Monday, July 08, 2002

Restoring Confidence

New Yorker cartoon: 2 dogs looking at bowls filled with paper. Oh no, not homework again.

The German Christian Democrats are going after the gay vote, including a proposal I’ve never heard of in this country: giving gay partners spousal immunity from being forced to testify against each other.

The Israeli Cabinet votes 17-2 in favor of banning Palestinians buying houses in Jewish communities.

Hopefully, tonight’s news will juxtapose images of WorldCom executives refusing to testify before Congress with Bush calling questions of his own immoral and indeed illegal dealings with Harken Oil old-style politics. (That they were illegal is undeniable, whatever Bush might say.)

Look at the reporting of the hearings and of Bushs alleged plan to crack down on corporate malfeasance, and you will notice a lot of talk about the need to restore confidence. In fact, let me pause here and use that new-fangled Internet thingy to do a count.

OK, too early for a transcript. The White House site does have this headline, though: President Urges Congress to Support Nation’s Priorities. You’d think in a proper democracy, what the Congress supported would automatically constitute the nations priorities, wouldn’t you? Ah, just kidding.

At least twice, though. The problem is that confidence, for Bush as for the CEOs, is something to be manipulated. Harken, for example, used false accountancy methods (fuzzy math, if you will) to over-inflate its value, and Bush took advantage to sell his stock just before more accurate figures came out and the stock tanked. If he were selling anything other than stocks, that would count as fraud, selling something by pretending it is something else, like when they told me buying a computer would make my life easier. And since Bush was on the audit committee--and try picturing Chimp Boy on the audit committee of anything--this constitutes actual fraud. He doesnt want honesty in business, he wants confidence in business. How hard can that be to create, when the polls suggest that the American people have confidence in the leadership abilities of George W. Doofus? As I wrote this, I was reminded of something I wrote here last September 22:
The problem with Bush’s jihad is of course the one Republicans saw in every one of Clinton’s military adventures: no end strategy. Asked about that 2 days ago, Rumsfeld hemmed and hawed and then said that the end would be when Americans were persuaded that they were safe. Actually, much of what we’ve heard about security the last 2 weeks has been entirely about PR. Listen to it the next time someone talks about planes or skyscrapers: the language most of the time is about making people *feel* they are safe, not actually making people safer, except inasmuch as it is necessary to the goal of altering perception.
Indeed, much of Bush activity has been about creating the illusion of activity, given the complete inability to capture bin Laden or the Al Qaida leadership. Although as weve seen with the dirty bomb scare (remember that? just 4 weeks ago today) and vague terror alerts, perception can be altered in the other direction too when it suits the administrations needs.

So remember, when they talk about restoring confidence in the markets, what they mean is what they always mean: You are getting sleepy, sleepy, and when you wake up you will feel secure and confident and that your president isnt a mindless dipstick.

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