Facing Three Great Divides, Part 1
A Three Part Series
By: C. Norman Farley PhD
“As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression.
In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains
seemingly unchanged. And it is in such a twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”
Justice William O. Douglas
Americans are all aware that society is currently being turned upside down and inside out by a financial tsunami. Those who still enjoy the comfort of both a job and a home have cause to be doubly thankful. The Congressional Oversight Panel reports that
“An estimated ten percent of residential homeowners currently face foreclosure or have fallen behind on their monthly mortgage payments, a number ten times higher than historic foreclosure levels. . . Stabilizing the housing market will not solve the economic crisis, but the economic crisis cannot be solved without first stabilizing the housing market.”
The economic devastation of the Great Depression of the (1930’s) is difficult for us to imagine. . . . ”Salaries dropped 40% from 1929-1932, . . .Dividends fell 56%. The unemployment rate was about 25% in ’32. In Buffalo, unemployment was 31%. . .”
By the end of 1933 more than 5000 banks had failed. Today there are cities experiencing 17% unemployment and in Elkhart County, Indiana the unemployment rate is 18.3% and nationwide it is in the double digits. The jobless, homeless, and the populace are rising in anger to the greed and bonuses of Wall Street, bankers and AIG. There is one significant difference however, between the Great depression and the current recession/depression. In the 1930’s the United States was still largely agrarian and isolated. Today, however, our society is consumer/credit and global in orientation. This means that the economic downturn and resulting stock/bank/home and insurance crisis creates a global downturn.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF CHANGE
The precursor of “societal change” is fear. Catastrophic events have been over stimulating for the past eight years. Beginning with 9-11 we proceeded to Afghanistan, then to Iraq, next to Katrina, then the stock market debacle, next the housing tsunami, and finally bank failures which has left our national economy crippled. These events have been played over and over again on talk radio, TV, the internet, and blackberry, building “neuron bundles” in our brain which have translated into a national fear complex. A climate in which rationality can be hijacked and “change” introduced.
The United States is at war – a war that transcends most all conflicts in the last two centuries. This war is being fought, not with enormous armies and weapons of mass destruction, but with total warfare by all other means. . . The targets of their murderous, full-scale, psychological war are the American people. . . America’s founding principles and ideals, including principled individualism and economic freedom are being attacked.
Antonio Gramsci (1891 – 1937) was a diabolical, Italian, Marxist criminal who agreed with Marxism’s ultimate objectives; . . . Gramsci theorized that totalitarianism could best be imposed on any nation, not by violence and brute force, but by a determined march through its institutions; that is, by taking ideological control of its churches, schools, universities, media, entertainment industry, and so forth.
Gramscian strategies are being used “to shape the minds and mold the character of Americans, gaining mastery over human thought and winning cultural control. . . carried out in a series of stages or phases” which follow this pattern:
(1) destabilization and demoralization stage – obliterate founding principles
(2) crisis stage - perpetrating a disaster such as a 9-11 event or economic turmoil -creates a state of generalized fear in which the populace clamors for the government to restore order
(3) normalization stage - accept common good goals
Milton Friedman architect of “deregulation” and the free market “observed that only a crisis – actual or perceived produces real change . . . Friedmanites stockpile free-market ideas . And once a crisis has struck . . .act swiftly, to impose rapid and irreversible change before the crisis - racked society slipped back into the ‘tyranny of the status quo.’”
The fear which accompanies a series of catastrophic events is conducive to the alteration of belief systems. Disaster and crisis produce questioning and anxiety which opens people to suggestibility which are necessary ingredients for change. Thus it is that catastrophic events produce changes in the belief system because they produce sympathetic consideration for new beliefs.
Catastrophic events then are the precursors of “change” (belief systems) economic/political/ and religious. According to the Friedman theory, crisis invites “change;” we should carefully consider the events of the past 8 years to determine the direction that “changes” have headed our nation in.
The Great Divides which will be addressed in these several articles are the divides created by economics, politics and religion. Divide and control is a strategy of many governments just as divide and conquer is a military strategy. We need to ask if citizens fragmented by economic, political and religious divisions are trading their freedoms for the hope of security? Is government accountability being sold? Are we in danger of losing economic, political or religious freedom as a direct result of a lack of core responsibility? Can the American dream of our forefathers which included “liberty and justice for all” still continue? These discussions will be approached in three separate articles.
Until 1970 the question of “morality” was assigned to religion because the populace understood that politics were generally negotiated in a back room filled with cigar smoke.
Recently I read a book by George Lakoff entitled “The Political Mind.” Ordinarily I might have paid less attention being more attuned to issues of brain pathology than brain politics. The book, however, coincided with seminars in neuroscience which I had completed under Drs. Daniel Amen and Daniel Siegel. Lakoff, in brief, disputes the back room concert of politics; instead he states that politics is “moral” business. He admonishes: “Learn to argue powerfully and emotionally from the moral perspective of empathy and responsibility, protection and empowerment, point out that this is the moral basis of our Democracy.”
BIRTH OF THE “MORAL AGENDA”
In the late 1970’s the Moral “Silent” Majority was born. It was made up mostly of Evangelical Christians whose agenda was political lobbying. Their platform was composed of social/moral issues which have caused a deep divide in politics for nearly thirty years. Leaders of the movement understood that good politics speaks more to feelings than reason. Thus the “moral” agenda was born.
The brain has several circuits controlled by chemicals which produce both positive and negative emotions. There are certain words which send a shot of norepinephrine (A neurotransmitter which has adrenaline-like effects) from the oldest part of the brain. Words like “war on terror” or “abortion” are examples and the results are – fear or anger or both. As with the catastrophic events which have bewildered us for the past eight years, the media has built “neuron bundles” in the brain with words so emotionally powerful that they contribute to social and political “change” and are used in the political control of the populace. I didn’t realize how powerful words like “war on terror” and “Gitmo” were until a few months ago. I was riding in a hearse to a burial site and the mortician was driving. It was more than one hours ride so I attempted to engage him in some sort of contemporary conversation. I asked how he felt about Habeas Corpus and “Gitmo.” He became so agitated and verbally violent that he nearly lost control of the hearse. I became so frightened that I believed that I might be joining the passenger in the box in the back. After that question it turned into a long and very silent ride!
Here is a list of moral issues proposed by the Moral Majority in the late 1970’s when the “moral” struggle was first introduced.
• Outlawing abortion
• Opposition to State recognition and acceptance of homosexual acts
• Opposition to the Equal Rights amendment and Strategic Arms limitations
• Enforcement of a traditional version of family life
• Censorship of media outlets that promote an “anti-family”agenda.
The agenda today has become more polarized with the advent of Proposition 8 and stem cell research. But the “moral” agenda has remained rather constant. By the 1980’s the Republican Party became known as the “moral” party and moral issues were routinely used to rally voters when political rhetoric failed. 1980 marked the beginning of the “New Christian Right” (Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Kennedy) and the term Neo Conservative was born. During the 1980 election those supporting moral issues are credited with giving Ronald Reagan 2/3 of the white Evangelical vote. While President Reagan probably would not have embraced the totality of the current Neo Conservative agenda - neo liberalism described his economic policy which stressed free trade, deregulation, tax credits, and the dismantling of social programs. Neo liberalism is an oxymoron since it refers to economic policy not the Liberal party. It will be necessary to recall this when we discuss economic policy and the Liberal party.
It is quite apparent that currently a “moral” basis is involved in the discussion of our Democracy – forced or otherwise. In 1960 John Kennedy made it crystal clear that the “separation of church and state” was a basic principle of our Democracy and that his presidency would answer to no prelate - neither pope nor preacher.
This was in keeping with Article VI of the Constitution which states: “. . . no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”
However, since 1980 “moral” issues have been at the forefront and in the current election both candidates were asked “moral” questions at the Saddleback Church. In the mind of many Christians the answer given to the question of “abortion” separates a Christian from a Secularist. While the government may not impose a the citizens often do so. Many Americans, therefore, through the conditioning of the media have become more attuned to “moral” issues than Constitutional issues.
THE BATTLE FOR THE BRAIN
Humans are all involved in the discovery and creation of meaning. We are also becoming increasingly more aware of brain function. We now know that we look at political life through the “frames” imposed by the development of “bundles of neurons” . . . Lakoff believes that this phenomena accounts for our perception of political reality. He states: “Our brains and minds work to impose a specific understanding of reality and coming to grips with this can be scary, that not everyone understands reality in the same way.”
Over the past 8 years the polarization of the legislature should underscore how separate the political realities actually are. President Obama pulled out every card in his magnetic personality to end this divide. Lakoff’s theory, however, seems to be substantiated by the recent rigid vote of the congress and the crossover of only a few Conservatives in the Senate on the “Stimulus bill” – Republicans and Democrats see thru different “frames.” This accounts for the different perceptions which have always been present in the political process. In fact, it is what accounts for the Conservative and the Liberal parties. Lakoff’s stance however, is more frightening. He further contends that: “What our embodied brains are doing below the level of consciousness affects both our morality and our politics”
He is suggesting that there are powerful unconscious forces which affect both our moral and political decisions - of which we are often unaware. (Freud would be ecstatic) Now if he had just finished his theory at that point we could have found a good therapist – paid our fees – discovered our unconscious - and gone on our merry way. He further contends however, that: “The forms of unconscious reason used in morality and politics are not arbitrary and that we cannot just change our moral and political worldview at will.”
To this John Calvin might respond: see “Politicians are predestined.” It may appear that way especially since the Neo Conservatives captured the Conservative party and Moderates have become a vanishing breed in both parties. The fact is that the brain is “plastic” and capable of change but new neuron pathways first have to be built. We might like to consider just how difficult the process might be by considering how soon Newt Gingrich and Barney Frank are likely to change “frames” and sides of the aisle.
“UNDERSTANDING THE CONSERVATIVE “FRAME” MINDSET
Conservatives and Liberals not only differ on goals and values, they think differently – very differently. In fact, the whole picture of political reality for Conservatives, both economically and socially, operates in a different arena. There is, however, a basic important unconscious underlying issue and it was succinctly stated early on by Rudy Guliani: “Freedom is About Authority.”
The basic foundation and the virtues that both Conservatives and Neo Conservatives cherish “begin with the notion that morality is obedience to authority. . . obedience to legitimate authority requires both personal responsibility and discipline.”
The basic foundation and “frame” for the Conservative mindset is “authority, obedience and discipline.” It is these virtues that until recently have positioned the Conservatives to project themselves as the “moral party.”
The basic foundation and virtues that Liberals espouse are entirely the opposite consisting of “empathy, responsibility, protection and empowerment.” These constitute a whole different agenda so the “frame” which Liberals see the world through is, therefore, entirely different.
THE NEO CONSERVATIVE ECONOMIC PLATFORM
The economic platform preferred by the Neo Conservatives is neo liberalism and upholds free trade, deregulation, and lower taxes. Conservatives, since 1980, have generally worked to dismantle social programs. The ultimate hope of Neo Conservatives however, is to place as much of the burden of social needs and welfare on charitable and religious organizations as possible. This was part of the raison d’etre for the “faith based initiative.”
Deregulation is the process by which the government reduces, removes or simplifies the restrictions placed on businesses and individuals for economic advancement. Deregulation gained momentum in the 1970’s at the University of Chicago and the theories of Ludwig von Mises, Frederick von Hayek and Milton Freedman. . .
The question always arises who bears responsibility for the current economic tsunami?
A little historical review may help to clarify the issue depending on the set of “frames” one looks through. The first comprehensive proposal to “deregulate” originated with Richard Nixon in the 1970’s. The proposal addressed rail and truck transportation (92nd Congress SB 2842). It was also President Nixon who removed the U.S. from the Gold standard thus letting the dollar float. Presidents Ford and Carter both continued “deregulation” and it came full circle under President Reagan. In 1982 President Reagan “deregulated” the Thrift banking industry. While it produced over a trillion dollars in revenue it set in motion the climate for bank deregulation, a precedent which eventually left the banks with little oversight.
President Clinton, steered by Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin, created economic growth by government-supported housing speculation. The Clinton Administration also embraced neo liberalism by pursuing international trade agreements (NAFTA) and neo liberal corporate takeovers of health care in the form of HMO’s and the implementation of “Workfare.”
It should be noted that while President Clinton was the last president to balance the fiscal budget, the forces he and the Fed initiated activated the housing bubble and eventually the stock market bubble. Time proved these “bubbles” to be irreversible. President George Bush continued the policy of Reaganomics and doubled the deficit with war spending in Afghanistan and Iraq. What is important to note is that in trade policy both Liberals and Neo Conservatives often agree that what is of utmost importance is the national interest. . . “here Liberal and Conservative thought coincide”
For instance, both Conservatives and Liberals favor NAFTA. Conservative politicians who pretend they hate “Liberals”, of the political type, have no problem with economic neo liberalism. Conservatives, of course, hold that “deregulation” and “privatization” eliminate government and uphold the “free economy.” Liberals hold that this merely shifts responsibility to the private sector where there is “unbridled profit” without “public accountability. So who, we ask, is responsible for the current financial debacle the nation faces?
Here is a scenario for serious readers to consider: The current crisis is 7 fold: “Deregulation” which began with Nixon was expanded to Bank “deregulation” by Ronald Reagan (deregulation eventually evolved into bank derivatives - gambling): Deregulation was supported by Alan Greenspan (which resulted in ARMS – and eventually led to the stock market bubble.) The Housing Bubble, created by Bill Clinton (was made possible by deregulation and joined to ARMS). Freddie Mack and Fannie May were supported by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd (supported loans to the unqualified and joined to ARMS – made possible by “deregulation”) Consumer Greed (credit card and housing deficits) and finally a questionable War creating record shattering deficits complete the “failure formula.” Thomas E. Woods in his book Meltdown says the true culprits are: “gutless politicians, greedy lobbyists, and the Federal Reserve System. He believes it was the Fed – not the free market that allowed ambitious bureaucrats and politicians to pull the strings of our financial sector, manipulate the value of money, and plunge our economy into crisis”
Here is the reason Woods primarily points the finger at the Fed. “ After the 1998 collapse of Long Term Capital Management . . . calls for tighter regulations on derivatives (were) led by a former Wall Street attorney named Brooksley Born . . . but strong opposition to the proposal from then – Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and senior Clinton administration officials sank the idea. On Dec. 21, 2000 President Clinton signed into law the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which further eased restrictions on derivatives like credit default swaps.”
Woods, in essence, lays the larger part of blame at the feet of the Federal Reserve not the “free market.” It was also Alan Greenspan who recommended to the Credit Union National Association that Americans might benefit if lenders provided more mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage. From this program “deregulation” permitted “the pay option amortization adjustable rate mortgage” (ARMS). This is the program which allowed homebuyers who could not afford a loan to obtain one and pay only part of the interest each month. The unpaid interest was then added to the principal. Thousands of these loans were pooled, carved up and sold nationally and internationally - and many with a triple A rating. To his credit, Greenspan tried to slow the stock market bubble but was overwhelmed by “deregulation” (which he supported) and the Clinton housing bubble and ARMS to which he yielded.
Finally, we discover that “The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg to disclose the recipients of more than 2 Trillion of emergency loans from the U.S. taxpayers. . . The Fed responded Dec. 8, saying it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information. . .”
Bloomberg reports that Alan Greenspan rose to his own defense by stating that it is not his fault that the world economy is in a mess. Greenspan stated: “ Given the decoupling of monetary policy from long term mortgage rates, accelerating the path of monetary tightening that the fed pursued in 2004 – 2005 could not have prevented the housing bubble.”
Greenberg failed, however to mention that he blinked at the derivative debacle in which banks bundled mortgages then used them as gambling collateral - but first banks insured them with AIG thus guarantying a double loss at the very minimum. Warren Buffet found a unique way of describing the current financial tsunami. He said “It’s only when the tide goes out that you discover who’s been swimming naked.” The fact is we are at low tide and this has give us a unique opportunity to view how human nature affects both economics and politics. It also appears that we have answered one of the questions we asked up front – Is government accountability being sold? The answer is absolutely. The blame game and hunt for a “victim” will continue. Was it Greenspan – yes, is it Paulson – yes, is it Geithner – yes, is it Barney Frank and Chris Dodd – yes, is it the entire legislature – yes, it is both the Conservatives and the Liberals – a resounding yes. Blame games won’t fix the problem they just add to the polarized confusion. The real culprit is human nature and the current lack of integrity and basic “honor.” This generation has rightly been labeled the “post-honor generation.”
So no matter how you cut it, “greed” and “power” initiated it and the “free market” based on “deregulation” could not stop it. Neither can the free market control the “closed system” of the Fed! All of these factors joined together have combined to bring our nation to a time of economic catastrophe and fear - which are the most significant precursors of societal change. So make no mistake, we will soon be immersed in “societal change.”
Those who espouse the “free market – deregulation” theory have a good economic theory that works - in theory - but has no way to control human nature, integrity, the banks and the Fed!
Let’s also recall that if the “bank bail out” (TARP) did not pass the legislature, the President threatened the possibility of martial law. Gandhi summed up the terror of an economic war with the following words: “An armed conflict between nations horrifies us. But the economic war is no better than an armed conflict. . . an economic war is prolonged torture.”
Gandhi goes on to state that “The movement against war is sound . . . (but that) the movement will fail if it does not touch the root of all evil – human greed.” The question of where this is likely to end us up will be the subject of part three in this series.
Now let’s attempt to ask another question about responsibility for the current ugly disaster. Is there any “moral” responsibility which accompanies economic theory? In order to comprehend this we must first “reframe” our party line thinking. Conservatives want to blame Liberals and Liberals want to blame Conservatives and many want to blame the Fed. If we carefully consider the 7 factors that have brought us to the current crisis we might arrive at the following conclusion. Conservative and Liberal legislators are both “morally” responsible for the current recession/depression and the virtual bankrupting of our nation and -oh yes – there is another responsible party it’s – you and me! As I have pointed out, the problem was not economic or fiscal policy alone, it included human greed and power. Greed and power by all the following: The legislators, (Pork), the lobbyists, the bankers, the stock market proprietors, the multi national corporations, government contractors, including Blackwater (over $400,000 per mercenary per year), and finally the Fed took 2 Trillion of our $$ to possibly cover AIG derivatives, a product of bank greed, power and gambling. The financial downturn has such global implications and consequences because the “credit” was sold and insured by “AIG (who) entered a lot of speculative derivatives, gambles with banks that were operating in the role of a bookie who made bad bets and our taxpayer funds went to pay off the bookies.”
The “credit default swaps” – derivatives problem is worldwide and unless drastic changes are made to the insurance/financial system we are just beginning to see the results. The Fed is more willing to blame the housing bubble or the stock market bubble for the downturn when the biggest potential bombshell has been and will continue to be derivatives. Worldwide there are approximately 516 Trillion dollars of derivatives on the bookie banker’s books.
The public will never know the truth because of inside banker “camaraderie.” Recently I was sunning myself at a mineral pool when a conversation began between an obviously very wealthy lady and another gentleman. She was carrying the African diamond mine inventory on her fingers and I had never met either of them. The conversation eventually became very intense between them concerning the current condition of the economy – to buy or not to buy. Eventually, I sat up to pay closer attention to the conversation but said nothing. After 15 minutes or so the gentleman asked if I could bring any information to the discussion. The question he wanted information on was “Are we headed for a deeper recession or for inflation”? I stated that it might depend on the nature of “crisis” events in the near future. To which the wealthy lady responded: “My husband is a banker and bankers always take care of their own.” The truth is greed and power ultimately reap their own reward! It seems human nature does not learn from history or the fall of the Roman Empire. Lakoff is absolutely right about at least one thing – when the government handles “We the People’s” money, there is a “moral” responsibility! When “We the People” hand on a staggering load of debt for the next generation to shoulder we are at least committing an inhuman act and Lakoff would contend an “immoral” act. When we look in the mirror we will see either Conservatives or Liberals, but never ourselves – this is how the unconscious works. It is hard to own that we have been living in an age of narcissism and that we have contributed to it.
HOW NEO CONSERVATIVES “FRAME” THE WORLD
Neo Conservatives came full circle under the Bush Administration. After careful observation of the Bush administration in Jan. 2009 . . . Jonathan Clarke, a senior fellow at the Carnagie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, proposed the following as the “main characteristics of Neo Conservatism:
• a tendency to see the world in binary good/evil terms
• low tolerance for diplomacy
• readiness to use military force
• emphasis on US unilateral action
• disdain for multilateral organizations
• focus on the Middle East”
In the Bush administration it was also believed that the U.S. should use its power to enforce its values (democracy and morality) and to create regime change by preemptive force if necessary. “The Neo Conservative dream is a world in which the U.S. acts as a “benevolent global hegemon” and the Middle East would be democratized”
Recall that while we are deciphering Neo Conservative political policy we are trying to reconcile Lakoff’s description of a “moral” government which is to stem from “empathy, responsibility, protection and empowerment” and discover how it might apply to the Conservative world view.
In addition to its political agenda, the Bush Neo Conservative policy embraced the “moral” no abortion policy, and the limited “stem cell policy” of many Evangelicals and Catholics. It violated the traditional, if not Constitutional, position of Separation of Church and State by implementing the “Faith Based Initiative”. . . a regular basis Moral/Social policy of the Catholic Church was taught to the president and other high government officials. Pope Benedict XVI was personally invited to the White House – A first in American history. Neo Conservatives are more than political they have been involved in a “political/moral” coalition. Currently the Conservative party is in disarray but leaders such as “Bobby” Jindal, Mike Pence, and Tim Pawlenty believe that the only way forward for the Conservative party is backward to Conservatism and “morality.” This is an agenda which they appear committed to despite their overwhelming loss in the last election. So how did “moral” play out with protection and implementation of the Constitution which the President is sworn to uphold? Here is a list of items which may have been in direct violation of the constitution:
1. Wiretapping of citizens phones and internets without warrant (violated the IV Amendment and FISA)
2. The imprisonment of U.S. Citizens without charges (violates Habeas Corpus law and “Due Process”- Amendment V and XIV)
3. Privateering – enhancing private corporations at public expense without public accountability - (Haliburton and Blackwater) – the cost of one Blackwater mercenary is over $400,000 per year. They are privately contracted for by the U.S. State Department and work strictly for profit on American or foreign soil, total Executive Secrecy, (rejection of Congressional powers to subpoena members of the Executive branch to testify before congress)
4. The establishment of a “Unitary Executive” This demonstrates that freedom is about “authority” and (facilitates the demise of checks and balances)
5. The politazition of Justice – stacking the Judiciary with Neo Conservative Attorneys – (the rejection of bi-partisan balance in the judiciary)
6. Exercise of the “Unitary Executive” – (ceding power to the Executive which belong only to other branches of the government)
7. Creation of a “War on Terrorism” - Iraq - which has been dubbed the 100 year war. (the “war powers act” may diminish the powers of Congress)
8. Institution of The “Military Commissions Act.” (The Military Commissions Act has been declared partially unconstitutional by the Supreme Court)
9. Posse Comitias – “Public Law 109-364 (H.R. 5122) (2) signed October 17th 2006 by President Bush allows the president to declare a “public emergency” and station military troops anywhere in America and take control of State –based National Guard units without the consent of the Governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.”
In the past, Posse Comitias generally prohibited military personnel under Federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity over civilians, except for insurrection or when authorized by the Constitution or Congress. Under President Bush, the U.S. Army has now given the assignment to NORTHCOM. They may now be called upon to help with civil unrest, crowd control, biological attacks, Katrina type events or the outbreak of epidemics. The U.S. will have 20,000 uniformed personnel in this role on U.S. turf by the year 2011. This act was signed on the same day as The Military Commissions Act. All of the above were instituted in the name of Terrorism (9-11).
There is no question that 9-11 instilled fear in the population and because of “fear,” 57% of the citizens were immediately willing to surrender their “individual rights” to the government for the guarantee against protection from another terrorist attack. All despots have learned that: “Free citizens will not give up freedom for very many reasons, but it is human nature to be willing to trade freedom for security”
Let’s agree that extreme circumstances often call for extreme remedies and Neo Conservatives provided radical answers to what they “framed” as radical problems. But there were some who disagreed. Senator Chuck Hagel (R) criticized Neo Conservative ideology in his book “America Our Next Chapter - So Why Did We Invade Iraq”? He says: “I believe it was the triumph of the so called Neo Conservative ideology, as well as Bush administration arrogance and incompetence that took America into this war of choice.”
Some have called NeoCon policy “arrogant.” Alan Greenspan states that the Bush administration instituted the war in Iraq was because of “oil.” Greenspan, however blinked at both “deregulation and derivatives,” which eventually led to the “stock market bubble,” in short he failed to regulate the banks – how, one asks, can he indict anyone else for greed or power?
Now the question becomes more urgent – how can the “moral” perspective of empathy and responsibility apply to the former NeoCon government viewed in the light of the violation of Habeas Corpus, wiretapping, (FISA) privateering, secrecy, the politization of justice, the Unitary Executive, the Military Commissions Act, and Posse Comititas?
THE “MORAL” QUESTION ANSWERED
Well as you may have suspected, here is the answer. Lakoff’s theory that “neuron brain bundling” creates “framing” comes into a clear perspective. Conservatives who look through the “frame”of “authoritarian, obedience, and discipline” receive “moral” authorization from their conscience – expedient or not – so that all of the above actions are viewed as “moral.” The facts are many citizens view the lack of another 9-11 type attack on America justifies the means involved whether legal or illegal - “moral or immoral.” In other words they see thru the “frame” that the end has more than justified the means. While many Conservatives and Neo Conservatives see thru that “frame” the Supreme Court did not. In the (Rasul v Bush) decision, the (Hamdan v Rumsfeld) decision, the (Boumediene v Bush) decision and the (Military Comissions Act) decision the Court rejected the Neo Conservative positions on Habeas Corpus and Due Process. Furthermore, the American population by a majority of 3,000,000 rejected the possibility of continued Neo Conservative politics.
Rush Limbaugh who, seemingly, currently speaks for the Conservative party sees no reason to consider “moving beyond Reagan;” however, he sidesteps Reganomics. He States: “The main idea that animated Reagan wasn’t anti-communism or supply side economics. Reagan’s main idea was the main idea of the American founding – the idea of individual liberty - and the policies he supported, both internationally and domestically, grew from that. America was founded on the idea that our individual freedoms derive from God, not from the government, and that the government should protect those freedoms and never violate them”
Statements like this bring a warm glow to my heart but make me realize that the moral “frame” which Mr. Limbaugh sees through (authority, obedience and discipline) is a continent apart from the “moral” “frame” which the Liberals hang their hat on (empathy, responsibility, protection and empowerment). It also brings to mind another maxim. In the nation our founders created, the “rule of law” was the ultimate authority not a “Unitary Executive.” It takes honest legislators to exercise vigilance in exercising the “balance of power” necessary to maintain the “rule of law.” There is a vast difference between this type of authority and Authoritarianism.
While the recent election gives us hope that Americans still have a high regard for the Constitution, (Individual freedom and freedom of conscience) the future will tell. Was the Constitution a basic concern of the populace in the recent election or only their pocket book? Our Nation is at a turning point and the populace will ultimately determine what they are willing to trade for “freedom.” Will it be the authoritarian “delusion of security”, the “empathetic” desire for the “common good” or the partisan quest for “social morality”? Is it possible that catastrophic events could bring together the economic, political and religious forces so that a contrived combination or possibly a “healing” evolves? Is it possible that in the end we reap the results of our own greed and power? In the next chapter we will consider how Social Liberals “Frame” the world and what “morality” they have to bring to the table.