The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

“How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?”

“Only one.  But the light bulb really has to want to change.”

We’ve had a long history of joke telling as a people.  That’s probably a good thing.  “The Reader’s Digest” used to have a regular column entitled, “Laughter – The Best Medicine.”  I don’t know if they still carry that.  In fact, I don’t know whether that magazine is still in publication as I haven’t seen a copy for forty years or more.

At one time I thought that jokes originated in our prison system.  After all, our inmates probably needed a break from making license plates.  It always amazed me how a particular subject for jokes suddenly exploded into our repertoire, whether those were elephant jokes, wife and husband jokes or light bulb jokes, to name only a few.

I remember as a kid going to Barnes & Noble, looking at their closeout section and seeing a book entitled, “Jokes For The John.”  The book had a hole punched in the upper left corner and a chain ran through that so the buyer could attach it to his or her toilet paper roller and always have reading material while heeding nature’s call.  While I’ve never quite understood why so many people seem to think that the bathroom is merely an extension of a library reading room, I am clearly in the minority with that view.  Although I could make a case that an appropriate bit of literature to read there would be, “The Princess And The Pea.”

To return to our title, estimates suggest that about ten percent of us Americans are afflicted with some sort of mental health issue.  While that is a minority, it is as significant a minority as those who are estimated to have an LGBT orientation.  Those who are thus challenged can be found in all sectors of our society.  Mental illness knows no racial, ethnic or economic boundaries.  Nor does it have limitations to certain professions.

The recent coverage by the media of the death of a Google executive who was killed with a heroin overdose by a prostitute, described him as, “A happily married man with five children.”  Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t think of “happily married people” as going out to enjoy extracurricular sexual activity with prostitutes or hustlers.  Unhappily married people, perhaps.

If we can agree that mental dysfunction exists across all occupations, including those who bring us the news, it is reasonable to believe that it exists among those who make the news.  Certainly there is ample evidence of that as our headlines regularly feature outrageous behavior exhibited by the rich and famous, sometimes narrating the tales of their self-inflicted deaths.  And if Hollywood celebrities and sports icons can be sucked up into this vortex, it seems only reasonable that a similar percentage of our politicians must similarly suffer.

In trying to understand or explain what I can only describe as President Obama’s aberrant behavior in dealing with his role as Chief Executive, it seems that positing a similar mental health issue is one reasonable explanation – perhaps the far more charitable one than an alternative, purposely trying to undermine the country which he was elected to steer toward a brighter future.

Speaker Boehner is apparently going to proceed with a lawsuit in an effort to hold on to the legislative authority which is specifically delegated to the Congress and which President Obama has successively and successfully attacked.  That suit will probably take years before it is heard and will most likely be moot as Obama will long be out of office before – or if – it is even heard.  But there is an alternative that the House might consider.  That is Article II, Section 6 of the Constitution which describes succession to the presidential office:

“In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office…”.

We expect a certain amount of hyperbole from our politicians.  Some of us realize that overpromising and under-delivering is how they appeal to the electorate and get themselves installed in office.  But the overpromises which candidate and then first term President Obama have unleashed exceed the bounds of reasonableness and move into the territory of the pathological.  Perhaps that is why two thirds of the public believe that he either “Sometimes” or “Regularly” lies, knowing that his statements are pure fabrications.

While I am not a mental health worker, I am able to recognize when a person has a consistent pattern of deception and telling falsehoods.  Those people would be well served to seek professional help for their condition.  But we can cope with those whom we encounter who suffer from this affliction – if by no other means than by avoiding having any interactions with them – at least until they take the steps necessary to try to overcome their condition.  At least that is true in most cases.  But when the afflicted party holds a high office – the highest office in the world – that then is a different matter.

During his election campaigns, our media characterized the president to be a “Bright and shining light.”  But that light has not lived up to its promised output and has grown dim.  It is, perhaps, for the world’s sake, time to change the bulb – irrespective of whether or not it wants to be changed.


  1. Speaking of the Lawsuit issue, I just watched his comments on CBS News this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better Presidential example of “all show, and no go.” Like he was auditioning to become a Political Commentator for a late-night news program. If you haven’t seen it, take a look. It clearly underscores your point (especially that of spending time on a toilet reading a book): Instead of Suing Me, Do Something

  2. theres a simple pattern, no?

    Public statements made by politicians and state leaders are all, without exception, pieces of PR. Thus, whichever party he or she is from, the president is going to be a talking head. If you don’t like it, do something about it.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      If one were to accept your statement, there is obviously nothing which can be “done about it,” as apparently one of the BFOQ’s of being in office is to be a “talking head.”

      If you believe something “could be done about it” that would undermine your argument which you seem to feel is a universal truth. But should you be willing to move to a position where “many or most” have this affliction, then surely you have some idea how we might rectify the problem – and I’m all ears as to how I might participate in that effort.

      • Oh… I suppose that’s true. In my mind, “doing something about it” means more of a “workaround” than a “fix”.

        Rather than change the nature of politicians or state leaders, or change the rules of the game … it would be a lot easier to just stop believing them. That would be a huge step forward vs where we are today.

      • I have a couple of (moderately radical) thoughts on how to hire statesmen rather than politicians.

        First is to pass a term limit amendment. I don’t believe that the Founding Fathers intended Congress to be a lifetime annuity. In fact, the first representatives had to abandon their businesses and professions at great personal sacrifice.

        In lieu of Constitutional term limits, we should simply inform our public servans that they have ten years in office – and at the end of their term they will be executed. That should be a serious demotivator for the pols.

        Just a couple of thoughts.

  3. I like term limits. That can be done. Executing politicians sounds like it would result in ones that are not just power-hungry, but suicidal too. I dunno.

    Here’s one- take away Congressional immunity, and star enforcing some laws.

    Keep the penalties small, otherwise it’ll never happen:

    * $15 fine for influence peddling.
    * 1 week revocation of parking privileges at the Capitol, if you let a lobbyist write legislature for you.
    * Next 3 plane rides downgraded to coach, for purposely misrepresenting financial effects of legislation to the public.
    * 45 minute bondage session with dominatrix, for sexual misconduct involving staffers.
    * Mandatory 90 minute counseling class for cases of corruption.
    * 1 week probation for loudly advocating that the US military carry out war crimes once a war is already going on (if advocacy is successful).
    * 2 week probation for giving money to people we actually know are terrorists.
    * 3 nights in jail for lying for the purpose of starting a war.

    • I think that there may not be a sufficient number of dominatrixes to go around – and they might want to increase the session time to several hours. (I’m good with this – as long as they have to pay for the session out of their own pockets.)

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