Monday, August 22, 2011

Brushing My Teeth with Whiskey

I kid you not--this is what my horoscope recommended I should do this month: brush my teeth with whiskey, Jack Daniels to be exact. I'm absolutely good to go. The only problem is that I'm a gin girl at heart, but never mind, I haven't let that stop me from doing what a girl's gotta do. The horoscope also suggests that at least for the next two weeks or so, it wouldn't be totally crazy to keep myself more or less permanently in a party mood. This is not a bad suggestion either, given that Texas Governor Rick Perry is now the Republican frontrunner, ahead of Romney, according to the latest Rasmussen poll, and the stock market continues to wobble dangerously.

Within hours of declaring his candidacy, Rick Perry managed to turn a sleep-inducing race into a demolition derby with a single, atomic remark. Referring to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Perry said:, "If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y'all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion." Nice going, Ricky.

So, I took me to the nearest whiskey bar, and like Greta Garbo, made that a double, and brushed furiously. (Then a friend of mine called from Arizona to say she'd been to a local gay bar for the first time, at age 75, and driven through a 100-foot dust storm, in order to get free line-dancing instruction--hoping to accelerate her exercise routine, she says. She had a blast.)

Coincidentally, or synchronistically, I happen to be reading a book by James Gilligan entited "Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others." Gilligan claims to have discovered a devastating truth that has been "hiding in plain sight" for the past century--namely, that whenever Republicans gain the presidency, rates of suicide and homicide consistently skyrocket, and inequality, unemployment, recessions, poverty, bankruptcy, homelessness all balloon to epidemic proportions. They then remain at epidemic levels until the more liberal party, the Democrats, regain the White House, reducing the amount of deadly violence by diminishing the magnitude of the economic distress that has been causing it.

This pattern, the author shows, has been documented since 1900, when the U.S. government first began compiling vital statistics on a yearly basis. Not only is this not just a coincidental correlation; Gilligan statistically proves that there is a specific causal relationship between the political parties in power, their policies, and the violent death rates. Yet the conventional wisdom is that Republicans are the ones to vote for if you want economic growth, whereas Democrats stifle growth, But the facts, he claims, show otherwise.

As someone who has uncovered these patterns of statistical truth--namely, that from 1900 through 2010, the country suffered approximately three times as many months of recessions when Republicans were governing the country--the author confesses to astonishment at his own findings: "I was genuinely surprised--I would even say shocked--to discover that the reputation of the Republican party appears to be the diametric opposite of what the numbers show. I am referring to the numbers gathered and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which is hardly a liberal or left-wing think tank."

Another unexpected discovery in Gilligan's book is that recessions began during Republican presidencies seventeen times, and only six times during Democratic ones (and these were mostly inherited, as in Obama's case). Republicans were four times as likely as Democrats to "bequeath" a recession that had begun during their own administration to their successors (which happened to Wilson, FDR, Kennedy, and Obama). As for the Great Depression of the 1930s, Republicans showed themselves incapable of reversing it throughout the entire forty-three months in which they were in office (19290-33). When FDR took office, he immediately reversed it and began a period of economic expansion that lasted uninterruptedly for the next fifty months.

The fact that statistics show that unemployment has increased and lasted longer during Republican administrations, with recessions occurring much more frequently and lasting longer, prompted Giiligan, a professor of psychiatry (formerly from Harvard Medical School, now teaching at NYU) to formulate the central mystery of his book, which is summarized on page 9 as follows:

"Why is the party that proclaims itself to be the party of prosperity and economic growth and of public safety and law and order, the party that mounted the 'wars' on crime and drugs, associated with higher rates of lethal violence and of poverty, unemployment, and recession? And if the party is consistently inflicting a greater degree of economic stress and distress upon the American public and achieving a lower level of prosperity and economic security than the other party is, and in that sense achieving economic failure rather than success, how could it continue to win elections and remain a viable party?"

Yo, I have only read half the book thus far, so I'm not sure how, or if, Gilligan finds answers to his own questions. But if you have any, then please send them on--you might even win a free bottle of whiskey from me. Meanwhile, if I were in charge of the universe, I'd make it a rule that EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK! And then, brush their teeth with whiskey.


Grieving loss of country said...

Hi Suzi,

Friend of a friend here!

I absolutely love your blog. I am hearing strains of Molly Ivins, whose commentaries I sorely miss, so thank you for hitting the right points with such terrific (but can I also say horrifying) humor. Who wouldn't laugh with horror when seeing that great photo of Perry looking in the mirror?!

As an addendum to your post's reading recommendation, I just want to mention the great book by Naomi Klein, "Shock Doctrine." I know you and probably ALL of your readers are already familiar with it.

Personally, I believe the Republi-CONS are using the entire Obama presidency as a backdrop to manufacture crisis-after-crisis in order to continue moving this country far beyond what some of us are already unable to recognize. After all, they have rewritten the rules of engagement in the Senate, making it impossible to pass any meaningful legislation without a super majority, leaving us limping along with their phony posturing about reducing taxes and restructuring the Big Three to "get us back on track." They have already commandeered the Supreme Court. They didn't even need Roberts or Alito to put a man, unelected by the majority, in the White House, and they have one of the largest megaphones for propaganda ever conceived in Murdoch's FOX network. It is almost impossible to drown out trumped-up criticism of Pres Obama no matter what he does. No matter how far he leans their way, the violent, anti-intellectual rhetoric just keeps rolling, delighting all those who are still afraid Obama is coming after their guns.

And now, we have another village idiot from Texas (no offense Texas) being trotted out like the next coming of Bush - only on steroids. Perry actually makes Bush look reasonable.

Perry couldn't be more anti-Obama, and he's not concerned about shooting off his mouth. From his dirt-poor, isolated, Texas backwater upbringing and lousy grades at Texas A&M to his current swagger and bravado, he will give the haters of Obama something "authentically American" to grab on to. Not the fake cowboy, like Bush, but the real thing. This is terrifying stuff, as he, also, personifies the Christian Dominionist movement you describe in your post on Bachmann.

Anyway, I just returned from a meditation retreat. It is the only way I can cope, aside from brushing my teeth with whiskey - or in my case white wine.

Take care. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

Anonymous said...

You had me at "Hello" with your whiskey smile and this jaw-dropping profile of our great deception by the Republicans. I've been engaged in Malcolm Gladwell's BLINK, learning all about how we hold on to first impressions despite all the in-your-face evidence that these impressions are not necessarily based on truth nor will they lead to the results we claim to want. Egads! Meet you at the bar.

Marcia said...

Pity us poor fools who've lived under Perry's regime these last few milennia! Lots of new jobs created, true, if you don't mind working minimum wage without health insurance. With his cutbacks now the only state with a higher percent of people going hungry every day is Mississippi.

Suzi, I also had ulterior motive in commenting. Have been searching for a copy of a 1950's article you wrote, "500 collages of ray johnson". My local library has attempted to get a copy via ILL without success. I wonder if you might have a digital copy or be able to point me to someone who does?
P.S. Virgil's a cutie. I like lizards.

Anonymous said...

Virgil is an allegator.