They Play The Long Game and They Tell You Their Every Move

Many of you have heard about Clarence Thomas making the news:

ustice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday called for the Supreme Court to reconsider New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling interpreting the First Amendment to make it hard for public officials to prevail in libel suits.

He said the decision had no basis in the Constitution as it was understood by the people who drafted and ratified it.

“New York Times and the court’s decisions extending it were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law,” Justice Thomas wrote.

This is, of course, completely unrelated, I am sure, to conservative animus to a free press calling out right-wing perfidy. It also has nothing to do with Donald Trump’s longstanding war with the media and, notably, Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post. This is also completely unrelated:

Lawyers for 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School junior who faced off with Omaha Nation elder Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last month, have filed a $250 million lawsuit against The Washington Post, one of many newspapers to report on viral video of the incident.

“This is only the beginning,” said the attorneys, Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry, on their firm’s website, noting that it was the “first lawsuit” on Sandmann’s behalf.

This is also unrelated to the Covington boys hiring a right wing PR firm hired by Scott Jennings, a protege of Mitch McConnell. Why, I’d even wonder what roads some of the attorneys at Hemmer, DeFrank, and Wessels traveled. Who clerked with who, who went to law school with who, etc.

Or maybe I am just being paranoid and conspiratorial. But I have no doubt that the free speech zealots on the right at the court will suddenly drop that position if it helps their side. They’re all hacks and frauds.

What’s Happening In Sunspot?

The National Solar Observatory is located, appropriately, in Sunspot, New Mexico, on Sacramento Peak. It was closed by the FBI on September 6 and the employees told to stay home until further notice. Even the Otero County Sheriff doesn’t know what’s going on.

James McAteer, a New Mexico State University professor who is also the director of the Sunspot Solar Observatory said the “telescope did not see aliens. All data will be made public in its unaltered form. Nothing is hidden or kept secret.” (Source)

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which runs the observatory, issued a statement saying

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is addressing a security issue at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) facility at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico and has decided to temporarily vacate the facility as a precautionary measure until further notice. All other NSO facilities are open and operating normally. AURA, which manages Sacramento Peak with funding from the National Science Foundation, is working with the proper authorities on this issue.

The FBI is not commenting.

My guess is that someone has made a threat against the observatory or its personnel. That person may be inside or outside the observatory community. But not aliens or a sunspot that will destroy the Earth.

Photo from

And Open Thread!

Gas Explosions In Massachusetts

There have been 60 to 100 gas explosions in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover, Massachusetts. Here’s a local news outlet updating regularly. Some of the fires have been put out as I write, but check for the latest. There is no information on what went wrong. Here’s a map of the explosions and fires. Electricity is being cut off to the area to prevent more explosions.

I didn’t want to say this, but a number of other people are saying it and implying it. This many gas explosions at one time is unusual. So the question arises of a cyberattack.

A pressure surge in an old gas system could cause something like this. The question is how the surge originated. I don’t know enough about how the gas distribution system works to guess at accidental surges. The Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s uranium enrichment facility worked by messing with the system’s controls to speed up the centrifuges to their breaking point. The control system can do many things, including allowing the pressure to increase in a gas system.

This is just guessing right now. It’s too soon to know anything, and the authorities have said nothing about the cause. So stay frosty.

I checked in with front-pager Tom Levenson on Twitter, and he’s some distance from the explosions. We need to hear from Anne Laurie, and others in the area too.


Quick Note On A Developing Story

The plane is isolated, and CDC officials are checking passengers. It appears that some of the passengers are being released.

An earlier report on ABC said that the number of sick passengers was 100, which now appears to be wrong. The symptoms reported are fever and coughing.

As you might expect, there are panicky tweets that try to be humorous. But, as usual for an incident that gets the public eye, early reports are likely to be inaccurate.

One speculation I’ve seen is that this may be related to food poisoning, although the reported symptoms don’t check out in my limited knowledge of such things.

What the symptoms seem to fit with is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which is serious but seems to be not easily transmitted. It’s one of the viruses the public health people keep an eye on for possible epidemics. It will probably take a day or more to figure out exactly what the illness is.

As usual, take anything you read with a grain of salt, and don’t spread rumors.

Alternate Working Theory

I’m watching a Storage Wars marathon (and basically anything else that can hold my interest) because I am so fucking sick and tired of this election, but I had a random thought. Let’s see if we’re being cynical enough about this whole Comey.

Given the disclosures today about Trump and the Russian server and the bombshell that the Russians were allegedly attempting to recruit Trump for five years, what if Comey found out a while back that this was happening, but wanted to hold it close to vest so as not to endanger the investigation. Then when they found out, they desperately wanted to inform the public, but were afraid if they came forward with this info, it would play into Trump’s spiel about rigged elections. Simultaneously, Comey knows he has a lot of rogue agents who are leaking crap about the Clintons at every time, and for obvious reasons, he wants to get rid of them.

The next best way to do this would be to first leak the nothing burger about emails neither wrote nor received, knowing full well it will be quickly refuted, then track who knows what and was involved and you could follow the leaks and find out who the disloyal and rogue agents are. Then, you could coordinate the planned leaks about Trump and the Russians for maximum damage, and no one can claim the election is rigged, because if it was ok for Clinton it is ok for Trump.

You then take out Trump, who you think is a real threat, identify the problems within the FBI, retain your nonpartisan stature, and you and Loretta get to go on a nice purge prior to HRC taking over in January.

Or I have read too many shitty spy novels and Comey is just an idiot.