The Lionization of Snowden Demonstrates the Lethal Combination of Low Standards and High Ideals

I will never understand how anyone could consider Edward Snowden a “hero.” I hesitate to call him a “traitor,” but there is a lot of territory between “hero” and “traitor,” and I feel he occupies some territory in between, albeit not even close to “hero.” What has he done that’s “heroic” in any way? He joined a government agency with what seems to be an express purpose of stealing classified documents. Then, before he showed them to us, he high-tailed it to China. He claims to alternately have hundreds or thousands of documents, depending on the day, but he’s only shown us a handful so far. And in his initial introduction to us, he lied like a rug about who he was, how much money he made, how long he’d worked for the NSA and a host of other things. Now, this lover of liberty is in the freedom loving country of Russia, where he is being used as a pawn to poke the United States in the eye.

At this point, it’s impossible to dismiss the possibility that he shared his document-laden bounty with Chinese and/or Russian intelligence agencies. It’s possible he didn’t, but there’s no way to know for sure. How is it possible to think of someone like that as a hero? Shouldn’t heroism be unambiguous to people from the same country or culture?

And that’s another thing; Snowden refuses to submit to the justice system that he swears he’s trying to protect. That’s anything but heroic. Heroes fall on their sword and fight, rather than run away from the fight. If he is so absolutely sure of the cause he’s supposedly fighting for, then why is he not here, gathering followers and working to change the way the system works? Mandela and King spent time in jail. The patriots who founded this country risked life and liberty to create the United States. When protecting justice and civil rights, you have to face the threat, not run away from it. The Declaration of Independence was sent to King George III with the full knowledge that everyone who signed it would be branded a traitor. They didn’t run to France; they fought a war over a principle, that we have only recently started actually following. Continue reading

Why Would Any Liberal Not Give Obama Credit for This?

One of the reasons liberals have such a difficult time in the political arena (and if you don’t think we do, then we have something else to talk about) is because some of the loudest and highest-profile liberals out there demand that everything be fully 100% “liberal.” Every liberal in this country needs to understand that no one gets 100% of anything in a democracy. Learn to accept and embrace those things that move the country in a progressive direction. The 200 or so groups whose claimed mission is to “unite liberals” need to understand that the only thing we all have to agree on is that we must move in the direction of progress. Whether we move forward at 100 miles per hour or 10 miles per hour, it’s better than moving in reverse. And we’ve been doing just that for most of the last 32 years.

Part and parcel of this attitude is the constant negativity shown the current President by so many loud, obnoxious liberals. President Obama could very well be the most progressive president in our lifetimes, and yet there’s a group of clueless liberals who seem to love to trash him and who refuse to give him credit for anything. Continue reading

Guardian Manufactures “Story” From “Top Secret” Snowden NSA Document

Apparently, the Guardian is seeing the mistake it made in allowing Glenn Greenwald to publish “news” without oversight, so they’re enlisting other reporters to join in, in a vain attempt to give Greenwald and Snowden’s initial story just a bit more credibility than the none the story has now. Eddie Snowden is apparently handing over documents to others at the Guardian, not just Greenwald. Either that, or Greenwald was too busy media whoring to write it up. Either way, today’s contribution is a story by James Ball and Spencer Ackerman, entitled:

NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens’ emails and phone calls

Exclusive: Spy agency has secret backdoor permission to search databases for individual Americans’ communications.

See how horrible all of this is, folks? Glenn tried to warn you. See? See? The feds have “backdoor permission” to get anything they want on you. You should be very frightened by this concept.

Well, except for the fact that it’s not true. The headline does not reflect the content of the document at all.  Continue reading

If We Manage to Stop Keystone, Are the Alternatives Better?

This is another one of those issues that too many progressives see in black and white terms that is most certainly somewhere in the grey area of the spectrum.

I am not a fan at all of the Keystone XL Pipeline. But I live in the real world, and stories I’m reading about regarding the transport of oil have made me realize the Keystone issue doesn’t have a winning side. The fact of the matter is, the pipeline was already about three-quarters complete by the time it became a liberal cause celebre. Therefore, the issue isn’t the building of the pipeline, but rather the finishing of the pipeline.

But, why aren’t more environmentalists just as concerned with the pipeline not being completed as with its completion? They probably should be, if we’re being realistic here. Oil is already moving from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, it’s just not getting there via the pipeline. Instead of the pipeline, which I admit will probably leak and spill at some point, the oil is finishing its voyage to the Gulf coast via large trucks and trains, which are spilling as we speak. Continue reading

Why Do We Allow So Many Ex-GOP to be “Authorities” on “Real Progressives”

Look, folks; I peg my progressive roots to the age of 14, when I worked for the McGovern Campaign, but my actual roots probably precede that. My father was a union steelworker, and my mom was the daughter of a union worker, as well. I was royally pissed off at the Kent State massacre. I thought Abbie Hoffman was amazing. Spiro Agnew’s and Richard Nixon’s names were said with derision in my house as early as 1968, and I cried, at the age of ten, when Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed. To this day, Bobby Kennedy is still my idol.

In am just as liberal as anyone out there who claims to speak for the progressive cause, and I have been for pretty much my entire life. So, it really pisses me off when someone comes along and insinuates or says that I’m not a “real” progressive, because I don’t think exactly the way they do. Being liberal or progressive is about being tolerant, and about understanding that not everyone sees every issue the same way. There are a lot of moderates out there who are actually progressive, but they don’t know it, in part because some of the loudest elements of the liberal media scream at the top of their lungs, telling us all what we should believe on every issue. Because they don’t believe exactly that, they figure they’re not very progressive. The problem with this is, they may hate the right wing, but they also come to hate us, even though they probably agree with us on most things. Continue reading

Cutting the Crap on Bill O’Reilly’s Racist Rant

Really, is there anything more obnoxious in the world than a 63-year-old white guy who obviously has extremely limited contact with black Americans lecturing us on what the first black President should have addressed last week in his remarks about Trayvon Martin? Think about this; a few years ago, Al Sharpton took him to Sylvia’s, a famous Harlem eatery, and O’Reilly expressed shock and surprise that black people used utensils and not cursing when asking for another glass of iced tea. What better person in the world to tell us about race, eh?

When it comes to race, white people would do well to shut up and listen when black people tell them what’s up. We are not in a “post-racial” society. Racism is dying, to be sure. But like every other major societal shift, it’s kicking and screaming in its death throes. And racists like O’Reilly seem perfectly happy giving the kickers and screamers something more to scream about. First off, he quotes statistics, as if mere statistics tell the story. But the statistics are wrong, anyway. They’re exaggerated, easily refutable and out of context. Given the name of this blog, I found this rant a perfect subject for “cutting the crap.” And there is a lot of crap, so bear with me.

Let’s start with this: Continue reading

Issa’s IRS “Scandal” is a Joke, as is the GOP

Darrell Issa is right about one thing; no individual or group should be singled out arbitrarily for scrutiny by any government agency, including the IRS. That is. unless they are plotting to break the law. As a liberal, I find it odd that Issa and other Republicans have just now figured it out. Perhaps now they’ll do a mea culpa and pay restitution to ACORN. No? How surprising.

But it’s not arbitrary to examine the paperwork submitted by 300 groups applying for tax exempt status, especially when their activities are largely political, which goes against the US Tax Code. Isn’t it the job of the IRS to make sure they legitimately qualify as a tax exempt organization? Look, the Citizens United decision caused hundreds of right wing political groups to pop up almost overnight, so they could attempt to swing the 2012 elections. Liberal groups weren’t creating tax exempt organizations in droves, unfortunately, so of course IRS investigators were more likely to look at right wing groups.

And frankly, given recent history, everyone should be suspicious of groups with the word “patriot” in their name. Several months ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a report listing 1,360 anti-government groups with the word “Patriot” in their name. Should all of them simply be given tax-exempt status, because, they choose to use the same word in their name as many Tea Party groups? How do IRS investigators do their job – which is, in part, to determine the difference between legitimate tax-exempt groups and anti-government hate groups without searching for them? Continue reading

Is Greenwald Possibly the Real Story, Not NSA, Snowden?

Glenn Greenwald is frustrated. But the reason he’s frustrated is because he didn’t do his alleged job in the first place.

See, he put out a story, including documents, alleging that the NSA was spying on us all. Within a day or so, Edward Snowden made himself the center of the story by admitting that he was the source of the documents. Of course, he also insinuated that he was a $200,000 per year analyst who knew exactly what the NSA’s capabilities are, when it turns out he was an IT guy who joined the NSA three months earlier with the express purpose of stealing documents. When someone is making claims about someone else, his story and his credibility do matter.

Of course, the credibility of the reporter matters, as well.

Over the weekend, Greenwald was on Twitter and apparently made a TV appearance or two, suddenly lamenting the fact that the US media seems more interested in Edward Snowden’s story than the NSA story. He also proceeded to effectively blackmail the government, insinuating that, if the government didn’t change its ways, Snowden had documents that could bring it to its knees. Great American, right? Continue reading

PRISM Does NOT Violate the Fourth Amendment, No Matter What Oliver Stone Says.

The overwrought nature of the concern over the NSA surveillance activities that were supposedly “uncovered” by Edward Snowden is alternately hilarious and frightening, and it is severely misplaced. It is highly cynical and either displays an extreme level of ignorance or, if we’re to look at it a bit cynically, it’s being used to exploit the ignorance of others. It’s actually probably a little bit of both. For example, check out this video from the ACLU featuring Oliver Stone that I stumbled across this morning:

Is PRISM actually a violation of our Fourth Amendment rights? Is the NSA really doing something that puts us or our rights in danger? Now, obviously, given our history, such a thing is not unprecedented, and it is possible. They have spied on us in the past. But based on the information provided by Edward Snowden and other available information, the answer right now is a resounding “no.” Continue reading

There is No Comparison Between Ellsberg and Snowden

It is simply not possible to belittle Daniel Ellsberg’s contribution to the annals of actual whistleblowing. He uncovered illegal activity on the part of the Johnson and Nixon Administrations, and probably saved many lives in the process. Ellsberg was a true whistleblower and a hero.

Which is why it’s distressing when someone with the gravitas of Daniel Ellsberg actually comes out and defends Edward Snowden, as he did in the pages of the Washington Post yesterday. It is especially distressing when Ellsberg compares what Snowden did with his actions in the 1960s. There is no comparison to be made. Nothing is the same.

First of all, there’s the content of the leaks.

In 1969, Ellsberg, who was already an anti-Vietnam war activist, copied and leaked The Pentagon Papers, which were secret documents that, among other things, revealed that the entire US Defense apparatus were conducting the war, while admitting that they knew it was probably unwinnable. In other words, these papers demonstrated that the Johnson Administration had lied to get us into the war, and lied to get us mired in the war to an ever-increasing degree. This was important, because it forced the Nixon Administration to change its conduct of the war, which probably saved thousands of American lives.

Compare that to Snowden’s revelations thus far, which largely consist of out-of-context documents detailing a program that wasn’t actually secret and which, based on the documents Snowden has provided to date, appear to be in full compliance with the law. Essentially, the revelation is that the NSA is collecting metadata on phone calls and Internet communications, so that they can scan them and match them with phone numbers and IP addresses of known terrorists and other bad guys. No lives have been saved by these revelations. Since the data he’s released is rather mild in tone, it’s doubtful that they’ll cost lives, but that is actually a greater possibility than saving them. Continue reading