Edward Snowden: change you can believe in

I vot­ed for Barack Oba­ma in his first term. I had seri­ous doubts about him even then, and today I wish I hadn’t done it, but I did vote for him. I wouldn’t say I com­plete­ly fell for the “change you can believe in” baloney, but I decid­ed to give the guy the ben­e­fit of the doubt.

It didn’t last long. At least I can say that I fig­ured Oba­ma out before he was in office a year, and when he ran for his sec­ond term I vot­ed for Rocky Ander­son, for whom I worked vol­un­teered briefly as a writer. (I thought “vol­un­teered” went with­out say­ing. These were the ear­ly days of the Rocky Ander­son cam­paign, for god’s sake. The last thing I wrote for Rocky opened with the line, “We don’t need a war on ter­ror, we need a war on injus­tice,” and I nev­er heard from his cam­paign again. But that might not have come from Rocky direct­ly. I need to check in with him if he decides to run again in 2016.)

From Barack Oba­ma we have not seen one sin­gle thing that qual­i­fies as “change you can believe in.” Not one. I know “lib­er­als” who keep defend­ing Oba­ma. How they con­tin­ue to do this is beyond me. They keep mak­ing lists of the “good things” he’s done. Invari­ably, these lists remind me of some­one going to a decent restau­rant and being grate­ful he was giv­en water, menus, and a bas­ket of bread. On that basis he gives the restau­rant a great review.

Hey, guy? That’s what you’re sup­posed to get. That’s the barest min­i­mum. That’s where the ser­vice starts. The real­ly good things are sup­posed to come after that. When you get the barest min­i­mum of accept­able ser­vice, and noth­ing more, and then plen­ty of bad things on top of it, that’s not “change you can believe in.”

By the time Oba­ma ran for his sec­ond term, the phrase “change you can believe in” was nowhere to be found. Right.

But some­times, when your so-called “lead­ers” fail you utter­ly, nor­mal cit­i­zens find the courage to fill the void, and that hap­pened this week when the remark­able Edward Snow­den, who appar­ent­ly pos­sess­es more guts than all three branch­es of our gov­ern­ment com­bined, gave us some change we can real­ly believe in.

For doing this, he will even­tu­al­ly occu­py a much brighter place in our his­to­ry than the mon­u­men­tal dis­ap­point­ment named Barack Oba­ma. I’m quite cer­tain of that, which I guess means that I believe in the ulti­mate good­ness of Amer­i­ca.

And of course the same goes for Bradley Man­ning, whose three-year mis­treat­ment in cap­tiv­i­ty, fol­lowed by a secret show tri­al, is an out­rage. Thanks to Man­ning, Assange, et al., we learned that our tax dol­lars are secret­ly being used to pay mil­i­tary per­son­nel to hov­er in air­craft above unarmed civil­ians on for­eign streets and then joke as they butch­er the help­less with high-pow­ered weapons. For reveal­ing that atroc­i­ty, Man­ning should have been giv­en the Con­gres­sion­al Medal of Hon­or. Instead, he’s being treat­ed like an ani­mal.

And that was a manned air­craft shown in the Wik­iLeaks video Col­lat­er­al Mur­der. Not that the pilots were ever in any dan­ger from their vic­tims on the ground, but at least they were phys­i­cal­ly present dur­ing the butch­ery. For pure cow­ardice, we have the unmanned drones.

Had the abuse of Bradley Man­ning occurred to a Sovi­et dis­si­dent, our gov­ern­ment would have been scream­ing, because our gov­ern­ment has no actu­al prin­ci­ples, just the deter­mi­na­tion to extract max­i­mum pro­pa­gan­da val­ue out of any­thing that hap­pens.

And now Edward Snow­den. Some peo­ple, like Dianne Fein­stein, are try­ing to por­tray Snow­den as a trai­tor. That’s just not going to work. How­ev­er, since Ms. Fein­stein and oth­ers are so inter­est­ed in trea­son, let me point out that in recent Amer­i­can his­to­ry we have seen some acts that might qual­i­fy, and per­haps Ms. Fein­stein and her col­leagues could launch inves­ti­ga­tions into those things.

For exam­ple, if we hark back to the finan­cial col­lapse of a hand­ful of years ago, the one that result­ed in the big bank bail-out, we see that a num­ber of very wealthy, very pow­er­ful peo­ple, with their fin­gers deep inside our gov­ern­ment, may have (I say may have) know­ing­ly and delib­er­ate­ly de-sta­blilized the entire econ­o­my of the Unit­ed States for per­son­al gain.

Think about that. High­ly priv­i­leged indi­vid­u­als know­ing­ly took actions that unde­ni­ably brought the entire coun­try to the brink of finan­cial ruin. Why did they do that? If their motive was noth­ing oth­er than per­son­al enrich­ment, that might be trea­son. That might be a fir­ing squad crime. And yet, for some rea­son, no one has raised this sub­ject. Let’s look into it, I say.

There’s a lot of good com­ment today on Edward Snow­den, but I par­tic­u­lar­ly like Daniel Ellsberg’s opin­ion piece in The Guardian, Edward Snow­den: sav­ing us from the Unit­ed Stasi of Amer­i­ca.

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