Daily Kos

SAG President Fran Drescher’s speech is a must-watch for workers everywhere

On Thursday, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists officially approved a strike vote for the first time since 1980. The union, which represents approximately 150,000 actors, announcers, dancers, stunt performers, and other artists, has now joined the Writers Guild of America in an effort to force television and film production studios to negotiate seriously toward contracts that address issues that are already threatening to destroy the lives and careers of many in the industry.

As the leadership of SAG-AFTRA put it:

… negotiations with studios over a new contract collapsed, with streaming services and artificial intelligence at the center of the standoff. On Friday, the actors will join screenwriters, who walked off the job in May, on picket lines in New York, Los Angeles and the dozens of other American cities where scripted shows and movies are made.

In addition to that short statement, SAG President Fran Drescher made an impassioned speech about the future of the entertainment industry and the people who work there. It’s a speech that really needs to be heard because not only does Drescher point out the importance of these events for the members of her union, she correctly and powerfully identifies this as a labor issue affecting everyone.

Drescher: “The eyes of the world, and particularly the eyes of labor, are upon us. What happens here is important. Because what’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor.”

What’s happening with entertainment media is twofold: First, the traditional means of transmitting entertainment by films shown in theaters and television shown on broadcast channels and cable are breaking down.

That means residuals that were once paid out when a film or show was re-aired or released to home media have all but disappeared. Production companies, operating with the near-monopoly powers of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, have used this opportunity to restructure the contracts for writers, actors, and others in a way that channels much more money back to studio executives. In the past, being part of a hit show like “Friends” or “Seinfeld” could mean those involved would enjoy a revenue stream that continued over years, but studios have used the streaming pivot to turn most productions into something closer to “work for hire”: They get a single payment with little or no residuals, no matter how popular the resulting work may prove to be.

Both actors and writers are also facing a threat from AI tools that is not just looming over the future, but deeply affecting the income of many right now. Contrary to the impression generated by reports of big paydays for well-known actors in major films, most actors—including actors you know and enjoy in major productions—have a very hard time making even a minimal living in the industry. Many never get there.

Not only are the stories of actors who spent their time waiting tables while hurrying out for increasingly desperate auditions absolutely true, for many the auditions they are chasing are for small parts, with little or no dialogue. Those smaller roles have helped many actors break into the industry or provided critical bursts of cash that sustained them as they waited for a breakthrough opportunity.

And that’s the second big problem. Those jobs, the jobs that make the life of an actor possible, are going away thanks to AI.

Actors in these kinds of roles are finding that studios want their one day on set to include some time being scanned, along with sometimes having their voices recorded. There are stories of actors in Disney series who have had their likenesses recorded and licensed “in perpetuity” for as little as $100. Those actors are never going to get another call to audition for a small role. Why should they? The studio can always put them in the background of any production, running them like a puppet over and over again. For comparison, Disney chief Bob Iger’s reported net worth is $690 million, earning $65 million in 2018 alone.

Industry reports show that the studios already have their strategy in this strike. That strategy is based on knowing that writers and actors already live on the edge. That’s why the studios are unwilling to negotiate realistically about the concerns of actors and writers. They think they can simply starve them out.

In short:

  • Where actors and writers used to see a paycheck—generally a very small paycheck—whenever a show they acted in or scripted reappeared on the air, now they’re getting a one-time payment. That one-time payment is often smaller than it was two decades ago.
  • Actors who do manage to get a small role in the background or as a minor character in a production are being pressured to accept having their images scanned so that studios can use them again in other works.
  • The whole restructuring of the industry around streaming services is resulting in huge paydays for investors and executives even as actors, writers, and all the workers involved in making entertainment media possible see their paychecks eroding by the day.

What’s happening now isn’t just another strike. It’s an existential fight to maintain an industry where most workers have never been anything close to wealthy and most were already struggling.

The members of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA deserve the support of everyone. Not just those who enjoy their work, but everyone who is concerned about how the constant streamlining of processes made possible by technology will affect their job.

That’s why you should consider being part of an entertainment viewer’s strike. Starting on Aug. 1, pick one of the streaming services or cable services you currently pay for and drop it. If the studios haven’t reached an equitable agreement with writers and actors by Oct. 1, do it again.

If you don’t subscribe to any of these services … good for you, you’re already doing what you can. But for those who do, now is the time to show which side in this existential fight has your loyalty.

Drescher: “It is sad that it came to this crossroads, but we have no choice. We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly. How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right, while giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history.”

Senate Republicans’ path to majority is riddled with landmines of their own making

If the Republican Party was even remotely normal, Senate Republicans would be counting down the hours until Election Day 2024, when they would almost assuredly win the two seats they need to retake control of the upper chamber.

Instead, they are biting their tongues and ducking for cover as they face incoming hits from every corner of the Republican Party.

The latest debacle keeping Senate Republicans up at night is the House GOP’s push to impeach President Joe Biden over, well, they're not exactly sure what … but they may or may not bother to find out.

After House Republicans voted Thursday to refer an impeachment resolution over border security to the committees of jurisdiction, Senate Republicans started to review their life choices.

"I don't know what they're basing the president's impeachment on. We'll see what they do. I can't imagine going down that road," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia told Axios.

Capito even added the most obvious yet damning observation: "This seems like an extremely partisan exercise."

Senate Minority Leader John Thune would prefer his caucus’s attention and energy be directed toward pretty much anything else. “I’d rather focus on the policy agenda, the vision for the future and go on and win elections," the South Dakotan—and Mitch McConnell’s #2—explained to Axios.

Sounds smart. But does anyone have any clue at all what the GOP "vision for the future" is— other than rounding up all of Donald Trump's perceived enemies, locking them up, and contemplating whether to throw away the key or worse?

The Senate Republican chairing the effort to retake the chamber, Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, also chimed in, saying he hadn't "seen evidence that would rise to an impeachable offense," before conceding that’s what trials are for.

Sure—assuming House Republicans bother to conduct an investigation. That little hiccup appears to have occurred to Sen. Thom Tillis of South Carolina.

"Impeachment is a serious process. It takes time. It takes evidence," he noted. Now, there's one to grow on.

As former Harry Reid aide Jim Manley tweeted about the House GOP's impeachment scheme: "As a so-called democratic strategist—thank you."

But House Republican plans for impeachment (not to mention a potential government shutdown, abortion ban push, or effort to yank aid to Ukraine) aren't the only things keeping Senate Republicans awake at night.

They're a tad uncomfortable with the fact that the party's current 2024 front-runner and possible nominee stole state secrets, refused to return them, and then obstructed justice during a federal probe of the matter.

Several weeks ago, On June 13, Minority Leader McConnell was asked during a press gaggle whether he would still support Trump as nominee if he were convicted. He dodged.

"I am just simply not going to comment on the candidates," McConnell responded. "I'm simply going to stay out of it." He has said anything on the matter since.

Finally, when looking toward 2024, so-called candidate quality is still a sticking point for Senate Republicans. Though they have had some wins on candidate recruitment to date, they have also suffered some missed opportunities. Further, many of their candidates—even the good ones—will be haunted by their extreme anti-abortion views on the campaign trail.

Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher, Senate Republicans top pick to challenge Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin, announced earlier this month that he’ll be taking a pass on a run. The Badger State’s GOP primary promises to be a mess, but former Milwaukee County sheriff and conspiracy theory enthusiast David Clarke has looked dominant in polling.

In response to Gallagher's June 9 news, Clarke, who's eyeing a bid, tweeted of his rivals, "None of them energizes or excites the base voter like I do."

He's not wrong—and that is some very bad news for Senate Republicans hoping to put Baldwin's seat in play.

Republicans also have extreme hurdles in other top-tier target states, such as Montana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. As Daily Kos previously reported, even their best candidates hold downright radical positions on abortion:

  • Senate Republicans’ top choice in Montana, businessman Tim Sheehy, who has accused Democrats of being "bent on murdering our unborn children";
  • Another Senate GOP darling, Pennsylvania hedge fund CEO David McCormick, doesn't support exceptions for rape and incest, and only approves of "very rare" exceptions for the life of the mother;
  • In Ohio, MAGA diehard Bernie Moreno, who's earned the endorsement of freshman Sen. J.D. Vance, is "100% pro-life with no exceptions," according to HuffPost. During his failed Senate bid last year, Moreno tweeted, “Conservative Republicans should never back down from their belief that life begins at conception and that abortion is the murder of an innocent baby";
  • and then there’s West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, who McConnell has convinced to run for the seat of Sen. Joe Manchin. He signed a near-total abortion ban into law last year.

Whether it's Trump, House Republicans, or abortion—the issue that turned the midterms upside down in 2022—Senate Republicans face an uphill battle to recruit and present candidates with broad appeal in a party that thrives on alienating a solid majority of the country.

Sen. Bernie Sanders shuts down Fox News reporter’s question about taxing Wall Street

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced the “College For All Act” in tandem with Sanders and Rep. Barbara Lee reintroducing the “Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act” this past week. The first bill would eliminate tuition and fees at four-year higher education institutions for people and families making under $125,000 a year. It would also make community college tuition, and fees, entirely free to everyone.

The plan would also help Americans to refinance existing student loans at considerably lower interest rates while ending the practice of the federal government turning a profit off of student assistance. The second bill, originally introduced in 2021 and based on a similar bill Sanders put forward in 2008 as a response to the Wall Street bailouts connected to the housing crisis, looks to generate the revenues that pay for this plan.

Republicans, disagreeing with the concepts of free college and student debt relief, have offered up status quo plans while trying to push people away from going to colleges and toward trade schools. You can read Sen. Bill Cassidy’s worthless bill here. The right-wing media is now ginning up anti-student loan relief sentiment, directing Americans’ ire not at the predatory loan system or exorbitant higher education costs but at the students themselves. This means framing the conversation as one about Americans being taxed to pay for students who can’t pay back their loans.

While walking to his office, Sanders was asked by Fox News Business correspondent Hillary Vaughn, “Is it really free if you're raising taxes to pay for it?” Sanders gave a very short and sweet masterclass on messaging:

“Well, given the fact that we have the billionaire class paying a lower tax rate than working families, I think it's appropriate that the wealthiest people in this country start paying their fair share of taxes.”

Vaughn attempted what passes for a hard-hitting followup at Fox: “People say that the Wall Street tax would hit average Americans saving for retirement.”

Sanders stopped to shut this bullshit down: “What people say that? People on Wall Street. Thank you.”

Special counsel gives two fake Trump electors immunity to compel testimony

CNN is now reporting that special counsel Jack Smith has granted limited immunity to "at least" two of the individuals who signed their name as fake Donald Trump "electors" in the Republican attempt to throw out the results of the 2020 presidential election that Biden won.

That's the short version, but the details are much more interesting. The two fake electors who were given immunity in exchange for their grand jury testimony last week are Nevada state Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald and national committeeman Jim DeGraffenreid, who had refused to answer questions posed by the House Select Committee investigating the scheme. It doesn't sound like there were negotiations involved. "In the situations where prosecutors have given witnesses immunity, the special counsel’s office arrived at the courthouse in Washington ready to compel their testimony after the witnesses indicated they would decline to answer questions under the Fifth Amendment," reports CNN.

It appears that the Nevada Republican Party chair and committeeman had "arrived" fully prepared to refuse to testify to the grand jury, only to have Smith and team surprise them by forcing the immunity deal on them and sitting them down in the big chair without the Fifth Amendment to fall back on. And that almost certainly means that Smith's team knew that McDonald and DeGraffenreid had testimony that would be damning for someone much higher up the ladder in the fake electors scheme than they were, and that Smith was fully prepared to let these two clowns skate if it meant the grand jury would get to hear about that.

That makes perfect sense. We know that the push to get state Republican officials to certify themselves as the "real" electors in states that Trump had lost were being pursued inside the White House, and by Donald Trump himself. It was Trump attorney John Eastman (now facing likely disbarment for his role in the scheme) who was pushing the fake electors plan to Trump's inner circle. The whole scheme revolved around smuggling the fake electors into the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress convened to count and certify the election results. Then-Vice President Mike Pence could point to the fake versions, declare that there was a supposed conflict, and throw it to the assembled lawmakers for an argument as to whether the Biden-won states should have their electoral votes counted at all.

That was the scheme everyone from Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to Trump "lawyers" like Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman were counting on, and it only fell apart when Trump's own vice president refused to be part of an obvious coup attempt, either because of some shred of remaining decency or because he and his lawyers saw a possible firing squad on the tail end of the resulting events and wanted to steer themselves well clear of it. It’s also of note that two of those names, Cruz and Eastman, clerked together in the 1990s and are reportedly still close. The judge they clerked for? Retired U.S. Appeals Court Judge Michael Luttig—who was one of the informal Pence advisers who warned him off the scheme as a “Constitutional crisis” in the making.

So yes, a great number of people inside the White House or in direct communication with Trump himself might have reason to worry about what McDonald and DeGraffenreid testified to once Smith handed them both a piece of paper that erased their plans to remain silent. We know that there was a concerted push to get these fake electors signed on, and we know it was coming from Trump's core legal team. It was coming from Giuliani, from Eastman, from Bernie Kerik, from Christiana Bobb, and from Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

It's likely Smith might agree to quite a few immunity deals if it means the grand jury would get to hear about pre-Jan. 6 communications between Republican fake electors and any of those names.

Here are all the crimes Trump confessed to in his Fox News interview

On Monday, Donald Trump sat down for a face-to-face interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier. Perched on a familiar stool in front of cameras that have spent so much time pointed his way that his face must be burned into their core, and fresh off his prime time CNN promo in front of a hand-selected audience told to cheer his every utterance, Trump must have anticipated some easy sledding.

Only Baier did the surprising thing: He asked actual questions, ones that didn’t just tee up Trump to repeat some part of his long-established rant. Questions like why Trump held onto the classified documents in the face of multiple requests from the National Archives and Department of Justice, and why he continues to refuse to admit he lost the 2020 election. But nothing may be funnier than when Baier asked Trump about why everyone he ever worked with, all those “best people” he hired in 2016, absolutely came to loathe him.

Baier’s list of people who were appointed by Trump to the most important positions in government, but who wouldn’t now support his run for street cleaner, is a reference that should be returned to again and again. A chief of staff. Another chief of staff. Defense secretary. Attorney general. Press secretary. Secretary of state. Secretary of transportation. UN ambassador. And Mike Pence.

If that’s not enough of Trump slamming Bill Barr, don’t worry. There’s plenty more.

In response to why he hired people who had “very small brains,” were “dumb as rocks,” or were “gutless pigs,” Trump’s response was that he hired “10 good people” for every one of these very bad people. And then Trump can’t name a single one. The best he can do is say that he had very good people in charge of the economy. That would be this economy.


Trump's “best” accomplishment was exactly like his best people: a disaster. He crashed the economy in a way that hasn’t been seen … since the last time a Republican was in the White House. That economy sprang back under Biden, but still hasn’t stabilized from the mismanagement of Trump’s nameless people.

During his interview with Baier, Trump mostly allowed the Fox anchor to finish his questions, something he did not allow CNN host Kaitlin Collins or any other woman who dared direct a query his way. However, there was one point at which Trump seemed determined to get out his gallop and trot right over Baier.

Trump’s insistence on throwing out one debunked conspiracy and one proven false narrative after another on this point is illuminating both because it’s clear he doesn’t want to give Baier time to confront any of these claims one at a time, and because it’s all just a litany of names and gibberish that’s unidentifiable to anyone not part of the MAGA horde. It’s all “the 51 agents” and “real recounts”—phrases that wouldn’t mean a thing to someone who had not been neck-deep in conspiracy land. Even Baier seems exhausted by the effort to get Trump to deal with the facts.

But the part of the interview already making the news outside Fox is the part where Trump confesses to withholding the documents. Again. And the part where he claims that the Bedminster document, the one he was caught talking about on tape and waving around to visitors, doesn’t exist.

Confronted about the documents, Trump gives what might be his best reason so far when it comes to withholding highly classified national defense documents: Trump didn’t hand over the boxes because he was concerned about running short of golf shirts. And he had apparently filed away some pants. As one does.

If you’re keeping track of Trump excuses, there are three Trump has repeated numerous times.

  1. The documents were planted.
  2. The documents were declassified by telepathy.
  3. The Presidential Records Act lets me keep whatever I want.

To these, America can now add “I was too busy” and “because there were shoes.” And shirts. And pants. Boxes of pants. Trump also repeats the “everything was declassified” lie at the end of this ramble, along with another claim that the National Archives might be “stuffing” other documents in.

But even the pants aren’t the most ludicrous part of this statement. There’s also the part where Trump proclaims that the Bedminster document—the document that Trump was caught on tape declaring “like, highly confidential”—isn’t real. On the recording, Trump can be heard describing the document, explaining how it was prepared for him, and warning about its sensitivity. “As president, I could have declassified it,” said Trump. “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”

But now Trump says the document doesn’t exist.

Trump: “There’s no document there. Those were newspaper articles. They were copies of articles and magazines. There was no document there.”

So Trump is saying he told people that a collection of newspaper articles and magazine clippings were “secret” and that he could have declassified them?

Despite having described the documents as having been prepared by General Mark Milley, Trump insists to Baier that he “has never seen a document from Milley,” and that “Miley was just incompetent.” Making him a perfect fit with every other person Trump appointed.

To top off the theme of the evening, after Trump insists there was nothing but a collection of newspaper clips and magazines, not a classified document, Baier makes one more stab.

Baier: “According to the people in the room who testified ...”
Trump: “These people are very dishonest people. They’re thugs.”

Of course they are. The television show “Everyone Hates Chris” was canceled back in 2009, but it seems like there’s plenty of material for several seasons of “Donald Trump Hates Everyone.”

By any measure, Trump’s interview was a laughable disaster. However, don’t get the idea this means Fox is shutting the door on Trump. Those who tuned in live may have seen Trump get confronted over several issues. Those who are following Fox’s coverage today are getting none of that, because this is what Fox News’ front page coverage of their Trump interview looks like on Tuesday morning.

Even when Trump lies to Fox News face to face, it’s not as if they’re going to report it. Instead, they’re digging deep to find a way to put a positive spin on the results. For those who are interested, the inspirational words that kept Putin from invading Ukraine, according to Trump, were “don’t do it.”

It’s not much of a story. But then, Fox isn’t much of a news organization. Notice that while they included clips of Trump making statements of his relationship with Xi and giving his rants about the dangers of the left, they failed to include any clips when editing his “boxes of pants” defense into something more reasonable.

Trump may hate everyone. Fox News may know he’s awful. But they both know they are dependent on the same awful audience for their financial survival.

Ivanka has 'disappeared' from Trump’s orbit in wake of growing legal peril

Following the “shocking” revelation that Donald Trump is basically just a low-rent mashup of Mata Hari and Mr. Magoo, Republicans are scrambling to find their moral compasses. Unfortunately, they left them behind during their endless debauched evenings in Trump’s sigmoid colon, and they can’t go back and look for them now. Dude’s radioactive, yo.

For the time being, most Republicans are condemning the Biden administration for what they see as a political prosecution—even though President Joe Biden had zero to do with Trump’s indictment and is likely as confused as the rest of us as to why anyone would put a chandelier in a bathroom. (I guess when you’re the biggest egomaniac in the history of the planet, grunting out two Quarter Pounders and a Space Jam Happy Meal toy amid a billowing nebula of rancid meat sweats automatically seems like a cotillion. But that’s neither here nor there.)

For now, though, Trump’s got bigger problems than regally irregular bowel movements. Some day, after Trump finally loses his long, courageous battle with being hit by a Central Park hansom cab while bending over to pick up a Ho-Ho, his family will likely rediscover their affections. But for now, the apple of his weird reverse-raccoon eye is keeping her distance.

Page Six notes that while Melania Trump is standing by her manatee in the wake of her husband’s indictment over the mishandling of our nation’s most sensitive secrets, his daughter Ivanka, who’s already cashed out to the tune of $2 billion, is staying far away.

Trump is expected to appear in Miami on Tuesday to be booked on the latest charges against him, and he’s already inviting his orc horde to join the party, apparently assuming it will be a riot. But his daughter, currently a Miami resident, is reportedly unlikely to make the trip across town to support him.

Page Six:

Ivanka Trump who lives in Miami, meanwhile, “Will be staying far away from daddy,” says a source.
Another insider tells us, “Ivanka has disappeared.”
The former First Daughter has distanced herself from Trump during his latest White House campaign.

This of course tracks with her statement to the press following her dad’s April indictment in Manhattan on 34 felony counts. At the time, she wrote, “I love my father, and I love my country. Today, I am pained for both. I appreciate the voices across the political spectrum expressing support and concern.”

In other words, “Good luck, Daddy. Sure, we were happy to take $2B from Prince Bone Saws, but this shit is beyond the pale.”

As Page Six reported in March, shortly before Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced Trump’s first post-presidential indictment, Ivanka and her third-favorite dildo are giving Daddy Dearest a wide berth.

“They want nothing to do with this,” a source told the outlet at the time. “They are staying away and don’t want to be hounded by reporters. I don’t think you will see them defending him, it will be no comment.”

The source also noted that Ivanka’s social circle has withered just because she helped push our country—which, unfortunately for her, happens to include Saks Fifth Avenue and Bridgehampton—to the brink of fascism: “Ivanka lost a lot of friends and her social scenes during his presidency. … They want to put it in the rearview. They want it behind them.”

Yeah, we all want it behind us, Vanky. Unfortunately, that’s an easier lift for some than others. Your Saudi benefactors can always chopper you out of the country if things get too out of hand. Most of the rest of us are stuck here, in the pig-shit lagoon you helped create.

Fox News in turmoil over 'snitches,' possibility of more firings

There's a new Rolling Stone story about the infighting inside Fox News studios in the aftermath of Tucker Carlson's firing, and whether it's funny or just pathetic probably depends more on your mood than on the circumstances.

The lede of the piece is that some of the "top" Fox News talking heads are worried that they're going to be next to find they no longer have a job at the studio. Before you get too excited about that, however, know that the two hosts who have expressed worry about that, according to the "two sources," are Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro. They both played feature roles in pushing the 2020 election conspiracy theories that are now forcing Fox News to pay out $787.5 million to settle defamation claims brought against it by Dominion Voting Systems, and with fellow voting equipment manufacturer Smartmatic now stepping up to the plate for its own similarly-sized lawsuit it would be hard to imagine Bartiromo and Pirro's jobs not being in danger.

Any actual "news" company would probably have launched the pair out of the building years ago, given their longstanding penchant for bizarre claims and, for one of the pair, way too much online debate over how much of their on-air commentary can be blamed on [makes drinky-drinky gesture here]. So ... yeah. One would imagine "cost the boss three quarters of a billion American dollars" will be coming up in the performance reviews.

That said, neither they nor we have reason to be holding our breath here. Top-ranking Fox host Tucker Carlson appears to have been fired not for his behind-the-scenes efforts to make sure the Fox News division left the Republican election hoaxes undebunked, in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 coup attempt, but because Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch thought he was getting too big for his britches. Nobody's ever gotten fired at Fox News for lying to the public on-air. Lots of people have been fired from Fox News because Rupert Murdoch has come to believe that they're endangering the company profit.

The much funnier allegations in Rolling Stone's story are that some Fox executives have "have grilled certain staff about whether they or their teams had recently blabbed to the press about Carlson’s abrupt dismissal," and that Fox staffers have been "changing journalist contacts to fake names" on their phones in order to hide who might be calling them, if the phone rings in the presence of management or "spies" who might "snitch" to management.

Fox executives aren't in a lather because their fact-averse incompetence just cost the company three quarters of a billion dollars. They're worked up because somebody inside the news company might have been talking to real reporters about Tucker's canning.

And if you work for Fox News, there's nothing worse than management learning you've once talked to a real reporter. Imagine the inquisition that would result, if a Fox reporter's phone rang and the name displayed was that of an actual journalist. Heads would roll!

The news, then, is that if we believe the story's inside-Fox sources (and they are very anonymous, because reasons), Fox offices are in an uproar of late, with angry questionings and surreptitious phone calls and members of the alleged journalistic institution muttering bitterly about snitches who might tell management about their own awful behaviors.

Another likely source of turmoil goes unsaid, however. What we've learned from both the Dominion lawsuit and the lawsuit against Fox News filed by a former Fox News producer is that Fox News working conditions are grotesque, with rampant misogyny, harassment, antisemitism, and workplace retaliation inside network offices. Rolling Stone's Fox News sources don't appear to have anything to say about that, but it seems more than likely that part of what's most roiling Fox offices is the thought of snitches who might come forward to level new charges of harassment and abuse.

In all of Fox News, is there really more than a handful of people who have to worry about management finding the phone numbers of outside journalists on their phones? Compare it to the number of Fox employees who were perfectly aware of the illegal workplace behaviors inside the company and who might have themselves engaged in some, and you can be why the current mood inside the building is more grim than just the firing of one ever-pompous wealthy fascist could account for.

McCarthy’s slim majority is about to face its biggest test yet

Barely Speaker Kevin McCarthy is facing a big test this week: marshaling his tiny majority to vote for his radical debt ceiling and budget cuts plan. He set an ambitious deadline for getting it done by the end of this week, which seems unlikely since the House doesn’t get to legislative work until Wednesday. While it’s a leadership test for him, it’s nearly as big of one for the supposed moderate Republicans, who will have this one chance to show they can—or want to—wield as much influence as the Freedom Caucus.

With his slim majority, McCarthy has just five votes to lose to try and force President Biden into his hostage-negotiating scheme. He’s threatening the full faith and credit of the nation, not to mention the global economy, by refusing to raise the debt ceiling limit without a massive set of budget cuts. Those budget cuts would hurt everyone: children, working families, veterans. That, in turn, could hurt the reelection prospects of a couple of dozen House Republicans who represent swing districts.

The debt ceiling is the congressionally imposed limit on how much the government can borrow to continue to pay the bills for money Congress has already appropriated. Those debts include paying for people in the military, Social Security and other federal pensions, and payments on foreign debt. The federal government needs to borrow money to pay its bills when its ongoing operations can’t be funded by tax and other federal revenues alone. The U.S. paying its bills—and making the payments on the debt it owes overseas—is essential.

McCarthy’s plan is the same as the one the Freedom Caucus put forward in March: Biden has to erase all the accomplishments of the past two years. As White House spokesman Andrew Bates told RealClearPolitics, “Their leadership has caved to the most extreme MAGA hardliners in their conference.”

Despite that, some of the maniacs are still holding out on McCarthy. Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona says he’s “leaning no” on the bill because it would raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion. Florida’s Rep. Matt Gaetz doesn’t think it punishes low-income working Americans enough. It should have “more rigor” on work requirements for recipients of Medicaid and other programs, he says, making them prove that they work 30 hours a week instead of 20 as is currently in the bill.

The MAGA team holding out on their votes should be giving the so-called moderates the opening they need to show they care more about responsibly governing the country rather than appeasing the extremists. They could, but they’re not.

Like Nebraska’s Don Bacon, the “center-right” guy the traditional media runs to for quotes. He’s completely on board. The “goal is to get this on the floor next week,” he told NBC last week. “[McCarthy’s] providing a simple plan. I think it’s good policy. I think the American people are gonna like it,” said Bacon.

That doesn’t seem likely, given the majority of American people don’t think games should be played with the debt ceiling. Republicans, however, are used to ignoring popular sentiment.

South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson chairs the Main Street Caucus, supposedly a moderate, business-friendly bunch. He’s on board with McCarthy’s plan to pass the bill “before the end of April,” and is bullish on the bill. “Kevin McCarthy’s gonna get 218 votes on this deal,” he told NBC. “These are really concepts that, I think, unify the conference rather than divide us.”

They’re generally not used to ignoring Wall Street, though, and Wall Street is getting increasingly jittery. They’re not raising hell about it yet, but they’re nervous. Last week, BlackRock Vice Chair Philipp Hildebrand warned that default would undermine “a basic anchor” of the world’s financial system and “must not happen.”

“All we can do is to pray that everyone in the United States understands how important the sanctity of the sovereign signature of the leading currency, of the leading bond market, of the leading economy in the world is,” Hildebrand said.

Of course they can do more than send thoughts and prayers. They can use their massive leverage—and campaign money—on Republicans, starting with the so-called moderates. Those guys might not listen to their constituents, but they will listen to their funders.

Republicans force Feinstein filibuster fight

The Senate returned from a long spring recess Monday to the beginnings of a major fight. Senate Republicans have declared that the war over the federal judiciary is back on, even if it means breaking the essential Senate norm of respecting colleagues and acting with a minimum of decency toward them. They are already lining up to tell Sen. Dianne Feinstein to stuff it. The California Democrat asked last week to be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary Committee while she recovers from a health setback. Her absence has hindered the committee–and the Democrats–from doing their main job for the next two years: confirming Biden’s nominees.

Republicans, of course, realize that and now see that they can achieve their primary goal for the next two years–stopping Biden from getting judicial nominees. Feinstein’s request was blood in the water for the likes of the repugnant Tom Cotton, a Judiciary Committee member. The Arkansas Republican was the first out of the block to say he’d oppose the move, tweeting “Republicans should not assist Democrats in confirming Joe Biden’s most radical nominees to the courts.”

He was quickly joined in that opposition by Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who tweeted “I will not go along with Chuck Schumer’s plan to replace Senator Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee and pack the court with activist judges.” Ah, yes. Activist judges. Like those who have declared that they know more about drug safety than the Food and Drug Administration. That’s her excuse for stabbing her fellow committee member in the back.

Feinstein has been away from the Senate since early March, after hospitalization from a case of shingles. Her absence has created a major headache for Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Dick Durbin, chair of the Judiciary Committee. With her absence from the committee, Democrats don’t have a majority on the committee and can’t easily advance President Biden’s nominees, which was basically the one job they had for the next two years.

After matters came to a head last week in the national news media, Feinstein requested that she be temporarily replaced on the committee with a fellow Democrat until she’s cleared by her doctors to return. That, however, is subject to the agreement of the whole Senate because that’s how committee assignments are approved. In the pre-McConnell days, it would have been done with unanimous consent by the Senate because that was just how it worked. Not anymore.

The quick response from the GOP probably has something to do with the return of McConnell after his long recovery and rehab from a fall that resulted in a head injury. Because when it comes to breaking the Senate, and the federal judiciary, McConnell has no equal. Cotton and Blackburn aren’t out there winging it without leadership’s approval; this is a McConnell ploy all the way.

Never mind that committee assignments have never been subject to partisan fights in the Senate. Each party conference decides among members who is going to be on which committee and those decisions are respected by the whole Senate. “You just don’t screw with a conference or caucus’ decision” on committee assignments, one longtime Senate aide told Politico. You do if you’re Mitch McConnell.

This sets up yet another filibuster fight. When Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asks for unanimous consent for another member to fill in for Feinstein, Cotton or Blackburn or any of the other assholes from the Judiciary GOP—and it has more than its share of them—will say “no.” Then Schumer will have to send it to the floor, where it will require 60 votes. That means finding 10 Republicans to help. There won’t be 10 Republicans to help.

At this point, Schumer could try to break the filibuster by invoking the so-called nuclear option, making a motion that a simple majority of 51 votes can be used to make committee assignments. That requires the presence of Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the 51st vote. It also requires anti-filibuster reform Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to agree.

The other option is to continue to try to do judicial confirmations the way they did it last session, when the Senate was divided 50-50. That required Schumer to have extra votes. When the committee deadlocked on a vote for a nominee, Schumer had to schedule a vote to discharge the nominee from the committee and then votes to move that nominee to the floor. It significantly slows the confirmation process and, thus, the number of Biden nominees the Senate has time to get confirmed.

If Biden’s goal of remaking the federal judiciary is going to be realized, Schumer and the Democrats really only have one option: forcing the issue and getting another Democrat on the committee by whatever means necessary.

Special counsel subpoenas dozens of Mar-a-Lago staff in classified documents investigation

The special counsel’s investigation into Donald Trump continues. The fact that prosecutors are pushing back against Mike Pence’s delaying tactics in the investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election does not mean that there isn’t an active probe into Trump’s classified document hoard at Mar-a-Lago. CNN reports that “at least two dozen” people tied to Mar-a-Lago have been subpoenaed to testify to a federal grand jury.

That includes Mar-a-Lago staff like a housekeeper and restaurant servers, as well as Trump political aides like Margo Martin, who was a press assistant in the White House and then stayed with Trump as he relocated to Florida after leaving office. The prosecutors, led by special counsel Jack Smith, are “casting an extremely wide net—anyone and everyone who might have seen something,” an unnamed source told CNN.

One of the Mar-a-Lago staffers subpoenaed definitely saw the boxes of documents—they were on security footage along with former White House valet Walt Nauta moving boxes from a storage room. Others could have seen boxes or documents in the course of their regular duties at the resort.

“Many of the Mar-a-Lago staffers are being represented by counsel paid for by Trump entities, according to sources and federal elections records,” CNN reports. While it would be financially devastating for a housekeeper or restaurant server to have to pay for legal counsel in an investigation like this, it’s concerning—for them as much as for anyone—to have them represented by lawyers paid by Trump.

When she was questioned by the Jan. 6 committee, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson was initially represented by a lawyer paid by Trump’s PAC. After she changed lawyers and became more forthcoming with investigators, Hutchinson said that her Trump-funded lawyer had pressured her to “focus on protecting the president.” That is the worry for these Mar-a-Lago staff, that the lawyers they’re being provided are acting in the best interest of Donald Trump rather than a Mar-a-Lago housekeeper or server.

The special counsel also continues to try to compel testimony from Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran, using the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege. Corcoran was the attorney who turned over 30 classified documents to the FBI in June 2022 and then reportedly drafted the statement claiming that a “diligent search” of Mar-a-Lago had been conducted and that no more classified documents had been found. A judge’s decision on whether Corcoran has to answer questions could come any day now.

On the other track of the special counsel’s investigation, in addition to the press to get Pence’s testimony, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have been subpoenaed, as has former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. And Donald Trump faces other investigations, with indictments expected from Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in that state. The investigation into hush money payments to Stormy Daniels has also revived in New York, with Trump reportedly invited to testify, signaling that indictments could be coming. Additionally, New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing his business, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. for $250 million related to fraudulent business practices.

Suffice it to say Trump has plenty to be nervous about, legally speaking.

House oversight chair coordinated with Trump lawyer to end Trump tax probe: Raskin

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer is putting up a perfect display of Republican priorities, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the committee, is on the case.

On the one hand, Comer is not only dropping an agreement with Mazars, the longtime accounting firm for Donald Trump, to produce documents relating to foreign government spending at Trump properties during Trump’s time in the White House—he’s coordinating with Trump’s lawyers about the move. And at the same time, Comer is broadening his investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden and someone with no government role whatsoever, to demand banking records for three of Hunter Biden’s business associates.

Pointing out that documents Mazars already turned over to the committee show hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from governments including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and China to Trump’s businesses, Raskin wrote, in a letter to Comer, “On January 19, 2023, Patrick Strawbridge, counsel for Donald Trump, wrote to counsel for Mazars, stating ‘I do not know the status of Mazars [sic] production, but my understanding is that the Committee has no interest in forcing Mazars to complete it and is willing to release it from further obligations under the settlement agreement.’”

Raskin continued, “When counsel for Mazars sought clarification, Mr. Strawbridge confirmed this direction had been provided to him, twice, by the Acting General Counsel of the House of Representatives, in his capacity as counsel to the Committee.” This is, Raskin wrote, “an astonishing delegation of the legislative power of the Chair to a twice-impeached former President whose Executive Branch actions are still actively under Committee investigation.”

At the same time, Comer subpoenaed Bank of America seeking 14 years of financial records for three of Hunter Biden’s business associates. This isn’t just records of a specific business. It was a demand for “all financial records” from the moment Joe Biden became vice president until now.

“These documents go well beyond any business deal with Hunter Biden or CEFC,” Raskin wrote. “They intrude into private details of Mr. Walker’s and his family’s finances: how much he pays for his child’s dance lessons, when he has been to the hospital, how many parking tickets he has paid, how often he eats at Papa John’s or has coffee at Starbucks, and how much he spends on groceries at Safeway.”

To House Republicans, Walker’s participation with Hunter Biden in a failed business venture makes this information a more legitimate target for investigation than evidence of foreign governments spending hundreds of thousands of dollars at Trump properties. As Raskin accurately summed up, “I fear this wildly overbroad subpoena suggests that your interest in this investigation is not in pursuing defined facts or informing public legislation but conducting a dragnet of political opposition research on behalf of former President Trump.”

So: Information on how a former president and would-be future president profited, while in office, from foreign government spending is not of interest to the Republicans in control of the House Oversight Committee.

But: Detailed personal financial records of the business associates of a person who is not in the government are at the center of what these Republicans are doing.

It’s obviously partisan—Republicans want to investigate Democrats and end investigations of Republicans—but it’s more than that. The difference in the closeness to power of what and who is under investigation is telling. It’s the guy who was in the White House vs. people who did business with the son of the guy in the White House, with no reason, despite multiple investigations, to believe that the president has had any involvement in his son’s business dealings, let alone steered U.S. policy in directions favorable to his son.

Comer and his Republican buddies would like voters to believe that, wow, if they’re demanding financial records of people who just did business with Hunter Biden, there must be a there there. But the reality is that what it shows is that they have nothing on the president. If they even thought they did, they’d be investigating him.

Josh Hawley demonstrates again that the GOP has nothing to offer working people but hate

The GOP continues to sling whatever trash they’ve got at President Joe Biden in the wake of his historic trip to Kyiv, Ukraine, and his total dunking on them about the debt ceiling, Social Security, and Medicare. They’re taking their talking points from Tucker Carlson, keeping up the narrative Biden is responsible for the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, because he hates white people.

Here’s the repugnant Sen. Josh Hawley doubling down on that, and throwing in some antisemitism for the heck of it: “My message to congressional Republican: you can either be the party of Ukraine & globalists or you can be the party of East Palestine & the working people of American.”


Let’s talk about the working Americans of East Palestine, Ohio, and who is really helping them. The population of the town is 4,761 as of the 2020 census. It’s in Columbiana County, population 101,877 in 2020. In 2021, the last year statistics are available from, there were 32,077 people in the county who were enrolled in Medicaid, the joint federal/state funded health insurance program for low-income individuals and families.

So, yeah, that’s about a third of the population of the county—the smallest geographical area for which Medicaid data is available. Ohio as a whole saw a nearly 28% hike in Medicaid and CHIP enrollments during the pandemic. (CHIP is the program for children’s health.)

More than 7,500 households in Columbiana County were receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or food stamps, in November 2022. That’s 14,407 people, including 5,421 children.

This is not a prosperous place. The median household income for the county was $49,265 in 2021, the latest figures available. That’s $12,997 lower than the median Ohio household income and $20,452 less than the U.S. median household income. The minimum wage in Ohio is $10.10/hour, $5.05 for tipped employees.

At the same time, though, the unemployment rate for the county is just 4.3%, all of which means that there are a lot of working people in this place who are living in or very nearly in poverty. And yes, you hardly need to ask: Those people voted for Trump in 2020, 72% to 27% for Biden. They’re probably now lining up in diners all through the county to be interviewed by New York Times reporters.

These are the very programs the GOP always wants to destroy, the programs that truly help working people. Medicaid, food assistance—they’re all on the chopping block as far as the GOP is concerned, and always have been.

This isn’t about Ukraine, and it sure as hell isn’t about the working people of East Palestine, Ohio—where were any of them when Trump was deregulating the rails and making this kind of disaster almost inevitable? Oh, that’s right, supporting an insurrection against the government.

Michigan's new Republican Party chair just took election denial to the next level

In today’s Republican Party it is no longer enough to deny that Donald Trump lost in 2020. The true Republican diehards demand that their leaders deny that Republicans ever lose any election.

That played out at the Michigan GOP convention over the weekend, with Trump’s pick for state party chair being defeated by a candidate who is even more extreme an election denier. It took three rounds of voting—counted by hand because Republicans have also made it an article of faith not to accept voting technology, even at their own convention—but Kristina Karamo prevailed over second-place finisher and Trump endorsee Matt DePerno.

Karamo ran for secretary of state in 2022, losing by 14 points. DePerno ran for attorney general, losing by 8.6 points. But DePerno conceded that he had lost, while Karamo refused to concede. At the state party convention, she made that part of her campaign message, saying, “Conceding to a fraudulent person is agreeing with the fraud, which I will not do.”

When it comes to 2020, DePerno has been an election denier in good standing, having made his name as a Republican and earned Trump’s endorsement on the basis of his quest to prove fraud in that election. He’s even faced a criminal investigation for tampering with voting machines in 2021. That is the kind of stuff that gets you Donald Trump’s endorsement to lead a state Republican Party. But apparently it is not enough for Michigan Republicans. “Matt ran out on us; he didn’t fight for us,” one delegate told The Washington Post.

Election denial isn’t Karamo’s only angle, though. At the convention, she said, “My goal number one as a Christian is to bring people to Christ, and secondarily to save our country.” A few nights earlier, in a speech to a far-right “patriot” group, she went into a little more detail.

“When we start talking about the spiritual reality of the demonic forces, it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, this is crazy, we can’t go there,’” Karamo said. “No. It’s like, did you read the Bible? Didn’t Jesus perform exorcisms? … Scriptures are clear. And so if we’re not operating as though the spirit realities of the world exist, we’re going to fail every time.”

The convention that elected Karamo to lead the state party was attended by 2,000 delegates—but not one of the outgoing party co-chairs or any member of the state congressional delegation. But Karamo claimed the party would move forward unified. “We cannot wait to get work done as one Michigan Republican Party,” she said. “And we are going to beat the Democrats.”

Why Democrats should start capitalizing on consumer confidence ahead of 2024

The red wave that was supposed to thunder through America was reportedly going to be driven by a shoddy economy. Inflation was at record highs and, in the telling of Republicans and much of the media, Democrats simply could not escape its gravitational pull despite GOP extremism and the fact that President Biden had created more jobs in his first two years than any president on record.


Several months later, Democrats absolutely defied expectations, House Republicans are a bonafide disaster, and guess what? The economy is looking up.

Consumer prices fell in December. Likewise, the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index rose in preliminary data this month to 64.6—its highest level in a year and an 8.2% increase since December.

Economists had expected something closer to 60.5, according to CNN. And one of the biggest bumps came specifically in consumers' estimation of the economy, which rose 15.5% from December.

Let's recall that back in November, public opinion about the economy was pretty bad—so bad, in fact, that 75% of of Americans thought the economy was in a recession, according to a CNN survey. It wasn't, but you get the picture.

As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted Monday, the very oversimplified but often telling "misery index" has also dropped considerably since last year. The misery index is calculated by adding up the unemployment and inflation rates—higher being worse and lower being better.

"It has fallen off a cliff," Krugman wrote. "If we use the inflation rate over the past six months, the misery index, which stood at 14 as recently as June, is now down to 5.4, or about what it was on the eve of the pandemic, when Donald Trump confidently expected a strong economy to guarantee his re-election."

Krugman hypothesized that consumers may not have felt as badly about the economy last fall as the polling suggested, partly because Republican voters may have been responding more readily to surveys than Democrats.

Whatever the case, in the last several months, Civiqs tracking on how consumers rate the national economy also shows “very bad” declining a handful of points to 39% as both “fairly good” and “fairly bad” increase to 26% and 28% respectively. It’s slow-but-steady progress.

If the current trends hold, by this time next year, it's quite possible that inflation will be much more manageable, the job market will be strong, and unemployment will be relatively low.

That would be an amazing success story that Democrats should already be starting to preview. Poll after poll last year showed that voters continue to trust Republicans more than Democrats when it comes to the economy. It’s a completely outdated perception that has hung around for decades.

This year could provide the perfect opportunity for Democrats to continually note that things are looking up, inflation is falling, and although the country isn't where it needs to be yet, it is heading in the right direction. Democrats should also be reinforcing why it's heading in the right direction before Republicans try to take credit for it.

Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, bolstered businesses, made job-producing investments in American manufacturing, reduced health care costs, and generally helped consumers through tough times.

Those were all Democratic policies, most of which were passed by Democrats alone.

If Democrats want to hold on to high-propensity suburban voters, they must chip away at the false notion that Republicans are better for the economy. It’s simply not true. But however unfounded the assumption, it's still a stubborn belief among a majority of voters that Democrats must knock down. And they cannot do so by taking a wait-and-see approach. Democrats must start plugging their accomplishments early and often.

What a mess: The New York Times interviews Republican voters

There is some unfortunate news to report today. Sadly, I have died. My cause of death was, as I always knew it would be, The New York Times. Seldom do we talk about the ongoing dangers presented by the Times, which is the unregulated gas stove of newspapers, but anyhow I read this new Times focus group piece talking to yet another band of unrepentant Trump voters and it caused me to immediately die. It's a damn shame, but I probably had it coming.

The premise of the piece is the same premise used for each of its one hundred million previous incarnations: The Times gathered up a dozen average-Joe Republican Americans it had previously talked to and asked them yet again what they thought about seditious coup conspirator Donald Trump, about the Republican Party, and about oh right the Jan. 6 insurrection and subsequent hearings publicizing what investigators have been able to learn about the origins of the violence.

What you get, when you ask any random dozen Americans to weigh on any subject not in their personal wheelhouse, is almost certain to be a train wreck every single time it is attempted. We know this. We have always known this. The whole genre is mostly an exercise for the press to find out how badly the press has f*cked up its own public responsibilities, and in specific it really can't be anything more than a parlor-game premise in which we attempt to deduce, knowing nothing at all about the handful Americans corralled for public display, which news channel their television most frequently ends up on.

Most. Americans. Do. Not. Pay. Attention. To. Politics. They know only what they have heard thirdhand. The most useable quotes almost always come from the volunteers who are the least informed but the most hardheadedly confident in themselves, a bad combination that never gets any better than absolutely awful.

This is a very useful exercise if you want to lose all hope in America. It's one of the best approaches possible if your paper is looking to collect all its readers who do pay close attention to politics for the purpose of killing them all off at once.

When it comes to actually collecting useful information about anything other than the relative reach of various television and radio programs, however, the assault-every-diner approach is useless. So it must be that the Times really did intend to kill readers. They are serial killers. Their depravity knows no bounds. The murder weapons? Quotes from Americans still willing to say they support Republicans even after the party egged an attempted coup into being, Americans who have been selected for inclusion based explicitly on their utter disinterest in any politics that cannot be sloganed onto a hat.

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) Well, I think Republicans are our only option as far as getting us out of this mess that the Democrats have started with inflation and all that. Do they have a plan at this point? Doesn’t look like it. But are they organized? Doesn’t look like it. But there is hope there.

See, I don't want to write about politics anymore. I just don't. I want to write stories about elves and dwarves and dragons, stories in which the dwarves and elves are at each others throats because elves think trees should exist and dwarves can only find joy in extraction-based industries, and both are competing for control of a fantasy legislative body but they're evenly matched and can't make progress but then a collection of mountain trolls begin to run for office as well, and the mountain trolls argue that since the main reason for electing dwarves is that dwarves really hate elves, well then mountain trolls hate both elves and dwarves so that makes them even more qualified for office.

Anyway, it would all end with the head dwarf, whose name is Kevli or whatever, bargaining for the trolls' support by allowing them to eat both of his legs, one of his arms, both ears, and five dwarven legislators to be named later. It's all a mess, and while the dwarves are all arguing over who to feed to the trolls in order to keep Kevli from looking like a complete dork here the Dark Lord Braendoen is gathering his forces to give everybody slightly cheaper insuli—I mean, potions. Slightly cheaper potions.

I don't have to write about politics. I've got a vivid imagination that could, like, totally nail a story about racist dwarves that conspire with even more racist mountain trolls to keep anyone from getting cheap insuli-I mean, health potions.

But no, here I am, a corpse, because the Times had to kill me before I even had the chance to switch careers in self-defense.

Q: Is there a particular idea or value that you’d like [Republicans] to stand up for?
(Judi, 73, white, Okla., retired) Honesty.

See, I'm dead now. Everything you're hearing from me after this point is just gas escaping.

(Andrea, 49, white, N.J., executive assistant) Just start putting things back on the right track. It makes me scratch my head that the country never did better than when Trump was president — never. You know what I mean? The gas prices were low. The border was under control. Everything was just great. And he got run out of town just because he sends mean tweets and has a big mouth. They’d rather elect a nice guy and have the country in the toilet.

Andrea, a MILLION PEOPLE DIED and you're f*cking on about cheap gas prices? THERE WAS A COUP, ANDREA. How the hell did The New York Times ever even find you, how is it that you even became aware that something called The New York Times even existed and wasn't just a phishing effort aimed at getting hold of your Social Security number?

(Alissa, 29, Latina, Fla., procurement) Just thinking back to how well we were doing as a country when [Trump] was running it, I would love to see that again. I think he’s strong. I thought he was a great president. If DeSantis decides to run, I might turn a little bit. It depends.

What Donald Trump brought to America was hats. That's it. There's not a damn thing he actually did except the hat thing. And public belligerence. And being a rapist who bought an entire beauty pageant brand so that he could see teen girls change in the dressing rooms. Oh, and the international extortion bits. And the complete upending of American standing overseas, selling out allies while prodding enemies to open up new beach resorts. And using the presidency of the United States as a reason to mark up cocktail prices in his Washington hotel.

It's the hat thing, isn't it. The exchange Donald Trump made with America is that he gets to ignore laws and be roundly incompetent and kill off so many people that we’re stuffing bodies in refrigerated trucks for lack of other places to put them, but in exchange the sh*ttiest people you know all get the opportunity to buy Chinese hats with a meaningless slogan on them. I mean, who wouldn't go for that deal.

Q: Is there anything about [Trump] that’s turned you off over the last year or that you sort of lost steam on?
(Judi, 73, white, Okla., retired) Well, when Covid started, I think he was swayed into the vaccine thing. He listened to the wrong people. I’ll leave it at that.

Yeah, that's when I died the second time, becoming double-dead. So far I cannot report any meaningful differences from just being the usual kind of dead. This must be what it's like to be a cat.

(Lorna, 60, white, Mo., customer service representative) I think it’s ridiculous people want to put him in prison. For what? And look at Biden and his son.

Again, there is only one reason why any journalistic outlet should ever do any of these diner-inspired stories about The Common American. It is a window into which news outlets they consume and nothing else. There is not one glitteringly enf*ckened thing Lorna, 60, of Missouri could tell us about the relative legal jeopardy of Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Beefystevo Biden that would be the slightest bit informative or useful.

And I do mean that: You could concoct an entirely fictional Biden son named "Beefystevo," ask 12 Republican voters about Beefystevo's crimes, and at least eight of them would insist that Beefystevo has done many, many crimes, all very bad, some of them in Ukraine and some of them in Narnia, and they will tell you that The New York Times is crookedly covering up the very existence of Beefystevo Biden in coordination with Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and a giraffe in Texas that looks kind of similar to Bill Gates.

I dare you to ask your focus groups about Beefystevo and his crimes. I dare you, New York Times. You know what will happen, and I know what will happen. Do it, you diner-hounding cowards.

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) I want DeSantis to run. He’s just like Trump. He’s just as cantankerous, but I think he’s a little bit more refined. For example, you have Jack Daniels, or you have Gentleman Jack. Gentleman Jack is a lot smoother, but it’s still whiskey.

Thank God we finally have someone willing to be honest about Republican politics. That's the word that comes to mind when you think about Florida's Ron DeSantis: Refined. The man is refined, in that you can either suck on what he's selling or what Trump's selling and both will get you nice and politically sh*tfaced but the DeSantis version goes down smooooother. It's probably because Ron DeSantis doesn't have as much golf-course bunker sand in his shoes. It might be because the DeSantis bottle is spiked with 20% hydroxychloroquine siphoned from an early-pandemic Florida stockpile DeSantis is still trying to get rid of.

Hey, so do any of our fine Normal Republican Americans want to revise or extend their past remarks about the 2020 presidential election being stolen just because a traitorous crapsack and his eight syphillitic reindeer shouted about it way back when? Anyone want to walk that back, or not walk that back?

Was Trump, glorious figurehead who raised American life into the highest tier of awesomeness that has ever been, "cheated" out of winning his pandemic economic-crisis post-(first)-impeachment election?

(Andrea, 49, white, N.J., executive assistant) Cheated as in ballots — truckloads of ballots showing up in the middle of the night. There’s videos of it. There is proof. [...]
(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) I know the videos that Andrea is talking about. It’s well documented, but the media doesn’t want to cover that type of stuff.
(Judi, 73, white, Okla., retired) No, I still think [Trump] won the election and that he should still be our president. He should be our president right now.

Truckloads! Truckloads of secret vaccines! I mean, ballots! It's all on video! It's streaming in 5G from every maple tree, but the government doesn't want you to know! It is very important that we, the readers of The New York Times, are exposed to the free and unfettered opinions of our nation's most thickheaded and source-agnostic of opinion havers, because reasons! How would America know that one specific retired Oklahoma vaccine skeptic believes Joe Biden is not the legitimate president if The New York Times did not create an entire "interactive" web feature highlighting this important f*cking information? How could the readership survive if we did not contact these people not once, but a second time so that they could rub their curlicue opinions in our eyeballs twice instead of once?

What about the whole coup thing? You know, the attempted coup, the one in which Trump advertised for a rally coinciding with the certification of the United States presidential election, got angry when his security forces tried to deprive the mob of their weapons, and told them all to march to the Capitol during a joint session of Congress as means of threatening Congress if they did not overturn the election's results? That whole thing? The thing that should have made any decent person look for an exit sign, rather than being thought a supporter of a genuine bona-fide traitor to the nation?

(Andrea, 34, biracial, N.H., I.T. support) The internet was just ablaze. I made a post in support of it, and a lot of people came to attack me in the comment section. That day was really crazy. [...]
When I saw videos of everything that happened, I was pretty embarrassed. I was like, 'Oh, no. We’re going to hear about this forever.' It did look very chaotic and violent. I knew it was going to come down to blaming Trump somehow, saying that he was a ringleader and he’s responsible, he riled everybody up.

Ah, the very American view of "you make comments supporting one violent riot and everybody gets on your case about it" followed by "oh jeez, this turned out very f*cky, now we're all going to be stuck hearing about it." Can't kill me any more than twice, New York Times. Not in a single day, anyway.

What about all those congressional hearings detailing what investigators found out about the coup's organizers, allies, and origins? Any minds changed over here in the Republicans Who Don't Pay Attention To Politics ballpit?

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) If anything, I think my views have become more solidified. If you look, they made a big thing out of it in the media. They didn’t cover Black Lives Matter, antifa. I mean, you talk about Jan. 6 being planned. Antifa, throughout the whole summer of 2020, I mean, those things were planned, organized. The media didn’t cover it.

I cannot emphasize how enraging it was that the media kept covering things that did happen while ignoring things that did not happen. You know who else planned, well, not the violent overthrow of our nation's government but, like, other stuff? Antifa, probably! But no, instead everybody made a Big Damn Deal out of a Republican-led attempt to erase a constitutional United States election. Gawd.

Please tell me any of these Informed Public Voices at least watched the hearings they're now being asked to opine on?

(Barney, 72, white, Del., retired) I didn’t see anything live. It was a waste of $3 million.

I cannot emphasize this enough, but I mean this in kindness: There is no amount of government money that could be spent that would not be a waste of money, when it comes to convincing Barney of Delaware, retired, to have an opinion other than the one he wants to have. This is indeed a terrible waste of government resources.

But the crowd Donald Trump gathered to march on the Capitol was a pretty violent bunch, at least we can all agree on—

(Alissa, 29, Latina, Fla., procurement) No, I don’t think it was. I’ve personally been to Trump rallies. They’re very peaceful. So I don’t think what happened that day had anything to do with Trump. I think it was planned.


Surely the news of an attempt to violently overturn the results of a U.S. election have left at least some small impression on Republican Jus' Folks.

(Lorna, 60, white, Mo., customer service representative) Well, a couple of people locally here were arrested. So of course, they’d show them every news clip, on every channel. It just got old. It was just a waste of taxpayers’ money, in my opinion.

I mean, that's the thing about failed violent coups, they're just so boooooring and everybody keeps going on about them all the time and it makes channel surfing sooooo tedious. Thank you again, New York Times, for exposing us to the very important views of that class of Americans that tries very hard to know nothing about politics and gets bitter and resentful when you shove it onto their television channels anyway.

Because, you know, the Jan. 6 hearings were a farce to begin with. How the hell would the United States Congress know more things than Andrea of New Jersey does? How would anyone in the White House know more about Trump’s actions than Andrea does, or Barney does? They wouldn't, so that means this was all a set up.

(Andrea, 49, white, N.J., executive assistant) I 100 percent agree with what Barney said. I think they testified because they weren’t part of the cool kids anymore or bribes. I’m not really sure what it is, but to make up blatant stories like that, there’s got to be some kind of underlying 'What’s in it for me?' kind of thing, I think.

Well, we've rediscovered a core Republican voter tenet so we can't say this was a total waste of time. Ask pretty much anyone in the Republican Party, from the common voter to your average sex-crime-covering-up Republican lawmaker, and they'll tell you that there's no possible reason anyone would want to offer evidence about a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol unless there was something in it for them. The idea that anyone would be sincerely shaken by, say, a mob of pole-wielding cop-beating weirdlings hunting down Trump's political enemies in the halls of the Capitol is utterly foreign to Every Single Republican. The notion eludes them. It is not a concept that can wiggle into their smooth and proud brains.

If people are going to jump in to "testify" every single time an armed mob beats police officers inside the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to hunt down the vice president then where will it end? It's all very suspicious. They probably just want to make the coup guy look bad.

I really wish I hadn't died. Well, I suppose it's more accurate to say I really wish The New York Times hadn't gone out of its way to write an interactive fancy-pants feature specifically intended to kill me, because it seems like a jerk move every time they've tried it and yet they just keep pushing.

Bring us home, Timesy. Show us that any of these people have opinions even an onion-skin thickness above the buzzword generic. Show us that you have gathered up a small crowd who, while admirably anonymous and no doubt chosen according to best dice-throwing the editorial staff of the Times can provide, is worthy of national attention because these dozen people have at least thought about any of this stuff long enough to have any opinion that could not be more efficiently produced by an artificial intelligence exposed only to the opening monologues of weekday Fox News opinion hosts.

Show us, please show us, that you have not just gathered a collection of cranks who are angry that government keeps feeding children and trying to prevent polio and keeps blocking very profitable companies from pumping skin-dissolving toxic soup directly into your home's plumbing. That these are people who have put thought into this, and are not simply reactionary faux-libertarian crackpots spooning the wisdom of gum wrappers and fortune cookies into everyone else's tired, tired brains.

Q: Sandy, what would be a sign that our democracy is healthy?
(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) I would say getting back to the basics, sticking with the Constitution. There’s just too much government interference in everything. We’ve got so many regulations, taxes and controls and spending and everything. Get back to the fundamentals. Less government involvement. We should have an army, a military. That’s about it. Otherwise, just stay out of the way.
(Michael, 65, white, Utah, retired) I tend to agree with Sandy, just hoping that we could start letting the Constitution be the Constitution and let us have our rights with freedom of speech and just start living the way that they did hundreds of years ago, when they believed in our country.

There you go. How wonderful. I am so, so glad I didn't live to see that.

George Santos staffer accused of impersonating Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff in calls with donors

A complaint was filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission accusing Republican Rep. George Santos of a plethora of campaign finance violations, The Washington Post reports.

Filed by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, the complaint could launch an investigation by the federal regulator, according to the Post.

“Particularly in light of Santos’s mountain of lies about his life and qualifications for office, the Commission should thoroughly investigate what appear to be equally brazen lies about how his campaign raised and spent money,” the complaint argues.

To add insult to injury, along with all of the ubiquitous lies that have emerged from the congressman’s lips, CNBC reported Monday that during the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, a member of Santos’ campaign team had a dubious plan to dupe donors by impersonating Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s chief of staff, Dan Meyer.

Santos is already embroiled in an investigation by the Nassau County, New York, district attorney’s office and authorities in Brazil involving a fraud case dating back to 2008.

Then there’s the gesture Santos made last Friday during his vote for McCarthy for House speaker; he raised his right hand to vote—and with his left hand, delicately formed his fingers into what appeared by some to look eerily similar to the infamous “okay” symbol the Anti-Defamation League calls a “sincere expression of white supremacy.”

The hand gesture was brief. Hardly noticeable, especially among all the attention paid to the fight Rep. Kevin McCarthy was having, convincing his Republican colleagues to vote for him. Watch as he appears to intentionally make the gesture, however briefly.

Of course, there is absolutely no way to know for sure if the first openly gay Latino congressman from New York meant to convey such a notoriously racist symbol. And Santos himself has not acknowledged the allegations. But Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York ripped Santos in an interview on MSNBC Sunday with guest host Julian Castro, calling Santos “an indictment on what the Republican Party has become.”

When Torres was asked about claims swirling around the internet that Santos made a white power gesture, the congressman said, “Apparently, Santos is not only Latino and Black, but he’s also white now.”

Torres is referring to the many ethnicities Santos has claimed. He’s said his grandparents were Ukrainian Jewish refugees from Belgium who “survived the Holocaust” and converted to Catholicism, CNN reports. He’s called himself a “Latino Jew” and said he was “biracial,” telling a commenter in one of his tweets that he was “Caucasian and black.” Santos later backtracked, saying he was "Jew-ish."

The New York Post reports that at the recommendation of Rep. Matt Gaetz, Santos recently hired Viswanag “Vish” Burra, a MAGA “fixer,” to help salvage his horrible reputation. Burra has ties to Steve Bannon and Carl Paladino, who, like Ye, once spoke positively about Adolph Hitler.

“He’s just an utter embarrassment,” Torres said. “He has no business serving in Congress. It diminishes the institution to have him seated, to have him sworn in.”

Torres has called on Santos to resign.

In December, Torres introduced titled the Stopping Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker Act, aka the SANTOS Act.

If the bill passes, Torres wrote in a tweet, it would “require candidates to disclose under oath their employment, educational, & military history so we can punish candidates who lie to voters about their qualifications.”

“George Santos is not simply a reflection of himself; he’s an indictment of what the Republican party has become,” Torres told Castro. “When you have a political party that has been hijacked by Donald Trump and the far right, charlatans like George Santos will inevitably follow. I see the scandal of George Santos in the context of the Trumpian rot, the far-right rot that lies at the core of the Republican Party.”

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Donald Trump's trading cards appear to be poorly-edited stock images or taken from catalogs

Hmm, what could possibly make the mortal embarrassment surrounding Donald Trump’s recent MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT even worse? Oh, Satan, please send him more tribulation! Exactly how many albino goats does one have to sacrifice to get you to do one’s bidding? Because the goat viscera is really piling up in the garage, and you can’t put it in the city compost for some reason. Just saying.

So you no doubt saw that Trump’s big reveal was yet another grift—this time in the form of NFTs (nonfungible tokens) that are worth … hmm, I guess whatever Trump says they’re worth. But in reality ... hahahaha! ... nothing. And not only are they worth nothing, apparently any slackjawed yob with Photoshop and an Amazon account could have made their own versions.

PC Magazine:

[J]ournalists noticed(Opens in a new window) that at least some of the images for the NFTs relied on photos of clothing you can buy online. For example, an NFT showing Trump wearing a cowboy outfit seems to be based on a duster jacket from Scully Leather, which is sold on Amazon(Opens in a new window) and Walmart(Opens in a new window).
Another NFT of Trump wearing a tuxedo borrows imagery of a suit sold on Men’s Wearhouse.(Opens in a new window) Meanwhile, a separate NFT incorporated a photo of a $49 Western Sports coat(Opens in a new window).

PC Magazine also noted that Matthew Sheffield of The Young Turks had located some of the source images for Trump’s NFTs—and they weren’t from Trump’s personal Leonardo da Vinci-style sketchbook.

And Sheffield had his own writeup about Trump’s latest grift, which is about as tacky a post-presidential pursuit as one could possibly conjure. Imagine if Jimmy Carter stopped building homes for unhoused people and started selling fake Rolexes out of the back of his van. We’d be horrified. Well, this shit is arguably worse.

The Young Turks:

In a recorded video message to supporters, Trump hailed the artistic quality of the images, which appear to be assembled randomly and automatically by a computer program from a pre-defined collection of backgrounds, costumes, and heads, according to listings on the OpenSea NFT marketplace. According to the Collect Trump Cards website, the NFT graphics were designed by an illustrator named Clark Mitchell.

'These cards feature some of the really incredible artwork pertaining to my life and career, it’s been very exciting,' Trump said in the video, also noting that only a limited number of the virtual cards would be released. He also offered several sweepstakes incentives to people who purchased, including a dinner and a chance to speak to him on the Zoom video conference service.
Several of the paper doll-style images used in the cards appear to be barely modified copies of widely available photos seen on clothing retailer and stock photo websites.

Hmm, maybe the creators of these things learned Photoshop at Trump University. Then again, Trump’s supporters are unlikely to notice the piss-poor quality of this “art.” But they might notice not being able to access it:

We deserve these laughs after all the tears this guy has brought us over the past seven years. It’s been a long slog, but I think we might finally be rid of him soon. Though his defenestration could have been a bit more cinematic, perhaps. This is like if Darth Vader had died in a freak scrapbooking accident in the first act of Return of the Jedi.

On the other hand, this is just perfect. Because it’s quintessential Trump—lazy, gauche, overhyped, and utterly absurd all at once. At least one of these f*ck-yous to his fans needs to be on his tombstone.

I pick this one. I mean, what could possibly sum up his life better?

Though his estate might need permission to reprint it, because this one was probably stolen, too:

Oh, Donny. Never change.

Not like you could, even if you tried.

DeSantis suspended a state attorney for being 'woke.' Here's what his lawyers think that means

Attorneys for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis desperately worked to convince a federal judge Thursday that their client, the governor of Florida, wasn’t acting out of malice and revenge when he suspended a twice-elected Democratic state attorney due to his support of both reproductive rights and the transgender community in Florida.

Andrew Warren, the suspended Hillsborough County state attorney, is suing to be reinstated after DeSantis’ continued attacks on his “woke” ideology. This wasn’t a secret agenda; in the announcement of Warren’s suspension, DeSantis accused him of being a “woke ideologue” who “masqueraded” as a prosecutor, according to Florida Politics. Warren’s legal team challenged DeSantis’ team to define the word “woke.

According to Florida Politics, DeSantis’ General Counsel, Ryan Newman, initially said, “To me, it means someone who believes that there are systemic injustices in the criminal justice system, and on that basis, they can decline to fully enforce and uphold the law.” But when pushed on what “woke” means in general, Newman said, “it would be the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.”

In August, Warren filed the federal lawsuit against DeSantis in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida, alleging that the anti-masking, book-banning brownshirt abused his power when he suspended Warren, alleging “neglect of duty.” The suit claims his First Amendment rights were violated after he signed a pledge refusing to criminally prosecute those who violate the state’s new 15-week abortion ban or hand sentences down to minors in need of gender-affirming care.

“I don't think the people of Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that is basically ‘woke,’ where you're deciding that your view of social justice means certain laws shouldn't be enforced," the governor said when he announced Warren’s suspension.

David B. Singer, an attorney representing Warren in the lawsuit, said, “No decision on any case ever considered by Warren while in office was impacted by these statements. … Statements of opinion on matters of the public debate do not relate to incompetence within the meaning of the Florida Constitution.”

Thursday, Newman told U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle that his client, DeSantis, doesn’t believe there are systemic injustices in America, and it's “wokeism” that is the primary reason for Warren’s suspension and his “fundamental misunderstanding” of his duties as a prosecutor.

Hinkle says it will be at least two weeks before he decides on the case.

Florida's HB 5 abortion restrictions went into effect on July 1 and do not allow for abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or human trafficking. The ban comes with a five-year prison sentence for violators; doctors who perform abortions could lose their licenses and be forced to pay a $10,000 fine.

On Aug. 10, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration put new rules into place banning health care providers from charging Medicaid for gender-affirming medical treatments for young people. The rule will go into effect on Aug. 21.

The bottom line is that being “woke” by DeSantis’ standards—and in the feeble minds of the MAGA GOP, for that matter—seems to be something terrible. On the contrary, if being woke means acknowledging an unequal system in this nation, then isn’t that the goal? When will we begin accepting that the foundation of this country and the nation built by its founders systemically weighs in favor of the colonizers and their descendants? And the truth is that no number of ways, bills, laws, or punishments Republicans put into place will change that.

Why do videos keep emerging of Russian soldiers acting like zombies in Ukraine?

When people hear the term “hypothermia,” they tend to picture travelers trapped in endless snowdrifts, or huddling on some high ridge of a mountain whipped by raging gales. But it doesn’t take extreme conditions to put people into extreme duress.

Last Tuesday, what should have been a relatively simple hike at Zion National Park by a healthy couple in their early 30’s, turned into tragedy when temperatures dropped and both were incapacitated by hypothermia. One of them died.

A few years ago, three hikers—a father and his two young sons—died within a few miles of my home when they took a wrong turn hiking in the Ozarks and got caught out in a cold rain. It was 65°F (18°C) when they started out, before falling into the 40s. Hypothermia can set in at temperatures well above freezing when conditions are bad. Add wind. Add rain. Add prolonged exposure. Many cases of hypothermia occur at temperatures where people might not even think to reach for a jacket.

But death is only the final act of hypothermia. Well before that last act there is a classic suite of symptoms: exhaustion, confusion, loss of coordination, loss of memory, slurred speech, extreme drowsiness. Put all this together, and it could explain what’s happening with Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.

One of the subjects we’ve returned to over and over since Vladimir Putin launched his illegal invasion of Ukraine is how Russia’s culture of thievery and corruption has left their army short at every point. Whether it’s supposedly amphibious vehicles sinking into rivers because their seals haven’t been serviced, or rows of trucks left idle by rotting tires, funds that were supposed to go to maintaining Russian equipment went into the pocket of some colonel, general, or oligarch. Electronics, and even engines, have been stripped out of tanks.

Many of Russia’s supposed wonder weapons including the Su-57 jet, have been barely present in the fight because Russia has so few operational systems that it doesn’t dare risk them. The T-14 Armata tank, which first rolled out for a Victory Day Parade in 2014, has yet to take the field. Only a handful of T-90 tanks, which started production in 1992, have been seen in Ukraine. T-62 tanks dating from the 1960s, and even T-55 tanks from the 1950s, have been far more common.

That’s all just the big equipment. But the more obvious shortfall of the Russian supply chain isn’t the seen in the aging hardware rolling slowly down the roads. It’s the people standing in the mud.

It’s not just outdated helmets and summer-weight uniforms that are the issue. Russian forces have been told they need to bring their own sleeping bags. They’ve been making tents out of plastic wrap.

There’s absolutely no doubt that both Russian and Ukrainian forces are existing in miserable conditions, especially on the long established front lines where trench warfare has become unspeakable during the fall mud season. As temperatures in Ukraine drift ever lower, forces on both sides are left dealing with a half-frozen muddy slush, saturated clothing, and days of spitting snow and icy rain.

However, Ukrainian forces seem to be doing an infinitely better job at obtaining what they need to fight under these conditions, as well as creating conditions where people can at least temporarily get out of the freezing mud, to warm up and have a hot meal.

On the other hand, Russia seems to be doing little to assure decent conditions for its troops on the front lines, especially in the area around Bakhmut, where Russia has resorting to throwing a near constant set of human waves at the entrenched Ukrainian positions. (Which is why the Ukrainian military continues to report over 500 Russian deaths a day.)

But in the last couple of weeks, there has been something just … weird. Video after video in which Russian forces barely seem to react to imminent threats. In general, Daily Kos avoids posting images or videos in which people are clearly being killed or severely injured. This is an exception, because it’s not just genuinely odd, it’s an example of a whole class of similar videos.

Ukraine correspondent Tom Warner has the same conclusion after showing this video that we’ve been walking through here—these men are freezing to death. Their body temperatures have lowered to the point where they are so incapable of motion that even a bomb landing in their midst isn’t a reason to stir.

And it’s still November.

Russia keeps making statements about how armies have always made the mistake of attacking Russia in winter as if, somehow, this is a portable defense. But now it’s Russia that is away from home, trying to occupy an area in bitter conditions at the end of overstrained supply lines. They are going to lose so, so many men this winter.

This doesn’t mean that every foolish action by Russians in Ukraine at this point is fueled by hypothermia. They are not. Russia took plenty of boneheaded actions when the weather was warm, and there have even been videos of Russians behaving not too dissimilar to the group above over many months. But there does seem to be a special cluster of WTF going on along the eastern front at the moment, and a bad case of chilled down brains seems as good an explanation as any.


As of late November, Russia seems even more fixed on destroying Ukrainian infrastructure. Those attacks, waged with both missiles and drones, have done billions of dollars in damage and left cities from Kyiv to Lviv in the dark for many hours of the day. However, Ukraine’s other army — the one composed of electricians, carpenters, and construction crews, remains on the job. Many of the damaged substations around Kyiv have now been repaired and the government is expecting increased hours of power over the next week.

Electricity has even been restored to Kherson, where on Saturday the lights went back on in some hospitals and other critical infrastructure. Crews are now working on restoring power to individual homes. Ukraine is even getting assistance from what may be an unexpected source — a member of Russia’s crumbling CSTO alliance.

Destroying Ukrainian civilian infrastructure for the express purpose of attempting to freeze the populace into accepting Russian occupation is a war crime. However, that’s not Russia’s biggest problem with this strategy. The biggest problem is that it’s becoming increasingly ineffective.

Even as Russia releases more and more drones / missiles at a time, Ukraine is getting better at shooting them down. Some of that is made possible by new air defense systems that have appeared in Ukrainian cities. Some of it is simply more experience in using existing weapons against the ubiquitous Shahed-136 drone. All of which is leading Russia into what seems like an incredibly desperate measure. That measure can be found in this update from the British MOD.

Go read that again. Russia is taking AS-15 missiles, removing the nuclear warhead, and sticking on a block of something to act as a counterweight to keep the missile flying as designed. Then its throwing this dead weight at Ukraine. It would definitely be unpleasant to be in a house or apartment building hit by one of these things, as that weight on the end is about 410kg (900lbs).

But the biggest reason Russia is launching these is just to put something else in the air. They’re just decoys sent in the hopes that they’ll allow another missile to get through against Ukraine’s constantly improving rate of shoot-downs.

Russia is cannibalizing it’s nuclear arsenal to provide decoys in hopes of taking out electrical substations in Ukraine. That’s pretty amazing.


This video of a column of roughly 40 Russian T-80U tanks has been posted multiple times in the last few days with claims that it is moving “in the direction of Svatove.” However, there’s no reason to think this image is from that area, or even from this year. None of the tanks seems to be marked with a “Z” or any of the other identifying symbols that have been used in this war. The cars that are mingled in the mix either have no plate, or the very wide plate characteristic of the Russian federation. In any case, Russia has already lost at least 89 documented T-80U and another 176 T-80BV tanks since the invasion began.

GOP civil war in House, Senate escalates as factions splinter

The would-be leaders of the Republican House and Senate conferences are in for some wild times as recriminations and power struggles take precedence in both chambers. In the House, the tiny majority Republicans has every faction plotting how they’ll control Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. In the Senate, leader Mitch McConnell is under pretty much daily attack from Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the guy who blew all of the National Republican Senate Committee’s money and is still blaming McConnell for not winning the majority.

There are still five uncalled House races, but it’s looking like McCarthy will have a 222-213 majority. He needs 218 to become speaker and to pass anything, and right now, that’s in jeopardy. Two Republicans—Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Andy Biggs of Arizona—have said flat out they won’t vote for him as speaker. Two more, Reps. Matt Rosendale of Montana and Bob Good of Virginia, have signaled that they are opposed to McCarthy, but haven’t definitively said they’ll vote against him. Biggs challenged McCarthy in last week’s vote and got 31 votes.

McCarthy is clearly chasing those votes. He’s already all but promised Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia MAGA maniac, that she’ll get a coveted Oversight Committee post. He’s also vowed that he’ll kick Democrats off of committees in retaliation for the Democrats stripping Greene and Paul Gosar of committee assignments. He’ll oust Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the Select Committee on Intelligence (which he can do because it’s not a standing committee) and Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs, which is subject to a vote of the full House. All of this is to court the maniacs.

Which leaves a fairly large group of moderate Republicans (and calling a bunch of people who didn’t agree to birth control as a right “moderate” means we need better political descriptors) feeling like they can exert some pressure of their own.

“Kevin’s not stupid,” said Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio, leader of the Republican Governance Group. “He’s trying to add to his numbers, not destroy his base. And so I count on his political acumen to know what’s acceptable to the rank and file inside the conference.” Joyce is clearly in flattery mode with McCarthy, because he’s rarely characterized by his smarts, political or otherwise.

Two other groups, the Main Street Caucus and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, are strategizing about how to influence him as well. The latter group has about 50 members, and while they’ve never solved any problems, they could definitely trip McCarthy up, if those 50 members can remain unified. “We just want to make the group more accountable … I mean, the whole point of our group is to stick together on the floor when we endorse bills,” Republican Brian Fitzpatrick said. He also told Politico that even Freedom Caucus members have approached him about potential alliances. Which kind of shoots the whole “problem solving” moniker to hell since the maniacs are the problem.

The Main Street Caucus of Republicans, Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska says, has nearly 90 members and is sick of the maniacs. “It’s time we flex our muscles,” he said. Last week Bacon floated the possibility that his group would work with Democrats to find a candidate for speaker, later saying the the report “mischaracterized his remarks” and that he was pro-McCarthy. So how effective his group will be in blocking the maniacs is questionable.

While McCarthy is trying to wrangle all that, McConnell has his own group of nihilists to fend off. He retained his leadership position in a secret ballot last week, with 10 members voting against him and one voting present, with Scott challenging. It’s been open warfare between McConnell and Scott and their allies for months now, each blaming the other for the fact that Republicans had such a poor showing in Senate races.

To be fair to McConnell (which tells you just how odious Scott is), there’s the fact that Scott has used his position at the NRSC for grift and is still doing it. His NRSC team just sent out another email ostensibly raising money for Herschel Walker in the Georgia runoff, but with 98% of the money going to the NRSC, 2% to “Team Rick Scott” and 2% to Walker. If the past is any guidance, a good portion of that NRSC money is going to go to Scott as well.

That fight is still on thanks to Tucker Carlson and Blake Masters, the failed Arizona GOP Senate candidate (who was viewed less favorably by voters than Roy Moore was in his failed race for the Senate in Alabama—after all the news reports that he creeped on teenaged girls when he was in his 30s). Masters blasted McConnell for his loss.

“You know what else is incompetent, Tucker? The establishment. The people who control the purse strings,” Masters said. “Had he chosen to spend money in Arizona, this race would be over. We’d be celebrating a Senate majority right now.”

As that charge results in even more national stories about the Republican civil war, more right-wing pundits take sides, raising the temperature even more.

With the Senate majority secured, Democrats are working hard to increase it by one and return Sen. Raphael Warnock in the Georgia runoff. They’re also enjoying the show. “My advice is to keep on doing what they are doing,” said Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, who led Senate Democrats’ campaign committee to victory this cycle.

'If Willy Wonka benefited from apartheid': John Oliver rips Twitter’s Elon Musk as advertisers jump ship

John Oliver ripped Musk’s recent $44 billion purchase of Twitter, opening his Sunday night segment of Last Week Tonight with, “It has now been three weeks since it was taken over by Elon Musk, a man who answers the question, ‘What if Willy Wonka benefited from apartheid?’”

Oliver began by slamming Musk’s initial entrance into the company headquarters when the Tesla CEO walked in carrying a sink, and then tweeted, “Let that sink in.” As Daily Kos reported, it didn’t take long after Musk’s late October takeover for the racist floodgates to open and the use of the N-word to proliferate.

“One analysis [found] the use of a racial slur spiking nearly 500% in the 12 hours after his deal was finalized, which is pretty shocking,” Oliver said, adding, “even for a website where a regular trending topic is sometimes just ‘The Jews.’ That happens constantly. You’ll log in and see 30,000 people tweeting about ‘The Jews’ on a Tuesday afternoon, and you do not want to click to find out why.”

Oliver said that Musk had initially tried to lower the bar, explaining that his newly bought company would “do lots of dumb things in coming months.” At which point Oliver talked about Musk’s infamous attempt at charging users $8 a month to verify their accounts.

Twitter initially used blue checkmarks to verify that notable people and companies were who they said they were. Musk’s new pay-to-play “Twitter Blue” program, which removed verification processes and instead sells a blue check to anyone with $8, led to a slew of counterfeit accounts

But the list of Musk misfires continues to grow. After sacking a massive number of Twitter executives and other employees in the first days after acquiring the company, Musk also removed explainer tags for trending topics, “a feature that previously helped add greater context and combated misinformation,” Oliver said, adding that #RIPJimmyFallon was recently trending without any further information.

Oliver went on to say that all of Musk’s shenanigans have taken a toll on the platform, explaining that advertisers have begun pulling revenue, “General Mills, GM [General Motors], United Airlines and Pfizer,” Oliver noted.

Essence Magazine reports that Balenciaga, Eli Lilly, Playbill, Audi, and Volkswagen have all left the platform. Additionally, a long list of celebrities have also walked away from Twitter: Whoopi Goldberg, Toni Braxton, Shonda Rhimes, Micky Foley, Gigi Hadid, Brian Koppelman, and Téa Leoni, to name a few.

A director of a “medium sized b2b tech company” tweeted Monday an explanation of why they were “pausing” their Twitter ads, citing “serious brand safety issues,” with ads “next to awful content” and “replies to our posts with hardcore antisemitism and adult spam,” even after it was flagged.

Another monumentally “dumb thing” Musk recently did was to allow former President Donald Trump’s account to be reinstated on the platform.

Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League weighed in: “For @elonmusk to allow Donald Trump back on Twitter, ostensibly after a brief poll, shows he is not remotely serious about safeguarding the platform from hate, harassment and misinformation.”

Oliver commented that Musk’s online persona has been a “fun troll,” but according to a recent appearance, it seems as if “the fun may have worn off for him.”

Oliver then showed a video of Musk speaking at the B20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, where Musk appeared virtually. He talked about working day and night on the platform, to which Oliver screamed, “Holy shit,” adding, “That man is in every possible sense, in a very dark place. The entire vibe of that video is ‘Wizard of Oz’ suicide note.”

Oliver ended his Twitter segment by concluding that Musk seems clueless about the platform’s direction and, and as others have said, doubtful it will survive. “He paid roughly $44 billion for a company that he is now demolishing at every turn,” The New Republic’s Matt Ford wrote.

Oliver said:

“He’s decimated his staff and degraded his product, and sure, he could try and sell what’s left of Twitter, or it can continue functioning worse than before as his free-for-all digital clown town … And while the potential collapse of this site has been sad for the workers and for those who have relied on it, there is undeniably something a little satisfying about a guy who was so desperate to be perceived as cool and funny on the internet that he paid $44 billion to make it happen, only to discover that he still somehow couldn’t afford it.

It took House GOP just one day to show why Democrats need to bomb-proof everything while they can

It’s going exactly how Republicans promised it would if they took the House: vengeance. Nothing but vengeance. Policy agenda? As if.

The first press conference of their majority Thursday, was from the Oversight and Judiciary Committee chairs laying out the number one target for their vendetta. It was all Hunter Biden’s laptop, all the time. A thing that is entirely not real.

On the second day of their majority, Rep. Jim Jordan’s Judiciary committee sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain demanding the testimony of White House staff about the administration’s “misuse of federal criminal and counterterrorism resources to target concerned parents at school board meetings.” Another thing that never happened. All four of the people they are demanding testimony from are women, and some are women of color.

That was just the start. Jordan also sent letters to Justice, the FBI, Departments of Education, and Homeland Security telling them to “anticipate requiring testimony, either in hearings or transcribed interviews” from dozens more officials, many again of whom are people of color and women.

What about inflation? What about gas prices? What about fentanyl? What about violent crime? What about immigration? What about making sure everyone can afford to go to Disneyland?

As if.

They are not interested in making government work. They won’t try to make government work. Which is why it is imperative that Democrats do all the stuff while they have the majority. That includes figuring out how to put the debt ceiling out of their reach, just for a start. That one’s a necessity.

So is doing the least they can on protecting the next presidential election by pushing the electoral count reforms through. We have some breathing room on that with the great results in some swing state elections, but fixing this is important, particularly now that larger election reforms can’t get done.

It would also be super smart to revive the child tax credit monthly payments from the 2021 COVID-19 relief bill Democrats passed, and generally do do everything they possibly can to help regular people and to make a very big deal out of it—the Democrats’ Christmas Gift to America—to start making the case for 2024.

Which will have to happen the week after next, because they’re already gone until after Thanksgiving. Oh, well. In the meantime, enjoy the Washington Post showing us what a fool Kevin McCarthy is, and relish how his red wave became a pink dribble.

How McCarthy wrongly predicted a House 'red wave'youtu.be

Appointment of highly regarded special counsel Jack Smith viewed as sign Trump is in legal jeopardy

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday named longtime federal prosecutor Jack Smith special counsel to oversee two Justice Department probes of Donald Trump and determine whether he should be indicted.

Smith will now oversee two ongoing federal investigations into Trump's involvement in the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and his storage of highly sensitive materials at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.

Smith, who is anything but a household name, is well-known within legal circles as a "scrappy... no-nonsense, hard-charger," as former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade told MSNBC shortly after the announcement.

Smith also appears to be a veteran of navigating highly charged situations. He has overseen war crimes investigations at the International Criminal Court, led the Justice Department's public integrity unit, been appointed the first assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, and, most recently, served as a war crimes prosecutor at The Hague. In fact, Garland said Smith was flying back from that post to accept his appointment as special counsel.

McQuade took his appointment as a sign the department's investigations into Trump have taken a serious turn.

"The one thing I find most significant," she said, "is you don't need to appoint a special counsel just to decline a case. You don't call in a Jack Smith, someone with incredible credentials, incredible reputation, pull him out of The Hague to do this work, unless you think there is a very high likelihood that one of these cases is going to result in charges. So that's my read."

McQuade's take was shared by some other legal observers. Former federal prosecutor and legal analyst Renato Mariotti tweeted, “If Merrick Garland didn’t think there was a serious possibility that Trump would be indicted, he wouldn’t have appointed a special counsel.”

Mariotti added that Garland “didn’t appoint Jack Smith to wind down these investigations.”

While some legal observers wished Garland had simply made the call himself, Smith was generally embraced as a good choice for the job. Notably, he has not been charged with recreating the work already undertaken by Justice Department prosecutors.

"Jack Smith is a solid pick," tweeted Joyce Vance White, a law school professor and MSNBC legal analyst. "His experience as specialist prosecutor for Kosovo suggests he can move into a serious, difficult ongoing investigation, run with it, & indict cases that should be indicted."

Highly regarded constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe said he could think of "no one better suited" for the job, and former member of the Mueller team Andrew Weissmann added that Smith is a "very aggressive prosecutor who represents the best of the Department."

If the Justice Department ultimately does indict Trump, it will be ugly no matter who pulls the trigger. No amount of separation between a Biden-appointed attorney general and the career prosecutor who made the call will assuage Trump supporters.

That said, there's a case to be made that by virtue of not being a political appointee, Smith will be better situated to make a decision based on the evidence alone. His appointment could also add an extra layer of transparency. If Smith recommends indicting Trump, and Garland then rejects that determination, Garland will be required to explain that decision to the public.

Here's a quick explainer of what happened with crypto giant FTX — and how the GOP is lying about it

If you are online or have paid a little bit of attention over the past week, you’ve probably heard about FTX (short for “Futures Exchange”) and its various connected companies crashing and burning in the marketplace. What does it all mean? To be completely honest, it is mostly crypto Ponzi scheme magic unfolding in real time. On Nov. 11, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (who is also known by the moniker “SBF”) announced he was stepping down and his crypto exchange was filing for bankruptcy. On Wednesday, FTX Digital Markets, based in the Bahamas, filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protections in New York. Chapter 15 is what you do when you want U.S. protections for a company that is “based” offshore.

FTX had been touted as, The New York Times puts it, the most stable and responsible companies in the freewheeling, loosely regulated crypto industry.” In January it was valued at an estimated $32 billion. It turns out that this reputation was based on … nothing. It was based on magic. It has very quickly unfolded that the unregulated crypto exchange, with “digital assets” in a range between $10 billion and $50 billion,* was giving out billions in loans using customers’ money and just doing all sorts of (alleged) securities fraud, regular fraud, banking fraud, and wire fraud behavior.

However, conservatives (and Elon Musk) are seizing on the connections the Democratic Party had with SBF. Bankman-Fried was a big Democratic donator this past cycle. The now 30-year-old Bankman-Fried, who went from being worth about $17 billion to nothing in about a week, wasn’t the only person at the top of the FTX food chain giving money to politicians. His co-CEO, Ryan Salame, was donating at a pace that was neck and neck with SBF, except his donations went to conservatives.

*For comparison, Enron had $60 billion in assets when it filed for bankruptcy in 2006.

In the beginning, FTX said that the company’s sudden plunge in stock numbers were the result of an old time-y run on the bank. Then the full extent of this rose-colored glasses “run on the bank” began to unfold. A timeline:

The largest U.S. crypto exchange, CoinDesk, published a report on Alameda Research (Bankman-Fried’s original FTX crypto trading firm) and its leaked balance sheet. This revealed that Alameda Research was wildly overleveraged by the FTT token issued by FTX itself. This is the equivalent of me telling you that I have tons of money in the bank and when you look at my vault, you see that the “money” I have are pictures of my cats with word bubbles saying “I.O.U purrr.”

FTX customers began trading off their digital assets and hitting FTX with a reported $5 billion in withdrawal requests, forcing the firm to pause customer withdrawals. FTX quickly realized it needed to find big investors.

Then the other crypto trade and exchange giant, Binance, announced that it would be getting out of the FTX token business. This led FTT token prices to beginning to drop exchange value of over $26 a coin to a lot less over the next few hours. FTT sits at $1.56 as of the writing of this story.

The following day, Binance announced it had reached a deal with its rival to buy out FTX. Twenty-four hours after that, Binance walked away from this deal, stating that “as a result of corporate due diligence, as well as the latest news reports regarding mishandled customer funds and alleged US agency investigations, we have decided that we will not pursue the potential acquisition of FTX.com.”

Two days later, Alameda Research filed for bankruptcy. The Wall Street Journal reported that Bankman-Fried was telling his investors that Alameda Research owed FTX about $10 billion. By then, SBF had also resigned his position. Why did his one company owe this other company more than half of the other company’s supposed customers’ money? You don’t have to be a finance wizard to understand.

Bankman-Fried seems to have usedmost of his customers’ money (FTX) in order to cover loans his trading firm (Alameda Research) had received to gamble with but had lost.

The following day, reports came out that “between $1 billion and $2 billion in client money is unaccounted.”

Politico reports that some of that money being spread around Congress is being given back symbolically right now:

Campaigns for Reps. Chuy García (D-Ill.) and Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) have given local charities money equal to the amount they received from FTX leaders, according to their spokespeople.

But I thought this was a big Democratic Party money-laundering scam? Bankman-Fried reportedly funneled almost $40 million into Democratic Party hands through direct contributions and super PACs.

What has been lost in all of this is that is Salame served as co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets Ltd., hanging in the Bahamas with Bankman-Fried. Instead of showering Dems with money like SBF, Salame donated around $24 million to Republicans. Between the two men, their bases were covered. Anyway, as The Berkshire Eagle points out, Salame, just like Bankman-Fried, has some dubious finance questions to answer. One of the FTX units, FTV Trading Ltd., seems to have an outstanding loan with Salame of (checks notes) $55 million. Yeeghaaaad, man!

As of right now,Forbes reports that lawyers for the “liquidators” of FTX are battling between whether to allow the Chapter 15 filing for the Bahamas-based business to take place in Delaware or New York. FTX has turned over control of the bankruptcy of the company to John J. Ray III. If you remember that name, it’s because he was the same “restructuring specialist” who handled Enron’s collapse.

Is this the last you and I will speak about FTX?

Probably not. Throw it on the Hunter Biden pile of investigations.

The sad part here is that there really is something here to investigate, and there is a very good chance that lots of elected politicians with red and blue badges have some skin in the game. Unfortunately, Marjorie Taylor Greene isn’t the kind of broken clock that tells the time right twice a day—she’s special in that way. The crypto world is made up of a lot of Ponzi schemes. Some might argue there is no crypto market that isn’t a Ponzi scheme.

Nicholas Weaver is a senior staff researcher at the International Computer Science Institute and lecturer in the computer science department at UC Berkeley. He has been very critical of cryptocurrencies. During an interview in May, he said the last decade with unregulated cryptocurrency markets open to the world has been like speed-running 500 years of financial history” with booms and busts and every example of why regulatory markets were adopted in our financial market in the first place.

The fact of the matter is that there is a good chance more crypto exchanges and trading firms will go down in flames with the failure of FTX. How deep FTX’s penetration is into the market on the whole remains to be seen, and what will come of this in regards to oversight also remains to be seen. It is a big fish going down, and there will be all kinds of waves.

And how about this.

And this is also interesting.

'This is kind of a big deal, we think': GOP implores media to 'keep it about Hunter Biden' during first press conference

Guess who may have made up to $640 million from ‘outside income’ while in the White House? It has been less than 24 hours since the Republican Party became the official majority party in the coming term. And while this majority is slim and restricts their abilities, while leaving open the possibilities of some legislative actions for Democrats to continue pursuing, what it does allow them to do is investigate stuff using congressional committee oversight powers.

Guess what the new House Oversight Committee said it would be investigating.

Jan. 6? No.

The billions (with a “B”) Jared Kushner and the Trump family have seemingly been able to secure from countries like China and Saudi Arabia?No.

Literally any pressing matter of national security or growing domestic threat? Nope.

What Americans need, the GOP seems to believe, is a thorough fact-finding mission into Hunter Biden’s laptop! Hillary’s emails and Benghazi are all worn out from the previous time the Republican Party controlled the House, and according to the press conference that the GOP held today, this Biden laptop thing will allow them to investigate and investigate and investigate until they can hopefully take control of the government again and forget about their baseless investigations.

First House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member Republican James Comer of Kentucky stood in front of the press, flanked by Rep. Jim I-should-be-being-investigated-for-complicity-in-the-sexual-molestation-of-athletes-under-my-charge Jordan. Here are some of the things they did not want to talk about concerning the first order of business for the Republican majority:

  • Inflation
  • Civil rights
  • Abortion
  • Policy
  • Policy
  • Policy

After talking about how Hunter Biden was a drug addict who may or may not have paid sex workers for sex, Comer explained that Hunter Biden may have also used his name to try and get lucrative jobs. Now, you may be asking yourself, how is this something for a Congressional oversight committee to waste time and resources over? Because Comer promises this will be about Joe Biden. Comer then proceeded to say they had secret sources, while not being able to provide a single shred of evidence not already publicly available. None of which implicate President Joe Biden in corruption.

After Comer spoke, Jim I-stayed-quiet-while-young-man-after-young-man-after-young-man-pleaded-with-me-for-help Jordan spoke some more about Hunter Biden and how the FBI needed to also be investigated over this Hunter Biden matter of extreme importance, Comer came back to tell everyone that he only wanted questions about … Hunter Biden.

To be clear, this “investigation” is going to be spent attacking the Department of Justice, the FBI, Hunter Biden, his super “real” laptop, a lot of hyped-up bs about national security, and President Joe Biden, and it is going to stretch for as long as they can possibly stand to talk about it—and that will be a while—on Fox News and OAN, 24/7, with live coverage all the way up to next Election Day.

It will serve a couple of purposes for the GOP. It will allow them to have some conspiracy theory scandal to promote to MAGA-world. It will potentially degrade trust in real criminal and federal investigations into Jan. 6 and the other many and various crimes of the previous administration. It will give the GOP something to do while they don’t create any policy or offer up anything to help Americans who need help. And if they get lucky, milk and/or gas will cost less someday, and they can say they did that, too.

Three football players killed in fatal University of Virginia shooting, suspect in custody

A suspect has been captured in relation to a fatal shooting at the University of Virginia on Sunday. Police took 22-year-old Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. in custody and charged him with murder on Monday after three members of the University of Virginia football team were fatally shot at a parking garage on campus; two others were injured.

According to The Washington Post, Jones was a freshman on the football team in 2018 but allegedly did not appear at any games. Officials noted that the students shot at were all on the same bus “full of students” returning from a field trip, and while the motive has not yet been determined, the students were all once teammates.

The deceased students were identified as Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr., and D'Sean Perry, UVA President Jim Ryan said during a press conference. The two others who were injured were not identified.

“This is a sad, shocking and tragic day for our UVA community,” Ryan said at a press conference Monday. “Let me say how deeply sorry I am for the victims and for their family and friends.”

“This is a message any leader hopes never to have to send, and I am devastated that this violence has visited the University of Virginia,” Ryan wrote in an open letter shared on social media. “This is a traumatic incident for everyone in our community.”

Prior to taking Jones into custody, the university's emergency management issued an alert on Twitter of an "active attacker firearm."

"People have been locked down in libraries all night. Everyone (is) definitely shaken up," Luke, a student who preferred that his last name be withheld for privacy reasons, told USA TODAY in an email. "We are in deep prayer for the victims and for their families right now."

Late Monday morning, the shelter-in-place order was lifted after a "thorough search" on and around the campus, police said.

"There has been a shooting on Culbreth Road and the suspect is at large and considered armed and dangerous," Ryan said in a tweet.

According to USA TODAY, Jones faces three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun to commit a felony, UVA Police Chief Tim Longo said. This incident was also not the first time Jones caught the attention of the police: He attracted attention in September as well after someone reported he commented about having a gun, but no reports were made as no one actually saw him with a weapon.

Several elected officials in Virginia also spoke about the shooting on social media.

"This morning, Suzanne and I are praying for the UVA community," Gov. Glenn Youngkin said on Twitter, referring to his wife, Suzanne Youngkin.

"Heartbroken to hear of another Virginia community devastated by gun violence," Sen. Tim Kaine said in a tweet. "Praying for the UVA community and closely monitoring the situation."

Across the country, mass shootings have increased amid debates on gun control and legislation. According to CNN, at least 68 shootings have occurred nationwide including on 15 college campuses. To this day, the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history remains the 2007 attack at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, where a 23-year-old student killed 32 people before dying by suicide.

Ukraine update: 'Organized withdrawal of troops of the first line is impossible' in Kherson

Those days when a Russian position is clearly crumbling? Those are the best days.

On Saturday evening in Ukraine, Russia has once again targeted electrical production and transmission facilities with missile and drone attacks, causing blackouts that involve a large percentage of the population, including the majority of Kyiv. However, this appears to be about the only “good news” on Russian state media and Telegram channels. Because the situation in Kherson appears to be coming to a head sooner than expected.

On Saturday morning, Russian officials called for “immediate evacuation” of the city of Kherson. Officials seem to have followed this order by swiftly hopping on a boat and departing. There have also been reports that over the last two weeks Russia has been subbing in freshly mobilized troops for experienced fighters, while getting the forces who know which end of a rifle to hold across the river. There are also efforts reportedly underway to evacuate Russian personnel from the filtration camp at Beryslav.

Over the course of the day, these withdrawals appear to have become evident on the front lines. There are multiple reports of abandoned Russian positions, some of which have even been confirmed by the Ukrainian general staff (which is usually reluctant to report anything happening near the actual front line). It’s possible that the front line in Kherson is simply collapsing. That may be particularly true if those reports that the line has been replaced by inexperienced and recently mobilized troops. As soon as those guys no longer had someone holding a gun to their back, running away likely seemed like a Real Good Thing.

Ferries are reportedly doing frequent and rapid trips across the river on Saturday night in Ukraine, with Russians hoping to get as much across they can, while keeping an eye out for incoming HIMARS fire.

As Wagner Group Telegram channel GrayZone puts it: “The situation is even worse than in the Kharkiv region after the breakthrough to Balakliya. In fact, the implementation of an organized withdrawal of troops of the first line is impossible.”

GrayZone worked this into a lengthy post that included such stirring phrases as “a tale of the city of the Scythian sun has not yet sounded in our ears, but the air has already been saturated with a familiar unpleasant aftertaste that leaves a lump in the throat.” That could be Google Translate straining at the seams. Or a lot of vodka. In any case, they also took this opportunity to complain about Russian leadership wasting drones on civilian targets, and to metaphorically roll their eyes at the scheme to blow the Nova Kakhovka dam then blame it on Ukraine. Because nobody, not even pro-Russian military bloggers, would buy that story.

Every single source now seems to expect that the end of Russian occupation in Kherson isn’t going to be measured in weeks or months. It’s a matter of days. How many days is the only question. And it’s not going to be an orderly withdrawal with Russian tanks all neatly ferried across the Dnipro. It’s going to end with Russian forces clawing, or maybe shooting, to get that last spot on board.

What’s especially interesting, is that these Russian sources can see where things are going next, and understand well enough what caused them to lose the largest city they had managed to occupy in this invasion.

The enemy has absolutely no motive to blow up the hydroelectric power station. The Armed Forces of Ukraine plan to take Melitopol in the spring. It plans to open a battlefront in the Zaporizhzhia region, and also to attack from Kherson. So I subjectively believe that the enemy has no goals to destroy the already abandoned city [Kherson], which we simply do not have the opportunity to defend, not so much due to the smallness of forces and means, but in broken logistics.

Right now, there are a lot of reports of Russian positions being abandoned, but little visual confirmation that Ukraine has moved into these locations. In part, that may be because it’s currently 11PM in Kyiv. When the sun comes up, expect to see some images and videos from locations that have been on the red side of the line for months.

Reports that Russia’s front line in the north is collapsing. (open in another tab for a closer look)

Right now, there are reports that Chkalove and Charivne have been abandoned. The Chkalove claim has been supported by the Ukrainian general staff. It seems unlikely that these locations would be reported unless this also means that Ukrainian forces were currently there on the ground, but that still needs confirmation. Those locations cut deep into the formerly Russian-occupied area and make it possible for Ukraine to encircle any Russian forces that may remain in the area of Bruskynske. But there may be no one, as there were unconfirmed reports on Friday that this town was back on the Ukraine side of the divide. On Saturday, there are unconfirmed reports that Ukrainian forces have entered Mylove on the east, and have moved as far down as Chervomnyi Yar near the center of the line, several kilometers behind what has been the front over the last three weeks.

If all of this is confirmed, it seems that Russia’s northern line in Kherson is gone, and it’s not clear where, of if, Russian forces will form up again.

At Snihurivka, local sources report a large explosion at midday. Reports are that this was not a matter of Ukraine hitting the location with artillery or HIMARS, but Russian forces in the town blowing up remaining ammo as they prepare to withdraw. Departing Russian troops reportedly didn’t have time to take ammunition, because they were busy loading up TVs, refrigerators, and (of course) washing machines. Again, let’s hope these reports are accurate.

Honestly, while everyone on the front lines over the last months deserves praise, the real heroes of Kherson could be the guys in the backroom; the intelligence officers who (with help from the U.S. and others) correctly identified the weakness of the Russian’s supply situation in the west and what steps could be taken to exploit that weakness. Ukraine has been fighting to liberate Kherson since just days after the city was taken. In April, Ukraine’s dilemma in the area became clear—how to retake the city without resorting to the kind of tactics that Russia had used in taking Mariupol or would use at Severodonetsk. Ukraine wanted to liberate Kherson and, as much as possible, preserve the city and protect its people. How could it do that if Russia set up artillery in the middle of town and shelled Ukrainian positions with a quarter million human shields all around them? And how could they get there at all with Russia creating a set of nested fortresses along each highway?

Dammit if Ukraine didn’t find a way.

It’s still a long way to Kherson. In fact, Ukrainian forces have been closer to the city at least three times over the last nine eight months. But this time it’s not just momentum and hope that are propelling Ukraine forward.

Meanwhile, near Bakhmut…

There are reports that Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the area is extensive enough that it can’t be measured by looking at what specific stores are held. Ukraine may have taken back the town of Zaitseve, thought this is still awaiting confirmation.

How is Buhkmut going? Not well if you’re Russian.

As Vladimir Putin weakens, so does the integrity of the Russian Federation

Who knew? A “woke” army, one in which people understand the differences that make all of us unique, and build unit cohesion by respecting those differences, is a good thing. Over the weekend, three Muslim Russians opened fire at a mobilization site, killing at least 30 soldiers of Sen. Ted Cruz’s favorite anti-woke Russian army. They responded after being bullied about their religion.

The following is a translated interview of a Russian service member who witnessed the attack:

It all started when some of our soldiers - a Dagestani, an Azerbaijani and an Adyghe - said that 'this is not our war' and tried to write a report saying that they did not want to serve anymore. Lieutenant Colonel Andrei Lapin, when he learned this through the company commander, gathered everyone and started to say that 'this is a holy war.' Everything happened in the morning at the parade ground, where the formation takes place, the anthem is sung. A conflict broke out, people started pushing each other, including a few from my company. The Tajiks told Lapin that a holy war meant [only] a war between Muslims and infidels. Lapin said that "Allah must be a coward if he does not allow you to fight for the country to which you took an oath". I personally think that's what hurt the most, the phrase that 'Allah is a coward.' The phrase shocked a lot of people - those who were standing there on the parade ground. Because we also have Muslims among our officers, both Bashkirs and Tatars. After the formation, the Russians and Muslims continued the conflict, after which everyone dispersed and, it seems, calmed down. And an hour and a half later, around lunchtime, they sent us all to the firing ranges, and three of the Tajiks, who were on contract service, brought their automatic rifles, they had live ammunition, and shot our commander, Lieutenant Colonel Lapin, he died on the spot. And they started shooting indiscriminately. At the range, there were both contract servicemen and mobilized. I saw only the dead, of whom there were 29 people. The 30th is Lieutenant Colonel Lapin. This does not include two of the Tajiks; counting them too, there were 32 killed. I do not know exactly how many are wounded, some of them have already been taken by helicopter to Belgorod, and some of them are in Valuyki now with me.

This ethnic Russian soldier got off easy after threatening ethnic Kazakhs. Warning, guy gets pummeled in the video:

Ethnic, racial, and religious fissures are increasingly out in the open, as Russians in the hinterlands realize they are being sucked dry by the Moscow elites, doing most of the dying, and sacrificing most of their men. Many are doing the previously unimaginable and speaking out against the injustices. Here is the governor of the Islamic region of Dagestan:

We’ve already seen Russia’s neighbors more aggressively stand up to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, telling him off to his face. Given the sorry state of Russia’s crumbling army, there is little reason to fear reprisal. No VDV airborne troops are landing in another foreign country anytime soon. The remnants of those units are currently stuck in Kherson, and there aren’t many guys left.

But that might not be Putin’s worst nightmare. Russia’s official name is the “Russian Federation,” and that conglomeration of regions presents massive potential for unrest.


(A bigger version of the map below can be found here.)

There are 83 federal subjects in the Russian Federation—oblasts, republics, okrugs, federal cities, and the “Jewish autonomous oblast” created by Stalin to entice Russian Jews to settle the empty region. (Only 0.2% of the oblast remains Jewish.)

Oblast are like provinces or American states, same as in Ukraine. Okrugs are similar, but populated by indigenous people. There are two federal cities—Moscow and St. Petersburg, because of course the elite will make sure to set themselves apart from everything around them.

And then there are the Republics—these are areas populated by non-ethnic Russians, with the supposed right to their own official language, constitution, and legislature. It is here that Russia’s control has depended on Rosgvardia thugs (Putin’s national guard) to maintain order and control. Those guys have been decimated in Ukraine.

I have only rudimentary knowledge of these regions and their individual allegiances (or lack thereof) to Moscow, but Dagestan is particularly restive right now, Chechnya has a proven history of rebellion, and we just saw Tajik Russians wipe out 30 mobilized ethnic Russians in that one attack (Muslim mobilized were warned ahead of time to steer clear of the kill zone).

The weaker Moscow becomes, the greater the chance that many of these “republics” and other regions demand greater autonomy or independence from Moscow, and there are plenty of regional powers who might happily support such activities, either out of regional power plays (Turkey, Iran, and China) or ethnic/religious allegiance (Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and other Central Asia republics). Western powers might find it hard to steer clear, particularly given the presence of nuclear weapons in many of these regions. It could get ugly and bloody. Sometimes the only thing keeping internal conflict at bay is repression and autocracy, like we saw in Iraq and Libya.

A shattered Russian Federation is such a fearful scenario, it’s likely a factor in Western Europe’s repeated desire to offer Putin an “off-ramp.” The Putin we know might be far better than an ethno-religious conflict spanning the entire length of today’s Russia. Heck, if Russian scholar Kamil Galeev is right, a Federation breakup might not even need the ethnic or religious spark

HIs long-running thesis is simple: Moscow and St. Petersburg have sucked the rest of the country dry. We see it in the yachts and Italian villas, and the missing 1.5 million winter coats that were supposed to keep their own soldiers warm this winter. As such, even ethnically Russian regions have a valid grudge against a Russian ruling elite who have intentionally kept them economically destitute. There’s a reason Russian soldiers are carting off washing machines.

With the mobilized already dying just two weeks after getting drafted, Putin may face his own winter of discontent, as the historically passive Russian people finally reach their breaking point. And wouldn’t it be ironic if the man who invaded Ukraine out of fury at the dissolution of the Soviet Union, then created the conditions for the final collapse of the Russia state?

We supposedly have the first video of the Russian side of a GMLRS strike.

I do wonder if they’re really using $100,000+ rockets against dirt trenches. These could be Soviet-era MLRS, as Ukraine has plenty. Also, what kind of dumbass would rather record the incoming rockets than duck?

Can you imagine being Russian, seeing your army get mauled, and then thinking it has anything to do with American domestic politics?

Ukrainian advances are utterly irrelevant to people’s voting decisions November 8, but it’s a fascinating insight into the Russian mind—everything is a conspiracy involving nefarious American and NATO actors. God forbid they confront the truth, that they’re getting their asses handed to them by a Ukrainian nation they assumed inferior.

GreyZone is the Telegram channel run by Wagner mercenaries, one of those rumored to be under investigation by authorities in Moscow for sometimes spilling the truth. While other targeted Telegram channels have mostly fallen in line this past week, GreyZone appears less interested in doing so. In addition to casting shade against Russian proxies in Luhansk and Donetsk, they are now praising their Ukrainian opponents:

Wagner almost always fights alone, it’s more reliable. The situation near Bakhmut is stably difficult, the Ukrainian troops are putting up decent resistance and the legend of the fleeing Ukrainian is just a legend. Ukrainians are guys with the same steel balls as us … and that’s not bad. We Slavs should be proud of it.

Given that Wagner has been beating their head against Ukraine’s Bakhmut defenses for over two months now, it goes without saying that Ukrainian troops aren’t doing any fleeing.

This is so painfully cringe:

HIMARS doesn’t stand a chance against their, uh, choreography.

Someone gave the video better music.

If you’re wondering what’s happening down in Kherson, join the club. Strict operational silence has put a lid on any information.

Ukraine isn’t waiting to rebuild.

Relating to the picture at the top of this update:

That’s how old I was living in the middle of a civil war in El Salvador. I’ve carried it my entire life.

Click here to donate to help those escaping Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Georgia GOP has challenged 65,000 voter registrations this year: analysis

One of the most significant reasons gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is encouraging Georgians to vote early is that Republicans are doing everything they can to disrupt this election, aka stop Democrats from being able to vote.

This year, Republicans have attempted to purge thousands upon thousands of voter registrations, all in the name of alleged voter fraud. They’re using SB 202, a bill signed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp after the loss of former President Donald Trump in 2020, to “police Georgia’s voter list,”Atlanta Journal-Constitution's (AJC) Mark Niesse writes.

Nsé Ufot, chief executive of the New Georgia Project Action Fund, told The Guardian, “There’s no doubt that the senate bill 202 push, much like the January 6 insurrection, was a response to the sort of multiracial rising American electorate. Full stop … I see a straight line between those two dots. No curve.”

In early October, the Gwinnett County Board of Elections voted to dismiss all voter registration challenges filed by Republicans—22,000 that were alleged to be invalid. Gwinnett is a suburb of Atlanta with a 58.4% Democratic voting block.

The terrifying thing is that Gwinnett is just one county in Georgia where election officials are being forced to contend with voter registration purging issues. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports 15,000 challenges made in Forsyth and 1,350 in Cobb County just this month. This year, about 65,000 challenges were filed, with about 3,000 upheld, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The challenges have been filed mainly by VoterGA, a group that receives its backing from The America Project, a group founded by Michael Flynn and Patrick Byrne, founder of Overstock—both of whom have consistently refuted Trump’s legitimate loss to Biden.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 63% of Cobb County, Georgia, challenges to voter registration were fixed on people of color whose applications lacked apartment numbers or had listed their addresses as Kennesaw State University.

“Death by a thousand cuts is how I’m thinking about it now,” Ufot said. “This is really like playing Whac-a-Mole at a time where we don’t have the resources to fight back this kind of voter suppression,” Ufot told The Guardian.

Vasu Abhiraman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia told The Atlanta Journal-Constitutionthat “Local elections officials should be devoting their precious resources to ensuring voters can register, access the ballot and have their ballots counted … These mass voter challenges are designed to disenfranchise, and we will continue to demand they be swiftly dismissed under the law.”

'It is now my turn to speak': Drag performer targeted by right-wing activist files defamation suit

Defenders of the Libs of TikTok social media account try to distance themselves from the real-world consequences of their hate campaigns by claiming that all the anti-LGBTQ harassment account does is share content made by others. But that’s simply a lie. The account singles out to its 1.5 million followers individuals who have done nothing except be openly or pro-LGBTQ.

The account also spreads blatant lies, one of which is now at the center of litigation. While the Libs of TikTok didn’t originate the lie that a drag performer at an Idaho Pride event this past summer had exposed himself to children in the audience, the account picked it up from right-wing blogger Summer Bushnell and spread it even after it had been debunked. It resulted in harassment, which is the goal of these right-wing actors.

That drag performer, Eric Posey, is now suing Bushnell. The Libs of TikTok account, meanwhile, is currently on yet another temporary suspension due to hateful conduct, raising questions about how it continues to violate Twitter’s policies but never seems to get permanently suspended.

“In June 2022, Summer Bushnell falsely stated that Eric Posey exposed his genitals to the public, including children, at Pride in the Park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,” the complaint stated. “Bushnell also doctored a video of Posey’s performance to make it look like he had in fact exposed himself. Bushnell knew that Posey did not expose himself, but she lied anyway to gain popularity on social media.

“Her plan worked: her false statements and doctored video received nearly 19 times more views than each of her prior 10 videos,” the complaint continued. “But Bushnell’s publicity was not free; it came at the expense of Posey’s reputation. He now sues her for defamation.”

“The video, which was debunked by local news two days after the event was held, led to harassment against Posey after it went viral on social media,” Media Matters said. But even after it was debunked, Libs of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik shared a tweet from Bushnell that outrageously and falsely labeled the performer a “pedophile.”

Media Matters said Posey was then bombarded by the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” slur popularized by Libs of TikTok and GOP operatives like Christina Pushaw, an aide to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. While Bushnell’s tweet was eventually removed, Media Matters said Libs of TikTok’s wasn’t. “Now Posey is suing Bushnell, claiming she defamed him in an effort to gain popularity as part of the nationwide effort to malign LGBTQ people and Pride Month events.”

And while Bushnell had based the tweet on an outright lie and called on her supporters to report Posey to police, “[a] subsequent police investigation cleared Posey of wrongdoing, and a city prosecutor said an unedited copy of the video showed no evidence of indecent exposure,” NBC News reports. “The allegations of indecent exposure, or other crimes cannot be supported by the evidence,” the prosecutor’s office said. “Therefore, prosecution is declined."

Of course, the goal was never to seek accountability, as nothing wrong had happened. The goal was to unleash a steady stream of harassment against an openly LGBTQ person living their life.

“When there are outlandish lies that are made public and recirculated and take on a life of their own, the person who the lie was about is harmed,” Posey’s attorney Wendy Olson told NBC News. “It has an impact on every single aspect of their life, every day. This disinformation is not true—it just needs to be stopped.”

Posey, who is known by the stage name of Mona Liza Million, said in a statement released by law firm Stoel Rives that “[a]fter three months of silence, it is now my turn to speak.”

“Despite being cleared of all wrongdoing, provocateurs have continued to spread the doctored video of my performance, not only defaming me, but also inciting a backlash towards the LGBTQIA+ community statewide. I have no choice but to take legal action to hold those responsible for the lies accountable for their actions. My hope is that this civil suit puts a stop to the hateful disinformation campaigns being waged in Idaho.”

”The suit seeks monetary damages from Bushnell for defamation and defamation by implication in an amount of more than $10,000,” Stoel Rives said. “Compensatory damages, attorney’s fees, and legal costs are requested, as is a jury trial.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene accuses Democrats of violence and wanting to make Republicans 'disappear'

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia got on stage at former president Donald Trump's "Save America" rally on Saturday and spewed out offensive comment after offensive comment, many of them dangerous when considering the underlying call to action.

"I’m not going to mince words with you all,” Greene told a Michigan crowd. “Democrats want Republicans dead, and they've already started the killings."

It’s not Democrats, though, who have both stood in the way of gun reform and framed Black and brown people as enemies for demanding that racists not be allowed to hunt them down and kill them.

Ahmaud Arbery, a Black former high school football standout, was accused of breaking into a home under construction when a three-person mob convicted of hate crimes chased, trapped, and murdered him in a South Georgia community.

Another white man was accused of intentionally targeting a grocery store in a majority Black community then killing 10 people at that store in Buffalo, New York.

Their names were Roberta A. Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackneil, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey, Pearl Young, and Ruth Whitfield.

Greene didn’t mention any of them in her list of those slain because of their differences.

She listed only white Republican victims. One was 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson, who was hit and killed in North Dakota when another man accused of driving while intoxicated got into a political argument Ellingson. Next in Greene’s speech was 84-year-old "Right-to-Life" volunteer Joan Jacobson, who was shot while canvassing on September 20 in Michigan.

On the point that killing people for their beliefs is wrong, there is no debate. Using isolated incidents, however, to assert a wild accusation as fact should be beneath any sitting member of Congress.

Very little is beneath Greene. She went on to equate allegations of murder with President Joe Biden’s leadership. “Joe Biden has declared every freedom loving American an enemy of the state,” she said, “but under Republicans, we will take back our country from the communists who have stolen it and want us to disappear.”

Greene nominated Kyle Rittenhouse for a Congressional Gold Medal after he shot and killed two men and wounded a third person, meeting protesters with a semi-automatic rifle in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Greene’s interpretation was that Rittenhouse “protected the community of Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a Black Lives Matter (BLM) riot on August 25, 2020.”

Those protesters were demanding justice after Rusten Sheskey, a white Kenosha cop, fired into the back of Jacob Blake, a Black security guard, seven times, paralyzing him. When protesters took to the streets for Blake, they were met with threats from armed men including Rittenhouse, who flew from Antioch, Illinois to respond to an alleged militia’s call to protect local businesses, according to USA Today.

“We appreciate you guys. We really do,” an officer could be seen telling Rittenhouse and others at the protest. This was about 15 minutes before the gunfire, after which Rittenhouse followed with a publicity tour. Though "serenaded" with a Proud Boys anthem; though acquitted of guilt; though spotlighted by Greene and other Republicans—Rittenhouse is no hero. He is a living, breathing example of just how dangerous the Republican party is when following the leadership of those like Greene.

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