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.                                                                                                                                                                                

Sunday, December 4                                                                                                 

[Iran] Economic Boycott Begins in Iran – There are some signs that the protest against the ruling clerical regime is beginning to spread to the economy. Previously, most protest was morality or gender oriented, involving mainly women and young people. Recently, as strikes and boycotts proliferate, there is evidence that commerce and merchants are becoming involved. With more than a decade of a stagnant economy and roughly 30 million people living in poverty, there is a reservoir of unrest and willingness to change. Power still resides with the government and the clerics, but the persistent growth of protest, despite more than 400 deaths, indicates the energy for change and possibly revolution exists.  

Monday, December 5

[Ukraine] Ukrainian Drones Hit Airbases Inside Russia – Two salient points: Ukrainians can and are willing to attack inside Russia. These two airbases were identified as the source of air attacks on Ukrainian utility infrastructure. To avoid implicating NATO, the drones used were Soviet-era equipment, rebuilt and repurposed by the Ukrainian military to increase the range to several hundred kilometers. This was a political statement, not a significant military breakthrough, but it does put Putin in an awkward situation when a disproportionate retaliation already is everyday Russian tactics. [Update: A third airbase target was hit later in the week.]

[Midterm Elections] Arizona Certifies Election Results – The GOP, especially Kari Lake, whined but to no avail. In fact, Lake’s bid to whip up Big Lie 2 so far has been a dismal failure, perhaps dooming her hopes for prominence on the national stage. She was last seen in a prayer circle on Victory Channel religious television asking for God to revoke the stolen election. [Update:  Lake filed another lawsuit charging election fraud on Friday, this time in Maricopa County.]                                                                                                                       

Tuesday, December 6

[Runoff] Georgia Runoff: Warnock (D-GA) Wins – It wasn’t a wipeout, but the nearly 100,000-vote difference (3%) between Warnock and Walker was conclusive. Conclusive of what? Warnock is going back to the Senate for six years, that’s conclusive. Does it also mark the beginning of the final decline of Donald Trump? Debatably, but not conclusively. Neither Trump nor the Republicans are going to advertise they’re beating a dead horse (Trump’s campaign); at least not until he’s undeniably out of the race. That may be a while and a few more political disasters ahead.

[Trump Legal] Trump Corp. Convicted on All 17 Counts of Tax Fraud – The jury only needed just 10 hours to reach the decision. It’s important to understand the conviction is not about individuals, only the Trump organization. It was found guilty of criminal tax fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records, and related charges. The potential penalties are up to $1.6 million in fines and loss of federal business. Trump’s long-time family financial guru, Allen Weisselberg, faces prison time for his part in the case. Trump has tried to throw him under the bus for all culpability, but “everyone knows” that nothing in Trump’s businesses goes without Trump’s approval. That’s why the key result of this conviction is the support it gives, in and out of court, concerning Trump’s lawlessness.

Wednesday, December 7

[Germany Right-Wing Raid] German Agencies Arrest 25 in Alleged Plot to Overthrow Government – Even for Germans there is a kind of surreality associated with this full-scale national raid (the Germans call it a Razzia). The   purported insurrection, supported by German’s rising ghost of fascism – the AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) party, is a concoction of imported American QAnon fantasies, Nazi nostalgia, Eastern Germany social unrest, a throwback German noble (Heinrich XIII), and primarily led by the extremist group Citizens of the Reich (Reichsbürger) who deny the legitimacy of the German state. Much of this might sound vaguely familiar to Americans, as similar sentiments are surfacing near the American mainstream every day. In Germany, the raid and follow-on action have stirred major controversy, mainly because the plot never happened. Germans have a hard time giving it plausibility. (Americans at least have Jan. 6 to point to.)

[Coronavirus] China Begins Reversing COVID Lockdown Policies – The protests in Chinese cities against the government’s zero-COVID policies, though closely monitored and limited in scope, must’ve touched a chord for change in favor of the economy among the country’s leaders, because the strict controls are lifting.  Lockdowns are said to become more limited and targeted. People can now recover at home, travel is becoming less restricted, and negative coronavirus tests are no longer required to enter most venues.  China, like the rest of the world, realizes there is a big trade-off between coronavirus protection and the functioning of a modern economy. As elsewhere, the economy seems to be winning the debate.

Thursday, December 8

[Griner] Brittney Griner Released – In a prisoner swap with Russia for arms dealer Victor Bout, Griner has returned to the U.S. Generally, such swaps are applauded, but in today’s gaslit environment, the negative aspects are immediately spun-up by the right-wing media and congressional Republicans. Griner is black, female, a married lesbian, a celebrity, and in favor of Black Lives Matter – all buttons the right wing likes to push.

[Congress] Congress Passes Respect for Marriage Act – The act offers federal protection for same-sex and interracial marriage. All states must honor marriages that were legal where they were conducted. Does it make same-sex and interracial marriage safe from the marauders of the Supreme Court? That’s the question, no matter how affirming it is to have 12 Republicans in the Senate and 39 Republicans in the House join with Democrats to pass the bill.

[Classified Documents] More Classified Documents Surface, DOJ Requests Contempt Charges – Two new documents were found by Trump’s lawyers in a West Palm Beach storage locker. This may have triggered the DOJ to request   a federal judge to issue a contempt of court order for Trump’s lawyers and, this time, for Trump himself for not fulfilling the terms of a document subpoena. The real nub of the problem is having a Trump “custodian of records” to officially sign an affidavit for the court attesting there are no more classified documents in Trump’s possession. No one wants the job, because Trump has lied/will lie about it. The DOJ is, finally, tired of waiting. [Update: Federal Judge Beryl Howell denied the request for a contempt order saying, in effect, that the courts should stay out of the dispute for the time being, and both sides (Trump/DOJ) should try to find a solution. Reality: Few doubt that Trump has more classified documents, somewhere.]

Friday, December 9                                                                                             

[Senate] Sinema Registers as Independent – Some would say this move was inevitable. She’s been a DINO for some time. She’s also become intensely unpopular among her voters. Does her relabeling indicate she’s still going to run again in ’24? Probably. Earlier in the year the signs were that she was preparing for an exit to a cushy corporate job. Now it seems she believes she can split the political difference and play independent – a spoiler for whom though – Democrats or Republicans? Meanwhile she again gets to play chaos agent in the Senate. First, she hasn’t said definitively if she will caucus with the Democrats (like Bernie Sanders). If not, she would ruin the 51-49 advantage; but she will probably caucus Democratic to keep her committee positions. That still leaves her an uncertain vote, just like the bad old days. The Senate is shaping up to be a “can’t do anything easily” chamber, except appoint judges. That may have to be good enough.

[Peru] President Pedro Castillo Tries to Dissolve Congress, Is Ousted – He was replaced by the Vice President, Dina Boularte. Castillo – working against a third impeachment effort – was arrested.

[Baseball] Yankees Sign Home Run Champ Aaron Judge for Nine-Year $360 Million Contract – That probably will work out to about a million bucks per home run; the epitome of American values.

 

Pandemic Notes

Holiday cheer brings viruses near. Sound a bit flippant? It seems to be concisely the American attitude. The viruses are marshaling: COVID (expectedly an Omicron variant), “regular” flu, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) especially for children. They’re calling it the “trippledemic.” A few people have already noticed that COVID infection and death rates are on the rise in the U.S. According to the New York Times, cases are up 65% to 66,000+, deaths up 35%. Thank the Thanksgiving travel season – more than 20,000 were sent to hospitals, the most in 10 years. Is this the start of a new wave? Better hope not; the U.S. is both logistically and temperamentally unfit for a serious bout of lethal infections. Credit the Republican health-care anathema for constructing this situation.

 

Politics, Legislation, Election Notes

Moore v. Harper: SCOTUS looks at upending American Democracy. To be more accurate, based on the oral arguments heard  on Friday, only Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch seem in favor of a North Carolina case giving state legislatures absolute authority over redistricting (or other election matters, such as electoral college representation), and bypassing state supreme court opinion. This has become known as the “independent state legislature” theory. Roberts, Barrett, and Kavanaugh seem opposed to the ultra-radical idea. Jackson, Sotomayor, and Kagan are vehemently hostile. The issue has been kicked around in the media as imminently threatening. It doesn’t seem like it, unless the conservative block comes up with some kind of half-ruling, opening the door to state legislative supremacy.

Pinned Point: Until we seriously confront – and deal with – the media conundrum created by disinformation and the First Amendment (here’s looking at Fox News, Twitter et al.), the information chaos will get worse.

 

Quote of the Week

Fighting alongside tireless advocates, we transformed the fight against HIV/AIDS here at home and around the world.  And I thank President Bush for his leadership in that regard, as well as all of our presidents. . . . Well up until a certain point.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “Pelosi Knocks Trump as She Argues for Same Sex Marriage Bill,” The Washington Post, 2/8/2022.

 

[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]

 

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