Wednesday, May 14, 2008


(Updated: dead video link fixed.)

Stock analysts call it a "correction" when a stock or an index dips significantly after a prolonged, generally upward trend.

In December 2006, five weeks after widespread Republican losses in the 2006 general election and his own firing, Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, had his own sense of what a "correction" would be:

RUMSFELD: That's what I was just going to say. This President's pretty much a victim of success. We haven't had an attack in five years. The perception of the threat is so low in this society that it's not surprising that the behavior pattern reflects a low threat assessment. The same thing's in Europe, there's a low threat perception. The correction for that, I suppose, is an attack.

(It's good to be reminded what a maimed soul Rumsfeld was, isn't it?)

Yes, Mr. Secretary, that's the problem with terrorists: You can't always count on them to attack us when it's politically useful for the Republican Party.

Fortunately, the Bush administration had the next best thing: The Homeland Security Advisory System, better known as the color-coded threat-level indicator. Let's review how that's worked out:

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I offer another example of a "correction:"

As Americans became increasingly and rightly cynical about the "threat-level-orange" tactics between 2003 and mid-2006, it has become less useful to the Bush administration as a distraction from revelations of its own mistakes, deceptions, and incompetence, or from events which display the increasing support of Americans for Democratic candidates and policies. The result has been a "correction" in the Bush admnistration's reliance on conveniently-timed threat warnings, following a generally-upward trend for four years.

In fact, the last time Homeland Security announced that the threat level was being raised to "High" (Orange) or "Severe" (Red) was August 10-14, 2006, in the run-up to the 2006 mid-term elections.

We can't account for this by saying that our continuing military presence in Iraq has curbed terrorism, since the opposite appears to be true: The failed state of Iraq has become a breeding ground for terrorism.

And we can't say that the Bush administration has abandoned the tactic of trumped-up fear of terrorism to protect itself politically, since Bush, Cheney, and their various enablers continue to publicly link Saddam to al Qaeda, speculate about which Democratic candidate bin Laden prefers, and so on.

And I suppose some brave soul might even advance the case that, following electoral defeat after defeat and saddled with the strongest disapproval by the American people in memory, the Bush administration has finally learned its lesson and realized that it's morally wrong, that it's not worth winning if the only way you can do it is to corrupt the very form of government you claim to be defending--if that brave soul wanted to be laughed out of the room.

No, I think we have to conclude that the Bush administration has discontinued its attempts at fear-by-threat-level for the same reason--the only reason--it ever abandons such disreputable tactics: It no longer works.

Think of it as a correction.

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