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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.