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First POST: Paranoid Liberalism

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, January 21 2014

Paranoid LIberalism

  • Princeton historian Sean Wilentz has penned a lengthy attack on Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange--"the leakers"--claiming to uncover "their deepest beliefs and motives" in past writings, which his witheringly sums up as "paranoid libertarianism." But a close reading suggests that it's Wilentz, the liberal, who is being paranoid about critics of the national surveillance state.

  • Henry Farrell, who is steadily emerging as one of the most thoughtful writers we have on the politics of the Networked Age, savages Wilentz in response, calling his essay "perhaps the purest exercise in even~the~liberal~New Republic~ism that the magazine has published since its change in ownership." (For you younger First POST readers, that a reference to TNR's success at getting attention by counter-intuitively endorsing Reagan's bloody contra war in Central America, or its publication--under Andrew Sullivan's editorship--of an article that argued that IQ was connected to race.) But contrarianism isn't automatically a bad thing.

  • Farrell's main point is that Wilentz--writing in a liberal magazine for liberal readers--never proves that the "leakers" (notably leaving out Chelsea Manning, not to mention other reporters like Barton Gellman) actually want to destroy the liberal state. Instead Wilentz bizarrely conflates the national security state--which the leakers certain want to diminish if not destroy--with the good, liberal service-providing state. Which, Farrell writes, is an argument "made out of straw and horseshit." Read the whole thing.

In other news around the web:

  • Facebook has become "a real-time measuring stick that allows campaigns, pundits and analysts to gauge how well campaigns organize and connect with supporters," write Matthew MacWilliams, Edward Erikson and Nicole Berns, in Politico. The academics says their Facebook data model, which looks at the growth of a candidate's fan base, how much people comment/like/share posts about a candidate, and the ratio of those two measure, produces a meaningful prediction about that candidate's chances of winning.

  • Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina is now working for Charlie Crist's gubernatorial campaign in Florida, joining other Obama vets like Teddy Goff.

  • The Internet Archive is looking for help extracting political ads from its giant TV archive. (h/t BoingBoing)

  • The Open Contracting Partnership has announced the creation of the first-ever "Open Contracting Data Standard" which is designed to help citizens better track their governments' spending.

  • Data-mining gone really, really awry: A grieving father received a piece of junk mail from OfficeMax addressed to him by name: "Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash."

  • If you are running guest blog posts on your site, stop, says Matt Cutts of Google.

  • Google's Transportation Team sent its San Francisco employees talking points for next week's public hearing on shuttle regulations. Naturally, they leaked.

  • MIT's Technology Review note that net neutrality is already being violated by companies like Facebook and Google around the world.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.


wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.


The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.


tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.


Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.


monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.


friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO