I’m having a Howard Beale Moment

I’m having a Howard Beale Moment February 11, 2015

Image patronestaff courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Image patronestaff courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Yes, yes, yes, I’ll recover my head and my bearings in an hour or so, but just now I am weary unto death with the headlines I am reading, because so much of it is — excuse my vulgarity — unrepentant bullshit. And I’m tired of the government and the press ladling bullshit at me, as though I have grown accustomed to the taste and smell of bullshit and now crave it and would, in fact, happily bathe in it, if only they just gave us all the bullshit they have to spare.

First up: We’re supposed to believe that the “anti-theist” who murdered three young Muslim students last night was enraged about a parking space? Bullshit. Please, let’s not run with that one, media, okay? Because “even if” a running grudge over a parking space existed, there is enough evidence to suggest that a “running grudge” against religion was the catalyst that permitted this man to feel entitled to execute three people. Don’t underplay the religion aspect simply because the shooter doesn’t fit a preferred template of “established” monsters.

Next up: Why all the silence, the utter lack of coverage, about the new “net neutrality regulations that will soon be put in place unseen and unstudied by the public whose very lives and livelihoods it will affect:

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently acknowledged that the three Democrats on the commission had decided to avoid Congressional input regarding the Internet by adopting President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1934 Communications Act to regulate the Internet with the same federal control as the old AT&T customer monopoly. To make sure that libertarian advocates would remain in the dark, Wheeler “embargoed” release of any of the specifics in the new administrative “policy” that will act as law.

This is bullshit, okay? “Three Democrats” decided this? Well, I’m sure the White House doesn’t mind. Obama has never been the “transparent” President he said he would be — anyone who believed him when he said nothing would be put into law without it first being posted to the internet, so we can all read it, really wanted to be deluded in 2008 and then sent the message that they enjoyed the delusion and welcomed more bullshit in 2012 — but here we are seeing laws put into place that are not even being discussed by the congress; there is no advise and consent, no debate, no alternative proposals amassed because no one actually knows what this proposal is, and we will not know until it is put in place, a done deal.

Now, I know, you’re saying:

“well, Elizabeth, how can you rant about this when you don’t know what exactly is being put into place? Maybe Obama’s Net Neutrality is perfectly benign and helpful to all of us, and he just doesn’t want to be bothered having to explain it to reactionaries and people who wear their pajamas to work.”

To which I respond: are you stupid? If the thing were benign, there would be no reason to prevent us from knowing what it is. If the thing was “helpful to all of us” the administration wouldn’t be shielding it, and its minions in the press wouldn’t be obsessing about Jon Stewart resigning from comedy news show — they’d all be cooing about this great gift being bestowed upon us by the beneficent Obama Administration.

No, Obama doesn’t want discussion or examination, here, or he’d be promoting exactly that. He also doesn’t want public debate on any of it in the congress, of on the airwaves, which tells me that this thing is so bad he can’t count on his own party — or even his media transcribers on the ‘net — getting behind it, and he won’t dare allow it to become something the GOP can exploit.

So, for all that President Obama likes to preen that he is not a political animal, that he doesn’t play those calculating political games and is not gifted in bullshitting (which is the third largest helping of it he’s yet served up), what we’re seeing with this Net Neutrality move is a cunningly political (and yes, cynical and bullshitty) president who is, in essence, saying: “I will prevent you from making informed critiques about any of this, until you can do nothing about it. At which point you can criticize it all you want, within the boundaries of this new law, chumps.”

And hey, he’s going to get away with it, because no one can process anything anymore; we’re too busy clicking and touching our screens and moving forward, in the endless mental masturbation that has become the by-product of the internet. “Oh, that’s going on? Interesting but look, Buzzfeed has a new list and it’s sort of humorous!”

Our national distraction is destroying us. And I say that fully cognizant of the fact that I make my living on the internet and I have “share” buttons at the bottom of this post, and that after some of you hit those buttons, you’ll dive into Facebook and gush over the latest pictures of your BFF’s baby, and forget that you’ve read this just as easily as you’ve forgotten Zeke Emmanuel and Jonathan Gruber talking about health care rationing. I say it knowing that when I hit publish, I will then look back at my notes and find the thing I’d originally planned to write about — hey, it’s about prayer! — and start pounding that out, within two beats. Three if I actually do take a moment for prayer.

Because as Simka Gravas once said to Latka, “we are all frauds, my darlink.”

But even a fraud should be able to look at bullshit and call it what it is.

Finally, what is this president’s problem with Jews? Why is it so hard for him, and his administration, to admit that in Paris, people were killed by Muslim extremists, because they were in a Kosher Deli and so were presumably Jews? Because the victims were not targeted “by name” it wasn’t anti-semitism? Bullshit, bullshit, unconscionable bullshit.

For that matter, why are we supposed to go on pretending that Obama has warm feelings for Israel, or that he values our strategic alliance with that nation. It’s not how he behaves. Perfunctory lip service is not reality. It’s just illusion wearing a $60 tie.

I’m not even going to get into the weird argument Obama has made in his comments about the crusades — better minds than mine have addressed it here, and here, and here, and here and here, and here.

But, when I heard it, my first thought was, “so…human mindsets from 800 years ago were reprehensible, but people had better not get on their high horses about the people modeling that mindset in the 21st Century because…we’re enlightened and progressive? Or is it just ‘their turn’, is that it?”

Bullshit, okay? Just bullshit. So is the idea that when a woman says she has been raped on a college campus, she should not go to the police but should allow the school to adjudicate the matter, usually without allowing any sort of counsel for the guy who is being accused. Bullshit.

Yes, it’s a Howard Beale moment, I know it. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore, for at least the next 15 minutes because my attention span is badly in need of repair, and because even after Beale ranted, if we recall, the trajectory of things continued unabated, as they will after I’ve written this. Because the thrust of narrative is always forward.

Boy, do I wish Paddy Chayefsky had lived to see this.

Having said all that, let me just break it all down in the way we all best understand: the Hashtag Manifesto!


What do you mean you don’t know who Howard Beale is?

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