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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 12,554

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"May I speak to Mr. Edward Snowden, please?"

"May I ask who's calling?"

"Certainly, this is the President's office."

"Would that be President Putin or...?"

"Yes, President Putin. Is Mr. Snowden available?"


"Good. Mr.Snowden, the President will be taking questions from the public, and he asks if you would like to pose him a question."

"Um, sure. When would this be?"

"Tomorrow afternoon."

"Ok, well sure. I can be there. Just let me know when and where."

"Actually, we thought that for your convenience we could tape your question ahead of time. Would that be all right?"

"Um, ok. Yeah, I don't see why not. Now, about my asylum extension. Is this the right time to ask?"

"You should continue to work that through our legal system, of course. I don't think your participation in this event with President Putin should hurt your case, if that is what you are asking."

"Sure. Ok."

--- Or ----

"Hello, may I speak to someone who knows about the President's next public questions event?"

"May I ask who's calling?"

"This is Edward Snowden."

"The Edward Snowden?"

"Yes, the Edward Snowden."

"Yes Sir. How may I help?"

"I thought that in the interest of the privacy rights of Russian citizens I would tape a question for President Putin."

"Well, that is not such a good idea, Mr. Snowden. President Putin is under a great deal of pressure saving our good Russians in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine from terrorists. He prizes civil liberties like no one else, but he is just too busy to take your inquiry."

"I insist, Sir! It is my intention to hold President Putin's feet to the fire; I want to ensure that Russian children will know what it is like to have a private thought and to have a say in how their government is run. I think I am the one to do that if you will only assist me."

"Mr. Snowden, do you realize what you are asking? You want me to allow you to tape a question for my President that will embarrass him on television? You want me to keep it a secret from him?"

"Yes. It must be a secret between you and me. What's your name by the way?"

"That's not important is it?"

"You're right. It's better for you that I don't know. The plan is that I will tape the question. Then you make sure that it gets on the show."

"It will get me in trouble. They will know it's me."

"Do it for your countrymen, dammit!"

"I see. You are very persuasive, Mr. Snowden. You have won me over to your cause."

"I'll get you the tape and you will make sure that it surprises President Putin?"

"Yes. I will do that. I'll do it for Pussy Riot."

"Make sure that the President doesn't see my tape in advance. Heh. I'll be taping in English. I want the President to have to ask for an interpreter live. Make sure one is there! Remember, we don't want him rehearsing a joke about how he and I are both ex-intelligence professionals or anything like that. That would just play into his hands. We want to surprise him."

Voting to get a "political product" is a sickness.

I guess Americans can be forgiven for thinking of voting as a way of paying for a "political product." It's deeply misguided, but in our world, practically everything has taken on the characteristics of a transaction.

First, the product is shown or proposed. The buyer looks over the product or proposal. The buyer chooses and "buys." The product is delivered or not. If the product is not delivered as proposed, then the buyer has a right to be angry and to choose not to buy from the seller in the future. If the product is delivered as promised, the buyer returns for more.

Fine, but voting isn't that. Government isn't that. Everything isn't that.

I think a lot of folks have gotten so used to this passive, "sell me something" paradigm that we sometimes apply it where it doesn't apply. Voting isn't buying. Voting is taking action. Voting is, if anything, producing a product, not simply buying one off of the menu.

Look at the net monetary value of a single vote. It's practically worthless. People used to—rationally—sell their votes for a beer. One of the best arguments against the Republicans' lying contention that there is widespread voter fraud is simply that a vote isn't worth enough to risk going to jail over. It isn't worth enough to risk getting a parking ticket.

A vote isn't money, and you aren't buying things with it. And if you don't get the things you thought you were "buying," you don't have grounds to be angry. You weren't buying anything. You were trying to empower a position. You don't get to be a consumer in this case, much as you might want to be. Much as you might not be able to see yourself as anything else.

A voter is just a tugger on a rope, an engine on the democratic plane, not cargo. If you don't win the tug-of-war or the plane doesn't make it over the mountain, it doesn't mean you didn't "get what you paid for." It means that voters with your position—as a group—were outnumbered or, if not outnumbered, failed to do their part.

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