FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Reptilian Brain of George W. Bush

by STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN

No, this is not about “Snakes on a Plane”.

According to neurologist Dr. Paul MacLean, researcher at the National Institutes of Health, you have three brains, not just one. (the primitive, the limbic and the neocortex or rational) The brain stem, the primitive, is the oldest. It evolved hundreds of millions of years ago and is more like the entire brain of present-day reptiles. It controls automatic brain functions and such things as fight or flight mechanisms. When stimulated, rational thinking stops; action becomes instinctive and ritualistic. This may account for a lot of what’s going on today.

President George W. Bush may well be a victim of his reptilian brain. With his polls hitting historic lows, he is caught in the ambivalence of fight or flight. After three and a half years, his war in Iraq has gotten nowhere. All he can say is “we must stay the course until the job is done”. He hasn’t said what the job is that has to be done, and no one in the mainstream media has really pushed him for an answer. (Maybe they, too, are suffering from reptilian brain stimulus)

Bush has despoiled a very special region of the world-Mesopotamia, universally revered as the cradle of civilization. The effect of the war on the Sunni and Shia population of Iraq has been so traumatic it has driven them back into a distant and primitive period of their history-back to the year 632 AD and the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Mihammad’s son-in-law, Ali, was the central figure in the Shia/Sunni split and a dispute raged over whom was the “rightly guided Caliph”. So in the year 2006, the Sunnis and the Shiites are killing each other, again, in a burgeoning civil war while an occupation by a foreign power and an insurgency are going on at the same time. Family feuds and wars, civil and otherwise, are usually caused by over-stimulation of reptilian brains.

We have learned one thing out of all this. If you’re running for office go for the reptile in the voter. Generate fear. That’s the most effective way to win. The war on terror. The war on drugs. Global warming. The coming of another Katrina. The nuclear threat. Iran. North Korea. Even Abortion and Gay Marriage. If you look at the range of issues, one stands above the others-National Security. George Bush was able to steal two elections on the fear generated by that one.

There’s an even bigger threat out there brought on by the overwrought brain stems of Wall Street manipulators. The financial market is always on the ragged edge of economic collapse. Its nature is to boom and bust. We all know that. We just gamble on when it’s going to happen. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know when the time is ripe for it to fall like an over-ripe plum. My reptilian brain tells me the day is not far off. Major American industries are in trouble. Ford and General Motors are in the dumps. Adelphia and Comcast vans go into a car wash and come out labeled Time-Warner. Pension plans are going bye-bye. The labor movement has been defanged. No longer are unions effective in winning decent wages for decent jobs. Collective bargaining is a happy memory, fading in the foggy past. Purchasing power is down. Prices are up. Oil is scarce. New wars are brewing. Syria? Iran? Maybe Venezuela? Whose reptilian brain is cooking all that up? The neo-cons’?

How do we get things back on track? How do we get people to start using their rational minds? Cajole them into it. No scare tactics. (We don’t want to rouse that reptilian brain). Rational campaigning worked in Connecticut. Senator Joe Lieberman, the old corporate warhorse, was routed in the Democratic primary by a fresh, young face, Ned Lamont. He comes from good billionaire stock. His granduncle, Corliss Lamont, bankrolled left wing causes back in the thirties and forties.

A good start would be to get rid of some of those encrusted incumbents in both the House and the Senate who seem to have become rusted into their seats. If we can get rid of some of those walking dead Democrats and the worst of the Republicans, this November, we might get somewhere by the time the Presidential election rolls around in 2008.

Let the Connecticut Democratic primary become a model for the rest of the 2006 campaigns in Congress. And let’s not rely on our reptilian brains to get it done.

STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, television writer-director-producer, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC, starting in 1953. In 1959, he participated in the formation of the renowned Murrow-Friendly “CBS Reports” series. In 1983, Fleischman won the prestigious Columbia University-Dupont Television Journalism Award. In 2004, he wrote his memoir. See: www.ARedintheHouse.com, E-mail: stevefl@comcast.net

 

 

 

STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir is now in print. See www.amahchewahwah.com, e-mail stevefl@ca.rr.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail