Thursday Reads

Tove Jansson, Still life with fruit and flowers on the background of an open door, 1945

Tove Jansson, Still life with fruit and flowers on the background of an open door, 1945

Good Afternoon!!

Once again the news is coming fast and furious today, but the top story has to be the latest about Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old air national guardsman who leaked classified documents on Discord.

The story is getting worse with each passing day. This kid not only had access to secret government documents, but also he stockpiled weapons in his parents’ home and fantasized about being a mass murderer.

NPR: The suspected leaker of Pentagon documents is due back in federal court.

The air national guardsman accused of leaking U.S. government secrets is due back in federal court in Worcester, Mass., at 1 p.m. on Thursday. Federal prosecutors are urging that the defendant, Jack Teixeira, 21, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, remain in jail pending trial.

In a new court filing, federal prosecutors say Teixeira faces significant prison time, if convicted, and poses a serious flight risk. They say he took steps to obstruct the investigation into the leak of U.S. intelligence documents, many of which were about Ukraine’s war against Russia.

According to court papers, investigators found a tablet, a laptop and a gaming console — all of them smashed — in a dumpster at Teixeira’s house after his arrest. Teixeira also allegedly told an associate online to delete all messages with him and that if anyone came asking questions about him, not to tell them anything. Prosecutors also say Teixeira began in February 2022 to access classified national defense information that had no bearing on his job. Not all of those materials have publicly surfaced yet.

NBC News: Intel leaks suspect is a flight risk and could have access to more classified docs, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors will urge a judge Thursday to keep Jack Teixeira, 21, behind bars, arguing he poses “a serious flight risk,” and that a “foreign adversary” could try to help him escape the United States and give him safe haven.

“The information to which the Defendant had access — and did access — far exceeds what has been publicly disclosed on the Internet to date,” the document said. The leaks “have the capacity to cause additional exceptionally grave damage to the U.S. national security if disclosed.”

The 18-page memo said Teixeira had a history of making violent and racist remarks — including posting on social media about wanting to carry out a mass shooting — keeping “an arsenal of weapons”and tactical gear at his house, and trying to thwart federal investigators by apparently destroying evidence.

The filing comes ahead of a detention hearing Thursday in Massachusetts federal court. Teixeira, who has not entered a plea, has been in jail since his arrest earlier this month in a case that represents one of the most significant intelligence leaks in years. The saga has fueled global uproar and doubts over America’s ability to guard its secrets….

“The damage the Defendant has already caused to the U.S. national security is immense. The damage the Defendant is still capable of causing is extraordinary,” prosecutors wrote. “If the Defendant were released, it would be all too easy for him to further disseminate classified information and would create the unacceptable risk that he would flee the United States and take refuge with a foreign adversary to avoid the reach of U.S. law.”

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Spring still life, by Susan Novak

On Teixeira’s fascination with mass shootings:

Teixeira also used his government computer to search for information on previous mass shootings, including “Uvalde” and “Mandalay Bay shooting,” the filing said. Media reports have suggested these searches may have been related to Teixeira’s belief in conspiracy theories that the government had prior knowledge of these shootings, it added. But prosecutors said that coupled with his social media posts and weapons cache these searches were “troubling.”

Teixeira lives in his mother and stepfather’s house in North Dighton, Massachusetts, and in his bedroom keeps a gun locker stocked with handguns, bolt-action rifles, shotguns, and an AK-style high-capacity weapon, prosecutors said.

His “arsenal of weapons” also included a bazooka, and a “silencer-style accessory,” according to investigators, who found a tactical helmet with a GoPro camera and mount in the dumpster outside, according to the filing.

BBC News: Jack Teixeira: Suspected leaker made threats and researched shootings, US says.

Jack Teixeira wrote on social media that he wanted to kill a “ton of people” as a way of “culling the weak minded”, according to a court filing.

The 18-page document also claimed the 21-year-old asked what type of rifle would be easy to operate from an SUV.

According to the prosecutors, he posted repeatedly about “troubling” violent acts including a potential mass shooting. He allegedly described building an “assassination van” and driving around shooting people in a “crowded urban or suburban environment”.

He also allegedly searched for multiple recent mass shootings on his government computer, including Uvalde and the Las Vegas shooting.

The filing also said a search of Mr Teixeira’s home had uncovered “a virtual arsenal of weapons, including bolt-action rifles, rifles, AR and AK-style weapons, and a bazooka” that were kept “just feet from his bed”.

It added that he was suspended from high school when a classmate overheard him making threats and discussing Molotov cocktails as well as other weapons.

How the hell did this kid get a top secret security clearance from the Pentagon? Here’s a clue:

In other news, E. Jean Carroll testified in her civil case against Donald Trump yesterday, and it was powerful. Trump didn’t have the guts to show up in court, and that probably didn’t make a good impression on the jury.

Mitchell Epner at The Daily Beast: Jury Has Likely Decided Trump’s Fate in Rape Case Already.

On the first day of trial testimony Wednesday, E. Jean Carroll took the witness stand and provided unvarnished testimony that she was raped by Donald Trump in the 1990s. She testified: “I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it did not happen.”

André Deymonaz

By André Deymonaz

She testified that she and Trump went together to the lingerie department on the sixth floor of Bergdorf Goodman, flirting. When they got there, Trump followed her into the dressing room and pushed her against the wall, knocking her head and disorienting her. He also pulled down her tights, stuck his fingers inside of her vagina—causing her great pain—and stuck his penis inside of her vagina, for a period of time, while she struggled against him.

This testimony is the key to the case. If the jury believes it, they will find Trump liable for the rape of E. Jean Carroll, and likely award her significant damages. If the jury does not believe it, they will return a verdict in favor of the former president.

Based upon more than 25 years of experience as a trial attorney, including service as an Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting sex crimes, I believe that it is highly likely that the jurors have already made up their minds about whether Carroll is telling the truth—before she has completed her direct testimony and long before Donald Trump’s attorneys have the opportunity to cross-examine her.

On Trump absenting himself:

This case won’t be a “he said, she said” case—because Trump is unlikely to testify.

In fact, Trump has not attended the trial at all so far. During opening statements, his attorney, Joe Tacopina, appeared to indicate that the trend would continue, saying that Trump’s testimony would only occur in deposition excerpts. Trump’s witness list consists of only two people, Donald Trump and Dr. Edgar Nace, a psychiatric expert witness.

Trump also is not presenting any exhibits, other than excerpts from depositions. If he does not testify, the only way he will get facts into evidence will be through cross-examination of Ms. Carroll’s witnesses.

Ms. Carroll, on the other hand, will present a number of corroborating witnesses:

  • Lisa Birnbaum: The bestselling author will testify that Carroll told her immediately after the incident what Trump had done to her. She will also testify that she told Carroll that she had been “raped.”
  • Carol Martin: The first African-American anchor on local news in New York City (for over two decade) will likewise testify that Carroll told her immediately of the rape by Trump. Martin will testify that she told Carroll not to pursue the case, because he had “200 lawyers” and would destroy her.
  • Jessica Leeds: Another of Trump’s alleged victims, she will testify that she was sexually assaulted by Donald Trump when she sat next to him on a flight in the 1970s, when he attempted to place his fingers inside of her vagina.
  • Natasha Stoynoff: Then a reporter for People magazine, she will testify that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her when she was at Mar-A-Lago in the early 2000s, working on a story.

Carroll is also set to present the infamous Access Hollywood video, in which Donald Trump bragged that he could grab women “by the pussy” without consent, because he was “a star.”

Perhaps even more importantly, Carroll already addressed most of the points that Trump’s attorneys wanted to make on cross-examination.

Read more at the link.

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Still life with a ginger jar and eggplant, by Paul Cezanne

In addition to all this, Trump posted about the case on Truth Social yesterday, and the judge was not happy. He suggested that Trump could get himself in further trouble by trying to influence the jury.

The Guardian: Judge rebukes Trump for ‘entirely inappropriate’ post before E Jean Carroll testimony.

Before Carroll took the stand…the judge in the case, Lewis A Kaplan, rebuked Trump for an “entirely inappropriate” statement on his social media platform, Truth Social, shortly before proceedings began.

Kaplan warned the former president’s lawyers that such statements about the case could bring more legal problems upon himself.

Trump, who has not attended so far, called the case “a made-up scam”. He also called Carroll’s lawyer “a political operative” and alluded to a DNA issue Kaplan has ruled cannot be part of the case.

“This is a fraudulent and false story – Witch Hunt!” Trump wrote….

The judge told Trump’s lawyers: “What seems to be the case is that your client is basically endeavoring, certainly, to speak to his quote-unquote public, but, more troubling, the jury in this case about stuff that has no business being spoken about.”

He also called Trump’s post “a public statement that, on the face of it, seems entirely inappropriate”.

The Trump attorney Joe Tacopina noted that jurors are told not to follow any news or online commentary about the case. But he said he would ask Trump “to refrain from any further posts about this case”.

“I hope you’re more successful,” Kaplan said, adding that Trump “may or may not be tampering with a new source of potential liability”.

This morning Carroll testified that she has been receiving threats, following Trump’s postings.

Another big story broke late yesterday. Trump has lost high fight to keep Mike Pence from testifying to the January 6 grand jury.

CNN: Trump loses appeal to block Pence from testifying about direct communications.

Former President Donald Trump has lost an emergency attempt to block former Vice President Mike Pence from testifying about their direct conversations, in the latest boost to a federal criminal investigation examining Trump’s and others’ actions after the 2020 election.

The former president has repeatedly tried and failed to close off some answers from witnesses close to him in the special counsel’s investigation. This latest order from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals likely will usher in Pence’s grand jury testimony quickly – an unprecedented development in modern presidential history.

The decision, from Judges Patricia Millett, Robert Wilkins and Greg Katsas on the DC Circuit, came in a sealed case on Wednesday night that CNN previously identified as Trump’s executive privilege challenge to Pence. No dissents were noted on the public docket.

Trump has tried to block Pence from testifying about their direct communications, even after the former vice president wrote about some of those exchanges and a lower-court judge had ruled against him.

Trump asked the DC Circuit for emergency intervention weeks ago. The court refused to put on hold Pence’s subpoena and to override the lower-court ruling, flatly denying Trump’s requests.

Trump could try to appeal again and even press the issue at the Supreme Court. Yet he gave up pushing several past executive privilege challenges to special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation after similar rulings from this court of appeals.

breakfast-still-life-1924, Ilya Mashkov

Breakfast still life, 1924, by Ilya Mashkov

One more important story–on the latest developments in the Supreme Court ethics scandal.

Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern at Slate: King Roberts: The chief justice’s latest trick to ward off oversight is the ploy of a royal, not a judge.

Last Thursday, Sen. Dick Durbin invited Chief Justice John Roberts to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about, well, to put it directly—the Supreme Court’s diaphanous ethics regime. On Tuesday evening, in his letter to Durbin in which he declined the invitation, Roberts finally named the problem: “Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Chief Justice of the United States is exceedingly rare, as one might expect in light of separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence,” he wrote. In other words, the justices can enforce checks and balances on the other branches, but the other branches can enforce no checks or balances upon the justices. Which is precisely the problem the Senate Judiciary Committee is attempting to solve.

In an accompanying “Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices,” presumably released for the public, the chief justice laid out the web of laws and practices and guidelines used voluntarily by each justice to determine their individual ethics obligations. Perhaps he was attempting to clarify things, but instead the document illuminates the problem. These obligations and commitments are advisory, unenforceable, and subjective. In response to the widespread concern that no person should be a judge in their own cause, the court has confirmed that it shall continue to be the sole judge of that. (Meanwhile, it will enforce this principle against other courts—which is great, but also … come on!)

Put aside for a moment Politico’s new report that Justice Neil Gorsuch failed to disclose that he’d sold his valuable Colorado property to a prominent lawyer with multiple cases before the court only nine days after he was confirmed, or Bloomberg’s new revelations that Harlan Crow, Justice Clarence Thomas’ GOP-megadonor billionaire friend, also had business before the court, yet his lavish gifts to Thomas were not disclosed because the justice said Crow had no business before the court. Note also that Gorsuch’s failure to disclose has been defended on the grounds that the justice was not friends with the purchaser of his land, whereas Thomas’ failure to disclose Crow’s gifts has been defended on the grounds that the justice was close friends with him. Which “friend” rule wins? Who can possibly know.

The justices themselves are wholly responsible for this high-octane ethics quagmire, which now drags into its fourth week. Any sane institution that relies wholly on public approval, when faced with multiple irrefutable reports of distortions and deception, would respond with a plan to do better. It speaks volumes that the Imperial Court’s response is a promise to simply continue to do the same. Why? Because it thinks the other branches won’t do anything about it. As Ian Millhiser noted in Vox this week, the Constitution makes it extraordinarily difficult to remove a justice, or diminish the court’s power. The reason it is set up this way, believe it or not, is because the framers thought the judiciary would rise above the partisan fray. In practice, however, the Supreme Court has proven remarkably easy for one political party to capture. Its members are selected through a flagrantly political process. It is formed by political imperatives. And yet the court pretends—and demands we all pretend—that it’s magically purified of politics as soon as its justices are seated.

Read the rest at Slate.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a great Thursday, everyone!


Live Blog: Fourth Democratic Debate

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Tonight’s debate is likely to feature some fireworks and a good exchange of ideas between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders–as long as the moderators can keep Martin O’Malley from constantly breaking in with his patented line “I’ve actually already done that in Maryland.”

Mediaite has the basics on how to watch the debate. It will be available on line at the NBC News website and YouTube. It begins at nine and goes for two hours.

The back and forth between Hillary and Bernie this week has been interesting, to say the least. Hillary seems to have gotten under Bernie’s skin too, because he has now partially flip flopped on his vote to immunize gun dealers from liability, his campaign has promised to release specifics on his health car plan and how he hopes to pay for it “very soon,” and they’ve also said they’ll release a “doctor’s note” on Sanders’ health.

Just a couple of days ago the Sanders campaign announced they wouldn’t release the health care tax figures and they previously pooh poohed the need to release medical records.

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I’ve thought for awhile now that Sanders has begun to believe his own reviews in the media. After reading what he said on Face The Nation this morning, I’m convinced he has allowed the failure of the media to vet him and the adulation of his supporters to go to his head.

Sanders: I have a “good chance” to win 2016 election.

“I think we have a good chance to win both those states,” he said of Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold nominating contests. “I think we have a good chance to win this election.”

If he does win, Sanders predicted his campaign would come to be known as “one of the great political upsets in modern history.”

He is feeling so good, in fact, that the Vermont senator told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson that while he was watching President Obama’s final State of the Union address last week, “the thought did cross my mind” that he could be delivering that address in the near future.

Then he caught himself.

“It’s a very humbling feeling,” he said, but added a moment later, “It’s a long way to go before we talk about inaugural speech, before we toss State of the Union speeches in.”

Hmmm…. he doesn’t sound so humble.

Bernie guns

I have a few other good links for you on Bernie.

First a diary from DailyKos (!) on the health care law that Sanders has proposed multiple times in Congress: Sanders’ Health Care Plan. The diarist simply reports the contents of Senate Bill 1782, introduced in December 2013. Please go read it.

The law would end Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program, and TRICARE. The money that was going into those programs, and use it to fund a “single payer” plan to be run and partially paid for by the states.

We already know that Supreme Court is not going to force states to accept something they don’t want from the Feds. That was their decision on the ACA Medicaid expansion. Even if Sanders could somehow get this through the Republican Congress, it would never get past SCOTUS.

I can’t even imagine what would be involved in implementing this. Right now, Medicare has low overhead costs because it turns over administration of supplemental plans to insurance companies–which would be outlawed in Sanders’ alternative universe.

I’m on Medicare and I get help paying my premiums from the government. Those premiums are more than $100 per month. Basic Medicare only pays for hospital bills, so I also have a government funded supplemental plan with very high co-pays that I get “free.” At least I can go to a doctor if it’s absolutely necessary. What would happen to people like me when all that infrastructure is demolished?

Here’s another must-read that Babama posted in a comment yesterday.

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The People’s View: Chelsea Clinton was Right: Everyone’s Health Care is Threatened under Bernie’s Plan.

Recently, Chelsea Clinton got panned for saying that Bernie Sanders’ health care plan – commonly heralded as ‘Medicare for All’ by the revolution-peddlers – would give Republican governors the opportunity to dismantle publicly funded health insurance for the poor and middle class, that is, Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges. Seems absurd to accuse a self-proclaimed socialist with a proclaimed demand for single-payer universal health insurance of trying to take away health care. Politifact rated Chelsea Clinton’s claims ‘mostly false.’

Politifact got it wrong. Bernie Sanders’ plan does, in fact, allow for states to take away health care from the poor and middle-income, if not most everyone in a state. Although, that shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Sanders’ plan itself targets the economically disadvantaged for punishment. As Politifact notes, Sanders hasn’t proposed a full health care plan for his presidential campaign, instead choosing to use a bill Sanders introduced in the Senate in 2013 without a single cosponsor, titled ‘American Health Security Act of 2013’ as the template.

Poltiifact notes it is in fact true that Sanders’ plan repeals all health insurance funding from Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance exchanges. But he would channel the revenue instead to fund the single-payer system! [….]

The problem is, what Sander’s bill “seeks to” do and what it actually does are quite different. Since Politifact helpfully pointed us to Sanders’ 2013 bill, I decided to read it. In short, it ends all funding to Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP an the ACA insurance provisions, directs it to this single-payer insurance program, raises additional revenue on the back of those who can least afford it, and charges states with the job of actually running it.

Each state, in theory, would have its own program that follows basic guidelines and the vast majority of the funding (80-90%) is provided by the federal government.  Nonetheless, for states that refuse to run their own program, federal authorities – specifically, a Board – can do so instead. Sanders’ bill would also ban the sale of private health insurance.

Until I read that last night, I really didn’t understand how clueless Sanders really is. Please read the whole thing if you haven’t already, because Robert Reich is running around saying the plan makes sense.

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One more Bernie link from Dean Barker at “Birch Paper.” This one has been getting retweeted a lot today. The piece takes us back to the early days of Sanders’ political career when he ran again and again for office, and always lost. Then he got smart and used guns to get into Congress.

Sanders repeatedly talks about how he lost an election because he supported a ban on assault weapons. What really happened is that Sanders did so well in a third-party run that he got Republican Peter Smith elected. After he got to Washington, Smith’s conscience bothered him and he ended up supporting a bill to ban assault weapons.

In 1990, Sanders ran for the House seat again, and defeated Smith with the help and monetary support of the NRA. So when Bernie went to Washington, he voted against the Brady bill–repeatedly.

You have to read that article! There are tons of good links in there too.

Hillary was on the morning shows today too, and she learned from George Stephanopoulos that Karl Rove’s super pac is running an ad in Iowa that supports Sanders attacks on her.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughed off a new attack ad from a Republican super PAC run by Karl Rove during an interview Sunday on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.

The web spot, titled “Hillary’s Bull Market,” was launched by American Crossroads, which is run by the Republican strategist and former President George W. Bush adviser. After watching the ad for the first time during her interview on “This Week,” Clinton just smiled.

“I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are to prevent me from becoming the nominee,” Clinton said about the ad, which goes after her ties to Wall Street. “I find that, in a perverse way, an incredibly flattering comment on their anxiety, because they know that not only will I stand up for what the country needs, I will take it to the Republicans.”

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CNN’s report on the morning shows: Hillary Clinton zeroes in on Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton on Sunday sharpened her attacks on Bernie Sanders over the Vermont senator’s record on gun control, just hours ahead of their fourth debate as both vie for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I am very pleased that he flip-flopped on the immunity legislation,” Clinton told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” a day after Sanders, who had been hammered by her campaign for his past position, announced he would change course and back legislation to reverse a 2005 law granting firearm manufacturers legal immunity.

She then called on her rival to do the same with the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allows licensed dealers, once they have initiated a federal background check, to complete the gun sale in question if they haven’t hears back from authorities after three days.

Good news for Hillary:

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Time: Poll: Hillary Clinton Leads Bernie Sanders Nationally By 25 Points.

Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders in a new national poll ahead of Sunday’s final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses.

The former Secretary of State is beating Sanders by 25 points nationally, according to according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of likely Democratic primary voters. Clinton is the top pick among 59% of Democratic primary voters, while Sanders has the support of 34%, the survey shows. Third-place candidate Martin O’Malley got the support of just 2% of likely voters.

Read the rest at CNN.

And From US News: Yes, Hillary’s Still the Inevitable Democratic Nominee She can recover even if she loses the first two nominating states to Bernie Sanders. Here’s why. Read about it at the link. It’s not easy find a brief excerpt to summarize the findings.

I’m putting this up a little early so we’ll have time to discuss these articles–or anything else you want to talk about–before the debate begins at 9PM. I look forward to reading your reactions to what happens tonight. This is the most important debate yet!


Shame on you Washington DC…Open Thread

This is on the front page of Huffington Post:

Huffington Post gun control

On its front page splash, The Huffington Post blasted the Senate for voting down a measure to expand background checks.

Part one of the splash contains 30 victims of recent mass shootings — from Newtown, Conn., Tucson, and Aurora, Colo. Part two is full of pictures of the Senators who voted against the measure.

This is an open thread….
Dakinikat here with apologies to JJ for stepping into her post but I just love when this happens … ty sky dancers!  wtg!! Notice that we have the top 100 honors in three AREAS!! Top 100 politics!  Top 100 US politics and TOP 100 WORLD politics! Think this is the first time we’ve hit a triple!
top 100top 100 everything