More to ignore, Book 73.......

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Let's check in on those Russian supply lines; and Lithuania stands up to a bully
kos

FWbbzxoXEAAC1I7.jpeg

The inside of a Dutch/German Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled artillery gun

After giving up on Kyiv, Russia still had designs on a full envelopment of the Donbas front lines, thinking they could trap a good 1/3rd of Ukraine’s army in a deadly cauldron.


donbas.png

Map from April 10, when Russia thought it could push south from Izyum and trap a huge chunk of Ukraine’s army in the Donbas

Russia expended a great deal of effort to both capture Izyum, and to flood it with the bulk of its army. It’s now been almost three months since Izyum fell on April 1, and Russia has pushed just 30 kilometers (~18 miles) south of town. Their inability to advance forced Russia to settle on the limited Lysychansk-Severodonetsk approach that has netted them the latter, almost the former, and trapped just a handful of Ukrainian troops. (Seriously, Russian Telegram paraded 10 POWs from their approach south of Lysychansk.)

So what happened in Izyum? The same thing that happens everywhere else where Russia tries to extend from friendly territory—it can’t manage its supply lines.

Back when Russia was attempting that bigger encirclement, I laughed off the effort as ludicrous, making these maps in the first several weeks of April:

wings.png


The idea being that Russia’s Izyum approach was exposed to flank attacks from the west—from the ground, sure, but more importantly, from Ukrainian artillery. How could Russia move significant forces south with artillery raining on its supply routes?

I belabored the point day after day, making new maps to underscore it:

flanks.png


And really, that’s exactly what’s been happening all these months. And we have geolocated video showing exactly what that looks like. Here is a supply convoy north of Izyum:



Here’s an equipment/supply depot of some sort:



And here is the geolocation for both those artillery ambushes, with Izyum on the bottom right of the map, in white.

FWcvIeGWAAIXXq4.jpeg


And here’s a third video from the same area north of Izyum:



That Izyum salient is critical for any Russian assault on the twin fortress cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, yet Russia is struggling to supply its advance under constant Ukrainian artillery barrage. The appearance of HIMARS rocket artillery (and nine M270 MLRS launchers in the weeks ahead), will only make that more difficult.
--—
When Finland and Sweden announced their intention to join NATO, a furious Russia reacted with their usual threats. Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov thundered, “We condemn the irresponsible course of the North Atlantic Alliance that is ruining the European architecture, or what’s left of it. I have a great deal of doubt as to whether the upcoming period will be calm for our north European neighbors.” The Russian foreign ministry warned that Russia would be forced to “restore military balance” if the two Nordic countries went forward with their NATO applications.

And Russia wouldn’t be Russia without threatening nuclear retaliation. “There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic — the balance must be restored," said Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin’s top lieutenant. Countries in the region literally laughed, pointing out that Russia already had nukes in the Baltics—in Kaliningrad.

Finland, Sweden, and NATO ignored the threats and did their thing. Russia’s glee at Turkey’s recalcitrance was short lived, as those objections have now been dropped. And yesterday, forced to respond to the ongoing NATO summit in Madrid, Putin was forced to concede his impotence on this issue. (Statement below was run through Google Translate.)


The Russian Federation does not have any issues with Sweden and Finland that could bother Moscow in the event of their membership in NATO, the President of the Russian Federation believes. Russia will mirror the deployment of NATO's military infrastructure in Sweden and Finland.

Russia had lots of issues, everyone ignored them, and now Russia needs to pretend that it never really cared. That’s how you stand up to bullies. Now we get to see Lithuania provide another lesson in handling Russian bullies:



Russia is threatening unspecified repercussions if a European Commission blockade of goods though Lithuania to the Russian enclave at Kaliningrad isn’t lifted. The EC now wants to cave, even though the sanctions don’t affect food or consumables like toilet paper. If Russia wants to ship construction equipment or other things that aren’t sold in a grocery store, they can use boats or planes. Otherwise, what are they really going to do? Trigger NATO’s Article 5 by making moves against Poland or Lithuania? Russia is already losing one war, it doesn’t have the capability to start a second one, much less wage it effectively.

It takes a country like Lithuania, that has suffered for decades under Russian/Soviet occupation, to really understand both 1) the threat that Russia poses, and 2) how to best deal with it. Western Europe should be taking notes.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Biden announces support for a filibuster carve out to restore abortion rights, right to privacy
Joan McCarter

President Joe Biden gave his strongest response yet to the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical decision to end federal abortion protections Thursday, endorsing a carve out from the filibuster for protecting abortion rights and the right to privacy.



"I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade into law. And the way to do that is to make sure that the Congress votes to do that and if the filibuster gets in the way, it's like voting rights, it should be ... an exception ... to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision," Biden said in remarks at a press conference in Madrid, Spain, where he is attending the NATO summit. He added that he would support making an exception to the filibuster to protect the right to privacy, which could extend existing protections for contraception and marriage equality Justice Clarence Thomas threatened in his concurrence on the abortion case.

Biden also gave his harshest criticism of the Supreme Court majority yet, calling the decision to take away the right to an abortion and threaten the right to privacy “outrageous” and “destabilizing.”

This puts pressure on the only Republican senators who support abortion rights, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. It would be an opportunity for Collins to wipe some of the egg off her face after she was forced to admit that she fell for the lies of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in supporting their confirmation. It also pressures Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Sinema supports abortion rights, Manchin does not.

It takes 51 votes to break the filibuster, one of which can come from Vice President Kamala Harris. So it would only take two of those four to make this happen. The vehicle for it might be provided by the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised upcoming votes to codify the right to an abortion, to protect personal data stored on reproductive health apps, and to ensure the right to free travel between states for obtaining an abortion.
.....
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President Biden Reverses Course, Backs Eliminating Flilibuster To Protect Abortion Rights
Rule of Claw

This one is shocking. I am glad to see that he is finally willing to take the gloves off, and the way he frames it around the midterms is a political thing of beauty.

“America is better positioned to lead the world than we ever have been,” Biden said. “But one thing that has been destabilizing is the outrageous behavior of the Supreme Court of United States in overruling not only Roe v. Wade, but essentially challenging the right to privacy.” He added: “I could understand why the American people are frustrated because of what the Supreme Court did."

Biden said he would support changing the Senate filibuster rules, which require 60 votes to pass most legislation, to allow bringing a bill extending nationwide abortion protections to pass by simple majority, although Democrats don't have sufficient votes in the Senate for that.

He went on to say that in order to take down the filibuster, we would likely need more Democratic Senators, but this opens the door to all kinds of possibilities if we can take our momentum and shock the punditry by winning the midterms.

I love the juxtaposition of
the following link.

“If the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, it should be we provide an exception for this,” Biden said Thursday at a news conference to conclude a NATO summit in Madrid. “Right to privacy, not just abortion rights, but yes, abortion rights.”
Read More: Why Democrats Probably Won’t Overturn Filibuster For Abortion Protection

The pundits always think they know better. Now there is some background here. Even though the President has bottomed out in approval ratings, Democrats have been gaining strength throught the January 6th hearings and now the Dobbs decision. The party is in great shape for a surprise win in November if gas prices and inflation improves even a little bit.

If the President can get to 45 percent approval, not undoable, I think we handily hold both houses.

Some voters might be aggravated with President Biden, but they view the right wing as toxic.

If he is willing to carve out an exception for this he might just get an appetite for the process. There is a lot he can do with an unrestrained Senate that would lead to many positive advancements heading into his re-election campaign.

I am taking him at face value when he says he intends to run again, and I think this speculation running rampart in the press, and supposedly in Democratic circles is counterproductive.

We have just yet begun to fight.

-ROC
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Supreme Court rules Biden administration lawfully ended anti-asylum Remain in Mexico policy
Gabe Ortiz

The Supreme Court on Thursday sided in favor of the president in Biden v. Texas, ruling that his administration lawfully acted in attempting to end the previous administration’s anti-asylum Remain in Mexico policy. While President Joe Biden promised to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, and issued memorandum doing so last year, anti-immigrant Republicans sued to reinstate the policy.

Thursday’s ruling was decided 5-4, with right-wing justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh joining Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer, who is officially retiring from the court today.

It was a genuinely surprising ruling, coming on the same day that the right-wing court sided with polluters in the West Virginia v. EPA case. But legal observers cautioned that while the administration won in Biden v. Texas, it may not be able to end Remain in Mexico soon.
......
“On the surface the decision in Biden v. Texas looks like a win for Biden,” tweeted Vox’s Ian Millhiser. But he writes that the decision goes back down to Trump appointee Matthew Kacsmaryk, who initially issued the “bizarre” ruling last year reinstating the policy, and making himself the arbiter of the Biden administration’s immigration and foreign policy.

“He will almost certainly make up a reason to rule against Biden again, and the Fifth Circuit will almost certainly affirm him,” Millhiser continued. “Best case, it's probably going to be another year before Biden can end Remain in Mexico.”

“I think this is right,” Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern wrote in response to Millhiser’s commentary. “Today's decision is a victory for the Biden administration, but it gives Trump judges in the lower courts space to retake control of border policy on remand. Very troubling.” Still, the Supreme Court’s decision seems to mean that the Biden administration will at least have a chance to end this policy, which, despite promises from officials that they would make humanitarian improvements to the program, has continued to send already-vulnerable people to more danger. But it’s impossible to make the inhumane humane.

“The Biden administration has long promised to get rid of Remain in Mexico and Title 42,” tweeted civil rights litigator Karen Tumlin. “It made some effort, only to be thwarted by the courts thanks to Texas & its cadre of anti-immigrant AGs who try to score political points by scapegoating immigrants.” We see from today’s result that any loss for corrupt Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is a win for the humane treatment of asylum-seekers and other migrants.

“So, what does all this mean for immigrant communities?” Tumlin continued. “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, the Biden admin must move boldly and swiftly to end RMX once and for all and to bring #Title42 to an end to ensure that those seeking refuge are #SafeNotStranded.”

“Today’s decision is a victory that marks the end of a divisive and dangerous policy that put families in danger and left mothers, fathers, children, and vulnerable people stranded in Mexico,” said Immigration Hub Deputy Director Kerri Talbot in a statement received by Daily Kos. “This decision reaffirms that President Biden can move forward with safe and orderly policies at the border rather than continuing inhumane and senseless Trump border policies. It also reaffirms the power of the administration to release individuals from detention and parole individuals into the U.S. as their legal cases are processed.

“This decision is welcome news as we continue to mourn the deaths of more than forty migrants who lost their lives in San Antonio hoping for their chance at the American Dream,” Talbot continued. “The human loss in this tragic event is a heartbreaking reminder of the devastating impact draconian policies, such as Title 42 and ‘Remain in Mexico’, have on children and families.”


Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro urged the Biden administration to “move swiftly” to end the Remain in Mexico policy (as well as the anti-asylum Title 42), also pointing to the tragic deaths as the border. “This week, 53 people died horrible deaths in San Antonio in a case that demonstrates the cruelty of Trump-era immigration policies,” he said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “The United States has a legal and moral obligation to protect asylum-seekers, and I will continue fighting for a humane immigration system that prioritizes fairness and safety for all people.”
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Supreme Court makes it clear they don't care about our planet with West Virginia v. EPA decision
April Siese

Yet another decision we all saw coming will now limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to do its job. In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court sided with polluters in the case of West Virginia v. EPA, curtailing the agency’s power to place limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and narrowing—if not gutting—the Clean Air Act. Chief Justice John Roberts issued the opinion, which he called a “major questions case.” The major questions doctrine is a conservative talking point not found in the Constitution but one that, in the case, forces Congress to bear the brunt of responsibility of enforcement rules or even delegation to the EPA. Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito all apparently sided with Roberts on this.

Per Roberts’ opinion, “Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day.’ … But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme in Section 111(d). A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is reversed, and the cases are remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

Experts from the O’Neil Institute for National and Global Health Law concur that the opinion itself is devastating. Andrew Twinamatsiko, associate director of the Health Policy and the Law Initiative, worries about its far-reaching implications for other agencies:

The Court’s decision in West Virginia goes beyond the EPA’s power to fight climate change. It will limit federal agencies from implementing and interpreting federal law and give unelected judges the power to second-guess Congress and the White House. West Virginia is especially alarming for those who care about health care and public health because Congress relies on the expertise of federal agencies—such as the FDA, CDC, NIH, etc.—to interpret and implement legislation. West Virginia is sadly yet another stop on the Court’s path to handcuff federal agencies and follows recent decisions to gut the CDC and OSHA’s power to fight COVID-19.

He’s not alone in his fears. In fact, members of the court itself feel similarly.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissenting opinion and clearly understands the stakes here more so than Roberts, who seems to think it would be nice in theory to reduce emissions but that twisted, conservative academic bullshit stands in the way of actually allowing the EPA to do its job. Unlike Roberts or Gorsuch, who truly do not care to understand how the climate crisis will grow all the worse with this decision, Kagan actually cites Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that say as much. In calling out the Supreme Court for its nefarious, continued stymying of the EPA, Kagan does not hold back: “This Court has obstructed EPA’s effort from the beginning. Right after the Obama administration issued the Clean Power Plan, the Court stayed its implementation. That action was unprecedented: Never before had the Court stayed a regulation then under review in the lower courts.”

True, this case stems from a plan that was never implemented and utterly destroyed by the Trump administration. In bringing it in the first place, the many attorneys general from conservative, polluting states saw an opportunity to argue harm would be done before a policy even went into effect. And it worked. This bodes terribly for the forthcoming Sackett v. EPA, a similarly “murky” case in which the question at its center is whether wetlands constitute waterways of the U.S. I’d be naive to think the Supreme Court would do anything but set its sights on destroying the Clean Water Act next.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A coup by other means: The Supreme Court is dismantling not just progress, but democracy
Mark Sumner

When Donald Trump led an armed mob to the steps of the Capitol and urged them into making an assault on the electoral process, his efforts failed in their primary goal of overturning the election and installing a single, unelected authoritarian ruler. However, it turns out we didn’t have to wait for 2024, or even the midterm elections, for Republicans to have another go at upending Democracy. There’s no question about whether America will get unelected authoritarian dictators unfettered by either rules or traditions—we now have six of them.

The idea that the Supreme Court is the final and unchallenged arbiter of both which laws are valid and how they should be applied was always extraordinarily dangerous. It endows the U.S. Supreme Court with a level of control unmatched in the great majority of nations. Like the U.S. Senate, the Court has long operated on a set of understandings and traditions that have held in check that inherently unlimited power. And just as Mitch McConnell demonstrated in the Senate, understandings and traditions are less than nothing when confronting absolute zealotry and forthright disdain.

Trump’s coup attempt failed. But the Republicans have found six new despots who are cheerfully assaulting not just the rights of every American, but the foundations of democracy. They are unelected. They answer to no one. They’re there for life. In two weeks they’ve rubbed out rights that thousands fought and died to obtain over the course of decades. They have blown away the basis of functional government. They are erasing not just progress, not only democracy, but America as a nation—and they’re doing it quickly.

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The only thing that makes the U.S. Supreme Court sustainable at all is the idea that the members will act in good faith to interpret and apply the law for the benefit of the nation. It has always been the case that there were Justices and Courts who ignored that constraint to reflect their own prejudices, or in the name of political expediency. The Court has made past decisions that were boneheaded in their foolishness, ghastly in their spitefulness, and also sublime in their far-reaching vision.

But there has never, in the history of the nation, been anything like what’s happening now.

The current Supreme Court is not interpreting the rules of the nation, it is redefining the nation; remaking America in the image of a radical minority over the express wishes and written law of the majority. It’s not the “Judicial activism” Republicans have fretted over so long. It’s a Court coup.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade may be the most shocking, most personal, and most powerful expression of this Court session. Stripping away a human right held for half a century, and doing so with not just evident glee, but warnings of more to come, definitely draws attention. However, it’s genuinely hard to tell if ending Roe is really the worst thing that the Court has done in the last two weeks. Maybe that moment came when the Court didn’t just blast apart the wall between church and state, but annulled its very existence. Maybe it came when the contrast between the “back to the states” ruling on Roe and the “you can’t trust the states” ruling on guns made clear that this Court is not even bothering to pretend to a measure of fairness or consistency.

As April Siese reported, on Thursday the Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency is no longer empowered to protect the environment. And while that ruling specifically addressed limits on greenhouse gases, its consequences are so far reaching it’s not clear that this nation, or any nation so hobbled, can withstand them. As Justice Kagan wrote in her dissent, this is a Court that is not operating according to a good faith interpretation of the Constitution, or to past understandings of the constraints set on Court actions. Instead, it is moving toward “goals.”


Today, one of those broader goals makes itself clear: Prevent agencies from doing important work, even though that is what Congress directed.

Damn the Constitution, full speed ahead … toward a nation that is, not figuratively, but literally ungovernable. The ability of regulatory agencies to investigate or enforce regulations is now not just more limited, but fundamentally subject to challenge at every step. There is no regulatory authority — on safety, on housing, on education, on hiring — that cannot be challenged under the ruling and concurrence on this case.

That the Court also devoted some time last week to gutting the protections provided over the last five decades under Miranda, but allows that you
can pick the means by which you are executed after being falsely accused and convicted, barely seems worth a mention. Looking beyond just the last couple of weeks, there have been a series of cases in which this Court made clear that law enforcement agencies are allowed to operate without respect for constitutional rights.

As Joan McCarter reported last week, this is a court that has gone rogue. It has blasted out of the role the Court is supposed to perform in the system and taken on the dictatorial position of creating a wholly new United States without even a passing nod to past Court decisions or a pretense of finding justification within the Constitution. Conservative extremists have been talking about fighting a “second Civil War,” but it turns out they need not bother. This Court will give them victory over the majority without firing a shot.

On Thursday, the Court declared they would take up a case in which the ruling could allow states to redefine how they conduct elections. As Stephen Wolf reports, this case could have disastrous consequences. The same Justices who refused to glance at the relevant text when it came to the Roe or EPA decisions, are likely to crack open that parchment just long enough to determine that only state legislatures are empowered to set up district boundaries, lay out how elections are conducted, and determine the winners.


Nothing the Court has done in the last weeks represents the will of the majority of Americans or the expression of that will through Congress. The Court is running roughshod over democracy, and the damage it has done — not just in Roe, but in a whole series of cases — constitutes a national emergency that must be addressed if the United States is going to maintain even a semblance of functional government.

Unlike most nations, there is very little safety net provided in case of Court gone wild. In fact, there’s only one practical answer: Expand the Court.

The only answer to the six red hot despots now ruling the nation is to turn them back to what they are in reality—the most extreme voices of a radical minority. Expanding the Court isn’t just the only hope to reverse the disastrous ruling on Roe, it’s the last, best hope of America.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Supreme Court agrees to hear case that could shatter democracy in any state with a GOP legislature
Stephen Wolf

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear North Carolina Republicans’ appeal in a redistricting case that could have catastrophic consequences for voting rights and fair elections across the country next year in advance of the pivotal 2024 elections.

The case in question involves a Republican appeal of a state court ruling that struck down their congressional gerrymander earlier this year and replaced it with a much fairer map in a groundbreaking ruling that held that the state constitution prohibits partisan gerrymandering. Republicans are now asking the Supreme Court to rule that the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures near-absolute power to set all manner of federal election laws, including district maps—regardless of whether state constitutions place limits on abuses such as gerrymandering.

Republicans contend that the Constitution’s Elections Clause, which states that the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof" gives state legislatures—and only legislatures—the power at the state level to shape the rules governing federal elections in their states. Only Congress or federal courts, not state courts—and possibly not citizen-initiated constitutional amendment or even governors—can override such rules.

However, a long body of scholarship disputes that this position, known as the "independent state legislature doctrine," is what the Constitution’s framers intended. In fact, the Supreme Court rejected very similar arguments in a 2015 case seeking to strike down Arizona's independent redistricting commission, which was established by a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2000.

But critically, two of the justices in the majority in that 5-4 decision, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy, have been replaced with far-right appointees of Donald Trump who are more amenable to blowing up two centuries of the constitutional order in order to advance Republican interests. And while Chief Justice John Roberts writing for all five GOP appointees on the court in 2019 explicitly held that state courts could police partisan gerrymandering while barring federal courts from doing so, this Supreme Court has shown an unparalleled willingness to reverse prior rulings, such as in their recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Indeed, four Republican-appointed justices—Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh—have already indicated their support for the North Carolina GOP’s position in earlier rulings, while Roberts dissented in the 2015 Arizona case. Only Amy Coney Barrett has yet to reveal her views.

If the Supreme Court's far-right majority rules in favor of North Carolina Republicans in this case, it could fundamentally dismantle what’s left of democracy in a number of states. Such a decision would empower state lawmakers—who often owe their positions to maps that are already gerrymandered—to set federal election laws without any constraints by state judges interpreting state constitutions. In its most extreme form, such a ruling could even strip ballot initiatives and governors of their power to curtail or override legislative action.

If such a ruling comes to pass, Republican-run legislatures across the country would be free to pass even more extreme gerrymanders and voting restrictions. Fair congressional maps imposed by state courts in North Carolina and Pennsylvania would be the first to go. Republicans in Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, and elsewhere could join them if the Supreme Court strips governors and ballot measures of the power to shape federal election law.

Democrats in independent redistricting commission state California would also be able to gerrymander again, but far more GOP-run states would be empowered to do so. The asymmetry goes even further since only Republicans are interested in enacting laws that suppress the vote, which the independent state legislature doctrine would give them near-unfettered power to do.

Democrats in Congress have an imperative to protect our democracy before they potentially lose their majorities this November. If Senate Democrats could muster unanimous support for finally curtailing the filibuster, they could pass a federal law banning gerrymandering and protecting voting rights, as Democrats tried to do earlier this year. They were thwarted, however, because Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema sided with every Senate Republican to sustain a filibuster.

The increasingly lawless Supreme Court was itself installed by Republican minority rule: Five of the six GOP appointees were confirmed by Republican Senate majorities that won fewer votes and represented fewer Americans than the Democratic minorities, and three were chosen by a president who was elected despite losing the popular vote. Democrats must therefore strongly consider expanding the Supreme Court if we’re to have any hope of constraining its full-scale assault on the right to vote in free and fair elections.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Congratulations, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
Joan McCarter

kbjbreyer.jpg

Retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer passes the torch to his successor, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson became U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Thursday, making history as the first Black woman to serve on the high court, The 51-year-old Jackson is also the first justice since Thurgood Marshall, who retired in 1991, with criminal defense experience. And her ascension marks another first: All three justices appointed by Democratic presidents and currently serving are women. It’s also the first time in the Court’s history that white men are in the minority, for what it’s worth.

In her opening statement at her confirmation hearing, Jackson told the senators, “During this hearing, I hope that you will see how much I love our country and the Constitution, and the rights that make us free. I stand on the shoulders of many who have come before me, including Judge Constance Baker Motley, who was the first African American woman to be appointed to the federal bench and with whom I share a birthday. And like Judge Motley, I have dedicated my career to ensuring that the words engraved on the front of the Supreme Court building—‘Equal Justice Under Law’—are a reality and not just an ideal.”

Those are ideals that the entire Court should be striving to uphold.
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In nominating Jackson, President Joe Biden said, “I looked for someone who like Justice Breyer has a pragmatic understand that the law must work for the American people, someone who has historical perspective to understand that the Constitution is a resilient charter of liberty, someone with the wisdom to appreciate that the Constitution protects certain unalienable rights that fall within the most fundamental personal freedoms that our society recognized, and in the end someone with extraordinary character who will bring to the Supreme Court an independent mind, uncompromising integrity, and with a strong moral compass and the courage to stand up for what she thinks is right.”

Jackson demonstrated all of those qualities and more as she sat through racist, disgusting attacks from Republicans, hour after hour after hour. As Laura Clawson wrote, “racism was so prevalent in the hearing that the way it hovered was, COVID-like, in the air after belching out of the mouths of Republican senators like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz.”

Unfortunately, that might prove to have been a warm up for what she’s going to have to face in her new job. Because the majority of the court isn’t all that removed from Hawley and Cruz. Case in point: Clarence Thomas writing in an official Court document that COVID vaccines were developed with the use of "aborted children."

So, congratulations Justice Jackson. This achievement is well-deserved and groundbreaking and the single light shining out of the Supreme Court this session. But also, condolences. We’ll keep trying to make it better for you.


 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Don't miss the point: Unpacking what's critical in Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony to Jan. 6 probe
Brandi Buchman

Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony was an arguable watershed moment for the Jan. 6 committee’s probe into the coup that investigators say former President Donald Trump nearly pulled off last year.

For two hours, Hutchinson disclosed under oath some of the most striking and damning pieces of evidence yet aired out: It was a staggering account of a president with fading power seeking every avenue to retain it, constitutional oath and U.S. laws be damned.

The details of her testimony also painted Trump and members of his administration, like her superior and Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, in a grim and potentially criminally liable light.

Since then, there has been a huge amount of pushback against Hutchinson’s testimony challenging its veracity. From anonymous sources to members of the Secret Service and White House officials she explicitly named, the rush has been on to discredit her account. None of those attempts have yet taken place under oath however, and deserve for now to be weighed by the public with according scrutiny.

In the meantime, let’s unpack what’s happened so far and clarify some of the more important details Hutchinson exposed that are quickly being obscured by Trump spin.

............
First and perhaps most important is that Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Trump was aware those in the crowd near the White House and Capitol on Jan. 6 were armed.

Before Trump gave his speech at the Ellipse she said he demanded his supporters be allowed to stream inside a secure area so cameras would capture a larger-looking crowd.

Now, in the months leading up to this moment, multiple intelligence agencies including the FBI and U.S. Secret Service had begun sharing open-source data with law enforcement about possible security threats on Jan. 6.

The red flags had been waving wildly since at least November.

For example, Oath Keeper ringleader Elmer Rhodes, now facing seditious conspiracy charges tied to Jan. 6, attended a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in November in northern Virginia, as noted by Just Security in a comprehensive timeline.

Rhodes streamed remarks where he told the audience that Trump’s allies “must declare that Joe Biden… is a usurper” and to be prepared to fight to keep Trump in office. Extremist militias and groups like the Three Percenters, Groypers, Oath Keepers, and Proud Boys showed up in huge numbers on Nov. 14. The rally ended with police officers injured, multiple arrests, and headlines splashed all over Washington.

The groups would return less than a month later for the “Million MAGA March” on Dec. 12, just two days before the Electoral College deadline for states to submit their slates of electors. Proud Boy ringleader Enrique Tarrio posted a picture of himself at the White House on Parler that same day, though the Trump White House denied it was an official visit and said Tarrio was there as part of a public Christmas tour.

GOP operative and Trump adviser Roger Stone addressed demonstrators ahead of the Million MAGA March at a nighttime rally on Dec. 11, telling a crowd: “They tell us this election is over. Nothing is over ‘til we say it is over. We will fight until the bitter end. We have an obligation to see that the rightful winner of the 2020 election is seated and that is the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln, Donald J. Trump.”



Stone was joined that night by Proud Boys Henry Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, and others like Infowars host Owen Shroyer who would later be charged with entering a restricted area on Capitol grounds. The morning of the Capitol assault, Stone was photographed outside of his D.C. hotel flanked by Oath Keepers.

When Alabama Oath Keeper division leader Joshua James pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy charges in March that he faced alongside Rhodes, prosecutors said James served as a bodyguard to Stone.

Stone has not been charged with any crimes for Jan. 6, and has issued blanket denials about his relationship with the groups. Documentary footage shot by Danish filmmakers made public this spring, however, have shown James inside Stone’s hotel room in the hours before the attack, Stone texting with leaders of the extremist groups and later, strategizing a pardon proposal meant for those Trump allies who called to overturn the election.

Like the rally before it, this one ended with violent clashing and social media lit up with calls from extremist groups far and wide to travel to D.C. on Jan. 6.

Less than a week later, the FBI shared a tip with U.S. Capitol Police after posts about killing “palace guards” at the Capitol began surfacing online.

More warnings came in every day from agencies like the U.S. Park Police, Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Even the U.S. Postal Service by Dec. 22 had issued reports for an exceedingly high potential of violence on Jan. 6.

By Jan. 2, intelligence analysts at the Department of Homeland Security learned that maps of the Capitol were circulating online, according to a report by that department’s inspector general.

Officials from the Department of Defense, FBI, and the U.S. Marshals Service convened a meeting to discuss their concerns too and by Jan. 4, Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien held a conference call with DHS and FEMA officials to weigh the possibility that protesters might target federal buildings within just 48 hours.

Despite all of this, according to a Secret Service Protective Intelligence Brief, the agency found “no indication of civil disobedience” ahead.

On the eve of the attack, the FBI’s office in Norfolk, Virginia warned about chatter suggesting a coming “war” the next day. FBI Director Chris Wray would later tell members of Congress he did not receive this information until days after the insurrection.

But Hutchinson testified privately to the committee in February and March, as well as during her sworn public testimony this week, that Meadows, as Trump’s right hand in the White House, received those warnings.

Hutchinson said that Anthony Ornato, Trump’s chief of operations in the White House, was the one who shared them with Meadows and the closer Jan. 6 came, the more Hutchinson said she heard words like “Proud Boys” or “Oath Keepers” thrown around the White House, too. Especially, she testified, when Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani was around.

Select committee vicechair Liz Cheney this week highlighted emails sent by the Secret Service Intelligence Division to Ornato as well as to Robert Engel, the head of Trump’s Secret Service security detail.

The emails included warnings where people were asked to “Fight for Trump” and occupy buildings while others declared: “We need to flood the Capitol building and show America and the senators and representatives inside voting that we won’t stand for election fraud.”

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A U.S. Capitol Police Bulletin that was shared with the White House was even more specific, noting that the president’s supporters were not interested in targeting counterprotesters but “rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

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Astutely pointed out by independent journalist Marcy Wheeler on her blog Thursday is that Cheney specifically said Ornato and Engel received warnings “like those shown on the screen,” suggesting that other security warnings may have also been received by Ornato and Engel too. Those may have been classified and unable to be displayed during the public hearing.

Crucially, this intelligence sharing about threats of violence, and in particular, the wide array of warnings citing Proud Boys and Oath Keepers has not been disputed by Ornato or Engel.

What they and anonymous sources have disputed publicly so far is Hutchinson’s shocking account of Trump’s conduct in the minutes after the rally at the Ellipse.

Hutchinson told investigators that on the afternoon of Jan. 6, it was Ornato who invited her into his office with Bobby Engel and asked her if she had heard what happened after Trump climbed into an armored SUV referred to as “The Beast.”

Hutchinson said Ornato told her Trump became irate and yelled at Engel.

Engel was sitting there as Ornato told her, looking “somewhat discombobulated and somewhat lost,” Hutchinson recalled.

She testified that:

“Tony proceeded to tell me that when the president got in the Beast, he was under the impression from Meadows that the off-the-record movement to the Capitol was still possible and likely to happen but that Bobby had more information.”
“As the president got into the vehicle with Bobby, he thought they were going to the Capitol. When Bobby said ‘we’re not, we don't have assets to do it, it’s not secure,’ the president had a very strong, very angry response to that. Tony described him as being irate and the president said something to the effect of ‘I'm the f-ing president take me up to the Capitol now’ to which Bobby responded, ‘Sir we have to go back to the West Wing.’”
“The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Engel grabbed his arm and said, ‘Sir you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing.”

“Trump then used his free hand to lunge at Bobby Engel and when [Tony Ornato] had recounted this story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicle,” she said, gesturing towards her neck.

Engel, Hutchinson said, did not correct or disagree with Ornato’s retelling.

When Cheney asked Hutchinson if either Ornato or Engel had ever told her this recounting was untrue, she said they had not.

Since the hearing, however, CNN reported that Ornato has denied through a Secret Service spokesperson that Trump grabbed at the steering wheel or lunged at Engel. Both Engel and Ornato have said they are willing to testify to this under oath.

The committee interviewed Ornato twice prior to Hutchinson’s hearing, including in January and again in March.

Ornato said at the time, according to Politico, that Trump might not have known for starters, that Pence was in the Capitol when he sent out a tweet attacking the vice president around 2:24 p.m. on Jan. 6. Ornato also said he told Meadows that Pence was removed from the Capitol even though Pence had not left the complex yet. Why Ornato said this is not yet clear.


Ornato also reportedly told investigators on the probe that he felt Trump did everything he could do when he urged rioters at 3:13 p.m. to “remain peaceful” but did not expressly ask them to disperse. Trump also told the rioters, “we love you.”

They had laid siege for hours at this point.

Ornato was handpicked by Trump to serve on his security detail to much-reported controversy: the Secret Service frowns on agents taking political White House positions.

But Secret Service director James Murray, Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig reported, approved the appointment and “with Trump’s urging.”

Leonnig wrote a book about the Secret Service that assessed, in part, what the agency looked like under Trump. Leonnig told MSNBC during a recent interview that there was a “very large contingent of Donald Trump’s detail who were personally cheering for [now-President Joe] Biden to fail.”

Some, she reported, even used their personal media accounts to “cheer on the insurrection and the individuals rioting up to the Capitol, as patriots.”

“I’m not saying that Tony Ornato or Bobby Engel did that but they are viewed as being aligned with Donald Trump which cuts against them,” Leonnig said.

Many inside the service have accused Ornato and Engel of being Trump’s “yes-men” and this also irritated agents, she added.




Former national security adviser Keith Kellogg, who cooperated with a committee subpoena, threw his backing behind Ornato on Twitter Thursday saying he would take Ornato’s “sworn testimony to the bank.”

Other questions have been raised about Ornato’s credibility under oath and on the record. In a book by New York Times reporter Michael Bender, “Frankly, We Did Win This Election,” Bender described Alyssa Farah, Trump’s communication director advising Meadows in 2020 that he should not hastily clear up Lafayette Square where a mass of Black Lives Matter protesters had gathered.

“Yeah, that’s not going to happen,” Meadows allegedly told Farah.

After Hutchinson’s hearing, Farah said Ornato “lied about me too” when she learned that reporters who interviewed Ornato told her he denied the episode happened that way.



As for Bobby Engel, he met with investigators twice privately. During those meetings, Engel reportedly disclosed that he and Trump did have a dispute about where Trump should go following the speech.

Engel allegedly told Trump he would not take him, he said, and Trump insisted they go. Engel would not oblige.

Engel’s alleged testimony would conflict with an account given by Meadows in his book, The Chief’s Chief, where Meadows described Trump’s clamoring to go to the Capitol after leaving the Ellipse as a metaphor because Trump, Meadows wrote, “knew as well as anyone that we couldn’t organize a trip on such short notice.”

Hutchinson, however, testified that it was Meadows who “raised the prospect” of going to the Capitol at least once before Jan. 3.

Trump’s White House counsel Pat Cipollone approached her on Jan. 3rd and asked about Meadows bringing up taking Trump to the Capitol. He told her they needed to “make sure this doesn’t happen.”

On the morning of the insurrection, Cipollone saw Hutchinson before Trump went to the rally at the Ellipse. She said Cipollone begged her to stay in touch and not to go to the Capitol.

“We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen,” Hutchinson recounted Cipollone’s warning. Cipollone has now been subpoenaed by the committee.

In this vein, when Hutchinson testified Tuesday, there was an important distinction she made about Trump’s movements that day.

Hutchinson said Trump “kept mentioning the OTR, an off-the-record” movement to the Capitol.

For a president, there are two major ways daily events are categorized. There are scheduled items on the agenda where the president’s official movements are notated. This is done to coordinate the president’s calendar with the media, the Secret Service, and others.

Then, there is an off-the-record movement, where only a small group of the president’s most trusted advisers or staff are made aware of his agenda or movements and, as Hutchinson testified Tuesday, an “OTR movement” can be pulled together with the necessary security measures in under an hour.


This is typically because those who would travel with the president in an off-the-record movement would not require added security review.

“It’s a way to kind of circumvent having to release it to the press if that's the goal of it or to not have as many security parameters in place ahead of time to make a movement happen,” Hutchinson said.

During his speech at the Ellipse, Trump said repeatedly that he would join demonstrators to march to the Capitol and the Secret Service. But according to records kept by staff on the National Security Council and obtained by the committee, the council was scrambling to find “the best route now” for Trump.

“When President Trump left the Ellipse stage at 1:10 p.m., the staff knew that rioters had invaded the inaugural stage and Capitol Police were calling for all available officers to respond,” Cheney said Tuesday.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy also heard Trump say he was heading to the Capitol during his speech and called Hutchinson not long after.

He sounded “rushed, but also frustrated and angry," she told the committee this week.

She was backstage and with all the noise around her, she couldn’t hear Trump say he was going to the Capitol.

McCarthy, she said, lashed out at her, asking why for an entire week, she told him the president wasn’t coming to the Capitol during the Joint Session. Hutchinson told McCarthy she wasn’t lying and that they were not going.

But there was Trump, on stage, saying the opposite.

Hutchinson said she then called Ornato to confirm they weren’t going and the two text each other about it as well. She said she sent a text again to McCarthy but he didn’t reply.

The committee showed just two text messages between Ornato and Hutchinson during the hearing on Tuesday.

In them, Hutchinson describes Trump as “furious” that members of the crowd—again, many of them armed—were not being waved into the secure area where cameras could better capture throngs of his supporters.

A frustrated Ornato responded to the text: “He doesn’t get it that the people on the Monument side don’t want to come in. They can see from there and don’t have to go through [magnetometers].”

The texts here, like other records, appear to corroborate that Ornato understood the crowd was armed, that Trump wanted them there anyway, and that Trump did not care about the security threat they posed to him or anyone else, for that matter.

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Additional hearings are coming in July and an exact schedule has not yet been determined.