Saturday, July 2, 2016

Is The Snow Job Coming To An End?

The adventures of Edward Snowden, the Dudebro Defector, seem to be winding down and not in a good way. If you blinked, you may have missed the fact that the nature of the relationship with his Russian handlers has taken a very dark turn as of this week.  NPR's Mary Louise Kelly explains:

MARK GALEOTTI: The point at which he put his first foot on Russian soil - at that point, he was bought and paid for.

KELLY: That's Mark Galeotti, an authority on Russia spy agencies, also a professor at NYU. He believes Snowden has almost certainly shared what he knows - secrets about NSA operations - with his Russian hosts. I put this question to Frants Klintsevich. He's the equivalent of a senator here in Russia and deputy chairman of the powerful defense and security committee.

FRANTS KLINTSEVICH: (Speaking Russian).

KELLY: "Let's be frank," he says. "Snowden did share intelligence. This is what security services do," adds Klintsevich. "If there's a possibility to get information, they will get it." It's a possibility that Snowden's lawyer, Ben Wizner of the ACLU, denies.

BEN WIZNER: Of course, it's impossible to prove a negative. But as he has made clear, he didn't even bring sensitive information with him to Russia, precisely because he didn't want to be in a position where he could be coerced. He was approached. He made very clear that he had no intention of cooperating, and he has not.

KELLY: In the U.S., intelligence officials insist Snowden's disclosures did grave damage to national security. Whatever he may or may not have shared with the Russian government, Snowden still faces charges of violating the Espionage Act - crimes that could land him many years in prison. When I reached him in New York, I asked Wizner about the other big question looming over Snowden's stay here - how long it might last. Wizner conceded his client is not a man with a lot of options.

WIZNER: The first is to be where he is in Russia. And the second is to be in a maximum security prison cell, cut off from the world. Of course we're working on option three.

KELLY: Which Wizner defines as either somehow returning to the U.S., quote, "in dignity" or winning guarantee of safe passage to some other country. Snowden himself declined our request for an interview, but he's active on Twitter, with more than 2 million followers. Snowden follows only one account - the National Security Agency. Mary Louise Kelly, NPR News, Moscow.

Now, we have a highly ranked Russian lawmaker openly admitting that Snowden turned over US state secrets to the Russians, and that this admission happened just days after Snowden publicly criticized the Russians for passing a new mass surveillance measure.

Edward J. Snowden, an American who took refuge inRussia after leaking a trove of classified United States data from global surveillance, has criticized a proposed Russian law as an assault on freedom of speech, and has been rebuffed in an effort to collect a free-speech prize in Norway.

Mr. Snowden, who was charged by the United States in 2013 withviolating the Espionage Act, was invited to Norway by a writers’ advocacy group to receive the prize, and sought guarantees in court that he would not be handed over to the American authorities. News agencies reported on Monday that a court in Oslo rejected his bid.

His criticism of the Russian law came over the weekend, when he said on Twitter that it was “an unworkable, unjustifiable violation of rights that should never be signed.” The law was passed by the lower house of Parliament on Friday; the speaker of the upper house, Valentina I. Matviyenko, signaled on Monday that her chamber would pass it as well.

And so Putin and the Russians almost immediately outed him as a traitor as a result.  If you somehow thought this clown was going to come home and get a pardon before, that just ended thanks to the Russians admitting Snowden gave them intelligence.

Of course, anyone with a modicum of common sense knew very well that Snowden turned over intel and betrayed the US. And it looks like that ticket bought him three years as a guest at most.

What happens to Snowden now?  Well gosh, the life expectancy of an openly burnt spy isn't that long, now is it?

And I will repeat this again for the folks in the cheap seats: now matter how you feel about Snowden "starting a national conversation" about US surveillance (and he certainly did), the fact remains that the man is a traitor who broke the law, period. Both of these points can be and are very much true.

The Siege Of Cleveland

Any notion that the GOP convention in Cleveland is going to be a peaceful one can be disposed of rather quickly when you remember that the convention itself is supposed to be a gun-free zone, but the rest of the city of Cleveland is apparently fair game.

As the Republican convention in Cleveland approaches, several delegates from Pennsylvania who support Donald Trump say they are planning on bringing their guns with them to the GOP gathering. Why? They say they are worried about possible violent protest and even an attack from ISIS.

James Klein, a pro-Trump delegate from the Harrisburg area, notes that guns won't be needed inside the convention hall and that delegates won't be allowed to bring in weapons. "But," he adds, "there's the hotels. There's going to be dinners."

So Klein, an insurance executive and economist, has decided to come armed to Cleveland, and he has urged his fellow delegates to do the same. "We're talking about ISIS," he remarks, citing the recent shooting in Orlando and the bombings at the Istanbul airport. Referring to protesters outside Trump rallies, he adds, "We're talking about people who have shown a propensity for violence."

"There are a whole bunch of things happening: You go to various events, receptions, whatever, outside the convention hall," says Ash Khare, a delegate from the northwest corner of the state who applied for a concealed carry permit in preparation for Cleveland. "And you walk on the streets and, you know, people know that you are a delegate, and who knows what the crazy people are going to do? So you've got to be vigilant about what's going on and prepare yourself."

Yeah, because paranoid Trump delegates walking around with guns is a great idea.  What if you don't want these assholes walking around armed in Cleveland, near your kids and family?  Too bad.  Ohio's an open carry state thanks to the GOP that has controlled the state since 2004. 

You can open-carry in the state without any license whatsoever as long as you legally own the firearm.  You can't carry a loaded gun in a motor vehicle without a concealed carry license however.  Ohio has reciprocity agreements with states like Pennsylvania, so yes, these bozos can happily be carting around whatever firepower they like, especially with a CCL.

Boy, doesn't that seem like a great idea?

Marc Scaringi, another Trump delegate from the Harrisburg area, says that during the past few weeks there have been many emails exchanged among the Pennsylvania delegates discussing whether to bring weapons to Cleveland.

A lifelong member of the NRA who carries a gun every day, Klein notes he is particularly concerned about the threat of international terrorism. "I'm not a terrorist, okay, but I'm an academic and a theorist, and I would think that if I were an ISIS guy that I might want to attack the Republican National Convention," he says.

Klein continues: "People will attack you at your weakest, at your softest." That is, he explains, attacks are not likely to occur at the convention hall but elsewhere in the city where police and Secret Service officers are unlikely to stop an attack.

In other words, there's going to be all kinds of jackholes like James Klein here wandering around Cleveland loaded for bear. 

Enjoy that, Forest City!

Forces Of Evil In A Bozo Nightmare

Banned all the music with a phony gas chamber
'Cuz one's got a weasel
And the other's got a flag
One's on the pole, shove the other in a bag

With all apologies to Beck, of course.

Anyway, speaking of bozo nightmares and flags, Donald Trump loves him some Confederate symbolism, and it's certainly helping his campaign in more than just Southern states.

A year later, the backlash against the Confederate flag has spurred a counter-backlash, one that is playing out in countless skirmishes in courtrooms, township council rooms, bedrooms and Facebook posts, especially in the South. In the six months after the Charleston shooting, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented 364 Confederate flag rallies around the South. That doesn’t include a spurt of growth in the number of flags on private lawns and on bumper stickers.

“It’s like they say: Take one flag down and 1,000 go up,” says Tim Boone, who as founder of Rebel-lution, one of the many pro-flag activist groups that formed last summer and handed out “No votes for turncoats” stickers targeting the newly unpopular Haley and anyone else who might vote to take down a flag. 
The backlash has extended to the national scene as well. Haley, once floated as a veep choice, is no longer mentioned in elite GOP circles. She’s expressed a desire to see the Citadel remove the rebel flag from its chapel, but her hands are tied by the state Legislature. Haley has linked the tone of Trump's rhetoric to the kind of violence seen last year in Charleston, but she’s still indicated she’ll support him as the presumptive Republican nominee for president. 
Trump, meanwhile, has utterly dismissed the South Carolina governor, and he’s drawing support from many Confederate flag supporters who condemned Haley for her actions last year. And in contrast to his remarks about the flag a year ago, Trump has shifted rightward; many of those in the bizarre coalition of racists, anti-government radicals and states’ rights activists who’ve led the battle charge for restoration of the rebel flag believe the GOP presumptive nominee is dog-whistling encouragement to them. 

Not racist, just number one with racists.  Also just kidding, he's a racist. Let's stop pretending otherwise.

Trump’s face appears on the cover of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual report on domestic extremism, which found that from 2014 to 2015, right-wing hate groups grew 14 percent to almost 900. The Ku Klux Klan grew from 72 chapters to 190, although some of that growth came from the two largest groups splintering into smaller cells. Anti-government patriot/liberty groups, which have flourished over Obama’s two terms, grew to nearly 1,000. 
Despite his 2015 flag statement, his “New York values” and his status as a genuine Yankee, those groups, along with the rest of the disparate coalition that has vocally supported the Confederate flag over the past year, have aligned behind Trump. 
“I’m voting for him despite that [his statement about the flag],” says Boone. “The reason I’ll vote for Trump is probably the reason I feel most of the country is going to vote for him: They’re sick of the political correctness. We’re so worried about the minority getting their feelings hurt, with the flag, with transgender bathrooms and all that. Sometimes, the minority has to understand that their feelings get hurt too, and majority rules most of the time.”

Understand that this theory of Boone's here is called the Tyranny of the Majority for a reason. It's nothing new, John Adams was kicking it around in 1785 for a reason, guys. The notion that majority rule also means that rights and needs of the minority are ignored is frankly a founding principle of the country that took centuries to address, and even then only partially.

We're still having that struggle today, and the reason why Trump is so popular is that he wants to end that struggle, and not in a good way.
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