Handle still finds himself with very limited time and net access as of late. But he came across this story from the newspaper which brought you “Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?”: NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders.
People, it’s all in the game. It’s called foreign intelligence. Every nation state does this to every other nation state all the time and to the maximum affordable extent of their capabilities. Anyone who thought it ungentlemanly, unsporting, or unfair-play to listen in on his counterparties got permanently out-competed a hundred years ago.
Outrage and surprise at unauthorized disclosures of such surveillance are always feigned. ‘I demand the presence of country A’s ambassador at once!’ says the foreign minister for country B, who closes the lid of his secure netbook full of of the latest intercepted communications of country A’s leader just before the meeting. I expect more headlines, “The Pentagon is … gasp … creating plans to attack country C!” Yeah, and? Business as usual.
And since the game of thrones is merely one manifestation of the realm of adversarial struggles, one would expect strong incentives for this kind of activity to occur in any other competitive market: business, law, love, and of course, democratic politics.
If dirt on the other guy is effective, and its use doesn’t disqualify the user from office, then politicians are going to do whatever they can get away with to dig up dirt. Sometimes your sympathizer fan boys will do it for you on their own accord just because they love you so much. Is Curtis Morrison in jail yet after all those months of FBI investigation that are required after a guy confesses to a federal crime in public?
No? Huh. Nydwracu says,
Scott Alexander’s anti-reactionary FAQ provides the strongest argument against reaction I’ve seen so far: that no conspiracy, distributed or otherwise, exists.
Did anyone have to conspire to accomplish this tapping, or to accomplish this de facto pardon? I doubt there’s even been a single clear communication of direction, intent, or quid pro quo amongst any of the players. That’s the point. There doesn’t have to be.
Anyone who’s worked in a bureaucracy for any length of time will understand how it goes, coordinating towards a licit objective without explicit command. How do you think the IRS/Tea Party thing happened? By explicit orders?
Part of is is favoring those that ‘get it’ and act accordingly. They learn what they’re supposed to do not by asking (very unsavvy), but by noticing patterns of what is and is not favored through careful and thoughtful observation. You learn they ‘get it’ by watching them consistenty behave as if they do, and gently (but with ambiguity and plausible deniability) nudging them in the right direction with tiny bits of praise and correction.
But the direction of the legally or politically undirectable is best illustrated by this piece on race and college admissions:
Why did I hear so many times from the assistant director? I think I got lost in the unspoken directives. Some things can’t be spelled out, but they have to be known. Application readers must simply pick it up by osmosis, so that the process of detecting objective factors of disadvantage becomes tricky.
Again, there’s no conspiracy at all in spontaneous cooperative, even ‘altruistic’ or ‘noble’ actions when everybody in a group trusts everybody else in the group to want the same things, have the same interests and intentions, and be on the same side, more or less. It helps a great deal if there’s a natural selection mechanism to promote your friends and weed out those who don’t ‘get it’ and who are playing off-side.
A cult or a religion or a tribe is not a ‘conspiracy’ in the classic sense. Is a bee hive or ant hill a ‘conspiracy’? Religions make people more like bees. Or if a tribe is a conspiracy, if a business or political party or even a government are all conspiracies, if the US Intelligence Community is a conspiracy against foreign informational security, and the US Military a conspiracy against their physical security, then The Cathedral is most definitely a conspiracy.
Now, it’s true, that sometimes, the kids gets a little cocky and stop remembering to keep it on the down-low and occasionally get caught actively synchronizing the talking points and strategizing the news cycle for maximum progressive political benefit – like what happened with JournoList 1.0. Well, I mean, what happened three years after Kaus blew it up in 2007, well after Obama’s election. Well, better late than never. I’m sure the proprietors got what was coming to them!
A tribe doesn’t need a chief barking orders to defend its turf and people against another tribe – it happens automatically and without a central coordinating committee. A cult member with the stick uses it to spear the enemy. A cult member with a bow shoots an arrow. The job is not the identity or the community or the subculture or the belief. Progressivism is the belief and the community. The job is just the tool at hand. A progressive with a column writes propaganda and hit pieces. A progressive with a microphone bugs the opposition.
But it got me thinking. Let’s say there was a conspiracy. Let’s say there was a document showing Obama’s clear direction to bug McConnell, criminal intent, solicitation, the whole thing. And then some public-spirited counter-Snowden made that document public so even the FBI couldn’t indefinitely stall an investigation, and the Republicans cry “Impeachment!” and the world waits for the media circus and for Obama to resign and be pardoned by President Biden.
That’s the hypothetical. We are that moment of waiting. The internet is full of mirrored links to the document showing “The President ordered some clown to bug McConnell.” and we are waiting … what will we get?
Will we get Watergate? Something less? Or something much, much less? Perhaps even an ardent defense of the unfortunate necessity of the President having to do such ugly things in order to save the country from the racist Neanderthals who are mad because he’s black and just was to ‘let it burn’. Which our noble leader must stop by any means necessary. He could do no other! It was his sacred duty as defender of the republic!
Do I exaggerate? Again, what do you expect? From Salon or Mother Jones? From the Post or the Times? From Slate and Yglesias? Put it in the comments. Is it parity? For me; it’s not parity.
And if, like me, you think it won’t be like it was with Nixon, then you must have a reason – a model of how your world works. The Cathedral is not a name for a ‘conspiracy’, it is just a name for that accurate paradigm of how humans work; just an abbreviation for that tragic understanding.