David Hines
Motherland, may I?
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By David Hines
December 10, 2013

In movies things generally have to happen fast. A car chase at the speed of Florida retirees would have insufficient impact to draw in the ticket revenues, and would be an insomnia remedy on cable. Dialogue at the pace of normal conversation would advance the plot at glacial speed. Hollywood telescopes events to fit within the allotted time.

Kennedy urged the making of the film Seven Days in May. The story is one of an attempted coup by high-level military officers. The film concept is not entirely without factual basis. Retired Marine General Smedley Butler claimed decades before to have been approached by wealthy businesspersons to be the front person for a coup against FDR; Butler brought it to the attention of authorities. Semper fi.

Kennedy offered a prime shooting location outside the White House. Why? After the Bay of Pigs, the sacking of Dulles, negotiated rather than martial resolution of the Cuban missile crisis, and a few other controversial decisions, he knew he had made a lot of enemies – including within the military-industrial complex about which his predecessor had warned. He thought the movie might serve as a warning, perhaps forestalling such an event during his administration.

That was the Hollywood pace. In real-world timing, it has taken a bit more time. Five decades later it seems the fictionalized coup has taken place. Those who listen to the conversations of the German Chancellor are also listening to the conversations of the American President. That is a given, since the Chancellor and President routinely converse via telephone.

President Obama says he didn't know about the surveillance of Merkel. If true, he didn't know that he himself was being monitored. The Chief Executive, then, is not in control of government. Or else he is, and the denial is for the purpose of gulling the public.

Keynesian economists and government agencies treat people like atoms, assuming that they are insensate reactors to stimuli and will respond according to predictions. In physics there may be the occasional errant atom, but most react predictably to the electromagnetic force. In the realms of economics and government, the atoms don't do as they're told.

A better analogy would be subatomic particles. As per Heisenberg, one can know either position or velocity, but not both. Observation alters the particle's status, sending it on a different and equally unpredictable trajectory.

Budget projections for projects are routinely off by an order of magnitude. Stimulus doesn't stimulate; a "jump start" rather resembles a short-circuit. Efforts to constrain lobbying instead increase the velocity of lobbying money, sending it to politicians via different trajectories.

People knowing they're observed change their behavior. They may have stage fright. They may constrain expression of their true thoughts. In fearing to be frank they may adopt a self-defensive hypocrisy. To be a convincing hypocrite or liar, one must be able to convince oneself to some degree that the lie is true. It's why sociopaths are the most convincing prevaricators.

It has been revealed by Snowden and many others that the public have been uninformed about much of what government does. The people are not in a position to monitor the actions of their officials, but agencies with black budgets are. Doesn't this give officials the incentive to please the observers, and not the non-observers? The observers have drones; the non-observers have only small arms – at least for the time being.

Does the elected president control the government, or does the NSA? The agency represents the militarization of society. If seven days in May didn't work, perhaps five decades may.

© David Hines

 

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David Hines

Born in a mill town, David Hines has seen work as a furniture mover, computer programmer/analyst, and professional musician... (more)

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