Notice! Blogger has just made big changes and requires that I use my gmail account to manage their new system. I am hoping this will not cause major disruption....
TODAY'S TOPIC: I have long held that the Democrats should focus strong attention upon one of the most outrageous campaigns waged by this administration and the neocons -- a concerted effort (openly planned by the Heritage Foundation) to intimidate, cow, repress and subdue the thousands of dedicated and skilled men and women who make up both the Civil Service and the United States Officer Corps.
Indeed, it is a travesty that liberals have reflexively turned their backs on this tragic betrayal, in some cases because civil servants and officers tend to be "crew-cut" types. This is just dumb. Not only are these fellow Americans who are now in great pain -- in fact, they are the main victims of this administration -- but they would also be terrific allies in helping to solve the problem!
But first a brief link. Recently hot on YouTube! A 10-year old speech that I gave at Planetfest '97 - celebrating one of the Mars landings. Sci-fi author David Brin speaks
Drop in to see a New Yorker article: “KNOWING THE ENEMY: Can social scientists redefine the “war on terror”?” which details something I have long maintained... that our memic “wars” are much less about superficialities like ideology, Islam, Communism or even nationalism, and much more about deeper psychological drivers. Something that I wrote about way back in the 1980s when I was among the few predicting the imminent fall of the Berlin Wall.
I want to share with you a particularly telling passage: ”Just before the 2004 American elections, Kilcullen was doing intelligence work for the Australian government, sifting through Osama bin Laden’s public statements, including transcripts of a video that offered a list of grievances against America: Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, global warming.
The last item brought Kilcullen up short. “I thought, Hang on! What kind of jihadist are you?” he recalled. The odd inclusion of environmentalist rhetoric, he said, made clear that “this wasn’t a list of genuine grievances. This was an Al Qaeda information strategy.” Ron Suskind, in his book “The One Percent Doctrine,” claims that analysts at the C.I.A. watched a similar video, released in 2004, and concluded that “bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reelection.” Bin Laden shrewdly created an implicit association between Al Qaeda and the Democratic Party, for he had come to feel that Bush’s strategy in the war on terror was sustaining his own global importance.”
There’s more. Paul Krugman is at the top of his game, riffing on something that I have attacked since day one. (Indeed, before almost anybody else) -- this administration’s war against not only the US Officer Corps, but also the Civil Service and professional competence, in general.
”The blueprint for Bush-era governance was laid out in a January 2001 manifesto from the Heritage Foundation, titled "Taking Charge of Federal Personnel." The manifesto's message, in brief, was that the professional civil service should be regarded as the enemy of the new administration's conservative agenda. And there's no question that Heritage's thinking reflected that of many people on the Bush team.
“How should the civil service be defeated? First and foremost, Heritage demanded that politics take precedence over know-how: the new administration "must make appointment decisions based on loyalty first and expertise second."
Second, Heritage called for a big increase in outsourcing—"contracting out as a management strategy." This would supposedly reduce costs, but it would also have the desirable effect of reducing the total number of civil servants. “The Bush administration energetically put these recommendations into effect. Political loyalists were installed throughout the government, regardless of qualifications. And the administration outsourced many government functions previously considered too sensitive to privatize: yesterday's Times article begins with the case of CACI International, a private contractor hired, in spite of the obvious conflict of interest, to process cases of incompetence and fraud by private contractors. A few years earlier, CACI provided interrogators at Abu Ghraib.
The ostensible reason for politicizing and privatizing was to promote the conservative ideal of smaller, more efficient government. But the small government rhetoric was never sincere: from Day 1, the administration set out to create a vast new patronage machine.”
Indeed, the Times reports that "fewer than half of all 'contract actions' — new contracts and payments against existing contracts — are now subject to full and open competition," down from 79 percent in 2001. And many contractors are paid far more than it would cost to do the job with government employees: those CACI workers processing claims against other contractors cost the government $104 an hour.
Krugman adds ”What's truly amazing is how far back we've slid in such a short time. The modern civil service system dates back more than a century; in just six years the Bush administration has managed to undo many of that system's achievements.”
No Paul. What’s amazing is the capacity of otherwise decent conservatives in America to rationalize away such monstrous trends, never asking themselves, “How would I have reacted, if Bill Clinton had done one-ten thousandth of these things.”
Take this to your ostrich. Be tenacious and do not let go! When an administration commits more graft during any given five minute period, than the previous administration did in its ENTIRE span, and our decent conservative neighbors merely squirm uncomfortably and cover their ears... then we know the locus of the problem.
It is not in the monstrous neocons, the kleptocrats and the dogmatists. It is in those neighbors. The “decent conservatives” who have the power to stand up and help America clean out this nest of parasites and thieves. They have the power, but somehow convince themselves that this is not the time to rise up, to do their duty and save American Conservatism ... indeed, America itself... from a cancer at its very heart.