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.                         

                                                                        

Sunday, January 8                                                                                                     

[Brazil] Protesters Storm Brazilian Capitol Buildings – Shades of Jan. 6 Washington D.C. As in the U.S., the point was a putative stolen election, but the right-wing insurrection/riot did not have the support of the military. In Brazil, with its history of military coups, that means a lot. Also, the riot occurred after the new president, Lula da Silva, had already been sworn in. The insurrection was over the day it began, with more than 1,200 arrested on the spot. Meanwhile, the object of the riot, former president Jair Bolsonaro, had previously decamped for Florida, first to visit his soul-mate Trump, and then to settle down far away from Brazilian law enforcement. Unless the color-coordinated outfits and dramatic pictures were the point, this was an oddly staged insurrection, to say the least.

[Ukraine] Russia Claims 600 Soldiers Killed; Ukraine Says Zero Killed – Propaganda or fog of war? Propaganda. Two college dormitories in the city of Kramatorsk were nearly hit by Russian missiles in the night; they both were missed and there were no soldiers in the dormitories. Confirmed by western reporters. It appears the Russian claim was for domestic purposes, a counter narrative to the Russian losses the previous week in Makiivka, Ukraine.

Monday, January 9

[Culture War] Gas Stoves: A New Front of the Culture Wars – Did you know it’s unamerican to ditch your gas stove? Did you even know that gas stoves are “out”? Actually, studies going back more than a decade have pointed to the gas in such stoves and the methane sometimes produced are not healthy, particularly for children. On the other hand, no study says they are a priority health hazard. Then the Consumer Product Safety Commission came out with remarks on Monday that they were looking into regulating gas stoves and possibly banning them – instant explosion. Even Joe Manchin and AOC jumped in. Check back in a year or so to see if this regulatory notion had legs, but in the meantime, induction stoves are cool (literally), better for the environment, and are more precise to control.  

[Biden Documents] Ten Classified Documents Found in Biden Center – This was the opening fact that came to nearly dominate American political news all week. The documents were found by Biden lawyers and reported in early November to the National Archives. The DOJ responded today by opening an investigation. Republicans responded with instant outrage at Biden’s nefarious mishandling – just like Trump (?) – of classified documents.

[House] House Passes Rules Changes Gutting the Speaker – The new rules allow one representative to evoke no-confidence in the Speaker of the House and force an election. Republicans adopted many rules aimed at consolidating their ability to control finances, especially in regard to the national debt. A fight over the debt is already looming. In general, rule changes affecting only the House will go into effect. Rule changes, such as legislative financial limitations, that require Senate approval are essentially DOA. For example, the House Republicans immediately passed a bill cutting IRS funding by $50 billion, which will go no further.

[Georgia Investigation] Georgia Special Grand Jury Finishes Trump Investigation – The special jury, which cannot indict, issued a report that will now be passed to a regular grand jury. Expectations are high that indictments will be issued, possibly including Trump.

[Santos] FEC Files Complaint on Santos (R-NY) for Possible Campaign Violations – It’s only the beginning, as other agencies and the DOJ are lining up cases against Santos. Meanwhile Santos’s New York Republican colleagues are asking him to resign, while Republican leadership (mainly in the House) defends him, presumably because they need his vote. Democrats are calling his lie-at-any-cost strategy the ultimate Republican paradigm.      

Tuesday, January 10

[House] Republican House Approves Committee on “Government Weaponization” – Headed by Jim Jordan, nihilist bomb-thrower, the committee’s job will be to interrogate and investigate everybody and everything the DOJ, the FBI, and even Congress did that Republicans don’t like, especially in relation to Trump. The key will be using committee probes to insert themselves into the ongoing investigations of Trump, other Republicans, and even members of the committee. The real target will be Jack Smith, the Special Counsel. Much sound and fury yet to come.  

[Climate Change] Seventeen Have Died as Storms Wrack California – “More deadly than the fires,” said Gov. Newsom, and already at $1 billion in damage. Flooding is now common across the state with more atmospheric rivers ready to come ashore. [UPDATE: A seventh atmospheric river hit northern California to round out the week.]

[Trump Inc.] Allen Weisselberg Sentenced to Five Months in Rykers Prison – Weisselberg testified to and admitted tax fraud on his part on behalf of Trump Corporation. The judge commented that the sentence should be longer. [UPDATE: The same judge handed down a penalty of $1.6 million to Trump Corporation, the maximum under the law – pocket change to Trump.]

[Economy] World Bank Forecasts 2023 Global Recession – Two recessions already this decade, one because of the pandemic in 2020, and now because of high central bank interest rates and the Ukraine War – with inflation the embedded cause. Developing countries will be particularly hard hit, as their economies are still plagued by inflation and sluggish demand. The U.S. is expected to only have a half percent growth rate in 2023 – a figure disputed by many economists. The recession may hit China at a very bad time as it struggles with a massive COVID wave, falling purchases of Chinese goods worldwide, the miscalculation about the benefit of alliance with Russia, and fallout from the Ukraine war. Political instability may rise in China as a result, with ripples going all the way to Moscow.

Wednesday, January 11

[Biden Documents] Second Batch of Classified Documents Found – This time at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware about 10 more classified documents were located by Biden aides. Among the now total of 20 documents, it is said some are “Top-Secret;” raising the stakes on their potential importance.

[Ukraine War] Russia Appoints New Commander for Ukraine – It’s not quite changing horses in midstream, the new commander is Gen. Valery Gerasimov, current head of all the Russian military; but he’s replacing Gen. Sergey Surovikin, who was the architect of the Ukrainian infrastructure bombing campaign. That strategy is said to be not working well and Russia is running short of attack instruments (drones, missiles, and planes). The continued instability at the highest Russian military echelons is considered a bad sign.

[FAA] FAA Computer Glitch Delays or Grounds More Than 10,000 Flights – Though temporary, the shock to the U.S. air traffic system was profound. As they say, heads will roll for this one. The FAA was trying to update its NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system, and when it failed, flight crews could no longer get updates and flight conditions.

Thursday, January 12                                                      

[Biden Docs] Garland Appoints Special Counsel for Biden Classified Documents – AG Garland, in response to the changing (political) picture, appointed Robert Hur, Republican and former Trump nominated district attorney for Maryland (2018 – 2021), as Special Counsel to oversee an investigation of the newly found documents. Republicans are fuming because Hur’s mandate will supersede any investigation the House chooses to do.

[Economy] Inflation Is Definitely Easing (for the Sixth Straight Month) – Dropping to 6.5% last month, the rate was in line with predictions, as gas and airline prices led the decline. If the pattern continues for another year, inflation will not be a key political issue (although recession might take its place).

Jeff Beck [1944 – 2023] (78) Legendary English guitarist, two-time inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, won eight Grammy awards, who “influenced generations of shredders, the kind of talent that appears only once every generation or two.”

Friday, January 13                                                                                               

[Ukraine] Fighting Around Bakhmut and Soledar the Most Intense of the War – These two small eastern Ukraine towns, salt mines in both of them, may be pivotal in the war – but nobody knows the real score. At various points, both sides have claimed capture of either town.  While strategically unimportant they have politically become everything. They also are the key battle for the Russian mercenaries, the Wagner Group, who, if successful here, can challenge the leadership of the regular Russian army. Losses on both sides are said to be extraordinary. A clear defeat, especially for the Russians, could have wide repercussions.

 

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

Despite the Deep State’s attempts to repeatedly stop me, I stand before you as a duly elected member of the United States Congress and tell you that a Deep State exists and it is perhaps the strongest covert weapon the left has against the American people.  There is no doubt the federal government Deep State coordinates with liberal activists and uses politicians and willing media to carry their water. In many cases, they want to wipe out the American cowboy completely, remove public access to our lands and turn Montana into a national park.

  1. Madarang, “MAGA Congressman Rants About ‘Deep State’ Trying to Wipe Out the ‘American Cowboy, ‘” Rolling Stone, 1/10/2023.

 

[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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