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The NSA scandal brings out the worst in our politics

Posted by Garrett Quinn, Less is More  June 11, 2013 10:32 AM

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This is truly the most depressing chart you will read all week:

TeamRedTeamBlue.jpg

This chart tells us how partisans are, generally, OK with a massive government surveillance program as long as their team is in the White House. It's not surprising as much as it is disturbing. The sudden outrage from Republicans and conservatives over a program that started during their watch appears driven more by their disdain for the Obama administration than a genuine support for civil liberties. The surge in support by Democrats for the government's monitoring of ALL OF OUR PHONE CALLS appears to be driven by their support for the president. It's almost as if these people really have no principles beyond beating their political opponents over the head with whatever the outrage of the day is.

These numbers were part of a broader poll on surveillance in America conducted by the Pew Research Center. A startling majority of Americans, 56 percent, approve of the tactics used by the NSA when it comes to monitoring phone calls. The public is more opposed to the tactics the NSA uses to monitor e-mail, possibly because nobody really talks on the phone anymore. Even more frightening is how little my generation cares about the this story.

Then there are the people that are truly scoundrels: the ones that defend institutions of power and authority no matter what. Matt Welch at Reason outlines all the people trying to tear down whistleblower Edward Snowden. It includes the usual suspects like do something authoritarian David Brooks, the New Yorker's Jeffery Toobin, and Richard Cohen.

...the massive machinery of American police power will be focused on making the renegade look like a maximally traitorous deviant. You do not have to pre-emptively declare Snowden a saint (indeed, we will almost certainly hear word that he is not), to be repelled by both the status quo he aims to challenge, and the enthusiasm with which Fourth Estaters enable the executive branch.

The scandal has brought together unusual pairings like Glenn Beck and Michael Moore , two media radicals unified in their praise of Snowden but not much else. More establishment types like Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham, two people that were on polar opposite ends of the gun control debate, have come together to heap scorn on Snowden and even demand he be face penalties for his actions.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Garrett Quinn began writing for newspapers at age 17 with CNC in his native South Shore. He has been published in BlueMassGroup, RedMassGroup, Pioneer Investigates, and Wonkette. He is a More »

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