Thursday, February 26, 2009

The United States of Fear

An article from a couple weeks back discussed what is called the annual "threat assessment", delivered by the Director of National Intelligence (and I guess that job is not as much of a sinecure as the title implies). For the first time in six years, "terrorism was not presented as the primary danger to the country". It has been replaced by, guess what, the economy. What amazes me about this is not that the economy has gone up to #1 on the threat totem pole, but that it took so long. The economy _should_ have been our #1 security threat for _years_ now -- decades, even -- ever since Social Security, for example, was exposed as a Ponzi scheme... or we started fighting wars that would take generations to pay for... or subsidizing medical care and drugs for a nation of hypochondriacs. In my estimation, "terrorism" was the #1 threat for exactly one day -- September 11, 2001 to be exact, when not only were we under attack, but we had no way of knowing how many more attacks were about to occur, or by what means. But within 24 hours the seas were calm again, Dick Cheney had emerged from his underground bunker, George Bush had been allowed to fly back to Washington, and all that remained was to shovel a few million tons of rubble off of Manhattan Island and out of Arlington, Virginia. But in those few hours, the national debt continued to climb, and unfunded obligations, AKA entitlements, continued to mount out of control. This nation has suffered a daily “9-11”, economically, day in and day out, for decades, by comparison to which the bogus “war on terror” is a will-o-the-wisp.

But really, it's all a matter of manipulating public opinion. The “threat assessment” is not about actual threats to our health, wealth, and well-being, but about the things the Regime wants everyone to _think_ are the threats -- “everyone” including our gullible and impulsive elected representatives. In this, the Regime is simply refining, on a continuing basis, its perennial policy of ruling by fear – not by the crude fear of arrest and incarceration that were the favorite tools of the communist and Nazi regimes, but by fear of the out-of-control -- of anything that disturbs our bourgeois tranquility. And please note that the level of fear that is aimed for is not total panic; that would not serve the interests of the Regime any more than complacency. Panic has a funny way of leading to revolution, as events in the 20th Century tended to demonstrate. What they are looking for is public sentiment that's not too hot, not too cold, but just right – what I call a Goldilocks Society. And you can see this, on a daily basis, by the way the media -- by which I mean the mouthpieces of the regime -- operate. What is the trajectory of the typical TV or news magazine story? "There's a crisis! Things are worse than ever, and they're going to get even worse! And everyone is worried, and feeling totally helpless to do anything about it. We are threatened by environmental catastrophe... hunger... despair... suicide... armed insurrection... rabid dogs... flesh-eating bacteria... etc. And here are (1) the “experts” (all government officials, “consultants”, or academics under government contract) to confirm it; and (2) some “regular folks” (always from the Midwest, or New Jersey) to offer their own whiny, hand-wringing perspective. But wait! Here comes government to save the day! They have a plan! And, while things may be tough for a while (insert the stock term “belt-tightening” if you like – even though Americans are the fattest people on earth, and the poorer ones are the fattest of all) we can pull through this crisis, because we've done it before with good old American know-how, grit and determination, and.... (fade to inspiring and upbeat John Williams music)."

Now, I absolutely guarantee that you can diagram nearly any evening news broadcast story, or any story out of Time or Newsweek, and that it will fit quite neatly within these parameters. The formula never varies – scare the crap out of people, then take them by the hand and reassure them that all will be well as long as they continue to vote for, and support, ever-expanding government, and never question anything the government says or does, and “support” its hard work by paying taxes without grumbling and willingly sending their sons and daughters off to war in third-world crapholes. So the result is not total panic, which would be bad, nor is it ho-hum apathy, which would be equally bad. It's fear and anxiety, and an automatic, almost tropistic turning to the government and to its anointed leaders for inspiration, hand-holding, and salvation. And this performance – this transaction – is repeated hundreds of times a day in the media and the halls of power. This has been going on for years -- but it reached a fever pitch -- a high water mark of sorts -- with the campaign, election, pre-inaugural administration, inauguration, and post-inaugural adminstration, of Barack Obama. He will save us from all our sins! -- except, of course, from the sin of questioning the size and competence of government, for which we must pay dearly.

The formula never changes – but the content does, on occasion, as in this case. The Regime sees that the “war on terror” threat has gotten a bit shopworn. It's starting to lose credibility, or “traction”. We indeed have not had a terrorist attack on U.S. soil (unless one includes Israel) since 9-11 – and rather than seeing that as evidence of government competence, the public – perverse and foolish as they are – persist in seeing it as evidence that the terroristic threat has abated. In fact, some of the more obstreperous start speculating that there never _was_ a terrorist threat – that even 9-11 was, somehow, an engineered scam, a form of provocation like the Reichstag fire, Pearl Harbor, or the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Surely this situation cannot be allowed to persist! Why, people's “faith in government” might be severely eroded! So the answer is to engineer – or at least aid and abet – a new crisis, not just the chronic, ongoing economic malaise that seldom appears on anyone's radar, but something drastic, obvious, unavoidable, and guaranteed to produce a vast storehouse of fear and dread. (Note that “global warming” as a general fear-producing myth was basically DOA. The media push it constantly, but the guys shoveling show out of their driveways just laugh.) So shazam -- as Bill Clinton would say -- we get an economic crisis greater and more gigantic than anything in living memory -- the most gigantic thing ever, in fact! Godzilla, Rodan, and King Kong rolled into one! And it's heading this way! And only government can save us -- and only if we bow down and worship not only the system itself but its current messiah, namely Obama.

Personally, I think it's time for people to start drawing their _own_ "threat assessments" rather than relying on the ones from the Regime. And #1 on the list would be, simply, "government".

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