Ben Sasse Quitting Senate To Go F*ck Off Somewhere Else, Whatever



We know what you are thinking:

OH NO DID BEN SASSE SPOT HERSCHEL WALKER SOME ABORTION MONEY AND THE STORY IS ALL ABOUT TO COME OUT AND THAT IS WHY HE IS QUITTING SENATE?

It is probably not that.

Unless it’s that.

It could be that.

This says he is taking a job at “higher education.”


So we are sure there is some sort of scandal.

Politico says the Republican from Nebraska is going to the University of Florida, though, so maybe there’s no scandal, it’s just that he saw Ron DeSantis in those mom boots and decided he needed to get a closer look at them, permanently.

Ben Sasse has always annoyed the fuck out of us, by being good enough at pretending he is some kind of thoughtful reasonable moderate that some people believe it. He loves loves LOVES to tell us all what is Wrong With America. He loves it. He’s got ideas, man. Some might even call them thoughts.

Fuck him. He still couldn’t bring himself to vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson, the single most qualified SCOTUS nominee in fuckin’ human history, because he was too much of an airhead to understand her explanations of her judicial philosophy, and she refused to scratch his taint by affirming his paint-by-number ideas about “originalism.” He’s kind of a dimwit.

During her confirmation hearings, he pretended to be intellectual, like he always does, because nobody ever did him the solid of explaining to him that he’s just not a very interesting white man. He babbled about cancel culture on college campuses, and begged Jackson to swear to Jesus she was against cancel culture.

Sasse, to his credit, voted to convict Donald Trump in Trump’s second impeachment trial — you know, the one after Trump incited a terrorist attack against the United States in order to overturn the election. Yay, Wonkette finished the paragraph about the good things Ben Sasse has done in his life in record time!

We’d say maybe he got on Monster Dot Com and started looking for new jobs because he was pretty sure he was going to get primaried for that anyway, except for how he’s not up for re-election until 2026.

Yep, definitely a scandal.

What do you guys think it is? Is he a furry? Did a journalist find his Senate litterbox?

Vote for what you think is Ben Sasse’s scandal in the comments.

OPEN THREAD.

UPDATE / PROGRAMMING NOTE: Join Yr Wonkette tonight (Thursday) for a livestream of the Arizona US Senate debate between incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly and weirdo Thielbot Republican Blake Masters. Some weird third party or Libertarian guy will be taking up space too, to give viewers a chance to go to the fridge.

Starts at 9:00 Eastern; we’ll have the PBS NewsHour YouTube feed in the post, which should go up around 8:45 EDT. Dok may even drop by to crack wise with you guys. He might bring Thornton, although how would you know?

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Pathos and panic: Russians are mobilized for an undeclared war


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Editor’s note: This essay is anonymous in order to protect the writer from potential reprisals.

Russia is not at war, despite what you may have heard. Despite the mobilization of reservists, the stories and images of destruction and death, despite the refugees fleeing. Russia is not at war, as Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Kremlin stressed in a recent interview. Instead, it is conducting a special military operation “to fulfill certain goals in Ukraine.” Reservists have had to be mobilized for this special military operation, half a year since it began, because “we have been de facto confronted…with the NATO block and all its logistics capabilities.”

Referring to the Special Military Operation as war is still illegal in Russia, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It also happens to be illegal to cross into the territory of a neighboring sovereign nation, armed, without a declaration of war. But while people do call the special military operation a war in casual conversations, they rarely question this operation’s legality: not even as men receive their mobilization notices, board buses, and head to the front.

But perhaps those who were mobilized will never cross international borders. By the time they reach the occupied territories, those territories will no longer be foreign—at least in the eyes of Russian law. For there is not only a mobilization drive at hand but also a referendum. People in the occupied territories have been asked to vote on whether to join Russia. Armed soldiers have gone door-to-door with ballot boxes. And on September 30, 2022, Putin welcomed the annexation of four Ukrainian regions as the “will of millions of people.”

Voting makes annexation look democratic.

Meanwhile, in Russia, mobilization has hit closer to home. And it comes with little ideological backing. In St. Petersburg, local newspaper headlines focus on pressing everyday questions: Who will be mobilized? Will the Finnish border close? What will the city budget look like in 2023? Or else they touch on polite distractions: news of the occasional train accident, or tips about how to lose weight. None of it would excite someone to go kill and die on the front lines.

The military draft is a two-step process. First, you are handed a draft notice and asked to sign acknowledging having received it. This is the first opportunity for people to dodge. If the draft officers can’t find you, they can’t give you the notice. But the receipt of the notice is only a summons to appear, and this opens a second gap within which people try to maneuver. This stage is more dangerous—any traffic stop, any random search in the metro, and you’ll come up in their system, be taken to the conscription office, and sent off to war.

Draft notices may be distributed at work, through state enterprises and private businesses. And these same organizations may also compile exemption lists of the employees they cannot do without. Water cooler talk this week has focused on how to get the most vulnerable on these lists, on how to get them out of the country, or how to avoid receiving the dreaded notice in the first place.

There has been rioting in Dagestan, but here in St. Petersburg people are focused on fleeing and dodging. Women are afraid for their husbands, their sons, and their fathers. Our highest priority aboard this Titanic is not women and children, but men—getting them out of the country, on the lifeboats to Kazakhstan.

Faced with the draft, even former war hawks are turning. A retired cop from a mid-sized Siberian town, a friend’s dad, used to support this undeclared war. He watched Vladimir Solovyov, the ecstatic Goebbels of Russian State Propaganda, and repeated everything that he heard. When his Ukrainian friends called him to say that they were being bombed, he refused to believe them. And then the draft officers got him. “They got him outside, in the yard,” my friend tells me, in tears. “Mother told him not to go out there, but he didn’t listen, they gave him the notice …” She’s already contacted a lawyer. “Doesn’t he want to go?” I ask her. “Of course, he doesn’t want to go!” she says, crying. “But he’s a hunter. He’ll go live in the woods. He’s got a gun.” And, perhaps, Solovyov will be there with him on the portable television.

But other people are going. They are going even though the formal reasons given to justify this undeclared war are too abstract and nonsensical to mobilize anybody to fight.

At the celebratory annexation of Ukrainian territories, president Putin explained that Russia was standing up to colonial western aggression. He blamed the mysterious blasts that damaged the Nord Stream pipeline on “Anglo Saxon” sabotage. He insisted that Russia was fighting Satanism. Such vague conspiratorial statements have justified the “special military operation” since its inception. “We have no borders with Ukraine,” Vladimir Zolotov, Head of the National Guard, told the Security Council on the eve of the invasion. “Our border is with the Americans because they are the owners in that country. Everyone else there is their vassal.”

These sentiments are not uncommon: that NATO had planned to attack us, that the good people of Ukraine are held hostage by some inchoate Naziism, that Ukraine is and has always actually been part of Russia. But as reasons for war, they are abstract. They are not ideas for which people willingly go off to die.

Then why do they go? They go “for their own,” for those whom they cannot abandon.

When the draft was announced, mobilized men were promised 300,000 rubles (about $5,000) upon assignment, and their families were promised another seven million rubles (about $120,000) should they get killed. A week later, this legislation was quietly recalled. But a federal law granting the mobilized a moratorium on loan payments did pass the State Duma, and some regional governments implemented their own welfare programs. In Tuva, a remote republic in Siberia, the regional government promises families of mobilized men one live sheep, 50 kg of flour, a bag of potatoes, coal, and “in cases of demonstrated need” an unspecified amount of cabbage. For every child under the age of seventeen, a family receives another 5,000 rubles ($86). “It is important that mobilized men see their families receive this assistance before their deployment,” explained Vladislav Khovalyg, head of the Republic of Tuva, “so that they feel supported and leave with the feeling that their families are protected and will not be left without attention.”

The flip side of such benevolent policies is that families of the mobilized are expected to get them ready for the front. Soldiers are told to get their own gear: boots, backpack, socks, sleeping bag, headlamp, first aid kits—if possible, a good bulletproof vest. Online discussion boards are lively with panicked relatives asking where to buy the first-aid medicines that have sold out in local stores. Videos circulate online in which mobilized men are lined up in the barracks and told, “take care of yourselves, guys, because no one else is going to.” Among other things, they are told, “now don’t laugh—ask your wives and girlfriends to send you tampons, menstrual pads.” The tampons are for dressing wounds, in the absence of blood-stopping bandages.

In Russia, we do not abandon our own. This is the slogan under which this undeclared war is being conducted. And it rings true. “Well, the guys are all grudgingly for it,” say wives worried about their men being mobilized, “they have a men’s cult, you know, a battle brotherhood. They say, ‘Yeah we get it, but our guys have already been there three months with no end in sight. Gotta help the guys. Give them a breather’.”

Decades of WWII fetishism have a lot to do with this. As does a deeper collectivist social structure that makes it very easy to form social networks woven through the existing hierarchical strata, but nearly impossible to create social organizations that would directly oppose regulations and rules. Russia works by informal personal networks. People rely on them to get by in the face of dire poverty, and they use them to do good in the world: to help Ukrainian refugees flee to the EU through Russia, to send humanitarian aid to the occupied territories, to “support our guys” on the frontlines and in military hospitals. These informal networks unite people of different social statuses, income levels, and personal views. But they foreclose public discussions of “politics.” Improper political statements threaten to fry the whole network. They threaten to draw unneeded attention to informal ties in a way that puts everybody in danger. So the question of why we have invaded Ukraine—why we killed, destroyed, maimed, and occupied—this question is one that most people simply don’t openly pose.

On October 7, 2022, Vladimir Putin turns 70. His birthday isn’t widely anticipated—no billboards, no fanfare. It hangs in the air like a nervous rumor. What if he’d like some nuclear fireworks to mark his Big Day?

But even as people are wary of the draft and fearful of nuclear Armageddon, they do not organize political protests to end this “special military operation” and bring down the government that wields it. And not only because they fear the police. People in Russia do protest when they feel it is necessary. They protest corrupt local governance, or landfills being dug in their backyards. Sometimes these public actions turn violent, like the anti-mobilization protests in Dagestan have. But this undeclared war is not something that most people in Russia think to protest. The idea simply does not occur.

Is there hope? Perhaps it is with the enduring dignity of these mobilized middle-aged men, their friends, and their families. The internet is full of videos of them boarding the buses, piss drunk, getting into fistfights, asking who’s going to feed their wives and children once they get killed. On September 30, while members of Putin’s High Society celebrated the annexation of Ukrainian territories, a bus full of mobilized men flipped in Tatarstan. According to eyewitness accounts, one of the men threw himself on the steering wheel, drunk. Perhaps Putin’s poorly oiled military machine will choke on these fine everyday guys and finally sputter dead.



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Woman Herschel Walker paid to have abortion is also mother of his child | Boing Boing


Another day, another bombshell about the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia. The woman who claimed to have had an abortion at Herschel Walker’s behest—which he denies and claims to have no idea who she might be—is the mother of one of his children. The Daily Beast, kneeing this lying dimwit in the balls over and over and over:

The woman, a registered Democrat whose years-long relationship with Walker continued after the abortion, told The Daily Beast that her chief concern with revealing her name was because she is the mother of one of Walker’s own children and she wanted to protect her family’s privacy as best she could while also coming forward with the truth. (Walker has publicly acknowledged the child as his own, and the woman proved she is the child’s mother and provided credible evidence of a long-term relationship with Walker.)





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National Archives Scraps ‘Transparency’ Over Trump Documents 


The Biden administration has turned what should be the most transparent of government agencies, the National Archives and Records Administration, into one of the least transparent agencies—rivaling even the FBI.

Established in 1934, the National Archives has a mission to identify, protect, preserve, and make publicly available all historically valuable records.

But the National Archives has become politicized by the Biden administration and no longer provides transparency in public records.

Jodi Foor, the National Archives’ deputy Freedom of Information Act officer, would not answer a FOIA request from The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project for records related to the FBI’s raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida home within the statutory timeline.

This inaction forced The Heritage Foundation to sue to get a response to our request. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

In releasing its first tranche of records about the Trump raid, the National Archives withheld 96% of the records sought by Heritage from being released to the public, or about 1,612 pages.

>>> Related: 6 Takeaways From Newly Released Trump, National Archives Documents

The National Archives released only 65 pages of those 1,612 pages of records, with 1,547 pages withheld under the “deliberate process privilege” exemption as well as an exemption that protects from disclosure records compiled for law enforcement purposes.

The deliberate process privilege is an exemption that gives federal agencies the discretion to withhold certain policymaking documents that were prepared to assist a decision-maker in making a final determination.

For 95% of the documents withheld, the National Archives asserted that officials were protecting deliberations with Congress, Trump’s representatives, and other federal agencies.

Foor’s lack of transparency raises eyebrows because Congress tasked the National Archives to mediate all disputes regarding the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA; arbitrate disputes between requesters and federal agencies; identify methods to improve compliance with the statute; and educate stakeholders about the FOIA process.

Not surprisingly, Foor isn’t even following Attorney General Merrick Garland’s new FOIA transparency policy, which he announced in a March 22 memo. This policy states that records “should not be withheld from a FOIA requester unless the agency can identify a foreseeable harm or legal bar to disclosure.”

“In case of doubt, openness should prevail,” Garland’s transparency policy states.

Withholding 96% of records requested doesn’t show openness in any respect.

Garland’s memo on transparency goes on to state:

When an agency determines that it cannot make full disclosure of a requested record, FOIA requires that it ‘consider whether partial disclosure of information is possible’ and ‘take reasonable steps necessary to segregate and release nonexempt information.’

The FBI was able to disclose some information on each page of its affidavit justifying its Aug. 8 raid on Trump’s home in Florida, but the National Archives apparently isn’t able to do so in any sense.

Foor’s lack of transparency also conflicts with former President Barack Obama’s FOIA memorandum, which he personally issued on his first day of office on Jan. 20, 2009.

Obama’s memo said that:

the government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve.

Finally, no FOIA exemption protects congressional records or deliberations. Federal case law states that if an agency obtains records from Congress or creates a record in response to a congressional request, the congressional record can be exempt only if “Congress manifested a clear intent to control the document.”

Foor did not say that the National Archives had a previous agreement with Congress to withhold these records in her response to The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project.

So it appears that Foor is using this exemption improperly to protect the personal interests of former Archivist David Ferriero (who departed the agency April 30) and acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall (who started May 1) at the expense of the American public.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email [email protected] and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.





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McConnell Favors The Senate’s Version Of The Electoral Count Act


In Part 2 of this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, The team is also joined by Tia Mitchell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Washington correspondent, to discuss a listener question that goes beyond the midterm forecast model: Could President Biden really enact more of his policy agenda if just two more Democratic senators were elected?

They also analyze why Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is backing the new Electoral Count Reform Act and when the new bill will be voted on in the Senate.



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Georgia Senate Race Remains Very Close


A new Insider Advantage poll in Georgia finds Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) leading challenger Herschel Walker (R), 47% to 45%.

Said pollster Matt Towrey: “We were polling this race before news broke late Monday of allegations against Herschel Walker and the social media posts by his son. We scrapped that poll and surveyed last evening after newspapers, television news, and social media bombarded voters with the various stories. In our Monday, October 3 poll, and prior to these news events, Walker trailed Warnock by one point.”

He adds: “The good news for Warnock is that following these newest events, he leads by three points. The good news for Walker is that the difference between the two polls is well within the survey’s margin of error.”

In the race for governor, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) leads challenger Stacey Abrams (D), 50% to 45%.

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Trump Asks Clarence Thomas To Reverse 11th Circuit Court Ruling On Classified Docs


Donald Trump filed a motion with Clarence Thomas asking the Supreme Court to partially reverse an 11th Circuit Court victory for the DOJ.

The Guardian reported:

The motion to vacate the ruling by the US appeals court for the 11th circuit represents the former president’s final chance to temporarily bar federal prosecutors from using the materials in their inquiry into whether he illegally retained national defense information.

….

In the petition submitted to the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, who receives 11th circuit appeals, Trump asked that the special master be allowed to review 100 documents marked classified in addition to 11,000 other documents about to be subject to the independent filter process.

The motion is Trump’s last gasp on this issue. If the Court decides to hear the case, Trump will have a high bar to climb because he is claiming that the appeals lacked the jurisdiction to hear the appeal

Essentially, Donald Trump has taken his stall campaign on the mishandling of documents case to the Supreme Court. Even though the court has six conservative justices, it has shown itself not to be Trump-friendly.

The former president has yet to win a case before the court. The Supreme Court could decline to hear the case. Should this happen, Trump would be out of appeal options, and not even his legal counsel from behind the bench, Judge Cannon can help him.

Trump is trying to delay, but the DOJ is not going to stop, as accountability may be coming.



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Ukraine Endgame


Elon Musk has publicly proposed a peace plan for Ukraine that would give Russia all that it currently demands. The annexation of Crimea formally recognized; Ukraine guarantees it will not join NATO; referenda are held, presumably under international supervision, in the Donbas, and Russia withdraws if they lose the vote, annexes if they win.

The argument given for this pro-Russian settlement, even while Ukraine is winning in the field, is that, realistically Ukraine is not in the end going to defeat a country three times its size.

I disagree.

That sounds right if this is a war between Russia and Ukraine–although Afghanistan managed to fight the Russians off, didn’t they? But what if it is a war between Ukraine and Putin? What if the Russian people or even the Russian oligarchy are not solidly behind this war? Couldn’t Russian popular opinion force an end to the war?

It is absurd to ask Ukraine never to join NATO. The very fact that Russia has invaded, for a second time in a few years, proves they need a security guarantee. NATO is the only option.

Referenda in the disputed territories is a good solution—but under international mandate, after a Russian withdrawal. If before, it is likely the Russians will simply refuse to withdraw if they lose.

There is much talk of Russia deploying tactical nuclear weapons. And, if they do, how could the West respond?

I think General Petraeus has the right idea: NATO sends in the bombers and, using conventional munitions, bombs every Russian troop concentration in Ukraine, every supply depot, and every Russian warship on the Black Sea. They maintain air superiority and bomb whatever moves.

Some insist Petraeus cannot be serious. This, after all, would be direct war between Russia and NATO. This would be World War Three.

Yet why are we afraid of direct war between Russia and NATO? Russia cannot handle Ukraine acting alone. The quickest way to end this war would be to send in NATO to make the defeat quick and decisive. Many lives might be saved. NATO would establish itself as a vital guarantor of international security. The world would be a much safer place.

The only argument against is that direct conflict between nuclear powers might lead to nuclear war.

But if Putin uses nuclear weapons, that argument is gone. We are already in nuclear war. A swift and overwhelming response is the only way, then, to prevent more nuclear wars in the future. Nations must not discover they can go nuclear without repercussions.



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