03 Feb 2014

Court Intellectuals Hit Back at Whistleblowers

Big Brother, Foreign Policy, Ron Paul 108 Comments

I’ve been traveling and just now read the mid-January piece in The New Republic by Sean Wilentz, a history professor at Princeton. The ostensible purpose of the article is to cast doubt on the motives of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange, but Wilentz’s hatchet job (and yes I use that term quite consciously) is so absurd that I almost wonder if he actually supports these men and hijacked TNR’s site to bolster their fanbase. The two takeaways from this episode are (1) no matter how open-and-shut the threat of an overreaching government, there will always be court intellectuals to defend it, and (2) Ron Paul is at the center of the opposition to Leviathan.

Wilentz’s piece is long, but I encourage you to read it if only to understand the background of these three men and how they came together in the struggle against the surveillance State. (This is partly why I tongue-in-cheek suggested that Wilentz might secretly be rooting for these guys; I don’t see how anyone could read the piece and end up feeling better about the NSA.) It’s only noteworthy to see just how flimsy Wilentz’s smears (and yes that’s what they are) need to be. For example, check this out:

By 1999, a 16-year-old Snowden had moved with his family from North Carolina to Maryland. He had dropped out of high school in his sophomore year and become enamored with computers. Snowden spent increasingly large swaths of his time on Ars Technica, a technology news and information website for self-described “alpha geeks.” Soon, he was posting regularly in the site’s public chat rooms under the user name “TheTrueHOOHA.” Snowden, it seems, mostly engaged in postadolescent banter about sex and Internet gaming—and occasionally mused about firearms. “I have a Walther P22,” he wrote. “It’s my only gun, but I love it to death.” The Walther P22, a fairly standard handgun, is not especially fearsome, but Snowden’s affection for it hinted at some of his developing affinities.

The tone of the above epitomizes the entire piece. Go ahead and read the whole thing–there are a handful of legitimately surprising bits, like Snowden complaining in January 2009 about the New York Times and wikileaks releasing classified information–but most of it is pure mockery and guilt-by-association. For example, here’s how Wilentz tries to make his readers less trusting of Glenn Greenwald:

It was in his pro bono work that Greenwald discovered his true passion: defending the civil liberties of extremists.

In several cases over a five-year span, Greenwald represented Matthew Hale, the head of the Illinois-based white-supremacist World Church of the Creator, which attracted a small core of violently inclined adherents. In one case, Greenwald defended Hale against charges that he had solicited the murder of a federal judge. Hale was eventually convicted when the federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, produced the FBI informant with whom Hale had arranged the killing. Greenwald’s other clients included the neo-Nazi National Alliance, who were implicated in an especially horrible crime. Two white supremacists on Long Island had picked up a pair of unsuspecting Mexican day laborers, lured them into an abandoned warehouse, and then clubbed them with a crowbar and stabbed them repeatedly. The day laborers managed to escape, and when they recovered from their injuries, they sued the National Alliance and other hate groups, alleging that they had inspired the attackers. Greenwald described the suit as a dangerous attempt to suppress free speech by making holders of “unconventional” views liable for the actions of others. His use of a euphemism like “unconventional” to describe white nationalists was troubling, but on First Amendment grounds, he had a strong case and he made it successfully.

Greenwald’s pro bono work is not evidence of anything more than a principled lawyer providing hateful people with constitutionally guaranteed counsel.

You see how this Wilentz operates? He gives salacious details of the hateful people Greenwald defended as a pro bono lawyer, but then assures us he (Wilentz) doesn’t want that to color our opinion of Greenwald in any way. No no, just adding some colorful background; it was either the neo-Nazi clients, or a discussion of Greenwald’s interest in lacrosse. Wilentz probably flipped a coin when picking the topic of that paragraph.

But now Wilentz brings out the big guns: linking Greenwald to that weirdo Ron Paul:

Greenwald had identified a vehicle for a political realignment: the presidential candidacy of the old libertarian warhorse Ron Paul. In November 2007, Greenwald called Paul “as vigilant a defender of America’s constitutional freedoms … as any national figure in some time.” He acknowledged that “there is at least something in Paul’s worldview for most people to strongly dislike, even hate,” and he described Paul as “an anti-abortion extremist” and “near the far end” of the right’s stance on immigration policy. Still, he believed Paul to be a rare truth-teller, prepared to buck a corrupt bipartisan consensus.

This portrayal required highly selective political reasoning, not to mention a basic ignorance of U.S. history. Paul, a longtime supporter of the John Birch Society, is a quintessential paleoconservative, holding prejudices and instincts that predate the post–World War II conservative movement founded by William F. Buckley Jr. and others.

Then of course, Wilentz quotes from the Ron Paul newsletters. This is somehow supposed to prove that Glenn Greenwald has bad judgment and can’t read US history–even though Wilentz himself quotes Greenwald as saying there is something in Paul’s worldview that most people will hate.

So let’s see Prof. Wilentz, there are two hypotheses here: One is that the gay Greenwald (who was a progressive darling in his attacks on the Bush Administration and only turned on Obama once it was clear he was implementing Bush’s third term) really deep down hates traditionally persecuted groups and all this blather about the NSA is a smokescreen, OR he recognizes that the real danger today is the NSA and the rest of the apparatus of the Empire. I mean, it’s almost as if some people think mass murder and systematic torture is more important than mean quotes culled from decades-old newsletters. What are the chances?!

Now why is Wilentz so upset with these three gentlemen? It’s because they are overreacting. Here is how Wilentz–professor of history, so he should know–thinks problems with Big Government get fixed:

Some of the documents stolen by Edward Snowden have revealed worrisome excesses on the part of the NSA. Any responsible whistle-blower, finding evidence of these excesses, might, if thwarted by her or his superiors, bring the evidence of those specific abuses to the attention of the press, causing a scandal, which would prod Congress and the NSA itself to correct or eliminate the offensive program.

But the above isn’t the path that our irresponsible whistleblowers have taken, according to Wilentz. Instead of calmly reporting the abuses, and forcing the government to reform itself, they make all kinds of wild accusations. I don’t want the present post to get too long, so let me close with just two final examples of just how absurd Wilentz’s piece is:

[Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange] want to spin the meaning of the documents they have released to confirm their animating belief that the United States is an imperial power, drunk on its hegemonic ambitions.

According to the leakers’ own evidence, however, this interpretation is simply not the case. The files leaked so far strongly indicate that the U.S. intelligence system, although in need of major reform, is not recklessly spying on its citizens. The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies found serious problems with the NSA’s data collection, and recommended, among other restrictions, outlawing the NSA’s practice of amassing and storing the phone records of virtually all Americans….

A similar pattern recurs with other supposedly damning documents. Among those cited by The New York Times, in its editorial supporting clemency for Snowden, is one that purportedly proves “the N.S.A. broke federal privacy laws, or exceeded its authority, thousands of times per year, according to the agency’s own internal auditor.” But the Times was drawing on a Washington Post report that failed to say whether the “thousands” of violations amounted to a significant proportion of the total uses of the database, or only a relative handful, within the margin for human error. The Timesalso failed to emphasize that, according to the document, the vast majority those violations, as audited in the first quarter of 2012, were due to simple human or mechanical error and that there was no way of knowing whether the balance involved serious, as opposed to technical, violations of law.

And there you have it, folks. Greenwald et al. would have you believe that there’s this big scary Surveillance State out to get you, that violates its own internal privacy rules thousands of times per year. But Wilentz assures us that the President has recommended that the NSA stop recording information on virtually all Americans’ phone calls, and that for all we know the “thousands” of privacy violations annually are actually a small percentage, when you consider just how much spying is going on.

Is this for real?! I must be a paranoid libertarian.

108 Responses to “Court Intellectuals Hit Back at Whistleblowers”

  1. Major_Freedom says:

    “By 1999, a 16-year-old Snowden had moved with his family from North Carolina to Maryland. He had dropped out of high school in his sophomore year and become enamored with computers. Snowden spent increasingly large swaths of his time on Ars Technica, a technology news and information website for self-described “alpha geeks.” Soon, he was posting regularly in the site’s public chat rooms under the user name “TheTrueHOOHA.”

    How does this court intellectual know Snowden’s browsing activity way back then? And if the NSA was already snooping on everyone by that time, how did Wilentz come to know it?

    This “court intellectual” is likely nothing more than a Stazi.

  2. Bob Roddis says:

    Posted by dkuehn

    Glenn Greenwald bothers me in a really deep, genuine way…

    …and I’m always a little shocked that a lot of people don’t see it that way.


    • Yancey Ward says:

      Well, Greenwald didn’t get the memo that he stop his agitation on January 20, 2009.

  3. William Anderson says:

    Actually, I think the article is a reflection of the whole “Progressivism” that has engulfed TNR since its founding by Herbert Croly. People want to believe that modern “Progressivists” are civil libertarians; they are not, nor have they ever been civil libertarians. Read the material from Croly, Woodrow Wilson, and the others that were Progressives a century ago.

    They had an organic view of American society; to a man, they hated individual liberties, hated markets, hated free choice, and hated the Bill of Rights. To them the whole talk of rights centered around those things that would better enable them to organize American society centrally, and if a so-called Constitutional Right could be applied at any one time, then it might be temporarily legitimate.

    The so-called civil libertarians of the 1960s were people who believed that free speech and free association were tools that could be applied to their own grab for political power. However, when those same tools worked against political power grabs, then they should be done away with.

    The one thing Progressives cannot stand are people of principle. Men like Greenwald and Snowden (and Ron Paul) are unacceptable because they do not see politics as a means to control other people, and THAT is the central orb of Progressivism.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      Au contraire, says DK:

      Conor Williams on Progressivism
      Posted by dkuehn

      This is so good I’ll have to just quote him at length. The motivation is Paul Ryan and Glenn Beck repeating the standard line on the progressive movement that you hear from pretty much everyone right of center (conservative, libertarian, populist, you name it) these days.

      “This progressives-as-un-American-transformers narrative is almost completely nonsense. The original progressives were almost entirely concerned with rehabilitating the American Founders’ ideals in a new political and economic era. For example, Woodrow Wilson revered Alexander Hamilton for his “deep and passionate love of liberty, and that steadfast purpose in the maintenance of it.” He argued that no one but Hamilton “could have done the great work of organization by which he established the national credit, and with the national credit the national government itself.”…….

      Conservatives (then and now) will have none of this. They see progressivism as an attempt to transform and abandon the Founding’s principles (or a project aimed at “detaching people from the Constitution,” etc). For these folks, REAL Americans venerate the original Constitution in every aspect. They believe that America means limited government along precisely the original lines. Just don’t ask them anything about women’s suffrage or the direct election of senators OR THE “THREE-FIFTHS CLAUSE,” etc (usually).”


      I think I hear a Zombie in the distance chanting S L A V E R Y….H I T L E R

      • Tel says:

        “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” — Barack Obama, October 30, 2008

        dkuehn knows this is almost completely nonsense.

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        What exactly is he rambling on about in regard to the three-fifths clause? The clause was conceived of by abolitionists who wanted to diminish the political influence of slave-holding states in Congress, so as to make it easier to eventually abolish slavery.

        It would have been far better, for black slaves and for white abolitionists, had the constitution said that, for the purposes of representation, slaves didn’t count as any fraction of a person whatsoever.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        “Woodrow Wilson revered Alexander Hamilton for his “deep and passionate love of liberty, and that steadfast purpose in the maintenance of it.”

        Hamilton. Ah yes, the liberty loving advocate of communist banking, grounded of course on violations of liberty.

        Wilson revered liberty too, signing off on the Federal Reserve Act, which he shed crocodile tears soon after in how he “ruined the country.”

        “For these folks, REAL Americans venerate the original Constitution in every aspect. They believe that America means limited government along precisely the original lines.”

        Who would have thought that rehabilitating Founder ideals of consists of and requires….rehabilitating Founder ideals?

        Sorry, my bad. Slavery enforced by the federal government means limited government.

        • Dan says:


          “Given the Greenbackers’ benign view of government, it’s no surprise that many of them are eager to persuade themselves that we’ve had a few good presidents who have tried to stand up for the people but were tragically stopped by the bankers. This eagerness, in turn, generates further fake quotations — this one, for example, attributed to Woodrow Wilson: “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the civilized world no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

          The first two sentences of this quotation are entirely fabricated. The rest come from a book Wilson published in 1913, before the Fed was even created. Yet the quotation is routinely given as evidence that Wilson regretted creating the Fed. He didn’t. He was proud of it.”

    • Samson Corwell says:

      The so-called civil libertarians of the 1960s were people who believed that free speech and free association were tools that could be applied to their own grab for political power.

      I’m honestly skeptical about this claim. No doubt, Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Croly were bad people, but I can’t see this extending to, say, the ACLU.

      • Ken B says:

        Well, the ACLU defended nazis marching in Skokie. They defended communists in free speech cases. And really there’s no more obvious way to curry public favor than by defending nazis and communists.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          The speaking part should be emphasized. The ACLU defended the right to SPEAK pro-Nazi statements, and to SPEAK pro-communist statements.

          Unfortunately, the case involved “public” property, which results in tragedy of the commons, and Nazi marches on the streets.

          With fully private property, neo-Nazis would not be able to simply march into any Jewish owned lands and march on their streets, without permission. Maybe the owners will let them walk, and walk only, if only to grab a bag of popcorn and laugh at the idiots.

  4. Major_Freedom says:

    The photos of Greenwald and Assange are not sinister looking enough.

    Black and white? Check.
    Somewhat grainy? Check.
    Faces that happen to look smug? Check.
    Dark and shadowy? Check.

    He forgot to juxtapose those photos with full color smiling phots of Obama kissing babies with captions saying something to the effect of “Obama, meanwhile, is keeping babies safe from terrorists.”

    This is pedestrian. I recommend firing the editor.

    • Mike T says:

      He forgot to juxtapose those photos with full color smiling phots of Obama kissing babies with captions saying something to the effect of “Obama, meanwhile, is keeping babies safe from terrorists.”

      Exactly the rationalization some in the media class have invoked. Remember the Joe Klein interview on Morning Joe where he essentially argued “better their 4 year olds, than ours” to justify the slaughter of innocent children via the drone program?


  5. Bob Roddis says:

    Edward Snowden Interview – Blacked Out by MSM – John Keller

    30 Minutes of pure dynamite with ARD, a German network. This has been blacked out in the US, with Google’s YouTube taking the video down. Snowden is smart, articulate, and blasts the government lackeys that want him dead : “..people really need to consider who they (NSA) think they’re working for. The public is supposed to be their boss, not their enemy.”


    • Major_Freedom says:

      Why would the major media companies not air that interview? Is somebody telling them not to? If so, then “or else” what?

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        It’s one thing for the major news networks not to air it – they can (semi-plausibly) just claim there’s no big audience for it.

        But for Google to take the trouble of actively deleting it from Youtube smacks of government meddling…

  6. Ken B says:

    About Greenwald. Here’s a theory. Wilentz wants to show that Greenwald really really really REALLY believes in a widespread and pervasive attempt by the federal government to destroy our liberties. As evidence Wilentz cites the extensive activities of Greenwald as a lwyer, doing not just some pro bono work for unpopular groups, but quite a lot, with a passion. Could that count as evidence for Wilentz’s theory? Why, yes, yes it could now you mention it.
    Or let’s say Greenwald allows his judement to be so clouded he ignores all the ways in which Ron Paul fails to measure up to The Guardian of Liberty? Could Greenwald’s clutching at the Pauline straw be evidence for Wilentz’s theory? Why, yes, yes it could now you mention it.
    So if Wilentz were trying to establish that fact about about Greenwald, for some reason, maybe to suggest his extremism in the matter, because he is going to make an argument about extremism in this matter and wants to use Greenwald as an example, could this be relevant to Wilentz’s argument? Why, yes, yes it could now you mention it.

    • Andrew' says:

      Theories about secret motives?


  7. Ken B says:

    ” The Times also failed to emphasize that, according to the document, the vast majority those violations, as audited in the first quarter of 2012, were due to simple human or mechanical error and that there was no way of knowing whether the balance involved serious, as opposed to technical, violations of law.”

    How is that ridiculous? Surely it matters what data was read in violation, by whom, for what purpose, and if any copies were created.
    Those are the questions anyone would ask of a private company, or the private sector in general. After all you are inferring intent and behavior from the mere existence of the violations.

    • Andrew' says:

      Ken B,

      Draw a line in the sand.

      I will let you know if the government is already doing what they have been denying.

      If someone is denying it, they aren’t doing that to protect the secret from the Taliban while they allow low level employees the security clearance.

      They are doing it to hide it from the American people. This is PLENTY of motive AND hints at further nefarious motive.

      There’s no paranoia involved or required here, just objectivity.

      • Andrew' says:

        BTW, do it for you, not me.


        Worldview: Utilitarian

        Benefit = terrorist plots foiled (or what?)

        Cost = privacy, nefarious potential we’d never hear about until too late – this takes ZERO imagination, paranoia, or contrarianism. It just is.

        Terrorists plots stand at 1 or 2 after several cycles of lying exaggeration but even the two are not actually divulged- even though the FBI trips over itself to divulge any entrapment plots they create. I’m guessing it’s actually zero.

        If the objective is to keep Al Qaeda from knowing they collect info on everyone (protecting their methods) then GREAT JOB, who do we get to fire? Nice work giving the keys to the kingdom to Ed Snowden and other low-level security clearances. Can we fire Eric Holder? I know he’s got nothing to do with it, but I’d settle.

        Maybe 1 due to pure luck. They are nearly obviously not even concerned with the promoted benefit. Their benefit is indeed our cost. Again, if there is none of their benefit, and they keep lying about both the benefit and the cost, what is left to a completely non-paranoid observer? What remains?

  8. Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    “Snowden’s history is very difficult to piece together, not least because the CIA and the NSA are prohibited from confirming or denying details of his work for them. ”

    What’s that? The draconian policies of the surveillance state are standing in the way of your ability to collect and report to the public certain basic facts that you deem important and necessary? What a shame!

  9. Silas Barta says:

    Snowden spent increasingly large swaths of his time on Ars Technica, a technology news and information website for self-described “alpha geeks.” Soon, he was posting regularly in the site’s public chat rooms under the user name “TheTrueHOOHA.” Snowden, it seems, mostly engaged in postadolescent banter about sex and Internet gaming—and occasionally mused about firearms. “I have a Walther P22,” he wrote. “It’s my only gun, but I love it to death.”

    Wow, so shameful that they tailed this guy and violated his priva… that wasn’t your point? Um…

  10. Andrew' says:

    My mom bought that exact gun.

    My mom.

    My words to her were something to the effect that it’s a fine training tool, but it’s barely a gun.

    So what is this guy insinuating about my moms?

    • Andrew' says:

      It’s literally two (small) steps up from a Red Ryder. To me, that statement by Snowden is cute. To some urban lefty it must sound like the Devil speaking.

      • Ken B says:

        Yes. Bob is off base on a lot here I think, but it is certainly true that the article wants to undercut these guys in the minds of left or center left readers. That’s one example.

        • Andrew' says:

          Well, I guess we could test how stupid they are.

          For example, do they think “oh, that’s pretty reasonable for The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies to recommend following the law and not spying on all Americans” and nod their heads approvingly.

          Do they then believe that this would have happened without Snowden (or someone else)?

        • Andrew' says:

          What, EXACTLY, is Bob off-base on here?

          • Ken B says:

            Well there’s this: “Ron Paul is at the center of the opposition to Leviathan.” Or Bob’s insinuation that Wilentz is calling Greenwald a racist gay basher. Or Bob’s idea that the actual nature of the “thousands of violations” doesn’t matter. Or Bob’s failure to grasp Wilentz’s central argument, which doesn’t depend on his smears (a bit strong but not unfair: ad hominem certainly) of the three guys.

            • Andrew' says:

              His central argument, which as you say is a vaguely implied theory, is just that these guys have some secret ulterior motives beyond exposing what the government is doing.

              That’s a dumb argument.

              All I know about wikileaks for example is the actual video where the Apache blew away the journalist and children.

              We don’t need to assume any more than what we actually know to be true.

              • Ken B says:

                No, his central argument is that there is a substratum of “Libertarians” who are better described as “paranoid anti-statists with distorted judgment and raging confirmation bias.”

                But I quite agree with Bob Murphy, Major Freedom, and you that Wilentz had no need to discuss those three gentleman to demonstrate such types exist.

              • Mike T says:

                Ken B. –

                “No, his central argument is that there is a substratum of “Libertarians” who are better described as “paranoid anti-statists with distorted judgment and raging confirmation bias.”

                >> No, Ken B. That’s not his central argument. As the lead in question suggests, Wilentz wants the reader to rethink the substance of the revelations based on his rigorous pyschoanalysis of the three “leakers” (an amazing accomplishment without even reaching out to any of them to actually ask them about their motives; not to mention numerous interviews where they’ve expressed opinions that do not substantiate Wilentz’s claim that in the least: “the leakers and their supporters would never hand the state modern surveillance powers, even if they came wrapped in all sorts of rules and regulations that would constrain their abuse”) in order to casually dismiss any distrust one might have about their benevolent public servants.

                Nevermind Clapper lying to Congress, the warnings from that “extremist” and “paranoid libertarian” Ron Wyden on the Intelligence Committee, the classified 2010 FISA Court ruling on the metadata program being illegal, broad warrants used for the mass collection of private electronic communication data, etc. All of this should be dismissed as “paranoia.”

                It’s a sloppily-argued hit piece on those three individuals in order to desperately allay any fears one might have in their government abusing its power.

              • Andrew' says:

                Ken B, I think you/we are conflating Cass Sunstein’s derivative screed with Wilentz’s.

                Wilentz’s title is: if you knew what these guys really thought would that change your opinion of them and their revelations?

                Cass Sunstein who takes that and tries to generalize it to discredit other libertarians.

                And I assume Cass Sunstein is really trying to impune ALL libertarians, not actually helping people to identify actual paranoid subgroups. He’s trying to taint all libertarians with his assertion that some are paranoid.

                Now, whether paranoia right now has been proven correct is a separate and obviously true discussion.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Ken B:

                The word “Paranoid” is no longer an effective pejorative, given the information age. We can learn of the actual events taking place and that have taken place to a much more reliable degree than the statements of the government, or the MSM that largely just repeats what they’re told verbatim.

                Distorted? You mean we don’t accept violence against innocent people like you do, right?

                Raging confirmation bias? Raging huh? I thought it was radical extreme mega foaming at the mouth the sky is falling confirmation bias.

                At any rate, “confirmation bias” is only applicable to HYPOTHETICAL propositions vis a vis a historical set of data. The argument libertarians are making is that the state is INHERENTLY violent. We know this by considering what the state IS.

                The knowledge that the state is coercive is not grounded on an as of yet unknown outcome with an as of yet unconfirmed hypothesis. The instances of violence that YOU see states perpetuate is but one form of violence that the state exercises by virtue of existing in the first place.

                When you see libertarians focus on the instances of violence that the state initiates, in your distorted wordlview, you contrast that with the “good” things the state does…with the stolen loot of course. So to you it is always an empirical question of whether the state is initiating violence, or not. That there is no permanent underlying threat of initiations of violence against person and property in everything the state does.

                Once again, instead of engaging in rigorous thinking, you waste your time making bad jokes along with fallacious arguments.

            • Andrew' says:

              Bob is probably joking about the Ron Paul thing. As in, if Ron Paul is wrong to someone who writes like Wilentz (or Cass Sunstein), then we don’t want to be right. I’m not sure why you are so tone deaf.

              His point about the thousands of violations is also a point that the author is claiming that it’s a small percentage of the total because THEY ARE SPYING ON EVERY GD THING! Again, why so tone deaf?

              The last part…I’m already bored.

              • Andrew' says:

                I take it back.

                I should be grateful.

                Someone like Wilentz would never deign to raise my status by even debating his points with me.

                Have a nice stock market crash!

      • Andrew' says:

        “The Silver Six-Gun Special, a fairly standard capgun, is not especially fearsome, but the 5-year old Bob Murphy’s affection for it hinted at some of his developing affinities.”

  11. joe says:

    QUOTE regarding 2008 election: “Paul had gone on to endorse the racist theocrat Chuck Baldwin of the Constitutional Party”

    very interesting.

    • Andrew' says:

      Constitution Party.

      For Chrissakes, you people.

      I can’t get away from you.

      • Andrew' says:

        “I’ve thought about the unsolicited advice from the Libertarian Party candidate, and he has convinced me to reject my neutral stance in the November election. I’m supporting Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party candidate. ”

        You realize that quote is wrong in every way, even grammatically?

        • Andrew' says:

          What Ron Paul is basically saying is this: You dumb Rs and Ds, your beloved establishment is falling down around your ears. You’ll never ever ever see it. You’ll be busy throwing stones from your coverglass thin house. There’s no way in hell I (RP) would endorse one of them, so I’m left with the best 3rd party option. I wasn’t even planning to do that, but Bob Barr pushed me to endorse Baldwin.

          • Andrew' says:

            Although Ron is far more of a gentlemen, so I wouldn’t dare speak for him except people are liars.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      We’re all racist theocrats, Joe. Every last one of us. This Austrian thing is really just a ruse so we can lynch more black people.

    • Andrew' says:

      Got anything to say, Joe?

      Or you just trolling?

    • Richie says:


  12. Dyspeptic says:

    Justin Raimondo has a great take down of Willentz and his authoritarian fellow “Progressives” over at Antiwar.com.


    • Bob Roddis says:

      Yes, that article is excellent.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “The progressive pro-NSA’ers are particularly vicious when it comes to Greenwald, attacking his motives and his methods in personal terms: the reason, I think, is because they consider him even more of a “traitor” than Snowden. That a fellow progressive would deal such a devastating blow to an ostensibly liberal administration is, for them, a sin worse than any the world’s most famous leaker – who’s a libertarian of some sort – has committed.”

      I am not at all surprised that subversive anti-state activity would encourage liberals to protect mommy government and conservatives to protect daddy government, and thus for liberals and conservatives to band together and protect government.

      And who said libertarians were wrong about the fundamental beliefs of the “two wings”? Two sides of the same “I will shoot you if you don’t pay and obey me” coin.

    • Major_Freedom says:


      This might seem like a good idea to NSA critics unhappy with President Obama’s reform proposals, but the constitutional theory it depends on is profoundly dangerous. It poses a serious threat to that liberal touchstone, a federal regulatory and welfare state equal to the problems of growing corporate power and poverty.

      1. Corporate power THROUGH government power is a government power problem, not a corporate problem.

      2. The state increases general poverty over the long run.

      Why don’t they just come out and say they’re Marxists? We need a state to stop capitalist progress, and we need a state to steal from those with ability, and give to those in need. Might as well just post Das Kapital and Communist Manifesto on their website. Everything else is a prelude to this.

  13. Bob Roddis says:

    This is peripherally related to the theme of “court intellectuals”, FYI and perhaps for future discussion. The 23rd annual Minsky Conference is coming to the National Press Club April 9–10, 2014.Organized by the Levy Economics Institute with support from the FORD FOUNDATION

    William C. Dudley*
    President and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

    Jacob J. Lew*
    Secretary of the Treasury, US Department of the Treasury

    Robert Menendez*
    US Senator (D-Israel)

    L. Randall Wray
    Senior Scholar, Levy Institute, and Professor, University of Missouri–Kansas City, princeling of the MMTers


    *means “invited”

    • Ken B says:

      Nice to see you’ve shed that closet anti semitism Bob.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        Yes, this Austrian thing is just an excuse to hate Jews. Like Rothbard, Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum, Mises and Walter Block.

        Outed again. Such wise insight you have.

        • Andrew' says:

          To my knowledge I have briefly met one Jew and briefly met one homosexual.

          Other than that, these groups could be entirely mythological to me and might as well be make-believe.

          I have no idea how I can even hate these people properly.

          Can the SPLC send me some info on who I can go see about being trained to properly hate people I have no experience with whatsoever.

        • Andrew' says:


          I like your comment, but the reality is that simply by NOT going over the top blowing these groups means you de facto hate them.

          • Andrew' says:

            So, since I might some day need a job at a university, let me go on the record:

            Blacks are only different in ways that ARE NOT genetic and their differences only make me appreciate them SOLELY for the diversity those differences create. Those differences do not make them better or worse at ANYTHING, only more diverse, and thus to be valued for the differences and their status as total equals, only different in ways that deserve appreciation, and not really different at all, really, unless it makes me appreciate them and look for ways they might be underappreciated.

            Same goes for Jews, homosexuals, females, transgender, and anyone else in the currently protected classes, to be updated as and when the protected class status has been updated to include or exclude groups.

            • Andrew' says:

              In fact, they may or may not even be considered a group or class, unless deemed that way by the DNC, except in ways that are approved to signal appreciation or when one groups interests come in conflict with anothers, again to be arbitrated by the DNC.

        • Gamble says:

          I know Austrians do not always agree with Ayn Rand but she is a Jew, a Russian and an atheist.

          Point is, liberty knows no bounds. Liberty is what makes all of these races, religions, philosophies and disparate interest possible. Now if I could just get the atheist libertarians to accept the Christian libertarians, hmmm…

        • Ken B says:

          Who said Austrians Bob?

      • Bob Roddis says:

        Yes, Ken B, my anti-semitism really shines through when I often quote Israel Kirzner in my debates with LK about “market clearing prices”.

        Kirzner is also an ordained rabbi and Talmud scholar, and serves as the rabbi of the congregation once headed by his father in Brooklyn, New York. He is one of the most famous disciples of Rabbi Isaac Hutner, the late dean of the Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, where he studied for many years during the same years he obtained his academic training.


        • Gamble says:

          I don’t care who says it so long as it fits into my libertarian ideals. On the other hand, I don’t care who says it if it does not fit into my libertarian ideals, I wont hold back any punches. I fight with statist , white, american “Christians” more than any other “group.”

          This is not a party, anti-Semite, racist, chauvinistic, atheistic, religious, nationalistic or xenophobic thing. This is a freedom thing…

      • Major_Freedom says:

        ZOMBIE ALERT!!!!!!

  14. Andrew' says:

    Back to the topic at hand,

    How the @#$%, does anyone read one paragraph of Glenn Greenwald and think there is some secret he’s holding back?

    • Andrew' says:

      Okay, I can’t wait. You can’t.

      What you can do is write a letter to progressives who care first and foremost about wealth redistribution and issue vague hand-wringing that one of their own who seems a little too serious about rule-of-law might be a secret apostate to be watched carefully if he ever threatens goal 1 of wealth redistribution.

      • Andrew' says:

        And it only works because your audience hasn’t been aware of their best and brightest star for 5+ years like libertarians have.

        • Andrew' says:

          Wait, make that 10 years, and I don’t consider myself an insider. We are going back to Iraq and the patriot act when I first learned of Greenwald- probably because most other Democrats bent over for Bush, making Greenwald distinguish himself.

          If this attack works, it means the target audience is completely detached from their ACLU-type intellectual legacy and my point that all they care about anymore is redistribution and class warfare is proven.

          And besides I still haven’t gotten a single response on how paranoia is involved at all when they really are spying on All Americans. I guess Obama must be a paranoid libertarian since after denials and getting caught red-handed and looking like a buffoon he is finally after being dragged kicking and screaming into issuing symbolic reforms of the NSA.

          • Andrew' says:

            Did Cass Sunstein say PRIOR to being caught “of course we are collecting all this data”

            Or is he only now back peddling while claiming that it is only done for good?

            That’s the only relevant question for Sunstein.

  15. Andrew' says:

    How do you even plan to foil terrorist attacks with metadata?

    You can’t.

    You can mess with historical associations not to mention taint people with guilt by association…ironic…but last I checked Freedom of Association off limits n the US.

    • Andrew' says:

      Here is the reality:

      You might clam it takes an RCH of paranoia to believe the government is doing what they have denied then admitted they ARE DOING.

      But it takes a Maersk Alabama full of imagination to believe the government is actually going to use the universal spying for the good they claim but cannot demostrate they want it for.

      • Mike T says:

        Not to mention there are significant entrenched financial incentives at play. For example, the company Snowden last worked for, Booz Hamilton, apparently “earned” about 98% of its 2012 revenue ($3.8bln) from government contracts.

        • Andrew' says:

          One can’t even really claim that they are trying to develop the tools they need and we stand in their way.

          They are simply taking all the data that domestic firms produce and grabbing it.

          They aren’t really even developing anything.

          Besides that, wasn’t the big lesson from 9/11 that this stuff did nothing anyway and we need human intelligence?

          Of course, we need the FBI version of human intelligence like a hole in the head, but just because they are doing it wrong doesn’t impugn the general idea.

          • plot says:

            “Besides that, wasn’t the big lesson from 9/11 that this stuff did nothing anyway and we need human intelligence?”

            No, the big lesson was that once government pulls something like this it doesn’t forget the proper alternative versions: Jones, Harrit, Jenkins, Fetzer, Gage the russian nuke guy etc. – funny thing is they don’t attack each other but in unisom attack her.
            Just google Dr. Judy Wood psyop, coverup or something like this you’ll find plenty of material. Also a guy name Andrew Johnson documented the events in a book, it will be at checktheevidence.com

            Oh and if you think I’m nuts aks yourself – why you’ve never heard about hurricane Erin on 911, nor that all 7 buildings were destroyed: 1237 completely, 4&5 mostly and 6 hollowed about half of it’s insides. Also infected Bankers Trust story is interesting.


  16. Bob Roddis says:

    James E. Miller takes down Cass Sustein:


    From Wikipedia: Cass Robert Sunstein[1] (born September 21, 1954) is a US legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioural economics, who was the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration.[2] For 27 years, Sunstein taught at the University of Chicago Law School.[3] Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor[4] and Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

    Sunstein’s 2004 book, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever, advocates the Second Bill of Rights proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Among these rights are a right to an education, a right to a home, a right to health care, and a right to protection against monopolies; Sunstein argues that the Second Bill of Rights has had a large international impact and should be revived in the United States. His 2001 book, Republic.com, argued that the Internet may weaken democracy because it allows citizens to isolate themselves within groups that share their own views and experiences, and thus cut themselves off from any information that might challenge their beliefs, a phenomenon known as cyberbalkanization.

    Yes indeed. On this blog, for example, our insular ideas are never challenged by the outside world.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      I think Keynesian “intellectuals” suffer from “cyberbalkanization”.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      James E. Miller: The only problem with Sunstein’s depiction of paranoid libertarianism is the existence of evidence that backs the claim of unfair targeting. In the early part of 2012, it was revealed the Federal Bureau of Investigation has special instructions for the handling of anyone who supports the gold standard or expresses contempt for the thieves at the Internal Revenue Service. Citizens who don’t like to have their wealth stolen or to use a currency backed by guns are called “extremists.” Thus, the government treats them differently, for fear they might live their lives unbothered by state officials.


      • Andrew' says:

        I don’t doubt it at all, but why is that even necessary?

        Progressives used to understand that even obviously guilty people deserve due process.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Only if the “due process” is itself proretrogressive.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      Apparently, the MSM also suffers from an extreme case of “cyberbalkanization”.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      But the recent string of essays highly critical of this peaceful political philosophy are all marked with a growing agitation on the part of progressives. They won’t stand for dissent or open thought. The very idea of individuals living freely, not hurting each other, and pursuing the Good is too much of a threat to their domination. So myopic bureaucrats like Cass Sunstein are left with nothing to do but project their psychosis onto their enemies. They scream “paranoid!” while the real paranoia stares at them from the mirror. It’s sad and pathetic. Their souls will never find peace in a world of cooperation and respect for individual rights.

      Here is my advice to Cass Sunstein: get help. Your paranoid delusions of a coming libertarian revolution are misguided. Society will not fall apart with the absence of a coercive government. To the contrary, it will thrive much more than it does now. Fretting over that possibility reveals a deep insecurity about humanity at large. Should this paranoia be put into public policy, it will have grave ramifications for all individuals. Sunstein has already floated the idea of subverting the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech. There is no telling what harebrained, tyrannical scheme he will come up with next.

      Cass Sunstein is a threat to himself and others. He believes might makes right and will do anything to achieve his goals. If such a sicko were to hold real power, there is no telling the horror he would unleash. For now, he will continue to fill the heads of students with fearful ravings about liberty. Hopefully his pupils will know better than to trust this madman.

      James E. Miller
      Editor-in-Chief of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada

    • Gamble says:

      [Wilentz claims that far from being “truth-telling comrades intent on protecting the state and the Constitution from authoritarian malefactors,” they “despise the modern liberal state, and they want to wound it.” ] Cass Sunstein

      Wound it, lol. Who said anything about wounding.

      No seriously, Cass speaks of government as if it is a living entity capable of being wounded. What a nut job. Me thinky somebody has been sniffing to much teen spirit.


      • Gamble says:

        I made a mistake. It was Wilentz, not Sunstein that refers to government as a docile living entity that could be wounded. What follows is taken directly from Cass Sunstein.

        Whether on the right or the left, paranoid libertarianism (which should of course be distinguished from libertarianism as such) is marked by five defining characteristics.
        The first is a wildly exaggerated sense of risks.
        The second characteristic is a presumption of bad faith on the part of government officials.
        The third characteristic is a sense of past, present or future victimization.
        The fourth characteristic is an indifference to trade-offs.
        The fifth and final characteristic is passionate enthusiasm for slippery-slope arguments.
        In some times and places, the threats are real, and paranoid libertarians turn out to be right. As Joseph Heller wrote in “Catch-22,” “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
        Societies can benefit a lot from paranoid libertarians. Even if their apocalyptic warnings are wildly overstated, they might draw attention to genuine risks, or at least improve public discussion. But as a general rule, paranoia isn’t a good foundation for public policy, even if it operates in freedom’s name.
        Cass R. Sunstein

        Sounds like doublespeak to me? I never can tell where Cass Sunstein is coming from. Fence sitting makes terrific eunuchs…

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “His 2001 book, Republic.com, argued that the Internet may weaken democracy because it allows citizens to isolate themselves within groups that share their own views and experiences, and thus cut themselves off from any information that might challenge their beliefs, a phenomenon known as cyberbalkanization.”

      This is Orwellian codespeak for “With the internet serving as a means to connect individuals around the world directly, I am deathly afraid that mommy and daddy government won’t be able to control the message and thus continue to pull the wool over the eyes of the citzenry about who the bad guys are. Of course, I cannot come right out and say that without showing my true colors, so I will try to not make you laugh and articulate my belief by saying that the widest, most decentralized communication system in the world….separates…people socially and morally.”

      • Gamble says:

        Good call Major Freedom. I know I am so much more connected than ever before. It will not be long until average people from all corners of the earth realize nobody wants to war other than war profiteers. This is the kind of thing Cass was afraid of, his handlers told him to be deathly afraid, afraid of a pay cut…

        • Major_Freedom says:

          People other than war profiteers want war. I’m often communicating with those who don’t profit from war, nevertheless want war.

          • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

            Psychic profit counts too! It’s a bit disturbing when you think about it, but there are a surprising amount of people who gain a real and legitimate satisfaction at knowing that “our side” is bombing and killing and maiming the “bad guys” who don’t agree with us.

        • Ken B says:

          “nobody wants to war other than war profiteers”


          • Anonymous says:

            I know, zealots. I wish we could see who is pushing their buttons, cia?

            Most Muslims think their god and book is non violent and despise the extremist.

            The majority of humans are peaceful and are being worked into a forth by profiteers…

          • Andrew' says:

            “Religion” or any in particular?

          • Bob Roddis says:

            People find ethnicity to be a good excuse to slaughter their neighbors, along with religious differences.This is especially pronounced in third world countries that start out as social democracies. The winning (biggest) ethnic group then “owns” the entire economy. Fun fun fun.


        • Gamble says:

          Most humans and most religious humans are peaceful. The majority. They also thing they are electing diplomats.

          The few extremist are either responding to government policy or being manipulated by a government such as CIA.

  17. Ken B says:

    Libertarians come in more flavors than just paranoid and vanilla. http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/167496

    • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      Couldn’t even get through that one. I stopped when he claimed that Rand Paul had the same ideals as Rothbard…

    • Andrew' says:

      Isn’t it weird that I don’t feel the compulsion to talk about liberals and conservatives like they are varieties of cockroaches?

      At least that article is one big exercise in begging the question rather than a clumsily disquised ad hominem fallacy.

      • Andrew' says:

        For example, do patents actually help innovation? Even Obama gets the feeling that right now they are hindering innovation in some sectors, and he’s about as sensitive as a doorstop.

  18. Major_Freedom says:

    Is this for real?! I must be a paranoid libertarian.

    Sunstein is getting absolutely lampooned in the comments on his Bloomberg article.

    Very gratifying, because the comments contain oodles of evidence contradicting Sunstein’s claims.

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