neoconservatism

I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, Republican leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.
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Paul Weyrich, a founding father of the neoconservative movement, explains the impetus behind the voter suppression movement and tells why Republicans don’t want all eligible, registered voters to be able to vote

Weyrich continues to host weekly strategy sessions for the GOP and is the co-founder of conservative ‘think tanks’ such as The Herritage Foundation, The Moral Majority, and the Koch Brothers backed group, ALEC

Consider urban policy as a policy space where [Neoconservatism and Neoliberalism] mix. The anthropologist Neil Smith argues that gentrification has created a “revanchist city,” where the goal is to reclaim the lost frontier of urban spaces from undesirables. This is a mix of creating good economic incentives for developers and desirable citizens while also creating heavily policed zones against undesirables. Public spaces are quasi-privatized through funding and maintenance when they aren’t private spaces with public access obligations. Benches are designed so people can’t sleep on them, public restrooms disappear from public spaces, and privatized parking meters require credit cards to park. Numerous other design choices shift the public sphere away from those at the margins, while extensive police presence claims the remaining spaces.
Neoconservatives

Also called neo-cons, share a post 1960s conservative political philosophy that employs Fox News, talk radio and media manipulation and deception with the goal of radically changing social policy BACK to the repressive pre-1960s days, while also enabling large corporations to take over the world.

On domestic issues, Neocons claim they are for limited government and “free market" solutions. However, when non-interventionist tactics do not yield the result they want, they have no qualms about using government power to garner their desired result. Neocons support the rights of oligarchs and big business monopolies above the individual rights of the people they disapprove of. 

On foreign policy issues, neoconservatives frequently avoid using diplomacy. Neocons tend to participate in nation-building in the attempt to set up desired puppet governments in other countries. They claim to support liberal democracies and human rights abroad, but generally are more than willing to abandon this goal if it won’t create the desired effect. Neocons usually want to use massive military force to solve most international issues despite the fact that very few of them have ever served.

Neocons tend to view the world in binary, good vs evil and us vs them, terms. They are generally upper middle and upper class white people with college educations (ie the stereotypical WASP) but there is also a strong neocon segment among poor whites with little education (ie the stereotypical redneck). Tending to be socially conservative, they often belong to evangelical Protestant Christian churches and often claim to have superior moral values. They love the status-quo. Neoconservative people primarily belong to conservative groups and parties such as the GOP and the NRA. This leads to power struggles in these groups as tradition conservatives, paleoconservative and conservative libertarians (all sharing similar values) fight the neocons for control and to be the face of the group.

Neocon (shorter version): A person who practices hedonism in their personal life, but demands “personal responsibility” for others who are less wealthy or not politically connected. Neocons often abuse drugs and alcohol, but want to spend $37,000/year of taxpayer money to ruin the lives of poorer people who do the same. Normally a chicken hawk, neocons advocate the use of military force although most have never served in the military. neoconservative policies: privatization of everything, privatization of healthcare, NO free public education, no separation of church and state, one government approved religion, vouchers instead of free / public education, repealing the voting rights act, creationism instead of evolution taught in schools, voter suppression, needless voter ID laws, no free school lunches for kids, no violence against women’s act, no equal pay for women laws, no teacher’s unions, no labor unions, no universal healthcare, no minimum wage AT ALL, vouchers for social security, no Wall St reform, ***CORPORATE PERSONHOOD*** no meals on wheels for the elderly, no marriage equality, no de-criminalization of marijuana, no taxes for millionaires, and absolutely positively NO gun law reforms. (h/t urbandictionary)  

The ‘Credibility’ Con Game”, Daniel Larison, The American Conservative, 7 January 2015:

The “credibility” argument is almost exclusively used by foreign policy hawks, and they pay no attention to negative international reactions to U.S. behavior that contradict their assumptions about “credibility.” If other states react to provocative and confrontational policies by becoming more assertive in their respective regions, hawks interpret that as proof of the other states’ inherent aggressiveness and “expansionist” tendencies.

Hawks usually don’t accept that adverse responses that directly follow U.S. actions have any connection to U.S. policies, but any development that happens to take place after the U.S. “fails” to “act” somewhere is preposterously traced back to the moment of “inaction.” Thus the U.S. is blamed for somehow “causing” unrelated events in one part of the world by choosing not to do something in an entirely different part, but it is excused from responsibility for the direct negative consequences of whatever it has actually done. That’s because the only thing that jeopardizes “credibility” in their eyes is “inaction” (i.e., not attacking or threatening to attack someone), and adverse consequences of “action” (e.g., expanding alliances, invading/bombing/occupying other countries) are ignored or spun as the result of later “weakness.” The appeal to “credibility” is the bludgeon that hawks employ when the case for their preferred “action” is extremely weak, which is quite often. That bludgeon would have much less effect if more people recognized that the “credibility” argument is entirely without merit.

Photo: The Shaggy DA, John Bolton

War hawk John Bolton is adamantly opposed to any cuts to the Defense Department’s budget, or military spending in general. In fact, he thinks the U.S. should spend more. Bolton recently argued that in order to put more in the Pentagon’s coffers, Congressshould take funds from Social Security and Medicare.

On Fox News last night, Bolton cheered Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s — so far evidence-free — claim that further cuts in military spending would be “devastating.” “We have been under spending on defense. We should be spending more,” Bolton said, adding that the U.S. should be directing those additional funds toward weapons and “force levels around the world.” Yet Bolton does see an area where the military can trim the fat: veterans’ health care and retirement benefits:

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: Nobody is talking about monitoring these contractors to see where our money is going. That’s the thing that is stunning. We’re talking about how much we need. But we are not doing anything it seems to make sure we really need it.

BOLTON: We should be. Look, there’s fraud and waste in the defense budget, of course there is.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why doesn’t anybody talk about that?

BOLTON: That’s part of the government. I think we can do more in military health care for example, to cut costs there, in the retirement system

Good to know that Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has the backing of the dipshits that started this mess. And Hillary Clinton as well.

This article is a bit long (at least by our attention-deficit standards), and much of it consists of political (and to a lesser extent, religious) autobiography, but to good effect; namely, a succinct and sweeping picture of the wreckage of conservatism, or at least the type of conservatism that would move a person to write something like this:

“No international bureaucracy, much less a single nation, however powerful and idealistic, can substitute itself for the healthy nationalism of an alien people. Almost everyone agrees, for instance, that Saddam Hussein is bad for his country. But can Americans be better Iraqis than Iraqis themselves, or presume to tell the Chinese how to be better Chinese? If we try, we can only be poorer Americans.”

Even as they castigate Mr. Obama, the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver’s seat of American foreign policy. To be sure, the careers and reputations of the older generation of neocons — Paul D. Wolfowitz, L. Paul Bremer III, Douglas J. Feith, Richard N. Perle — are permanently buried in the sands of Iraq.

But others appear to envisage a different direction — one that might allow them to restore the neocon brand, at a time when their erstwhile home in the Republican Party is turning away from its traditional interventionist foreign policy.

And the thing is, these neocons have a point. Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq war; supported sending arms to Syrian rebels; likened Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to Adolf Hitler; wholeheartedly backs Israel; and stresses the importance of promoting democracy.

It’s easy to imagine Mrs. Clinton’s making room for the neocons in her administration. No one could charge her with being weak on national security with the likes of Robert Kagan on board.

Of course, the neocons’ latest change in tack is not just about intellectual affinity. Their longtime home, the Republican Party, where presidents and candidates from Reagan to Senator John McCain of Arizona supported large militaries and aggressive foreign policies, may well nominate for president Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has been beating an ever louder drum against American involvement abroad.

In response, Mark Salter, a former chief of staff to Senator McCain and a neocon fellow traveler, said that in the event of a Paul nomination, “Republican voters seriously concerned with national security would have no responsible recourse” but to support Mrs. Clinton for the presidency.

I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy… If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.
— 

Neoconservative pundit and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century Robert Kagan, on Hillary Clinton’s possible 2016 presidential run

this is from the same NYTimes piece where the paper (accurately) described Hillary as "the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes".

youtube

Adam Curtis - The Power of Nightmares

In six parts on Youtube, must watch. From the ending:

This story began over thirty years ago, as the dream that politics could create a better world began to fell apart. Out of that collapse came two groups: the Islamists, and the Neoconservatives. Looking back, we can now see that these groups were the last political idealists, who in an age of growing disillusion, tried to reassert the inspirational power of political visions that would give meaning to people’s lives. But both have failed in their attempts to transform the world, and instead, together, they have created today’s strange fantasy of fear, which politicians have seized on. Because in an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power.

In the society that believes in nothing, fear becomes the only agenda. Whilst the twentieth century was dominated between a conflict between a free market right and a socialist left, even though both of those outlooks had their limitations and their problems, at least they believed in something. Whereas what we are seeing now is a society that believes in nothing. And a society that believes in nothing is particularly frightened by people who believe in anything, and therefore we label those people as “fundamentalists” or “fanatics”, and they have much greater purchase in terms of the fear that they instil in society than they truly deserve. But that’s a measure of how much we have become isolated and atomized, rather than of their inherent strength.

But the fear will not last, and just as the dreams that politicians once promised turned out to be illusions, so too will the nightmares. And then, our politicians will have to face the fact that they have no visions, either good, or bad, to offer us any longer. 

G

When we think about the transition from feudalism to capitalism, we take the long view – we scan the four centuries from 1400 to 1800, looking for signs of fundamental but incremental change. To be sure, we assume that the great bourgeois revolutions of the seventeeth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries were both symptoms and causes of this transition; in that sense, we proceed in our thinking as if capitalism were created by social movements, political activism, ideological extremism. Still, we know these early modern movements can’t be compared to the communist parties that created state socialism in twentieth-century Russia, China, and Cuba, because in these more recent instances, self-conscious revolutionaries organized workers and peasants to overthrow capitalism and create socialism.

In the mid seventeeth century, John Milton, John Lilburn, and Gerrard Winstanley clearly understood that they were overthrowing something, but they didn’t know they were creating the conditions of capitalism; neither did Thomas Paine a century later, as he made his way from the American to the French Revolution, from Common Sense to The Rights of Man. Not even Maximilien Robespierre, the mastermind of the Terror, was prophet enough to see this improbable future. And when Theodore Weld, Angelina Grimke, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln set out to overthrow slavery, they didn’t know they were making “The Last Capitalist Revolution,” as Barrington Moore, Jr. called it in Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (1966).

In short, capitalism was the unintended consequence of bourgeois revolutions, whereas socialism has been the avowed purpose, or at least a crucial component, of every revolution since 1911. This difference has become so important that when we think about the transition from capitalism to socialism, we take the short view: we look for ideological extremes, social movements, vanguard parties, self-conscious revolutionaries, radical dissenters, armed struggles, extra-legal methods, political convulsions – as if the coming of socialism requires the abolition of capitalism by cataclysm, by insurgent, militant mass movements dedicated to that purpose. As a result, we keep asking Werner Sombart’s leading question, “Why Is There No Socialism in the United States?” And we keep answering defensively, on our way to an apology. [read]

What Would You Do?

What’s the swiftest way to unite America behind President Barack Obama?

If you guessed “Have foreign troops invade the United States, kill civilians without consequence, and install a puppet government,” touché to you. Despite the obvious truth behind the idea that our “President” is an atheist Muslim seeking to force secularism on our society, nothing would bring Americans together quite like a foreign army on our soil.

Better yet, imagine that the invading troops captured and killed our President. Imagine they forced our government into exile and handed power to corrupt thugs. What would you do in response?

It’s been over ten years since the United States invaded Afghanistan. We crushed the Taliban, swept through Al-Qaida training camps, and declared democracy to be on the way.

We’ve spent over a decade seeking to spread our love of pluralistic democracy into southwest Asia. Women should receive educations, tolerance should be encouraged, and democracy will make the Afghan people more like us. Right?

Look, this isn’t a diatribe against cultural imperialism from the “West”. Stack any other major value system against our own and let the better win the day. Ours will prevail over time.

It won’t prevail simply because we kill enough brown people. Put yourself in the shoes of an Afghan of your own age. No matter how appealing the culture or affluence of an invading force, you would hate the soldiers who killed your neighbors and family. You would despise a nation that found nothing problematic about killing civilians in order to accomplish objectives. You would loathe a nation that would criticize its leader for apologizing when soldiers desecrated copies of the Holy Bible.

In the most pragmatic sense, the United States is doing itself no good by remaining in Afghanistan. Our presence gives credence to the most extreme organizations in the nation. Collateral damage from our military operations breeds future terrorists. The puppets we’ve installed in Kabul bleed the wealth we have attempted to seed in this poor nation.

Ignore the conspiracy talk and focus on the results. No matter why we’re there, our continued presence in Afghanistan does us no favors. It’s time to go. It’s the right thing to do.

What if realists were in charge of U.S. foreign policy? | Stephen M. Walt
foreignpolicy.com

Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. foreign policy has been largely run by a coalition of neoconservatives and liberal internationalists. Both groups favor a highly activist foreign policy intended to spread democracy, defend human rights, prevent proliferation, and maintain American dominance, by force if necessary. Both groups are intensely hostile to so-called “rogue states,” comfortable using American power to coerce or overthrow weaker powers, and convinced that America’s power and political virtues entitle it to lead the world. The main difference between the two groups is that neoconservatives are hostile to international institutions like the United Nations (which they see as a constraint on America’s freedom of action), whereas liberal interventionists believe these institutions can be an important adjunct to American power. Thus, liberal interventionists are just “kinder, gentler neocons,” while neocons just “liberal interventionists on steroids.”

An excellent overview of differences in policy orientation between realism, liberal internationalism, and neoconservatism.

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"The revolutionaries soon found that the  masses did not rise up and follow them. The regimes stayed in power, and the radical Islamists were hunted down. Faced by this, the Islamists widened their terror. Their logic was brutal: it was not just those who were involved with politics who should be killed, but the ordinary people who supported it. Their refusal to rise up showed that they too had become corrupted, and so had condememd themselves to death."