Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Opportunists

Readers of this blog have surely noticed that some of the recurring characters are collectively known as the neoconservatives, or “neocons.”

Without going into too much detail, “neoconservative” is the term used to describe members of the Democratic party who left after George McGovern’s nomination in 1972 because they disagreed with the South Dakotan’s “Come Home, America,” pledge.

So, the neoconservatives are liberals who left for the Republican Party because they needed a political home for their doctrines of limitless war and intervention around the world. This found resonance in a GOP that, especially by the 1980’s and Ronald Reagan’s presidency, was determined to win the Cold War. In short, the neoconservatives are always looking for a war in which to plunge their country.

Many of these people have ample access to the nation’s print and television media. Bill Kristol is a fixture on Fox News, so is Charles Krauthammer, and John Bolton gets a favorable amount of time there as well. Bill Bennett gets regular time on CNN while Norman Podhoretz, his son John Podhoretz, and David Horowitz makes rounds on all the networks. Kristol writes a column for The New York Times, as does David Brooks, and Krauthammer’s op-eds come out of The Washington Post, two of the nation’s most influential, but hardly right-wing newspapers. Former President Bush speechwriter David Frum is on everywhere from the radio to The Daily Show. In short, there is no shortage of neoconservative opinion in the news world.

Most of these people are liberal on any of a variety of political issues. Bill Kristol occasionally calls himself pro-life, but the son of neocon founding father Irving Kristol was trumpeting Joe Lieberman for John McCain’s running mate this year and believed that Mr. Lieberman would be accepted by the Social Right if he was “introduced in the right way.” David Frum, who castigates anyone who deviates from the GOP’s current foreign policy, loves to remind people that he is not a social conservative or a conservative concerned with stopping illegal immigration.

These people support an open borders immigration policy that originated in the Democratic Party, the ever-growing federal government, disavowal of the Constitution and its limits, and they treat abortion with indifference. But the overriding issue for neoconservatives is foreign policy and a muscular, aggressive foreign policy at that. And any opposition to intervention anywhere for any reason is tantamount to “isolationism,” “appeasement,” and “surrender,” - just read Clifford May anytime.

These people obtained influence during President Reagan’s terms but gained prominence and agenda-setting status during the terms of the second President Bush. Neocons, holding important positions in the administration, pressured President Bush to confront Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and forcibly remove him if necessary. In a time after the attacks of September 11, 2001, with fear and shock still resonating, their scheme worked.

Now after more than five years in Iraq, and seven in Afghanistan, many Americans have grown weary of the all-war-all-the-time message of the Republicans and the neoconservatives. No bigger reason than frustration over the war in Iraq led to the election of a Democratic congress in 2006. And the war in Iraq was perhaps the biggest factor motivating people to vote for Barack Obama for president in 2008. The freshman senator from Illinois won his party’s nomination because he painted himself as an antiwar candidate who had opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. Once he became a general election candidate, he had to talk tougher on foreign policy to avoid criticism of being weak. That led him to making the war in Afghanistan his defining foreign policy issue, a issue that may well prove his ruin. But getting “tough” on the Afghan theater is what is making the supposedly antiwar candidate appealing to the neoconservatives.

This much is evident by the way the neocons are abandoning their president of the last eight years. The person never seen, but always mentioned during the campaign was the president who launched the war in Iraq. The neocons have been shy to defend the unpopular president many people believed they helped to ruin, mainly because they are flocking to the new president-elect, another person they want to manipulate and mold.

President-elect Obama has made Afghanistan an issue again and the neoconservatives are swarming him, heaping all their praise on him and every cabinet selection from the retention of Robert Gates at Defense to the selection of Hillary Clinton at State. These people need to stay in power and need to have influence on American policies. That they are so quickly singing the praises of President-elect Obama’s burgeoning cabinet, promises that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue.

This is far from a comprehensive look at the neocons (I have omitted references to their Trotskyite intellectual forebears, something a more detailed essay on the neocons would require) but a very brief introduction to the people that wrecked the American image and one American presidency. They have been lumped in the GOP for the last several years but look like they are trying to gain influence among a golden Democratic president.

People who so strongly supported (and crafted) the Bush foreign policy, so strangely abandoned the man but not the policies, and raced to kiss the ring of the new emperor are nothing more than shameless opportunists. It is time they are called what they are.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

No Scandals Here

Sirens were literally blowing when on December 9, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested on charges of soliciting bribes. The bribes he was interested in, as is now well-known, were for Barack Obama’s (seemingly always) vacant senate seat. “I’m not going to give it away for -bleeping- nothing,” the Chicago politician screamed. Pay-to-play indeed.

Much is being made about President-elect Obama and his connection to the Illinois governor and all-around sleazebag and not just because Mr. Blagojevich is another in a long line of, let’s call them shady, characters that have coalesced in some capacity around the Mulatto Messiah. First we had black nationalist and hate peddler Jeremiah Wright. Then there was Tony Rezko, who gave the Messiah money and has who has already been convicted of bribery. Then, as the McCain campaign became desperate in the closing weeks of the election, they invoked domestic terrorist-turned tenured professor Bill Ayers, ad nauseum. And when Barack Obama became a candidate for the U.S. senate, one of his biggest and loudest supporters was Illinois governor Blagojevich who knew the Messiah during the latter's minor league days in the Illinois state senate. All these acquaintances and past allies makes one wonder, Does this guy have any non-embarrassing friends?

But not 24 hours after his old boss had been led out of his home in cuffs, did the president-elect issue a statement that neither he nor anyone on his staff had consulted the governor and he believed the governor should resign.

Well, not quite.

It’s been revealed that Mr. Obama’s chief-of-staff and fellow Chicago politician, Rahm Emanuel, actually has spoken with the governor’s office.

Uh oh. Scandal a-ho!

Again, not quite.

Even though the president-elect has been caught lying, in front of all of the cameras, let it be known that none of these allegations will amount to anything.

First of all, Barack Obama does not currently hold office. He has resigned his senate seat and has not yet been sworn in as president, despite what he might want the masses to think with his vacuous “Office of the President-elect” seal. The man cannot be charged with lying under oath when he is not currently under any oath.

Second, even with the president-elect caught in a lie, either he or his many benefactors can easily triangulate their way out of it. Note Mr. Obama’s exact words: “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.” Despite such good documentation of his words, this sentence can be easily reduced to, “We did not have any knowledge of money changing hands or any attempts to do so.” Lie averted.

Third, Mr. Obama’s never ending honeymoon with the media is still not over. He played on their white guilt perfectly by incessantly summoning America’s past racial sins and he is regularly throwing them bones by giving them all of the Clinton officials to fawn over again. The media are such political partners with Barack Obama that even if the new president murdered a man on live television they would look the other way or rationalize that the deceased was but a racist who deserved to die anyway.

Finally, Barack Obama has already been protected from any worse of a scandal, in this instance by the criminal justice system in general, and prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in particular. The most startling part of the Blagojevich arrest was not that he was attempting to sell off the senate seat or that he knew that he was being wire-tapped or that he still refuses to resign. No, the most startling part of the case is that the feds sprung the trap they set and arrested the crooked governor before he actually committed any crime.

It was like eavesdropping on someone’s cellphone conversation where he discloses that he is going to rob the liquor store tomorrow night and you call the police to get him arrested tomorrow afternoon. On what charges can they be locked up? Thinking about committing robbery? You and I both know that that is not a crime. Governor Blagojevich repeatedly tells the papers that he is innocent and has done nothing wrong. What’s depressing for people who yearn to see a corrupt politician thrown into jail is that they know he is right. He is innocent because he was stopped before he could accept a bribe. He will go free.

What this might mean is that Barack Obama and his people are likely more complicit in this matter than anyone is letting on. Why else would they spring the trap on a corrupt politician who is as much a man without a party as the president is, he has been so abandoned. This scandal will effectively be the end of Blagojevich’s political career. He may still avoid impeachment, conviction, and may well finish his term as governor of Illinois, but this is clearly the last office he will hold.

However, this scandal did have the potential to derail Mr. Obama. If they did indeed have contact about who would fill the seat, if any money was involved, and if it was documented on tape, he would be as politically doomed as his former Illinois colleague.

This is purely speculation but why spare Blago unless he could have brought “Barry” down with him?

So, as much as this writer would be pleased to see this president-elect impeached before he takes office, if that was even possible, the chances are slim-to-none that Mr. Obama will do anything but deflect this controversy like all the others. If he is going to be brought down, it will have to be better than connection to bribery.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Burning Christians at the Stake

*I have been on hiatus for awhile due to my wedding. This post was composed several weeks ago because a hot topic was the scapegoating of the Social Right by the GOP establishment. Still try to enjoy it.

In the aftermath of the dismal 2008 election results, the Republicans are certainly scratching their heads trying to figure out just what went wrong. But more than just scratching their heads, the powers that be in the party are pointing fingers. And not surprisingly, none of the fingers are directed at themselves.

Yet the narrative being constructed from such establishment luminaries as David Frum, David Brooks and Kathleen Parker tell their readers that the Republican disaster of 2008 was the fault of conservatives, both from movement types but mostly the varying components of the Christian Right.

Yes, you read that correctly: the reason the Republicans are losing is because of their base, the only remaining part of the coalition is the reason the Republicans are losing. It can’t be endless wars, the revolting amount of pork spent by the “fiscally responsible party”, the shameless bailouts, the incalculable national debt, the horrific mishandling of the economy, rampant corruption within the party, bad trade policies, a reprehensible open borders immigration policy, or just plain old incompetence. You‘re right, David Frum, it’s the fault of voters who care about abortion and gay marriage.

Even some talking heads on the Left like Mort Kondracke are placing the Republican loss squarely on the shoulders of conservatives. Mr. Kondracke asserted on Fox News that conservative (rather, Republican) talk radio was the reason because talking heads like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity were too polarizing and setting policy.

This is laughable itself because rather than manufacturing any of the policies that have led to Republican repudiations in 2006 and 2008, the talk radio parrots merely supported them, as they usually end up supporting whatever the party decrees anyway.

How can talk radio be destroying the party when it is one of the party’s biggest assets? While the hosts might criticize the party at certain times, they do have a near monopoly on the radio air waves, which is an avenue to bash the other party all day long. They always come back to defend the party line, and always support their dismal candidate, even when that candidate is John McCain.

What this whole episode reveals is the real animosity felt by the Republican Party toward any and all conservatives. The GOP is not concerned about any of the issues conservatives care about (even beyond the social ones). Their only goals are to win elections and increase their power, not what is best for their country.

But isn’t it ironic that these liberals-in-conservatives’ clothes (Frum, Brooks, Parker, and throw in Jonah Goldberg) habitually infuse into their writings that these social issues are “lost” while every time those issues actually make it to the ballot, the results leave the values voters victorious? If these issues still resonate with a majority of the voting public, why show such ugly contempt for them and the voters that support them?

Yet all this outrage should provoke some sort of reaction among the conservative base of the party. It was becoming clear to me, and I hope it will for millions of others, that the Republican Party only views the Christian Right and values voters with contempt. They are pawns for the establishment, nothing more and nothing less.

The Republican Party has screwed itself up, there is no doubt about that. But why are they lashing out at the only people who faithfully support the party? These are the people who still came out in droves to vote for John McCain, the scourge of conservatives, when this was the man who was supposed to attract independents and moderates?

The party and the neocons (FYI: The people who actually set the agenda) are sore that they lost yet again and need to find a way to blame someone else. These people are wailing that Sarah Palin lost the moderates and independents for them. But could it also be that maybe, just maybe, John McCain lost them himself?

It has been said before that being a neocon means never having to admit you were wrong. Fortunately for them, they found a group to blame their failures on.