12/12/2007 11:17 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Republican Turnabout

When I was young the Republican Party was for small government and balanced budgets. It was anti-bureaucracy, anti-war, and against government intruding into the private lives of its citizens. Today it seems to have reversed itself on every count. The Bush administration is the most profligate, wasteful, bloated, corrupt, inefficient, spendthrift government in our history. It is also the most authoritarian, secretive, unchecked, uncontrolled, and lawless government in our history. Its knee-jerk response to every crisis has been to establish another giant bureaucracy. It fomented a war out of thin air, a war serving no purpose but to magnify governmental power and the egos of its instigators. And no government in our history has been so determined to poke its giant nose into the private lives of its citizens, or been so anxious to regulate their personal behavior and beliefs.

When it comes to high rollers, the Bush Administration has no competitors. Eight billion dollars in hundred dollar-bills disappeared in Iraq without a trace, billions more were awarded to administration cronies in no-bid contracts for services never carried out, and hundreds of billions have been lavished on high-tech weapons systems laughably helpless against individual terrorists with homemade bombs. Every Middle Eastern con man who knows how to parrot administration ideology has made a killing out of this disaster. When it comes to the war, the Bush administration has quite literally thrown money away. And to add insult to injury, in 2003 alone it spent six and a half billion dollars just to hide what it was doing from the American public.

Meanwhile it has demanded Orwellian surveillance over its citizens, and punished those who questioned its policies--putting them on 'no-fly' lists and 'potential terrorist' lists, even outing one of its own spies. It has tried to control its citizens' sex lives and family practices, tried to curtail free speech, tried to inhibit the education of children.

Republicans today aren't against big government. They're only against our government spending money on educating its citizens, guarding their health, protecting their environment, or apprehending white-collar criminals. It doesn't want government money going to teachers and firemen and policemen and social workers and public servants, who pay taxes that feed right back into the government, balance the budget, keep it going.

But Republicans are very much in favor of government spending for slaughtering, maiming, and psychologically crippling, for destroying infrastructures, for reducing whole nations to pre-industrial conditions, for manufacturing hugely over-priced and soon-to-be-obsolete weapons that will wind up as polluting junk.

Republicans used to attack Democrats for always getting us into wars. Wilson, FDR, and Truman, they said, kept involving us in these foreign wars, while Republicans like Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Eisenhower, kept us peaceful and prosperous. Republicans were devoted pacifists during the 1930s, partly, of course, because so many leading Republicans -- especially billionaires like Ford, Rockefeller, and Mellon -- were ardent admirers of Hitler and Mussolini.

But now that the United States -- with enough nuclear warheads to blow the rest of the world into the Stone Age -- has no serious military opponents, Republicans are eager to go to war with every pea-sized Third World nation on the planet, and willing to sacrifice our national budget, our security against terrorism, our economic viability, our infrastructure, and the future of our children in the process.

It seems that the only thing Republicans understand is force.