More to ignore, Book 107...

Ten Thousan Marbles

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'Anti-woke' MAGA bank is shutting down after mismanagement, general sucking

Hunter

It's a sad week in America. It's also a sad week for billionaire anti-everything troll Peter Thiel, former Mike Pence Chief of Staff Nick Ayers, omnipresent fascist talking head Candace Owens, and a host of other archconservative investors. Mostly, it’s America that has suffered a loss. As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, the first self-proclaimed anti-woke "bank" in the nation is dying a hot flaming bankrupt death only a few brief months after opening for business.

That "anti-woke" bank called itself GloriFi, a portmanteau of "glory" and "financial malpractice" that premised itself on being, well, not woke. No, that was the whole gimmick. It was going to be a bank for MAGA-type Republicans who didn't want to put their money in a bank unless it catered to gun-toting, white nationalism-adjacent flag-humping cultural anti-wokeness. Among its appeals to the (ahem) Trumpy class were, as Rolling Stone puts it, "plans to offer gun owners discounts on home insurance, credit cards made of shell casing material, and assistance paying legal bills if customers shot someone in self-defense."

You can glean from this description what all the people involved with this new bank believed "anti-woke" to mean. "Woke" means not getting to shoot at people you don't like, and "anti-woke" means getting a discount on financial products if you do shoot people you don’t like. There's no singing “America the Beautiful” for this crowd—it was guns, guns, murder, and guns.

It turns out that was not, by itself, a sufficient business plan. The Journal had previously noted that the plan to make credit cards out of shell casing metal turned into a big oops because the people promising such a thing hadn't realized that making a credit card out of metal might "interfere with security chips and potentially be too thick for payment terminals," which is one of those science-type oversights that you're going to get when your biggest-brained ideas revolve around "what would sound like a good idea to the sort of people who think Donald Trump was history's smartest president."

Mind you, there were probably a lot of people out there who wanted a credit card-shaped object made out of shell casing metal and didn't give a damn if it wasn't actually functional as a credit card. Many of them are also the sort who like to take assault rifles into Chipotle so that they can look more intimidating when the barely minimum-wage cashier explains to them that their credit card-shaped paperweight doesn't actually do anything. But there aren't enough of those sorts of people to base an entire financial institution around, because those sort of people have already spent all their money on guns. Their portfolio consists of ammunition, not mutual funds.

There's a much less prosaic reason for the failure of the Thiel-Ayers-MAGA startup, however. In a well-written bit of journalism by The Wall Street Journal last October, the Journal revealed that the startup was already looking quite, uh, doomed. The startup was run out of co-founder Toby Neugebauer's 16,000 square foot mansion in Dallas, Texas, and the Journal's sources portrayed Neugebauer as a frequently drunk, often "volatile" executive who would berate employees and vendors and was rapidly losing the confidence of investors.

If "anti-woke" means putting your money into a "bank" run out of a belligerent rich drunk's house, it turns out that most people would rather be "woke" after all. Go figure! We won't lie, it's a bit of a shock to all of us who thought "hand over all your money to a rich drunk guy" was the very heart of conservatism.

That's that, then. We’ve got ourselves the financial equivalent of a dead parrot. It wasn't even two full months ago that fascist figurehead Owens was touting this weird gun-obsessed startup as something that "will overtake Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase & #Paypal very quickly." Now it's cooked like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Not that, you know, any of the people who were conned into giving the "bank" money will take any lessons from this, mind you. The customers this "anti-woke" bank was courting were the sort of people who wouldn't mind giving their money to a weird half-bank founded in a belligerent drunk guy's living room if it meant potentially getting discounts on legal fees for shooting somebody. These aren't the sort of people who learn "lessons."

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
111,594
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Trump and His Desperate Right-Wing Conspiracy Kooks Go After Special Counsel Jack Smith's Wife

News Corpse

On Thanksgiving day, Donald Trump posted more than forty fanatical memes expressing undying adoration for Dear Leader. They included expressions of worshipful love and loyalty in words pasted over artificially iconic images of Trump as superhero or savior.

Missing from this avalanche of self-adulation were any wishes for a happy Thanksgiving. However, interspersed among the exaltations and QAnon-sense were Trump's own outpourings of rage against "Radical left" Democrats, and "rigged" courts and judges, and perennial "witch hunts," all in his warped cranium determined to stifle him and his MAGA cult movement. It was a Thanksgiving Day parade of pity and victimhood.

At the top of Trump's miscreant mind was Attorney General Merrick Garland's recent appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate his criminal activities related to the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol that he incited, and the theft of national security documents that he hoarded - and lied to the FBI about having - at his Mar-a-Lago bunker.

In utter horror over the prospect of his being held accountable, Trump posted several hostile comments on his floundering Twitter ripoff, Truth Social, directed at Special Counsel, Jack Smith, and more disturbingly, at his wife, documentary filmmaker Katy Chevigny. Trump ranted that...

"Democrats argue a Supreme Court justice (Clarence Thomas) must recuse from cases, based upon the personal political views of his wife (Ginni). So why doesn’t Special Counsel Jack Smith have to recuse, based upon his wife’s anti-Trump/pro-Biden large political donation and other major advocacy on behalf of Democrats?"

And he fumed that...

"The wife of the Special Counsel Biden chose to investigate @realdonaldtrump (his likely opponent in 2024) reportedly produced the Michelle Obama documentary… Yes America, you are reading this correctly."

Trump's ravings are typically ego-based and legally befuddled. Analogizing Smith to Clarence Thomas makes no sense. As a Supreme Court justice, Thomas can (and does) make decisions that bear directly on the activities of his wife, Ginni, who was an active participant in the coup staged by Trump and his traitorous StormTrumpers. Thomas has already made rulings that shield his wife from legal scrutiny and potential liability.

On the other hand, Jack Smith's work as Special Counsel would have no bearing whatsoever on the activities of his wife. Furthermore, unlike Ginni Thomas, Chevigny, and Michele Obama, the subject of her documentary "Becoming," have not been implicated in efforts to overthrow the government of the United States.

Smith's wife, like the spouses of all Justice Department attorneys, (and all Americans) is free to support whatever candidates and political parties she wants to. So are the attorneys, for that matter. That doesn't mean that the career prosecutors to whom they are married are going to exercise bias in the performance of their duties. And it wouldn't matter if they did. Because the judges who hear the cases aren't going to adopt any alleged biases if the existed.

Smith's record in the Justice Department is unblemished by any allegations of political bias. He has prosecuted both Democrats and Republicans in the past. That's routine for the Justice Department. For instance, special counsel Robert Mueller, who probed Trump's connections to Russia during the 2016 campaign, was a lifelong Republican.

Trump's temper tantrum is standard operating procedure for him. It hardly matters what the facts are. He will always strive to contort the circumstances into some sort of personal assault, because all he knows how to do is whine. He has actually bragged that he is "the most fabulous whiner," a claim that is hard to argue with. And he's providing another outstanding example of it with his reaction to the Special Counsel appointment and the unconscionable attack on his wife.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Here's how Republican voters helped Democrats win in Arizona

Kari Lake has suggested incompetence by election officials or cheating against Republicans by election officials hampered her failed gubernatorial bid.

Other top GOP candidates have offered similar explanations for Democratic wins in Arizona’s statewide U.S. Senate and secretary of state races.

But an Arizona Republic analysis of voting patterns, especially in Maricopa County, shows a simpler reason: Many Republicans just didn’t vote for the Republican candidates......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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For evidence that GOP ‘angertainment’ isn’t working, take a look at Colorado

Heading into Election Day, Colorado’s problems looked like those of a lot of other states: Inflation is high, crime is increasing and President Biden’s approval rating in Colorado was just 40 percent, according to Civiqs polling. Yet voters reelected the state’s Democratic governor, Jared Polis, by 19 percentage points, reelected its U.S. Democratic senator, Michael Bennet, by 14 percentage points with easy victories for many down-ballot Democrats and Democratic majorities in the legislature now made lopsided…

Yes, the GOP underperformed in a lot of places this year, but the limits of “angertainment” were perhaps most vividly illustrated here, a rough lesson in the diminishing returns from an approach to governing that mistakes “owning the libs” for getting things done for constituents......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Ukraine update: Let's take stock of the current front lines

kos

As I noted yesterday, what was Russia’s five axes of attack at the start of the war has been gradually whittled down to a single front in The Donbas. Still, it’s a long front line, across two different oblasts (which collective make up the Donbas), with several directions of action. So let’s take a look at what should be the front lines for the foreseeable future (unless Ukraine surprises everyone with a new push into southern Kherson oblast or even Crimea).

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Let’s go clockwise, starting from the north.

Svatove/Starobilsk
(northern Luhansk oblast)

This is perhaps the most strategically consequential of the currently active front line. It is the gateway toward a great open expanse of mostly empty agricultural steppe, and the last logistical line from Russia’s Belgorod (it’s main supply hub this war), into Ukraine itself.


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(Old map. Only one village remains between Ukrainian forces and Svatove)

If you look closely, every single road and railway in northeastern Ukraine runs through either Svatove or Starobilsk. Every. Single. One. And what’s more, once Svatove falls, it’s an open shot toward Starobilks, giving Russian defenses very little to ward off a strong Ukrainian push.

When Svatove and Starobilks are liberated, that entire swatch of red Russian-held territory will turn yellow. That’ll be great for morale, but it will do more to help end the war than almost any other Ukrainian victory. Remember that this is a war of logistics, and this is Russia’s most important supply rail line.

Kreminna
(Luhansk oblast)

There was great hope Ukraine could blitzkrieg their way into Kreminna after Russian lines around Izyum collapsed, but alas, this is where Russia held the line, and continues to do so to this day.


kre.png


There are forests to the city's west that are, according to Russian Telegram, under Ukrainian control. Liberating Kreminna opens up Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, and Lysychansk to Ukrainian attack. For their part, Russia keeps attacking this line from the Lysychansk direction in the south, attempting to disrupt what, for the moment, seems to be a cautious Ukrainian approach.

Months back, when Severodonetsk and Lysychansk were still in Ukrainian hands, I argued that this wasn’t a particularly strategic area, and questioned the fierce (and costly) Ukrainian defense. I still question all the lives lost over this corner of the front. Once Ukraine liberates Svatove and Starobilsk to the north, supplying this area will become a serious problem for Russia. Yet whether it's Ukraine cautiously probing ahead, or Russia trying to push Ukraine back, this is a lively part of the front.

Bakhmut
(Donetsk Oblast)

What can I write about Bakhmut that we haven’t already written dozens of times? Wagner war-crime’ing mercenaries rule this corner of the front, and send wave after wave of prison cannon fodder to die in corpse-littered fields. It’s positively medieval, and disconnected from any broader strategic goal beyond “Wagner does whatever it wants, and ignores Russia’s larger goals.” Maybe it does so because Russia lacks any broader strategic goals. Or maybe it thinks gaining meters per day here and there is great advertising for its deadly services.


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There is quite literally zero strategic value to Bakhmut. It is not an important logistical hub.The big twin fortress cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk to its west are well beyond Russia’s means to threaten. If Wagner were to somehow capture Bakhmut, Russia could get a few days of propaganda value from it, but that would be it. It does nothing to disrupt Ukraine’s war progress.

They won’t even get that. There’s a river running right through town.

bakh.jpg


If Wagner can’t get beyond the trash dump in the town’s eastern edge, what makes anyone think it can cross an actual river without functioning bridges? This approach is a death sentence to any advancing Russian. (This video alone has at least three dozen dead Russians littering the battlefield east of Bakhmut. As usual, no need to click. It’s disturbing.)

Avdiivka/Donetsk (Donetsk Oblast)

While we’ve touched on this area from time to time, we haven’t really focused on it as much as other active fronts.


don.png


What’s amazing about this front is that it’s RIGHT ON TOP of Russia’s pre-February front lines, and literally abuts one of the two regional capitals Russia still holds (the other being Luhansk city). Like Bakhmut to the north, Russia has sent wave after wave of fodder into this meat grinder (this time, local militias from Russian-occupied Donbas), and like Bakhmut, they keep ending up deceased, littering fields as far as the eye can see.

Russia doesn’t even appear to have any armor left, sending waves of unprotected infantry to be picked apart by Ukrainian artillery and drones. It’s gruesome. But it’s tough for Ukrainian defenders as well, as Russia still has plenty of artillery left to do its murderous task as they try and clear a path for their foot soldiers.

There is, at least, some strategic value to this Russian effort—they want a buffer zone around Donetsk for the inevitable Ukrainian counter-offensive. At the moment, Donetsk city is very exposed. (Not that Ukraine is likely to attack it head-on. That hasn’t been their approach so far, and no reason to engage in such a costly assault.)

Pavlivka/Vuhledar
(Donetsk Oblast)

I recently wrote about Pavlivka here. That Naval infantry unit banging its head against the town has apparently been completely annihilated.



At last report, Russia has the southern half of Pavlivka, while Ukraine has the northern half under fire control—meaning that any Russian venturing across that line gets snuffed out by artillery. That report claims Russia’s dead-to-wounded ratio is 1-to-1, which means that they don’t have a functioning medavac system. For a competent army, that ratio would be closer to 1-to-4 or even higher. For the U.S., it was 1-to-7 in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

So why the Russian desperation to move forward on this approach? Logistics.



155mm tube artillery means that Ukraine can keep that rail line shut with its most plentiful artillery munition. Still, even if Russia has some success and pushes Ukraine back several dozen kilometers (spoiler alert: not gonna happen), HIMARS/MLRS rockets, long-range self-propelled artillery, and long-range precision-guided munitions could still keep the line shut.

So while there’s some logic to the Russian attempts, it’s not particularly good logic. And even then, Russia’s inability to put together anything more substantive than suicidal infantry charges means that all Russia is doing is exchanging the lives of its own for cheap Ukrainian ammunition.

So there you have it, a quick reorientation of the current front lines.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Russia completes its conquest of the Republican Party, but Ukraine holds

Mark Sumner

Back before the election, when Republicans were rubbing their hands over that Red Tsunami on the horizon, they were pretty up front about what they meant to do in Ukraine. As The Washington Post noted, it wasn’t just the fringiest fringe of the party that was threatening to cut off aid to Ukraine. A week before the election, that idea had become so central to the Republican effort that it was being pushed in speeches from California to New Hampshire. And it was being pushed by the new core of the party — MAGA.

The threat to cut funding marks a sharp turn for a party whose members almost universally embraced aiding Ukraine after Russia invaded in February. Over the past eight months, supporters of former president Donald Trump have joined with skeptics of military intervention and anti-Biden forces within the GOP to challenge traditionally hawkish Republicans.

It’s little wonder then that, going into this month, Russians — from top to bottom — were counting on Republicans to save their illegal, unprovoked, war-crime laden invasion of UKraine.

To see how pervasive the idea that Republicans would save Russia had become, you don’t have to listen to speeches from Vladimir Putin or Sergei Lavrov. It’s in the despair of this conversation between a Russian soldier and his wife following the elections.

Wife: Ukraine is so small. Why is it taking so long? You were telling me you were waiting for the elections on November 8, but what’s the point?

Russian soldiers on the front lines in Donetsk were expecting salvation, not through some action of their own country, but from what Republicans could do after winning the election. They be more disappointed about the outcome than Kari Lake.

But don’t worry. Republicans have a solution to this problem—maybe even an ultimate solution—one that would not just deliver those Russian soldiers from peril, but hand Vladimir Putin a smashing victory that goes infinitely beyond Ukraine. Here it is that solution, delivered by former Reagan aide Bruce Fein writing in The Hill.

“Congress can end the war in Ukraine and win a Nobel Peace Prize by enacting a statute withdrawing the United States from NATO — transforming it from a mighty offensive oak into a tiny acorn unalarming to Russia.”

We’re at the point where a former member of Ronald Reagan’s White House is lecturing us on how we should stop making Russia feel scared and not get in the way of their invasion. For peace.

The entire piece is not only devoted to destroying NATO, but to explaining how poor little Russia was forced to launch its bloody invasion after being “provoked” by the United States. It doesn’t explain how the United States provoked Russia into attacking Chechnya, Georgia, and Syria. But they’ll get around to that.

Could Republicans still pull Putin’s ass out of the fire? If they had both Congress and the White House, they could. It’s a very good bet that they would. This isn’t some new idea expressed by some single outlier. Pulling the United States out of NATO is exactly what Donald Trump threatened to do back in 2018. As Hunter reported at the time, “[Trump] doesn't joke about his praise for dictators and his willingness to play ball with autocrats, and despite the damage-control efforts of an anonymous senior administration official, he ain't joking here. He's been blustering about either ’renegotiating’ the United States position in NATO or abandoning it since the campaign days.”

Giving Russia the freedom to attack Europe might have been something that most Republicans thought ridiculous when Trump was coming down that gold escalator. They don’t think that way now. Starving NATO to please Putin has become a central tenet of Republican politics. They want to gift Russia with something that Russia could never win on the battlefield; not just victory over Ukraine, but victory over NATO. And the United States.

RUSSIA’S ECONOMY IN STEEP DECLINE​

It’s been common since the start of the invasion for pundits in the United States to repeat propaganda from Russian state media claiming that the sanctions are having little impact on the Russian economy. However, as The Washington Post reports, it’s getting a lot harder to pretend that Russia isn’t hurting. Badly. And that failing economy is having an increasing impact on the battlefield.

For months, Putin claimed that the “economic blitzkrieg” against Russia had failed, but Western sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine are digging ever deeper into Russia’s economy, exacerbating equipment shortages for its army and hampering its ability to launch any new ground offensive or build new missiles, economists and Russian businessmen said.