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JHan's Journal
JHan's Journal
April 6, 2017

The False Promise of Populism:

Key Findings

- In 2017, more than half of the 29 countries in the report had declines in their Democracy Scores: 18 countries’ scores dropped. This is the second biggest decline in the survey’s history, almost as large as the drop following the 2008 global financial crisis.

- For the first time since 1995, there are now more Consolidated Authoritarian Regimes than Consolidated Democracies.

- Hungary now has the lowest ranking in the Central European region. Poland’s score reached its lowest point in the survey. In these countries, populist leaders have attacked constitutional courts, undermined checks and balances, and have turned public media into propaganda arms.

- Kyrgyzstan fell back in to the category of Consolidated Authoritarian Regimes, a category it had left after competitive parliamentary elections in 2011.

- The bright spots in NIT 2017 were Ukraine, Romania, and Kosovo. Ukraine and Kosovo made modest gains due to gradual structural reforms, and Kosovo’s category improved to Transitional/Hybrid Regime. In Romania, a caretaker government addressed a number of outstanding issues, such as problems in the voting process during the previous elections.

What is this populism?

At its core, it pits a mystically unified “nation” against corrupt “elites” and external enemies, and claims for a charismatic leader the power to voice the will of the nation. It is therefore fundamentally illiberal, rejecting diversity of identity and of opinion within society and discarding basic principles of modern constitutional thinking: that democracy requires constraints on the will of the majority and checks on the decisions of the executive. It feeds on the gap between what mainstream political leaders promise and what they deliver, which is why the utopian vision and quotidian results of the EU have nourished its growth. The anti-elitist, anti-immigration, and protectionist platforms of the Brexit and Trump campaigns drew on the same set of frustrations.

It was no surprise, then, that populists in Europe celebrated the events of 2016, and none more enthusiastically than Orbán, who hailed Trump’s victory as the end of “liberal non-democracy” and “the return to real democracy.” The year was also a triumph for Vladimir Putin. For the past decade, the Russian leader has backed populists in Europe and the United States as part of a covert effort to destabilize the transatlantic order. The results in 2016 were perhaps beyond his wildest dreams. Although Russia’s economy continues to stagnate, Putin seems tantalizingly close to his goal of a new division of Europe into Western and Russian spheres of influence.

"With the United States suddenly ambivalent about the EU and NATO, countries across the region are likely to rush to exploit new opportunities, hedge against worst-case scenarios, and secure existing gains before a new equilibrium is reached. Nationalist and revanchist appeals could once again become the most powerful currency for vulnerable leaders and parties. Every country will have to rebalance its security, diplomatic, and domestic policies absent the traditional assumptions about American power and interests.

This rebalancing could increase the threat of war in Europe and Eurasia. Early 2017 has already brought the worst fighting in two years in eastern Ukraine, rising tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, and increasing inter-ethnic tension in the political crisis in Macedonia. And after engaging in their deadliest combat in 22 years in April 2016, Armenia and Azerbaijan are watching closely to see whether the new U.S. administration is still committed to preserving peace in the Caucasus.

read more - Extensive Nations in Transit 2017 report covering the roots, tensions and the threats posed by the rise of populism in Europe and Eurasia: https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit/nations-transit-2017

April 5, 2017

Black Lives Matter

Tampa Bay Times studied 827 police shootings, here's what they found:

Click link for the (depressing) infographic here: http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2017/investigations/florida-police-shootings/if-youre-black/

Meanwhile, Sessions gives a big F U to police reform: Jeff Sessions orders review of police reforms prompted by high-profile shootings .All reform agreements between justice department and local police forces, including Ferguson and Baltimore, to be reexamined, attorney general says: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/04/jeff-sessions-review-police-reforms-high-profile-shootings

April 3, 2017

So, why the continual denial that race was a big factor in the election? by certain liberals even?

The claim that it is "wrong" to call a chunk of Trump supporters racist and misogynistic is back again.

I'm too young to already be tired of these attempts to deny the obvious.

To figure it out, I have Very Smart Brothas to thank.

"Interesting. So why do you think this is? Why are they having so much trouble admitting to what’s right in front of them?

One of the more positive byproducts of existing while Black in America is that it forces you to be multilingual. Ebonics, the King’s English, code-switching, Cardi B — we’re well-versed in several different dialects and means of communication. We’re also more in tune to the language of race and racism. We know what’s really being said when Chicago is seemingly randomly name-dropped by a conservative; we immediately knew what “Make America Great Again” meant to convey. It’s a linguistic sensitivity taught to and learned by us; perfected and fine-tuned to the point of virtuosity.

Anyway, maybe this isn’t actually right in front of them. They’ve never had to be as aware of it as we’ve had to be. And maybe they just don’t see or get it because they’ve never had to. White men — by virtue of being White and male — just don’t need to develop the same defense mechanisms everyone else has to.

Also, maybe they do see it, but they just don’t want to admit that the country is as flawed as we’ve been saying it is. Perhaps they’re Neo immediately after he’s taken the red pill; the shock of the real world too much for them to comprehend. And there’s no Trinity available to myrrh for their hot foreheads; just selfies with Ann Coulter.

Those, of course, are optimistic answers to that question. A less optimistic answer would be that they too have a critical stake in the preservation of White supremacy, and their obliviousness is an intentional ploy to retain that status. How do you feel about that?

April 3, 2017

Newtown tries and, so far, fails to get Trump to acknowledge Sandy Hook massacre

By Christopher Hoffman

“We want facts to matter,” Board Chairman Keith Alexander explained at a recent meeting. “That’s the essential point.”

The impetus for the letter—sent last month and first reported here—was Trump’s warm embrace of Alex Jones, owner and host of the conspiracy-minded website InfoWars. Jones, whose audience is estimated in the millions, has been among the most aggressive promoters of claims that the Sandy Hook killings were staged. “Sandy Hook is synthetic, completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured,” Jones said on his show in 2014.

InfoWars lists no phone number or direct contact for Jones, who as recently as March 8 continued to question whether the Sandy Hook killings happened. He did apologize earlier this month for comments about a hoax involving a pizzeria in Washington, DC.

Messages sent to both the website’s general email and InfoWars Editor Paul Joseph Watson went unanswered.

Alexander says he’s still hopeful they’ll get a response from the White House. “I don’t think I have ever sent a letter to the White House before so I don’t know what to expect from a response as far as timing, though I do hope that we will receive a direct response at some point,” he wrote in an email.


To say Jones’s name is mud in Newtown is a gross understatement. Local officials revile him, using words at public meetings like “bully,” “disgusting,” and “despicable” to describe him. But as much damage as he has done, they fear he could do even more thanks to Trump, who appeared on Jones’s show during the campaign and called to thank him for his support after the election. In the months since Trump’s victory, Jones has bragged about receiving phone calls from the new president and said he was seeking White House press credentials for InfoWars.


The ensuing debate revealed how fake news has undermined people’s faith that truth can triumph over lies. Even officials who supported the letter said that a Trump acknowledgement of the tragedy and repudiation of the hoaxers would not end the harassment Newtown has endured for years. Alexander’s goal, he said at one meeting, was to return things to where they were before Trump embraced Jones. In the end, only the school board sent the letter to Trump.


March 31, 2017

Dave Chapelle didn't change with the times, and that's the problem..

by Damon Young: http://www.gq.com/story/dave-chappelle-netflix-standup

Perhaps my expectations were too high. I hoped that Chappelle, now entering his mid-40s, would have used his signature slyness and world-weary insights to tackle subjects more daunting than the low-hanging and dated comedic fruit of trans people, rape, and famous black men (O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby) accused of horrific crimes against (mostly) white women. Especially after taking a full decade away from the public microscope. And especially during a time when there seems to be so fucking much—politically, culturally, and racially—for a black comedian as sharp and shrewd as Chappelle to dive into. His focus on the horror of political correctness, instead, felt like something you’d expect to come from a megarich 43-year-old man from the outskirts of Ohio. Who, instead of evolving with the world, has remained stagnant and believes the world has gone mad while pining for time when things were simpler. Which is who he is.

I recognize the presumption and perhaps even self-indulgence of suggesting that I know what Chappelle should have been talking about better than he does. There are no emails and comments I hate worse than “Why did you write about this thing instead of this other thing I wanted you to write about?” and I’m doing this now. I do not wish to be that guy, especially when discussing Chappelle, a man whose break from the public came as a result of corporate forces trying to tell him what he could and couldn’t—and should and shouldn’t—talk about. He is a public figure whom we (black people) have collectively and justifiably circled the wagons for; sensitive to his wish for peace of mind, and his attempt to possess it; ultimately aiming to protect one of our icons from the scourge of capital letter Whiteness attempting to transmute him.

I just... I don’t know, I just would like for him to join us in 2017. There’s so much he can do here.

March 22, 2017

President Obama on Citizens United..

I think the campaign finance case he was asked about at the start of the video is FEC vs McCutcheon

This is from 2013.

If Hillary were elected, she would have appointed a justice to counter the conservatives on the bench in matters where "corporate personhood" and big money in politics are concerned. Yes, she is also against Citizen's United and note Obama's explanation of the predicament that ruling put all politicians in around 1:00 mark. (edit: my bad)

March 21, 2017

Get Out Perfectly Explains Racism Concepts to People Who Dont Get It

"Particularly in the first half, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut draws slow-burn terror from casual belittlement, disregard for autonomy, and constant reminders of outsider status. As each new indignity is inflicted, the victim is forced to choose, for politeness sake, to ignore it and move on even as they stack up and become overwhelming. And even then, he’s faced with being treated like he’s being unreasonable or unhinged, simply for reacting normally."

March 17, 2017

there were a couple posts a while back admonishing us for using the word "Deplorable"...

still. That we should be careful the words we use or something or other.

And since then what?

Trump crazies continue to attack folks going about their damn business living life. In one case, an Indian man was murdered.

They continue to cheer Trump's bullshit at his post victory "rallies", they love the fact people are being detained and want him to go through with his real goal of a muslim ban - they were doing this shit as recently as this week when Trump was in Michigan.

Am I still supposed to not call these people deplorable ?

You know, the hypocrisy stinks.

Again, I want people to remember that Obama had to end a friendship with Jeremiah Wright because of some crazy shit Wright SAID, apologize a zillion times, meanwhile Trump is all up in our faces, cosplaying Mussolini, while being advised by a man whose intellectual heroes were anti-semites and whose wet dream is global authoritarianism.

"Deplorable" was one of the truest statements in politics, best way to fight it is to call it exactly what it is.

March 17, 2017

A Major New Study Shows That Political Polarization Is Mainly A Right-Wing Phenomenon

A major new study of social-media sharing patterns shows that political polarization is more common among conservatives than liberals — and that the exaggerations and falsehoods emanating from right-wing media outlets such as Breitbart News have infected mainstream discourse.

Though the report, published by the Columbia Journalism Review, does an excellent job of laying out the challenge posed by Breitbart and its ilk, it is less than clear on how to counter it. Successfully standing up for truthful reporting in this environment “could usher in a new golden age for the Fourth Estate,” the authors write. But members of the public who care about such journalism are already flocking to news organizations like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and, locally, The Boston Globe, all of which have experienced a surge in paid subscriptions since the election of President Trump. That’s heartening, but there are no signs that it’s had any effect on the popularity or influence of the right-wing partisan media.


The CJR study, by scholars at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, at Harvard Law School, and the MIT Center for Civic Media, examined more than 1.25 million articles between April 1, 2015, and Election Day. What they found was that Hillary Clinton supporters shared stories from across a relatively broad political spectrum, including center-right sources such as The Wall Street Journal, mainstream news organizations like the Times and the Post, and partisan liberal sites like The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast.

By contrast, Donald Trump supporters clustered around Breitbart — headed until recently by Stephen Bannon, the hard-right nationalist now ensconced in the White House — and a few like-minded websites such as The Daily Caller, Alex Jones' Infowars, and The Gateway Pundit. Even Fox News was dropped from the favored circle back when it was attacking Trump during the primaries, and only re-entered the fold once it had made its peace with the future president.


A LOT of food for thought.


What this suggests is that whichever party is more unified wins the prize.. seems simple enough right? Yes, democrats have to create better memes to challenge the conservative spin machine, but this problem goes beyond the presence of a sound dem strategy ( or not).

We've got a serious fact problem in America where people don't expend the time or effort to ascertain if something is factual or not. The information age has made it easy to retreat to sources that feed our biases and prejudices, where folks live in a perpetual bubble of ignorance.

Facts are now construed as "matters of opinion" - Facts like : Global warming is real, racism and sexism continue to harm social progress, vaccines ARE effective,trickle down economics is BS, etc. RWingers are especially guilty of repudiating FACTS because they despise all the great things about modern living: cosmopolitanism, social liberalization, gender equality, fighting racial injustice, renewable energy, diversity etc.
March 16, 2017

the conservative wet dream

Charles Pierce wrote a great piece connecting Reaganomics to Trumpism "This Is the Ending Conservatives Always Wanted ": http://www.democraticunderground.com/10028801542
Nothing has changed for Conservatives.

And this is why support for Trump is still high among republicans.

I'll confess that I went through a libertarian phase I'm glad I escaped, and I won't miss the libertarian dudebros, but dipping my feet a little in conservatism allowed me to see how terrible yet intoxicating it was because everything was prefaced with words like "liberty" and "freedom".

- why should my tax payer dollars pay for services controlled by "inept" government bureaucrats who "bungle" everything
- why should government interfere in "my business"
- why should government dictate anything to me.

The influence of the Birchers and the Heritage Foundation are all over Mulvaney's budget. But we've heard this all before. By the time I was born, the impact of the Reagan years were still keenly felt and from what I know of history, the same issues Democrats were fighting then, are the same issues we're fighting today. Trumpism is the pinnacle of conservatism where environmental protections are repealed, military spending is increased, taxes on the wealthy are slashed, renewable energy technologies get the shaft favoring extractive industries so here we are in 2017 debating already settled questions about Climate Change, supporting the arts, wages, expanding the social safety net/ expanding healthcare coverage, and protecting the environment the best way we can, even the right to clean air and clean water.

Liberty for republicans is the freedom to be selfish, damn the outcomes.

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Member since: Sun Sep 11, 2016, 01:18 AM
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About JHan

Be true, be brave, stand. All the rest is darkness.
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