The Widdershins

See what you will…

Posted on: January 28, 2014

Good morning Widdershin friends.  I hope you are not caught in the throes of the latest errant polar vortex, but if you are, I hope you are nice and toasty.

“The good of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” per Spock in The Wrath of Khan.  There’s some wisdom The Needs of the Manythere, but the wisdom is mightily dependent upon which side of the scales you are sitting.

Case in point:  Edward Snowden.  Snowden has been called everything from a traitor to a whistleblower to “Person of the Year.”  Frankly, I’m not set in stone on which moniker best suits him.

One thing I do know is that Edward Snowden is like a motor scooter.  Just like a scooter not being your “go-to” mode of transportation, if you have nothing else, it will do in a pinch.  Snowden seems to be what everyone wants him to be.  His evilness or sainthood is in the eye of the beholder.  At the moment, depending upon the political persuasion, he seems to be quite handy and a multi-purpose vehicle.

There were those who thought he should have edged out Pope Francis as “Person of the Year,” but others who see him as the greatest traitor in the history of the country.  On the last count, if you measure it by sheer volume, he definitely has no competition.

Clemency for Snowden is going to be a big topic in the coming weeks and months.  Unbelievably, Snowden has accomplished something remarkable — his disclosures have forged an alliance among the ACLU, Progressives, and now the RNC.  At their most recent meeting, the RNC condemned the NSA in huge turnaround from just a few years ago.  As great as the NSA was under Bush/Cheney it has become tainted and oppressive  under Obama — who would have “thunk it”?

Ron and RandSnowden finds his main support among the Ron Paul’ites of pseudo-Libertarianism.  You know that brand of Libertarianism — a mutt of a philosophy conceived in west Texas among the tumbleweeds and abandoned oil rigs and about as productive.

There’s little question there may have been excesses in creating enormous information trawling apparatuses after September 11th.  From a policy standpoint such overreaching is understandable.  The question then presents itself from a political standpoint, how do we extricate ourselves from the constructed technological infrastructure without opening the politician from criticism in the event of an attack?

There’s also little question about Edward Snowden loving the attention.  It seems as though each day there’s another “Parade of Constitutional Horribles” with him as the drum major.  The newest accusation is industrial espionage and an assassination threat.

If he were a spy, with that thing on his neck he would have to be a mole...

If he were a spy, with that thing on his neck he would have to be a mole…

My feelings on Edward Snowden are decidedly mixed.  I definitely don’t consider him a hero.  I’m not even sure I consider him a whistleblower.  I don’t think he deserves clemency.  I do think he has started a needed conversation about the overreaching of the national security agencies and that is a good thing.

At the most granular level, this whole debate is about “what is the good of the many?”  Is it national security or is it protection against undue governmental intrusion?  I would imagine it falls somewhere in between those two poles, but it really depends upon how the question is framed.

Two things I know for sure.  I don’t feel safe allowing a 29-year old self-aggrandizing hacker make national security decisions on what secrets should be released.  By the same token, I don’t for a moment imagine a trillion-dollar national security complex putting itself on a diet.

What do you think?

This is an open thread.

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14 Responses to "See what you will…"

Toasty we are – it;s 82 here.

Well the WX forcasting “gawd” says they made an “error” of oh, a hundred miles in the snow forecast and this is what we got now.

Oh and this:

They are now saying it’s a civil emergency because so many folks are stuck and will need to just get to a warm place. Forecast temp was supposed to be 31…it’s 19 now.

Not sure how to take Snowden Prolix. I don’t think he’s a Daniel Ellsberg and I have my doubts about why he released all the NSA info. Altruism? I don’t think so.

It’s about 12 degrees in NYC. We’re expecting snow tomorrow.

On Snowden….yes, my feelings are also mixed. I do think what he did was important. Because these conversations matter and we would not be having them if he did not come along. However, perhaps he and Glenn Greenwald are not the best arbiters of what info should and should not be made available. Greenwald was on Bill Maher (via satellite) a week or two ago and Maher asked him that very question. What qualifies you guys to decide these things. And I can’t even recall what Greenwald said, but I’m sure it was as self-aggrandizing as self-aggrandizing can be. I wish Snowden had sent this information to multiple news sources, more respected than Greenwald.

But again, what he did was important. Des it matter if he did it to stroke his own ego? Do the results of his actions matter more than his motivations?

Interesting points DYB.

another version of ends justifying means.

I am also torn about Snowden. I feel like the leaks needed to happen. The NSA is completely out of control. But nonetheless, there is such a thing as national security, and for a reason.

Fredster called to tell me that his internet is down, and he will return as soon as he can.

Thanks Chat!

I’m watching the SOTU. Obama just talked about women, equal pay for equal work and working to make that happen. Got the biggest and loudest and most excited ovation of the night.

Good post and comments. I feel as the rest of you do, especially MB at #9. My thoughts on this issue are evolving as new info comes out. I think its weird that this type of work is farmed out to private companies. Stewart or Colbert had a bit on last nite about this and Obama’s NSA speech last week and brought out the point where Obama said we needed another party to “hold” the information, and then it showed a picture of a huge Verizon building!

This doggie youtube is adorable:

I live approx. 2 miles from America’s #1 accident site – Pines Boulevard at Flamingo Road. Clearly the dog is doing a better job than many of the drivers that I regularly encounter.

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