Monday, June 23, 2014

We've Always Been at War with Eastasia / Iraq

Last week, Koch Bros. operative Tyler Cowen wrote an op-ed in the New York Times which made the strange claim that re-invading Iraq would be good for the economy. I am not sure which was more bizarre - his arguing for more war or the spectacle of a Koch shill making a Keynesian economic argument.

Of course, he says it is not Keynesian at all, but a question of national focus. It is kind of like Stu Bykofsky saying that we need another 9-11 to restore our sense of purpose.* But there is no denying that government spending had jump-started and turbo-charged the economy many times in our recent history. World War II pulled us out of the Great Depression. Cold War military spending made our economy hum even when we were not in a hot conflict - hence the term "Cold War." Hot or cold, we were still arming for war and that spending stimulated the economy. And investing in infrastructure like Ike's national highway program had twofold benefits - not only did it operate in the regular Keynesian fashion of lowering unemployment and increasing consumer buying power, it also directly stimulated internal trade by speeding transportation. And, of course, it was a boon for the automobile industry which, in turn, sped suburban construction (along with the G.I. Bill and F.H.A. housing loans). This is to say nothing of all the technological breakthroughs from the arms race and the space race. Al Gore did not invent the Internet; but, in contrast to the claim that it "cannot innovate," government did. Over and over again.

In short, "libertarian" think tank head Tyler Cowen is arguing for big government! It was further proof of my oft made claim that those on right do not actually believe in anything. As I have said before, "Like people who are in love with the idea of being in love, [conservatives] are in love with the idea of having deep beliefs." They just want to belong to a team and have an enemy - the exact details are unimportant. Yes, they love to get into pissing contests about ideological purity, but they are ultimately about feeling harder rather than thinking harder. One example I give in my book: 
For example, during the 2012 GOP presidential primaries, Mitt Romney’s Tea Party-favored rivals attacked how he amassed his great wealth. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry called Romney’s years running Bain Capital “vulture capitalism.” This was odd because conservatives had always called such rhetoric “punishing success.” The irony was not lost on all conservatives. As Charles Krauthammer quipped, “Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO nods approvingly. Michael Moore wonders aloud whether Gingrich has stolen his staff.” Then, Sarah Palin waded into the fray backing Gingrich and Perry. The crowning irony was that these three all objected to Romney because they doubted his conservative convictions. 
Therefore, any allegations of inconsistency or hypocrisy do not bother them. To them, the charge of "hypocrisy" is, like "racist," just an insult that you hurl at your foes. Things like logic or historical context are irrelevant to them. This explains all their ass-backwards analogies, like racists invoking Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks or homophobes making Holocaust references (oblivious to where that pink triangle comes from). Granted, anyone can garble their facts or make an unfortunate comparison. But when a liberal does, they lose stock among other liberals. When a conservative does, it fires up the base. As I write elsewhere in my book:
All negative associations get linked together – even mutually-exclusive ones. As humorist Andy Borowitz quipped, “Is Hillary Clinton an evil genius capable of masterminding the most elaborate cover-up in U.S. history? Or is she a frail old woman with brain damage who is incapable of serving as President? The Republicans’ answer: BOTH.” 
Again, it is all about like and dislike. To many conservatives, most nouns are either positively or negatively charged with little meaning beyond that. Yes, they understand the dictionary definitions of those words, but the good or bad association is more important. They grasp that the word “racist” is negative label, so they add it to their verbal arsenal. But there is not much thought about what racism really is or how it works behind their usage. The word is just a rhetorical hand grenade to lob back over the wall. Likewise, they realize that the word “stupid” is an insult and they routinely sling it at scientists, academics, and other accredited experts they disagree with – which is most of them.
The need to be on a team eclipses all else and excuses all else. Read the footnote, if you doubt me. Having a purpose is all important. What that purpose is - or its proven results are - is irrelevant. Hence the right's undeterred desire to re-invade Iraq. Indeed, like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (who they deem insufficiently conservative), they wish to get us into as many Middle Eastern was as possible and then some. If you invented a fictional country, they would want to invade it - because that would "unify us."


* Yes, Stu Bykofsky actually said that. And Fox News host John Gibson was not merely respectful of Bykofsky's position, but callously supportive. Moreover, Glenn Beck agreed when his guest, Michael Scheuer, made the same claim.Wanting another 9-11 is actually a conservative talking point.

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