Sunday, February 5, 2023

Last Call For Fantasma Santos, Con't

"George Santos" claims to be many things he's not: a volleyball champ, an investment guru, a human being, but he's never claimed that he wan't a Republican, and we know that's the one thing that's true here, because six weeks in and he's already facing sexual harassment charges while in office.

A prospective congressional aide has accused Representative George Santos of ethics violations and sexual harassment, according to a letter the man sent to the House Committee on Ethics and posted to Twitter on Friday.

The man, Derek Myers, briefly worked in Mr. Santos’s office before his job offer was rescinded earlier this week, according to the letter.

Mr. Myers said in the letter that he was alone with Mr. Santos in his office on Jan. 25 when the congressman asked him whether he had a profile on Grindr, a popular gay dating app. Then, he said, Mr. Santos invited him to karaoke and touched his groin, assuring him that his husband was out of town.

Mr. Myers’s account could not be corroborated, but a spokeswoman for Representative Susan Wild, ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, acknowledged that his letter had been received by her office.

Mr. Myers said in an interview that he also filed a report with the Capitol Police, speaking to an officer over the phone. On Twitter, he said that he was making his complaint public for the sake of transparency.

“They are serious offenses and the evidence and facts will speak for themselves if the committee takes up the matter,” he wrote.

A day before making his complaint public, Mr. Myers received attention following the release of recordings he had secretly made of Mr. Santos and his chief of staff, Charley Lovett.

Mr. Myers was charged last year with wiretapping in Ohio, after a small newspaper he ran published audio of courtroom testimony that someone else recorded and sent to him. Journalism organizations rallied around him, calling for the charges to be dropped in the name of press freedom.

Mr. Santos told the news start-up Semafor on Thursday that his office had been in the process of hiring Mr. Myers, but had decided against it because of concerns over the wiretapping charges. Mr. Lovett confirmed the same to Talking Points Memo.
The ace part of this is that the House Ethics Committee has all but been dismantled under Kevin McCarthy's Circus of the Damned, so there's literally nobody there to hear Myers's complaint. 

Santos isn't going anywhere, even if he's indicted. McCarthy can't afford to lose his vote. The only way Santos goes out is by election loss, and even then I'd expect he'd accuse whoever beats him of fraud. He'll run again, just like I expect Madison Cawthorn will. Well, once he gets out of jail.

Have A Koch And A Vile

Billionaire right-wing corporate magnate Charles Koch is willing to buy the remaining souls of any Republican who isn't Donald Trump in order to get his agenda into power in 2024, which I find deeply weird because Trump gave Koch and his ilk the largest corporate tax cut in history four years ago, but there you are.

The deep-pocketed network associated with billionaire Charles Koch is preparing to throw its money and weight behind a single Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential primary – in a move that could significantly reshape the GOP field.

Americans for Prosperity Action, the main political arm of the Koch network, “is prepared to support a candidate in the Republican presidential primary who can lead our country forward, and who can win,” Emily Seidel, the CEO of Americans for Prosperity and a top adviser at AFP Action, wrote in a memo released Sunday.

The memo does not mention Donald Trump, but an official with AFP Action confirmed to CNN that the network is not planning to support the former president’s White House bid.

“To write a new chapter for our county, we need to turn the page on the past,” Seidel wrote to AFP’s staff and activists. “So the best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter.”

The Koch decision to engage in the GOP primary – after sitting on the sidelines for the two most recent White House nomination fights – is likely to set off a scramble among Republican presidential contenders to win over the Kansas-based industrialist and the hundreds of wealthy donors who help finance his influential, free-market network.

During his White House tenure, Trump, often sparred with Koch officials, who sharply criticized his administration’s trade and hard-line immigration policies.

AFP Action has not announced a budget for its 2024 political activity, but the network has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in previous election cycles, rivaling the financial reach of the Republican National Committee. Americans for Prosperity has permanent staff in 36 states and touts millions of grassroots activists across the country.

Its political wing also plans to engage earlier and more aggressively in congressional and state-level primaries, both to influence more contests and to find new voters to participate in primaries, AFP Action officials said.

Seidel said the network is stepping up its activity to help address “the broken politics” that she said has created a “toxic situation” in the nation’s capital and blocked policy progress.
I certainly expect Koch's AFP network to back Ron DeSantis, meaning that while it will take billions to buy the kind of campaign advertising that Trump will get in kind (again) from the "liberal" media that absolutely wants him back in the White House to rule over the airwaves, DeSantis will have the money he needs to compete.

We'll see how the battle plays out. All the money in the world couldn't stop Trump in 2016, and didn't. Counting Trump out of 2024 is a mistake I won't make again.

Sunday Long Read: The Telegram Files

If you're still wondering why Elon Musk and Team Kremlin are breathlessly weaving fiction about how the CIA is reading every tweet looking for "enemies of the Biden regime", it's because they are distracting the world from the fact Putin is actually using "secure" social media app Telegram to hunt down and destroy dissidents.

ON THE CHILLY, clear afternoon of February 24, 2022—the day Vladimir Putin’s forces launched their full-scale invasion of Ukraine—a handful of Russian opposition politicians gathered in front of Saint Petersburg’s palatial Law, Order, and Security building. They had come to officially request permission to hold a rally opposing the war, which they knew would be denied. Among the group was Marina Matsapulina, the 30-year-old vice chair of Russia’s Libertarian Party. Matsapulina understood that the gathering was a symbolic gesture—and that it posed serious risks.

Nine days later, Matsapulina was awoken around 7 am by someone banging at her apartment door. She crept up to the entrance but was too frightened to look through the peephole, and she retreated back to her bedroom. The pounding continued for two hours, as Matsapulina kept seven friends from her party apprised in a private Telegram group chat. “They’re unlikely to bust it down,” she wrote, wishfully.

But at 9:22 am, she heard a much louder noise. She had just enough time to lock her phone before the door caved in. Eight people surrounded Matsapulina’s bed. They included, she recalls, two city police officers, a two-person SWAT team wielding guns and shining flashlights in her face, and two agents from either the Center for Combating Extremism or the Federal Security Service or the FSB—the successor to the KGB. The officers told her to lie on the floor facedown.

They told Matsapulina she was suspected of emailing a police station with a false bomb threat. But when she was taken into the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ investigation department, she says, a police officer asked whether she knew the real reason she’d been arrested. She guessed that it was for her “political activities.” He nodded and asked, “Do you know how we knew you were home?”


She says the officer told her that investigators had been following along with her private Telegram chats as she wrote them. “There you were, sitting there, writing to your friends in the chat room,” she recalls him saying. He proceeded to dispassionately quote word for word several Telegram messages she had written from her bed. “‘They’re unlikely to bust it down,’” he recited.

“And so,” he said, “we knew that you were there.”

Matsapulina was speechless. She tried to hide her shock, hoping to learn more about how they’d accessed her messages. But the officer didn’t elaborate.

When she was released two days later, Matsapulina learned from her lawyer that on the morning she was arrested, police had searched the houses of some 80 other people with opposition ties and had arrested 20, charging each with terrorism related to the alleged bomb threat. A few days later, Matsapulina gathered her belongings and boarded a flight to Istanbul.

In April, after having made it safely to Armenia, Matsapulina recounted the episode in a Twitter thread. She ruled out the chance that anyone in her close-knit group had been cooperating with security forces (they’d all also left Russia by then), which left two conceivable explanations for how the officers had read her private Telegram messages. One was that they had installed some kind of malware, like the NSO Group’s infamous Pegasus tool, on her phone. Based on what she’d gathered, the expensive software was reserved for high-level targets and was not likely to have been turned on a mid-level figure in an unregistered party with about 1,000 members nationwide.

The other “unpleasant” explanation, she wrote, “is, I think, obvious to everyone.” Russians needed to consider the possibility that Telegram, the supposedly antiauthoritarian app cofounded by the mercurial Saint Petersburg native Pavel Durov, was now complying with the Kremlin’s legal requests.

As we come upon the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with all evidence pointing towards a major escalation and new offensive from Moscow happening within the next few weeks or even days, it's important to remember that another war is being fought in the streets of Russian cities, one where Putin has all the advantages, and a people live in fear of their government.

Putin had everything ready to go in order to win that war. We're entering a very dangerous timeframe in world history now. The next few weeks, months, years may determine the path of the planet for decades to come.

The path Putin went down was obvious. The only question now is whether he takes Russia -- and the world -- down that dark channel.
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