Breaking the Law: Our Spies

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James Bond

The concept of a secret agent having a “licence to kill” was not created out of thin air by Ian Fleming after WWII. And 007 was not the first either. (There were obviously six other agents before him.)

The use of lethal force had been authorized during the war to eliminate Nazi enemy agents and meet ‘force with force’ as required. But who ‘authorized’ the killing?

It shouldn’t surprise you that our governments did. Sure, they wanted to appear to keep their hands clean, so they created departments to oversee the spies, and gave them secret directives so that they knew what they could and couldn’t do.

Scandal (2012-2018)

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Meet Rowan Pope: the merciless and sinister father of D.C.-fixer and crisis-manager Olivia Pope and formerly the immoral head of the clandestine, black-ops division “B613.”

According to a fan site of the show: Despite [B613] serving the US government so far it doesn’t appear that they answer to anyone not even The President of the United States. At present they seem to deal with a large number of covert missions; specifically Torture and Assassinations made to look like suicides. B613 has recently been re-established via [an] Executive Order signed into law by President Mellie Grant. (Fandom)

This depiction of a rouge ‘black ops’ task force shows our collective paranoia of what may be happening in the real world.

Mission: Impossible

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Of course, the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) has been around since forever, it seems. This movie from 2015 has the team working outside governmental controls in order to track down and eliminate a shadowy enemy group who happen to be former agents thought to be dead.

Ethan Hunt is a man of singular focus, which means he won’t let a little thing like being outlawed get in the way of doing his job. So much for ‘rule of law’, eh?

War on Terror

081913Even the NSA has come under increasing criticism for its flouting of the rules. Freedoms that are ‘inalienable’ rights in the USA are being encroached upon every day in the name of National Security. The reply to that criticism is simple: do you want to feel safe, or not?

And that really is the point of all this law-breaking: if the ‘bad guys’ are doing it, we better do it before they do, to put a stop to it. It’s the Wild West again.

Conclusion

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Michael Moore’s Prediction

 

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Canadian Bacon (1995)

Thousands of former employees are outraged with military businessman R.J. Hacker (G. D. Spradlin), who had closed down his weapons manufacturing plant, Hacker Dynamics. At a conference held at the former plant, he pins the blame for the shutdown of his business on the current President of the United States (Alan Alda), who has just arrived. The President defends his own belief that the future of the children is more important than war, a belief that has caused major decline in his approval rating. However, after the conference, he expresses to his closest companions, General Dick Panzer (Rip Torn) and National Security Advisor Stuart Smiley (Kevin Pollak), his discontent about not having an enemy to engage in war. An attempted negotiation with Russian President Vladimir Kruschkin (Richard E. Council) to start a new cold war with Russia fails.

However, a local American sheriff named Bud Boomer (John Candy) makes a displeased remark about Canadian beer while watching a hockey game between a Canadian and American team in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The ensuing brawl ends up on the news, and is seen by Stuart. After collecting more information about Canada from a CIA agent named Gus (Brad Sullivan), he suggests Canada as a new enemy to the President. Before long, the television channels are littered with anti-Canada propaganda, which Boomer notices and believes to be true. He prepares for war by distributing guns to his fellow sheriffs, including his girlfriend Honey (Rhea Perlman) and their friends Roy Boy (Kevin J. O’Connor) and Kabral Jabar (Bill Nunn).

After they apprehend a group of Americans dressed as Canadians attempting to destroy a hydroelectric plant, they sneak across the border to litter on Canadian property, which leads to Honey being left behind and subsequently arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In a rescue attempt, Boomer, Roy Boy and Kabral sneak into a Canadian power plant and cause a countrywide blackout. When the President learns of this, he orders Boomer’s immediate removal from Canada before it’s too late.

To make matters worse, Hacker takes revenge on the President for ordering the closure of his business by using a software program called the Hacker Hellstorm to activate missile silos across the country. The President learns that the signal causing the activation of the silos originated from Canada, and summons Hacker. Hacker offers to sell a program to the President that can cancel out the Hellstorm for $1 trillion. With only six minutes left, as Hacker leaves, despite the President telling him not to and trying to figure out what’s going on, Stuart realizes that Hacker is the one controlling the silos, and takes, from him, the operating codes required to stop the Hellstorm, killing him in the process after Stuart delivered a punch, unintentionally.

The President orders Stuart’s arrest, despite his protests that he is now able to deactivate the missiles. As the launch time approaches for the missiles, which are aimed at Moscow, the President pleads with Canadian Prime Minister Clark MacDonald (Wallace Shawn) over the phone to stop the launch. However, Honey, who was taken to a mental hospital upon her capture and has escaped all the way to the CN Tower, discovers the central computer for the Hellstorm located at the top. She attacks the computer with a machine gun, destroying it and subsequently aborting the launch sequence, much to the relief of the President and his staff. She then reunites with Boomer, who had tracked her to the Tower, and they return to the United States via a speedboat across Lake Ontario.

An ending montage reveals the fate of all of the characters: Boomer realized his dream of appearing on Cops, Honey has been named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the National Rifle Association, Kabral has become a hockey star, and MacDonald is “still ruling Canada with an iron fist.” (Synopsis from IMDb)

NAFTA War?

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A Mary Poppins Scene?

Mary Poppins Returns

Last Night’s Dream Sequence

I woke up at 5:30 am clearly remembering what I had just dreamed. In the dream, I got a chance to use the video on my Coolpix camera. The video was about people flying through the air during a storm. (You can see one of the elements coming from the tropical storm news reports from the Philippines.)

What made this different was the ability to enter the scene and watch the bodies silhouetted by a spotlight behind my previous position. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

In fact, I could not see the whole series of images until I replayed the video afterwards.

Mary Poppins Returns

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Then I remembered that I’d seen a preview of Mary Poppins Returns during the 70th Emmy Awards show last night. It seems, in my dream, that I might have witnessed one of their action sequences. Stranger things have happened.

The last part involved a veteran actress saying that they wished they had better weather in Britain. Really?

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Drain the Swamp? No, Man a Fort

 

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Paul Manafort

When you’ve done your best to keep quiet, and it hasn’t done you any good, you ‘flip’.

That seems to be what happened to Paul Manafort. And he has to have something to say that’s worthwhile to Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election, or he wouldn’t have agreed to a plea deal.

So, where does that leave 45: in the middle of the swamp, himself? He doesn’t seem to know how to pick ‘good’ people, although he calls everyone he fires, a ‘good person’.

From the Outset

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As we have seen, this was always a bit suspicious. (The New York Times called it on August 14, 2016…)

I, for one, never dreamed Trump would get that far. But the American people decided otherwise (through their complicated Electoral College). Friends whose opinions I respect think that Hillary Clinton would have been a worse President. But that’s water under the bridge now.

I can only wonder what will happen next.

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The Moment I Realized…

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Adults Don’t See the Same Things Children Do

In the mid-50’s we had a 1951 Chevy. These days I’m not sure which model it was (it looked like the picture above), but we had it from 1955-1960. Then something went wrong with it.

Looking back on family correspondence between our father and his father, we came across a short discussion about our new car, which our grandfather had bought for us. In the letter, he told our father to make sure that there was enough engine oil every time he got gas, and to get it topped up if it was running low. Clue…

Anyway, whatever happened to the car, I suspect it was scrapped.

One Day…

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In 1960, we were doing our usual Saturday trip into Huntsville from Windermere (for shopping and laundry) in our new Austin A40. I was allowed to wander about. I came across our old car! Just to make sure, I opened the back door and checked in the side pocket (people didn’t lock their cars in those days): I found a dinky toy that I’d left there. That’s how I ‘knew’ it was our car.

I ran back to the laundromat and told our Mom. She came out to see where it was parked. Upon inspection (of the outside), she told me it wasn’t our old car, and returned to the laundromat.

That’s when I realized that children see things differently: they are closer to the ground, so small details are available to them.

Conclusion

The following scene played out between John Candy and Macauley Culkin in Uncle Buck speaks to the fact that it’s a kid’s job to notice things…

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Somebody Likes Cookies

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Soaking up Sunshine

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