Sunday, March 05, 2006

The envelope please ... And the Punk Ass Award goes to ...

Bono's being receiving all sort of honors lately. We thought we'd give him one of our own: the Punk Ass Award. He more than earned it.

If you missed the long interview Jann S. Wenner conducted with Bono for the November 3, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone, you missed quite a bit. As Bono cozies up with the Bully Boy, common sense goes out the window. The most shocking moment in the interview (a tough call) occurs on page 67:

Wenner: Do you feel now you can't criticize him on the war in Iraq?
Bono: Everyone in the administration knows how I feel about the war in Iraq. Everyone. I criticize it to Tony Blair as well. Do I campaign against the war in Iraq? No.
Why not?
That's the compromise. I feel I gave that up when I started to work for other people whom I will never meet, those 180,000 people in Africa who now owe their lives to American money, which paid for these lifesaving drugs. I work for them. If me not shooting my mouth off about the war in Iraq is the price i pay, then I'm prepared to pay it.

Saint Bono of the Tabloids. So sorry, Iraqis, you mean nothing to him. He's working for the people in Africa. He says those "180,000" but he's as loose with his figures as Bully Boy (maybe that's how they bonded). Fortunately Wenner calls him on it frequently.

Such as when Bono can't stop lusting after the 5 billion dollars Bully Boy promised to the AIDS initiative. Wenner has to point out the obvious:

Getting back to the Millennium Challenge for a second, when you get a promise of $5 billion a year, and then three years later all that has been committed is $1.75 billion annually, which is like a few days' spending in Iraq these days, what evidence do you have that he wants to be generous?
I think the AIDS initiative backs up the sincerity of the committment to the poorest of the poor. The Millennium Challenge, the money is still promised and . . .
He makes a lot of promises he never keeps.

But no doubts for Bono. Even though, despite promising $5 billion, Bully Boy only requested 3 billion from Congress (which Congress reduced to $1.75 billion), Bono knows it's a-coming.
You learn that he will speak out publicly against Canada's (then) prime minister but not against Bully Boy. Why? Apparently because one time "a senator threw a newspaper at me in a meeting" and asked him, "How dare you disrespect the president of the United States?"

Bono's made himself useless. He still has a habit of invoking MLK but seems completely unaware of MLK's "Beyond Vietnam" speech.

He wants to have it both ways. He wants to avoid speaking out so as not to anger Bully Boy and the right while at the same time indicating to the Rolling Stone readership that, if he could, he'd be speaking out against the war.

The only thing stopping Bono is Bono. As the Bully Boy funds go to chastity programs, Bono tries to bring up condoms but Wenner's all over that and Bono has to conceed that Bully Boy's dough (our money) isn't going to the condoms. (Can we parrot him? "Shock-horror.")

He name drops Randall Tobias, head of the U.S. Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and former Eli Lilly CEO. As David Jagernauth noted in "Deadly Lies" (The Oregon Emerald):

Although he has no actual public health experience, Tobias parrots the administration's rhetoric about the effectiveness of abstinence-only education. One-third of the president's AIDS package is earmarked specifically for these programs, which the American Medical Association, World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health and many other expert groups claim to be less effective at preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS than the alternative: comprehensive sex ed.

These 'good people' that Bono has bedded down with, that he knows, just knows support ABC? From Helen Epstein's "God and the Fight Against AIDS" (The New York Review of Books):

As it happens, Mrs. Museveni's Uganda Youth Forum (UYF) began receiving US funding to promote abstinence only until marriage to young Ugandans in 2004.
[. . .]
Some of the money for Mrs. Museveni's program is to be channeled through the Children's AIDS Fund or CAF, a US organization. In November 2004, CAF, which is run by a couple who are close friends of President Bush, was promised US government funding, even though the grant proposal it submitted to USAID was deemed "unfit" by a review panel. USAID administrator Andrew Natsios argued that CAF had ties with Janet Museveni's Uganda Youth Forum, who "is a pioneer in abstinence and be faithful messages," and should therefore be given special consideration. Randall Tobias, the US Global AIDS coordinator, apparently agreed. CAF was formerly known as Americans for a Sound AIDS Policy. In the 1990s, it lobbied to increase federal funding for "Abstinence-only- until-marriage programs," and against extending Americans with Disabilities protection for people with HIV. The disbursement of funds under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is disturbingly opaque. According to the Center for Health and Gender Equity, an organization that tracks US government spending on reproductive health, millions of dollars disbursed so far have not been publicly accounted for, in addition to that promised to CAF. See David Brown, "Group Awarded AIDS Grant Despite Negative Appraisal," The Washington Post, February 16, 2005, p. A17.

These are Bono's people (and as Epstein points out, they only became 'concerned' about AIDS when Bully Boy started talking about federal dollars going to faith-based programs). They aren't helped by abstinence-only programs. (Those programs never show success in real studies.) They're being confused since the message is now mixed. Their lives are at risk, but as long as Bono's full of himself, aren't we all better off?

Not the Iraqis dying under the occupation. Or the troops dying there as well. Bono can't speak to that. He has to hold his tongue. He wants that 15 billion dollars. Bully Boy's played smarter people than Bono before and come out the winner. In 2008, when Bully Boy leaves office and Bono's never seen the 15 billion dollars, will he own up to it? Will he admit he was played? Will he wonder if he could have made a difference by speaking out against the war?

If it does happen, expect a lot of "How could I have . . ." and "The guilt I feel . . ." because with Saint Bono, it's always been about Bono.

So while he gets showered with praise elsewhere, we'll award him the Punk Ass Award.
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