November 30, 2008

Patriots, Not Double Dippers

By Papa Bonk

From Today’s Washington Post we get this little insight into the thinking of people at the Pentagon regarding the budget:

“They know the money (in the budget) is coming down,” a Pentagon official said of the uniformed services, and many welcome increased discipline. “But it’s neither the military’s nature nor its role to volunteer the cuts,” the official said. “It’s for Congress and the administration to say ‘Stop it.”

The Pentagon’s attitude toward money should be no surprise. Get all the money you can, and spent it as slavishly as possible. You are not responsible for the results. That’s how you help out your friends, and thats how you ensure that when you leave the government with your fat pension check, you make yourself rich. Go to work for a defense contractor, keep the money machine rolling. This morning’s New York Times underscores this very theme with its profile of Retired General Barry R. McCaffrey, famous talking head and influence pedler who uses his position as a celebrity “military analyst” to promote his defense contractor clients to the Pentagon, and his Client’s weapons systems and services to Congress.

The military industrial complex gets away with this by claiming some superior knowledge about what it takes to run the military, and questioning the moral courage of anyone who disagrees. The willingness of the Busch administration to abdicate to the Pentagon decisions about significant U.S. Foreign Policy objectives (Its not the President who decides whether we stay in Iraq, it’s the generals on the ground) has only exacerbated the situation by making Pentagon decisions unassailable.

Not since Harry Truman have we had any responsible civilian stand up to the military industrial complex. Truman rightly called those who engaged in profiteering at the expense of the troops traitors. At a time when the nation faces a severe fiscal crisis, when our troops are over extended in two critical war zones and the Pentagon budget is the largest, and by farthe most out of control in government, its time for someone to stand up. We need civilian leadership to clean this place up, and we need to find military leaders who are dedicated to serving the American People, not dedicated to serving themselves. Patriots, not double dippers.

Filed Under: Speak Truth To Morons
November 23, 2008

Peace Sells, But Who's Buying?

By Brady Bonk

There is a brouhaha in Leftblogistan regarding the President-Elect’s recent personnel decisions. A blogger I read frequently, Godless Liberal Homo, expressed it in comments here at KIAV. On a post in which I praised the Clinton pick, he wrote: “The idea of a bloodthirsty war monger like Clinton as Secretary of State is really frightening.”

Believe me, I’m ecstatic when a colleague leaves a comment. (Hell, I’m ecstatic when a spambot leaves a comment.) However, from where I sit, the language seems strong. Didn’t we just wrest the gears of government from the warmonger? Didn’t we just give civilian command of our armed forces back to an adult? And now, that adult’s pick for State is “frightening?” Hillary Clinton is a warmonger? What’s Condi Rice, then? A vampire who can grow to 60 feet tall and has laser beams in her eyes and is evil and OMG she’s right behind you?

To quote the eminently quotable Chris Hayes of The Nation—and, to be fair, the lad has a point:

Not a single, solitary, actual dyed-in-the-wool progressive has, as far as I can tell, even been mentioned for a position in the new administration. Not one. Remember this is the movement that was right about Iraq, right about wage stagnation and inequality, right about financial deregulation, right about global warming and right about health care. And I don’t just mean in that in a sectarian way. I mean to say that the emerging establishment consensus on all of these issues came from the left. There’s tons of things the left is right about that aren’t even close to mainstream (taking a hatchet to the national security state and ending the prison industrial complex to name just two), but hopefully we’re moving there.

Yes, the correct ideas always do come from us. This is true. But I don’t think it’s a clear perspective to see this in a vacuum. We have, for goodness’ sake, just ended a political campaign where a candidate actually gained traction by suggesting that our progressive income tax system is socialism. They have rearranged the furniture and turned out the lights, and Americans are so politically disoriented that a mainstream candidate actually kicked up dirt over progressive taxation, normally a political eunich in all but the most deepest darkest corners of the fringes. For where they’ve taken us, now makes the ’50s look like 1968. This deliberate skewing of our political landscape makes the argument over whether or not Barack Obama is a centrist or a leftist or if he’s Pinochet seem to me rather moot and tired. Because there’s a much more basic rescue required here.

There is much to be said for opposing the manical philosophies of the current regime; I have often said and do maintain that Atlas Shrugged should be kept wrapped in brown paper and behind the counter and not sold to anyone younger than 35. But the American electorate achieved something even more basic and greater than that when it elected Barack Obama. After nearly a decade, it finally found itself able to assert that government, good, competent government, is necessary. I do not think this election was simply a rejection of the Bizarro-Utopian Anarchists who have become the Republigoat Party, though that was certainly part of it. It was more broadly, I think, a rejection of stupid assholes. The people have spoken—we shall use water on the crops intead of Brawndo. They want good government and I don’t think they much care that, in our darkened, rearranged parlor room, good government and progressive government seem to be exactly the same. So. Bully for us.

There is, though, one progressive program I’d like to see happen, preferably during year one. I think this program could mollify the progressive wing and would actually be some mighty juicy policy to boot. Obama should delve directly into Dennis Kucinich’s plan to create a Department of Peace, and he should name our Dennis its first secretary.

A Department of Peace would be a logical department to tackle the largest global security issue of our time, that of loose nukes—an issue that seems to be a slippery pig under the auspices of the State Department. It would monitor human rights and would work to create a culture of conflict resolution in our government. The Department would also take on domestic issues, such as prison rehabilitation and gangs. The point being that this idea doesn’t just wear Birkenstocks. It would be a serious policy effort.

More to the point, though: I do not understand how the Untied States expects to approach other nations claiming to be a seeker of peace when it does not have a cabinet level position dedicated to that ideal but does have one that used to be known in grittier days as the Department of War. Establishing this department is a matter of credibility on the global stage, especially considering the horrible warmongering malfeasance to which we’ve just subjected the world. The establishment of a Department of Peace would explicitly signal that, while we still intend to carry the big stick, we are once again finally willing and able to speak softly.

So, rather than piling on President-Elect Obama for naming this person or that to that already existing post, perhaps it is time to pile on him for an entirely new department altogether. Let’s tell him: You said “change,” man. Pony up. We want a Department of Peace.

November 21, 2008

I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got

By Brady Bonk

Tivo Alert: Rachel Maddow will appear on Conan this evening.

I know that I am one of the few who actually cares about this kind of thing. I tried time and again to set the world on fire with John McWeirdsmile’s bizarre use of the phrase “I’ll follow him to the gates of Hell,” but nobody else seemed to see it nor care. Similarly, I am constantly correcting folks who take the “-ic” out of “Democratic.”

However, I am hearing and reading a lot of people discussing Republigoats in terms of “sour grapes.” No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no NO no no no.

“Sour grapes” is not the same thing as being a sore loser. “Sour grapes” is a specific rationalization, when one denies that he desires something that is unattainable anyway. If John McWeirdsmile now said, “You know, with the financial crisis going on and two wars and everything, and the friggin’ job only pays $400,000 a year anyways! Who in his right mind would want that job? Phooey!” As a matter of fact, I must admit that, had John McWeirdsmile won, I would have been employing a sort of sour grapes arugment. Screw it, they won it, they can have it, I would have written here. Let them run this country further into the ground, then they’ll see; they’ll see this friendly fascism at work, an then, they’ll not only come out to vote, but they’ll pour out into the streets! That’s sour grapes.

One hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

The moral: It is easy to despise what you cannot get.

Language is special and important. The phrase in question is from a specific fable and describes a specific foible. To use it in other contexts dulls its efficacy and renders it mundane. You might as well be using it to describe a skin condition or your pants. Besides that, it makes what the Republigoats are discussing seem somehow quaint compared to the actual vitriolic nature of some of the things coming out from over there. They are not engaging in sour grapes. They are being sore losers, bad Americans, and assholes. (And, hey. What’d you expect?)

So. Ixnay on the oursay grapesway. Unless, of course, it is what you actually mean to say. Way.

Another item: For the first time evar, I have nominated this blog to

(my comment is still awaiting approval).

Wish us luck.

Another KIAV Noat: Yes, I took down that big obnoxious Obama banner. It was time. We are pretty again. Yay!

November 19, 2008

iPod Alert

By Brady Bonk

The NPR/Fresh Air interview of William Ayers is at:

http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_detail.php?siteId=7060034

Filed Under: Left of the Dial
November 18, 2008

Newt Gingrich Is A Space Alien

By Brady Bonk

Some is being made of a quote by Known Muppet Newt Gingrich on The Ted Baxter Show. Here’s what he said.

Look, I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion. And I think if you believe in historic Christianity, you have to confront the fact. And, frank—for that matter, if you believe in the historic version of Islam or the historic version of Judaism, you have to confront the reality that these secular extremists are determined to impose on you acceptance of a series of values that are antithetical, they’re the opposite, of what you’re taught in Sunday school.

What would you call that? Fabulous Fascism?

It’s so weird. This quote, it is so breathtakingly different from how it actually works, from how America actually works and why America actually works, and it is certainly the exact opposite of the situation with gay people and their right to nuptials.

You see, Newt, it is actually the secular component of our society that GUARDS religious freedom. Without it, religious freedom is impossible. There is either a secular, neutral public square in the middle, or there’s a state-sponsored church-o-god, and you’d better get there every Sunday or the Jesus Police will come get you and throw you in the slam. It is the secular public square that allows our Jewish friends and our Muslim friends, and yes, our Christian friends, to enter their houses of worship and to talk to whatever imaginary friend in the sky they wish. I have said it before, and I will say it again: Anyone who is genuinely concerned about religious freedom needs to caucus with us, not them.

And this flap about gay marriage, Newt, I’m not sure how in hell you figure any gay person is imposing any kind of will on anyone. The government is interfering with these folks’ ability to negotiate a marriage contract with the same legal nimbleness as do enjoy we the breeders. It is foolish and petty and, rather than supporting families, it kicks families, especially children, in the gut.

Newt Gingrich is not from around here. I think he is a space alien.

Joe-Mentum

By Brady Bonk

It is a shame that our caucus has taken the impractical step of maintaining Joe Lie-berman’s chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. May the caucus bear this day in mind when Lie-berman is the first to call for our new president’s impeachment, as he was for President Clinton, or when he takes to the Senate floor to accuse the new president of “waving the white flag of surrender.”

That’s where I’m coming from. This was not an issue of punishing Lie-berman. It is a practical issue of trust. How do you trust a man who stood in front of Republigoats and not only praised and endorsed John McWeirdsmile but who insulted and demeaned the President-Elect with the best of them?

It doesn’t help Lie-berman’s case that he is apparently as disingenuous as he is scummy. Clizza today:

According to a Democratic source with knowledge of how the meeting transpired, Lieberman appeared remorseful but did not ever say he was sorry for his actions; he claimed that several of his comments on the campaign trail had been misinterpreted by the media.

Anyway. The campaign to defeat Lie-berman in 2012 begins now. Go sign up!

November 17, 2008

Closure

By Papa Bonk

(From today’s Salon)

“We were so glad that we had (gone to Grant Park at 10 p.m. election night) because it was a moment that we wanted to share. We didn’t want to be by ourselves. It was just too sweet. It felt like a page of history was being turned. And, of course, there are going to be challenges, obstacles, setbacks, disappointments, reversals up ahead. But who doesn’t want to savor that? Who doesn’t want to wish this young man and his beautiful young family all the best in the world because it’s their moment. We invest a lot of hope in them. Let’s not lose hope in ourselves. But let’s wish them all the best.”

(Bill Ayers, commenting on being at Grant Park on election night with his wife Bernadette Dorhn and 250,000 others.)

Filed Under: Speak Truth To Morons
November 15, 2008

Don't Worry, America! You're Still A Nation of Bigots and Superstitious Shitheads!

By Brady Bonk

Cross burnings. Schoolchildren chanting “Assassinate Obama.” Black figures hung from nooses. Racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.

Incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama are dampening the postelection glow of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America.

From California to Maine, police have documented a range of alleged crimes, from vandalism and vague threats to at least one physical attack. Insults and taunts have been delivered by adults, college students and second-graders.

There have been “hundreds” of incidents since the election, many more than usual, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.

The full vile nasty AP story is here. One can only hope that four years of a vibrant, successful Obama administration can decimate such ugliness.

Poupon the GOP

By Papa Bonk

You may note that I have refused to call the Republican Party anything polite in recent postings. Most recently I took to calling them the Billshitter Party because that’s what they have become. Now that President Elect Obama has made it clear that he wants us all to make nice with the enemy, I will do so.

I will not use the term Republican Party. The party has smeared so much poop over itself lately that it may not want to use the label either. I will call it the GOP, which is sometimes pronounced to rhyme with Poop.

Filed Under: Speak Truth To Morons
November 14, 2008

Secretary of State Clinton

By Brady Bonk

President-Elect Obama has a knack for personnel in the exact same way that The Current President doesn’t.

He is making personnel decisions that seem not just good, not just right, but downright inspired. When I heard the name “Rahm Emanuel” as COS, I immediately thought, “Eureka!” and bolted out of the tub. A coworker I often discuss such matters shook her head. She said Rahm wouldn’t take the job. She said her inside poop indicated Obama/Emanuel personality clashiness, and that due to that, Obama would not offer, and Emanuel would not accept.

I told her he would and he would. Because the choice was inspired. It was inspired and it had to be. And there you have it.

Hillary Clinton at State is the same deal. I know this sounds odd, considering all the digital ink I spilled calling the woman “Tweety Monster” and wishing she’d just dry up and blow away back in New York. But the idea of Hillary at State, it seems so damned, well, you know: Inspired. I know the most oft-mentioned choice is Kerry, but that’s never sat quite right with me, and nor has the suggestion of Bill Richardson. But Hillary Clinton at State? Inspired.

Update: For a completely opposite viewpoint on this, please see The Pensito Review.