Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, July 16 through Friday, July 22, 2022 [Vol.4 No.1]
Jan. 6 Hearing #8 – 187 Minutes
The Week’s Most Notable
It was not the end of story, but the eighth public hearing of the January 9 Committee provided a fitting dénouement. It recounted in words and images, live testimony, and a surprising level of magisterial authenticity that Donald Trump planned the final event, called his people together, exhorted them to anger and violence, and sent them to the Capitol where havoc reigned. The hearing provided an extraordinary narrative, unique in the history of American government, of an attempted coup orchestrated by the president. As the committee was at pains to point out, the “coup” is ongoing, its markers, expression of the Big Lie in the rearrangement of American voting practices to make it possible to have the outcome of the presidential election dictated by legislatures rather than the popular vote. Emerging from the nearly 3 hours of testimony and evidence was an absolute billboard of appeal to the U.S. Attorney General – INDICTMENT WANTED. During the week – and it was another heckuva week for the U.S. and the world – Merrick Garland in effect replied, “I hear you, I get it, but I’m not going to rush it.”
Meanwhile, the committee investigation opened a new can of worms: the Secret Service deleted phone data from January 5 and 6, which – along with continuing new testimony – provides more than enough material to research and present in a series of hearings in September. The hearings are a hit, must-see TV, that has triggered penetrating word-of-mouth. Republicans’ worst nightmare. They have provided Democrats with a tangible public image and the opportunity to link many other issues, not the least of which are the end of Roe, the incessant mass shootings, the increasingly destructive eruptions of climate change, and all the other instances of Republican right-wing extremism.
World on fire. This seems true in parts of the U.S. and certainly in Europe, where wildfires have displaced tens of thousands of people and already killed more than 2,000. All-time record high temperatures were broken in many European locations, but nowhere more noticeably than in the UK, which is not accustomed to or prepared for the unrelenting heat. For many years, talk of the effects of climate change remained just that, talk. Increasingly, it’s becoming evidence – fire, flood, wind, mass extinction – happening more often and with greater intensity. So much so, that right-wing troglodytes and trolls are being paid by the fossil fuel propagandists no longer to deny climate change, but to talk about transitions, “realistic measures,” maintaining continuity (of who’s in charge, presumably).
Saturday, July 16
[Same-Sex Marriage] Ted Cruz Signals the Coming Attack on Obergefell – In his concurrence with Dobbs, Justice Clarence Thomas noted that several other key decisions should be reviewed, among them Obergefell, which set the legal foundation for same-sex marriage. At the time, which was only a few weeks ago, Thomas was treated as if he were an outlier. Now Ted Cruz, noted for his bullish opportunism, said for media consumption that the Obergefell decision was “clearly wrong.” There should be no doubt that the radical Christian Republicans are going for same-sex marriage and contraception; all that’s unsure is the timetable.
[Saudi Arabia] Biden at the Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia – In a world that’s rapidly realigning, mostly along the lines of power demarcated by petroleum production, Biden was in Saudi Arabia to strike deals, form alliances, and jiggle the fragile lines of support between Arab countries, the U.S., and Israel. By most accounts, he was not overtly successful. But then he represents the U.S. government, and most countries of the Middle East are reluctant to tie their barrels to specific governments. What they might do is hook up with the various commercial outfits that are in Biden’s entourage, for example, Jared Kushner’s operation. It can get very complicated, and dicey; but even the big players must have skin in this game. As a footnote, Biden did his due diligence and scolded Mohammed bin Salman for the “Khashoggi affair”; in return he was reminded of America’s involvement in Abu Ghraib.
Sunday, July 17
[Climate Change] Southwest Europe Wildfires Explode, Death Toll Rises – On the heels of record high temperatures, Portugal, Spain, and southern France have seen more than 100 major wildfires, driving more than 15,000 people from their homes, and so far causing more than 500 deaths. The heat, fires, and deaths will move slowly to the east throughout the week.
[Uvalde Massacre] Texas House Committee Spreads Wide Condemnation over Handling of Uvalde Shooting – The bipartisan committee did not mince words, finding “systemic failures and egregious poor decision-making” among the many law enforcement agencies involved in the response. The report revealed that there were more than 400 law enforcement officers at the school during the time in which the shooting took place.
[Mass Shooting] Four Killed in Indiana Mall Shooting – It’s a measure of how “routine” such killings have become, in that this case was “noted” for having a citizen hero who was packing a gun and shot the perpetrator.
[Voter Drop Boxes] Associated Press Survey Exonerates Drop Boxes – Drop boxes for votes have been used for decades but recently became a target of right-wing/Republican attack, resulting in the banning of their use in Wisconsin, which was upheld by the state supreme court. The AP survey of all 50 states found that no significant cases were reported of fraud, vandalism, or theft due to the use of drop boxes.
Monday, July 18
[Climate Change] UK Suffers Highest Temperature on Record – The European heat wave spread northward, causing temperatures to reach an all-time record of 104°F (40°C) in parts of the UK. The government declared a national emergency. More than a thousand people have died throughout Europe; as the Spanish Prime Minister noted, “Climate change kills.”
[Oil and Gas] Russia “Hints” That Gas Supply to Europe Is Uncertain – Gazprom, the major Russian gas company, notified the EU that delivery of natural gas to Europe in the winter of 2022 will be “uncertain.” The translation for that: Putin’s squeeze in retaliation for sanctions against Russia is real. Of course, the EU knew this was coming and European countries are scrambling to fill in the expected energy gap. It’s part of the global realignment of petroleum powers.
Tuesday, July 19
[Same-Sex Bill] House Passes Bill Protecting Same-Sex Marriage – It’s a measure of the seriousness of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Obergefell – ending legal same-sex marriage – that the House, including 47 Republicans, passed a bill that would protect the right to same-sex marriage/relations. Dissenting Republicans declared it unnecessary. The bill was sent to the Senate, where it will almost certainly die.
[Primary Elections] Extreme Right Candidate Wins in Maryland GOP Gubernatorial Primary – Trump-endorsed state legislator Dan Cox was elected to replace term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Cox is one of the more extreme candidates nationally, and is likely to lose in the traditionally blue state against the Democratic challenger. [Update: Author and former nonprofit CEO Wes Moore wins Democratic the primary.]
[Abortion] 17 Democratic Congresspeople Arrested for Blocking Traffic in Dobbs Protest – Among those arrested were representatives AOC, Ilhan Omar, and Catherine Clark. This is among the many signs that protest of the abortion ruling will not go away between now and the midterms. [Update: Right-wing media pounced on AOC’s arrest; she punched back. This kind of notoriety helps her.]
Wednesday, July 20
[Senate Bill] Senate Develops Bipartisan Electoral Count Act – The act is intended to prevent a repeat of any similar attempt as Trump’s to overturn the 2020 election by using the vice president. It makes the ceremonial role of the VP precise and clear and makes other adjustments to challenging election results. Given the bipartisan support, this bill may actually clear the Senate and then approved immediately by the House, if it gets there.
[Ukraine] Russia Announces it Wants More of Ukraine – Much of the media treated this seriously; it’s almost certainly gaslighting. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has been saying things like “de-militarizing Ukraine” for several weeks. Of course, Russia wants more of Ukraine – if it can get it.
[U.S. Census] Remember the 2020 Census Dispute? – The issue was a citizenship question that the Commerce Department wanted to insert into the census. At the time, opponents protested that it would discourage noncitizens from submitting their census forms, causing a significant undercount. Newly released documents by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, including secret Trump administration emails, affirm that this was in fact the intent. Thankfully, the Supreme Court ruled that the question “appeared to be contrived,” and it was dropped. The point? Republicans were, and are, prepared to use any means to suppress minority representation.
Thursday, July 21
[Jan. 6 Hearing] Hearing #8: Trump and the 187 Minutes of Riotous Insurrection – There are no photos of this (not allowed) but the indelible image of the hearing created by the testimony is of the president of the United States, sitting alone at one table in a small dining room for 187 minutes with his eyes glued to a screen on the wall showing the Fox News presentation of the riot at the Capitol building. People came and went – White House staff, legal counselors, senior administrators, even family – imploring Trump to do something to stop the riot. As the hearing made clear, he did nothing, because the riot was what he wanted. The plan all along was to interrupt the formal recognition of Electoral College votes, giving Trump supporters the opportunity to challenge the results and declare Trump the winner. It was an extreme, harebrained, and illegitimate ploy (based on the Big Lie). It didn’t work, but it left five dead, more than 120 law enforcement personnel injured, and the 230-year history of a peaceful transition of power in peril.
The eighth episode (the world now refers to the hearings like they were a part of a TV series) put Trump in a very bad light and put Republicans in the position of either defending the Big Lie and therefore the legitimacy of trashing the Capitol, or not. Even Fox News has had difficulty stepping over this line.
[Coronavirus] Biden Tests Positive for COVID – The president apparently has a mild infection; he was fully vaccinated and boosted and is taking Paxlovid to manage the symptoms. [Update: After several days it appears that Biden is more or less okay, continuing to work, and not whatever right-wing media is saying.]
[Italy] Mario Draghi Resigns, Italian Government Collapses – Despite weeks of desperate attempts to keep Draghi in the job of Prime Minister, a working coalition could not be formed. Snap elections will now be held in September or October. In its usually complicated fashion, Italian politics continue to churn governments, casting policies such as support for Ukraine in doubt for the long term.
[Contraception] House Passes Bill to Codify Right to Contraception – Although 195 Republicans voted against it, the House has drafted a bill to shore up the continuation of the right to contraception articulated in the Supreme Court’s Griswold decision. It’s another piece of the Great Trio of Rights (Obergefell = gay marriage, Lawrence = consensual gay sex, Griswold = contraception) that Republicans claim is in no danger, although folks like Ted Cruz and Justice Thomas have already brought out the long knives. The bill moves on to the Senate, where it will promptly meet Mr. Filibuster.
[Climate Change] In U.S. More Than 100 Million under Severe Heat Warning – Temperatures as high as 115° (Texas and Oklahoma) and heat emergencies have been declared in many cities.
Friday, July 22
[Ukraine – Grain] UN and Turkey Negotiate Deal on Grain Shipments from Ukraine – Is it harvest time? Maybe. The UN brokered deal between Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the world to permit shipping of Ukrainian grain, which is desperately needed by many countries, is still subject to a great deal of political whim. [Update: Russia and Ukraine agreed to the deal. Then Russia bombed Odessa, the principal port for grain shipment.]
[Secret Service] Homeland Security IG Opens Criminal Inquiry re Erased Jan. 5 and 6 Texts – This could well be a kind of Pandora’s box and not only for the Secret Service. Rumors of politicization, personal favoritism, and fiddling with messaging have for many years wafted among the halls of Secret Service. Some of the agents directly involved have lawyered up, never a good sign for an expeditious proceeding.
[Amazon] Amazon Spends a Few Billion to Increase Its Toe in the Medical Waters – By purchasing 1LifeHealthcare for $3.9 billion, Amazon has signaled the intent of its new CEO Andy Jassy to increase its profile in the medical industry. For perspective, the U.S. healthcare industries do about $5.1 trillion in business per year. Amazon’s tentative toe is not too impressive (so far).
[Contempt of Congress] Bannon Found Guilty of Contempt of Congress – It took the jury 2 ½ hours, including lunch, to convict Trump’s former advisor Steve Bannon of two misdemeanor counts. A minimum of 30 days in jail is mandatory, but the judge could expand the sentence, and probably will, given Bannon’s inflammatory rhetoric about the process.
[GOP Primaries] Arizona Primaries: Trump Has Rally, Pence Has Different Rally – Is it a sign? Of course, it’s a sign.
Pinned Point: Until the filibuster rules are modified, most of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate.
Quote of the Week
I’ve seen the inside of the deep state. It is as evil as you think it is. I know it’s evil. They fear me. I’m gonna go after them, and I’m gonna rip their heart out.
Ryan Zinke (R), U.S. House Candidate, 2022 Montana GOP Platform Convention, 7/16/2022.
[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]