More to ignore, Book 107...

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Kellyanne Conway, who served in the White House as a senior adviser to former President Donald Trump, is meeting with the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection in person on Monday, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

CNN has reached out to Conway for comment. She did not answer questions upon entering the interview room.

The committee has not publicly subpoenaed Conway and it is unclear if Conway is voluntarily appearing before the panel.

Conway, historically a staunch supporter of Trump, acknowledged in her book that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election and said he received bad advice from those around him.

“Despite the mountains of money Trump had raised, his team simply failed to get the job done. A job that was doable and had a clear path, if followed,” Conway wrote in “Here’s the Deal,” which was published in May. “Rather than accepting responsibility for the loss, they played along and lent full-throated encouragement (privately, not on TV) when Trump kept insisting he won.”

Conway’s interview demonstrates the committee is still working to complete its investigation while simultaneously working to finish its final report ahead of the Republican takeover of Congress in January......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Republicans roiled as McCarthy likely faces first floor fight over leadership in a century

Joan McCarter

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy heads into this week on very shaky ground. The wannabe Speaker will have a tiny majority—four or five seats, depending on the result in the last uncalled race un California’s 13th district. He’s already got five GOP opponents of his speakership, enough to scuttle it.

That could mean the first floor fight for Speaker in exactly 100 years, when Republican Frederick Gillett (MA) had to undergo nine votes over a number of days, with a lot of negotiations and many concessions along the way. The leader of the breakaway Republicans, Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ), challenged McCarthy in the full GOP conference vote for Speaker earlier this month and isn’t going to stop fighting.

“He doesn’t have the votes,” Biggs, a leader of the Freedom Caucus, told NBC News. “Some of the stages of grief include denial, so there will be some denial, and then there’ll be the stage of bargaining where people are trying to figure out … will there be some kind of consensus candidate that emerges.”

Biggs and his cohorts—Reps. Bob Good (VA), Ralph Norman (SC), Matt Gaetz (FL), and Matt Rosendale (MT)—are all publicly opposing McCarthy. Good told Politico that he things there are at least a dozen who are solid no votes. The tally from that secret balloting in the GOP conference was 188 to 31. That’s a long way from the 218 McCarthy’s going to need, and a lot of bargaining that Democrats are already branding as “corrupt.”

A nonprofit group called Facts First USA, chaired by former GOP Rep. David Jolly (FL) and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, has a memo circulating among Democrats to highlight just how much McCarthy’s going to cave to the maniacs in order to emerge victorious. The messaging in the memo could play to the Republican moderates, who could definitely play the spoiler role in this fight.

“Democrats should undertake a concerted messaging campaign over the next 5 weeks through January 3rd to brand McCarthy’s struggling campaign to win the speakership as a ‘corrupt bargain’ he is striking with ultra MAGA extremists in the Republican caucus to attain the 218 votes he needs to secure the job,” longtime Democratic activist David Brock wrote in the memo.

That’s not going to be hard, looking at what happened on day one of the GOP majority. That was the day of the press conference from Rep. James Comer (R-KY), incoming chair of the House Oversight Committee, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the expected Judiciary Committee chair, about their investigation into the Biden family and the whole QAnon Hunter laptop thing they’re into. Brock labeled it an “unhinged rant” in his memo, and he wasn’t wrong.

It’s not going to be at all difficult for Democrats to use this messaging, that McCarty is going to make a “corrupt bargain with MAGA” maniacs and allow them to “run wild with any conspiracy theory investigation or impeachment in exchange for their vote.” We’re already there. He’s made the unofficial Q spokesperson, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a part of his ad hoc leadership team and probably promised her a seat on the Oversight committee. Her pal Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), the white supremacist whisperer, is likely going to get his Oversight seat back—the one that was stripped in the current Congress because he is so dangerous.

Meanwhile, Democrats are in total array as the leadership passes from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to a new generation. They’re also relishing the prospect of watching the GOP civil war play out, after McCarthy and crew did their best to derail Pelosi’s very slim—and very successful—majority of the past two years.

“They’re going to be fraught with fractures and friction and challenges and apostates. I wish them well in trying to manage that crowd,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) in a Politico interview. He predicted even worse problems for McCarthy than his predecessors faced. “Paul Ryan and John Boehner both had a bigger majority, and they couldn’t exercise control.” And they both were essentially forced out by the maniacs.

The good part, should House and Senate Democrats manage to get as organized and efficient together as possible, is that McCarthy and crew shouldn’t be able to create a lot of damage legislatively. “I don’t lie awake at night worrying about the bad legislation they are going to pass. Because I don’t think they’re going to pass it,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).

What’s going to make life even harder for McCarthy is his pledge to end proxy voting in the House. It’s been effect for almost all of this Congress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. McCarthy can’t not end it at this point—he had such a hissy fit over it he took it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to even hear it. He’s got to end it, and that means that on any given day, he would have even fewer votes available to accomplish anything.

Unless he strikes a bargain with moderates and Democrats, assuming he does end up with the speakership. It’s just possible that the corrupt bargain label sticks hard enough to McCarthy that moderates hold out and vote with Democrats on an alternative speaker. It’s not terribly likely, but it’s also not impossible.

Those 31 votes McCarthy didn’t get in the secret ballot aren’t all Freedom maniacs—a big chunk could be up for grabs to allow that 218 votes to go to a consensus candidate from Democrats and the few dozen GOP moderates. Now wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants?


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Kellyanne Conway talks with Jan. 6 committee for 5 hours; Trump has a freakout

Walter Einenkel

On Monday, Donald Trump’s former senior adviser and lie machine Kellyanne Conway met with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. It was unclear if she was compelled to meet with the committee or just dropped in after being asked to.

Two sources told CNN that the interview with Conway went on for about five hours and included questions about reports that Donald Trump knew he had lost his election to Joe Biden, and continued to promote the Big Lie that the election was stolen. While this isn’t revelatory to anyone who understands what a cruel, dishonest, terrible person Donald Trump is, it is potentially an important piece of attestation concerning a most important fact: Trump knew he lost the election. All of his lying was not a result of delusional thinking, or because he was misled by wrong information.

That would make his assertion that the election was stolen or rigged against him a calculated lie that could only have have had one intention: overthrowing newly elected President Joe Biden. That’s sedition. That’s an attempted coup d’etat. That’s very possibly treason.
.......

After leaving the Jan. 6 committee, Conway was predictably cagey about what she had or had not talked about for the previous five hours. When asked about whether or not Conway had spoken to the committee about Donald Trump’s understanding that he lost the election, Conway said, “I won’t talk about that because I may have talked about that here.”

One fun piece of information came when asked by reporters when she had last spoken with Golf-a-Lago-in-chief: “Last week he called me.” Had Conway mentioned she was planning on meeting with the committee when she spoke with him? “He doesn’t know that from me, he may know that from you.”

What’s the Donald been up to the last couple of hours? Posting witch hunt blather on his Truth Social account.

This fully weaponized monster, Jack Smith, shouldn’t be let anywhere near the political persecution of “President Donald J. Trump.” I did nothing wrong on January 6th, and nothing wrong with the Democrats’ fix on the Document Hoax, that is, unless the six previous Presidents did something wrong also….

And:

….When will you invade Bill and Hillary’s home in search of the 33,000 emails she deleted AFTER receiving a subpoena from the U.S. Congress? When will you invade the other Presidents’ homes in search of documents, which are voluminous, which they took with them, but not nearly so openly and transparently as I did?

Let me translate the finer nuances here. The first block quote is Trump saying, ‘I’m innocent of Jan. 6, and also having top-secret documents stored away at Mar-a-Lago.’ The second block quote is Trump saying, ‘But her emails!’

He also posted some conspiracy theory about how special counsel Jack Smith is somehow a “globalist” who works for George Soros and former President Barack Obama. So: classic Trump freakout!
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The special master overseeing former President Donald Trump’s spat with federal investigators over an increasingly small collection of documents on Monday told attorneys on both sides of the matter to forget about appearing in court for a hearing he scheduled for next month.

Special Master Raymond J. Dearie made the announcement in a brief minute order posted directly to the federal docket.

The order notes that “there are no matters requiring counsel to travel to Brooklyn for an in-person conference,” and justifies the last-minute change in the proceedings on “further review of the record.”

As Law&Crime previously reported, in early November of this year, Dearie set an aggressive schedule to end the dispute that included a since-shelved status hearing slated for Dec. 1, 2022. That hearing, the special master wrote at the time, was meant to “be an opportunity for the parties to elaborate upon their respective positions.”

Chief among the issues as Trump sees them, in recent court hearings, is a concern that the National Archives and Records Administration is a politically-motivated agency looking to exact political harm on the ex-president viz. the classified documents case.


The federal government, on the other hand, has as of late, been concerned with attempting to have Trump himself verify the inventory of the thousands of seized documents through a sworn affidavit.

Dearie’s latest order elides those issues in favor of direct questions about a very small number of documents. In lieu of arguing over various complaints and concerns, the special master wants the attorneys to explain if they do or don’t agree about “the categorization” of certain “records under the Presidential Records Act.”

The minute order refers directly to those documents in question – in a sense – by identifying them via the Bates numbering system:

In each case, the parties’ spreadsheet summarizing their respective categorizations and disputes reflects that the parties have a PRA dispute despite both sides categorizing the document as a “personal record.” a. Bates no. 156b. Bates nos. 476-79c. Bates nos. 3971-77d. Bates nos. 4017-18e. Bates nos. 12246-48f. Bates nos. 15167-68g. Bates nos. 17993-95h. Bates no. 179962. Do the parties dispute the PRA categorization of Bates no. 7017? The parties’ spreadsheet reflects differing categorizations but also lists the document as not being in dispute.

The special master also singles out some apparent discrepancies in previous filings entirely made by Trump’s attorneys:

Does Plaintiff assert executive privilege with respect to Bates no. A-054 and A-055 (documents 15 and 16 of the Filter Materials)? Compare ECF 160-1 at 2 (letter from Plaintiff’s counsel noting that “there is no further matter to resolve” as to each) with ECF 187-1 at 4 (subsequent letter from government reporting that each document is disputed based on Plaintiff’s assertion of executive privilege).

The large collection of documents culled from the FBI raid has been split into several batches for review by an internal DOJ filter team referred to as “Filter A,” “Filter B,” and “Filter C” materials.

“[Trump] withdraws his initial claims of attorney-client privilege and attorney work product doctrine with respect to the following Filter A and C Materials,” government attorneys noted in a late October filing after reaching a compromise on two distinct document categories, noting, that in regard to the documents in those filter groups, “[Trump] previously did not assert attorney-client privilege or attorney work product doctrine.”

Monday’s order suggests a very limited decision on the overall disagreement could be in the offing. Dearie previously said that he anticipates issuing his report and recommendations as to the state of the disputed documents on Dec. 16, 2022.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump’s dinner with his neofascist fanboy hands white nationalists a huge propaganda victory

David Neiwert

Nick Fuentes is boasting about his dinner with Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago alongside Kanye West last Tuesday. Trump himself is claiming he had no idea who Fuentes is, but is refusing nonetheless to denounce him. And while a handful of Republicans have chastised Trump for dining with two notorious antisemites, the GOP members of Congress are all playing mum.

There’s a reason Fuentes and his white-nationalist cohorts are tickled pink: The whole fiasco is a huge propaganda victory for them. As Greg Sargent observes at The Washington Post: “It will be read by them as another sign that they are successfully infiltrating the far-right flank of mainstream GOP politics. So will the silence from many Republican leaders since Trump’s dinner with Fuentes.”



Fuentes was positively giggling about it all on his Friday podcast, which was laden with his trademark antisemitism. Mostly it was what you’d expect from a fervent fanboy:

You know, this has become a little bit of a scandal for President Trump, and you know at the dinner, I’ll provide you with a little bit of detail, for what it’s worth. I told the president—and the president, I don’t think he does know who I am, or rather, he didn’t know that I was me [laughs], I’ll put it that way, I don’t think he knew that I was me at the dinner. I’m not sure about that, but certainly he didn’t know that I was me when I arrived at the dinner. You know, I didn’t mean for my statements, my whole background to sort of become a public-relations problem for the president. But I told him at the dinner, I said: ‘Mr. President, you are one of the greatest Americans that has ever lived, I campaigned for you in 2016, I was there at Stop the Steal at Harrisburg, Lansing, Atlanta, D.C., Phoenix.’ I said, ‘And I love you, and I supported you for all these years.’ I thought that was important because he has been a hero of mine, and he has been, he has been the guy for the last six years.

But then Fuentes shifted his tone, essentially warning Trump that if he attempted to run in 2024 by playing things moderately, he’d lose his perfervid base:

Although, based on the announcement speech that we saw a couple of weeks ago, and based on everything I’ve just said—we have to move forward. We have to move forward in service of Christ, in service of the truth and in service of America. We can’t move backwards.

Fuentes said that a “dialectic between DeSantis and a moderate Trump” would represent a step in the wrong direction for the “America First” movement: “The messaging has been moving backwards,” he complained, which he considers unacceptable:

Let’s be honest, this country is completely messed up. There is so much wrong. There are satanic people in charge of this country that do not believe in God. This country is becoming more secular by the day. And that is in addition to all the other problems—the borders are open, and the money’s being printed like crazy, and censorship is in overdrive, you can’t tell the truth, the whole system’s rigged, the country is totally subverted by foreign governments and transnational companies, and so on.

Nonetheless, later in the program, while conversing with his donors, Fuentes couldn’t suppress his giggling fanboy side:

Trump told me he liked me! Dude, I was just like—‘Oh my gosh.’ You know. Trump was like, ‘I like you.’ I was like—me? ‘This guy’s smart. Where did you find this guy?’ I was like—Ah, yeah. Hello, Epic Department? Hello, Awesome Department?’ That was all good. That felt good.

Fuentes’ version of events largely corroborates the original reporting by Jonathan Swan in Axios, whose sources told him that Trump "seemed very taken" with Fuentes, who had told him that he preferred an "authentic" Trump in contrast to his recent, heavily scripted 2024 campaign announcement speech.

Trump reportedly answered: “You like it better when I just speak off the cuff," and Fuentes replied that he did, calling Trump an "amazing" president when he was unrestrained. "There was a lot of fawning back and forth," the source added.

At one point, according to the source, Trump turned to West and said, "I really like this guy. He gets me.”

"To be honest, I don't believe the president knew who the hell [Fuentes] was," the source added.

West (aka Ye) posted a video debriefing his fans on the dinner, saying: “Trump is really impressed with Nick Fuentes. Nick Fuentes—unlike so many of the lawyers and so many people that he was left with on his 2020 campaign—he’s actually a loyalist [for Trump].”

Nonetheless, Fuentes’ own remarks and Swan’s source suggest that he’s prepared to support Ye, who ran for president as an independent in 2020, in his announced 2024 campaign. Ye has already announced that his campaign would be managed by onetime leading alt-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos.

Ye also indicated on Twitter that he has allowed Fuentes to tweet under his name on his Twitter account, including attacks on the Jewish conservative pundit Ben Shapiro that he later deleted: “If Nick keeps tweeting from my account the only platform I’ll have left is Truth Social,” Ye apparently commented at one point.



Fuentes has racked up a remarkable record of bigoted outbursts in the past year alone:

On the U.S. military: “They’re literally making a mercenary army of people that are gonna obediently murder whites when the time comes, that’s what this is about.”
"It's a big N'd-up, N-rified, J-ified free-for-all. We live in Africa with more stuff! We live in Africa or Mexico with more stuff! We live in a big Middle Eastern bazaar. We’re in a big ****ing Middle Eastern bazaar with people sitting out blankets and selling cockroaches on sticks! And rocks!"
“These left-wing people, in their heart of hearts, they know they’re wrong. Because, like, they know that Black people are violent … you know, they struggle with the impulse control, they’re violent.”
On Jews: “So don’t tell me they’re entitled to their religion. If their religion involves my Lord in Hell, then they can get the **** out of America, frankly. Insofar as that is your belief, then you have no business being here.”
"I don't believe in democracy. I do not believe in universal suffrage. I don't support women's rights. I don't support 'LGBT rights.' I believe in race and gender essentialism. I'm a Catholic reactionary. I believe that organized Jewry is extremely influential."
“…That’s why we need dictatorship. … We need to take control of the media, take control of the government, and force the people to believe what we believe.”

"I want this country to have Catholic media, Catholic Hollywood, Catholic government. I want this to be a Catholic occupied government, not a Jewish occupied government."

Nonetheless, Trump—who perfected a three-step tango with the radical right during his tenure as president—refused to offer any kind of outright disavowal of Fuentes afterward, other than saying on his Truth Social account that he didn’t know him. Ye, he said, “expressed no anti-Semitism, & I appreciated all of the nice things he said about me on ‘Tucker Carlson.’ Why wouldn’t I agree to meet? Also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes.”

Reportedly, advisers who reached Trump over the Thanksgiving holiday to urge him to disavow Fuentes found that the ex-president fundamentally did not want to criticize the white nationalist because he fears doing so could antagonize the most fervent part of his base. They also reported that Trump became more obstinate in his refusal the more he was advised to distance himself from his dinner guest.

President Biden voiced his disgust in terse terms: “You don’t want to hear what I think,” he replied to reporters asking his reaction.

As author and researcher Kathleen Belew told Sargent: “A former president sitting for a dinner meeting with a white power activist is the kind of thing that activists can use to claim that they have become a real political force.”

"This is a f---ing nightmare," an anonymous longtime Trump adviser told NBC News. "If people are looking at [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis to run against Trump, here's another reason why."

Fuentes has flaunted his growing influence within the Republican Party for most of the past year. And the response by mainstream Republicans to Trump’s dinner with him—namely, almost utter silence—reflected their cowardice in dealing either with Trump or their burgeoning extremist contingent.

Axios reported that, when it attempted to elicit comment on Trump’s dinner date from spokespersons “for nearly two dozen House and Senate Republicans — including party leaders, co-chairs of caucuses and task forces focused on Judaism or antisemitism and sponsors of legislation to combat antisemitic hate crimes,” none of them responded.

The one response they did get, from Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, was generic and mentioned neither Trump nor Fuentes: “As I had repeatedly said, white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party.”

On NBC’s Meet the Press, Republican Congressman James Comer was cornered, and lamely answered: “Well, he certainly needs better judgment in who he dines with.”

The outgoing Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson was the most outspoken Republican. “You could have accidental meetings. Things like that happened. This was not an accidental meeting,” said Hutchinson, adding that “it’s not a good idea for a leader that’s setting an example for the country or the party to meet with avowed racist or antisemite."

“It's very troubling and it shouldn't happen,” Hutchinson continued. “We need to avoid those kinds of empowering the extremes. When you meet with people, you empower, and that's what you have to avoid. You want to diminish their strength, not empower them. Stay away from them.”

“This Trump episode can rightfully be labeled many things, from normalizing antisemitism to emboldening white supremacy,” observed Dean Obeidallah at CNN. “But the overriding takeaway is that it is perfectly consistent with Trump’s brand.”

This normalization process is radicalizing the Republican Party even further than it already has since 2020. Jonathan Chait observes at New York magazine:

The issue is that Trump has expanded the Republican coalition to the right, activating and encompassing undisguised white supremacists, who, through their entry into the two-system, have gained newfound influence. This is a dangerous and historically significant change to the American political scene. And hardly anybody in the GOP—certainly not Ron DeSantis—intends to reverse it.

Belew was particularly troubled by the failure of Republicans to firmly denounce the Trump meetup:

I think that is a significant and different step forward for the white power movement. It’s not just one person, it’s not just this cult of personality thing, it’s not just the Trump administration. That says the white power movement has become a permanent force within the GOP in some sense. It’s important enough an ideological current that other candidates won’t or can’t distance themselves.

Fuentes and his fans can also point to Twitter’s new billionaire owner, Elon Musk, as proof that their worldview is gaining ground within the mainstream right. Musk—who also lifted Twitter bans for Ye and others previously ousted from the platform for their antisemitism and other bigotry—demonstrated his own red-pilled worldview on Monday, posting a meme featuring alt-right mascot Pepe smoking a cigar, reading: “I don’t care about this particular psyop, honestly.”

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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On the day dedicated to the memory of the 1932-1933 Holodomor in Ukraine – which falls annually on the fourth Friday in November – Pope Francis mentioned the famine in Ukraine with the words: “the extermination by hunger… caused artificially by Stalin”. In the same speech, he invited prayers both for the victims of that “genocide” and for “the many Ukrainians, children, women and the elderly who today suffer the martyrdom of aggression.”

The Pope’s words mark a turning point in the pontiff’s position towards the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In recent months, the head of the Catholic Church and most influential leader of Christianity had held an ambiguous position, seeking a sort of moral equivalence between the aggressor and the attacked.

Just weeks earlier, Ukrainian diplomats had reacted with indignation to the Pope’s mention of the murder of the Russian reporter Daria Dugina as a victim of the war, implicitly accepting the thesis of Ukraine’s responsibility in the bomb attack that killed her.

Today, the Pope’s position has changed, which one can consider through the formalization of two theses.

First, the Pope branded the 1930s famine in Ukraine, triggered by Joseph Stalin’s policies, as “genocide.”

Concerning this tragedy, which led to between four and five million deaths, historians have struggled for decades to arrive at a unanimous historical truth. Instead, the political class of Western countries avoided taking a stand, following the theory that they were necessary victims of the class struggle in the Soviet Union, to eradicate the “privatistic” mentality of the peasants in Ukraine and the “autonomistic” temptations of the Ukrainian communists.

This resistance to the historic condemnation of that massacre also stemmed from the opportunity to maintain good relations with Russia – avoiding irritating the Russians with this accusation. It is the same reason why many countries do not want to condemn the massacre of the Armenians so as not to make enemies of Turkey.

From this point of view, the decision of the German Parliament to vote to condemn the Holodomor as genocide – an initiative still unthinkable before Feb. 24 – is a sensation.

The second thesis is that of a clear comparison between the Holodomor and the on-going Russian invasion.

In practice, Stalin’s behavior is put on the same level as Putin’s. In a public “letter to the Ukrainian people,” Pope Francis said he was “admired” by the “good ardor” of that “bold and strong people, a people who suffer and pray, weep and fight, resist and hope… a noble and martyr people.”

From this perspective, the recent public release of Dmitriy Peskov, of the press office of the Russian president, who has shown himself to be in favor of peace mediation by Pope Francis, seems paradoxical. Considering that a Catholic Pope has never been welcome in Moscow due to rivalry with the Orthodox Church, it seems that the Kremlin is clinging to any chance to get out of the war.

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: There's a good reason Ukraine hasn't gotten the most modern weapons

kos

FimJO9EX0AAcbfp.jpeg

Mirroring popular HIMARS memes, Ukraine actually painted a smiley face on a HIMAR.

It’s a popular refrain: Why doesn’t the West supply Ukraine with “X,” where X are advanced weapons platforms like NATO battle tanks, advanced infantry fighting vehicles, Patriot and other air defenses, and fighter jets. Some will darkly mutter that NATO doesn’t want Ukraine to win, that the West prefers Russia to bleed out slowly, that Putin is being protected, etc.

Yet the real answer is the same answer I’ve been giving since the first weeks of the war—operating such gear might not be too hard, but maintaining it is a monumental challenge for Western armies. For Ukraine, dealing with myriad new weapons systems in the middle of a brutal war? Impossible.

Take the M777, a basic piece of military equipment.

m777.jpg


This is a simple weapons system. No wheels or tracks. Has to be towed. Electronics are basic and modular (not deeply integrated into the howitzer, but snap on externally to help aim better). There is no automation. The howitzer is manually aimed by turning wheels and pulleys. It is the military equivalent of a bicycle. And yet, as The New York Times has found, Ukraine is struggling to maintain these pieces.

A third of the roughly 350 Western-made howitzers donated to Kyiv are out of action at any given time, according to U.S. defense officials and others familiar with Ukraine’s defense needs.

To stress, that’s over 115 of those howitzers out of order at any given time. And it gets worse—since Ukraine doesn’t have the expertise and logistical chain to maintain them, they have to be shipped out of the country to facilities in Poland, Slovakia, and Romania to be serviced. Just think about how inefficient that is.

The same is happening with Germany’s highly touted PzH 2000 self-propelled artillery guns. At one point, it was rumored that all of those guns Germany had given Ukraine were down for servicing. Same with Polish Krabs, etc.

What about MLRS? The New York Times is wrong about this:


The Western artillery weapons provided to Ukraine, in the form of rocket launchers and howitzers, have sharply different maintenance needs. Of the former, HIMARS vehicles need little work to keep firing their ammunition, which is contained in pods of pre-loaded tubes.

I wrote this a while back:

I joined my MLRS unit, A/76 Field Artillery, 3rd Infantry Division, in 1989. This was just six years after the M270 first entered service in 1983. And even then, all of them relatively new, keeping our battery’s nine M270s all up and running at the same time was impossible. They were perpetually broken down—both the drivetrain and the mechanism which swivels the launcher around. I can’t speak to the exact problems with the machinery, but as fire direction, it was my job to send mechanics to a launcher every time it broke down, and I’m not kidding when I say that, out of nine launchers in the battery, three of them were typically out of commission at any given time.

Perhaps that’s why we see so few videos of Ukraine’s M270s in action. They’re likely broken down, maybe even shuttled back to Germany for repair. HIMARS may or may not be more reliable (wheels instead of tracks undoubtedly helps), but the reason Ukraine wanted more launchers wasn’t the ability to hit more targets—the bottleneck is ammunition, not launchers—but having functioning launchers becomes a challenge when a significant number of them are down and being sent back to third countries for maintenance. HIMARS’ electronics and hydraulic swivel system inevitably break down in peacetime conditions, exponentially so in combat conditions.

Remember, the M777 is like a bicycle. That means an F16 fighter jet or M1 Abrams (with its jet turbine engine) are like a Ferrari. If Ukraine is struggling to maintain a simple towed howitzer, how is it going to maintain infinitely more complex Western battle tanks, fighter jets, or Patriot air defense systems (where the
basic training for its maintenance crews is over a year)?

Again, the problem isn’t training fighter pilots, tank crew members, and air defense operators. That stuff is easy and can be managed in weeks or a few months.
Maintenance is the real challenge, and will continue to be Ukraine’s biggest headache no matter how much people want to claim that Ukraine is “motivated,” “resourceful,” “scrappy,” and other adjectives suggesting Ukraine can simply “figure it out.” Meanwhile, back in the real world, they still haven’t figured out the M777 nine months in.

None of this is meant to cast aspersions on Ukraine and what they’ve been able to accomplish. It’s just that even they aren’t immune to reality, and the monumental challenges of maintaining any modern complex weapons system, and especially so a brand-new one for them.
............
In another New York Times article, we have this whopper:

To shell Russian positions at Snake Island, for instance, the Ukrainians put Caesars, with a 40-kilometer range, on barges and towed them out 10 kilometers to hit the island, which was 50 kilometers away, astonishing the French.

LOL that’s not a thing that happened. The author doesn’t even bother trying to source that.

The Caesar has a 42-kilometer range. Now look at what is within 42 kilometers of Snake Island:

snake2.png


Snake Island is well within range of the Caesar on the Ukrainian mainland. And while that part of Ukraine is marshland, extended-range Caesar rounds can hit out to 50 kilometers, which is roughly the distance to that little town of Vylkove at the edge of the swamps on the Romanian border.

So what do you think is more likely: that Ukraine placed one of its most prized artillery assets on a floating barge and towed it onto Russian-controlled waters, where an unstable platform would render it half as accurate as normal, or … they just drove the darn thing to the tip of the Ukrainian mainland and accurately shelled the island?
........

I wrote a big-picture overview on Friday of the state of the current front lines.

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What was five original axes is down to one: the Donbas, where there are five active lines of advance. Ukraine is pushing forward in Svatove and Kreminna directions, while Russia is pushing forward in Bakhmut, Adviivka, and Vuhledar directions. Read that update for more details.

Compare the map above with today’s heat map of Russian shellings:

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It’s a big front, but we’re down to a one-front war, at least until Ukraine decides to push south toward Meltipol, Mariupol, and/or Crimea.

In case you missed it (it was a holiday weekend after all), this story will help orient you for the coming coverage in the weeks and months ahead.
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“Why doesn’t the West provide Ukraine with long-range rockets like ATACMS.” Okay, that refrain I agree with. Better munitions for Ukraine’s existing weapon’s platforms for sure, please.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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PALM BEACH (The Borowitz Report)—Stating that “no one’s ever done this before,” Donald J. Trump announced plans to be impeached for a historic third time.


Speaking to supporters in a ballroom at Mar-a-Lago, the former President claimed that he and only he could bring impeachable offenses back to the White House.

Although he was short on specifics about which crimes he might commit, Trump pledged, “We’re gonna perpetrate so much, you’re gonna get tired of perpetrating.”....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Bracing for another massive wave of Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities

Mark Sumner

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Ukrainians light candles to commemorate the victims of the 1932-33 Holodomor. Lviv, Ukraine. November 26, 2022.

At this hour (8AM ET) air raid sirens were sounding across Ukraine. Expectations are that Russia will launch another massive attack at some point in the next few days, using missiles, drones, and strategic bombers in an effort to overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses and bring more destruction to civilian infrastructure and residential areas.

Reports of launchers being prepared in western Russia, and of bombers being serviced for action, have been circulating over the last few days and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has warned of an impending large scale attack, with perhaps 200 missiles and drones threatening Ukrainian cities over a short period.

Constantly improving skill in dealing with Iranian made Shahed drones, and newly arrived air defenses, have made Russia’s success rate in recent attacks as low as 10-15%. However, those missiles and drones that have made it through have continued to strike at residential buildings, as well as electrical substations. By mounting a massive attack, Russia hopes to increase the rate of penetration now, before Ukraine is able to receive additional air defense systems from the United States and Europe.

At this latest round of attacks is still only an expectation, not a fact. Should fears of a massive wave of attacks on Tuesday emerge, look for additional updates.
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In early November, Ukraine received its first NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems) which integrates U.S. and European components into a series of networked launchers that can take down incoming missile at a range up to 50km. A second unit is now reportedly in place and additional NASAMS units are on the way.

The UK has supplied Ukraine with at least six Stormer surface-air missile systems. Germany has provided at least 30 Cheetah anti-aircraft guns and has already provided at least one of a promised four IRIS-T surface-air missile systems (which Ukraine claimed had a 100% shoot-down rate in an attack on October 31).

In addition to more NASAMS on the way, the United States has also pledged to provide both Avenger air defense systems and HAWK missile air defense systems. France has promised to provide Crotale ”Rattlesnake” surface to air missile systems. Spain has promised to deliver Aspide surface-air missiles.


In many areas, Ukraine is currently dependent on the older S-300 missile system, which dates back to the Soviet era. More S-300 systems have been provided by European nations. Ukraine also has other older defensive systems, including ZU-23 anti-aircraft guns and 9K33 Osa missile systems. Ukraine has also captured several air defense systems from Russia, including at least four Pantsir surface-air missile systems.

The Iranian Shahed 136 drone, which was so devastating when Russia first began launching them toward Ukrainian cities in September and October, has become less effective over time has Ukrainian forces have learned how best to bring them down with man-portable missiles or machine gun fire. However, there low flight profile can make them difficult to spot until very near the target, and some percentage of these drones are still getting through. With a reported cost of only $20,000, taking these drones down with high-end air defense systems where every shot is significantly more expensive quickly becomes problematic.

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While the Shehad drones have been primarily used against civilian targets, Russia’s Lancet drone has been increasingly their go-to solution in the field. Part of the reason that the number of Russian armored units lost in the area around Bakhmut has decreased, even as the number of troops lost each day has remained at ghastly levels, is how much Russia is leaning on these drones. Drones and human waves operating under artillery cover seems to be the new version of “combined arms” that Russia has concocted in the area.

But though the Lancet has quickly gained a fearsome reputation, not every strike is all that effective. For example, if all you saw was the first part of this video, this hit on a D-20 howitzer may look devastating.



But keep watching for a few minutes, and the result of the Lancet strike turns out to be … a flat tire. All those “lancet destroys X” videos may be counting a lot of deaths that aren’t real.
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On Tuesday morning, the Ukrainian government announces that it has a 30% deficit in electricity and that more widespread rationing and lengthy blackouts can be expected in many cities. This announcement comes just two days after the the state energy company, Ukrenegro, reported that most power had been restored in Kyiv and that they have even successfully restored power lines to Kherson and other recently liberated cities.

However, replacing damaged power plants is expected to take much longer, and there are fears that additional damage from Russia will keep Ukraine facing extensive blackouts until better air defenses allow addressing energy production, as well as distribution. With fears of another Russian wave attack looming, there seems little that the company can do to harden the electrical system against potential damage.

Over the past few months, thousands of generators—from human-portable to rail-car sized—have been sent to Ukraine to allow backup power for hospitals and other critical infrastructure components. This has helped to keep the lights on in these facilities even when Russia has taken out local power. Longer term, multiple nations have pledged to help Ukraine replace the damaged power plants. Earlier this month, the U.S. announced that it would work with Ukraine on construction of a Small Modular Reactor (SMR), a new design for nuclear plants that is expected to be much safer than large older plants.

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Numerous images have emerged on Tuesday of a very large explosion near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. Russia which is over 1,500km away from Ukraine near the border with Kazakhstan. Russia has reported that this resulted from too much explosives being using in a blast meant to shatter rocks as part of a construction project, and is not an act of sabotage or war. Right now, it does appear to be an isolated incident, whatever the cause.


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Things have been looking very grim south of Bakhmut over the last 48 hours, with reports that Russia had fully captured the towns of Ozarianivka and Optyne. However, on Tuesday morning this does not seem to be the case. Both towns are reportedly still in dispute, with Ukrainian forces holding on to locations in areas of both. Ukraine still appears to have full control of Kurdyyumivka, which falls between the two areas of dispute.


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(NOTE: The little yellow blob east of the highway is an error that somehow appeared on the map after it was saved to an image. Please ignore it. All of this area is under Russian occupation.)

In the last two weeks, Russia appears to have shifted much of its effort in the Bakhmut area south of the city. It has gained ground along the the T0513 highway and the assaults along this line from south of Ozarianivka up to Bakhmut have been particularly intense. On Monday evening, Russia appeared to be pushing west toward the rail lines north of Kurdyyumivka and toward two small villages in this area. If Russia takes this area, they would be better positioned to move toward Bakhmut from the south.

At this point, the number of Russian forces lost in the attempt to capture Bakhmut numbers in the tens of thousands. Capturing the city no longer represents a significant strategic goal, as Russia is no longer positioned to make a serious play for all of Donetsk. The areas along the front line have been so reduced, that the comparisons to World War I battlefields are made daily.

Taking Bakhmut would gain Russia nothing. But the cost of the battle over this city continues to rise with high casualty rates on both sides. Ukrainian defenders at Bakhmut have seen the worst fighting and worst conditions of the war. And they’ve seen it for months on end.
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I’m going to have to add some whole new categories of drones to the guide.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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The LRU (Lance Roquette Unitaire – Unitary Launch Rocket) is the American-made M270 MLRS (Multiple Rocket Launcher System) in service with the French Army. The vehicle is based on the tracked chassis of the Bradley IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle). The LRU has a crew of three including a commander, gunner, and driver.

The LRU is a modernized version of the American M270 equipped with a new firing control system and able to fire new types of guided rockets. According to open-source information, a total of 13 LRUs are currently in service with the French Army.

The LRU design consists of two main parts with the crew cab at the front and the launcher pod mounted at the rear of the tracked chassis. The rocket launcher station includes two pods of 6 rockets. The vehicle can fire the new M31 GPS-guided rocket which has a circular error probability of fewer than 10 m and a maximum firing range of 70 km.