11 November 2015

Dissensions Within the Conservative Mafia and the Mainstreaming of the Fringe

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/06/us/politics/george-bush-swings-at-sons-aides-rattling-clan.html?_r=0

Despite the media hype this information is not new. This has been known for many years and others have written about it. The rift is real and yet from an outsider's perspective it's somewhat superficial.

It's the Carlyle Group/Country Club Realpolitik style of Republicans who are committed to Global Capitalism and a Cosmopolitan version of Empire vs. the Neo-Conservative quasi-Fascist faction that also is able to incorporate a host of Nativist, Evangelical Zionist and Secular Likud-type Israelis.

Both are committed to Empire. The debate is over its nature and how to build and maintain it.

The one group understands the world is extremely complex and more so today than it was thirty years ago. They take a grand view of coherence, relating the thousands of dots, the various 'points of light' as it were. The nature of power and rule arise out of that, almost transcendently. In another sense, they take the world as it is, and build their power on the basis of that reality.

The other group believes in raw power, that the world must be forced and coerced to conform and correspond to their view of reality. They are quite willing to overtly and aggressively kill and destroy in order to meet their goals. In another sense they are slaves to an idea. The idea reigns supreme and all facts must be forced to cohere with that idea and woe unto anyone who gets in the way.

This division is also playing out in the Republican Party as it continues its internal struggle and move to the Right.

I was struck by this recently as a commentator pointed out that the newly anointed Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is now being presented as a compromise, something of a moderate that was Right enough for the Freedom Caucus (Neo- Tea Party) to acquiesce and accept in.

In truth they don't like him but the dissimulation was growing to such a level that the media was starting to peer inside the Republican closet. They caved and accepted him. Time will tell the telos of the new arrangement.

And yet in just 2011, Ryan was viewed as an extremist. Romney picked him in order to throw a bone at the Tea Party wing. Romney was too much of the Country Club style of Republican. Picking Ryan was a move to put a hard Right persona on the ticket.

Just four years later Ryan is a moderate.

The country is becoming dangerously polarized. For years Americans have laughed at parliamentary bodies in other lands. They laugh at the bombast and sometimes even the violence that takes place on the floor. They've forgotten their own history and some of the violence that took place in the years leading up to 1861.

It will be showing up again and perhaps sooner than we think. That doesn't mean Civil War is right around the corner but it's starting to loom on the horizon. Sumner was 'caned' on the Senate floor in 1856. Of course Kansas and Missouri were already shedding blood at the time. It's a harbinger of trouble. We caught a hint of it in 2009 when Joe Wilson broke with protocol and shouted an insult at the president. It rattled people and was quickly quashed. Our legislatures and society are like a pressure cooker and someone just turned the switch to 'high'.

George HW Bush, who also must be labeled a thief and murderer is upset because the empire he laboured all his life to build, the Establishment of which his family has been a part for many generations is morphing and moving into a degenerate and volatile stage. Read the history of Rome. It's all there. Things move a little faster these days so that sometimes men live long enough to see the next chapter. It must be a bitter pill for them to swallow.

And yet HW Bush is also a hypocrite. He knows things have moved. He knows Nixon and Reagan would be considered too liberal today, he included. He was RNC chairman in the mid-70's. And that was after he was ambassador the UN. He knows about the struggles in the party over Idealism vs. Realpolitik. He knows about the anger that ensued when Nixon reached out to China. He was Ford's envoy to Beijing. He directed the CIA during the Church Committee fallout. He knows all about the breaking of Executive Power and the shifts and tumult that were taking place in the Republican Party. He knew what Reagan represented and didn't like it, but joined the ticket anyway... because Reagan needed him and Bush wanted to keep climbing.

He knew about Rumsfeld and Cheney back then. They were already scheming during the Ford years. He knew about the secret semi-privatised government that was forming in the wake of Watergate and the CIA scandals. He knew about the call to return to the Unitary Executive and knew that Reagan represented the people behind that notion. Iran-Contra provided into glimpse into that mindset. As president, he helped finish the cover-up and pardoned many of the key players. Look into Bush's connections with Amiram Nir who had briefed Bush on the details, that is if you believe he didn't already know about them.

He knew about these things and continued to function within the system, even picking Cheney to be his Defense Secretary. Granted this took place after Tower's rejection by the senate which is in itself an interesting if not mysterious affair. Nevertheless Bush knows the political game and how to play the factions off against each other.

The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the USSR represented the triumph of US Imperialism. The fact that the post-Cold War victory lap and geopolitical honeymoon period coincided with the Clinton Administration placed the perceived 'victory' in danger. GHW Bush is one of those men that lives in a bubble and has no understanding of what's happening at the grass roots level. There was a great deal of angst in policy circles. He was surrounded by enemies in conservative circles where even his support was somewhat lackluster. Not everyone appreciated his restraint in the final days of the Cold War. Finally the shoddy economy and his broken promises brought his term to an end.

Though Clinton's ascendancy was in a sense disastrous for Neo-Conservative aims, in another sense it allowed them to build their support while spreading fear and anger. Many seem to have forgotten the angst of the 1990's. All of this bore fruit in 2000 when they elected a malleable buffoon into the White House. It was darkly ironic that their tool just happened to be the son of a politician they all but despised. They used his name, pedigree, and connections. Politically speaking GW Bush is an excellent omnibus candidate. He's one of the rare few that can straddle the world of the Establishment Elite and Working Class conservatives and Nativists. And the fact that he happened to resonate with Evangelicals made him even more appealing. He was the perfect candidate and the Neo-Conservative faction used him to get into power.

How proud GHW Bush must been in 1994 to see his boys win the governorships of two of most important states in the country. And yet it's clear he was worrying about George W. running for the presidency. He knew of his son's ignorance and lack of qualification and did what he could to help. Is it a stretch to believe that in his mind, his simple but well-meaning son was taken advantage of by men who have a crude if not one-dimensional understanding of the world and represented a danger to its stability?

The fruits of Reaganomics and its related and certainly anti-liberal sequel Clintonomics had also devastated segments of the middle class. The blue collar segment was nothing short of devastated and knocked down (harshly) into the lower class. All of these factors and many more aided the shift in the Republican Party. Rather than blame Capitalism, the blue collar Nativist types blamed Globalization which was somehow perceived as internationalist and therefore liberal and subversive. The Republican elites knew better and were profiting handsomely from the transition but they were happy to harness the anger and cash in on the political capital. Talk radio did its part to help propagandize the ignorant masses of scared and bitter white Americans.

The moral shifts and their rapid tempo created a near hysteria in Christian Right-wing circles. Bush has never understood this mindset and impulse. He knew his son was being used but he apparently continues to fail to appreciate and understand the nature of the shift in Right-wing circles.

Or, to stand in Neo-Conservative shoes for a moment, is it GHW Bush who has the simple view? Is it he that's detached and doesn't realize that if things were to go on as they were then the American Empire would have grown weak in the face of an ascendant EU and China? Russia's (supposed) rise would have been unchallengeable. And the US would have quickly slipped into the status a mere power in a multi-polar world. Civil unrest and economic catastrophe would have ensued. So in the dog-eat-dog world of the Neo-Con, America had to strike to take what belonged to it and to make sure others could not acquire what they need to grow. It's a zero-sum game and thus a fight to the death.

In the Neo-Conservative imperial calculus all wars are ultimately pre-emptive. The world is a chessboard and you have to block your opponents long before they make their move. A war today prevents two wars tomorrow. Of course their opponents argue that a war today guarantees two wars tomorrow.

To the Neo-Conservatives the old Realpolitik only works in a world of gentleman's war and conflict that follows the rules. To them in order to survive you must have a defined goal and strategy and then aggressively make the world fit that reality.

Christians are all over the spectrum on these points and yet the Christianity of Scripture allows us to step back and view these 'outsiders' for what they are... beasts, monsters, and scheming demons.

They're all bound for the same destiny as the master they serve.

While the GHW Bush/James Baker/Kissinger school seems more benign, in reality they're just a bit more sophisticated and detached. They are no less evil. They are like mafia dons who smile and shake hands while giving a discreet nod to an underling.

The Neoconservatives are hit men and caporegimes. They're not as subtle. They're blunt and crude. They're generals and tacticians, not philosopher-kings or diplomats.

But in the end, what's the difference?

They're all imperialists. They all serve the profit-system and depend on armies and police to protect their interests. They're all thieves, liars and murderers. Was Speer better than Goebbels? Perhaps, but that doesn't mean Speer was somehow worthy of respect. He was just a bit more nuanced and had better instincts.

1 comment:

  1. Now Ryan as SotH has moved from being a moderate to being the new John Boehner. The GOP continues to destroy itself. They're at their zenith in one sense. They have more federal power than they did under Bush and due to their schemes they've grabbed a multitude of governorships and state assemblies. And yet the extremist fringe has made it so that they cannot govern.

    If they don't repeal the ACA (Obamacare) a huge portion of the base will turn against them. And of course when Trump isn't able to re-create 1950s industrialisation and prosperity, what then?

    The test will be... can he convince them he's been successful?

    Of course it's still unclear as to what exactly is going to happen to his administration.

    But I know this... Paul Ryan was sitting alone in a room last night asking himself, "How did this happen?"

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