The Presidency: Powerless and Oh-So-Powerful
by Myron Pauli
The endlessly long presidential election is underway and we will be bombarded that the 2016 is the most important event in the Universe since The Big Bang. The reality is that the office of the presidency is nearly powerless in most of the “issues” being debated about and extremely powerful in issues rarely discussed.
CULTURE WAR ISSUES: These are the ones that get all the adrenaline flowing, but the truth is that presidents can do very little but utter a lot of inane, flatulent rhetoric to either make people feel good or angry. A million developing babies were slaughtered annually under Reagan and the Bushes just as under Obama and Clinton. Obama might preach against racism and how his would-be sons look like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, but the reality is that Ishmael, the Sudanese cab driver, prefers to pick up 3 elderly white woman in fur coats than 2 young black men in hoodies.
Mike Huckabee has no more divine power to eliminate homosexuality than Hillary Clinton has divine power to eliminate rape.
GOVERNMENT TAXATION AND SPENDING: I submitted a question to a candidate: “What spending programs would you actually cut to help balance the budget”? Democratic candidate Gerry Connolly actually listed a couple of tiny programs that probably totaled 0.001% of the budget but that was better than Republican Keith Fimian answering “waste.”
Federal spending, like entropy, only increases. Try to cut a frostbite clinic in Florida or a heat exhaustion clinic in Alaska or a bowling alley on a military base and see how popular that makes you. Occasional Republican rhetoric against small-ticket items like Planned Parenthood or PBS or the National Endowment for the Humanities have never amounted to an actual cut. Tax “reforms” and most domestic legislation are unfathomable gobbledygook written up by lobbyists and subjected to whimsical interpretations of bureaucrats and MIT professors like Jonathan Gruber without ever being read by Congress or the president.
The one federal program I remember getting cut was the Superconducting Supercollider primarily because: (1) the program’s $10 billion projected overrun got too large to ignore. (2) Ross Perot scared both parties the year before talking about balancing the budget. (3) Congressman Joe Barton of Texas pissed off the congressional leadership, and (4) particle physicists have a lot less clout and campaign money than the AARP, AFL-CIO, Chamber of Commerce, etc. The result was that the Higgs Bosons had to be discovered in Switzerland with neither the Bosons nor the American population caring!
MILITARY OPERATIONS: While the CIA should be an “intelligence agency,” Langley actually conducts secret military operations – secret not necessarily from the people being bombed but secret from the American voters. Torture, wiretapping, disinformation, false flag operations, lying, secret wars, foreign bribery, assassinations … – all are basically hiding “under the radar”. The civil liberties of Americans or foreigners can be violated in the name of “national security.” Warfighters can die for unknown purposes in mysterious operations. Nations and regions can be destabilized. On these issues, there is practically zero interest or discussion. Do not expect any interest in what Ben Carson or Bernie Sanders has to say (or whether they even understand) about this subterranean government which functions at the complete unfettered whim of the chief executive “decider”.
Once upon a time, there was a Czarist secret police that encouraged a coup in Serbia, assassinating an Austrian archduke, and promoted an extreme (Bolshevik) party as a means of sabotaging more moderate “liberal” opponents of the Czar. In the end, not only did the Czar lose his life, but so did hundreds of millions as a result of world wars and Communism.
Our recent presidents and their secret scheming have not been as bad, but have turned much of the Islamic and African world into a cauldron of chaotic instability. Yes, some “dead Archduke” equivalent in Kashmir might get us all vaporized 10 years from now, but, what the heck – it’s all secret so let’s froth over gay marriage instead.
Barely a Blog (BAB) contributor Myron Pauli grew up in Sunnyside Queens, went off to college in Cleveland and then spent time in a mental institution in Cambridge MA (MIT) with Benjamin Netanyahu (did not know him), and others until he was released with the “hostages” and Jimmy Carter on January 20, 1981, having defended his dissertation in nuclear physics. Most of the time since, he has worked on infrared sensors, mainly at Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. He was NOT named after Ron Paul but is distantly related to physicist Wolftgang Pauli; unfortunately, only the “good looks” were handed down and not the brains. He writes assorted song lyrics and essays reflecting his cynicism and classical liberalism. Click on the “BAB’s A List” category to access the Pauli archive.