More to ignore, Book 94.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Natural gas, power plants, and why Putin's strategy is as bad as his tactics

Mark Sumner

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Russian soldier outside Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine. September 11, 2022.

This is a different kind of update. Because this is the story of why Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine when he did, why Ukraine is waging its counteroffensive now, and how Russia is engaged in a desperate last-shot gamble that still could pay off. So just for this morning, no maps, and no tweets of captured Russian gear … at least until we get around to the updates to the update. This morning we’re starting with the price of natural gas.

Right now, natural gas is trading for a global price of around $8 per MMBTU. (That’s a thousand British Thermal Units; a BTU is an arcane unit involving the amount of energy required to heat a fixed amount of water). That’s not a historically high price. As recently as 2008, natural gas touched $14/MMBTU. Go back a decade more, and it was routinely above $20. The use of fracking, which accelerated globally around 2000, made gas much more readily available. It was the rapidly falling price of natural gas that radically altered the energy market in the United States, and pretty much blew up the coal industry starting in 2008.

By 2009, prices of natural gas plummeted. For better than a decade, prices bounced around between $4 and $6, and twice dipped down to $2 when world storage facilities were nearly full. Then Russia’s illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions drove prices to spike above $9. There was even a brief period, right after Putin sent the tanks across the border, where the markets went into a full-scale panic, driving prices to $23. It’s fallen back since, but $8 is still very high when compared to the usual cost since 2009.

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When newscasters report that energy costs are rising 80% in Germany, the U.K., or in other areas, that's what they're talking about. For just over a decade, Europe, like the United States, has been engaged in replacing other forms of power with natural gas. Because gas was so cheap. In 2008, there were dozens of new coal plants on the drawing board in the U.S. Some were even in construction. None ever got up and running because gas was just so darn cheap. Anyone who thinks that something as large as how the world makes electricity can’t make a rapid change should look again at how that market has changed, and changed again, in the last two decades.

Now natural gas has gone up—up to a price that’s still cheap historically—but high compared to the last dozen years. Europe never had any doubt about the source of its cheap gas. They had only to look at the twin giant pipelines draped across the North Sea to see it. In converting to an energy system dependent on an abundance of cheap natural gas, Europe made a huge bet on the stability of the Russian Federation.

This means that right now, prices are high. And there is damn little Europe can do about it. Gas, even more so than oil, is a fungible product, with prices set on a worldwide balance of supply and demand. Take out some of that supply, and prices go up everywhere. That’s true even for places like the United States, which is a net exporter of natural gas.

High energy prices are definitely hurting Europe right now. They make the cost of everything made there more expensive. They make workers unhappy because workers see more of their paychecks going to pay the light and heating bills. They make politicians unhappy because unhappy workers make for unemployed politicians.

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Russia is now engaged in its biggest propaganda campaign of the war. It’s engaging social media, traditional media, and funding “grassroots” protests in multiple nations all on the same theme: Without Russian gas, Europe’s industrial base will collapse, unemployment will soar, and people will be left shivering in freezing houses over the winter.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this narrative is just what a fine job Russia has done in getting Western media to repeat it. Everyone loves a good doomsday story, and you can certainly find this one on CNN, Fox News, and other fine purveyors of video clickbait.

But that story? It’s not going to happen.

It’s not going to happen for one very simple reason: Europe is rich. If it can’t get super-cheap gas through a pipeline from Russia, it will just get more expensive gas from elsewhere. Energy bills will go up. It will generate inflationary pressure. None of that stuff is good. But no one is going to freeze, and no national economies are going to fold because of this. Europe is now paying a price for gas that’s higher than it has been, but it’s still way cheaper than it used to be.

The only real threat here is the political one. Russia may not be sending gas, but it is really, really pumping that propaganda. It is working very hard to sell the idea that “Russian gas = good economy,” and the media is helping. It’s helping both by pushing the ”winter is coming” story Russia is selling, dire wolves and white walkers included, and by giving the kind of outsized attention to Russian-supported rallies that U.S. media provided to the Koch-funded Tea Party.

That’s the big bet Vladimir Putin is laying right now. He thinks, or at least hopes that, with the help of media horror stories, synthetic protests, and genuinely high energy bills, European politicians will be pressured into suspending support for Ukraine, dropping sanctions against Russia, and pushing for a negotiated settlement that leaves Russia with territorial gains (or, at least, no loss).

The “freeze in the dark” narrative has extended into Russia’s on-the-ground strategy in Ukraine, especially after the Russian military was handed its corruption-riddled ass in Kharkiv. The new strategy being pressed from Moscow and supported by pro-Russia propagandists doesn’t really call for the Russian army to do much of anything. They just need to hold their ground while the “missileists” do the work.

The theory goes that by attacking Ukrainian power plants with ballistic missiles, Russia can make Ukraine even more of a burden. In recent months, Ukraine had offered to export electricity to the rest of Europe. But, say the pro-Russian sources, if Russia can take out enough of Ukraine’s generating capacity, Ukraine will have to import power instead, making it even more of a burden on neighbors who have already donated billions and taken in millions of refugees.


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Ukrainian firefighters at power station hit by Russian missile. Kharkiv, Ukraine. Sep 11, 2022

It’s unclear how effective this strategy might be in causing misery in Ukraine. One of the power stations that was hit over the weekend appears to be up and functioning on Tuesday, with power restored to most of the area. However, this strategy doesn’t require anything of the Russian army, and if the last seven months have demonstrated anything, it’s that this is the best way to start any plan.

And there’s another part of this same story, one that explains why Putin attacked when he did. The reason for that also goes back into those long-term energy trends.

Europe has been aware, even as it built out an economy that was ever more tied to cheap, available natural gas over the last decade, that this was
a temporary situation. They’re aware of this thing called the man-made climate crisis. Far more aware of it than most people and politicians in the U.S. They’ve already made the commitments to transition their nations away from fossil fuels, including natural gas, in the next few decades.

Vladimir Putin sees European dependence on natural gas as a lever that he can use to exert political pressure on the West. Every pipeline built, every cubic meter sold, has had, for him, the happy result of both increasing Western reliance on Russia and putting more money in Russian banks (or personal accounts of oligarchs who keep their money in Cyprus … all the same as far as Putin is concerned).

But that lever is on a timetable. Because another long-term energy trend has been the constantly dropping cost of wind and the absolutely plunging cost of solar. In 1980, the cost of generating electricity with wind was double that of natural gas—and that’s when natural gas availability was erratic, and prices were higher. The cost of solar at that point is barely worth mentioning. It was at least an order of magnitude higher than wind. But by 2010, even though the prices for natural gas had collapsed, the constant improvements in wind and solar meant they were only 20%-40% more costly. Which is, admittedly, a lot when it’s on your energy bill.


As of 2020, the average cost per megawatt of new power created by both wind and solar was cheaper than natural gas. That was before Putin’s war doubled the cost of gas. At this point, environmental pressures and economic pressures are very much on the same side. Both are pressuring to replace much of Europe’s natural gas with renewable energy. Based on what the world saw when gas became significantly cheaper than coal and other sources, that change can happen very quickly.

What do you get out of all this?

If Putin wanted to use his perceived lever to make a play for expanding Russia, he had to do it now. Because in a decade, there’s a very good chance that lever will be much, much weaker. If not nonexistent. The tumble of gas prices to the $2 range in the summer of 2021 likely played into Putin’s now-or-never thinking.

Ukraine needed to make a significant counteroffensive now, not just because there was an opportunity to attack, but because it needed a significant indicator that it was going to be able to defeat Russia quickly, not over some very lengthy timeframe. It needed that opportunity before winter. Otherwise, European politicians would be much more easily pushed out of supporting Ukraine by a populace facing high energy bills—and a media so eager to see some of that freezing that it might just pitch someone into an icebox.

Those pressures in Europe also apply to the United States. Those who had not been watching Fox or listening to Republican campaigns might have missed the none-too-subtle discussion of how U.S. prices were being adversely affected by support for Ukraine, with a direct tie to Tucker Carlson’s nightly “Russia has this in the bag, we should pull for those guys” telethon. It’s very definitely there.

Unfortunately for Russia—and Republicans—Ukraine’s counteroffensive in Kharkiv didn’t just work, it worked spectacularly. It made it clear that, rather than dragging on year after year, this conflict really could be over in months.


Long term, that’s a huge burden on Ukraine. Pulling off a spectacular win on a regular basis is a lot harder than doing it once. But Ukraine doesn’t have to worry about the long term right now. It has to worry about the next few weeks, and what happens when nations like the U.K. allow higher energy prices to reach the public.

The win in Kharkiv has thrown a real crimp into Russia’s “inevitability” narrative. Heading toward winter, Ukraine is now well positioned to continue receiving assistance and support, and resolve concerning Russian sanctions is much less likely to soften.

Finally, on the other end of this stick, Russia is making a big deal of how it’s continuing to sell high volumes of natural gas in spite of sanctions, and is finding new markets with China and other customers in the East. Which is true. However, what’s also true is that those customers know they have Putin over an enormous barrel: Russia’s economy is absolutely dependent on selling gas, and he literally has nowhere else to go. So all that oil Russia is selling now is going out at a steep discount. At least 50%.

So while prices may be high because of Russia, Russia is not benefiting from those high prices. It’s selling less gas and selling it for about the same prices that were going on last year. They can jigger the numbers all they want, and the media may be standing by to assist, but this war is extremely costly for Russia in terms of men, materiel,
and rubles.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine’s allies should commit to legally binding large-scale weapons transfers and multi-decade investment in the country’s defences, according to a report that looked at alternatives to Kyiv’s long-term aspirations to join the Nato alliance.

The report was commissioned by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and co-authored by the former Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andrey Yermak.

The purpose of the report was to provide a security structure for Ukraine that guarantees Russia does not seek to invade again, and is separate from calls by Zelenskiy for the west to step up arms supplies to drive home the sudden advance by Ukrainian troops......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Tuesday, Sep 13, 2022 · 1:24:17 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
Potentially big news from the front lines. Multiple sources are reporting that Ukrainian forces have either captured or bypassed Davydiv Brid. This town is is at the north end of the bridgehead that Ukraine established across the Inhulets River over a month ago. While Ukrainian forces had some success in moving east from that position, they hadn’t taken Davydiv Brid, which represented a reinforced front line position.

With multiple reports suggesting that Russian forces in Kherson are suffering a supply shortage, and in particular, a shortage of artillery shells, related to the destruction of the two bridges across the Dnipro River east of Kherson, this breakthrough could be a signal of a weakening Russian position.

On Monday, local officials in Kherson indicated that Russia was negotiating for the surrender of forces in the region. However, there has been no repeat of that claim, or any obvious result, on Tuesday.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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LOL: Sean Hannity Thinks He's Helping Trump By Scrolling a Long List of His Crimes on FOX News

News Corpse

If anyone needs further proof that Donald Trump is desperately in fear of the legal peril that is rapidly engulfing him, all they need to do is take a look at his posts on his floundering Twitter ripoff, Truth Social. He is currently using the site as a cathartic release valve for his smoldering anxieties.

Trump has good reason to worry. On Monday it was reported that dozens of subpoenas were issued to Trump associates/accomplices for information regarding his criminal affairs. That's just the latest in an avalanche of bad news for Trump as the long arm of the law gets ever closer to holding him accountable for an unprecedented crime spree. His terror is apparent as he tries to cover it up with inane posts and increasingly absurd accusations.

On Monday the Senior Trump-Fluffer on Fox News, Sean Hannity, waded into the legal sink hole in which Trump has taken residence. Hannity put together a segment that he surely thought would benefit Dear Leader's quest for absolution. It featured a scrolling list of many of the crimes and investigations of Trump that are currently in progress. It is not nearly comprehensive, but is damning nonetheless. It includes in part...
  • Russian collusion
  • Misusing inaugural funds
  • Election interference
  • Extortion of Ukrainian president
  • Stormy Daniels hush money
  • Save America PAC donor ripoff
  • Real estate and tax fraud
  • Truth Social Stock Scam
  • Mar-a-Lago's classified documents
  • January 6th insurrection



How on Earth did Hannity think that it would help Trump to enumerate his vast violations of the law? It is merely a handy itemization of his rap sheet. Now Democrats may have to send Hannity a "Thank You" note for providing such a helpful summary of Trump's criminality, immorality, and treason. This inventory of illegality is exactly what is tormenting Trump. Will he appreciate Hannity so nicely compiling it?

Also on Monday Trump dropped 25 self-exalting posts that appear to be his pitifully vain attempts to remind himself of his imagined superiority and utter innocence of any crime. These posts included such narcissistic affirmations as a meme that projects his tyrannical reign of power to 2048, a Gateway Pundit article on election fraud, and a QAnon picture of Trump wearing a "Q" lapel pin and featuring the QAnon slogans "The Storm is Coming" and "WWG1WGA" (where we go 1, we go all).



Apparently in Trump World, a gather storm is a good thing, rather than a potentially catastrophic event that brings destruction, pain, and grief.

It will be interesting to see if Trump has anything to say about Hannity's catalog of crime. Trump is already angry at Fox News for not being sufficiently worshipful in their coverage of him. He has at times virtually written off the network as beholden to radical leftists. And he has been relentlessly bashing what he once regarded as his Ministry of Propaganda. For instance...


Not to worry though. Whenever Trump needs some emotional support he still relies on Fox News to give him uninterrupted airtime and unabashed slobbering. His love/hate relationship with Fox is like everything else in his life: As long as they are unflinchingly loyal to him he's a happy camper. But waver even slightly and suffer his rage.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Dozens of subpoenas issued to Trump aides as Jan. 6 probe heats up at Department of Justice

Brandi Buchman

The Department of Justice is digging deep into its probe of Jan. 6 and has reportedly sent out roughly 40 subpoenas to aides of former President Donald Trump and has seized two phones belonging to his top advisers.

The significant developments were first reported by The New York Times late Monday and cited unnamed sources familiar with the department’s investigation.

Phones were reportedly seized from Boris Epshteyn and Mike Roman. Epshteyn serves as Trump’s counsel and was a key figure in the Trump campaign’s push to advance bogus electors in battleground states Trump lost to now President Joe Biden. Roman worked as the Trump campaign’s director of Election Day operations and was in regular contact with Republican members of state legislatures. In its subpoena to Roman in February, the Jan. 6 committee said Roman urged those legislatures to “reclaim” their authority by sending in alternate slates to help Trump on Jan. 6, though the deadline for objections would have long passed by then.

The department’s investigation into Jan. 6 is not simply limited to the violent attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump’s most fervent supporters. It extends to the so-called alternate elector scheme and has increasingly come to focus on the activities of the 45th president’s Save America political action committee.

The PAC became flush with cash in 2020 as Trump told his supporters he needed the funds to mount his legal defense against the “rigged” outcome of the 2020 election. In the course of its own probe, the Jan. 6 committee has alleged that Trump did not use the PAC’s political donations for their intended purpose, and premised that fundraising on an outright lie. For now, it is unclear precisely what angle the Justice Department may be pursuing as it relates to the Save America PAC, but its scrutiny is almost certainly tied to possible fraud.

One of those subpoenaed by the DOJ in this recent batch is Dan Scavino, Trump’s onetime social media director and his current adviser.

Scavino narrowly avoided a contempt of Congress charge this June after a tug of war over ensued between himself and the Jan. 6 committee over his testimony and records. The Department of Justice declined to take up the charge.

Timothy Parlatore, a lawyer who has represented other Trump allies in matters tied to Jan. 6—see: Pennsylvania’s Republican nominee for governor Doug Mastriano—told The New York Times on Monday that Bernie Kerik was among those recently subpoenaed by the Justice Department.

Parlatore would not elaborate to Daily Kos, but he told other outlets the subpoena for Kerik was overly broad and among the more “obtuse” subpoenas he’s seen.

Kerik is the former commissioner for the New York City Police Department and a close ally to Rudy Giuliani, a leader in Trump’s fake elector scheme.

In its investigation of Jan. 6, members of the select committee sought Kerik out because of his insights into a proposal to seize voting machines and election equipment in battleground states. In the past, Kerik told the press that this proposal was first concocted by U.S. Army Colonel Phil Waldron.

By his own account, Waldron met with Trump nearly a dozen times to discuss ways the campaign could advance its own “electors.” During those interactions, Kerik said the men had discussed the plan to seize voting machines. Trump would float the idea to his advisers in the White House in late December 2020, but it never got off the ground.

A subpoena for Kerik’s testimony is not altogether unsurprising if investigators are sniffing around Trump’s finances.

The former police commissioner once told The Washington Post his firm had billed Trump’s campaign just over $50,000 for a series of hotel rooms he helped arrange for Trump’s legal team at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Kerik said, too, that he billed another $10,000 for travel expenses. He told reporters that he was reimbursed.

The rooms at the Willard Hotel were a command hub where Trump’s allies, advisers, and attorneys, like John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, and Steve Bannon, would convene to discuss the elector gambit and the related pressure strategy targeting former Vice President Mike Pence to go along with objections to the election’s certification by Congress on Jan. 6.

Kerik has insisted that he did not attend a Jan. 5, 2021, meeting at the Willard.

Trump pardoned Kerik in 2020 after Kerik was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to eight felony charges. Those charges included failure to pay taxes as well as lying to White House officials during a doomed nomination hearing to serve as the nation’s Department of Homeland Security. Kerik’s nomination was put forward by former President George W. Bush.

Further details about who received a demand in this latest batch of subpoenas are being kept closely under wraps.

The Justice Department’s probes of Jan. 6 have been moving at a steady clip for some time now, with evidence collected via grand jury testimonies delivered in secret (per the tradition of grand juries) by key figures like Stop the Steal movement founder Ali Alexander, and others like former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Cipollone’s deputy, Patrick Philbin. Last week, William Russell, a personal aide to Trump, was also subpoenaed, though the cause for his subpoena was unclear.

........
Tuesday, Sep 13, 2022 · 10:21:55 AM EDT · Brandi Buchman
Parlatore contacted Daily Kos after publication.

He elaborated further on the subpoena, saying it was “politically motivated” and “timed for the midterms.” He also said Bernie Kerik would respond to the subpoena from the Department of Justice. Parlatore also accused the DOJ of “acting weird” and suggested that the subpoena was not rooted in a “legitimate criminal investigation.”

Since Parlatore is not making the subpoena public and declined a request by Daily Kos to review it, his opinion about the nature of the subpoena or the intent of the Justice Department should be weighed extremely critically.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Jan. 6 committee to hold hearing on Sept. 28; more docs to share with DOJ

Brandi Buchman

The next meeting of the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol is shaping up for Sept. 28, and according to the panel’s chairman, investigators may issue a decision as soon as this week on whether it will hand off more of its records to the Justice Department as that agency continues its own probe of the insurrection.

Information about what the future hearing or possible hearings will entail has largely been offered in broad strokes by members of the committee and without too many firm commitments to boot.

Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin has suggested that at least two more public hearings could be held before the panel’s deadline to conduct its investigation runs out at the end of this year.

The committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, has suggested during press interviews in recent weeks that investigators may still pursue testimony from former President Donald Trump directly before its work is done. Realistically, he is very likely to avoid or evade any and all direct interactions with the committee.

And there have been reports circulating for weeks that the select committee is still trying to wrest an interview out of former Vice President Mike Pence, the prime target in Trump’s pressure campaign undergirding his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Pence’s former White House counsel Greg Jacob and chief of staff Marc Short both cooperated with the congressional probe this summer and offered significant insights into Trump’s push to advance bogus electors in key battleground states lost to now President Joe Biden. Short revealed this July that he also testified before a federal grand jury investigating Trump’s push to overturn the election.

Whether the next select committee’s session will air during primetime or prominently feature any of the new evidence obtained by investigators, or merely amount to a presentation of what it intends to include in its impending interim report, is unknown for now.

There are signs that it will be something more than a simple recap and especially so, given the committee’s quiet work in recent weeks and at least one of its very public acts: a subpoena to Trump ally and 2020 election fraud conspiracy theory purveyor, Newt Gingrich.

By the end of August, the select committee had conducted interviews with several members of Trump’s Cabinet, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Questions were reportedly centered on discussions they and other Cabinet officials had about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump in the wake of the Capitol siege.

Pompeo has publicly denied participating in any conversation where Trump’s removal was seriously considered.

A representative for the committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment to Daily Kos on Tuesday.

But according to Politico, committee chair Thompson said that the increasingly “public” and “active posture” of the Department of Justice’s investigation of Jan. 6 has prompted the panel to consider sharing documents as soon as this week. Also notable, Thompson poured cold water for now on questions about whether the panel would subpoena Trump or Pence for testimony directly.

The committee disclosed in late July that it intended to share 20 witness interview transcripts with the Department of Justice. The panel conducted over 1,000 witness interviews, and beyond the 20 suggested, investigators were mum about which transcripts it would hand over. The Justice Department has been after the complete set of records since at least April. Once the investigation is complete, chairman Thompson has said that all of the transcripts will be made public.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Delay trial, suppress evidence, and appoint a special master, Oath Keeper Elmer Rhodes begs judge

Brandi Buchman

A federal judge only last week explained to Oath Keeper leader Elmer Rhodes at length why his request to delay his Sept. 27 seditious conspiracy trial would be flatly denied. But with that trial just around the corner, Rhodes is throwing anything that might stick against the wall and has asked for another delay as well as the appointment of a special master to help him review evidence.

The special master request echoes the delay tactics playing out in the Justice Department’s classified records removal case involving President Donald Trump.

Important to note: This motion in Rhodes’ case was filed by attorney Ed Tarpley Jr. Rhodes unsuccessfully tried to substitute Tarpley for his longtime current attorneys, Philip Linder and James Bright, only last week.

Presiding U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta refused to let Tarpley come aboard as his only official representation since the trial is just weeks away, and Tarpley himself conceded—after some equivocation—that, in fact, he would not be able to prepare a defense for Rhodes in time.

At that same hearing, Bright and Linder strongly defended themselves from accusations of misconduct by Rhodes, and Bright even went so far as to accuse Rhodes of lying about their alleged lack of support in preparing for his case. But after brief mediation with Mehta, a solution was reached: Judge Mehta agreed to let Tarpley sit at the defense’s table during the trial, but that would be the extent of it, he said.

Given the recent and very terse dressing down of Rhodes’ push to delay the seditious conspiracy trial yet again—Rhodes has tried to secure a delay at least twice before—it is exceedingly unlikely that presiding Judge Mehta will grant this request in full.

Motion for Special Master and Delay of Trial by Daily Kos on Scribd

Tarpley has argued that Rhodes has only had “meaningful” access to discovery for two months since his indictment nearly a year ago and his imprisonment at a jail in Alexandria, Virginia.

Mehta has been patient though mostly unsympathetic to these assertions of late. He noted last week that it was Rhodes who opted to hire Texas-based attorneys who live several hundred miles away from where he is currently imprisoned. Mehta also noted that Tarpley is based in Louisiana, making his request all the more empty as he has failed to hire anyone local.

But according to the 10-page motion filed by Tarpley on Tuesday, the only fair solution now is to delay the trial and have Judge Mehta appoint a special master to help the former leader of the extremist network sort through an undeniably massive amount of evidence underpinning the case.

Tarpley did not immediately return a request for comment to Daily Kos on Tuesday. Nor did attorneys James Bright or Philip Linder.

On Monday, Tarpley also filed another motion. This one seeks to suppress at trial any recording or transcript of a Nov. 9, 2020, GoTo meeting where Rhodes lamented that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and then instructed Oath keepers to go to Washington, D.C.

“It will be a bloody and desperate fight. We are going to have a fight. That can’t be avoided,” Rhodes said on the Nov. 9 call.

On the same call, Rhodes said told members of the group: “Let’s go to D.C. together. I’ll be right there with you. I want my bikers, I want my ****ing street fighters. I want my brawlers.”

Per the transcript
, Rhodes told his fellow Oath Keepers they “swore an oath” and that they “had to” fight.


“So we have a chance to get President Trump to fight as commander-in-chief,” Rhodes continued. “If you’re going to have a fight, guys, you want to start now while he’s still commander-in-chief. You do not want to waste this opportunity.”

Rhodes has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges lodged against him.

Tarpley has requested an oral argument before Mehta to weigh this request.

He also alleges that whoever recorded the Nov. 9, 2020, GoTo meeting was not “an invited member of the conversation.” This, he contends, means that consent-to-recording laws may have been violated since Oath Keepers were participating in the conference call from various states.

Further, Tarpley claims: “It is not evident how much of the conversation was lost before the recording began. However, certainly, any introduction or explanation for the purpose of the meeting was lost. The introduction explaining the purpose of the meeting would be necessary to interpret the later contents, not just theoretically but specifically necessary for this conversation when the contents are read or listened to.”

This matter has been raised before with another Oath Keeper facing seditious conspiracy, Thomas Caldwell. Tarpley took issue with the government’s refusal in that case to identify the person who recorded the meeting. Tarpley has suggested it was an “active informant” and that illegal wiretapping may have occurred.

Tarpley Rhodes Motion to Suppress Evidence Nov 9 Call by Daily Kos on Scribd

Tarpley has also requested that Rhodes is severed from his co-defendants. Mehta strongly indicated he was not at all inclined to do so at the motion hearing last week but noted that the request had not yet been formally entered on the docket.

In a motion filed on Sept. 12, Tarpley asked that Rhodes be allowed to stand trial alone or be permitted to face jurors when another group of Oath Keepers, led by defendant Donovan Crowl, go to trial on Nov. 10. The Justice Department has already told Tarpley it is opposed to the request.

Tarpley argues that by placing Rhodes on trial with Crowl and others, Rhodes would be given more time to prepare, and so would he.

Rhodes is not charged with breaching the U.S. Capitol. Instead, prosecutors have charged him with seditious conspiracy for his alleged role in leading and organizing what amounted to armed paramilitary training for members he called on to stop the transfer of power by Congress on Jan. 6. Rhodes, prosecutors say, also oversaw the formation and deployment of a “quick reaction force” to attack the Capitol.

Rhodes has denied any wrongdoing and entered a not guilty plea shortly after his arrest in Texas on Jan. 13.

This February, when Judge Mehta detained him ahead of trial, he stressed that Rhodes was a “danger” to the public. Rhodes wasn’t in his current predicament because he simply made questionable public statements about the outcome of the 2020 election while exercising his First Amendment.

There was strong evidence to suggest that Rhodes was willing to back up his words with actions, Mehta noted.

As noted in Politico at the time, Mehta remarked that it was “unlikely that Mr. Rhodes at a minimum did not know about, if not encourage, if not order” people to enter the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Prosecutors say that literal moments before Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs proceeded to lead a stack formation of Oath Keepers over police barriers, up the stairs, and into the Capitol, Rhodes had talked to Meggs by phone.

This contact seemed “awfully coincidental” to Mehta during a hearing in February.

After all, Oath Keepers as a whole, the judge said, “are not people who do things without orders.”
..........

Tuesday, Sep 13, 2022 · 1:33:20 PM EDT · Brandi Buchman
When reached for comment Tuesday, an attorney for Rhodes, Ed Tarpley, told Daily Kos he and attorneys James Bright and Philip Linder were working as a “team” to defend Rhodes at trial.

 

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Ken Starr, independent counsel who pursued Clinton, dies

Kenneth Winston Starr, a former US solicitor general who gained worldwide fame in the 1990s as the independent counsel who doggedly investigated then-President Bill Clinton during a series of political scandals, has died. He was 76.

Starr died of complications from surgery, according to a statement from his family.

“We are deeply saddened with the loss of our dear and loving Father and Grandfather, whom we admired for his prodigious work ethic, but who always put his family first. The love, energy, endearing sense of humor, and fun-loving interest Dad exhibited to each of us was truly special, and we cherish the many wonderful memories we were able to experience with him,” Starr’s son, Randall, said in the statement on behalf of his children.

Starr, who was a member of former President Donald Trump’s defense team during Trump’s first impeachment, also served as president of Baylor University from 2010 to 2016.

Baylor President Linda Livingstone said in a statement Tuesday that “Judge Starr was a dedicated public servant and ardent supporter of religious freedom that allows faith-based institutions such as Baylor to flourish.”

This story is breaking and will be updated.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Russian strongholds under assault on Kherson front line as Ukraine continues press

Mark Sumner

On Monday, there were reports from local officials that Russian forces inside Kherson were trying to negotiate their withdrawal from the oblast. Kos discussed this in detail, offering three alternatives: this could by psyops; this could be only a portion of the forces in Kherson; or this could be a wholesale withdrawal. That followed reports on Sunday that Russian forces in the area were attempting to pull back closer to the city of Kherson, so that they could be supported by artillery firing from across the Dnipro River, where they didn’t have the supply problems now facing Russian forces on the west side.

Either of those things might still be underway, but they’re apparently not happening quickly enough for Ukrainian forces. Because on Tuesday Ukraine launched what is reported to be a serious counteroffensive at two of the positions most critical to Russia’s front line in the region: Davydiv Brid and Snihurivka.

Both these areas have been the object of Ukrainian counterattacks before, and Snihurivka has been the target of significant attacks on multiple occasions. But now—perhaps encouraged by what’s happened in Kharkiv, perhaps sensing that Russia really is running into problems with supply—Ukrainian forces have reportedly reached both towns. According to some reports, they have even liberated both towns. On the other hand, official Russian outlets are reporting that the attack at Davydiv Brid was repelled. It’s probably too early to credit either report.

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No huge changes, but change may come soon.

For right now, I’m mapping Kherson pretty much the way it was back before the counteroffensive in Kharkiv. At last report, Ukrainian forces held Olexsandrivka, but until someone sweeps the villages on either side, no one is likely to hold it. Ukraine was reported to be close, again, to full possession of Kyselivka, with some reports saying that a handful of Russian forces were left in the south part of the town. I’ve indicated Arkhanhel's'ke as in dispute based on reports of two Russian attacks that made it into the edges of the town.

And … that’s about it. Maybe in the next 24 hours, we’ll see whether there’s any truth behind either plans for withdrawal or a tactical relocation closer to Kherson. But Russia should realize that if they wait long enough that Ukraine achieves a major breakthrough, they won’t be in a mood to negotiate.

The same kind of too-much news and not enough is going on at the far end of the battlefield in the area around Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

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Something odd going on in Kreminna

What’s certain is that Ukrainian forces have reversed months of exceedingly slow “progress” in this area by Russian troops. Ukrainian forces have been engaged in Lysychansk, and Severodonetsk, and in Rubizhne. It’s unclear what scale of conflict is underway in any of these places. From the videos, it’s not even certain there is conflict, as most of what’s out there is people driving past signs. But it seems that Ukraine hasn’t liberated any of these cities, as satisfying as that might be to imagine.

Even in the murkiness of the post-counteroffensive chaos, this area is especially dark.

However, there is one decidedly odd report. In the town of Kreminna, northwest of Rubizhne, Russian forces have reportedly completely left. There are other locations where this has happened, but regional DPR or LPR conscripts remained. In this case, even the regional troops are reported to have gone. So Ukrainian partisans have reportedly taken the lead to declare the town liberated and raise a Ukrainian flag. The reports agree that there are no Ukrainian soldiers present; just some townsfolk and a flag. So I’ve given the town a unique color to represent its unique status: self-liberated (actually, it may not be unique as the same thing has reportedly happened in Starobilsk, but that’s a major city, deep in Luhansk, and it’s going to take more than a couple of reports before I believe it).



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Kharkiv Oblast showing locations geoconfirmed as liberated.

In Kharkiv Oblast, I’ve spent the better part of the day going location by location, trying to find confirmation that sites really have been liberated. We finally have that confirmation for such important locations as Lyptsi—meaning Russia is no longer in position to shell the city of Kharkiv, a huge accomplishment all on its own. There are also confirmations for a string of towns and cities along the Oskil River. A few spots, like Vavarivka in the north, have checked in, but I’m still waiting for confirmation that Ukraine has full control over towns on the east side of the Oskil, which is a critical factor in moving toward those locations north of Lyman.

This seems to match this map from the Russian military, which rather than ceding the entire oblast, as was announced, still holds on to that part of Kharkiv east of the Oskil.

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According to this map by the Ru MoD, the RuAF have retreated to behind the Oskil river. This would mean Ukraine just liberated 8370 km2

Give it another couple of days, and we’ll see if that line holds. There are reportedly intact bridges across the Oskil north of Velykyi Burluk, and Vovchansk is on the east side of the river. In fact, that whole westward-pointing arm on this map appears to be in Ukrainian hands. So Russia already has less than what they show here.

All those areas where Russian forces are reportedly abandoning the town, and leaving the holding of that location to LNR or DPR conscripts? Here’s a good thread on what that means. Svatove is another location where this is reportedly the case.






 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine Update: The Tankies don't have a coherent explanation as to why Russian is losing

kos

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Ukrainian armor on the move in what looks like Kherson front

The situation on the ground is … hazy. Ukraine continues to mop up in Kharkiv Oblast, maybe it is attacking in Kherson Oblast, maybe it’s attacking in Luhansk, maybe Russian and proxy forces are retreating and/or deserting and/or surrendering. Let’s give it another day or two for some of the fog of war to clear. Mark Sumner did his best to make sense of things earlier today.

Instead, let’s do another check in on the Tankies.

For those who haven’t read previous installments, Tankies are people who believe imperialism is bad, and only the United States can be imperialist. Thus, Russia is the aggrieved party here, only attacking Ukraine because NATO something or other. This tweet encapsulates it perfectly:



Tankies are named after communist sympathizers who witnessed Soviet bloody suppression of the Prague and Hungary uprisings, yet continued to defend the Soviet Union. I’ve written about them here and here, and they’re always good for a quizzical look askance, and then a surprised chuckle when you realize they’re actually serious.

Today we’ll start with Will Schryver, a Utah resident with 27,000 followers on Twitter.


I will simply note that the United States and its willing NATO vassals have deliberately raised the stakes of this conflict such that Russia will very likely now feel compelled to make a momentous decision in deference to the power of perception and narrative.

The empire has played the "ace up its sleeve" in Ukraine.

Over the past several months they methodically constructed a modest strike force of hoarded NATO weaponry and a briefly trained new cadre of Ukrainian soldiers – most of them fresh conscripts.


In addition to these new Ukrainian brigades, they also assembled multiple brigades of NATO troops – “foreign volunteers” – to serve as shock troops for an envisioned “counter-offensive”. The total count of these NATO soldiers is unknown, but is likely at least 3000 - 5000.

I'm persuaded the Russians were clearly cognizant of this build-up. They also clearly provided an irresistibly tempting target for the assembled force, and deliberately created a vacuum into which it would be permitted to advance. What they plan to do next remains to be seen.

“A handful of Ukranians and THOUSANDS OF NATO SOLDIERS took Kharkiv, even though the real number is unknown so I’ll just make up something that sounds good. Oh, and Russia let them, for reasons that even I can’t make up, so give me time to come up with something good!”

This is an ongoing theme—one American Foreign Legion guy took video at Izyum’s entrance, so therefore they’re all NATO. Most of those reports also insist on mentioning that
the blacks were also there, likely referring to Malcolm Nance (who has also featured in Russian state propaganda). We know why they need to stress that.

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Moving on.



Patrick Lancaster is an American, a Navy vet, who somehow become a chief Putin propagandist embedding with the Russian army.

The actual facts are that Ukraine has retaken 6,000 square kilometers in the current counteroffensive. Russia now controls around 116,000 square kilometers or Ukraine’s total land mass of 603,550, or 19%. I like that he says “internationally recognized,” because it should remind everyone that Russia shouldn’t be there in the first place. Crimea is 27,000 of those square kilometers.

Now, I guess you can argue that liberating 1 percent of Ukraine’s total landmass isn’t “huge gains,” but Ukraine is a big country. 6,000 square kilometers is bigger than the state of Connecticut. And really, “they haven’t taken that much” is a pathetic retort when Ukrainian forces are on the march and Russia is struggling to firm up new defensive lines in northeastern Ukraine. And look at that big chunk of red east of liberated Kharkiv:


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Slightly outdated map from September 11

That’s about 20,000 square kilometers of a whole lot of big empty. If Russian positions have been abandoned in Svatove, as rumored, that whole chunk of land will be marked as liberated, and Lancaster will then argue that it’s
still not that much because blah blah blah imperialist propaganda.

Capturing Kharkiv is a big deal. 6,000 square kilometers is a lot, but just as importantly, Russia’s northern supply routes into Ukraine have been cut, and Russia just supplied Ukraine with over 300 visually confirmed military vehicles, including 53 tanks and 94 armored infantry vehicles.




He had me at “Russian always retreats.” He should’ve quit while he was ahead.

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The nut graf:

BBC.com quotes you as saying that if support for Ukraine is strong the crisis will be shorter. Hmmm? I guess that might depend on what you mean by “support for Ukraine?” If by “support for Ukraine,” you mean the West continuing to supply arms to the Kiev government’s armies, I fear you may be tragically mistaken. Throwing fuel, in the form of armaments, into a firefight, has never worked to shorten a war in the past, and it won’t work now, particularly because, in this case, most of the fuel is (a) being thrown into the fire from Washington DC, which is at a relatively safe distance from the conflagration, and (b) because the “fuel throwers” have already declared an interest in the war going on for as long as possible.

Zelenska curtly replied that he had sent the letter to the wrong president.



Funny that Russian state media itself is more willing to admit battlefield reversals than RT’s English-facing propaganda shills.



Yeah, Max Blumenthal thinks this is a GOTCHA moment—“AHA! See? They want Putin to fail!” So, guys? Plot twist! You are all now “US hawks” because we want to see an end to a murderous, expansionist regime.



Whitmore is a MAGA conservative with 42,000 followers on Twitter. And what better example of their modus operandi? “I don’t like what I see so I chose to reject it without any evidence. Instead, I will create an alternate reality that better comports to my biases and prejudices.”



The ol’ “mass surrender so we can rise up from the rear” ploy that has worked so well in about zero past wars.



She’s talking about RT losing its broadcasting license in some European countries. Keep in mind it can still stream and publish online. Europe isn’t Russia, where all dissenting media has been shut, and myriad journalists imprisoned, along with the opposition party. Also where legislators that express opposition to Putin’s war are arrested and fined and threatened with seven-year prison terms.

And #NAFO aren’t astroturf, lol. It’s literally Twitter memes like this:


FbPqroGXwAsYEVq.jpeg

#NAFO meme

The North Atlantic Fellows Organization has certainly done a great job getting under the skin of Tankies and Russians.




The Ukrainians appreciate the meme warriors.



TTM note: continued right below......
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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How it started:



He believed wrong. So how it’s going:



Attack failed!

It didn’t? Oh...

It’s probably because Super Invisible Secret Army is about to be deployed!

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When have they done the “fade and kill game” before? There was the “get pushed back into a desperate defense of Stalingrad while the United States flooded Russia with lend-lease military hardware.” There was the “get asses kicked in the Afghanistan cold.” There was the “get asses kicked in the Finnish winter.” But “Trick your enemy into thinking they are winning, then fade and kill”? Yeah, haven’t seen that one before.

This will be a classic Tankie cope for the ages:



If you clap loud enough…

This one is a thing someone (a Russian university professor) seriously wrote.



He may actually not be wrong. Putin does seem to care about a little more about Russian losses than Donbas, Chechen, or Wagner cannon fodder losses. But he still doesn’t care about Russian losses, since most don’t come from Moscow or St. Petersburg areas.

And this is a fitting conclusion to this update:

 

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