Neo-conservatism: that radical and warped vision

March 29, 2007

…neoconservatism — which is really what the right-wing pro-Bush movement has become — […] touts a radical and authoritarian nanny-statism that seeks, at its core, to provide feelings of protection, safety, and moralistic clarity — “security leads to freedom” — all delivered by political leaders using ever-increasing federal government power and limitless militarism. Whether one believes in that radical and warped vision of the American federal government is, more than any other factor, what now determines one’s political orientation.

Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com

I really don’t know if it’s fair or accurate to say that this is the axis upon which the entire American political spectrum now turns, but I definitely have seen this ideology at work among many conservative bloggers. Their otherwise unwavering concern about the potential abuse of government power miraculously disappears when the word terrorism is used.


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  1. I wouldn’t say disappears, at least not in my case. But I do sublimate it somewhat. I, personally, am much more likely to be affected by the government banning trans fat in foods than I am by the government having access to my library records. That doesn’t mean I don’t care that they do. It’s that I don’t read any books that, to my knowledge, would raise a flag with the government. And if it did, I would trust the courts to sort it out. My attitude is let them waste their time pouring over them if they think they’re going to find something.

    The other aspect is that just as some feel that the government banning trans fats outweighs the invasion of privacy, I find that the benefit of possibly capturing some terrorists before they wreak havoc on our nation again outweighs the small invasion of privacy as probably 99.99% of all phone conversations would be innocuous.

  2. You think New York City passing a law about french fry oil is on the same scale as the Bush white house announcing that it doesn’t need to obey congress’s laws about getting warrants to surveil us?

  3. And that abuse has been proven where? Yes, I know Bush admitted to authorizing eavesdropping on several occassions. He also said he did it in full compliance of his authority. It has yet to be proven otherwise. The one difference between the trans fat ban and the eavesdropping witch hunt? The trans fat ban has affected more people directly than the eavesdropping program has! Yuk yuk.

  4. In a way, yes. I like french fries, so banning french fry oil would be something I would see as infringing on what I can or can’t do. I’m not breaking any laws, so whether the government checks my library reading is not something I’m worried about. It doesn’t affect what I can or can’t do.

    Does this mean I’m not concerned about it? No. I like people only knowing what I want them to know about me, and the less the better. When someone asks for my SS number they better have a good reason. I rarely even give my zip code at the checkouts that ask. I don’t like the government’s reach, but I’m not doing anything wrong, so I don’t worry about it. Let those who are doing wrong do the worrying.

  5. Jimi, I didn’t explicitly weigh in on whether or not the president has the legitimate authority to do so or not, so I have nothing to “prove”; I simply pointed out that he says he doesn’t need to follow congress’s law explicitly stating that he must have a warrant to surveil us. As far as I know, that’s not a contested fact.

    Dean, as far as I know the differences between the banned oil and the rest of them are these:

    trans-fat (banned) all other oils
    is very bad for your health isn’t so bad, varies

    is artificially created occurs naturally

    is convenient because it stays is liquid at room temperature
    solid at room temperature

    So the idea that we’re all going to go on some sort of low-fat, no-french fry, joyless diet is absurd. You won’t know the difference between this oil and another one – excepting maybe a slight increase in cost, as they are harder to handle and transport and preserve. Oh, and they won’t kill you as fast.

    Be that as it may, I’m prepared to entertain the idea that NYC has overstepped it’s bounds. Really. I think that’s a possibility. But it in no way is even remotely on the scale of the other things I’m talking about.

    I’m not doing anything wrong, so I don’t worry about it. Let those who are doing wrong do the worrying.

    That’s the appropriate response. What is extra-worrisome, however, is the fact that there isn’t any oversight. Much of this surveillance is being done without standard judicial oversight. Therefore we don’t know that it’s limited to justifiably suspicious persons, nor do we know that it’s looking for criminal activity. That’s the whole point of oversight – someone is independently guaranteeing that it’s being done for justifiable reasons. It’s what makes us say “I’m not doing anything wrong, so what do I care?” You don’t know this surveillance is being targeted on people who are doing something wrong, nor do you know that it’s seeking out criminal behavior.

    And whether it is or isn’t being misused at this precise moment in time, isn’t even the whole point: it could be misused at any time in the future if we let this stand.

    You trust the courts to sort it out if you’re falsely accused? I wonder if you’d feel the same way after a couple of years in camp x-ray.

  6. Well, pick something else then. My point is not the specific item. My point is that proponents of “nanny statism” (and there are just as many Republicans as Democrats that fit into this) feel as though they need to protect me from myself, that I can’t make decisions like whether to use trans fat or not based on information, I have to be legislated into not using it.

    I haven’t researched camp “x-ray” but I suspect that, with I’ve experienced, I have little to fear.

    If there is no oversight, how do we know so much about it?

  7. Yes, everyone has their own idea about the proper role of government in our lives, that’s true. The point of Greenwald’s article, though, is that a) the idea that Republicans are about “less government intrusion” is false, and b) their particular intrusions seem to be mostly about consolidating power in the executive and “endless militarism,” fueled by fear of a nebulous enemy in a war with no end.

    The left’s idea of the proper role of government seems to be providing health insurance for all citizens through taxes like everyone else does, and occasionally telling restaurants that they can’t use artificial fat because it’s really bad for you.

  8. I’m glad you returned to the point of Greenwald’s article and yes Republicans believe in less government intrusion or stated as “the government that governs least governs best” from our history books. Scott, you’re very good at finding articles that like to classify conservatives into one group or mindset; in this case, the catchy title neo-conservatism. Are there “neo-liberals” out there that seem to take exception or an opposite stand to any conservative idea, whether right or wrong? Fringe neo-elements exist in both directions, but most people are in between and have a tendency to lean one way or the other. Outlawing transfat in New York is a local issue, not Bush big government, just like the outlawing of goose liver in a highly Democratic Chicago. Let’s not confuse local politics and isolated examples of local government intrusion with constitutionally supported actions. In your eyes, Bush is “consolidating power in the executive” while many others view him as exercising his constitutionally guaranteed power. You view it as “endless militarism, again many others view as a controlled or even insufficient response to an enemy. I could make the case, based on past history, that Democrats are the true militaristic party: WW1 (Woodrow Wilson), WWII (Roosevelt, Truman), Korean War (Truman, Eisenhower), Vietnam (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon), Gulf War (Bush). In terms of troop commitment, military assets and casualties, the Iraq war is small as compared to the others. How can you logically say that Bush is militaristic? If anything, he has highly restrained his responses in comparison to his constitutional options and authority to deploy the full power of the US military. It really appears that the Democrats are the true war mongers, having entered the US into the largest and most costly wars (money and casualties) in US history. We’re all these wars really necessary from an enemy across an ocean that never set foot on the US mainland. The answer was YES, since they would eventually reach our shores if not stopped. Was this “fear of a nebulous enemy” or good strategic thinking followed by action? On 9/11, your “nebulous enemy” attacked mainland America, Japan only went as far as a US territory 2000 miles from the west coast, yet the military response at that time eclipsed our response in Iraq. Whether WMDs existed or not, it has been documented that Al Qaeda had training camps in Iraq supported by a fellow Sunni Arab, Hussein. The REAL enemy existed and trained in Iraq. Good enough reason in the past to attack a country that was harboring your enemy, what is the problem now? Could it be a Democratic party that is so hell bent on the White House that they will do or say anything to oppose Bush too the detriment of the war and this nation. Based on past history, current military strategy and plain common sense, I can not figure out how the Democrats come up with some of the proposals they are pushing without realizing the negative ramifications – or is it the “White House at any cost”, also called neo-liberalism.

  9. Scott, you’re very good at finding articles that like to classify conservatives into one group or mindset;

    If you look again you’ll notice that the very first thing I said was that it was probably unfair and inaccurate to say that all conservatives are like this.

    On 9/11, your “nebulous enemy” attacked mainland America

    Would that be the same enemy as the one which caused us to invade Iraq? Yeah, nothing nebulous about that!

    The REAL enemy existed and trained in Iraq.

    You’d better alert the 9/11 commission! After months of exhaustive investigation those dopes still are under the impression that there was “no collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda. Thank goodness you have access to better information than they did.

  10. As far as the 9/11 commission being the “definitive” final word, check the following link: http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/politics_conservative/118035

    I can supply many more links that discuss the “careful wording” of the 9/11 commission concerning an Iraq – Al Qaeda connection, but your blog rejects multiple links in a response. The following is from one of those links:

    The conventional wisdom that al Qaeda and Saddam’s Iraq were not allied or cooperating was buttressed by the preliminary, tentatively and carefully worded conclusion of the 9/11 Commission’s that it could find evidence of no “collaborative operational relationship” between the two. However, as is want with media shorthand the headlines became, “9/11 panel sees no link between Iraq, al-Qaida.”

    Additional consideration of the evidence included in the 9/11 Commission Report plus the availability of new evidence that has come to light since the liberation of Iraq paint a picture of a level of cooperation between Iraq and al Qaeda that may have indeed endangered US security. This does not mean that Iraq Intelligence was operationally involved in the specific events of September 11. This straw man claim has never been made. However, it does mean that the level of cooperation and contacts of Saddam’s Iraq and Al Qaeda were sufficient that it would be irresponsible to ignore or dismiss it as insubstantial.

    This particular article goes on in detail about the significant connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda

  11. Yes, I’m aware that august news sources such as suite101.com have a contrary view, but I hope you’ll forgive me if I go with the 9/11 commission report, it’s “careful wording” notwithstanding.

  12. HEllo. Just added your link here.

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