"A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than to an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence." ~ Jean-Francois Revel
The Real State of the Union
In his State of the Union address, George Bush predictably painted a glorious picture of an economically thriving United States engaged in multiple successful efforts to stamp out terrorism throughout the world. He claimed that freedom was on the rise both at home and abroad, and that our nation was being made secure by the very overseas ventures that enrage terrorists and lead to retaliation.
The three main issues in Bush's speech were the economy and fiscal restraint, Social Security, and the numerous perpetual wars being waged around the world in the name of distorted neocon ideals of freedom and democracy.
Regarding government spending, Bush stated: " America 's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government. I welcome the bipartisan enthusiasm for spending discipline."
Bush's idea of "spending discipline" thus far has been the accumulation of a $500 billion federal deficit and an increase in overall federal spending from $1.7 trillion under Clinton to about $2.4 trillion in 2004, an increase of more than 40 percent. Whereas the average annual growth rate of spending under Clinton was 2.4 percent, the growth rate was an average of 11.8 percent during Bush's first three years, and continues to rise. There is no question that Bush is the biggest spender ever to hold presidential office.
"Defense" spending (in reality the costs of imperial war and occupation) has risen 52.5 percent under Bush, and discretionary spending has risen 43 percent. Bush's own budget summary claims the importance of "[restraining] overall spending," and then goes on to proudly announce huge increases in spending in almost every department.
Bush's pseudo-privatization of Social Security was another controversial topic of the address. Attempting to differentiate his idea of "private accounts" from traditional taxation, he stated that ". . . the money in the account is yours, and the government can never take it away."
This is simply not true. The money is in fact forcefully taken from each person's earnings and invested in whatever stocks the government decides. Individuals are then prohibited from touching these assets until they retire, when the government decides it is OK for them to once again slowly regain control over their money.
This type of forced savings will result in massive market distortions, as individuals are forced to make investments in government pet companies they would never have invested in normally. Furthermore, this type of forced investment will make the private sector increasingly dependent on government funds, acting as a form of corporate welfare, and will bring us closer to a fascist "merger of state and corporate power."
In response to urban crime problems, Bush proposed the ridiculous cure of "faith-based" initiatives intended to ". . . focus on giving young people, especially young men in our cities, better options than apathy, or gangs, or jail." This completely ignores the actual cause of gang violence, which is the hugely lucrative illegal drug trade. Gang members do not shoot each other and end up in jail because they lack faith, they do so because dealing drugs is the easiest and fastest way to escape poverty. Once more the president has buried his head in the sand and refused to recognize the real causes of America 's problems.
One not familiar with Bush's foreign policies may have thought that he was finally recognizing the error of his ways and stating an obvious truth of the war on terror when he said:
"In the long term, the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder. If whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred, they will be the recruiting grounds for terror, and that terror will stalk America and other free nations for decades."
Sadly, however, Bush completely failed to recognize the wisdom of his own words. He continues to deny that US foreign policy has fed hatred and Islamic radicalism in the Middle East , and foolishly proposes to rid the world of such hatred by killing or jailing all those who oppose our interventionist efforts. To assume even partial responsibility for one's actions, in Bush's childish world view, is unthinkable.
Presumably for the purpose of comic relief, Bush then stated, "The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else." I assume there is no need for me to point out the blatant hypocrisy of such a statement, granted that imposing our form of government on Iraq is precisely what we are doing. Alternatively (although I seriously doubt it), Bush may have been offering a veiled reference to the narco-state America has created in Afghanistan, noting that we have not attempted to impose our morality on the numerous heroin producers of the nation.
As justification for our continuing occupation of Iraq , Bush then made the prediction that "We will succeed in Iraq because Iraqis are determined to fight for their own freedom, and to write their own history." Apparently, the president thinks that the presence of hundreds of thousands of American troops, as well as Americans dictating elections and the timeline of development in the nation means that Iraqis are fighting for their own freedom, and writing their own history.
Bush's State of the Union address will be remembered as a masterpiece of Orwellian doublethink in which perpetual war is the only way to peace, martial law in Iraq is freedom, and the ignorance of the president is his strength.