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Roger L. Simon

Christie, Paul, Libertarianism, and the NSA

July 30th, 2013 - 12:02 am

So, as an example, when I watch Fox’s John Stossel — whose echt-libertarian cable show is one of my favorites when he’s concentrating on domestic issues — speak of foreign affairs, I think I’m listening to an idealistic nine year old at a Quaker meeting. What happened to the smart, clever fellow who was just talking? He went down the drain of ideological purity.

It’s time to think about walking and chewing gum at the same time. In other words, why can’t we lean libertarian on some issues and not on others? Life doesn’t have to be that simple and classifiable with buzz words. In fact, to be ideologically rigid in any way is not, well, libertarian.

Which leads me back to Christie, Paul, and the NSA.

A lot of posturing is clearly going on here on both sides. The NSA is a complex matter. Many of us thought they had been spying on us and the rest of the world for years, literally since the eighties. There’s little new here except for the inevitable expansion of technology and that, believe it or not, is not Obama’s fault. (Blame the president for a lot of things — Benghazi, the IRS, the economy, racial incitement, spying on the press, etc. — but this one didn’t start with him.)

Paul has said that we are in danger of becoming a “police state.” (He used those words Monday night on Hannity.) I doubt that he really means it. Just as I doubt Christie really thinks Paul would dismantle, or ultimately even much hinder, the NSA. That would be really stupid in this day and age. They’re both playing their own version of politics.

Not that the NSA doesn’t need supervision, serious supervision. Its hiring practices need review as well as all its oversight systems, internal and external. Paul is of course right about the importance of liberties.

But seriously restricting the ability of the NSA to do its job would be suicidal for our country. Technology, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Pull back the NSA and the Russians and the Chinese would move in instantly to fill that hole, if they haven’t already. Do you trust them with all this information more than us? Really?

Related: Rick Moran on “A Fight that Had to Happen: A debate that will not only determine the future of the Republican party, but also have a great impact on who will be the GOP standard bearer in 2016.”

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This brings to mind VDH's piece about not saying what we're thinking. Hiding beneath a discussion of libertarianism versus statism is fundamental distrust of THIS government. My approval of NSA's snooping, even on citizens, is contingent on my faith in an honest justice system, a faith I no longer have and which I had lost well before Holder and his people were in charge. I got to watch first hand as true "rogue" USDOJ employees, almost all holdover Democrats, took out my state's senior US senator, several members of my State Legislature, and had every Republican officeholder in the State afraid to talk to anyone because you couldn't be sure they weren't wearing a wire.

I'm not really concerned about what the government knows about me so long as I'm confident they can't use illegally acquired evidence against me. That the US regulatory and law enforcement system has become a poltical tool has been made graphically evident in this administration and we can't rely on the courts, even state courts, to protect us.

Boeing would undoubtedly have prevailed on the SC plant had they taken the case up the federal courts but they were muscled by the government and settled with the IAM. They simply got told what would happen to them if they went to court. Gibson Guitars was just muscled because a competitor wanted them muscled. The federal government is all but at war with Texas and Arizona. And then, there is the Zimmerman - Martin matter, the most frightening of them all. Boeing, Gibson, and the TX and AZ issues really just involve the federal government and in the case of Boeing and the two states a LOT of dependency on federal money. In the Z-M matter, the US muscled a governor and a state's law enforcement and judicial system in to arresting and trying an innocent man purely for its poltical value to the Administration.

I don't worry nearly so much that NSA has metadata on me, or even the data itself: I worry that OFA has it. I believe that a combination of OFA and the already extant shadow government of Democrat/labor/Soros front groups have become essentially a communist style "provisional government" of the US poised to challenge the "legitimate" government should the Soros Junta be unable to win or steal the Congress in '14 and continue to hold the Congress and the Presidency in '16. They have all the pieces in place.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have to disagree with Roger Simon. The debate Rand Paul is igniting and which Christie is ignoring is over when do policies designed for outside our borders move inside our borders and impinge on our liberties and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Blanket collecting and analyzing of metadata and data on Americans can lead to corrupt activities by government just as the IRS has led to corrupt activities to out of favor organizations like the TEA Party.

I am not willing to give up our rights to for what might well be a tiny increase in safety. That is far less "libertarian" than it is adherence t our Constitution.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Given the effectiveness of message interception and decryption during WWII, I think the NSA is a good thing to have. We just don't need it spying on American citizens.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (63)
All Comments   (63)
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I Really Resonate with this Article! The Whole Admin has leaked,lied,covered up, stolen elections, Caused Deaths, Econcomically Raped the USA, Neutered our INTEL and MILITARY - Manipulated our media and us-Socially engineered us - Tried to blind us to the DECADES of Infiltration by these enemies and terrorists! They have created smokescreen after smokescreen to deflect from the Real Scandals they have done which are criminal, treasonous, and Impeachable! Blaming the NSA is sick! Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Microsoft have invaded us more than anyone could. This is real, and if we dont stop bashing the very folks that protect us, we will all be living on the Animal Farm, if we are even alive at all! WAKE
UP TIME
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have news for you: The fact that the government (NSA) is spying on American citizens makes the USA a police state already. I identify much more with the policies of libertarianism than that of the major parties - each of them have their own brand of tyranny.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As usual, you make excellent points, many nuanced. My reaction to your comment about Rand Paul questioning whether the US was, however, astonishment. Again, you wrote weeks ago, with considerable justification, your fear of being harassed in the wake of you contact with presume Benghazi whistle-blowers. It seems that, as with so many others, you can't push the denial away. Obama and his group, and Democrats in general, are pushing relentlessly in the direction that Paul suggests.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
'your' and 'presumed'..
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'll go with a libertarian foreign policy any day rather than Obama's anti- American infantile ideology -- which supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Islamists in Syria and Libya, and was against the Greens in Iran, as well as against democracy in Honduras.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mr. Simon I agree whole-heartedly with your description of libertarians and foreign policy. I would only further add that when the issue is social conservatism you too sound like an idealistic nine year old.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For some strange reason, increasing numbers don't like the notion of their govt spying on them. Christie pretends that cutting one dollar from surveillance or defense is tantamount to surrender. Then again, the same people who hated Romney see Christie as viable, no mean feat considering the only substantive differences between the two are religion and weight. And the fact that one of them actually made living outside of govt.

Perhaps there is some justification for that wall we talked about between domestic law enforcement agencies and the intel community. Spying on the citizenry is one of the things we used to self-righteously scold the Soviets about. Now, we have elected officials defending it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We should not spy on innocent citizens. I agree 100% that getting approval to spy on people tied to terrorist is extremely important and we have to do that.

But how that data is handled is still up to the powers that be. It did not help in Boston. Out administration ignored all the warnings and I'm sure all the data they had.

So what benevolent being is going to oversee all the data to make sure innocent people aren't abused and guilty people ignored?????
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think a *large* part of the problem Roger sees in this article is the belief that we should treat others outside the US the same way we treat our citizens. Yes, there is now a fear that the politics of the Chicago's Cook County Machine, under WH encouragement have stretched from Maine to California, and will be enhanced by new forms of surveillance. That is a small part of this policy problem, however.

What remains is the idea that we can act towards the elites of agrarian cultures in the same way that we act towards our own citizens, and be at all successful in defending the world-wide networks of industrial society around the world. This is delusion, ...in some cases, a delusion that *we* can remain an industrial society, able to support our 300+million people, without a world-wide industrial society, is at the core of much extremist thought on the subject. Beyond this is the idea that we should abandon industrial society itself, for the old verities of our own agrarian past.

Indeed, this fades quickly into the ideas that every national political action since the American Civil War has been tainted because the agrarian oligarchs of the South could not continue to dominate the politics of the US, as they had before 1860. This sort of nostalgia for our own agrarian past leaks continually into those groups who do not wish to confront opponents any more in the intense struggle needed to protect the industrial society that supports 6 of the 7 Billion people on this planet.

As some here have said, it may start with "war weariness", but not from high casualty rates. American military deaths in WW4 are low in the last 10 years. It is the constant degree of internal dislike of opposing agrarian elites elsewhere that makes many people less willing to support our government than in any war in our nation's history. Add that to the dislike of progressives for any non-progressive government, and our own dislike of the internal policies of a progressive government, and the brew is deeply corrosive to any willingness to support any government action, including defending the Republic beyond its own borders.

BTW, those who believe in defending ourselves only from within our borders should take a look at countries that have done that, from the air. There are craters still visible from WW1 in northern France. A large part of the growth of statism in France took place not just during WW1, but afterwards, during the huge effort to undo the damage to the industrial areas of France during the war. I don't want such things happening here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The difference between Obama and Bush on terrorism isn't in the tactics but in the approach. Bush believed that terrorism was a thing to be fought on foreign soil, but Obama prefers to make it a domestic thing. That means that Obama turns Bush's foreign tactics on Americans and uses them on American soil.

Droning foreigners who are knowingly hiding terrorists? Lamentable, but it's war. Now, move that to droning American teenagers whose only crime is being along for the ride as far as we know. The first is Bush; the second is Obama.

Soldiers in a foreign city going house to house to search for insurgents. Now, police armed like soldiers going house to house in an American city, without warrant, searching for a terrorist. The first is Bush; the second is Obama.

Essentially warrantless wiretapping of foreign phone lines with some domestic spillover where those numbers are called by domestic ones. Now make that widespread essential wiretapping of all domestic phone lines. The first is Bush; the second is Obama.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The political and intellectual history of Ron Paul/Rand Paul style libertarianism is well known among researchers. See Phillip Smyth's guest blog here: http://clarespark.com/2012/09/14/ron-paul-anarchist-in-chief/. We are about to embark on a major political realignment over this debate, and who knows how it will shake out?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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