The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
– H. L. Mencken
It used to be so easy. After the Nazis there were the commies. They took so many different forms, from the hapless to the satanic, that the international hobgoblin quotient was handled for decades with no input needed from our would-be masters but some periodic viewing with alarm and a regular infusion of flag-draped coffins. Simply enumerating the warheads was enough to keep most people scared incontinent. After those ungrateful Soviets fell and people stopped being afraid of commies, our beloved protectors had to work a little harder. But very promptly after pieces of the Berlin wall became common keepsakes we were suddenly all supposed to pretend we knew the difference between a Shi’ite and a Sunni because now Muslims were the new…okay, “great satan” is taken, so…How’s “Axis of Evil?” Yeah! That’s got a ring to it.
Okay, so as a world-conquering existential threat, Muslims have proven something of a disappointment. Yeah, they kicked some Visigoth ass that one time but we’re trying to keep Facebook followers scared here. Thank god – I imagine our masters muttering – for all those beheading videos. Bring on the illegal aliens, and pray at least a few of them know how to do a good beheading. How long do these neolithic oafs think we can milk 9/11? Maybe we can slip them a bomb and get something good started.
Domestically, our beloved protectors have even bigger problems. It’s true some serious issues could be worked into nice scary crises, but they’re the sort of things we’re supposed to be distracted from. Race riots in the second decade of the century? But our masters solved the race problem in 1965! It’s the white racists who’re supposed to be the problem now, and they stubbornly refuse to provide any nice photogenic lynchings. Cop violence? Jeez, how can even the most divisive administration imaginable complain about cops when they’ve been arming them so enthusiastically for so long?
Really, it’s a sad, sad commentary on how far the state of hobgoblin-mongering has fallen, when this is the best our would-be masters’ mouthpieces can do…
“The prescription drug overdose epidemic is tragic and costly, but can be reversed,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. “Because we can protect people from becoming addicted to opioids, we must take fast action now, with real-time tracking programs, safer prescribing practices, and rapid response. Reversing this epidemic will require programs in all 50 states.”
Once a problem largely confined to minority populations in urban areas, addiction to heroin and other opiates has evolved into a major public health crisis in suburban and rural areas with large white populations – including the important political battleground states of New Hampshire, Ohio and Iowa.
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton calls it the “quiet epidemic,” while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that it was “spreading like cancer” across his home state of Kentucky.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a presidential candidate, took part in a discussion of the crisis earlier this year at a drug treatment facility in Manchester, N.H., while Carly Fiorina, another GOP presidential candidate, has spoken emotionally about losing a stepdaughter to addiction, according to The Washington Post.
I know, I know. Heroin’s been done to death. And you’d think it does raise that inconvenient question about how, if there’s been this highly successful War on Drugs for damn near fifty years, turning cities into occupied zones and creating a prison industry that would have made Pol Pot impotently beat the ground in frustrated envy, how oh how could there possibly be a heroin crisis?
But hey. These aren’t the old days, and it’s what we’ve got.