Friday, September 23, 2016

She's your humble servant -- not the debaters

As the tension mounts for the upcoming presidential debate I suggest we keep one fact foremost in mind.  The two candidates are, in truth, and at best, fools.  They believe, as do the voters evidently, that they can run other people’s lives, and for that reason want to tower over the lives and livelihoods of some 320 million Americans.

But wait, you say — the president doesn’t simply impose his will on the nation.  He carries out a program concocted by faces both seen and unseen.  And of course you’re right.  Those faces constitute what some call the Deep State and others the National Security State and still others the Secret Government.  And others Big Brother.  Policy is enacted through horse trading carried out in back rooms.  And untouchable bureaucracies issuing decrees.

Voters know this if you press them on it, but they go to the polls anyway because if no one did we’d collapse into tyranny.  So voters vote believing they’ve got this thing called the federal government in their hands and dismiss any suggestion that by voting it’s the other way around.  We’re still a free people, even if the US president can jail or kill anyone on his own discretion.  The president needs this power to safeguard our freedom. 

So, imagine, you Trump-haters out there, if he wins the jackpot.  Will you be targeted?  Same with you Hillary-haters.  Based on what you’ve seen and heard in the campaigns, do you think either one will repeal this power?  Do you think either one would hesitate to use it?  Or expand on it?

Whatever you’re voting for this November, it ain’t freedom.

But there is one bright voice available who lives in your pocket or purse.  She’s incapable of assassinating you.   She can’t bail out the big shots.  She can’t issue executive orders.  She can't tell you how to run your business.  She can’t tax you.  She can’t dilute the purchasing power of the dollars you spend.  She can't create financial crises.  She can’t send your kids overseas to fight in an undeclared war.  Or a declared one.  She can't create a false flag operation.  Unlike a politician she’s almost always at your beck and call.  She’s a loyal servant, not your master.  

As a politician, therefore, she’s completely inept.  

She’s knowledgeable but doesn’t pretend to be all-knowing.  She can speak languages from Arabic to Turkish.  She can guide you on a trip from point A to point B.  If you make a wrong turn she can get you back on course quickly.  She’s better at math than most people.  She can even tell a joke.

Which is better, Hillary (or Trump) in the White House, exposed to God-knows-what corrupt forces — or Siri in your pocket, helping you through your day?

And it’s “you,” not “us.”  It’s not one person organizing a nation like a herd of livestock.  She’s an algorithm with a pleasant voice answering your questions, addressing your needs.

Sure, she could be better at helping you — much better.  But at least she exists for that purpose.  What about the candidates on Monday night — what will they do for you?  Kill more foreigners?  Print more money?  Arrest more people?  Tell more lies?  

Siri doesn’t kill, print, arrest, or lie.  Fatal shortcomings for a politician.  All she does is try to answer your questions. 

Ever since her debut there have been those who grouse about her inadequacies.  We also heard complaints about the state of medical care in the country.  Siri keeps getting better.  And medical care?  ObamaCare drove my PCP into early retirement.

The betting sites are alive with action on who will win in November.  Meanwhile, Siri and other digital personal assistants approach the prime of their digital lives, threatening the political class with extinction.  

For those who think a truly helpful Siri is too far in the future, consider how she responds to questions put to her today.


  

















   
   
  











Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Another day in government's office

Today as I do every day I went to my website’s many RSS feeds and read reports and commentaries that have become painfully familiar.  Here are some items I found:

David Stockman’s hard-hitting article that urges Donald Trump to slam the Fed in the upcoming presidential debate for its crucifixion of what Stockman calls Flyover America.  “The Fed’s core policies of 2% inflation and 0% interest rates . . . are based on the specious academic theory that financial gambling fuels economic growth and that all economic classes prosper from inflation and march in lockstep together as prices and wages ascend on the Fed’s appointed path.”  Stockman adds: “Putting the wood to the Fed is the right answer for what ails the American economy. Monday night would be a good place for the Donald to line-up with the 90% who have been left behind.”

Unfortunately, putting the wood to the Fed doesn’t mean eliminating it, in Stockman’s view.  

Ron Paul’s Liberty Report that featured former state department official Peter Van Buren as a guest discussing the Snowden movie and the nightmare surveillance state in which we have been caged in the name of protecting us.  You better not become a “person of interest” if you’ve ever so much as given the appearance of venturing from morally approved paths.  If Big Brother takes an interest in you, no part of your life, past or present, will be hidden from its all-seeing eyes.

But wait — you say you’re a good guy, have done nothing wrong, have nothing to hide, and therefore don’t care that BB is watching your every move?

Think again.

Who says you’ve done nothing wrong?  As security expert Bruce Schneier wrote in 2006, “the government gets to define what's wrong, and they keep changing the definition."  Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? ("Who watches the watchers?”)  

And you have nothing to hide?  Words can be taken out of context.  Intended humor can be misconstrued.  Someone may have it in for you.  The issue is not security versus privacy.  It’s privacy versus control.  Schneier, quoting Cardinal Richelieu: ”If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.”

The frightening but unsurprising trend of tech companies amplifying the war-making powers of government through ever more powerful autonomous killer robots.  “When it comes to lethal autonomous systems, proponents argue that they could one day save lives, precisely targeting only opposing soldiers and machines while leaving civilians safe from harm.”  Right.  And who determines what those soldiers will look like?  US enemies have a nasty habit of dressing like civilians.  Safer to wipe out everyone than risk not killing a “terrorist.” 

Lew Rockwell’s speech on War and the State, and the many ways it has distorted our lives and the lives of others.  “War and [war propaganda] encourages us to think of other peoples as dispensable or simply beneath us. A wedding party is blown to smithereens in Afghanistan, and Americans yawn. But we’d certainly pay attention if the federal government blew away a wedding party in Providence, Rhode Island.”

Robert Wenzel’s report on former Speaker John Boehner joining the law and lobby firm Squire Patton Boggs.  

“With Speaker Boehner joining our team, we're better positioned than ever to grow our brand throughout the world and to fully capitalize on our integrated global platform,” said Squire Patton Boggs CEO Mark Ruehlmann in a statement.  Boehner’s “former deputy chief of staff, Dave Schnittger, and former policy adviser, Natasha Hammond, already work at Squire Patton Boggs.”  Nothing like a revolving door to capitalize on an “integrated global platform.”

The Guardian reports on Donald Trump’s plan to take the oil from all the states controlled by ISIS, particularly Iraq.  Starve the savages.  Quoting Trump: “We go in, we spend $3tn, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then … what happens is we get nothing. You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils.”  And: “You’re not stealing anything,” Trump said. “We’re reimbursing ourselves … at a minimum, and I say more. We’re taking back $1.5tn to reimburse ourselves.”   

Let’s see.  The Iraq invasion of 2003 was a war based on lies. Writes Amy Goodman:
Just one year after the invasion, at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association annual dinner in Washington, D.C., President Bush joked to the hundreds of journalists at the gathering, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere.” Slides of Bush crouched on the floor of the Oval Office, looking for WMDs under the furniture, accompanied his comedy routine. As dead U.S. service members were brought back to Dover Air Force Base, where photographing the body bags was banned, and while Iraqi corpses piled up in streets and morgues, Bush’s behavior was unfathomable.
After the government’s killing, maiming, and rendering homeless tens of thousands of Iraqis and destroying their infrastructure, a Trump administration would find a way to steal the country’s oil.  Is that not like murdering a man then cleaning out his bank account?  

Might as well strip the US government from all moral pretenses.  Make the Iraqi’s pay for the US government’s mendacity, death and destruction.   That will certainly cast a healing pall over the devastated Middle East. 

Jacob Hornberger comments on the recent blowback in New York City and New Jersey.  “U.S. foreign interventionism in the Middle East has been the motivating factor for every act of anti-American terrorism since 1993, when terrorists first attacked the World Trade Center,” he writes.  

The US government has killed people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya, yet Americans are shocked and puzzled over why some of them retaliate.  In Hornberger’s words:
Under no circumstances can the U.S. killing of people in the Middle East be permitted to stop. 
The reason is simple: The national-security branch knows that if the troops were to be brought home today, anti-American terrorism would evaporate. 
What would that mean? It would mean no more “war on terrorism.” After all, if there is no more anti-American terrorism, then why do we need a “war on terrorism”? Why do we need a PATRIOT Act, an assassination program, Gitmo, secret surveillance schemes, indefinite detention, and perpetual state of emergency?
And so on.    

This is the US deep state at work.  It’s been doing this for as long as it could get away with it, which goes back no later than the Spanish American War in 1898.  And on Monday night, September 26, there will be a debate between the latest candidates to serve this rogue institution.  A record number of viewers is predicted by some experts, even though it will be competing with another major entertainment event, Monday Night Football.  

Paraphrasing Russell Crowe as fighter James J. Braddock in Cinderella Man, at least football players can see who’s hitting them.  American voters cannot. 

If by chance you find the news and candidates appalling and want some assurance that dawn might be approaching instead of an oncoming freight train, consider this inspirational video: “Surgeons in Oxford have used a robot to operate inside the eye - in a world first. A team at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital used the device, controlled via a joystick, to remove a membrane one hundredth of a millimetre thick. Patient Bill Beaver, 70, said it was "a fairytale”.”  Mr. Beaver was going blind in his right eye, which the surgery corrected.

Better a “fairy tale” surgery than a nightmare presidential campaign.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Choose your elections wisely

So, you’re planning to be a responsible American on Election Day and cast your vote.  Fine, but ask yourself why.   Is it any more than a ritual?  Is the engine of government something you can control through elections you don’t control?   Do you think if you put a voice for liberty in the Oval Office that voice would last long?  Are any of the candidates even selling liberty?  Are you looking to buy it, or do you just want in on the scam?

Further, what would motivate an institution — government — which is fundamentally anti-liberty to surrender any of its power?  Government has been for sale to the highest bidders for a long time.  Nothing gets changed without their approval.  Are you one of those highest bidders?  Probably not.

On November 22, 1963, when Lee Harvey Oswald declared himself a patsy in the murder of President John F. Kennedy, he provided a clue about the power center of this country.  It isn’t the president, it isn’t Congress or the Court.  It most definitely is not the voters.

Boston Globe journalist Jordan Michael Smith explains:
Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, [political scientist Michael] Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy. (emphasis added)
How did this “double government” come about?

William Norman Grigg provides a summary:
Following World War II, there was no general demobilization in the United States — something that had never happened before in the nation’s history. In 1947, Congress passed the National Security Act, which created the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and created the framework for a permanent, globe-spanning military establishment under the aegis of what was now called the Department of Defense. Five years later, the National Security Agency, which originated as the US Army’s Cipher Bureau and Military Intelligence Branch in World War I, was given institutional permanence as well. 
These initiatives grew out of the open-ended Cold War conflict with the Soviet Union, which was described as a crisis of sufficient magnitude to justify putting the United States on a permanent war footing.
The National Security State 
During the 1950s, under the direction of Allen Dulles, the CIA coordinated “extremely bloody coups throughout the world,” writes Ben Terrall, in a review of David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government.  If overthrowing governments sounds made to order for Nazis, you would be correct.  Terrall, quoting Talbot, writes:
Like many convicted Nazi criminals in the early Cold War years, a number of the Nuremberg defendants sentenced to prison were later the beneficiaries of politically motivated interventions and early releases; few of the many thousand convicted Nazis were still in prison after 1953. A number of those interventions on behalf of fortunate war criminals could be traced to the quiet stratagems of Allen Dulles.
Allen and his brother John, who served as Secretary of State, “used the Cold War to protect the interests of their law firm’s clients, and they used it to enhance the power and budgets associated with their high positions in government,” writes Paul Craig Roberts.  
Whenever a reformist democratic government appeared in Latin America the Dulles brothers saw it as a threat to the holdings that their law firm’s clients had in that country. These holdings, sometimes acquired with bribes to nondemocratic governments, diverted the country’s resources and wealth into American hands, and that is the way the Dulles brothers intended to keep it. The reformist government would be declared Marxist or Communist, and the CIA and State Department would work together to overthrow it and place back in power a dictator in bed with Washington. 
The Cold War was pointless except for the Dulles brothers’ interests and those of the military/security complex. The Soviet government, unlike the US government today, had no world hegemonic aspirations. Stalin had declared “Socialism in one country” and purged the Trotskyists, the advocates of world revolution. 
Peace with communists?  A national security threat
At the time of JFK’s assassination French reporter Jean Daniel, acting as an emissary for the president, was in Cuba conducting private peace negotiations.  But the CIA already knew what needed to be done about Kennedy.   

Over the final months of JFK’s presidency [Talbot writes], a clear consensus took shape within America’s deep state: Kennedy was a national security threat. For the good of the country, he must be removed. And Dulles was the only man with the stature, connections, and decisive will to make something of this enormity happen. He had already assembled a killing machine overseas. Now he prepared to bring it home to Dallas.

Jacob Hornberger, in The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State, addresses the issue of national security and what it has cost not just Americans but people everywhere:
Four separate amendments in the Bill of Rights address the power of the federal government to take people, both Americans and foreigners, into custody and to inflict harm on them: the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments. Due process of law, right to counsel, grand-jury indictments, trial by jury, search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishments, bail, speedy trial — they are all expressly addressed, reflecting how important they were to our American ancestors and to their concept of a free society. 
In the age of national security, all of those protections have been rendered moot. They have all been trumped by the concept of national security. 
Ironically, the term isn’t even found in the Constitution. One searches in vain for some grant of power anywhere in that document relating to “national security.”
One also searches it vain for a precise definition of “national security.”  It is, as Hornberger says, “whatever the government says it is.”  It’s at once nonsense and the most important term in our lives.
One of the most fascinating aspects of all this is how successful the government has been in convincing Americans of two things: that all this is necessary to keep them safe and, at the same time, that America has continued to be a free country notwithstanding the fact that the government has acquired and has exercised totalitarian powers in order to preserve national security. . . .
When Americans read that the Soviet government rounded up its own people and sent them into the Gulag, they recoil against the exercise of such totalitarian powers. . . . 
But when the U.S. government does such things or even just claims the authority to do them — in the name of national security — the mindset of the average American automatically shifts. . .
The main components of the national security establishment, he tells us, are the military-industrial complex and the CIA.  
They are the entities that enforce the sanctions and embargoes and engage in the invasions, occupations, regime-change operations, coups, assassinations, torture, indefinite incarcerations, renditions, partnerships with totalitarian regimes, and executions — all in the name of “national security.”
The national security establishment is the godfather of what Doug Casey refers to as the Deep State, which “is a real, but informal, structure that has arisen to not just profit from, but control, the State.”
The Deep State has a life of its own, like the government itself. It’s composed of top-echelon employees of a dozen Praetorian agencies, like the FBI, CIA, and NSA…top generals, admirals, and other military operatives…long-term congressmen and senators…and directors of important regulatory agencies. 
But Deep State is much broader than just the government. It includes the heads of major corporations, all of whom are heavily involved in selling to the State and enabling it. That absolutely includes Silicon Valley, although those guys at least have a sense of humor, evidenced by their “Don’t Be Evil” motto. It also includes all the top people in the Fed, and the heads of all the major banks, brokers, and insurers. Add the presidents and many professors at top universities, which act as Deep State recruiting centers…all the top media figures, of course…and many regulars at things like Bohemian Grove and the Council on Foreign Relations. They epitomize the status quo, held together by power, money, and propaganda.
The free market versus the State

We hear a lot of talk about how good democracy is.  But is it?  What’s the distinction between political democracy and what has been called market democracy?  Government is bureaucratic.  It promotes “the leveling of the governed,” or as Gary North puts it, 
"the flattening of the voters." They are flat on their bellies. The bureaucrats walk over them. 
On the free or even semi-free market companies have to answer to their customers.  Those that don’t, including the Big Boys, find themselves in trouble.  North writes:
Kodak's executives refused to develop digital cameras because they feared that the new cameras would destroy their business. They feared cannibalizing their own company. But as Steve Jobs famously said, "If you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will."  
Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012.

Then there’s the famous case of IBM.  Personal computers?  They were toys, distractions for the little people.  Fancy calculators at best.  The IBM PC sold well in the early eighties, but the company balked at supporting newer chips.  Compaq didn’t, and snatched the PC market lead from IBM.  As North tells us, “IBM finally sold its PC line to China in 2005: Lenovo.”

Governments, of course, work differently than markets.  They are not subject to market forces of profit and loss.  Government's revenue stream is theft.  As government bureaucracies manifest their incompetence and/or corruption, they become eligible for new management and bigger budgets.   Recall Katrina and FEMA.

This is the heart of the matter.  The market, we’re told, is evil, powered by selfish impulses of survival and profit.  Never mind that under a system of property rights this creates an Invisible Hand that promotes peace, prosperity and harmony.  Government, we’re forever reminded, is good, has only the best intentions as it forever makes life worse, leaving us with perpetual wars, debt and divisiveness. 

Election Day for presidents comes every four years.  “Elections” on the market are around-the-clock affairs.  “The free market is a genuine democracy that offers all the benefits supposedly found in democratic political systems without their drawbacks,” says Matt McCaffrey.  I strongly recommend reading his article.

Go ahead and vote but choose your elections wisely. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Does Popeye know best?

You can’t beat something with nothing, Gary North has said repeatedly, and I think he’s right in the realm of ideas.  Bad ideas, once entrenched, hang around until a crisis brings the roof down.  Even then the guilty will be standing in the wreckage pointing fingers elsewhere, usually toward anything that hints at freedom.   
Evil systems eventually break down [North writes]. We have seen this in our day: the three-day disintegration of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union itself: August 19-21, 1991. Impossible, we would have said in early 1991. 
Our goal is to promote positive change at a local level while we wait for today's evil systems to break down. This waiting goes on for years. Then, without warning, the transformation comes in short order.
It is our job to be ready to accept responsibility and then implement local changes in terms of the ideas we profess to be true. 
We can't beat something with nothing.
But when it comes to elections, “nothing” may be a very sane option to take — as in choose A, B, a minor party candidate, or none of the above.

As we know the last choice is not found on the ballot.   Ever wonder why?

For every voter terrified that Hillary will win there’s at least one voter apoplectic over a possible Trump victory.  

But voters aren’t the only ones suffering.  If someone wants less government, there are no realistic choices.  He stays home on Election Day.  He figures the federal government will grow until it collapses, and his vote won’t stop that from happening.  Worse: His vote will provide much-needed legitimacy to state expansion.  There are those who take the Atlas Shrugged approach — voting for the candidate most likely to bring about the collapse first — but that’s a crap shoot.  Voters have no way of knowing what the candidate will do after the election.  People who refuse to vote know a more authoritarian government is on the way regardless of who wins.  Their only hope is gridlock. 

Whether you’re a voter or nonvoter, this is an exceedingly dangerous state of affairs.   It’s also embarrassing to educated adults with healthy IQs.  Especially in today’s world, what kind of thinking validates the existence of a monopoly that routinely lies, murders, and steals and calls itself civilized and the leader of the free world?  

Is there nothing that can be done?

Boycott

I have never seen a movement consisting of nonvoters, meaning people who refuse to be complicit in government’s activities by not voting.  Nonvoters have always outnumbered voters but they’ve never been organized.  What if they decided to call a convention to bring the futility and danger of voting to a high pitch?  What if the attendees proudly wore T-shirts or other attire or jewelry advertising their position throughout the election season?

What if they’re tired of waiting for the eventual collapse?  What if they want to live free soon, not someday?   What if, as Popeye might say, they’ve had all they can stands?

What if instead of hammering one another over which of two statist candidates is the less evil, the people in this territory called the United States boycotted the election?  What if they decided two bad choices is no choice at all?  What if they decided they didn’t want to live under the opposition’s candidate?  Or their candidate, for that matter?  What if the boycott united them as much as political parties do now?

What if people didn't want alphabet bureaucracies lording over their existence?  What if they want to be the decider of the money they wish to use, rather than be forced into an impoverishing scam where a monopoly cartel can counterfeit currency for its favored clients while the rest of us suffer the consequences?  What if they don’t want to be considered guilty by virtue of being a person who may sometimes do things a criminal or a terrorist might do, such as withdraw a large amount of cash from their bank account?  What if they want to live free, and at the very least demand that government back the hell off to pre-1913 status?  What if they eventually decide that the free market can provide all their legitimate needs, including the country’s defense?

Isn’t it about time people rejected the choices they’re given and stood up for themselves? 

By the way, my fictional character, Loose Cannon, did.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What voters have created

I offer the following movie clips from two dark comedies as a cram course in political science.  They also alert us to the futility of handing over our lives at the ballot box.

Domestic policy: The Distinguished Gentleman (1992)

From Wikipedia:
A Florida con man named Thomas Jefferson Johnson uses the passing of the longtime Congressman from his district, Jeff Johnson (who died of a heart attack while having sex with his secretary), to get elected to the United States Congress as a freshman Congressman, where the money flows from lobbyists. Omitting his first name, and abbreviating his middle name, he calls himself "Jeff" Johnson. He then manages to get on the ballot by pitching a seniors organization, the Silver Foxes, to nominate him as their candidate for office. 
Once on the election ballot, he uses the dead Congressman's old campaign material and runs a low budget campaign that appeals to name recognition, figuring most people do not pay much attention and simply vote for the "name you know." He wins a slim victory and is off to Washington, a place where the "streets are lined with gold." 



Foreign Policy: Wag the Dog (1997)

From Wikipedia
The film follows a Washington, D.C. spin doctor (De Niro) who, mere days before a presidential election, distracts the electorate from a sex scandal by hiring a Hollywood film producer (Hoffman) to construct a fake war with Albania. 
Wag the Dog was released one month before the outbreak of the Lewinsky scandal and the subsequent bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan by the Clinton administration, which prompted the media to draw comparisons between the film and reality.












Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Loose Cannon, Part IV (Finale)

Summary of Part III: Brandon keeps making videos and defends himself verbally in a park against some upset war vets.  He also shows them a series of easily accessible videos showing the lies, death, and destruction involved in the Iraq invasion.  

News commentator Lyman Lovett agrees to meet Brandon for an interview at a lemonade stand in Georgia.  The interview turns disastrous for Lovett, who leaves telling Brandon he’s a marked man.  

Brandon has a T-shirt made up depicting his don’t vote philosophy.  When Jeesee and the bodyguards see it they are reminded of how voting has helped blacks and women in the past. They confront Brandon with this point.  He’s unable to convince them they’re wrong, and it is devastating to him. 


FADE IN, PART IV (FINALE):

EXT - MANHATTAN, NY - MORNING

Lyman Lovett buys a bagel from a street vendor and is immediately joined by a sleep-deprived Mr. Williams.  Their eyes meet and they begin walking together.


LYMAN LOVETT
It’s not every day that I get visitors from Washington.  Not sure whether I should feel honored or threatened.

WILLIAMS
Neither, especially.  I like person to person contact whenever possible.  

LYMAN LOVETT
So, what’s this really about?

WILLIAMS
Cannon.  Let's take the spotlight away. 

LYMAN LOVETT
I don’t control the internet.  Besides, he’s a story.  A lottery winner who promotes a wacko political view.  He’s good material, and I’ve got a score to settle.  

WILLIAMS
Forget the score.  You’re only increasing his popularity.  Too many voters could be taking him seriously.  I know people who are not happy about that.


Lovett manages an exasperated smile.


LYMAN LOVETT
You’re saying important people are worried?

WILLIAMS
Important people are losing patience.  They see you as furthering his cause.

LYMAN LOVETT
Whatever happened to reality?  On Election Day Americans will go to the polls and vote.  On Election Day other Americans will not vote.  This is the way it’s always been.  Someone will be elected and life will go on.  In the big picture Douglas is noise — amusing noise, tragic noise, but still only noise.  It’s that simple. 


Williams brings them to a sudden stop.


WILLIAMS
It comes down to this.  Voters give us legitimacy.  We need that legitimacy.  There’s no tolerance for anyone who threatens it.  It’s that simple.


Williams turns and walks away.  Lovett watches him go.  


LYMAN LOVETT
(to himself)
You’ve answered my question, Mr. Williams.


INT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Brandon stands at his laptop tapping the keys.  He turns quickly and sees Jeesee on the other side of the room, arms folded and somber.


Her demeanor doesn't register.  He goes back to the computer with his back to her.


BRANDON
I'm ordering a thousand T-shirts that I'll give away.  Guess I'll need temp help to handle the orders.  If enough people wear them they'll become a hard-core constituency. . . a constituency of people who don’t like the choices they’re being given.


He finishes his typing and turns to her.  She comes up to him, confidently takes his hand, and leads him to the couch where they sit.


JEESEE
Look around the room, baby.  See anything unusual?

BRANDON
No.  Nothing at all.

JEESEE
Nothing unusual, with hundreds of millions of dollars to your name?

BRANDON
You want new furniture?  By all means--

JEESEE
That's not the point.  The point is you don't care about new furniture.  Or new anything.  It's as if you never won the lottery.  You have tons of money, and you let it rot in some bank.

BRANDON
Banks - plural.  Otherwise it wouldn't be insured.  And the banks don't let it rot, not for a minute.

JEESEE
Don't get smart.

BRANDON
I'll get around to buying stuff.  But we're in the middle of an election.  I feel an urgency to warn people about voting.

JEESEE
Why, for God's sake?  For God's sake, Brandon, why?!  You don't have to warn people about anything!  You have been blessed beyond belief, yet you run around telling people not to vote.  That's so crazy!  Let it alone!  You don't change people the way you're doing it!  They're not going to change!

BRANDON
Most people will be going to the polls voting for someone they don’t like and who's never heard of them.  Most people think they have to choose between two evils and decide which one would be worse.  They might as well flip a coin.  I’m saying don’t vote for anyone if you think they’re evil.  On Election Day let them count our votes, too, the people who’ve had it with a corrupt system.  

JEESEE
And we both know it won't make a bit of difference.

BRANDON
It's already made a difference. People are beginning to see government as the criminal gang it really is.

JEESEE
There have always been people who see it that way.  You've changed maybe a dozen minds, at most.  And for every one you've changed there's probably a thousand who will be voting for the first time, because they're afraid of people like you.

BRANDON
You don't know that.

JEESEE
I don't.  You're right.  I'm just a dumb country girl.  But I know what's good for me, and voting is one of them.  The elections will come and go, and you will be forgotten.  As you should be.

BRANDON
They can forget me all they like but they can't forget what I've said.  Government is a thief, a bully, and a liar.  It will continue to make a mess of things.  And it’ll try to fix the mess it’s made, further messing things up.  Until there's rioting in the streets.  Just as we’re seeing elsewhere in the world.

JEESEE
Oh, God, you’re so wrong, Brandon.  
(stands abruptly, struggling with her emotions)
You’ve — I don’t know.  No one else would do what you’re doing.  I just don’t understand.  We’ve got everything.  You’re a good person but you’re crazy as hell.  I don’t know if I can take this much longer.  We could be so happy together.  


She walks away from him.

Brandon lets his glance fall on the paper still resting on the dining room table.


INT - CAFETERIA - DAY

Mr. Williams and Brad Romney carry lunch trays to an isolated table and take their seats.

Williams bows his head for a moment as if in prayer, though he's not in prayer, he's gathering his wits.  Romney is stunned.

Williams raises his head and prepares to eat.


ROMNEY
This must be serious.

WILLIAMS
It’s close to that point.  

ROMNEY
Because of Lovett and Douglas?

WILLIAMS
And the wonderful tool called the World Wide Web.

ROMNEY
People are still going to vote.  That’s as certain as tomorrow’s sunrise.

WILLIAMS
I read an interesting tidbit the other day.  Back in the 1970s some people in Atlanta organized a 10K race that drew 110 runners the first year.  They’ve run the race each year, on July 4th, in Atlanta, Georgia, and for the past 15 years or so they’ve had to cap — cap — the race at 60,000 participants.  A few runners started a movement, and it grew.  If enough nonvoters get behind Douglas it will become a movement.  Especially when they're powered by perpetual dissatisfaction.

ROMNEY
Yeah, but look what they're up against.  On Election Day every beneficiary of government largess will be casting a vote to keep the favors flowing their way.  Every American frightened that some foreigner will take his job or cut off his head will be at the polls.  Every hater of Wall Street will be voting for the guy who promises to bring the fat cats to their knees.

Americans believe in voting.  They believe it’s what stands between them and dictatorship. They're not going to stop voting, no matter how slimy the candidates are. 

WILLIAMS
The geezers will go to the polls, but the younger ones might believe boycotting is a way to get better candidates.  Or no candidates. 

ROMNEY
We’ve been on autopilot so long people don’t think about it.  They go to the polls and vote.  Then the holidays are upon us and their attention is switched.  Douglas?  Loose Cannon?  Oh, yeah, that guy.  Huh.  

WILLIAMS
There’s something unnerving about a person who wins a billion dollars and uses his fame to promote state treason. 

Look, he’s a goddamn war veteran.  That makes him a hero.  He's also the luckiest bastard in the world after winning a billion dollars.  Both major party candidates should be in jail.  Current and past presidents likewise should be tried for crimes against humanity.  People know these things.  They normally forget it during the campaign season but Douglas, with Lovett’s help, is waking them up to what exactly is going on.

There are others who see God in all this.  If his girl friend had come out of the house two seconds later he would be dead right now.  But she didn't.

ROMNEY
He became a billionaire with a chip on his shoulder.

WILLIAMS
A big chip.  There are people who will abandon rational thought if they think their deity is on a mission.  And what believer doesn't at least suspect Douglas and God are up to something?  I'm getting suspicious and I'm not a believer!  Maybe God really doesn't want people to vote. Why else would there be such a contemptible lineup?  Voting feeds corruption, et cetera.  And if any of that were in doubt, in steps the idiot Lovett to keep the ball rolling.

ROMNEY
(shaking his head)
I see your point but -- your average voter just doesn't care about any of this, God or not.  He's too comfortable.  Too many distractions.  


Williams mulls this last comment.


WILLIAMS
 An idea no matter how bizarre always has the potential to catch on.  We need to take action — effective action.    

ROMNEY
More effective than singing the national anthem.

Williams confirms Romney’s statement with his eyes.
  

INT - HOUSE - DEN - DAY

Two long tables are set up to support stacks of T-shirts and envelopes, along with a laptop computer and a printer.

JEAN and JOAN, college-age twins, are handling the mailing.

They each sport one of the special shirts.

Brandon comes into the room with an idea brewing.


JEAN
Almost at a thousand, Loosie.  You want us to order another batch?

BRANDON
Why not?  I was thinking of sending one to each candidate, too.  As well as a certain news commentator.  What do you think?

JOAN
Awesome!

JEAN
I'll overnight them!

JOAN
How about a card to go with them?

BRANDON
Can you work one up?


The twins look at one another.


JOAN
Sure!

BRANDON
Can't wait to see it.


Brandon’s mood suddenly turns dark but he hides it from the twins.


INT - RESTAURANT - NIGHT

Brandon, Jeesee, Rosey, and Vernon, along with Jean and Joan, are seated in a closed dining room.  Their meals are in front of them.

Brandon alone wears one of his new T-shirts. A backpack rests on the floor by his seat.


BRANDON
Go ahead and eat while your food's warm.


They dig in.  He pulls a handful of business envelopes from the backpack.


JEESEE
What about you?

BRANDON
I'll get to it in a minute. I wanted you to have these.


He stands and walks behind each person and hands him or her an envelope.


JEESEE
What's this?


Rosey opens his, pulls a wad of hundreds part-way, and frowns, first at the money then at Brandon.  The others open theirs as well.


BRANDON
Call it a parting gift.

ROSEY
You going somewhere?

BRANDON
No.  You are.  Each of you.  You need to disappear.

JEESEE
Talk.

BRANDON
There’s a chance I’ve crossed the line.  I think Lovett might be right, that I’m a marked man.  There are so many ways to hit the mark, that I can’t take any chances that some of you wouldn’t get hit as well.
(collects himself)
Think of your dreams.  Don't give them up.  I thank you for your service, but you must leave.  After you finish eating, of course.

JEAN
I don’t know about the others, but I can’t go Mr. Douglas.  I’ve wanted to work on something like this most of my life.

BRANDON
And you’re how old?

JEAN
Twenty-two.

JOAN
Same here.  I would feel awful leaving this project now.

ROSEY
There are two crooks running for president.  If they weren’t running, two other crooks would be in their place.  I think we need to protest.  I think we need to boycott the vote. 

BRANDON
This is quite a change.

ROSEY
Voting today is a fool’s game.  Voters are the fools.  My mama didn’t raise no fools.  I want to stay on and push this through.  

VERNON
I like working for a dude who calls himself Loose Cannon.  Makes me feel like one, too.  (laughs)


Brandon turns to Jeesee.


JEESEE
I'd rather be on a beach sipping my third margarita.  A private beach, with a waiter on standby.  Make that two waiters.  But here I am, and here I'll stay.  Heaven knows why.

BRANDON
Well . . . wow.  I appreciate your support, all of you, but it only makes it more important that you separate yourself from me.  I’ve got a fire in here.  Right here!
(thumps his chest)
The only way I know to appease it is to do what I've been doing.  

Come on, there are beaches and parties and great careers ahead for all of you.  You want to have a family, right?  Think of your unborn kids.  They’re waiting in the wings.  Don’t leave them there.

JOAN
You think I want to tell my kids that I ran from a fight that could’ve set them free?

BRANDON
You didn’t run.  I’ll put that in writing.

JEESEE
Can I change the direction of this discussion?

BRANDON
Do I have a choice?

JEESEE
You’ve raised an important point.  We need to think about our hides.  All of us.  How are we gonna get from here to those 
(touch of sarcasm)
parties and kids waiting in the wings?


Silence, then—


ROSEY
Wish I was a magician.

BRANDON
Let’s brainstorm.


INT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Brandon is oiling his shotgun when Jeesee comes into the room and hands him a sheet of paper with his handwriting.


JEESEE
You left this on the table.


Brandon glances at it, hands it back, continues with the gun.


BRANDON
Didn’t mean to.

JEESEE
You're leaving me quite a chunk.

BRANDON
Only if I die.  Don’t get any ideas.

JEESEE
Yeah, well.  We're not married, so I guess you're not really obliged.

BRANDON
I obliged myself.

JEESEE
Thanks, baby.

BRANDON
It probably has to be lawyered to make it legal.  I'll see about that.  I sure as hell don't want the government to get any more of it.


They hear doors slam outside.  Jessie goes to a window and comes back.


JEESEE
Are we really gonna do this?

BRANDON
We’ll see, won’t we?


She rushes into his arms and hugs him tightly.  


EXT - HOUSE - NIGHT

The peaceful sound of crickets chirping is almost deafening.  It is suddenly interrupted by an explosion that is deafening — from inside the house.

Windows and the side door Jeesee rushed out to derail Brandon’s suicide run are blown out into the yard.  Flames engulf the interior.

The ’88 Chevy pickup seems to watch the conflagration from a safe distance.

The house roars with flames.


EXT - ROAD SIDE - DAY

Vernon is making a video of Rosey sitting on the front of his truck.  Cows graze in a field behind him.  Traffic is nonexistent.


ROSEY
A friend gave me a message to pass on to you folks out there watching this.  You young folks.  He said there are beaches and parties and great careers ahead for all of you.  And possibly families.  You know, kids.  Unborn kids.  Don’t leave them waiting in the wings by doing something you’ll regret.

But he also said this: If you’ve got a fire burning inside you, give it traction.  Don’t bury it.  Don’t go along to get along.  Take a stand.  With the internet and all its tools you can make yourself heard around the world.  When your kids show up they’ll thank you.

Since this video is playing on his channel there’s no need for me to say anything about what he said.

You all have a great day and remember, pick your fights wisely.


INT - TV STUDIO - NIGHT

Lyman Lovett takes a seat in front of the TV camera.  He is subdued, pensive.  The arrogance is missing.


LYMAN LOVETT
Good evening.
(Seems not to know what to say next)
(Then)
I've always thought of myself as doing good.  Since I comment on political issues, the good has been my commentaries.  I had hoped.  I've been very fortunate in this undertaking because politicians have been so very gracious in supporting me.  They have virtually written my commentaries.

As many of you know I've been intrigued by -- let's call him an anti-politician -- Brandon Douglas, the lottery winner, aka Loose Cannon.  He's been out campaigning for votes, using cheap homemade videos, so that you, listening and watching now, will stop voting.  His idea is that we may not be able to remedy government, but at least we won't be responsible for what it does -- if we don't vote.

And government's been doing some horrible things.  From day one.  In fact, everything it does is horrible if only because it acts on what could be called the Aggression Principle.  It deals with us through force and intimidation, instead of voluntary cooperation.  This of course is true of all governments.  Their foundation is violence, and it is aimed at its citizens -- us.  You and me.

He saw the carnage government does and decided to do something about it.  One man on a mission. I ridiculed him and came to almost hate him.  But now . . .   Let's say I've changed my mind.

This will very likely be my last telecast for reasons that will soon be clear.  I want you to treat voting booths as you would snake pits.  Stay away from them.  The snake will eventually slither out, but it will not have us helping it.

The gas explosion that blew away Douglas's home, and him and his lady friend with it, may have been an accident or may have been something else.  But in his memory I ask you to consider his ideas, and if you find you agree with them, to join us in a march on Washington on Election Day.  Nonvoters have always been the majority in any election -- the silent majority.  It is time to make ourselves heard.

Don't vote.  March on Washington instead.  Demand they turn out the lights and go home.  Or at least give us better candidates.


He rips open his dress shirt to reveal the loose cannon T-shirt.  He smiles.


LYMAN LOVETT
I'm Lyman Lovett.  Have a good evening.


EXT - WAREHOUSE - DAY

Amy Powers, the reporter, gets out of her car and heads inside.


INT - WAREHOUSE - CONTINUOUS

Amy stops and looks around.  Clean, well-lit.  Barren, other than two large men, an upright piano, and a couple of folding chairs.  And a vacuum cleaner shoved into a corner.

At the keyboard is Vernon playing a lively tune.  Standing next to him moving with the music is Rosey.  He waves Amy over.


AMY POWERS
(extending her hand)
Nice to see you again.

ROSEY
(shaking hands)
My pleasure.  This is my partner, Vernon.


Vernon stands but manages to keep playing the melody with his right hand while raising her hand with his other hand, as if in victory.


VERNON
Pleasure!


Vernon finishes the piece.  Rosey slides a chair over to her and sits in one himself.


AMY POWERS
Thank you.

ROSEY
(spreading his arms)
What do ya think?

AMY POWERS
You've got a lot of space.

ROSEY
Just what a dance studio needs!

AMY POWERS
And this is . . . what Brandon Douglas willed to you?

ROSEY
You might say that. 

AMY POWERS
You’re hinting.  Tell me.  Please.  I'm here for a story.

ROSEY
He figured he might not be around long so he took care of us and a few others before the accident.

AMY POWERS
So you think it was an accident?

ROSEY
Oh, yes.  I don't think he did it to himself and his woman.
The lottery healed his urge to self-destruct.  That and his mission.

AMY POWERS
What about the government?

ROSEY
Miss Powers, shame on you!

AMY POWERS
So we have a big black hole in the ground, caused by someone's carelessness that vaporized two people.

ROSEY
That's the story.

AMY POWERS
But I think there might be more to it.  Is there?

ROSEY
Well, we weren’t around so I can only go by the evidence.  I wonder about that old truck of his.  Eighty-eight Chevy.  No new scratches.  All set for someone to haul away in the middle of the night.

AMY POWERS
Who’d want a truck that old?

ROSEY
The owner.

AMY POWERS
Maybe the owner can’t take it back by reason of his extinction.

ROSEY
Maybe.  But there’s the matter of the election.  He worked so hard to sabotage it.  He wouldn’t want to miss the show.

AMY POWERS
Accidents happen.

ROSEY
But you’re here because of the timing.

AMY POWERS
Yeah.

ROSEY
The way I see it things got so hot they exploded.

AMY POWERS
I don’t understand.

ROSEY
He was a marked man.  Maybe someone worked on his furnace that didn’t do a good job.  

AMY POWERS
You’re saying someone might’ve rigged his furnace to blow up.  Under orders from the government.

ROSEY
No, no.  No, no.  You’re talking conspiracy again.  I don’t speak that language.  Besides, he was just a cracker with an ax to grind.  No threat there.

AMY POWERS
He did a pretty good job of grinding it, judging by the hits he was getting.

ROSEY
I’d say so.  But he had no illusions about the election.  People are still gonna vote.  Lots of ‘em.  Democracy is their religion.   Even if their religion's been taken over by the devil.  But if enough of them take a stand against voting the devils will notice.  Something might change for the better.

AMY POWERS
It would have the same effect as a referendum.

ROSEY
Or none-of-the-above on the ballot.

AMY POWERS
So that’s it?  There’s no evidence that he might still be around, other than an old truck only he would want?  No other clues, no hunches?

ROSEY
They’re still scraping the debris.  No bodies.  No parts of bodies.  I’d say your hunch is as good as mine.


She looks from one man to the other.


AMY POWERS
He’s still around, isn’t he?


Rosey and Vernon laugh.


ROSEY
Miss Powers, I think I'm in love!  With you!
(Turns to Vernon)
Hit it, bro!

Rosey stands and kicks his chair back while yanking Amy high off her chair.

Vernon plays a rousing "Charleston" while Rosey moves his huge limbs with amazing ease, kicking his feet forward and backward, throwing his hands up in the wild fashion of the 1920s, and pulling a reluctant Amy along with him.

Then the spark lands on her.  She kicks her shoes off and throws herself into the dance.

FADE OUT: