Daily Archives: August 16, 2017

DOJ Goes Way Overboard: Demands All Info On Visitors Of Anti-Trump Site

Not all search warrants are bad. Indeed, most of them are perfectly legitimate, and meet the qualifications under the 4th Amendment that there is probable cause of a crime being committed, and the warrant is narrowly tailored to seek out evidence to support that. But… not always. As Ken “Popehat” White explains in a recent blog post, the Justice Department has somehow obtained the mother-of-all bad search warrants while trying to track down people who were involved in protests of Donald Trump’s inauguration back in January. The government has brought felony charges against a bunch of protestors from the inauguration, and now it appears the DOJ is going on a big fishing expedition.

As Ken notes, it’s quite likely that some protestors committed crimes, for which they can be charged, but prosecutors in the case have decided to go ridiculously overbroad in trying to get any info they can find on protestors. They got a search warrant for the well known hosting company DreamHost, who hosts the site disruptj20.org (as an aside, the fact that a site like that doesn’t default to HTTPS for all connections is really, really unfortunate, especially given the rest of this article). The warrant basically demands everything that DreamHost could possibly have on anyone who did anything on disruptj20, including just visiting. As White notes in his post, it’s not that unreasonable that the DOJ sought to find out who ran the site, but now they’re requesting basically everything, which likely includes the IP addresses of all visitors:

Source: DOJ Goes Way Overboard: Demands All Info On Visitors Of Anti-Trump Site | Techdirt

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NSA whistleblower discusses ‘How the NSA tracks you’

At the outdoor hacker camp and conference SHA2017, which is taking place in the Netherlands, NSA whistleblower William Binney gave the talk, “How the NSA tracks you.”As a former insider, Binney knew about this long before Snowden dropped the documents to prove it is happening. Although he didn’t say anything new, Binney is certainly no fan of the NSA’s spying — he calls the NSA the “New Stasi Agency.” If you are no fan of surveillance, then his perspective from the inside about the “total invasion of the privacy rights of everybody on the planet” will fuel your fury at the NSA all over again.In today’s cable program, according to Binney, the NSA uses corporations that run fiber lines to get taps on the lines. If that fails, they use foreign governments to get taps on the lines. And if that doesn’t work, “they’ll tap the line anywhere that they can get to it” — meaning corporations or governments won’t even know about the taps.

Source: NSA whistleblower discusses ‘How the NSA tracks you’

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Man Caught Masturbating In Public Blames Incident On Groundhog

Registered sex offender Robert McCoy offered officers a strange explanation for his behavior at a Louisville park last week.Louisville Metro CorrectionsRobert McCoyKentucky police have arrested a man accused of masturbating in a public park before blaming the incident on a groundhog.An unidentified victim told police that, on the evening of August 10, Robert McCoy followed her and another person around Louisville’s Lannan Memorial Park with his genitals exposed as he pleasured himself, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.After police arrived on the scene, McCoy sped away on a moped, writes local WDRB news, only to be caught later that evening.

Source: Man Caught Masturbating In Public Blames Incident On Groundhog

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Bikini butt charms are a thing

These terribly uncomfortable-looking bikini “butt charms” are apparently now a thing and are made by Japanese merchandiser BoDivas. I haven’t actually seen a single person sporting this butt bling so far this summer, so I’m not sure how much of a “thing” this crotch jewelry really is. To be fair though, it’s been awhile since I’ve visited a swimming pool or a beach. Maybe they’re everywhere?They’re called “Beachtails” and they range in price from $19.50 to $22.50. The Beachtails also come in lots of colors so you can strategically coordinate them with your swimwear bottoms.

Source: Bikini butt charms are a thing | Dangerous Minds

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Kassam: They’re Coming for Mount Rushmore, But They SHOULD Be Tearing Down the DemoKKKrat Party

I I I I  I agree with Laura Ingraham and Pete Hegseth. It is only a matter of time before the left comes for Monticello, or Mount Vernon, or indeed Mount Rushmore.Never content with their destructiveness, wait until they learn the history of Mount Rushmore. Not even 1,000 Confederate statues would draw the same outrage.The 60-foot high sculpture in South Dakota — depicting Presidents Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and Lincoln — was sculpted by a Ku Klux Klan member. Prepare for the onslaught.Gutzon Borglum originally worked on the Stone Mountain project, which one Democrat candidate has already demanded be permanently vandalised in an attempt to erase American history. As AJC News reports:

Gutzon Borglum originally worked on the Stone Mountain project, which one Democrat candidate has already demanded be permanently vandalised in an attempt to erase American history. As AJC News reports:

Removing the faces of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson would take a monster of a sandblaster and require a change in state law. The Georgia code has a clear mandate for the memorial, saying it should be “preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered and died in their cause.”

How befitting then, that the totalitarian left should come for the Shrine of Democracy next. After all, the Nation of Islam has already decried the great American monument, and the uncomfortable truths about its sculptor will add fuel to the fire for the anti-conservationist minded.

Writer Alex Heard revealed in the New Republic some correspondence between Borglum and then-KKK Grand Dragon D.C. Stephenson, who cut his political teeth in the Socialist Party, before joining the Democrats, then in later life, defecting to the Republican Party

Source: Kassam: They’re Coming for Mount Rushmore, But They SHOULD Be Tearing Down the DemoKKKrat Party

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Evolutionary psychology is the most obvious example of how “science” is flawed.

t’s 2017, and people are still debating whether or not women are intellectually inferior to men, and whether we are entitled to a workplace that isn’t toxic to people simply based on their gender and sex. The Google employee memo about the apparent harms of diversity policies in Silicon Valley is both a shocking news story for the general public and for many women and gender minorities—especially of color—working in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine, a banal sign of normalcy.At least science is helping us make progress, right? Science is sold to us as an almost holy, objective pursuit: a pure endeavor, a way of pursuing truth and only truth. As a high school senior planning to study physics and astronomy in college, I was thoroughly convinced that solving quantum gravity would trickle down to improved human relations. Of course, I was adorably naïve about both the difficulty that quantum gravity presented us (we’ve made little progress in the 18 years since I started university) and about the relationship between science and humanity’s various imperfections.

Source: Evolutionary psychology is the most obvious example of how “science” is flawed.

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34 criminal cases tossed after body cam footage shows cop planting drugs

Maryland prosecutors have tossed 34 criminal cases and are re-examining dozens more in the aftermath of recent revelations that a Baltimore police officer accidentally recorded himself planting drugs in a trash-strewn alley.Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said that, in all, 123 cases are under review in the wake of a scandal in which one officer has been suspended and two others put on administrative duty. Body cam footage revealed nearly two weeks ago showed one of the officers planting drugs when he didn’t realize his body cam was recording. The Baltimore Police Department’s body cams, like many across the nation, capture footage 30 seconds before an officer presses the record button. The footage was turned over to defense attorneys as part of a drug prosecution—and that’s when the misdeed was uncovered.

Source: 34 criminal cases tossed after body cam footage shows cop planting drugs | Ars Technica

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Super Simple Hydraulics Using Syringes

When making a toy excavator arm, or any robotic arm, the typical approach is to put motors at the joints, or if there isn’t room, to put the motors somewhere else and transfer the force using fishing line and pulleys. [Navin Khambhala] chose instead to do it more like the real excavators, with hydraulics using syringes. And we have to admit, the result it pretty elegant in its simplicity.

Source: Super Simple Hydraulics Using Syringes | Hackaday

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Robocall operation ‘called out’ by FCC

Ever wonder what happens to a scammer in the U.S. that is caught by the feds? In one recent case, the Federal Communications Commission recommended to a federal court an alleged Florida robocall scammer be fined $120 million.For many years, Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana has received thousands of calls from consumers and businesses trying to stop these annoying calls. BBB has also heard horror stories of people being ripped off as a result of scammers placing these calls.The company caught by the FCC, Market Strategy Leaders, is accused of making 100 million robocalls over just a few months selling discounted “travel” services to the elderly as well as altering call ID information in order to perpetrate a fraud, according to FCC documents.It is believed by the FCC that the call center was actually part of a Mexico-based call center engaged in selling timeshares and vacation packages using aggressive and illegal sales tactics.

Source: Robocall operation ‘called out’ by FCC

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Marijuana politics emerge as 2020 flash point 

Marijuana legalization just moved from the fringes of the last presidential campaign to center stage in 2020.Between a sweeping new package of legislation introduced last week by one of the top Democratic presidential prospects and, on the other end of the spectrum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vigorous opposition to recreational use of marijuana, the debate over legalization of cannabis is about to receive a full airing on the presidential campaign trail.While Bernie Sanders also supported medicinal use of marijuana and the decriminalization of recreational marijuana, drug policy stayed on the outskirts of the 2016 presidential debate, and growing action at the state level was barely acknowledged.Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a bipartisan nonprofit advocacy group, said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s introduction of “the farthest-reaching bill ever proposed” will have a catalytic effect on the politics of legalized marijuana and the myriad criminal justice issues related to it.

Source: Marijuana politics emerge as 2020 flash point – POLITICO

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Street Artist Sabo’s Facebook Page Shut Down After Zuckerberg Stunt

The work of a conservative street artist known for skewering the liberal politics of celebrities and corporations has been deemed “hate speech” by Facebook, which shut his page down on Sunday.The notice comes just days after the artist known as Sabo attacked Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg with posters disparaging his alleged presidential aspirations. “F*ck Zuck 2020,” read the posters, the symbol after the “F” being a middle finger. They were hung in the dead of night last week in various California cities.Courtesy of Unsavoryagents.com”Your page has been unpublished for using hate speech,” read the message at the Unsavory Agents fan page run by Sabo.Sabo is the artist’s pen name and Unsavory Agents is the name of his website and business where his artwork is sold.Sabo last struck on Friday when he plastered fake ads and posters around Google and YouTube offices in Venice, California. Those ads, some as large as 30 square feet and some plastered onto bus stop benches, ridiculed Google as a place that is hostile to free thinkers, a reference to the recent firing of an employee who penned a 3,000-word memo to co-workers critical of his employer’s focus on diversity in its hiring practices.

Source: Street Artist Sabo’s Facebook Page Shut Down After Zuckerberg Stunt | Hollywood Reporter

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Holy smoke! The church of cannabis

It started, naturally, with a group of friends smoking a joint. Steve Berke, a graduate of Yale University, was temporarily living in an old church in Denver, Colorado. His estate agent parents had bought the 113-year-old building with the plan to turn it into flats. He and Lee Molloy, as well as a few friends, had just moved from Miami to capitalise on Colorado’s lucrative marijuana market. But then, in the words of Lee: “We started having these stupid, fantastical conversations. What if we kept it as a church?” So Steve convinced his parents to give him the building and, nine months later, on 20 April 2016 – 4/20, as it’s known in the United States, the unofficial pothead’s holiday (because it’s 4.20pm somewhere, right?) – the International Church of Cannabis opened its doors with its own chapel, theology and video game arcade

.From the outside all appears normal: red-brick towers, blocky turrets, a classic city church in an otherwise leafy suburb of Denver. But there are giveaways. The three front doors and arched window facade have been spray-painted with silver galaxies and bright, happy-face planets. The work of legendary painter and graphic artist Kenny Scharf, who has exhibited in the Whitney and New York’s Museum of Modern Art, it looks more like the backdrop for an illegal 90s rave than your typical parish church. But it’s indicative of the coup that Elevation Ministries, the non-profit company that Steve and Lee co-founded to set up the Church of Cannabis, has managed to pull off.

Source: Holy smoke! The church of cannabis | Global | The Guardian

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The Liberal Crackup

Donald Trump’s surprise victory in last year’s presidential election has finally energized my fellow liberals, who are networking, marching and showing up at town-hall meetings across the country. There is excited talk about winning back the White House in 2020 and maybe even the House of Representatives in the interim.But we are way ahead of ourselves—dangerously so. For a start, the presidency just isn’t what it used to be, certainly not for Democrats. In the last generation, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won the office with comfortable margins, but they were repeatedly stymied by assertive Republicans in Congress, a right-leaning Supreme Court and—what should be the most worrisome development for Democrats—a steadily growing majority of state governments in Republican hands.What’s more, nothing those presidents did while in office did much to reverse the rightward drift of American public opinion. Even when they vote for Democrats or support some of their policies, most Americans—including young people, women and minorities—reject the term “liberal.” And it isn’t hard to see why. They see us as aloof, elitist, out of touch.It is time to admit that American liberalism is in deep crisis: a crisis of imagination and ambition on our side, a crisis of attachment and trust on the side of the wider public. The question is, why? Why would those who claim to speak for and defend the great American demos be so indifferent to stirring its feelings and gaining its trust? Why, in the contest for the American imagination, have liberals simply abdicated?

Ronald Reagan almost single-handedly destroyed the New Deal vision of America that used to guide us. Franklin Roosevelt had pictured a place where citizens were joined in a collective enterprise to build a strong nation and protect each other. The watchwords of that effort were solidarity, opportunity and public duty. Reagan pictured a more individualistic America where everyone would flourish once freed from the shackles of the state, and so the watchwords became self-reliance and small government.To meet the Reagan challenge, we liberals needed to develop an ambitious new vision of America and its future that would again inspire people of every walk of life and in every region of the country to come together as citizens. Instead we got tangled up in the divisive, zero-sum world of identity politics, losing a sense of what binds us together as a nation. What went missing in the Reagan years was the great liberal-democratic We. Little wonder that so few now wish to join us.

There is a mystery at the core of every suicide, and the story of how a once-successful liberal politics of solidarity became a failed liberal politics of “difference” is not a simple one. Perhaps the best place to begin it is with a slogan: The personal is the political.

This phrase was coined by feminists in the 1960s and captured perfectly the mind-set of the New Left at the time. Originally, it was interpreted to mean that everything that seems strictly private—sexuality, the family, the workplace—is in fact political and that there are no spheres of life exempt from the struggle for power. That is what made it so radical, electrifying sympathizers and disturbing everyone else.

But the phrase could also be taken in a more romantic sense: that what we think of as political action is in fact nothing but personal activity, an expression of me and how I define myself. As we would put it today, my political life is a reflection of my identity.

Over time, the romantic view won out over the radical one, and the idea got rooted on the left that, to reverse the formula, the political is the personal. Liberals and progressives continued to fight for social justice out in the world. But now they also wanted there to be no space between what they felt inside and what they did in that world. They wanted their political engagements to mirror how they understood and defined themselves as individuals. And they wanted their self-definition to be recognized.

This was an innovation on the left. Socialism had no time for individual recognition. Rushing toward the revolution, it divided the world into exploiting capitalists and exploited workers of every background. New Deal liberals were just as indifferent to individual identity; they thought and spoke in terms of equal rights and equal social protections for all. Even the early movements of the 1950s and ’60s to secure the rights of African-Americans, women and gays appealed to our shared humanity and citizenship, not our differences. They drew people together rather than setting them against each other.

All that began to change when the New Left shattered in the 1970s, in no small part due to identity issues. Blacks complained that white movement leaders were racist, feminists complained that they were sexist, and lesbians complained that straight feminists were homophobic. The main enemies were no longer capitalism and the military-industrial complex; they were fellow movement members who were not, as we would say today, sufficiently “woke.”

It was then that less radical liberal and progressive activists also began redirecting their energies away from party politics and toward a wide range of single-issue social movements. The forces at work in healthy party politics are centripetal; they encourage factions and interests to come together to work out common goals and strategies. They oblige everyone to think, or at least to speak, about the common good.

In movement politics, the forces are all centrifugal, encouraging splits into smaller and smaller factions obsessed with single issues and practicing rituals of ideological one-upmanship. Symbols take on outsize significance, especially in identity-based movements.

The results of this shift are now plain to see. The classic Democratic goal of bringing people from different backgrounds together for a single common project has given way to a pseudo-politics of self-regard and increasingly narrow and exclusionary self-definition. And what keeps this approach to politics alive is that it is cultivated in the colleges and universities where liberal elites are formed. Here again, we must look to the history of the New Left to understand how this happened.

After Reagan’s election in 1980, conservative activists hit the road to spread the new individualist gospel of small government and free markets and poured their energies into winning out-of-the-way county, state and congressional elections. Also on the road, though taking a different exit on the interstate, were former New Left activists heading for college towns all over America.

Conservatives concentrated on attracting working people once attached to the Democratic Party—a populist, bottom-up strategy. The left concentrated on transforming the outlook of professional and party elites—a top-down strategy. Both groups were successful, and both left their mark on the country.

Up until the 1960s, those active in the Democratic Party were largely drawn from the working class or farm communities and were formed in local political clubs or on union-dominated shop floors. That world is gone. Today they are formed primarily in our colleges and universities, as are members of the overwhelmingly liberal-dominated professions of law, journalism and education.

Liberal political education, such as it is, now takes place on campuses that are far removed, socially and geographically, from the rest of the country—and particularly from the sorts of people who once were the foundation of the Democratic Party. And the political catechism that is taught is a historical artifact, reflecting more the idiosyncratic experience of the ’60s generation than the realities of power politics today.

The experience of that era taught the New Left two lessons. The first was that movement politics was the only mode of engagement that actually changes things; the second was that political activity must have some authentic meaning for the self, making compromise seem like a self-betrayal.

These lessons, though, have little bearing on liberalism’s present crisis, which is that of being defeated time and again by a well-organized Republican Party that keeps tightening its grip on our institutions. Where those lessons do resonate is with young people in our highly individualistic bourgeois society—a society that keeps them focused on themselves and teaches them that personal choice, individual rights and self-definition are all that is sacred.

It is little wonder that students of the Facebook age are drawn to courses focused on their identities and movements related to them. Nor is it surprising that many join campus groups that engage in identity movement work. But the costs need to be tallied.

For those students who will soon become liberal and progressive elites, the line between self-discovery and political action has become blurred. Their political commitments are genuine but are circumscribed by the confines of their self-definitions. Issues that penetrate those confines take on looming importance, and since politics for them is personal, their positions tend to be absolutist and nonnegotiable. Those issues that don’t touch on their identities or affect people like themselves are hardly perceived. And classic liberal ideas like citizenship, solidarity and the common good have little meaning for them.

As a teacher, I am increasingly struck by a difference between my conservative and progressive students. Contrary to the stereotype, the conservatives are far more likely to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas and principles. Young people on the left are much more inclined to say that they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness. And they are less and less comfortable with debate.

Over the past decade a new, and very revealing, locution has drifted from our universities into the media mainstream: Speaking as an X…This is not an anodyne phrase. It sets up a wall against any questions that come from a non-X perspective. Classroom conversations that once might have begun, I think A, and here is my argument, now take the form, Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B. What replaces argument, then, are taboos against unfamiliar ideas and contrary opinions.

Conservatives complain loudest about today’s campus follies, but it is really liberals who should be angry. The big story is not that leftist professors successfully turn millions of young people into dangerous political radicals every year. It is that they have gotten students so obsessed with their personal identities that, by the time they graduate, they have much less interest in, and even less engagement with, the wider political world outside their heads.

There is a great irony in this. The supposedly bland, conventional universities of the 1950s and early ’60s incubated the most radical generation of American citizens perhaps since our founding. Young people were incensed by the denial of voting rights out there, the Vietnam War out there, nuclear proliferation out there, capitalism out there, colonialism out there. Yet once that generation took power in the universities, it proceeded to depoliticize the liberal elite, rendering its members unprepared to think about the common good and what must be done practically to secure it—especially the hard and unglamorous task of persuading people very different from themselves to join a common effort.

Every advance of liberal identity consciousness has marked a retreat of liberal political consciousness. There can be no liberal politics without a sense of We—of what we are as citizens and what we owe each other. If liberals hope ever to recapture America’s imagination and become a dominant force across the country, it will not be enough to beat the Republicans at flattering the vanity of the mythical Joe Sixpack. They must offer a vision of our common destiny based on one thing that all Americans, of every background, share.

And that is citizenship. We must relearn how to speak to citizens as citizens and to frame our appeals for solidarity—including ones to benefit particular groups—in terms of principles that everyone can affirm.

Black Lives Matter is a textbook example of how not to build solidarity. By publicizing and protesting police mistreatment of African-Americans, the movement delivered a wake-up call to every American with a conscience. But its decision to use this mistreatment to build a general indictment of American society and demand a confession of white sins and public penitence only played into the hands of the Republican right.

I am not a black male motorist and will never know what it is like to be one. If I am going to be affected by his experience, I need some way to identify with him, and citizenship is the only thing I know that we share. The more the differences between us are emphasized, the less likely I will be to feel outrage at his mistreatment.

The politics of identity has done nothing but strengthen the grip of the American right on our institutions. It is the gift that keeps on taking. Now is the time for liberals to do an immediate about-face and return to articulating their core principles of solidarity and equal protection for all. Never has the country needed it more.

Dr. Lilla is professor of the humanities at Columbia University. This essay is adapted from his new book, “The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics,” which will be published on Aug. 15 by Harper (which, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp).

Source: The Liberal Crackup – WSJ

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