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The president of fabricated crises

By Aldanatech ·
Some presidents make the history books by managing crises. Lincoln had Fort Sumter, Roosevelt had the Depression and Pearl Harbor, and Kennedy had the missiles in Cuba. George W. Bush, of course, had Sept. 11, and for a while thereafter (through the overthrow of the Taliban) he earned his page in history, too.

But when historians look back at the Bush presidency, they're more likely to note that what sets Bush apart is not the crises he managed but the crises he fabricated. The fabricated crisis is the hallmark of the Bush presidency. To attain goals that he had set for himself before he took office (the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the privatization of Social Security) he concocted crises where there were none.

So Iraq became a clear and present danger to American hearths and homes, bristling with weapons of mass destruction, a nuclear attack just waiting to happen. And now, this week, the president is embarking on his second great scare campaign, this one to convince the American people that Social Security will collapse and that the only remedy is to cut benefits and redirect resources into private accounts.

In fact, Social Security is on a sounder footing now than it has been for most of its 70-year history. Without altering any of its particulars, its trustees say, it can pay full benefits straight through 2042. Over the next 75 years its shortfall will amount to just 0.7% of national income, according to the trustees, or 0.4%, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That still amounts to a real chunk of change, but it pales alongside the 75-year cost of Bush's Medicare drug benefit, which is more than twice its size, or Bush's tax cuts if permanently extended, which would be nearly four times its size.

In short, Social Security is not facing a financial crisis at all. It is facing a need for some distinctly sub-cataclysmic adjustments over the next few decades that would increase its revenue and diminish its benefits.

Politically, however, Social Security is facing the gravest crisis it has ever known. For the first time in its history, it is confronted by a president, and just possibly by a working congressional majority, who are opposed to the program on ideological grounds, who view the New Deal as a repealable aberration in U.S. history, who would have voted against establishing the program had they been in Congress in 1935. But Bush doesn't need Karl Rove's counsel to know that repealing Social Security for reasons of ideology is a non-starter.

So it's time once more to fabricate a crisis. In Bushland, it's always time to fabricate a crisis. We have a crisis in medical malpractice costs, though the CBO says that malpractice costs amount to less than 2% of total health care costs. In fact, what we have is a president who wants to diminish the financial, and thus political, clout of trial lawyers. We have a crisis in judicial vacancies, though in fact Senate Democrats used the filibuster to block just 10 of Bush's 229 first-term judicial appointments.

With crisis concoction as its central task (think of how many administration officials issued dire warnings of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein or, now, by Social Security's impending bankruptcy) this presidency, more than any I can think of, has relied on the classic tools of propaganda. Indeed, it's almost impossible to imagine the Bush presidency absent the Fox News Network and right-wing talk radio.

With the blurring of fact and fiction so central to the Bush presidency's purposes, is it any wonder that government agencies ranging from Health and Human Services to the Office of National Drug Control Policy have been filming editorial messages as mock newscast segments, complete with mock reporters, and offering them to local television stations?

Is it any wonder that the Education Department paid commentator Armstrong Williams $241,000 to promote its No Child Left Behind programs? In this administration, it is the role of a government agency to turn out pro-Bush news by whatever means possible. Fox News viewership in the African American community wasn't very large, and here was Williams, who seemed to have learned during his clerkship for Clarence Thomas that it was rude to decline any gifts.

We've had plenty of presidents, Richard Nixon most notoriously, who divided the media into friendly and enemy camps. I can't think of one, however, so fundamentally invested in the spread of disinformation (and so fundamentally indifferent to the corrosive effect of propaganda on democracy) as Bush. That, too, should earn him a page in the history books. Would you agree?

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Bush is just the puppet

by Oz_Media In reply to The president of fabricat ...

A corrupt administration creates a corrupt presidency it seems.

GWB seems to be merely the puppet or PR person for this administration.

Not to relieve him of blame, it is his job to correct problems in te administration and he is also the one who spews the words to the people, obviously convincingly enough for most.

Is this really new, as you suggest? Or are people just more aware or concerned about what's going on these days?

Either way, glad it's not in my backyard.

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It would seem that...

by Aldanatech In reply to Bush is just the puppet

Even thought it still happens a slow rate, it would seem that more people begin to be aware or concerned about what is going on. Even the White House is beginning to get its share of reality check. Just this week, it announced it has ended its fruitless hunt for weapons of mass destruction; which by the way was the main rationale for the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime.

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I remember

by Oz_Media In reply to It would seem that...

and I was one of the first to call GWB on it.

That was then, this is now though.

Then it was important because people wer ein the process of reviewing such information in order to vote. The nasty has been done though, hopefully in four years, enouhg contradiction will be raised so as to prepare people for the same line of crap next time fromanother president. Maybe next time they will be a little more objective and less inclinded to follow out of duty.

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Aldanatech - Did you write that?

by maxwell edison In reply to The president of fabricat ...

If you did, I'm impressed. It was a very well written piece, although I disagree with much of what was said.

If you didn't, you should provide the source.

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"Wag the Dog"

by KKC In reply to The president of fabricat ...

Title says it all.

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Jan 9th Washington Post

by Oz_Media In reply to The president of fabricat ...

Although I do not have a WP account to read the story, the hits on the title lead to WP articles that state the opening sentence in the description.

Hit #19 for example

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Rebuttal of some parts

by awfernald In reply to The president of fabricat ...

I voted for GW mainly because I thought that he stands for something. Al Gore really showed nothing but contempt for people, and John Kerry showed absolutely no concept of how to actually get something done besides saying "I have a plan, see my website."

As far as some of the items that are mentioned here, some of the things I see about them (imho) are:

1. The majority of Representatives and Senators in Congress (even John Kerry), with access to the same information that GW had, came to the same conclusion that there was a strong possibility/probability that Iraq had WMD. However, even without the threat of WMD, information that has been published/announced over the last couple of months indicate that Hussein was a very active support of Al Quaida, and various other terrorist groups. So with even a SLIGHT POSSIBILITY that Hussein was developing any type of WMD that could be provided to terrorists, the invasion was justified.

2. Social Security.... I'm not sure of the figures, however, I personally would prefer to invest my own money rather than have the government do it for me at an effective 2% annual rate of return.

3. Malpractice costs less than 2% of total health care costs! Do you realize how much 2% of total health care costs is? How many billions would that be? Also, does that consider the fact that many procedures are impossible to obtain in certain parts of the country because Doctors cannot perform them without raising their insurance rates?

4. The filibuster must die. It's stupid. We can't win the vote, so we'll just talk you to death. Also, the figures I heard were that many more than 10 nominees were filibustered, however, many gave up the process due to the filibuster.

5. I'm glad to hear that talk radio has such a big impact :) Also, as I listen to a lot of radio, I think you will find that Fox News is actually trying to present unbiased news that other networks won't because it doesn't support their point of view, or it outright contradicts it.

6. I'm not familiar with the Armstrong Williams case. I've heard of it, but no details as of yet.

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Social Security

by jardinier In reply to Rebuttal of some parts

is primarily intended to help people who cannot earn sufficient income to survive on their own.

It is all very well for you to say: "I personally would prefer to invest my own money rather than have the government do it for me at an effective 2% annual rate of return."

In saying this, I presume you anticipate enjoying good health for many years in order to build up your security nest egg.

However supposing tomorrow you were diagnosed with an incurable disease, or injured, or developed some other disability that prevented you from working.

And supposing also that you had no family members who were in a position to support you. To whom would you look for help?

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sorry julian

by Oz_Media In reply to Social Security

Gotta bite ths one,

I would suppose most people would rely on their company's extended medical benefits, that would carry you over nicely until permanent disablity benefits kicked in, which with some patience and hard work will often trump your former paycheck whilst giving you MANY more perks and benefits on the side,

However I know that wasn't your message, which I also agree with. :)

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by Jessie In reply to sorry julian

We don't all enjoy extended medical benefits. My husband is currently looking for work, and I'm stuck as a "supplemental" employee because the IT market where I live has trended toward not hiring employees full time (because they can) I'm truly "lucky" enough to be employed at all in my chosen field. I know a LOT of people in my area who are now working in construction (again with no benefits) because they were number 4 out of the 500 applicants who all have lots of experience and certs. Try as we might, when hard times hit, we're not always able to rely on the companies for which we work.

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