Snowden Flees Hong Kong, in Moscow

NSA leaker Edward Snowden, having been charged with espionage by the U. S., has left Hong Kong for Moscow with the help of WikiLeaks.  Moscow apparently is a stopover on the way to his next destination.  Some reports say he is going to Ecuador, others say Venezuela via Cuba, while Iceland is also still in the mix.

He faces 30 years in prison (and perhaps more, if counts are added to the existing indictment) if he is extradicted back to the U. S.  He does not face the death penalty.

Perhaps we could offer Putin championship rings from the NBA, NHL, and MLB in exchange for Snowden.

Ecuador has confirmed a request for asylum.

Who Is This Guy?

So Michael Moore and Glenn Beck, who probably wouldn’t agree that today is Monday, are both calling Edward Snowden a hero, while Donald Trump says he’s a bad guy.

Over at the White House petition site, tens of thousands have signed a petition asking that Snowden be given a full pardon.  But only five of the 41 slides in the PRISM PowerPoint Snowden wanted released have been made public.  Would these people feel the same way if they saw the rest of the slides?  Apparently neither the Washington Post nor the Guardian believed that publishing those slides was a wise thing to do.

Just as it’s impossible to figure out the merits of our current surveillance programs without more information, I feel the same about judging Snowden.  I know I don’t feel comfortable signing that White House petition, but I wouldn’t sign one calling him a traitor either.

A couple of things jump out at me.  First, that he went to Hong Kong.  Hong Kong may be China with benefits, but it’s still, you know, China.  Second, that he didn’t finish high school.  Look, if you want to drop out of Harvard and start a company, go for it.  I just feel bad for the poor schmuck on the waiting list who would have appreciated your slot.  But finishing high school is kind of a minimum attainment in our society.  Even if you’re some brilliant computer geek, you sit there and get your credits and finish.  That unwillingness to finish high school tells me he sees himself as different, as superior, as not subject to the same rules as the rest of us.  Perhaps someone who should not have had a security clearance in the first place.   Working in anti-terrorism requires creativity, but it also requires a degree of conformity that Snowden clearly lacks.

Hey Mitt, the Election’s Over

Mitt’s top strategist, Stuart Stevens (whom many blame for Mitt’s disastrous campaign and loss, but really there’s so much blame to go around) is kind of like those Japanese soldiers who fought on in the Pacific long after WWII was over.  But at least they had the excuse of not knowing the Allies had won.

Stevens is still fighting over Pinocchios, specifically the four that Mitt got from WaPo‘s fact checker Glenn Kessler for his ad claiming that Chrysler was moving American Jeep jobs to China.

In response to Stevens’ request for fewer wooden puppets, Kessler is sticking with his original four, the most you can receive.

Maybe Stevens would have done better last November if he’d focused more on his own wooden boy and less on Kessler’s.

Quote of the Day

“I know Romney doesn’t believe a word he’s saying on foreign policy and that it’s all aimed at ginning up votes:  there’s some China-bashing to help in the Midwest, some Arab-bashing to win over the Jews, some Russia-bashing (‘our No. 1 geopolitical foe’) to bring in the Polish vote, plus a dash of testosterone to keep the neocons off his back.”

Thomas L. Friedman, “It’s Mitt’s World,” NYT

Imagine

Imagine you’re shopping at the grocery store.  You’re almost eight months along in your pregnancy with your third child.  Suddenly you’re arrested by the local government and, after being imprisoned for four days, taken to a hospital where you’re given a shot to cause an abortion.  You go into labor and hope the baby will somehow be born alive.  But hours later you deliver a dead baby, whose body is all black and blue.

This happened to Pan Chunyan in the province of Fujian, China, last April.*

Despite having to listen to Mittens singing “America the Beautiful” and lying about the President, we don’t have it so bad.

Actually, we have it better than any other people in the history of the world.  And we will even if Mittens wins.

 

* “Pressure Grows in China to End One-Child Law,” Edward Wong, NYT

Mitt Not Throwing Stones on Olympic Uniforms

Mitt has refused to join the outcry over the fact that the U. S. Olympic Team’s uniforms were made in China.

That’s probably because the uniforms for his Olympics in 2002 were made in Burma, which produced lots of protests from human rights activists.

His media team at the time was so incredibly ignorant that their response was “What do you mean the uniforms were made in Burma, they were made in Myanmar!”

I guess Burma and Myanmar could be different places in the same universe where Mitt was simultaneously running and not running Bain Capital.

Why Is a Strong Middle Class So Essential for Everyone Else?

It’s striking that we are so focused on building a strong middle class everywhere in the world, that we see it as the magic bullet that solves threats and problems — except here at home.

When we invaded Iraq, we were assured that one of the things in our favor for building a democracy there was the existence of a strong, educated middle class.  By contrast, we’ve been told over and over that one of the reasons for the tough, fruitless slog in Afghanistan is the lack of a middle class.

We’ve been told that one of the reasons the Islamists have been able to emerge strong from the Arab Spring is the lack of a middle class in the Middle East, that a tiny group of very rich people has ruled over an enormous group of very poor, uneducated people for so long.

We’ve been told that the emerging middle classes in India and China are a wonderful thing for the growth of world trade and prosperity and stability.

But here at home, our middle class is suffering and shrinking.  And we’re told that the growing chasm of income inequality, that the falling back of so many families into poverty, that the failure of so many children to do better than their parents as they have historically, is nothing to be alarmed about.

Can someone explain this?  Mitt?  Reince? Paul Ryan?  John Boehner? Anybody?