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: