11 August, 2008

One Market Under God - NeoCons wreck our society

bart simpson conservative mafia criminal repugnican swine Winning by failing

1928: Private Industry loves Bad Government


Industry doesn’t want talented folks in government, because then government will work, it will be effective. And if government is effective, then people will start to expect it to solve their problems, you know, and who knows what comes after that, you know? It’s all downhill from there, from a privat corporation perspective.


Thomas Frank is the bestselling author and columnist with the Wall Street Journal. His previous books include What’s the Matter with Kansas? and One Market Under God.

The Wrecking Crew: Thomas Frank on How Conservatives Rule

Columnist and author Thomas Frank joins us to talk about his latest book, The Wrecking Crew. Frank writes, “Fantastic misgovernment of the kind we have seen is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction.”


the way that they put so many of the federal bureaucracies, essentially, into reverse, you know, so they don’t function anymore, the bringing incompetent people in to run federal agencies, and then the sort of, you know, triumph of lobbying as the great Washington industry, and you start to see that what’s going on is the application of—it’s all part of the same phenomenon, and it is the application of market principles to government itself.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And the title of your book is The Wrecking Crew.

THOMAS FRANK: Yeah.

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SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: How exactly are they attacking the civil service system? I mean, you write about the “pay gap.” What is that?

THOMAS FRANK: It’s very interesting. Conservatives have had a beef with the civil service for a really long time. This is part of their identity. This goes all the way back.

I was able to find an article published in 1928, and it was written by—or maybe it was an interview with the president of the US Chamber of Commerce. And these guys are big players in Washington now, just as they were in 1928 in the Coolidge administration, big, you know, conservative powerhouse down there. And the title of the article was—it was also the most important quotation in the article from the Chamber of Commerce guy: “The best public servant is the worst one,” he said. And what he meant by that was, you know, you don’t want good people in government. You don’t want talented folks in government, because then government will work, it will be effective. And if government is effective, then people will start to expect it to solve their problems, you know, and who knows what comes after that, you know? It’s all downhill from there, from his perspective. And the funny thing was—then you start, you know, researching the history of conservatism—people say things like this all the time, that we don’t want the best and the brightest in government.


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And they also refer to the bureaucracy, to the civil service—they have a special term for it in the conservative movement: they call it the permanent government. OK? See, idea is that these bureaucrats have a politics of their own, a liberal politics. You know, these people cannot be trusted, and so you have to deal with them in some way. And so, that’s always the sort of—one of the big problems. You know, what are we going to do about the civil service? How are we going to kick their ass, right? And they’re forever coming up with new methods. You know, Reagan had—well, they would just fire people across the board. They called it reductions in force.

The most interesting thing, though, is what the Bush administration has done, sort of their signature initiative, what they are going to be remembered for—you know, in addition to, like, the Iraq war, you know, that sort of thing—but what they’re going to be remembered for, in terms of their, you know, innovations in governance, is turning everything over to the private sector, right? Outsource the job. Get—you know, take these jobs away from career civil servants and hand them over to the big federal contractors who have these offices around the Washington Beltway.

AMY GOODMAN: Thomas Frank, you start your Harper’s piece, which is an excerpt of the book, “The Wrecking Crew: How a Gang of Right-Wing Con Men Destroyed Washington and Made a Killing,” going back two years. You go back to Jack Abramoff. But he’s in jail. What’s the problem today? Why is this relevant to today?

Just Wondering...

THOMAS FRANK: Yeah, he’s—yeah. It seems like, you know, this is how people are brushing it off in Washington now. It’s like, “Hey, the dude’s in jail. You know, problem’s over. Problem solved.”

Jack Abramoff exemplified—earlier you asked me about movement conservatism, and I sort of wound around and didn’t answer your question, but Jack Abramoff sort of exemplifies industry conservatism, the idea that you can be in Washington—conservatism is not just a political movement. It’s not just an ideology. It’s also a way of getting ahead in the world. It’s a way of making a lot of money. And Jack Abramoff sort of exemplifies that.

The guy started out his career as chairman of the College Republicans back in the early ’80s—by the way, when I was a College Republican, hard as it may be to believe now. But anyhow, he was the one who moved the College Republicans dramatically to the right. You know, we had in those years a sort of series of organizations moving to the right. And the College Republicans, he was the one that shifted them way to the right. And he immediately started doing things like—before Abramoff took over, they had been supported by the Republican Party. You know, they’d give them money every year to do their little campus—whatever it was that they did.

government corruption conservative crime antosocial thomas frank wrecking crewAnd Abramoff started raising his own money through direct mail, which was—I don’t know if you guys remember this, but back in the ’70s and the early ’80s, direct mail was—it was the junk political mail that comes in the mailbox, always screaming about some—you know, they’re going to give away the Panama Canal or, you know, some—they’re going to do—the liberals are going to betray us in some colossal manner, and we have to—you have to give us money, or else… You know, that sort of thing. And—but he tried his hand at that.

And then he did a very interesting thing, he and his colleagues. This is according to this report that I found from the mid-1980s. They set up another group to sort of wage this war of theirs on campus, and they started doing it for pay. They started fighting the left on campus for hire, you know? They would get donations from various big companies and beat up on the left on campus. Very interesting. There’s a lot of money to be made in being a conservative, as it turns out.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And then he went on to found the United Students of America Foundation—

THOMAS FRANK: Yeah, that’s—yeah.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: —that took on Nader’s Public [Interest Research] Groups. Who were some of the companies funding the USA Foundation?

THOMAS FRANK: Oh, God, I don’t know. I’m sorry, I don’t.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, I mean, how were they taking on Nader’s groups?

THOMAS FRANK: Well, it was groups—according to this report, it was people like—I mean, the reason why they would be interested in fighting, you know, getting involved in a campus battle, it’s like bottlers, for example, OK, like soda pop bottlers, because the PIRGs were forever agitating to get bottle bills passed in your various states. And so, the idea was, if they would—they would attack the PIRGs and fight with them on campus, and this would keep them from getting the bottle bill passed, and that would save you—save the bottler money, so they would, you know, make this presentation. And that’s how they would solicit money.

AMY GOODMAN: You quote journalist Allan Nairn in your piece in Harper’s, saying, “the group managed to collect tribute from canning and bottling companies, two oil companies, an electric company ([because] PIRGs were then working to set up utility [watchdog] groups)”—

THOMAS FRANK: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: “Amway, Coors, an assortment of San Francisco landlords…”

THOMAS FRANK: You know, these are all these sort of forgotten campus battles of the ’80s. I don’t even remember—I mean, I know about the Citizens Utility Boards. I really don’t know what the other fights were about. I don’t know how successful they were at fighting the PIRGs, and I don’t even know how successful they were at raising money, but the model is the critical thing. And there are people in Washington now who still follow this sort of—this path to making a living.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to talk about that model in a minute. We have to go to break. Thomas Frank is our guest. Yeah, he’s the guy who wrote What’s the Matter with Kansas? Well, his latest book is just out, and it’s called The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule. We’ll be back with him in a minute.

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AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is the author Thomas Frank. His book is The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule. Sharif?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: So we were talking about Abramoff and Grover Norquist and these guys and then—how do the—you have a fascinating history in the book about how they got involved with places like Angola and South Africa, the guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi, and this concept of the freedom fighter.

THOMAS FRANK: This is back—we’re talking about the early to mid-1980s, remember, and at the time, I mean, this is really when the right, the pretty far right, in America was really feeling its oats and throwing its weight around, and, you know, they thought they were hot stuff. And one of the sort of grand overarching ideas that these people had was that they were going to reverse the ’60s. They were going to do a lot of the things that had been done in the ’60s, only they were going to do them in the other direction. And one of the—you know, and this is—Abramoff, in particular, was all about, you know, sort of adopting the techniques of protesters in the 1960s and using them for the right.

And one of the more curious things that they decided that they would embrace is guerrillas, you know? And ultimately, it took the form of what was called the Reagan Doctrine, where the US supported various right-wing guerrilla movements overseas, the most famous and most successful, I suppose, being the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, who were fighting the Soviets, but then also the Contras in Nicaragua, and then—you know, to sort of go down the list of—it gets progressively more sordid: Jonas Savimbi in Angola, and then you had this outfit in Mozambique. You know who I’m talking about? Was it RENAMO?

AMY GOODMAN: Mm-hmm.

THOMAS FRANK: Or something like that, yeah. But the right, like, would have—they had fanzines about these guys and how wonderful they were. And there was really a kind of cult built up around these people on the far right. And the term that they used for them was “freedom fighters.” They were freedom fighters. And they were—you know, people put out magazines, and they had posters and all this sort of thing. And Abramoff’s particular favorite was Savimbi. And he set—he and his friends, you know, Grover and a couple of other people who are mercifully forgotten—

AMY GOODMAN: Grover Norquist.

THOMAS FRANK: Yeah, Grover Norquist and some other people, who are more forgotten now, set up at one point—they were going that have a summit of right-wing guerrilla movements, of freedom fighters, right, and they were going to have it in territory liberated by arms from a Soviet client state in Angola, right? And this was going—they were going to do this at Savimbi’s headquarters, and so they all went there, and they flew all these people and all these journalists to this really remote spot way out, you know, in the grasslands of Angola and had their summit, and, you know, absolutely to no purpose at all, except for as a big media—I’m sorry, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I just wanted to play a clip for you from Allister Sparks. As we talk about Jack Abramoff and talk about the issues you’re raising with connections to apartheid South Africa, as you say, in the ’80s, Abramoff helped launch the International Freedom Foundation with a South African named Craig Williamson. The IFF was promoted as an independent think tank, but it was actually part of an elaborate South African military intelligence operation set up to combat sanctions and undermine Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. While Abramoff headed the IFF in Washington, in South Africa it was run in part by Craig Williamson. In 2006, I asked the legendary South African journalist Allister Sparks, the one who ran the Rand Daily Mail, who exposed the murder of Steve Biko—I asked him to talk about Craig Williamson.

    ALLISTER SPARKS: Williamson was one of our more odious intelligence spies. Intelligence? Well, I suppose, it’s the right word. He was quite smart the way he went about things. He, first of all, infiltrated student organizations. He went abroad. He operated out of Geneva for a time, working in international students in that field, shopping many of his colleagues. They didn’t know. They thought he was a good guy. And, you know, part of the student movement, which was opposed to apartheid, he embedded himself very successfully there.

    But then, later, his activities became increasingly horrendous. I mean, he took to planting or sending letter bombs to various people. He was responsible for killing one of the leading white opposition figures, Ruth First, who was married to Joe Slovo. They were both communists, and I suppose it was deemed that that made them fair game. And she was blown up in her office at the University in Maputo, and she was killed.

    He was also involved in the killing of the family of an Afrikaner, a white Afrikaner dissident named Marius Schoon, whose—a letter bomb killed his wife, his daughter, and injured a two-year-old boy who was left floundering around in this devastated home for two days before anyone found him. Yeah, that’s the record of Craig Williamson.


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AMY GOODMAN: That’s legendary journalist Allister Sparks. We spoke to him in Doha two years ago. Thomas Frank, now connect him back to what you’re talking about today.

THOMAS FRANK: Yeah, that’s a really optimistic way to begin the morning. I mean, I’ll tell you something, so that the—when you’re researching Jack Abramoff, you ultimately—you wind up researching South Africa, apartheid South Africa, and it’s not a happy—it’s not a happy research subject. It’s not a happy, you know, thing to learn about. And, of course, I was a student at the time in the ’80s, and I remember the protests, and I even went on the marches and stuff. But I never did research on, you know, what the apartheid regime was all about. And it was really, really, really unpleasant revisiting that subject and finding out all about it. And we just got a taste of it here.

The American right really loved the South African regime, and that’s one of the sort of ugly, dark secrets. They don’t like to talk about that anymore. But the extent that they—the lengths that they would go to try to get the South African regime off the hook, you know, get the sanctions undone—now, this is not to say that they’re racists or that they supported apartheid. Nobody supported apartheid, including, like, you know, the South African propaganda organs would say, “Oh, no, no, no. Apartheid, you know, it’s on its way out. You know, it’s shriveling away.”

AMY GOODMAN: How did Vice President Dick Cheney fit into this?

THOMAS FRANK: Cheney—oh, golly. I don’t think I have a Cheney link for you. Maybe you’ve got one you’re going to tell me about.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, talk more about today and how Jack Abramoff, now in jail—

THOMAS FRANK: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —but referring to the permanent government that you referred to.

THOMAS FRANK: Yeah, OK. Well, this is quite a shift. The idea of permanence—you remember, it was just two years ago when Karl Rove was riding so high, you know, and he would boast all the time about how he and his homies were going to have a permanent majority, and the Republicans were going to be in forever, and it was going to be this paradigm shift in American politics. And, well, it didn’t work out that way.

But after—you know, I read a lot their sort of commentary about permanence and how they were going to achieve permanence, and what struck me about it is not that so much that they’re going to do it by winning elections from here to eternity, which they obviously aren’t going to do—you know, they’re already out in Congress—but that they would put their—you know, their restructuring of the state, they would cast it in concrete, right? The way that they have totally reconfigured the state, the government, down in Washington, they want to make that permanent, so that it’s reversible, so that even if a liberal does get in, even if one of my guys gets elected, you know, there’s nothing they can do about it, that this is the way the state is set up and, you know, too bad.


And they’ve got all sorts of very interesting—and you’ve got to hand it to these guys, they are ingenious. They’ve developed all sorts of schemes for making their vision for the government permanent. One of them is what I mentioned earlier: the massive outsourcing and privatizing of federal work. I mean, how are you going to get that back? You know? The best and brightest have gone through—you referred earlier to the revolving door, the sort of institution in Washington where people who work for the government go out into the private sector and often then lobby their old colleagues, you know, or they go into the private sector and often do the same job that they were doing before in the federal government, only for a much greater amount of pay. Well, the problem is then you’ve got this massive brain drain out of the bureaucracies. You know, the best an the brightest don’t want to work there anymore, because the pay is so low. It’s almost like, you know, doing charity work or something like that.

But the most insidious one, the most insidious scheme for permanence, the one that really strikes me, is the use of deficit spending by the right. OK, now, I don’t have a problem with deficit spending. You know, it’s—liberals have used it for decades very effectively. You know, it’s—if you’re a Keynesian—you know, it’s one of the tools that you use to, say, you know, get the country out of a recession or, you know, build low-income housing, or whatever it is that you want to do with the state, right? So, but the conservatives got into power in the early 1980s, and they’re handed this tool, the big old—you know, the power tool of deficit spending, and I’ll be damned, they run that sucker right into the ground, you know, and pile up the biggest deficit anyone has ever seen, short of, you know, World War II.

And what that does, that leaves the next administration to come along, which happened to be Bill Clinton, leaves him with this colossal Everest of debt that he has to deal with. And I don’t know if you remember this or not, but before Bill Clinton became what we know of him as today, he was—what we know him as today, he ran as something of a populist back in 1992. Remember, we were going to get national healthcare. He was going to have a big public works program. He was going to do this; he was going to do that. And there’s this very famous moment where his advisers sat him down in ’92, before he was sworn in, and told him, you know, “I’m sorry, you’re not going to be able to do any of those things, because the deficit is so huge that the only thing you’re going to be able to do as president, the only economic policy you’re going to be allowed to have, structurally permitted to have, is deficit reduction.” And we know about this, because then Clinton went on one of his famous, you know, tirades. He exploded in rage, you know. And anyhow, so—and now, look at Bush, doing the same thing, right? So even if Obama does get in, he’s not going to have any room to move, in terms of a progressive social agenda, you know.

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SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, we just have about thirty seconds left, but in your 2004 book, What’s the Matter with Kansas?, you explored how people—how many people vote against their economic interests. Do you see that happening in ’08?

THOMAS FRANK: A lot less. I mean, you remember, though, the idea of What’s the Matter with Kansas? is that the culture wars are a kind of surrogate for class. Remember, the class enemy, instead of being the people who own this country, it’s liberals. It’s the, you know, highbrow people—well, it’s people like us. You know, I wear glasses, you know, something like that. And, you know, our war against Christmas and the war against the Ten Commandments and all this kind of nonsense.

The really funny thing is that the power of those culture war arguments has really—or some of them, anyway—has really vanished in the last four years. And that’s because—one of the other things I said in What’s the Matter with Kansas? is the economic issues should trump—the real physical issues should trump those cultural issues, if the candidates choose to—you know, if the Democratic, the liberal candidates choose to emphasize it that way, to play it that way. And, I mean, the public is so angry at the Bush administration right now, I just hope that Obama gets out there and takes advantage of that.


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“Fantastic mis-government is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversions and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in entrepeneurship not merely in commerce but in politics, and the inevitable results of the ascendance are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, what follows from that: incompetence, graft, and all the other wretched flotsam that we’ve come to expect from Washington.

The correct diagnosis is the “bad apple” thesis turned upside down. There are plenty of good conservative individuals, honorable folks who would never participate in the sort of corruption we have watched unfold for the past few years. Hang around with grassroots conservative voters in Kansas, and in the main you will find them to be honest, hardworking people.



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...we can all relax: Jack Abramoff's in jail. The system worked; the bad apple has been
plucked; the wild greed and the undreamed-of antics have ceased.

Misgovernment by Ideology

But the truth is almost exactly the opposite, whether we are discussing Abramoff or the
wider tsunami of corruption. The truth is as obvious as a slab of sirloin and yet so obscured
by decades of pettifoggery that we find it almost impossible to apprehend clearly. The truth
slaps your face in every hotel lobby in town, but we still don't get the message.

It is just this: Fantastic misgovernment of the kind we have seen is not an accident, nor is
it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular
philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion
and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to
industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in
entrepreneurship not merely in commerce but in politics; and the inevitable results of its
ascendance are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, all that follows:
incompetence, graft, and all the other wretched flotsam that we've come to expect from
Washington.

The correct diagnosis is the "bad apple" thesis turned upside down. There are plenty of good
conservative individuals, honorable folks who would never participate in the sort of
corruption we have watched unfold over the last few years. Hang around with grassroots
conservative voters in Kansas, and in the main you will find them to be honest, hardworking
people. Even our story's worst villains can be personally virtuous. Jack Abramoff, for example,
is known to his friends as a pious, polite, and generous fellow.

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But put conservatism in charge of the state, and it behaves very differently. Now the "values"
that rightist politicians eulogize on the stump disappear, and in their place we can discern an
entirely different set of priorities--priorities that reveal more about the unchanging historical
essence of American conservatism than do its fleeting campaigns against gay marriage or
secular humanism. The conservatism that speaks to us through its actions in Washington is
institutionally opposed to those baseline good intentions we learned about in elementary
school.

Its leaders laugh off the idea of the public interest as airy-fairy nonsense; they caution against
bringing top-notch talent into government service; they declare war on public workers. They
have made a cult of outsourcing and privatizing, they have wrecked established federal
operations because they disagree with them, and they have deliberately piled up an Everest of
debt in order to force the government into crisis. The ruination they have wrought has been
thorough; it has been a professional job. Repairing it will require years of political action.

Conservatism-in-power is a very different beast from the conservatism we meet on the streets
of Wichita or the conservatism we overhear talking to itself on the pages of Free Republic. For
one thing, what conservatism has done in its decades at the seat of power is fundamentally
unpopular, and a large percentage of its leaders have been men of eccentric ideas. While they
believe things that would get them laughed out of the American Sociological Association, that
only makes them more typical of the movement. And for all their peculiarity, these people--
Grover Norquist, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Newt Gingrich, and the whole troupe of activists,
lobbyists, and corpora-trons who got their start back in the Reagan years--have for the last
three decades been among the most powerful individuals in America. This wave of
misgovernment has been brought to you by ideology, not incompetence.

Yes, today's conservatives have disgraced themselves, but they have not strayed from the
teaching of their forefathers or the great ideas of their movement. When conservatives appoint
the opponents of government agencies to head those government agencies; when they auction
their official services to the purveyor of the most lavish "golf weekend"; when they mulct
millions from groups with business before Congress; when they dynamite the Treasury and
sabotage the regulatory process and force government shutdowns--in short, when they treat
government with contempt--they are running true to form. They have not done these awful
things because they are bad conservatives; they have done them because they are good
conservatives, because these unsavory deeds follow naturally from the core doctrines of the
conservative tradition.

And, yes, there has been greed involved in the effort--a great deal of greed. Every tax cut,
every cleverly engineered regulatory snafu saves industry millions and perhaps even billions of
dollars, and so naturally securing those tax cuts and engineering those snafus has become a
booming business here in Washington. Conservative rule has made the capital region rich, a
showplace of the new plutocratic order. But this greed cannot be dismissed as some personal
failing of lobbyist or congressman, some badness-of-apple that can be easily contained.
Conservatism, as we know it, is a movement that is about greed, about the "virtue of
selfishness" when it acts in the marketplace. In rightwing Washington, you can be a man of
principle and a boodler at the same time.


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Washington is the city where the scandals happen. Every American knows this, but we also believe, if only vaguely, that the really monumental scandals are a thing of the past, that the golden age of misgovernment-for-profit ended with the cavalry charge and the robber barons, at about the same time presidents stopped wearing beards.


I moved to Washington in 2003, just in time for the comeback, for the hundred-year flood. At first it was only a trickle in the basement, a little stream released accidentally by the president's friends at Enron. Before long, though, the levees were failing all over town, and the city was inundated with a muddy torrent of graft.

How are we to dissect a deluge like this one? We might begin by categorizing the earmarks handed out by Congress, sorting the foolish earmarks from the costly earmarks from the earmarks made strictly on a cash basis. We could try a similar approach to government contracting: the no-bid contracts, the no-oversight contracts, the no-experience contracts, the contracts handed out to friends of the vice president. We might consider the shoplifting career of one of the president's former domestic policy advisers or the habitual plagiarism of the president's liaison to the Christian right. And we would certainly have to find some way to parse the extraordinary incompetence of the executive branch, incompetence so fulsome and steady and reliable that at some point Americans stopped being surprised and began simply to count on it, to think of incompetence as the way government works.

But the onrushing flow swamps all taxonomies. Mass firing of federal prosecutors; bribing of newspaper columnists; pallets of shrink-wrapped cash "misplaced" in Iraq; inexperienced kids running the Baghdad stock exchange; the discovery that many of Alaska's leading politicians are apparently on the take--our heads swim. We climb to the rooftop, but we cannot find the heights of irony from which we might laugh off the blend of thug and Pharisee that was Tom DeLay--or dispel the nauseating suspicion, quickly becoming a certainty, that the government of our nation deliberately fibbed us into a pointless, catastrophic war.

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Bad Apples All Around

So let us begin on the solid ground of these simple facts: this spectacular episode of misrule has coincided with both the political triumph of conservatism and with the rise of the Washington area to the richest rank of American metropolises. In the period I am describing, gentlemen of the right rolled through the capital like lords of creation. Every spigot was open, and every indulgence slopped out for their gleeful wallowing. All the cliches roared at full, unembarrassed volume: the wines gurgled, the T-bones roasted, the golf courses beckoned, the Learjets zoomed, the contractors' glass buildings sprouted from the earth, and the lobbyists' mansions grew like brick-colonial mushrooms on the hills of northern Virginia.

Democrats, for their part, have tried to explain the flood of misgovernment as part of a "culture of corruption," a phrase at once obviously true and yet so amorphous as to be quite worthless. Republicans have an even simpler answer: government failed, they tell us, because it is the nature of government enterprises to fail. As for the great corruption cases of recent years, they cluck, each is merely a one-of-a-kind moral lapse unconnected to any particular ideology--an individual bad apple with no effect on the larger barrel.

Which leaves us to marvel helplessly at what appears to be a spectacular run of lousy luck. My, what a lot of bad apples they are growing these days!

Corruption is uniquely reprehensible in a democracy because it violates the system's first principle, which we all learned back in the sunshiny days of elementary school: that the government exists to serve the public, not particular companies or individuals or even elected officials. We Are the Government, insisted the title of a civics primer published in the earnest year of 1945. "The White House belongs to you," its dust jacket told us. "So do all the other splendid buildings in Washington, DC. For you are a citizen of the United States." For you, young citizen, does the Post Office carry letters to every hamlet in the nation. For you does the Department of Agriculture research better plowing methods and the Bureau of Labor Statistics add up long columns of numbers.

The government and its vast workforce serve the people: The idea is so deep in the American grain that we can't bring ourselves to question it, even in this disillusioned age. Republicans and Democrats may fight over how big government should be and exactly what it should do, but almost everyone shares those baseline good intentions, we believe, that devotion to the public interest.

We continue to believe this in even the most improbable circumstances. Take the worst apple of them all, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose astonishing career as a corruptionist has been unreeling in newspaper and congressional investigations since I came to Washington. Abramoff started out as a great political success story, a protege and then a confidant of the leaders of the conservative faction of the Republican Party. But his career disintegrated on news of the inventive ways he ripped off his clients and the luxury meals and lavish trips with which he bribed legislators.

Journalistic coverage of the Abramoff affair has stuck closely to the "bad apple" thesis, always taking pains to separate the conservative movement from its onetime superstar. What Abramoff represented was "greed gone wild," asserts the most authoritative account on the subject. He "went native," say others. Above all, he was "sui generis," a one-of-a-kind con man, "engaged in bizarre antics that your average Zegna-clad Washington lobbyist would never have dreamed of."

In which case, we can all relax: Jack Abramoff's in jail. The system worked; the bad apple has been plucked; the wild greed and the undreamed-of antics have ceased.

Misgovernment by Ideology

But the truth is almost exactly the opposite, whether we are discussing Abramoff or the wider tsunami of corruption. The truth is as obvious as a slab of sirloin and yet so obscured by decades of pettifoggery that we find it almost impossible to apprehend clearly. The truth slaps your face in every hotel lobby in town, but we still don't get the message.

It is just this: Fantastic misgovernment of the kind we have seen is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in entrepreneurship not merely in commerce but in politics; and the inevitable results of its ascendance are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, all that follows: incompetence, graft, and all the other wretched flotsam that we've come to expect from Washington.

The correct diagnosis is the "bad apple" thesis turned upside down. There are plenty of good conservative individuals, honorable folks who would never participate in the sort of corruption we have watched unfold over the last few years. Hang around with grassroots conservative voters in Kansas, and in the main you will find them to be honest, hardworking people. Even our story's worst villains can be personally virtuous. Jack Abramoff, for example, is known to his friends as a pious, polite, and generous fellow.

But put conservatism in charge of the state, and it behaves very differently. Now the "values" that rightist politicians eulogize on the stump disappear, and in their place we can discern an entirely different set of priorities--priorities that reveal more about the unchanging historical essence of American conservatism than do its fleeting campaigns against gay marriage or secular humanism. The conservatism that speaks to us through its actions in Washington is institutionally opposed to those baseline good intentions we learned about in elementary school.

Its leaders laugh off the idea of the public interest as airy-fairy nonsense; they caution against bringing top-notch talent into government service; they declare war on public workers. They have made a cult of outsourcing and privatizing, they have wrecked established federal operations because they disagree with them, and they have deliberately piled up an Everest of debt in order to force the government into crisis. The ruination they have wrought has been thorough; it has been a professional job. Repairing it will require years of political action.

Conservatism-in-power is a very different beast from the conservatism we meet on the streets of Wichita or the conservatism we overhear talking to itself on the pages of Free Republic. For one thing, what conservatism has done in its decades at the seat of power is fundamentally unpopular, and a large percentage of its leaders have been men of eccentric ideas. While they believe things that would get them laughed out of the American Sociological Association, that only makes them more typical of the movement. And for all their peculiarity, these people--Grover Norquist, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Newt Gingrich, and the whole troupe of activists, lobbyists, and corpora-trons who got their start back in the Reagan years--have for the last three decades been among the most powerful individuals in America. This wave of misgovernment has been brought to you by ideology, not incompetence.

http://weblog.sinteur.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/08/wuerker.gif


Yes, today's conservatives have disgraced themselves, but they have not strayed from the teaching of their forefathers or the great ideas of their movement. When conservatives appoint the opponents of government agencies to head those government agencies; when they auction their official services to the purveyor of the most lavish "golf weekend"; when they mulct millions from groups with business before Congress; when they dynamite the Treasury and sabotage the regulatory process and force government shutdowns--in short, when they treat government with contempt--they are running true to form. They have not done these awful things because they are bad conservatives; they have done them because they are good conservatives, because these unsavory deeds follow naturally from the core doctrines of the conservative tradition.


And, yes, there has been greed involved in the effort--a great deal of greed. Every tax cut, every cleverly engineered regulatory snafu saves industry millions and perhaps even billions of dollars, and so naturally securing those tax cuts and engineering those snafus has become a booming business here in Washington. Conservative rule has made the capital region rich, a showplace of the new plutocratic order. But this greed cannot be dismissed as some personal failing of lobbyist or congressman, some badness-of-apple that can be easily contained. Conservatism, as we know it, is a movement that is about greed, about the "virtue of selfishness" when it acts in the marketplace. In rightwing Washington, you can be a man of principle and a boodler at the same time.

The Wrecking Crew in Full Swing

One of the instructive stories We Are the Government brought before generations of schoolkids was the tale of a smiling dime whose wanderings were meant to introduce us to the government and all that it does for us: the miner who digs the ore for the dime has his "health and safety" supervised by one branch of the government; the bank in which the dime is stored enjoys the protection of a different branch, which "sees that [banks] are safe places for people to keep their money"; the dime gets paid in tax on a gasoline sale; it then lands in the pocket of a Coast Guard lieutenant, who takes it overseas and spends it on a parrot, which is "quarantined for ninety days" when the lieutenant brings it home. All of which is related with the blithest innocence, as though taxes on gasoline and quarantines on parrots were so obviously beneficial that they required little further explanation.

Clearly, a more up-to-date version is required. So let us follow the dime as it wends its way through our present-day capital. Its story, we will find, is the reverse of what it was in 1945. That old dime was all about service, about the things government could do for us. But the new dime is about profit--about the superiority of private enterprise, about the huge sums that can be squeezed out of federal operations. Instead of symbolizing good government, the dime now shows us the wrecking crew in full swing.

Our modern dime first comes to Washington as part of some good citizen's taxes, and it leaves the US Treasury in a payment to a company that has been hired to do work on the nation's ports. Back in 1945, the government would have done the work itself, but now it uses contractors for such things. This particular contractor knows how to win a bid, but it doesn't know how to do the work, so it subcontracts the job to another outfit. The dime follows, and it eventually makes up a worker's salary, who incorporates it into his monthly car payment. From there it travels into the coffers of an auto industry trade association, which happens to be very upset about a rule proposed by a federal agency that would require cars to notify drivers when their tire pressure is low.

So the trade association gives the dime to a Washington consultant who specializes in fighting federal agencies, and this man launches challenge after challenge to the studies that the agency is using in the tire-pressure matter. It takes many years for the agency to make its way through the flak thrown up by this clever fellow. Meanwhile, with his well-earned dime, he buys himself a big house with nice white columns in front.

But this is only the beginning of the story. As we make our rounds of conservative Washington, we glimpse something much greater than single acts of incompetence or obstruction. We see a vast machinery built for our protection reengineered into a device for our exploitation. We behold the majestic workings of the free market itself, boring ever deeper into the tissues of the state. Ultimately, we gaze upon one of the true marvels of history: democracy buried beneath an avalanche of money.

www.thenation.com/doc/20080818/frank2

http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/enron/images/enron4.jpg

The Enron Power Grid - M Wuerker, regulators auditors


The Demonic Cabal's
Crony Capitalism


Everything for Plutocrats
Nothing for Workers



By

Norman D. Livergood



The 2008 election will be a critical test of American voters' savvy. Are we astute and aware enough to see that the demonic cabal controlling our country has done everything to devastate our way of life?
  • Took us from the biggest surplus ever to the biggest deficit ever

  • Lied to us to get us into a war for oil and crony contracts (e.g., Halliburton)

  • Put us into a deficit status which by the year 2012 will be a whopping $2.75 TRILLION!

  • Reduced household income by a gigantic 1.7%

  • Created a sagging economy which for the first time in modern history has a decline in manufacturing output

  • Redefined our foreign policy as militaristic imperialism, with more that 53% of our budget going to the cabal's crony defense industry contributors




  • Destroyed over 2.8 million jobs

  • Lied to us about tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% creating new jobs

  • Brought us into an incipient police state where Miami gestapo agents attack peaceful demonstrators, causing injuries and outrage


Favorable Indicators of Voter Sophistication

Fortunately, signs are already appearing that not only are Democratic voters up in arms about the cabal's obliteration of our way of life, but even some Republicans have had enough of the cabal's cronyism and insane spending.

The cabal desperately tried to steer American voters' attention away from their failed domestic and foreign policies by advocating a Constitutional amendment to protect the sanctity of marriage and following through with the injudicial persecution of light-weight Martha Stewart.

The cabal's crony capitalism is so deranged that the normally staid Financial Times of Britain earlier declared that "the lunatics are now in charge of the asylum." As Paul Krugman points out, "by pushing through another huge tax cut in the face of record deficits, the administration clearly demonstrates either that it is completely feckless, or that it actually wants a fiscal crisis."

Financial Meltdown, Anyone?

Since the cabal made it impossible for the 9/11 Commission to do its work, we have no definite proof that the cabal was not complicit in the twin towers/Pentagon atrocity. It's possible that the cabal junta may become so desperate as approval ratings continue to go south, that they'll resort to fixing the 2006 and 2008 elections (as they rigged the 2000 and 2004 results), perpetrating a 9/11 Part 2 outrage, creating a financial meltdown, or all three.

The Financial Times suggests that "more extreme Republicans" may actually want a fiscal train wreck: they could then slash federal spending on social programs and claim that it wasn't their fault.

Thus far, the cabal has been able to borrow to make up the rising difference between taxes and spending. As of June, 2003, China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong owned a combined total of about $696 billion in Treasuries, about 46 per cent of the outstanding bond debt. China alone now holds $290 billion in US government bonds, more than any other foreign lender.

But at some point, China and Japan and the other investors in America's bond market will balk. They'll refuse to lend money to a government, even one with the outstanding past economic record of the United States, if the cabal continues to increase our debt faster than we're receiving tax revenues. To this point, the cabal has no discernible plan to put its financial house in order.


Corporation: "an ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility"

Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"





The Financial Times believes that the radical right in the United States is in control of the White House and is intent not only on "undermining the multilateral international order," but also on bringing the country to its financial knees so they can destroy Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

That theory certainly explains why the cabal is pursuing its present financially suicidal course.


The cabal thugs now running America aren't conservatives, they're radicals who want to do away with our social and economic system. The foreign and domestic crises they're concocting could provide them the excuse they want to take this country down in terms of finances and civil liberties.

Capitalism's Intrinsic Defect

For many decades, the American capitalist system--the cabal's crony capitalism, its vulture capitalism, and other forms of economic swindle--has been suffering from protracted depression in profit levels in the basic manufacturing industries.

Instead of trying to solve this intrinsic defect in the capitalist system, the demonic cabal has merely created an environment that encourages every form of fraud. Many corporative executives lack any faith in the long-term growth in the real value of the companies for which they are supposedly responsible. So they focus only on their own short-term financial enrichment--through fraud. Unable to create profits legitimately, they create "profits" out of thin air by cooking the books.

So we have CEOs at Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing--and see late-breaking news for the most recent corporate criminal--looting millions in pension funds, all with the blessing of the cabal.

American corporate managers used to be persons of genuine integrity who took pride in their work. Under the criminal atmosphere that has increased daily since the cabal stole the presidency through criminal fraud in Florida in 2000 and rigged the 2002 and 2004 elections, business management has degenerated into the arts of swindling, looting, and deceiving.

Enough Is Too Much

The American people--of all stripes--appear to have had enough of the cabal's deceptions, fraud, and decimation of Constitutional rights. Even the right-wing National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) recently issued a report warning that 2.3 million US manufacturing jobs have disappeared since 2000. The NAM points out that the United States risks losing "critical mass" in manufacturing.

A recent Defense Department technology-advisory group report pointed out that so much "intellectual capital and industrial capability" has been moved offshore, particularly in microelectronics, that the Pentagon is dangerously dependent on foreign manufacturers to supply its high-tech weaponry.

Even the Big Money people are beginning to have second thoughts about the cabal and the Republican Party as investments tank.


Republicans voted against criminal penalties for CEOs, tougher corporate regulations, executive accountability, greater auditing safeguards, and stronger protections for employee pensions. The chart to the left shows why Wall Street is not pleased with the cabal and its Republican Party.


Self-preservation of this bipartisan kind seems to be kicking in throughout the United States, as workers wake up to what the cabal has done in taking their jobs, destroying their medical coverage, and turning America into a banana republic.

We must do everything we can to see that Republicans are not elected in 2006 and 2008, which means:
  • Making sure the cabal doesn't fix the 2006 and 2008 elections

  • Supporting whatever presidential candidate can prove he's not afraid to go up against the cabal

  • Keeping firmly in mind that we're dealing with a criminal cabal that stole the presidency and has shown it will do anything illegal, dishonest, or destructive of Constitutional rights it wants

  • Continuing to expose the cabal's past and present outrages

We are taking our country back and restoring our true democracy!



Reality-based community is a popular term among liberal political commentators in the United States. In the fall of 2004, the phrase "proud member of the reality-based community," was first used to suggest the commentator's opinions are based more on observation than faith, assumption, or ideology and that others who disagree are unrealistic. The term has been defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from [their] judicious study of discernible reality." Some commentators have gone as far as to suggest that there is an overarching conflict in society between the reality-based community and the "faith-based community" as a whole. It can be seen as an example of political framing.

The source of the term is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Commentators who use this term generally oppose President Bush's policies and by using this term imply that Bush's policies are out of touch with reality. Others use the term to draw a contrast with the perceived arrogance of the Bush Administration's unilateral policies, in accordance with the aide's quote. Its popularity has prompted conservative commentators to use the term ironically, to accuse the left-leaning "reality-based community" of ignoring reality.

http://www.hermes-press.com/bush_chs.jpg


Political CARTOONS! (sport is way too serious!!)


Guys, relax for a moment from the seriousness of sport....

and watch some political cartoons..

http://u2r2h.blogspot.com/2008/08/one-market-under-god-neocons-wreck-our.html

and read about the right-wing INTENTIONALLY wrecking our society... because it's good for business.

Yyou don’t want good people in government.
You don’t want talented folks in government, because then government will work, it will be effective.

QUOTE:
And if government is effective, then people will start to expect it to solve their problems,
you know, and who knows what comes after that, you know? It’s all downhill from there...

I SEE!

Better to have a much desparation... people shut up and fear for their jobs, people buy supplies, the market is dirigible (rigged)

Stuff Germany... creating demand with generous social welfare.. keeping prices low by regulating REAL competition into the market.... keep fear low with state health-care, keep people working by providing generous education. Fostering lots of little high-tech companies to become export world champions...

Lets find the USA on the chart:
(hint... look way way down!)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_current_account_balance
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posted by u2r2h at Monday, August 11, 2008

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