, fallen demand, and the global economic uncertainty forced by the Ukraine War. The World Bank is certain there will be recession in 2023. Thanks to Russia (impulsive Mr. Putin) the world markets are still adjusting, elbowing each other toward new sources, new partners, new technologies, and new prices for energy. The U.S. is very much a part of this, but in some ways – we hope – cushioned from the worst of it.

There is a strong international feeling that 2023 will bring some decisiveness to the Ukraine War. Not necessarily an end, but a sense of its approach. The U.S, EU, and NATO are making commitments (tanks, troop transports, Patriot missiles) that are expensive and enduring – which would not be happening if they thought Russia was in ascendency. The spring (February on) is likely to see the last gargantuan military heaves, on both sides. The outcomes will determine what the rest of the year looks like. Incidentally, there is a 50/50 chance Republicans, mainly in the House, will be even more openly pro-Putin and try to cut U.S. support. This would be very bad for Ukraine; but like a debt ceiling fiasco – while unlikely – not impossible.

After all, the Crazy House, that is the Republican Freedom Caucus, is capable of almost any kind of bad faith with democracy and America. All through the year, the pattern is set for committees, investigations, press conferences, and right-wing media (Fox mostly) eruptions on a stunning array of political insanity. Get used to it, but call out the worst of it. When they move to cut/change Medicare, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act – pass the word. The goal is to make the majority of Americans realize how destructive – nihilistic – these people are. Incidentally, the legal fate of the former president will weave in and out of current politics, at best, just a complicating factor.

The acme of what-about-ism. Like the most effective lies or propaganda, what-about-ism works best when there are in fact similarities between the comparisons used, even a kernel of truth. Biden did have classified documents on his properties; so did Trump. It should be asked if either of them ought to have any un-tracked classified material in their possession and what, if anything, is wrong or can be fixed with the National Archives system where currently documents of even the highest classification go missing, are unaccounted-for, without alarms being sounded. But that’s not what’s going on here. This is a mano-a-mano example of propaganda bidding to out-perform the law and especially the truth. Talking about weaponizing, what-about-ism is used in this case, and many others, to establish in people’s minds false equivalents. What Biden did is the same as Trump. As a consequence of establishing this impression, when the DOJ indicts Trump over the Mar-a-Lago documents, right-wingers and media will justify their screaming about injustice and attack the DOJ. What-about-ism will be the principal weapon of this attack – to flog the point, that’s what “weaponizing” means. In law and in truth, there is no effectively valid comparison between Trump and Biden’s behavior. By history, intent, consequence, and evidence of obstruction the Mar-a-Lago case is completely different – arguably in court, criminal. The Biden case is not at all legally similar, and under the scrutiny of Special Counsel Robert Hur will likely prove so. Besides, undoubtedly AG Garland would rather have the DOJ in front of all such investigations, not the “freedom caucus” of House Republicans. But as long as the Mar-a-Lago documents remain an issue, this exemplar of what-about-ism remain be loudly alive.

Saturday, January 7

[Mexican Border] Biden Visits Mexican Border for the First Time – Republicans love to say Biden doesn’t care about the southern border; he’s never been there. Biden made his first visit (as president); met with officials in El Paso; didn’t meet any immigrants. Visit, check. If this has anything substantive to do with anything . . . a photo op. On the other hand, in some of his remarks Biden made it clear that “doing something” (meaningful) at the border is politically very hard.

[Climate Change] Fifth “Atmospheric River” Flushes California, Half-Million Without Power – They just keep coming, these atmospheric rivers, streams of oceanic moisture and temperature instability that cause record rainfall and concurrent flooding. First northern California, then central and southern – flooding, landslides, and traffic chaos ensue, and, as has often been noted, on top of one of the worst droughts in state history. Indeed, climate change means even more wildly variable weather. It’s not like floods or droughts are strangers to California history but they are seldom so deep and cheek-by-jowl.                         

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Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal, Vol.4 No.25, Week of December 31, 2022 – January 6, 2023 (New Year 2023)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, December 31 through Friday, January 6, 2022 [Vol.4 No.25]

New Year 2023

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

Whatever the characterization, the first week of this new year cannot be called auspicious. The Ukraine war continues, the world economy is shaky, COVID-19 is coming back on the radar, climate change is wreaking havoc (California at the moment), and of course, the radical rump of the Republican Party (Patriot Caucus) is taking over the U.S. House of Representatives. It looks like 2023 will be difficult, often perplexing, possibly pivotal, but not necessarily the worst of years.

In the newly categorized department of nuisance news (that’s coverage of things/events that aren’t really significant but have an undeniable dramatic value and therefor get coverage) the Republican controlled House nurtured a five-day kerfuffle over the House speakership, ultimately electing Kevin McCarthy on the 15th round. There’s a pattern here worth noting: Gin up a controversy, push it to the last minute/vote/straw, and then capitulate back to an obvious point of agreement. We’ll see this repeatedly, especially over government finance issues like the debt ceiling. As ever with this kind of “playing chicken” scenario, there is always the chance for a screw-up or nutso move that actually triggers the worst outcome – keeping the game interesting. It’s important to remember that the Chaos Caucus does not care about a functioning government – only that whatever happens keeps them in (elected) power.  For example: A global economic meltdown caused by a U.S. default is not a good look, but shutting down the U.S. government for a spell, no problem.

As the House Speaker fight illustrated, Trump’s control of his/the party might be called tenuous, or more accurately sporadic. The MAGA faithful are flexible about his foibles and failures; they appear to be equally flexible about his command of the party. This is especially true of MAGA politicians, who for the most part simply ride the horse they came in on, but at any time may hop off or even switch horses, if that seems to gain advantage. In any case, Trump’s marginally increasing rhetorical derangement is slowly decreasing his authority. In the upcoming faked-drama of the House’s Chaos Caucus version of blind-man’s Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey (nail Biden and the Dems/Libs with the sins of Hunter Biden, and anything similar), Trump will have little to say, much less to do. Given his upcoming direct encounter with federal and/or state criminal charges, Trump is likely to be preoccupied and considered irrelevant in most business of the House.

Meanwhile the Democrats are more or less united in enjoying the spectacle of Republican displays of internecine anthropophagy (eating their own), while simultaneously fretting about the upcoming battle over funding the government, the Ukraine war, and right-wing culture-war shibboleths. The Chaos Caucus has a long list of investigations for House Committees and “irritation legislation” (with little chance of passing in the House, less chance in the Senate, and no chance with Biden’s veto), which will run hot and cold for at least a year before becoming toxic, or boring, or irrelevant, or some combination thereof. Democrats in the House and at the White House have strategized how to respond, but it will be interesting to see what happens to the inevitable curve-ball – the potent unpredicted attack or maneuver.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Pope Benedict XVI [1927 – 2022] (95) Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, “the German pope,” ascended to the papacy 2005 but    suddenly resigned in 2013. Under various definitions a “conservative” pope. He resigned “for health reasons;” a close approximation, but most opinion leans toward his not being physically or ideologically fit to tackle the Church’s then burgeoning sexual abuse problems.        

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Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal, Vol.4 No.24, Week of December 24 – 30, 2022 (Christmas 2022)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, December 24 through Friday, December 30, 2022 [Vol.4 No.24]

Christmas 2022

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

The last week of a, arguably for most people, mish mash of a year. The pandemic was over, but not really. Inflation was making life harder for millions, but the economy was statistically doing quite well. The midterm elections were something of a triumph for Democrats and progressives, but the Republicans still took over the House and are poised to launch a shxtshow of retribution and relentless propaganda. The Big Lie is becoming unpopular, which means Trump is diminishing, but he’s also apparently devolving into Q-Anon madness. Yet he still controls the base of the Republican party. And so forth. No wonder it’s reported that New Year’s celebrations in the U.S. were somewhat muted.

Then there’s the global view, also not a happy picture. The Ukraine war continues lurching toward a second year. Climate change and weather disasters take up more and more attention – as well they should, but the reporting belies the lack of progress in dealing with the underlying problems. The global economy, which once was the international just-in-time commercial miracle, is fragmenting, creating shortages and workforce misalignment. The global energy system is in the process of reorganization, which will be confusing, painful, and ultimately more expensive.  And so forth.

The natural reaction to all of this seems to be to just hunker-down. You only have to believe that hiding between a brick wall and a raging dumpster-fire is perfectly safe. Or, make a resolution for 2023 (and beyond). Try, “Do what you can, when you can.” They say, “The future belongs to those who show up.” Perhaps true, but it doesn’t pose the question “show up for what, and when.” For each person, the answer is a personal choice – set the priority, set the time (or interval). Then stick with it. It doesn’t matter if this is about politics, community service, religious participation, or any form of social support – the point is to help, when you can. End of a progressive’s pep-talk.

Oh, it gets worse. The case of George Santos (R-NY). Thanks in recent times to Trump (for the most part), the ancient political skill of lying has been augmented in the public perception to the point of blanket disbelief. Outrageous lying – or telling a wildly false narrative – has become a routine practice. The politician tells a story and all or great parts of it are untrue. The goal is to get acceptance of the politician, or to convey the emotional thrust of an issue, and not the validity of the specific stories. In the case of George Santos, the Republican party got a fictional political character; almost every element of his resumé is false (he is not Jewish, he didn’t go to the schools he claims, he didn’t work for Goldman Sachs). He is slightly remindful of the Steven Spielberg movie Catch Me If You Can that features the adventures of a semi-successful con-artist. “Adventures” is key word here; Spielberg exploits the American love for rogues, scoundrels, and yes, con-artists. Only, in this case, Santos got elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He is now under investigation by several state and federal agencies. This does not look like it will end well. For the media, he is a font of “would you believe” falsehood revelation that feeds the public taste for the bizarre during the inter-holiday doldrums. For House Republicans he is one vote in five of their “majority” – if he goes AWOL, well, they can count. Besides, his level of fabulist is not a good look (although not all that different from Trump’s). Put it this way: George Santos is unlikely to be in the public eye this time next year.

Saturday, December 24 Christmas Eve

[Immigration] Texas Gov. Abbott Busses 130 Immigrants to Frigid Maryland for Christmas Eve – It really does look like cruelty is the point. Otherwise, the optics of hapless people dumped into 18⁰ F weather near the house of Vice President Harris late on Christmas Eve seems not only unchristian but deeply wrong. Who thinks this “message” doesn’t obliterate the stated point of illustrating that Biden should do more to help people at the border?

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Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal, Vol.4 No.23, Week of December 17-23, 2022 (Jan. 6 Committee Final Report)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, December 17 through Friday, December 23, 2022 [Vol.4 No.23]

Jan. 6 Committee Final Report

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

The January 6 Committee wrapped up this week. Their commission technically ends December 31. Thereafter, in the new House with Republicans in charge, the bad-faith blowback will be continuous and loud. It’s best that the committee’s legacy is already delivered and dominated most of the media chatter for the week.

The ultimate task for the committee was to assemble a comprehensive and credible narrative that could explain to the American people what happened concerning the bloody attack on the Capitol building and the attempted coup: what the plans and components were, who was involved, and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. The task was not to assemble specific legal cases and who should be indicted. That’s what the Mueller Investigation got stuck doing and was run into legal blind allies and into telling only part of the story. Most Americans still don’t know that the Trump campaign frequently colluded with the Russians (not a legal condition) but did not definitively conspire with them (the legal case). Here, the committee needed to tell the story of how the Jan. 6 insurrection came to be, took place, and later unfolded – which the committee did, brilliantly, in the televised public hearings and the final report.

In overview, the committee presented evidence, testimony, and analysis pointing to an intentional, sprawling, coordinated, but at times amateurish attempt to circumvent the Constitution and keep Trump in power. Nothing like it has happened before in U.S. history and the committee took pains to overcome the Republican/right-wing gaslighting aimed at diminishing the significance and potential danger to democracy. To date, the committee’s work, especially this summer’s hearings, are credited with holding the public attention and shifting the political momentum against Trump. This week’s hearing, concluding report, and release of witness transcripts put more depth and detail to the evidence. The recommendations to the DOJ for indictments and for Congress to ban Trump from public office set the tone, but may or may not affect reality.

Doesn’t all the evidence, testimony, and solid narrative convince Republican-MAGA voters that the Jan. 6 Committee got it right? It might, if they heard any of it at all, or unfiltered, or in context, or highlighted, or in any way not submerged in the enveloping right-wing mantra of “fake news,” “deep state,” “radical liberal” coverage. Then again, after decades of highly targeted propaganda – the Mueller Investigation alone provided years of training – exposure to snippets of the hearings or “lamestream media” has little effect. So no, for the 30- 40 million of the “Trump base,” the Jan. 6 Committee has done very little to directly change minds. Indirectly, it might be different. Cumulatively, if people of the MAGA base turn anywhere outside the right-wing echo chamber – and that should include the voices and opinions of friends and relations – there is a chance for comparison with reality to whittle away at the reflexes of denial and distrust.

Saturday, December 17

[Coronavirus] China Relaxes COVID Mitigation, COVID Spreads – Of course it spreads when people suddenly can travel and move about. The Chinese government knows that and is playing the trade-off between public safety and the economy (including political stability). The immediate result in Beijing, where new cases may already have reached thousands, is a spooked public. Best scenario: the numbers of cases remain treatable by the existing health system. Worst case (in serious projections): a million dead. Somewhere along the line to worst case, China’s deadly new wave almost inevitably spreads to (many) other countries, or worse, spawns new, more lethal/infectious variants.                                                                                                                                                                                

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Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal, Vol.4 No.22, Week of December 10 – 16, 2022 (Trash Talk)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, December 10 through Friday, December 16, 2022 [Vol.4 No.22]

Trash Talk

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

For the first time in many, many weeks, there was no major political event, emergency crisis, or natural disaster. The week featured a few days for processing and cleanup, such as a slew of subpoenas for Jan. 6 conspirators issued by the DOJ’s special counsel Jack Smith, FTX miscreant Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas for fraud, and Germany vowed to tighten gun laws after an attempted coup. A major winter storm worked its way from California to the East Coast, reminding millions of winter’s reality. Ukrainians needed no reminder as winter winds mixed with shelling and drone attacks on various cities in both Ukrainian and Russian territory. COVID killed increasing hundreds a day in the U.S., while Florida governor DeSantis announced he was asking for a grand jury to investigate COVID vaccine fraud. So, yes, the week still filled its quota of hypocrisy, delusion as propaganda, and sheer behavioral ugliness (courtesy of Trump and Musk). Still, Mauna Loa stopped erupting, the Artemis space project came back to Earth successfully, and Putin skipped his usual year-end 4-hour encomium to the greatness of Mother Russia. All things to ponder, casually perhaps, but well within the all-too familiar staccato of craziness that constitutes the current version of life as-we-know-it. Mostly, big chunks of the world population prepared for the holiday season, got on with their work, and struggled for a worthwhile existence.

Next week, the House Jan. 6 Committee recommends indictments – including of Trump which, along with slugs of new evidence, promise anything but a quiet week.

Trash talk. That’s what the new era in American politics should be called – the age of trash talk. Originally, sometime in the 1990s, the sports tradition of verbally demeaning, “trashing,” opponents to distract or demoralize them became recognized as a thing, a technique, a weapon even, and part of routine athletic events. (“All he does is talk. He’s terrible, and you can print that. I was happy when he was in the game.” Bill Belichick.) Today, the American right-wing (not exclusively, of course) has damn-near perfected political trash talking aimed at “owning the libs.” Being outrageous, stupid, infuriating, despicable, and almost any inflammatory adjective imaginable is a good thing in the age of trash talk. Take Marjorie Taylor Greene (please), who just this week trashed liberal notions of the Jan. 6 insurrection by proclaiming “we would have won” –with guns, of course. A few days later, she walked it back – “just joking” – a classic trash talk response. Verbal chaos, shifting strong emotions, surprising angles of attack, and much more are the medium for modern trash talking – keep ‘em off balance is the main objective. Reasonable discussion, fact-finding, compromise – such things are not in the lexicon of inveterate trash talkers, and there seem to be more of them all the time.

Unfortunately, political trash talking often works, it’s hard to ignore and the media love the stuff. It always gets coverage. Long-term, however, trash is tiresome. Talking trash leaves a bad taste in the mouth, all around. People get used to it, tune it out, and learn to take none of it seriously (just like the people who use it). It exists for effect, from which over-use leads to diminishing results. Ultimately, the biggest trash talkers become identified by it – as trash – but it takes a while. One school of response, as different from simply ignoring it, is to selectively push the recognition of trash talkers (not in public as PR but “off court” so to speak) as empty, unreliable people – in effect gaslighting them (!)

Saturday, December 10

[Hawaii] Moana Loa Volcano Settles Down – The world’s largest volcano erupted for the first time in forty years last week, causing concerns that its lava flows might cut the Big Island’s main highway. However, there are signs it is almost done with this round of eruption – leaving the road intact.              

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Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal Vol.4 No.21, Week of December 3 – 9, 2022 (Georgia Runoff Election)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, December 3 through Friday, December 9, 2022 [Vol.4 No.21]

Georgia Runoff Election

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

Seldom are runoff elections fateful, but the Georgia runoff race for the Senate between Raphael Warnock (incumbent) and Herschel Walker (football hero) dominated the week – and beyond. When the dust of $400 million in election spending settled, the big losers were Trump, who forced Walker on Georgia Republicans, and Republican donors. Their judgment, now seriously in question means that Republicans in general have been set on the path of “How to deal with Trump” (as in get rid of) without losing his base. Of course, this is not the official line, nor obviously Trump’s position. Trump is still enormously powerful with his base, but recent polls seem to show some of them may be fickle. Ron DeSantis looks better as an alternative each time Trump stumbles, and Trump seems to be stumbling more often.

Meanwhile Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock gets to keep his Senate seat warm for six more years. He’s turned out to be a savvy politician, excellent speaker, and creative progressive when it comes to legislation hammered out in a bipartisan way. Potential VP candidate someday (at least).

Trump’s legal issues are accumulating, even with Republicans. The accumulation is what’s significant, not necessarily any specific Trump legal faux pas, all of which tend to recede into the background. The “trick” for the DOJ, if it can be called that, is to hit Trump with indictments when his personal following is at low ebb. Theoretically, Trump will reach a point where his credibility and popularity among his base is, at most, flat – and his legal troubles, including indictments and trials, not shocking but expected. No violence, not even angry protests, are the goals. That point is approaching. The dead of winter, say mid-January – February seems appropriate timing, probably in correlation with one or more events or revelations that depress his cultists. Before then, in fact by the end of December, the House January 6 Committee will have published their final report. Even if it doesn’t contain some bombshells, it will have enough incendiary material – along with recommendations for indictments – to keep the media chattering into the new year. Every week for the past month has been declared “Trump’s most terrible awful no-good week,” and the worst is yet to come.

Saturday, December 3

[Trump Rhetoric] This Flap Has Wings: Trump Calls for Termination of the Constitution, Sort of – It was a typical Trumpian formulation: say something totally outrageous but leave an out. In this case, he wrote in a post on his Truth Social, “A MASSIVE fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” Of course, he didn’t mean ALL (as in toss the Constitution), he meant ANY (toss any part of the Constitution he doesn’t like). Makes it all better. Of course not. It’s a piece of Trump’s authoritarian mosaic, Republicans mostly went silent, and Democrats, among others, will make sure it’s highlighted for a long, long time.

[Coronavirus] Defense Secretary: Keep COVID Vaccine Mandate for Military – The military routinely requires vaccination for more than 20 diseases, COVID too. Anything else is considered less than fit for the rigors of military duty. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said COVID had already killed hundreds of military personnel and retaining the vaccine mandate would save lives. [Update: As part of the compromises that got the military funding package through Congress, the COVID mandate was dropped.]

[North Carolina] Power Substations Attacked by Rifle Fire in North Carolina – Damage to equipment took out power for about 45,000 customers. Officially, the perpetrators (a.k.a. saboteurs) are unidentified. Unofficially, it was suspected to be related to right-wing protest of a local drag show taking place at the same time power was shot out.  The FBI is investigating, along with local officials. Repair is expected to require a couple of days and be expensive.                                                                                                                                                                                

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Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal, Vol.4 No.20, Week of November 27 – December 2, 2022 (Political Extremism)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, November 27 through Friday, December 2, 2022 [Vol.4 No.20]

Political Extremism

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

For those who may have thought the midterm elections would chasten Republicans, this week provided an apotheosis of that wishful thinking. From the fallout of Trump’s awkward private dinner at Mar-a-Lago that included two stentorian fascists, to the unicorn-sighting rarity of the conviction of the Oath Keepers’ leader for seditious conspiracy, it was a busy and high-profile week for American extremists. For those paying any kind of attention, an important question was raised: How significant is the apparent rise of authoritarian sentiment in the U.S.? Put another way, are we on the verge of turning into a fascist state? Really? The U.S. has had a streak of anti-democratic and authoritarian people running through the population well before its founding. Is this time different? Or is it more like the wave of crime and devastating inflation – a piece of reality exaggerated for political effect? It can be difficult to tell, which may at least partially explain some of the blasé attitudes even among progressives.

It seems like a majority of people with progressive beliefs will readily admit that political extremism (mostly right-wing) is currently prominent, even unsettling; but life goes on, not so much in denial of the danger, but a willingness to ignore it. This might be understandable. There is an element of the circus in the headliners of contemporary neo-fascism – Elon Musk, Marjorie Taylor Greene, The My Pillow Guy, Trump; anyone else? That element of entertainment-craziness makes it easier for many to dismiss or downplay it.

It’s true, the rantings and antics of many, if not all, the right-wing anti- (take your pick: semitic, democratic, government, judicial, human rights) seems so out-there, even beyond the fringe. EXCEPT, there is Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and now dozens of elected officials who have or soon will wield government power. Among other things, they appoint religious authoritarians to high courts, block voting and vote counting, and can martial well-armed men to key-points of intimidation. Americans elected these folks and presumably endorse most of their agenda. That was also highlighted by the midterm elections.

Saturday, November 27

[Ukraine] Winter Has Come to Ukraine – Significant snow in Kyiv, country-wide sub-freezing temperatures, combined with rolling electrical blackouts forced by Russian destruction of the utility infrastructure provided the first taste of this winter’s potential misery. It will be bad at least temporarily for many people, but the U.S. just committed $53 million toward repair of the electrical systems and the EU is organizing a task force specializing in utility repair. Accurate reporting on the actual condition of the populace will be intermittent, as stories of a military “winter offensive” (by either Ukraine or Russia) will require a healthy skepticism.

[Oil Economy] Biden Administration OK’s Pumping Venezuelan Oil by Chevron – Nothing like an oil price war to motivate strange geo-political bedfellows. That the U.S. would snuggle up to a South American dictatorship (especially one bogusly labelled socialist) is not surprising. Environmentalists cringe, but of course it’s the economy, not the environment, stupid.

[Black Friday] Online Sales Gangbuster, In-Store Not So Much – “Black Friday,” the make-or-break retail sales day (week, month) demonstrated that the U.S. consumer is motivated to spend – a record $9 billion in sales online, but thanks to pandemic memories, still some reticence about shopping among an actual crowd. Retail store sales were down 2-4% from last year. For the entire “discount season” from the week of Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, sales exceeded $35 billion. In short, the consumer economy is healthy, if not exuberant.

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Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal, Vol.4 No.19, Week of November 19 – 25, 2022 (Thanksgiving 2022)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, November 19 through Friday, November 25, 2022 [Vol.4 No.19]

Thanksgiving 2022

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

Whatever the reasons and expressions for giving thanks – here’s to a happy Thanksgiving.

Six days apart this month: November 13, University of Virginia, 3 dead; November 19, Club Q, Colorado Springs, 5 dead; November 25, Chesapeake Virginia Walmart, 6 dead. This is NOT going to stop. Why? Many reasons, given all the different events, but two reasons stand out: Anybody with homicidal intentions can get a gun. Americans have more guns per person than anywhere else – 400 million guns, 330 million people. Second, Americans are relentlessly propagandized into believing using a gun is a viable solution for many a problem. From home defense to political argument, we grow up in a culture that normalizes the use of guns, sometimes as a symbol, sometimes in action. Studies of all kinds, using different wording, come up with these two factors – guns and culture. The U.S., along with Mexico and Guatemala, are the only countries that start with the assumption that people have an inherent right to own guns. In terms of our political authority, Americans are not inclined to rein-in, much less give up, guns or gun culture. Apparently, we are willing to sacrifice our safety, peace of mind, and our children, to avoid compromises.

Saturday, November 19

[Mass Shooting] Colorado LGBTQ Nightclub: 5 Dead, 18 Injured – Club Q was supposed to be a safe haven for LGBTQ people. It was attacked just before midnight on Saturday by what appears to be the perpetration of a hate crime. It could have been worse, but the attacker was taken down by an army veteran and subdued (severely beaten) by others at the club. Most political response has been strongly sympathetic to the victims, although some Republicans, such as Lauren Boebert (R-CO), chose to blame the LGBTQ people.

[Twitter] Musk Reinstates Trump on Twitter – Trump may not use the account, committed as he is to his own service, Truth Social. Then again, he may use Twitter, if it suits him. In any case, this open invitation explains Musk’s political leaning and desire to make money.                               

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