More to ignore, Book 87.......

Ten Thousan Marbles

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081222.Mar-a-LagoNukescopy.jpg
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Republicans went crazy over the Trump search. Now they look idiotic.

......This new information turns the Trump narrative — that he is being treated worse than anyone ever in all of U.S. history — on its head. Imagine what would have happened to a lower-level government employee who was suspected of taking highly classified documents without authorization. I very much doubt that the FBI would have dealt with such a person as gently as they dealt with Trump. Anyone else caught with top-secret documents — and suspected of obstructing justice and violating the Espionage Act — would probably be in federal custody by now. Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor, was sentenced to more than five years in prison for leaking documents relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election a whole lot less sensitive than the ones Trump is suspected of taking.

The right now appears to be in disarray. The ex-president’s old story has been rendered “inoperative,” as Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler used to say, and they need a new one.

But the damage has been done. The right’s hysterical, hyperbolic reaction has weaponized their unhinged followers. On Thursday, an armed man died in a standoff with police after trying to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati office. The gunman was evidently a prolific contributor on Trump’s Truth Social site. After the FBI search, a user with his name wrote that this was a “call to arms” and “we must respond with force.”.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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In a sane world, a partisan Republican reaction to the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home on Monday would be something like this:
We don’t believe Trump did anything wrong. We’re skeptical about the Department of Justice’s actions, but we’ll wait to see the evidence before we make any sweeping claims or definitive judgments. Unfortunately, the reaction online, in the right-wing media, and even among lawmakers has been far from sane. It’s been unhinged and ominous.

MAGA-world denizens have called for violence and civil war, so much so that the phrase civil war was trending on Twitter Monday night. One user on Trump’s social-media platform, Truth Social, said, “**** a civil war, give them a REVOLUTION. We out number all of the 10 to 1.”......
........
Clearly, at this early stage, the responsible reaction to what the FBI did is to withhold judgment, to wait and see, to base one’s assessment on the facts and the evidence as they become known. But such an approach is alien to the modern-day GOP. The entire incentive structure is to use language that is intemperate, belligerent, conspiratorial, even crazed. This week has once again proved that there’s no rhetorical line Trump Republicans won’t cross, no outlandish charge they won’t make. It’s now all about one-upmanship, with each person trying to make a more freakish claim than the next.

This debasement of language comes at a considerable cost. George Orwell believed that political language mattered because politics mattered, and that the corruption of one leads to the corruption of the other. And in some cases, the misuse of words can lead to political violence. We saw that on January 6, 2021. My fear is we’re edging ever closer to that. Some people on the right—enraged and inflamed, caught in an echo chamber of undiluted anger and massive lies—clearly hope for it. They are perpetually frenzied and hyper-agitated, convinced they are in an existential struggle against a wicked foe.

In the face of this, virtually the entire Republican Party is egging them on. Based on no evidence right now, Republicans are promoting a narrative that the events of this week prove that the United States government and its chief law-enforcement agency are Nazi-like, corrupt to the core, at war with its own citizens. This can’t end well.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that former President Donald Trump and Republicans are fueling violence against law enforcement and public officials with their overheated rhetoric about the FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida house ― and it needs to stop.

Asked if she’s concerned about an uptick in violence from Trump’s extremist base of supporters, Pelosi said it’s already happening.

“It’s certainly enhanced, if that’s the word,” she told Capitol Hill reporters. “Exacerbated by the statements of this [former] president.”

“You would think there would be an adult in the Republican room that would say, ‘Just calm down, see what the facts are, and let’s go for that,’ instead of, again, instigating assaults on law enforcement,” the House speaker said......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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.....If nothing else, Democratic voters have no shortage of motivation to turn out: Many feel as though their basic rights are being threatened, something a party’s voters ordinarily aren’t concerned about when it controls both the presidency and Congress. The “enthusiasm gap” often accounts for much of the presidential party’s disadvantage at the midterms, but it’s not clear it exists this year after Roe was overturned.

All that said, Republicans are still fairly clear favorites to keep the House. Notably, President Biden is quite unpopular despite a modest improvement in his approval ratings, whereas FDR, JFK, Clinton and GWB were all popular at the times of their midterms. The public still has very negative views about the economy and the direction the country is headed in, and that’s usually rough for the party in power to overcome.

But the circumstances of these midterms are also potentially unusual, with high uncertainty, and that’s why Democrats keeping the House is a thinkable outcome......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The Geogre
Aug 13, 2022 at 07:32:46 AM

The Happy Squeals of a Warrior

Kash Patel and John Solomon both need to be made famous. Both are extremely nasty specimens who have risen high on the thermals of rat f*cking and being clever in the service of destroying comity and community. Now, Marcy Wheeler, at Empty Wheel blog notices some Amazing Coincidences that hint that these two creeping “happy warriors” might be in the sights of the damn Espionage Act: Read about it in John Solomon and Kash Patel May Be Implicated in the FBI’s Trump-Related Espionage Act Investigation.

Ok. You know how, before the FBI served a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago, Department of Justice first gave a subpoena for boxes? After that, it seems to have gotten a hint that things weren’t right, because FBI issued a subpoena for the video “tape” from the security cameras around the “basement room” where the Classified materials that Trump had not returned were kept.

It was after that that an “insider” gave FBI sufficient information to compel the search.

June 22 is the date of the subpoena for security video
.

On June 22, Kash Patel announced that he had just been made a representative for Trump at the National Archives.
. . . The next day, Kash described that that letter, making him Trump’s representative to the Archives, “just came in, literally before I came on the show” the day before.
. . . On June 24, two days after DOJ sent a subpoena for the surveillance footage, Betsy Woodruff Swan reported that it wasn’t just Kash who had been given privileged access to Trump’s Archives. Solomon had also been made Trump’s representative at the Archives.

Some coincidence, eh? You don’t think that the video might show Kash Patel, whom Trump was urgently trying to stuff into a new post with only three weeks left in his term, and John Solomon, whose connection to the “Ukraine was really the hacker of America’s elections in 2016” theory is well known, do you?

if Trump deliberately allowed people not permitted access to classified documents or his negligence allowed people to remove such documents, it would trigger other parts of the Espionage Act than the one that prohibits someone from stealing classified documents and refusing to give them back (and all are covered by the warrant).

But what about these two trashmen actually causing the FBI to rush in? Justice wouldn’t do that just because the two of them are nasty (unlike some prior iterations of the DOJ). Well, funny you should ask.

Solomon, of course, has come under scrutiny for his role as a mouthpiece for Russian-backed attacks on Joe Biden. While DOJ was not known to have obtained a warrant on him by April 2021, much could have happened after that.
Kash Patel did have the top levels of clearance until Trump left office. But at least by April 2021, Kash was reported to be under investigation for leaking classified information.
. . . And Kash, at least, is the single witness claiming — belatedly, starting in May — that Trump declassified this information. Before much of this became public, Kash claimed Trump had declassified it all, but just not marked it as declassified.

Whenever these Republican stuntmen say that “Trump declassified everything by pointing a stubby finger at it and saying, ‘Thee I declassify, and thou shalt now be free,’” I always want to hear someone say, “Prove it.”

Just as Neal Katyal had the question no one has asked Republicans (“Why does Donald Trump want these documents? Why does he want to keep them after the National Archives asks for them back? What does he need them for?”), so the other demand that’s not being put to them is just as simple. “You say he declassified the documents? Show me where and when. Show me the records.” It’s just Kash and a podcast echo chamber right now. (Brett Baier, of Fox News, told one of his guests, “You can’t just wave a magic wand and say ‘All these boxes are de-classified.’”)

Kash Patel has been very big on the pods. Pod People know him well. Empty Wheel quotes his telling the Pod People in May about what was actually in the first batch of Classified documents that got returned to the National Archives. He seemed quite familiar with them. Of course Patel knows that it’s not illegal to lie to the Pods. In fact, it’s profitable and a way to move from staffer for a back bencher to star representative for the disgraced tyrant.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Guests

Susan Glasser, staff writer at The New Yorker. Co-author of the forthcoming book The Divider: Trump in the White House. (@sbg1)

Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent at the New York Times. Co-author of the forthcoming book The Divider: Trump in the White House. (@peterbakernyt)

Also Featured

John Gans, chief Pentagon speechwriter 2014-17. Visiting fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Author of White House Warriors.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Top House Democrats ask for review to determine 'national security damage' done by Trump

Barbara Morrill

On Saturday, Democratic House Reps. Adam Schiff and Carolyn Maloney, as heads of the House Intelligence and Oversight committees, sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, asking him to “review potential damage to national security stemming from former President Donald Trump’s storage of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.”

Citing recent reports, the letter calls it an “urgent matter,” and notes that the documents seized included “11 sets of classified documents ranging from ‘Confidential’ to ‘Secret’ to ‘Top Secret’ and ‘TS/CSI’ documents,” that would cause “exceptionally grave damage to the national security.” The letter asks for an immediate damage assessment, and a classified briefing on the results of the assessment as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, Donald Trump and his allies have—when they’re not busy fundraising off of his potential crimes—pivoted from claiming that the FBI planted the incriminating documents, to now saying that the documents were all declassified anyway because of Trump’s "standing order,” and that there’s nothing to see here. Except—even if one accepts the whole “standing order” nonsense—the Espionage Act and the other two laws named in the search warrant don’t reference materials as classified or unclassified in defining the crimes.

Stay tuned.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine Update: Russia's best efforts manage only the slightest Donbas gains

kos

On vacation still, but checking in to provide an update on the on-the-ground tactical situation in Ukraine. I’ll start at Izyum, and work my way around the front in clockwise direction.

Izyum direction: No one is officially calling it yet, but it’s increasingly clear that Ukraine has retaken Dovhen’ke as Russia’s Izyum holdings recede. Regular readers of these updates know about my particular obsession with this town, and for those of you who don’t, click that link to read more about Ukraine’s heroic defense of the tiny village before it fell on June 11.

Presidential advisor Aleksey Arestovych said on his August 8 podcast that “According to some reports, the Ukrainians have liberated Dovhen’ke. The Ukrainians are advancing on Izyum.” On August 9, he said that “[Dovhen’ke] is already behind us, according to some reports. We moved them. If you look strictly south of Izyum, then all this is [...] was for the enemy until recently. And now it's not for the enemy anymore. It's shrinking rapidly. They are moving to Izyum.”

OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) analyst Def Mon on Twitter noted Russian shelling of Dovhen’ke as early as August 6, which suggested Ukrainian troops where in the town or nearly in it. Russia doesn’t generally shell its own positions. We have recent video of Russian losses north of Dovhen’ke, but that doesn’t necessarily prove Ukraine has liberated it. There’s even been some Telegram posts claiming residents of Izyum can hear fighting approaching it.


Despite all of that, Ukraine General Staff hasn’t confirmed anything, and we haven’t seen any pictures or video to suggest Ukraine has retaken that pile of rubble in what is one of the most battle-scarred regions of Ukraine. ......
.........

Sivers’k direction: Russia has made slight gains.



We have to crack the code of Ukrainian General Staff reports. They won’t announce the loss of territory, but you can infer it from Russia’s attacking locations. That orange terrain in Def Mon’s map? It’s just 3 kilometers. Ukraine apparently abandoned defenses shredded by Russian artillery and set up shop on the next line. There is always a next line of defenses, hence Russia’s painfully slow advances.

Bakhmut direction: Def Mon gives us good maps.



Bakhmut is the middle prong of a long Ukrainian defensive line, with Toretsk in the south, outside of Donetsk city, and Sivers’k at the northeast end.

bak.png

The eastern Donbas front: Toretsk-Bakhmut-Sivers’k

Note that none of these three cities serve any particular strategic purpose. None of them matter much in the outcome of the war. Bakhmut would’ve been helpful to cut off supply lines to Lysychansk, but that proved unecessary. The only factor that matters here is the number of casualties each side suffers in what is nearly exclusively an artillery duel. The cities and towns and hamlets themselves? They are either rubble, or will soon be rubble. If Ukraine can surrender territory without suffering excessive losses, Russia gets no closer to ultimate victory.

Yet after failing to surround Ukrainian defenders in the region (which is what Russia’s Izyum approach attempted, and what Ukrainian defenses at Dovhen’ke and Bohorodychne halted), Russia has no choice but to bash their heads directly against hardened Ukrainian defenses, with gains measured in the tens of meters per day. Why? Who knows! Maybe simply to give Vladimir Putin rosy “we’re advancing!” reports. Pro-Russian Twitter and Telegram sure as heck get excited over these meager gains.

So back to Bakhmut, Russian forces reached the very edge of town. As a result, pro-Russia propagandist Geroman on Twitter announced on August 7 that “#Russia Advances Into #Bakhmut, Lynchpin of #Ukraine Defence” and on August 11 that “#Russia Tightens Grip on #Bakhmut, #Ukraine Ponders Withdrawal from #Siversk.” It’s all ridiculous, of course. First of all, this whole “Lyncpin of Ukrainian defense” stuff is laughable for reasons I mentioned above, and Russia hasn’t even reached the town of Sivers’k, why would Ukraine abandon it? But aside from that nonsense, there is zero evidence that Russian forces have even entered Bakhmut’s industrial zone on its eastern border. We know very well how much Ukraine loves to defend industrial zones, and how good it is at it!

Russia has made marginal gains along some of the other approaches into Bakhmut, but none imminently threaten the town itself, and as always, Russia spreads out its combat power over multiple advances because of its inability to wage combined-arms operations with more than 1-2 BTGs at a time.

It’s been a while since we’ve discussed Russia’s inability to mass attacks, and it’s because they adopted, so some success, their “flatten everything with artillery then send some troops for ‘reconnaissance by fire’ to see if any defenses are left standing.” You don’t need to “combine” any “arms” to make that work. But as Russia pushes beyond its supply depots (with HIMARS compounding the problem), and its artillery becomes more exposed to Ukraine’s counter-battery fire, things are reverting to what we saw earlier in the war. And just like then, Russia’s inability to mass firepower into fewer lines of attack means they spread their combat power thin, helping defenses hold.

Donetsk direction: Def Mon again:




Pisky is Russia’s biggest success story this week, if by “success story” we mean “strategically irrelevant halting advance at the cost of mass casualties.” Russia has been using its thermobaric MLRS to try and clear Ukrainian defensive positions. That also clears out anything else in the area.



This has been geolocated to about midway into the town with a pre-war population of … 18. It had 2,000 residents prior to the 2014 war, but this has been a frontline battlefront for eight years, situated just outside of the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk City. Russia will presumably take this pile of rubble at some point, given the iron it’s throwing at it. But … polite golf clap? Again, the strategic value of expending so many resources at it is practically nil.

Kherson direction
: Not gonna lie guys, I want to get back to vacation, so I’m going to leave you with this excellent and comprehensive update:


One of the themes of this Twitter thread is that Russia has abandoned several positions north of Kherson because of relentless Ukrainian artillery shelling. BUT … Ukrainian forces haven’t pushed forward, because of the equally relentless
Russian artillery in this flat, open, and difficult-to-defend terrain. The conclusion is that not much is really happening:



Russian offensive operations on this front, while limited, are bizarre given their growing resupply issues and Ukraine’s systemic targeting of bridges into the region. I’m still of the mind that Ukraine is setting a trap, and this won’t be the focus of their upcoming big offensive. My money is still on southern Donbas and Zaporizhzhia as Ukraine’s ultimate focus, to cut off Russia from its eastern supply lines. HIMARS can handle bridges to cut off resupply from Crimea in the south. With newly arrived American HARM anti-radar missiles degrading Russia’s air defenses, Ukraine’s Air Force can even make helicopter resupply risky for the invaders.

I’m sure I’ve missed some movement around Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia, but the overall point remains—not much is changing. Russia is exhausting itself to gain
hundreds of meters in eastern Donbas, Ukraine is “shaping the battlefield” around Kherson, for either a major offensive in the near future or setting a trap, and HIMARS and other mystery weapons continue degrading Russia’s supply lines, limiting the invader’s ability to both attack and defend.


All the while, hundreds and thousands are maimed and killed for the sake of Putin’s grand delusions.