Rooting For The Laundry: The Absolute Insanity Of Decisions About The NSA Being Made Based On 'Liberal' Or 'Conservative' Ideology

from the up-is-down,-left-is-right dept

Geoffrey Stone, one of the members of the White House task force which suggested that the President needed to end the Section 215 bulk collection of phone records, has said that he was told that the White House rejected that plan because they viewed the report as "liberal."
“And instead of our report being truly understood as a middle ground, based upon taking into account all of those perspectives on both sides of the spectrum, I think the White House got moved by thinking of our report as a liberal report,” Stone said.
God forbid a supposedly "liberal" President actually do something he considers "liberal." And, indeed, it seemed that his non-proposal in which he pretends to reform NSA surveillance was predicated on not pissing off the hawkish conservatives who tend to support the surveillance state.

So... what happens now that the supposedly conservative, hawkish, surveillance state-loving Republican Party has agreed that the program is unconstitutional and should be shut down?

To some extent, it really does seem to go back to the corruption of power. Those in power always seem to trust themselves not to abuse that power -- and unthinking automaton partisan hacks seem to flip their position based on whether their guy or the other guy is power.

There's been an insanely stupid debate over the past few weeks as to whether or not folks like Ed Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange were somehow "ideologically pure" enough to be supported by liberals -- which highlights the monumentally asinine level of political discourse in the country these days, further highlighted by President Obama rejecting the task force's opinions as being "too liberal."

As can be seen by the flip-flopping of "liberals" and "conservatives" over the surveillance state, the entire concept of those labels is really no different than if you're rooting for the orange team or the yellow team. It's like the old joke about how if you root for a sports team, you're really rooting for the laundry. People focused on whether something is "liberal enough" or "conservative enough" are wasting everyone's time. These issues are not about being "liberal" or "conservative." They're about doing what's right. It's not about partisan politics or which team you play for or root for. It should be about what is best for the country and the wider world in which we live.

It's incredibly disheartening that we seem to live in a world where that aspect is barely considered but what color your team is matters the most.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 9:48am

    Much like "Capitalists vs Communists" or "Left vs Right" and many other examples the words have lost their meanings for quite a long time now. They'll mean what the people throwing them around want them to mean.

    Sanity and reason are the losers either way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 10:42am

    HEY!

    That laundry sometimes wins championships!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 10:42am

    Re:

    There's a litany of reasons for that though... First, 100 years of propaganda are hard to dispel in a few years. Second, think about how our political system is inherently undemocratic. Our electoral system ensures a ton of money going to a few states and against the will of the public. So capitalist supporters have overrepresentation in the three branches of government.

    This doesn't even get into how conservatives whine about liberals on every issue, which has been a winning strategy since the time of Newt in the 80s.

    We really need a democratic way of electing officials and so far, we don't have that and very few mechanisms to implement it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Zem, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 11:59am

    Mass spying on your own citizens is always yellow bed sheets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 12:13pm

    Re:

    Where is the 'sad but eww' button...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Me, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 12:26pm

    "As can be seen by the flip-flopping of "liberals" and "conservatives" over the surveillance state....."
    __________________________________

    I'm liberal and I'm aghast at the NSA intrusions. I think Obama, Feinstein, Alexander, Clapper, Verrili, Holder et al should be led out of their offices in handcuffs and charged with treason.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    As a Conservative-Libertarian, I agree completely.

    Violates the Constitution, Violates Civil Rights and the government gets way too big.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 12:38pm

    Re:

    This is known as divide and conquer. The moment these partisan hacks allow everyone to agree on anything, they lose their power.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 12:39pm

    Liberal / Conservative vs Constutitional

    These people did not take an oath to uphold their party. They took an oath to uphold the constitution.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Liberal / Conservative vs Constutitional

    "These people did not take an oath to uphold their party. They took an oath to uphold the constitution."

    So? I mean, it's not like anyone is going to hold them to it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    RyanNerd (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Liberal / Conservative vs Constutitional

    Democrats / Republicans two sides to the same coin.
    They don't care about the oath to the Constitution. Most have been bought and sold by corporate and other interests.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 1:29pm

    Next week, when it suits them, it'll be too "conservative"

    The one party system, pretending to have two sides, when one does something "unfixable" they switch good cop bad cop places

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 1:37pm

    Re:

    As an independent who agrees with Republicans on a lot of issues and Democrats on a lot of other issues, I agree entirely. There are a lot of people in Washington right now who need to be first impeached and then taken out and shot over this and numerous other abuses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    It's all just tribalism

    Republican vs Democrat, Liberal vs Conservative -- it's all just a way to appeal to tribalism. It's an intentional method of preventing people from actually considering issues by encouraging them to just go with "their side".

    In other words, it's total BS. This tribalism business is the main thing that turns me off to sports -- it's just completely creepy. It's even creepier when it happens about things that are actually meaningful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 1:43pm

    Of course it's liberal. What these programs are violating are civil LIBERTIES. By definition a call to end them is liberal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Glen, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 1:46pm

    As much as I disagree with them, you have to admire Rep Peter King and Mike Rogers to sticking to their guns.

    I still disagree with the programs they are pushing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 1:49pm

    As a Conservative

    I am a conservative...

    The DHS, NSA, & general activities performed by these organizations are the result of power drunk congressional assholes... be they R or D.

    Remember... these 2 parties have become drunk upon the power each party wrangles into existence. Which is why you NEVER hear about them repealing things, you only hear about them re-purposing them for their own ends.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 1:49pm

    Re: It's all just tribalism

    Part of the problem is that many people don't even know what all of those terms mean anymore which allows politicians to attach connotations to them to associate terms that are not necessarily related to each other with each other so that they can manipulate this misunderstanding for their own political gain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 2:02pm

    being in power, particularly if in the top position, gives you a completely different perspective on things. what was once absolutely diabolical, a threat to a country's freedom and privacy and must be discontinued, suddenly becomes ok. the main reason being that you are now the spy, not the spied on!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 2:07pm

    This link may be apropos

    This link may be apropos: http://lesswrong.com/lw/gt/a_fable_of_science_and_politics/ (and the whole "politics" sequence linked from there).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re:

    *facepalm*

    And there you just went and did exactly what Mike was ripping on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    Re:

    I suppose you admire the Charles Carreon and the Prenda Law schmucks for the same reason then. It's never admirable to continue to try to defend the indefensible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 2:19pm

    Re: As a Conservative

    The people that are power drunk that are largely responsible here are high ranking military and corporate assholes. They care not whether there are Republicans or Democrats in office as long as they can manipulate them to get what they want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Zonker, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 2:31pm

    Maybe the White House is smarter than we give credit for: if the opposing party is always opposed to your position simply because it's your position then the best way to get them to support your position is to do the opposite.

    But then again, maybe they didn't think this through because now that they're opposed to their own position they have oppose themselves to make sure the opposing party doesn't win.

    Wait, now I'm confused... this whole opposing party thing doesn't make any sense. Can't we just represent our positions and find a mutually acceptable compromise among us?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    Re:

    Ummm, that's not exactly what "liberal" means. Or, rather, not what "liberal" used to mean. It doesn't really mean anything much anymore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re:

    My point was that the two words stem from the same source and thus are related.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 2:50pm

    "Statist"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re:

    And I know what the terms mean...

    The term liberal refers to being open (or free) to change. Conservative on the other hand refers to being for preserving the existing ideologies and ways of doing things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    sorrykb (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Re:

    Glen wrote:As much as I disagree with them, you have to admire Rep Peter King and Mike Rogers to sticking to their guns./

    Consistency in itself is not a virtue. There's nothing admirable about steadfastly being wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You can't ignore history. And the history of the decimation of left wing politics in America since 1946 is very telling of exactly why we have the problems we do now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Liberal / Conservative vs Constutitional

    First they'd have to read the gorram thing...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 6:25pm

    Money and power matters most. Those two things drive all political decisions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    ysth (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 9:53pm

    It's incredibly disheartening that we seem to live in a world where that aspect is barely considered but what color your team is matters the most.

    Go Seahawks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 10:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Everything is the other sides fault, it's historic fact!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    Kirion (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 10:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Interesting perspective. As Russian, I can relate to that - after all years of anti-capitalism, Putin brought back the fear of US and "West" and democracy in ordinary people with propaganda quite easily.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 12:50am

    " has said that he was told that the White House rejected that plan because they viewed the report as "liberal." "

    TOLD BY WHO ???

    oh right!!!

    "I think the White House got moved by thinking of our report as a liberal report, Stone said. "

    so he was told by the little voice in his head !

    "God forbid a supposedly "liberal" President actually do something he considers "liberal.""

    look at all the assumption, based on what this guy thought to himself !!! astonishing reach !!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 1:00am

    As can be seen by the flip-flopping of "liberals" and "conservatives" over the surveillance state, the entire concept of those labels is really no different than if you're rooting for the orange team or the yellow team.

    those terms are political ideologies, not local football teams !! All US politics are left of centre, it just depends on how far left they actually, that differs on different issues.

    But it was Stone who thought to himself it was too liberal, not the White House, (by his account) he just thinks that..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 1:02am

    "
    "God forbid a supposedly "liberal" President actually do something he considers "liberal.""

    "God forbid a President actually doing something STONE considers "liberal"".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Jan 28th, 2014 @ 1:42am

    "It's incredibly disheartening that we seem to live in a world where that aspect is barely considered but what color your team is matters the most."

    This is one of the two major reasons why I quit supporting professional sports years ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 6:20am

    Re:

    Completely agree.

    Just make sure to realize the same hacks on the other side of the isle need to be in the same handcuffs. Get rid of all the ones who are this bad on both sides, and more or less start over.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 6:27am

    Re: Re: Re:

    But the "conservative" movement has not been about preserving existing ideologies and ways of doing things for thirty years. They've gone so far to the right they've become caricatures of right-wing nuttery.

    The "liberals" have lurched after them in the hopes of remaining electable, pushing the whole political discourse to the right, though sometimes they'll throw their base a bone, e.g. gay marriage.

    Meanwhile, they bicker over hot-button issues they've exaggerated to end-of-life-as-we-know-it proportions while neglecting to do any actual governance.

    Artificially-maintained tribalism reinforced with shaming ("You must be a liberal socialist!") to keep members in line keeps this whole nonsensical circus going. How about we just ditch ideology and think for ourselves? Our alleged thought leaders aren't doing a terribly good job of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 6:30am

    Re:

    I'd love to see your definition of right wing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 8:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The terms right-wing and left-wing don't necessarily have anything to do with conservative vs. liberal either although they often correlate such that the left tends to be more liberal while the right tends to be more conservative. The terms right-wing and left-wing originated with the French Revolution referring to those who sat on each of the respective sides of the French parliament at the time. Those on the right represented and supported the existing aristocracy in power and those the left represented everyone else. The terms left and right have more to do with socioeconomic classes than political ideology. For example I would say that most the Democrats in power at present tend to be more liberal but in no way would I describe them as left-wing. They represent big rich corporate entities just like most of Republicans which tend to be more conservative. Even if the rich corporate entities they represent may be different ones they are still by definition right-wing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And this is what I was referring to in my previous comment about people not knowing the meanings of the specific terms.

    Left vs. Right describes one specific way to describe political groups.

    Conservative vs. Liberal is different one altogether.

    Party affiliation is yet a third one.

    Still Left-wing != Liberal != Democrat just as Right-wing != Conservative != Republican yet that is how much of the population views the terms due to the conflation of the terms by the politicians that are attempting to manipulate them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Furthermore, all of those terms are merely descriptive terms that describe different ways to divide the political space. None of them inherently have negative connotations. All of the negative connotations are also imparted by the politicians attempting to manipulate the population.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re:

    It just means he's a stubborn idiot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 9:34am

    Re: It's all just tribalism

    It never was intended to be. All of the terms (with the exception of the parties, of course) were created to simply describe a division of the political space in terms of opposing groups. It's no different than describing something as dark vs. light or big vs. small. What makes it bad is when it gets manipulated by members of one group to attach negative connotations to the other in an attempt to demonize them. The terms themselves inherently don't have those negative connotations attached to them. That is all manipulation of people's perception by the politicians.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re:

    I've got a news flash for you. They pretty much ALL are right-wing regardless of whether they are liberal or conservative.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 28th, 2014 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: It's all just tribalism

    It may not have been intended to be, but that's what it became. That this would be the result was always obvious -- so obvious, in fact, that it's why several of the founders were adamantly opposed to the very idea of political parties. They knew that parties would inevitably subvert the very things that make the system work.

    Of course, these same founders also eventually started the parties that evolved into the Republicans and Democrats, so even though their adverse effect was inevitable, so was their very existence.

    In this world, the second-best thing that could be done is to change the system so that it is no longer rigged to only allow those two parties as viable ones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 28th, 2014 @ 10:47am

    Re:

    "Can't we just represent our positions and find a mutually acceptable compromise among us?"

    What do you want? A healthy and functioning political system?? That's just crazy talk.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2014 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Re: It's all just tribalism

    I guess my point was that it's not the terms themselves that are bad. It's how people misuse them to exploit people who are ignorant of their true meaning and purpose. The answer is to educate people what the terms actually mean, the purpose they are meant to serve as well as their usefulness when understood properly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jan 28th, 2014 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Contrary to popular belief, there are more sides than liberal and conservative.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    BeeAitch (profile), Jan 28th, 2014 @ 5:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: It's all just tribalism

    The answer is to educate people what the terms actually mean, the purpose they are meant to serve as well as their usefulness when understood properly.


    Agreed, the problem is: who does the educating?

    (I don't have an answer, BTW.)

    (And you are my favorite AC: always calm and providing the most eloquent counter-arguments.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    icon
    BeeAitch (profile), Jan 28th, 2014 @ 5:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    All excellent points.

    Still Left-wing != Liberal != Democrat just as Right-wing != Conservative != Republican yet that is how much of the population views the terms due to the conflation of the terms by the politicians that are attempting to manipulate them.


    The manipulation is 'a' problem. The fact that the majority of people in the US don't even see the manipulation is 'the' problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This