NSA

Michael Tomasky Views Massive NSA Civil Liberties Violations and Sees … Political Advantage For His Guys

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Michael Tomasky
Daily Beast

It takes a certain kind of amoral my-team-at-all-cost player to ponder a massive revelation of civil liberties violations and societal debate over the appropriate relative emphasis on security vs. personal freedom and conclude: This is awesome, because it will divide my political opponents! Michael Tomasky is just that team player. He's also, apparently, oddly blind to just how much this divides his political allies — and how the division cuts across and may redefine political afiliations as a whole. Entirely absent from his musings as he noodles on about political advantage is any concern for privacy, the intrusive state, or the fate of Edward Snowden, now that he's exposed himself as the whistleblower.

At the Daily Beast, Tomasky writes:

Here's something I'll certainly be keeping one eye fixed on as the Edward Snowden story advances: the degree to which the American right takes him up as a cause célèbre. They're up a tree either way. If they do, then they're obviously guilty of the rankest hypocrisy imaginable, because we all know that if Snowden had come forward during George W. Bush's presidency, the right-wing media would by now have sniffed out every unsavory fact about his life (and a hefty mountain of fiction) in an effort to tar him. If they don't, then they've lost an opportunity to sully Barack Obama. Since they like smearing Obama a lot more than they care about hypocrisy, my guess is that they will lionize him, as some already are. But in the long run, doing that will only expose how deep the rifts are between the national-security right and the libertarian right, and this issue will only extend and intensify those disagreements.

Insert your own hand-clasping and sinister chuckle here.

There's no doubt that the likes of Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Justin Amash take a pro-civil liberties stance that horrifies the likes of Sen. John McCain and Rep. Mike Rogers. There is a huge divide in the Republican Party over this that echoes the rift between the libertarian movement and some of the more government-friendly elements of the conservative movement.

But there's an identical divide on the left and in the Democratic Party between civil libertarians and believers in the goodness of the state. Tomaskey briefly acknowledges that, "Yes, the subject of the national-security state gives liberals and Democrats fits. We're not 'supposed' to do or support this sort of thing, because we believe in and hew to certain civil-libertarian principles." But it's all OK because "[n]o one expects ethical behavior of [conservatives] in these arenas in the first place."

Umm … What? Aren't these NSA snooping revelations coming out under the Democratic administration of President Obama? Aren't they being defended by the bipartisan, ideologically separated at birth team of Rep. Mike Rogers, the (Republican) chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the (Democratic) chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee? On PBS, Mark Shields called out some of his "friends on the left" for supporting NSA spying.

And isn't this the moment when Politico is marveling at how opposition to snooping is uniting civil libertarians on the left and right?

If there's an interesting political development here, it's not the DOOM that shall ultimately befall the Republican Party as it wages war over itself, it's how this issue has exposed, again, a fault line that runs across American politics, separating comfortable authoritarians from overall advocates of personal freedom without regard to partisan divisions. People on either side of that divide may disagree over many aspects of policy, but they share a general preference for either state power or individual autonomy that, ultimately, is more important than a capital R or D, or Team Blue vs. Team Red. As Snowden himself pointed out, he was originally horrifed by surveillance state policies that he became aware of under the Republican Bush administration, and then "watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in."

Who "believe[s] in and hew[s] to certain civil-libertarian principles" again?

Tomasky notes that, within the GOP, "what used to be the Ron Paul–crank-libertarian faction, easily outnumbered by the neocons, is growing." If the vestigial civil libertarian faction of the Democratic Party can enjoy a matching boost from the NSA revelations, that would be an interesting political development.

In the meantime, we all continue to be subject to intrusive scrutiny from a massive and growing security state. And the fate of the guy who brought us the latest revelations is up in the air.

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  1. This is awesome, because it will divide my political opponents!

    Only the most depraved, partisan scum would look at this and see the damage it does to the other TEAM and not what it really represents, which is authoritarianism and total state control. What utter scum.

    1. Let’s just let the DailyBeast commenter “jostasauce” explain how they really feel:

      Fantastic! Let the GOP civil war commence in earnest. The Conservative/Tea Party wing cannot live with the old guard Republicans who can’t stand the Libertarian fantasy wacko dopers. The battle lines are drawn and its just a matter of time (and a few electoral shellackings) before it blows up the party. And to that I say rip it up, throw some gasoline on the party, throw a match and watch it burn.

      Since they like smearing Obama a lot more than they care about hypocrisy, my guess is that they will lionize him, as some already are.

      =======

      That’s what is really bleeding the GOP. The all consuming, white hot, throbbing hatred of Obama forces the party into increasingly tricky positions on issues that arise. BTW, Rand Paul knew about the surveillance programs since he was being briefed with the rest of congress. If he didn’t know, he wasn’t doing his job.

      1. Paging barfman.

      2. Daily Beast has reached the kind of Peak Retard usually reserved for HuffPo. This Tomasky dumbass previously said Romney was racist for going to the NAACP Convention and would have been racist to not go.

    2. Its Tomasky, dude. He’s not even smart enough to have his own agenda like Krugman or Friedman.

    3. Utter scum, but frankly that response (the “look what the other TEAM did!” or “Look how that TEAM is going apeshit!”) constitutes the majority of responses I’m seeing now.

      The TEAM mentality is just pathologically toxic. The very idea that the rooting-for-laundry silliness that we experience (deliberately and willfully) in sporting events should extend itself to the basic control and destruction of the lives of our fellow human beings ought to be absolutely nauseating to decent human beings.

      1. The problem is finding decent human beings amongst the political and journalistic classes.

        1. Exactly. Most Americans don’t have the TEAM disease, but they inoculate themselves against politics precisely because they can’t do anything about it and exposing themselves to politics mostly means exposing themselves to morons like Tomasky and his understudies on Facebook and in real life.

          1. It seems pretty clear to me that politics is these folks’ religion.

            1. More like their cult.

              1. It’s sport, which is why they are really and truly scum.

                They just don’t give two fucks if they screw over millions of people, as long as their team gets the score. That’s all that matters.

      2. “Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.” ?Friedrich Nietzsche

    4. The only good thing I see out of this is the SILENCE from the normal shreeking monkeys on my facebook scroll. Whenever there is a scandal impacting Obama, they are the first to post all these articles defaming the accusers and talking about how this is all no big deal- or at least parroting the whole BOOOOSH did it line.

      But now they are silent. The only post I’ve seen from the usual suspects is a petition to impeach the judge who approved the Verizon record grab. (Of course, it’s the judge’s fault not the executive branch, ya see. And by the way he’s the guy who struck down Obamacare, so two birds one stone, you see?)

      1. To me this indicates that they truly are dismayed and shamed by this whole thing…and just unwilling to swallow their pride and say they were wrong.

        1. It’s not even a matter of their being wrong rather than being poor judges of character. Few among the lefty cheerleaders are Feinsteins or Krugman-men, people in imminent positions of power with the scope of authority or influence to meaningfully embody their predilections. It’s mostly status signaling. You are not your political party, any more than you are your fucking khakis (which dovetails nicely with hamilton’s comment).

          1. Fuck Fight Club. Chuck Palahniuk is the best writer I hate reading.

            1. …and the first rule of “Best Writers I Hate Reading CLub” is….

              1. Bitch about them at every opportunity?

            2. Yeah, I read one of his (I forget which, but they recently made a movie of it. Not Fight Club). Forgettable, self-indulgent dreck.

    5. “Then Ozzie here can be the smartest man on the cinder.”

      1. That snarky remark is going to bite you on the ass in a couple of decades. Then we’ll see if the Comedian still laughs.

  2. Der sports bar ist krieg!

  3. “they share a general preference for either state power or individual autonomy that, ultimately, is more important than a capital R or D, or Team Blue vs. Team Red.”

    Pull the other one!

    There are civil libertarians on each team who will stroke their chins thoughtfully over the latest violation of constitutional rights and then, with a warning “not to do it again,” endorse their TEAM for the next round of elections.

    1. “It’s bad, but it would have been worse if it wasn’t for Obama.”

  4. Accepted. Tomasky is a sophomoric Machiavellian cheerleader for his team’s version of state-sponsored servility.

    But then the question:

    Is this a carefully-planned strategy to drive a wedge between libertarian-leaning conservatives and warboner statists?

    In any event, about goddamned time.

    1. No need to carefully plan a strategy on that – it’s happening early and often right now. The day does not go by where Graham or McCain doesn’t say something insulting about Paul.

    2. Is this a carefully-planned strategy to drive a wedge between libertarian-leaning conservatives and warboner statists?

      No doubt the Journolist types got the word, but to be sure, we could check with the NSA. They would know.

  5. Not good looking enough to be a cheerleader.

  6. because we all know that if Snowden had come forward during George W. Bush’s presidency, the right-wing media would by now have sniffed out every unsavory fact about his life (and a hefty mountain of fiction)

    Tomansky must live inside some self-imposed bubble of solitude, because just this morning’s Fox and Friends’ crew dedicated themselves to make jackasses of themselves by babbling and bloviating about Snowden’s lack of patriotism; whether the guy is a hero or villain and how he blew the whistle the “wrong way” in a fashion that should make him eligible for the most terrible of renditions.

    So it is not like the “right-wing” media is not finding itself in the same bed with the same strange fellows with whom they share the same pathetic false sense of outrage and penchant for wailing and clothes-ripping at the mere suggestion that someone, out there, chose not to drink the governent’s Kool-Aid; one side being populated by pro-state finks and the other because their guy is just so dreamy, he can do no wrong!

    1. WTF is the “right way” to blow the whistle anyhow?

      1. I think you’re supposed to call Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford.

      2. Maybe quietly slip the information to Rand Paul instead of the Guardian.

      3. He should have taken it directly to the Hand Wringer in Chief, because He has all of our best interests at heart.

  7. They’re up a tree either way. If they do, then they’re obviously guilty of the rankest hypocrisy imaginable, because we all know that if Snowden had come forward during George W. Bush’s presidency, the right-wing media would by now have sniffed out every unsavory fact about his life (and a hefty mountain of fiction) in an effort to tar him.

    Except that it didn’t and so they don’t even have to deal with their accurately portrayed, but irrelevant, rank hypocrisy. They’re unusually free to rip the Big Zero new assholes and I’ll happily sit back with buttered popcorn to watch.

    So, take your tu quoque, Mr. Lickspillte, and stuff it where the NSA don’t shine.

    1. stuff it where the NSA don’t shine

      Is there anywhere the “NSA don’t shine?”

  8. Actually I kind of hope the D’s swing in a hard-authoritarian direction (although I don’t think it’s likely). Due to the polarizing effect of electoral politics, nothing will solidify the Republican swing towards liberatianism like having an opposing party going more authoritarian.
    Then we could have a real election in which we get to choose between pure-statists and pure-libertarians. Or something approaching one. Insteand our present mixture of bible-thumpers and economic libertarians vs. socialists and civil libertarians.

    1. Yes, I think 2014 may be at least a bit like that.

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