WHAT JUST DIDN’T HAPPEN, AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN?

November 7, 2012

It’s the day after the national election, and nothing’s changed. Obama’s still in the White House, the Republicans still control the House of Representatives and the Democrats still control the Senate. Oh, and the Cheshire Cat is still grinning in the tree.

The official presidential campaigns spent over $1 billion and nothing happened except that the TV networks got richer. We still will have gridlock for at least the next two years. (Things could change in 2014. The Democrats could regain control of the House, and in the event, if they retain control of the Senate, then it will be a replay of 2009 and 2010, in which period we got Obamacare.) God only knows what we would get if the Democrats regain control of Congress in 2014. But surely Americans are not so stupid as to do that again; in the election yesterday they kissed Obama’s ass big time, but still elected Republicans to control the House. All politics are local, it’s been said. Lest you think I’m pickin’ on the Democrats, I assure you I believe that were the Republicans in the same position, the fallout would be as bad, if slightly different.

But there is one thing looming that could cause big changes: A lame-duck Congress. It is the time when it could really rape us, as if we haven’t been fucked enough by Congress in the past 12 years (at least).

The lame-ducks will consider extending the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a law that employs secret and unaccountable FISA courts and bureaucrats that authorize the federal government to spy on Americans with warrantless searches and forces libraries and internet providers to give the government information they want about Americans. The House already passed the extension, so will the Senate save us from this abomination? Don’t bet on it.

Congress failed to pass what Campaign for Liberty calls “the crown jewel in the national security police state,” cyber-security laws that would require internet providers to allow the federal government to see behind everything on the net. But you can be sure that Congress will try to pass it in the lame-duck session.

Republicans always have been statists to a significant degree (Bush got that constitution-screwing Patriot Act passed with the help of his Republican congressional majority), but the Democrats that were anti-statists during Vietnam have become even more statist than Republicans! We still have the Patriot Act even after two years of a Democratic president who had a Democrat-controlled Congress! Curious, isn’t it, that those who once were anti-establishment now are the establishment.

My Democrat friends will say that in this post I am lying about the Democratic Party and impugning the newly reelected president-who-can-do-no-wrong. My Republican friends will say that I am lying about the Republican Party. They all will defend the Patriot Act, the FISA Amendments Act, and the proposed cyber-security legislation as necessary for our security.

But how, then, will we be secure from our own government? If none of this happens in the lame-duck session, I will have fallen down the rabbit hole.


SMUT’S HUNTING A PLATYPUS

November 3, 2012

“Smut,” I said, “you are a truly amazing dog. It took you a while, but your dogged persistence in searching for the Higgs Boson paid off!” Smut, my black Labrador retriever, was sitting contentedly in his favorite easy chair, looking deep in thought, which meant to me that he was contemplating particle physics.

“Wasn’t really that amazing,” he said, looking up and taking a slow puff on his cigar. After adjusting his fez, he said, “It just takes a lot of concentration, and I’m uniquely designed for intense concentration. You’ve watched me in retriever mode often, so you know what I mean. By the way, good pun.”

“What pun?” I asked.

“Never mind,” he replied. “It’ll come to you.”

“Well, congratulations are in order anyway. And after spending years on the Higgs, and particularly after your cancer surgery in January, you deserve to, ah, lead a dog’s life for the rest of your time.”

Ignoring my pun, he looked at me reproachfully and said, “Can’t do it, sport. If I only have a little time left, then I have to really concentrate to find the platypus.” He straightened his smoking jacket and took another puff of his cigar, slowly exhaling the smoke away from me so as not to blow it in my face.

“What? What are you talking about?”

“The platypus particle, of course.”

“What’s that,” I said, clueless as to what he was talking about.

“Well,” he continued, “you know about leptons and hadrons, don’t you?” looking at me expectantly.

“No. Should I?”

“Yes, you should. I’ll explain.”

He crossed his paws and proceeded to explain in depth until I was completely lost in a morass of leptons, quarks, hadrons, positive charges, negative charges, and other mysterious terms I can’t remember. Finally, he appeared to be at the end of his baffling “explanation.”

“So, a particle could exist that is a bit like both leptons and quarks: a leptoquark,” the old dog finished, with a look of satisfaction at having enlightened me.

“Wait a minute, I said, I thought you were talking about leptons and hadrons.”

“You don’t listen, do you?” he replied, irritated that I had not understood. “I already explained that a quark is the basic building block of hadrons. Keep your car on the highway!”

“Oh, sorry,” I apologized, still baffled.

He calmed down a bit, sat back in the chair and tapped the ash from his cigar into an ashtray. “So discovering a leptoquark would be like discovering a platypus, a mammal that’s furry somewhat like a beaver, but that lays eggs like a duck. See?”

No, I didn’t really understand that leptoquark stuff, but I can see that now he’s going to be intent on retrieving a platypus, something I think is very odd for a Labrador. I just hope he doesn’t try to use my credit card to buy a ticket to Australia.


ELECTION PREDICTION

November 2, 2012

Either Obama will win a second term, or Romney will win the White House. I feel pretty confident of that prediction.

Will I be pleased with either result?

Obama has presided over a disastrous first term, not just because Bush screwed things up, but because he, Obama, has screwed up worse. I know that a great many people who voted for Obama in 2008 intend either to vote for Romney in 2012, or not to vote.

Romney has spent his campaign trying to find the right thing to say to get elected, never mind that he hasn’t spent past years doing the right thing, so we have no clue what the hell he would do as president, except continue, like Obama, to promote corporate interests and, like Obama, to spend our tax money profligately.  (An aside to all those who intend to vote for Romney because they think he is the lesser of two evils: There is no lesser of these two evils.) And a great many who really wanted the Republican party to nominate someone other than Romney may not vote.

I, like them, will not be pleased with either Obama or Romney. What the campaigns are calling “a clear choice,” is no choice at all.

Those disaffected with the Democratic and Republican candidates should consider voting for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, but mostly for the preservation of our freedom and liberty. But I know they won’t. I cannot tell you how many people with whom I’ve talked say that they do not want to vote for Obama or Romney, but that a vote for a third-party candidate–even one with whom they mostly agree–is a wasted vote.

That isn’t true, of course. If you vote your conscience, it’s not a wasted vote. If all those disaffected people voted for Gary Johnson, what a statement that would make! If he were to capture a significant part of the vote, it would send a message to both the Democrats and the Republicans that Americans are tired of extreme partisan politics; that we want candidates to work for the good of all Americans, not just whatever faction or corporate interest they secretly represent; that we want politicians to listen to us and understand that they work for us, not the other way round, and that we want, above all, forever to be free from government oppression.

If Johnson were to come in second, beating one of the major party candidates in the vote, it would scare the shit out of both major parties. To the major party that came in third, it might mean that it no longer has legitimacy as a political party, and to the major party that won, the message might be “you’re next!” In either event, both major parties would scramble to pay attention to the voters, and that is what we want.

But, like I say, people are short-sighted and so timid that they will not have the guts to vote us out of the terrible mess that we’re in. People just don’t understand that the two major parties are confident that one of them will win this time, and the other one later, so they can continue this charade of being different while carting us down the path to fiscal destruction and social upheaval with impunity.

So my prediction stands: Obama or Romney will win, and America will lose.


THE FOURTH ESTATE IS DEAD IN AMERICA

November 1, 2012

When I was in the Air Force, I followed the Watergate story in the Washington Post every day until the rest of the news media caught up, and even then, the Post was my main source of news about Watergate. And as a journalist, I was proud of the Post for its vise-grip on the story, and its dogged determination to follow it to the end.

At the time, I never considered whether the fact that Nixon was a Republican had anything to do with the Post’s determination to dig out the facts of the story and print it regardless of its fallout; I just assumed that any journalist, and any news organization, would do that, whether the subject was a Democrat or Republican. Indeed, during the Watergate period, news media whose editorial policies were both Democrat and Republican followed the story to conclusion, as we would expect news media to do today.

But times have changed. There are sufficient questions surrounding the attack in Benghazi and the death of the American ambassador to Libya to make a real journalist salivate and dig relentlessly to uncover the truth. But is the Post doing that? No. And neither is any “news” medium whose editorial stance is pro-Democratic. They all should be ashamed of themselves. I certainly am ashamed of them.

That leaves Fox News as the only “news” organization digging to get the story, and one wonders if the events had happened under a Republican president if Fox News would be as lackadaisical as the Post is now in pursuing the story. One also wonders how diligent Fox News would be if the events had occurred after the election, and whether the pro-Obama news media will pursue the story more diligently after the election, should Obama be reelected.

The Washington Post and other media survive now as instruments of party or presidential propaganda rather than “news” media. It is the job of the Fourth Estate to protect the people from government by letting them know what the government is doing; by spotlighting the unconstitutional and other misdeeds of our government. Given that the media no longer performs those functions, what does that say about how long Americans can remain a free people?