A Glimmer In The Dark

Copyright © by Len Holman, 6/28/14


  When someone wants to be President of the United States, this person falls prey to a condition which tends to strike human with astonishing, and sometimes costly, regularity: this is the assumption that things will remain the same as that magical victory moment with the music and cheering crowds and all those balloons, that the world will be stuck in the same amber that the new President’s shiny nascent term is caught in. 

  Remember Bill Clinton’s election?  Remember that same Fleetwood Mac song playing over and over?  No one seemed to pay any special attention to it, but SOMEONE should have.  (Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, Hillary!)  But the world has this very maddening habit of moving on, and life has an even more maddening habit of swerving, bobbing and weaving, of changing and presenting new landscapes that were unthought of and unprepared for by anyone.  So it was, and is, with President Obama, so it has been for past executives of this country, and so it will be for the next President. 

  Right now, the current President is dealing with a few things I’m sure he didn’t anticipate. China is looking hungrily at a lot of South Pacific islands, adding sand to what are now a few coral reefs, building infrastructure, and smiling evilly. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is gobbling land in Syria and Iraq like Black Friday shoppers at Wal-Mart gobbling up ninety-nine dollar TVs. Syrian Crazy Man, Bashar Al-Assad, has bombed Iraq, in a fit of pique for having been attacked by ISIS in Syria, and the President of Iraq refuses to compromise on his position to have his Shiite government gleefully, murderously, and stupidly grind the Iraqi Sunnis into so much sand.  We’re now flying armed drones over this cradle of Western civilization to assist our spotters on the ground, and we are all wondering where THAT will lead. 

  Obama wants the congress to pony up a half a billion taxpayer dollars to arm the rebels in Syria, but what has changed there?  ISIS was our group because of its resistance to Assad, but now it’s not.  Who gets the guns and who decides that?  Pakistan is still trying to figure out which side of its terrorist haven bread their butter is on, and though we have captured the “mastermind” of the Benghazi attack, the whole sordid and confusing incident just won’t go away. Jordan is overflowing with refugees and so is Nogales, Arizona, only the refuges there are mostly all shorter and much younger. 

  Iran is a Shiite nation on the make in Iraq and they don’t need a nuclear device to cause real trouble there if they intervene with a muscular propping-up of Maliki’s government.  Russia took a big bite out of the Crimean peninsula and Ukrainians are shivering in Putin’s frosty glare, while the Baltic States are also feeling the cold draft.  The Kurds are planning to have their own state, and Turkey is worried that its uneasy détente with THEIR Kurds will come unraveled as a result.  GM suddenly can’t seem to build a safe car and Hillary is taking longer to announce her intentions than the U.S. government has taken announcing that, yes, Area 51 is filled with alien spaceships and corpses.  The long-smoldering mess of a monster bureaucracy called the Veterans Administration has exploded, and one wonders what took it so long.  The IRS, long a fave of the rich, powerful and connected, has been found out to be staffed by imperfect and venal humans (surprise!).  The GOP is pissed at everyone and some of their members are talking about starting a third party. 

  In the midst of all this darkness and foreboding the Supremes are singing “Someday We’ll Be Together.”  In a surprisingly unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that the 4th amendment is being violated if the police, incident to an arrest, search the contents of a miscreant’s cell phone without a warrant.  This from the story’s opening paragraph from the Los Angeles Times:  “The Supreme Court brought the constitutional rights of personal privacy into the digital era Wednesday, ruling unanimously that police may not search a smartphone (sic) or similar device without a warrant from a judge.”  It is unclear whether this ruling covers tablets and other electronic “wallets” and “purses.” It is also unclear whether the NSA can continue to gather mega-data on all of us without a warrant—that would be a HELL of a lot of warrants!  That Justices Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts would see this so clearly and be in such unanimity with moderates and liberals on the court is surely a sign that the speed and magnitude of the calving of icebergs in Antarctica is not the only surprising thing going on in the world. 

  Will this make any difference to anyone?  Well, if you are looking for rabbits in your yard, you are bound to see some, and if you are looking for news that our privacy rights are still hanging in there, this story will give some hope.  The police aren’t that thrilled, but using the very technology that prompted this case, they can email for a warrant and get one in a few minutes.  It’s not like some sheriff’s deputy has to get on his horse and ride into town and pull the local judge out of the saloon and convince him to issue the damn thing. The justices recognized that and I am surprised that Scalia went along, since it must have taken a lot of mental work for him to justify the 21st Century technology issue with the original intent of the Framers, who apparently didn’t have cell phones when the 4th Amendment was written.  So there IS a glimmer of hope for this Shining City on the Hill.  It’s not much as things in this world go, but it’s an indication thing are not irretrievably awful.  Awful, yes, but irretrievably?  We’ll stay tuned.


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