Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bush Kills Off American Optimism

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Bush has robbed Americans of that most American trait -optimism. In the worst of times, Americans shrugged off deprivations and hardships with both a complaint and a wisecrack.

Not quite the British "stiff upper lip", it nevertheless struck back at bad times with a smart ass remark amid faith that things would get better. World War I would make the world safe for Democracy. The Axis powers would be defeated. We would get rich.

At the height of the depression, the movies had a hit with a little ditty called "We're in the Money". It made Ginger Rogers a star.
"We're in the Money," lyrics by Al Dubin, music by Harry Warren (from the film Gold Diggers of 1933, 1933)

We're in the money, we're in the money;
We've got a lot of what it takes to get along!
We're in the money, that sky is sunny,
Old Man Depression you are through, you done us wrong.
We never see a headline about breadlines today.
And when we see the landlord we can look that guy right in the eye

We're in the money, come on, my honey,
Let's lend it, spend it, send it rolling along!

Oh, yes we're in the money, you bet we're in the money,
We've got a lot of what it takes to get along!
Let's go we're in the money, Look up the skies are sunny,
Old Man Depression you are through, you done us wrong.
We never see a headline about breadlines today.
And when we see the landlord we can look that guy right in the eye
We're in the money, come on, my honey,
Let's lend it, spend it, send it rolling along!
But if you might not get rich, an American might provide for his children a better education than he got. An American might indulge fantasies of equality, an education, a career. An American rarely feared that he would be locked up unfairly, beaten, deprived of his rights as an American.

Unless he was black.

But in those days, as E.L. Doctorow would say satirically in "Ragtime", "...there were no negroes."

An American might sleep soundly at night knowing that his government would not be reading his mail or conspiring to break into his home. He might never be accused of treason for supporting a Democratic candidate. He might even dare to join his local union shop.

Of course, even then, such optimism was often misplaced. Black people were lynched. Education was difficult to get. Many died in the dust bowl. Others starved. During the Great Depression, my own relatives lived on wild game in the "Big Thicket" of southeastern Texas. One of my own ancestors might have killed a game warden. I will never know the truth of it. Out of that national experience, another great song became emblematic:
"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931)

They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job. They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,
Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Why don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time. Say, don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?
The ghosts of the often tragic struggles for equality, civil liberties, the right to join a labor movement, still haunt America. The struggles were engaged because we believed the ideals might be achieved. Labor might achieve a living wage. Minorities might achieve equality. And, during the long Viet Nam debacle, we took to the streets in Chicago because we believed peace might break out. That was the real meaning of flowers placed in gun barrels.

During the administration of Bush Jr, it was difficult to be so optimistic. Bush did not merely eschew American ideals, he openly derides them. Most perniciously, he said "This would be a whole lot easier if this was a dictatorship...just as long as I'm the dictator." Thus Bush declared the anti-American nature of his regime at the outset and, true to form, he waged war on the U.S. Constitution.

Bush is not content to crush American optimism. He seeks to replace it with fear and despair, powerful negative emotions that he and his party eagerly embrace and exploit. Dick Cheney's infamous "snarl" is but a symptom.

By contrast, Franklin Delano Roosevelt -at the height of the depression -said: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Bush, by contrast, seems to be the physical manifestation of the American anxieties that he exploits. He is nothing without the phantom menaces that he summons. His very image is enough to trigger a shot of adrenalin, a "fight or flight" reaction that goes right to the gut.

It is no wonder than his recent trip throughout Latin America was notable for the violent demonstrations that it inspired. And, in Europe, you will find graffiti stating "Bush is Satan".

It does not matter that Bush is or is not Satan. What matters is that millions of otherwise intelligent people believe that he is. In fact, he is more loathed than Satan.
The really bad news for Bush? When the same pollsters asked Americans to name a "famous person" as their "biggest villain of the year," 25 percent of them volunteered the president's name. That put Bush way out in front on the biggest-villain list. Rounding out the most villainous five: Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il, who combined couldn't match Bush's 25 percent level..
--Tim Grieve, War Room, More popular than Jesus, more hated than Satan,
Bush is thought by billions to be a most powerful force for evil. Clearly, he inspires fear at home and terrorism abroad,. He has made of America, an un-American state. Bush himself summed up his agenda:
We will export death and destruction to the four corners of the earth.
-George W. Bush
It just keeps getting harder to remain optimistic.-The Existentialist Cowboy
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13 comments:

Fuzzflash said...

"It just keeps getting harder to remain optimistic."

True, Len, but your recent inspired, prolific efforts mean that you ain't about to quit. Das es gut. Really enjoyed the wrap up of Doctotow's "Ragtime". I love the blues and that ragtime stuff. Ken Burn's 9-part series on Jazz sits on my favorites shelf as does Alan Lomax's, "The Land where The Blues Began", and Martin Scorsese's 7 film tribute to.....Da Blues, man. One cannot appreciate a people’s music without a deep understanding of their history. This year I glom my 15th consecutive media pass to the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival at pristine Byron Bay under a king-tide full moon. AH-OOO. Check out the lineup over the 5 days www.bluesfest.com.au. The first day,Thursday features Jamaican roots/rock/reggae dub-meistre Lee "Scratch" Perry, Tony Joe "when you work in the fields, you don't give a damn, about another man's color" White, and Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars.

Now, about that Emilio Estevez film, “Bobby”, is it showing in Europe yet? Sure, you know RFK’s tale inside out and backwards, but this a classy piece of cinema. It’s the story about the lives of 20 or so people in the lead up to fateful shots. The scenes featuring Harry Belafonte and Anthony Hopkins are alone, worth the price of admission, as are the performances of Sharon Stone, Lawrence Fishburn(sp?), and William H. Macy. How can anyone who saw the clips on telly in1968 ever forget how much society’s flotsam and jetsom loved Bobby, especially the poor blacks about whom nobody had to guess whether or not they were coming to dinner. American life in the 60’s was billed as a banquet by Madison Ave and Wall St. but plenty of good people were out there starving to death in the land of the brave, home of the free.
Like John Lennon’s shooting, sometimes the scars take a long time to heal. Sometimes, they never do.
However, the earth doth spin and swirl round Sol, and the passing parade rolls on like ol’man river. Tis better to participate and observe that to withdraw and rust.


On the bright side of US Politics , just saw a clip of Senator Pat Leahy on Sheepish Wolf Blitzer’s show saying that he was going to subpoena Turd Blossom, in his role as Senate Investigative C’tee Chairperson, and that there was fuck all that Abu Gonzales could do about it. So maybe you can ramp up that Optimism Meter jes ‘n’ itty bit, Cowboy.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Len. As you can feel, your seat on the porch was still warm.

Anonymous said...

The New York times and Reuters are feeding us cake this morning:

In a statement to a military tribunal, Khalid Sheikh Muhammed took responsibility for 31 terror attacks or attempts, including the following:

1. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

2. The 9/11 attacks, from A to Z.

3. The shoe bomber operation to down two American planes.

4. A 2002 shooting in Kuwait that killed an American marine.

5. The Bali nightclub bombing that killed more than 180 in 2002.

6. Planning attacks against several prominent American skyscrapers.

7. Planning to destroy American military vessels and oil tankers.

8. Planning to bomb the Panama Canal.

9. Planning to assassinate several former American presidents, including President Carter.

10. Planning to bomb several New York landmarks, including the stock exchange and suspension bridges.

11. Planning to destroy several London landmarks, including Heathrow Airport and Big Ben.

12. Planning to destroy buildings in the Israeli city of Eilat, using planes leaving Saudi Arabia.

13. Planning to destroy Israeli and American embassies around the world.

14. Sending fighters into Israel to conduct surveillance on strategic targets.

15. Bombing a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, frequented by Israeli travelers.

16. Launching a Russian surface-to-air missile at an El Al airliner leaving Mombasa.

17. Conducting surveillance on nuclear power plants in the United States.

18. Planning to hit NATO headquarters in Brussels.

19. Planning to bomb 12 American aircraft full of passengers.

20. An assassination attempt on President Clinton in the Philippines in 1994 or 1995.

21. Shared responsibility for an assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in the Philippines.

22. Planning the assassination of President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan.

23. Attempting to destroy an American oil company in Sumatra owned by the Jewish former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger.


A little effort, and perhaps we will find out that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was in fact responsible for the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and the attack on Pearl Harbor !!

Len Hart said...

Thanks Fuzz, for the warm welcome back.

Indeed, Doctorow's Ragtime is near and dear to me. What a great and epic slice of American culture! Likewise, Ken Burns' epic Jazz series. And we mustn't forget the recent Oscar winner --Martin Scorsese.

I hope not to miss "Bobby" ...will keep you posted.

Like John Lennon’s shooting, sometimes the scars take a long time to heal. Sometimes, they never do.

You are a poet, my friend.

Damien, thanks for warming the seat. It is always great to see your posts.

And, Dante, ever vigilant, mon ami. As Lazlo told Ric: "This time I know our side will win." Later, Captain Renault would trash the Vichy water. It doesn't get any better.

Len Hart said...

Guys and Gals, be sure to check out the joint venture with Sadbuttre;

The Existentialist Corral

Fuzzflash said...

“When I was a kid I brutally tortured my cousins till they told me anything I wanted them to. Then I began to extort their families.”
Khalid The Confessor.

Coyote said...

I have often wondered if prescriptions for anti depressants have gone up with in these 6.5+ years of the Bush administration and by how much.

With more and more people feeling that there is nothing wrong with seeking help for mental health (which could also explaining why Scientology has gone an overt mental health offensive) a normal increase would be expected. But if the prescription for anti-depressants have taken a huge jump or increased year after year beyond the increase normally expected one might conclude that given all that’s going on INCLUDING Bushco promoting fear, insecurity and mistrust has had a measurable detrimental effect on the American public.

Anonymous said...

Holy moly!?!...I think Khalid Sheikh Muhammed was the dirty bastard that ran over my wife's cat, stole my luch money in 4th grade, put viagra in Rush Limbaugh's man-purse, and orchestrated the Area 51 incident in the 1940's.

This guy sure gets around.
I suspect he was the dirtbag that beat my top highscore at the Frogger at Roundtable Pizza. I'm watching you "KSM"

-Secomav

Rich said...

Bush = Satan? Satan perhaps being a BFF with Bush? Nah, those possiblities give Bush too much importance.
I've long been of the opinion that Beelzebub delegated the task of dealing with Bush to Mammon, the ancient god of money (Had to find employment for Mammon somewhere after his followers all went away, the gods themselves never die), so every now and then Mammon receives a query "How does our faithful servant fare up there in the world?" "Very well master! The evil he has done has grown and grown and threatens to last and last!"

Len Hart said...

Bush = Satan? Satan perhaps being a BFF with Bush? Nah, those possiblities give Bush too much importance.

I personally do not think Bush is Satan ...but many people do. I personally believe that Bush is certifiably psychotic. We can only guess at his own delusions about himself. My personal opinion is that but for his family's wealth and influence, he would have flunked out of my middle school. He is very nearly a blithering idiot of no charisma, charm or personality.

And his IQ is well below 100. Bush is a moron. According to Wiki, moron had been a scientific term that described a person with a mental age between 8 and 12 on the Binet scale.

But it must be admitted whether you are Christian or not -Bush matches the definition given "the Beast" in the book of revelations. But so did Hitler and several other authoritarian megalomanical dictators.

Len Hart said...

cayote wrote: ..if the prescription for anti-depressants have taken a huge jump or increased year after year...the increase normally expected one might conclude that given all that’s going on INCLUDING Bushco promoting fear, insecurity and mistrust has had a measurable detrimental effect on the American public.

Even heads of state are not immune from the strain induced. Putin may have been speaking as much for himself as anyone when he said: "No one feels safe anymore."

Len Hart said...

Here's a link you might wanna check out if you think Bush is a moron:

Anyone who thinks George W Bush is a big moron

SadButTrue said...

That petition is a terrific idea, Len. Only 2,600 or so signatures so far? It must just be getting started, or is not well publicized. His strained relation with the English language alone should indicate a sub-normal IQ.