That “conservatism” has come to mean “loyalty to George Bush” is particularly ironic given how truly un-conservative the Administration is.
This post from Glenn is rather long and hits on so many topics that it was difficult to pick one or two paragraphs to highlight. While I think that Glenn is correct in the main and has already illicted some flak from the Right, he’s actually pretty generous in his view of conservatism. He gives conservatism credit for the fiscally conservative meme, for their mistrust of a strong centralized federal government, and restraint of goverment power. I would argue that conservatives have never believed in these things as a matter of policy, but have only invoked these concepts when it served their partisan agenda. I’m a liberal because I believe in being fiscally responsible, for checks and balances in governance, as much sunshine and oversight as possible, restraint of federal power, and an efficient and effective military. Its my contention that after reading a huge amount of conservative writing, listening to untold hours of conservative pundits and politicians, that conservatism is all a carny sideshow of smoke and mirrors, filled with so many contraditions, hypocrisies, and doublespeak that behind the curtain is nothing but the rants of miscreants. The only uniting theme of conservatism is that all the wrongs in the world do not require study, thought, or reflection just blame all wrongs, real or imagined on liberals. Liberals are to conservatives what heretiks were to the Reformation. The goals and positions that conservatives at least claim to stand for are ironically best achieved through liberalism, Democrats have since FDR come closer to adhering to proposed conservative philosphy then Republicans. Democrats have a better record of keeping the deficit down from Kennedy through Bill Clinton, they also have done better at decreasing the size of government, creating jobs and economic growth, and a marginally better job at controlling inflation. If conservattive contraryism hadn’t stood in the way we probably would have done even better,
1) Economic growth averaged 2.94% under Republican Presidents and 3.92% under Democratic Presidents. See this post.
2) Inflation averaged 4.96% under Republicans and 4.26% under Democrats.
3) Unemployment averaged 6.75% under Republicans and 5.1% under Democrats.
4) Total federal spending rose at an average rate of 7.57% under Republican Presidents and at an average rate of 6.96% under Democratic Presidents.
5) Total non-defense federal spending rose at an average rate of 10.08% under Republicans and at an average rate of 8.34% under Democrats.
6) During the forty-year period studied, the National Debt grew by $3.8 trillion under budgets submitted by Republican Presidents and by $720 billion under budgets submitted by Democratic Presidents. Stated differently, the average annual deficit under Republicans was $190 billion; and, while under Democrats, it was $36 billion.
7) During the period studied, under Republican Presidents the number of federal government non-defense employees rose by 310,000, while the number of such employees rose by 59,000 under Democrats.
This article takes on the so-called Reagan legacy, Reagan’s Liberal Legacy : What the new literature on the Gipper won’t tell you.
A sober review of Reagan’s presidency doesn’t yield the seamlessly conservative record being peddled today. Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised.
Conservatism is riddled with contradictions. Whatever one’s feelings about abortion, there’s nothing conservative about putting the possession of every woman’s womb in the hands of Big Government. If abortion is a nightmarish concept to some people so should the idea of assigning rights to parts of a citizen’s body to Big Brother. How can a conservative ever claim to be against big gov’ment if they’ll willing to put an individual’s most personal decisions in the hands of the blount force of the criminal justice system. The very same conservatives will complain about government interfering with business when we pass laws that regulate toxic pollutants,
People exposed to toxic air pollutants at sufficient concentrations may experience various health effects, including cancer, damage to the immune system, as well as neurological, reproductive (e.g., reduced fertility), developmental, respiratory, and other health problems. In addition to exposure from breathing air toxics, risks also are associated with the deposition of toxic pollutants onto soils or surface waters, where they are taken up by plants and ingested by animals and eventually magnified up through the food chain. Like humans, animals may experience health problems due to air toxics exposure.
Inhaling or ingesting toxins isn’t a matter of personal choice, its a condition that is forced on people, usually by powerful business interests with the help of political allies and is anti-family at the most fundamental level.
While not blindly anti-globalization, as more jobs that would have been taken by working class Americans ( Bush has placated blue collar workers with Let Them Eat War ) are shipped overseas and no compensating widespread transition programs have been put in place and executive compensation increasing at record levels, compassionate conservatism has become yet another empty jingism. Conservatives tend to be pro-family when you’re last name ends in CEO. Concern about trends like this should not be confused with envy, its about fairness and morality. All too often conservatives try to pass this off as the forces of the market place, which in conservative speak is just another name for social-darwinism. If an American worker puts in a good fourty hours of work they should be making enough to live on, if the system doesn’t provide for that the system is broken. If one of the core values of conservatism is letting the market decide, what explains K-Street and the bull in the china shop approach to expanding legislation especially tailored to benefit businesses that pay to play. For a movement that swears that don’t engage in class warfare they seem to do all they can for one class of Americans, while treating other classes like forgotten orphans. As far as Bush conservatism goes, they have rationales, not a policy, and that rationale is blame the person having problems. Blame is an easy game to play when it comes to economic hard times for an individual worker. A scenario that played out writ large in the Katrina disaster; why didn’t the victims do something to keep from being victims. If you’re a victim its because of something lacking inside you, its not the forces outside of you that you have no control over. Its a clever game that takes advantage of people’s natural tendency to ask themselves if there wasn’t something they could have done to prevent whatever tragedy or hard times they’re going through. Its a clever game, but an immoral one. Sometimes people are victims of events and policies, the idea that anyone can transform themselves into some kind of invenerable superhero is absurd. Conservatives just can’t bare the difficulty of walking that line that acknowledges that most people take as much responsibilty for their lives as they’re capable of and that there are times when they need a hand. Certainly neither Bush or Cheney can claim they are the shining examples of the self made man, they have never achieved anything as a result of their own device or suffered from the consequences of their actions. They are card carrying members of the elite who have gone through life with the best safety nets that money can buy. I don’t resent them that, I resent that they and their supporters pretend otherwise. I don’t resent them because of their unearned wealth, I resent that they have lived in a bubble and don’t acknowledge the social responsibilty that comes with the luck to be born to a class of the advantaged.
KRUGMAN: I think you have to think of this as there’s more than one player in this thing. If you ask Norquist or the Heritage Foundation about where the economic and social policy intelligentsia really stands, their aim is to roll us back to Herbert Hoover or before. Norquist actually thinks that we’ve got to get back to before the progressive movement –- before the McKinley era, which actually is one of Karl Rove’s guiding lights as well. So there’s definitely an important faction in the Bush administration and in the Republican Party that really wants to unravel all of this stuff and basically wants us to go back to a situation where, if you are unlucky, and you don’t have enough to eat, or you can’t afford medical care, well, that’s just showing that you weren’t sufficiently provident. And then, for these people, there would be no social safety net whatsoever.
Other people in the party, and other people in the coalition, have deluded themselves into thinking that somehow this is all going to be painless, and we’re going to grow our way out of the deficit. Other people really don’t care about any of that and are viewing their alliance with these people as a way to achieve their social goals -– basically roll back the revolution in social mores over the past few decades.
So there is a coalition, but there’s no question that if you ask what do the core ideologues want, the answer is they want to roll it all back. If you looked at what the Heritage Foundation says, they use the terms “New Deal” and “Great Society” as essentially curse words. Everything Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson did to provide a little bit of a cushion for Americans having bad luck is a bad thing, from their point of view.
The CIA’s top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as “water boarding”, intelligence sources have claimed.
Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, was relieved of his post after a year in the job. One intelligence official said he was “not quite as aggressive as he might have been” in pursuing Al-Qaeda leaders and networks.
Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, said: “It is not that Grenier wasn’t aggressive enough, it is that he wasn’t ‘with the programme’. He expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists.”
Glenn could have used this of an example of doing things the Bush way rather then doing what’s best in terms of policy. I’m not sure how Bush supporters can keep a straight face when we write posts sympathetic to career intelligence professionals and call us the fringe left. If caring about having a credible, moral intelligence service is fringe left that tells you something about how far right the Malkins and O’Reilly’s are.
The Senate intelligence committee is likely to vote to open an investigation into the NSA’s wiretapping program, according to senior congressional aides who declined to be identified discussing sensitive matters. The chairman of the committee, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, will probably follow the White House line and try to keep a lid on the hearings. But three Republicans—Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Mike DeWine of Ohio—are expected to join with the Democrats on the committee to vote to demand more information about the secret eavesdropping program from the White House and intelligence agencies.
Just a small update. It seems that some people belong to the Cult of Bush are upset about a little speech Al Gore made at a forum. Just a reminder that His Royal Highness George Perfection Bush came darn close to making an apology on foreign soil: The Guardian
In an unprecedented damage-limitation exercise, President George Bush told Arab TV viewers last night the treatment of prisoners by some members of the US military in Iraq had been “abhorrent” and would be thoroughly investigated.
The people of Iraq “must understand that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know,” he said in an interview with al-Hurra, an Arabic-language channel funded by the US government.
Though Mr Bush stopped short of a direct apology for the abuse at Abu Ghraib jail, where prisoners were stripped naked and sexually humiliated, he continued: “In a democracy everything is not perfect _ mistakes are made.”
The perpetrators would be investigated and brought to justice, he said. “We will do to ourselves what we expect of others.”
And remember this bit of hypocrisy:
President Bush, 6/14/05:
The best way to secure this country in the long run, though, is to spread democracy and freedom. We believe everybody deserves to be free. We believe everybody has a deep desire in their heart to live in a free society.
President Bush, 8/2/05:
On behalf of the United States, I congratulate my friend, King Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, on assuming the Saudi throne and the position of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. We wish Saudi Arabia peace and prosperity under his leadership. I have spoken today to the new King, and the United States looks forward to continuing the close partnership between our two countries.
Think Progress noted: “If Bush is for democracy everywhere, why does he hope Saudi Arabia prospers under a monarchy?”
Our history will be what we make
of it.And if there are any
historians about fifty or a
hundred years from now, and there
should be preserved the kinescopes
for one week of all three
networks, they will there find
recorded in black and white, or
color, evidence of decadence…
escapism, and insulation from the
realities of the world in which we
live. We are currently wealthy,
fat,comfortable and complacent.
We have a built in allergy to
unpleasant or disturbing
information. Our mass media
reflect this. But unless we get up
off our fat surpluses and
recoqnize that tejevision in the
main is being used to distract,
delude, amuse and insulate us,
then television and those who
finance it, those look at it
and those who work at it, may see
a totally different picture too
from the screenplay Good Night. And, Good Luck. by George Clooney and Grant Heslov