Olympus On Earth

Copyright © by Len Holman, 11/1/13


  I’ll bet that the National Security Administration (NSA) really envies the old gods of mythology, who could change shapes and appearances, become invisible, and affect the course of men’s minds with enchantments both supreme and sublime.  The Olympians knew the minds of humans—what they thought and felt, and could invade their very psyches, without resorting to anything more complicated than their god-like immortality and power.  Our intelligence apparatus CAN do all those things, but it’s a more mundane operation involving codes and machines and enough electronic data to make Stephen Hawking envious. 

  The NSA has been caught with its hand in the cookie jar of democracy, but claims it is only counting the chocolate chips, not actually eating the cookies.  They call it “meta data” which is merely finding out where calls go and to whom, but, it is claimed, they do not read actual content; they do not look at your sister’s naked pics or listen to you being coyly seductive with your lover.  They are looking for terror-related activities.  Representative Peter King of New Yawk claims that such meta-snooping has saved “thousands of lives,” but gives no details as to ANY saved life.  That’s top secret, apparently, and leads one to wonder where and when and how all this saving was done, and also whether these thousands were saved because we listened to the German Chancellor’s calls to her hubby.  Merkel is very pissed off, and it is a wonder that the U.S. would anger the Eurozone’s banker and foremost European power by bugging her phone, even from afar.  She was recently re-elected and the Germans love their Angela, and they quite peeved at an ally’s blatant disregard for their leader’s privacy and their own sovereignty. 

  We do not seem to care all that much.  In fact, the American people seemed concerned only with the salacious, empty, flavor of the moment, whether it is Obamacare’s failed website (send in the sixth graders and get the damn thing fixed!) or Canadian-born, Texas Senator Ted Cruz reading Dr. Seuss, or whether some celebrity is going back to jail.  My interest is not whether the President knew what was going on or whether he lied or whether it was both.  My interest is that this is the time when we finally realize—or SHOULD—that the government is a leviathan so immense that Jonah could hold the Super Bowl in it, so labyrinthine that it makes the Vatican’s system look like 2 kids working out which half of a sandwich they want; so unmanageable it makes a hurricane look like a summer breeze in the willows.  When the beast is loose, the illusion that there is some control still possible; it is a hard illusion to dispel.  If this current mess doesn’t wake us all up, nothing will.  I have no doubt that someday, visitors will arrive here from a galaxy far, far away, not to give us world peace or provide a cure for cancer, but to bitch about the NSA spying on their holograms. 

  The President, his apparent idealism about politics and the American ability to govern itself, probably rolls over in bed nightly and whispers to Michelle, “Let’s just pack up and get the hell outta here!”  And where does the NSA put all this data?  Is the agency filled with hoarders who need an intervention?  And who reads it all?  To save those thousands of lives, SOMEONE has to read, interpret and decide, then pass it along to someone higher up who does the same and THEN, somewhere up the data chain, a really important person makes the decision.  And which decision is that? Why, to collect more data, of course.  Our former Vice President and King of Smug Self Importance, Dick (I keep five heart surgeons on 24/7 alert), in a CNN interview, said all that data is valuable beyond belief (so far, I’m with him, since I don’t believe it), and “you never know when you’re going to need it.”  No, not when thousands of lives can be saved.  Just recently it has been discovered, thanks to that traitorous Edward Snowden (whom Cheney would like to “bring to justice”, that the NSA has a new program called, self-importantly, MUSCULAR, which infiltrates Google and Yahoo data centers worldwide.  This is handy for the NSA because its PRISM collection program must operate under court supervision (never mind that the court is secret and allows any kind of electronic snooping anyone in the government wants, as long as they can save thousands of lives).  This new program operates outside the court’s flimsy restrictions and is a refreshing chance for the NSA to REALLY scoop up all that good data, data so voluminous there’s bound to be a long backlog of stuff lying in cubicles, unread, unmarked, and under someone’s coffee cup or pastrami sandwich.  But they’ll get to all of it in time to save more thousands, I’m sure. 

  There is this excuse going around:  other countries who are howling about this do it, too.  Well, that’s a fallacy called ”tu quoque” in which the argument is ignored in favor of saying, “well, yeah, but you do it too.”  Well, people have been stealing secrets since there were people.  Companies steal secrets from each other all the time.  But this latest manifestation is supremely , magnificently, enormously sophisticated and massive.  It is the product of a country out of anyone’s control.  I wonder what George W. Bush’s thoughts are.  He’s been very silent about it.  All this started during his watch, and now he’s hunkered down in a grove of cottonwoods on his ranch, hiding from reporters and hoping no one remembers his role.  And Hillary?  Well, she’s out raising money and is the  queen of Almost President Land and the presumptive—at least up to this point—Democratic nominee for the 2016 election, , but will have a LOT of questions to answer:  Benghazi, Obamacare (presumably all websites will be up and running by then), and this spying thing.  Is she for it?  Will she make some comment about how we need to “tighten controls” and “improve oversight” and other platitudes?  She’ll have to say something—if not to the voters, then in answer to the Tea Party, which will be all over her like blue on an M & M.  Did Athena have to deal with all this while she was helping Odysseus?  No, but the NSA is Zeus, and it has all the thunderbolts.


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