January 6, 2023

Let the governing UNGOVERNING begin


Let the Governing Ungoverning Begin
By Hal Brown, MSW


I'll leave it to the gaggle of political prognosticators and pundits to predict what the next two years will be like in the House of Representatives. I have nothing of substance to say today. This blog is about how observing the debacle which took place on the floor of The People's House on the second anniversary of the January 6th invasion of right-wing cultists attempting a coup to overthrow our Democracy made me feel. 

I felt a mix of outrage and sadness that the ceremony President Biden held honoring the police, election workers and public officials who in various ways worked to defeat the attempted insurrection was attended by only one Republican member of Congress.

I also wanted a chance to use the image of Magnum Chaos, a wood-inlay by Giovan Francesco Capoferri at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, based on a design by Lorenzo Lotto in an illustration. Last night was magnum chaos. It looks like the next two years will devolve in chaos maximus in the House.

I was briefly tempted take a deep dive into satire ands sarcasm and write something and post it in my Burning Bunion sub-site.  

I'd like to skewer them with biting satire, but I won't do this, at least for now, because there's nothing remotely amusing about what the House Republicans are poised to do to the country. 

These pathetic excuses for legislators can be likened to doctors and nurses tripping on LSD or drunk who are about to operate on the body of American democracy.

Chaos can be crazy and funny when it's on the screen but these Republicans aren't the inept but benign Keystone Kops in a silent movie classic. Benign they're not. Silent they're not. 

Update - okay, one attempt to be sarcastic:

I wasn't able to resist manipulating this photo of McCarthy holding up the Speaker's gavel in celebrating what history may call one of the most briefly celebrated Pyrrhic victories of all time. He will get what he deserves.

Does something worse than Jan. 6 have to happen to wake all of America up

 Does something worse than Jan. 6 have to happen to wake all of America up?
By Hal Brown

Reading this story in Salon got me to pondering the question in my title.


But while some of these demands are alarming because they invite legislative chaos for the next two years, there's one aspect of this very public fight that may be even more dangerous: The way that both the demands of the anti-McCarthy group and his concessions to them could signal to would-be domestic terrorists that they have the support of the Republican party. While the conflict between McCarthy and his Republican opponents seems at a stalemate as of Friday morning, both sides do agree on these security-related issues. Two years after Donald Trump incited an insurrection at the Capitol in a desperate bid to remain in power, the Republican-controlled House is making moves that read strongly as winking encouragement not just to the people who rioted that day, but to anyone who would follow in their footsteps. 

"At this point, the Republican party's entire strategy is incitement," Melissa Ryan, an expert in right wing extremism who writes the "Ctrl Alt-Right Delete" newsletter, told Salon. "They're keeping the MAGA base constantly worked up with increasingly violent rhetoric."

Even before the drama of seeing McCarthy repeatedly lose the vote to become Speaker began, the first, dramatic gesture was made by House Republicans: The metal detectors in the halls of Congress were taken down, even though it's not at all clear that, without an elected Speaker, Republicans have the authority to do this. 

Then I read this:
“A lot of my Republican colleagues glorify violence and proudly display the firearms they have in their offices, so it just makes me nervous that we could have a workplace violent event. They’re not the most stable people,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told Raw Story after voting for Speaker this week...

“They already have a history of letting insurrectionists in the building and showing them around,” Swalwell—who made public some of the vile death threats his family has endured—said. “So it just seems like a recipe for disaster.” 

Metal detectors or not, the nation’s politicians—right, left, and indie—are now bigger targets than ever before. 

My photo illustration depicts two violent wake-up calls that jarred the county from the slumber of denying that there were violent forces that were hellbent on destroying our democracy.

These were external rather than internal actors. January 6th insurrectionists and their instigators and co-conspirators were, and continue to be, homegrown terrorists. Only some of the foot soldiers have been brought to justice. Those who set the coup attempt in motion from Donald Trump on down to the upper echelons of the conspiracy so far have escaped the hand of justice for their deeds.

It took Pearl Harbor and 9/11 for America to unite against the forces that threatened us. Not so with January 6th. This was a group incited to attempt to stop the certification of a free election lost by a president they worshipped as a Demi-god who gaslighted them into believing what has come to be called The Big Lie. 

The House members trying to dragoon their will on the country by coercing concessions to enable Mitch McConnell to become the new speaker with a few exceptions are MAGA election deniers.

Today we learned that metal detectors which anyone entering the House chamber had to pass through were removed. Nobody can determine who ordered this.

We know that there are GOP members of Congress like Lauren Boebert who are gun-crazy.
I am not suggesting that she or any other member of Congress would commit an act of violence. As Amanda Marcotte suggests it is the message that these far-right heroes sends to their violence prone followers. Pistol packing Boebert, for example, has over 2 million followers on Twitter alone.

She begs to be singled out so I make no apologies for presenting a possible scenario involving her.
Click above to read NY Post article

I assume that for someone who isn't a Member or a staffer to get into the United States Capitol building they have to be screened for weapons by the Capitol Police. I don't know whether people who have credentials can bypass the vigorous screening the general public has to go through. 

What I worry about is that someone who has ingratiated themselves to the likes of a Boebert to the extent that they are able to finagle a way to have a member of the House or staffer actually accompany them when they enter the building and try to bypass the magnetometers. 

It might be worth the risk of getting caught and thinking they could avoid serious consequences by pleading ignorance. If an armed person with violent intentions made it into the House, whether on the floor or in the hallways, it doesn't take any imagination to know how horrific the outcome could be.

Would it take an incident like this for the vast majority of Americas to wake up to how violent rhetoric can provoke actual acts of violence? 

I am not stupidly sanguine. I doubt very much that if something like this happened, even if there was a loss of life, that very many of these far-right extremists mouthing words that subtly or not-so-subtly promote violence, most or all of whom purport to be Christian, would have a come to Jesus moment.


January 5, 2023

The Bunion reports: Compromise candidate for Speaker is Ginni Thomas

The Burning Bunion reports: Compromise candidate for Speaker is Ginni Thomas
Hal Brown

This is a shameless ripoff of oft quoted satirical website The Onion. It turns out that The Bunion, my original  name, was an idea too good to be original. In 2014 there was a Boston University student satire website with the name The Bunion so I named this The Burning Bunion. I can only aspire to be somewhat as clever in my attempts at satire as the good folks at The Onion are.

Breaking news: A backroom deal was finally struck among House Republicans with a compromise candidate to be the Speaker of the House. It is Ginni Thomas. While she is politically the polar opposite of Nancy Pelosi one thing the two have in common is they like to wear colorful scarves. 

Democrat political fashion guru Lisa Bungalow told The Bunion in an exclusive interview "while I loathe her politics and when I see her on TV it already makes me nauseous, at least she will keep bringing a splash of color to the podium."

Bungalow noted that when she was with her husband Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas she often wears red to complement what, like Donald Trump, is a signature red tie.

Saturday night Live took notice of this:
Kenan Thompson and Aidy Bryant
Sparticum Voluminous of The Okey-dokey Online Law Review in an email to The Bunion wrote "this would be like getting a Speaker of the House and a Supreme Court Justice rolling into one as second in line to the presidency." He noted that "everyone knows that Ginni and Clarence Thomas share everything. She advices him and he advises her."

Update: I wrote this above yesterday. Was I prescient or what? This story was on HUFFPOST this morning:
I put a comment on HuffPost. Perhaps some readers will see it and click to read this story.

Idaho, where pot is illegal , is next to pot friendly Oregon

 Idaho, where pot is illegal, is next to pot friendly Oregon 
By Hal Brown

The author is not a lawyer and any legal references here are based on Internet research. The advice about travel with marijuana is meant to be common sense and not an endorsement of doing this.

Cannabis is totally illegal in Idaho. Here's the most recent summary of the law in the state.
I thought of this when I read this article in the website of a local TV station:
You might intuit that the county with the most pot sales in Oregon would be one near Portland. It wasn't. Rather it was in Masher County which borders on Idaho.


Idaho is one of a dozen states where neither recreational nor medical cannabis is legal. Ten weed sellers in the Malheur County city of Ontario, right on the state line with Idaho, make hay selling mainly to folks from the nearby Boise-area population center. 

Ten weed sellers in the Malheur County city of Ontario, right on the state line with Idaho, make hay selling mainly to folks from the nearby Boise-area population center.  

Below you can see that most of them are clustered around the exits from thetwo highways that cross the Snake River border between the two states.

What prompted me to write this blog is the fact that I have a friend who lives in Idaho who has a medical condition and would find relief in cannabis. It would take him about five hours to drive to a town in Oregon with a pot store since he lives in the central part of the state. His medical condition makes driving himself problematic so he'd need a friend to help him out.

The biggest risk for him and anybody else driving into Oregon to purchase pot for medicinal or recreational use in of course getting arrested. Possession of any amount of marijuana for any reason is a misdemeanor if the amount is 3 ounces or less. The maximum penalty is 1 year in jail and $1,000 in fines. If the amount is between 3 ounces and 1 pound, the offense is a felony and the top penalty is 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

When I visited him years ago he warned me that I had to slow down when I got off highway and approach his town line because there was a radar trap. Indeed, as I drove past the 25mph sign there was a town constable with a radar gun.

I can imagine how Idaho police may be incentivized to make marijuana arrests for the revenue. All they would have to watch border crossing roads and look for cars with Idaho plates and find a reason to stop them. 

Police can only search a car without permission with probable cause.

The Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents. For a stop and search to be reasonable, the stopping officer must have reasonable suspicion that the driver has broken or is about to break the law.

Therefore common sense dictates that even if someone isn't doing anything illegal it is prudent to assure you don't get stopped by the police in a state with so many far-right residents. A mere Biden sticker on your car, or just having Oregon license plates on your car, may prompt some police officers to look for a reason to stop you. 

Before you leave for any trip that might end up in a police stop it is prudent to check you car with someone inside to make sure all of your lights are operating properly including your license plate light if the car has one. This includes turn signals and brake lights. If you want to be super-cautious you could take pictures of your taillights to show that none of the lenses are broken.

From what I can tell, while sobriety checkpoints are illegal in Idaho, police may still be using them. If you have to go though one you must take a sobriety test, although you can contest it later if you are arrest.

If they ask you if they can search your car you can legally decline. This is where K9's trained to sniff out marijuana would come in. While in some states with legal pot K9's have to be trained to ignore marijuana so they can sniff out hard drugs. 

If a K9 indicates marijuana the police office can ask you where it is and you have to make the decision whether it is in your best interest to comply. If all you face is a fine you can write this off as nothing ventured nothing gained. On the other hand you could take the chance that the dog or officer won't be able to find where you hid the marijuana. 

I rather doubt the state wants to incarcerate a large number of people as it would most likely cost them more to put them behind bars than it was worth it, plus I doubt they have the jail cells to put them in. Not only that if too many of them decided to plead their cases in court it would likely overwhelm their court system.

I do not advise breaking the law of any state. This goes for any law, even if you believe it is wrong. Thus if you want to use marijuana, or get an abortion, I recommend going to a state where these things are legal.

As a reporter here I recognize that there are people who will want to bring marijuana into Idaho and avoid being arrested. The common sense way for someone who decides to break the law and bring marijuana into Idaho from Oregon by car is not to get pulled over by the police.

There are numerous websites readily located with a simple web search which have links to websites which assist them in finding ways to make it less likely a sniffer K9 will indicate to the officer there is pot in the car:

Click above to enlarge image

Since the Speaker of the House election is still going on I am continuing to update this blog as I think of new illustrations to make.

January 4, 2023

George Santos, the Legislator Lion of Liars, impresses with a fancy website

George Santos, the Legislator Lion of Liars, impresses with a fancy website

 I bet you didn't look at it

By Hal Brown
Archives and comments on bottom of page

I clicked on the George Santos official dot.gov website (here or above) and noticed that it opened with a pretty damn good looking page even before scrolling down to find the press release which contained yet another lie. This was a press release saying he was sworn in yesterday.

George Santos posts release incorrectly saying he's been sworn into House 

Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) posted a press release saying he was sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives by the speaker of the House. The only problem is, there currently is no speaker of the House and thus no one was sworn in on Tuesday. 

Santos's release, which has since been deleted, on the House website, additionally read, "Representative George Santos was added to the rolls of the House upon executing the oath of office."

NBC News reporter Sahil Kapur provided more context into the misstep, saying it wasn't just Santos, but "the same language appeared for numerous other freshman members on their new websites," including on Robert Garcia’s (D-CA) site. 

Politico reporter Olivia Beavers tweeted that she was told the release was done by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer for all freshman offices and "that it was published without some offices knowing about it." However, given the fact that Santos is entrenched in controversy surrounding his lies on the campaign trail, people were not quick to believe Santos was just the victim of a mistake. 

Because of the Kevin McCarthy brouhaha nobody was sworn in. The House can't proceed to any other business unless it has a Speaker.

At first glance it is easy to miss that the main photo is a leisurely animation. with two views of the US Capitol slowly moving in the background. The picture of Santos appears to move. This is what is called the Ken Burns Effect.

When you first click Santos's image appears in a split second out of nowhere. It happened so quickly I couldn't take a screen shot of it. I had to take an actual picture of it with my iPhone.

Make of this what you will. My interpretation is that Santos, much to the chagrin of Republicans and delight of Democrats, seems to have appeared out of nowhere.

Another freshman member of the House has a less fancy website. Her face disappears and the background photos have a Ken Burns Effect.
I am not going to look at more of the websites of members of Congress. I just thought it might be interesting to share what the Legislator Lion of Liars'* website looks like since I doubt any of my readers would check it out on their own.

January 3, 2023

Poor Kevin aka The Kevin Kroniciles

 Poor Kevin
aka The Kevin Kroniciles
By Hal Brown
Updated after Kevin lost the 10th time, Jan. 5, 2023
Images created by Hal Brown using various sources and InPixio and BeFunky.

Most recent illustrations on bottom of page

Above: Slide left for full image
Below: Click images to enlarge

Just frittering away time. I couldn't decide what Dali painting to use as a background. Trump/McCarthy modified by BeFunky.

Even if he doesn't I think he eventually will after he cuts fascistic deals with the extremists. I don't know what kind of sandwiches are served in the House dining room, but this is what Kevin may be eating:

As for as the Republican Party goes what has happened to them can't be undone. This is an historic humiliation for both the party and McCarthy. He will have to kowtow to the likes most lunatic extremists who decided to vote for him.

The Republican led house with the newly empowered crazies out for revenge and notoriety will turn their two years into a grotesque freak show.

Breaking news: A backroom deal was finally struck among House Republicans with a compromise candidate to be the Speaker of the House. It is Ginni Thomas. While she is politically the polar opposite of Nancy Pelosi one thing the two have in common is they like to wear colorful scarves. 
Democrat political fashion guru Lisa Bungalow told The Bunion in an exclusive interview "while I loathe her politics and when I see her on TV it already makes me nauseous, at least she will keep bringing a splash of color to the podium."


I would be surprised if Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is supporting him, hasn't already been promised some choice committee assignments. While she might not be offered the chair of a high profile committee she could be made chair of Science, Space, and Technology. Once there she could make waves by opening an investigation into Jewish space lasers and how they started the California wild fires.

January 2, 2023

A shirtless guy on a Honda bike with pink sneakers and a tattooed man with a "What Part of Fuck Off Is Confusing to You?" t-shirt.

 A shirtless guy on a Honda bike with pink sneakers and a tattooed man with a "What Part of Fuck Off Is Confusing to You?" t-shirt.

By Hal Brown

To my loyal daily readers: Thank you for checking in today. I haven't posted a new blog because I've been diagnosed with pneumonia and am being treat with two antibiotics. I had it in late October and it may not have been treated aggressively enough so this may be a relapse.

Archive on bottom of page

Click any image to enlarge

I took this photo from my car when I pulled up behind this motorcyclist in Milwaukie, Oregon. It wasn't until I got home and looked closely at it that I found it more interesting than just merely a man riding a motorcycle shirtless with his white t-shirt wrapped around his arm on a warm day.

He's not riding a Harley lowrider, but his jeans are riding low. They are Calvin Klein's. Taking a closer look I see something I can't identify:

What is this white band that appears to be plastic which is wrapped tightly around the jeans? It seems to be holding something in the front. It isn't the back of a jockstrap. The many I looked at all have wide elastic bands in the back. So what the hell is it?

Not only are the jeans maroon but his footwear stands out.

They are old fashioned high-top basketball sneakers but in pink.  They seem to be Adidas Matchcourt sneakers. 

By coincidence or not pink sneakers and maroon underpants kind of go together. Maybe he was trying to make a fashion statement.

You can also see on his elbow that it looks like he has a skin condition like psoriasis or a healed wound which could have been from a motorcycle accident. If the latter it means he might have suffered from not wearing a leather jacket, though you rarely see anyone who isn't a Harley biker wearing them around Portland.

Another unknown is what this is on his back:
It could be a healed wound. I'm not a doctor but it could be the exit wound caused by being shot by a hollow point bullet.

 We have a lot of shootings in Portland. Most of them are gang related. I wonder if there is a pink sneaker gang.

I hazard a guess that the motorcyclist is about as far removed from being a MAGA cultist as anyone would be. 

And then there this man:
I have no idea what the politics of this Portland area denizen might be. He clearly doesn't want anyone to inquire about it. He was at the very crowded Milwaukie Farmers Market. He was making a very public statement. I wish I had had the courage to interview him. That would have made an interesting story.

Never let it be said that I don't dig deeply into the backstory of what I write about. I tried to find out the model and year of the Honda motorcycle but couldn't based on the photo of the rear.  I did find out what the hat the Fuck Off man is wearing was.

It is a clothing brand which was started in the city of Bridgewater which abuts the city of Middleboro where I lived before moving to Portland. Below from Wikipedia.

Formed in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Metal Mulisha T-shirts were fashionable among youth in the 2000s. The shirts often feature existential slogans or quotes that tout the virtues of extreme sports.

In 2010, the Murrieta Valley Unified School District banned Metal Mulisha clothing at its schools, due to graphics resembling Nazisymbols and iconography. Some graphics appearing on Metal Mulisha's clothing line include a skull wearing a helmet resembling one worn by German soldiers in World War II, while on the company's logo, the "S" in "Mulisha" is represented graphically by a lightning bolt that resembles the double lightning bolts insignia Runic "ᛋᛋ" of the Nazi major paramilitary organization Schutzstaffel, LAB or SS.

Rabbi Barry Ulrych, of the B'nai Chaim of Murrieta synagogue, regarding the images appearing on Metal Mulisha products, stated "People say it's just a fashion—it's more than that—it's an identity ... These symbols are not as neutral as one might think. Symbols can hurt, and some symbols are intimidating ... With this symbolism, they are glorifying the Nazi past. You can't go through life being ignorant of symbols."

In a letter, the company countered with the statement "Metal Mulisha founders and riders are devout Christians, espousing those values prized in the religious community."

He appears to be wearing not inexpensive Dolce & Gabbana glasses:

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