That settles it, then: Edward Snowden is a hero.
You remember Snowden, of course. He’s the former NSA contractor who took the agency’s secrets — including the revelation that the the federal government collects rather more data on its citizens than most of those citizens probably expected — then gave those secrets to Glenn Greenwald and fled the country. His initial appearance on the scene produced one of those irresolvable debates, whether Snowden was a hero, a traitor, or maybe a mix of both.
In all but the most optimistic scenarios, a war to keep nuclear arms out of Iran’s hands would be a very costly endeavor. Literally, in some cases: The price of oil would probably spike far beyond the wallet tolerances of most American families; the world economy would suffer greatly as a result. The violence would probably spill beyond Iran’s borders and throw a deadly, turmoil-filled region into, well, more deadly turmoil — enough to make the wars in Iran and Afghanistan look like cake walks. What’s more, it probably wouldn’t even work that well, delaying instead of ending Iran’s attempts to obtain a bomb. And the consequences — for America, and the world — are pretty much the same whether America joins such a war, or lets Israel attack Iran on its own.
Naturally, such a war should start right away.
As the entire world joined South Africans in laying the father of their nation, Nelson Mandela, to rest this week, much has been said about the genius, determination and humanity of the man who won a revolution without firing a single shot.
But there was one other element to his victory that seems to have escaped the notice of just about everybody who has remarked on his life — and that made it truly unique in human history.
So Mayor Nutter is going to London in a couple of weeks.
I get it. He wants to improve the city’s business relations. He’s looking for new business to attract here. He’s trying to better our image. People can debate the actual value of these kinds of trips. Do they really help? Does it really make a difference if our mayor goes? Can’t he be more productive and valuable just by staying at home and working on our own enormous challenges? Should taxpayers, even political contributors, be paying for these things? Will British Airways even upgrade him (trust me, it isn’t easy)? No one really knows. But that’s not important. Because the Mayor’s mind is made up. The reservations are made. The tickets are booked. He’s going.
The problem is he’s going to the wrong city.
We think the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg has the best take on Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times, urging the U.S. to be cautious on Syria:
The Vladimir Putin op-ed in the @nytimes may contain more chutzpah per square inch than any op-ed in history.
— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) September 12, 2013
Yeah, that about covers it. Here are three of the most chutzpah-filled sections of the op-ed:
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.
If Russia was really concerned about Israel’s defense, it probably wouldn’t be selling missiles to Iran.
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.
Says this guy.
Finally, those of us who grew up fearing Russia’s “Godless commies” can’t help but take notice of Putin’s conclusion:
We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
Sounds sincere, didn’t it?
Former Secretary of State, US Senator and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton received the 2013 Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center last night at a well-attended ceremony. Many notables were in the audience as Clinton affirmed the National Constitution Center’s mission, stressing the need for “active citizenship” and debate that “sometimes can get pretty noisy.” Action News anchorman Jim Gardner hosted the live broadcast of the ceremony on WPVI-TV/6ABC, which kicked off with 50 performers from the Bright Hope Baptist Community Singers of Philadelphia and the Princeton Girlchoir singing “I Believe I Can Fly.” The choirs were joined by Washington, D.C.-based saxophonist Brian Lenair, who has performed with Billy Paul, Al Jarreau, Grover Washington Jr., Peabo Bryson and George Benson.
For most of his presidency, Barack Obama has disappointed supporters mostly by not being different enough from his predecessor, George W. Bush. His failure to investigate Bush-era abuses like torture, and his decision to double down on Bush-era policies like warrantless wiretapping, had paradoxical effect: They made Obama’s presidency seem pointless, while at the same time offering bipartisan cover for the betrayal of his seeming civil libertarian promise.
So give President Obama credit for this: He’s preparing to disappoint his old supporters in an entirely new and innovative fashion.
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As the coming war with Syria approaches and cooler heads try their hardest to prevail, Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey are throwing their support behind the war effort. With the Obama Administration officially confirming the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons on its own citizens earlier this week, both Toomey and Casey have released statements in support of the US killing people the right way for killing people the wrong way.
“Assad has crossed more than a red line and the United States must act in the interest of our national and global security,” went Casey’s statement.
“[Chemical] weapons and [Assad's] behavior pose a national security risk to the US. This calls for an American response,” read Toomey’s.
That response seems likely, given that the Obama Administration is not expected to seek authorization for military action from Congress, despite whatever consultation the two groups have had. However, as House member Rep. Tom Marino noted, “the Constitution clearly separates war powers between the executive and legislative branches,” and House members are circulating a petition asking President Obama to receive Congress’ permission before going off to war.
Well, it sure looks like America is going to go to war in Syria. President Obama, who rose to presidential plausibility as the anti-war alternative to Sen. Hillary Clinton, is about to commit U.S. troops to combat — again — in pursuit of blurry goals using half-committed tactics. How could it not end well?