Sunday, March 2, 2008


"Brazil" was a movie Terry Gilliam and a few conspirators made back in 1985; in large part, it's a satire on Orwell's '1984' and Thatcher's Britain. I can't believe it's taken me so long to get around to watching it....

One of the first scenes of the movie is a TV interview of a government official, a Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Information named Eugene Helpmann, who reminds me entirely too much of Donald Rumsfeld for this to be a good thing.....

Interviewer: What do you believe is behind this recent increase in terrorist bombings?

Helpmann: Bad sportsmanship. A ruthless minority of people seems to have forgotten certain good old-fashioned virtues. They just can't stand seeing the other fellow win. If these people would just play the game, they'd get a lot more out of life.

Interviewer: Nevertheless, Mr. Helpmann, there are those who maintain that the Ministry of Information has become too large and unwieldy...

David... in a free society information is the name of the game. You can't win the game if you're a man short.

Inerviewer: And the cost of it all, Deputy Minister..... Seven percent of the gross national product?

Helpmann: I understand this concern on behalf of the tax payers. People want value for money. That's why we always insist on the principle of Information Retrieval charges. It's absolutely right and fair that those found guilty should pay for their periods of detention and for the Information Retrieval Procedures used in their interrogation.

Interviewer: Do you believe that the government is winning the battle against terrorists?

Helpmann: Oh, yes. Our morale is much higher than theirs. We're fielding all their strokes, running a lot of them out, and pretty consistently knocking them for six. I'd say they're nearly out of the game.

Helpmann: Why should decent law-abiding citizens have to subsidize criminals?

Interviewer: But Mr. Helpmann, the bombing campaign is now in its thirteenth year.

Helpmann: Beginner's luck.

Am I completely out to lunch here, or is this not something you could imagine someone from the Bush Administration saying on Meet the Press?

On the other hand, a huge national security bureaucracy, a long and pointless battle against terrorists, and a government that arrests and tortures people arbitrarily.... well, that's just un-American, isn't it? We don't seem to have got to the point of billing people for the expense of torturing them, though...

Note-- apparantly this movie has been edited six days from Shabbos and there are several versions of it; the US version, as usual, apparently has most of the good bits left out.

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