More to ignore, Book 51..........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Piers Morgan in an explosive interview calls a sweaty Trump a loser.
TheCriticalMind

ScreenShot2022-04-20at4.12.13PM.png


Trump agreed to do an interview with Piers Morgan. No doubt he thought it would be an easy outing as Morgan has spoken favorably about Trump in the past. But unlike Hannity, who revels in his role as consiglieri for the one-and-done disaster, Morgan is exactly like Trump. He is a sociopath who lives for ratings, controversy, and attention. It soon became evident that in Morgan’s calculation the best publicity he could get was to blindside the aging pugilist with a metaphorical metal folding chair upside the head. Here’s a sample,

Morgan held nothing back when he told Trump the 2020 vote “was a free and fair election. You lost.”
“Only a fool would think that,” Trump retorted.
“You think I’m a fool?” Morgan asked.

“I do now, yeah,” Trump responded.

A later exchange was more of the same.

“With respect, you haven’t produced the hard evidence,” Morgan challenged Trump (Note: when an Englishman says “with respect,” he means the opposite.)
“I don’t think you’re real,” offered Trump in a formulaic dismissal. A tactic he now relies on exclusively has he no longer has the capacity for nuanced thought — or originality.

Morgan also revealed to the New York Post — for whom he is a columnist — that he told the 2020 loser he blamed the deadly Jan 6 Capitol insurrection on Trump’s refusal to admit defeat. To which the orange bellend replied

“Then you’re a fool! And you haven’t studied.”

Once again, a projecting conservative shows that accusation is admission. It is the chutzpah of the self-blind to take their faults and hurl them at their antagonist like an angry ape chucking feces at a foe.

“Fool” was Trump’s go-to slur in the interview. According to Morgan, he used it seven times. And for good measure, he also described Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as “stupid” and Mike Pence as “foolish and weak.” Contradicting Trump’s estimation of the Senate Republican leader’s mental acuity is the fact that McConnell easily won reelection while his accuser is reduced to a private citizen with grievances to whine about.

And as for the former VP, it is hard to estimate his intelligence as he rarely says anything beyond the anodyne. But his determination on Jan 6th to fulfill his constitutional obligation in the face of a tsunami of criticism from the loser and his fellow travelers — while under siege from a mindless mob yelling “hang Mike Pence” — points to strength, not weakness.

Trump also offered patented inanity by telling his host.

“I’m a very honest man.” Adding, “much more honest than you.”

It is the self-appraisal of a man who is so deluded he believes it. Or is so sociopathic he thinks he can get other people to believe it.

Trump soon decided to cut his losses by fleeing. He announced, “that’s it!” but remained in his seat. Why? He needed to bring up his recent golfing hole-in-one. It is easy to imagine the clashing instincts in his head. Even a surprise twist in the plot could not prevent the uber-egoist from presenting his latest “I’m the greatest” before he laced up his running away shoes.

Having presented his ridiculous self-affirmation, he remembered Morgan had called him a lying loser and told the production to turn the camera off. He then lumbered from the arena a wounded man, muttering imprecations against all - and offered a final “very dishonest’ as he slunk away.

 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukrainian forces in Mariupol conduct bold operation to evacuate 500 fighters from port to Azovstal
Charles Jay

screencap.jpg


Ukrainian troops continue to fight on from their last stronghold in the southern port city of Mariupol — the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, which is surrounded by Russian forces and under a constant barrage from air, land and sea.

On Wednesday, an officer of Ukraine’s 36th Separate Marine Brigade said his troops and other Ukrainian units carried out a joint special operation to evacuate border guards and police fighting in another part of the city to the Azovstal steel plant, Ukrainskaya Pravda reported.

The report said that the Marines and Azov Battalion defenders traveled in armored vehicles to the port area, where the State Border Guard Service and several units of the National Police were stationed and running out of ammunition.


The report said:

Mykolaiv Marines and "Azov" defenders broke through to the Ukrainian fighters. Providing fire cover they were able to take about 500 Ukrainian border guards and National police fighters to "Azovstal".
It is reported that during the implementation of the planned special operation "serious damage was inflicted on the Russian occupying forces."

The Marines’ commander in Mariupol, Maj. Serhiy Volyna, told The Washington Post on Tuesday via a satellite link that his soldiers would continue “to conduct combat operations and to complete our military tasks as long as we receive them.”

“We will not lay down our weapons,” Volyna said.



Volyna described a grim scene inside the sprawling four-square-mile factory site which has been reduced to rubble. The steel plant has a system of underground tunnels where hundreds of civilians, including women and children, are sheltering after Russian forces destroyed almost the entire city.

He said at least 500 people inside the plant are wounded, including civilians.

“It’s in the basement where people just rot. There is no medication,” he told the Post.

Volyna said morale remains high among his troops even though they are cut off from the outside world and under round-the-clock shelling.

“We save water together, we support each other, try to help each other as much as possible,” he told the Post. “Everyone is ready to continue as one. ,,,We understand everything calmly and we continue to carry out combat missions.”

The shelling, he said, is “'round-the-clock.”

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said a planned humanitarian corridor to evacuate residents of Mariupol by bus "did not work as planned," as Russian shelling continued and the transportation of civilians could not be secured, the German news outlet DW reported.

DW reported that Moscow had made the humanitarian corridor contingent on a surrender before an afternoon deadline on Wednesday, but no such surrender came.

Mariupol city officials had said they were hoping to evacuate about 6,000 people on Wednesday, but only dozens of civilians were able to board a small convoy of buses departing from a planned evacuation point to Ukrainian-controlled territory, Reuters reported.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine is prepared to exchange the civilians and military personnel trapped in Mariupol for Russians “under any format,” Ukrainskaya Pravda reported.. Zelenskyy spoke after meeting with the President of the European Council Charles Michel in Kyiv.

"We are prepared for different forms of exchange of our people [in Mariupol] for Russian people, for Russian soldiers who were left behind. They left behind the dead, and they left behind the wounded,” he said.


Mykhailo Podoliak, a presidential adviser, and David Arakhamia, the head of the Ukrainian delegation at peace talks with Russia, said they were ready to go to Mariupol to hold “a special round of negotiations” to arrange the evacuation of Ukrainian troops and civilians, according to The Kyiv Independent encircled in the city.



On Tuesday, Volyna told the Post that his troops do not trust Russian guarantees of safe passage. He said the defenders are well aware that the Russians have made guarantees before, only to break their word and open fire on people.

Instead, in an impassioned plea to President Joe Biden and other world leaders, he asked that an “extraction” be made in which a third country or a non-military organization would assure the security of troops and civilians leaving Mariupol.

“We very much hope that President Biden will hear us and help resolve our situation,” Volyna said. “We believe that this is one of the few people who can really influence and solve this situation in a short time.”

Volyna described a city “demolished from the face of the earth” with people buried under the rubble of their homes or in makeshift graves.

“What is happening here is beyond basic human comprehension,” he said.

Capturing Mariupol would be a victory for Russia, which has been forced to abandon for now its drive to capture Kyiv and suffered the embarrassing loss of its Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, the Moskva. Control of Mariupol would complete a land bridge between Russian-controlled Crimea and the Donbas region. It would also free up troops to take part in the major offensive just beginning in eastern Ukraine.

Deputy Mayor of Mariupol Sergei Orlov said there are around 130,000 citizens still living in Mariupol, the BBC reported.. They have been in a blockade for more than 50 days and are suffering from the lack of food, water, medicine, and help.

Finally, remember all that Russian crap about de-Nazifying Ukraine. Ukrainian officials say up to 20,000 civilians in Mariupol have been killed since the beginning of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.

And among the civilian victims was this 91-year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor.


 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Prepare to be 'mesmerized': An interview with Jan. 6 probe investigator Jamie Raskin
Brandi Buchman

Raskin.jpg


I last interviewed Rep. Jamie Raskin in October 2020, before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Our conversation was about the guardrails that the Constitution has in place to stop a tyrant from taking power.

There was no mystery about then-President Donald Trump’s position in public. He had spent months vowing fraud would be overwhelming in the impending election. When he took the stage for the very first night of presidential debates with now President Joe Biden, Trump told the world he would not accept any outcome he believed was rigged.

In the days since then, the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol was formed and it has unearthed staggering evidence that Donald Trump, the nation’s 45th president, not only incited a mob to a bloody insurrection but perpetrated a fraud on the American public so that he could pull off a coup that would install him into the White House against the will of millions of voters and the Electoral College.

Recently, I interviewed Rep. Raskin again. He now serves as a member of the Jan. 6 committee, a role that was arguably an unmatched fit not just because of his experience as a constitutional and legal scholar, but because of his direct experience with Trump. Raskin was the lead impeachment manager when Trump was impeached—for the second time.
...........
Telling the story of Jan. 6 is a formidable task and the passing months have revealed increasingly critical nuances and contours emerging from that day’s chaos.


There is evidence of a crime. A federal judge has agreed with the select committee on that count and over the course of a contentious battle for key documents, a judge determined that, at the very least, the “illegality of the plan” orchestrated by Trump and his attorney John Eastman—the architect of a strategy pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to certify bunk electors—was “obvious.”

Trump and his attorneys stoked claims of bogus election fraud for months and with Eastman, Trump engaged in a “coup in search of legal theory,” Judge David Carter wrote just a month ago.


Judge David Carter Ruling_Trump Eastman by Daily Kos on Scribd

And yet there is still so much more to come.

There are questions that must be aired out about this attempted coup and its abettors.

When the committee finally resumes its public hearings, which it says will be in May, Rep. Raskin told Daily Kos they will be hearings unlike anything Americans have seen come out of Congress.

“We believe every American has the right to observe and participate in this. I believe based on what I have seen over the last several months, these hearings will be not just important but mesmerizing to the public,” Raskin said. “Everybody needs to be equipped with the means of intellectual self defense against the authoritarian and fascistic policies that have been unleashed in this country.”

So far, the probe has released limited information about its findings and it has navigated the course of its investigation with deft yet disciplined transparency, despite regular attacks and goading from those perched atop some of the highest branches of power in Congress like House Minority Leader and Trump ally Kevin McCarthy.

The panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans has largely established its intent and findings on the public record through its court filings and subpoenas and from House meetings on Capitol Hill, where they have forwarded criminal contempt of Congress referrals for members of the Trump White House who have obstructed their investigation.

Those referrals for officials like former chief of staff Mark Meadows, ex-adviser Steve Bannon, and others now live with the Department of Justice, a body ensconced in an entirely separate yet similarly painstaking investigation of the Capitol attack, its catalysts, and alleged conspirators.

“The events of Jan. 6 were breathtaking,” Raskin said by phone, taking a moment to gather his thoughts before considering the scope of what lies ahead.

A daunting amount of information will be parsed, prioritized, and presented from the 800-plus interviews the panel has conducted and the thousands of pages of records it has secured from a wide array of players spanning the Trump White House to the Trump reelection campaign to extremist right-wing activists and others.


That doesn’t even mention everything that was also sourced from the National Archives following Biden’s waiver of executive privilege over presidential records Trump sought to hide.

That bid by Trump, taken all the way to the Supreme Court, ultimately failed to keep documents like White House call logs hidden and more of Trump’s presidential records continue to flood the committee now.

But until the hearings play out, the public is left to grapple with important information in bits and pieces as investigators occasionally and, likely strategically, highlight portions of their findings at a schedule of their choosing.

Speculation swirls around the committee’s work on a fact-based narrative it is crafting for hearings and that is to be expected.


There are inherent difficulties in this unprecedented undertaking.

“Well, people still have not yet fully understood the distinction between the violent insurrection and the attempted coup. Even with the insurrection, even within the insurrectionary violence, a lot of people think that this was just a rowdy demonstration that got out of hand,” Raskin told Daily Kos.

And of course, Trump. Raskin added, is “out there telling people his mob greeted officers with hugs and kisses.”

“So there’s a lot of confusion about what took place. And I think people will come to understand that this was a premeditated and coordinated violent attack on Congress and the vice president in order to thwart the counting of electoral votes,” Raskin said.

“But the insurrection is only comprehensible when you understand that it was unleashed as a way to assist this political coup, this inside political coup. Donald Trump and his entourage had been looking for ways to overthrow the 2020 presidential election results for months,” Raskin said.

What the public hearings will do is tell the story of “every step in that process,” he explained.

“And it is a harrowing and gripping and utterly sobering story rooted in the events of the day and the weeks before it,” he added.

Millions of Americans have seen footage of rioters beating police, scaling the walls of the nation’s Capitol building, and doing so in everything from homemade to high-grade tactical gear and with makeshift or professional-grade weapons in tow.

Millions of Americans have heard the calls of people shouting for the execution of Pence or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the melee erupted. Many people saw the gallows erected by Trump’s supporters on the Capitol lawn.

But a disconnect seems to persist somehow around how severe and significant Jan. 6 was and remains.

The Pew Research Center, for example, noted this February that more than a year after the attack, fewer Americans believed Trump was responsible for the events of Jan. 6. It was a nearly 10% drop from the year before.

The study found too that people are still largely divided a year later on whether the Jan. 6 probe is even given the “right amount” of attention.


“The difficult thing is that people have a very hard time assimilating something so extreme taking place right at the heart of the Capitol. We saw a violent mob led by insurrectionary violent extremists set upon federal officers and injure and wound and hospitalize more than 150 of them,” Raskin said.

It was the first time in American history that a violent insurrection interfered with the peaceful transfer of power and counting of electoral votes.

“It nearly toppled our system of government,” Raskin added.

The idea of a coup is “radically unfamiliar” to the bulk of the American population, he noted.

“We’re just not—we just don’t have a lot of experience with coups in our own society. We think of a coup as something that takes place against a president. Well, this was a coup that was orchestrated by the president against the vice president and against the Congress,” Raskin said. “It’s what political scientists call a self-coup, not the military trying to overthrow a president but a president trying to defeat and vanquish the constitutional process in order to perpetuate his stay in office and power. Donald Trump was trying to seize the presidency for four more years.”

When Judge Carter issued his ruling about Trump and Eastman on March 28, it was a deeply important finding but it did not shift or change the committee’s trajectory, he said.

It only “solidified” the path they were on.

“It was a powerful warning to the American people about what took place,” he said.

If they missed that warning bell, however, the committee will keep ringing it.

The committee will produce its final report after the hearings are over. Raskin told Daily Kos he hopes it will be a “multimedia report” that will be both easily accessible and digestible.

It will be composed of the committee’s findings as well as recommendations for legislation that would strengthen many of the weak points in the democratic system that the Trump White House undermined or exploited.

“There’s no reason this report has to be a 500-page document written by a computer somewhere. We can write the report in such a way that it really does wake the country up to the nature of the threats that we’ve just dodged and the threats that remain,” Raskin said.

To wit, when the committee holds its public hearings, the Justice Department's prosecution of those who stormed the Capitol will keep rolling.


At the top of April, the DOJ announced it had arrested nearly 800 defendants and charged over 250 people so far with serious crimes including assaulting police and using a deadly weapon to injure an officer.

More than 248 people have entered guilty pleas, copping to misdemeanors and felony charges alike.

The most serious charges— like seditious conspiracy—have been leveled at some of the president’s most ardent supporters, namely the ringleaders and members of domestic extremist networks like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

Trump told the latter group in September 2020 to “stand back and stand by” when asked on a presidential debate stage if he would condemn white supremacy and militia groups.

“Who would you like me to condemn? The Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s gotta do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing problem,” Trump said.

The dog-whistle was well received by Proud Boys and their leader Henry Tarrio.

“Standing by,” Tarrio responded on Parler. “So proud of my guys right now.”

Others, like Proud Boy Joe Biggs, took it as a direct cue to attack those opposed to Trump.


“Trump basically said to go **** them up!” Biggs wrote.



Tarrio was indicted on March 8 for conspiracy to obstruct congressional proceedings on Jan. 6 as well as several other charges. Biggs—and many other Proud Boys—were indicted alongside him and separately.

Oath Keeper leader Elmer Rhodes's seditious conspiracy trial is currently slated for September. One of the key members in the group charged alongside Rhodes, Alabama Oath Keeper chapter leader Joshua James, has already flipped.

James admitted he was dispatched to the Capitol on Jan. 6 by Rhodes as part of an organized conspiracy to stop proceedings. James told prosecutors he was prepared to use force to keep Trump in power.

While the committee’s work and the DOJ’s work operate on entirely different tracks and timetables, Raskin said when the committee makes its case to the public, the panel won’t shy away from presenting any of the relevant details shaken loose by the DOJ.

“To the extent there are factual findings related to these cases, yes, we will be able to use those,” he said.

Juries will decide the fates of those charged with seditious conspiracy. The Justice Department will decide the fate of those the committee has referred for criminal contempt of Congress.

These are the facts.

For those cynical or skeptical about what the committee’s hearings will achieve or accomplish, Raskin offered a message for those feeling faint of heart.

Before speaking, the congressman paused for just a moment.

“Look,” he said, “For the greater part—for the duration of the human species—people have lived under tyrants and dictators and bullies and kings like Vladimir Putin and all of his sycophants around the world. Democracy, democratic self-governance is still a very fragile experiment. And democracy thrives on truth. The people need to be armed with the power that truth will give us.”

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who endured racial slurs and assault for hours while defending the Capitol to the brink of exhaustion told Daily Kos in a recent interview when it comes to Jan. 6: “The truth is the truth.”

If people will believe the truth when they hear it, well, he knows it is not for him to decide.

But he did have one question.


“How the hell is anyone against finding out the full truth?” Dunn said.
......
.......

Proud Boy Henry 'Enrique' Tarrio wants out of jail as new trial date on the horizon
Brandi Buchman
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Insurrectionist #TwoByTwelveBeard aka #LumberJunker Ran His Mouth To His Uber Driver On January 6th!
PvtJarHead

ScreenshotJerryDanielBraun.png

Online sleuths are apparently better at identifying domestic terrorists than dimensions of construction lumber...

Jerry Daniel Braun became known as #TwoByTwelveBeard by the Sedition Hunters and #LumberJunker by others on Twitter for assaulting DC Metropolitan Police Department officers with an approximately 8 foot long piece of 2x6 lumber he somehow found during the Capitol Riot…​

NBC News

On the evening of Jan. 6, 2021, just after 7 p.m., a Donald Trump supporter hopped into the back of an Uber in downtown Washington, D.C., about a mile northwest of the U.S. Capitol.
It was about an hour after the curfew imposed by Washington's mayor, and the man had an obvious injury to his eye. The Uber driver — who had a camera mounted in his car that recorded the ride and that he subsequently turned over to police — struck up a conversation about the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, the court records showed.
(snip)
Fifteen months later, the FBI says the passenger was Jerry Daniel Braun, who is now facing federal charges.
(snip)

The Uber driver tipped off the FBI right after the Capitol attack and was interviewed by a special agent in January and February 2021, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Tuesday. The driver also provided the footage captured by their dashcam, the FBI said. Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the Statement of Facts, Jerry had a revealing chat with his Uber driver before being dropped off at a Holiday Inn in Alexandria, VA...​


Driver: “So, has it been violent all day?”
Jerry LNU: “Well, it started around, right when I got there. I tore down the barricades.”
Driver: “You did? Why?”
Jerry LNU: “Well, because, so we could get to the Capitol.”
Driver: “Well, how’d that work out for ya?”
Jerry LNU: “Well, it looks like, uh, Biden’s gonna be our president.”
(snip)

Reservation records and records of guest check-in and check-out information for the Holiday Inn National Airport show a customer named “JD Braun,” with telephone number 626-512-XXXX and address in South El Monte, California checked in to the Holiday Inn National Airport on January 5, 2021, and checked out on January 7, 2021.


Police bodycam and other footage caught Jerry in the act of committing multiple violent assaults...​

Business Insider

Braun was captured on body-worn camera footage "physically struggling" with law enforcement officers using a barricade, according to court records.
In the videos, Braun is in possession of a long, wooden plank, prosecutors said. In one instance, Braun can be seen using the plank to physically strike an individual wearing a "PRESS" helmet. Prosecutors say Braun and the photographer can be seen exchanging words for a moment before Braun strikes the photographer again, both with his hand and the plank.
(snip)
In November 2021, FBI agents searched Braun's home in South El Monte, California, according to court documents, and Braun confessed that he was present at the attack. When investigators asked if Braun had anything he wanted to say before they left, he reportedly said "guilty."

According to the affidavit, when agents asked what he was guilty of, Braun responded: "Everything."

...although from what I’ve read he hasn’t been charged with any yet. It’s also a bit odd that Mr. Braun was never assigned an AFO# by the FBI...​

Los Angeles Daily News

On Nov. 8, 2021, FBI agents searched Braun’s home. During that search, Braun told the agents “he had been analyzing politics his whole life,” and went to Washington, D.C. to hear Trump’s speech on the lawn outside the Capitol. According to the complaint, Braun then admitted to taking part in the attack on the Capitol.
“After being asked by the agents if (he) had anything he wanted to tell them before he departed the search location, BRAUN responded, ‘Guilty,’” agents wrote in the complaint. “When asked what he was guilty of, BRAUN responded, ‘Everything.’ “
Agents also asked Braun about his head injury. He told the agents that he was carrying a pizza while walking to the Uber he ordered, then tripped and “busted” his head. Whether that’s true or not, agents haven’t said if they think Braun was injured during the fighting outside the Capitol.

Braun was arrested on April 12 in West Covina. He was released after his daughter entered a $20,000 bond on his behalf. Court records showed he appeared in a Washington, D.C. courtroom via video conference on Tuesday, where he faced felony charges of obstruction, entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct.

I expect more charges are likely for Jerry in the near future beyond those contained in the Criminal Complaint and the Statement of Facts...​





 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ginni Thomas' texts to Meadows reveal connection to another highly placed conspiracy theorist
Laura Clawson

Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was truly part of a web of efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Among her dozens of text messages with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, CNN reports, was one passing along thoughts from her friend Connie Hair. But Hair wasn’t just a personal friend. She was also chief of staff to Rep. Louie Gohmert—and Gohmert joined or supported two lawsuits seeking to overturn Donald Trump’s election loss. Those lawsuits went to the Supreme Court, though the court didn’t take up either of them.

Clarence and Ginni Thomas have long made a mockery of the weak Supreme Court ethics rules allowing justices to decide, on their own, when to recuse themselves from cases in which they have conflicts of interest. Ginni is a far-right activist who has worked with groups actively advocating for specific outcomes in major Supreme Court cases, cases that Clarence never recuses himself from. It’s not just a matter of Ginni’s stated opinions, it’s also often a matter of her professional interests. But Team Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election have brought the corruption of the Thomases’ inside-outside act into renewed attention, because it’s noteworthy when a Supreme Court justice’s wife texts a White House chief of staff: “Do not concede. It takes time for the army who is gathering for [Trump’s] back,” and later the Supreme Court justice in question is the only member of the court dissenting on allowing Trump’s documents relating to Jan. 6 to be handed over to investigators.
..........
Hair turns up in a Nov. 14, 2020, text from Ginni Thomas to Meadows, reading, “This war is psychological. PSYOP. It's what I did in the military. They are using every weapon they have to try to make us quit ... It is fake, fraud and if people would take a deep breath and look at things through that filter we will see this through and win.”

The text to Meadows mentions Hair in a context suggesting she was the author of those words, and a source told CNN that Thomas had cut and pasted Hair’s comments from other texts. Ginni Thomas does not have a military background, while Hair’s Twitter profile includes “#veteran.”

Publicly, Hair tweeted things like, “Was on a call with the Trump campaign manager and legal folks for a briefing this morning. WE ARE SEEING THIS THROUGH TO THE END OF THE COURT/COUNT BATTLE,” and “Massive amounts of voter fraud in big cities throughout the contested states.”

Hair’s boss, Gohmert, sued Mike Pence in an effort to get him to interfere in the certification of the Electoral College count, and endorsed a Texas lawsuit challenging the votes of four other states.

According to CNN’s source, Hair didn’t know about Gohmert’s involvement in those cases, and Thomas and Hair didn’t discuss them. But Hair has been friends with the Thomases for years, including dinners and a Colbie Caillat concert as well as photos from inside Clarence’s judicial chambers. So what we have is the Supreme Court justice’s wife texting her good friend the congressional chief of staff, then passing along words of wisdom from the latter to the White House chief of staff, while the member of Congress is involved in lawsuits headed to the Supreme Court.

It’s all a little suspicious.


Clarence Thomas should not be allowed to pick and choose which of the legal matters in which his wife is deeply involved he will take as a member of the Supreme Court—particularly as his answer to that question has been “all of them.” A Supreme Court justice whose wife was strategizing with someone actively engaged in a coup attempt, telling them “Do not concede,” and sending along conspiracy theories and advice about which lawyers should lead the effort in the courts should perhaps not be one out of nine votes on which of those efforts will succeed in court. If Thomas won’t start recusing himself where his wife has been actively involved—and he won’t—it’s another strong argument for, at a minimum, imposing a strong set of judicial ethics on the Supreme Court, and beyond that, investigating Thomas and expanding the court so that one corrupt justice will not loom so large.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Experts keep waiting for Russia to show competence, but it still isn't happening
Hunter

With the ubiquity of smartphones, the on-the-ground details of Russia's war against Ukraine have been more closely documented than any war. The footage is omnipresent, even allowing independent observers to make detailed catalogs of destroyed equipment. The movement of Russian troops is being tracked by satellite, as well as by pinging electronic devices they have stolen and taken with them. We can hear individual conversations between Russian soldiers and their families. We have a great deal of information.

But we still don't have the slightest soggy clue as to what the Russian "strategy" actually is. Even after weeks of war, the military experts who interpret these things can't wrap their heads around just what we've been seeing. It’s not only in the fine details, either. For example, it's not even clear as of today whether the predicted and planned "major Russian offensive" in eastern Ukraine is happening now. We don’t know if these new Russian attacks are simply prelude to a "real" Russian attack that will come later or if this is the actual planned offensive because the current attacks are so seemingly uncoordinated and poorly followed-up that experts can't agree on what they're seeing.

The Pentagon has been especially grave in its warnings of what Russia is capable of, and its newest reports again speculate that Russia's actual "major offensive" is not yet underway; what we are instead seeing now is an initial softening-up of Ukrainian lines that will be followed by competent Russian advances in force after Russia has impotently tossed currently fighting battalions into the woodchipper, the Pentagon insists. These warnings need to be taken seriously, and nobody should imagine that Ukrainian defenders currently under heavy artillery fire are thinking that Russia is for now only going easy on them.

But we have also seen that U.S. intelligence has consistently had deep insight into how top Russian officials
think the war will go, even as they appear to have been caught unprepared by the realities of the Russian assault. That might still be instructive here; there seems little question that in offices surrounding Vladimir Putin, every official insists that the Great Russian Victory is coming just around the next corner. U.S. intelligence seems to have unfettered access to those particular fantasies.

When it comes to the utter incompetence and corruption that has hollowed out the Russian military, though? Nobody in either the Pentagon or elsewhere in the U.S. government appears to have had the slightest clue as to how severe those problems would turn out to be. What we have here might be dueling truths. Top Russian military officials have every balcony-avoiding reason to insist to Putin that the "real" attacks have been very competently planned, prepared for, and are coming any minute now.

But on the ground, what Putin's fellow kleptocrats can actually manage may look like what we see now: An increase in the tempo of the fighting, important-sounding reports bragging that now Russian artillery has been firing off even more than they previously have, but without any greater plan than the hope that sheer Russian numbers will eventually kill off Ukraine's defenses
somewhere along the front, upon which Russia Will Win.

It's not an entirely implausible plan, especially given Russia's history of accomplishing few plans more advanced than that one. It means, however, that we're still in this nebulous space in which Ukraine must prepare for the possibility of sudden Russian genius, even as every last battle suggests that their invaders are more focused on stealing home appliances than they are on keeping their troops fed.

If you're confused, it means you're paying attention; military analysts with decades of experience watching Russia and writing up documents on what the Russian military can and can't do are even more confused than you are.


The reason Ukraine is now getting heavy weapons that NATO had been so reluctant to give them before, however, is a direct result of Ukraine being able to hold off Russia for this long, this well. Few in NATO still believe Russia has the military force of a superpower.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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When the United States wanted to purchase a fleet of helicopters for the Afghan government in the early 2010s, it chose the Mi-17 sold by a Russian state-owned arms exporter.

The decision infuriated lawmakers who felt the Pentagon should choose an American manufacturer. But the Defense Department stayed the course, saying the Russian helicopters were relatively inexpensive, functioned well in Afghanistan’s desert expanses and high altitudes, and Afghan pilots knew how to fly them.

A decade later, neither Congress nor the Kremlin could have anticipated that those helicopters would be used against Russian forces by way of arms transfers engineered by the United States in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

The Mi-17s’ unusual journey went unmentioned in the announcement last week by President Biden touting his approval of an $800 million security package dramatically expanding the scope of military aid Washington is supplying to Kyiv.

“These new capabilities include artillery systems, artillery rounds and armored personnel carriers,” said Biden. “I have also approved the transfer of additional helicopters.”

Those 11 helicopters are headed to Ukraine at a crucial time for its outgunned and outmanned military, as Russia intensifies its attacks on the country’s east and south. The Mi-17s are personnel transports that can be armed with cannons and rockets, allowing them to perform an attack role and provide close air support.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky personally appealed to Biden for the helicopters last week during a phone call that resulted in the last-minute addition of the aircraft to the latest security package, said people familiar with the decision who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the arms transfers.

“Ukraine could use the Mi-17s to transport troops, including for special operations raids, evacuate casualties, move ammunition and other key supplies, or attack Russian targets, including troops or infrastructure,” said Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute who focuses on Russian defense policy.

“The more helicopters they have means they can use them more aggressively,” he said.

In total, the United States has agreed to provide 16 Mi-17s to Ukraine. All were undergoing U.S.-contracted maintenance outside of Afghanistan in August when the Taliban took over the country and seized billions of dollars in Western-supplied military equipment, said Capt. Mike Kafka, a Pentagon spokesman.

At that time, the helicopters still belonged to the Afghan government, but because they were paid for by U.S. taxpayers under the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, the Pentagon notified Congress in December that it intended to “treat” the aircraft as Defense Department property, said U.S. defense officials familiar with the matter.

Once Biden agreed to transfer the helicopters to Ukraine, the next challenge was getting them there.

Conveniently, five Mi-17s already were in Ukraine for maintenance when Russia’s offensive began — not an uncommon occurrence given Ukraine’s expertise in Soviet-designed military equipment. Those helicopters, deemed “excess defense articles” under the Arms Export Control Act, officially have been handed over to Ukraine, said a defense official.

The other 11 Mi-17s are in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base outside of Tucson. The Pentagon could send them to Ukraine as early as this weekend, the defense official said, cautioning that “a lot of factors,” including the weather, would determine the precise date.

The flood of weapons into Ukraine has infuriated Moscow, which has warned the United States to stop arming Ukraine or face “unpredictable consequences.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday that the Pentagon’s helicopter transfers should serve as a warning to Ukraine of how Washington treats its security partners.

“The Pentagon is now sending helicopters to Ukraine, helicopters it had previously ordered for the army of Afghanistan — a country that the Americans finally dumped,” Maria Zakharova said. “Will Ukraine repeat the fate of Afghanistan? The helicopters did. American politicians are true to their words in this respect. The art of betraying their closest allies is in their political blood.”

Ukrainian officials, however, have expressed gratitude for Washington’s security assistance, while continuing to appeal for more sophisticated weaponry.

“President Biden has demonstrated true leadership in helping [provide] assistance to Ukraine, in mobilizing [the] international community to support Ukraine,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in recent days.

The irony of using Russian military equipment against Moscow’s forces in Ukraine is not lost on military experts, some of whom suggested the Mi-17s were likely to be used to greater effect there than in Afghanistan.

“For once, we’re handing over assets to a government and military that’s capable of using them,” said Jason Dempsey, a former Army officer who helped train Afghan forces.

Military personnel in Ukraine, a former Soviet state, have more experience using Russian helicopters than U.S. Chinooks or Black Hawks, said Dempsey.

That comfort with Russian-made equipment has resulted in other European countries agreeing to provide key Soviet-era weapons that can be easily used by Ukrainians in battle. Slovakia, for instance, has agreed to send its Russian-made S-300 antiaircraft missile defense system after Washington offered to replace it with a substitute battery of more-advanced Patriot missiles. The governments of Poland and the Czech Republic have provided Russian-made T-72 tanks to Ukraine as well.

“The Russians have so flooded the world with cheap yet reliable weapons that they have effectively armed both sides in the war,” said Jeremy Shapiro, director of research at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The blowback stemming from such sales is not unfamiliar to the United States, the world’s largest supplier of arms, which has repeatedly fought opponents armed with U.S. weapons or supplied governments that later committed atrocities.

“When you sell someone a hammer, you don’t know if it’s going to be used to build a house or break your window,” said JJ Gertler, a senior analyst at the Teal Group consultancy.