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Ana Marie Cox writes Why have so many liberals been silent about NSA spying?

Those advocates of civil liberties (some of them quite new to the cause) have a convenient explanation for why Democrats have been less vocal and slower to criticize the collection of metadata from everyday American citizens: slavish devotion to President Obama, whatever policies he might champion.

This is an easy argument to make – and it goes both ways. Polling among Democratic and Republican voters shows a mirror-image of approval for Obama's use of the tactic to Bush's use of it. Since 2002, the number of Democrats who approved monitoring online activities has increased 12 points; among Republicans it has decreased 13 points. Since 2006, the number of Republicans who say the government should prioritize privacy over hunting terrorists has risen 22 points; Democrats who say the government should prioritize preventing terrorism over privacy has gone up 18 points.

The neatness of these changes in position is almost disturbing. It suggests that advocacy for civil liberties is a zero-sum game: there's only so much libertarianism to be had at any given historical moment, there's a ceiling on Americans' ability to believe that the right to privacy is paramount. Indeed, as you might suspect from the numbers above, polling among all Americans on the balance of national security to privacy has neatly flipped as well. The percentage of voters that worry that the US will go "too far" in violating privacy rights in pursuit of terrorists versus "not going far enough" is now 56% percent versus 36%. In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, it was 31% versus 55%.

It's these numbers, rather than the occupant of the White House, that explains Democrats' reluctance to move very aggressively in championing personal privacy—or, at least, it explains the difficulty in creating a lasting coalition around it. If at best, you will only get half the country to agree with you – and what's more, different phrasing of the question or current events context shows inherent wobbliness on the issue – what politician will stick out his (or her) neck over it? […]

Hillary Clinton, for instance, has done an elegant disappearing act with her views. She has gone from a vocal critic to silent beneficiary of the same programs. Once loud-mouthed Joe Biden has been just as mum. […]


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004Katherine Harris' tall tale fantasies:

Damn, there are few human beings more contemptible than Katherine Harris. Not content to just subvert democracy, she now goes around the country making shit up. And not just any old shit, but tall tales about terrorist attacks..

Republican Rep. Katherine Harris said Wednesday she regrets concerns caused by her claim that a plot existed to blow up the power grid in Carmel, Ind. City officials disputed the claims of a plot.

"I was told in an open, group setting that a recent situation threatened a Midwestern community and that it had been diffused," Harris said Wednesday. "I regret that I had no knowledge of the sensitive nature of this situation and any undue concern this may have caused." [...]


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