Julian Assange and Edward Snowden

Edwatd Snowden seemed to be just a guy who believed that the Constitution of the United States was being violated by its very government.

Chris has thought about Julian Assange a lot more than I have:

What drove Julian Assange to start WikiLeaks? Do you think he’s a white, gray, or black hat? Has your opinion of Assange or Snowden changed at all due to the leaks and Russian involvement?

I’m going to assume Assange started Wikileaks for the reason he said he started it. From a recent Bloomberg story I can’t locate presently:

“A decade ago, when Assange founded WikiLeaks, it was a very different organization. As Raffi Khatchadourian reported in a 2010 New Yorker profile, Assange told potential collaborators in 2006, ‘Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia, and Central Eurasia, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal illegal or immoral behavior in their own governments and corporations.’ For a while, WikiLeaks followed this creed.”

The same story shows how the organization has gone off the rails, most recently proposing the tracking of verified Twitter users’ homes, families, and finances. Um, no thanks. That seems to be the Big Brother that Assange looked to take down initially.

When Agent Orange sided with Assange Over the CIA, that was disturbing on more than one level. Sarah Palin’s support further diminishes.

I thought, 10 years ago, that he was a white hat if you will, but certainly not now.

Whereas Edward Snowden I’ve seen differently. He was just a guy who believed that the Constitution of the United States was being violated by its very government. He believed that protection from unwanted and illegal government attention should be afforded to every citizen.

I wondered if I, in the same situation, might have been tempted to do the same, be a whistle-blower, to detail these conflicting, interrelated issues of national security, privacy, civil liberties, and Internet freedom. Librarians, after all, have been at the forefront of the fight for freedom, changing the way records are no longer kept in the wake of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act.

He changed the business model. “The NSA relied on Internet giants to do surveillance for them (surveillance being a major part of the Big Data business model), and pre-Snowden, there was no real downside to cooperating with illegal NSA spying requests — in some cases, spooks would shower your company with money if it went along with the gag. Post-Snowden, all surveillance cooperation should be presumed to be destined to be made public, and that’s changed the corporate calculus.”

I wish I had seen “Citizen Four,” Laura Poitras’ film about abuses of national security in post-9/11 America. “In June 2013, she and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her.”

I did watch that John Oliver interview of Snowden in 2015, in Russia. As a buddy of mine put it, “he was clear, clever, and careful in how he responded, even when he was adopting the joke angle. He earned a lot of my respect just in how he dealt with Oliver’s interjections and his goofy gimmick interview style.”

Did Edward Snowden sabotage the war on terrorism? Did he provide too much information to Russian intelligence? Or did he let the American public know about the illegal activities that the US Government was doing in their name and at their expense? Possibly all of the above.

Someone wrote recently that, if he were a real patriot, Snowden would come home, and like a Father Berrigan, face his accusers, and let the ACLU or others defend him. That’s a personal decision only he can make.

I find Julian Assange to be an arrogant twit, whereas Edward Snowden appears to be a bright guy, but way out of his depth.

Baseball bans, Edward Snowden, and other things

Geoffrey Lewis was the classic character actor.

ShoelessJoeJacksonThe new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is revisiting Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball. Clearly one of the greatest players in the game, with more base hits than anyone, Rose was banished from the sport by the late Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti for wagering on baseball.

But as the Wall Street Journal noted: “The rules were put in place to prevent cheating, not betting. And cheating is something that no thinking person, then or now, has suggested Pete Rose would do.”

While he’s at it, I’d like the commissioner to reexamine the story of Shoeless Joe Jackson (pictured), who batted .375 with perfect fielding in the 1919 Chicago White Sox in World Series, yet was caught up in the “Black Sox” scandal.

“In 1921, a Chicago jury acquitted Jackson of helping to fix the Series, but Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first Commissioner of Baseball, went against the ruling and banned all eight players including Joe Jackson from baseball for life.” I have never been convinced of his guilt. In other words, I say it AIN’T so, Joe.

If either one of those happens, I would suggest that the Steroid Era players, prior to 2004, when the baseball policy was quite unclear, ought to get due consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and the others.

“Where do we strike the balance between personal freedom and national security — and how do we even get people to care?” Watch John Oliver Meets Edward Snowden. The folks at Politifact fact-checked what Snowden said and they gave it a rating of Mostly True. And speaking of whom, NYC officials removed a Snowden statue secretly installed in Brooklyn park, but it was replaced by a Snowden hologram.

Stan Freberg was a comedy legend, a skilled voice actor, a genius of American advertising, and more. Just go to Mark Evanier’s site, and search for Freberg; you’ll find several articles, plus links to even more. Also, listen to Wun’erful, Wun’erful. Stan Freberg died on April 7.
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Geoffrey Lewis was the classic character actor. If you look at the massive list of his TV and movie appearances, you might say, “Oh, he’s THAT guy.” This is telling: he played two DIFFERENT characters on the series Mannix, Mission: Impossible, Cannon, Police Woman, Lou Grant, Little House on the Prairie, and The A-Team; three on Alias Smith and Jones, and Barnaby Jones; and FOUR separate characters on Murder, She Wrote.

The only show I ever watched where he was a regular was Flo, a spinoff of Alice, and that was 35 years ago. Jaquandor linked to a spoken word performance. Father of 10 children, including actress Juliette Lewis, Geoffrey Lewis also died on April 7.
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Richard Dysart was a star of the TV show L.A. Law, which I watched religiously. But he had a string of other notable performances on stage and in the movies, as well as TV. He died on April 5.

To boycott or not to boycott; that is the question

The traditional idea that international sports events should be a place to create cooperation through competition is damaged by boycotts, as are the athletes that have trained for years for the opportunity to participate.

There is a movement to have the United States and other nations boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014, and I’m a bit conflicted about it.

One group wants to boycott because of the country’s highly repressive new law banning any speech that equates the social status of same-sex relationships with heterosexual ones. I agree with the intent of the boycott in this case. But we’ve had Olympics in repressive regimes before; the dissidents in Beijing were just locked away for the Summer Olympics in 2008, and let’s not even talk about Tibet.

Another group wants to boycott because Russia has given sanctuary to Edward Snowden, the leaker of all that NSA classified information that showed the United States has all this “metadata” on its own citizens. I heard Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) float that one while Snowden was still living in the Moscow airport, which was reason enough for me to be inclined to oppose it.

I’m also reminded that there was a boycott by African nations at the Summer Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976, having to do with New Zealand competing athletically with South Africa, which had been banned from the Olympics since 1964 because of its apartheid policies.

Then the United States and some of its allies boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow because of the USSR invasion of Afghanistan; the irony still resonates. In response, many of the Soviet bloc nations stayed away from the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

On the fourth hand, I think we’re at here, the traditional idea that international sports events should be a place to create cooperation through competition is damaged by boycotts, as are the athletes that have trained for years for the opportunity to participate. All the Games were diminished, even if the boycott rationales were worthy.

Right now, I’m leaning against the boycott. Circumstances could change that. And perhaps I can be persuaded. Lessee, Arthur’s ambivalent, too…