Monday, March 14, 2005

Halliburton Contracts in Iraq: Welcome to the Twilight Zone

As we've all come to realize, some things are debatable. Social Security, while obviously a contentious issue, is something that could be discussed from a variety of viewpoints. We've all seen a debate on Social Security on World Debate. While I may not always agree with conservative supporters of President Bush when it comes to Social Security, I can look at what they say and think "If I were a callous, uncaring, and self-righteous person, I too might support private investment accounts, regardless of how flawed they truly are." Halliburton Corporation's no bid contracts to transport fuel and other supplies in Iraq seems a bit less defensible to me.

What I fail to understand is how ANY conservative could look at the issue, and not be completely disgusted. First of all, the whole issue goes against what conservatives often hold up as the keystone of the conservative domestic dogma: fiscal conservativism. No bid contracts, regardless of who is benefiting, would seem to go against their self-proclaimed fiscal discipline. The Bush Administration has shown time and time again that they don't care about saving money, deficits, or record government spending. With all the back-patting and recent fervor over the "explosion" of conservative blogs and the extraordinary role they are playing in reforming the MSM, this issue, which seems to contradict the very nature of conservatives everywhere, has gone largely ignored.

How can this be? Who is going to save us from BIG government, if the Republicans in Congress won't even question a giant no bid contract, that is currently being investigated by the Pentagon and has previously been investigated for price gouging by the FBI for charging the government for costs that Halliburton couldn't even document? The reality is conservatives, and conservative bloggers in particular, are proving that defending the Administration is more important than producing real dialogue on the issues. The term fiscal conservative as it applies to Republicans has gone from doctrine to punchline.

Another issue where conservatives' collective outrage is missing is abortion. If you look at single issues, Bush pulled in 70% of votes by people who believe abortion should be illegal. He's often commented on the "Culture of Life", which I find interesting when one considers his death penalty batting average as governor of Texas, but I've beat that horse to death. Despite Bush significant "political capital", one of the most conservative Supreme Courts in modern times, the necessary votes in Congress, the President has, thankfully, done nothing to make abortions even more difficult to get. A representative of his administration recently dropped the issue completely at the UN Conference on Women's Issues.

Where's the outrage? Where are the people with giant posters of aborted fetae? Where is the fire and brimstone? Where are all the conservatives who consider abortion an important issue, and why are they letting their President miss a key opportunity to make abortion illegal?

Much like the issue of fiscal conservativism, conservatives are showing that party unity and loyalty to the President is more important than their morals and principles. During the Clinton Administration, I was not the only Democrat questioning why Clinton didn't raise fuel standard requirements for vehicles manufactured in the US, after calling himself an environmental President. Similar outrage has not been forthcoming on the Halliburton contracts or the issue of abortion.

I've known for a long time that conservatives tend to be whores for political power, but to give up abortion and fiscal conservativism in the same 6-month period, simply to show unity behind the President, shows how willing the Republicans really are to sell their values down the river to maintain political power.

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