Ball of Thread: Introduction

In my post on Elise Stefanik’s decline into fascism, I described that I’ve been meaning to lay out how Trump used his legal cases to train Republicans to hate rule of law, which has been a key part of how the Republican party has come to embrace fascism. I’ve been dreading and therefore putting off writing that, in large part because it’ll involve rehashing the Russian investigation, and the counter-propaganda to the Russian investigation has been so effective that even addressing the reality of the Russian investigation at this point is always a real chore.

One other reason I’ve been putting it off is because there are a lot of things I want to have in the background — what I’ll call a Ball of Thread. These are not so much related points. Rather, they’re just things that I want to have in the background so I can pull on one or another thread without distracting from the main argument.

So I’m going to first try to write those up fairly quickly, so they’re out there, my Ball of Thread. Some of these posts will be more observation than detailed collection of facts. Others will not show my proof to the extent I normally do. Some will update things I’ve already said. Still others would not normally merit their own post, but I want to have it out there, as part of my Ball of Thread.

Plus, I’m going to try to do this while continuing to cover two Trump prosecutions, multiple Hunter Biden dick pic sniffing campaigns, 1,200 January 6 cases, and some other things that will come up. You know? My day job. All while learning to walk again, after foot surgery.

Happy New Year!

As of now, I anticipate that my Ball of Thread will include:

These will hopefully be quick; they may be sloppy; they likely will not be in this order. But hopefully I can spin my Ball of Thread then move onto the larger task.

Update: Updated the “flipping focus” bullet since I decided it was a misnomer.

On the image: The featured image for this post comes from the Library of Congress’ Farm Services Administration set. 

56 replies
  1. Legonaut says:

    Didn’t know about your foot surgery — sorry to hear you’re enduring that. I hope your rehabilitation is rapid!

    I don’t know how you keep it all straight. I once thought you had a collage wall with red threads connecting everything (maybe that’s where your “ball of thread” comes from?), but that’s way too simplistic for the scale & evolution of what you’ve been tracking. Whatever you use, lordy, I hope you have backups.

    At any rate, I look forward to the posts. Thanks in advance for them, and for all that you do!

  2. lastoneawake says:

    Good luck with this. It’s very ambitious, but these are make or break times.

    You’re the best.

  3. greenbird says:

    after the weekend i just had, i’ve decided that when i “ooops” and it all disappears, i shall “not, frankly, my dear” give a damn.
    i have a ticket for the Old-Timers’ club and anticipate not remembering that i even did any of this, so it will be like your recently-edited ‘truth’ – mostly blank. something to just put down and proceed to the next newly-not-remembered surprise.
    ever grateful for your rashamon chapter, think of it often – bet i remember THAT one !

  4. TimothyB says:

    Who better to make a clew of all the clues? I hope you recover quickly. Also, turning to my own self interest, that this clew is the basis for a book.

    • BRUCE F COLE says:

      For that, I’d stand in a queue. On one foot. With a pen.

      Good luck with the rehab, Marcy; amazing that you’ve coped with it such that it has hardly seemed an impediment from your readers’ vantage points!

  5. RMD De Plume says:

    Always appreciate your excellent writing…and Best of Luck with a quick and uneventful recovery!

  6. klynn says:

    So sorry about your foot, surgery and resulting pt.

    As for your Ball of Thread, this is a great concept! All your writings repackaged into a big picture! Kind of looks like book chapters!

    On your Friday interviews with Nicole, you’ve somewhat been doing a fair amount of reaching back to paint a current picture – winding up all the threads!

    Take care.

  7. rockfarmer says:

    I’m very much looking forward to this new venture (the Ball of Thread)! And good luck/fast healing with your recent foot surgery. I had two foot surgeries on both feet in two consecutive years, and managed to keep up my work from a home office. A key element in my relatively fast recovery was keeping the foot elevated as much as possible. I’m sure you’ve been told that. Ice packs, too. Thank you for all you do, Marcy. Warm thoughts.

    • emptywheel says:

      Thank you. If you ever watch my Friday podcast with Nicole Sandler you’ll see the couch I have lived on since September.

      And thankfully I have a ridiculous American fridge, complete with ice machine.

      • Fancy Chicken says:

        What is the name of this show so I can find it please?

        The more of you I can get the better!

        And of course sending healing vibes along with my contribution this month. I wish there was some sort of sizable financial grant or foundation gift that would find you so you could be free to write this much needed book that seems to be percolating out of you with this project. He world needs more of you and your analysis at this critical time in our democracy.

        Thanks as always.

        • -mamake- says:

          Nicole Sandler podcast but also has video of interviews on her website. Think it is youtube…Fridays with Marcy Wheeler.

  8. P J Evans says:

    Thanks for all of this!

    (I sympathize with the foot stuff – current am wearing a wrist brace, because sprained.)

  9. says:

    Ball of thread. Ball of foot?
    Pray we that both heal?
    The tendons? God no!
    ‘Cause those spin the Wheel.

    To read, write, and reason,
    yank ball’s strings through time.
    To enlighten and teach
    of lies, obstruction, and crime.

    Corrupt or just stupid,
    she’ll help us to weigh.
    Empower republic
    to shoo back vote day.

    She sleeps mind on man
    to prevent my bemuse.
    Dissects cult-like worship
    to break down the ruse.

    Transparent to many,
    translucent to some.
    Opaque to his tribe,
    they can’t be that dumb!

    Hero worship, a savior,
    he hates all the right folks.
    And loves burgers with cheese
    and much diet cokes.

    Good humor, please stay,
    show Marcy the clues.
    For me fog’s still thick,
    dense brush with dark hues.

    Pulled threads build the scaffold
    connecting the dots.
    To calm us, draw hope,
    melt election day knots.

    Help save us, dear Marcy,
    enlighten the way;
    ensure this November’s
    not final vote day.

    • emptywheel says:


      Re, the foot: I snapped the lis franc ligament. Thus the long recovery. I’ve got 3 plates in my foot, slowing things down.

        • emptywheel says:

          The SURGERY and the cast were painful. The original injury wasn’t that bad. Or didn’t seem that bad.

          Now the hardware in my foot is painful.

        • timbozone says:

          May 2024 lead to a quick recovery! And thank you for continuing to write in opposition to the fascists that threaten democracy in the United States and elsewhere!

      • -mamake- says:

        Ouch — sorry about any pain in the foot. I only came into Nicole’s Fridays with you recently so when I heard you say you were learning to walk again I worried about the cause. Relieved to learn in the last week or so that it is a recoverable injury vs something more comprehensive (neurological etc).

        As others have said, cannot imagine how you do all you do, and on top of it all having this to deal with.

        Sending loads of healing energy, and a deep bow of appreciation for eveything I’ve learned from you here, this great site and all the contributors. All the best.

      • Tech Support says:

        Stay focused! If you’re really diligent about your rehab, you’ll be out there crossing people over and dunking on fools before you know it.

    • emptywheel says:

      Oooh, I love that!

      When I was transitioning from being an academic, I had this half-baked plan to do exhibits of non-traditional narratives in public spaces around the country. UM had one of the leading scholars of pre-Columbian narratives, which was going to be one exhibit I wanted to do. Another was the Islamic influence on Don Quixote, working with a Palestinian prof at UM.

      Sadly that never came together.

  10. rockfarmer says:

    I just love this entire community. So smart and full of hearts in the right place(s)… You are ALL helping me to stay sane and knowledgeable. Keep weaving, Marcy! You are a treasure.

  11. vigetnovus says:

    “Sense of dread” is an interesting phrase choice here. I hope I’m not reading too much into it.

    It will be good to have this all chronicled at least. Maybe someone will learn something. I initially was excited about this series, but now I am worried. To be fair, though, my anxiety rheostat is way too sensitive anyway.

  12. Savage Librarian says:

    Marcy, I also had a plan for a nontraditional narrative that I doubt that I’ll ever complete unless I happen to serendipitously meet a helpful collaborator. A number of years ago, I bought a photograph online from a studio in Paris because I thought I could weave it into a story I hoped to tell that included an animated poem about sewing. The photo is of an old Irish woman at a spinning wheel.

    And the animated poem is a kind of union, a so-ing of seems. The letters move in a kind of message dance that a friend of mine says has 3 levels. Kind of as if a crossword puzzle is daydreaming about human conversation. It’s very short but does have music and sewng machine sound effects.

    Sewing and thread make me think of many things…some nostalgic, some historic, some mythological. The Fates come to mind, especially Clotho, spinner of the thread of life. She and her sisters have been associated with inventing several Greek letters: alpha (α), beta (β), eta (η), tau (τ), iota (ι), and upsilon (υ). Clotho also has a namesake gene, klotho, which is related to aging and longevity. Then there is Ariadne and her famous ball of thread…

    So, I love your ball of thread, Marcy! It’s wonderful, as are you. Thanks so much for all you do. I hope the check I sent in December has found it’s way to you. Best wishes for a better new year. I don’t have any tips about pain relief, except that my doctor thinks the turmeric capsules I’m taking might be what is responsible for reducing the chronic pain I once had.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      SL, Yours is an idea after my own heart, which is to say the part of my mind that has my heart in it. For example, you have me wondering if Clotho is etymological origin for cloth. Would make sense; should look it up and would if I weren’t sick and miserable; mainly just glad others spin kite lines out of myths too.

      Also, turmeric. I’m taking that under advisement.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Sorry to hear you’re not well. I was ill during the holidays. I took extra turmeric to help recover. Seemed to work. Wishing you a happy birthday season and get well soon.

        Big storm is just about here now. Sky is rumbling. Schools have been closed today for it. Here it comes…

  13. Zinsky123 says:

    Looking forward to this series. The Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S presidential election remains a giant unknown to so many Americans to this day. Russia’s involvement in the Brexit deceit might be an interesting corollary. Wishing you a speedy recovery on your foot surgery. I had total hip replacement surgery on my right hip before Thanksgiving and am just now getting back to walking normally. Listen to your physical therapist (or physiotherapist in the UK)! They know how to make you better! Your investigative and national security skills are SO needed at this time in our history!

  14. FL Resister says:

    “You’ve got to pick up every stitch,” Marcy, and those threads have to go somewhere.
    I am recovering from a major hip surgery so I know about slow progress.
    What better time to gather balls of facts and spin them together into narratives?
    And with so many sharp minds here, good will come of it, I am sure.
    If there were no harpsichord, would anyone have ever heard Bach?
    Thank you.

  15. DoctorDoom says:

    This ball of thread looks like the outline of a book, one that should attract attention and readers.
    Wishing you a speedy and complete recovery from your operation.

  16. David F. Snyder says:

    Great idea. The outline (of the #BoT) given is useful in its own right. A map of the track of the bull as it has wended its way through the fine porcelain shop is invaluable at this point. MSM has an adhd-type focus on (intentionally)-obfuscating details as they arise, while not emphasizing how the pieces of the puzzle connect. We’re glad to support your work.

  17. Rayne says:

    Marcy, I made you a goofy little present left in the media library. Should have planned this out instead of plunging into it but I needed a project this evening since I didn’t feel like knitting or baking or doing laundry. LOL

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I laughed! I cried! Well…I didn’t cry. But I did laugh, Rayne. This is fantastic. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us too. Especially that True Crime Cases magazine, my favorite part of which is the price that represents exactly what these folks are worth.

      • harpie says:

        This also has to be the cover of the box!

        Knitting fell by the wayside for me in 2016…
        baking followed suit a few years ago….
        laundry, well that’s hit or miss these days.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          harpie, you should’ve dropped the laundry first! Maybe then you’d still have time to bake.

      • Rayne says:

        I might have to change to corkboard instead of this red board because Colonel Catsup’s “artwork” won’t show well being red on red. LOL

    • GlennDexter says:

      Props – Psychologically remembering pictures of shit
      Don’t leave out the Boyscouts of America apologizing to America for Trump.

      • Rayne says:

        Nah, the board is just items from Marcy’s Ball of Thread list. If BOA ever appeared on her list, whew…

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        I thought the Boy Scouts apologized to Trump for America. If memory no longer serves…try comedy.

  18. bgThenNow says:

    I’ve been in Taxlandia all day and missed this until I arrived in NotDreamingland. I was considering what might be elective (heh) surgery to deal with some foot problems due to aging. The doctor said I would not be able to walk for 4 months. That is unthinkable I guess unless it is not elective but forced by injury. I am sorry you have been laid up and had no choice. I hope the pain goes away and you have full mobility again soon.

    Thank you for all you do. Looking forward to this, as I look forward to all your work here. I was unaware of the weekly podcast. Thank you for the link. Also, thanks Rayne for the Rashoman review.

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