August 23, 2011

The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr by Ken Gormley

By Brady Bonk

Am currently reading The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr by Ken Gormley. It’s a book I picked up in the vast Serious Poo-Poo Institute of Technology Library.

It’s an excellent read, an I think fair-minded account of this insane chapter in America’s history.

I can try to read it and not reflect my own biases all over it. I can try. And even trying as hard as I can to do that, this book tells me what I already knew long ago, that the Whitewater – Lewinsky hubub was pretty much a bunch of politically motivated bullshit.

A few things have surprised me in reading it (bear in mind, I have yet to even get to the stuff about Lewinsky).

It is amazing how much happenstance and insanity (mostly the insanity of Jim McDougal, but there were plenty of other crazies involved here) played into the mix, what a mix of serendipity and straight up politics went into the decision on the part of a three judge panel to replace Robert Fiske with Kenneth Starr (no relation to Brenda) and how vital that change actually was to what unfolded later. It is amazing to read how many wide-eyed missteps were made on the part of the Clinton White House in trying to defend itself against this nonsense. It is amazing to me anyways, how tinny it sounds when the book tries to explain how Starr was not a partisan maniac (even though the effort he led was entirely partisan and motivated by the glowing rusty jagged suppositories).

Mostly, it’s just a damned shame.

Filed Under: I Miss Bill
August 18, 2011

The Rupert Murdoch Question.

By Papa Bonk

Has anyone bothered to ask whether Rupert used the hacking capabilities of his vast, corrupt empire to gain information on powerful politicians for purposes of blackmail and influence pedaling?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Filed Under: Speak Truth To Morons
August 16, 2011

Neither Rain nor Snow nor Bizarro-Utopian Anarchists

By Brady Bonk

Today’s Workers Independent News is a must-listen, mainly for its excellent reporting by WIN correspondent Doug Cunningham of the ongoing attempts by this country’s Bizarro-Utopian Anarchists’ attempt to gouge the United States Postal Service to death.

National Association of Letter Carriers President Frederic Rolando says the U.S. Postal Service attempt to suspend collective bargaining to lay off 120,000 people threatens the very existence of America’s postal service.

[Rolando]: “This is really not about our jobs. It’s not about our benefits. It’s about America’s postal service. The Congress, and in some ways the postal service, is looking to take away America’s postal service. And the American people need to have a universal communications network. And there’s nothing else like this. And I think that’s what they need to realize, as some of the things that are being talked about are just the beginning of a death spiral for their postal service.”

As collective bargaining begins for letter carriers this week, Rolando is reminding us that no tax money is used to fund the postal service and it made hundreds of millions more in revenue than it spent on operations over the past four years. The reason there’s a multi-billion dollar postal deficit is a retiree health care pre-funding mandate from Congress that costs $5.5 billion a year. And Rolando says trying to use Congress to short-circuit a collective bargaining agreement is an insult .

[Roland 2]: “Basically what they’re trying to do is to take collective bargaining issues into the halls of Congress. And it’s especially disturbing and insulting since we are scheduled to open our collective bargaining negotiations this Thursday.”
By Doug Cunningham

National Association of Letter Carriers President Frederic Rolando says the U.S. Postal Service attempt to suspend collective bargaining to lay off 120,000 people threatens the very existence of America’s postal service.

[Rolando]: “This is really not about our jobs. It’s not about our benefits. It’s about America’s postal service. The Congress, and in some ways the postal service, is looking to take away America’s postal service. And the American people need to have a universal communications network. And there’s nothing else like this. And I think that’s what they need to realize, as some of the things that are being talked about are just the beginning of a death spiral for their postal service.”

As collective bargaining begins for letter carriers this week, Rolando is reminding us that no tax money is used to fund the postal service and it made hundreds of millions more in revenue than it spent on operations over the past four years. The reason there’s a multi-billion dollar postal deficit is a retiree health care pre-funding mandate from Congress that costs $5.5 billion a year. And Rolando says trying to use Congress to short-circuit a collective bargaining agreement is an insult .

[Roland 2]: “Basically what they’re trying to do is to take collective bargaining issues into the halls of Congress. And it’s especially disturbing and insulting since we are scheduled to open our collective bargaining negotiations this Thursday.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m rather fond of the USPS and believe it is a vital part of our national infrastructure and that it is valuable enough a national resource that it should be held far and above the bottom line. The USPS is not just a cost. It is an investment. And this absurd gambit to drown it in a bathtub is reprehensible and un-American.

Filed Under: The Commons,USPS
August 15, 2011

Catholic Church Still Harboring Child Molesters

By Papa Bonk

Here is another example of the Catholic Church sweeping a child molestation under the rug. This time a priest with a penchant for little girls. The Kansas City cleric Shawn Ratigan presided over first communion for little girls, hosted the Easter Egg Hunt, and was busted for taking pictures of his charges without their panties on.

Worse, the pictures, found in the Priest’s computer by an alert IT person, were reported to the Bishop last December, who did nothing until May. (Some news reports say Ratigan’s proclivities were first reported as early as 2006.) Moreover, three years ago, Bishop Robert Finn settled 47 lawsuits for sex abuse, paid out $10 million in settlement and agreed to 90 reforms in the diocese, including a promise to promptly report sex abuse when discovered. He never quite got around to the prompt reporting thing, but NOW he says he has a five-point plan to fix it all.

And here is the real deal, Finn, an Opus Dei adherent, spent the last five years undoing significant progress the diocese of St. Joseph had made towards liberalizing the church. According to the NYT, he canceled a model program to train Catholic laypeople to be leaders and hired more staff members to recruit candidates for the priesthood. He cut the budget of the Office of Peace and Justice, which focused on poverty and human rights, and created a new Respect Life office to expand the church’s opposition to abortion and scientific research. He set up a parish for Catholics who prefer to celebrate the Mass in Latin. Ratigan, the guy the Bishop was covering for, was also an outspoken conservative, according to a profile in The Kansas City Star. He and a class of Catholic school students joined Bishop Finn for the bus ride to the annual March for Life rally in Washington in 2007. (What an opportunity to meet girls.)

I am thinking what hypocracy that these right wing whackos running the church continue to attempt to cover up the sexual abuses of their fellows. But wait. Maybe it’s not hypocrisy. In truth the only people in the church who appear to care about sex abuse are the liberals who keep harping about it and trying to fix it. The right wingers, from the former (soon to be sainted) Pope John Paul II, to his most ardent followers … including Holocaust deniers (Bishop Richard Williamson), Mexican pedophile (Father Marcial Maciel Degollado)… have never been very interested in the issue. Perhaps it is true that the Conservative wing of the church does not find the matter important. Perhaps they figure that priests tuning up on children is just another way to have more babies, which they are all in favor of. Maybe it’s not hypocracy. Maybe its doctrine for many of these guys.

Filed Under: Speak Truth To Morons
August 14, 2011

Ya Think?

By Brady Bonk

Papa Bonk called me into the dining room this morning, where he was enjoying his breakfast and his usual perusal of the Sunday New York Times.

“Let me read this lede to you,” he said. And, he did.

President Obama and his senior aides are considering whether to adopt a more combative approach on economic issues, seeking to highlight substantive differences with Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail rather than continuing to pursue elusive compromises, advisers to the president say.

And we laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

Filed Under: Let Obama Be Obama
August 12, 2011

Frack the Frackin Frackers

By Papa Bonk

Fracking is a way to get natural gas out of the rocks in the earth. It is poison and environmentally bad, no matter what they tell you. I hate the whole idea. I hate it as much as I hate coal mining, I think it will probably destroy a lot of good clean water and mess up some beautiful natural spaces. I am still in favor of fracking. Because people are stupid.

I remember when I was working for a newspaper in 1973 at the start of the first oil crisis and I noticed that the local gas company was still running advertisements for people to use gas. I called them up and got a PR hotshot and asked how come it was, if gas was scarce, they were advertising for people to use more of it. He phrumped around a lot and then got back with “We gotta stay competitive.” Which made no sense then and still does not.

Fact is we have known that we are playing with a finite pile of resources since at least the mid 1960s… if anyone did any thinking at all… which, of course, no one does, we would have figured it out earlier. We killed off all the Buffalo. How long before we used all the water? . We went through the water thing in the Midwest. Between 1950 and about 1975 we pretty much drained dry the largest inland aquifer (the Oglallah) that ever existed. People knew it was drying out…. The water got saltier by the year… but the general response was … “well we need the water for crops.” No one considered drip irrigation systems or using crops that didn’t need as much water. They now have no choice

We started saying publically that we are using too much oil about the time the Saudis’ embargoed our oil supply in the 1970s. But we have done nothing to encourage conservation. We have never had a sensible energy policy. (Jimmie Carter tried.) The public goal has always been cheap gas and big cars. I don’t know why. Small cars are fine. If everyone drove cars like my (40 MPG Saturn), the oil would last years longer, air would be cleaner. People are stupid.

People now believe that if they get hybrids or electrics they will solve the problem. But electricity is not clean energy. Most of it is generated by coal. And if not coal, nuclear, and if not nuclear… gas, which means fracking. We all hate coal, but most people keep their air conditioners full blast and wonder why the air is getting dirtier. Bet money the same people who bitch about the birds killed by windmills and fight against off-shore wind farms also bitch about coal mining and drive SUVs. People are stupid.

Now we have people bitching about fracking. Bet it’s the same people. People are stupid. Might as well face it and frack the hell out of those lovely hills of upstate New York.

Some time, maybe in my lifetime, which I expect to run another 40 years, there will be a massive human die-off. Famine is already starting in the usual places. Crops in the USA are strained …what with the flooding Mississippi and Missouri, the Texas drought. Africa is starving as usual. The Chinese are having floods and droughts and massive storms. The sea level will rise up to 20 feet, Al Gore says, and drown Bangladesh, numerous Island nations, half of Manhatttan and Florida.

Frack away. Mother Earth will get her revenge.

Filed Under: Speak Truth To Morons
August 11, 2011

The Singularity of the Presidency

By Brady Bonk

I know, I know, all of my millions of readers are squawking at me, but Brady, why are you picking on the Preznit so much? Don’t ya know it’s the fault of the Congress? Don’t ya know there’s nothing the Preznit can do beyond the realm of political possibility? Don’t ya know that Obama’s hands are tied?

Bollocks.

The President of the United States has a unique, powerful tool and a singular ability to lead. If he wields his office correctly, he can get 80 percent of the work done himself, just by the sheer magnitude of the office, just by flexing its pomp and its circumstance, just by creating some fashion of kingly spectacle.

Just look at the last guy who held the office.

Believe me, this blog has no use what so ever for Preznit Jorge W. Jackass. We think that asshole should have been impeached by the 2006 Congress at the very least, and that at the very most, he and Shooter Douglass and Dickhole Rumsfeld should all be pounding rocks somewhere. But somehow, the previous Preznit at least understood how to wield the power of his office in order to pick up that mountain and move it.

This President could by many various means lead on this thing and have this great country do the right thing. But all indications are that he is bizarrely myopic to only what he can get done within the confines of the United States Congress. It is utterly mind-boggling.

Remember when Obama was running for Preznit and he yelled at the sky, “ENOUGH!”? Remember? Or, remember when he yelled out: “Senator McCain? What economy are you talking about!”? Remember that guy?

Come out and play, buddy. We need ya. And how.

Filed Under: Let Obama Be Obama
August 10, 2011

If This Is Accurate, Gods Help Us

By Brady Bonk

Robert Reich has some interesting reporting about Obama’s position regarding talking about jobs versus talking about the deficit:

I’m told White House political operatives are against a bold jobs plan. They believe the only jobs plan that could get through Congress would be so watered down as to have almost no impact by Election Day. They also worry the public wouldn’t understand how more government spending in the near term can be consistent with long-term deficit reduction. And they fear Republicans would use any such initiative to further bash Obama as a big spender.

So rather than fight for a bold jobs plan, the White House has apparently decided it’s politically wiser to continue fighting about the deficit. The idea is to keep the public focused on the deficit drama — to convince them their current economic woes have something to do with it, decry Washington’s paralysis over fixing it, and then claim victory over whatever outcome emerges from the process recently negotiated to fix it. They hope all this will distract the public’s attention from the President’s failure to do anything about continuing high unemployment and economic anemia.

If this is accurate, we’re cooked. Remember a central theme here at KIAV: Given a choice between a true Republigoat and a Democrat what quacks like a Republigoat (yes, they quack)…well, hell, you know the rest.

Go read the rest. Robert Reich is one of the truly great Americans.

Filed Under: Let Obama Be Obama

The Real Loser In Wisconsin

By Brady Bonk

The real loser in yesterday’s elections was President Barack Obama.

He lost an opportunity. Again. WTF is going on at the White House that nobody there is seeing that?

For both political and policy reasons, the President’s one and only mission right now should be changing the message from the deficit and the debt ceiling to jobs.

These elections this week were about jobs.

Again, this blogger asks, why in the wide wide world of sports wasn’t the President in Wisconsin this week? I know it would be unorthodox for the President to put his weight behind candidates for a state legislature.

But these are not orthodox times.

Wisconsin set the stage. It cued the lighting, it painted and fussed over the set and made sure everything was just perfect for the show. The main player just simply didn’t show up. Wisconsin would have been a hell of a place to get the spotlight where it needs to be and a hell of a place to score some campaign trail points.

Meanwhile, Congress has established a system for deficit reduction that guarantees it’s all we’ll be talking about for a good long while. What’s in the news today? Oh, the Republigoats announced their picks for the “super-Congress,” a concept that I think should be scrutinized pretty good for its Constitutional muster, by the way.

Are you hearing about jobs yet? Yeah. Get used to that.

August 9, 2011

Dying Cultures Don’t Need Infrastructure

By Papa Bonk

Just a note on the many attempts to determine what caused this week’s stock market crash. It’s not the deficit, it’s not the failure to reach a grand bargain, it’s not the failure to cut spending more.

It is one simple fact. The government is no longer a possible player in the effort to improve the economy. There is no doctor in the house. The house is full of alchemists and barbers looking to prescribe powdered eye of newt and another round of bleeding.

There are no solutions because the President has abdicated the rational way forward in favor of the myth of deficit reduction. He has conceded the only rational tool for “balancing the budget” by failing to insist on taxes for the rich. He has no other weapon in his armory and the GOOP is chortling. Soon they will subjugate the masses, eliminate the minimum wage, trash the 40 hour week, bust child labor laws, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The average American will work until he and she are 75 and die poor. The rich will store up wealth like Rajahs.

The answer to the current economy, in case anyone wants one, is Jobs. The only way to get jobs into the economy is by government largess. There are a zillion infrastructure projects that need to be done, research into new science from which we could all benefit. Government money could be invested, not wasted. No one inside the beltway believes this. We are in trouble,

Filed Under: Speak Truth To Morons