Friday, August 18, 2006

W is just a useful idiot

* in response to my latest iran-contra vs today post- some great comments again from everyone.

Noise:
"I would point out the obvious difference between I-C and now is 9/11. That has given them a world of protection. Blatant law breaking and nary a word from Sen. Intel. Com. or Sen. Jud. Com. Dem. Min. Leader Reid seems to be against impeachment for crying out loud.

My gut tells me the neocons were put in power by the Establishment to do a dirty job. Not enough resistence to them considering how out of control they are.

IMO, you don't stage a real coup with a guy like W."
i think that Noise touches on an important issue - from my 'headline' understanding of iran-contra, there wasn't a domestic element in I-C. that's a very significant development. i differ with Noise re 'you don't stage a real coup with a guy like W' - as billmon (and many others note) it's really the Cheney Administration. W is just a useful idiot. i suspect that he is very useful, and most certainly an idiot.

emptywheel:
Luke

Interesting thoughts. Thanks for reposting mine.

One thing I didn't say in my Iran-Contra comment is that I think one fundamental continuity in the last 40 years of Republican authoritarianism is the Texas oil money that morphed and merged into big construction. I'm listening to Caro's Master of the Senate now (on LBJ, one of the best political books I've ever read, by far), and the precursor to Brown and Root bought him very early on (some more plausible Kennedy conspiracy theories involve these creeps). But they began to switch parties with the illegal Nixon fundraising scheme that landed in Poppy's pocket. And from that point forward (parallel with the growth of Halliburton), the Bushes and with them the Republicans were the new property for these guys. That's what I was trying to do with this post--to show that Anne Armstrong (who was personally involved in Watergate and Iran-Contra) and Katharine Armstrong (who seems to be involved with our illegal wars) have been part of this Republican effort all the way through. Add in what we learn from Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and you see how these construction firms have been an instrument force behind the whole Free Trade charade, which has kept them in power up till now. Cheney's job is to find something to replace 90s style globalization with, partly because that globalization depends on oil, and partly because Americans can no longer compete.

Which is a circuitous way of saying I think there has always been a domestic part to this, whatever the Brown family wanted. But that the larger focus is to ensure the world hegemonic plan put in place by them. They need compliant desperate workers here to be able to carry out their plans overseas.
there are a thousand reasons why ew's comment is interesting. let me (try to) count (some of) the ways...

firstly: "...Texas oil money that morphed and merged into big construction...."
i don't fully understand this story - but i can't help but think of analogies - eg the bin laden family is very big in construction - and obviously the bush and bin laden families are very close.

2. ew actually listens to books? that is really weird to me.

3. ew suggests that the people we are now dealing with also killed JFK. i'm not a jfk expert - but ew continues to argue that we need to consider the current crimes in the context of the earlier crimes. i suspect that she is correct.

4. ew's armstrong posts really do make a compelling case.

5. ew's 'construction company' comments are well considered - although even i don't buy into the logic. and i'm fucking delusional.

6. ew says: "Cheney's job is to find something to replace 90s style globalization with, partly because that globalization depends on oil, and partly because Americans can no longer compete."
i've said a thousand times, i simply disagree with this type of meta-analysis. afaic, there's no such thing as 'class war' or any other such thing (and ew isnt making this claim here.) i'm quite confident that there is no ideological consideration here - the only issue is whether the people who are buying the legislation can increase their wealth. i've said the same thing repeatedly - there is a direct connection between those who are paying, and those who are 'paying.'

the death estate tax legislation example should be the primary lens thru which we view everything else. that is the model. throw all the neocon 'let's invade everyone cos they deserve it' stuff in the trashcan - we need to look at the 'let's invade everyone' mindset through the prism of the 'estate tax' phenom.

there's no 'class warfare' - there's just a bunch of rich families trying to do what is best for themselves, personally.

---------
update - a great history lesson in the comments by ew and anon. thnx again to both of them.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Texas is a fascinating subject of inquiry all by itself. There are marvellous things that have come out of Texas -- the music and the food, for two -- but it's also had an ongoing tradition of corruption, arrogance, and the abuse of wealth and power.

For example, Texas has been home to a continuing ultra-reactionary strain, having been home to fascist groups in the 30's, to a powerful McCarthyite movement in the 50's, and to extremist figures like oil magnate H.L. Hunt.

The conservative oil-and-business Democrats of Texas turned against Roosevelt and the New Deal by the early 40's, being particularly infuriated by wartime price controls on oil and gas, by the growth of government bureaucracy and the labor movement, and by initial steps towards desegregation. The anti-Roosevelt Democrats, known as the Texas Regulars, plotted unsuccessfully to throw the 1944 election to Dewey and then formed the core of the Dixiecrats, who ran Strom Thurmond for president in 1948. The issue of states rights at that time was far more about control of offshore oil leases than it was about desegregation. It was this essentially this same group of interests that would eventually switch from the Democratic Party to the Republicans.

Lyndon Johnson, for all his flaws, stood firm against these people. The Texas Regulars tried to oust him from his congressional seat in 1944, charging that he had thrown profitable construction contracts to his friends at Brown & Root while ordinary citizens struggled with wartime rationing. Johnson, who won his primary with ease, responded when he was accused of corruption by H.L. Hunt's Facts Forum that the charges came from "stooges of Standard Oil and Wall Street gold," angry because he had voted against legislation which would have enabled them to collect windfall profits.

And all of this was long before the Bush family became involved in Texas oil and politics, and even longer before the Saudis -- who after the 1973 oil crisis had more money than they knew what to do with -- started investing in Texas and making friends with George H.W. Bush and his Houston business and real estate cronies.

emptywheel said...

Anonymous did much of my work on the role of the oil companies. Though Caro is MUCH less impressed with LBJ's ability to keep the Browns at bay. He depicts many of LBJ's more brilliant tactical moves as efforts to curry the favor of the larger TX oil and natural gas community.

But the point is they funded a lot of things--Anonymous mentions the Dixiecrats--that provided ideological cover for their own enrichment.

I don't know if you've read Confessions, but it's basically the book that shows what we've always known, that globalization is a scam to keep developing nations under our thumb. The notion is that big construction (Bechtel, Parsons, KBR, and some precusors) have a symbiotic relationship with the government (especially intell) and the World Bank and IMF. They get developing countries to invest in huge projects (dams and the like), thereby putting the country in terrible debt, at which point the IMF can require the country to basically sacrifice its sovereignty to pay back the loans (which they'll never pay back). This is the way we continue to carry out colonialism, while giving it a pretty face.

Anyway, the history of Hallburton is instructive: one oil services company Halliburton merges with another, Brown and Root (LBJ's funders and now Cheney's quail hunting partners). Halliburton's biggest rival is Dresser Industries (Prescott Bush Director, GHW Bush employee prior to founding the CIA-tied Zapata). They merge under Dick and Anne Armstrong's leadership, resulting in the oil side (Halliburton) and the construction side (KBR). Voila! A neat concentration of power, joining together the oil world with the construction world. There are other ties to construction in this S. Texas crowd (like Katharine Armstrong's lobbying for Parsons). But Halliburton really embodies it. And of course it is utterly dependent on the Federal government for 1) profts and 2) protection and Ex-Im loans to do business in developing countries (as was Enron, of course).

As to listening to books: I download MP3s from Audible.com (which I recommend) and listen to them while I'm cooking or walking the dog.

lukery said...

much thanks to you both.

will have to get my hands on Confessions, and Caro - and if i get some time, will try to pull all of these recents posts together into a single post so that we have a proper record of it all, and to see if we can learn something new. (i'm completely unfamiliar with much of the stuff mentioned re texas (apart from ew's parsons posts). will have to look closer.)

lukery said...

oh - will check out audible too - although i don't have many non-blogging activities - and i find it difficult to read, write and listen attentively at the same time.