More to ignore, Book 101...

Ten Thousan Marbles

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What we suspected was true: Trump forced the CDC to paint a rosy picture of COVID-19

Rebekah Sager

I remember it clearly and also try to put it out of my mind: Former President Donald Trump’s nightly news briefs with heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presenting a fake narrative about COVID-19 being handled while we all knew it was spreading like wildfire. Turns out our fears were valid. A new report shows that Trump was controlling the CDC’s response to the pandemic.

“After a February 25, 2020, CDC telebriefing ‘angered’ President Trump, the White House wrested control of coronavirus communications away from CDC and mandated on February 26 that all media requests related to the pandemic be approved by the Office of the Vice President prior to release,” the newly released report reads.

Adding, “Trump Administration officials blocked CDC from conducting telebriefings on critical, emerging public health issues for three months and restricted scientists from participating in interviews—at a time that coincided with a rapid explosion in coronavirus cases.”
......
The House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis concluded that former CDC Director Robert Redfield, former CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat, and others felt “bullied” by Trump and his administration and that their jobs were threatened if they did not paint a rosy enough view of the pandemic, according to The Washington Post.

“For a while, none of our briefings were approved,” Redfield told the select subcommittee, adding that the American public “should have heard from the public health leaders” during this period. “There was a point where they [CDC staff] stopped asking because they [Trump Administration officials] kept saying no,” Schuchat said.

The report also outlines that “Trump Administration officials repeatedly sought to alter CDC and HHS press materials to promote positive news, downplay coronavirus risks, and attempt to redirect blame away from the Trump Administration for its poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Martin Cetron, director of the agency’s division of global migration and quarantine, said during an interview included in the report that White House adviser Stephen Miller was at the center of using the pandemic as a way to restrict immigration to the U.S. with Title 42, the Post reports.

Although Cetron disagreed with the federal order, Redfield signed it in March 2020.

“This prioritization of politics, contempt for science, and refusal to follow the advice of public health experts harmed the nation’s ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus crisis and put Americans at risk,” Democratic Rep. James E. Clyburn, who chairs the panel, said in a statement.

The panel has spent two years creating the 94-page report, which draws on 2,100 pages of interviews and testimony from former White House COVID-19 officials.

The panel also found that Trump appointees hoped to “alter the contents, rebut, or delay the release” of 18 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWRs) from the Department of Health and Human Services.

As reported by the Post, Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases, told the panel in a November 2021 interview, “Was I concerned that there was an attempt to alter the scientific content of the MMWR? Yes. Do I think they were successful? No.”




 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Sen. Mike Lee tries his best to gaslight Utah into ignoring that whole seditious conspiracy thing

Hunter

Utah's Republican Sen. Mike Lee debated independent challenger Evan McMullin on Monday night, where he was asked to answer for his significant material support for the Jan. 6 coup attempt. Because Mike Lee is a Republican, he responded by simply lying his ass off.



Lee is trying to pretend that he was merely conducting a bit of fact-finding, looking into "rumors" about what means of overturning the election other Republicans were contemplating. What Mike Lee actually did, as Jim Acosta tersely notes, is throw himself into the middle of multiple plots to do that overturning. Mike Lee tried very hard to come up with theories that would justify the Republican nullification of Donald Trump's election loss and only backed away after a resulting violent attack on Congress proved unsuccessful.

Mike Lee spent a hell of a lot of time that December and January trying to coordinate a Republican seditious conspiracy. He only ducked out of the way after it failed.

To refresh Mike Lee's memory, since as a Republican senator he appears to live in the land of half-truths and invented realities, let's again run down Lee's own actions to push and coordinate Republican attempts to overrule the results of a United States presidential election.

- Sen. Mike Lee began pressing the White House to challenge the election's results immediately after Biden was announced to be the winner. On Nov. 7, Lee texted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, asking him to urge Trump to "exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy" to challenge Biden's win. It was at this point that Lee urged the Trump White House to meet with Republican attorney Sydney Powell—who would quickly assume a role as one of the top conspiracy theorists and hoax promoters. She now faces possible disbarment for launching a series of election-challenging lawsuits that federal judges determined to be based on either fictional or outright fraudulent claims.

  • By Nov. 23, it was clear that Republican attempts to have elections officials simply throw out Democratic votes until Trump prevailed weren't going to go anywhere; the votes were counted and it was clear Joe Biden had won (by, ahem, a significant margin.) It was at this point that Mike Lee began aggressively promoting John Eastman—who we now know as an architect of the coup. Eastman's theory, as Lee described it to Meadows on Dec. 8, was that Republican state legislatures could simply ignore the vote counts in their state to "appoint alternative slates of delegates." Yes, Lee was pressing the White House to adopt Eastman's plan to send conflicting slates of electors to Congress, upon which Congress would throw up its hands to say that in the disputed states we simply can't know who won so therefore those states don't count.
  • Lee's efforts to push Eastman's plan continued through November right until the coup attempt and were, by his own words, extensive. "I've been spending 14 hours a day for the last week" on the nullification plan, Lee texted Meadows on Jan 4. "I've been calling state legislators for hours today, and am going to spend hours doing the same tomorrow."
  • By Jan. 4, after efforts to coax Republican state legislatures into declaring their own state elections invalid had failed as well, Lee was yet again attempting to invent new justifications for challenging the counting of electors on Jan. 6. "We need something from state legislatures to make this legitimate and to have any hope of winning. Even if they can’t convene, it might be enough if a majority of them are willing to sign a statement indicating how they would vote," he told Meadows. The new plan was to ignore the failure of those state legislatures to actually contest the election results with a new assertion that the Republicans in those legislatures would have voted to contest the results if, uh, they had held the vote they didn't have. That, thought Lee, would be enough for Congress to challenge and possibly throw out Biden-won state electors.
After the violent attempt by a Trump-organized crowd to block the counting of electoral votes altogether, Mike Lee rapidly began to revise history to claim he had nothing to do with any of it. From telling Meadows he was spending "14 hours a day" on the plan, including "calling state legislators for hours," Lee now insisted that he first heard about Eastman's "alternate electors" theory just days before the coup attempt, and "was shocked."

Lee's version has evolved with every new revelation. Now that he can't exactly deny that he was working the phones like a sedition-backing toady as Trump himself was pressuring Mike Pence and other Republicans to throw out the electors from multiple Biden-won states, he's evolved himself into a claim that he was working those 14-hour days to "see whether the rumors were true."

The “rumors” of the thing he had been pressing Mark Meadows on for weeks in private texts. The "rumors" being widely reported at the time as the Republican Party's plan of attack. Those "rumors."

Mike Lee really has made quite a name for himself since arriving in the Senate—as a power-seeking sniveler. He started out clinging to Sen. Ted Cruz, and nobody likes being around Ted Cruz. He moved on to become a vociferous Trump suck-up and, as his text messages show, a man willing to drop his day job to instead make himself as useful as possible to Dear Orange Leader.

Now he's just lying about all of it, as is the Republican Party way. Again we have to ask: What's with the Republican base's penchant for liars, groveling toadies, and your more-than-occasional sex predator? Who looks at Mike Lee, sweating his way through each newly invented claim on their television screens, and says wow, that guy really speaks to me?
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Special master loses patience with Trump's nonsense objections: 'Where's the beef?'

Mark Sumner

On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Raymond Dearie, who is acting as “special master” in Donald Trump’s attempt to claim ownership over documents seized in an FBI search at his Mar-a-Lago club, conducted a conference call that was supposed to be restricted to dealing with a small portion of the documents. In this case, the call was aimed only at those documents that had been already culled by the FBI “filter team” that was set up to find documents potentially protected by client-attorney privilege and which the DOJ has already excluded from their investigations. However, the conversation soon sprawled to all parts of the special master process, and during this conversation Dearie made it exceptionally clear that his patience is beyond exhausted.

For everyone who spent a week contorting hyperspace in an effort to explain how 200,000 pages could fit into 32 small boxes, we finally got an answer as to how many pages were really in all those documents: 21,792. That greatly reduced number didn’t stop Trump’s team from once again asking for more time.

Trump’s attorney also submitted a preliminary list of documents pulled by the filter team that Trump believed should be returned to him under some form of privilege. Except what Trump’s legal team failed to provide were any details to support why those documents should not be part of the DOJ’s investigation. “It’s a little perplexing,” the New York Times reported that Judge Dearie said on the call. “As I go through the log. What’s the expression? Where’s the beef? I need some beef.”

The reasons listed on what was apparently a quite skimpy list from Trump attorney Jim Trusty caused Judge Dearie more than one headache. For example, there was one document that Trump claimed was “personal property” and was also covered by executive privilege. Dearie challenged Trusty concerning how it was possible that a document could fall into both these category. As reported by CNN, Dearie said, “Unless I’m wrong—and I’ve been wrong before—there’s certainly an incongruity there.”

It may take someone of a certain age to remember the ad campaign to which Dearie was refereeing when he mentioned “beef,” but it doesn’t take any background in either advertising or law to understand his frustration. Trump was apparently doing what he always does, throw things against the wall to see if something will stick. Or at least, if something will clog up progress.

Dearie also noted that some of the documents that Trump was claiming as protected by attorney client privilege didn’t seem to be sourced from an attorney. Trusty promised to get back the judge on how a document from a third party could still be protected, which should be an interesting—or at least, funny—legal claim when it arrives.

At one point Trusty claimed that a letter written to the Department of Justice itself should be considered private. When Dearie asked how that was possible, Trusty said because the letter was unsigned, and had not been sent. Dearie asked the DOJ to check and see if they had received a copy of the letter before looking into it further. “I don’t want to be dealing with nonsense objections and nonsense assertions,” said Dearie, “especially when I have one month to deal with who knows how many assertions.”

During that call, Trump attorney Jim Trusty also insisted that they needed another ten days to review the files before making any claims of privilege. This is after District Court Judge Aileen Cannon already granted Trump what he wanted by halting Dearie’s earlier proposal for “rolling submissions” dealing with the collection of documents in a series of groups, insisting that everything come in at once, and extending the end of the process until November 30. The request didn’t meet with any enthusiasm.

During the call, Dearie tried to get some sense of just how many claims he was going to be reviewing as special master. Did he need to hire additional staff? Out of the 11,000 documents, was Trump going to claim privilege over 10, or was it going to be 10,000? Trusty didn’t seem prepared to answer this question. He also wasn’t prepared to provide Dearie with such basic information as a list of Trump’s past and current attorneys, so that names could be checked against claims of attorney client privilege.

When it comes to the greatly reduced number of pages, the DOJ had a simple explanation — a consultant hired to scan documents had taken the 11,000 documents and multiplied by 18, which is a typical length for business documents. However, the DOJ attorney acknowledge that not only was the real number much smaller, but that 200,000 documents would not have even fit in the 32 boxes removed from the site.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Primary source for Trump-Russia dossier acquitted, handing special counsel Durham another trial loss

Igor Danchenko, the primary source for the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, was acquitted Tuesday of four counts of lying to the FBI in an embarrassing defeat for special counsel John Durham.

Durham has taken two cases to trial, and both have ended in acquittals. After more than three years looking for misconduct in the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, Durham has only secured one conviction: the guilty plea of a low-level FBI lawyer, who got probation.

The jury returned not guilty verdicts on all charges against Danchenko, a Russian expat and think tank analyst who provided the bulk of the material for the anti-Trump dossier. Durham initially charged Danchenko with five counts of lying to the FBI, but a judge threw out one of the charges on Friday.

The verdict means jurors weren’t persuaded by Durham’s allegations that Danchenko lied to the FBI about his contacts with a Belarusian-American businessman who was a possible source for the dossier. The largely discredited dossier was a collection of unverified and salacious allegations compiled by retired British spy Christopher Steele, whose dirt-digging was indirectly funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.

In many ways, the verdict is a direct blow to Durham, who personally handled most of the arguments and witness questioning. The proceedings were rocky at times for the special counsel, who lashed out at some of his own witnesses after they ended up providing testimony that helped Danchenko’s defense.

The week-long trial against Danchenko resurrected many of the 2016 election dramas.

FBI agents described their efforts to corroborate the Steele dossier, which ultimately came up empty. Jurors were shown portions of Steele’s memos, which he has previously said weren’t ever meant to become public. The dossier’s primary allegation – that there was a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between Donald Trump and the Russians – repeatedly came up throughout the proceedings.

Durham also used the case to put the FBI on trial, in what could be a preview of his upcoming final report. He zeroed in on the shortcomings and errors of the early Trump-Russia probe – specifically the bureau’s overreliance on the dossier to propel forward some key parts of their burgeoning inquiry.

Danchenko is a Russian citizen but has lived in the US for years with his family. The FBI once scrutinized him as a possible counterintelligence threat, but later paid him as an informant. Durham pressed Danchenko’s FBI handler about the possibility that he was a Russian spy. To the contrary, the witness said Danchenko was a treasured FBI informant and suggested that Durham hurt US national security by indicting him.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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D.C. attorney general says he's probing whether migrants bused to capital were tricked by GOP

Gabe Ortiz

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was despicably transporting human beings as a political stunt months before copycat Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis decided to rip it for his own political ambitions. Abbott has in fact transported at least 12,000 human beings to areas governed by his perceived political opponents, including New York, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey has also sent more than 2,000 migrants to the area.

The District of Columbia’s attorney general tells ProPublica and The Texas Tribune that he’s now opening an investigation into whether migrants “were deceived by trip organizers before boarding buses for Washington,” the outlets report.

There’s good reason to launch the probe. We know desperate children and adults were lured to Martha’s Vineyard under DeSantis’ stunt. When it comes to Abbott, he’s admitted he lied about his stunt. These have been operations of deception.
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ProPublica and The Texas Tribune report that D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said migrants interviewed by his office’s investigators “have talked persuasively about being misled, with talk about promised services.” The outlets said Racine didn’t go into any details, but on the surface, it’s strikingly similar to the sort of false promises made by recruiters under DeSantis’ stunt.

Migrants sent to Massachusetts have discussed “Perla,” now known as former military veteran Perla Huerta, making promises about housing, jobs, and other aid. Perla also recruited other unwitting migrants to help her in her scheming, leaving cash payment for one in an envelope behind the dumpster of a BBQ joint. Not shady at all.

“Various state and federal laws could apply to transporting immigrants across state lines,” ProPublica and The Texas Tribune said. “Racine’s office could look into whether anyone committed fraud by falsely promising jobs or services, whether there were civil rights violations or whether officials misused taxpayers’ money.”

Nativist birds of a feather flock together, because the Treasury Department watchdog has previously announced probes into both political stunts. Lawmakers from Texas and Massachusetts had raised alarms about the Republicans misusing federal pandemic money to fund their shenanigans. Should the watchdog find they did in fact misuse this cash, they’ll need to pay it back.

In a statement to ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, an Abbott spokesperson claimed that migrants “signed a voluntary consent waiver available in multiple languages upon boarding that they agreed on the destination.” Oh, anybody can sign a form, but does that mean they actually understood it? We also know that Abbott has lied to Texans’ faces about this policy, claiming during his recent gubernatorial debate that New York City Mayor Eric Adams “never called my office, never talked to anybody in my administration” about the busing of migrants.

Friends, that was proven to be a lie after a staffer from Adams’ office tweeted screenshots showing otherwise. Abbott has in fact lied about this numerous times, making a similar claim last month that Adams’ office had not been in contact with him at all. Why should anyone believe one ****ing word coming out of his or DeSantis’ mouth?

“Elected as a Democrat, Racine criticized the Republican governors for using ‘people as props. That’s what they’ve done with the immigrants,’” ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. That, you can absolutely believe.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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DeSantis' shady 'Perla' deleted social media accounts and put house up for sale, report says

Gabe Ortiz

How do we know that Ron DeSantis’ cruel political stunt treating children and adults as human props was shady to the nth degree? Well, text messages reported by the Miami Herald reveal that the notorious recruiter who aided the Florida governor’s scheme left money at dead drops for the unwitting recruiters she used to help lure as many vulnerable people as possible.

Emmanuel, himself a Venezuelan migrant, was brought in by the now-identified Puerla Huerta. She paid him $700 cash to help recruit other migrants, leaving his final payment in an envelope behind the dumpster of a San Antonio BBQ joint. You know, just some normal state business.

”While the media has focused on Huerta, a Miami Herald investigation found DeSantis’ San Antonio operation was far bigger and better organized than previously known, with more than half a dozen recruiters and support staff on the ground, and some operational logistics handled from Florida,” the report said. The stunt was financed through interest earnings associated with federal pandemic funding, a move now under probe by the Treasury Department watchdog.

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Named among these figures is DeSantis’ chief of staff, James Uthmeier, who oversaw scheming in San Antonio. ”Florida’s public safety czar, Larry Keefe, served as point person for the program in Texas, documents show.” The Miami Herald report said that the latter actually, once upon a time, represented Vertol Systems Company Inc., the contractor and GOP megadonor that got paid big bucks to shuttle human beings for DeSantis.

From Texas, Keefe messaged Uthmeier that “conditions” were “quite favorable,” Miami Herald said. It’s unclear if this was in the literal sense, as in Oh, its a nice sunny day today, or instead, Our scheming is going according to plan, evil laugh. “Very good,” Uthmeier replied, according to Miami Herald. “You have my full support. Call anytime.”


Both Uthmeier and Vertol Systems Company Inc. are specifically named in a recent lawsuit launched by the Florida Center for Government Accountability watchdog that’s asking a court to force DeSantis to release public records related to the stunt. Text messages were “obtained by the Herald and other organizations through public records requests,” though it's unclear if Florida Center for Government Accountability was among them.

What does continue to be clear is that Emmanuel and dozens of others were lied to, misled, and outright tricked by the orchestrators of this political scheme. Emmanuel even said he had Huerta’s name saved in his phone as “Perla Hermosa,” or, “beautiful Perla.” The migrant “said he believed he was part of a benevolent mission run by a kind and compassionate woman,” one who was offering desperate people all sorts of lifelines, the report said. “Huerta told him she was a military veteran. He trusted her.”

“I don’t know who is good, and who is bad,” Emmanuel now says, according to the report. “It’s like something is eating me from the inside.”

The mysterious “Perla” was later revealed to be former combat medic and counterintelligence agent Perla Huerta. She recently left the military after two decades under circumstances not publicly known. Like so many scammers throughout history, she’s seemingly vanished without a trace, deleting social media profiles and even putting up her Tampa house for sale, the report said. We also see that at least one top official within DeSantis’ office was very much involved in carrying out this scheme. Meanwhile, the governor’s office has actively stalled on releasing public records into the scheme. If it feels shady, it probably is shady, folks.

Is there some hope of justice for the victims of this scam? We desperately hope. Last week a Texas sheriff signed off on certain documentation that could ultimately help victims gain permanent relief here. A U-visa is available to victims of crime who are helpful to law enforcement in their investigations. But because of an annual cap and massive backlog, relief could be many years away. Emmanuel himself has been cooperating with Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar’s probe, though its unclear if he’s seeking a humanitarian visa.

”Legitimate operations don't hide bags of money behind BBQ restaurants,” tweeted Florida House Democrats. “This is an embarrassment for Florida.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Unbelievable videos emerge showing Ron DeSantis' trumped-up election fraud arrests

Walter Einenkel

At the beginning of August, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida did one of his publicity stunt press conferences where he appealed to the basest fears of the conservative world. No, this wasn’t the time he went after LGBTQ+ children or teachers. No, this wasn’t the millions of dollars in taxpayer money he used to separate immigrant families in order to score political points with xenophobes. This was the time he announced that he was going to create a Gestapo-like outfit of election fraud law enforcement officials. Like everything DeSantis has done, it costs the taxpayers a lot of money in order to punish a few (almost always entirely innocent) people.

Subsequently, DeSantis announced with confetti that his crack squad of election-fraud-stateers had arrested “20” Florida residents for illegally voting in the 2020 election. It turns out that the number was 19, and it also turns out that most of the people in that number were Black (at least 13 of the people taken into custody), 12 were registered Democrats, and virtually every single person arrested by the DeSantis goon squad were told in one form or another that they could vote by various Florida officials. The move works on two levels: 1) DeSantis gets to make a big splash with the national Republican base by championing the conspiracy theory bullshit that fires up their old racism, and 2) DeSantis creates fear of voting among communities unlikely to vote for a dirtbag Republican in Florida. The cost? Some citizens’ freedoms and lives.

Now video of a few of the arrests through police officer body camera footage has been obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. It shows Florida citizens absolutely baffled and demoralized while apologetic police officers arrest them on these politically motivated hack charges.
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The first video shows Tampa resident Tony Patterson being arrested by a couple of officers in front of his home. He is completely blown away by the idea that he is truly being arrested. The police officer, clearly uncomfortable with being the bearer of fascism in this case, attempts to offer an olive branch saying that Patterson’s bond has been “reduced quite a bit,” and so the two felony counts Patterson is facing will only amount to $1,000 bond. Patterson puts his hand over his face, frequently saying, “Oh my God, man.” He isn’t yelling—he isn’t even angry. What you are seeing is a man who is bewildered by how profoundly unfair, inhumane, and maddening what’s happening to and around him is.

As Patterson puts his hands behind his back to be handcuffed, he asks, “Why are they doing this to me? I didn’t do nothing to nobody.” As they walk Patterson over to one of the officer’s vehicles—a long walk mind you, out across two lawns in the middle of the day—Patterson is informed that he will be searched against the vehicle once they get there, and he responds, “What is wrong with this state?” The answer to that question is large, but if you wanted to distill it down into a few words that might capture some of the moral decay involved in what is happening to Patterson here, that answer would be “Ron DeSantis.”



The next person is 55-year-old Romona Oliver. Oliver is getting into her car, in her driveway, to go to work. It is not yet 7 AM when Florida police officers walk up to her and inform her that they are arresting her. Her car is running and the driver’s side door is open. She is gobsmacked, saying, “Oh my God,” numerous times as officers arrest her in her driveway and tell her apologetically that she will be let back out right after being booked in at the station. “I know you’re caught off guard but unfortunately that’s how this stuff works.” The officer is trying to be nice but the it isn’t “unfortunate,” this is exactly how this is supposed to “work.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Oliver “registered to vote at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles on Feb. 14, 2020.”


After brief eligibility checks by the Department of State — which reports to DeSantis and is responsible for cleaning the rolls of ineligible voters — she was given a voter ID card both times.
Oliver wasn’t removed from the rolls until March 30 this year, more than two years later.

Please note at the beginning of the video how after the female officer asks Romona Oliver if she just got married (she did), and then informs Oliver that she’s being arrested on a voter fraud warrant, Oliver attempts to—politely and frazzled—go and tell her husband what is happening. It is heartbreaking.



Then there’s 49-year-old Nathan Hart, who, after being handcuffed and while he’s being searched and having his keys and such taken out of his pockets, very calmly, explains that the guy at the “driver’s license place” convinced him to register after he explained he had a felony conviction. “He goes, ‘Well, are you still on probation?’” Hart’s probation was over and the man at the DMV explained he could at least fill out the form and if they let him vote (the state of Florida) then he could vote! One of the officers says that that sounds like a good defense against the charges.



But the most telling moment is back with Patterson as he sits in the back of the police car, handcuffed. Patterson laments listening to his brother, who convinced him to go vote. “Why would y’all let me vote?”

The officer responds, “’I’m not sure, buddy. I don’t know.”

Patterson goes on, “And then why now? This happened years ago. Why now? Why me?”

The video jumps a short while later as the police officer tells the dispatcher on the radio that he is working on whatever paperwork needs to be done before taking Patterson to jail. You can hear the dispatcher ask about the case he’s working on. The officer makes a “psssst” response and then says, “I’ve never seen these charges before in my entire life.”



The Palm Beach Post reports that the number of Black people arrested by DeSantis and his political theater troop of fascists is 15, not the 13 originally reported in this story.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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McCarthy: Republican House Victory means cutting aid to Ukraine

oc hope

Just wanted to bring attention to a recent interview with Kevin McCarthy, who has been notoriously vague about what policies Republicans might pursue if they win control of the House. He disclosed today that Republicans would not support the same level of aid to the Ukraine:

“I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine,” McCarthy said in an interview with Punchbowl News published Tuesday. “They just won’t do it.”

McCarthy Warns GOP May Cut Back Ukraine Aid If Party Wins House

McCarthy cited immigration as another priority, and made clear that he might use a potential default by the US government as leverage:

McCarthy in the interview said part of the reason for dialing back aid is that the Biden administration is ignoring domestic issues that the GOP sees as a priority, such as securing the US southern border.
“People begin to weigh that,” the California Republican said. “Ukraine is important, but at the same time it can’t be the only thing they do and it can’t be a blank check.”….
McCarthy also told Punchbowl News that he plans to leverage the need to raise the nation’s debt ceiling to rein in government spending. In recent weeks other top Republicans have said they plan to seek curbs to entitlement programs as a price for the debt ceiling increase, reprising a strategy successfully employed against President Barack Obama in 2011 by House Republicans.

This story dovetails nicely with an opinion piece by Catherine Rampel in today’s Post:

Republicans’ secret economic agenda? A global financial crisis.

At least McCarthy answered a question. She points out how McConnell handled similar questions:

The GOP has not said how it would tackle inflation or other major economic challenges, including a recession. This is the party, after all, that had no platform in 2020; and when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was asked in January what Republicans would do if they regained the majority, he dodged: “That is a very good question,” he said, “and I’ll let you know when we take it back.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Artillery reigns supreme as mud season slows most movement

kos

FfIv2S4WYAEtBfC.jpeg

Next-level zen on the Kherson front

Artillery has been pounding positions on both sides as rasputitsa, aka mud season, arrived weeks early to Ukraine this year. Normally, it’s not expected until November.

By restricting movement to main roads, the rain and mud have made advancement by either side difficult. Any attempt to go off road in these conditions will mean reduced range and maneuverability at best, and bogged down immobilized vehicles at worst. Y’all remember Russia’s difficulties back in March, don’t you? While we’re not quite at that level yet, things are definitely getting dicey. Armored vehicles have to mostly stick to roads.

It’s hard to hide movement on roads, and easy to plot coordinates on a map. Advance is difficult.



Aside from the issues of mud and roads, you may be marveling at the impressive accuracy of those Ukrainian artillery guns. For sure, those guys know what they’re doing, but there is inherent margin of error on “dumb” artillery shells. These are Excalibur precision-guided artillery rounds, homing in on laser targets provided by loitering drones. In contrast, GMLRS rockets fired by HIMARS and M270 MLRS are GPS guided. They both have their purposes—GMLRS hits weapons depots, military bases, and fixed defensive positions, while Excalibur picks off individual armored vehicles one by one, even while moving.

In the video below, Excalibur rounds take out a high-value surface to air missile system. Strikes like these allow the Ukrainian Air Force to fly more aggressive ground-support missions at the front.



Another Excalibur strike:



Even more Excalibur attacks here and here. The rounds cost around $68,000 each, about half the price of a GMLRS rocket, though significantly more expensive than a $800 dumb artillery shell. Still, one shell does the job of 50 dumb shells, which sure, still isn’t as expensive, but the one-and-out shot means the artillery gun can break down and move far quicker, enhancing survivability of precious howitzers and their crews. The U.S. has sent 2,000 Excalibur rounds in the last month alone.

September 15: 1,000
October 7: 500
October 14: 500


That will make for
a lot of wrecked armor, the perfect tool to “shape the battlefield” as HIMARS focuses more on taking out bridges and barges resupplying Russia’s forces around Kherson.

Interestingly,
every video above has been in the Kherson front, I haven’t seen Excalibur strikes anywhere else. For all the talk of potential misdirection, that maybe Ukraine is preparing an offensive in the southeast corner of the country, around Zaporizhzhia and southern Donetsk oblast, it remains clear that Ukraine is deploying its best munitions around Kherson.

Russian artillery may not be as precise, but it’s no fun being on the receiving end of it.




On other thing to look out for—Ukrainian advances have pushed so far forward near Kherson, that those forces might soon be in range of Russia artillery positions on the other (supplied) side of the Dnipro river.



That shouldn’t be an issue until Ukrainian forces take Mylove and push further south. But unless Ukraine can finish the job on the Kerch bridge, Russian forces on the south side of the Dnipro won’t have any trouble pounding advancing Ukrainian forces … and the city of Kherson if it’s liberated.

Full operational silence means we don’t know what’s going on around Kherson, but I’m less and less inclined to believe we’re seeing major advances. Rather, the weather has made movement difficult, so why not wait a month for the ground to freeze while systematically degrading Russian defenses? As the weather turns cold, we might even see more Russian surrenders, defections, and desertions.

Once the ground is frozen, Ukraine can advance with even larger force. Britain alone is training 2,500 Ukrainians every six weeks, with Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, and the Baltic countries recently joining the effort. More armored vehicles and artillery guns are arriving in Ukraine daily. Russia, on the other hand, is relegated to sending untrained, under-equipped, unmotivated mobilized conscripts to serve as speed bumps in miserably cold and wet trenches. While Belarus empties its armored vehicle stores for Russia, Excalibur and GMLRS rocket artillery systematically whittles away Russia’s capabilities.


Over summer, Ukraine was under pressure to prove it could recapture territory, lest Western allies lose Western faith throughout a cold winter. Those days are past. Ukraine’s capabilities have been well-proven. Now, it makes sense to wait for the more tactically advantageous conditions to press the attack.
............
I haven’t talked much about the Kyiv Blitz—Russia’s Nazi-like effort to break Ukraine’s spirits be using Iranian suicide drones to strike both energy infrastructure and civilian targets. I suspect those civilian targets are accidental, given the shitty quality of Russian (and Iranian) gear. Russia couldn’t have possibly wanted to waste an $18 million cruise missile on a playground swing set. Those Iranian drones don’t even have cameras.

Thing is, despite the attention those Iranian drones are generating, they’re militarily irrelevant. Hitler was able to reduce much of London to rubble using his V2 rockets, these Iranian drones are causing limited damage. A large percentage have also been shot down, with more air defenses arriving soon.

If anything, those cheap drones (reported cost, around $20,000 each), deployed by the hundreds, might overwhelm Ukrainian defenses, causing shortages in expensive surface-to-air missiles. But in Russia’s best-case scenario, what could they ultimately accomplish? Each civilian target, whether intentional or not, merely intensifies Ukrainian resolve and builds more pressure in the West for long-range rockets like ATACMS for HIMARS launchers, as well as NATO tanks and aircraft. Maybe Russia manages to take down significant portions of Ukraine’s power grid, making the Russian milbloggers like Rybar happy? Yeah, that would suck. It would mean lots of cold people this winter, but Ukrainians aren’t soft people. They'll adapt and survive, just like they did last February and March in places like Mariupol, Sumy, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv.

I’m betting Ukraine will figure out how to effectively combat those drones within the next 4-6 weeks, with both additional Western help (like anti-drone jammers) and domestic ingenuity. Meanwhile, the on-the-ground tactical and strategic situation will remain completely unchanged because even now, Russia still refuses to use its rockets, missiles, and drones to strike
military targets.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct 18, 2022 · 2:47:37 PM EDT · kos



Ukrainian defenders around Bakhmut are like the defenders who have held that line since the war began—they don’t have the fancy stuff, HIMARS and Excalibur are working in Kherson, French and German self-propelled artillery guns seem to be up in Kharkiv. Yet by holding the ground with relatively less support, these heroes enable Ukrainian gains on those other fronts.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct 18, 2022 · 2:38:01 PM EDT · kos



I’m not sure what to make of this just yet, but Russian officials and Telegram are screaming about Ukraine getting ready to blow the dam
at Nova Kakhovka, which would flood the entire region.

Ukraine is obviously not going to do that, so this appears like setting up a justification for a withdrawal that isn’t “we’re getting our asses kicked and we can’t defend our ill-supplied territory.” You see, a withdrawal will then be a humanitarian life-saving action, rather than yet another humiliating retreat and the final death of Putin’s “Novorossiya” (New Russia) dream, which was supposed to connect Russia to the Transnistria region in Moldova, through Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odesa.