The Sin Of St. Rachel Maddow

Just before President Obama was set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday (at a 200-acre resort in Palm Springs, to which neither you nor I will ever be able to resort), NBC news reported this:

The U.S. secretly traced a massive cyberespionage operation against the 2008 presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain to hacking  units backed by the People’s Republic of China, prompting  high level warnings to Chinese officials to stop such activities,  U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News.

This leak, obviously, had a purpose, which was to publicly highlight the ongoing, but mostly secret, complaints from the U.S. about Chinese computer-hacking. We were essentially trying to embarrass the Chinese because behind-the-scenes efforts to get them to stop hacking our information systems and stealing our secrets wasn’t working. All well and good, as far as I’m concerned. We should be embarrassing authoritarians everywhere.

For their part, the Chinese, desirous of some American good will before Xi Jinping met with President Obama, granted passports to family members of the blind Chinese activist, Chen Guangcheng, who is here in the United States, far from the tyranny that still characterizes the Chinese government.

Now, keep that last line in mind: China, despite its incremental turn towards capitalism, is still, especially compared to the United States, a bastion of communist bullies who watch over the population truly like Big Brother. But given the news and the punditry of the last few days, you wouldn’t know that. You would think that President Obama is a despot ever bit as despotic as Xi Jinping or any other tyrant in the world wishing to “spy” on his people.

This rubbish, unfortunately, has infected the minds of a lot of people I respect, people on the left, people who I have sainted on this blog. In this case, I’m talking about St. Rachel Maddow, who ended her Friday broadcast with this commentary on the Obama-Xi meeting:

…the Chinese government on the occasion of [Xi Jinping’s] visit to the U.S., they decided to finally give passports to the family members of this Chinese dissident who took refuge in our country from Chinese persecutions. Now his mother and his brother can visit him here, all of a sudden because of this, because of this meeting.

[She shows a video clip of Obama meeting with Xi Jinping] This was the scene in Palm Springs about 90 minutes ago, President Obama greeting the Chinese president, and they sat down for the first of their big, important meetings.

And this is kind of how these things are supposed to go on the sidelines of these meetings, right?  On the occasion of a high profile meeting with the President of the United States, on that occasion, you know what? Kindnesses towards dissidents should suddenly become possible. Other countries should think we expect that. Contact with us, desire to have good relations with us, is supposed to drive other countries towards better human rights policies and better civil rights policies, because that’s what we are supposed to stand for.

So far, so good. St. Rachel is acting the saint, saying everything right, analyzing the situation perfectly. Then, as many on the left are wont to do, she gives in to temptation and commits the sin of Big Brother-is-watching-us hysteria:

So the timing is tough right now, right? We like to think of ourselves as the good guys, where the international cost of doing business with United States of America is that you have to be less evil. It would be a lot easier for the United States to pull off this attempted embarrassment of the Chinese government over them hacking our politicians, were it not for the coincident revelations floating out of our own media this week about our own government mercilessly hacking us.

There it was. In front of God and everyone. Rachel Maddow committing the sin of a ridiculous comparison between the United States government’s data aggregation policy—authorized by Congress and overseen by the judicial branch—and an authoritarian communist country actually spying on its people. There she was implicitly putting President Obama and Xi Jinping in the same “hacking” boat.

If it weren’t for St. Rachel’s many virtues, if it weren’t for her former wind-driven-snow pureness, I would have to take back the halo I have put over her noggin. For now, though, it is prayer she needs. Lots of it. Prayer that she, and other liberals and progressives, will come to their senses and realize that what has been revealed so far in what is now being called the “NSA scandal,” is not Big Brother watching over us in order to then force us to get our minds right. That is what Big Brother is doing in China, not the United States.

And until someone shows me how aggregating data, a policy designed to help the government uncover terrorist plots, is a massive violation of the civil rights of Americans, I will continue to reject the notion that President Obama, or President Bush before him, is using the National Security Agency as a spying apparatus designed to arrest Americans and put them in prison or under house arrest like the Chinese do.

Finally, for those of you out there who buy into the notion that your government is out to spy on you and catch you looking at porn, or secretly emailing your mistress, or worshiping a very strange god, or whatever it is you don’t want the government to catch you doing, consider this recent report from NBC News:

The National Security Agency has at times mistakenly intercepted the private email messages and phone calls of Americans who had no link to terrorism, requiring Justice Department officials to report the errors to a secret national security court and destroy the data, according to two former U.S. intelligence officials. 

First, imagine the Chinese government admitting such a thing and rectifying such a mistake. And then imagine the Chinese government allowing that story to be widely dispersed in China.

Then start praying for St. Rachel and other liberals who are embarrassing themselves by way of this—so far—phony NSA “scandal.”



  1. The irony of this is almost funny. Those who insisted on the so-called Patriot Act to protect America from terrorism are the same ones bitching about the interception of messages. Their hatred of the “scary” President and his so-called socialistic agenda in their feeble minds are now placing the country, in their words of 12 years ago, in danger of a terrorist attack. Such dumbasses, and they are on both sides of the aisle in Congress and the Senate.


  2. Right on, Duane, you have this exactly right. In reading it I realized the applicability of a comment I just made on a previous post of yours applies as well to this one.

    Americans are paranoid and creeped-out at the thought of being spied upon, and heaven knows there’s plenty of evidence it’s happening all the time. There are not only spy satellites that can count the moles on your back as you tan in your backyard, there are drones of all sizes being developed, automatic traffic cameras proliferating (some are mobile now!), and computer hackers domestic and foreign working on seeing your stuff. It’s reminiscent of the very good Will Smith movie, Enemy of the State. Amazing to think that is now 15 years old. It was considered far-fetched by some reviewers at the time. Now, not so much I think.

    I’m sure most Americans want the government to protect us from explosions, poisonings and utility sabotage. I submit that we as a culture have become pretty-much cowardly. Take the Benghazi flap for example. It’s all about paranoia over terrorism, with the GOP claiming that the Obama administration tried to conceal the terrorist nature of the attack because it might cause a loss of public confidence in its ability to prevent all such attacks. Only a paranoid public would react in that way, and that’s how we’re acting. Even Ste. Rachel has the virus.

    One more example: the flap over carrying pen knives aboard commercial aircraft. The airline-employees unions stampeded Congress into forcing the TSA to reverse its decision, completely ignoring the original purpose of the inspections, to prevent terrorists from seizing control of the aircraft. After all, we now have armored doors, air marshals, and some armed pilots. What it amounts to in my opinion is that the terrorists have successfully terrorized us. So, is it realistic to expect the government to protect us without any loss of privacy or convenience? Of course not.


  3. King Beauregard

     /  June 8, 2013

    I get the concerns — we’re much more comfortable when the government has neither the ability nor the desire to come after law-abiding citizens, but data aggregation would give them more ability to determine who is in contact with whom. So all we’re left with is trusting in the desires of our public servants.

    Which, ironically, I would be significantly more comfortable with except for all the Republicans in power, as opposed to the scary black man who is taking all the heat for this. I could easily see Romney making an “enemies list” with this data; I don’t see that in Obama (if for no other reason than, Republicans would shriek to high heaven about it).

    The thing about saints, Duane, is that they aren’t perfect. Read the story of any saint and you’ll find evidence of their being human, fallible, and even pretty dumb on occasion. So you can’t really be too disappointed in Rachel for succumbing to the frailty of her nature — to Progressives, denouncing left-friendly politicians as fascists is like crystal meth.


  4. Treeske

     /  June 8, 2013

    Soon after 9/11 Dr Farnsworth, then President of Crowder College, held an informative public meeting mainly about Muslims around the world and the Terrorism caused by some. His final comment was: “How the U.S. handles this from now on will define the US’ credibility” That sentence has come back to me many times since.


  5. ansonburlingame

     /  June 10, 2013

    You are being rational for sure, Duane, or perhaps the word is pragmatic. For sure you are not being “partisan” in this matter, a refreshing surprise to me.

    I hope all “lefties” watched what the retired 4 star, former head of NSA and the CIA had to say on Sunday talk shows. The data aggregation is a way to later on establish probable cause for a much deeper investigation into individual activities. Court subpoenas are required to USE aggregated data for such criminal investigations, separate from the much broader court subpoena to aggregate the data.

    And you are spot on to offer a negative critique of “lefties” trying to compare the NSA data aggregation program, Prizm, to Communist China, for Christ’s sake!!! If Americans cannot tell the difference, well …….!!!

    I am completing a Pulitzer Prize novel, “The Orphan Master’s Son”, a fictional story of North Korean society. I recommend it for folks trying to compare America, with NSA data aggregation controlled by all three branches of government, to such countries, today.

    Finally, we now have TWO criminals to catch. One leaked Top Secret (or above) information about spying on Al Qaida. The second leaked Top Secret information about NSA and we know his name and he is currently hiding in Hong Kong it seems. What does anyone suggest we do with such criminal activity, clear violation of America laws?



  6. We still need an answer to this question: Is Snowden correct about the things he could have done when he was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton? We KNOW that the government has the capacity to do almost everything the Chinese are doing. And we’re pretty sure Obama isn’t in favor of that. But what can we do to prevent the next President from doing it? Capability doesn’t mean authority, but power corrupts, doesn’t it?


  7. ansonburlingame

     /  June 11, 2013


    I refer you to a superb blog just posted by Jim Wheeler, explaining why he trusts the government. Check my response to that blog as well. Essentially I TRUST our constitutionally established government and the various branches of that government under such constitutional framework.

    But for sure I do not TRUST each and every person in ANY government, no matter how well constructed in terms of framework any government might been so established and operated day to day.

    Leave it to be said that I trust the office of the Presidency. But each day, well I don’t always trust every man that ever held or will hold in the future that office.

    Thank God we have our basic freedoms to express such distrust, as well.



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