Friday, June 14, 2013

How ideologues sabotage their own cause

Today's must-reads on the NSA story come to us from Extreme Liberal and (once again) Bob Cesca.

Extreme Liberal does a great job of breaking down The Top 5 Exaggerations by Glenn Greenwald on NSA. In order to get the level of hyperbole we're dealing with here, you need to read all 5 points, so its impossible to summarize. Just go read the whole thing.

Bob Cesca points out that - due to all this hyperbole - even The Nation and Mother Jones writers have recognized that what Greenwald reported is full of holes. But then Cesca gets to the heart of what is going on here.
Greenwald’s stubbornness and Snowden’s foolishness are actually self-destructive to what they’re attempting to achieve. As I’ve written from day one, credibility will make or break not only this story, but anyone who chooses to blindly latch their own credibility to it. If Greenwald was truly interested in the endurance of this story, he would’ve stowed his ego and done whatever was necessary to preserve its integrity as well as his own reputation...Instead, the widening holes in this story could indicate Peak Greenwald.
Those of us who have followed Greenwald in the past knew immediately when he "broke" this story to be wary and ask a lot of questions. And now slowly but surely, others in the media are catching on (with some fan boys/girls still not willing to question).

The pattern many of us have seen is that ideologues tend to lead with their agenda (ie, "people in power always lie") and then go looking for anything that supports that agenda.  This is what might be called an anti-scientific method. We've come to accept it as the approach of the lunatic right. But many are finding themselves a bit surprised that its alive and well on the other side of the continuum. Having questioned my way out of a right wing mindset only to find similar ideologues on the left means that I totally sympathized with this tweet from Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs.
This is what makes me feel comfortable and secure as a pragmatist when the storms of hysteria rage. As long as there are people who are willing to ask questions and go where the facts lead them (rather than the opposite), the ideologues on both sides of the political continuum will ultimately burn out and fail.


  1. It's gotten so I've almost grown used to the occasional hair-on-fire moments. It's almost like some people are constitutionally incapable of not going 2-3 months without being "shocked! shocked!" about something.

    Apparently Andrew Sullivan had a meltdown about Syria last night. I guess he was overdue.


    Every time I see one of Sullivan's pieces, I always read this brilliant piece to remind me of what an epic ass he is.

    1. I don't even bother to read Sullivan anymore.

  3. Last night, MSNBC's Chris Hayes spent about 5 minutes explaining why he's agreeing with Representative Louis Gohmert on the NSA issue. He sounded like he was apologizing to his audience.

    1. With the ratings Chris Hayes is getting, I will be *shocked* if he's around much longer. In fact, MSNBC is tanking. Might have something to do with all the PBO bashing and blaming.

      I wonder if they will continue to blame PBO for Gitmo, seeing how House just voted *NO* to move prisoners to Yemen? Well, the hair-on-fire crowd blamed PBO before when Congress refused to fund moving the prisoners, so why should anything be different this time?

      Oh, and since I feel like ranting WTF is up with Bill Clinton warmongering with John McCain and inferring that President Obama is a wuss unless he does what (?) drop bombs on Syria. Really sick of Slick Willie trying to micro-manage President Obama. If he wants his wife to run in 2016 he needs to STFU or she can forget about the "Obama coalition".

    2. Anyone who agrees with Louis Gohmert about anything SHOULD apologize to his audience! It should be a huge, sparkly red flag to said audience that Hayes has jumped - and been subsequently eaten by - the shark.

      (When vehast speaks, people listen!)

    3. and this is why Hayes' ratings are sinking MSNBC.

  4. In case folks here haven't seen this, this comment by a Greenwald fan is must-read. No one is as smart as "Glenn":

  5. Well, my biggest frustration as I come over here to escape the hair-on-fire atmosphere at Kos, is that you (the collective "you" of most of the commentators here) are spending way too much time on pointing out all of the fallacies in the whole NSA/Prism story and not enough time looking for the thread of truth that might be in there someplace. We DO have a government that keeps secrets. We DO have a government that is prone to classify as "top secret" things that aren't really top secret, just embarrassing, and we DO have a government that used the 9/11 events as an excuse to run roughshod over privacy and the Fourth Amendment. So, rather than pointing out the obvious - that Greenwald is a hyperbolic self-promoter, I'd be more interested in better understanding why some of our respected Senators ARE in fact bothered by what the NSA and others are doing under the protection of the Patriot Act.

    I come to this site, not to have you repeatedly bash the hair on fire folks, but rather to say, "yes, their hair is on fire, but regardless, let's look at what some of the REAL concerns are. As Booman points out - this stuff goes WAY back....

    1. I invite you to propose any changes you think are necessary to correct the issues you're concerned about and I'll be more than happen to engage in a discussion about them.

    2. Hello! Smartypants has nailed it.

      How can we have a constructive conversation when there are so many holes in the story to begin with?

      First Julian Assange and now Glenn Greenwald. Here are two men that had an opportunity to encourage dialogue, but instead chose to boost their own egos instead.

  6. gbussey

    Here's a liberal's case for high-tech NSA surveillance. From the article:

    But what Greenwald and Co. fail to appreciate is how these modern technologies appear to be diminishing the temptation for abuses. We are not deporting or interning Muslims en masse. We are not infiltrating and disrupting Tea Party meetings... despite multiple incidents of far-right domestic terrorism. Instead, we are employing cutting-edge technology in an effort to pinpoint actual terrorists.

    The NSA's current method of surveillance is government action on behalf of the common good, which to date has not produced any substantive infringement on personal freedom. It is part of an overall counterterrorism approach that is profoundly superior to past administrations' records in regards to protecting our civil liberties. President Obama is not violating his liberal principles by defending the NSA. He is exercising them.

    He makes some declarative statements that I think are simply hypothesis right now. But he has a point.

  7. This story has been interesting in that Snowden, I think, appears to have been largely telling the truth about the global scale of the surveillance efforts, but that the information doesn't actually qualify as breaking news. It's been long reported that the NSA taps the tier 1 network providers to collect metadata on all inbound and outbound internet and telephone traffic within the US (this is why the "direct access" is a nonsequitur, as the digital companies' servers are actually unnecessary in this scheme until the FISC clears a warrant for specific subscriber accounts). As there is no reporting as to misdeeds regarding the minimization of the data or extralegal monitoring, there is no real story. There's only invented implications and dystopian extrapolation.

    Frankly, the government is so megalomaniacal in its ambition to collect all the information in the world around the clock in order to catch a couple hundred individuals that's it paradoxically makes it less insidious. If they tried to expand their monitoring to regular Americans, it would take an implausible amount of people to do so (like China) and would be impossible to keep covered up.

    Glenn Greenwald is an explicitly anti-statist, anti-American provocateur whose word should be trusted by no one.


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