January 31, 2014

"Whether on the right or the left, paranoid libertarianism... is marked by 5 defining characteristics."

Cass Sunstein describes the symptoms that distinguish the insane libertarians.

1. A "wildly exaggerated sense of risks — a belief that if government is engaging in certain action... it will inevitably use its authority so as to jeopardize civil liberties and perhaps democracy itself." I guess the key word there is "inevitably," or I just don't see what's wildly exaggerated about thinking something like, oh, say, NSA surveillance jeopardizes civil liberties.

2. A "presumption of bad faith on the part of government officials." It's the presuming that's nutty, right? I guess we're allowed to be skeptical of the government without looking crazy. Hey! I'm beginning to feel like Cass Sunstein is the government official and he's in bad faith, trying to make us feel that we're crazy if we suspect the government isn't really all about helping us.

3. A "sense of past, present or future victimization." Should I delete my comment at #2? To be safe? Or does the government already know that comment is there, will still see it even after I delete it, and will count the deletion itself as further evidence of my paranoia, when they decide to round up the paranoid libertarians.

4. The "belief that liberty... is the overriding if not the only value, and that it is unreasonable and weak to see relevant considerations on both sides." The sane people balance values on both sides.

5. The "passionate enthusiasm for slippery-slope arguments." The paranoids think if you let the government take "an apparently modest step today," it will do one more thing and then another, and tyranny lies ahead. Only a nut case would think it proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.

75 comments:

Ron said...

With every NSA or IRS revelation the "reasonable people" are sliding down into "Naif" status.

JMS said...

Oh, Cass, you dreamer. We're "paranoid" because we understand human nature. Those with power abuse it. Not everyone, but enough. See, e.g., Ann's last link to the TSA article:

"Retaliatory wait time: What happens when a TSA officer doesn’t like your attitude. There are all sorts of ways a TSA officer can subtly make you wait longer to get through security, citing imaginary alarms, going 'above the SOP' for 'a more thorough screening,' pretending that something in your bag or on your full body image needs to be resolved—the punitive possibilities are endless, and there are many tricks in the screener’s bag."

Just being paranoid.

Simon Danger said...

Huh. Let me get this straight, the NSA didn't overreach its stated AND legal authority when it surveilled US citizens, gun control was never an attempt at disarming Americans, incrementalism of federal and state regulations never happens, and the IRS was really just trying to help those silly Tea Party groups with their tax problems? Welp, that settles it for me; this has all just been a huge misunderstanding! Phew, that was close.
sarc/off

southcentralpa said...

Peculiar ... it would seem that there are only "paranoid libertarians" when the incumbent President has a "D" behind his name. Funny how that works.

Simon Danger said...
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Scott said...

Dr Sunstein (riffing off of Richard J. Hofstadter) states:

"But as a general rule, paranoia isn’t a good foundation for public policy, even if it operates in freedom’s name."

..and then he fails to defend it, as if it were self-evident.

But I think that in a free society, public policy should define the boundaries of what is acceptable in extremis, so that people enjoy maximum liberty to live their lives.

A libertarian society is a society of grown-ups. That ought to be considered a better thing than the slide into public infantilism that characterizes the progressives' notion of "progress."

southcentralpa said...

And how would Cass categorize this: http://notabug.com/kozinski/silveira_v_lockyer (about halfway down the first page, Kozinski's dissent starts).

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


Cass. Like Progressivism itself, not just wrong, but as wrong as wrong can be. That takes some doing.

Usual culprit - the unexamined foundational false premiss.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_25022675/two-months-after-colorado-raids-marijuana-operators-back

He said agents didn't tell him why his operations were targeted and said a Drug Enforcement Administration agent didn't seem to mind if Bagi started up his business again.

"He said, 'I don't care if you start growing tomorrow,' " Bagi said.


Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

My kid sister, who flies a *lot* on business had a huge run-in with TSA in Atlanta. She presented her Connecticut CCW as "government-issued photo ID" which it is, and they refused to accept it, insisting on a drivers' license, which has much more information embedded in its magnetic codes.

She had almost four hours between flights and decided to make a fight of it. Three levels of supervisor higher TSA finally relented when she handed the woman (are *all* TSA supervisors women? I'm beginning to think so myself) her cell phone, and said "Here, get acquainted with my attorney, because you're going to be dealing with him a whole bunch, for a long time, if your intransigence forces be to miss this flight to wrap up final technical details on a multi-million-dollar contract."

She was allowed through. But Mr. Sunshine describes *her* as the "paranoid" one?

And that's without even getting into TSA traffic stops along I-40 in Tennessee, searching cars without a warrant (see Amendment IV). But *we* are the "paranoid" ones.

Bob Boyd said...

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you”


― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

EMD said...

Ha ha. It's like he's never watched The History Channel.

Rusty said...

Cass Sunstein. Blissfully unaware of history.

PB Reader said...

I don't think Cass is qualified to diagnose paranoia, and as a lawyer, he should be aware of the need to stay within his area of compentency, which this topic is not.

Edward Lunny said...

Well, gee, Cass, except that points 1-3 have demonstrative real world examples. And not just since your former boss, barry, was elected.
Regarding #4 we have, also, demonstrative evidence of that which you specifically deny the existence of.
Regarding #5, look at the history of gun control, or free speech, "hate" speech for example.
So, are you really that clueless, or, are you deliberately engaging in those behaviours that you deny the existence of ?

CWJ said...

Paranoid, well OK.

Wake me when he writes a piece using "credulous."

You won't always find a person's attitude in the the nouns and verbs. It's the adjectives and adverbs that are the giveaways.

chr1 said...

Perhaps liberal Left-anarchic and/or flirting with libertarianism is more appropriate for both Greenwald and Assange,

I often refer back to Chomsky's 'anarcho-syndicalism' or 'liberatarian-socialism' and a radical individualism that broke with some form of Left of center political philosophy into the wilds but still flirts with collectivist solidarity.

I suspect Snowden was motivated by some similar sentiment, the shattering of a kind collectivist set of beliefs and/or idealism mugged by reality, and of course, what the NSA and its contractors are doing with the real bastards, Moore's Law, and their own power, supposedly for our protection.

There's a real debate to be had there.

When I think of Sunstein's current marriage to Samantha Power and his own political connections to the current Left-liberal-progressive folks in power,

...I become much more skeptical of any other claims to truth he might make.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

From the headline of the linked article: are we now to have "paranoid' handcuffed to "libertarian", as today we can scarcely see or hear "right-wing" without mentally apppending the MSM's favorite phrases "extremist" or "nut-job?"

From the first paragraph, second sentence: paraphrasing, nobody who disagrees with the "modern liberal state" belongs in the set of those who desire to "protect ... the Constitution."

We can put put Thomas Jefferson at the top of the "Paranoid Libertarian" list. Add Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Learned Hand, Edward R. Murrow ....

Y'see, it ain't all certified nut cases like PP.J. O'Rourke, Robert Heinlein, and Thomas Paine.

Look at http://www.libertarianquotes.com/quotes1.html.

I'd love to get into this more, but unfortunately there is a heavy day ahead. Thanks much for the topic and links, Professor.

Matthew Sablan said...

I used to think that #1 was right. Then the IRS Scandal opened my eyes, and I realized that I was giving the government too much benefit and not enough doubt.

Matthew Sablan said...

As for #5, remember when "first they came for" was a warning to live by?

Matthew Sablan said...

#4 seems to fall into the fallacy of the golden mean. If we need to give up some liberty for something, I need a super good argument for it. So, what would we sacrifice liberty for? A little safety?

SGT Ted said...

Fuck Cass Sunstein.

He has zero qualifications to judge other peoples political opinions as beyond the pale and thus exclude them as kooks.

Because that's exactly what he is doing here. He is Alinskying people that have the rather ordinary, American-style distrust of Government authority and power as weirdos and kooks.

He is a leftwing authoritarian asshole.

Fuck Cass Sunstein and fuck anybody like him. Tar and feathers and pitchforks is what he and they deserve.

Bob Boyd said...

"Sunstein and Vermeule also analyze the practice of recruiting "nongovernmental officials"; they suggest that "government can supply these independent experts with information and perhaps prod them into action from behind the scenes," further warning that "too close a connection will be self-defeating if it is exposed."[30] Sunstein and Vermeule argue that the practice of enlisting non-government officials, "might ensure that credible independent experts offer the rebuttal, rather than government officials themselves. There is a tradeoff between credibility and control, however. The price of credibility is that government cannot be seen to control the independent experts." This position has been criticized by some commentators,[31][32] who argue that it would violate prohibitions on government propaganda aimed at domestic citizens.[33] Sunstein and Vermeule's proposed infiltrations have also been met by sharply critical scholarly critiques.[34][35][36]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cass_Sunstein

Bruce Hayden said...

Maybe I am giving the guy too much credit, but I expect that his big problem is a terminal case of naïveté. He is apparently a Utopian dreamer, who has little connection with reality. And, after his stint as the regulation Czar in the Obama Administration, he should have overcome this problem, but apparently did not.

I think it likely that a lot of progressives, esp at the top politically, are hypocrites of the worst sort, and espouse their progressive philosophy as a way to gain personal power and/or wealth. But, I think that a lot of the academic left (ok, redundant) are more just detached from reality, living in their ivory towers. This guy is maybe a bit more complex, having been recently in a government post with a fair amount of power, but where he accomplished little of what he went to DC to do. Still, I would put him more to the naïve ivory tower academic side than the hypocritical progressive politician side.

DanTheMan said...

And when it comes time to "balance" my concrete liberties against some abstract 'common good', who will be setting the balance point?

I'm sure there is an endless supply of well-intentioned people who would be glad to limit my liberties. For my own good, of course.

No, thanks. There are places like that in the world. This is not supposed to be one of them.

SGT Ted said...

Cass Sunstein is simply a fascist with access to power and he is revealing it with his words.

The 2nd Amendment was written in precisely in case of people like him gaining any Governmental power.

Marshal said...

Isn't it self-refuting when progressives whine about slippery slope arguments? Your marketing strategy is that each change is a tiny step in the march toward a better future, but then you turn around and claim anyone pointing out that march is paranoid?

Marshal said...

Plus, why would presuming bad faith on the part of government officials be "paranoid" when progs presume bad faith on the part of the rich, anyone in the private sector, or any on the right?

SGT Ted said...

Because its all bullshit, Marshal.

He's doing an Alinsky. Facts are to be ignored.

MattL said...

Marshal, it's not fair to actually listen to the words that Progressives use. Just get caught up in the emotion and go with it already.

It's all for the best, though we don't expect you to be able to understand that.

Bruce Hayden said...

I know a lot of people a lot more paranoid than I, and used to wonder what they were drinking. Know guys who have thousands of dollars of firearms and ammunition buried where the government(s) can never find such (actually, pretty easy to get to a couple thousand dollars with an AR-15 and some ammo for it). Others are moving their 401(k)s to land or offshore. A lot of paranoia right now.

But, it is harder to argue against, year after year of the Obama Administration. ATF (Fast and Furious), IRS, NSA, DoJ, DoE, etc. We have the IRS investigating political opponents of the Administration, while the DoJ prosecutes and jails them, but ignores flagrant illegality by its biggest supporters.

SGT Ted said...

A Government that harasses dissenters is not a legitimate government. We have the right to remove it and replace it.

Will Richardson said...

I like Jefferson on the slippery-slope:

"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That "all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people." [10th Amendment] To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition."
— Thomas Jefferson: National Bank Opinion, 1791.

southcentralpa said...

This is tangentially related to the phenomenon of people who dream fever dreams about "The Handmaid's Tale" and last year's "Christian Nation" and then wake up to bleat about how only the government should have guns...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Considering that Cass Sunstein wrote a whole book around the nifty idea that Those Who Know Better Than You Do could "help" you make the "right" choices if they just tweaked the default settings on a pile of regulations, he is not the ideal person to argue that if you think the government is manipulating you, you must be paranoid.

He doesn't seem to see that some people might rightly resent all his cute little "nudges." When I see them -- the idea has taken root, so they are everywhere now, these "opt-out" provisions that used to be "opt-in," and the like -- it's only with an effort that I evaluate them with a view to whether they are in fact beneficial to me or not. The temptation is to reject all of them just to spite the "nudger."

And note that this is yet another attempt to define right-of-center political dissent as mental illness. I don't know why, but it seems to me that I'm seeing a lot more such definition in recent years. It's dispiriting.

Henry said...

This seems a strange thing to think so deeply about. Except Sunstein isn't really thinking deeply. With minimal word changes you could apply this to any aggressive reform party or platform.

You could apply it to a Woody Guthrie song.

Oddly, I agree with him in part. I tend to think risks are exaggerated and slippery slope arguments are overused.

But this is still some sorry stuff. Instead of nattering on with establishmentarian boilerplate, why doesn't Sunstein take the other side and tell us what he thinks defines a genuine encroachment on liberty?

Illuninati said...

This article by Cass R. Sunstein demonstrates the differences between the left(self styled liberals) and genuine liberals.

Out of control governments murdered about 100 million innocent civilians within one century. Everyone who is not deliberately blind knows the danger of out of control government.

Lefties don't fear massive lefty government because they think they will be the ones in power so all is well. If anyone else is in power "paranoia" among leftists goes into overdrive (i.e. Bush derangement syndrome).
Lefties judge their opposition by their own standards. That's why lefties believe that everything is acceptable so long as they win.

Scott said...

The left communicates with each other in memes.

Right now there is a competition in the left to create the big new new and enduring meme to "otherize" people who love liberty. They have tried to encapsulate the Tea Party movement in a meme (racist white men who won't let women choose), but it keeps falling apart. Now Sunstein is entering the competition with his attempt to otherize libertarians.

But the huge problem the left has is, how do you stigmatize personal freedom? Progressives are trying to redefine freedom as something other than liberty, and are running into a lot of cognitive dissonance; because when you make a case against liberty, you sound like a fascist. And you are. But progressives are ANTI-fascist, right? (Mommy, help!)

Sunstein steps in and tells the progressives, "No, libertarians are just like us, except they are paranoid. Shun them like you should shun all crazy people."

Problem is, libertarianism is a growing movement in political life worldwide. We're gettin' normed, baby! The only way for progressives to fight back will be to embrace their inner fascist and sell the idea that liberty is wrong.

Which is like saying oxygen is wrong.

Rumpletweezer said...

Wow! Based on the comments here, humanity may be worth saving after all.

Anglelyne said...

"Retaliatory wait time: What happens when a TSA officer doesn’t like your attitude. There are all sorts of ways a TSA officer can subtly make you wait longer to get through security, citing imaginary alarms, going 'above the SOP' for 'a more thorough screening,' pretending that something in your bag or on your full body image needs to be resolved—the punitive possibilities are endless, and there are many tricks in the screener’s bag."

Ah, for the days when you had to put up with shit like this in Third World airports, but had it all ameliorated by the happy knowledge that lucky you would eventually be going home to the land of the free, where we didn't have to take this kind of garbage from resentful gummint flunkeys.

O tempora, o mores! Nowadays I try to leave and return from the smallest, sleepiest airport handling international flights; the Third World atmosphere of major airports is just too depressing.

Terry said...

The heart of totalitarianism is the idea that individuals are not the best of mankind. Individuals are products of neuroses, personality issues, environment, and culture. Only the State is free of the defects of the human animal. The State has rights, which it can define and enforce. Individuals do not have rights.

CWJ said...

Scott,

See Sunstein's #4.

I think the latest attempt to square that circle is that liberty is code for greed that leads to (in its latest incarnation) income inequality.

The spin is that I'm not against liberty, it's just that I value fairness more.

Michael K said...

Anyone who lived through much of the 20th century is not very likely to take his advice.

I'm waiting to see the left rediscover "false consciousness."

Bob Boyd said...

@CWJ

Right.

People used the same basic argument in support of slavery.

mccullough said...

Given Obama and Christie as recent examples of people who abuse their government positions, Sunstein's jeremiad against libertarians is laughable. Instead of excoriating libertarians why don't you lambaste Obama for his incompetence and partisanship.

Obama is the one turning people onto libertarianism, not Rand Paul.

Paul said...

Even if you are paranoid, that does not mean that someone is trying to kill you.

With all the revelations of lying among politicians, police, administrators, etc...

With all the revelations of spying, vote intimidation (examples: black panthers with clubs and the IRS), and laws made by fiat.

With all the rich politicians, richness gathered AFTER they became members of Congress..

Well maybe being a 'paranoid Libertarian' is not such a bad thing.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Based on this handy guide I now know that people who oppose restrictions on abortion and those who oppose voter id laws are paranoid libertarians.

Thanks Cass!

Marty Keller said...

As a recovering government bureaucrat, let me assure the smug and self-satisfied Mr. Sunstein that too many government officials do act in bad faith and are easily seduced by whatever power they've been loaned by the people. As Maude put it so succinctly in Harold and Maude, "officiousness is the curse of a government job."

Scott said...

@CWJ

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live."
--Oscar Wilde

Andy Freeman said...

Interestingly enough, all of Sunstein's logical fallacies are used to justify govt intervention. You just substitute "business" or some other for "govt".

In other words, it's projection again.

For example, advocates of govt programs typically have a wildly exaggerated sense of risks". They presume bad faith by others. They definitely have a sense of past, present, and future victimization.

As to the "slippery slope", I challenge Sunstein to name three govt programs older than 20 years that didn't end up where their "crazy critics" predicted. (This is a grand tradition in US politics. Pretty much everything that the anti-federalists predicted came true.)

That's why Sunstein has to argue this time will be different. Except that it never is.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Basically, with the exception of number 4, this list can be applied to any group of people whom you disagree with on a political issue. And number 4 can be applied if you swap liberty with some other value, like fairness or compassion.

In other words, the list is useless except as a tool to make certain views unacceptable. In this case, the view that government should be smaller and less intrusive.

n.n said...
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n.n said...
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n.n said...

He's describing his own ideology.

A wildly exaggerated sense of risk... global warming

A presumption of bad faith on the part of private individuals... capitalists (i.e. anyone with a savings account).

A sense of past, present, or future victimization... The Social Industrial Complex, unions

The belief that instant or immediate gratification... is the overriding if not the only value... redistributive change, condoms, abortion

The passionate enthusiasm for slippery-slope arguments... Refusing to pay for Fluke's condoms is a war on women. Denying marriage to homosexuals is homophobic (but denying marriage to other couplets and cooperatives is progressive or something).

Whether it is communism, socialism, or progressivism, he doesn't recognize the works of contemporary left-wing ideologues, and he forgets the unprecedented failures of his predecessors.

Anthony said...

Oh, let's take Cass seriously. We can balance liberty against lots of things, with some non-slippery-slope results.

Start with "community". Since communities are stronger when people are all like each other, we need to stop letting in immigrants who don't speak English, and who aren't Christian or Jewish. We can bring back segregation, too - being in all-black environments send to be good for black students, and there's been much lamentation of three destruction of black communities when the wealthiest and most educated.

Money in politics is corrupting, so we should ban all campaign contributions. Let candidates spend only their own money, and ban spending money supporting or opposing candidates or issues, and ban lobbying. Public service should be its own reward, beyond a reasonable middle-class salary, so let's implement Instapundit's revolving door tax.

To reduce conflict in society, we should also ban strikes - the government should have a monopoly on the use of force, and strikes violate that important interest.



Mitch H. said...

Sunstein expels a cloud of inky references, but all he and Wilentz are doing is recycling Hofstadter's original denormalization of traditional American suspicion of government by scare-labeling it "the Paranoid Style". The supposed special-case terror of "paranoid libertarianism" is a non-starter, as the folks Hofstadter was mau-mauing were effectively the fathers and uncles and older brothers of today's Tea Party, give or take some now-mortifying racial-panic nastiness. I'd say the same about the paranoid, a-Jesuit-under-every-toadstool Puritan Roundheads and Whigs whose two English revolutions form the philosophical underpinnings of the Founding Fathers' political assumptions, who likewise had their own paranoias and suspicions.

CWJ said...

Scott,

Excellent quote.

Henry said...

I'd say the same about the paranoid, a-Jesuit-under-every-toadstool Puritan Roundheads and Whigs whose two English revolutions form the philosophical underpinnings of the Founding Fathers' political assumptions, who likewise had their own paranoias and suspicions.

They also had to deal with King James II.

Bruce Hayden said...

2. A "presumption of bad faith on the part of government officials." It's the presuming that's nutty, right? I guess we're allowed to be skeptical of the government without looking crazy. Hey! I'm beginning to feel like Cass Sunstein is the government official and he's in bad faith, trying to make us feel that we're crazy if we suspect the government isn't really all about helping us.

Problem here is the gross generalization. The reality is that some government officials operate from good faith, while others operate from their own self interest. It doesn't help things that many, if not most, non-military government employees have some sort of job protection, far stronger than most enjoy in the private sector. They can operate from self-interest and not fear being fired for it.

I think that we saw that with the IRS scandal - many IRS employees take their duties seriously, including their duties of confidentiality and impartiality. But, those who don't, and use their government power for political gain, are not fired, or even disciplined. Some are even promoted (and, to see even worse, look at the BATFE in the wake of Fast and Furious, where the whistle blowers were disciplined or pushed out, while those behind it were almost universally promoted). Point is that even if most of the millions of government employees do their job the way they should, there are enough of them who act according to their base human nature of self-interest to make suspicion of them and their motives rational, and not paranoid.

Bruce Hayden said...

4. The "belief that liberty... is the overriding if not the only value, and that it is unreasonable and weak to see relevant considerations on both sides." The sane people balance values on both sides.

Not sure how sane balancing is. There is a saying that trading liberty for security ultimately gives you neither. This country was founded and thrived on the theory that liberty was the premier value, and without it, you get tyranny.

Bruce Hayden said...

5. The "passionate enthusiasm for slippery-slope arguments." The paranoids think if you let the government take "an apparently modest step today," it will do one more thing and then another, and tyranny lies ahead. Only a nut case would think it proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.

Others have addressed this. I think that history and experience shows that sacrificing liberty for security is a slippery slope. And, few, I think can deny that a slippery slope has resulted from many of the progressive advances in our history. We have seen this with abortion, Gays, the NSA, etc. Indeed, what was interesting to me was how the push for abortion rights was orchestrated as incremental, one small step at a time, with little chance to look back. (I only mention abortion upon demand here because its orchestration through progressive litigation has been well documented).

great Unknown said...

Please don't call Sunstein a Fascist. He is actually a Stalinist/Elitist. Who is saying that if you suspect him or his cohorts of undermining liberty, you are insane.

Carl said...

Pastor Niemoller would be rolling in his grave, only this kind of fluffing of the Stalinists by Sunstein is so quotidian as to be beneath the notice of even a restless spirit.

Douglas said...

It's interesting how Prof. Sunstein makes a wonderful theoretical argument while ignoring the facts about the IRS targeting political conservatives. While I personally want the NSA to be spying on the enemies of the United States, and data mining seems to be a pretty good way to go about that, at this point how do I know that all that data won't be mined to find crimes or embarrassing facts about the president's political enemies, which can then be conveniently leaked to prosecutors or reporters? What reason do we have to trust this president?

hombre said...

Is it paranoia to think it imprudent to take advice from a statist about what libertarians should or should not think?

Kirk Parker said...
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Kirk Parker said...

Can Sunstein just go to hell already?

Or if not there, to France maybe? I hear they still like top-down solutions...

And re Bart Hall's story of his daughter: appalling. I think we need lots more people in her position, and/or who feel they have nothing to lose, to push back against the tyranny. My, day by day I'm just getting sick and tired of the sitzkrieg.

Kirk Parker said...

MDT,

"And note that this is yet another attempt to define right-of-center political dissent as mental illness."

I noted this, too, and it made me feel uncomfortably . . . . paranoid. Hope you're preparing for the worst! I certainly am, though by little uneven fits and starts...

Paul Zrimsek said...

Presuming bad faith on the part of government officials is paranoid in the same sense that handling every gun like it's loaded is paranoid.

William Chadwick said...

"Here, let me pick your pocket today. Tomorrow? Yeah, I may come back for more--what of it! It's actually not your money but belongs to your betters to use as we see fit! Now, now--no need to get paranoid about it! Just learn to adjust and submit, serf!"

Strelnikov said...

Do yourselves a favor, all of you, if you agree even for a moment with Sunstein, and read "They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1935-43" by Milton Mayer. St least read chapter three in which a mid-level academic explains how all of it just snuck up on everyone. A taste:

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.
"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter."

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Apropos "slippery slope"

A squadron flying safety meeting, back in the day: Safety Officer opened obliquely making the point that violating flying regulations, once you have done it, becomes progressively less inhibited.

"How many remember the first time you had sex? - show of hands."

"How many remember the second time? - show of hands."

"How many remember the third time? - show of hands."

"Now, how many remember the first time you violated flying regulations?

Slippery slope? Yeah, it's real and it's everywhere.

Popville said...


"These are the Cass Sunsteins you are looking for"

Revenant said...

You can definitely tell that libertarian politics are becoming more viable. The defenders of the status quo are coming out of the woodwork to Other us. :)

Theranter said...

Kirk Parker said...
MDT,

"And note that this is yet another attempt to define right-of-center political dissent as mental illness."


Exactly. This is the embryonic nudge that will become mainstream. Mr. Sun stein and crew are all too well aware of an odd (but interesting and heartening) phenomena among some college grad students that were solid, dependable lefties; and throw in much of the middle class (especially females) that were dependable republicans, both groups that now would sooner perish than vote republican--both are now solidify leaning libertarian. For the first time in my lifetime, the perfect storm is here (they see it and are concerned) and an independent/third party done right could sweep our nation.

Problem is, if the nudges don't work, Cass and ilk have no problem shoving -- hard.