Bush’s Latest Shock Treatment


Last night, as I watched a familiar sketch outline on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, I found myself sadly nodding along rather then laughing at the absurdity of the material provided by the Daily staff. Stewart provided side-by-side clips of President Bush’s addresses to the nation prior to the invasion of Iraq and an attempted push of the financial aid package through congress. Both addresses had common themes, comically pointed out by Stewart, that highlighted the desperate need to “act now” and avoid the lengthily process of receiving a “permission slip”, as to heroically save the nation from a disastrous evil. (I wish I could provide clips for you here, but due to Viacom lawsuits I am unable. However, if you are willing, you can access the clips here in Canada, and here in the USA.)
While I wanted to laugh along with the rest at the hypocritical and pedantic addresses, I was instead struck with a sense of concern and foreboding. Roughly a year ago, I purchased an academic/activist novel by Naomi Klein entitled “The Shock Doctrine” which highlighted the policies of the current administration, policies that are based on Milton Freedman’s Chicago School of Economics. The concept itself was frightening, specifically as it could be seen to have been utilized in every major disaster over which the Republican Party has presided over the last quarter century. However, to witness the doctrine in motion as the events of destruction and shock were underway was another experience entirely. Here is a short film released with the book, by independent filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón explaining the basic principle of the Shock Doctrine.


We are currently undergoing shock treatment. The disaster of the day is the impending crash of the stock market, a problem brought about in no small measure by runaway free market capitalism ideology, from which the administration is now seeking to utilize shock principles to accomplish their aims. There is a prescription to shock therapy. The prescription is information. Get informed.

Here is an interesting article by Naomi Klein regarding the Wall Street Shock. Take the time to read it.

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~ by maffersalmon on September 26, 2008.

8 Responses to “Bush’s Latest Shock Treatment”

  1. Hey Matt, here’s some info that might help you “get informed” about the history of the mortgage crisis in the States…

    “This crisis was caused by political correctness being forced on the mortgage lending industry in the Clinton era.

    Before the Democrats’ affirmative action lending policies became an embarrassment, the Los Angeles Times reported that, starting in 1992, a majority-Democratic Congress “mandated that Fannie and Freddie increase their purchases of mortgages for low-income and medium-income borrowers. Operating under that requirement, Fannie Mae, in particular, has been aggressive and creative in stimulating minority gains.”

    Under Clinton, the entire federal government put massive pressure on banks to grant more mortgages to the poor and minorities. Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo, investigated Fannie Mae for racial discrimination and proposed that 50 percent of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s portfolio be made up of loans to low- to moderate-income borrowers by the year 2001.”

    (Believe me, you don’t want to know where I got this from, because you seem to be one to use the “consider the source” fallacy when refuting arguments. But since I feel obliged to cite my sources, I got this from an Ann Coulter article.)

    I hate to burst your bubble, but it appears to me that the “runaway free market” cause you cite is purely speculative.

  2. Oh yeah, the term I was looking for was ad hominem. I’m terrible at remembering latin.

  3. Ben, consider the source is not a fallacy. It is a legitimate academic exercise. There is a reason we do this. It is a by product of the enlightenment, and is directly correlated to the principles of the scientific method. Ben, consider the source.
    Secondly, the facts cited by Coulter are not false (at least I am going to assume they are not). The assumptions pulled very well may be, although I have not had the opportunity to go over her argument to disassemble her comments. However, she does not address the concern which I have cited, and, ad hominem, neither have you. I did not place blame for this disaster, as the foundations for the current situation can be examined from a variety of sources.
    My concern was the method of Shock Treatment, as utilized by the current admin on more then one occasion. (You may have to actually examine my source before you can comment on this one, as I have provided you a link to the source, and obviously am not afraid to cite it.) The fear is that the shock treatment will work once again. The hope is that all of the concerns raised by Demmocrats and Republicans alike shows the resistance.
    Furthermore, since you seem to enjoy examining critical thought, how is the current situation not the result of a runaway free market economy. Corporations, without checks and balances, engaged in speculative enterprises, (with or without the sanction of previous governments), and have placed the international market on alert. This is indeed free market economy, a problem foreseen by Adam Smith, but which he found highly unlikely.
    So Ben, we find you missed the argument, and misrepresented some information to attempt to articulate a point. Furthermore, you use your passage, un-sourced, to attempt to “burst” my bubble, but every economic report I have read yet from the states, Canada, and the European Union have cited as a legitimate possibility the reality runaway free markets as the cause of this current situation.
    Try exercising those analytical muscles there guy, engage the debate. Analyze the arguments. Empathize with the sides, then venture an opinion.

  4. Matt, you now claim that you did not place blame for the disaster? Allow me to quote you, “The disaster of the day is the impending crash of the stock market, a problem brought about in no small measure by runaway free market capitalism ideology”. That sounds a awful lot like placing blame to me. This is the part I was responding to. Anyway…

    I’m not going to dispute the scare tactics. I watched Jon Stewart and saw the side-by-side. I think he’s directing his message toward different people this time, however. In 2003 he was making a case for war, trying to convince the left that war was necessary. Now, in 2008, he’s making a case for socialization, trying to convince the right that these bail-out measures are necessary. It’s an interesting dichotomy. You know, I actually am often impressed with Bush. For a remarkably unpopular guy, he manages to get things done. I’m not saying they’re the right things all the time, but he gets things done regardless.

  5. Ben, “In no small measure” does not place blame, it allots blame within a paradigm. Furthermore, your response alluded to the direct correlation between Dem policy and the current situation (obviously, concerning the source). This was not the intent of the piece. Nor is it now. Once again, misreading the argument.
    Now, the issue of scare tactics. This was the measures I was initially discussing. Yes, the audiences were different, as different people must be convinced in different situation. However, you are misinformed regarding the two addresses. Both were to the American public, a political bloc that is neither red nor blue, but rather, is passionate. These are scare tactics being utilized. Now, we must understand the methodology of the scare tactics in order to effectively combat them. One paradigm we can understand them under is through the lens of Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”. And of course, if this methodology is correct, he gets things done, even if they are not “right”. That is the nature of Milton Freedman’s Economic/Political policy. It is the nature of neo-conservative policy, which, may I add stands at odds with the vast majority of the Republican base. Bush’s addresses does not illustrate a dichotomy. The morality of neo-conservativism and the Republican base is a much more discriptive dichotomy. This is the great fear I was alluding to. He (the methodology) does “get things done”. More often then not, these are not good things. They are things done without majority or rationalization. They are self serving policies that are detrimental to the national and global health. This is frightening. This is what is happening. Fortunately, we are seeing, as I mentioned earlier, both Republican’s and Dem’s opposing the shock treatment. My questions is will they hold out long enough?

  6. Ok, so we could argue semantics over the “blame” issue all day, so we can put that one to bed.

    A couple of things you said don’t make sense; perhaps you can clarify:

    – You first agreed that both audiences were different, and then declared them to be the same. I think I know what you’re trying to say (they’re not explicitly exclusive audiences, which I’d agree with), but I can’t be sure.

    – I think the “more often then(sic) not, these are not good things” is a bit of an overstatement. And furthermore, calling his policies self-serving and detrimental is likewise overstating an opinion as fact. (Nice spin!) I happen to think that, regardless of how right or wrong his choices are, he sincerely believes that the vast majority of these actions are for the benefit of the American people. Sometimes, as in the two cases of reference in the Daily Show spot, there is no ideal action that would cause no harm. Rather he must choose the lesser of two evils, that being a consistent theme in politics it often seems.

    Look, I’m not saying I like the tactics he uses to get his way, but I’m also not saying that there’s no value in them, considering the gravity of the danger in these examples.

  7. Ben, I will say it one more time, then I am done. You will need to have read and understand the arguments of the “Shock Doctrine” in order to understand what I was arguing. You have yet to address that issue, the only issue I raised.
    Second, you got the point with the “not explicitly exclusive”. They were different. But they were also the same. The American public. He was NOT trying to convince “left” or “right”. This is not the paradigm of the “Shock Doctrine”. He was convincing the public.
    Third, before you claim overstatement, read the argument.
    Fourth, the gravity is often overstated. This is a method of, once again, say it with me, the “Shock Doctrine”.
    Allow me to surmise, my problem is with, as I have stated again and again, the usage of the neo-conservative’s adoption of the principles of shock therapy. To disagree with this, you may need to understand her argument.

  8. I haven’t read the Shock Doctrine, but I’ve read bits about it and heard Naomi Klein speak on the topic and to be honest… it gives me chills. I think she completely nailed what is/has been happening.

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