Sunday, November 28, 2010

You Can Keep Your "Apology", Ms. Vanden Heuvel!

After an asinine, innuendo-laden smear job accusing TSA protester, John Tyner (better known as the "Don't touch my junk!" guy), of basically being a billionaire Kochtopus-funded, evil, "libertarian" shill for corporate interests by Mark Ames & Yasha Levine at The Nation... AND after a second attempt at suggesting that anyone who doesn't believe the TSA should be in the business of touching people's genitals, written as a "reply" to Glenn Greenwald after he called their first article "a shoddy, fact-free, and reckless hit piece"...

...The Nation editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, has finally published an "apology".

And what an apology it was! She admitted that maybe Ames & Levine were wrong to give the "impression" that John Tyner was a Koch-funded, astroturfing plant; "by placing Tyner in the article's lead and by using a generally disparaging tone to refer to him."

Quite generous of her... But then, I didn't get the impression she actually really understands where they've all gone wrong. Here's the thing... Her apology also included the following little blurb, demonstrating without a doubt that The Nation is very, very confused about libertarian ideas and history:
"Citizens from across the political spectrum are right to call out the TSA's invasive procedures and the threat to civil liberties they represent.  We have long opposed, and exposed, the continuing encroachments of the national security state, though we also think that those who applauded each sacrifice of liberty for security under the Bush administration should expect to be regarded with skepticism  if the presence of a Democrat in the White House suddenly prompts libertarian concerns."
I have one thing to say to the folks at The Nation: "Do you guys not even bother to use Google or open your eyes & ears when your guy isn't in power?!???"

Aside from the fact that is primarily a libertarian outfit (and is pretty much the only group still actively working against wars in Iraq & Afghanistan since the "liberals" don't really care any more)... Libertarians across the board have been railing against the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security since before they were even created.

Libertarians are NOT Neo-Cons! It's time to get that straight right now.

Libertarians oppose, on principle, all expansions of state power that violate individual liberties. We don't generally care which party is in office... In fact, most of us see little to no distinction between Team Red and Team Blue.

We opposed Bush-era policies for many of the same reasons we oppose Obama today when he engages in the SAME actions. It's very simple. We're actually paying attention to what politicians do, not just what flag they're flying. So please - everyone - stop insinuating that we didn't care about this stuff when Bush was president and stop conflating libertarians with neo-cons.

Don't believe me? Well here's some proof.

Here's Reason Magazine from February, 2004 in an article titled, "Dominate, Intimidate, Control: The sorry record of the Transportation Security Administration" "
"When 9/11 exposed the holes in American airport and airline security, the Bush administration and Congress responded with the usual Washington panacea: a new federal agency. Congress quickly deluged the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with billions of dollars to hire an army of over 50,000 federal agents to screen airport passengers and baggage.

But before the agency was even a year old, it was clear that it had "become a monster," to quote the chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, John Mica (R-Fla.). Arrogant, abusive, incompetent, and expensive..."
Not enough?

Here's The Cato Institute's policy paper to the 108th Congress, wayyyyyy back in 2002, arguing that adding the new Federal Department of Homeland Security would reduce, not enhance Security:
"Congress needs to make sure the new department avoids such fiascos. In short, Congress needs to make sure that any new security measures are needed and effective and do not unduly restrict civil liberties."
Still need more?

Here is economist Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute, arguing (as he always has) against the Warfare State in January of 2007:
"As Ludwig von Mises observed, "The root of the evil is not the construction of new, more dreadful weapons. It is the spirit of conquest…. The main thing is to discard the ideology that generates war" (1966, 832; see also Higgs and Close 2007). Until the scope of the US government's geopolitical ambitions and hence the scale of its military activities are drastically reduced, not much opportunity will exist for making its system of military-economic fascism less rapacious and corrupt." case you don't bother to read the whole article, he's specifically talking about the DHS as well.

It's really time to drop the strawmen, and wake up to the fact that maybe... JUST MAYBE... This ridiculously binary view of political viewpoints is incorrect. It is not just a world populated by Republicans & Democrats, or "planted" operatives working secretly for the two-party system's corporate puppet-masters who spend a few billion a year on lobbying and elections.

There are many other options and it's incredibly dishonest to perpetuate the notion that there aren't.

Libertarians are pretty much the only group who have been consistently taking a stand against violations in liberty in this country regardless of which team's leader is in power at the moment. And contrary to all the confusion about free markets - which actually encourage decentralization and competition, and provide little incentive for corporate lobbying to even exist - we aren't big fans of giant corporations either. They tend only to exist thanks to government subsidies, artificially limited liabilities & competition-crushing protections, afterall... As Reason's banner says, we're for "Free Minds & Free Markets".

...And we've been warning about government abuses of both for decades.

When Bush used the September 11th attacks to usurp all sorts of new powers for the executive branch, we were there standing against it. When Bush went to war without even bothering to declare it, we were there arguing against that - even the libertarians who agreed that we should go to war were arguing that it needed to be declared by an act of Congress! We were there in opposition to illegal and immoral wire-tapping and "enhanced interrogation techniques"... And when the Bush administration was busy coming up with stimulus schemes, bailouts, expansionist monetary plans and adding tens of thousands of pages of economically significant regulations to the Federal Register, we were standing up against that too.

And unlike most of the liberals and "progressives" who stood with us against the abuses of the Bush years, now that Obama is doing most of the same things - we're still right here!

Know why? Cause for us, it's about principle.

It's about doing the right thing, no matter how much we like or dislike the guy telling us we should do the wrong thing.

Where are all those principled liberals that are supposed to be writing for magazines like The Nation? Aren't they supposed to support civil liberties from abuses of government? I thought they were... Yet here they are instead shilling for the TSA, an organization which should never have existed in the first place, and which is now regularly engaging in grotesque violations of the 4th and 5th Amendments, treating travelers like criminals in their own country.

And if that's not enough, now those folks who should be standing up against these police-state tactics are going one step further and actively insulting, smearing and villainizing those few of us who have been consistently opposed to expanding government power and violations of individual liberty.

They conflate libertarianism with whatever the enemy-du-jour happens to be... Libertarians are apparently indistinguishable from neo-cons, Tea Party supporters, Reaganites, GOP belt-way Republicans, corporatist military-industrial tycoons and Wall Street Bankers in the eyes of so many in the mainstream liberal community. Pick an enemy... then call them a libertarian, and apparently you've got a slam dunk ad hominem.

Apparently, according to Mark Ames at least, we're so bad that the next time you encounter one of "us" in real life - you should go right ahead and spit in our faces.

How do they benefit from this? Are they so blinded by partisan allegiance that they don't even care about reality any more? It sure seems like it to me.

To be "fair", one point that Huevel raised that could give some explanation to why the folks at The Nation think the TSA is ok, is that they honestly believe that the only other alternative to airport security is "privatization". Also buried in Karina's "apology" comes this gem:
"It is also simply a fact that the backlash against TSA procedures has led to calls for racial profiling and for the privatization of the agency."
Her definition of "privatization" in this case doesn't mean free markets, but rather government-granted monopolies given out in the form of contracts to private "security" companies. She's thinking about Blackwater or Haliburton, not about freedom.

But that kind of solution isn't the "libertarian position" on airport security at all! Again... We're not "corporate shills", and we oppose on principle coercion - including, and perhaps especially, coercive monopolies attained through government force interfering in the market. So libertarians aren't generally in favor of "private companies getting government contracts" that allow them to do engage in the same abusive, illiberal screening practices.

The libertarian position is to de-monopolize the whole thing and leave security up to the airlines themselves.

Economist Steve Horwitz wrote about exactly this the other day, in his article titled; "The False Dichotomy of the Status Quo and “Privatizing” the TSA":
"The new procedures, whether done by the TSA or a private firm, are ineffective, privacy violating, and will cause American deaths.

Marcotte should take seriously the libertarian alternative, which is to turn security over to the airlines themselves. Aside from the very obvious fact that the airlines have the most to lose if a plane gets blown up, which provides them with strong incentives to get it right, the airlines would not want to create a security system that discourages people from purchasing their product. What profit-seeking entity would want to enrage its potential customers with intrusive methods such as nude scanners and intimate body searches? Only an institution that had no incentive to care what its “customers” think, nor any way of figuring out what trade-offs they would accept, would do so. And that institution is the government or any other monopoly provider."
I'm tired of seeing smears of libertarians made by people who don't have the slightest clue what libertarian ideas are even about and who are so inept at their jobs as journalists that even the laziest research methods like searching Google or Wikipedia aren't even attempted.

So... How about a real apology, now, Ms. Karina vanden Heuvel? The one you wrote was pretty damned weak.

1 comment:

Rogier said...

Well done. Thanks. I've bookmarked your post so I can just send a link next time a Noami Klein droid or a Nation enthusiast attempts, like Ames, to spit in my face (and not metaphorically either, it seems).