Tag Archives: Edward Snowden

Washington Post editorial board makes history (in a bad way) on Snowden. Corey Feldman, pop star and train wreck! And Vin Scully +”Field of Dreams” = magic

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There has been a lot of important news in America lost amid all the nonsense that’s passing for Presidential election coverage. One small trend that has gone mostly unnoticed is that Edward Snowden, the man who leaked information about illegal U.S. government surveillance programs, is getting more and more support.

A man who was once vilified by so many is suddenly seriously being considered for a pardon by President Obama. According to this fascinating NYT Magazine article about Snowden and the new Oliver Stone movie about him, “former Attorney General Eric Holder, once a fierce critic, has acknowledged that Snowden performed “a public service.” President Obama has called for the reform of phone metadata collection, and last June, Congress passed the U.S.A. Freedom Act, a law that directly resulted from Snowden’s leaks. Snowden has come to be seen as a levelheaded activist.

All of this heartens me, as I am one of those who from the start saw Snowden’s actions, while illegal, as courageous, highly necessary, and important. Maybe calling Snowden a “hero” is going too far, but he certainly deserves major kudos for helping expose vast, vast overreaching by the U.S. government, and his disclosures have absolutely educated millions of us who had no idea how far the NSA had bulldozed our privacy.

So, you know, things have been looking up for Ed Snowden, generally. And then this unprecedented thing happens, and my mouth just about hit the floor. The Washington Post, the newspaper of Woodward and Bernstein for goodness sakes, has done something I’m not sure has ever been done in journalism history:  It happily used Snowden as a source for the NSA disclosures, won a Pulitzer Prize for them, and is now saying Snowden should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Specifically, the Washington Post editorial calls for Snowden to stand trial on espionage charges, or accept “a measure of criminal responsibility for his excesses and the U.S. government offers a measure of leniency.”

Rather hilariously, or frighteningly, as this Glenn Greenwald column points out, the Post excoriates Snowden for leaking a legal spying program called PRISM. But who was it that happily splashed the leak all across its front page? That’s right, the Washington Post!

This is pretty amazing, coming from a newspaper that lately, in its enabling of Donald Trump in some cases, used to be such a gold standard.  Now, a caveat that a lot of non-journalists don’t know: The editorial board of a newspaper is totally separate from the newsroom’s reporters and editors, so I’m certainly not claiming the whole Post staff is behind this editorial.

But it’s just … amazingly hypocritical of the Post, in my opinion. Edward Snowden should be allowed to come home, have a fair trial in his native country, and then the chips shall fall.

But espionage? Come on. But hey, don’t look at me: I’m still waiting when the hell the International War Crimes trials are starting for Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush.

**Next up today, a couple of videos that made me happy for completely different reasons. First, my fellow Gen X’ers certainly recall the acting “career” of Corey Feldman, aka one of the Two Coreys, aka Not the Blonde, Cute One. He has entertained us, amused us, and mostly made us feel sorry for him. He’s been a bad actor, a terrible reality TV star (although I did love him so in “The Surreal Life”), and generally a pretty strange dude.

But my friends, you haven’t seen Corey Feldman until you’ve seen him in a black hoodie, singing unintelligible lyrics, with women in angel costumes behind him.

I give you Corey Feldman, on the “Today” show, and you’re welcome. My God, what a glorious three-minute train wreck this is.

**And finally today, a nice palatte-cleanser: I’ve written a lot about legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, because he’s retiring this year and deserves to be feted as much as possible.

I’ve also written a lot over the years about my all-time favorite movie, “Field of Dreams,” because it’s awesome.

So you show me a video of Vin Scully reciting the great James Earl Jones speech from “Field of Dreams,” set over great baseball highlights of the past? Yeah, I’m watching that. Lots of times.

Hope you enjoy.

Glenn Greenwald’s book on Snowden and NSA is fascinating, and terrifying. Russell Brand tears apart Fox News. And a beautiful story about a man learning to swim

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If you don’t know exactly who the writer Glenn Greenwald is, you’re probably not a liberal.
Greenwald, a fire-breathing columnist for The Guardian newspaper, is a hero of mine, and many others, for constantly railing against the National Security Agency and the incredibly intrusive and illegal surveillance they do on Americans and non-Americans alike, all under the often-flimsy guise of “the war on Terror.”

Greenwald was firing his missiles via his scathing columns on his blog, known to a fairly small readership, until former NSA employee Edward Snowden (above) chose him in mid-2013 to help leak the most explosive set of U.S. government documents since the Pentagon Papers.

Now, everyone has their own opinion on what Snowden did; personally I think what he did was surely illegal but 100 percent heroic and patriotic, for exposing the enormous lies, and way-bigger-than-they-said spying operation the NSA has operated since 9/11.

Greenwald has written a book, “No Place To Hide,” that’s 50 percent about his incredible adventure with Snowden and how he met him, and how crazy that week in Hong Kong was when they began writing about the leaked documents, and 50 percent breaking down exactly what the NSA does.

It’s chilling. It’s terrifying. It will certainly keep you thinking long and hard about putting any personal info on the Internet (no worries, both Twitter and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have been remarkably compliant in helping the NSA spy on their users).

Greenwald writes clearly and concisely, both about Snowden’s motives for leaking the NSA information, and about the specifics of how the NSA and other branches of government, in full cooperation with private companies like Verizon and Google, are in every corner of Americans’ lives.

He points out the hypocrisy of the U.S. government scolding the Chinese for their spying efforts, yet shows how America does exactly the same thing. He also, amusingly, points out just how cozy the establishment Washington media is with the NSA and other government offices, to the detriment of transparency and shining a light on the illegal spying that’s gone on.

Whether you agree with what Snowden did or not, Greenwald’s book is fascinating. Definitely recommend reading it.

 

**Next up, I’m  not really much of a Russell Brand fan; don’t have much against him, but not necessarily a fan of his.

Still, I’d heard he’d been making these videos excoriating Fox News for their Ferguson coverage, so I checked out one that DailyKos.com had sent me.

Highly entertaining! Best excerpt:

“They say Conservatives… What they are ‘conserving’…Actually, it’s hatred they’re trying to conserve, misery, they’re trying to conserve, existing power structures, they’re trying to conserve.”

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**And finally, this story just about knocked my socks off. It’s from N.R. Kleinfeld at the N.Y. Times, who is a master storyteller, and it’s about a seemingly-simple topic: a 33-year-old man with a lifelong fear of water, trying to learn to swim.

It’s beautiful, it’s honest, and it’s oh so real. I loved this story; courage comes in so many different forms.

Barack Obama, sinking lower and lower with Syria/NSA decisions. Trampoline cliff diving? Sure. Will the Cup be awarded tonight?

I know I have only myself to blame for getting my hopes up. That in his second term Barack Obama would be a better, more decisive, more “2008” Obama than we saw in his first term.

But boy oh boy, have I been wildly disappointed. Over the last couple of weeks two major news items have shown that for many reasons Obama is failing miserably at being the kind of President millions of us hoped for.

First, the NSA data collection debacle. Oh, I know the NSA isn’t really listening to our phone calls and hearing about Aunt Ida’s trip to the Grand Canyon (random tangent: did you see that Wallenda dude walk across the Canyon on a wire last night on Discovery Channel? Insanely cool) or your hatred of your boss at work.

And I know there are legit national security grounds for data-mining some of our calls.
But this whole operation is wildly invasive and totally over the top; it reeks of what George W. Bush did during his term, and we liberals have been invoking that comparison way too often lately.

As the excellent Glenn Greenwald has been writing, prosecuting NSA leaker Edward Snowden for espionage, for God’s sakes, is ridiculous and wrong. As Greenwald points out, the Obama administration has doubled the number of espionage prosecutions in the entire history of the U.S., in just the last 4 1/2 years.

Then, Syria. Another American president, getting us deeper and deeper into a war with no end in sight, and helping arm a group of rebels who look just as dangerous and menacing as the Syrian army they’re fighting.

Obama swore up and down not to get the U.S. involved in “wars of choice.” Well, Syria is a war of choice, and like his choices on so many other issues, Obama has now made the wrong one.

Just so disappointing.

**And now, add this one to the list of sports I will never in a million years try. I present to you, trampoline cliff diving. These people are nuts…

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**Finally today, it’s a big night in the world of sports because the most awesome trophy in sports may be awarded tonight.
Through five games, the Stanley Cup Finals have been nothing short of spectacular. The Bruins and Blackhawks have played hard-hitting, compelling, intense hockey for five games, and I expect nothing less tonight when the Blackhawks try to finish the B’s off.

Saturday’s Game 5 was the nastiest of the series; the Bruins are awfully lucky Johnny Boychuk (and if that isn’t a great hockey name, I don’t know what is) didn’t get suspended for his vicious hit on Chicago captain Jonathan Toews the other night, though the B’s are likely without their best player, Patrice Bergeron, as well.

I’m rooting for Chicago in this series but honestly, I’m hoping it goes seven games. The hockey has been too good for it to end tonight.

And yes, I’ve found another excuse to run the photo (above) of me hanging with Lord Stanley, in 2005. Truly one of the Top 5 moments of my journalism career!