An Army of Angels

I am a Nazarite. The Just God is not on the side of any Republican – save one. A line has been drawn in the sand. God is dead for them – and they know it. This is why they primp and parade for the QAnon Loons.

John ‘The Nazarite’

“An apologist for child molesters,” the QAnon supporter Zak Paine declared in a video the next day, on March 17, asserting without evidence that Democrats were repeatedly “elevating pedophiles and people who can change the laws surrounding punishment” for pedophiles.

“Every judge who does what you are doing is making it easier for the children to be exploited,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, picking up the line of attack.

Jackson’s ongoing Supreme Court confirmation hearing has frequently veered in unpredictable directions. In addition to the usual questions about jurisprudence, the Supreme Court nominee has fielded queries from senators about subjects ranging from “racist babies” children’s books to groundless implications that she is somehow sympathetic to child molesters. Amidst the broad spectrum of subjects, one line of Republican questioning against Jackson has gained attention — namely, when she was asked to define “woman.”

The Ginni Thomas Question – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Republicans get the science behind sexual difference wrong during Supreme Court nominee hearing (msn.com)

“HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Lindsey Graham
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham questions Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Wednesday.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
  • Durbin intervened after Graham kept interrupting the Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
  • Graham asked Jackson what she thought about Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.
  • “She’s had nothing to do with the Kavanaugh hearings,” Durbin told Graham.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin on Wednesday intervened in a back-and-forth between Sen. Lindsey Graham and the Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson after the South Carolina Republican kept interrupting the judge as she answered questions during her third day of confirmation hearings.

Graham asked Jackson for her positions on unauthorized immigrants and voting and pressed her on her sentencing record in child-pornography cases during his 20 minutes of questioning. When his time was nearing its end, Graham repeatedly interrupted Jackson as she tried to answer his questions.

Kelly McLaughlin

April 27, 2021·1 min read

Sanitizer Bottles
Sanitizer Bottles. japatino/Getty Images

A far-right Twitch streamer encouraged viewers to drink a bleach solution as a cure to cancer, according to a report from the New York Times.

Zak Paine, who goes by Redpill78, regularly pushes baseless QAnon theories and makes false claims about vaccines and cancer to his more than 14,000 followers, The Times reported.

Among his baseless claims was during a stream with a guest, in which they told followers to drink the bleach solution – a concept that the Food and Drug Administration has said is dangerous.

Kotaku reported last year that Twitch has tried to moderate QAnon communications, and the company told Insider last year that the platform’s guidelines “prohibit hateful conduct, harassment, and threats of violence.”

But the report on Paine was part of a larger story on the New York Times about far-right influencers making thousands of dollars spreading false theories on Twitch.

KYIV, Ukraine — As Russian missile strikes continued to cause fires, terrorize residents and turn buildings to rubble here Wednesday, Ukrainian forces seemingly managed to push back Vladimir Putin’s invading army from the capital’s outer edges.

Inside a city administration building, two Ukrainian generals helping to lead the counterattack pored over a map detailing the movement of their country’s forces and the areas they had apparently recaptured. This is where officials from the city’s police, military and local government are meeting, planning and monitoring the war.

Gen. Andrea Kryshenko and Gen. Serhii Knyazev said Wednesday that Ukraine regained significant territory around Kyiv in the past two days — a potential sign that the war, which enters the second month, could undergo a shift as Russian forces struggle to advance on the country’s capital.

A U.S. defense official corroborated the claim, saying that the Russian military had pushed from the east to as close as 12 miles from Kyiv. After the counteroffensive, those forces had retreated to about 34 miles away from the city, the official added.

But some military experts have cautioned that it’s hard to tell whether the gains Ukraine claims to have made in the past 48 hours are real. Even if they are, they say, the coming days will be incredibly important as Putin could deploy even more lethal weapons in his bid to break Kyiv’s defenses and as Ukraine struggles to hold the southern port city of Mariupol.

Knyazev, the former head of Ukraine’s National Police and now a military and police adviser, said that the city’s defenders have used local waterways, ridges and geographic features to help push back the Russian forces.

“The head commander of Ukrainian ground forces manages the Kyiv defenses,” he said, “and the tactical moves that they deployed allowed us to take back the settlements that are important for further counteroffensive actions.”

It marks a notable, though fragile, potential breakthrough around which Ukrainians are rallying.

The country’s defense ministry said Tuesday that it had taken back Makariv, a town roughly 40 miles west of Kyiv on a key highway. And the Bucha City Council said in a Facebook post that the Ukrainian military had surrounded its town, as well as the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel, cutting Russian forces off from supplies and support.

With few reporters on the front lines, it is difficult to verify these accounts. But government officials say recent days have brought the biggest counteroffensive since the start of the invasion — and they intend to continue the push.

Other counteroffensives had also appeared effective.

The Russian drive through Kyiv’s suburbs in the northwest was stymied, the defense official said, and its army there had started “digging in” and taking up defensive positions. An assault further north of Kyiv, in Chernihiv, had stalled, and the Russian forces had been unable to advance near Mykolaiv in the south.

“We need to liberate all of our territories, so of course we will push them back and destroy them,” said Kryshenko, the former Kyiv chief of police who now serves as the deputy head of the Kyiv City Military Administration.

Current and former Ukrainian defense officials said that, at least for the moment, their efforts had helped solve multiple problems for the country’s military.

© Sergei SupinskyImage: A Ukrainian serviceman stands guard at Independence Square (Sergei Supinsky / AFP – Getty Images)

Leonid Polyakov, Ukraine’s former vice minister of defense, explained over the phone from Kyiv that recapturing Marakiv would make it easier to deliver military aid and humanitarian supplies that flowed from the border to the country’s capital, which has become a stronghold.

It would also ease pressure on the defenders of Kyiv in the northwest who have faced a difficult Russian offensive, he said, allowing them to address casualties and help trapped civilians. 

If Ukraine had indeed surrounded Russian forces, Polyakov said, noting the claims needed further verification, that would allow its military to cut the attackers off from supply lines, discourage Belarus from joining Putin’s fight and would take a huge toll on the invaders’ morale.

“They will have just two options, either die or surrender,” Polyakov said of Russian forces who may be surrounded in areas near Kyiv. “We will continue killing them until they surrender.”

The reported recapture of Makariv is significant, said Steven Horrell, a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and a former U.S. naval intelligence officer.

“It is Ukraine truly counterattacking, taking back territory and, to a certain extent, pushing back what Russia had advanced in the very early stages of the war,” he said.

“But it’s only one of the several major battlefields across Ukraine,” Horrell added.

A senior NATO official said earlier this week that after nearly a month of fighting, the war in Ukraine was entering a stalemate, with Moscow making only marginal gains as its troops faced significant logistical challenges, including fuel and food shortages.

It is also unclear how strong Putin’s army remains. A senior U.S. defense official told reporters Tuesday that Putin’s combat power is dropping, and NATO estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian troops have died so far — many multiples more than the number of Americans who died over 20 years in Afghanistan.

“The Russians have not achieved any of the strategic objectives that they set out to, and they certainly haven’t achieved the objectives that they have easily or without loss,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said earlier this week.

He would not confirm specific reports from Ukraine that it had recaptured suburbs of Kyiv.

Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that while reports of Ukraine’s counterattacks in the Kyiv suburbs were encouraging, it was important not to read too much into the events of the past 24 hours.

“The front lines are likely very fluid,” he said. “We will have to see whether they can expand on this and whether the Russians have to pull back from some of their other positions.”

There is also concern that there is not a complete picture of military movements within Ukraine, despite the images and information on social media that appear to come from the region.

Keir Giles, the research director of the Conflict Studies Research Centre in London, said that there’s a growing paradox in Ukraine as the world receives a flood of data and video that is difficult to verify.

“What we don’t have from all of these videos of burning Russian tanks is an overall holistic appreciation of what the actual situation is, because there’s so little that we see that gives us an ability to judge the Ukrainian capacity for continuing to resist,” he said. “And that is going to be the defining factor when it comes to peace negotiations, because only the Ukrainians will know at what point they are either facing collapse or, conversely, actually getting stronger.”

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‘How much more of a war crime you want to see?’: Klitschko brothers angry at Kyiv press conference

Some experts and U.S. officials worry that the more difficulty Putin encounters in Ukraine, the more likely he is to turn to extreme measures, such as biological and chemical weapons.

Senators, such as Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also raised concerns that Putin could use a small-scale nuclear weapon in a targeted manner.

The rationale is that Putin could see it as a means to turn the tide, as the Russian military gets bogged down in a costly, drawn-out battle against Ukrainian fighters.

“The Russians seem to have stalemated,” Cancian said. “And as a result, I think they’re moving into a third phase of the war, which is a bombardment phase.”

Also complicating Ukraine’s military success around Kyiv is the possibility that Russia could soon take over the southern city of Mariupol. That could free up Russian forces to move to operations in other parts of country, threatening Ukraine’s offensive and creating a connected, logistically supported Russian front in the southeast.

Experts previously told NBC News that Russian troops who have been stuck fighting in Mariupol could either push west to Odesa or north in an effort to threaten the rear of Ukrainian forces operating in the Donbas region if they successfully seize the city.

“What we’re seeing now are indications that the Russians are trying to prioritize that part of eastern Ukraine,” the defense official said.

Polyakov argued that the Ukrainians could maintain the fight in Mariupol for weeks and were more interested in securing and protecting the lives of civilians.

“They have big losses and have concentrated a lot of different sorts of troops there: Spetsnaz [Russian special forces], seasoned fighters from Donbas and others,” he said. “But we still have enough troops capable of damaging them.”

Richard Engel reported from Kyiv. Lauren Egan and Phil McCausland reported from London.

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QAnon Cheers Republican Attacks on Jackson. Democrats See a Signal.

David D. Kirkpatrick and Stuart A. Thompson – 3h agoFollow

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The online world of adherents to the QAnon conspiracy theory sprang into action almost as soon as Senator Josh Hawley tweeted his alarm: that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the Biden administration’s Supreme Court nominee, had handed down sentences below the minimum recommended in federal guidelines for possessing images of child sexual abuse.

© T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York TimesOnline and during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing, Senator Josh Hawley pressed the issue of sentencing for possession of child sexual abuse imagery.

© Sarahbeth Maney/The New York TimesSenator Lindsey Graham, who last year voted to confirm Judge Jackson to an appeals court, joined other Republicans this week in the line of attack.

“An apologist for child molesters,” the QAnon supporter Zak Paine declared in a video the next day, on March 17, asserting without evidence that Democrats were repeatedly “elevating pedophiles and people who can change the laws surrounding punishment” for pedophiles.

By Wednesday, as Judge Jackson appeared for the third day before the Senate Judiciary Committee, claims that she was lenient toward people charged with possessing the illegal imagery had emerged as a recurring theme in her questioning by Republicans.

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“Every judge who does what you are doing is making it easier for the children to be exploited,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, picking up the line of attack.

Never mind that those sentences did not come up at Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearing last year to a federal appeals court, that other judicial nominees have faced no questions about similar sentencing decisions, or that a former federal prosecutor called the allegations “meritless to the point of demagoguery” in the conservative National Review.

The line of attack has set off a new debate over the Republican Party’s stance toward QAnon. A White House spokesman this week accused Mr. Hawley of pandering to the conspiracy theory’s believers among his party’s rank and file, calling his comments an “embarrassing QAnon-signaling smear.” Conservatives, in return, blasted the Biden administration for invoking the specter of QAnon for its own political agenda, to fire up the Democratic base without addressing the questions.

© Erin Schaff/The New York TimesDemocrats including Senator Dianne Feinstein have likewise been accused of sending coded messages to voters through comments in judicial confirmation hearings.

“Conspiracy theorists did not travel back in time to make the nominee write her law review note about whether certain criminals are punished too harshly or make Judge Jackson hand out such lenient sentences,” a spokesman for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, wrote in an email.

“Left Invokes QAnon After Josh Hawley Exposes Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Soft Record on Child Sex Offenders,” declared a headline on the right-wing website Breitbart that was widely shared this week in QAnon circles.

A spokesman for Senator Hawley declined to comment on his motivations.

Although few QAnon followers appeared to take notice of Judge Jackson’s sentencing record before Senator Hawley’s tweets, her judicial career had touched the roots of the conspiracy theory: an earlier internet myth known as Pizzagate.

That debunked theory held that Satan-worshiping Democrats were trafficking children out of the basement of a Washington restaurant, and in 2017 a believer armed with an assault rifle stormed in and fired his weapon. Judge Jackson, as a district court judge, sentenced him to four years in prison, saying his actions “left psychological wreckage.”

The QAnon conspiracy theory was born a few months later when an anonymous writer — often signing as Q — elaborated on the discredited myth that a cabal of top Democrats was abusing children. Q purported to be a top official close to President Donald J. Trump and asserted that the president was waging a secret war against the cabal.

Slogans about protecting the children became catchphrases that QAnon adherents used to identify one another, and their bizarre fantasy — initially encouraged by far-right news outlets, then promoted by a ring of social media influencers — appeared to spread widely among Trump supporters. At least two Republican lawmakers elected in 2020 had made statements supportive of QAnon, and prosecutors say that many people involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol subscribed to the theory.

Among those now echoing the Republican allegations about the judicial nominee, in fact, is Ron Watkins, a former website administrator who is widely believed to have played a major role in writing the anonymous Q posts. Mr. Watkins, who has denied any part in the Q messages, is running for the Republican nomination to an Arizona congressional seat, largely on the strength of his QAnon association; this week, he qualified for the ballot.

“Judge Jackson is a pedophile-enabler,” Mr. Watkins wrote Wednesday on social media. “Any senator who votes to confirm her nomination is also a pedophile-enabler.”

QAnon Telegram channels on Wednesday grew increasingly agitated. “She has committed unbelievable crimes against humanity with her judgeship,” one user wrote. “If she gets confirmed the victims remain victims & trapped in the misery bestowed on them,” said another. Some talked of violence.

Polls suggest that QAnon supporters have continued to make up a significant portion of the Republican base even after Mr. Trump’s departure from office contradicted Q’s predictions. One poll last October found that about 60 percent of Trump voters had heard of QAnon, and 3 out of 10 of those Republicans viewed it favorably.

Yet the same poll found that Democrats were far more likely to say they had heard a lot about QAnon and also overwhelmingly to reject it, and other polls, taken after the attack on the Capitol, indicated far more widespread condemnation. Democrats thus have much to gain politically from linking the name “QAnon” to Republicans questioning a Supreme Court nominee, the polls suggest, but individual Republicans might benefit by signaling to QAnon supporters without explicitly naming the movement.

“You wouldn’t talk about the extreme stuff, but you would talk about how people in elite power are enabling traffickers,” said Bond Benton, an associate professor at Montclair State University who has studied QAnon. “That is a secret handshake to the Q crowd.”

Other conservative commentators have noted that soft-on-crime or soft-on-sex-crime accusations against politicians or judges have long resonated widely with voters regardless of connection to QAnon, disputing the accusation that the Republican questions are any kind of covert signal.

Others on the right have also accused Democrats of employing their own dog whistles — notably when Amy Coney Barrett, a practicing Catholic and now a Supreme Court justice, was nominated to an appeals court. Many conservatives have said that they heard a covert appeal to anti-Catholic or anti-religious bigotry when Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, told the judge that “the dogma lives loudly within you.”

Jim Manley, a former top aide to the Senate Democratic leadership who helped wage a half-dozen battles over Supreme Court confirmations, said that party elders often understand the Senate math makes confirmation highly likely and prefer to get it over quickly, without mudslinging that could alienate moderate voters — in this case, by evoking QAnon.

“But I learned the hard way that there are always some in the caucus — especially those who may be thinking about running for president — who are going to want to throw some red meat to the base,” Mr. Manley said. “They just can’t help themselves.”

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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