More to ignore, Book 97....

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

New book: Trump nearly fired Jared and Ivanka via tweet​

Then-President Donald Trump nearly fired his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner from the White House via tweet, according to a new book from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.

Trump raised the prospect of firing Ivanka Trump and Kushner, who were both senior White House aides, during meetings with then-chief of staff John Kelly and then-White House counsel Don McGahn, Haberman writes. At one point, he was about to tweet that his daughter and son-in-law were leaving the White House – but he was stopped by Kelly, who told Trump he had to speak with them directly first.

Trump never had such a conversation – one of numerous instances where he avoided interpersonal conflict – and Ivanka Trump and Kushner remained at the White House throughout Trump’s presidency. Still, Trump often diminished Kushner, mocking him as effete, Haberman writes.

“He sounds like a child,” Trump said after Kushner spoke publicly in 2017 following his congressional testimony, according to the book.

In “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America,” Haberman chronicles the chaos of the Trump White House, with new details about how Trump resisted denouncing White supremacists and made light of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s declining health before her death in 2020 gave him a third justice on the Supreme Court.

But Haberman’s book, which was obtained by CNN ahead of its release on Tuesday, goes beyond the trials and tribulations of the Trump administration to document how Trump’s initial rise in the New York real estate and political world of the 1970s and ’80s permanently shaped his worldview – and by extension, his presidency.

“To fully reckon with Donald Trump, his presidency and political future, people need to know where he comes from,” writes Haberman, a CNN political analyst.

The book is littered with examples dating back decades that document Trump’s obsession with looks, his fixation on racial issues, his gravitation toward strongmen and his willingness to shift his beliefs to fit the moment. Trump tried to recreate the country to mimic New York’s five boroughs, Haberman writes, imagining a presidency that functioned like he was one of the city’s powerful Democratic Party bosses in control of everything.

The aides and advisers who spoke to Haberman for the book – she writes that she interviewed more than 250 people – offer a damning portrait of a commander in chief who was uninterested in learning the details of the job, who expected complete loyalty from those around him and who was most concerned with dominance, power and himself.

Haberman reports campaign aides once called Trump a “sophisticated parrot.” Trump lashed out at his top generals during an infamous meeting in the “tank,” the Pentagon’s secure conference room, because he was being told something he didn’t comprehend. “Instead of acknowledging that, he shouted down the teachers,” Haberman writes.

Kelly, his former chief of staff, is said to have described Trump as a “fascist” – uniquely unfit for the job of leading a constitutional democracy, according to Haberman, citing several who spoke to the retired Marine general.

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said of the book: “While coastal elites obsess over boring books chock-full of anonymously-sourced mistruths, America is a nation in decline. President Trump is focused on saving America, and there’s nothing the fake news can do about it.”

‘That’s the sexy part’

Earlier this year, Haberman’s reporting for her book revealed that Trump’s staff found documents flushed down the toilet, on top of numerous reports that Trump had a habit of ripping up presidential papers in violation of the Presidential Records Act.

The former President’s handling of documents has taken on new significance following the FBI’s search of his Florida residence and the revelation he took highly classified documents there upon leaving the White House.

Haberman interviewed Trump three times after he left the White House for the book in 2021, including in one instance in which he lied about sending his correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the National Archives, saying he had taken “nothing of great urgency” from the White House. (The Kim letters were among the items the Archives realized were missing in 2021.)

Trump’s cavalier handling of classified material led to distrust between the then-President and the intelligence community, Haberman writes, such as when Trump tweeted out a sensitive picture of damage at an Iranian facility in 2019.

He protested after officials tried to make changes to the image. “If you take out the classification that’s the sexy part,” Trump said, according to Haberman, who wrote that some saw nefarious ends in Trump’s behavior, while others “believed he was operating with the emotional development of a 12-year-old, using the intelligence data to get attention for himself.”

The ‘Trump Disorganization’

Haberman depicts all the organizations Trump has run – his businesses, his campaign and the White House – as dysfunctional and staffed by people who often disdained one another. His company executives referred to Trump’s company as the “Trump Disorganization,” according to the book, which includes examples of several unusual and eyebrow-raising business practices.

That dysfunction spilled into Trump’s campaign and ultimately the White House, where Trump churned through aides and Cabinet secretaries alike, dismissing the advice offered by his own staff.

When then-candidate Trump was under pressure in 2016 to denounce White supremacists like David Duke who were supporting his campaign, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was dispatched to urge Trump to be more forceful distancing himself. Trump was heard responding to Christie on the phone that he would get to it – but it didn’t have to happen too quickly, Haberman writes.

“A lot of these people vote,” Trump told Christie, before ending the call.

Following the 2017 White supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, when Trump claimed there were good people on “both sides,” Trump’s then-chief economic adviser Gary Cohn prepared a letter of resignation. Trump appealed for Cohn to stay. “If you leave, you’re committing treason,” Trump said, according to Haberman.

Cohn agreed to stay through the administration’s efforts to pass its signature tax overhaul later that year. As Cohn left the Oval Office, Kelly whispered to him: “If I were you I’d have shoved that paper up his f**king ass,” Haberman writes.

According to the book, several Cabinet officials believed Trump had issues with female leaders. He disliked former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and described her in a meeting as “that bitch,” Haberman writes.

Trump’s former Defense Secretary Mark Esper believed Trump’s push to withdraw US troops from Germany was purely out of personal spite, according to the author.

The book shows Trump’s failure to grasp basic policy concepts, such as Trump suggesting in an interview with Haberman that the Senate’s minority party could block legislation by skipping votes. “The vice president’s vote doesn’t count. It doesn’t count. You might want to check this,” Trump said.

When the House introduced articles of impeachment against Trump for the first time in 2019, Trump reacted with a familiar refrain, according to the book: “I’ll just sue Congress. They can’t do this to me.”

In the final year of his presidency, Trump tried to wish away the topic of coronavirus, Haberman writes, minimizing it publicly out of an apparent belief that things only existed if they were discussed openly.

Before Ginsburg’s death in 2020 created a last-minute Supreme Court vacancy that Trump filled just ahead of the presidential election, Haberman writes that Trump would make light of the justice’s deteriorating health.

Trump would clasp his hands and look skyward, Haberman writes. “Please God. Please watch over her. Every life is precious,” Trump said, before almost winking and looking at his aides. “How’s she doing?”

When another visitor came to the Oval Office, Trump asked, “She gonna make it? How much longer you think she has?”

The white side’

Confidence Man” chronicles how Trump’s fixation on race, gender and religion dates back decades, shaped by a tumultuous period in New York City’s history.

“Racial is more severe in New York than it is anywhere else that I can think of,” Trump said in a post-presidency interview with Haberman, who writes that Trump “often seemed frozen in time” in 1980s New York and viewed tribal conflict as inevitable.

During the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, Trump’s fear of germs and illness led him to announce publicly he would require dates to take an AIDS test, and Haberman writes he called reporters to inquire if people he had met with might be gay – concerned because they had exchanged a handshake.

In the late 1990s, after Trump divorced Marla Maples, he had a relationship with a model, Kara Young, who was the daughter of a Black mother and White father. Haberman writes that after meeting Young’s parents, Trump told her she had gotten her beauty from her mother and intelligence “from her dad, the white side.”

Trump laughed as he said it, Haberman writes. Young told him it wasn’t something to joke about.

Reflecting his view of life as a show he was casting, Trump focused on “the look” – telling others that his wife Melania Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and his first Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch were all out of “central casting,” Haberman writes.

The former President remained focus on how those who represented him looked. He complained about the way former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, his ambassador to the United Nations, looked on television. “Can’t we do better lighting or give her better makeup?” he asked, according to the book.

Trump said his acting Homeland Security chief Elaine Duke looked “like a housewife,” Haberman writes. The director of the Secret Service resembled “Dumbo.”

The book includes several examples of Trump’s lurid comments, including one episode in 2016 while he was prepping for a town-hall style debate against Hillary Clinton. Then-Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, playing the character of a young leader of a transgender student association, asked Trump his position on whether someone like her could use the girls’ bathroom.

“I have a question,” Trump said to a room full of his advisers, Haberman writes. “Cocked or decocked?”

The group gave Trump blank stares, Haberman writes, and he made a chopping gesture with his hand. “With cock or without cock?” he asked.

‘You’re wrong’

Many of the characters who played a part in Trump’s New York life made recurring appearances throughout his political career and his time in the White House, from longtime confidant Roger Stone making preparations in 1988 for Trump to run for president to rivalries with Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York and GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona over a federal loan program spilling into his presidency.

Haberman notes how several people who feuded with Trump ultimately worked for his company, including a city housing commissioner who opposed giving Trump a tax break and a Wall Street analyst Trump sued for $250 million after the analyst said Trump’s finances were overextended. It was not unlike how Trump’s 2016 GOP rivals – from Christie to Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – ultimately became some of his most loyal allies in Washington.

Trump even adopted his rivals’ insults and tactics. In the 1980s, Trump got into a long-running battle with then-New York City Mayor Ed Koch over a real estate deal. Koch, a Democrat, called Trump a “lightweight” – a dig that Trump himself later adopted, in addition to much of Koch’s style, Haberman writes.

After Trump lost the 2020 election, he tried to use some of the same tactics that had kept him afloat in business for so many years. Trump vowed to aides that he simply wouldn’t leave the White House, Haberman reported.

Some of Trump’s inner circle, like Kushner, avoided confronting Trump. But Trump wouldn’t listen to those who said he lost anyway. White House aide Hope Hicks told Trump she had seen no proof of widespread fraud. “You’re wrong,” Trump replied, according to Haberman, hoping to scare others out of agreeing with her.

As Trump turned toward January 6, 2021, and the false belief that then-Vice President Mike Pence could block the certification of the 2020 election, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, warned the Secret Service that Trump was going to turn on the vice president and there could be a security risk as a result, Haberman reports.

In the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, it briefly appeared as though Republicans were prepared to move on from Trump. But he maintained his grip on the party and has focused much of the last two years on defeating the Republicans who crossed him.

Haberman writes that Trump has told others that he needed to get aggressively involved in 2022 primaries to make sure he’d have allies in place if the 2024 election were contested or if he were to be impeached following another White House win. Trump told Haberman that former President Richard Nixon was ousted from office in part because he had “treated the Senate and he treated the House unbelievable badly, and he got away with it, and then all of the sudden he had Watergate.”
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Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

MAGA crowd just as dangerous as ever: New study shows ‘messianic’ support for Trump

Rebekah Sager

It’s no real surprise that former President Donald Trump’s supporters would literally go to battle for their leader. It’s a frightening reality, but as we quickly approach the midterms and see the many MAGA nominees the Republican Party is supporting, it’s clear that Trumpsters are desperate to have the twice-impeached former president back at the helm.

CBS News reported on a new study from the University of Chicago that found 13 million U.S. adults believe violence is justified if it means putting Trump back into the White House, and another 15 million believe violence would be warranted to keep Trump from being indicted over the FBI’s investigation into his mishandling of classified government secrets.

During a Sept. 8 appearance on Face the Nation, Dr. Robert Pape, the director of the University of Chicago's Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), told moderator Margaret Brennan, "We have not just a political threat to our democracy, we have a violent threat to our democracy [...] Today, there are millions of individuals who don't just think the election was stolen in 2020; they support violence to restore Donald Trump to the White House."

According to CBS, there is some good news: The number of members of Trump’s cult has gone down since last year, when it hovered around 23 million willing to fight for the 45th president.

When asked why the group was so invested that they would be willing to use force to put Trump back in office or defend him from an indictment, CBS reports that Pape and his team found that it was both QAnon rhetoric and fears of being replaced, with many in the mostly white group of urban respondents buying wholeheartedly into the “Great Replacement” theory.

"[Great Replacement] is a conspiracy theory, but it's not just on fringe social media like Parler or Gab, 4chan or 8chan ... This is every day on Fox News, it's on Newsmax, it's on One America, it's on talk radio," Pape said.

Politico writer Jack Shafer states that Trump’s support from his most extreme MAGA followers is “messianic.”

“Although evicted from the White House 19 months ago, Trump still postures as if he were president. In addition to calling for reinstatement and a do-over election, Trump ensures that his office calls him the ‘45th president,’ not the former president. He continues to unlawfully use the presidential seal for commercial purposes. And his capricious handling of sensitive and secret documents at Mar-a-Lago — his idea that the papers belong to him and that he’s above the law — make the case that he’s come to believe in his own, permanent divinity. Trump said in 2019 that being president gave him ‘the right to do whatever I want,’ which is consistent with thinking you’re God’s co-pilot,” Shafer writes.

With about six weeks until the Nov. 8 midterm elections, Pape says he is worried about Trump’s supporters and how far they may go.

"If it's just a political threat, well, then we can have elections. Once it's not just denying an election, but using violence as the response to an election denial, now we're in a new game."
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Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

Mastriano launches '40 days of fasting' to save campaign, doesn't say who'll be doing the fasting


Pro-sedition traitorous sleazebag Doug Mastriano's campaign for the Pennsylvania governorship hasn't been going well. He's been battling with the House committee investigating his own involvement in the Jan. 6 coup attempt; he's been receiving heat for hanging out with antisemites, seditionists, and other denizens of the far-right sewer; new videos are constantly appearing of Mastriano making horrific remarks or advocating for horrific things. The campaign is struggling for cash and even in a Republican Party that thinks violent coup is just peachy, if it's for the sake of keeping a barely-functional narcissistic tax-dodging rapist in the White House, most national Republicans are scurrying away from him as fast as they can.

In a sign of just how desperate things have become, Mastriano is announcing an extremely weird new move to turn the election in his favor. Or, at least, he might be? It's very unclear. But The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Mastriano used his campaign's Facebook account to post:

"A photo of two hands under the words '40 days of fasting & prayer' with the dates Sept. 29 through Nov. 8 — Election Day. 'Interceding for our elections, our state, and our nation,' it stated, along with a verse from the Book of Isaiah."

Uh, what? What are we looking at here?


That the post managed to get, uh, a grand total of ten comments from its posting yesterday to now doesn't exactly scream "voter enthusiasm," but to be fair it's a completely baffling post.

Is Mastriano saying he will be fasting and praying for 40 days? Or is he just challenging other people to do the fasting for him? Who's doing the fasting, damn it?

And could you get more maudlin than scrounging up an Old Testament line about being a "rebuilder of walls?"

The general concept of "40 days of fasting and prayer" is, as a simple Google search will demonstrate, a very popular one that you can buy a whole bunch of Christian books about. But I do think the Inquirer has got the story wrong on this one.

Doug Mastriano never said he would be doing the fasting. He's just suggesting somebody should. Maybe an intern. By all means, though, the reporters that currently threaten to outnumber Doug's rally crowds should get some clarity on it.

If there's a larger rally among evangelical conservatives to Starve For Fascism this election season there's not much of an online presence for it yet. It also isn't likely any such campaign would take off; in case you haven't noticed, coup-supporting conservatives aren't real big on personal sacrifice for the sake of anything. The people carrying assault rifles around to protest the temporary pandemic closure of bars and barbershops, the people who say rules about masks are an abomination unto their noses are not gonna be giving up ham-and-mayonnaise salads or crudités or anything else. Conservatism is about making everybody else give up things while you "roll coal" and freak out about library books that make you feel bad.

Still, though, a good idea. If Mastriano wants to turn things around, there'd be no better way than 40 days of prayerful piehole-shutting. It might be the only remaining thing worth trying.


Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

McCarthy so desperate to hold the gavel, he would surely become speaker in name only

Kerry Eleveld

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been salivating over the prospect of Republicans recapturing the House in November, giving him the chance to finally hold the Speaker's gavel.

That vision was indeed so enticing that, mere weeks after Donald Trump's Jan. 6 insurrection threatened his life, McCarthy bounced down to Mar-a-Lago to swear his perpetual subservience to Dear Leader in a unified effort to secure a congressional majority.

For McCarthy, no price is too high and no low is too low for the speakership, which is why the House Freedom caucus just might be content to let him symbolically hold the gavel while they run him ragged.

Although many analysts have predicted that any House GOP takeover would ultimately result in a Speaker Jim Jordan, the Freedom Caucus crazies have realized it would probably be easier to just run all over a speaker in name only.

Politico reports that, for now, no caucus member is planning an insurgent bid to crush McCarthy's dreams. Instead, they are demanding that House Republicans vote through some rules changes before anyone casts a vote for the speakership.

"We’re really focused on the rules package right now," Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Scott Perry (who conspired to overturn 2020) told Politico. "And likely anybody that we would support for anybody in any position in leadership, we’re going to want to discuss that in-depth and in a meaningful way.”

The caucus has made the rules changes key to its support precisely because those changes would give them veto power over the speaker at any time.

"The key tenet of any Freedom Caucus-approved House rulebook is restoring the motion to vacate the chair — the very procedural maneuver used to oust one of McCarthy’s predecessors," writes Politico.

Such a provision would allow any member of the House to file a resolution seeking the removal of the speaker. In 2015, former Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a Freedom Caucus influencer, filed such a resolution seeking to oust then-Speaker John Boehner. Though a vote never commenced, Boehner resigned his post amid to the controversy, clearing the way for a new leader. Ultimately, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin beat out McCarthy for the position.

Now the Freedom Caucus appears to making restoration of the procedural move a precondition of their support for any speaker so they can continually hold the sword of Damocles over whoever takes the gavel.

Current House GOP leadership has tried to downplay the rules debate as par for the course.

“You see this every two years. There is always a robust discussion about what the rules should be," Minority Whip Steve Scalise said last week. "We can’t put the cart before the horse — we have to win a majority to have that ability to have that discussion."

But Freedom Caucus member Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado suggested that failing to make the change was "definitely" a deal breaker. "That is a red line," she said, while stopping short of threatening McCarthy by name.


Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged, and the best suspect is the nation that sabotaged them before

Mark Sumner

On Monday, leaks were discovered in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines. The gas within the 750-mile-long pipeline is boiling to the surface, and there have been warnings that this could represent a serious threat to efforts to reduce spills of greenhouse gases. However, the Danish Energy Agency reports that most of the gas is already depleted as the damaged pipeline fills with seawater.

Almost immediately, U.S. intelligence agencies indicated that this was likely an act of sabotage. On Tuesday, Sweden revealed that seismographs in the area had detected a pair of disturbances that are now thought to be explosions. The E.U. joined the U.S. on Wednesday in calling what happened “the result of a deliberate act.” Naturally, pro-Russian sources—including right-wing media in the United States—has a suspect. They are pushing a series of clips and statements suggesting that America did it.

But the best suspect for who took down Russia’s gas pipeline to Europe is the same nation who constantly sabotaged that pipeline in the past. Which is Russia.

As CNN reports, the U.S. had actually warned European allies back in June that U.S. intelligence had determined there was a threat of attack against the pipelines. Of course, for the “America is always guilty” crowd, this is just another example of genuine double-naught spy twistiness.

Then there’s the clip of President Joe Biden proclaiming that, should Russia invade Ukraine, “there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2 … I promise you we’ll be able to do it.” This clip is all over right-wing Twitter, alongside claims that it is “Biden’s confession” to sabotaging the pipelines. Complete with lots of exclamation points.

And Twitter is right. Biden did have an insidious way of bringing Russia’s multi-billion-dollar pipeline project to a halt. He used … diplomacy. Back on Feb. 22, as the U.S. issued fresh warnings and Russian tanks gathered on the border, Germany suspended the completion of Nord Stream 2. The next day, Germany officially halted all construction. In May, a month before the U.S. issued its warning to European allies, including Germany, NBC news noted that the pipeline was “unused and abandoned.” Industry analysts reported that they “never” expected the pipeline to be commissioned, and senior officials noted that there was “no other use” anticipated.

President Biden declared there would be no Nord Stream 2, and there was no Nord Stream 2. Not a single bomb was required.

So that’s the case against the United States. They warned that the pipelines were vulnerable, and Biden said Nord Stream 2 would be gone if Russia invaded. Oh, and a Polish politician that not one of them had ever heard of before Tuesday made a joke. That’s certainly impressive evidence.

Silly as this may sound, jackasses like Tucker Carlson are trying to parlay this into a serious case against the United States, and in particular, into a claim that Biden has taken us down the path to, of course, inevitable nuclear holocaust. Because no right-wing conspiracy is complete without a good apocalypse.

Capping all this off might be the message that Donald Trump ran with on Wednesday morning on his failing social media platform. After repeating the Biden statement about Nord Stream 2, Trump heavily hinted that the United States was behind the sabotage, talked up a “major escalation” to World War III, and offered his services to “head up” negotiations between Russia and Ukraine so all this stuff could be wrapped up. Yes, really. That Trump tried to stop the pipeline from being built is apparently all forgotten now.

However, there’s a much better suspect for who might have wanted to take out the two pipelines. Not surprisingly, it’s the same nation that Carlson spends the majority of his video absolving from any possibility of having done it. It’s Russia.

Why would Russia be a good candidate for taking down its own pipeline? Because they’ve done it before.

In May, Russia blamed technical issues for an outage on the pipeline that lasted for a week. In June, a reported turbine failure dropped gas through the pipeline by 75%. There has long been a period of annual maintenance on the pipeline. However, this year, Russia declared a second, unscheduled outage that was directly connected to the efforts of Germany and others to cut their dependence on Russian gas. That took the pipeline down for another ten days in July.

Then in August, Russia shut down the pipeline again just as European countries were beginning to fill the storage facilities they would need for the winter. It has not operated at over 20% capacity since then, due to what Russia claimed was “faulty equipment.” Russia also claimed they had hired German engineering firm Siemens to fix the problem. Seimens denied knowing anything about it.

At the beginning of September, the pipeline was completely offline again. There was no doubt about why Russia did this. Russian media, and pro-Russian social media, spent weeks rubbing their hands over thoughts of Germans and Poles “freezing in the dark” without their previous Russian gas. Russian television openly speculated on how this would crash German’s economy, bring an end to the German auto industry, and most of all, cause Europeans to regret ever having back Ukraine in combatting Russia’s illegal invasion.

Only, when it got around to the start of September, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that, while supplies of gas might get “tight,” it looked as if Germany would make it through the winter just fine without Russian gas. Scholz was just one of many European leaders who followed up by saying they would make it fine without Russia. E.U. economic commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said that the whole of Europe was “well prepared to resist Russia’s extreme use of the gas weapon.” And all that was before the new Baltic pipeline bringing gas from Norway and Denmark to eastern Europe opened this month.

Nord Stream 2 never operated. By the first week of September, it was clear that, despite Russia’s many, many attempts to cripple European nations (and manipulate market prices) by withholding gas, it had played all its cards. Nord Stream 1 was worthless. On Sept. 4, Russia actually shut down the pipeline “indefinitely.”

How much money was Russia making from these pipelines? Nothing. How much leverage did they give it over Europe? None.

On the other hand, by destroying the pipeline, Russia is back at the center of right-wing media in the U.S., has ramped up talk of nuclear destruction, and has Donald Trump arguing for a mediated settlement with Ukraine—which means that 100% of the Republican Party will find itself calling for negotiations with Ukraine in roughly ten seconds.

Nord Stream 2 was never going to pump a foot of gas. Nord Stream 1’s value had diminished to where it was never going to have real value again, even if the war ended today. Or you can believe Russia, and it was so decrepit they couldn’t keep it operating anyway. What it comes down to is simply this: The only nation that might potentially gain from blowing up these pipelines is the one most likely to exploit it for both casus belli and for one last poke to bring up the price of gas.

And European leaders seem to get that.

European Union leaders said the apparent attack on two key pipelines in the Baltic Sea showed that the energy conflict between Russia and Europe had entered a potentially dangerous phase and vowed retaliation if evidence emerges that the Kremlin was behind what they believe was an unprecedented act of sabotage.

They have little doubt about who actually pressed this button.

Five European officials with direct knowledge of security discussions said there was a widespread assumption that Russia was behind the incident. Only Russia had the motivation, the submersible equipment and the capability, several of them said, though they cautioned that they did not yet have direct evidence of Russia’s involvement.

That direct evidence is very likely to be found.

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

Ukraine update: Counteroffensive continues. All roads to Lyman now under Ukrainian control

Mark Sumner

Tuesday was one of those days when things changed so quickly that a map of the battlefield in some areas in the evening barely resembled that of the same areas in the morning. In two different areas of northeastern Ukraine, towns and villages were liberated, the area under Russian occupation was diminished, and remaining Russian forces in the region were placed at a sharply higher risk.

Though there are other things happening that are certainly important, it’s hard not to look first at the areas where Ukraine made big moves in the last 24 hours—and where current maps are almost certainly several steps behind the situation on the ground.


No open supply roads into Lyman and Drobysheve.

On this morning’s map, I highlighted the roads that had been providing supplies and reinforcement to the Lyman and Drobysheve area. Note the “had been.”

On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces north of Lyman continued to surge to the east, taking a southward turn to liberate Zelena Dolyna and Kolodyazi. Reports already suggest that this isn’t the actual extent of Ukrainian forces. Russian sources are already talking about Ukraine attacking from Kolodyazi to both south and east, and Ukrainian sources indicate that Ukraine has moved into Ivanivka.

That puts Ukrainian forces directly on the highway that brings supplies to Lyman from the north. However, this may not even have been required to complete cutting the area off. That’s because the surprise push across the Siverskyii Donets River to Dibrova has also proved to be more than just a scouting force. Russian sources are claiming that Russia has now retreated from the town of Torske, which would put Ukraine in control of the intersection that provides access from either east or north.

Late on Tuesday, Ukraine captured Serednje and Shandryholove. That leaves a small pocket—from Drobysheve to Lyman to Yampil—occupied by Russian forces. And they are totally cut off.

Russia is left with two options: They can try to retreat, an action that would likely require a relief force from Svatove to hold open the road, or they can surrender in place. Actually, there is a third option. They could keep fighting. Based on the way Russia keeps blanketing the hills east of Bakhmut with bodies, that’s probably the order to all the soldiers now in the Lyman area. Hopefully, none of them are foolish enough to follow those orders.

It’s not clear how many Russian forces remain in this closing pocket, or how long they can hold out if they choose to keep fighting. With Vladimir Putin set to give his big “everyone in Ukraine wants to be Russia” speech on Friday, it would certainly be nice if the capture of Lyman could come in the next two days. What happens in this area could come quickly, or it could drag on for some time. Ukraine is unlikely to waste a lot of people trying to force Russia out of Lyman, but freeing forces up from this area would mean a significant leap into new areas. Stay tuned.


The big battles that were reported in the north appear to be over

Last week, there were reported to be big fights in the area of Petropavlivka and Kupyansk-Vuzlovyi across the river from Kupyansk, and at Tavilzhanka across from Dvorichna. These battles appear to be over now, with each resulting in a Ukrainian victory. Ukrainian sources continue to state that there is high operational security in the area, and unlike the day-to-day moves around Lyman, there has been little visibility of what’s happening to the north. It’s very likely that this map reflects a conservative view of Ukraine’s liberated area on the east side of the Oskil River.

What is known is that Ukraine has now moved into Kivsharivka to the south and is reportedly trying to close the gap between these two bridgeheads. With the liberation of Kivsharivka, the two largest remaining Russian-occupied towns in Kharkiv Oblast are Lyman and Borova. There appear to be few defensive or geographic boundaries to prevent Ukraine from pushing Russia completely out of the oblast. In fact, there aren’t any real defensible lines for Russia until well over in Luhansk Oblast.

It’s still around a 30km trip if the forces across the river at Kupyansk mean to move down the eastern bank and hit Borova from the north, just as other forces have already moved into the city from the south. But there are only a few small locations on the way, so that might happen quickly, if it fits Ukraine’s plan.

And that might be the biggest clear signal out of everything this week—Ukraine is planning. It’s making coordinated moves between multiple units that are cooperating to both anticipate and react to Russia’s moves. When Ukraine set out to encircle the force at Lyman, it didn’t bull ahead. Where there was resistance, it moved around, shifting north, south, and east until some of those points of resistance were themselves surrounded, and Russian forces fled. They are not just launching people at Lyman every day and charting where the bodies fall, as Russia does at Bakhmut (That’s not accurate. Russia doesn’t bother to make a chart.)

However, since Russians are proving to be having trouble fighting Ukraine, they do have something of a new plan of their own—get Ukrainians to do it. As the BBC reports, Russia is warning Ukrainian men in occupied areas that they could be drafted to fight against Ukraine.

Russian soldiers are already going house to house in some villages and writing down the names of male residents, local residents say. They claim soldiers have told them to be ready for a call-up after the referendum.

Oh, yeah. That should fix everything.

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022 · 12:06:36 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
Russian sources have good reason to worry. Indications are that Russian losses on the east side of the Oskil River were “horrific,” leaving the path to Svatove all but open along the P07 highway from Kupyansk. There are only a few towns and little topography along this route, and it’s a solid highway. Things could progress very quickly if Ukraine moves in this direction.



Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

Russia’s mobilization campaign has been going on for roughly a week now. Some new conscripts have already been sent to the front without any training whatsoever; others are sleeping on the ground in barracks that look more like prison cells. Many have been forced to purchase basic medical supplies and uniforms on their own dime, and in some cases, draftees have been issued rust-covered weapons. Meduza asked Russians who have already taken part in the country’s war against Ukraine — as contract soldiers and mercenaries — to tell us what they think of the mobilization effort.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

The more Trump openly embraces QAnon, the more his army of conspiracy cultists expands

David Neiwert

Donald Trump’s recent open embrace of the QAnon conspiracy cult that deifies him has predictably metastasized into full-on identification. This became clear at his Sept. 17 rally in Youngstown, Ohio, where QAnon fans in the audience raised their fingers in a coded salute while Q-derived theme music played over the loudspeakers. Over the past couple of weeks on his Truth Social chat platform, he has repeatedly posted and reposted Q-derived memes and hashtags, including ominous suggestions of future Jan. 6-style insurrectionist violence.

Just as predictably, those hordes of QAnon cultists have been rapturous over what is now his open public embrace and how it normalizes them. After Trump posted an ominous Q meme—one reading, “Nothing can stop what is coming. Nothing”—a popular Q account reposted it, saying: “It doesn’t get more Q affirming than that. It’s almost like he’s trying to tell us something. Boom!”


While Trump’s Truth Social platform—intended to be a MAGA alternative to Twitter—has been a financial fiasco, his account there nonetheless has over 4 million followers. And in recent weeks, Trump’s account has produced a steady diet of openly QAnon-based content.

One post featured a video clip that opens with an image of his face with a large “Q” superimposed over it, accompanied by the text: "Information Warfare. It's time to wake up." The video then proceeds to show a montage of memes featuring Trump: “Moves & countermoves, the silent war continues. Q.” “Stand by, shit is about to get real.” “WWW1WGA” [the popular hashtag for the QAnon war cry, “where we go one, we go all”]. “We know all, we see all” [with an image of Trump holding a card with “Q” on it].

One of the memes shows Trump talking on a phone. “Empty it totally,” its text reads. “I said drain it, completely. Yes, the globalist traitors, commies, thieves, satanists, pedos, all of ‘em!”

Another meme tells his followers to prepare for a "storm" and then displays a graphic showing the U.S. Capitol: "It's going to be biblical." (QAnon fanatics played a central role in organizing the Jan. 6 insurrection.)

Experts who track QAnon conspiracism seem to agree that Trump’s motives for embracing the cult are fairly transparent: It’s about politics, and particularly Trump’s desperation to rally his troops amid the multitude of legal troubles he currently faces, believing he still has a shot to regain the presidency. Mike Rothschild, author of The Storm is Rising, told Salon’s Kathryn Joyce that his loyalists have become his only constituency:

I think it is desperation, and trying to keep faith with the people who have been in his corner the most fervently. He's losing support; people are walking away from this. They're just sick of it. And you also have to remember that he's doing this on Truth Social. This is not a widespread mainstream application; nobody's using it other than Trump people. So he's signaling to the people who are already in his corner—knowing that they love him, that they will do anything he asks them to do—because those are the only people he's got left, really.

“If we think it’s in Trump’s best interests to really heighten the polarization in the country and cast everything in these sort of doomsday terms if Democrats retain power, then I think it makes a lot of sense for him to promote QAnon,” Will Sommer of the Daily Beast told Aaron Rupar and Thor Benson. “They literally think this is a battle between heaven and hell.”

Rothschild observes that QAnon has shifted dramatically since Trump lost the 2020 election, becoming far less dependent on “Q drops” from the original anonymous “Q” who posted material on the 4chan and 8kun message boards with cryptic claims about Trump and the supposed global pedophilia ring that is at the heart of their conspiracy theories. Nowadays, their topics of paranoid conversation are more likely to originate with LibsofTikTok, Christopher Rufo, or Fox News.

“A lot of the really weird stuff has been left behind, but QAnon's ideas are much more mainstream than they ever were before,” Rothschild says. “The idea of an all-powerful government that conspired to keep Trump out of office, and staged COVID-19 just to make sure that there could be mail-in voting fraud, and then that the election was stolen. All of these things are now mainstream Republican tenets. You can't be successful in the modern GOP if you think that the 2020 election was fair. And a lot of that comes from the normalizing of conspiracy theories that you got with QAnon.”

As Sommer explains, this fits Trump’s political agenda for returning to the presidency, primarily by subverting if not overthrowing democratic institutions:

I think Trump sees QAnon as the sort of ultimate Trump fan club. These are guys who by comparison make many Trump devotees look pretty lightweight. The average Trump fan thinks he was the greatest president ever and can save America, but these are people who see him as a messianic figure who is basically going to defeat the devil. Of course, they also think all of the people opposed to him are satanic pedophiles.
We can’t see inside his head, but I think he’s in these kind of dire straits legally, potentially politically, and I think he’s trying to throw some bait to rev up his hardest core fans.

MSNBC’s Zeeshan Aleem observes that in many regards, this has always been the inevitable endgame for Trump’s war on American democracy:

It's because this isn't about winning by democratic means. It seems likely that Trump recognizes that QAnon followers represent his best bet at forming a militant vanguard for his ever-increasingly authoritarian political movement. Dozens of QAnon believers have already committed acts or attempted acts of vigilante (and domestic) violence. They were key players in the Jan. 6 insurrection. And they're at the center of a new kind of politically infused spirituality that blends proto-fascist thinking, conspiracy theory and Evangelical Christianity. As ... Anthea Butler describes it, these followers "imagine themselves part of the 'end times' and saving the nation." They're primed to do whatever it takes to restore Trump to power, out of a belief that it's essential for civilization and humanity.

Rothschild explains that, while QAnon’s narrative is absurd and its followers ridiculous, this isn’t a frivolous matter, because its real-world consequences have become so wide-ranging, and its spread has become normalized:

So this is now a movement that has transcended the person or people who started it. It doesn't need Q drops anymore. In fact, it's arguably better if there are no more Q drops, because the Q drops tend to be cryptic and weird and they keep people away. If a movement really wants to grow, you don't want anything like that. You want it to be very obvious, very approachable. You want anybody to be able to fall into it, and that really happened during the pandemic. A lot of people came to QAnon without any knowledge of what the Q drops were, without any particular affinity for Donald Trump. They just knew something was wrong and somebody was lying to them. So the biggest danger in QAnon is how adaptable it is to discarding its previous self and adapting into something new.
Also these ideas have now become so mainstream in the Republican Party that you can completely radicalize yourself into QAnon without ever having read a Q drop or knowing anything about Q. You just fit into this world and it turns you on to more and more conspiracy theories.

This brings to mind a recent University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats report identifying an active American insurrectionist movement comprising some 21 million people. These radicalized Trump followers believe that “Use of force is justified to restore Donald J. Trump to the presidency” and that “The 2020 election was stolen, and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.” About 63% of them believe in the Great Replacement theory, while 54% subscribe to far-right QAnon conspiracism.

It also notes that this insurrectionist movement is made up of “mainly highly competent, middle-aged American professionals,” leading the researchers to warn that their continuing radicalization “does not bode well for the 2022 midterm elections, or for that matter, the 2024 Presidential election.”