Patterico's Pontifications

4/14/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:03 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Oh:

In 2014, one of Texas billionaire Harlan Crow’s companies purchased a string of properties on a quiet residential street in Savannah, Georgia…What made it noteworthy were the people on the other side of the deal: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his relatives…The Crow company bought the properties for $133,363 from three co-owners — Thomas, his mother and the family of Thomas’ late brother…He now owned the house where the justice’s elderly mother was living. Soon after the sale was completed, contractors began work on tens of thousands of dollars of improvements…A federal disclosure law passed after Watergate requires justices and other officials to disclose the details of most real estate sales over $1,000. Thomas never disclosed his sale of the Savannah properties…The disclosure form Thomas filed for that year also had a space to report the identity of the buyer in any private transaction, such as a real estate deal. That space is blank.

Harlan Crow explained why he made the purchase:

“My intention is to one day create a public museum at the Thomas home dedicated to telling the story of our nation’s second black Supreme Court Justice,” he said. “I approached the Thomas family about my desire to maintain this historic site so future generations could learn about the inspiring life of one of our greatest Americans.”

Second news item

It’s inconceivable to me that shutting down an entire library would be considered a positive outcome:

A small-town Texas library system threatened with extinction was spared Thursday after the Llano County commissioners said they would abide by a federal judge’s order to restore the books they banned rather than shut the system down.

Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham, who is the head of the county commission, made the announcement after county leaders heard from more than a dozen residents at an emergency meeting.

“The library will remain open while we try this in the courts, rather than through the news media,” said Cunningham, who said the county has already spent more than $100,000 on legal costs and vowed to appeal the federal judge’s decision.

Disappointment in the ruling:

A disappointed Eva Carter disagreed. She said she was on the side of those who wanted to close the libraries and predicted the federal judge’s ruling would be overturned on appeal. “We need to fight it in the court system and get this salacious material removed,” Carter, 82, said. “We have God on our side, and we expect he will get the glory when this is said and done.”

Third news item

Classified intel leaker arrested:

A Massachusetts Air National Guard member was arrested Thursday in connection with the disclosure of highly classified military documents about the Ukraine war and other top national security issues, an alarming breach that has raised fresh questions about America’s ability to safeguard its most sensitive secrets.

The guardsman, an IT specialist identified as 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, was taken into custody without incident after FBI officers converged on his Massachusetts home. Attorney General Merrick Garland said he is to be charged with removing or transmitting classified national defense information, a crime under the Espionage Act.

Garland did not reveal a possible motive, but accounts of those in the online private chat group where the documents were disclosed have depicted Teixeira as motivated more by bravado than ideology.

How the reported low-ranking individual with TS/SCI clearance was able to access such sensitive material:

Teixeira was a “cyber transport systems specialist,” essentially an IT specialist responsible for military communications networks, including their cabling and hubs. In that role Teixeira would have had a higher level of security clearance because he would have also been tasked with responsibility for ensuring protection for the networks, a defense official told The Associated Press, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

Background on the documents:

The leak is believed to have started on a site called Discord, a social media platform popular with people playing online games and where Teixeira is believed to have posted for years about guns, games and his favorite memes — and, according to some chatting with him, closely guarded U.S. secrets.

This from a sitting member of Congress is more than a bit troubling. It’s not “serious,” Marge, it’s a felony and if convicted, Teixeira could face up to 15 years in prison. Considering the jeopardy in which he may have put Americans doing sensitive work on behalf of our country, the threat to our national security, and the damage to relationships with our allies, you should be ashamed of your encouragement to “many” other would-be “heroes” that you seem to know about:

Liz Cheney has it right:

Former Rep. Liz Cheney said Thursday that GOP firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene should not have a security clearance after Greene defended the Air National Guardsman suspected of leaking a trove of classified documents.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene makes clear yet again that she cannot be trusted with America’s national security information and should not have a security clearance of any kind.”

Unfortunately, yet unsurprisingly, Tucker Carlson is also joining Marge in defending the leaker, and even “heroizing” him. More, unfortunately, Russia is using it to its advantage:

Fourth news item

What happened:

Footage of the February 28 incident, captured in a broadcast by the Tibet arm of the United States government-backed Voice of America, showed the Dalai Lama interacting with about 100 student graduates of India’s M3M Foundation at his temple in McLeod Ganj, which is in Dharamshala in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

After the young boy asked the Dalai Lama for a hug, the child was invited to greet the religious leader, who asked for a kiss on the cheek, gave the boy a kiss on the lips, and said: “And suck my tongue.” The boy appeared to stick out his tongue, but the pair separated after touching foreheads and shared a laugh to applause from the crowd.

Note: The Dalai Lama’s team’s clip was *after* the offensive part took place, indicating they knew that they were aware of the problem.

Reminder: Every religious leader who has ever walked the earth has had feet of clay. They are not magical beings, they do not walk on water, and they are not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. They are deeply flawed mortals, just like the rest of us. But clearly, deviants walk among them as well.

I was reading about the Tibetan custom of greeting people by sticking out their tongues:

Sticking out one’s tongue is a sign of respect or agreement and was often used as a greeting in traditional Tibetan culture. According to Tibetan folklore, a cruel ninth-century Tibetan king had a black tongue, so people stick out their tongues to show that they are not like him (and aren’t his reincarnation)

Despite protests of misconstruing what took place because sticking out the tongue is just a traditional greeting, and warnings that it’s CCP propagandists using the video to discredit the Dalai Lama, I haven’t seen anything that even remotely suggests that sucking another’s tongue is part of the traditional Tibetan greeting. Moreover, if having a child suck an adult’s tongue was just part of the Tibetan greeting, why would the Dalai Lama feel compelled to apologize, rather than use it as a teachable moment to enlighten us all? We know better.

Fifth news item

Is Navalny being slowly poisoned? It wouldn’t be surprising:

Alexey Navalny’s attorney Vadim Kobzev reports that paramedics had been summoned to Navalny’s cell late on the night of April 7–8, due to acute symptoms that the prison personnel refuses to explain.

Kobzev says he wouldn’t rule out that Navalny is being poisoned again, this time in small dozes calculated to make him decline “gradually but steadily”:

In response to the question “What’s making me sick?” the prison doctor tells him, “It’s spring, everyone has acute symptoms.” Judging by the bizarre and outrageous situation around Navalny’s health, with sudden attacks he never used to have, we cannot rule out that they’re poisoning him slowly, to make him deteriorate gradually but steadily. This might have sounded like a paranoid idea if this was a different person, but not with regard to Navalny after Novichok. We’re going to press for toxicity testing and a radiological study.

A swift and sudden death, like falling out of a window, would be too obvious and risks making a martyr of Navalny. But a slow poisoning while struggling to survive extraordinarily challenging circumstances poses far less risk of that happening.

Sixth news item

What’s he afraid of?:

Former President Donald Trump has asked a federal appeals court to take immediate action to block former Vice President Mike Pence from testifying in the Justice Department’s probe into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Trump filed an appeal earlier this week in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, and on Friday he asked the court to take immediate action.

Seventh news item

Trump’s interview with Tucker Carlson, who was discovered to have referred to the former president as a “demonic force” and a “destroyer” but will do anything to pump the ratings:

President Xi is a brilliant man. If you went all over Hollywood to look for somebody to play the role of President Xi, you couldn’t find—there’s nobody like that. The look, the brain, the whole thing. We had a great relationship. You know, when he first came to Mar-a-Lago . . . it was so organized by them and by us, but by them, pom, pom, pom. Everything’s like business. No games, you know. They don’t say, “Gee, how did the Yankees do last night? Oh, that was wonderful.” They don’t care. They don’t care about anything. I said, “You ever go to a Broadway play? I’ll take you to one. Do you ever have plays—like, do you ever go?” . . . No, I don’t know. He’s all . . . This is business. These aren’t game players, right? I like it, you know, in a way, I like it. You have no life. But that’s what he likes.

As for Russia, Trump expounded at length on his views that American support for Ukraine would fail; openly suggested, without evidence, that the United States itself blew up the Nord Stream pipelines; and pointed out that “there are people that say Ukraine cannot win”…

Russia loves them some useful idiots:

Eighth news item

A bad hire indeed:

It was a little more than a year ago that President Biden was being saluted for “making history” by hiring Sam Brinton to be the deputy assistant secretary of spent fuel and waste disposition in the Office of nuclear energy for the Department of Energy.

The former DOE official has now pleaded no contest to stealing luggage from the Las Vegas airport and been ordered to pay $3,670.74 in restitution for the stolen luggage and clothes and given a 180-day suspended jail sentence.

It would be nice if someone, anyone associated with the U.S. Department of Energy could just concede, “This was not a good hire. We screwed up, and we will scrutinize applicants for positions like this more closely in the future.” The Biden administration has not said anything about Brinton, insisting that Brinton was not an administration appointee.

Brinton announced the hiring on Twitter in January 2022. Brinton was working in the office by late June, and on June 29 added, “to clarify, I am not a Biden appointee (despite what was reported) and instead serve as a career employee in the Senior Executive Service – I intend to be serving my country in this role through many many presidencies.” Members of the senior executive service “serve in the key positions just below the top presidential appointees,” according to the Office of Personnel Management.

On July 6, about a week after announcing the start in the new position, Brinton was recorded on video stealing a woman’s luggage from a carousel at Las Vegas’s Harry Reid International Airport, “wearing a white t-shirt with a rainbow atomic nuclear symbol on the front.” Then in October, Brinton was charged in Hennepin County, Minn., with felony theft for stealing a woman’s luggage from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

MISCELLANEOUS

New Trump political ad and I can’t even:

P.S. Bellingcat, whose Chriso Grozev worked with Alexie Navalny to identify those responsible for poisoning the activist (documented in the Acadamy Award winning film, “Navalny”), was also instrumental (via Aric Toler, a staff writer at Bellingcat) in identifying the alleged source of the leaked documents this week.

Have a great weekend!

–Dana


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