What's All This Then?

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Friday, January 22, 2010

What can I say about yesterday’s Supreme Court decision that would be any more revealing than the words of writer Chayefsky in the 1976 movie "Network." The words were spoken by television executive Arthur Jensen, played by Ned Beatty - and by news anchor Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch who had gone berserk on the air with the following rant:
"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be!

We all know things are bad -- worse than bad -- they're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone."

Well, I'm not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your Congressman, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first, you've got to get mad. You've gotta say, "I'm a human being, goddammit! My life has value!" So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, " I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!"
After which Beale is cornered by Jensen, and this is the relevant portion of his memorable, 2010 US Supreme Courtish speech:
"You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations! There are no peoples! There are no Russians! There are no Arabs! There are no Third Worlds! There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immune, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars! Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds and shekels! It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic, and subatomic and galactic structure of things today. And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT and T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon - those are the nations of the world today."
And those "nations" with their Petro-Dollars and Electro-dollars and all the other kinds of currencies have been unleashed upon the American political system courtesy of John Roberts. Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas because up to now, as we all know, there’s been not nearly enough money available to flood the airways with "information" about those running for or holding political office.

Truth in fiction. Life imitating art. Call it what you want but Paddy Chayefsky called it 34 years ago. We’re heading for the bizzaro world he portrayed in "Network." Get used to it and pray that we can hang on to a Democratic president long enough to restore sanity to our highest court.