Thursday, January 13, 2005

Manufacturing not Dead

No, mass production is still going on strong here in the US, at least when it comes to manufacturing crises--a specialty of the Bush Gang:

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...

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 percent 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.

The Rude Pundit has some additonal things to say about the Bush plan to obliterate Social Security, as well as a working strategy to oppose it--hint: it involves an old joke.

However, while the machinery of propaganda works overtime in the Bush factory, a very real crisis gets remarkably little attention--that is, the ongoing clusterfuck that is the new Iraq. Here's a small sample of today's news from Mesopotamia:

A top aide to Sistani, and five others were assassinated just south of Baghdad. At least eight other individuals were killed in insurgent-related violence.

Juan Cole notes that more political parties and individual candidates are pulling out of the still-scheduled election...even as election workers in the country continue to find out just how hazardous the job can be.

In the Graner trial, evidence is emerging that the chain of command specifically ordered guards to "soften up" prisoners prior to interrogation. I don't think it takes a genius to figure out what that means--and Graner is no genius.

The White House strongly opposed recent Congressional initiatives designed to limit what can be done during "interrogations," that is to say, they wanted to keep torturing--why? I dunno--maybe they liked it.

And finally, in the aftermath of admitting that the WMD hunt was just a big fish story, Bush continues to assert that the war in Iraq was "absolutely" worth it. Bush once again relied on the strawman argument of "the world was safer without [Saddam] in power." For whom? It's certainly NOT safer for the men and women who've been killed in Iraq. It's not safer for people like the police officers shot by Andres Raya. The world is DEFINITELY not safer when Middle Easterners are radicalized by the specter of the US occupation and the US treatment of detainees. What the fuck is Bush talking about?

It's very easy for Bush to gloss over the dead--but would he whistle the same tune if the cost of war included members of his own family?

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