28 June 2013

Miscellaneous Musing #54

Is Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor?  He says that he's neither, and it's also possible, given the complexity of the human psyche, that he fits into both categories.  I haven't made up my mind about him (and I don't know that I ever can without knowing his motives), but I'll grant that I have a hard time getting indignant toward him, for the following reasons: He hasn't sold secrets to a hostile foreign power, but merely exposed them in a hostile foreign publication; It's not true that he unwittingly betrayed his depravity by fleeing to a part of mainland China, because Hong Kong retains the political and legal system of its British-Crown-Colony era; He demonstrated great courage in authorizing two newspapers to reveal his identity—I still don't know why he did it, unless it was to prepare his loved ones for the trials to come; He has sacrificed his highly lucrative career as a computer programmer, and condemned himself to a life in exile from his native land; and, That the detestable organization "WikiLeaks" has been acting on his behalf, and that he seeks asylum in polities that (save Switzerland) are unfriendly to the USA, does not prove that he is guilty of treason. (A man whose own country has revoked his passport and indicted him for high crimes needs what friends he can get; moreover, nearly all the states of the world that lack treaties of extradition with the USA are either unfriendly ones or "developing" ones in which no outsiders really want to live.)
I don't have a conclusion here, but that's why this is a miscellaneous musing rather than an uncommon commentary.

21 June 2013

Uncommon Commentary #349: Since "Cyber" Really Means "Zero", "Cyber Command" Could Refer to Our Leadership

I don't know whether NSA Director (and leader of Cyber [sic] Command) Keith Alexander exaggerates the number of terrorist plots that his agency's controversial surveillance has "disrupted or prevented"—There was a time when I would have given him the benefit of the doubt, but, Who can still believe anything said by a member of Emperor Nerobama's administration?—but I would be surprised if it should turn out that the NSA's extremely comprehensive program has not prevented any.  Even if the Director's assertion is a fact, however, it doesn't prove that terrorism could not have been thwarted with equal or superior effectiveness by less-intrusive methods.  "Profiling", for instance, has proven remarkably effective in identifying the sort of person who commits any given crime; the one thing that stops us from employing it in the fight versus Terror is our own political-correctness, or, to use my own coinage: "Totalitarianism Lite".  "Profiling" is, of course, regarded by many of the profiled as a violation of their rights—see UC #65 for my refutation of the objection to "racial profiling"—but public-opinion polls reveal that the average person is not pleased with being spied upon by the NSA, either.  How does invading the privacy of practically the entire population qualify as less of an offence than investigating just a portion thereof?

18 June 2013

Uncommon Commentary #348: A Suggestion that Makes MO' Sense

Here's a better idea than "statehood" for the District of Columbia, which, if it should become the fifty-first "state" [see Uncommon Commentary #340 and the footnote to Miscellaneous Musing #9], would be easily and ridiculously the smallest such unit: transfer the US capital to Saint Louis, Missouri, which there was indeed a movement to do in the 1870's, and return what is now the D. of C. to Maryland.  Lest readers think that I want to bring misery to Missouri and turn Maryland into a merry land, it ought to be noted that this does not mean that we would need to appropriate land to become an equivalent of the District of Columbia; the practice of having federal territory to contain the capital city has been (presumably) imitated by countries like Mexico and Australia, but it really serves no purpose.  Note also that St. Louis, MO has advantages over Washington, DC: being farther inland, the former is safer from attack by foreign armed forces; and, as a Christian, I'd rather have a capital named for a saint than for our first president, who, contrary to his usual portrayal, was far from saintly!

17 June 2013

Miscellaneous Musing #53: MM #52 Follow-Up

I've another question about Newtown's plan to raze the Sandy Hook school and raise a new one upon its ruins. (Yes: There is a pun on "raze" and "raise".)  Where will the children who would have gone to the current edifice get their education while its replacement is under construction?  Except for igloos, tents, and the occasional lean-to, no building that I've ever heard of has gone up in the under-three-months that the town has left before the onset of the next academic year.

13 June 2013

Uncommon Commentary #347: "Immigration Reform" School

I like Senator Marco Rubio, but he and other Republicans who favor "immigration reform" are wrong to deny that the pending bill of that designation is an amnesty.  There's just one responsible way to handle the problem of persons coming to this country in violation of the law: round them up, and either jail them here or send them back whence they came.  Any other approach qualifies as amnesty, no matter what anyone calls it.

12 June 2013

Miscellaneous Musing #52

I'd like to know what reasoning underlay the decision by Newtown, Connecticut to demolish the Sandy Hook school (where Adam Lanza's massacre took place) and erect a new building on the same spot and serving the same purpose.  Presumably this is being done to try to minimize the risk of psychological trauma to those who will be returning as pupils, but was this $50-million step actually recommended by experts in the field of mental health?  The State government's anti-"assault weapon" crusade obviously did not result from the advice of crime-prevention professionals, who will tell you that the AR-15 that Lanza stole from his mother is an ordinary semi-automatic rifle which has merely been designed to resemble a military gun; it was partly a sincere but ignorant reaction to the shootings, partly an excuse to torment the firearms industry, and partly a desire to appear to be doing something to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy.  I would hope that Newtown's choice has better motives.

11 June 2013

Uncommon Commentary #346: If Our Strikes Are "Surgical", They're Guilty of Malpractice (Alternate Title: Droning On and On)

Pakistan may be a poor ally in the War on Terror, but it is a sovereign state whose government has formally asked us to terminate our campaign of "drone" (unmanned aerial vehicle) attacks within its territory.  We ought to either honor that request, or be honest enough to invade the country and so establish a military presence by right of conquest.
On a similar topic: Whenever, wherever, and however one fights a war, at least some noncombatants are going to die, and so I don't necessarily regard the accidental casualties from our War on Terror in Pakistan, Yemen, &c. as reasons to call off that war; but it would be nice if our government would stop using the dehumanizing euphemism "collateral damage" to refer to such deaths, as if killing Anwar al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son and his son's friend were no more regrettable than, for instance, knocking out someone's tooth with a clean check in a hockey game.

06 June 2013

The Best of Uncommon Commentary

Calling UC #62 a "best of" uncommon commentary might seem naught more than a euphemism for an old one, but I have updated it since it made its debut, and you might not have seen it in the first place; and so, why don't you stop reading this and start reading it?

03 June 2013

Uncommon Commentary #345

Many opinioneers correctly decry our government as dysfunctional, corrupt, and, as the scandals of the current presidential administration have reminded us, sometimes even oppressive.  Judge Andrew Napolitano, for instance, with whom I usually agree despite his excessive reverence for the USA's Founding Fathers, often likens the present regime's practices to those of King and Parliament that allegedly impelled (some of the) denizens of the Thirteen Colonies to revolt against the rule of the home country.  These pundits, however, always shrink from what I consider to be the inescapable conclusion of their logic, which is that what some call the "American experiment" has failed and that we're no better governed—indeed, probably worse so—than we would be had we never waged our war of independence.