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Adventures in Engineering
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-02-12 18:47
  Subject:   [MeFi] The Cult of Dubya.
People who self-identify as "conservatives" and have always been considered conservatives become liberal heathens the moment they dissent, even on the most non-ideological grounds, from a Bush decree. That’s because "conservatism" is now a term used to describe personal loyalty to the leader (just as "liberal" is used to describe disloyalty to that leader), and no longer refers to a set of beliefs about government.

That "conservatism" has come to mean "loyalty to George Bush" is particularly ironic given how truly un-conservative the Administration is. It is not only the obvious (though significant) explosion of deficit spending under this Administration – and that explosion has occurred far beyond military or 9/11-related spending and extends into almost all arenas of domestic programs as well. Far beyond that is the fact that the core, defining attributes of political conservatism could not be any more foreign to the world view of the Bush follower.


As much as any policy prescriptions, conservatism has always been based, more than anything else, on a fundamental distrust of the power of the federal government and a corresponding belief that that power ought to be as restrained as possible, particularly when it comes to its application by the Government to American citizens. It was that deeply rooted distrust that led to conservatives’ vigorous advocacy of states’ rights over centralized power in the federal government, accompanied by demands that the intrusion of the Federal Government in the lives of American citizens be minimized.

Is there anything more antithetical to that ethos than the rabid, power-hungry appetites of Bush followers? There is not an iota of distrust of the Federal Government among them. Quite the contrary. Whereas distrust of the government was quite recently a hallmark of conservatism, expressing distrust of George Bush and the expansive governmental powers he is pursuing subjects one to accusations of being a leftist, subversive loon.

Indeed, as many Bush followers themselves admit, the central belief of the Bush follower's "conservatism" is no longer one that ascribes to a limited federal government -- but is precisely that there ought to be no limits on the powers claimed by Bush precisely because we trust him, and we trust in him absolutely. He wants to protect us and do good. He is not our enemy but our protector. And there is no reason to entertain suspicions or distrust of him or his motives because he is Good.

We need no oversight of the Federal Government’s eavesdropping powers because we trust Bush to eavesdrop in secret for the Good. We need no judicial review of Bush’s decrees regarding who is an "enemy combatant" and who can be detained indefinitely with no due process because we trust Bush to know who is bad and who deserves this. We need no restraints from Congress on Bush’s ability to exercise war powers, even against American citizens on U.S. soil, because we trust Bush to exercise these powers for our own good.

The blind faith placed in the Federal Government, and particularly in our Commander-in-Chief, by the contemporary "conservative" is the very opposite of all that which conservatism has stood for for the last four decades. The anti-government ethos espoused by Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan is wholly unrecognizable in Bush followers, who – at least thus far – have discovered no limits on the powers that ought to be vested in George Bush to enable him to do good on behalf of all of us.

And in that regard, people like Michelle Malkin, John Hinderaker, Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt are not conservatives. They are authoritarian cultists. Their allegiance is not to any principles of government but to strong authority through a single leader.

Well said.

It is, of course, easy to throw this whole "our leader can do no wrong" syndrome back in the face of liberals and say we were that way about Clinton. And perhaps there is a kernel of truth hidden in that somewhere. But I ask you this: If we were that way about Clinton and wrong to be so... then aren't you just as wrong to do the same thing with Dubya now? Or is the situation entirely different when the guy who's screwing over everyone is on your side? Does overwhelming power in fact confer moral correctness?

Dealing with NeoCon cultees always reminds me of Lawrence Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development. Most of these guys, it seems, are not past the "I'm a good little boy, and I do whatever society/the party/daddy tells me to!" stage of development. They feel compelled to do things not because they believe it's right or wrong on principle, but rather because that's what the powerful authority figures say they should be doing. It's a universal human tendency to kowtow to authority, of course. And I think frankly some kinds of people really enjoy it and seek it out. But the extreme, utterly blind, completely unthinking, cognitively dissonant extent to which some of the NeoCon attack dogs take that tendency is still startling to me, even when I know it's coming.
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Trevor Stone: carmen sandiego
  User: flwyd
  Date: 2006-02-13 05:33 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Keyword:carmen sandiego
Loyalty is far from the top of NeoCon values. The name "neo-conservative" is applied because they are new to conservatism. The movement began among left-leaning influential figures (half of the most prominent NeoCon figures are Jewish). However, they abandoned the Democratic Party because their pro-war international domination program didn't gain much traction there.

And anyone who thinks the current administration is conservative should be reminded that their underlying fiscal policy's official name is "neo-liberal."
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2006-02-13 06:36 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Oh, I agree. Neo-Cons are definitely NOT conservatives! That's kinda the whole point of this piece.
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May 2015