More to ignore, Book 46..........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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TTM translation: ‎Morning Ukraine!‎‎ Believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Together we will win! Glory to Ukraine!‎
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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FPaQsu6XoAIDhNe
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....In the five weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, the policy response from the West has grown increasingly expansive. A direct military confrontation with Russia, in the form of a NATO-imposed no-fly zone, was ruled out from the start. Everything else now seems to be on the table. From Washington, cash is flowing: $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine, including several billion dollars to purchase military equipment. Some four thousand and six hundred Javelin anti-aircraft missiles, more than half the total purchased by the Pentagon in the past decade, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, have been sent to Ukraine in the past month. Famously neutral Switzerland and Sweden have strayed from their usual positions; Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a controversial eleven-billion-dollar project. The Central Bank of Russia, whose activities were restricted by an alliance of Western countries last month, is the largest and most significant economic entity ever sanctioned. A status quo that had long tolerated Putin and his oligarchs is showing some signs of shifting. For many weeks, it was taken as an article of faith that no U.S. official would say anything to hint that Washington meant to foment a regime change in Moscow. Then, on March 26th, President Biden travelled to Warsaw and, addressing a crowd of thousands, said, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power!”

Ukrainian military success has been one reason for these changes. “Before the war, the Biden Administration was trying to deter it by threatening sanctions,” Daniel Fried, who was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and is now at the Atlantic Council, told me. “They assumed the Russians would be militarily victorious. That assumption is now questionable. It is now an open question as to who wins. Let that sink in for a minute. Russia attacks Ukraine, it’s an open question as to who succeeds. That’s a kind of ‘Oh, shit, really?’ moment.”

Ukraine’s appeals to solidarity have also activated something in Western politicians—in Biden perhaps most of all. Fried had been the Polish desk officer at the State Department in 1989, during the Solidarity movement. He said that, in Biden’s Warsaw speech, he heard clear echoes of Ronald Reagan’s “evil empire” address in Berlin. To him, this underscored the differences between Biden and Obama. “All Biden’s points of reference are different,” Fried said. “He was an adult before Vietnam.” But, if this is a hawkish phase, in which escalation is again a possibility, then it isn’t defense contractors or cold warriors in Washington who have defined it. It is the Ukrainians. Every few days, Zelensky has appeared via video link to a standing ovation of Western legislators (in Congress, the U.K. Parliament, the Bundestag) to ask for more material help: more severe sanctions, more financial assistance, more military equipment, a no-fly zone. In these appearances, he is posing a version of the question Ustenko posed to me: Having defined this as a conflict between a democracy and a war criminal, how far are Western politicians prepared to go to help the democracy?.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Paul Krugman

......One thing worth noting is that Russia’s economic officials appear to be more competent than its generals. Elvira Nabiullina, the governor of Russia’s central bank — a role equivalent to that of Jerome Powell at the Federal Reserve — is especially well regarded by her peers abroad. Nabiullina reportedly tried to resign after the invasion started, but Putin wouldn’t let her leave.

Unwilling as she may have been to stay in her job, Nabiullina and her colleagues pulled out all the stops to defend the ruble. They raised the key interest rate — more or less equivalent to the federal funds rate in the United States — from 9.5 to 20 percent, to induce people to keep their funds in Russia. They also imposed extensive controls to prevent capital flight: Russians have faced restrictions on moving their money into their foreign bank accounts, and foreign investors have been prohibited from exiting Russian stocks, and more.

But there’s a mystery here. No, it’s not puzzling to see the ruble recover given such drastic measures. The question is why Russia is willing to defend its currency at the expense of all other goals. After all, the draconian measures taken to stabilize the ruble will probably deepen what is already looking like a depression-level slump in Russia’s real economy, brought on by surprisingly wide and effective sanctions imposed by the free world (I think we can resurrect that term, don’t you?), in response to its military aggression......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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On Thursday, in a dim conference room in the bowels of a Washington, D.C., hotel, about 150 conservatives gathered for a day of group therapy. They had all been traumatized by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which had left them questioning their assumptions about the world. But Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression wasn’t what confounded them most; for these conservatives, a mix of D.C. professionals and college students leavened with a handful of older cranks, the hawkish response to Russian aggression by most elected Republicans was the real problem.

The conference, Up From Chaos, was a summit of all the wings of the right that would prefer a more hands-off American response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The organizers were The American Conservative, the paleoconservative publication founded by Pat Buchanan; and American Moment, a newer organization that tries to sell the next generation of the right on its version of national conservatism. “We were acutely worried that the seven years of foreign-policy gains that we made [since Donald Trump launched his campaign] were going to go away,” Saurabh Sharma, one of the conference’s organizers, told me.

The event wasn’t a Putin apologia like those found in some corners of the right. Instead, the phrase of the day seemed to be “Putin is bad, but …” The attendees, who included paleocons, libertarians, and hard-core MAGA acolytes, offered variations on that tune according to their policy preferences:
Putin is bad, but we don’t want a nuclear war. Putin is bad, but why should we trust the American foreign-policy establishment? Putin is bad, but the media is in thrall to the U.S. intelligence apparatus. The broad consensus: Putin is bad, but why is that our problem?

“This is not an ism-based movement. There is a specific policy outcome motivating the type of factions we brought here today, which is that we don’t want another war,” Sharma said. “And people have their own isms that they bring to the table.” The result was a conference of the right where Tulsi Gabbard was invited but figures such as Ted Cruz were absent.

In fact, Cruz was the target of a jab onstage from a fellow Republican senator, Rand Paul, who suggested that the Texan’s advocacy for sanctions on Russian energy was simply intended to boost the bottom line of the energy industry in his home state. President Joe Biden, though, received some praise for his comparatively restrained response to the crisis. Saagar Enjeti, a conservative pundit and podcaster, went so far as to say that Biden’s “79-year-old ailing heart may be the only thing standing in between us and World War III.”

The most common object of the attendees’ ire was not the Democrats, but instead the traditional enemy of the isolationist right, neoconservatives. Time and time again, speakers mocked foreign-policy hawks and criticized Republicans who had supported the Iraq War. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the target of repeated scorn. Perhaps the biggest applause line of the entire conference was delivered by the Ohio Senate candidate J. D. Vance, who mocked the intelligence of Bill Kristol, the neoconservative pundit and Never Trumper. Donald Trump’s greatest foreign-policy triumph was not so much any of his decisions, but rather that he “broke the neocon Republican orthodoxy,” Dan Bishop, a second-term representative from North Carolina, told the crowd.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A Wednesday filing in the Proud Boy leadership conspiracy revealed that, between cracking his password and conducting a filter review, DOJ had not been able to access Enrique Tarrio’s phone — which was seized even before the riot he allegedly had a central role in planning — until mid-January.


On January 4, 2021, Tarrio was arrested in Washington, D.C., and charged with destruction of property for his December 12, 2020, burning of a #BLACKLIVESMATTER banner and possession of two large capacity magazines. At the time of his arrest, Tarrio’s phone was seized by law enforcement. The government promptly sought a search warrant for that device in this investigation. Despite diligence, the government was not able to obtain access to Tarrio’s phone until December 2021. Thereafter, a filter team was utilized to ensure that only non-privileged materials were provided to the investigative team. The investigative team did not gain access to the materials on the phone until mid-January 2022, and it has worked expeditiously since that time to review these materials.

I can think of just a few other phones that have been this difficult for FBI to access (those of Zachary Alam and Brandon Fellows are others). The delay means that the very first phone DOJ seized pertaining to the January 6 investigation was one that, to date, has taken the longest to access.

This is the kind of delay — presumably due to the physics involved in cracking a complex password and the due process of a privilege review — that is unavoidable. Yet it stalled DOJ’s efforts in the most pivotal conspiracy case as it tries to move from rioters at the Capitol through organizer-inciters to Trump himself.

The delay in accessing Tarrio’s phone is one thing to keep in mind as you read the multiple reports that DOJ has sent out subpoenas to people who organized the rallies. WaPo reported that these subpoenas first started going out two months ago — so late January, shortly after the time DOJ accessed Tarrio’s phone content. NYT reported that the subpoenas focus on the rallies and the fake electors.

One of the subpoenas, which was reviewed by The New York Times, sought information about people “classified as VIP attendees” at Mr. Trump’s Jan. 6 rally.
It also sought information about members of the executive and legislative branches who had been involved in the “planning or execution of any rally or any attempt to obstruct, influence, impede or delay” the certification of the 2020 election.
And it asked about the effort by Trump supporters to put forward alternate slates of electors as Mr. Trump and his allies were seeking to challenge the certification of the Electoral College outcome by Congress on Jan. 6.

Another person briefed on the grand jury investigation said at least one person involved in the logistics of the Jan. 6 rally had been asked to appear.

None of this is a surprise or unexpected. Dana Nessel formally referred Michigan’s fake electors to DOJ for investigation (the kind of referral that may have been important to DOJ assuming jurisdiction in state elections) on January 18, and Lisa Monaco confirmed DOJ was investigating the fake electors on January 25.

As to the organizers, on December 16, I wrote a piece describing that DOJ would need to turn to “organizer-inciters” next — people like Alex Jones, who had a central role in turning rally-goers who imagined themselves to be peaceful protestors into an occupying force. We know of several other pieces of evidence that would have been important, if not necessary, to lock down before DOJ moved to those organizer-inciters.

For example, DOJ likely first obtained direct information about tensions involving VIPs in Brandon Straka’s first and second FBI interviews in February and March of last year, information that the government claimed during his sentencing provided valuable new leads. Straka was one of those VIPs who expected to have a speaking slot on January 6 only to discover all he was getting was a seat at the front, next to Mike Flynn. Access to his phone would have provided the government comms depicting growing tensions tied to the extremism of Nick Fuentes and Ali Alexander described in this ProPublica article.

“Is Nick Fuentes now a prominent figure in Stop the Steal?” asked Brandon Straka, an openly gay conservative activist, in a November text message, obtained exclusively by ProPublica. “I find him disgusting,” Straka said, pointing to Fuentes’ vehemently anti-LGBT views.
Alexander saw more people and more power. He wrote that Fuentes was “very valuable” at “putting bodies in places,” and that both Jones and Fuentes were “willing to push bodies … where we point.”
Straka, Fuentes and Jones did not respond to requests for comment.

Straka was part of a Stop the Steal listserv on which Michael Courdrey and Alexander were on the day of the riot.

The Stop the Steal group chat shows a reckoning with these events in real time.
“They stormed the capital,” wrote Stop the Steal national coordinator Michael Coudrey in a text message at 2:33 p.m. “Our event is on delay.”
“I’m at the Capitol and just joined the breach!!!” texted Straka, who months earlier had raised concerns about allying with white nationalists. “I just got gassed! Never felt so ****ing alive in my life!!!”
Alexander and Coudrey advised the group to leave.

“Everyone get out of there,” Alexander wrote. “The FBI is coming hunting.”

The government described learning new information about Straka as recently as December 8 followed up in a January 2022 interview. Some of this appears to have been a late discovery of his own grift and, possibly, his role in inciting a riot at the TCF center in Michigan. But at sentencing, prosecutors reaffirmed that the sealed contents of his cooperation remained valuable.

Some other existing defendants whose phone and/or cooperation could provide such insight are Simone Gold (who pled guilty in early March but who had not yet done her FBI interview) and Alan Hostetter and Russell Taylor; prosecutors described still providing primary discovery in the latter case the other day, meaning they’re still getting phone contents there, too.

Tarrio’s phone would include comms with many of the people DOJ has turned its focus to; he had known communications with Alex Jones, Ali Alexander, and Cindy Chafian, to say nothing of his close ties to Roger Stone.

In addition to Tarrio’s phone, exploiting that of Stewart Rhodes — seized in May — took some time because he had so many Signal texts that it was an extended process sorting through the inculpatory and exculpatory ones.

The hold up on Rhodes’ phone is one of the things that held up his own arrest and charges for Seditious Conspiracy. In that superseding indictment, DOJ completely hid what new information they had learned about the Oath Keeper ties with the Willard planners. But the seditious conspiracy charge (along with the cooperation of Mark Grods) appears to have persuaded Joshua James to flip. James’ cooperation would provide lots of new testimony about what Stone and other VIPs were doing on January 5 and 6, including an explanation as to why James felt he needed to call into Mike Simmons to report on what is almost certainly Stone’s anger about the sidelining of his extremist group at the main rally, something clearly at issue in these recent subpoenas.

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James would have proffered before he pled guilty (meaning prosecutors would have know what he would say if he did plead), but they would hold off on using his testimony for legal process until he testified before a grand jury in conjunction with his plea on March 2.

Public reporting has revealed that both the January 6 and DOJ investigations have obtained at least some of the documentary footage implicating Tarrio and Stone from the day of the riot.

And if the January 6 committee works like the SSCI investigation into Russia, it could share transcripts from obviously problematic testimony with DOJ. Ali Alexander spent most of day telling a story to the committee that had already been debunked by DOJ.

On the anniversary of January 6, Merrick Garland explained that all of the arrests from the first year had laid the foundation for more complex cases.

We build investigations by laying a foundation. We resolve more straightforward cases first because they provide the evidentiary foundation for more complex cases.
Investigating the more overt crimes generates linkages to less overt ones. Overt actors and the evidence they provide can lead us to others who may also have been involved. And that evidence can serve as the foundation for further investigative leads and techniques.
In circumstances like those of January 6th, a full accounting does not suddenly materialize. To ensure that all those criminally responsible are held accountable, we must collect the evidence.

We follow the physical evidence. We follow the digital evidence. We follow the money.

This is the kind of thing he was talking about: working your way up through Mark Grods to Joshua James to Stewart Rhodes to Roger Stone, taking the time to crack and exploit Tarrio’s phone, exploiting early access to Straka’s comms to get to the organizers. The investigation “aperture” hasn’t changed; what has changed is DOJ has acquired information it needed before it could take the next step.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Years before she became one of then-President Donald Trump’s most prominent coup supporters, Ginni Thomas was already notorious in his West Wing for, among other things, ruining staffers’ afternoons by working Trump into fits of vengeful rage.

“We all knew that within minutes after Ginni left her meeting with the president, he would start yelling about firing people for being disloyal,” said a former senior Trump administration official. “When Ginni Thomas showed up, you knew your day was wrecked.”

Ever since she became a welcome guest at Trump’s residences, Thomas—an influential and longtime conservative activist, and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—had perfected a proven formula of enthralling and manipulating the president’s emotions and mood. On multiple occasions throughout the Trump era, Thomas would show up in the White House, sometimes for a private meeting or a luncheon with the president. She often came armed with written memos of who she and her allies believed Trump should hire for plum jobs—and who she thought Trump should promptly purge—that she distributed to Trump and other high-ranking government officials.

The fire lists were particularly problematic, as they were frequently based on pure conjecture, rumor, or score-settling, where even steadfastly MAGA aides were targeted for being part of the “Deep State” or some other supposedly anti-Trump coalition, according to people who saw them during the Trump administration. The hire lists were so often filled with infamous bigots and conspiracy theorists, woefully under-qualified names, and obvious close friends of Thomas that several senior Trump aides would laugh at them—that is, until Trump would force his staff to put certain names through the official vetting process, three sources familiar with the matter said.

During the Trump years, these memos would astonish various administration officials, including those working in the White House Presidential Personnel Office (PPO). Some of these officials noticed that as the Trump term went on, the Thomas lists would increasingly feature a disproportionate share of names more suited to an OAN guest line-up than any functional government. (To be fair, well before Ginni Thomas became a recurring visitor, Trump would routinely hire people because they had entertained or excited him, via Fox and other cable-news appearances.)

Officials in the PPO regularly annotated the margins of Thomas’ hire lists, usually including a single line for each rejected name, explaining why the prospective hires did not work out. Some failed background checks, or suffered from security-clearance hold-ups. Other annotations noted that a specific individual was offered a job in the Trump administration, but turned it down for whatever reason.

Sometimes, the reasons for the White House’s preemptive rejection, despite Thomas and Trump’s best efforts, were more outlandish. According to a person who reviewed one of the Thomas lists, one annotation for a MAGA job candidate noted that that individual had made too many extreme or offensive jokes on social media that were still visible.

Another of these annotations claimed that one recommendation for a Trump administration position was, in fact, a suspected foreign-intelligence asset, or spy.

Thomas did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Over the years, some of the specific names that Thomas had compiled and pushed to Trump and his West Wing have trickled out into the press. Among them were Fox News personality Dan Bongino, and the Trump-adulating Sheriff David Clarke.

And according to two sources with knowledge of the matter, Thomas had, unsuccessfully, advised the then-president to hire Frank Gaffney.

Gaffney, a former Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, has spent the past two decades embracing some of the more absurd conspiracy theories circulating in the far right. He has accused conservative anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist of being a secret agent for the Muslim Brotherhood and believes that American adversaries are working on secret electrical device-frying “electromagnetic pulse” weapons to zap America back to the pre-industrial age.

“These ****ing lists were so insane and unworkable,” said one former Trump White House official who had to personally deal with the Thomas-supplied memos and Trump’s fascination with them. “A lot of them were dripping with paranoia and read like they were written by a disturbed person.”

After Thomas departed, he would soon summon a variety of government personnel—West Wing brass, national security aides, lawyers, and other underlings, depending on proximity or the occasion—to inform them he’d just spoken to “Ginni.”

Trump would then identify an official— or, sometimes, he would rattle off a string of names—who he said needed to be sacked “immediately,” according to people familiar with the matter.

When they could get away with it, several of these Trump administration hands would slow-walk these Thomas-inspired firing directives, and wait until Trump invariably forgot about it, cooled off, and moved on to other fixations and gripes. Others would scramble to try to calm Trump down themselves, advising their boss to reconsider, telling him that a firing or a larger purge in the middle of the Trump term would make him look bad or attract negative media attention.

Thomas’ interactions with the Trump administration have taken on a new significance since the January 6th House Select Committee released text messages showing her urging Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to help overturn the 2020 election. Members of the committee are now seeking to interview Thomas, whose efforts to overturn the 2020 election included attendance at a “Stop the Steal” rally on the National Mall the day of the insurrection.

“Trump loved talking to Ginni so much because he loved hearing about who was a Never Trumper, or allegedly one. He loved people who would flatter him, [as Ginni would do],” said Stephanie Grisham, once a top White House aide to Trump who has since had a very public falling-out with the ex-president. “But also, his obsession with loyalty aside, he just loved to gossip—all the time. That’s something else he got out of his series of meetings at the White House with Ginni Thomas.”

In the text messages released by the committee last month, Thomas defended Sidney Powell, the “Kraken” lawyer whose election conspiracy theories were so outlandish they earned her a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit, the scorn of rank and file Republican officials, and sanctions from a Michigan court. At the time, a number of Trump aides were trying to distance the president from Powell because of her increasingly outlandish comments about bogus election fraud. Thomas, however, urged Meadows not to yield to mainstream Republicans, according to The New York Times.

In her texts with Trump’s consigliere, Thomas also showed a fondness for Steve Pieczenik, a far-right pundit and onetime Tom Clancy co-author whose conspiracy theories and bogus claims were so far-fetched even InfoWars briefly booted him from appearing on the network. Before he began pushing the fake stories about watermarked fraud-catching ballots that earned Thomas’ endorsement, Pieczenik had pushed QAnon conspiracy theories, claimed to have arrested Pope Francis, and spun bogus stories about prominent mass shootings being false flags.

During the Obama administration, Thomas and Gaffney participated in a conservative messaging effort known as “Groundswell.” The group, an informal network of conservative journalists, pundits, and political operatives, routinely met at the offices of the right-wing activist group Judicial Watch to coordinate talking points opposing the Obama administration’s agenda and plot the ouster of allegedly moderate Republicans like Karl Rove from the broader conservative movement.

The revelation of Thomas’ texts with Meadows prompted the January 6th Committee to seek an interview with her, according to CNN, but that effort falls far short of the more legally compelling option of a subpoena.

In the meantime, Congressional Democrats are divided over how to handle Thomas’ cameo in the Jan. 6 scandal. Some, like Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, have called for Thomas to recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases while others like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have called for him to step down or be impeached.

But the lack of a Democratic supermajority in the Senate means neither of the Thomases are likely to have to give up their jobs just yet.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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As Ginni Thomas, a prominent conservative activist and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, made the case to overturn the election to a top adviser to former President Donald Trump in the days after the 2020 election, she cited several conspiracy theories popular with the president’s most deluded supporters

In her messages, published Thursday by CBS News and the Washington Post, Thomas urged then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to look into the claims of Steve Pieczenik, a little-known conspiracy theorist whose ideas are often too crazy for even Alex Jones.

Thomas appeared to have wholly embraced Pieczenik’s off-the-wall claims in her texts, including the idea that Trump’s election defeat was really a ruse meant to entrap Democratic voter fraudsters.

“If you believe what Steve Pieczenik has to say, you have completely lost all touch with reality,” said Jordan Holmes, a comedian who follows InfoWars and its guests, including Pieczenik, on his Knowledge Fight podcast.

Thomas and Pieczenik didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Pieczenik has a history of lying and often claims to have worked throughout the national security bureaucracy—including in classified positions, all of which makes it difficult to discern what’s true about his identity. He emerged in the media in the late 1980s as an expert on the psychology of hostage-taking. In the 1990s, Pieczenik launched a series of novels with national-security thriller author Tom Clancy.

Whatever grip Pieczenik had on reality began to slip decades ago, when he began to appear on InfoWars. Pieczenik became known for claiming that a tragic event, often a mass shooting, was in fact a false flag event or even faked entirely. He’s argued that the 9/11 attacks, the Sandy Hook shooting, and Pearl Harbor were all false flags. Among other claims, Pieczenik insists he once arrested Pope Francis.

His stories were so wild they even became too much for Jones. After he claimed the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 60 people was fake, for example, Jones appeared to temporarily block him from appearing on the outlet. All that has given him a reputation as a loose cannon even by the already outré standards of the InfoWars green room.

“Pieczenik goes on to hit the ball out of the fences every single time, which means he goes too far sometimes,” Holmes said. “And when that happens, he winds up getting put on the backburner for a little while.”

While Jones distanced himself from Pieczenik after the Las Vegas shooting claims, Pieczenik reemerged a few years later as a “vector” to push QAnon claims on InfoWars, according to Holmes. He also became a key figure on the show in the 2020 election, ready to pump out the kind of crazed optimism for Trump supporters that Ginni Thomas later repeated to Trump’s chief of staff. Two days after the election, Thomas texted Meadows video of a Pieczenik appearance on InfoWars’ “War Room” show.

While the YouTube video she sent Meadows has been deleted, other copies posted on far-right YouTube alternatives reveal that the video was about Pieczenik’s claim that the election was a ruse meant to catch Democrats. In the video, a Hawaiian shirt-clad Pieczenik tells InfoWars host and future Jan. 6 indictee Owen Shroyer about how secret watermarks on the ballots would be used to find fake ballots and arrest leading liberals.

Pieczenik predicted the arrests would begin within days.

“You’re seeing a sophisticated sting operation that was initiated by Trump,” Pieczenik said. “I’m just a lowly peasant in this game.”

Thomas appears to have found solace in Pieczenik’s claim that Trump hadn’t really lost the election.

“I hope this is true; never heard anything like this before, or even a hint of it,” Thomas wrote to Meadows. “Possible???”

Thomas embraced other Pieczenik claims, telling Meadows that military “white hats”—a QAnon term for pro-Trump forces in the federal government—had been deployed to key states.

It’s not clear how Thomas first encountered Pieczenik’s work. But her praise for his obviously ludicrous claims demonstrate the power that conspiracy theories had on Trump’s inner circle.

“It’s so funny how crazy this guy is,” Holmes said. “But at the same time he’s been around pulling these weirdo [psychological operations] for the past 50 years, and it does seem like he’s had a pretty big effect on people.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Russian retreats leave evidence of shocking war crimes
Hunter

The liberation of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, was cause for celebration, but sickening pictures of what Russian troops left behind is shaking the world. After several weeks of Russian occupation, Ukrainian forces, reporters, and humanitarian groups arriving in the town found streets littered with civilian bodies, civilian mass graves, and evidence of mass civilian executions, of torture, and other war crimes. Some Russian vehicles destroyed as they tried to flee the region were loaded with looted civilian goods—a sign that even as Russia was readying for retreat, thievery remained at the top of individual unit agendas.

The evidence of Russian war crimes is significant, and the international community is seething with rage. Israel and Germany are among the nations condemning Russia, but whether those involved will pay any penalties for their crimes remains, for the moment, unknowable.

From Russia's gutless shelling of civilian centers—an act of orchestrated cowardice by Russian military leaders—to widespread looting to, now, evidence of large-scale war crimes, we are seeing now that Russia's military does not suffer solely from kleptocratic incompetence; it itself has become an extension of the murderous, mob-like criminal organizations that Putin uses to commit violence against opponents while thieving their way through the rest of the country. War crimes charges are not only necessary, but should reach the very top of Russian military command.


Images from liberated Bucha are extremely graphic and we will refrain from posting most of them directly. Such evidence can be found at The Guardian, via Human Rights Watch, in a thread from Rep. Andy Kim, and elsewhere.








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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump claims MSNBC hired Jen Psaki because 'they need a redhead'
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

You can tell Donald Trump watches a lot of Fox News, because he seems to think all cable news networks hire women contributors as if they’re trying to round out the cast of a Swedish soft-core porn flick. At Saturday night’s Loser-Palooza XXIV-or-some-such (I was going to count exactly how many sore loser rallies Trump has held since sorely losing in 2020, but who cares, really?), Trump had the temerity to mention White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. And when his eyeballs didn’t instantly melt out of his head like a pair of 99-cent Big Lots votive candles, I knew with metaphysical certitude there is no God. Because if She existed, She would never allow such calumny to stand.

At first, it almost seemed like Trump was complimenting Psaki. Well, complimenting her looks, anyway. Sort of. Which, given Psaki’s clear intellectual gifts and outsized talents, seems a bit like fixating on the brand of conditioner Marie Curie used. But women hear this kind of thing all the time. Or so I’m told.

At the rally—during which Trump claimed for the umpteenth time that he was named Michigan’s Man of the Year, even though the award doesn’t exist—Trump first claimed Psaki had been rebuked by the military for her supposed defamation of Trump’s beloved Space Force.

Business Insider:

While complimenting her hair, Trump criticized Psaki for once joking about the nation's Space Force, a branch of the US military forces set up by Trump.
"The woman with the really beautiful red hair, she laughed. And she was hit so hard by the military because they knew I was right. The military understood I was right."

She has a name, Donald. We don’t refer to you as “the man with the red, pendulous baboon ass.” Well, sometimes we do, I suppose. But we don’t try to pretend we’ve forgotten your given name.

Oh, but Trump was just warming up.

"You know she's going to MSDNC," Trump said, using his derogatory nickname for the cable news network. "They need a redhead. They don't have a redhead over there, so they need a redhead."


Okay then!

While this seems like a backhanded compliment, coming from Trump it may actually be a full-throated endorsement. After all, this appears to be how he makes all of his hiring decisions.

In September 2016, when we still thought Trumpageddon was somehow avoidable, Mother Jones dug up a quote from 2007 in which Trump acknowledged hiring a female employee strictly because of her looks.

While campaigning for president, Donald Trump often boasts that he hires the “best people.” But in 2007, he bragged that he hired a woman with no experience because she was hot.
[...]
Trump launched into an anecdote about a time he hired a woman based solely on her looks. “A beautiful girl who was 17 or 18 and applied to be a waitress,” Trump said. “So beautiful. She’s like a world-class beauty.” But, Trump recalled, his advisers pointed out that the woman had no experience. “So I interviewed her anyway because she was so pretty,” he continued. “And I said, ‘Let me ask you: Do you have any experience?’ She goes, ‘No, sir.’ I say, ‘When can you start?'” Trump flashed a big smile at the crowd.

Seventeen? Gee, no wonder Matt Gaetz loves this guy so much.

And in December 2016, when Trump was hiring White House staff and advisers, The Washington Post noted his obsession with finding people who had the right “look.”

Trump’s closest aides have come to accept that he is likely to rule out candidates if they are not attractive or not do not match his image of the type of person who should hold a certain job.
“That’s the language he speaks. He’s very aesthetic,” said one person familiar with the transition team’s internal deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “You can come with somebody who is very much qualified for the job, but if they don’t look the part, they’re not going anywhere.”

In fact, according to Trump associates interviewed by The Post, Trump’s initial reluctance to hire Neocon Ned Flanders (aka John Bolton) came down to his “brush-like mustache.” Didn’t have anything to do with the fact that Bolton was a warmonger and anthropomorphic rage boner. Apparently that’s far less disqualifying than a goofy patch of facial hair.

We wish Jen Psaki the best going forward, and hope she has a great run at MSNBC. Though it will be more than a little sad to see her go. After enduring the circus parade of spokespeople Trump tormented us with, she was a breath of fresh air.

Godspeed, Jen, and good luck.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
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IN JESUS' NAME: Messiah Trump Promises Election Fraud 'Truth' is Coming Out - In Two Weeks?
News Corpse

The Cult of Trump is continuing its apocalyptic crusade across red America with yet another one of his traveling salvation shows. Following his humiliation in Georgia last month, where the paltry crowd was seen exiting while he was still in mid-rant, Trump ventured to Michigan to give it another go.

One of the reasons that Trump's circus is drawing fewer fans is that he insists on replaying the same tedious bits at every fan-fest. His set list consists solely of shouting at the "fake news," chanting "lock her up" whenever Hillary Clinton is mentioned, and his interminable whining that the 2020 election was "rigged" and "stolen" from him.

The "Big Lie" was once again featured on Saturday night. The evening's fare was foreshadowed in the event's opening prayer, delivered by a fully ordained minister of Trumpism who warmed up the audience with this appeal to the Lard:

"So we pray. Father in heaven, we firmly believe that Donald J. Trump is the current and true president of the United States. You have raised him up for this season of time to be used and be part in saving a nation. Bless and protect him and his family from any physical, spiritual attacks and may his voice stir the people to righteous action to bring godly men and women into elected office, in Michigan and across America."

So now God is being recruited as a witness to Trump's divine ascendency to the throne of America. You would think that a pastor would be reticent to lie so blatantly to God's face by calling Trump the "current and true president" when he clearly is not. Contrary to God raising Trump up, he very plainly slammed him down, which is why he's still holding these pathetic freak shows. But the minister of lies continued saying that...

"We declare he will be back in office soon. VERY soon. In Jesus' name. Amen. We pray the fraud in the 2020 election will continue to be exposed and the election decertified in Michigan. The battleground state in our nation. In Jesus' name."



With that declaration the affair was off to a bizarre and sacrilegious start. The audience was now ready for the main abstraction. Donald Trump. And he didn't disappoint - well - no more than usual. As expected, Trump addressed the "Big Lie" in a tirade that he pretended would be brief (video below):

"And just to cover it quickly, because I don't want to take a lot of time, but it's coming, out this 'Truth to Vote,' where they found all the thousands and thousands of ballot harvesters. You've seen that. 'Truth to Vote.' But when you see that - that's coming out in two weeks - when you see those numbers, I think it's four or five million people cheating. Those numbers are coming out."

That should satisfy the deadenders that showed up for this spectacle. After all, everyone recalls how trump delivered on his promises to produce a healthcare plan in two weeks. Or his infrastructure program. Or his border wall. He is nothing if not consistent - consistently wrong. He's had more than a year to produce evidence of election fraud and has utterly failed to do so. Not that any of his glassy-eyed disciples will notice or hold him accountable to his word.

By the way, when Trump referred to "Truth to Vote," he was mangling the name of the wholly discreditable conspiracy crackpots at "True the Vote," who have never produced anything remotely related to the truth. Undaunted, Trump continued saying that...

"Now the press hates like hell to cover it. Oh, they go crazy cause they have a lot of live television. I'm talking about this, they don't know what to do. They're saying 'Should we turn off the cameras?' Who cares? But right here, just quickly, in Michigan your corrupt state officials sent out 7.7 million unsolicited mail-in ballot applications to everyone on the rolls. Including people who are dead and those who no longer live in the state. Other than that it was wonderful."

Trump frequently claims that the media covering his rallies are turning their cameras on and off depending on what he's saying. That is, of course, delusional. Although it is true that most of the TV news networks (including Fox News) stopped carrying his rallies live long ago. They realized that there was nothing newsworthy about his vein-bursting rage-a-thons. They are just full of nonsense like "When you hear 'mail-in ballot' you can guarantee you have a corrupt election."

Never mind that Trump himself votes by mail-in ballot. So do all of the voters of five states (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington). So does most of our military deployed away from home. And even in his remarks Trump notes that the voters of Michigan received applications for mail-in ballots, not the ballots themselves. So there is no opportunity for voter fraud.

Not that any of that matters to Trump or his cult followers. For them it is all about stirring up anger and hatred and irrational fears. And by that measure, Trump is doing a pretty good job of terrorizing his ever shrinking flock.