Channeling Your Inner Beale

logo 2015 250x325Learning is a cumulative experience.

You can’t forget what you learned in yesterday’s lesson just because when you got up this morning there was a new lesson to be mastered. Learning, like life, requires that you apply yesterday’s experiences to the prospects ahead of you.

So why aren’t you angry?

I don’t mean stub your toe and swear like a sailor a couple of times angry. I don’t mean your kid colored on the wall but you love her anyway angry. And I don’t even mean the neighbor backed over your cat angry. What I mean is why aren’t you are get-off- your-ass and do-something-about-it angry.

Do you remember that back in 2008 while the inaugural balls were still going on, Republicans were meeting privately and deciding on a policy to oppose anything our new president proposed – not based on whether it was good or bad for the country, but based on the fact is was proposed by Barak Obama. Were you angry then?

When a president who was elected because he offered “hope we can believe in” was stymied at every turn by a congress that became known as the “Congress of No,” were you angry then? When that president went on, against all odds to, create jobs, lower the deficit, end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” save the auto industry, and give millions health care for the first time, re-establish relations with Cuba, and conclude an historic nuclear deal with Iran, but now republican candidates call him a “failed president,” does that make you angry?

When people call the first lady of your country a cow, does that make you angry? When they call her “Moochelle,” how about then? That uppity cow, Moochelle Obongo. How about now?

What does it take to make you mad?

When a little boy with a toy gun playing in a park where it is legal to openly carry a firearm is killed by a cop three seconds after the squad car arrives, are you angry?

When a man is choked to death for selling cigarettes, do you care? When no charges are brought against the man whom you watched on TV choke another man to death, did you get mad? Why aren’t you mad?

When children are slaughtered in their classrooms, do you shake your head and say, “What can I do?” Doesn’t it make you mad?

When fundamentalist politicians don’t want your kids to learn to think and openly put that in their political platform, do you get mad?

When fundamentalist politicians use elected positions on school boards to require publishers to alter history in text books, does that trouble you a little?

When a cable news network, well-known for peddling lies and deception, sets the rules for presidential debates? How about that? Oh, well, it’s just for Republicans; that’s ok. Right. This time.

When a reality star billionaire-racist-buffoon who claims most immigrants are rapists, polls number one in New Hampshire because he really does represent the thinking of the majority of the Republican base, doesn’t that chap your butt?

When a CEO earns 774 times more than an employee earning minimum wage, does that frost your pumpkin?

When the wealthiest 160,000 families have as much wealth as the poorest 145 million families combined, does that bang your bunion?

Charles Koch has started a campaign to eliminate the federal minimum wage. Koch is not a politician, remember. He buys politicians.  The Koch brothers claim that the middle class in this country has it good – much better than the people in the Sudan, say. Any emotional response there?

When a senator – a US Senator elected by people like us – holds up a snowball and denies climate change exists while the reservoirs in California – where half of this country’s food is grown -are drying up, doesn’t that disturb you?

Does the fact that there are only a handful of congressional districts that are truly contestable make you mad?

Did the Citizens United decision make you mad? Does the fact that elections now are up for sale to the highest bidder make you angry?

Can you imagine Ted Cruz nominating three Supreme Court justices? Would that make you mad? Too late by then. The next president will likely nominate two or even three Supreme Court justices!

What the hell does it take to make you mad? These things don’t exist independently of each other. You can’t forget some because you have to make room for the next one.

I know that you read somewhere that you should turn the other cheek, but just how many cheeks do you have?

There is no little blue pill for that sort of impotence. You have to get mad. You have to get up out of your chair. You have to do something.

“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!”   – Howard Beale, from Network, 1976

Read that date again, will you? The character of Howard Beale was trying to get people mad nearly 40 years ago.   That movie is older than some of you! A few things have changed. Now it’s “let me have my iphone and my facebook and I promise I’ll stay out of the way.”

I know that there are those who think anger is a waste of time. It is non-productive.  Bullshit. Anger is part of the fight or flight response that is built into every man, woman, and child. It is a survival instinct. It can save your life if you see it for what it is. It’s an alarm.

It’s a wake-up call. It’s a bucket of cold water in the face on a sleepy Sunday morning. It’s a turn off the tube and brush the Dorito crumbs off your lap siren. And there couldn’t be a better time.

But like all fight or flight responses, it can’t last long. You can’t maintain it. There isn’t that much adrenalin available. So we push the mental “snooze” button and put in the earbuds and find solace in the world of electronic static, the white noise we have become accustom to where nothing can make us any more angry than the last thing because there isn’t that much adrenaline in the world any longer.

You have to seize on it. Let it shape resolve. Let it do its job. It’s the resolve that is important in the end.

And we desperately need resolve right now.

National media drone on and on about politics, but they don’t want to emphasize the fact that the 2016 election may be the most important in our nation’s history because, well, because that is too damn scary for people.

LOOK at where we are. Look at what corporate interests are doing to our country. Look at what they have done to our system of government. Look at what fundamentalist politics is doing. A Republican president with a Republican congress run by a fundamentalist corporate philosophy? – we might as well be in Sudan.

If you think any Democratic candidate is a shoo-in over the current Republican field, then that makes me angry.

Yes, yes, you vote. I know you vote. Here in Washington they send us our ballots and we let them lay about for a few weeks and then remember to haul them out and make our marks and the most work we have to do is find the damn stamps so we can send it back. Duty done! Responsibility as a citizen over for another four years. Leave me be.

Or maybe you’re one of the few people reading this that is under 35 and you don’t vote because, what’s the use?  We can’t change anything.  You people, you goddamn baby boomers, fucked things up so bad that they can never be fixed and that’s why I’ll never have kids and why I couldn’t care less and just go the hell away and leave me 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…

“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 as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!” – Howard Beale, Network, 1976

Peter Finch as Howard Beale in "Network," 1976

Peter Finch as Howard Beale in “Network,” 1976

Get up out of your chairs. Get up and realize that you are mad as hell, and then resolve to do something about it.

Here in my neck of the woods the first tier Democratic caucus will be held on Saturday, March 26, 2016. How many of you are going with me?

Not in my little corner of the world? Do you caucus? Do you have a ballot primary? Do you know? Is it open or closed? Stand up and do something.   At least find the stamps now.

Posting Facebook memes doesn’t count. Using the twit thing doesn’t count. That’s part of the white noise that makes thought so difficult. Personally, I don’t think standing on a corner waving a sign makes people think so much about what a candidate stands for as it does that some yo-yo is waving a sign, but if that’s your thing, go for it.

Talking to people counts. Organizing counts. Volunteering counts. Sometimes financial support can count, but be wary there. Why give money to those who would work to take yours?

Yes, yes, I know we’re a year and a half out and it’s too soon to be pounding the drums of doom, and shouting out windows, but this is going to get very interesting pretty soon and you’d best be ready. Educate yourself. Get involved. Trust me, you do not want to live in a world where the fundamentalist extremists in the Republican Party think they have an opening, let alone a mandate.

In the next few months you are going to hear a great deal about what is possible and what is not. Minds are already changing in that regard. Absolutely nothing is possible without participation in the process. Get up out of your chairs and try to hold up your end.

Your Humble Servant,

The Willowbrook Curmudgeon

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