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Missouri Lt. Gov: Did Obama Admin Lean on Governor to Keep Out Nat’l Guard?



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Missouri lieutenant governor Peter Kinder expressed anger over the the Missouri National Guard’s absence from Ferguson during riots on Monday night, speculating that the Obama administration may have leaned on the Missouri governor to keep the soldiers back.

Kinder, a Republican, lashed out at Democratic governor Jay Nixon for his failure to send the National Guard into the city while protesters looted and burned over a dozen businesses. Despite activating the Guard a week ago, troops were not deployed to Ferguson until Tuesday morning.

“Where were they last night?” Kinder asked during a Tuesday morning appearance on Fox News. “The law-abiding citizens and business owners and taxpayers of the St. Louis region have the right to ask this governor to answer some questions.”

“Here’s my question that the governor must answer,” the lieutenant governor continued. “Is the reason that the National Guard wasn’t in there was because the Obama administration and the Holder Justice Department leaned on you to keep them out?”

“I cannot imagine any other reason why the governor who mobilized the National Guard would not put them in there to stop this, before it started,” Kinder finished.

‘Bring Out Your Dead’ GOTV?



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This. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with a system that allows people to be registered by third parties via mail card, vote by mail, and then allows the third parties to “correct” the “problems” with rejected ballots after Election Day.  

Not.

— Henry Olsen is a senior fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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Schumer: Democrats Lost Due to Focus on Obamacare



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Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat, has identified a key reason Democrats lost so badly in the midterm elections: Obamacare.

The New Yorker many Senate Democrats believe will eventually replace Harry Reid as their leader told a National Press Club audience that his party focused on “the wrong problem” after they captured the White House and both houses of Congress in 2008.

“After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus,” Schumer said. “But unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem — health care reform.”

What should have Democrats focused on? “The most salient factor in our political economy is that, for the first time in American history, middle-class incomes have been in decline for over a decade and the grand optimism of America and the American Dream itself is in jeopardy,” Schumer concluded in his speech. “If we have another 10 years of middle-class decline, we will have a fundamentally different country . . . a sour, angry country where people of different backgrounds, races, and economic levels no longer get along; with a government that few of us, left or right, will like.”

Conservatives certainly will disagree with Schumer on many of his policy proposals to boost the middle class. But in terms of his basic political critique – and the failure of both parties to substantively address middle-class anxieties – Schumer is spot on.

Web Briefing: December 20, 2014

Handicapping Hagel’s Successor: Homo Politicus v. Homo Bureaucraticus



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The expected public apotheosis of soon-to-depart defense secretary Chuck Hagel has begun, with the man many now calling a “scapegoat” receiving praise from those who recently derided him in public or private. Even as Washington engages in this strangely touching and humanistic rite, D.C.-watchers are already handicapping his potential successor. Anthropologically speaking, the candidates will come from one of two species: homo politicus or homo bureaucraticus. Those who expect Obama to appoint someone on the left with views of the military similar to his own are betting on a political choice, such as former senator Jack Reed from Rhode Island. A more centrist, if not right wing, defense choice from the political side would be former senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Getting a big name from the political world to pick up the pieces of the collapsing Obama foreign and security policy, though, may not be easy. Few politicians like to come in on the shovel brigade during the waning days of any administration.

The D.C. policy establishment, on the other hand, seems to be betting on a bureaucrat. This is not surprising, given that most of the pundits are from this species, and thus both most familiar with and hopeful for the selection of one of their own. The three names emerging early in the top running are former under secretary of defense for policy Michele Flournoy, founder and chief executive of the Center for a New American Security, a D.C. think tank; former deputy secretary of defense Ashton Carter; and current deputy secretary of defense Robert Work. Also in the mix is John Hamre, head of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and a longtime D.C. player as well as former deputy secretary of defense.

What is interesting about these four is that they are not weak personalities, nor individuals who would agree to be sidelined the way that Hagel appeared to be. They would salute and carry out the president’s orders, of course, but those who know them expect they would be active voices in national-security decision making for the last two years of Obama’s term. That may be where the parochial interests of homo bureaucraticus blind them to a more accurate appreciation of the odds of such an individual being appointed by a White House that seems to avoid precisely such powerful individuals outside the president’s inner circle.

Choosing any of those listed above, or Lieberman, for that matter, would fly in the face of much criticism, both from Democrats and Republicans, of Obama’s perceived increasing isolation, tone deafness, and even “bunker” mentality. The best recent example of such thinking is a long, controversial article in The New Republic on the outsized and unprecedented power of senior advisor Valerie Jarrett on matters both domestic and foreign.

The rap on Obama for wanting to be the smartest person in the room (or thinking himself so) would have to be rethought if Lieberman, Flournoy, Carter, Work, or Hamre were chosen to lead the Pentagon. Each would garner major bipartisan support, be respected intellectually, and listened to with a seriousness not evident since Leon Panetta left the building. Given the drift and uncertainty over policy toward Russia, the Islamic State, and Iran, the next secretary of defense will be no placeholder in a lame-duck administration, but rather a crucial player in an environment of mounting threats.

Yet not everyone is convinced the West Wing will welcome such a challenge to its cocoon. One well-placed Democratic insider told me with reference to Flournoy, “She’d be a terrific candidate, but I think they are likely going in a different direction.” That would be a missed opportunity, and would open the doors to criticism of the next secretary of defense as biting as that which helped undermine Chuck Hagel.

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Against Myself



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My Corner post from last night has been given a new headline on the homepage: “The Prosecutor Was Right.” That wasn’t my doing and I’m not sure what I wrote easily lends itself to such a strident headline. My post was originally titled “Thoughts on tonight” and that’s all they were.

And as I was blearily trying to indicate last night, I am open to the argument that McCulloch was in fact not right. I said his critics have a point. And as I read up on the proceeding this morning, I think that point gets stronger. For those who believe Michael Brown was murdered, what they see is a prosecutor who bent over backwards for a police officer in a way he never would have for nearly any other criminal suspect in the dock. McCulloch let Wilson testify at great length. He presented the evidence comprehensively to the Grand Jury, not selectively. Here’s a pretty representative argument from the anti-McCulloch side:

I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s hardly wholly unreasonable either. If McCulloch was determined to get an indictment, this process wouldn’t have taken nearly as long.

McCulloch’s argument for doing what he did is that he wanted to be as exhaustive as possible so no one could claim he had rigged the game. Others, though not McCulloch himself, might argue that this was necessary in a lynch-mob climate in which a police officer was being convicted daily on TV and in the streets. Maybe that was a bad call. Or maybe Ferguson would be in smoldering ruins this morning no matter what. Or maybe the smoldering would come later, after Wilson was found not guilty at trial. I don’t know. 

I do know that I don’t much like arguments that the “community” is owed a trial, for reasons I suggested last night. As Andy McCarthy more ably argues below, public trials serve an important community function, but we can never let that secondary role trump the authority of their primary role: individual justice. If the grand jury decided in good faith there was no probable cause to indict, putting Wilson on trial anyway — for purposes of public education, emotional catharsis, or “social justice” is not acceptable. That is bread-and-circuses reasoning. So, again, I really don’t know if McCulloch was right. His stated reasons for the decisions he made seem plausible and defensible enough to me. But I can certainly see why he’s being second-guessed for the final outcome. 

For those who want me to be all on one side or another of this (Twitter has been an ugly place for the last twelve hours), all I can say is that I am honestly conflicted. Even in this obscenely polarizing chapter of American life, not everything is black and white. 

Why Wasn’t the National Guard Deployed in Ferguson Last Night?



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Lots of elected officials are asking questions about why the Missouri National Guard wasn’t deployed in Ferguson last night. Governor Jay Nixon called a state of emergency in the St. Louis area last week and Guard members were in place last night at key locations in St. Louis when the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darrell Wilson was announced.

But no National Guard troops were deployed to Ferguson. Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, a Republican who has often clashed with Democrat Nixon, told Fox News this morning, “A lot of people have to answer for the Guard’s failure to be in Ferguson — including Governor Nixon.” The town’s mayor, James Knowles, told a local TV station late last night that his requests for the guard’s presence fell on deaf ears:

I know I’ve been on the phone in contact with the County Executive’s Office. I know he has requested. I am requesting. I’ve requested the National Guard troops to come out from their command post to help restore order along the business district. We have not seen that. . . . Those calls have gone unheeded at this point. . . .We need to have the governor step up and give us the resources that he’s promised from the beginning. He said he would have a strong response. The resources necessary would be provided. They have not been provided so far.

Lamar Alexander Takes on the EEOC



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Senator Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) has been highly critical over the past week of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and especially its dubious lawsuits during the Obama administration and lack of transparency. The Washington Times today has an article that focuses, in particular, on a report that Senator Alexander has released. The Senator has also put out a couple of press releases.

Gruber Agrees to Testify before Congress



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Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor and Obamacare architect behind a series of revealing and offensive comments on the health-care law, has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next month. 

Gruber became notorious earlier this month after a series of videos surfaced showing him explaining how Obamacare was deliberately designed to be deceptive — and belittling the intelligence of American voters in the process.

Now the professor, along with Obama administration official Marilyn Tavenner, have both agreed to testify before Republican Darrell Issa’s Oversight Committee on December 9. As head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Tavenner is accused of inflating Obamacare enrollment numbers by around 400,000 by including dental plans in the total list of individuals now covered.

“The American people deserve honesty, transparency and respect from those who forced the federal government into their health care,” Issa wrote as part of a statement announcing the hearing last week. “I expect Mr. Gruber and Administrator Tavenner to testify publicly next month about the arrogance and deceptions surrounding the passage and implementation of Obamacare.”

Via the Hill.

Stonewall Riot



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Today’s Between the Covers podcast is with Sharyl Attkisson, author of Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington. We discuss media bias, the waning influence of the mainstream media, and her belief that “the truth eventually finds a way to be told.”

Bless His Heart



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I often say some variation of “don’t be so open-minded your brain falls out.” Then there’s the Robert Frost line, “A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel” (which Frost may have gotten from someone else). Irving Kristol loved to say that a neoconservative is a liberal mugged by reality. The problem with that phrase, alas, is that sometimes the mugging doesn’t take. 

From Campus Reform:

 

A Georgetown University (GU) student who says he was mugged at gunpoint says he “can hardly blame” his assailants. 

Senior Oliver Friedfeld and his roommate were held at gunpoint and mugged recently. However, the GU student isn’t upset. In fact he says he “can hardly blame [his muggers].”

“Not once did I consider our attackers to be ‘bad people.’ I trust that they weren’t trying to hurt me. In fact, if they knew me, I bet they’d think I was okay,” wrote Friedfeld in an editorial featured in The Hoya, the university’s newspaper. “The fact that these two kids, who appeared younger than I, have even had to entertain these questions suggests their universes are light years away from mine.”

Friedfeld claims it is the pronounced inequality gap in Washington, D.C. that has fueled these types of crimes. He also says that as a middle-class man, he does not have the right to judge his muggers.

“Who am I to stand from my perch of privilege, surrounded by million-dollar homes and paying for a $60,000 education, to condemn these young men as ‘thugs?’” asks Friedfeld. “It’s precisely this kind of ‘otherization’ that fuels the problem.”

Police also aren’t the solution to the problem, Friedfeld argues.

“If we ever want opportunistic crime to end, we should look at ourselves first. Simply amplifying police presence will not solve the issue. Police protect us by keeping those ‘bad people’ out of our neighborhood, and I’m grateful for it. And yet, I realize it’s self-serving and doesn’t actually fix anything.”

Friedfeld suggests that the “privileged” adapt to normalized crime, until the wrongs of the past are righted.

And…scene.

One could spend some time pointing out all the really charming idiocy on display here (crime in DC has generally fallen as income inequality has gone up, for instance). But it’s just so enjoyable to see a living breathing strawman come to life. What I mean is this kid is the kind of person conservatives are generally accused of making up for rhetorical effect. But there he is saying these really amazingly dumb things — on purpose. Bless his heart.

Ferguson: When Tuning into the Media Feels like Complicity in the Violence



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It’s impossible not to feel sick and sad this morning. It’s as if the nation tuned into CSI: Ferguson last night and the show the media expected was covered live throughout the night.

Turning CNN, etc., off isn’t going to end the show, but it may be begin to do so.

Since sometime last night, tuning into national news has felt a bit like complicity. The promise and prospect of the spotlight on reckless behavior (and national grandstanding) isn’t helping the people of Ferguson.

As the world saw burning shops, the archbishop of St. Louis issued a plea for peace, calling out the lie that burning down AutoZone and looting small businesses was somehow “justice” or would bring Michael Brown back from the dead. 

I implore each of you: Choose peace! Reject any false and empty hope that violence will solve problems. Violence only creates more violence. Let’s work for a better, stronger, more holy community — one founded upon respect for each other, respect for life, and our shared responsibility for the common good.

In 1979, Saint John Paul II visited the war-torn and weary nation of Ireland to decry years of violence. “Violence is evil . . . ” the pope said. “Violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems.” How true this saint’s words are. He didn’t merely condemn violence; he also aptly described the depravity of violent behavior by saying:

“Violence is unworthy of man. Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings. Violence is a crime against humanity, for it destroys the very fabric of society.”

He urged some real responsibility — and work that can contribute to healing and human flourishing, as we say. Images last night of people praying in their churches around the area is no small thing. If you believe, this is real work, mandated work, and the not-so-secret sauce, as it were, of sanctification. As Archbishop Carlson points out, if you think Mother Teresa was something special, remember that it was that dedicated holy hour she spent on prayer each day that helped make all the difference. 

Last night, he continued in a statement: 

Drawing inspiration from St. John Paul II, one of the 20th century’s preeminent figures of hope and peace, I issue the following challenges to members of our community:

Commit to learning how to truly love each other. If we do this, then we will learn to love our neighbor. Show children the path of forgiveness and we will see walls of division crumble. Your homes are the foundation of our community. If your homes are full of forgiveness, they will be temples of peace. Our communities, cities, state, and nation will enjoy a lasting, fulfilling peace only if it begins in the home.I again echo the words of St. John Paul II: “make your streets and neighborhoods centers of peace and reconciliation. It would be a crime against youth and their future to let even one child grow up with nothing but the experience of violence and hate.”

Youth, remember that you are not only creating the world of tomorrow, but you are a vital part of the world today. St. Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians: “For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” So, ask yourself: Are you sowing seeds of division, resentment, and discontent? These will only lead to anger and hatred. Choose instead to sow seeds of reconciliation, dignity, honor, and respect. Begin creating the world you want to see. Do not listen to those who instigate aggression. Reject violence. Embrace peace.

Please pray. Pray unceasingly for peace. Pray for our leaders and pray for your neighbors. If you feel called to act, do so only after prayer. Blessed Mother Teresa knew the proper formula. She spent a holy hour in prayer every day; it was only after prayer that she would serve. So, too, must it be for us.

Finally, I issue this challenge to all religious, political, social and law enforcement leaders: Join me in asking the Lord to make us instruments of peace. We, as leaders, need wisdom, compassion, and courage in order to combat the brokenness and division that confronts us. We must be leaders who help heal, not inflict hurt. We must be leaders who can come together to address issues like family breakdown, racial profiling, quality education, abuses of authority, lack of gainful employment, fear of one another, mistrust of authority, and many other needs. We must ask the tough questions and find lasting solutions.

I’m not sure CNN can water the seeds of peace. But every religious believer who tuned into news coverage last night or this morning certainly can. 

Listen to Mann v. National Review Hearings



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Hearings in the case of Mann v. National Review will be held today beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the D.C. Court of Appeals. Audio of oral arguments will be live-streamed from the Ceremonial Courtroom.

Biden ‘Ticked Off’ by Obama’s Harsh Hagel Firing



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Vice President Joe Biden is less-than-pleased with the way President Obama handled the very-public firing of defense secretary Chuck Hagel.

As a long-time colleague and friend of Hagel from their days in the Senate, Biden appeared frustrated and upset during Hagel’s unusual Monday morning termination at the White House. An administration official told Politico the vice president was “ticked off” by the humiliating way Obama gave his defense secretary the boot.

The former Nebraska senator lasted less than two years at the Defense Department, with President Obama recently concluding that Hagel ”just wasn’t the man for the job” after his dispassionate performance in meetings to determine U.S. strategy against the Islamic State. 

Hagel recently broke with the White House on that strategy, penning an October memo described as “sharply critical” of the administration’s plans in Syria. The defense secretary was concerned that the administration’s failure to prevent attacks against moderate rebels by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad could imperil U.S. plans in the entire region.

Administration officials also downplayed the notion that Hagel’s firing was part of a broader White House shake-up following the disastrous Democratic showing in this year’s midterms. “There is no shake-up,” a senior administration official told Politico. “For good or ill, this is it.”

With Hagel ‘Not Up to the Job,’ a Look Back at His Many Misguided Supporters



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By claiming that “retiring” defense secretary Chuck Hagel “wasn’t up to the the job,” White House officials are finally echoing criticisms from Republican lawmakers during Hagel’s 2013 confirmation hearing. Talking heads from across the political spectrum are now nodding in agreement, noting that Hagel’s inexperience and policy differences with the administration make his departure unsurprising.

But many were singing a different tune during Hagel’s confirmation period, shortly after President Obama’s reelection. At the time, the Nebraska senator’s defenders came out of the woodwork to slam the campaign against him, which largely centered around Hagel’s lack of Pentagon know-how and supposed hostility towards Israel.

Media types were among Hagel’s most vociferous defenders. “I’m kinda glad [William] Kristol is championing the anti-Hagel fight,” tweeted Eric Boehlert, a writer at Media Matters for America, in January 2013. ”It reminds everyone how he and necons got EVERYTHING WRONG about Iraq War.” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tore into Republicans for their “demagoguery and bullying” during Hagel’s February confirmation hearing.

Then-Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald called criticism of Hagel part of a “smear campaign” headed by the pro-Israel lobby. “Hagel is one of the very, very few prominent national politicians from either party who has been brave enough to question and dissent from the destructive bipartisan orthodoxies on foreign policy,” Greenwald wrote. “If this nomination actually happens, this will be one of Obama’s best appointments and boldest steps of his presidency.”

Democratic lawmakers and former officials also lent Hagel their unqualified support. Hagel, insisted former Carter adviser Zbigniew Brezezinski, “would infuse into our foreign policy what is very much needed . . . strategic significance — that is to say, a preoccupation with the problems that we’re slowly, collectively sliding into.” Former secretary of state Colin Powell called Hagel “superbly qualified,” claiming he’d do a “great job as secretary of defense.”

Rhode Island senator Jack Reed — now rumored to be on the defense secretary short list — said Hagel ”has a successful business record. He is an entrepreneur who’s succeeded. He’s also good in terms of recognizing the need to delegate. . . . You have to listen as well as talk and you have to be decisive, and he’s certainly decisive. So, he has many intellectual and temperamental qualities that would make him a great secretary of defense.”

Former defense secretary Leon Panetta, whom Hagel replaced, called the senator “smart and capable.” Democratic New Mexico senator Tom Udall said Hagel possessed “a demonstrated understanding for the nuances of foreign policy and national security.” And Illinois senator Dick Durbin praised Hagel, saying he “can understand why President Obama has chosen him . . . I certainly come to his nomination with a positive feeling, that the president has chosen an excellent person to lead that department.”

The Senate voted 58–41 to confirm Hagel in February 2013, with just four Republicans joining all 53 Democrats in backing the Nebraska senator for secretary of defense.

Cornel West Slams Al Sharpton: ‘You Don’t Need to Be Center Stage, Brother’



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Professor Cornel West spoke some serious truth to fellow African-American activist Al Sharpton, accusing him of seeking the limelight while suppressing authentic young voices in the black community.

West spoke on Monday at Miami Dade College while on tour for his newest book, Black Prophetic Fire. “This book is in many ways a love letter to the younger generation, because I’m passing from the scene,” he said. “I know it, I don’t need to be center stage.”

“Try to tell that to brother Al Sharpton, you know?” West continued, to laughter and applause. “You don’t need to be center stage, brother. There’s something called grassroots leadership, indigenous leadership, it needs a different context.”

“Get out of the way of the camera and let the young folks speak,” he said, as applause continued. “Get out of the way of the camera, let them tell their truths.”

West has attacked Sharpton before, saying in 2012 that he and other black MSNBC hosts “sold their souls” in order to gain access to the Obama administration — another frequent target of West’s criticisms.

Ferguson Protesters Respond to Grand Jury Decision with Gunshots, Destruction, Looting



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A grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown that occurred earlier this summer in Ferguson, Mo., and agitators responded last by burning parts of the city to the ground. Protesters behaved aggressively before the decision came down, and quickly grew hostile when the verdict did not go in their favor. Protesters gathered in the street outside the Ferguson Police Department to listen to the announcement, but had little patience for the grand jury’s decision.

Police then moved to barricade the department and protesters began hurling bottles at the officers. Protesters began shouting in unison, “FTP! F*** the police!” 

The protesters then marched toward a police barricade down the road under the watchful eye of a helicopter and attempted to turn over a cop car.

When the protesters failed to disperse, the police began firing tear gas into the crowd.

The mob appeared to be successfully herded back in front of the police station, when reports of looting throughout Ferguson began to emerge and a car was lit on fire near the police department.

Gunshots echoed throughout the city all night long. At a late-night press conference, St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said he personally heard approximately 150 gun shots in Ferguson and said it would be difficult to control the rioting and looting that went on without 10,000 policemen on the ground. But there were several warning signs that what took place would indeed happen. Protesters took over the street outside the police station well in advance of the public announcement of the grand jury’s decision and many of the protesters had become increasingly agitated leading up to it.

A mob of angry protesters pursued one man and shouted that he was part of the Ku Klux Klan, but that man told National Review Online and other media that he was simply making a documentary and was not a member of the KKK.

Some protesters even tried to scare away members of the press and warned them that the protesters were carrying guns.

And while law enforcement may not have fully anticipated the protesters’ angry response, several local businesses did. Several businesses in Clayton, Mo., the site of the grand jury’s deliberations, began boarding up their storefronts as soon as word came down that the decision would be made public on Monday. Many other business destroyed last night will likely never recover from the devastation of the protesters’ deeds. One business left a note that proved woefully optimistic:

 

The Consumer’s Friend? Not So Much



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Here’s a little something about the EU’s digital commissioner, Günther Oettinger, an official who is seemingly part of the EU’s ‘get Google’ gang.

Acting Man (and, no, notwithstanding his headline, I wouldn’t describe the EU as the EUSSR) noticed this item in the Austrian press the other day:

“EU Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger wants to restrict the way in which customers can change their Internet provider. In an interview with the Stuttgarter Zeitung he said that the profitability of the investments of providers in network expansion will thereby be increased.

 “I’m not talking about monopolies lasting forever, but for several years, during which you one will have planning security as an investor. Similar exemptions also exist for energy networks,” said Oettinger. Providers often shy away from investments because customers might switch to another provider. Companies that meet the requirements with respect to yardsticks such as data security, speed and capacity are to receive EU funding.

 Acting Man adds:

It is really hard to believe that he actually said the above, but apparently it is true. Just to get this straight: companies that are in danger of losing their customers to better and cheaper competitors will henceforth be protected by the EU, which will force their customers to stay with them. Not only that, these companies will get tax payer-funded subsidies as well!

The original report (in German) is here.

Does the Fifth Amendment Grand-Jury Protection Still Matter?



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A number of commentators have argued tonight, with no challenge by their media interviewers, that even if the evidence was insufficient to indict Officer Darren Wilson, justice would have been better served if the grand jury had indicted anyway. That way, the reasoning goes, we could have had a public trial in the light of day where everyone could have seen that the case was insufficient. That, we are to believe, would have made it easier for the community to accept the result.

The interests of the community, however, are not the only ones in the equation, much less the most important ones. What about the interests of the suspect? Those are the interests the Constitution addresses.

The Fifth Amendment states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury.”

The Constitution does not consider the grand jury to be a rubber stamp. It is a core protection. It stands as the buffer between the government prosecutor and the citizen-suspect; it safeguards Americans, who are presumed innocent, from being subjected to the anxiety, infamy and expense of a trial unless there is probable cause to believe they have committed a serious offense.

And put aside the constitutional argument. Rabble-rousers want Wilson indicted, despite the lack of probable-cause evidence, on the theory that it would be more just to have a public trial in a case where a man has lost his life. But why would it not be equally justifiable to argue that, because a man has lost his life, the ultimate trial jury should also ignore the law and convict, despite an even more stark lack of murder evidence beyond a reasonable doubt? At what point do we stop enabling the grievance industry to override our core constitutional protections?

If we are going to uphold our Constitution, it does not matter that thoughtful commentators suppose a public trial would best serve the community. The Fifth Amendment holds that a person has the right not to be subjected to a public trial – i.e., the right not to be indicted — unless the state can prove to a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe he committed a crime.

Officer Wilson had a constitutional right not to be indicted in the absence of sufficient evidence. That right to individual liberty outweighs the media’s abstract claim that a public trial would serve the public interest.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes: Protests ‘More Aggressive, Even Angrier’ Than in August



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Having witnessed the Ferguson protests both immediately after the death of Michael Brown and after Monday night’s grand-jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said the protests tonight are decidedly more sinister.

Hayes spoke live from Ferguson with MSNBC’s Ari Melber about the ongoing protests, which appeared to have escalated into small riots by 11 p.m. local time. Melber asked Hayes to compare what he was seeing from the looting and violence experienced in the days following Brown’s shooting last August. 

“This is much, um — this is more aggressive and even angrier than the anger we saw in August,” Hayes replied nervously. “I think people maybe misapprehended a bit the degree to which the massive, overwhelming number of folks who were out in the streets back in August were non-violent, were peaceably assembled.”

“The folks — and I don’t want to generalize, I didn’t take a census of the people who were out tonight — but I would say it was a younger, angrier crowd,” he continued. “There are not a ton of elders out there, there were not a lot of folks with signs, no families with kids.”

Missouri State Senator: ‘This Is St. Louis’ Race War’



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Missouri Democratic state senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal said the ongoing violence following the Ferguson grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson is “St. Louis’ race war.”

The state senator spoke with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Monday night, her voice thick with emotion as bricks battered cop cars and broke shop windows and tear gas canisters arced across intersections in St. Louis, Missouri.

Chappelle-Nadal decried the “systematic racism that we have in our state government and our state party,” worrying that the damage may be past the point of recovery.

“I have to tell you, this is St. Louis’ race war,” she continued. “We didn’t have a race war like other cities throughout the country. This is our race war.”

“I know of people in my own party, in my own government structure, who disregard things that we say and how we feel,” Chappelle-Nadal said. “And we are not going to allow it anymore.”

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