Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WikiLeaks, "Progressivism," and "National Security"

One of the most overused terms in this age of the overwhelming state is "national security," and I always am amazed at how people who think clearly on other subjects fall all over themselves when someone manages to breach the secrecy of government agencies. Not surprisingly, when this flimsy "security" line actually is crossed, the typical response is to try to kill the messenger.

A favorite blogger of mine is Tom Kirkendall, a Houston attorney who also runs the Houston's Clear Thinkers blog, and Kirkendall's comments on the latest WikiLeaks release of hundreds of thousands of documents involving international wheeling and dealing is on the money. Before looking at his comments, however, I have a few of my own.

The Progressive Era, which really was a massive assault on the constitutional order of the former American republic, was based upon a belief that "intelligent experts" should be in charge of the daily lives of everyone else. People at the end of the 19th Century tended to understand that politicians were corrupt, governments generally wasted tax dollars, and that elected officials could not be trusted. Furthermore, while they did not like that situation, nonetheless they at least could be assured that they could live their lives apart from most governmental influence.

Progressives, however, believed that they could create what everyone else thought to be an oxymoron: "Good Government." This would be government which had permanent agencies staffed by brilliant and loyal "public servants" who could -- and should -- make decisions for everyone else. The Progressives also believed that the Constitution was terribly flawed because it gave that corrupt Congress too much authority and did not give the executive branch the free hand that was needed to institutionalize the bureaucratic state. Thus, they sought to change that state of affairs, and what we have today is the result: Bad governance by the "good experts."

(As an academic economist, I always marvel at just how the "brilliant" policy "experts" in the executive branch have managed to run the once-powerful U.S. economy into the ground, and now claim they can "fix" everything by injecting bouts of inflation. For once, I really wish that someone like Ben Bernanke, who was on the elite Princeton economics faculty before coming to the Federal Reserve System, would admit that by appealing to inflation, he has no answers at all. Instead, we get nonsense like "Quantitative Easing," which is nothing more than a euphemism for printing money.)

The arena where we most likely will see "rule by experts" is in foreign policy, and the WikiLeaks document release demonstrates just how cynical and dishonest the entire process has become. Furthermore, the release demonstrates how truly mediocre yet egotistical people have come to dominate the process, and how they put millions of people on the hook just to pad their own ego trips.

It is here that Kirkendall really presents some good insights. He writes:
To get at the value of WikiLeaks, I think it's important to distinguish between the government-the temporary, elected authors of national policy-and the state-the permanent bureaucratic and military apparatus superficially but not fully controlled by the reigning government. The careerists scattered about the world in America's intelligence agencies, military, and consular offices largely operate behind a veil of secrecy executing policy which is itself largely secret. American citizens mostly have no idea what they are doing, or whether what they are doing is working out well. The actually-existing structure and strategy of the American empire remains a near-total mystery to those who foot the bill and whose children fight its wars. And that is the way the elite of America's unelected permanent state, perhaps the most powerful class of people on Earth, like it.

If secrecy is necessary for national security and effective diplomacy, it is also inevitable that the prerogative of secrecy will be used to hide the misdeeds of the permanent state and its privileged agents. I suspect that there is no scheme of government oversight that will not eventually come under the indirect control of the generals, spies, and foreign-service officers it is meant to oversee. (Emphasis mine)
What passes for "national security" really is nothing more than a veil of secrecy created to protect the "insecurity" of the bureaucrats and clueless, short-term-thinking policymakers who obligate Americans and others to pay for destructive schemes. Not surprisingly, in the end, the Permanent Ruling Class that the "Progressive" system has created respond by wanting to throw the messenger into prison.

(Since we don't have television reception at my home, I have not watched any of the talking heads on the various cable shows, but I am sure that the word "treason" has been thrown around carelessly by both liberals and conservatives. As I see it, however, Julian Assange simply has opened our eyes to the egotism and folly of people who believe they are entitled to make decisions for billions of people.)

As if on cue, the New York Times, which really is the Godfather of Progressivism, provides comic relief in the form of claiming that the leaks show just how skillful and brilliant the Obama Regime really is -- in contrast to the Bush administration. Once again, we see that Progressives tend to be bifurcated in their thinking, claiming that this latest release of documents falls into both the "Aren't We Brilliant?" AND "Move Along, Folks, Nothing To See" categories, and the NYT misses the larger point.

What is that bigger picture? In the post-World War II era, the "experts" that run our Administrative State not only have bankrupted this country, they have driven out productive people and productive entities, involved our armed forces in intractable wars (none of which have been declared by Congress, as the Constitution requires), put troops all over the world, and created a police state at home. Furthermore, they have managed to get away with it and have convinced Americans that any attempt to do away with this sorry state of affairs is an act of treason.

And what is the response when this folly is exposed? Yes, arrest those who have exposed it and give more power to those people who have been destroying our economy and our future.


Doc Ellis said...

Excerpted and linked at BikerOrNot.com and tweeted to FaceBook, MySpace, and LinkedIn as "Bill Anderson on the insecurity of Progressives and their jihad against WikiLeaks"

Thank you for writing this

Doc Ellis 124

Anonymous said...

Many years ago, I read a piece by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the quintessential progressive. He wrote something like:

"After the 1960 election, intelligence was at last applied to the problems of the day."

David In TN

Kerwyn said...

I want to share comments others have made on this.

"Wikileaks would not be nearly as damaging if the Free Press had been doing its job over the past several decades.

Our modern idea of "journalism" is little more than the dissemination of "official" government statements, as handed out to the media in all its forms, followed by a few opinions of others (usually of the opposite political party), and the reactions of a few members of the general public. Investigative journalism, as a functioning "check and balance" to the government, is all but gone.

At one time, we valued the media as a watchdog over our government. We even gave refered to it as "The Fourth Estate." When the government stepped out of line, we depended upon journalists to let us know. It was journalism, and journalism alone, that kept tabs on the goings-on behind closed doors in the political and diplomatic arenas of government.

If, over the past few decades, the media had been doing its job of relentlessly picking away at the stupidities, the errors, the misjudgments and the downright fradulent and unconstitutional actions of our government, Wikileaks wouldn't have a story to tell. It's as though all these things have been festering for years, only to be brought to a head, finally, by the likes of Wikileaks. Unfortunately, along with the gush of embarrassing information we should have learned about years ago, much other information is spewing forth that is truly damaging to our security.

Had the media been doing it's job all along, Wikileaks would be a non-matter. But, as we see, yet again in today's news, all the reporting is about how damaging the Wikileaks content is. Even as it stares us in the face, the media still doesn't recognize its own failure -- the failure to investigate and report on those actions through the decades where our government has failed us. "
"those painting obama as having the most corrupt administration in u.s. history sure have (conveniently) forgotten the administrations of the last 30+ years..."

The reality is this, far prior to Obama having become president, the Bush's had slowly and quietly begun chipping away at our freedoms, all under the name of "keeping us safe". They waved around the specter of "those terrorists" to keep us pacified while our freedoms were stripped. All 9/11 did, was to empower them to openly begin taking our freedoms and with most folks permission!

Now for the balance. Do I want another city blown up? Of course not, however, I am not willing to give up any more of my freedoms. Should Wikileaks have published the information it did? Yes and no. They have endangered many people which is bluntly wrong and the documents should have been somewhat redacted for names. The data would still have been there but perhaps the innocent folks named in those documents protected.

Anonymous said...

I part with my conservative friends on this one. The more Wikileaks the better (with the exception of truly putting someone in danger). I like the earlier post - A LOT. Had journalists been doing their job, Wikileaks would be a non-event.

Jerri Lynn Ward said...

I agree with Kerwyn on the state of modern journalism. It has become nothing more than a copywriter churning out press releases for the government.

I have recently become obsessed with this quote by H.L. Mencken regarding his view of the bureaucracy that Bill discusses in this post:

"It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume...that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions. The moment they become aware of a definite citizen, John Doe, seeking what is his right under the law, they begin searching feverishly for an excuse for withholding it from him."

Now, Wikileaks shows that, not only is the bureaucracy evil, it is also filled with absolute buffoons.

jp said...

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” - Ron Paul '08

John Washburn said...

Updating the old latin phrase to American English: Perilous Liberty is better than comfortable slavery.

If I acdept the notion the progressive idea that benevolent experts with guns and immunity can run my life or your life better than we can on our own, then I have indeed accepted comfortable slavery.

Louis said...

The global manhunt reminds me of the exchange between Mr. Smith and Neo during the first interrogation when Mr. Smith said Morpheus was probably the most dangerous man alive.

victoria said...

I agree that journalists today are just stenographers for the White House and other DC interests. The Russians would easily identify our media with their Pravda, but most Americans are currently too intoxicated by it to perceive the almost comically overt propaganda bombarding us.

I don't see much difference between what Assange and Wikileaks are doing from Daniel Elsberg and the Pentagon papers. http://vimeo.com/10540038 And if the Wikileaks data dumps get us out of unconstitutional wars and illicit foreign activities as the Pentagon papers got us out of Vietnam, all the better. Critics can cry and moan and yell treason all they want but firstly, publishing the Pentagon papers was upheld by the Supreme Court as a first amendment right, and secondly how can Assange, a national of Australia be treasonous to the U.S. - as he holds no claim of loyalty to our nation in the first place?

Moreover, if it is believed that Assange should be assassinated for putting people in danger and hurting nation's diplomacy and reputations, then what should become of the actors in our government who's foreign policy, covert actions, and special interests have killed countless people around the world and hurt our national reputation and standing in the world?