One of our beleaguered senior federal professionals - who happens to be a fan - wrote in: "One of my employees tried to check out your blog on his government computer. Red flags went off declaring your site ‘contains inappropriate material.’"
I admit there’s an occasional "dang" or "golly". And, amid word tsunamis from a thousand commenters and many more lurkers, the rare #!$*#! That sort of thing makes a tiny fraction of "Contrary Brin," compared to masses of cutting-edge-interesting stuff about astronomy, high-technology, SETI, political theory, popular culture and ruminations about human destiny.
Anyway, I know the reason orders came down, banning government employees from access to any of this.
Mea culpa... I have called upon the professionals of the civil service, the intelligence services, the many agencies of law and accountability, the scientific community and the U.S. military officer corps, to remember their oaths -- to protect the people from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
That’s it, really. My "inappropriate" sin. Pointing out that our professionals - both in and out of government - have been the top victims of the neoconservative putsch. I have praised the skilled men and women who dedicate their lives to public service, and made it clear - in bold but meticulously legal terms - that they do not have to put up with being bullied by incompetent, dogmatic hacks, who have oppressed them in a concerted campaign of intimidation, ever since the Bush Administration began.
All right, I did more than that. I also called upon Democrats - and decent conservatives who remember true patriotism - to make this a centerpiece issue, not only because it is just and right, but because no other accusation (backed by proof) could damage the current GOP ruling cabal more than this one.
IS IT IRONIC for the fellow who coined the term "Age of Amateurs" -- suggesting that educated and assertive citizens will play a bigger role in the 21st Century -- to also be so up-front and aggressive in demanding respect for the professionals? I see no contradiction. We are in this civilization together. And when the pros aren’t harassed by fanatics and thieves from above, they may gain enough calm and perspective to realize how badly they need help from the rest of us. From the great mass of citizens, during the decades ahead.
We can start this process, if citizens stand up and help! If we step up to defend the people who we’ve hired to defend us.
A PERFECTLY LEGAL REBELLION
All right, the case has been made - and proved - and proved again and again - that the professionals of the U.S. civil, law, intelligence, science and military communities are the Bushites’ number one target. So, what’s the upshot? Am I asking the professionals to rebel? To break the law? To commit mutiny?
That is what Bill O’Reilly said about me, some months ago, claiming that I was fomenting insurrection and treason! But close examination shows that no such words or meanings were ever written or uttered by me. Not ever. In fact, I accept that the position of our civil servants, professionals and -- especially -- military officers is difficult and not without ambiguities. Their response to neocon bullying will call for great care.
Indeed, there are many ways that the present political leadership of the US Executive Branch must continue to be treated with deference, as if it were still legitimate. To do otherwise might do far more harm than good.
Certainly, I am in no place to prescribe the manner by which these professionals choose to resist an infamous kleptocrat-putsch, though one method comes to mind -- for the pros simply to do their jobs, in strict accordance to law. And for them to remember that the protections of law, that were erected by great leaders, from Teddy Roosevelt onward, are still on the books.
In fact, there are signs that this process is underway, and has been for some time. Take the growing independence of Defense Secretary Gates -- already called the "adult" in an administration that seems very much like Lord of the Flies. Or the crucial appointment of Admiral Mike Mullen to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. (Any time you see the Navy ascendant, feel a surge of joy. They are the service least despoilt by this decade’s American fever dream.) Or, see a citation I’ll offer below, where it seems that our law agencies are finally starting to gather the goods on corrupt, inept and simply ruinous "inspectors general," who were appointed to many agencies, strictly for the purpose of allowing or abetting graft.
DO WE EVEN NEED "RESCUE" BY THE DEMOCRATS?
Can the professionals wake up, stand up, and do their jobs? And will it matter?
I have an unconventional theory, that runs counter to the fervent hope that so many millions are placing at the feet of Democratic political candidates. Yes, that wing of our counter-attack to restore civilization is important. Even libertarians and decent conservatives now realize, they must make temporary alliance with liberals, in order to help save America.
And yet, I believe that a rising by our professionals - along strictly legal lines - could, all by itself, be what really turns the tide. If only these skilled men and women do what they are paid to do. What they swore to do.
Of course, these two paths - political and professional - intersect. Because any Democrat (Clinton, Obama, Chris Dodd or even a yellow dog) who enters the White House, in January 2009, will do one crucial thing. He or she will fire 5,000 Bushite political appointees and take their boot heels off of the pros’ necks. He or she will then replace the petty hacks, to a large extent, by promoting from within the services. (While rooting out the neocon shills who "burrow in" by transferring to the Civil Service.) And that one action -- just enforcing the laws we already have -- may restore America.
Can you see, now, why the political satraps have put my blog and website on an "improper" list, banished from access by government computers? From access by members of the civil service and officer corps?
Again, since very little happens on my websites that is notably rude or markedly offensive -- mostly intellectual ruminations about civilization and science and society -- there can be no other explanation. And, I’ll take it as a compliment. A badge of honor --suggesting that I am (in my small way) fighting with some effectiveness for my country and my civilization.
SOME DETAIL: THE DESTRUCTION OF THE OFFICER CORPS: WORSE THAN EVEN I HAD IMAGINED
Want an example of why I’ve been blacklisted?
Nobody spoke up publicly, about the Bush Administration’s devastation of the U.S. Officer Corps, before I did. Now, at long last, some in the media are catching on. But will anybody have the brains and courage to make this the scandal that it ought to be? Something to rouse every decent "ostrich" conservative in America?
Read and realize. Saving the US Army should be a top Democratic campaign issue. It would slice the Rove Big Tent wide open and tear their unholy coalition to shreds.
Quoting from the first of these: "Since the conflict began, around 40 percent of the Army and Marine Corps' large-scale equipment has been used, worn out, or destroyed. Last year, the Army had to grant waivers to nearly one in five recruits because they had criminal records. There are no more combat-ready brigades left on standby should a new conflict flare."
That, by the way, makes me a cockeyed pollyanna! Because I actually gave today’s Army the benefit of the doubt and counted two brigades in Korea as ready for national-level land war. But even so, even leaning over backward to be fair, I can only point out a stark comparison. Supposedly "wimpy" Bill Clinton managed to utterly transform the continent of Europe, achieving all Balkan War objectives in quicktime, while losing zero US lives and leaving our state of readiness intact. When Clinton left office, we had thirty brigades, ready for almost anything. George W. Bush inherited a force that he could then use - instantly - to topple the entire Taliban regime and then slice through Saddam’s elite armored forces... a feat entirely beyond the ability of the army now, in the state that he has put it.
But this article concentrates on an even deeper problem, attrition of the bright young officers on whom the future depends. "In the last four years, the exodus of junior officers from the Army has accelerated. In 2003, around 8 percent of junior officers with between four and nine years of experience left for other careers. Last year, the attrition rate leapt to 13 percent. "A five percent change could potentially be a serious problem," said James Hosek, an expert in military retention at the RAND Corporation." Above all, the losses seem to be top-heavy, among the most gifted and promising.
What is not discussed in the article -- as it was ignored during the US Attorney firings scandal -- is the ghost at the banquet. The question nobody asks. The mirror image question.
What about those left behind?
Regarding the US Attorneys, the picture is simple and chilling. Nine US Attorneys were sacked for being insufficiently political and pliant. But that means more than eighty had been deemed "satisfactory" by an administration dedicated to utter political bias and dogmatism as a basic job requirement. An aspect to this scandal that (to my knowledge) not a single pundit or journalist has raised.
Regarding those young officers who remain in the military, the situation is far less simple. Most are probably dedicated Marshallian citizen soldiers, holding on out of patriotism, duty and tenacity. But, we all know there is an element that has been funneled into the Officer Corps by more than a hundred radical-reactionary Congressmen, and by an administration bent on promoting for reasons other than competence. An element with standards and loyalties that would have made Washington or Marshall shiver. Just watch "Seven Days In May" to grasp what I mean.
Read the article. More important, make your favorite "decent conservative" ostriches read it!
SOME MORE READINGS... PLEASE LOOK AT THESE!
First the inimitable Arianna Huffington (my second-favorite Ariana). Dang but the Republicans made a mistake when their lemming veer into neofascism drove her out of their party! Read this commentary on how the Huckabelievers are getting the secretive lords of the GOP in a sweat. ostriches
Then see: "How America Lost the War on Drugs" from Rolling Stone. Funny how the hypocrites have let this slip off their radar screen.
Also the QuestionAuthority Project, which has completed a timeline of violations of civil and constitutional rights that have occurred during the Bush Administration.
Enough for now. Go hence. Convert another ostrich over the holidays. Reach out to a civil servant or military person. Forge alliances across party lines. This has got to be a rout.