Understanding Neo-Cons

Maybe I’m just a little slow. I gained some perspective on the neo-conservatives after having read Paul Krugman’s book, “The Great Unraveling”, which is a little disappointing because it’s just a bunch of his NYTimes columns from 1998-2004 or so. If I had known that, I might have gotten another book instead. But his overviews are insightful.

He explained that it’s useless to argue with neo-conservatives in order to convince them that their ideas are wrong. They do not care. They have a radical agenda and will say whatever helps them further their cause politically. If this means reversing previous statements or supporting someone a week after bashing him, then they’ll do so. Convincing them does not work.

At the same time, everything must be seen in its neo-conservative context. If the administration says something positive towards climate change, then you have to look into the details to see how they’re using that to further their cause.

What is their cause? Minimization of government. Not in the sense of making it so small and efficient that more money is available to the free market, but cutting its budget, strangling it so it can’t operate, then claiming that it’s not very good at operating, and then slashing its budget even more. The first way is not politically feasible, because it invokes too much ideology. But the second way is a sort of results-based attack on government.

Another cause is basically crony capitalism. Bush went to Saudi recently and came back with nothing benefiting the American people. He does not serve our interests. All the daytraders are talking about right now is oil and how it will hurt the US. Personally I am even-keeled on the matter. I would prefer higher oil prices because then it forces businesses to make themselves leaner, and it hopefully will push through a technological breakthrough in energy, which the US govt. has idled in helping to innovate.

But I also believe oil prices are directly related to the Bush Axis of Evil doctrine, the invasion of Iraq, and a nepotistic business-government relationship right now in which the administration has planted its people in most all locations where it needs them in order to get deals passed.

Krugman’s insights helped me synthesize what I’ve long inferred. Frankly, it is not worth listening to anything released by most of our government’s departments right now. They are co-opted. The Government Accountability Office still has a strong leader who is capable of releasing good data. But who else? The Bureau of Labor Statistics…co-opted. Defense: not as co-opted as before, but Gates is not perfect. Energy? State? State almost had a revolt when Rice wanted to force diplomats to go to Iraq.

There is an agenda and facts no longer matter. Long-term American health is not important. Making money for a handful of insiders is what’s important. It’s cronyism at its finest. There’s a reason these guys seem mad. Not because they’re mad, but because their interests are not America’s.

That explains the SUVs for contractors in Iraq. The ignoring of Afghanistan. The dearth of infrastructure investment in the US. The expansive base of consulting and contracting in DC. The inertia in Iraq militarily. The dropping of any and all investigations into Bush-related activities. I am a firm believer in Bush deserving impeachment and it saddens me that it could never even be talked about seriously in DC.

Krugman talks about two points that I’d not really known about, at least not actively: Thomas White, the secretary of the Army while I was in, was an Enron executive appointed by Bush. What experience did he have being secretary of the Army? The other was that Bush’s failed oil company was bought out using Enron-like mark-to-market accounting by another oil company which had Bush on its board.

The only way out of this mess is to elect Obama, or even Hillary (dare I say it). They will take out all the political appointees and let the rest wither on the vine. The neo-conservatives need to be kicked out. McCain will turn into another Bush — you’ve seen how he’s already been co-opted during his campaign. He used to be more decent, but now he’ll just become another tool for the radicals if he’s elected.

The web site for the Project for the New American Century, the center for neo-conservatism, was just “suspended”, which means it was probably abandoned. A good sign, although it apparently had been running on a skeleton crew for a while now. Is their era over?