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Hard Rain Journal 6-27-06: Global Warming, Bush's Alleged "Incompetence," and the So-Called "Conservative" Agenda
By Richard Power
Two great dangers overshadow the current political debate in the US. The first is to over-emphasize the role of George W. Bush, or even the role of Dick Cheney, in all that has befallen the nation. The second is to attribute these woeful circumstances (e.g., the failed occupation of Iraq, the federal deficit, the national debt, the denial of global warming, the contempt for the US Constitution, the fracturing of the Western alliance, the loss of US prestige in the world, the prostitution of the EPA, the dismantling of FEMA, etc.) to incompetence. The Bush-Cheney regime’s record in office is not the result of incompetence, or even criminal negligence. It is the result of a strategy that incorporates both willful destruction and intentional neglect. And Bush-Cheney share this strategy with the Republican leadership in both Houses of Congress. It serves the interests of their chosen allies among the corporate leaders in the energy sector, the defense industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and perhaps most important, the handful of corporations that control the US mainstream news media. It is grounded in the conservative agenda, or more accurately, the perversion of conservatism, which has overtaken the Republican Party. (Some genuine conservative thinkers and former officials have come to this conclusion themselves, notably Kevin Phillips and Paul Craig Roberts.) And worse yet, the money that has flowed to grease the wheels for the implementation of this strategy has also seriously compromised the Democratic Party’s ability to protect the nation’s political traditions, civil values, and institutional memory from attack.
In a brilliant essay, entitled Bush Is Not Incompetent!, George Lakoff, Marc Ettlinger and Sam Ferguson postulate the core beliefs of this dominate faction of the US elite:
“Conservative philosophy has three fundamental tenets: individual initiative, that is, government's positive role in people's lives outside of the military and police should be minimized; the President is the moral authority; and free markets are enough to foster freedom and opportunity.”
Well, that’s the pretty version, the official party line. But the mind-set hidden within it is something ugly: “Wealth and power are good, right and strong, everything else is bad, wrong and weak.”
Although they pay lip service to Creationism, both the Bush-Cheney regime and the Republican leadership, are really champions of Darwinism. But, of course, it is a perverse Darwinism. Their rhetoric implies that “survival of the fittest” is their credo, but in secret, it is really “survival of the fattest.” Although they wrap themselves in garbs of false sanctimony and real religious extremism, they actually, secretly embrace the godless Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness as the fount of all virtue.
Why Does the New Nero Fiddle While the Planet Burns?
Global warming is a national security issue. Peak oil production is at its end. Energy security (i.e., independence) and environmental security (i.e., sustainability) have become synonymous. Why is so much of the political establishment, and so much of the US mainstream news media, in such deep denial?
Some recent news items about global warming and energy security, when viewed as an aggregate offer a stunning illustration of the "conservative" agenda in action (or perhaps more accurately -- in inaction).
Last week, two new studies, one from the National Academy of Science (New Study: All Warming Is Not Created Equal), and one from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) were released (New Study: Global Warming, Not ‘Natural Cycles,’ Played Major Role in 2005 Hurricane Season)
Both studies contributed to the already overwhelming evidence that a) global warming is real, b) it is accelerating at an alarming rate, and c) the human factor is profoundly significant.
But before the week ended, the propaganda was being catapulted at high speed. The Electricity Daily was misrepresenting the National Academy of Science study, and Sen, James Inhofe (R-OK) was misrepresenting the NCAR study.
And who defended the preponderance of scientific evidence from these misrepresentations? Al Gore. (Global Warming Skeptics Engage In Denial And Spin Over New Academy Report; Gore Responds)
Yesterday, the LA Times, to its credit, published an exclusive, (Greenland's Ice Sheet Is Slip-Sliding Away , which delivers the facts on the glacier soon to be ground: “The massive glaciers are deteriorating twice as fast as they were five years ago. If the ice thaws entirely, sea level would rise 21 feet.”
But yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carried a misleading op-ed piece, based on erroneous data, to help refute Gore and the scientific community, and further propagate the false notion that global warming is still the subject of a serious debate. (WSJ Hit Piece on Gore Movie Relies on Grievously Flawed Study)
So what did George W. Bush say when he was asked if global warming was “a real and significant threat” during his press conference yesterday? Did he side with his own government’s studies, or with Electricity Daily, Sen. Inhofe, and the Wall Street Journal? Of course, he said that the issue was still the subject of “debate.” (Bush Ignores Science, Claims ‘There Is A Debate’ Over The Cause of Global Warming)
Why? Incompetence is certainly not the reason. The Bush-Cheney regime knows that global warming is real, the Bush-Cheney regime knows its impact will be devastating. But the short-term priority is to maximize the profits of the oil industry and seize control of as much of the world’s dwindling oil deposits as possible. And in regard to the long-term, in typical “neo-conservative” fashion, they have gamed out global warming, and they have come to the conclusion that the geopolitical implications of depopulation, water shortages, and other extreme conditions will play out well for them, and their real constituents. No, it is not incompetence. It is a deeply disturbed world-view, and Bush-Cheney shares with this deeply disturbed world-view with the Republican leadership in the House and the Senate. Just as there was a faux debate on the occupation of Iraq last week, there is supposed to be one on energy policy this week. And what is the dominant theme on the Republican side of the aisle? Not wind, not solar, not hybrids or flex, not a national Apollo-style initiative for true energy security and independence. No, no, no. Instead, the Republicans will be pushing off-shore drilling.
"Progressives have fallen into a trap"
Here are some excerpts from “Bush is Not Incompetent!":
Progressives have fallen into a trap. Emboldened by President Bush's plummeting approval ratings, progressives increasingly point to Bush's "failures" and label him and his administration as incompetent…..Self-satisfying as this criticism may be, it misses the bigger point. Bush's disasters - Katrina, the Iraq War, the budget deficit - are not so much a testament to his incompetence or a failure of execution. Rather, they are the natural, even inevitable result of his conservative governing philosophy. It is conservatism itself, carried out according to plan, that is at fault. Bush will not be running again, but other conservatives will. His governing philosophy is theirs as well. We should be putting the onus where it belongs, on all conservative office holders and candidates who would lead us off the same cliff….
The mantra of incompetence has been an unfortunate one. The incompetence frame assumes that there was a sound plan, and that the trouble has been in the execution. It turns public debate into a referendum on Bush's management capabilities, and deflects a critique of the impact of his guiding philosophy. It also leaves open the possibility that voters will opt for another radically conservative president in 2008….
Incompetence obscures the real issue. Bush's conservative philosophy is what has damaged this country and it is his philosophy of conservatism that must be rejected, whoever endorses it.
Conservatism itself is the villain that is harming our people, destroying our environment, and weakening our nation. Conservatives are undermining American values through legislation almost every day. This message applies to every conservative bill proposed to Congress. The issue that arises every day is which philosophy of governing should shape our country. It is the issue of our times. Unless conservative philosophy itself is discredited, Conservatives will continue their domination of public discourse, and with it, will continue their domination of politics.
George Lakoff, Marc Ettlinger & Sam Ferguson, Bush Is Not Incompetent!, Rockridge Institute, 6-26-06
Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net
Geopolitics, Global Warming, Energy Security, Environmental Security, Alternate Energy, Sustainability, Renewable Resources, Climate Change, Bush, Cheney, Politics, Politics, , George Lakoff, News Media, Al Gore