Thursday, February 4, 2010

Society-wide depression has struck America

Why Are Americans Passive as Millions Lose Their Homes, Jobs, Families and the American Dream?
Why it's happened and what we can do about it.
An unnatural economic and psychological disaster has struck America. Five contributors, each interacting with and shaping the others, have devastated the American moral, economic, psychological, and social landscape. Each is fed by related streams, but each contributes its own force to the disaster. The American dream in which each generation surpassed the previous generation in real wages has all but disappeared, along with dreams of an intact family, a steady job, a home, and an honest supportive community.
This article looks at each of five collaborators in the crisis in order to answer the following questions:
How did this happen? What forces are responsible?
Why are Americans passive as millions lose their homes, their jobs, their families, their hopes of justice, and the American dream?
Why do Americans remain disorganized at home while their European and Asian counterparts flood into the streets and strike in militant, organized protest? Why do others believe in their potential to reclaim their lives while we do not?
What happened is a result of at least five major, interrelated forces. One is a transformation of American morality, and with it the loss of belief that the social and political realms could be shaped by morality, ethics, and secular spirituality. Another is an economic depression. A third is a transformation of the family, which has been the foundation of American emotional life. A fourth is the decimation of Americans' social participation in all areas, from bridge clubs and PTAs to political parties. A fifth is the tranquilizing and numbing of the American population with psychotropic medications.
1. The Crisis in Morality and Social Ethics

Let us begin with the first of our contributors: American ethics, morality, and spirituality. The same forces that decimated our economic, psychological, and social landscapes have transformed our sense of morality and social ethics. The shared dream of an ethical, moral society that dominated the United States until the 1970s has systematically eroded. In the 1960s it was common to believe that morality and spirituality include a concern for all human beings, rich and poor alike. The biggest push against those social ethics began with Reagan's presidency in 1981. It continued in Reagan's second term and was reinforced by each president until its (we hope) final act in the presidency of George W. Bush.
Reagan's basic ideology was that people are poor because they lack incentives. He claimed that poor people's noble drive to get rich is eroded by social programs that permit them to survive or, in his term, "freeload." In this framework, income tax cuts increase the incentive to work and get rich, so all are expected to benefit from them. In 1980 the highest incomes were taxed at 73 percent. In 2009 those same high incomes were taxed at half that rate, 35 percent. Of course the percentage of tax on the highest incomes is actually even lower, since the wealthiest Americans can hire tax accountants to help them evade taxes. Reagan used his famous veto power to cut a huge range of social programs from biomedical research, to social security for disabled Americans, to clean water, to expanded Head Start. At the same time, he increased the military budget while decrying big government.
That pattern has been repeated ever since, which is how, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States went from being the most egalitarian western industrialized society in 1970 to the least egalitarian in 2009.
In addition, the Soviet model of socialism failed. It did not provide the kind and ethical societies that are part of a socialist vision. The mass of people believed that the Soviet Union was communism. Left-wing class analyses of the failure of Soviet Communism, such as Bettelheim's in the late 1970s or Resnick and Wolff's in 2002, were not widely read or embraced. Both of those analyses demonstrate that the USSR and its satellites exemplified class societies in which a bureaucratic class appropriated wealth and made crucial decisions affecting the lives of the mass of people. They explain that the USSR failed because it was not a communist society. It was not a society in which the people in each workplace decided what to produce, and also collected their own profits and decided together how to distribute those profits. Because these left-wing class interpretations were few and largely unembraced, a socialist or communist dream seemed doomed to end in rigid, bureaucratic, and undemocratic societies that were rejected by their own people. People lost faith in a secular dream.
Slowly there has been a transformation of our morality and ethics. Where our morality once required the United States to embody our ethics in the world and empower all citizens, it has shifted so that our morality now consists of requiring conservative personal and sexual behavior. Within that morality Clinton committed an impeachable crime by lying about having sex with an intern, while Bush and Cheney did not commit impeachable crimes by lying about the threat from Iraq and thus causing the deaths of over four thousand U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, or by torturing prisoners. It is not considered immoral to spend between six billion and twelve billion dollars a week on the war in Iraq while cutting school and social programs for needy families because "there is not enough money." The secular morality that made America a proudly democratic and egalitarian nation has deteriorated. We are experiencing a national moral, ethical, and spiritual crisis.
2. The Dying of the Economic Dream

A second contributor to American passivity is the economic crisis from which we are suffering. Let us look at our history in order to understand what happened. From 1820-1970, the United States experienced a unique period of ever-increasing prosperity. For 150 years, U.S. salaries rose together with ever-increasing worker productivity. For 150 years, each generation was able to afford a better standard of living than the generation that preceded it. That was the American dream.
Unlike their European counterparts, Americans did not enjoy working-class solidarity with other workers whose families and social organizations, unions and political parties were inflected by a history of overt class struggle fought as proudly permanent members of the working class. Europeans organized their working unions along political lines. They fought for better conditions as part of the ideology of long-term communist and socialist struggles for ownership and control of their workplaces.
The U.S. labor movement is not informed by a struggle for worker ownership of the businesses that produce U.S. goods and services. Decisions about what to produce and the right to appropriate and distribute profits are left to corporate boards of directors. Americans accepted the capitalist system in which each generation had relatively prospered. American labor fought for an increasing amount of income that would permit workers to consume more goods and services, a system in which each generation could move to jobs considered more prestigious and lucrative within the capitalist hierarchy. Blue-collar workers' children could become white-collar, and white-collar children could become professionals in the next generation (particularly if they were not just white-collar but white, period). U.S. growth permitted ever-increasing real wages and possibilities for consumption. Even in the Great Depression from 1929-1939, real wages, the amount that one could buy with one's wages, were able to rise because prices fell even faster than wages.
That ever-increasing prosperity stopped in 1970. By 1970 the introduction of computers, better telecommunications, and more efficient transportation enabled jobs to be outsourced to lower-paid workers overseas. Competing factories in Europe and Japan, which had been decimated by World War II, were now vying for U.S. markets. Then China emerged as a manufacturing giant. Competition reduced the U.S. share of both domestic and global markets. The outsourcing of American jobs to cheaper labor markets was not stopped by militant unions, which were unable to achieve the powerful "runaway shop" laws that were won in other nations. Nor did militant unions force the creation of a tight safety net to catch workers in financial distress.
For a long time, there was a relative scarcity of white male workers available for the jobs reserved for white males in America's racially and sexually segregated job markets. White male workers, who were accustomed to receiving increasing real wages and living a lifestyle of ever-greater consumption, could no longer support their families on their frozen wages. Americans' sense of self worth was in large part dependent on their net worth. They became increasingly depressed. Their sense of personal value was cut with their salaries. This happened as the advertising industry burgeoned. Advertising continuously and relentlessly sells consumption as the path to happiness. Consumption was undermined and with it stability, prosperity, and a sense of personal success.
3. What Produced the Crisis in Personal and Family Life?
Economic desperation pushed many more women into the labor force to increase money for the household. Previous to the 1970s, most white, nonimmigrant American women entered the labor force only in times of particular and urgent family need: upon divorce, or if a husband died, was ill, unemployed, or deserted his family. Women's labor outside the home provided some safety in times of emergency. In 1970, 40 percent of U.S. women were in the labor force, mostly part time. By the year 2008, 75 percent of U.S. women were in the labor force, mostly full time. Many women enjoyed the greater autonomy, variation, and creativity that jobs could provide. Many others were forced by economic necessity to work outside of their homes in routinized dead-end jobs with scarce assistance from governmental supports for day care, after-school programs, or elder care.
Women's work outside of the home helped to improve the standard of living for most families, but it did not compensate families for lost white male wages. Women's wage work imposes not only the obvious expenses of additional clothing and transportation, but also the costs of purchasing some of the goods and services that women previously produced at home free of charge, such as cooking, mending, cleaning, shopping, and child care. Those goods and services are crucial. Once they become commodified in the marketplace, they become expensive. The latest figures from indicate that if a stay-at-home mother in the United States were replaced by paid domestic products and services, the cost would be $122,732 a year. The domestic products produced and services rendered by a mom who works outside of the home would cost $76,184 per year.
Even with women flooding into the labor force, families were still financially hurting. Working women had no time to perform full-time household labor and child care, and there was still not enough money for consumption. More money was accumulating at the top while the mass of Americans suffered from frozen wages. The wealthy then promoted the credit card to lend to Americans the money that they formerly would have earned in growing wages. Families became dependent on credit card debt. Since the interest rate on credit cards ranges from 15 percent to 25 percent, Americans descended into debt at record-breaking levels.
The living standard of Americans deteriorated psychologically as well. In American culture, women provide most of the emotional labor to make home a warm and comfortable place for men and children. It is women who usually arrange children's social lives and activities, from play dates to dental appointments. Women are usually the directors of adult social life as well. Indeed, women are usually in charge of emotional life for the entire family. The more women work outside of the home without social support in the form of child care programs and domestic help, the more stressed, overworked, and emotionally unavailable they become. Overwhelmed women have less energy for the roles of social director and organizer, as well as emotional and physical caregiver. Households are hurting emotionally. When Bush took office in 2000, he cut many of the already hobbled social programs that allowed families to survive. Families are in trouble.
Women are no longer willing to work outside of the home, do the lion's share of the domestic work, and simultaneously take care of their children's and husbands' physical and emotional needs largely unaided either by their husbands or by social programs. For the first time in American history, the majority of women are abandoning marriage. Women now initiate two-thirds of divorces. Half of first marriages and 60 percent of second marriages end in legal separation or divorce. These impressive figures do not include the many people who end their marriages outside of the legal system.
When men's emotional relationships with women break down, they have little intimate emotional support. Women usually count on other women to emotionally sustain them. Women still manage to befriend and support each other on a personal level in a way that few men can. These changes in households and family life are a third tributary to America's deluge of disaster. Americans have lost both the financial dream of ever-increasing prosperity and consumption, and also the emotional family dream of a stable family connected by a present wife creating emotional connection and domestic order. In short, Americans have lost what was the comfort of home.
4. Americans' Increasing Isolation from One Another
A fourth disaster is closely related. The freeze in U.S. real wages coincided with the beginning of Americans' increasing isolation from one another. Beginning once again in the 1970s, nearly all social connections between Americans declined. The decay in U.S. social life was an almost total phenomenon. It extended from inviting friends to dinner, to joining bridge clubs or bowling leagues, to volunteering for noncontroversial activities such as the PTA or Red Cross blood drives, to participating in more controversial activities such as working for a cause or a political candidate.
There was growth in social participation in evangelical religious groups; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) groups; internet groups; and self-help groups. However, membership in self-help groups, America's greatest social participation growth area, was outnumbered two to one by drop-outs from bowling leagues alone, according to Robert Putnam's 2000 book, Bowling Alone, which I have drawn on for statistics throughout this section.
Several inconclusive theories have emerged as to why Americans have dropped out of U.S. social life and civic life.
Women dropping out of social activities because of working full time outside of the home accounts for only 10 percent of the overall dropout rate.
One might attribute U.S. social desertion to the phenomenon of busyness, but that too is an insufficient explanation. The average American watches four hours of television a day, which would be difficult to manage with an intensely busy schedule. The Internet may seem like a replacement for social interaction, but the Internet isolates people as well as connects them.
Extensive television viewing may be a culprit since more people relate to their television sets than to each other, and the heaviest viewing correlates to the least social participation. But surely this is a symptom as much as a cause of the problems that isolate Americans. I say this because extensive television viewing is reported by the viewers themselves as so unsatisfying that it leaves them "not feeling so good." Their descriptions portray it as an addiction that compels without satisfying. An overwhelming number of viewers watch for the purpose of distraction or entertainment. Television functions as an escape from loneliness, changed gender expectations, and looming economic disaster.
Perhaps the greatest reason is that Americans are psychologically and also physically exhausted. They have fewer vacations and longer workweeks than any of their Western European counterparts. Activity in society, including activity in politics, has become a luxury good for those fortunate few who have extra time and energy. The Left's natural constituency, the mass of Americans, is exhausted, disillusioned, and in despair. To add to their despair, the tremendous wealth at the top of society has been used to fund right-wing media outlets like Fox News, to name just one example. Right-wing media promote the idea that there is no alternative to the status quo. At the same time, the skewed distribution of wealth allows vast sums to be given to politicians who advance the fortunes of those who pay their way. Immense wealth is invested in weakening the regulations against enormous giving at the top. These developments increase the conviction that ordinary people make no difference in politics. They have no voice. The force of the Left is further weakened.
5. The Drugging of America
The fifth tributary that helped to create our deluge of disaster is both a cause and an effect of America's social breakdown. This is the numbing of Americans with psychotropic drugs. In 2006, Americans, who make up approximately 6 percent of the world's population, consumed 66 percent of the world's supply of antidepressants. In 2002, more than 13 percent of Americans were taking Prozac alone. Prozac is one of thirty available antidepressants. Anti-anxiety drugs, such as Zoloft, are so widely prescribed that in the year 2005, the $3.1 billion sales of Zoloft exceeded the sales for Tide detergent.
Many of these drugs, which are also called "cosmetic drugs" or "life-enhancing drugs," are diagnosed for loneliness, sadness, life transitions, or concentration on task performance. They have been "normalized" through extensive direct-to-consumer advertising and marketing to doctors who are financially rewarded for recommending them to colleagues. Regulations that once restrained the widespread promotion and sales of these powerful drugs have been relaxed to the point of near nonexistence. The United States is the only Western nation that permits direct-to-consumer drug advertising. We are also the only nation without price controls on drugs. Psychiatric drugs are so ubiquitous that the pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable industry in America, and antidepressants are their most profitable products.
What Can We Do?
The current disaster did not just happen with the recent burst of the stock market and housing bubbles. Americans somewhere knew for a long time that we could not pay our credit card bills or our mortgages. Somewhere, unconsciously, we had to know that disaster was approaching. We responded with denial, withdrawal, depression, and dissociation accomplished with the aid of extensive television viewing and preoccupation with scandals and celebrities.
Each of the five tributaries flowed together to drown the mass of Americans in debt, family dissolution, isolation, and drug-induced apathy. In response to the original questions that inspired this article, we now need to ask another question: what can we do about it? Americans may now be looking for change. They elected a president who promised change. That change has not happened. Where else can we look?
Capitalism needs and breeds consumerism. We are surrounded by advertisements for products. Ubiquitous advertising has a blighting side effect. The presentation of all human connection now carries a price tag for a branded product. Scenes of connection with a group of friends include, for example, Budweiser beer. The devoted mother is washing your clothes with Tide. The sexy woman, whom men want and women want to be, seems to come with the sleek Toyota. Ads appear whenever we turn on our computers or read newspapers or magazines. Product placement is present in almost every film. Television, America's mass entertainment, embraces product placement and explicit advertising directed to all ages. Capitalist consumerism coveys the message that relationships happen with and through products. There are too few scenes of people trying honestly to connect and surmount their real economic, social, and emotional problems through honest discussion and negotiation. We need more images of people who enjoy their connection and work through the difficult times involved in creating close, mutual, nurturing relationships. How do we manage to effect change within this environment? Where are the contradictions that create openings?
A Time When Noncommercial Values Are Attractive
One opportunity for change has emerged due to the recent capitalist collapse, which has intensified American suffering. People can no longer afford the brand-name products seen on TV. Their economic woes reveal the relentless hustling of now unaffordable consumer products. They try generics, unknown brands, and less consumption, and often find them just as good. This presents us with an opening to question. New, noncommercial values can form.
Since Americans are hooked on the mass media, and the media loves anything new, the Left can create media-attracting new actions. The anarchist group that formed around a book called The Coming Insurrection got full media attention when a well-publicized group jumped on stage at Barnes & Noble in New York for a spontaneous reading that began, "Everyone agrees it's about to explode." The action was widely covered for its novelty.
We can look to the four areas that have grown in the current social drought. They are, in order of their growth, self-help groups, internet groups, evangelical church groups, and GLBT groups.
Self-Help Groups
The largest self-help groups are Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Alcohol and drugs have proved to be a personal and social disaster for millions of Americans, who cannot function on the job and suffer havoc in their personal lives due to these substances. Huge alcohol and pharmaceutical lobbies push these substances on individuals desperate for relief from their problems. The individual solution of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol-promoted so efficiently by capitalism-failed terribly. In the face of that failure, millions join together in small groups where they share their pain and suffering within a supportive, nonjudgmental collective that operates without salaries, advertisements, or financial charges. These twelve-step groups give the Left a window of possibility. We can add a thirteenth step to their twelve-step programs. We can add a step to organize against big pharmaceutical and liquor advertising, which profits on false promises. The Left desperately needs to address people's despair and give them support. We can learn to incorporate nonjudgmental personal and political support, as well as psychological and political dimensions, to Left groups where both nonjudgmental attitudes and psychological support have been sadly lacking. The Left has tried too hard to focus on being correct and not enough effort on reaching people where they are hurting. We need to listen to people without judgment as they do in twelve-step programs.
The GLBT Movement
We can also study the contradictions that helped to produce GLBT organizations. Advertising creates omnipresent images of happiness accessed though products that relate to sexual attractiveness. The sexy woman rides in the man's sleek new car. The virile man drives a big truck and smokes Marlboros. Multibillion-dollar industries such as the diet, cosmetic, and fashion industries promote products to enhance sexual attractiveness. Popular culture celebrates heterosexual coupling and family as ultimate happiness while avoiding mention of collective joys or homosexuality.
The GLBT movement works to include those in their identity group who are excluded from the grand celebration of personal couple happiness built around sexual pairing. The very pressure to channel complex desires into heterosexual coupling helped lead GLBT people to, as a group, articulate collective visions of resistance and envision new possibilities.
Since most families and relationships are breaking down, American people desperately need connection. Organizing creates connection. Collective dreams have a chance to replace the individualistic desires cultivated in capitalist America.
What We Can Learn From Evangelicals' Failures ... and Successes
Conservative evangelical groups create a collective vision and connection while celebrating capitalist success as God's blessing. They provide some of what people desperately need and the Left ignores, such as strong verbal support for important work in the home and a focus on the hard work of child rearing. Conservative evangelicals manage to accomplish this while sex role stereotyping that labor, as well as opposing every form of non-church-based material support that actually allows families to stay afloat. They typically oppose single-payer health plans, Head Start for all, sex education (unless abstinence-based), family planning, maternity and paternity benefits, minimum wage hikes, etc. In the end they cannot deliver the support that families need. The savior they pray to has not saved them from financial and personal desperation and divorce.
Evangelicalism's reduction of morality to personal morality and particularly sexual morality has an embarrassing side effect. Googling "evangelical scandals" results in 3,729,000 hits in five seconds. Evangelical scandals have resulted in reduced credibility. There is now an opportunity for the wider ethical spiritual morality of the community associated with Tikkun and left-leaning evangelicals connected to Sojourners who develop their social, economic, personal, and political morality, and who see political activity as an expression of morality taken into the world. We on the Left have an opportunity to champion our own moral, ethical, and spiritual vision to Americans who desperately need both morality and hope for a better world. Evangelical promotion of the centrality of personal connection and family gives the Left an opening to advocate material and psychological support for all kinds of families. The Left urgently needs a family program to address the mass breakdown of U.S. homes and families.
The evangelical groups can, ironically show us what we are missing. The failure of evangelical morality, which excludes social, economic, and political morality, may create an opening for a much-needed left-wing program of social, political, economic, and personal ethics and morality for which many hunger.
Internet Organizing
There are explicitly political possibilities afforded by the net. and other political groups organize and mobilize through the Web. In Iran, members of the opposition evaded censors, communicated with each other, and aroused national and international support through Twitter and Facebook. The Facebook account of Neda Soltani's murder focused Iran and the world on the violent repression of Mousavi's supporters. That possibility exists here.
The four social growth groups springing up in America's desert of political opposition point out possible avenues for a Left that desperately needs direction. Let us return to our original questions:
Why are Americans passive as millions lose their homes, their jobs, their families, and the American dream?
Why do Americans remain at home, disorganized, while their European counterparts flood into the streets in militant, organized protests? How did this happen? What forces are responsible? We can see that the cycles of capitalism with its relentless need for consumer spending and capital accumulation at the top have devastated America. We can also see that unbridled capitalism has created mass suffering and then turned the rage of those who suffer against all who need governmental assistance and against additional scapegoats such as homosexuals, feminists, liberals, socialists, and immigrants. We can create new roads to reclaim this nation by organizing and activating the mass of Americans who know that the ostensible "recovery" will never return what they have lost. We dared to elect a president who championed change verbally, who campaigned on unity and respect for all, and who preserves the structures that destroyed our lives. En masse, we have turned to self-help groups, evangelists, psycho-pharmaceutical drugs, and sexual identity politics, which do not solve the multifaceted crisis in which we are drowning. America needs another way. Perhaps we can provide it?

Harriet Fraad is a psychotherapist-hypnotherapist in practice in New York City. She is a founding member of the feminist movement and the journal Rethinking Marxism. For forty years, she has been a radical committed to transforming U.S. personal and political life.

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Thu Nov 17, 2005 21:02

BlogWashington.ComMiddle East Report, D.C. - Nov 16, 2005... On sale at the check-out counter at Washington foodstores is The Globe with this unusual Bush's Secret Breakdown cover-story to the left. ... Results 1 - 1 of 1 for GLOBE BUSH'S-SECRET-BREAKDOWN. Washington CrisisFailed and Dangerous Regime Clings to PowerReport: Bush rarely speaks to father, family and friends are split TUE - 15 Nov - Bush Frying: Washington is all abuzz, just under the surface, with one story after another about an abandoned, isolated, betrayed, bunkering President. Add to this stories of drinking, raging, shouting... On sale at the check-out counter at Washington foodstores is The Globe with this unusual Bush's Secret Breakdown cover-story to the left. Other insider-websights have been carrying similar features from 'anonymous' sources for some time now. On Sunday the magazine associated with Washington's conservative Washington Times newspaper went with a lead story from which the following is quoted, the picture below used on the front page of the paper a few days before:"President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, INSIGHT magazine claims in a new report.The president�s reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.The atmosphere in the Oval Office has become unbearable, a source said. Even the family is split.Sources close to the White House say that Mr. Bush has become isolated and feels betrayed by key officials in the wake of plunging domestic support, the continued insurgency in Iraq and the CIA-leak investigation that has resulted in the indictment and resignation of Lewis Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions." READ MORE...
Bush's Jaw Problemvideo clip Q.T.
Bush Using Drugs to Control Depression, Erratic Behavior

Teresa Hampton – Capitol Hill Blue July 28, 2004
President George W. Bush is taking powerful anti-depressant drugs to control his erratic behavior, depression and paranoia, Capitol Hill Blue has learned. The prescription drugs, administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb, the White House physician, can impair the President’s mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis, administration aides admit privately. “It’s a double-edged sword,” says one aide. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.” Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay. “Keep those motherfuckers away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.” Bush’s mental stability has become the topic of Washington whispers in recent months. Capitol Hill Blue first reported on June 4 about increasing concern among White House aides over the President’s wide mood swings and obscene outbursts. Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports an anti-Bush propaganda, the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book <>

Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President<>.

Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a “paranoid meglomaniac” and “untreated alcoholic” whose “lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad” showcase Bush’s instabilities. “I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed,” Dr. Frank said. “He fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated.” Dr. Frank’s conclusions have been praised by other prominent psychiatrists, including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School. The doctors also worry about the wisdom of giving powerful anti-depressant drugs to a person with a history of chemical dependency. Bush is an admitted alcoholic, although he never sought treatment in a formal program, and stories about his cocaine use as a younger man haunted his campaigns for Texas governor and his first campaign for President. “President Bush is an untreated alcoholic with paranoid and megalomaniac tendencies,” Dr. Frank adds. The White House did not return phone calls seeking comment on this article. Although the exact drugs Bush takes to control his depression and behavior are not known, White House sources say they are “powerful medications” designed to bring his erratic actions under control. While Col. Tubb regularly releases a synopsis of the President’s annual physical, details of the President’s health and any drugs or treatment he may receive are not public record and are guarded zealously by the secretive cadre of aides that surround the President. Veteran White House watchers say the ability to control information about Bush’s health, either physical or mental, is similar to Ronald Reagan’s second term when aides managed to conceal the President’s increasing memory lapses that signaled the onslaught of Alzheimer’s Disease. It also brings back memories of Richard Nixon’s final days when the soon-to-resign President wondered the halls and talked to portraits of former Presidents. The stories didn’t emerge until after Nixon left office. One long-time GOP political consultant who – for obvious reasons – asked not to be identified said he is advising his Republican Congressional candidates to keep their distance from Bush. “We have to face the very real possibility that the President of the United States is loony tunes,” he says sadly. “That’s not good for my candidates, it’s not good for the party and it’s certainly not good for the country.” © Copyright 2004 by Capitol Hill Blue Also see: Angry Bush Walks Out on Media

Washington Shrink Calls Bush a "Paranoid, Sadistic Meglomaniac"

Bush's Erratic Behaviour Worries White House Aides Voice of the White House, June 10-14, 2004 Voice of the White House – May 31 to June 4, 2004 Voice of the White House May 31, 2004 Voice of the White House Notes from Inside the White House
From Capitol Hill BlueThe RantBush on the Constitution: 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper'By DOUG THOMPSONDec 9, 2005, 07:53

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.”And, to the Bush Administration, the Constitution of the United States is little more than toilet paper stained from all the shit that this group of power-mad despots have dumped on the freedoms that “goddamned piece of paper” used to guarantee.Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while still White House counsel, wrote that the “Constitution is an outdated document.”Put aside, for a moment, political affiliation or personal beliefs. It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent. It doesn’t matter if you support the invasion or Iraq or not. Despite our differences, the Constitution has stood for two centuries as the defining document of our government, the final source to determine – in the end – if something is legal or right.Every federal official – including the President – who takes an oath of office swears to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States."Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says he cringes when someone calls the Constitution a “living document.”“"Oh, how I hate the phrase we have—a 'living document,’” Scalia says. “We now have a Constitution that means whatever we want it to mean. The Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete's sake.”As a judge, Scalia says, “I don't have to prove that the Constitution is perfect; I just have to prove that it's better than anything else.”President Bush has proposed seven amendments to the Constitution over the last five years, including a controversial amendment to define marriage as a “union between a man and woman.” Members of Congress have proposed some 11,000 amendments over the last decade, ranging from repeal of the right to bear arms to a Constitutional ban on abortion.Scalia says the danger of tinkering with the Constitution comes from a loss of rights.“We can take away rights just as we can grant new ones,” Scalia warns. “Don't think that it's a one-way street.”And don’t buy the White House hype that the USA Patriot Act is a necessary tool to fight terrorism. It is a dangerous law that infringes on the rights of every American citizen and, as one brave aide told President Bush, something that undermines the Constitution of the United States.But why should Bush care? After all, the Constitution is just “a goddamned piece of paper.”© Copyright 2005 Capitol Hill Blue
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Where there's smoke, there's ireBy DOUG THOMPSONDec 12, 2005, 08:33
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The firestorm over Friday’s column quoting President George W. Bush’s obscene outburst over the Constitution continues to grow with our email box overflowing from outraged readers who think the President should be impeached along with pro-Bushites who want my head on a platter.
I’m surprised by the public’s anger over this. When a GOP operative first emailed me about the White House meeting where Bush called the Constitution “just a goddamned piece of paper,” I put it aside as one of many reports I get about the President’s temper tantrums.
Bush lashed out at an aide who dared question him on the USA Patriot Act. That’s typical Bush. We started reporting on the President’s outbursts last year and those tantrums are now widely reported now by the so-called “mainstream media.”
As Evan Thomas and Richard Wolfe write in the current edition of Newsweek:
“A White House aide, who like virtually all White House officials (in this story and in general) refused to be identified for fear of antagonizing the president… How many people dare to snap back at a president? Not many, and not unless they have known the president a long, long time. (Even Karl Rove, or "Turd Blossom," as he is sometimes addressed by the president, knows when to hold his tongue.) In the Bush White House, disagreement is often equated with disloyalty… his attitude toward Congress was "my way or the highway," according to a GOP staffer who did not want to be identified criticizing the president.”
We get tips about Bush’s temper and his comments all the time. Most of the tips don’t get used because we don’t go with information from just one source. The tip about “the goddamned piece of paper” seemed destined for the byte bin until a second aide, in casual conversation, mentioned the comment.
So I called a third source who has confirmed information in the past. At first he was defensive.
“Who told you about that?” I told him I’d picked it up from two other sources.
“Look, you know how the President is,” he said. “He gets agitated when people challenge him.”
All I wanted to know was did the President of the United States call the Constitution a “goddamned piece of paper.”
“Yeah. He did.”
So I went with the story. To me it was just another example of a President who too often lets his anger get the better of him, particularly with anyone who dares disagree. I didn’t see it as a rallying cry for those who either want Bush’s head for his various misdeeds or mine for daring report them.
Some say Bush should be impeached. Sorry, I don’t agree. He’s not the first President to consider the Constitution an expendable document and he won’t be the last. Most Presidents have complained that the Constitution gets in their way.
When Teddy Roosevelt decided to send the Marines into North Africa, his Secretary of State cautioned him such an act would be unconstitutional.
Teddy snapped back: “Why destroy the beauty of the act with legalities?”
Presidents, by their nature, look for ways to skirt the law when that law gets in the way of their agendas. If we impeached every President who disregarded the Constitution when it didn’t suit his purposes we probably would have tried just about every President in the last 50 years.
Those who support the President no matter what now demand that I release the names of aides who passed on the information.
Sorry. Doesn’t work that way. I don’t burn sources. Never have. Never will. And, as every news outlet that covers Washington knows, the Bush administration comes down hard on anyone who talks out of school about the President.
“Sometimes the only way to get a story is to promise confidentiality,” Lucy Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press advocacy group, told the Christian Science Monitor recently.
In a White House where any disagreement with the President is branded as disloyalty or, in some cases, unpatriotic, the only sources who will tell us what’s really going on are those who choose to remain anonymous.
It ain’t perfect but in these imperfect times, it’s the best we’ve got
.© Copyright 2005 by Capitol Hill Blue
Frequent accidents? OR
You can blame it on a pretzel....
Our Mentally Sick President

Review by Marc Cherbonnier -->Bush On The Couch: Inside the Mind of the Presidentby Justin A. Frank, M.D.ReganBooks, 2004, 247 pages(An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers)

In this non-fiction book Justin A. Frank, M.D., a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center, analyzes George W. Bush "at a distance" using Bush's public statements and behavior, personal accounts of events and the historical record. Frank's findings are that the president suffers from childhood trauma and untreated alcohol abuse, as well as dyslexia, ADHD, and other thought disorders resulting in arrested character and personality development.
Overall, Dr. Frank concludes that George W. Bush is wholly unfit for the office he holds, and believes the country and world is at great risk if Bush is re-elected. A sample of one area of Bush's mental and character disorders is explored in chapter 6, where the doctor delves into what's behind Bush's special smirks:
Long before he led our nation into war, George W. Bush exhibited an appetite for destruction. As a child, Bush inserted firecrackers into the bodies of [live] frogs, lighting the fuses and blowing the creatures up. As president of his fraternity at Yale, he used a branding iron to maim young pledges. As governor of Texas, he was observed smirking over the executions of death-row inmates, many of whom were later found to have received inadequate legal protection..... Dr. Frank doesn't discuss the Afghanistan and Iraq torture and abuse scandals (these stories broke after his book went to press), but based upon Bush's pattern of behavior one can readily see a strong likelihood that Bush had a direct and active role in setting the cruelest possible policies toward prisoners—for fun.
I recommend this book to readers with a strong stomach.
==================================================================================== Bush's drinking and drug use must be investigatedBy DOUG THOMPSONPublisher, Capitol Hill BlueJan 3, 2006, 00:00 It is my belief that President George W. Bush is drinking again. Even worse, he may be mixing alcohol and anti-depressants -- a dangerous combination for anyone, let alone the so-called leader of the free world.No, I don’t have any proof of this, just random events and comments from those who work in and around the Bush administration and who tell me the President has acted in ways that suggest the use of alcohol and drugs. I’m a recovering alcoholic (sober 11 years, six months and 24 days) and I’ve run across a lot of relapsed drinkers who show the same symptoms as the President, including: Blacking out while watching television alone; Slurred speech and stammering responses to simple questions; Anger and hostility in front of staff members; Unexplained bruises on his face; Trouble remembering recent events or comments.During his trip to Mongolia last November, Bush openly sampled the local drink Airag, which is fermented milk with an alcohol content ranging from three to twelve percent. In other words, booze.This was the same trip where Bush tried to evade reporters’ question by attempting to walk out a locked door and then turned sheepishly to the cameras and said he was “jet-lagged.” Some at the event said his stride was unsteady and his speech slurred....
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