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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 40,062

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Blocked on Twitter by that rat bastard fuck @ggreenwald

Journal Archives

History’s Postscript: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy

A quarter-century ago, a virtually unknown State Department official published an article in a neoconservative policy journal. The title of the piece as well as its author would go on to acquire global fame—or perhaps notoriety. Critics did not hesitate to dismiss Francis Fukuyama’s “The End of History?” Strobe Talbott, for instance, called it “the beginning of nonsense.”

Yet the article, and the subsequent book that grew out of it, was often misinterpreted and misconstrued. Contrary to what has often been alleged, Fukuyama had not predicted anything like the end of all conflict. Rather, he had asserted that only liberal democracy was capable of fulfilling basic human aspirations for freedom and dignity. This claim has not been so obviously disproven today. The few self-proclaimed ideological alternatives to democracy, whether the Chinese Dream articulated by Chinese leader Xi Jinping or the Eurasianism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, do not exercise anything like the global attraction that fascism and communism enjoyed during the 20th century.

But this does not mean that all is well with the state of democracy. Democracy has a serious rival today that actually lays claim to many of the values democrats themselves endorse: populism.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, populism is not simply a matter of irresponsible policies or appeals to the downtrodden. Populism is an anti-elitist but, crucially, also an anti-pluralist form of politics. And despite the optimistic notions of many liberals, populist parties are not just protest parties that always prove incapable of governing. Populist regimes have recently been consolidated in Hungary, Turkey and to some degree Russia, among other countries. These regimes are often supported by what political observers since Aristotle have liked to think of as the social backbone of democracies: the rising middle class. Fukuyama himself recently affirmed the belief that “middle-class societies . . . are the bedrock of democracy,” but they can just as easily be the bedrock of populism.

Populist rabble-rousers today rely on middle classes who increasingly feel like—and are portrayed as—threatened minorities. Less obviously, populist regimes try to create their own middle class and equate it with the “true” people as such. These regimes typically weaken checks and balances, colonize the state, crush independent civil society and almost always prove highly corrupt. But all of the above tactics, even corruption, can be presented as benefiting a regime’s protected middle class, and hence do not obviously discredit a populist government.


Meanwhile, in New Hampshire

Jesse Deflorio faces one count of reckless conduct after he was accused of firing a BB gun in the direction of Concord police officers who were doing a routine traffic stop earlier this month.

Police said that on Sept. 5, two officers stopped a car near the intersection of Water and South Main streets in Concord.

During that stop, the officers said, they heard what sounded like shots being fired, but they were able to determine the gun was most likely a BB gun and not a traditional firearm.

The officers and the occupants of the vehicle were unharmed.

The officers said they heard projectiles striking a dumpster in the area and believed the shots were coming from a nearby apartment building.

Police said they located Deflorio and two other men at an apartment at 203 South Main St. On Tuesday, police filed charges against Deflorio.

He appeared in court Wednesday morning on the reckless conduct charge.

Prosecutors said he was arrested a year ago on a similar charge of shooting a BB gun at a random person who was driving along Loudon Road in Concord.

Prosecutors said he pleaded guilty to reckless conduct last September and is on probation for that incident.


Snowden "blows whistle" on US signals collection targeting Qaddafi's regime


Rand Paul blames Eric Garner's death on high NYC cigarette tax

Washington (CNN) -- In 2010, the New York State Legislature passed a law raising taxes on cigarettes purchased in New York City to $5.85 per pack of 20 cigarettes. Fast-forward four years: A U.S. senator is blaming the politician that created that law for the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in New York City in July 2014.

"I do blame the politician," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, explained on MSNBC's "Hardball." "We put our police in a dangerous situation with bad laws."

Garner died after a police officer put him in a chokehold while trying arrest him for selling tax-free cigarettes. The police officers at the time were unaware of Garner's pre-existing health conditions that likely helped lead to his death. On Wednesday, Paul said Garner's death would have been prevented if the law creating New York City's high cigarette taxes -- the highest in the country -- wasn't created.

"I think it's also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes," Paul said. "So they've driven cigarettes underground so as not to make them so expensive."

The likely Republican presidential hopeful continued, "But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, 'Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.' And for someone to die over you know breaking that law -- there really is no excuse for it."


DU Paulites! Please explain what in the hell kind of point your boy is trying to make...

It's clear that "Blame the politician (but not me)" is going to be Paul's general purpose catchphrase moving forward into the primaries, so we all better get used to it...

On a parting note, go fuck yourself, Rand...

CIA Admits Role In 1985 Coup To Oust David Lee Roth

LANGLEY, VA—Shedding new light on a tumultuous period of upheaval that dominated international headlines nearly 30 years ago, the U.S. government declassified hundreds of documents Tuesday that confirm the CIA covertly organized and executed the coup that ousted lead singer David Lee Roth from Van Halen.

According to a preliminary analysis, the newly released information includes more than 1,600 pages of formerly top-secret material detailing the CIA’s clandestine plot to infiltrate the platinum-selling rock group and unseat the magnetic, impulsive musician from his leadership position in the spring of 1985. The documents reveal that the agency worked behind the scenes for years, beginning after the release of the disco-inflected “Push Comes To Shove” single in 1981, to foment the internal turmoil and unrest needed to destabilize the band and ultimately force Roth to step down from the American heavy metal act.

“As Van Halen’s creative direction became uncertain in the early 1980s, it became increasingly apparent that we would have to take the steps necessary to remove Roth from power,” said former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John N. McMahon, describing the covert process by which he and his colleagues quietly forced a schism between the vocalist and members of the band’s inner circle in order to disrupt the dangerous cult of personality that had taken hold around the hard-rock frontman. “Well before the commencement of the Hide Your Sheep Tour, Roth had become too unpredictable, too brazen, and he was preventing the band’s sound from moving toward synthesizer-driven, radio-friendly rock. So, we felt we needed to act, and quickly.”

“Quite simply, our office determined that Roth was no longer fit to exercise control over Van Halen, and that his aspirations for the band were not aligned with the best interests of the American people,” he continued.

Dubbed Operation Diamond Cutter by the select top-ranking CIA administrators who orchestrated the plot, the confidential initiative reportedly sought to quietly undermine Roth’s influence within Van Halen and replace him with Sammy Hagar, a charismatic but largely inert puppet leader who agency officials were confident would be easily manipulated once installed atop the iconic rock group.

The CIA confirmed that it was able to exploit preexisting strains in the band by capitalizing on internal concerns over Roth’s long-term musical ambitions following the release of his solo EP, as well as pent-up tensions that had simmered for years after the lukewarm commercial and critical reception of Van Halen’s Fair Warning album. Additionally, American intelligence operatives succeeded in enlisting Roth’s manager and utilizing the double agent to convince his client that relinquishing his position would allow him to pursue what was portrayed as a budding and potentially prosperous film career.


Iran: Journalist’s Detention Extended

(Beirut) – Iran’s judiciary has extended Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian’s pretrial detention for another two months. Rezaian, a dual Iranian and American national, is being held in a section of Evin prison controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He has been in detention for more than four months without being formally charged with any crime.

On November 18, 2014, authorities informed Rezaian that investigations against him are ongoing, and that his pretrial detention has been extended for another two months, a source familiar with his case told Human Rights Watch. Prosecutors have not allowed the lawyer hired by Rezaian’s family to defend him, to speak with him, or to review his case file, the source said. The source added that despite Rezaian’s inability to read or write Persian, authorities did not provide him with an official translator during his interrogation. With a judge’s approval, detaining authorities can, under Iranian law, hold a suspect indefinitely and deny him access to counsel.

“If authorities had evidence that Rezaian had committed a real crime, they should have charged him shortly after his arrest,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director. “At this point, they should simply release him.”

The Washington Post reported on July 24 that Rezaian had been arrested by security agents two days earlier together with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, also a journalist, and an unnamed photojournalist and her spouse. They were arrested a day after Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance renewed Rezaian’s press credentials.

Gholamhossein Esmaeili, the head of Tehran’s judiciary, confirmed Rezaian’s arrest on July 25, saying he had “been detained for some questions,” but gave no other explanation. He said the judiciary would issue further details after completing its investigation, which has not yet happened. Authorities have since released Salehi and the others on bail, but have not yet charged them. Human Rights Watch is concerned, based on information it has received, that Salehi and Rezaian’s family have been pressured by authorities not to speak to the media or publicize the circumstances of his ongoing detention.


Interesting at how silent some always-outspoken advocates for global press freedoms have been about this (and no, I'm not naming names)...Funny how they don't have jack shit to say when they can't paint PBO as the bad guy...




St. Louis Rams’ “Don’t shoot” gesture was free speech, and the police should know it

Boy, the St. Louis police really know how to cool things down, don’t they? They’ve taken a controversial protest by a handful of football players, and mixed it with a whiff of bullying authority and a profound misunderstanding of the First Amendment, to create a bigger and more heated argument than it had to be. Sound familiar?

Five pass catchers for the St. Louis Rams raised their hands in a “don’t shoot” gesture during their on-field introductions Sunday, in a sign of solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Mo., where a grand jury refused to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of the unarmed teenager Michael Brown. An infuriated spokesman for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, Jeff Roorda, called the display “unthinkable,” and has demanded the NFL discipline Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Kenny Britt and Jared Cook for making their feelings known “so publicly.” But Roorda didn’t stop there. He added a veiled suggestion that the only thing protecting the Rams and the NFL from mob violence at games is the cops. And then he said:

“I know that there are those who say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights. Well I’ve got news for people who think that way. Cops have First Amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours.”

Set aside for a moment the vaguely threatening tone of the “I’ve got news for people who think that way” statement. What’s even more disturbing about Roorda’s remarks is that he clearly doesn’t know what the First Amendment says, though he is a former cop and current member of the Missouri state House of Representatives.

Whatever you may think about the Rams players, their gesture is a good excuse to sort out some First Amendment issues. What right did those players have to speak, and what right do the police have to tell them to shut up?


Gotta love the pseudo-libertarians who become authoritarians overnight once anybody who isn't a white Christian male starts fighting for THEIR constitutional rights...

(And a special "fuck you" to all the quasi-libertarian scum who are still trying to hijack the death of Michael Brown to serve your own twisted agenda...)

How a Conservative Backlash Silenced #Ferguson Reporters for All the Wrong Reasons

On August 15, after the killing of Ferguson, Missouri teen Michael Brown had surged into the national consciousness, the Washington Post’s DeNeen L. Brown filed a story from a town up the road. There were “dark blue undercover police cars parked outside the house of Darren Wilson.” That house was located on “Manda Lane in Crestwood.” On August 16, the same details appeared in a story co-bylined by Brown, Jerry Markon, and Wesley Lowery. “Dark blue undercover police cars were parked outside his house on Manda Lane,” they wrote. Both stories made it clear that Wilson, the officer who killed Brown, had taken himself elsewhere.

On November 24, after a grand jury opted not to indict Wilson, the New York Times ran a story by Julie Bosman and Campbell Robertson about how the police officer had “quietly” gotten married while avoiding the press. Wilson and his wife owned a home “on Manda Lane in Crestwood.” The detail was included near the end of a story that briefly included an image of the couple’s marriage license. (It included the address of a law firm, but not Wilson’s address.)

What had been innocuous information became the kindling for a media bonfire. They attracted the attention Charles C. Johnson, the conservative journalist whose previous social media interactions include: tweeting call-in details that allowed activists to crash a Thad Cochran presser; tweeting the name of the Dallas “Ebola nurse” before big news outlets decided to reveal it; and reporting that ABC News paid “mid-to-high six figures” for an interview with Darren Wilson. When both ABC News and Wilson himself denied the claim, Johnson stuck by his “NBC source with knowledge” and suggested that ABC might have made a “backroom deal” as it did to interview Casey Anthony.

The upshot of Johnson’s stories is that the media can’t be trusted. The aftermath of the “Manda Lane” story is a harassment campaign against two reporters who, in the view of conservative readers, risked the life of Darren Wilson. On the right, the story of #Ferguson is that a vile and biased media inflated a simple case of self-defense into a bogus “racism” story. In this storyline, Wilson is the real victim, and his aggressors need to be shamed out of their jobs and comfort.

“The New York Times, whether consciously or not, has just endangered Darren Wilson’s life,” wrote Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz. “I mean, why not add a locator map?” On November 25, Johnson published a story at his independent GotNews website with the headline “Why Can’t We Publish Addresses Of New York Times Reporters?” Spoiler: He didn’t agree with that headline.

“It would be wrong, for example, to publish Bosman’s address,” wrote Johnson, publishing the reporter’s address. “It would be similarly wrong to publish the address of Robertson, too.” Ditto. “So why do journalists think they are beyond examination?”

What followed was a crowdsourced campaign of trolling that succeeded in quieting Bosman and Robertson. Neither reporter has tweeted since November 25. Robertson, whom I met this year covering a story in Louisiana, has taken steps to remove his family from any possible threats. A simple Twitter search reveals dozens of people tweeting at the reporters, at the rate of about one per hour, spreading their addresses. While liberal Twitter was pummeling a GOP staffer who’d written an ill-advised criticism of the First Daughters, elements of conservative Twitter were attacking the Times reporters.


And this was the same day the Daily Caller had their big "expose" trying to figure out if Wesley Lowery was black...Because, you know, he's light enough to be part white, and if he has a white parent his upbringing was too privileged and clean to report about the bottom-feeding scum in the ghetto, and since he's part white, he's "above" them anyway, or something...

And no, I am not linking to it

WaPo: Darren Wilson and guilt by association

Colbert King highlighted something in his Saturday column that leapt off the pages of Darren Wilson’s testimony for me, too. The now-former Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9 was asked about his “relationship with the residents” of the unarmed teenager’s apartment complex. Not only did the prosecutor’s questions strike me as hand-holding, but also Wilson’s broad-brush responses made my skin crawl.

Q: Did you guys have a volatile, well, how can I put this. Did you not really get along well with the folks that lived in that apartment, not you personally, I mean the police in general?

Wilson: It is an antipolice area for sure.

Q: And when you say antipolice, tell me more?

Wilson: There’s a lot of gangs that reside or associate with that area. There’s a lot of violence in that area, there’s a lot of gun activity, drug activity, it is just not a very well-liked community. That community doesn’t like the police.

Q: Were you pretty much on high alert being in that community by yourself, especially when Michael Brown said, ‘ what you say,’ I think he said?

Wilson: Yes.

Q: You were on pretty high alert at that point knowing the vicinity and the area that you’re in?

Wilson: Yes, that’s not an area where you can take anything really. Like I said, it is a hostile environment. There are good people over there, there really are, but I mean there is an influx of gang activity in that area.

What Wilson said is barely a few moments in his testimony, but its ugliness is in keeping with his overall tone about Brown. That nice bit about there being “good people over there” after trashing the entire community is no antidote to the poisoned opinion of the grand jury.

Alexandra Natapoff, associate dean for research and professor of law at Loyola Law School, was equally unamused. I had the good fortune of spending Thanksgiving with the associate dean for research and professor of law at Loyola Law School. Natapoff is also an expert on criminal informants and the author of “Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice.” Her current work is on misdemeanors and their effect on the criminal justice system, which I will get to in another post because of its connection to Ferguson.

“In some ways, we can understand Wilson’s response as classic guilt-by-association, and it’s one of the great complaints that African American neighborhoods have had for decades,” Natapoff told me. “Police officers have been told by authorities as high as the Supreme Court that they can draw inferences in high-crime neighborhoods or low-income or urban neighborhoods,” she continued, referring to the 2000 Supreme Court case Illinois v. Wardlow. This has “permitted police to drive devastating conclusions by the mere fact that the young person happens to live there.”

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