7/29/2015

The Cruel Attempt to Destroy Planned Parenthood Is an Attack on Women

The Rude Pundit gets it, dear conservatives. Lady parts are mysterious and difficult to sort out. Sometimes they're all up inside there and sometimes there are bits that are just hanging out there in the breeze. What the fuck is up with that, right? And as for what works for what things, which flaps and buttons are useable in sexual situations, where the hell the babies and pee come from, well, shit, there should probably be a freakin' guidebook. Besides, have you actually touched lady parts? They're all squishy and, if touched right, slick, like a hairless cat in the rain. Since we're supposed to fear that which we don't comprehend, of course you're gonna do everything you can to make sure that women can't enjoy their parts as much as men enjoy theirs. Of course you're gonna punish women for having parts that you don't understand. Of course, conservative women, you fear the pleasure in your parts or want to please your conservative men by punishing the poors so, hey, it's all good.

But listen: you don't have to. You don't have to keep making life a misery for women who haven't received the just rewards of capitalism. You don't have to get all ACORN on Planned Parenthood, whose only sin, it seems, is following the laws that you don't like.

You know what else is icky? Disembodied baby parts. Baby organs. Sliced up baby tissue. It's fucking gross, grosser even than a vagina. But so are all cut up human bodies. So when you see the latest video from fake organization Center for Medical Progress with its fake representative from a fake fetal tissue procurement firm, Biomax, looking at pieces of aborted fetuses from Planned Parenthood clinics, of course it's gonna be gross. The fake fucks who made it want you to be grossed out. They rejoice at how appalled you are. Medical science is not for the weak-stomached.

You ought to know, though, that everything Planned Parenthood has done is legal. In fact, it's so fucking legal that a recently released document from Planned Parenthood shows that it changed language in the agreement with "Biomax" so that it would specifically comply with federal law. In fact, Planned Parenthood wanted to make very, very clear that it was not going to profit from the sale of fetal tissue: "The lawyers wrote that Biomax would cover only the cost of 'transportation, processing, preservation and storage' of the samples." That's a little more complicated than "Holy shitballs, those are baby parts." The statutes say you can make back your shipping and handling on the tissue. If you don't like the law, change it. But don't condemn people for following it to the letter.

You ought to know that we've been down this road before. Yeah, back in 2000, ABC's 20/20 ran a piece about a company in Kansas that sold fetal body parts to researchers. The anti-choice media was gleeful about it, and the man at the center of it, Miles Jones, was investigated by the FBI for eight years until they cleared him of any charges. Jones didn't violate a single law. So back to the drawing board for the anti-choice forces.

You ought to know, also, that this gets back to other debates, like research using fetal stem cells. Charging money for baby parts, even to cover expenses, is hard to comprehend for many people. Using baby parts to try to cure illnesses and genetic conditions seems like a pretty fucking noble pursuit to most of us. That context is left out of most of the hollering about baby brain markets or whatever. According to one doctor working to cure eye diseases, "Eye tissue from fetuses has played a crucial role in studies aimed at finding treatments for degenerative diseases of the retina that are a major cause of vision loss in people as they age." The same goes for things like muscular dystrophy.

You ought to know that fetal tissue is only harvested (yes, terrible word, but there it is) with permission from the woman who had the abortion. But that turns women getting abortions from tormented, depressed victims to beings with agency to make decisions about their bodies, women who understand their lady parts and know what they want to do with them, the very thing that the enemies of Planned Parenthood want to crush.

Finally, you ought to know that, if you defund Planned Parenthood, if you get rid of it, you will ensure there are more abortions, more teen pregnancies, and more suffering women, especially poor women, poor pregnant women who want to have healthy babies and who won't have access to the prenatal care that Planned Parenthood provides.Yeah, they help women give birth, too.  The words "planned" and "parenthood" don't just mean "abortion." In fact, they barely mean that.

You won't know any of this because the voices yelling loudest, like the desperate madman Rand Paul, trying to get some heat for his dying presidential campaign, don't want you to know or understand. They want to you to rise up, like the internet mob you are so easily whipped into joining, and blindly destroy that which they tell you to destroy, not even realizing that what you are destroying are not just lady parts, but the women who own them.

(Since we live in an era with irony illiteracy, the Rude Pundit would like to state that he loves vaginas in all their forms, from dainty closed rosebuds to full-bloom sunflowers.)

7/28/2015

Bill Cosby Advises Kids on Lying

Man, Bill Cosby is gonna be pissed when he hears how Bill Cosby has been lying.



(It's from an episode of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids that also includes the gang singing a song about how lies will come back to haunt you. Apparently, all our Saturday mornings back in the 1970s were one big lie.)

7/27/2015

America Has Become a Second Amendment Death Cult

You can remember learning in school or at a museum or maybe on the Discovery Channel about human sacrifice in ancient or distant cultures, whether it was the temples of the Aztecs and Incans down south or the bogs of the British Isles, where the Celts performed their rituals. You can remember how you felt: the gruesome fascination followed by disbelief at the stupidity of the reasons. Killing the slaves of a dead master? Ludicrous. And the tribes and nations that sacrificed children, virgins, whoever to appease angry gods just seem insane in retrospect. The circular logic was mind-boggling: We must cut out the hearts of these kids so the gods will make the crops grow and keep away the storms or volcanoes. But if there is a storm or volcano and the crops all die, we'll just sacrifice more kids because obviously we didn't please our mad deities last time.

You know that there were many people in Incan villages in Peru who thought the whole thing was bullshit, that slitting the throat of the woman who lived down the road was entirely unnecessary, that maybe they could spend more time learning about weather and crop rotation. But they didn't dare say anything because they didn't want to piss off the priests and their most devoted followers who might decide that they needed to be sacrificed next. People die all the time because cowards don't speak up.

The mass shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, hit home, literally, for the Rude Pundit. That's where he grew up. It's where he went to college. It's where his family lives and where he visits twice a year. He can't count the number of times he has been to the Grand movie theater on Johnston Street, right across from the Judice Inn and its delicious Cajun hamburgers. From the Grand, you go northeast on Johnston and make a left on Jefferson Street to get to Parish Ink, the t-shirt and design shop where he regularly bought souvenirs from home to give as gifts, where family bought gifts for him. He spoke a few times to co-owner and designer Jillian Johnson, praising her work and laughing at the puns on the shirts. Johnson was one of two women who were shot and killed by John Russell Houser while they watched the film Trainwreck in the bone-chilling air-conditioning that makes the Grand an oasis in the smothering Lafayette summer.

Many on the left have focused on Houser's despicable beliefs, which are not really that far out of the conservative mainstream anymore. It's an awfully short journey from Scott Walker to Stormfront. On the right, they're more concerned about Houser's mental illness, which is what they always talk about when a white Christian is the one doing the shooting, as if a Muslim man can't have depression exacerbated by drug use that is exploited by a radical ideology to inspire him to violence that ultimately ends his life, as he had wanted.

The Rude Pundit thought about the Inca, the Mayans, the savage tribe of Skull Island when he began trying to piece together something to say about the Lafayette shooting. It's long been apparent that the United States is now a death cult built around the worship of guns. The dead in each shooting, whether it's gang-related in Los Angeles, accidental in Virginia, or mass shooting after mass shooting, are treated as a necessity in order for us to stay safe. How is Sandy Hook any different than the Aztecs stabbing a child to keep the city from destruction? How did that work out for them?

Multiple massacres ago, the Rude Pundit could say he knows someone who knew one of the kids murdered at Sandy Hook. Now he can say he actually met one of the murder victims in Lafayette. What's next in this macabre progression? At some point, despite your faithful devotion, the priests come to sacrifice your family members. Or you.

Our firearm-centered death cult is based on a deliberate misinterpretation of the Second Amendment. No matter what courts or lobbyists or corporate-manipulated citizen-tools say, the Second Amendment has a conditional phrase, "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State." You can pretend that that doesn't matter or you can lie about what it means, but "well-regulated" is in there, and we live in a country that is far, far from regulating guns, let alone militias, well. The Second Amendment wasn't meant to be a murder-suicide pact. It was meant to deal with a widely-spread, small population that wanted to kill the British and some Indians. A rational nation would revisit it to clarify or change it. In the United States, that would probably just mean craven politicians frightening Americans into taking out the opening phrase so no one can bring up the argument against more guns anymore.

In Louisiana, the death cult is practically having a blood orgy on a constant basis. Writes Adam Duvernay in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, "In 2013, 446 people in Louisiana were killed with with guns, according to statistics collected by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. By body count, that placed Louisiana 7th in the nation. In terms of murders per 100,000 residents — 9.6 — the Bayou State was 1st." This is in an article titled, mournfully, obviously, "Analysis: Theater shooting won't change a thing."

If we continue to do nothing, we are all mentally ill and we are all extremists. We are just another bunch of Mayans, watching the high priest politicians cut out the hearts of the children in Newtown, the churchgoers in Charleston, the women in Lafayette, all to appease the malicious gods of the NRA, holding the gore aloft so all may see it, hoping that our  sacrifices are deemed worthy, not realizing that the gods are illusions and that we're just killing our way into oblivion.

7/24/2015

Re-Post: Of Course It's the Guns. It's Always the Guns.

(This is a repost from a month ago because there's very little left to say. One word has been added: Lafayette, which is the Rude Pundit's hometown.)

We know, right? We know that, at the end of the discussion, after we've talked about racism and hatred and mental illness, what remains are the guns. No, you won't get rid of racism and hatred and mental illness by taking the guns away, but nothing will ever get rid of that. Those aren't tangible things. Ideas can't be taken out of someone's hands, alive and warm or cold and dead, melted down, and eliminated. 

But guns can be. 

Guns amplify the racism, foster hatred, and give an easy outlet to the mentally ill. The sad part is that we know this. We know it to be true. Even the vast majority of people who cling to the belief that only guns can stop guns understand the equation. Easy access to guns means more murder. 

But we are so afraid. Politicians are afraid of the NRA. Gun owners are afraid of government power. Everyone is told to be afraid of their neighbors, the black guy walking down the street, the Muslims in front of a mosque. And that fear has made us hold to our guns, if not in actuality then in support of mild laws and compromising politicians.

Yet reality demonstrates again and again that, mostly, the fear is over nothing, over a lie. There's never a good guy with a gun around when you need one. And, no, more guns won't solve that. 

This post is absent of facts. It's absent of links. It's absent of stated context, although you know what the reference points are. They have become a mantra of places: Lafayette, Charleston, Newtown, Aurora, and many more already part of the chant and many more to be added. 

This blogger has grown weary of the depraved ignorance that has taken the place of rational discussion. He's long been amazed at how people who are wary of the motives of the government they elected don't have any suspicions of the organizations and corporations who only answer to the dollar. Very little surprises him anymore, not even this latest massacre. 

It is who we are. It is a price to pay for freedom, we are told. And yet, somehow, we are less and less free.

7/23/2015

No Post Today

The Rude Pundit has a wake and funeral to attend today and tomorrow. See yesterday's post for the fuller story. So right-wing fuckery will have to run rampant without him trying to stop it for a day, maybe two. 

Back soon with less mournful rudeness. 

7/22/2015

Remembering Mary Ann Remembering

I genuinely liked Mary Ann, not just loved her in the way you're obliged to love the mother of your partner for the last five years. Sure, she could talk your ear off, to the point that I'd say that it was like some kind of performance art piece on how long one could speak without stopping, admiring the way she could leap from topic to topic with breathtaking velocity like a speedboat bouncing from wave to wave. As she got older, she repeated stories, but, even there, you had to admire how she told the story the same way each time, like a well-rehearsed monologue. She had a memory for the details of life events that was sometimes eerie, but she told her tales with the alacrity of an old school raconteur.

Mary Ann, who was 77 when she died peacefully Monday morning, was as devout a Catholic as you could ever meet. She went to church, the same church in the same town for nearly her entire adult life, every week. If she had to miss, she would watch a mass on TV. She listened to the Catholic radio station, and she was active at her parish. She saw her religion not as a means to shame anyone, but as a way to voice her compassion with the world.

For instance, she supported the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the group started by nuns who were tired of the church spending so much time condemning people for being gay or having abortions and not enough time on ministering to the poor. The nuns support Obamacare and women becoming priests, as well as same sex marriage, and they were reprimanded by Pope Benedict for their refusal to adhere to papal dictates (a reprimand that was upheld by Pope Francis). 

Mary Ann would shake her head and exclaim that she didn't understand how the Pope could oppose the nuns and that she was cheering them on in their mission. She believed that the church needed to get more with the times or risk fading out as a historical relic. Even in the brief time I knew her, Mary Ann's attitude forced me to modify my narrow, angry view of Catholics, to instead see a way that it could be used for good works.  She was thrilled when Francis became pope, seeing in him someone who more readily aligned with how she viewed her faith. Whenever I saw her, we'd talk about how amazing it was that Francis was redirecting the energy of the church towards economic injustice.

And she walked the walk. She spent so much money on charities that she had a drawer full of blankets made by a Native American children's advocacy group.  Sometimes, she'd get a call from the group just to tellvher they were saying a prayer for her, not to ask for money. (Yeah, you could say that's part of a long con, but let's put aside the cynicism for a moment.)  She actually donated to the groups that sent her address labels and notepads. She gave money to every funding drive her church had, whether it was for disaster relief or renovations to the building. Her last job before retiring was supervising the kitchen and cooking food for the elderly poor at her town's senior center. One more thing I learned from her is how much you can be devoted to your town, your community. We of the wandering generations know little of that.

In other words, she was a good person in the way that not many people are good. A good soul, you might say if you're so inclined. She loved her family fiercely, especially her kids and grandkids, and she was as welcoming a presence as I could ever hope to see. As her generation passes, we need to remember the everyday, real life goodness they could bring to us.

7/21/2015

#AllLivesMatter Is a Bullshit Hashtag and a Useless Phrase

When the Rude Pundit heard Donald Trump on Sen. John McCain's war hero status, his first thought was "Umm, John McCain isn't a war hero. He's a survivor of awful circumstances and a victim of a worthless war. But he's not a hero." See, the Rude Pundit doesn't subscribe to the Everyone-Gets-A-Trophy view of heroism. You're not a hero just because you're a cop or a firefighter. You're not a hero just because you're a soldier. You're a hero if you do something heroic. And, sorry, doing the requirements of your job (like, you know, fighting a fire) doesn't make you a hero. It makes you a decent employee. The bar should be high for a hero, even in a job that requires a certain amount of courage to begin with. You broke through a door to save a child and a puppy from a raging inferno? Well, yeah, that's pretty heroic. You stood outside and held a hose? Awesome job, glad you're doing it, but not exactly herculean.

The defensive response to the poignant Black Lives Matter movement, which started in the wake of the ongoing string of deaths of black men and women at the hands of police (for the most part, since it began after the Trayvon Martin murder), was the absolutely worthless All Lives Matter (or #AllLivesMatter). First of all, it's impossible. The Rude Pundit can name about fifty people off the top of his head whose lives don't matter, starting with the presidential candidate mentioned at the top of this post. He doesn't wish harm on most of them. He wouldn't do anything to harm any of them. But, really, and c'mon, you can look around the room you're in and know in your heart that at least a few people there have lives that don't matter. That's not even getting into your random serial killers and dictators, whose lives, we should be able to agree, don't matter. Mostly, though, it is an utterly meaningless phrase because it has no basis in reality. (Yes, we can get into a whole ontological argument about the meaning of "matter," but, for the sake of this argument, hell, just say, "Matter to the world.")

Black Lives Matter (or #BlackLivesMatter, to hashtag the shit out of this post) matters because it is a statement of defiance against a tide of evidence and history that, in general, the bodies and being of African Americans must be crushed, killed, wiped out. The phrase doesn't naively imply that all black lives matter. It is an assertion of worth and value for the very existence of black people in the United States against a hegemonic whiteness that insidiously and systematically imprisons, impoverishes, and kills black Americans. The phrase carves out worth against worthlessness. It is confrontational because of its implication that black lives do not, in fact, matter, that they are not equal to white lives. #AllLivesMatter waters it down into feel-good nonsense.

The reason for this discussion is the dismay on the left (and the giddy finger-pointing on the right) to the disruption of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley at the Netroots Nation conference this weekend. During each of their appearances, they were confronted by protesters in the audience, including Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who, along with Tia Oso, was invited on stage by O'Malley. The former mayor of Baltimore handled it particularly badly when he said, "“Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter." Sanders essentially told the protesters to shut up and let him speak.

Now, you can argue all you like about whether or not cutting off others' speech with your speech is free speech. And no one has to listen to anyone. Also, let's hope that these same protesters and more are willing to shout out at forums for Scott Walker and Jeb Bush. For his part, the Rude Pundit loves it when disorganization breaks out in your nicely-scheduled conference because some people want to be heard. He loves it when others are upset about it. He loves reality over polished bullshit. (He has avoided Netroots because, in general, he avoids all conferences, professional and political. The mixture of insider circle jerking and desperate wannabe-ing just doesn't really jibe with the whole "drink until you wake up in pants you don't recognize" ethos under which he lives.)

When you get angry, you don't go to someone else's house and punch a hole in their wall. You don't throw plates in your neighbor's kitchen. You take it out on yourself and your home. You rage against that which you think you have control over. Of course the protesters had to call out the old white guys in the room who presumed to lead them. Of course those old white guys needed to hear what they had to say. Of course they were enraged by the responses. That's because #BlackLivesMatter has life and death as its stakes. There is no other way to react.