Are Americans completely incapable of getting mad as hell?
By Michael Payne
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Nov 12, 2007, 00:18
The brilliant, award-winning movie of 1976,
"Network," a satirical film about a fictional TV network, features
Peter Finch as the ranting, neurotic anchor who is about to be fired due to low
ratings. He needs to vent his anger about this dire situation, as well as his
contempt for modern society and the decay of its morality. And so, one night he
no longer can contain his intense feelings and begins to shout, "I want
all of you to get up out of your chairs, I want you to get up right now, sit
up, go to your window, open it and yell 'I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to
take this anymore.'"
Will we Americans continue to be the silent majority that
stood by and watched as the White House war machine launched the invasion and
occupation of Iraq? Will we also continue to be the same voiceless,
sheeple-like society that will once again watch as this war machine launches an
attack on Iran, the current monster/bogeyman now lined up in their sights? What
will it take for Americans to finally have their fill of this never-ending
madness and say, "We are mad as hell and we cannot and will not take it
In the movie Network Howard Beale was obviously trying to
save his job and increase his ratings by using an outrageous tirade to motivate
Americans to rebel against the decrepit, decaying state of the American society
as he viewed it at that time. Well, we may not have a Howard Beale amongst us
today, shouting at us to wake up and get mad, but we do have an American
government that is running roughshod over our Constitution, continuing to
promote an illegal, immoral war in Iraq and completely refusing to listen to
the wishes of the American electorate. While that should inspire an outrage it
has resulted in not much more than a general passive silence.
Following 9/11, Americans watched as Bush & Co. forced
the USAPATRIOT Act through Congress; watched as Bush attacked Afghanistan and
Iraq; watched as Abu Grahib, Guantanamo, CIA renditions, NSA spying and other
highly questionable events took place; watched as Congress, Republicans and
Democrats alike, failed completely in their oversight responsibilities and
totally rolled over as the Bush/Cheney agenda accelerated into high gear.
We are in the midst of a horrific nightmare; a bad dream
reminiscent of that tragedy called the Vietnam War. This nation, today, is
going through the agony of watching a president, the Congress and a military
machine hell-bent on pursuing a senseless, disastrous war with no end in sight
-- a stubborn, nonsensical direction that is so similar to the illogical
decisions made during the Vietnam War when Nixon, Kissinger and other war-hawks
just would not accept the reality of that situation. So they refused to stop
the bloodletting -- not until more than 58,000 of our military died and we were
expelled from that country. The current chaotic situation in the Middle East
cannot wait for a solution until the next election is held or until Bush &
Cheney are sent packing.
The question is who in this nation of 300 million will step
forward and map out a logical plan that will finally bring an end to this
bloody fiasco and allow our troops to come home? At this point there is no one
in Washington, DC, or anywhere else in this country who seems to have the
wisdom and courage to make it happen. We as a nation are seemingly trapped in a
vicious circle where Bush, with the complicity of the Congress, continues to
feed more and more billions of dollars into that Middle East black hole that
quickly sucks it in, then demands more and more billions to feed those fires
that cannot be quenched.
With the 2006 elections, the Democratic Party miraculously
became the majority party in both the U.S. House and the Senate. It was a minor
miracle and, yes, a chance that America was on a distinct path to stop the
misguided foreign policy of the Bush administration and begin a new, rational
direction. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid proclaimed that a new day had dawned.
The time for change had finally come. John Conyers strongly hinted impeachment,
Henry Waxman could hardly wait to initiate numerous investigations. In the
Senate, Carl Levin, Patrick Leahy, and others readied hearings. The scene was
set for new, energetic leadership to right the wrongs that had been perpetrated
by the ham-handed Republican leaders.
Since that time of euphoria, great hopes and aspirations,
what has happened? Basically, nothing and I mean nothing! The insane war goes
on without missing a beat, more of our troops and Iraqi civilians die, and
billions upon billions of dollars are appropriated time and time again.
Democrat leadership holds hearing after hearing, demands more and more
information, gets nowhere, and then threatens to issue subpoenas, but does not.
Bush & Co. and the Republican minority in both the House and the Senate
continue on the course that they had previously set, undeterred by all the
hearings, demands for e-mails and just thumb their noses at all the threats to
There is something very strange about this entire situation.
Pelosi was quick to take the issue of impeachment off the table and often
reinforces that very questionable position. Harry Reid has the power to dictate
exactly what resolutions and legislation will come before the Senate for
consideration. Also does it not seem that Nancy Pelosi, in particular, seems to
be more or less paralyzed when confronted and continually challenged by the
White House? Is there something very questionable and very alarming going on
behind the scenes that has changed this scenario from one of hope and optimism
to one of passive capitulation for some reason that we may never know? So far,
Pelosi and Reid have completely failed to adhere to the wishes of the American
people. The calls for them to step down will soon begin in earnest if this
inept duo cannot and will not step up.
I watched the recent Democratic debates, moderated by Tim
Russert, someone whom I certainly do not admire. But he asked a terrific question
that brought answers from Clinton, Obama and even Edwards that absolutely
stunned me and, I am sure, many others watching that night. He asked each of
them if they would guarantee that they would end the war in Iraq and bring the
troops home before the end of their first terms in office. The answer from each
of them was exactly the same (just as if they each had been coached by Bush
& Cheney beforehand), they each said no! They could not and would not
promise that they would do so. Their response to Russert's question was simply
unbelievable and should cause all of us to fear for the future.
What should Clinton, Obama and Edwards have said in answer
to that explicit question? Here is my take on what they should have said:
"I will tell you this. No one can predict the future and what conditions
will be like when I assume office. But I will promise you this. When elected, I
will do everything in my power to stop this war and bring our troops home just
as quickly as possible. If some unforeseen, catastrophic event takes place that
jeopardizes that undertaking, I may have to use an alternate, temporary
strategy. But, I will guarantee that I will do anything and everything at my
command to follow the mandate that was given to me by the American electorate and
abide by their wishes to bring this war to an end." I believe that if one
of them had taken that position it would have been a grand slam home run, but
all three struck out.
One more very important point to make. The Democrats, when
they assumed control of Congress, were automatically given prominent access to
the bully pulpit, a great weapon and tool for informing the American public of
what the issues are and what must be done to solve the greatest problems that
our nation faces. Have the Democrats made use of this bully pulpit? No, they
have completely failed. Americans badly need to know the Democratic strategies
for solving our many problems. In this way the American public can be well
informed and support the positions of the Democratic Party -- that is, if they
feel that those strategies make sense.
But the Democratic leadership, again Pelosi and Reid, have
not risen to the occasion. The question is why? Have they somehow been muzzled?
Just why do they not use the bully pulpit to the greatest degree possible? Yes,
the mainstream, controlled media is an impediment but clever and determined
leadership could find a way around that. There are progressive-minded TV and
news outlets; for example, Keith Olbermann of Countdown on MSNBC, and others
that could be utilized to good advantage if real dedicated effort were put into
an intensive campaign to reach the American mind.
What will it take for this society and the American people
to finally say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it
anymore"? The fact is that neither I nor anyone else in America that I am
aware of today has that answer. I sincerely wish that some one of us had that
answer because the fate of our nation and the entire world is hanging in the
balance. I really believe that the American people, in the end, must be the
deciding factor in this immense, most critical issue. There has to be a point
at which we as a society and a people completely understand that the direction
of this nation is on a course of impending disaster if the actions of this Bush
administration cause the entire Middle East to erupt into even more chaos and
all-out regional war. And that can definitely happen if those in power make the
decision to launch massive air strikes against Iran as they threaten to do
almost on a daily basis.
Is there not one person in America that has the courage and
the fierce determination to come forward and motivate our society to get mad as
hell, to finally vent its outrage and to demand that the Iraq War be defunded
and brought to a final conclusion? And, at this point, I firmly believe that
defunding if the only logical way to end it. Funds should be used to facilitate
an orderly and safe withdrawal for our troops.
If there is not one such true American patriot in America,
then the people will remain largely passive, silent and unable to express their
outrage and dissent. And then our democracy will continue its descent into
being no more than a pseudo-democracy that will slowly but surely die.
question remains: is this society completely incapable of getting mad as hell?
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