Saturday, October 20, 2018

Last Call For Another #MeToo Moment

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown was attacked six years ago by Republican state auditor Josh Mandel over domestic violence allegations that supposedly led to Brown's then 26-year-old divorce.  Mandel lost by a significant margin and Brown has gone on to be one of the Senate better Democratic liberal voices.

But now, Brown is up against GOP Rep. Jim Renacci, and Brown is now facing assault accusations from a number of women brought forward by the Republican who says Brown not only needs to drop out of the race, but as with Al Franken, needs to retire from the Senate immediately.

Earlier this week, Republican Senate candidate and Congressman Jim Renacci revealed to The Enquirer "multiple women" contacted him with allegations they were abused by his Democratic opponent and veteran U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Renacci wouldn't reveal who they were. Late Thursday night, an attorney released a statement on behalf of one of the women.

In the statement, Canton, Ohio area attorney Laura Mills described a sexual encounter her client had with Brown in the late 1980s. Brown was Ohio's Secretary of State at the time and the unnamed woman had met Brown in the course of her work.

According to Mills, Brown pushed her client up against a wall.

"She described an unexpected, uninvited, unwanted, and sudden advance, roughly pushing her up against a wall," Mills said in the statement. "It did stop after she expressed dismay and very firmly pulled away, explaining that was not her style nor why she was there. He then said he remembered what she had on the day they had met some time earlier and that he had been attracted to her."

Mills, who has served as Renacci's lawyer and has donated to his campaigns, said her client wants to remain anonymous. She was able to "defuse the situation" but was shaken up by it, Mills said in the statement.

Brown's campaign on Thursday sent a cease and desist letter to Renacci, demanding he stop "false and libelous statements."

"At the very least you were acting with reckless disregard to the truth, as you must have been aware that the statements you were making had no basis in fact," Brown's attorney Marc Erik Elias wrote in the email.

Brown's campaign spokesman, Preston Maddock, in a statement, pointed out Mills is a former business partner of Renacci. The campaign plans on pursuing "all legal means" against Renacci.

Renacci has been attacking Brown over the now 32-year-old domestic violence allegations, which Brown's ex-wife, Larke Recchie, denies.  Renacci has been trailing Brown for the entire race, but that's before this week's allegations has come forward.

Brown now has a problem, and a potentially very serious one.  His response has been to completely deny the allegations, but I'm not sure if that's going to hold up here in a post-Kavanaugh America.

We'll see.

The Drums of War, Con't

The Trump regime grows ever closer to the bad old days of the Cold War, as both Trump and Putin have decided that the 80's-era bilateral treaty on mid-range nukes no longer works with an ascendant China in the picture.

The Trump administration is preparing to tell Russian leaders next week that it is planning to exit the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, in part to enable the United States to counter a Chinese arms buildup in the Pacific, according to American officials and foreign diplomats.

President Trump has been moving toward scrapping the three-decade-old treaty, which grew out of President Ronald Reagan’s historic meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986. While the treaty was seen as effective for years, Russia has been violating it at least since 2014 in an effort to menace other nations.

But the pact has also constrained the United States from deploying new weapons to respond to China’s efforts to cement a dominant position in the Western Pacific and to keep American naval forces at bay. Because China was not a signatory to the treaty, it has faced no limits on developing intermediate-range nuclear missiles, which can travel thousands of miles.

The White House said that no official decision had been made to leave the treaty, known as I.N.F., which at the time of its signing was considered a critical step in defusing Cold War tensions. But in the coming weeks, Mr. Trump is expected to sign off on the decision, which would mark the first time he has scrapped an arms control treaty, the American officials said.

Now that the treaty is largely in tatters, the question is whether the decision to leave it will accelerate the increasingly Cold War-like behavior among the three superpowers: the United States, Russia and China.

As Russia has flown bombers over Europe and has conducted troop exercises on its borders with former Soviet states, the United States and its NATO allies have been rotating forces through countries under threat. Ukraine has become a low-level battleground, with ground skirmishes and a daily cyberconflict. China and the United States are jostling for position around reefs in the South China Sea that Beijing has turned into military bases, and they are both preparing for any possibility of war in space.

It's absolutely true that Russia walked away from the INF treaty in 2014, but the EU, particularly Germany, didn't want another European arms race.  However, John Bolton's Mustache has prevailed, and the treaty will be scrapped soon, and as Russia plays both the US and China against the middle, it's Putin who will get the last laugh.

Hell, he might be the only around to laugh when the fallout stops.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

The Justice Department on Friday brought charges against a Putin ally in a Russian plot to interfere in the 2018 elections.  This is not a drill, this is the DoJ charging Russians with trying to mess with our elections right now.

Russians working for a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin engaged in an elaborate campaign of “information warfare” to interfere with the midterm elections, federal prosecutors said on Friday in announcing they had charged one of them in the plot.

The woman, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, was involved in an effort “to spread distrust towards candidates for U.S. political office and the U.S. political system,” prosecutors said.

Ms. Khusyaynova managed millions of dollars for a company owned by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch who was previously indicted on charges of interfering in the 2016 presidential election, to finance foreign influence activities directed at the United States. Some of the money was spent on advertising on social media in the United States, buying internet domain names and “promoting news postings on social networks.”

The conspirators seized on divisions in American politics, prosecutors said, including immigration, guns, race relations, women and even the debate over the protests by National Football League players during the national anthem
. They adopted a variety of ideological perspectives, writing on varied topics and from opposing views, prosecutors said. No one was named in court papers besides Ms. Khusyaynova.

The conspirators “took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists,” prosecutors wrote

Russian bots are purposely making our divisive society worse by picking fights, and them amplifying those fights using social media. And let's not forget that for the last two years, the Trump regime has been not only actively denying that this was happening, but going out of their way to make our elections more vulnerable.

The bigger issue is that these attacks are going on and Trump is doing nothing to stop them.  It's good then that the FBI is working to try to defend the country, but they sure aren't going to get any help and any support from Trump.  Remember, for two years, Russian meddling in the elections has been "fake news".

Now we have federal charges filed that not only say that it's not fake news, but that it's happening now, in real time, and most likely is still happening.

The Russians are attacking our elections now.  Right now.  Openly.

And Ms. Khusyaynova here?  The accountant paying for all of this.

Prosecutors said Khusyaynova is the chief accountant for a Russian umbrella effort called Project Lakhta, funded by a Russian oligarch whose Concord companies were named in the July indictment brought by Mueller involving attempted meddling in the 2016 election

Concord Management is owned by Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, also known as "Putin's chef," who is closely linked to the Russian president. It provides food services at the Kremlin.

Mueller has indicted Prighozin as part of his probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller's office indicted Prighozin and 12 other Russian nationals in February on charges including interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In June, Mueller said in a filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that the government believes foreign "individuals and entities" are continuing to "engage in interference operations like those charged in the present indictment." The filing sought to protect evidence requested by Prighozin's company.

Follow the money, and you'll find Vlad behind it, I guarantee.

Stay tuned.

I Dunno, Alaska If I Get The Chance, Con't

A few days ago I noted that the nation's only independent governor, Bill Walker of Alaska, had his Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott resign over "inappropriate comments to women" almost overnight.  This was odd enough with three weeks to go in the race, but I noted these comments in the story that were actually far more interesting.

Walker campaign manager, John-Henry Heckendorn, told the Associated Press that the campaign has been in conversations with Begich's campaign for several days about a "path forward for Alaska." He declined to go into details, but he said the conversations were prompted by concerns about Dunleavy and the dynamics of a three-way race. The talks so far have been "inconclusive" but will continue, Heckendorn said.

The polls showed the Republican in the race, former state Senator Mike Dunleavy, was ahead in the three-way contest with both Walker and Begich, with Dunleavy in the upper 40's and both Walker and Begich splitting the rest, which would make Dunleavy the easy winner.

But it looks like Walker realized he has no chance to win...and Friday he dropped out of the race to support Begich.

I believe we cannot win a three-way race,” said Mr. Walker, a former Republican who left his party to win election as an independent in 2014. Mr. Walker said he had concluded that former United States Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, “has a better chance of running a competitive race” against their Republican opponent, Mike J. Dunleavy, a well-financed Republican former state senator.

Alaskans deserve a choice other than Mike Dunleavy,” Mr. Walker said. He urged his followers to vote for Mr. Begich even though his own name will still be on the ballot.

And not only is Walker dropping out of the race, he's wrecking any chance of going back to the Alaska Republican party.

As governor, Mr. Walker was careful not to burn bridges with Republicans in trying to get legislation passed. But in his statement to Alaskans on Friday, he went ahead and lit the flames. Mr. Walker made it clear, in a point-by-point analysis of Mr. Dunleavy’s record and statements on campaign trail, his view that Mr. Dunleavy was a wrong choice for the state on everything from taxes to health care.

“On balance, it is my belief that despite my many differences with Mark Begich, his stance on the important issues I have listed above more closely align with my priorities for Alaska,” Mr. Walker said.

There's more there, a lot more.   I wonder what it is, but Walker tossing a Molotov cocktail over his shoulder on the way out the door like this makes me think a hell of a lot is going on where there's more to this story.

Stay tuned.

And go Mark Begich...

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