The Liberal Surveillance State

by Henry Farrell on January 19, 2014

Long time readers of Sean Wilentz will remember him for greatest hits like his notorious piece on the “cutthroat, fraudulent politics that lie at the foundation of Obama’s supposedly uplifting campaign,” involving “the most outrageous deployment of racial politics since the Willie Horton ad campaign in 1988 and the most insidious since Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, praising states’ rights,” or his claim that not only was Obama’s “most obvious change to liberal politics” the color of his skin, but Obama was the second coming of Jimmy Carter and a starry-eyed Russia-hugger to boot. So it’s very, very weird to see Wilentz criticizing Edward Snowden on the grounds that his “disgruntlement with Obama … was fueled by a deep disdain for progressive politics” – given his own track record on Obama’s brand of progressivism, why on earth would he believe this to be a problem?

But then the whole article – an attempted hack job on Snowden, Greenwald, Assange and the liberals who like them – is weird like that. In one sense, I can understand why the New Republic went for it – it’s perhaps the purest exercise in even~the~liberal~New Republic~ism that the magazine has published since its change in ownership. Yet it’s also so obviously intellectually shoddy and incoherently argued that you’d have thought that any half-way competent editor would have decided that no amount of contrarianism was worth the damage to the magazine’s brand. [click to continue…]

Since Crooked Timber is now a music blog …

by John Holbo on January 19, 2014

… I’d better get with it.

Belle is on this virtuous kick because we finally got all our vinyl out of storage after years and years. One of the first old tracks I elected to play, because random, was “Barricade Beach”, by the Insect Surfers. Here’s the video. (Also, “The Sound of the Surf”. Ah, the 80’s.) So I wonder: where are they now? Turns out they’re still around, and quite awesome. Good for them. Still playing surf stuff!

What band did you like and then forget about for thirty years and then realize are still around?

Or you could just abuse me for my inexplicable affection for the Insect Surfers.