Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Immediately After Voting Against Aid To Ukraine,
Pro-Putin Senators Attempt To Take Credit For Ukraine Aid

Thursday, March 24, 2022

A Scandal Of Immense Proportions
Wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Exchanged At Least 29 Texts With Trump's Chief Of Staff After 2020 Election & Pushed For Sidney Kraken Powell To Lead Legal Team
Other Reporting Outs Ginni Thomas As A Chief Architect Of Seditious Attack On US Capitol
Also: Where Is Clarence? Court Refuses To Say Why He Has Been In Hiding For Seven Days

"I wouldn't be in [Washington] if I wasn't on a mission." (Ginni Thomas, 1995)
Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post are reporting that Virginia Thomas, a far-right activist and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeatedly urged White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in a series of text messages in the weeks after the November 2020 election, to do everything possible to overturn the presidential election, which she described as "the greatest Heist of our History".

Thomas and Meadows exchanged a total of 29 messages. In one of them, from November 24, Meadows invoked God to describe the efforts underway. "This is a fight of good versus evil. Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it."

Ginni Thomas actually pressed for lawyer Sidney "Kraken" Powell to be "the lead and the face" of Trump's legal team. Powell's crackpot theories and batshit claims about the 2020 election were one big reason why Trump's so-called "elite strike force" legal team went 0-62 in court. (The biggest reason was no fraud existed, which they readily admitted in court. Outside of court, they whined about widespread fraud.) Powell's loony tunes also prompted Dominion Voting Systems to bring a defamation lawsuit against her (and others) for $1.3 billion.
The 29 text messages were among 2,320 that Meadows provided to the House select committee investigating the seditious attack on the US Capitol. The existence of the 29 messages was confirmed by Meadows's attorney, George Terwilliger III. 

While it is not known if Thomas and Meadows exchanged additional messages in the time period between the election and Biden's inauguration two weeks after the Capitol riot, it seems highly likely, considering the topic of that flurry of conversation remained the top priority for Trump et al.. The January 6 Committee must subpoena Thomas's emails and texts immediately.

In the words of Norman Orenstein:
The wife of a Supreme Court justice is a radical insurrectionist. Her husband has refused to recuse himself from any of the cases in which she has been deeply and actively involved. This is a scandal of immense proportions.
We will see if it gets treated that way.

She also suggested certain members of the press should be shipped to Guantanamo Bay to face "military tribunals for sedition" and other capital (i.e., death penalty) crimes.

Justice Thomas, 73, is a serial sexual harasser and the longest-serving current justice (and who went 10 years without asking a single question from the bench). He has also been absent from the court for seven days. The only publicly released information is that he has "an infection".

The revelation of Thomas's messages with Meadows comes three weeks after lawyers for the committee said in a court filing that the panel has "a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States" and obstruct the counting of electoral votes by Congress. . . .

In her text messages to Meadows, Ginni Thomas spread false theories, commented on cable news segments and advocated with urgency and fervor that the president and his team take action to reverse the outcome of the election. She urged that they take a hard line with Trump staffers and congressional Republicans who had resisted arguments that the election was stolen.

In the messages, Thomas and Meadows each assert a belief that the election was stolen and seem to share a solidarity of purpose and faith, though they occasionally express differences on tactics. . . .

The first of the 29 messages between Ginni Thomas and Meadows was sent on Nov. 5, two days after the election. She sent him a link to a YouTube video labeled "TRUMP STING w CIA Director Steve Pieczenik, The Biggest Election Story in History, QFS-BLOCKCHAIN."

Pieczenik, a former State Department official, is a far-right commentator who has falsely claimed that the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was a "false-flag" operation to push a gun-control agenda.

The video Thomas shared with Meadows is no longer available on YouTube. But Thomas wrote to Meadows, "I hope this is true; never heard anything like this before, or even a hint of it. Possible???"

"Watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states," she wrote.

During that period, supporters of the QAnon extremist ideology embraced a false theory that Trump had watermarked mail-in ballots so he could track potential fraud. "Watch the water" was a refrain in QAnon circles at the time.

In the Nov. 5 message to Meadows, Thomas went on to quote a passage that had circulated on right-wing websites: "Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition." . . .

The next day, Nov. 6, Thomas sent a follow-up to Meadows: "Do not concede. It takes time for the army who is gathering for his back." . . .

On Nov. 10, Thomas drew a reply from Meadows. She wrote, "Mark, I wanted to text you and tell you for days you are in my prayers!!" She continued by urging him to "Help This Great President stand firm" and invoking "the greatest Heist of our History."

Thomas added in the message that Meadows should "Listen to Rush. Mark Steyn, Bongino, Cleta" – appearing to refer to conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn and Dan Bongino, as well as lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who was involved in Trump's push to claim victory in Georgia despite Biden's certified win there.

One minute later, Meadows responded: "I will stand firm. We will fight until there is no fight left. Our country is too precious to give up on. Thanks for all you do."

Nine minutes after that, Thomas replied, "Tearing up and praying for you guys!!!!! So proud to know you!!" . . .

Thomas then turned to her frustrations with congressional Republicans and said she wished more of them were rallying behind Trump and being more active with his base voters, who were furious about the election.

She wrote, "House and Senate guys are pathetic too... only 4 GOP House members seen out in street rallies with grassroots... Gohmert, Jordan, Gosar, and Roy." She appeared to be referring to Republican House members Louie Gohmert of Texas, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Paul A. Gosar of Arizona and Chip Roy of Texas. . . .

"Where the heck are all those who benefited by Presidents coattails?!!!" she wrote in her text message to him late on Nov. 10. She then told him to watch a YouTube video about the power of never conceding. . . .

On Nov. 13, she texted Meadows about her outreach to "Jared," potentially a reference to Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior White House adviser. She wrote, "Just forwarded to yr gmail an email I sent Jared this am. Sidney Powell & improved coordination now will help the cavalry come and Fraud exposed and America saved." . . .

Powell was becoming ubiquitous on television – and winning the president's favor, according to several Trump advisers – as she claimed without evidence that electronic voting systems had stolen the election from Trump by switching millions of ballots in Biden's favor. She claimed, again without evidence, that hundreds of thousands of ballots were appearing out of nowhere and that a global communist conspiracy was afoot involving Venezuela, Cuba, and probably China. . . .

Her views were considered so extreme and unsupported by evidence that David Bossie, a longtime Trump supporter, told others that she was peddling "concocted B.S." After Fox News host Tucker Carlson contacted Powell about her claim that electronic voting machines had switched ballots to Biden, he told his viewers that he found her answers evasive and that she had shown no evidence to support her assertion. He stopped having her on his program.

Ginni Thomas stood by her. "Don't let her and your assets be marginalized instead...help her be the lead and the face," she wrote to Meadows on Nov. 13. . . .

"This war is psychological. PSYOP," the [Nov. 14] text from Thomas states. . . .

On Nov. 19, which would be a crucial day for Powell as she spoke at a news conference at the Republican National Committee, Thomas continued to bolster Powell's standing in a text to Meadows.

"Mark (don't want to wake you)… " Thomas wrote. "Sounds like Sidney and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down." . . .

In that same exchange, Thomas also at one point offered Meadows advice on managing the West Wing staff.

"Suggestion: You need to buck up your team on the inside, Mark," Thomas wrote. "The lower level insiders are scared, fearful or sending out signals of hopelessness vs an awareness of the existential threat to America right now. You can buck them up, strengthen their spirits." . . .

Thomas then wrote, "You guys fold, the evil just moves fast down underneath you all. Lots of intensifying threats coming to ACB and others." Justice Amy Coney Barrett, sometimes called "ACB" by her supporters, had joined the Supreme Court in October, shortly before the election. It is unclear to what threats Thomas was referring. . . .

But Thomas's high aspirations for Powell quickly collapsed that afternoon. Instead of capturing the nation's attention at the RNC news conference, where she spoke alongside Giuliani and other Trump advisers, Powell was criticized for spreading a false theory about electronic voting machines as a tool for communists. Some Trump aides were horrified by her and Giuliani's performances and felt they had embarrassed the president by becoming a parody of his post-election fight.

As Giuliani spoke, a dark brown liquid mixed with beads of sweat rolled down his cheek. "Did you watch 'My Cousin Vinny?' " he asked reporters, tying a legal reference to the 1992 comedy.

Thomas wrote to Meadows, "Tears are flowing at what Rudy is doing right now!!!!" . . .

By Nov. 22, Trump gave his blessing for Giuliani and another Trump lawyer, Jenna Ellis, to issue a statement claiming that Powell "is not a member of the Trump Legal Team."

Thomas reached out to Meadows that day with concern. "Trying to understand the Sidney Powell distancing," she wrote.

"She doesn't have anything or at least she won't share it if she does," Meadows texted back.

"Wow!" Thomas replied. . . .

On Nov. 24, Thomas engaged Meadows again by sharing a video from Parler, a conservative social media website, that appeared to refer to conservative commentator Glenn Beck.

"If you all cave to the elites, you have to know that many of your 73 million feel like what Glenn is expressing," Thomas wrote. . . .

Meadows replied three minutes later: "I don't know what you mean by caving to the elites."

Thomas responded: "I can't see Americans swallowing the obvious fraud. Just going with one more thing with no frickin consequences... the whole coup and now this... we just cave to people wanting Biden to be anointed? Many of us can't continue the GOP charade." . . .

The text exchanges with Thomas that Meadows provided to the House select committee pause after Nov. 24, 2020, with an unexplained gap in correspondence. The committee received one additional message sent by Thomas to Meadows, on Jan. 10, four days after the "Stop the Steal" rally Thomas said she attended and the deadly attack on the Capitol. . . .

"We are living through what feels like the end of America," Thomas wrote to Meadows. "Most of us are disgusted with the VP and are in listening mode to see where to fight with our teams. Those who attacked the Capitol are not representative of our great teams of patriots for DJT!!"

"Amazing times," she added. "The end of Liberty."
Seth Abramson (Proof) has been reporting about Ginni Thomas's deep involvement in far-right circles and specifically regarding January 6 for several months. 

On January 30, 2022, near the end of a lengthy and mind-blowing presentation (nearly 14,000 words) of Ginni Thomas's far-right extremism and connections, Abramson wrote:
As a former federal criminal investigator [in the federal criminal justice system in Washington, D.C. and a longtime criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts and New Hampshire], I was trained to consider the relationships between all parties to a given event, the histories of all parties to an event, and the motives that these histories and relationships may disclose. I'm trained to deem past conduct a possible precedent for future conduct; lies as illuminating as truths; and the opportunity for a malfeasor to misbehave as the obvious and necessary precursor to a finding that they did. With all this in mind, and on all of these grounds, there is simply no doubt that Ginni Thomas and Barbara Ledeen are presently the foremost (if not the only) suspects in the matter of who transmitted to key members of Congress the coup plot John Eastman and Peter Navarro had devised with Donald Trump's knowledge.

Incredibly, the other chief suspects in this are all connected to Ginni Thomas and Barbara Ledeen by various means: Ali Alexander, a participant in Ginni Thomas's Groundswell group; Erik Prince, the man who helped train Project Veritas (run by Thomas's partner James O'Keefe) in intelligence-gathering; Michael Ledeen, Barbara Ledeen's politically well-connected husband, who has been involved in scandals in every Republican administration since Nixon's; Michael Flynn, a close friend of the Ledeens, and Michael Ledeen's co-author; Mark Meadows, whose Trumpist career was advanced in aggressive terms by Ginni Thomas, in part (but only part) by the awarding of an laurel Thomas devised to celebrate and advertise her favored political instruments; Cleta Mitchell, another participant in Groundswell, and one who also participated directly in Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election; John Eastman and Peter Navarro themselves, the former of whom was in contact with Ginni Thomas in the weeks and months before the attack on the Capitol and the latter of whom spearheaded a "purge" effort inside the White House that was masterminded by Ginni Thomas and Barbara Ledeen outside of it; Presidential Personnel Office director and former Trump "body man" John McEntee, who assumed a position for which he was entirely unqualified because of a clandestine disinformation campaign against his predecessor Sean Doocey by–you guessed it–Ginni Thomas and Barbara Ledeen; Steve Bannon, whose media operation was hopelessly entwined with Thomas and Groundswell and who was himself a privileged guest of Thomas's secretive group on at least one occasion; and Donald Trump, who met with Thomas on a number of occasions to discuss the very topic at issue here: locating and positioning loyalists in government who would do anything Trump demanded of them. A small number of other tangential figures, like Jeffrey Clark at DOJ, would not have been key liaisons themselves, but were nevertheless somehow located and selected via a murky process run by Trump partisans; Thomas and Ledeen had spent years plucking men like Clark from obscurity for the sake of getting them to do Trump's bidding, and in the search for those who recruited Clark to participate in a coup plot in December 2020, Thomas and Ledeen would likewise be the prime suspects for any federal criminal investigator.

In short, as the House January 6 Committee seeks to connect three spheres of coup plotting–grassroots activists and political insiders, Congress, and the White House–there is no map of the key players within these spheres in January 2021 that does not have both Ginni Thomas and Barbara Ledeen at or near the center of it. The House January 6 Committee would be wise to subpoena these two women immediately in order to find out what they know as soon as possible. . . .

All of the foregoing puts in an entirely new light Ginni Thomas's husband–who, we are assured from those who know them both, she directly lobbies on matters before the Supreme Court–being the only member of the Supreme Court to rule that Donald Trump should be able to keep secret documents related to his contacts with advisers in the run-up to January 6 [Thomas chose not to write a dissent, thus providing no reason for his decision]. That Ginni Thomas appears to have been one of Trump's key advisers in 2019 and 2020, and that during this period she was working hand-in-glove with one of the most notorious election-year "ratfuckers" in the Republican Party, raises the question of whether Clarence Thomas had reason to apprehend (either under his own steam or at his wife's urging) that Ginni Thomas or her closest associates might well be implicated in January 6 plotting if all of Trump's presidential records are disclosed to Congress. Unless we assume that Ginni Thomas hid from her husband the nature of her contacts with Trump and her work on Trump's behalf–which would be impossible, given that Clarence Thomas was present at intimate gatherings with his wife and the former president; it is also not, according to friends of the Thomases, how their marriage has been structured for many decades now–Justice Thomas was aware of his wife's proximity to coup plotters like John Eastman when the issue of Trump's records being released to Congress came before the Court.

Jane Mayer of The New Yorker has also done great in-depth reporting on Ginni Thomas.

On February 22, 2022, the New York Times published a long feature on both Ginni and Clarence Thomas, which Abramson, in an article posted the following day, described as "oddly fram[ed]" and "a series of buried ledes".

In "New Revelations Indicate Ginni Thomas Was a Key Author of Trump's January 6 Coup Plot", Abramson wrote:

It's unclear why the Times did little to highlight these revelations; all are ensconced deep within an article it takes more than an hour and a half to listen to via an audio reading supplied by the newspaper.  . . .

These elements, combined with the January Proof report, confirm that Ginni Thomas was one of the chief architects of the events of January 6, 2021.

While it remains unclear whether the House January 6 Committee will now subpoena Ginni Thomas, it is increasingly evident that the Committee is gathering all available data on potential witnesses—including data published in venues like Proof, which the Committee has previously cited in its formal filings. For this reason, the article below may be of assistance to decision-makers wondering if Ginni Thomas has valuable evidence about the January 6 attack on the Capitol to offer both Congress and the FBI.

The short answer: she does. And indeed the evidence curated in the article that follows warrants the immediate issuance of a subpoena to Ginni Thomas for both testimony and documents. It warrants, further, the interrogation of Thomas by agents of the FBI. . . .

The New York Times focuses a majority of its article on Ginni Thomas on her husband, Clarence Thomas—a common mistake that Proof warned about at the very beginning of its own feature on Ginni Thomas. While the Times does admirably substantiate long-standing claims that the Thomases don't segregate their professional careers in anything like the manner they might like observers to think they do, it remains the case that, whatever the framing employed by the Times, Ginni Thomas's activities are considerably more newsworthy and influential than her husband's, deserving coverage exclusive from any consideration of Justice Thomas’s arch-conservative jurisprudence.

Over more than 10,000 words, Abramson laid out how "the public and private actions of a political activist" could be "more influential" than those of a Supreme Court Justice. He focused on five revelations about Ginni Thomas and January 6:

(1) Ginni Thomas's 2012 formation of Groundswell, and her role in the controversial Council for National Policy, includes shocking details not previously reported upon—all of which have immediate repercussions for the ongoing January 6 investigation.

(2) Ginni Thomas had much more access to Trump in the months before January 6 than we knew—and exploited her access repeatedly and even ruthlessly.

(3) Ginni Thomas (and her husband Clarence) are "close friends" with Trump attorney John Eastman—rather than, as was previously thought, merely acquaintances of his via his past clerkship for Justice Thomas.

(4) Eastman's backchannel communications with Ginni Thomas and the rest of Thomas Clerk World eventually involved an entreaty—one that he would have been sure Ginni Thomas would read—for those reading him (including Ginni Thomas) to "contact him directly."

(5) Ginni Thomas used one of her operations to promote the effort that ultimately came to be known as the "Green Bay Sweep"—the coup plot.

Abramson wrote:

[By 2018] Ginni Thomas had already become such a Trump fanatic that she could seamlessly entwine Trump, her husband, and Trump's second pick to be a new Supreme Court colleague for her husband, Brett Kavanaugh. At an event that was supposed to be kept secret (recording devices were prohibited), she thundered, "Even if [Kavanaugh] gets in [to the Supreme Court]—I believe he'll get in, I'm hoping he gets in—they're not going to leave him alone. They're trying to impeach him [already]! They're coming for my husband! They're coming for President Trump!" The Thomases' cause had become Trump's, and vice versa; the purported suffering of the men Ginni Thomas had put in Trump's path as ideal federal appointments had synchronized itself with the Thomases' own history of (as they saw it) suffering at the hands of their enemies. The Times recounts that it was the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings that first brought the Thomases and Trumps into one another's social orbits—an unsurprising concurrence, given that contentious Court confirmation hearings "define" the Thomases' decades-long history of "rage."

And yet, none of this evidence is needed to make Ginni Thomas a prime suspect in the planning of Trump's coup plot. While there is no evidence excluding Mrs. Thomas from suspicion, there is a mountain of evidence placing her at the scene of the crime. Her January 6 Facebook messages ardently supporting the rally at which Mr. Trump incited an insurrection via enraged partisans who later attacked the U.S. Capitol seem quaint by comparison to the hard evidence of her relevant involvements with Trump, Mitchell, Ledeen, Eastman, Meadows, Bannon, Kremer, Martin, Rich Higgins, and indeed almost every coup plotter at the heart of Donald Trump's insurrection scheme. . . .

So the question remains: what is the House January 6 Committee waiting for? Why is Ginni Thomas sacrosanct in a way no other witness is? . . .

The evidence that Ginni Thomas was at the heart of the planning of the events of January 6 is now overwhelming; the evidence that she kept clear of the pinnacle moment of her life's "mission" is non-existent. Her apparent lifetime of arrogant, "out of bounds" political advocacy has left her open to the ambit of responsible congressional and federal criminal investigations—if only Congress and the FBI will lift the "cone of silence" the Thomases have so carefully constructed.

On Twitter today, Abramson stated:

It appears, from the Post article, that the wife of a SCOTUS Justice—herself a Trump adviser—wrote approvingly to the White House chief of staff of "reporters...being arrested & detained for ballot fraud...& living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.” WTF

Indie journalists keep telling everyone how *profoundly dangerous* these avowed insurrectionists are, but maybe what it takes is one of the insurrectionist leaders getting caught privately speculating about members of the press being sent to Gitmo and tried for capital offenses.

* * *

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

At Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing, Republicans Have Spent Three Long Days Playing Racist, Sexist, Dishonest, And Moronic Performative Games

For the third consecutive day, Republicans condescended to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, interrupted her countless times, and asking racist questions, repeatedly going over their allotted time to speak. They also used the hearings to rehabilitate a rapist. And because Democrats are chronically spineless, they did very little to stop the day-long circus. The seditious lawmakers were given free reign to craft their racist and sexist (and jaw-droppingly stupid) questions as auditions for airing on the Fox Propaganda Network. They also spoke directly to the QAnon Cult.


Chris Hayes, MSNBC, March 22-23, 2022:

The hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman ever nominated to the Supreme Court in over 200 years of this country's history, has been stomach-churning. We knew going in that her race and gender would be an issue for some Republicans. But I have to say I have been taken aback by the facially racist nature of much of the questioning Judge Jackson faced. And I say "racist" because there is no other way to accurately describe it. . . .

Yesterday Jackson repeatedly faced a line of questioning that assumed she was soft on crime or sympathetic to criminals or maybe even likes crime. And the only reason I can determine is that it plays on the assumption that a black person is inherently associated with criminality in some way, which is, of course, racist -- one of the oldest, most pernicious and dangerous racist tropes in America.

She was also asked multiple times to disown or disavow the views of other black public intellectuals -- just other people who also happen to be black, who have ideas about the country. . . .

[During a discussion with two panelists] Let me also say, as the one white person here, the whole thing is frankly racist. It's obviously the case. The subtext here is you're a black woman. Ergo, you must prove that you are not soft on crime and you also must disown and distance yourself from other black people who say other things, because they are black, and if you're too associated with that, then your blackness is going to get in the way of your neutrality, which is fixed as this objective white feature. . . . You are suspect in your neutrality as a judge because you are not white.

(here and here)

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

"Death Is Everywhere"

'Why? Why? Why?' Ukraine's Mariupol Descends Into Despair
Mstyslav Chernov, Evgeniy Maloletka and Lori Hinnant
Associated Press, March 16, 2022
MARIUPOL, Ukraine — The bodies of the children all lie here, dumped into this narrow trench hastily dug into the frozen earth of Mariupol to the constant drumbeat of shelling.

There's 18-month-old Kirill, whose shrapnel wound to the head proved too much for his little toddler's body. There's 16-year-old Iliya, whose legs were blown up in an explosion during a soccer game at a school field. There's the girl no older than 6 who wore the pajamas with cartoon unicorns, among the first of Mariupol's children to die from a Russian shell.

They are stacked together with dozens of others in this mass grave on the outskirts of the city. . . . Workers toss the bodies in as fast as they can, because the less time they spend in the open, the better their own chances of survival. . . .

More bodies will come, from streets where they are everywhere and from the hospital basement where adults and children are laid out awaiting someone to pick them up. The youngest still has an umbilical stump attached.

Each airstrike and shell that relentlessly pounds Mariupol — about one a minute at times — drives home the curse of a geography that has put the city squarely in the path of Russia's domination of Ukraine. This southern seaport of 430,000 has become a symbol of Russian President Vladimir Putin's drive to crush democratic Ukraine — but also of a fierce resistance on the ground.

In the nearly three weeks since Russia's war began, two Associated Press journalists have been the only international media present in Mariupol, chronicling its fall into chaos and despair. The city is now encircled by Russian soldiers, who are slowly squeezing the life out of it, one blast at a time. . . .

The surrounding roads are mined and the port blocked. Food is running out, and the Russians have stopped humanitarian attempts to bring it in. Electricity is mostly gone and water is sparse, with residents melting snow to drink. Some parents have even left their newborns at the hospital, perhaps hoping to give them a chance at life in the one place with decent electricity and water.

People burn scraps of furniture in makeshift grills to warm their hands in the freezing cold and cook what little food there still is. . . . Death is everywhere. Local officials have tallied more than 2,500 deaths in the siege, but many bodies can't be counted because of the endless shelling. They have told families to leave their dead outside in the streets because it's too dangerous to hold funerals. . . .

This agony fits in with Putin's goals. The siege is a military tactic popularized in medieval times and designed to crush a population through starvation and violence, allowing an attacking force to spare its own soldiers the cost of entering a hostile city. Instead, civilians are the ones left to die, slowly and painfully.

Putin has refined the tactic during his years in power, first in the Chechen city of Grozny in 2000 and then in the Syrian city of Aleppo in 2016. He reduced both to ruins.

"It epitomizes Russian warfare, what we see now in terms of the siege," said Mathieu Boulegue, a researcher for Chatham House's Russia program.

By March 9, the sound of Russian fighter jets in Mariupol was enough to send people screaming for cover — anything to avoid the airstrikes they knew would follow, even if they didn't know where.

The jets rumbled across the sky, this time decimating the maternity hospital. They left a crater two stories deep in the courtyard.

Rescuers rushed a pregnant woman through the rubble and light snow as she stroked her bloodied belly, face blanched and head lolling listlessly to the side. Her baby was dying inside her, and she knew it, medics said.

"Kill me now!" she screamed, as they struggled to save her life at another hospital even closer to the front line.

The baby was born dead. A half-hour later, the mother died too. The doctors had no time to learn either of their names. . . .

[Serhiy] Orlov, the deputy mayor, predicted worse is soon to come. Most of the city remains trapped.

"Our defenders will defend to the last bullet," he said. "But people are dying without water and food, and I think in the next several days we will count hundreds and thousands of deaths."

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Secret Kremlin Memo Advises Russian-Controlled Media: It Is "Essential" To Feature Tucker Carlson's Fox Segments "As Much As Possible"

Leaked Kremlin Memo to Russian Media: It Is "Essential" to Feature Tucker Carlson
The Russian government has pressed outlets to highlight the Fox host's Putin-helping broadcasts.
David Corn, Mother Jones, March 13, 2022 (my emphasis)
On March 3, as Russian military forces bombed Ukrainian cities as part of Vladimir Putin's illegal invasion of his neighbor, the Kremlin sent out talking points to state-friendly media outlets with a request: Use more Tucker Carlson.

"It is essential to use as much as possible fragments of broadcasts of the popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who sharply criticizes the actions of the United States [and] NATO, their negative role in unleashing the conflict in Ukraine, [and] the defiantly provocative behavior from the leadership of the Western countries and NATO towards the Russian Federation and towards President Putin, personally," advises the 12-page document written in Russian. It sums up Carlson's position: "Russia is only protecting its interests and security." The memo includes a quote from Carlson: "And how would the US behave if such a situation developed in neighboring Mexico or Canada?"

The document—titled "For Media and Commentators (recommendations for coverage of events as of 03.03)"—was produced, according to its metadata, at a Russian government agency called the Department of Information and Telecommunications Support, which is part of the Russian security apparatus. It was provided to Mother Jones by a contributor to a national Russian media outlet who asked not to be identified. The source said memos like this one have been regularly sent by Putin's administration to media organizations during the war. Independent media outlets in Russia have been forced to shut down since the start of the conflict. . . .

Prior to the Russian invasion, Carlson was perhaps the most prominent American voice challenging opposition to Putin. In one now-infamous commentary, he said, "Why do Democrats want you to hate Putin? Has Putin shipped every middle class job in your town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked your business? Is he teaching your kids to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Does he eat dogs?"

Carlson repeatedly noted there was no reason for the United States to assist Ukraine in its battle with Russia and insisted it was "not treason, it is not un-American" to support Putin. He contended that Ukraine was not "a democracy" but a "client state" of the US government.

After Putin attacked Ukraine, Carlson ceased his anti-anti-Putin rhetoric and shifted to a new line: that the United States and the West purposefully goaded Putin into launching the war. Carlson said it was "obvious" that "getting Ukraine to join NATO was the key to inciting war with Russia." He asked, "Why in the world would the United States intentionally seek war with Russia? How could we possibly benefit from that war?" He said he did not know.

More recently, Carlson mouthed Russian disinformation, and he did so as a new set of Kremlin talking points once again pushed Russian journalists to cite the Fox host. 

On Wednesday, Carlson claimed that the "Russian disinformation they've been telling us for days is a lie and a conspiracy theory and crazy and immoral to believe is, in fact, totally and completely true." He was referring to the Russian allegation that the United States had set up biowarfare labs in Ukraine. But this charge was far from proven. At a congressional hearing, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland had testified that Ukraine possessed biological research facilities and that the US government was worried about "research materials" falling into the hands of Russian forces. This was a far cry from substantiating the Russian charge that Washington was working on bioweapons in Ukraine. But Putin's regime jumped on the Nuland testimony and cited it as proof of nefarious American activity. Carlson echoed this Russian propaganda. . . .

The March 10 memo advises Russian journalists to cite Carlson on another matter: how the economic sanctions imposed on Russia would harm Americans . . .

The document notes that Carlson's anti-sanctions argument "can be reinforced with a selection of reports that enthusiastically encourage Americans to tighten their belts in the name of saving Ukraine."
As with the March 3 memo, Carlson was the only Western journalist named in this more recent how-to-help-Putin memo. . . .


Saturday, March 12, 2022

Trump, At South Carolina Rally, Praises Putin (Again) & Calls For Supporters
To "Lay Down Their Very Lives" In The Fight Against Marxists & Communists

"4th Highest-Rated"! Woo!

Big Daddy

Grift 101

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How Tucker Carlson Defends Putin's Genocidal War Crimes In Ukraine
(And Why Russian State TV Considers Him A "Co-Host")

As I wrote yesterday, Russian propaganda pawn and Putin-sycophant Tucker Carlson has been relentless in his defense of Vladimir Putin's numerous and obvious war crimes in Ukraine. In Russia, state propaganda stations broadcast Carlson's Fox segments unedited and describe him as "practically one of their cohosts". He has also embraced Turkey dictator Tayyip Erdogan and his segments are shown on Chinese Communist Party TV. Carlson cheerleads for an authoritarian and mass murdering despot on a nightly basis.

Seth Abramson (Proof) has written a lengthy and unsettling essay highlighting "10 terrifying things about the worst military crisis in Europe since 1945". (Note: Abramson is the only journalist providing extensive and in-depth reporting on the Capitol Insurrection, uncovering countless disturbing facts and making mind-blowing connections that might eventually appear in the mainstream media in six or eight months (or, more likely, will never appear).)

Abramson understands that his 13,000-word essay might seem "not just alarmist but almost ludicrously paranoid". Nevertheless:
I've been nervous about publishing this article ever since I started writing it.

The reason for my anxiety will be familiar to anyone inside or outside the American government who has extensively researched Vladimir Putin and understands what the current atrocities in Europe represent: a terrifying new stage in the war against the West that Putin has been waging for twenty years, and that he's been winning for at least half that time in part because many in the West remain unaware they're at war.

To write at length about Putin and his twenty-first-century infiltrations of Western democracies and their institutions—as I did in the "Proof" trilogy—is to run the risk of seeming not just alarmist but almost ludicrously paranoid. It's only the fact that all the warnings those who've written extensively about Putin have been giving for years are now coming to horrific fruition that it even feels safe to write candidly about what we're all now experiencing.

Academics can debate whether our current period is in the umbra of the same Cold War that dominated the last century, or a new one; whether we're on the doorstep of World War III, or are already in it; whether the conditions on the ground in Europe today are most reflective of the eve of World War I or World War II; but what no one can deny is that what is happening in Ukraine is not merely a "news story" or even a spate of well-televised war crimes but a fundamental shifting of our age toward chaos.

There is no need to rehash the core facts beyond this brief summary: Putin is a former KGB agent and current murderous autocrat who is almost certain to be a dictator over Russia until his death; he has repeatedly said that the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the twentieth century was the 1991 fall of the Communist Soviet Union; he seeks to reconstitute the land area of the Soviet Union by whatever means necessary and over however long a period of time is required, though he understands that this cannot be accomplished without the dissolution or destruction of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization defensive alliance (NATO) and possibly both the European Union and the United States; the post-Soviet government in Russia, including (indeed perhaps especially) Putin's KGB, began searching for ways to collapse American democracy through asymmetrical warfare from the moment the Soviet Union passed into history; and some significant portion of the current domestic political strife in the United States has been deliberately provoked by the Kremlin and its agents through acts of subterfuge, espionage, propaganda, and hacking that properly answer to the name war.

Yesterday, a former high-ranking official in the Donald Trump administration, Miles Taylor, said that the current Trumpist-Putinist Republican Party is far and away the greatest national security threat America has faced in his lifetime. That he is correct is confirmed not just by the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trumpist irregulars or the fact that former president Trump—to please Putin and ensure his own future business opportunities in Russia—put every U.S. alliance and interest lying beyond our shores at risk, but the fact that America is now in a global conflict (call it the Cold War, World War III, or Second Cold War, as you like) at a time when Trump and Trumpism have deliberately put our body politic at a point of permanent fracture. That most Americans still do not understand what Putin is trying to do and the cost that will be exacted upon the United States as he seeks to do it means that the coming months and perhaps years will be the darkest and most fraught in a century. . . .

[T]here are already significant signs that the war in Europe will destabilize Earth's international economy for the foreseeable future; the war has also shifted global alliances in such an extraordinary fashion and to such a dramatic degree that America's supposed allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will not speak to the President of the United States, and the United States has now sent emissaries to negotiate with our long-time enemies in Venezuela. . . . Thousands of civilians are now being killed in Ukraine because they lack air cover, and yet the United States has just declared that it has no appetite for aiding Ukraine in rebuilding its air force via MiG-29s from Poland.

In short, we're in the earliest days of a sequence of global events whose end none can know but whose present is a darkness deeper than anyone younger than 85 has known. . . .

This essay seeks to speak candidly . . . and to do so in terms that American media has so far eschewed—in part because it is habitually and temperamentally "present-oriented," and in part because it has missed the fact, as have most Americans, that our country is, sadly, already implicitly at war with Russia.

While this may seem an inauspiciously hot-headed and alarmist start to what intends to be a sober essay on the very geopolitics that I wrote three national bestsellers about over the last forty months, understand that with the advent of the internet and the establishment of a global economy there was never a chance that World War III would look like World War II or World War I. The war we are in now is very much a twenty-first-century war, which doesn't mean that there are no conventional components to it—as the Ukrainians are learning right now, with devastating consequences—but that if we fail to appreciate the unconventional components of international warfare in this century we are dooming ourselves to defeat at the very moment that the inchoate and unconventional aggressions of our enemies have become conventional and dire.

With all this said, here are ten truths that American media and American voters need to come to terms with immediately.

The Ten Hardest Truths About the War in Europe

(1) America is now in a world war. . . .
With that as background, consider that the most popular cable news [sic] host in the United States is pushing blatant Russian propaganda for three hours every night.

Aaron Rupar (Public Notice) tweeted an excellent summary of what Carlson is doing and how he does it.

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