Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Pit of Hell

The magazine "Commentary" is probably more or less what "National Review" used to be with Mr. Buckley at the helm. Here is a comment on a recent piece by the conservative Max Boot, who argues that Mr. Snowden is not a hero:

Here, a parable. In Chile, in 1973, a man on a white horse came riding up to the Presidential Palace, killed the Marxist living there (Salvador Allende, who was Chile's Barack Obama!) and moved in. For the next 18 years, Augusto Pinochet murdered, imprisoned, sent into exile, tortured, persecuted and in general "did away with" the Left in his country. What emerged was a democratic republic that today is the freest and least corrupt nation in Latin America. That's where we're heading---if we're lucky.

This is the stark reality of right wing American politics today. This is pretty much what Beck and Limbaugh and Boortz and Hannity and the rest of the ranters and Fox Network people believe and assert and argue every day.

Let's hope they keep the price of gas at affordable levels.

[Hat tip to Edroso for the quote: http://alicublog.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-torturers-apprentice.html ]

Meanwhile, in the reality based universe, here's two things you might want to peruse:


And note Mr. Simon's well grounded views, quoted in the Driftglass piece:


What if La Palin had Sam Ervin's eyebrows? Just sayin'.

Wednesday Update
: As any number of folks have commented on the Snowden leaks, it's pretty hard these days not to have already known, at least in a general way, that something like what Snowden revealed was going on. Surely enemies of the United States would have presumed, as would our friends. Espionage is not a fresh concept after the last century. It strikes me that perhaps the biggest "leak" Snowden is responsible for is revelation of the fact (if it's true and not just fantasy on his part) that people like him--people subcontracting and without particularly good security clearance, are much too close to far too much. Snowden is an example of the problems that come with the privatization cult which our right wing true believers have brought with them into government whenever they manage to gain power. Possibly the Snowdens are cheaper (though not necessarily), but they come more unattached to authority. (For other examples, see, e.g., "Blackwater; Iraq, New Orleans). Do we really want people like this confused libertarian dweeb actually holding such power? It is policy that puts him in this position. Thus, his fairly absurd activities raise deep questions about how we want to run our intelligence services. There's an "in short" in this even: after all, Snowden has fled to China, imagining he'll find safety there.

Thursday Update: The conversation on MSNBC last night, concerning Snowden and surveillance was instructive. The most interesting moments, in my book, occurred on Lawrence O'Donnell's hour. He approaches the story like a lawyer, and had quizzed a dangerously unprepared lawyer-friend of Snowden's, who realized after the first question or two that she was "on the stand," and began to remind me of Miss Teen South Carolina in her answering style. O'Donnell felt he'd found a fulcrum in Snowden's remark that the surveillance system in place amounted to an "architecture of oppression." That's his finely wrought phrase. O'Donnell objected, and tried to push his character witness into the corner of judging Snowden overwrought in his analysis.

This seems to be one of the tacks used by our various pundit observers to try to make sense of Snowden. I more or less took the same line yesterday. This guy may have good intentions, but is he seeing the world "aright." There was quite a lot of talk in this regard about Snowden's credentials. His character witness pointed out that often IT people teach themselves. She offered the example of Bill Gates. O'Donnell felt that nontheless this was Snowden's problem--a too quick leap from "overreach" to "oppression." After the character witness left the stand, Howard Dean arrived. Gov. Dean made an excellent point concerning Snowden's phrase. An "architecture of oppression," he opined, was not the same as actual oppression, but a precurser, a necessary framework. Possibly that was Snowden's point and concern, the underpinning of his current self and otherwise destructive actions.

O'Donnell would have none of it, and dismissed Gov. Dean. That's a lawyer for you. Understood as Dean parsed the phrase, Snowden becomes at the least a person to be taken seriously. This might be a better stance, for all of us, as we try to understand what's going on. There's a mighty vested interest in stuffing Mr. Snowden back in some box or other. It doesn't make him a hero or a superman to see his point. There's nothing at all new about good intentions going awry. Possibly Mr. Snowden's intentions are an example. So, possibly, are the intentions of our intelligence institutions.

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