First, there was Maureen Dowd's pre-mortem elegy to George H.W."Poppy" Bush, which had the desired effect of plugging the new hagiography by Jon Meacham. The book has gleaned headlines because Poppy finally chastized W over Iraq at the same time he called Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld a couple of "iron asses." Dowd painted a picture of a principled elder statesman tortured in his dotage by the legacy of his idiot son. Riffing on Dylan Thomas, she mawkishly urged Poppy to "not to go gentle, man, into that good night."
Meanwhile, pouncing on a recent study on mortality rates, good Christian bitch Ross Douthat raged, raged against "The Dying of the Whites" and blamed the usual cultural breakdown and lack of religious faith for the epidemic of suicides and drug abuse among poorer white people. If only whites could learn to be as accepting of their reduced circumstances as blacks and Latinos are to their chronic marginalization, he said, maybe then they'd give life a chance.
And not to be outdone, Paul Krugman yawned, yawned against the dying of the whites as he boringly blamed, blamed the Republicans rather than globalization and political corruption and the oligarchy for the epidemic of suicides among struggling middle-aged white people. He said there might be something to Douthat's cultural breakdown theory after all, while proclaiming that the jury is still out as to whether income inequality and the greed of the plutocracy has anything to do with poor people dropping like flies for no strikingly apparent reason that he can fathom. So it must be the fault of those nasty replicons. And Krugman, acknowledging that Obamacare and a slight raise in the minimum wage might "not be enough to cure existential despair," does not offer any solutions of his own, or God forbid, give a shout-out to Bernie Sanders' social welfare agenda.
I responded to each of these lovely people. First, to Dowd:
I think I'll give Meacham's bio a pass. That the publisher's blurb brags that he was granted unique access to all Poppy's and Bar's diaries as well as to their august doddering selves should be your first clue to run for the hills. Your second clue is that Poppy is openly shilling for what smells like a shameless hagiography*.
The fact is that a corrupt scion like W can only grow out of a corrupt family tree. An oil-rich Skull and Bones river oozes right through the thought-free realm that shelters this whole misbegotten dynasty.
Unmentioned in the cheap Freudian analyses about obscenely rich fathers and sons is the fact that Poppy himself never could have clawed his way to the top without the help of the Ford administration's Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. Although Poppy followed the grand Bush family tradition of being woefully underqualified, they orchestrated his appointment to head the CIA as a cynical means of pushing back against the Church Committee. Once there, Poppy accomplished such feats as destroying all the records of the CIA's hideous mind control experiments. He helped the Neocon cabal give birth to their whole criminal enterprise 40 years ago. They enriched the military-industrial complex by falsely hyping Soviet threats, just as they would later falsely hype the Iraq threat.
They always were asses, iron or otherwise.
Intelligence failure is built right into the Bush DNA.
They deserve neither biographies nor therapy. They deserve indictments.
Now, my retort to Ross Douthat:
It's the class war, stupid.
Ross blithely supposes that since black death rates haven't been increasing as sharply as those for poor whites, the suicide epidemic must be a cultural, religious thing as well as an economic thing. The fact is that black mortality still surpasses white mortality. It's just that in this age of record wealth inequality, whites are finally gaining parity in the race to the misery mountaintop. Or, to be more accurate, the plummet to the depths of a hell created just for us by a de facto pathocracy.
Douthat's suggestion that blacks and Latinos have developed some sort of "resiliency" to oppression that should be emulated by whites smacks of both classism and racism. In other words, his prescription is to just get used to the new feudal order, and pray a lot. Indulge in the opiate of the masses instead of Oxycontin, and all will be well in your pathetic little worlds.
Here's my prescription: instead of voting against their own economic interests and keeping the Republican Simon Legrees in power, desperate white people should join in solidarity with their brown and black brothers and sisters and fight back against the oppression and inequality.
Thanks to the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. the idea of democratic socialism is starting to sound mighty appealing to the dispossessed of all races, colors and creeds.
Let's follow his advice and automatically register all people to vote on their 18th birthdays. Let the revolution begin.
Finally, my comment on Krugman's "Despair, American Style":
Capitalism on crack, deregulation, globalization, the corruption of the money-hungry political class: These are the poisons causing our existential despair. Call it post-modern eugenics.
Corporate coups like NAFTA, and the looming TPP and TTIP, shutter the factories that traditionally employ lower-educated white people, driving their jobs offshore and depressing their wages. People who are "shockingly" killing and over-medicating themselves know that they will never get another job. "This ('free trade') is not a bloodless process," then-Sen. Barack Obama correctly told a group of financiers at the Hamilton Project back in 2006.**
Meanwhile, we're informed that if we haven't succeeded, we haven't tried. We have a "skills gap." Fascist right-wingers urge us to hate thy neighbor as thyself, while centrists tell us to look at the wonderful new job stats as we sign up for predatory health insurance and they "fight" for a slight increase in the minimum wage by, say, 2020 or thereabouts. Leftist pols who want to expand -- not just "protect" -- Social Security get little to no coverage in the complicit, corporate press.
It was only recently that the government began cracking down on the notorious "pill mills" of Florida, and restricting the manufacture of limitless numbers of opiates. (Read "American Pain" by investigative journalist John Temple, and the Case-Deaton report won't seem shocking at all.)
Chronic despair should be declared a public health emergency.
The New York Times pundits should take heart, though. As the dynastic George W. Bush himself once admitted, "I don't understand how poor people think."
* Investigative journalist Russ Baker, author of "Family of Secrets," posits that the new bio is a huge cover-up. That most people will neither buy it nor read it matters not. The reviews are in, and they're glowing. Baker offers exhaustive evidence in his own book that, far from being the mild-mannered virtuous statesman of legend, Bush the Elder has been up to his eyeballs in intrigue and corruption and dirty political tricks his entire life. It was Poppy, for example, who gave Karl Rove his first big break. Baker even suggests a Bush-as-CIA spook connection, through various degrees of separation, with the Kennedy assassination. Yikes. Needless to say, his book was almost universally trashed by the establishment media when it was published, via that tried and true technique called "gaslighting the author." (See: Seymour Hersh.)
** Note Obama's opening remarks in the video above, as he smarmily congratulates Robert Rubin ("Bob") and the other architects of the soon-to-be worst financial meltdown in history for leading the country on "the path to prosperity." Note how he refers to the victims of globalization as "losers."
Obama readily acknowledges to the plutocrats vetting him that "trade" deals like the TPP are harmful to regular people. He admits that the "work being done here" has horrific consequences, and says nothing to discourage it. This performance was effectively his audition to head the Democratic ticket. He obviously passed with flying colors.
|COGs (Continuity of Government) in the Machine|