Inside the Beltway: Is Edward Snowden a hero or villain?

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Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret National Security Agency surveillance programs.”

And so reads a White House “We the People” online petition established Sunday; it drew 27,000 signatures in 24 hours. Another petition that declared “President Obama, if you believe in NSA surveillance, we challenge you to a live, public debate with Edward Snowden,” was established Monday and has about 1,500 signatures.

There are those who say the uncloaked Mr. Snowden is not a man of honor. Vehemently.

“You’ve got this 29-year-old, high school-dropout whistleblower making foreign policy for our country, our security policy. We’ve made treason cool. Betraying your country is kind of a fashion statement. He wants to be the national security Kim Kardashian. He cites Bradley Manning as a hero,” New York Post columnist Ralph Peters told “Fox & Friends.”

“We need to get very, very serious about treason. And oh, by the way, for treason — as in the case of Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden — you bring back the death penalty,” Mr. Peters suggested.

WHISTLEBLOWING NUMBERS

For what it’s worth, an even two-thirds of more than 3,000 respondents in a Los Angeles Times online poll say the aforementioned Mr. Snowden is “a hero, because he exposed a huge potential threat to civil liberties.”

It’s safety first elsewhere: 56 percent of Americans say the NSA surveillance program that tracks millions of phone numbers is “acceptable.” Forty-one percent disagree. Another 62 percent say the investigation of terrorism threats is more important than privacy; 34 percent disagree. The source is a Pew Research Center/Washington Post poll released Monday; more numbers in Poll du Jour at column’s end.

PARSING THE ZIMMERMAN JURY

The jury in the trial of George Zimmerman will likely be “more white and more conservative than most, and a challenge to the prosecution.” That is the conclusion of Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a syndicated columnist and author of the new book “America on Trial: The Slaying of Trayvon Martin.” Mr. Hutchinson pored over data from the U.S. census and the Florida Division of Elections and contends that the likely jurors picked will be “older, wealthier, more conservative, and whiter than the average juror in other Florida counties.”

Based on local demographics for Sanford, site of the trial: Of the 500 people in the juror pool, Mr. Hutchinson forecasts there will be 329 whites, 89 Hispanics and 59 blacks. There will be 239 men and 251 women. In any other case, he insists such a jury would be overwhelmingly “pro prosecution, and the likelihood of Mr. Zimmerman being convicted would be nearly a slam dunk.”

But he stipulates, “This is anything but any other case,” and the racial divide will be “gaping.”

Jury selection in the case began Monday. Mr. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder.

INSIDE BASEBALL

The Grand Old Party is keen on baseball, judging from the rosters of Democrats and Republicans readying themselves for the annual Congressional Baseball Game, set for Thursday in wondrous Nationals Park, just a couple of home runs from the U.S. Capitol. Yes, lawmakers are the players in a game established in 1909 by one John Kinley Tener, a former professional baseball player and a Republican congressman, later governor, from Pennsylvania.

There are 23 players on the Democratic team, 38 on the Republican team this year, incidentally.

Sens. Rand Paul and Tim Scott plus Rep. Joe Barton are among the Republicans, while Sen. Joe Donnelly plus Reps. Jared Polis and Linda T. Sanchez — the sole female — are among the Dems. The game benefits Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the Washington Literacy Center and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. Many details here: CongressionalBaseball.org.

“RELENTLESS POSITIVE ACTION”

He has emerged from the cranky, manufactured chaos of the political landscape: that would be Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who offers something of the old can-do spirit of America that should be revisited. Mr. Snyder is fed up with the wheel-spinning and whining of the current discourse, and has barred it from his state.

“One of the other basic principles we operate under here is relentless positive action — no blame, no credit, simply solving problems. And that’s made a huge difference here in Michigan, because we don’t waste time on the blame game,” Mr. Snyder tells the Ripon Society, a centrist Republican group.

“Think about Washington. If people stepped back and said no one would blame anyone and no one would take credit. The press might have to find something else to write about, but they’d have a whole lot more time where they’d actually be solving problems. And I think people are fed up with that,” the governor says.

POLL DU JOUR

56 percent of Americans say NSA surveillance programs are “acceptable”; 52 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent overall say the practice is unacceptable; 47 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Democrats agree.

52 percent overall say the federal government should not be allowed to monitor emails to prevent possible terrorism; 51 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats agree.

45 percent say the monitoring emails is acceptable; 45 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of Democrats agree.

27 percent of Americans are following the NSA story “very closely”; 32 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,004 U.S. adults conducted June 6-9.

Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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