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Shahid Buttar's blog

If this is what a midlife crisis looks like, I hope it never ends

I've known that the summer of 2015 would be epic, but little did I know what shape its memories would take. Having left my job two months ago, and with the benefit of one month remaining on my sabbatical-of-sorts, a few reflections worth sharing leap to my mind.

"Green out of the pockets of politicians..."

The PEX Summer Music Festival in July 2015 gave me a chance to break through a few personal musical milestones. My DJ & MC set at Meso Creso on Friday night better realized the vision that prompted me to start DJing in the first place -- fusing the lyrical spirit of conscious hip-hop with the funk and delirium of house music -- than any gig I've played yet. Fortunately, the inspiration struck at a good time.

This 2:00 video clip shows me mixing between tracks, our fabulous and frenetic crowd celebrating the wee hours of Independence Day, and a single rhyme challenging both drug policy and money in politics.

Debating an NSA apologist on the eve of a Senate victory

On Tuesday, May 19, I was invited to join a panel on The Heat including my colleague Julian Sanchez from the Cato Institute and Fred Fleitz, a former CIA employee and Senior Vice President at the Center for Security Policy. Our discussion spanned two segments (both posted below after the jump).

Days later, popular constitutionalists scored a major victory when the Senate failed to extend section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, allowing its scheduled expiration under a previous act of Congress. It's the first time a controversial surveillance authority has ended since unconstitutional mass surveillance was first illegally imposed in secret over a decade ago, and offers me particular cause for celebration as I'll be wrapping up my time leading the Bill of Rights Defense Committee next week. 

A "Superhero Supermix" for the DC Bike Party Superhero Sprint

Tonight, the DC Bike Party hosted a Superhero Sprint, and played a DJ mix I recorded specifically for the event on a mobile sound system pedaled through the city by a longtime friend (of 15 years!) who build it. Read on (after the jump) for an explanation of how this mix aims to depict a universal hero myth elucidated by renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell.

An electro-swing, space disco, dark, goofy, deep house "Superhero Supermix" for the DC Bike Party Superhero Sprint (05.13.15) by Shahid Buttar on Mixcloud

Fighting corruption in the surveillance state

I've had a chance to publicly critique the intelligence establishment several times this month. After being quoted by the Guardian as describing the proposed USA Freedom Act as "yesterday's news," I had a chance to visit Thom Hartmann several times on The Big Picture. Here's our on April 28 interview:

That visit was followed by a series of return appearances on The Big Picture.

Questioning police body cameras across the Midwest

This month, I had a chance to invite audiences in two midwestern cities at the center of the Black Lives Matter uprising to reconsider the conventional wisdom on police body cameras.

Challenging Mass Surveillance on Capitol Hill

Today, after publishing Back to Square One on Spying in the Hill, I spoke at a congressional briefing about a proposed bipartisan measure to repeal the twin statutory pillars of the surveillance state. Here's video of my remarks at the briefing:

Defending the First Amendment on Capitol Hill

I know how to intentionally risk political arrest. I've done it many times before, though not in the past ten years.

(My most recent political arrest was in June 2003, when -- while studying for the bar exam after graduating from Stanford Law School -- I helped blockade the Bechtel headquarters in San Francisco to protest the company's seizure and privatization of water in Iraq in the initial months following the invasion that spring. Here's a photo that USA Today ran on June 19 of me kicking rhymes while getting handcuffed).

That was in 2003. When I went to Capitol Hill for a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this February 26, I had no intention of seeking arrest.

I specifically chose not to interrupt or disrupt the hearing -- yet found myself detained afterwards, anyway. All I did was ask a crucial question of vital public interst that no Senators have demonstrated the independence to raise themselves.

I could go on about shooting the messenger (i.e., the irony of leaving in handcuffs after asking a question about corruption, while the officials whose criminal actions have gone unpunished continue to walk free with taxpayer funded paychecks), but I particularly want to focus here on the circumstances surrounding my unlawful arrest.

DJ set at Bossa in DC

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