More to ignore, Book 67.......

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: The Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson is driving Russia back along a broad front
Mark Sumner

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Ukrainian soldiers fire French Caesar SPG at Russian positions in eastern Ukraine. June 15, 2022.

We’ve talked many times about the fog of war, but when action is underway—that’s when the fog really rolls in. If an area is stable for several days, enough calls to residents of the area, videos from soldiers at the front, snapshots, and geolocated scenes of destruction can merge together to give a fairly accurate idea of positions for forces on each side. That line of control can be sketched in neatly.

When forces are moving, villages are being captured and recaptured, and other locations are simply being bypassed on the way to a more vital target, that’s when the fog can become a real pea-souper. That’s especially true when accounts and sources that have previously seemed reliable and consistent in their information suddenly split and issue statements in direct disagreement about the current status.

All of this is a way of saying … welcome to Wednesday in Kherson Oblast.

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Everyone agrees that Ukrainian forces are engaged in an active counteroffensive at multiple points of the contact line with Russian-controlled territory. The great majority of sources agree that the focus of that counteroffensive has largely moved from the bridgehead near Davydiv Brid, where fighting continues, to the southern end of the line where Ukraine has recently captured a number of towns and villages closer to the city of Kherson. And that’s about the limit of agreement.

Beyond that, some are placing the principal area of advance near the town of Kyselivka, with reports of Ukrainian forces “driving for Chornabaivka” down highway M14. Others insist this is not the main area of battle, with the real fight south of that highway, near the village of Pravdyne. There is also disagreement about the whole line of control, along with the level of activity underway, along the line all the way from Kyselivka to Snihurivka—which means that the white dots in this area may represent both towns under active dispute and those whose current control is simply a big shrug.

I can confidently say I have never presented a map with less confidence in the absolute accuracy.

There is no doubt that Ukraine has made, and is continued to make, advances in Kherson oblast. A whole number of villages and towns near Soldatske are now “confirmed” as being liberated by Ukrainian forces. Farther up the line, Ukraine seems to secured a number of small villages in that bridgehead south of Davydiv Brid and have re-aimed the current effort to the east.

The biggest concern for Ukrainian supporters looking at the action on Wednesday has to be a feeling that we’ve seen all this before. The reports that forces along the M14 are “driving for Chornabaivka,” or that those in the extreme south are “moving for Tomyna Balka” sound all too much like the reports from a week ago that forces crossing the Inhulets River were “heading for Nova Kakhovka.” In both cases the announced targets seem to ignore the fact that there are several villages in the way, as well as locations where Russia forces have known to have fortified outposts.

LIkewise, reports on Wednesday that many Russian-held villages have been abandoned and that Russian forces are preparing to leave much of the area certainly sound like recycled reports from a month ago when the first push of Ukrainian forces coming down from Mykolaiv was said to have so rattled the Russians that they were packing up and preparing to leave Kherson. By now it seems that Ukrainian forces have always been “just 10km from Kherson!” and that Russian forces have always been “about to break.”

The truth is that Ukrainian forces have been extraordinary in their push to retake Kherson, but the situation is extraordinarily hard. As kos has pointed out several times, this is an area that is about as flat, featureless, and free of cover as you will find anywhere. It’s no wonder that we keep getting reporting that people in Kherson can “hear the battle” or “see smoke on the horizon.” The horizon in the area is way out there.

Russia has made a huge—huge—deal, in Ukraine, and more importantly back in Russia, that Kherson is “Russia forever.” They are not going to simply walk away.

Ukraine is going to have to fight through a whole series of Russian-occupied villages and hard points, and they’re trying to do so without leaving a trail of absolute destruction.

It all adds up to a formula that is extremely unlikely to generate the kind of rapid, decisive results that would be so gratifying. However, there’s some extremely good news out of all this. Just two weeks ago, we were talking about Russia mounting another assault on Kryvyi Rih to the north, or sending a column to Zaporizhzhia to the northeast. Neither of those things materialized.

Because even if we’re not sure where Ukraine’s counteroffensive is being most effective, everyone agrees that Ukraine is on the offensive. And it’s being effective.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022 · 11:28:09 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
Two U.S. volunteers have reportedly been captured fighting with Ukrainian soldiers. Based on treatment of British prisoners this week, there is a strong possibility Russia will declare them “soldiers of fortune” and condemn them to death. As with the British volunteers now being held, this holds the possibility of sparking a diplomatic incident. A direct confrontation remains unlikely. Stay tuned.
..........

Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022 · 11:33:23 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
On the south side of Izyum, Russian forces are reportedly making a hard push on Bohorodychne, though at last word, they still don’t have this town. So Ukrainian forces seem to be pushing back hard in this area.


Meanwhile, west of Izyum, Ukraine has pretty much taken everything there is to take in that wooded area just outside the city. This is one case where “next stop [insert city]” really seems appropriate as there are no more settlements between Ukrainian positions and Izyum proper.

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Jan. 6 committee puts Pence pressure campaign in focus for upcoming hearing
Brandi Buchman

On Thursday, the Jan. 6 committee says it will unravel evidence it has collected on the swirling pressure campaign directed at former Vice President Mike Pence by former President Donald Trump and attorney John Eastman as a scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election accelerated to an insurrection.

The committee previewed what’s to come, in part, with the release of colorful recorded testimony from former White House attorney Eric Herschmann.

In short and no uncertain terms, Herschmann summed up a response he had for Eastman during a phone call three days after the Capitol was sacked.

“I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: orderly transition,” Herschmann recounted to investigators.

Then, he told Eastman to get himself a “great ****ing criminal defense lawyer.”

That “orderly transition” nearly wasn’t.

.......
When the third hearing hosted by the select committee gets underway June 16 at 1 p.m. ET, the panel will present live witness testimony and air more videos from its wealth of depositions collected from Trump administration officials high and low.

The live witnesses will include Greg Jacob, Pence’s former counsel and J. Michael Luttig, a former judge who advised Pence on what he could or could not do legally when he presided over the counting of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6.

The session Thursday is expected to last at least two hours. Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, was originally expected to testify in person. He will not appear; instead, investigators will share clips of his previously recorded testimony from earlier points in its investigation. Significantly, it was Short who reportedly warned a Secret Service agent one day before the insurrection that Pence could be in danger and that the reason might be Trump.

Leading questioning of the witnesses will be investigative counsel John Wood.

Panel member and Rep. Pete Aguilar will step up to deliver parts of the committee’s presentation as well. It will be similar to the way Rep. Zoe Lofgren spearheaded the second hearing.

Breaking up events around the pressure campaign and the alternate elector scheme—which go hand-in-hand—into chapters, the panel will present extensive evidence that it claims demonstrates how Trump persistently attacked the rule of law while escalating bogus claims of widespread voter fraud even as his senior-most advisers urged him to stop pushing for victory where there was none.

Pence, court records and public reporting has so far shown, was the linchpin holding together a plan to keep Trump in office.

Eastman presented this scheme to Trump two days before the mob stormed the Capitol.

Eastman Memo by Daily Kos

The strategy, in six steps, proposed having Pence throw out electors in seven battleground states. Eastman, the Federalist Society attorney, argued the Electoral Count Act—which he also said he believed was unconstitutional—permitted Pence to preside over the count during the joint session on Jan. 6. Eastman argued, incorrectly, that would leave Pence with total discretion over which slates of electors to accept or not.

That is overwhelmingly considered to be, by legal experts and attorneys throughout the nation, an incorrect interpretation of the Electoral Count Act. Notably, in October 2021, Eastman himself dubbed the strategy “crazy” once he was revealed as the author.
He changed his mind a day later when he told the National Review there was “no question” that his plan was legally sound.



The strategy suggested that, once the first objection was lodged by lawmakers, that would trigger a process activating Pence. If Pence threw out the votes, Democrats would be up in arms, Eastman surmised in his memo.

This chaos would prompt Pence to say that a clear Electoral College winner had not been established and no candidate had reached the necessary 270 votes. This way, the election would then go to the House of Representatives, giving each state one vote. With Republicans controlling 26 state delegations—and Democrats controlling 22—all Trump would need stop Biden from becoming president was a simple majority vote.

And if that didn’t work, due to a stalemate over the count, then that would be a benefit for Trump, Eastman wrote.

It would “give the state legislatures more time to weigh in formally to support the alternate slate of electors if they had not already done so.”

“The fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter. We should take all of our actions with that in mind,” the memo reads.

In truth, the Vice President was not the ultimate arbiter. But he held the keys to a victory Trump couldn’t win honestly, popularly, or through the Electoral College.

A federal judge reviewed correspondence between Eastman, Trump, and members of Trump’s legal and inner circles as Eastman has fought to keep records shielded from investigators who first subpoeaned him last year. Eastman was unable to evade a subpoena when it was sent to his employer, Chapman University and for the last several months, he has been handing over reams of emails and other documents to the committee.

A federal judge declared in a ruling this March that Eastman’s views on the Electoral Count Act were “not a good faith interpretation of the law.”

“They are a partisan distortion of the democratic process,” U.S. District Judge David Carter wrote. “his plan was not driven by preserving the Constitution but by winning the 2020 election.”

Carter emphasized that the scheme “was not confined to the ivory tower—it was a coup in search of a legal theory.” The plan, the judge wrote as he ordered Eastman to detail his work for the 45th president to investigators, “spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation’s government, led tot he deaths of several law enforcement officer and deepened political distrust in our political process.”

Carter, a former U.S. Marine and appointee to the federal bench by former President Bill Clinton, wrote:

“If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution,” Carter wrote. “If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself.”

Coup in Search of Legal The... by Daily Kos

Other court records have shown how Eastman and Pence’s counsel, Greg Jacob, traded emails frantically in the run up to Jan. 6 and importantly, how Eastman pushed to get the alternate electors recognized despite the hard deadline of Dec. 14 having long passed for any challenge to elector slates to be issued.

Jacob questioned the constitutionality of Eastman’s methods. Eastman resisted him, telling the vice president’s chief of staff he was “small minded.”

Once the riot started, Jacob fired off an email to Eastman. It is presented below in its entirety with emphasis added by this reporter for clarity.

(Note: The reference to former President Abraham Lincoln was made because Eastman drew a comparison earlier in the conversation suggesting Trump’s situation was akin to when Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War. This was first reported by The Washington Post.)

“John, very respectfully, I just don’t in the end believe that there is a single Justice on the United States Supreme Court, or a single judge on any of our Courts of Appeals, who is as “broad minded” as you when it comes to the irrelevance of statutes enacted by the United States Congress, and followed without exception for more than 130 years.

They cannot be set aside except when in direct conflict with the Constitution that our revered Framers handed us. And very respectfully, I don’t think that a single one of those Framers would agree with your position either. Certainly, Judge Luttig has made clear he does not. And there is no reasonable argument that the Constitution directs or empowers the Vice President to set a procedure followed for 130 years before it has even been resorted to.


Lincoln suspended the writ when the body entrusted with that authority was out of session, and submitted it to them as soon as it returned. I understand your argument that several state legislatures were out of session. But the role for state legislatures has for our entire history ended at the time that electoral certificates are submitted to Congress. Congress has debated submissions, including competing submissions. It has never once referred them out to state legislatures to decide.

I respect your heart here. I share your concerns about what Democrats will do once in power. I want election integrity fixed.

But I have run down every legal trail placed before me to its conclusion, and I respectfully conclude that as a legal framework, it is a results oriented position that you would never support if attempted by the opposition, and essentially entirely made up.

And thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege.”

By the time Jacob had sent this, Pence had been forced to hide from the mob calling to hang him.
Eastman recoiled on the vice president’s counsel.

“My bullshit, seriously? You think you can’t adjourn the session because the [Electoral Count Act] says no adjournment while the compelling evidence that the election was stolen continues to build and is already overwhelming,” Eastman wrote.

Trump had already lost more than 50 lawsuits at this time challenging election results and citing fraud. This was an opinion shared by the nation’s most credible intelligence apparatuses as well as Trump’s own appointee at the Department of Justice, then-Attorney General Bill Barr.

But, much like Barr described Trump during his recorded deposition for the committee, Eastman was “detached from reality,” the email shows.

“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Eastman wrote on Jan. 6.

Jacob told Eastman it was “gravely, gravely irresponsible” of him to “entice the president with an academic theory that had no legal viability.”

He continued:

”And if the courts declined to hear it, I suppose it could only be decided in the streets. The knowing amplification of that theory through numerous surrogates, whipping large numbers of people into a frenzy over something with no chance of ever attaining legal force through actual process of law, has led us to where we are.”

J. Michael Lutting, who will testify Thursday, told Frontline last month that Pence’s team reached him on the morning of Jan. 6 and told him they needed a public declaration of his legal advice.

Luttig obliged the vice president and, with his son to help, the retired judge posted a thread on Twitter explaining how “the only responsibility and power of the vice president under the Constitution is to faithfully count the Electoral College votes as they have been cast.”

Pence, Luttig advised, could do no more, no less.

They hoped it would go viral and news outlets would pick up faster than they could spread it alone.

On the morning the mob attacked, Trump spent it angrily tweeting at Pence. Pence had finally issued a statement at the 11th hour declaring he did not have the authority to unilaterally decide which slates would count or not. He cited Luttig in his official statement.



Trump had been counting on Pence to come through for him since the wee hours. He had already bellowed at his second-in-command at 1 a.m. ET on Jan. 6.

“If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency. Many States want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be). Mike can send it back!” Trump tweeted.

Just after 8 a.m. ET on Jan. 6, Trump tweeted at Pence again:

“States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

When White House counsel Eric Herschmann told Eastman to get a criminal defense lawyer it was because he didn’t believe Eastman’s theories existed in any factual basis.



And so much surrounding the so-called “alternate elector” gambit failed to really exist in any factual basis.

The Washington Post analyzed the importance of this scheme last week just before the committee commenced its public hearings.

It boils down, however, to this: In seven states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—if Trump could pass off his slates of allied electors as authentic, then Congress would at least consider them. When his electors met, they did so of their own accord, largely publicizing their meetings and drawing significant attention as they cried fraud despite a total lack of credible evidence.

Trump campaign operations manager Robert Sinners, however, told the fake electors in Georgia to conduct their affairs in “complete secrecy.” They were to tell security guards there that they had a meeting with state senators.

Under law, electors are required to meet at the State Capitol to enter their slates.

Sinner’s instruction came just one day before authentic electors were slated to meet at the Capitol.

Sinners has since told the Post that he was instructed to give those orders by David Shafer, the chairman of the Republican Party in Georgia.

After Thursday’s hearing at 1 p.m. ET, the committee is scheduled to meet again on June 21 and June 23 at 1 p.m. ET. Additional hearings may be added but the committee has not confirmed this as of Wednesday.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig, a staunch conservative long admired by many Republicans, will testify before the House's Jan. 6 committee on Thursday with an urgent and stark message for the panel about former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election: "America's democracy was almost stolen from her."

Luttig will also likely state that the Republican National Committee is wrong to have referred to some of the events of Jan. 6, 2021 as "legitimate political discourse" and warn fellow conservatives to not ignore the gravity of what Trump did as he scrambled to hold onto the presidency that day.

The retired judge's planned remarks were confirmed to CBS News by two people familiar with his expected testimony who were not authorized to discuss details of the hearing.

He will also reveal how he advised then-Vice President Mike Pence to resist Trump's pleas for Pence to block the congressional certification of Joe Biden's election victory.

One person familiar with Luttig's planned testimony said he sees his appearance before the committee as a serious and sobering moment similar to an appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court. ........
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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HAH! Rudy 'Apparently Inebriated' Giuliani Countersues Over Smartmatic Suit Against Him and Fox News
News Corpse

Among the most egregious of the many broken promises of Donald Trump's torturous one-term tenancy in the White House was his predictably improbable claim that he would always hire "the best people." And Trump himself has been the best witness to the absurdity of that pledge. The list of former Trump staffers that he now says are losers and idiots who were never up to the job could wallpaper the entire exterior of Mar-a-Lago.

That list includes Trump's cabinet secretaries, his chief of staff, generals and other Pentagon officials, and legal representatives. Which brings us to his long time lawyer, the "apparently inebriated" Rudy Giuliani. Since heading up Trump's legal team, Giuliani has lost more than sixty cases related to Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was "rigged" and "stolen" from him. He has also lost his license to practice law in New York, and is being investigated in Washington, D.C. His relentless and unabashed lies even got him banned on Fox News.

Giuliani has also been named in a couple of multibillion dollar lawsuits filed by election services companies that were defamed by Trump associates and Trump-fluffing media. One of the suits was filed by Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion. The other one was filed by Smartmatic Software for $2.7 billion. Both explicitly cite Giuliani as a named defendant, along with Fox News and other individuals.

Now Giuliani is fighting back with a countersuit against Smartmatic. Reuters is reporting that...

"Rudolph Giuliani has sued Smartmatic to recoup legal fees as he defends against its $2.7 billion lawsuit accusing him, Fox News Network and others of falsely claiming that the company helped rig the 2020 U.S. presidential election so Joe Biden would defeat Donald Trump.

"In a counterclaim filed late Monday in a New York state court in Manhattan, Giuliani said the voting machine company's defamation lawsuit, which he characterized as baseless, interfered with his constitutional right to speak freely on issues of public concern."

Considering the fact that Smartmatic's suit contains an abundance of documentary evidence to prove their claims against Giuliani and the his co-defendants, it's hard to imagine on what grounds he is basing his complaint. Giuliani's defamatory statements were made on national television programs where he unleashed bizarre and baseless charges asserting that Smartmatic was "formed by people close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his late predecessor Hugo Chavez, and founded 'for the specific purpose of fixing elections.'" Then again, almost all of his charges are bizarre and baseless.

Giuliani is also asserting that his First Amendment rights are being infringed upon. But the First Amendment doesn't shield speech that is false and defamatory. And any honest and competent lawyer would know that. Which, of course, leaves Giuliani out. The only thing he will accomplish with this suit is to bring more attention to his pathetic ineptitude, as well as the guilt of his client, Donald Trump. So bring it on, Rudy, and pass the popcorn.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Michigan sheriff who made excuses for Whitmer kidnappers got access to, disassembled vote tabulator
Hunter

ScreenShot2020-10-12at10.36.49PM.png

Oh it's THIS guy again? Captain Kangaroo Court? Admiral Crunch of Barry County? The guy who thinks your hair appointment is worth whatever pandemic deaths might happen and that he, not anyone else in the entire country, gets to decide that? Uuuuuugh.

We here at Daily Kos are irritatingly familiar with the goings-on of the "Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer Association," the Richard Mack-led hive of anti-government conspiracy theories that all vaguely revolves around a central premise declaring local sheriffs—as opposed to all other elected officials—are the true arbiters of what the Constitution does or doesn't allow. It's not Congress, and it's not the Supreme Court, you silly goose.

It's Some Guy, duly elected sheriff of Spittake County, who determines whether you have to pay taxes or abide by federal firearms laws or kidnap your state governor because they made you miss a hair appointment. Want your own meth lab? Hey, talk to your local sheriff, because drug laws ain't the boss of you. The law is whatever Sheriff Someguy says it is on any given day, and maybe if you don't donate to the next law enforcement meet-up, it'll be something else tomorrow.

These people get on
television, mind you. Richard Mack, David "Bling" Clarke, and the others are invited onto the teevees to provide "analysis" of various national ills, and hosts go out of their way to make them seem vaguely hinged. But I'm not sure if we knew this one: Talking Points Memo reports that one of these self-proclaimed "constitutional" sheriffs, Barry County, Michigan, Sheriff Dar Leaf, actually got his hands on a ballot tabulation machine last year in the wake of conservative conspiracy theories insisting that Donald Trump only lost reelection because of "rigged" voting machines.

Leaf had previously attempted to get courts to allow him to impound voting machines, but Leaf didn't have a shred of evidence to justify it, and the court told him to take a hike. After the court refused to go along, reports TPM, Leaf sent "a deputy and a private investigator" to township election clerks throughout the county, questioning and attempting to bully them into surrendering equipment. One clerk allowed them to take a Dominion ballot tabulator for inspection; Leaf's team (or somebody) allegedly took the machine to Detroit and disassembled it.

By "disassembled," we effectively mean "destroyed." The machine's security seal was broken, revealing the machine had been tampered with. And rather than being, say, thrown out of office for a plot to improperly tamper with voting machines,
Leaf is now filing another lawsuit claiming that it's other state officials who are interfering with his authority to hunt for fraud that neither he nor anybody else can find.

Oh, it's not going to get an inch in court, mind you. But bizarrely, this paranoid and batshit conspiracy theorist continues to hold office. That's despite Sheriff Leaf palling around with everyone from the Constitutional Sheriff's group to Pillowman Mike Lindell to election hoax promotion machine, Sidney Powell.

And if the name Dar Leaf rings a bell for you, that's because this particular Michigan has a history. Leaf earned national attention when a militia kidnapping plot targeting Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was foiled, but produced footage of Leaf speaking onstage at an anti-Whitmer rally shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the militia thugs arrested for their roles in the plot.

Leaf was putting the "constitutional sheriff" theory that his decisions trumped all other government regulations into practice, during that rally. He specifically praised a local barber who defied pandemic lockdown orders as a "little version of Rosa Parks," encouraging other Michigan citizens to defy pandemic orders.

Undeterred, Leaf later responded to questions about the kidnapping plot by suggesting to a reporter that the militia had the right to attempt a citizen's arrest of Whitmer.

We can say, then, that the rule of law in Barry County, Michigan, is spotty at best. Whether you're allowed to kidnap a sitting governor because you're mad about hair salon appointment cancellations during a national emergency is something still up for debate, and if you find that the courts aren't willing to entertain your requests to impound election equipment because you're pissy about the outcome and/or don't think the vibes are right then you can send a few underlings from town to town to demand that they turn over the equipment anyway. After all, Sidney Powell and the guy who makes pillows both think that, uh, Italian satellites might have space-lasered the vote totals on behalf of Dead Hugo Chavez, and if the local sheriff thinks that every court in the land, every election official, every election expert and anyone else you can name are all wrong, dead wrong, in insisting that never happened then buckle up, because it's sheriffin' time.

All right, so the voters probably have to pay for another destroyed vote tabulator. Fine. Republicans have been tampering with voting equipment all across the nation, with new subpoenas issued in Georgia over another tampering case on Wednesday—in that case, conspiracy theorists were given improper access to a server and were able to copy its contents in a rather stunning case of outright Republican corruption. The idea that anyone witless enough to believe Trumpian conspiracy theories about Italian satellites or dead Venezuelan leaders has the forensic chops to find out
anything about a voting machine by unscrewing some parts and examining it for silverfish and/or bamboo is pretty laughable all on its own, but that's almost beside the point.

The bigger issue here seems to be that Barry County, Michigan, is in the apparently-permanent thrall of a far-right terrorist sympathizer whose interpretation of the law consists solely of what he and the last three Facebook posts he's read feel like.

What's up with that, Barry County? I realize in a nearly all-white, all-Republican county now known more for terrorism than tourism you're going to get quite the list of characters for local office, but if your local law enforcement guy is now nationally known for
both his ties to an attempted terrorist act and, now, for tampering with voting equipment, don't you think it might be time to turn the post over to a particularly photogenic dog?

There are a lot of ways for a county to be famous, and the rest of us are questioning your life choices. And that's an understatement.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.......The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has obtained email correspondence between Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and lawyer John Eastman, who played a key role in efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, according to three people involved in the committee’s investigation.

The emails show that Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election were more extensive than previously known, two of the people said. The three declined to provide details and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The committee’s members and staffers are now discussing whether to spend time during their public hearings exploring Ginni Thomas’s role in the attempt to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election, the three people said. The Post previously reported that the committee had not sought an interview with Thomas and was leaning against pursuing her cooperation with its investigation.

The two people said the emails were among documents obtained by the committee and reviewed recently. Last week, a federal judge ordered Eastman to turn more than a hundred documents over to the committee. Eastman had tried to block the release of those and other documents by arguing that they were privileged communications and therefore should be protected.......
 

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Ukraine Update: Today's new weapons announcements are far more significant than critics think
kos

The United States and several of its Western allies announced a new round of military (and humanitarian) aid for Ukraine.

United States, $1 billion:
  • 18 155mm Howitzers;
  • 36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition;
  • 18 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers;
  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems;
  • Four Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment;
  • Spare parts and other equipment.
  • Two Harpoon coastal defense systems;
  • Thousands of secure radios;
  • Thousands of Night Vision devices, thermal sights, and other optics;
  • Funding for training, maintenance, sustainment, transportation, and administrative costs.
Germany

3 MLRS M270 launchers and ammunition

Canada:

10 M777 howitzers
Replacement M777 barrels

Slovakia:

Mi17 attack helicopters (it has four left in its entire fleet)
Missiles and parts

Poland and Netherlands:

More artillery (undisclosed amounts. Netherlands is also sending additional Harpoon anti-ship missiles, alongside the U.S., U.K, and Denmark.

............
The reaction to this new aid package was typically hysterical. It’s too little! It’s too late! Why are they so slow! Only 18 M777s? Ukraine needs 1,000!

Ukraine won’t get 1,000 155 mm artillery pieces, and it doesn’t need them. I won’t rehash the argument I made in my last update, you can read it here. (As you’ll see further below, Ukraine hasn’t even officially asked for that many.)

Too slow? This isn’t Amazon next-day delivery. Ukraine’s logistical chain is already heavily stressed by existing weapons systems, adding new ones only makes the challenge harder. 36,000 artillery shells isn’t enough? No shit. That’s this week’s supply. Ukraine announced they currently have 110% of the artillery ammunition they had when the war started. This adds to those stockpiles. The U.S. and allies have sent over half a million artillery shells, and counting. Coastal defense systems are expensive. Ukraine wanted them, and considered the logistical lift important enough to prioritize them over more artillery or other equipment for the time being.

Night vision goggles cost between $8-15,000 each. I have no idea how much thermal imaging systems cost. Probably more. Ukraine is getting thousands of them. Ukraine already has an advantage in night combat operations. The more infantry it can properly equip with such equipment, the more it will be able to operate at night when Russia is blind, its artillery ineffective.

And yes, the “spare parts” bullet point could very well be several hundred millions of dollars. There have been reports that Ukraine has had to ship M777s to Poland for maintenance and repair. What’s more important? Another M777 howitzer, or the maintenance equipment to keep all ~140 of them already in Ukraine operational and firing?


Yes, support and maintenance is not sexy. It’s not 1,000 HOWITZERS. But it’s the lifeblood of any military, and especially so in wartime. Without it, you get what Russia did at the start of the war—tanks abandoned after running out of fuel or mechanical problems, gifting Ukraine hundreds of armored vehicles.

Critics were also unhappy with the lack of new HIMARS announcements from the United States.



The U.S. just graduated the first class of Ukrainian artillerymen training on the system. The size of the training class is one platoon—three launchers. We don’t even have crews for the 10 systems headed to Ukraine. But the real bottleneck is ammunition. The U.S. announced the allies were shipping 100 rockets per launcher, for the 10 MLRS platforms headed to Ukraine (4 U.S., 3 UK, 3 German). Presumably, that’s 100 pods, not rockets, because the latter would be stupid beyond words. Assuming 100 pods, they can burn through that ammo in less than a week.

A
single HIMAR or M270 can sit in the middle of the Donbas hitting targets all around it. That’s what its extended range allows.

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Why would Ukraine need more launchers if it’ll be a while before Ukraine has enough ammunition to keep a single launcher firing for more than a handful of days?

So yeah, four in Donbas, three in Kharkiv, and three in Kherson fronts is literally enough to keep those fronts covered, even if a third of them are inoperable at any given time like when I worked with M270s 30 years ago. As long as rocket pods are the bottleneck, there’s no need for more launchers. And certainly not the 300 that Ukraine claims it needs. The logistics of 300 MLRS are just not realistic.

When pods are just sitting around with nothing to fire them,
then it’s time to send more launchers. Given that Ukrainian logistics are already stressed trying to keep the existing war effort supplies, it’ll take a while to build new logistical capacity.

Meanwhile, note that not every nation is as loud about their contributions as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Flights like these are very common;




In fact, I’ve seen more Italian Air Force flights into Rzeszow the past few weeks than almost any other country. Yet they’ve never once made a broad announcement about what they’re sending. They’d rather help quietly, rather than rub it in Russia’s nose. Same with the French and even the Germans, as much shit as they get. Stuff is flowing in 24/7.

At a press conference, General Mark Miley, the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, summarized Western responsiveness to Ukrainian requests:

These are official requests from their Department of Defense. They asked for 10 battalions of artillery; 12 battalions of artillery were delivered. Again, I'd say 97,000 antitank systems. That's more anti-tank systems than tanks in the world. They asked for 200 tanks; they got 237 tanks. They asked for 100 infantry fighting vehicles; they got over 300. We've delivered, roughly speaking, 1,600 or so air defense systems and about 60,000 air defense rounds. This is -- when I say "us", I mean the international community. You're looking at 260 artillery tube systems. Either rocket or tube artillery have been already delivered. There's 383 committed, and like I said, almost half a million rounds of artillery.

This isn’t the stuff in the media of “we need 1,000 howitzers!” stuff. Miley was blunt that those weren’t real requests: “everything General Zaluzhnyi asked for [...] we get it done as rapidly as we can. So I don't know where those numbers are that you're coming from.”

Does Ukraine want more weapons? Of course it does. Does the U.S. want to help more? There’s billions of dollars in spending authorization for more. If it could all be announced and delivered today, they would. They’re not sitting on those billions for funsies.

One final note, Miley said Ukraine has received 260 artillery systems from allies, which means that a lot of systems are flowing in unannounced. Another 120 are on the way, but only 28 of those are U.S. and Canada, so again,
lots more unannounced guns are on the way.