More to ignore, Book 107...

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Right-wing fraudsters must register voters in low-income communities where they suppressed vote

Walter Einenkel

Burkman_Wohl


Last we heard from right-wing huckster racists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, they were pleading guilty to 14 counts of fraud in an Ohio courtroom for their parts in orchestrating and carrying out a racist, voter-suppressing robocalling plan in Black communities in Michigan, New York, and Ohio. The calls were made in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and were an illegal (and racist) attempt at keeping likely Democratic voters of color from voting in the upcoming election by spreading misinformation about voter registration.

On Tuesday, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge John Sutula placed Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman on two years probation and ordered the men to wear GPS ankle monitors, with a home confinement curfew for the first six months of their probation set at 8 PM. They were also fined $2,500 each, plus court costs and fees. While this punishment seems relatively small for two men best known for relentlessly trying to defraud people, Judge Sutula did have a kicker: Both men must “spend 500 hours registering voters in low-income neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C., area.”

Judge Sutula told the men, “I think it’s a despicable thing that you guys have done. Now, I’m only limited here by the nature of the crime that you plead guilty to.”
...........
I put the page break in there to give everyone a moment to catch their breath from laughter. The two men still face charges brought against them in a civil case in New York. The responses to the news of the judge’s sentence are also noteworthy.



Some people felt that the punishment might put undue hardship on the communities that would be forced to interact with these two criminals. It is important to note that Wohl and Burkman will likely be a part of a supervised voter registration drive. They aren’t being left alone to forge signatures at their leisure.

The robocalls the two men produced used a woman’s voice saying, “Mail-in voting sounds great. But did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants, and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debt? The CDC is even pushing to give preference for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines.” All of that information is 100% false.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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MyPillow guy Mike Lindell may need a long rest after big defamation lawsuit loss

Walter Einenkel

Things have not been going particularly well for Mr. Mike Lindell. The founder of Fox News’ top advertiser, MyPillow, is embroiled in a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit brought against him by Dominion Voting Systems. The election voting tabulation system has a seemingly solid case against Lindell, who has repeatedly claimed the systems were hacked by everyone from the ghost of Huge Chavez to secret “deep state” actors.

On Tuesday, Mr. Lindell took another check in the loss column when U.S. Magistrate Judge Phillip Green ended Lindell’s attempt to subpoena Kent County, Michigan, election records. During his ruling on this motion, Judge Green said, “It is eminently demonstrated that the breadth of the subpoena could not be greater.” He then ordered Lindell to cover the county’s legal costs in fighting what Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons called a “bogus fishing expedition.”

This decision is a solid blow to Lindell, who has reportedly been subpoenaing a huge swath of the country’s election boards, searching for something he hopes will get him out of the legal and financial jeopardy all of his defamatory statements have gotten him into.
........
The MyPillow man has definitely been spending a lot of money, much of it fundraised, on legal fights—with speculation that some of the money spent on other election-denier cases has been done so illegally. This is on top of the claims Lindell has made that he has spent more than $25 million of his own money trying (and failing) to prove Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election against President Joe Biden.

He has attempted every right-wing grift imaginable, including the short-lived and hilarious attempt at creating his own “free speech” social media site. In fact, since Trump left office and the tap ran dry on nickel and diming taxpayers out of their money, almost every Lindell attempt to generate some profits and interest in his cult of personality has ended up looking like a poorly thought-out comedy sketch.

This new legal loss comes just under two months after the Supreme Court declined to consider Lindell’s attempts to block the defamation lawsuit against him. it comes less than one month after a federal judge in Minnesota rejected Lindell’s attempts to get back his phone after it was seized by the FBI in connection with their ongoing investigation into potentially criminal tampering with election equipment by MAGA-loving republicans, like former Mesa County, Colorado, Clerk Tina Peters.

Guys like Lindell (and Trump, for that matter) have spent all of their lives actually being losers who have had to pretend they are winners in order to never learn from their mistakes.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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QAnon leader inadvertently outs himself as a pedophile "groomer" - and not very intelligent

TheCriticalMind

ScreenShot2022-11-30at3.46.16PM.png


QAnon leader Phil Godlewski, when he was a 25-year-old high school baseball coach, repeatedly had sex with a 15-year-old high school girl. In 2008, Godlewski had wormed his way into the girl’s (identified as B.D.) affections by consoling her as she grieved for her boyfriend, who had killed himself.

In 2010, the authorities arrested and charged him with various crimes stemming from his predatory behavior. After negotiating a plea bargain, Godlewski pled guilty to the corruption of a minor and the court sentenced him to three months of house arrest. (If that seems light, the reason will become apparent.)

In the years afterward, Godlewski discovered QAnon and its adherents. He soon realized he could roll those gullible rubes for profit. He started promoting the QAnon conspiracy with lengthy, live-stream, rambling videos that were nectar to his deluded fans.

He accumulated more than 600,000 followers on the social media app Telegram and 156,000 subscribers on the alternative video platform Rumble. Then, when he had hooked the gullible, Godlewski convinced them to sign up for financial ‘opportunities’ like a multilevel marketing scheme selling silver. By 2022, Godlewski had finagled enough cash to buy a $1.7 million house.

Godlewski’s arrest disappeared from public view until 2021 when a reporter at the Scranton Times-Tribune wrote a profile on the upstart QAnon promoter. In it, he mentioned Godlewski's conviction. And his online critics seized on his criminal history to suggest he was not the upstanding QAnon believer (oxymoron?) he claims to be.

Godlewski decided to fight back against the newspaper with a defamation lawsuit. It was a monumental error. Had Godlewski consulted a crisis management firm, they would have undoubtedly advised him to say something like, “I have made mistakes I deeply regret. But my relationship with God has saved me. I owe it all to Jesus.” His sales would have doubled.

Instead, he pursued the Trumpian approach of fighting back. He sued the paper, assuring his followers that the reporter had “taken the bait.” In live-stream videos, Godlewski insisted there was nothing to the investigation, claiming B.D.’s mother was behind the criminal case because she wanted his money and calling his victim a “conniving” schemer who faked the texts he sent. He raised more than $26,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to pay for his lawsuit.

However, because he was now party to a lawsuit claiming the paper had damaged his reputation, the Times-Tribune was legally entitled to see the evidence and police reports from his 2010 case. And now they are a matter of public record.

Included are dirty texts and a video of his erection. And more information from the police. This revealed that Godlewski had showered B.D. with gifts, including a $2,800 pair of diamond earrings — confirmed by a letter from her parents filed into the defamation record.

Then there are tons of texts — including 300 in one day alone. Here is a sampling,

Godlewski wrote that they would only “ever be sexually satisfied if we did it like 4-5 times a day.”
He said the teenager, “looked so good and [was] giving incredible head” while lamenting his own sexual performance.
And “Realized that you’re only 15, but quickly stopped caring,”

And “Why are we so compatible? I’m 10 years older than you.”

Godlewski’s lawyer Timothy M. Kolman did his best by claiming that “any sexual relationship occurred when the couple were of age.” Nice try. But texts are dated.

Adding to the evidence against him is a recent affidavit from B.D. in which she claims that Godlewski contacted her before his 2010 trial and begged her to recant her claims against him, threatening to kill himself if she didn’t. Believing him, she stopped cooperating with law enforcement in the case. Which, in all likelihood, is why his sentence was so light.

For some reason, Godlewski persisted in his story that he had never had sex with B.D. — even when she was an adult. But, of course, there are more texts. Including one in 2021, in which he expressed his condolences on her grandfather’s death—and alluded to their sexual relationship. “I had no idea your Popa died. I’m so sorry. I think we had sex in their bed though.”

In a reply that will disturb home sellers, she texted, “We’ve probably had sex in like 40% of the homes in northeastern Pennsylvania,” an allusion to Godlewski’s use of his second job as a real estate agent to use for-sale houses for their liaisons.

Then Godlewski sent the woman a picture of his erect penis and claimed it had “got bigger.”

Godlewski compounded his problems when he reacted to discovery requests by claiming he had no texts. The newspaper’s attorney rebutted his lie in a November 2021 motion “These text messages did not slip [Godlewski’s] mind. He intentionally failed to disclose them in discovery for this lawsuit.”

Caught lying, Godlewski changed his tune. In a November 26 video for his fans, he admitted messaging the woman, saying he was also drunkenly text-flirting with at least a dozen other women simultaneously. Godlewski also claimed his marriage fell apart after the Times-Tribune article — I wonder why?

In the video, while seated in front of a woodcut model of the QAnon motto “Where we go one, we go all” he claimed he was so drunk during these flirting sessions he would fall down intoxicated and urinate on himself. Adding,

“I was flirting with every girl that ever knew me,” Godlewski said. “Some of y’all watching may have been a part of that.”

That is his defense? I have nothing.

Godleski’s lawyer tried some victim blaming by claiming the woman’s damaging affidavit had a “troubling and coercive background.” I do not even know what that means.

And if this cake needed icing, Godleski added it. In May 2022, during the defamation case. Godlewski again texted B.D. to once again attempt to pervert justice. He alluded to a “financial windfall” that he could not discuss in person, which would require them to work together. “I think it might be fair to say that here is a very, very large, and very, very unique financial opportunity that exists in front of you,” Godlewski wrote, according to text message records entered into the court record.

The paper’s lawyers referred to this witness tampering “Not only did Philip Godlewski commit a sex crime against a 15-year-old girl in 2009-2010, he has now solicited this same person to commit perjury in a Court proceeding so he can enrich himself.”

Being a rabid right-winger, Godlewski also texted, “I don’t trust those mother****ers and I am literally foaming at the mouth to take them down once and for all.” I think Godlewski has lost touch with reality.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Russia is developing its own kind of 'combined arms' centered on drones that bleed

Mark Sumner

Back in 1969, engineer and science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke made a statement that speaks to the future of one particular technology and one matching bit of semantics.

“If man survives for as long as the least successful of the dinosaurs—those creatures whom we often deride as nature's failures—then we may be certain of this: for all but a vanishingly brief instant near the dawn of history, the word 'ship' will mean- 'spaceship.'” — Arthur C. Clarke, Voices from the Sky

Every major war seems to have some technology that comes into its own. Helicopters were invented decades before World War II, and throughout that war there was a rapid exploration of that technology that included everything from massive transport helicopters to backpack helicopters to helicopters with rotors driven by jets. But it wasn’t until Vietnam that the technology and tactics around helicopters gelled together to make that piece of kit almost the defining instrument of the conflict.

In Ukraine the tanks still roll, artillery still pounds, and the eight-decade struggle between missiles and air defense goes on. But the weapon that continues to emerge as the centerpiece of this war is the drone. Russia is using drones as a cheaper form of missile to attack Ukrainian cities and as an alternative to artillery in hitting Ukrainian units near the front line. Ukraine is using drones to go after Russian tanks and armored vehicles, and to root Russian soldiers from trenches along a heavily fortified front. Drones have even taken to the seas as Ukraine has used automated vessels to attack the Russian fleet at anchor in Crimea. Soon enough, drone land vehicles will be joining the fray. The first ones are being used to deliver supplies or carry away the wounded, but should Russia’s invasion carry on for more than a few months longer, it’s almost inevitable that at least some of the weapons rolling across the fields will have no one inside.


Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s a prelude to a Terminator-style terror. Maybe that’s the opening move toward one of those Star Trek episodes where automation has so removed humans from the horrors of war that the war goes on forever. Maybe. Only there’s no one in Ukraine right now who isn’t fully aware of the horror.

In any case, like all wars, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is redefining tactics for the next war, and right now it has become a hotbed of experimentation for what can be done with a weapon that had seen battle in previous conflicts but never really been taken off the hook as it has in Ukraine.

And that makes this school, as reported on by NPR, particularly interesting.

The Female Pilots of Ukraine is the country's first school dedicated to solely teaching women — both civilians as well as those serving in Ukraine's security forces — how to fly drones.

When we think of the word “pilot” today, we may think of the blue-uniformed women and men who nod and thank us for traveling with them as we step off a Boeing 767 or Airbus A319. Or we may think about Tom Cruise grinning madly as he sets a record for breaking the most rules, and laws, in a single minute. But for the future, unless the neologists get busy and come up with a new term, most uses of the word “pilot” are going to involve someone who has their feet on the ground.

Eighty percent of the women who train at the drone school in Ukraine take their newly acquired skills to the front lines. The first class has now graduated, and 40 more women are signed up to learn to be pilots in this new age. Right now their biggest constraint is budget. The school is not an official part of the Ukrainian military, and the founder is paying the $3,000 a month bills out of his own pocket (and yes, I am looking into how funds might be sent to this school).

In the
next war, AI might take on this role. Maybe we will come to trust the devices themselves to decide on targets, launch those missiles, drop those grenades. But for now, that’s a hard line that few seem anxious to cross. Right now, Ukraine needs pilots. And these women—who are also models, journalists, artists, and marketing professionals—are becoming pilots.

And, unlike the “mavericks” on the movie screen, they are helping Ukraine win this war.


Military technologist Samuel Bendett points out that Wagner Group mercenaries are also reportedly using drones to direct the movement of conscripted prisoners in the endless assault on Bakhmut. According to Ukrainian journalist Yuri Butusov:

"During combat, the movement of (Wagner) units is controlled by drones, the headquarters receives all the data online. Based on this information, if necessary, the groups receive commands to stop or move."

That may make it seem that the Wagner supervisors are being somewhat careful with their human waves; that they’re only advancing at times when they can advance without coming under heavy fire. Yeah, that’s not exactly the case. As Butusov notes:

"Even when they come under fire, assault groups do not retreat without a command, and independent withdrawal is allowed only for the wounded. Unauthorized departure without a command or without injury is punishable by shooting on the spot."

In this case, the mechanical drone is being used for observation, but it’s a different kind of drone that is doing the fighting. Like a pilot sitting back and moving around a tiny craft with a joystick, Wagner is running these men by remote control, sending them forward by relayed commands, observing their progress from a safe distance.

The Russian soldiers attacking Bakhmut aren’t just human waves. They are meat drones.


Kos has talked many times about the difficulty of executing combined arms tactics and how Russia’s heavy reliance on artillery and the basic flaws of their battalion tactical group structure make it almost impossible for them to successfully fight the kind of battles that U.S. forces conduct. But between the muddy trenches east of Bakhmut, Russia is creating a new sort of combined arms: lancet drones augmenting artillery, surveillance drones extending vision, meat drones dispatched to capture positions. It’s an experiment that has cost them tens of thousands of men so far.

But it may be this ongoing experiment, more than the meters of ground gained, that has kept Russian forces engaged in this area for so long.

.....
Speaking of combined arms, here’s what the real thing looks like. The full video is 20 minutes long, but you don’t have to watch it all to understand why executing this kind of operation is both so devastating to opponents and so difficult to carry off properly.

One big thing to note: Check out just how similar the fortified enemy position in this video is to the structures Russia is actually building. That’s not because this seven-year-old video predicted events in Ukraine. It’s because that structure has demonstrated effectiveness in thwarting armored assaults.

Here is how U.S. forces deal with such fortifications. (Bonus: When they’re handing out awards for “scariest looking thing on the battlefield that actually will not kill you,” give that trophy to the M104 Wolverine.)


........
Once again, Russia is claiming to have completely secured multiple towns in the area around Bakhmut. However, Ukrainian sources are disputing these reported advances. For the moment it’s clear that heavy combat continues in the Bakhmut area, with Russia continuing to focus on the areas immediately south of Bakhmut.

To the north, the Ukrainian advance toward Svatove remains essentially where it was two weeks ago, held up just west of the highway intersection west of that city, and a couple of kilometers short of positions that would allow Ukrainian forces to fire directly downward on Russian positions. Russia apparently launched multiple attempts aimed at retaking towns liberated by Ukraine along the line between Svatove and Kreminna over the last three days, but all of those attacks appear to have failed. That includes the destruction of a Russian column that was led by a rarely seen T-90M tank.

With much of the current line of contact in the east defined by the same sets of trenches that have existed since 2014, here are some notes from retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who served in the Obama White House and was an instructor on military tactics at West Point. Hertling points out that the area along the eastern front has been mined and fortified over a period of eight years. There are multiple layers of defenses on each side, extensive trench networks, and vast mine fields. That’s a large part of why Russian efforts to push through this area have largely failed, as have Ukrainian efforts to punch through the line in the other direction.




What to do about fighting through a trench line? That video of combined arms tactics above is from Hertling’s suggestion on how the U.S. handles these situations. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has the equipment, training, or skills to conduct an operation as described in that video.

So what happens now? What Hertling suggests is that Ukraine doesn’t beat its head against the trench line the way that Russia has been doing since the war began. Instead, they make another bold move in a war that has so far been defined by bold moves on the part of Ukrainian forces.



The whole thread is absolutely worth reading for the history of trench warfare, why it remains effective, and why it’s so difficult to assault prepared positions. But it’s also a good signal that even if Ukraine doesn’t immediately follow Hertling’s advance to move across the Dnipro River in Kherson, they have options.

They can attack where Russia is weak and always know that they have the support of not just the West, but the people in the towns and cities they are liberating. Because those people are Ukrainian.

Russia was attacking Bakhmut when Ukraine retook Kharkiv oblast from Kupyansk to Izyum. They were attacking Bakhmut when Ukraine strategically took village after village to liberate Lyman. They were attacking Bakhmut when Ukraine freed first the north, then all of Russian occupied territory west of the Dnipro. Russia will probably still be attacking Bakhmut when the tap those Wagner guys on the shoulder and tell them to put down their joysticks. Because it’s all over.

.........
During World War II, the U.S. produced a series of films called Why We Fight that ran before features at movie theaters. In Ukraine today, no one needs a reminder of the stakes in this conflict, but just in case...


........
Securing funding for Ukraine before Republicans throw the House into chaos is a priority. To that end, President Joe Biden has asked for $1.1 billion specifically to assist in helping to restore destroyed infrastructure in Ukraine. As CNBC reports, the package also contains funding for 18 additional HIMARS, a very significant amount of HIMARS and M777 ammo, 150 APCs, 150 tactical vehicles to tow weapons, 40 trucks and 80 trailers to transport heavy equipment, two dozen radar systems, communications gear, and additional body armor.

Expect an update soon that details all the gear the U.S. has sent to Ukraine, as well as what’s been promised but hasn’t yet appeared in the field (looking at you, Switchblade 600, though 10 units have now reportedly been sent).
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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UPDATE: Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022 · 5:05:21 PM EST · Mark Sumner
There are reports in the last few hours that Russia has managed to capture both Kurdyumivka and Ozarianivka south of Bakhmut.

screencap.jpg


If confirmed, this would be a significant advance for Russia. Unlike some other areas that have been in dispute or changed hands multiple times, Kurdyumivka has been consistently under Ukrainian control since the conflict began. Taking this area could allow Russia to continue to pressing northwest, with the intention of encircling Bakhmut.

 

Catch50

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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."
Start at about 3:50

 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Republicans can 'shut down' the Jan. 6 investigation, but Democrats don't have to oblige them

Dartagnan

Assuming they survive the new year with their razor-thin House majority intact, Republicans have promised to shut down the bipartisan investigation into the deadly insurrection incited by Donald Trump and enabled by several of their own colleagues at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. This is in keeping with a pattern of Republicans attempting to thwart investigations into acts of treachery against this country committed by members of their party, most notably (by way of recent historical example) being the lies spread by the George W. Bush administration in the run-up to the colossal trillion-dollar folly known as the War on Iraq.

One option for Democrats is to refer the Jan. 6 committee findings to the Senate where they still retain control, presumably allowing that body to set up its own Select committee. It is not clear whether the Senate would have any appetite for such an effort. But there is actually precedent for House Democrats to keep such investigations alive (to a degree), even in the face of stiff Republican obstruction. That precedent was set in 2005 by the late, former Congressman John Conyers under conditions far less favorable than those which Democrats could expect to encounter now. At a time when the sheer magnitude of Bush’s Iraq malfeasance was only beginning to sink in with the public, Conyers' effort to unveil the true motivation for that war and the deceptions invented to justify it was bound to meet with unified Republican resistance, even ridicule. That is exactly what happened, but Rep. Conyers simply decided to push back.

At that time the Republican-dominated House understood its role well: to shut down and hide from the public any evidence that the war-- a war only beginning to reveal its ineptitude both in execution and strategy -- was premised wholesale on baldfaced lies concerning the supposed "threat" the Iraq regime represented. So, when Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, proposed an investigation impugning the very rationale for the war, he was met with predictably monolithic Republican obstruction: There would be no “hearings,” they told him. The American people would be forced to swallow Bush’s stated justifications, and that was that.

So, banished by Republican House leaders to a basement (described as little more than a ‘closet’) in the bowels beneath the Capitol, Rep. Conyers simply conducted a hearing on his own. His primary subject was the infamous Downing Street Memo, a document generated by British intelligence which had recorded for posterity a version of the Iraq war far different than was being sold by the Bush administration to the American public: specifically, that intelligence and facts about the war were being "fixed" to conform to the administration's pre-existing policy.

As summarized by C-Span in its archival coverage of Conyers’ hearings:


Rep. John Conyers, Jr., and other Democrats hold a public meeting concerning the “Downing Street Memo” and pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Witnesses attending the meeting talked about the documents, the Bush administration policy planning following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, intelligence estimates on Iraqi weapons programs, and public statements made b[y] officials prior to the announcement of military action against Iraq. Members also talked about refusals by Republican leaders to acknowledge the pre-war planning and reluctance to investigate the matter in oversight hearings. The meeting was held in HC-9 rather than the normal Judiciary Committee hearing room due to Republican objections that the meeting was not an official hearing.

Conyers’ hearings depended wholly on the voluntary cooperation of witnesses. He lacked the subpoena power afforded to “official” House committees and thus had no power to compel testimony. He had no funding. His hearing, termed a “meeting,” was gleefully attacked by the mainstream media (including, notably, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, who, in a column he now doubtlessly regrets, mocked Conyers’ efforts even as American soldiers were getting their limbs blown off thanks to a virulent Iraqi insurgency that would soon completely alter the course of the war). And members who attended were routinely harassed by then-Speaker Denny Hastert who scheduled pointless floor votes for the sole purpose of pulling Democrats out of the meeting. Nevertheless, Conyers persisted.

As it turned out, the Downing Street Memo was quite genuine; its authenticity and veracity have never been seriously challenged. But a public airing of it was very inconvenient, particularly to House Republicans who were facing the following year what ultimately proved to be an electoral Democratic tsunami driven primarily by public opposition to the war in Iraq. As it turned out, Conyers was on the right side of history; two years after his “basement” hearings he became the chairman of the House Judiciary committee.

The point in this example is that our elected Democratic representatives are not children who can be ordered by a bullying faction of gerrymandered Republicans what they can or cannot “investigate.” Even lacking the subpoena power attendant to a formal inquiry, they are empowered by their position (and their oaths) to represent the interests of the American people. And right now, investigating the commission of a felonious act of sedition against the very seat of American government is in Americans’ interests, not something to be swept under the rug simply because the Speaker’s gavel has temporarily changed hands. The people who committed this heinous crime against the Republic are de facto seditionists and their professed loyalty to this country is forfeit. There are plenty of stones still unturned in this saga, plenty of witnesses out there still to come forward with their stories, plenty of texts, photographs and phone calls still unexamined, and it is imperative that the full scope of their acts continue to be investigated, regardless of who happens to control the House.

There is absolutely no reason that an informal, ad hoc committee, similar to Conyers’ from nearly two decades ago, cannot be formed to continue the investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection. It will be derided on Fox News and right-wing media but those entities have done that throughout the entire process. Such a committee can initiate inquiries, it can call witnesses, and it can continue to collect evidence. As Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger will have departed, it will not include any Republicans — an appropriate response to the actions of the GOP leadership in shutting down the parent investigation. The presumed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has even “warned” members of the Select Committee to “preserve” their records, presumably as some sort of thinly veiled threat to Democrats for daring to investigate the perfidious actions of his colleagues. Well, Democrats should oblige him, by adding as much to the cache of evidence already obtained.


Donald Trump has already declared his intention to once again pursue the presidency. A spineless and thoroughly corrupted Republican party still stands ready to support him, acting as if the events of Jan. 6 had never happened, as if the treacherous fact of their joint collaboration to disenfranchise the majority of the American electorate in 2020 didn’t matter.

But it did matter. And Democrats should never allow them to forget it.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Republicans may finally be realizing baseless fraud claims likely depressed their 2022 turnout

Aldous J Pennyfarthing

Republicans are currently doing a post-mortem on the 2022 midterms—the election in which their dreams of securing a dominating House and Senate majority died a slow and agonizing death while Donald Trump did his best to Weekend at Bernie’s the results.

They’ve even assembled a commission to begin a deep dive into their loserdom, tapping election also-ran Blake Masters to conduct a granular analysis of what makes him (and presumably other loser Republicans) such feckless, irremediable losers. But the answers are staring them in the face: turns out people aren’t keen on forcing children to give birth to their rapists’ babies, threatening Social Security and Medicare aren’t particularly popular stances, and continuing to tout a sack of orangutan areolae as your moral and intellectual lodestar is off-putting to people with marginally functional brain stems.


Also—and this one you’ll find hard to believe, it’s so bizarre—telling your base over and over again that voting is for chumps isn’t terribly conducive to electoral waves, red or otherwise.

In fact, some election deniers might be slowly waking up to this reality. Or maybe—and let’s hope this is the case—they’ll use the 2022 midterm results as an excuse to further radicalize their nonvoters.

Right-wing activist and gormless manchild Charlie Kirk, co-founder of Turning Point USA, is one of these characters. He recently appeared on Steve Bannon’s War Room, where Bannon’s guests come to commiserate with him on his recent death, bring fragrant spices to anoint his moldering corpus, and try to coax him to cross over into the light. But in this case, Kirk was more interested in standing over the election he helped murder and wonder aloud how any of this could have possibly happened.

Watch:



Hmm, wonder why that would be. Could it be GOP gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake suggesting before the election that only a Kari Lake win could possibly be legitimate? Or the fact that if Trump had a dollar for every time he baselessly alleged election fraud he might actually be a billionaire?

Or maybe it was Kirk himself.

As the website The New Civil Rights Movement pointed out, Kirk has gone out of his way to sow mistrust in our elections. Sure, he might have thought he was galvanizing opposition to the Biden administration and energizing his base, but the results speak for themselves.

As the site notes, in January, Kirk hosted top election denier Mollie Hemingway on his show. Hemingway is the editor-in-chief of The Federalist, a wacky right-wing website, and the author of Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections.

Here was the thumbnail description of Hemingway’s appearance:

On the one-year anniversary of Joe Biden’s installment into the Oval Office, Charlie was joined by Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist and author of the exceptional new book, “Rigged,” the definitive dossier on all the malfeasance of the 2020 election, for an important and timely discussion ahead of this years midterms surrounding election integrity. Mollie shares a disturbing story about establishment Republicans who have decided to simply move on from caring about voter fraud before explaining where the current state-by-state fight for election integrity stands as we inch closer to 2024.

In other words—let’s all go out and chase ghosts instead of just voting and getting our people to the polls.

Then, in April of this year, Kirk hosted former Trump campaign official and Citizens United president David Bossie, another election denier, for a segment he titled “’RIGGED’ — An In-Depth Examination of the 2020 Election with David Bossie.”

In fact, Kirk was baselessly tweeting about electoral fraud mere days after the 2020 presidential election:




Yeah, except Russia did have a coordinated campaign to influence our elections. And the Trump campaign knew about and welcomed it. And Trump’s own campaign manager shared internal polling data (i.e., colluded) with a Kremlin-connected Russian. But sure, keep whining. After all, Democrats have a Senate majority to protect in 2024. We’ll need you on our side again, Chuck.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Kanye West praises Hitler, Nazis in openly antisemitic rant: 'I like Hitler'

Hunter

Professional conspiracy promoter Alex Jones invited Kanye West onto his show today, one week after the rapper and antisemite West arranged a Mar-a-Lago dinner meeting with Donald Trump that included notorious white nationalist and antisemite Nick Fuentes. That meeting roiled the Republican Party, as there are few names more synonymous with America's antisemitic far-right than Fuentes. Meanwhile. Fuentes and others on the far-right were giddy with their propaganda victory.

Jones presumably invited West and Fuentes onto his show as a bit of self-promotion. It immediately collapsed into antisemitic rants, praise for Adolf Hitler, and praise for Hitler's Nazi Party.



West claimed at one point that "300 Zionists" are in control of the media and the government, speculated on pedophilia and the Talmud, and ranted bafflingly about Israeli political figure Benjamin Netanyahu.



It was his repeated and explicit praise for Hitler and Hitler's Nazi movement that gained the most attention. "I see good things about Hitler also," West said.

Other quotes:

"They did good things too. We have to stop dissing the Nazis all the time."
"The Jewish media has made us feel like the Nazis and Hitler have never offered anything of value to the world."
"I don't like the word evil next to Nazis. [...] I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis."

"Woke culture is controlled by the Zionist media."

Even as West continued to spew hate on Jones' show, the House Judiciary Committee Republican Twitter account finally deleted their infamous October tweet:



Kanye West's Twitter account was personally reinstated by Elon Musk after Musk's takeover of the company; West had previously been suspended from Twitter for other antisemitic remarks. West claimed during the interview that he would be allowing Fuentes and Jones to tweet from his reinstated Twitter account today—a move that would further test the limits of Musk's support for antisemitic hate speech.

Whether West's new outburst results in any action from the Republican Party (or Fox News) to further distance themselves from the antisemitic far-right is unknowable.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Appeals court halts special master review of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago in major defeat for Trump

In a major defeat for former President Donald Trump, a federal appeals court on Thursday halted a third-party review of documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate.

The ruling removes a major obstacle to the Justice Department’s investigation into the mishandling of government records from Trump’s time in the White House.

In a ruling on Thursday, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s order appointing a so-called special master to sort through thousands of documents found at Trump’s home to determine what should be off limits to investigators.

“The law is clear,” the appeals court wrote. “We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so.”

The 11th Circuit said that either approach would be a “radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations” and that “both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations.”

This story is breaking and will be updated.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Another Colorado elections clerk pleads guilty, will testify against former boss in tampering case

Walter Einenkel

Former Mesa County, Colorado, elections clerk Tina Peters seems to be running out of allies and legal runway. On Wednesday, 45-year-old Sandra Brown plead guilty to “attempting to influence a public servant, a felony, and official misconduct, a misdemeanor.” Ms. Brown is one of two of Peters’ employees accused of helping Peters tamper with election equipment. Brown will not be sentenced until after she testifies in Peters’ trial next year.

Brown follows Peters’ former chief deputy, Belinda Knisley, who pleaded guilty in a similar deal this past August. Peters has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of violating election laws in service of her MAGA-inspired Big Lie theories.

Peters’ seeming benefactor, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, is having his own legal problems for attempting to do the exact same thing, just on a larger, more expensive scale. The kismet of it all is that both Peters and Lindell have been able to uncover the same amount of election fraud evidence: ZERO.

Peters and her cohorts spent the weeks and months after Donald Trump lost the Nov. 2020 election to President Joe Biden trying to figure out ways to prove the election had been stolen. To this end, prosecutors say they broke the law by breaching all security protocols and then allowing a third party—a former pro-surfer turned self-styled elections investigator—to copy the hard drives of voting machines, rendering those machines unusable and forcing Colorado Secretary of State Griswold to replace 41 pieces of election equipment.

The results have been swift. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has been successful in getting Peters and Knisley barred from overseeing any elections in Colorado. The voters of Colorado used their still-democratic right to overwhelmingly reject Tina Peters’ attempts to take over control of the state’s election system. Peters herself tried to obstruct and intimidate the courtroom where Knisley’s hearing was in progress and was promptly arrested as a result.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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11th Circuit rules no 'special master' needed in Trump stolen documents case, orders case dismissed

Hunter

In a Thursday-issued ruling, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated Judge Aileen Cannon's baffling prior order blocking the federal government from using stolen government documents seized at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate while instead ordering a new "special master" to evaluate Trump's alleged ownership claims to those documents.

Cannon's order was widely derided by legal experts and quickly proved a fiasco in practice, but it still complicated the federal investigation into the thousands of pages of government documents, some highly classified, that Trump had illegally stored in unsecured Mar-a-Lago locations after he lost the presidency. The 11th Circuit ruling eviscerates Cannon's order, stating plainly that "we cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so."

The order vacates Cannon's appointment of a special master, remanding the case to the lower court with orders to dismiss Trump's case in its entirety.








 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The Trump bus runs over longtime Trump Org employee Allen Weisselberg

Aldous J Pennyfarthing

Donald Trump has hired more coffee boys than Starbucks over the years, and they all get the same treatment after he’s through sucking the marrow out of their sad, brittle, untermensch bones: He claims he doesn’t know them, and if he happens to have been photographed with them 90 times over the course of 30 years, he’s quick to point out that he’s regularly seen with lots of sketchy people who are mysteriously drawn to his grand, elysian fiefdom.

The latest luckless java lad to be mercilessly ground beneath the wheels of the Trump bus is Allen Weisselberg, the ex-Trump Org CFO who’s been testifying in the criminal trial of his former employer. Weisselberg has long since started Trump’s bone spurs a-tingling, alerting the ocher oaf to the danger his ex-consigliere posed. It’s why Weisselberg was summarily “fired” in 2021—though he reportedly kept doing the same job for precisely the same salary.

But now Trump’s lawyers are going full Trump, implicating Weisselberg—and absolutely no one else—in the company’s wrongdoing. As the Trump Org tax fraud trial began to wrap up, Susan Necheles, a Trump Organization lawyer, used her closing argument to point the finger at Weisselberg and Weisselberg alone.

The Guardian:

“We are here today because of one reason and one reason only – the greed of Allen Weisselberg,” Necheles said. “The purpose of Mr Weisselberg’s crimes was to benefit Mr Weisselberg.”
Necheles also pinned blame on Donald Bender, an accountant with Mazars USA, for turning a blind eye to Weisselberg’s wrongdoing.
“President Trump relied on Mazars, he relied on Donald Bender to be the watchdog,” Necheles said. “Bender failed.“

Yeah, okay. That sounds likely.

Sure, it’s possible that the Trump Organization’s alleged malfeasance—which involved fringe benefits Weisselberg reportedly received tax-free—happened without the direction and knowledge of Donald Trump. It’s also possible Trump discovered the Higgs boson yesterday afternoon in his Filet-O-Fish. Just about anything is theoretically possible, after all.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have cited evidence that points to a far less innocent conclusion—namely, that Trump and his company were up to their luffing neck wattles in dirty deeds.

CBS News:

For instance, Weisselberg and other executives received annual bonus checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars — signed by Trump himself — that were logged as if they were payments for work they did as independent contractors for various Trump companies, Weisselberg testified on Nov. 17.
[...]
"Did Weisselberg do it for Weisselberg alone? Or did he intend at least some benefit for the corporation?" Steinglass asked. "There is a tremendous amount of evidence here, completely ignored by the defense during their summations, that he also intended to benefit the defendants."

During the trial they pointed to luxury benefits such as high-end apartments lived in by Allen and others either rent-free or well under market rate, and untaxed. They showed spreadsheets that appeared to show more than half a dozen executives receiving untaxed bonuses, and elicited testimony from Weisselberg that Trump himself had a role in the scheme — though prosecutors failed to show conclusive evidence that Trump knew what was going on.

It would be one thing if Donald Trump had earned the benefit of the doubt, but come on. If there’s one guy on the planet who should be presumed guilty before all the evidence comes in, it’s this jabroni. (Not that Trump should be implicated if there really is no proof, but really now. He signed the checks, and his former tiny right-hand man testified against him.) We’ll find out soon if Lady Justice agrees—assuming Trump doesn’t sexually assault her and force her to recuse before the final verdict comes down.