Hellbent on trashing criticism of big state fascism and desperate to impugn the credibility of former government contractor turned NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and his supporters the besieged elite have adopted a new meme. With a Bloomberg opinion piece Obama lackey Cass Sunstein uses the dastardly Sean Wilentz New Republic hit piece “Understanding the real motivations of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange” as a springboard to engage in his own smear campaign obviously designed to transform thinking Americans into enemies of the state. Sunstein whose sneering contempt for so-called “conspiracy theorists” whom in his infamous paper “Conspiracy Theories” called for the COINTELPRO style infiltration of groups questioning the intentions of the government. With a title of “How to Spot a Paranoid Libertarian” the piece is hardly subtle and the intention is evident.
In the Bloomberg piece, unlike the more specifically target centered six thousand plus word mishmash of incoherence written by Wilentz, a Clinton family intimate as well as a dyed in the wool elitist snob who like the others has an Ivy League pedigree Sunstein rails against libertarians in general. He also provides backup for Wilentz who has been deservedly vilified over his ‘throw as much shit against the wall to see what sticks’ TNR piece. While Wilentz is nothing more than a well-connected Princeton elitist and on call tree top propagandist Sunstein brings clout, he is a member of Obama’s vaunted NSA reform panel as well as a potential Supreme Court appointee when a vacancy opens up. I excerpt a good amount from the Bloomberg piece, highlighted and bracketed comments are mine:
Wilentz gives credit to Richard Hofstadter for the term “paranoid libertarianism,” but he is being generous. Although Hofstadter wrote an influential essay called “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” he didn’t call special attention to its libertarian manifestation. Wilentz has performed an important public service in doing exactly that.
Most of Wilentz’s essay focuses on Snowden, Greenwald and Assange, and he offers a lot of details in an effort to support his conclusions about each of them. But let’s put the particular individuals to one side. Although Wilentz doesn’t say much about paranoid libertarianism as such, the general category is worth some investigation.
It can be found on the political right, in familiar objections to gun control, progressive taxation, environmental protection and health-care reform. It can also be found on the left, in familiar objections to religious displays at public institutions and to efforts to reduce the risk of terrorism. 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. (Note the conflation of both left and right opponents of the rogue state, it will become ever more common as the establishment circles the wagons to protect their criminal enterprise)
The first is a wildly exaggerated sense of risks — a belief that if government is engaging in certain action (such as surveillance or gun control), it will inevitably use its authority so as to jeopardize civil liberties and perhaps democracy itself. In practice, of course, the risk might be real. But paranoid libertarians are convinced of its reality whether or not they have good reason for their conviction. (I suggest that people who would find any merit whatsoever in Sunstein’s statement take a better look around )
The second characteristic is a presumption of bad faith on the part of government officials — a belief that their motivations must be distrusted. If, for example, officials at a state university sponsor a Christian prayer at a graduation ceremony, the problem is that they don’t believe in religious liberty at all (and thus seek to eliminate it). If officials are seeking to impose new restrictions on those who seek to purchase guns, the “real” reason is that they seek to ban gun ownership (and thus to disarm the citizenry). (Jesus Christ himself denounced public prayer – see Matthew 6:6 and the concept of freedom of religion also includes freedom from religion therefore it needs to be confined to official religious institutions out of consideration to non-Christians, totally bullshit statement. The reference to the “gun grabbers” meme does not represent the views of millions of Americans who own guns but aren’t NRA members in fact many of us find the gun lobby to be an embarrassment. Besides, why does the government care about taking the guns of the citizenry away? They have an army that possesses REAL weaponry and they are trained – unlike a Bubba militia straight out of Duck Dynasty – see Boston’ s de facto state of martial law last spring after the Marathon bombing)
The third characteristic is a sense of past, present or future victimization. Paranoid libertarians tend to believe that as individuals or as members of specified groups, they are being targeted by the government, or will be targeted imminently, or will be targeted as soon as officials have the opportunity to target them. Any evidence of victimization, however speculative or remote, is taken as vindication, and is sometimes even welcome. (Of course, some people, such as Snowden, are being targeted, because they appear to have committed crimes.) (Only an idiot would believe when taken into account the mass evidence of NSA spying, the post September 11, 2001 police state infrastructure, ongoing disembowelment of the Constitution and desperation to get the Snowden documents back that the government is NOT out to get them. Of course if you are just one of the television lobotomized sheep you don’t have anything to worry about, it is the activists, bloggers, journalists and civil libertarians that they are really after)
The fourth characteristic is an indifference to trade-offs — a belief that liberty, as paranoid libertarians understand it, is the overriding if not the only value, and that it is unreasonable and weak to see relevant considerations on both sides. Wilentz emphasizes what he regards as the national-security benefits of some forms of surveillance; paranoid libertarians tend to see such arguments as a sham. Similarly, paranoid libertarians tend to dismiss the benefits of other measures that they despise, including gun control and environmental regulation. (Prefect linkage between extremist gun nuts and radical environmentalists under the same umbrella with all of the rest of critics sandwiched in between)
The fifth and final characteristic is passionate enthusiasm for slippery-slope arguments. The fear is that if government is allowed to take an apparently modest step today, it will take far less modest steps tomorrow, and on the next day, freedom itself will be in terrible trouble. Modest and apparently reasonable steps must be resisted as if they were the incarnation of tyranny itself. (Don’t be deceived by the “modest and apparently reasonable steps” especially the ongoing focus by the Obama administration and it’s agents to confine the NSA “reform” conversation centered solely on telephone meta-data because the elephant in the room is that they are also collecting CONTENT)
With the two-party criminal enterprise that has effectively hijacked American democracy and is working 24/7 to unchain the government from the Constitution it is of course libertarians who are the enemy. The vast majority of Americans are unsophisticated, low-information types too steeped in the existing sports style boosterism of Team Elephant and Team Jackass to bother to think outside of the proverbial box – and those are the ones who bother to vote at all. The latest state smear campaign, in its lumping together of libertarians with members of the tea party right as well as anti-state elements of the left is more sophisticated than in the past. During the Cold War era the catch all term of all who needed to be demonized was “communist” and during the hyper-charged early years of the Bushreich one would be shouted down as “unpatriotic”, things have changed now. Barring the occurrence of another major (or even minor) ‘terrorist’ attack on The Homeland – one which DNI James Clapper should be held personally accountable for – strategy is to discredit and denounce government critics under the one big umbrella of “paranoid libertarianism”.
Granted that there are cranks, loons and freaks aplenty out there and especially so in the age of the internet but lumping in legitimately outraged American citizens who happen to be taxpayers with a legitimate stake in asking questions is as pale as it gets. Mr. Sunstein however is never one who is unwilling to go there and the coming coordinated effort by the defenders of the rogue state to affix tin foil hats with devil horns on libertarians and others who demand accountability and the truth should be pushed back against fiercely by all who have a stake in avoiding persecution by the coming inquisitions that will be made possible by the NSA’s data-mining when the orders are given to do so.
In the words of the late Hunter S. Thompson “paranoia is just another word for ignorance” and guys like Cass Sunstein justify any suspicion of the national security state as well as those who serve it.