Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 28, 2006
By: Alan Wolfe

Conservative Incompetence Continued....When Dick Cheney fought like the dickens to prevent anyone from knowing anything about his 2001 energy task force, you might have thought I sure did that he wanted to keep secret the names of the high rollers he invited. Maybe, though, he had another motive: given how bad conservatives have proven to be at governance, keeping their incompetence as secret as possible makes perfect sense.

Conservatives fail because those who hate government cannot run it very well the theme of my recent article in the July/August issue of The Washington Monthly. But then there is also what can be called conservative management theory. Conservatives have strong ideas about how organizations ought to be run and those ideas invariably make them run badly.

One such idea is that no information hostile to those in charge should ever leak out. The result, however, is that no good information ever leaks in. The smaller the number of decision-makers, the less the knowledge on which decisions are based. It is not good to keep a tight ship if the ship always sinks.

Conservatives love to proclaim courage a virtue, and a manly one at that. But loyalty to the man at the top, another conservative management idea, encourages fawning among all those below. If you want to fill an organization from top to bottom with chickens, give medals of freedom to as many people as you can.

Finally, conservatives view organizations in exactly the opposite way they treat markets. The economy, they insist, works most efficiently when spontaneous decisions emerge from the uncoordinated actions of millions of anonymous consumers. But when they run organizations, they insist on formal organization charts, aim to leave nothing to chance, and treat all decisions as authoritative. Their theory of the private sector is borrowed from Adam Smith. Their approach to the public sector owes far too much to state socialism.

But you need not take my word for all this. Dick Cheney was able to prevent public scrutiny of his energy task force, but no one has been able to prevent Ron Suskinds in depth examination of how the Republicans are fighting the war on terror. The One Percent Doctrine ought to be taught at the Harvard Business School as proof positive of how one famous graduate of that institution got it all wrong when he became CEO of the whole country.

Alan Wolfe 2:33 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (67)

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Comments

Incompetence, in the sense that it is usually meant, is not the issue.

The issue is that these people treat government as their private property, to do with as they see fit: to enrich themselves and their friends, to use the apparatus of government to sustain and increase their power, and to build up the military.

Any other interest in the purpose of government is entirely incidental.

Not surprisingly, the things they are interested in accomplishing they do very well.

The rest - that they don't care about, and may actually despise (the "drown government in a bathtub" syndrome) - should be no surprise at all.

Ronald Reagan started this. He made it acceptable for people running for public office to denigrate the office they wanted to hold. And a large percentage of the U.S. electorate accepts this. Together with the fact that they don't really expect what government does to affect their lives - well, no wonder a lot of people don't pay much attention to what "those politicians do in Washington, DC".

Posted by: JB (not John Bolton) on June 28, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

If conservative hatred for government is the root if their inability to govern well, then it would seem indifference, rather than incompetence, is the problem.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 28, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

(hmmm... "root OF their inability" -- doooh!)

Seems to be a common thot.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 28, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

I am still trying to figure out what this crowd has ever done well.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 28, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Fawning all over the boss and preventing him from hearing bad news aren't traits unique to conservatives. I've worked in some progressive firms where sucking up and hiding losses/miscalculations was commonplace, too.

Posted by: steve duncan on June 28, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

The reason that meeting was so darned sensitive was that they were dividing up the Iraq oil right then and there - right at the beginning of the term - long before anyone else dreamed that war with Iraq was being planned.

Posted by: Twarge on June 28, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Conservatives fail because those who hate government cannot run it very well – the theme of my recent article in the July/August issue of The Washington Monthly. "

That's great and all, but I haven't seen much indication that those who love government can run it very well, either. Perhaps you could simplify your conclusion to "governments fail because those who are in government cannot run it very well." But of course this is a political blog and you've got an axe to grind, so it's a unique character flaw of Conservativism. Or whatever.

=darwin

Posted by: Darwin on June 28, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney's group has succeeded spectacularly at at least one of their goals: rasing the price of oil.

Posted by: Boronx on June 28, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Darwin:

As opposed, to, you know, a belief that government -- because it's government -- is prima facie impossible to run competently.

Which as we all know isn't remotely an a-priori ideological POV.

:)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

JB, at the very top of this thread, said it all. Everything this Administration does is about either enriching their friends, or increasing political power. They do those things quite well, and screw up everything else because they just don't care.

While I think that shouldn't stop Dem candidates from running against GOP incompetence - simple messages are good - we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that their incompetence isn't the core problem.

Posted by: RT on June 28, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I believe twarge has it. They were deciding who would manage which part of the Iraqi oil fields.

I think I understand what Bush means by "the ownership society". I think the real name should be "the private ownership society", in which nothing is jointly owned by Americans. No national parks, no national forests, eventually the highways and even security. After all, why should I have to pay some policeman to protect you from crime. If you are unwise enough to live in a high crime area, get your own bodyguard.

Posted by: tim on June 28, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Well, that certainly would explain the unprecedented rate at which the administration has classified everything up to & including grocery lists. Nobody gives two shits about most of the stuff that's been classified, but the fact that we can't see it prevents us from laughing at how moronic they are for having put that stuff down on paper in the first place.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on June 28, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Conservatives love to proclaim courage a virtue, and a manly one at that. But loyalty to the man at the top, another conservative management idea, encourages fawning among all those below."

That's not hard to swallow...

Posted by: American Hawk's Bush's cocksucking club on June 28, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well, that certainly would explain the unprecedented rate at which the administration has classified everything up to & including grocery lists. Nobody gives two shits about most of the stuff that's been classified, but the fact that we can't see it prevents us from laughing at how moronic they are for having put that stuff down on paper in the first place.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on June 28, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of moronic, my apologies for the double post.

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on June 28, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives love to proclaim courage a virtue, and a manly one at that.

They love to proclaim it as a virtue, but aren't so hot on actually putting it into practice by enlisting for Iraq.

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

The reason that meeting was so darned sensitive was that they were dividing up the Iraq oil right then and there - right at the beginning of the term - long before anyone else dreamed that war with Iraq was being planned.
Posted by: Twarge on June 28, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Of course we all know this is true - including the Bush supporters. And yet, because we can't GET that meeting minutes note, we can't PROVE it. And yet, since nobody seriously doubts this is what they talked about - there's no real need to prove it to anyone, and even if you could prove it, it's not really against the law, so the only outcome that will happen is Liberals will be framed as whiners, yet again.

And in the end, all of this is simply a way of avoiding the debate for the forgone conclusion that: Yes - the oilmen really *should* be running the country and using our military to back their private ventures, because that's what's best for America.

Cheney's group has succeeded spectacularly at at least one of their goals: rasing the price of oil.
Posted by: Boronx on June 28, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

*sigh* - I could have told y'all this in 2003 - no wait, I did. Then I bought a fuel-efficient car, betting that oil prices would go up, while my "conservative" freinds all bought SUV's because they thought that the war meant oil prices would go DOWN. Ironically, I bought the car used, from a guy who was going over to Iraq to do some contracting.

This is War Profiteering, and the Republican Culture of Corruption.

It was carefully planned and orchistrated from PNAC in 1997, to the Abramoff lobbying scam, the Katherine Harris 2000 election scam, Jeb Bush, Texas Redistricting, DeLay, letting 9/11 happen, phony war, no-bid contracts, deregulation, phony "bad" oversight, Rove's info-warfare, all of it. For War Profiteering. Which Truman said was Treason.

War Profiteering is Treason.
Not Reporting News.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 28, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

I have long believed that capitalism is not particularly consistent with democracy. On the other hand, socialism requires democracy in order to be effective.

As far as I can tell, the people running the Bush administration, notably Bush and Cheney, are not even very good capitalists. The Bush administration finds its members and supporters from firms whose success derives from inherited market power, not from competition in efficient markets. Their business model basically amounts to rent seeking and for them to justify their actions in the language of neoclassical economics is a kind of blasphemy.

Posted by: birdie on June 28, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

In the early 90s, I worked for a firm that did organizational consulting. What struck me then was that organizations could be described as conservative and liberal.

The conservative organizations were more likely to use a model of management that relied on the skill of heroic individuals. Rather than create systems that made it easy for all managers to succeed, success was a matter of learning "how things are done" implicitly and currying favors with the higher ups. In addition, decision making was concentrated in the hands of a few senior executives and everyone else in the organization became a go-fer. This concentration of power in the hands of senior management is perhaps what you describe as having formal organization charts that leave nothing to chance.

The many Bushco failures are typical of the problems caused by conservative management styles. In a for-profit business, the need to remain fiscally solvent provides some balance and transparency. But put the same paradigm in government--where the executives have access to unlimited power, WMD, MSM, zillions of dollars and no accountability--and its limitations become obvious.

The more liberal organizations were more focused on management systems--so a good engineer (say) could be promoted into management, implement the systems, and he or she would be a competent manager. Decision making tended to be distributed through the whole organization so the organization was much more resilient and flatter, and the people who were closest to the information were involved in making decisions. As organizations they were less subject to the errors made by one individual. But if you think about it, this model would work much better if you are trying to run a government.

Posted by: PTate in MN on June 28, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK
Conservatives fail because those who hate government cannot run it very well

I think this is a mistaken idea: conservatives don't hate government except rhetorically. Conservatives view government as one of many tools to advance the interests of the already wealthy and the power of the already powerful, and conservatives in office show little restraint or hesitation in using it in that way.

OTOH, conservatives do use public distrust of government as a political weapon when others seek to use government to advance the interests of those who aren't currently wealthy and powerful, so of course they have an interest in creating visible government failures, as long as they are able to pass of the blame on either liberals or something supposedly inherent in the nature of government itself, so anything they can do that can be spun to advance the idea that government can't be trusted has value (though, really, many of these things could be defeated if "liberals" in the media eye wouldn't be hesitant to point out that what these things usually show is that conservatives in government can't be trusted.)

Andbizarrely off topic, I knowbut I wonder if I'm the only one who noticed that the last three PA posts use three different styles for punctuation dashesChristina Larson uses my preferred style (em-dashes with no surrounding space), Kevin Drum uses em-dashes with surrounding spaces, and Alan Wolfe uses en-dashes with surrounding spaces.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

PTate:

Nice post; indeed.

It also brings to mind 'Theory Z,' a popular management book from the 80s that attempted to explain why Japan's communitarian business culture was kicking our individualist asses at the time ...

There is no 'I' in TEAM. End of story.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

There is no 'I' in TEAM.

Which explains the fall of the British Empire.

Posted by: heavy on June 28, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

. . . One such idea is that no information hostile to those in charge should ever leak out.

On the contrary, Kevin.

Hostile information leaks out all the time. By design. Just not COMPLETE information. This way, allegations can be made, but nothing can be proven to the extent that someone actually has to resign or go to jail.

This way, the allegation remains unsubstantiated, and the allegors can be slammed for being unpatriotic and partisan, and for attacking the president in wartime, and even for making up the allegation of whole cloth.

In this case - Cheney's secret energy meeting, they could have been doing anything from raping young boys over a game of poker and cuban cigars, to talking about how to split Iraq's oil, to discussing the finer points of golf. We don't know. We will never know. They control this information. The fact that they blocked it by executive privilege tells Liberals that there's something to hide, so the Liberals attacked.

So, in the eyes of FoxNews viewership, who looks bad? The guy who's just trying to run the country and give us an energy policy? Or the guy who's attacking him and making all kinds of wild allegations (which may or may not be true, but you'll never prove it).

The other effect is that, after running after that football so many times and getting it pulled away, Charlie Brown eventually gets wise - but cautious - and overcautious can make you irrelevant in the journalism industry.

However, it's VERY naive - especially for a member of the press - ESPECIALLY for someone who knows Jason Leopold, who's ass is still sore from the last time Rove stuck it to him, to not see this, and not realize that one day soon, Kevin Drum may be Rove's next target. The next time someone waves that red cape in front of you, think about it.

Now, you have to compete with the FoxNews drones that don't get the Rove-a-dope treatment, but instead, get the inside scoop of propaganda, handed on a silver platter.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 28, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

This does prove it, Not one troll yet! Waiting for typing orders.What a bunch of Bush's.

Posted by: Mann Coulter on June 28, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

cheney's energy plan=invade iraq

Posted by: mestizO on June 28, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding Dick Cheney's energy task force, I have one simple question - Who does this man think he is working for???

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 28, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK


There is no 'I' in TEAM. End of story.

There is "me" in team, however.. if, um, you look at it the right way..


Posted by: Andy on June 28, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Fawning all over the boss and preventing him from hearing bad news aren't traits unique to conservatives.

Actually, Alan didn't say the fawning was a trait, he said it was a consequence of a trait, namely the fetishization of authority and power over others.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on June 28, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

"That's great and all, but I haven't seen much indication that those who love government can run it very well, either. Perhaps you could simplify your conclusion to "governments fail because those who are in government cannot run it very well." "

Yeah, I shudder to remember our eight year nightmare of peace and prosperity.

Posted by: EmmaAnne on June 28, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not tar all conservatives with the same brush. I've worked for many people whose politics was far to the right of mine and whom I felt did a fine job. Our problem is THIS particular president and his crew are utterly incapable of slapping their own butts with both hands. This is also separate from the issue of whether some conservative ideas or principals have been found wanting once placed into action.

Posted by: CT on June 28, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

"The One Percent Doctrine ought to be taught at the Harvard Business School as proof positive of how one famous graduate of that institution got it all wrong when he became CEO of the whole country."

Of course he got it wrong many times before, too, when he was the CEO of companies, but that history of failure didn't get much play in the MSM as an indicator of his intrinsic ability to run a much more complex institution (the federal executive branch).

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 28, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of another notion that crossed my field of view yesterday:

"A fundamental problem I have with the standard neo-liberal economic line is that whenever the worker gets screwed, the goodness of the policy is defended with utilitarian ideas of justice, but when it comes down to addressing the responsibilities of owners, the best forms of justice are purely libertarian."

posted by wetzel at Brad DeLong's place.

Posted by: craigie on June 28, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

That's great and all, but I haven't seen much indication that those who love government can run it very well, either. Perhaps you could simplify your conclusion to "governments fail because those who are in government cannot run it very well.

A. Rubbish

B. It's really easy to criticize government because it is, by definition, trying to please society as a whole (in theory - this WH, not so much) - so a lot of people will see sub-optimal results from their own personal point of view. That's not failure.

C. It's also really easy to criticize because it's much more open than any corporate enterprise. Government wastes money. Everyone gets to see it. Boo hoo. Meanwhile, hands up everyone who works for a private company that's never wasted any money. That's what I thought.

Posted by: craigie on June 28, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and we don't "love government" - we just recognize it as something that must exist. A necessary, evil, if you will.

Better straw men please!

Posted by: craigie on June 28, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

One such idea is that no information hostile to those in charge should ever leak out.

Conservatives love to proclaim courage a virtue, and a manly one at that. But loyalty to the man at the top, another conservative management idea, encourages fawning among all those below.

Finally, conservatives view organizations in exactly the opposite way they treat markets. The economy, they insist, works most efficiently when spontaneous decisions emerge from the uncoordinated actions of millions of anonymous consumers. But when they run organizations, they insist on formal organization charts, aim to leave nothing to chance, and treat all decisions as authoritative.

Interesting set of generalizations. I fail to see however, how these traits split on the conservative/liberal divide. I trust that Wolfe has reams of data to backup these assertions as being particularly conservative and is not just pulling data out of his head.

Posted by: John Hansen on June 28, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Thaought-provoking post, as always.

I don't think it's simply a matter of using rhetoric as a cover, though. I see two fundamentally contradictory impulses in conservatives which function as a dialectical tension.

On the one hand, I see conservatives (and forgive the broad generalization) as being temperamentally attracted to -- as well as being raised to accept -- authoritarian modes of conduct. On the other hand, they have more than a mere rhetorical fixation with individualism, against organizations, driven by a "great man" theory of action.

They are at home with top-down organizational structures in their workplaces, their megachurches, their families, their favorite team sports. They fear and loathe top-down organizational structures in government and evoloving norms of social conduct. A conservative middle manager can kiss his boss's ass all day long and then flip on O'Reilly at home and sneer along at some new manifestation of 'political correctness.' It's less contradictory than one might think.

The mechanisms which help to resolve and control this tension importantly involve denial, projection and projective identification -- but this, too, isn't as simple as it suggests.

Conservatives are very well-aware of their darker impulses. Their propensities for acting on greed, envy, lust, false pride, they view to be quite strong. Thus they accept rigid hierarchy, they look to discipline, they sit through hellfire sermons, because they're afraid of their own tendencies. They're also continually in the process of projecting these tendencies onto other individuals and entities.

Conservatives thus feel comforted by an authoritarian structure when they're within one that's governed by people like themselves. Then they can trust that the terrible power of discipline and conduct proscription is being used in proper measure. They live in subconscious fear of being excessively punished for hidden desires, conscious thoughts of which provoke strong feelings of internal guilt and overt denial: the quintessential repressed personality.

But as Freud always sez: the return of the repressed is a real bitch -- and that's what happens when these button-down faith 'n' family corporate conservatives confront power structures external to themselves. They project their own repressed greed, envy and megalomania onto faceless governmental regulatory structures -- which, unlike their own likeminded superiors, can't be trusted to act in proper measure. Out of their own welter of unreflected and suppressed impulses comes the conservative mythology of a tyrannical Nanny Government -- disciplining their naughty, naughty little behinds for even *thinking* they were bigger and better than the authority structures that, yes! really! honestly! -- they fully submit to because of their bad! bad! Fallen natures.

Thus you get the implacable jackbooted tyranny of the mild-mannered bureaucratic Harvard MPAs who manage the government agencies.

When conservatives like this are *inside* the government -- well then -- I'll leave you to take this psychosocial template and imagine the results for yourself :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative/republican governments always follow the same four steps:

1)Obtain power,
2)Develop and entrench power,
3)Obuse power, and
4)Seek pardon.

It's been the pattern for 100 years and they just can't stop themselves. See Nixon and consider how many were indicted from the Reagan administration and how many had to be pardoned. It's a cycle that they cannot stop.

Posted by: MRB on June 28, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

When Bush visited Russia the first year he was in office, he said he saw into Putin's soul, and seemingly approved of what he saw.

I think Bush and Putin share many similar management approaches -- dominating, secretive, loyalty-demanding, military-oriented, constant manipulation of agenda and information flow, never admit failure, propagandistic.

The main difference seems to be that Bush proclaims he doesn't like big government, when in fact the U.S. government has grown to Russian proportions and inefficiencies under Bush's watch.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 28, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

That's very good, rmck1. As the only non-conservative member of my direct family I have often not only felt like a fish out of water but contemplated some of the liberal/conservative differences.

I think that conservatives/liberals seem to think differently when confronted with a problem. A liberal might make a list of all the pro/con issues, decide on the importance of them, and determine a direction keeping in mind that more data or information later might render a reversal of this decision. A conservative seems to pull a direction from a gut feeling or seeemingly a faith of some type with less analytical internal discussion of different opposing concepts. For instance, I would suffer with all the diffent issues regarding a vote and my father could just cut to the chase, skip the debate and somehow come up with a decision seemingly from deeply held convictions or from nowhere. It always baffled me and typically he reached a conclusion that wasn't in his best overall interest, wasn't logical, and later complained of it's negative effects to him.

For instance, he would never vote pro-environment then later when companies took advantage of him and his state do to poor/none existent environmental laws and moved in and began to destroy the air and the ground water he was incensed. But he could not follow the logic somehow from his votes to this natural conclusion. The companies had simply moved from a state where the environment was being improved to one where environmental laws were lacking. Hog farms from eastern states to Oklahoma.

Posted by: MRB on June 28, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Use to be that the term "conservative" meant the unwillingness to raise taxes for frivolous social programs. Now it's synonomous with facist group-think, jack-booted political thuggery, and social totalitarianism. And the really sad part of it all is the Republicans are doing everything in their power to make sure the term sticks.
I'm beginning to fear even mentioning that I'm a fiscal conservative wondering how the Republicans will have that term redefined as well.
The Republicans are a far different party than they were 24 years ago. I don't know these people, and I certainly won't vote for anyone of them.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on June 28, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK
Use to be that the term "conservative" meant the unwillingness to raise taxes for frivolous social programs.

And it still does, as long as "frivolous" is defined the way conservatives have always defined it: helping anyone but the rich.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

George Lakoff, Marc Ettlinger, and Sam Ferguson argue in this essay that the Bush administration is not incompetent:

The idea that Bush is incompetent is a curious one. Consider the following (incomplete) list of major initiatives the Bush administration, with a loyal conservative Congress, has accomplished:

  • Centralizing power within the executive branch to an unprecedented degree
  • Starting two major wars, one started with questionable intelligence and in a manner with which the military disagreed
  • Placing on the Supreme Court two far-right justices, and stacking the lower federal courts with many more
  • Cutting taxes during wartime, an unprecedented event
  • Passing a number of controversial bills such as the PATRIOT Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Medicare Drug bill, the Bankruptcy bill and a number of massive tax cuts
  • Rolling back and refusing to enforce a host of basic regulatory protections
  • Appointing industry officials to oversee regulatory agencies
  • Establishing a greater role for religion through faith-based initiatives
  • Passing Orwellian-titled legislation assaulting the environment "The Healthy Forests Act" and the "Clear Skies Initiative" to deforest public lands, and put more pollution in our skies
  • Winning re-election and solidifying his partys grip on Congress

These arent signs of incompetence. As should be painfully clear, the Bush administration has been overwhelmingly competent in advancing its conservative vision. It has been all too effective in achieving its goals by determinedly pursuing a conservative philosophy.

I think there is a distinction between "Bush" the man, George W. Bush, and "Bush" used as a convenient shorthand for "the Bush administration". My own view based on publicly available information is that Bush himself is indeed abjectly incompetent, and that his only role in the administration that bears his name is that of spokesmodel, a smirking swaggering shill whose job is to bamboozle the rubes, a (rather bad) reader of teleprompted speeches and regurgitator of simple-minded, scripted talking points. It is Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, etc. and the ultra-rich hereditary corporate elites they answer to who are the actual "deciders" and doers of the so-called "Bush" administration.

Others, who are no more fans of Bush than I am, disagree with this view -- including Al Gore, who in a speech a couple of years ago opined that Bush was "plenty smart". But with regard to the incompetence or lack thereof of the Bush administration, the question of the actual role of Bush himself, whether he is the mastermind or a sock puppet, is probably not important.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 28, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Modern descriptions of liberal/conservative do not appear meaningful. Suppose I wanted to put a huge amount of butter on some bread, then it would be a "liberal" amount. How about a small amount of butter, then it would be a conservative amount. Following this then, it would appear to logic at times to be conservative. For instance, one might be conservative with his money, say buy a small, less expensive car instead of a larger one. So it might be quite logical to choose a conservative direction at one instance and a liberal one the next. Therefore how could it be conservative to borrow massive amounts of money to invade a country that had nothing to do with a terrorist attack. Doesn't sound logically conservative to me. Just stupid.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

sheerahkahn wrote: The Republicans are a far different party than they were 24 years ago.

Twenty-four years ago was 1982, half way through Ronald Reagan's first term, and the Republicans were every bit as bad then as they are now.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 28, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

EmmaAnne:
"Yeah, I shudder to remember our eight year nightmare of peace and prosperity."

If you remember the 1990s as a time of "peace and prosperity" perhaps you should shudder. There was so much (bubble) "prosperity" that we all pretended that "peace" came along as part of the bargain. For some, middle class Americans in particular, the illusion was very convincing.

Of course, others in Rwanda, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, (etc.) probably had a very different "nightmare" during the 1990s than you did. Then we could examine the first WTC attack, the attack on the USS Cole, the attacks on the US embassies in Africa. Oh wait, you weren't paying attention to these things because you were so involved in the "nightmare of peace and prosperity"? So sorry...

9/11 didn't change anything.. it just pulled back the veil. When I hear people claim that the 1990s were an era of peace and prosperity, I tend to assume that they have zero understanding of the actual history of the time.

Thanks for the smart-aleck quip, tho.. I'm sure it goes over great at dinner parties.

=darwin

Posted by: Darwin on June 28, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Therefore how could it be conservative to borrow massive amounts of money to invade a country that had nothing to do with a terrorist attack. Doesn't sound logically conservative to me. Just stupid.
Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

It's conservative, because it's a means to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars into the pockets of contributors and supporters, thus, ensuring that Democrats can't get an equivalent amount of funding for at least another generation, thus guaranteeing a conservative hegemony. Even though it's breaking the law, weakening the nation's geopolitical position, and economy, it prevents Liberals from getting back into power and spoiling their game, or worse, enforcing the law.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 28, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Darwin:

Why do you think America is responsible for the peace and security of the entire world?

Isn't that a little ... grandiose?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Bob:
"
Why do you think America is responsible for the peace and security of the entire world?

Isn't that a little ... grandiose?
"

So you're suggesting that America is not the world's policeman. Ok, but riddle me this, then.. if America is not the world's policeman, who is? Or do you believe that the world does not, in fact, need a policeman?

The US, like other nations, represents its national interests. In the process, it shoulders a notable percentage of the security burden for international commerce. Wouldn't it be more progressive of us to actually give a damn about security in the developed world *before* it affects the bottom line?

The reason I cite all of those places is that the lack of security in those places during the 1990s period of so-called "peace and prosperity" has had a very real impact on US interests and even the US mainland on 9/11. In other words, the world is globalizing, duh, welcome to 1991...

We're not solely responsible for the peace and security of the entire world, but we do appear to be one of the few countries currently pulling our weight in that regard. The original poster suggested that the 1990s were a time of "peace and security," but this is only true if you limit your view only to the United States and ignore the reality of globalized instability.

=darwin
PS - for an example :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malacca_Strait#Economic_importance_of_the_Strait
"
All these factors have caused the area to become a target for piracy and a perceived target for terrorism. Piracy has been a considerable problem in the Strait in recent years, rising from around 25 attacks in 1994 to a record 220 in 2000. Just over 150 attacks were carried out in 2003. This accounted for around one-third of all piracy in 2003.
"

Posted by: Darwin on June 28, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, typo.

"Wouldn't it be more progressive of us to actually give a damn about security in the developing world *before* it affects the bottom line?"

=darwin

Posted by: Darwin on June 28, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Darwin:

Ahh, then. Three big cheers for the White Man's Burden.

*NOT*

There's nothing "progressive" about neocolonialism.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 28, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK
We're not solely responsible for the peace and security of the entire world, but we do appear to be one of the few countries currently pulling our weight in that regard.

I'd say, rather, that among sovereign nation-states, the United States is doing far more than its share at undermining peace and security worldwide.

The original poster suggested that the 1990s were a time of "peace and security," but this is only true if you limit your view only to the United States and ignore the reality of globalized instability.

And...so? How is that superior to, say, the 2000s, where the world is as violent or more than the 1990s, only now the US is a major active player in that violence and, indeed, arguably its principle nation-state source?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

North Korea and the American corporation are the last bastions of central planning.

Posted by: expatjourno on June 28, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

bob:
"
Ahh, then. Three big cheers for the White Man's Burden.

*NOT*

There's nothing "progressive" about neocolonialism.
"

Ok, so what's your solution to globalized instability.. pretend it doesn't exist?

It's all well and good to reject the idea of doing something proactive in the third world ("neocolonialism!") but it's not a free worldview. It's a worldview with costs.. do you acknowledge those costs, or are you one of those who believe that globalized instability is a "nightmare" which Bush et al have made up?

cmdicely:
"I'd say, rather, that among sovereign nation-states, the United States is doing far more than its share at undermining peace and security worldwide"

I take it from this statement that you believe that Ba'ath Iraq and/or Taliban Afghanistan represented "peace and security"?

=darwin

Posted by: Darwin on June 28, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say we use our greatest most peaceful weapon-free enterprise economy. I believe that it's what ultimately brought down the USSR with vastly less death and destruction that a war. It gives trading partners time to adjust, accept and desire an economic system that can allow them to dream and strive for some sort of democracy. I believe with all my heart that this method will be the most effective, cost the least, cause less death and destruction and than war and jamming our culture and methods down their throats. We let them come to it independently, peacefully, hopefully, and reachout for it with the desire inherent in seeing its positives. If we believe that it's a great system then why not utilize it to help others see and understand it's virtues. They won't with it jammed down their throats-they'll only hate us.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

I take it from this statement that you believe that Ba'ath Iraq and/or Taliban Afghanistan represented "peace and security"?
=darwin
Posted by: Darwin

It's a little odd to use the US-funded, armed, and supported baathist saddam as evidence that the US is NOT, in fact, actively undermining worldwide peace and security.

Posted by: Nads on June 28, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Nads:
"
It's a little odd to use the US-funded, armed, and supported baathist saddam as evidence that the US is NOT, in fact, actively undermining worldwide peace and security.
"

#1) Ba'ath Iraq was not "armed" by the US, unless you think that the CIA somehow contrived to sell them a bunch of Soviet tanks during the 1970s. If you're talking about some chemical/bio weapons supplies, yes it's true that some American companies provided some of this material. But the Iraqi army was primarily "armed" by the Russians, Chinese, French.. with a very small percentage of the military material originating from the US or US proxies.

#2) Ba'ath Iraq was not "supported" by the US except during the duration of their war with Iran. Note that this means that other nations (notably France, China and Russia) "supported" the Ba'ath both BEFORE and AFTER the wars with Iran and Kuwait. Presumably you consider these nations to have "supported" Ba'ath Iraq to a far greater degree than the US?

#3) Ba'ath Iraq was also not notably "funded" by the US, except in a limited sense during the war with Iran. During this approximate time frame, it was receiving much greater support from other western powers. For example, France built Saddam a nuclear reactor. Sure, there's that picture of Rummy shaking hands with Saddam, but I don't think they were building him a nuclear reactor at the time.

But all of this aside, so what if the US did "fund," "arm," and "support" Iraq during the 1980s war with Iran? Unless you believe that the US continued to FA&S Iraq after the 1991 war, all you are saying is that the US changed their policy to oppose Saddam after supporting him for a decade or so. As a decade of US v. Iraq conflict via the toothless UN inspections process ensued, I'm not sure what your point is.

The US then proceeded to depose the corrupt regime and has replaced it with a government which is AT THE VERY VERY LEAST more representative and just and LESS LIKELY TO BEHAVE AGGRESSIVELY either internally or externally. In your view, was that a net gain or loss for regional and global security?

=darwin

Posted by: Darwin on June 28, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

More instances of worldwide instability are economics related than anything else. Most successes are economically related. The conclusions aren't so clear with respect to invasion and colonialism. And both of those are extremely expensive, financially and destructively. The US ultimately, even conservatives, lack the desire to be totalitarian (like Saddam, for instance)like killing until you get your way-there's no more resistance. Without this desire invasion and occupation is ultimately doomed. The people have to come to it of their own accord. That's why economic strength and free enterprise can be so effective. To bad we don't use it. Then we could use our money for building things instead of death and destruction.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

That's to easy. Saddam in power as he was prior to invasion was a very strong plus for regional and global security. Let alone within Iraq. A representative government there will be representative of it's citizens. It will be a theocracy. And this representative government will hate us because it's citizens will. That is if it doesn't wind up being three countries in a lasting civil war. And these possibilities are all more devastating to Iraqi citizens and their future than Saddam was. There was some peace, now their future is bleak.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

But Bush is a messiah. Messiah by definition is a trouble maker, considered dim-witted at the time, an overall agitator of the status quo. As long as Busyh is potrayed as working on the word of GOD, he is absolved of all sins.

This Dec, I am afraid, the conservative GOP is going to win again. Too many people are willing to forgive those who does GOD's work.

Posted by: eo on June 29, 2006 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Well, one thing's for sure....Darwin sure loves him(?) some straw man arguments.

Posted by: Gregory on June 29, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Professor Michael Jensen at HBS is famous for the idea that people in authority (in business or government) need oversight to avoid the dangers that arise from personal conflicts.

W and the WH are obviouly ignoring this lesson, much as his Enron buddies did.

Jensen is also famous for the huge rise in CEO compensation, his theory was that incentives tied to company stock gains would boost executive performance, with board of director oversight providing control over any misbehavior.

Posted by: jerry on June 29, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Darwin wrote to rmck1: ... if America is not the world's policeman, who is? Or do you believe that the world does not, in fact, need a policeman?

America is most definitely not the "world's policeman". In my opinion, the world does, in fact, need a "policeman" -- by which I mean an entity with both the authority and the actual ability to enforce international law.

Darwin again: The US, like other nations, represents its national interests.

That is exactly why the US is not and cannot be the "world's policeman". Like other nations, the US uses its power (economic, diplomatic, military, etc) to advance its own national interests. This is entirely incompatible with being an impartial enforcer of the law, which is the essential nature of a "policeman".

In fact, because the USA is so powerful, it is able to, and often does, violate international law with impunity. The USA has behaved as a "world criminal" at least as often as it has acted as a "world policeman".

The closest thing we have today to a "world policeman" is the United Nations Security Council.

In my opinion, we need something much stronger than that, a genuine world federal government which would be endowed by the people of the Earth with police powers -- both the legal authority and the actual power -- to enforce international law.

Or perhaps a legion of law-enforcement robots like Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 29, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Darwin: ... As a decade of US v. Iraq conflict via the toothless UN inspections process ensued ...

That's a scripted, programmed, right-wing boilerplate lie. The UN inspections were not "toothless". We now know that they successfully eliminated all weapons of mass destruction and all WMD programs from Iraq.

Apparently you are just another Bush-bootlicking regurgitator of right-wing bullshit.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 29, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK
I take it from this statement that you believe that Ba'ath Iraq and/or Taliban Afghanistan represented "peace and security"?

Well, then, you are an idiot incapable of understanding that the consequences of action are not limited to the targets of the action.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 29, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

".When Dick Cheney fought like the dickens to prevent anyone from knowing anything about his 2001 energy task force, you might have thought – I sure did – that he wanted to keep secret the names of the high rollers he invited"

Nah, you could pretty much guess the names of the high-rollers. And even with the names, it wouldn't tell you what was on the agenda (screwing California and dividing Iraq, no doubt).

The reason for keeping names of the attendees secret was the under-age hookers that they brought in for "entertainment".

Posted by: Satan luvvs Repugs on June 30, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

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厂向广大客户提供中国福利彩票产品及中国福利彩票服务。中国 中国福利彩票 网,打造中国福利彩票领域专业搜索平台,提供全球中国福利彩票品牌公司及产品展示。中国 双色球 网,打造双色球领域专业搜索平台,提供全球双色球品牌公司及产品展示。中国 香港六合彩 网,打造香港六合彩领域专业搜索平台,提供全球香港六合彩品牌公司及产品展示。要想寻找香港六合彩信息请访问 香港六合彩 网,各种香港六合彩应有尽有。北京 六合彩 厂向广大客户提供六合彩产品及六合彩服务。北京 商标注册 厂向广大客户提供商标注册产品及商标注册服务。中国 广告设计 网,打造广告设计领域专业搜索平台,提供全球广告设计品牌公司及产品展示。上海 搬家 公司专业生产搬家产品,欢迎选择搬家。中国 窃听器 网,打造窃听器领域专业搜索平台,提供全球窃听器品牌公司及产品展示。要想寻找手机窃听器信息请访问 手机窃听器 网,各种手机窃听器应有尽有。上海 无线点菜 公司专业生产无线点菜产品,欢迎选择无线点菜。北京 租车 厂向广大客户提供租车产品及租车服务。要想寻找租车信息请访问 租车 网,各种租车应有尽有。中国 汽车租赁 网,打造汽车租赁领域专业搜索平台,提供全球汽车租赁品牌公司及产品展示。北京 手机窃听器 厂向广大客户提供手机窃听器产品及手机窃听器服务。上海 香港六合彩 公司专业生产香港六合彩产品,欢迎选择香港六合彩。北京 六合彩 厂向广大客户提供六合彩产品及六合彩服务。对讲机 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的对讲机,丰富对讲机行业资讯助您成交。要想寻找冷库信息请访问 冷库 网,各种冷库应有尽有。搬家 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的搬家,丰富搬家行业资讯助您成交。制冷设备 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的制冷设备,丰富制冷设备行业资讯助您成交。中国 租车 网,打造租车领域专业搜索平台,提供全球租车品牌公司及产品展示。考勤机 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的考勤机,丰富考勤机行业资讯助您成交。北京 特价机票 厂向广大客户提供特价机票产品及特价机票服务。上海 国际机票 公司专业生产国际机票产品,欢迎选择国际机票。上海 打折机票 公司专业生产打折机票产品,欢迎选择打折机票。上海租车 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的上海租车,丰富上海租车行业资讯助您成交。您想要了解 上海租车 吗?请到中国上海租车网来寻找上海租车。您想要了解 超声波清洗机 吗?请到中国超声波清洗机网来寻找超声波清洗机。北京 搬场 厂向广大客户提供搬场产品及搬场服务。您想要了解 散热器 吗?请到中国散热器网来寻找散热器。拓展训练 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的拓展训练,丰富拓展训练行业资讯助您成交。上海 窃听器 公司专业生产窃听器产品,欢迎选择窃听器。中国 双色球 网,打造双色球领域专业搜索平台,提供全球双色球品牌公司及产品展示。上海 搬场 公司专业生产搬场产品,欢迎选择搬场。要想寻找搬家信息请访问 搬家 网,各种搬家应有尽有。北京 厂向广大客户提供搬家产品及搬家服务。注册公司 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的注册公司,丰富注册公司行业资讯助您成交。上海 注册公司 公司专业生产注册公司产品,欢迎选择注册公司。北京 安利 厂向广大客户提供安利产品及安利服务。要想寻找标签打印机信息请访问 标签打印机 网,各种标签打印机应有尽有。要想寻找美容美发培训学校信息请访问 美容美发培训学校 网,各种美容美发培训学校应有尽有。北京 六合彩 厂向广大客户提供六合彩产品及六合彩服务。北京 香港六合彩 厂向广大客户提供香港六合彩产品及香港六合彩服务。安利 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的安利,丰富安利行业资讯助您成交。中国 中国福利彩票 网,打造中国福利彩票领域专业搜索平台,提供全球中国福利彩票品牌公司及产品展示。北京 六合彩 厂向广大客户提供六合彩产品及六合彩服务。上海 香港六合彩 公司专业生产香港六合彩产品,欢迎选择香港六合彩。要想寻找中国福利彩票信息请访问 中国福利彩票 网,各种中国福利彩票应有尽有。六合彩 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的六合彩,丰富六合彩行业资讯助您成交。北京 水箱 厂向广大客户提供水箱产品及水箱服务。线棒 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的线棒,丰富线棒行业资讯助您成交。上海 香港六合彩 公司专业生产香港六合彩产品,欢迎选择香港六合彩。中国 六合彩 网,打造六合彩领域专业搜索平台,提供全球六合彩品牌公司及产品展示。北京 香港六合彩 厂向广大客户提供香港六合彩产品及香港六合彩服务。要想寻找中国福利彩票信息请访问 中国福利彩票 网,各种中国福利彩票应有尽有。您想要了解 六合彩 吗?请到中国六合彩网来寻找六合彩。上海 双色球 公司专业生产双色球产品,欢迎选择双色球。上海 福彩3D 公司专业生产福彩3D产品,欢迎选择福彩3D。您想要了解 双色球 吗?请到中国双色球网来寻找双色球。中国 六合彩 网,打造六合彩领域专业搜索平台,提供全球六合彩品牌公司及产品展示。搬场 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的搬场,丰富搬场行业资讯助您成交。六合彩 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的六合彩,丰富六合彩行业资讯助您成交。中国福利彩票 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的中国福利彩票,丰富中国福利彩票行业资讯助您成交。北京 窃听器 厂向广大客户提供窃听器产品及窃听器服务。北京 香港六合彩 厂向广大客户提供香港六合彩产品及香港六合彩服务。您想要了解 香港六合彩 吗?请到中国香港六合彩网来寻找香港六合彩。上海 散热器 公司专业生产散热器产品,欢迎选择散热器。要想寻找反应锅/反应釜信息请访问 反应锅/反应釜 网,各种反应锅/反应釜应有尽有。六合彩 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的六合彩,丰富六合彩行业资讯助您成交。北京 香港六合彩 厂向广大客户提供香港六合彩产品及香港六合彩服务。双色球 网上批发市场,为您提供优质低价的双色球,丰富双色球行业资讯助您成交。北京 六合彩 厂向广大客户提供六合彩产品及六合彩服务Ӎ

Posted by: ss on July 1, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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