Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Down Six Kolonipin With a Bottle of Drano:

The President is jogging with two soldiers who have one leg between them. Army Sgt. Neil Duncan lost both of his when an IED blew up his Humvee in Afghanistan in December 2005. Army Specialist Max Ramsey lost one of his when an IED blew up his Humvee in Iraq in March 2006.

Ramsey made a request of the President, who said, "He wanted me to jump out of airplanes with him. I respectfully declined."

Yeah, it's a shame George W. Bush didn't have, say, fighter pilot training or something that'd make him feel at ease with a parachute.

Update: As rude reader Jim B reminds us, "Bush the elder would of parachuted with that soldier in a second [or at least promised that he would after, you know, he wasn't president anymore]. Still would today at age 85."
Why Is a Counterterrorism Wonk Being Nominated Inspector General of the EPA?:
This is one of those little things that you read on the White House website that, contextualized by all the rank evil committed by the Bush administration, makes you think, "What the fuck is up with that?" Because, see, we've reached a point with this White House where we know everything little thing they do has some political purpose (or is rewarding a crony, but that's just old school power playing).

In a personnel announcement this week, Bush nominated Andrew Cochran to be the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency. Cochran is a rabidly pro-war wonk and consultant who "advises clients on terrorism and homeland security, corporate governance, and appropriations issues," as well as founding the Counterterrorism Blog, which, while not exclusively neocon, is pretty much so, it's founder being somewhat Neanderthal. A glance at his full bio reveals extensive experience in the kind of auditing and management analysis that seems to be the job of the Inspector General of the EPA, although with a conspicuous lack of a background in, say, environmental issues.

It's that whole shift in his career that's bothersome. And chances are, this is just a case of a money-counting bureaucrat being put in a bureaucratic office to do the malignant destruction of the Bush administration under the guise of benign cost-cutting.

But we're way past being able to simply sit and benignly believe such things, not when we know that, say, EPA reports have had hard science edited out in order to support policies of the Bush administration. Not when we know that the politicization of the entire executive branch is the ultimate Soviet-like project of Karl Rove. Not when Cochran is in business with Republican Senator Conrad Burns, who thinks that global warming is just what's been happening since the Ice Age. In other words, what's the game here? Because it sure seems like somehow the EPA is poised to be forced to make decisions based on homelandsecurityterrorismohmyfuckinggodtheyregonnablowourshitup. Even more than it is now.

Thanks to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et pukin' al, we've earned the right to be suspicious, if not bugfuck insanely paranoid, about any little steps this administration takes. And that's a fine state of mind to keep your citizens in, no?


Starting Thursday: A Week of Rude Guests:
It's that time of the year again, when the Rude Pundit takes his summer walkabout in Red State America. And since sometimes he needs to empty his brain for a little while in a way that doesn't involve a bottle of Jameson's, he's going to a beach in a place that's never heard of Senor Frog's. So he sent out a call to a few BWR's (Bloggers Who Rock) to get his back. Starting this Thursday, August 2, here's the way-cool line-up of guest bloggers:

Thursday, August 2: Liza Sabater of Culture Kitchen

Friday, August 3: African American Opinion of African American Political Pundit

Monday, August 6: Shark-Fu of Angry Black Bitch

Tuesday, August 7: Angry Independent of Mirror on America

Wednesday, August 8: Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend, Pandagon, and, for August, at least, Americablog; and Terrance of Republic of T

Yeah, they're all African American bloggers. And they're A-game ass kickers who would make Bill O'Reilly eat his own arm on live television. So, while the Rude Pundit contemplates sand and surf and SPFs and MILFs and fiction books that don't involve scarred-headed wizard boys, the condo's open. Come on in and have a good time. The vodka's in the freezer, the take-out menus are in the tackle box, and the acid is hidden at page 108 of that new Dick Cheney book. The party starts Thursday.

Until then, you'll have your usual dose of rudeness.
Ten Reasons Why You Wouldn't Want to Be Married to Alberto Gonzales:
The Bush administration is aiding and abetting Alberto Gonzales in his attempt to weasel out of allegations of perjury. See, remember, Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee that, when he tried to put the testicle electrodes on a hospital-bedridden John Ashcroft in 2004, it wasn't about "the program the President discussed with the American people." Apparently, it was a more extreme version of the program, one that had been in place since 2001, that James Comey and Ashcroft didn't want to renew, probably one where the government just spied on whoever the fuck it wanted without warrant or cause.

In other words, Gonzales's defense is that it couldn't be perjury because the spying program he was talking about was revised after that meeting, so it couldn't have been the revised one because the revised one didn't exist until after the hospital face-off that nixed the extreme one. What fun. Makes one pine for the days of "what is is" and definitions of what acts legally comprise "sex."

And how cool must it be to be married to Alberto Gonzales. Think about the excuses (be sure you hunch over and slightly smirk and speak with a pussy little voice filled with barely contained contempt):

1. The garbage he was asked to take out at 5 p.m. is different than the garbage in the same bag after dinner at 8 p.m.

2. The woman he fucked is not the same woman she was before he fucked her because now she's swallowed his semen.

3. The dishes he was asked to do are not the same as the dishes in the sink now because the food has crusted on them.

4. The gay porn he was asked to get rid of is not the same gay porn he has now because it's crispy with new semen.

5. The lawn he was asked to mow last week is not the same lawn as it was because, well, lawns grow.

6. The dog he was asked to bathe earlier is not the same dog it is now because it's sticky with his semen.

7. The bills he was supposed to pay last month are not the same bills this month because credit cards accrue interest.

8. The hobo buried in the backyard is not the same hobo he killed last month because it's decomposing and, yeah, it's covered in his semen. And missing its eyes. Cheney must have visited.

9. The Paris vacation he took his wife on is not the same as the Paris vacation he promised her when they were young because Paris is more Muslim now.

10. The U.S. Constitution he follows is not the same U.S. Constitution that was created back in 1787 because it's been stained with...well, you get the idea.


Why Bill O'Reilly Ought To Be Sodomized With a Microphone (Kos Edition):
Oh, sweet Bill O'Reilly, you of your various factors, what men and women of straw must you create each week to set aflame and hope that the smoke distracts your senior citizen viewers? It must be difficult, dear Bill, to keep finding the strength to tie together the bundles and light the torch. Yes, yes, what glee at long last, to have the head of Ward Churchill on your mantle, how you celebrated with a Talking Points editorial titled "The Demise of Ward Churchill," which seems to imply his death, but you only meant his career. 'Tis amazing, truly, yes, the way such threatening statements can simply be metaphors.

And how you danced your hideous jig of triumph when Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan stepped down from the campaign of John Edwards because you revealed to your shocked Abe Simpson-esque audience that bloggers are sometimes profane and caustic. Your neighbors must have cringed hearing your pained yowls of ejaculatory glee echoing through the night sky.

But that's naught compared to the favorite bugaboo of the right, commenters at left-wing blogs. Sweet mercy, how tender ears and eyes must be unduly protected if they come across the one in a thousand or so comments on Daily Kos that are oh-so mean, some even containing bad words or photoshopped images. Oh, the comfort of hyperbole, of egregious moral equation, where an Internet website mostly devoted to news analysis and political strategizing is the equivalent of an army that rounded up people and shipped them to camps where they were murdered by the score or to a group that lynched, castrated, and burned black men. Tell you what, dear Bill, when a gathering of Daily Kos writers in blue robes and hoods hangs a conservative from a tree, we can talk. (Oh, and by the way, the Rude Pundit's met David Duke and he's met Markos Moulitsas. Duke is much taller. Oh, and way creepier. Oh, and he wants to deprive non-white people of their civil rights. Moulitsas would like a government that doesn't advocate torture. It's a fine, but critical distinction.)

Sure, Bill, sure, you got JetBlue to weasel out of its sponsorship of Yearly Kos, but that's not enough for you. Now your mission is to get Democratic candidates to bail on speaking at the conference. Why? Is it out of heartfelt concern for Democrats? Or is it revenge for the Dems bailing on the Fox "news" debate because Kos and other sites pointed out the whole thing smacked of a set-up to degrade the candidates, like, you know, trying to embarrass them out of speaking at Yearly Kos?

So far in this little battle, oh, Bill, you've denied that hateful comments are featured on your website, despite the very clear fact that they are. And you promised on Tuesday to discuss "The Difference Between Liberals and the Far Left," but you never did say what distinguishes them. One can surmise that, to you, a "liberal" is Joe Lieberman and the "far left" is anyone who disagrees with you.

But, seriously, Bill, let's face facts here. Even Markos would probably say you are making much ado about a big nothing, although nothing's wrong with jacking up the traffic to the site. See, for the left, this is a distraction. We have a nation to save, so mostly we don't give a fuck what the Freepers or the O'Reillyites say, except when a comparison is needed. All the right has is the shards and shreds of an ideology and movement that blew up in their faces, like George W. Bush was a suicide bomber whose pack went off early. (Is that hateful? Well, fuck it. It was said out of hate.) What the fuck else are you going to attack, dear, sweet Bill O'Reilly? Sure, you'll find something, some crumb to tell your audience is a delicious loaf of bread. But Hillary Clinton's communications director was right when he said, "[T]he days where you can dictate where Senator Clinton and other Democrats go, who we talk to, are over."

And you know he's right, Bill. You're the media equivalent of a crack whore. You know about whores, eh, Bill? A crack whore sucks cock and lets herself get fucked in the ass because she needs that crack to keep herself sane. The problem is that the more cock she sucks and takes in the ass, the crazier she gets, the more crack she needs, and, because she's a pathetic crack whore, the kind who refuses any help, she'll suck off anyone waving a fin in her direction, getting lower and lower on the cock food chain until all that's left is blowing hobos for quarters, and no one who's got any respect is gonna bother looking in her direction.

Welcome to the issue gutter, Bill. Have a seat next to the rats, the garbage, and your fans.
Ann Coulter's Selective Brain (With a Smidgen of Plagiarism):
In her most recent "column", Coulter attacks the Democrats for a couple of their snarky remarks at the most recent debate. She focuses in on Barack Obama (who, she tiresomely reminds us, is middle-named "Hussein" - hey, guess what? Coulter's hero, Joseph McCarthy, has a first name that is pretty much the same as Stalin's - oooh, scary), who answered the "are you black enough?" question by saying how hard it is for him to catch a cab in New York City.

To counter Obama, Coulter brings up a Giuliani-era program: "He started 'Operation Refusal' in 1999, sending out teams of black undercover cops and taxi commissioners to hail cabs and give fines to those who refused to pick up blacks. Even back in 1999, in the first 12 hours of 'Operation Refusal,' out of more than 800 cabs hailed, only five cab drivers refused to pick up a customer — one of whom was a white woman with children."

In a column full of references to other New York Times articles, would it have killed Coulter to mention that she got this info from the Times? She could have quoted, even. Here's the strangely familiar paragraph from the November 13, 1999 article "Despite Warning, Some Cabdrivers Are Snared" by Somini Sengupta: "During the first 12 hours of the program, called Operation Refusal, teams of undercover police officers and taxi inspectors, black and white, hailed 817 cabs throughout Manhattan. Of those, five passed up customers because of their race or gender, police and taxi commission officials said. Among those cited was a driver on the East Side of Manhattan who refused to pick up a white woman with two children; instead, the cabby picked up an undercover inspector, a white male, nearby."

See? She could have quoted it directly, citing her source and everything, thus avoiding even the appearance of, you know, plagiarism.

Why wouldn't she? Oh, wait. Because the source article actually undermines her entire point. See, it wasn't just "black undercover police officers and taxi commissioners." They were actually "black and white." And they weren't just looking for racial bias; they were seeking gender bias, too. For Coulter, the fact that a cabbie didn't pick up a white woman proves there was no racial bias. For the undercover officials, it proves gender bias, which is one of the things that Operation Refusal seeks to halt. Also, perhaps one reason the number of cabbies caught is so low is that they were warned beforehand, something Coulter doesn't mention.

By the way, parts of the policy that Coulter praises were ruled unconstitutional, and cabbies who had their licenses suspended or revoked won a large settlement from the city because, like so many of Giuliani's policies, it overreached and was dictatorially run and was another get-tough measure by a power-hungry Giuliani seeking to become a Senator. Operation Refusal remains in a substantially modified form. It did not cure the problem of taxicab bias, as Coulter implies when she says there is "overwhelming evidence disproving...the yarn about blacks not being able to get a cab in New York."

And did anyone tell Coulter that the program was started because Danny Glover couldn't get a cab? Does Ann Coulter now support Danny Glover?

(By the way, regular readers will notice a different title than usual for Ann Coulter pieces on this merry blog. The Rude Pundit has made this one safe for the kiddies to link to, thus keeping his powder dry for the next time.)


Is It Possible to Shame George W. Bush? (Part of the Positive Politics of Shame Series):
Whenever the Rude Pundit is out at his favorite Hell's Kitchen bar, canoodling with the out-with-the-office-gang Midtowners, he eavesdrops on conversations, hearing every kind of come-on line the horny desk jockeys and salesmen can bring to the gettin' laid game. He's heard the compliment: "Anyone ever tell you your eyes are like (fill in metaphors from stars to some Renaissance painting depending on your education and/or pretentiousness)." He's heard the white-guy-pretending-to-be-ghetto: "Damn, baby, you are smokin'." He's heard the pathetic whine in the night: "Why don't we just talk?" And the heroic shot in the dark: "You wanna go fuck?" Nine times out of ten, most women generally not being idiots, it fails. But ten percent is enough for these corporate tools. Shit, a ten percent return on your investment, that's damn good, they think.

But the Rude Pundit's got the come-on that works a good forty or fifty percent of the time. It's simple and it's gotta be saved until you've gotten a sense of the room, checking out the bar, knowing your crowd, maybe not even using it. It works at gay bars and straight bars, 'cause it's got universal appeal. Marketers with guts would bottle it and sell it to sad bastards who've gone dry for months on end. The line is this: "I've got tequila and ecstasy at my place."

It's direct, honest, and open-ended, leaving the decision to the person it's directed to, allowing them to wonder, "Hmm, am I in the mood for ecstasy, tequila, and all that may follow?" Men and women ultimately respond to honesty and the offer of possible outcomes.

When George W. Bush spoke on Tuesday about the war in Iraq, he was like every asshole in a suit that ever exclaimed, "If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?" to the last drunk woman talking to the bartender at 3 a.m. It was the same come-on we've heard time and time again, all about the threat of al-Qaeda and a strangely strong Osama bin Laden, justifying himself again and again, but it's just pathetic now, like getting turned down by that 3 a.m. woman. Of course, George W. Bush is such a wad of fuck that he'd be droppin' roofies in her drink, ready to brag to his friends the next day about the hot ass he tapped.

Faced with such shamelessness, we must wonder how George W. Bush can be shamed. The Rude Pundit's been contemplating the idea of shame this week, in the belief that not only does the nation demand George W. Bush's political evisceration, it demands he be brought to his knees and made to kiss the dirt before crying, "Uncle." But what can shame him? Here's a man who looked at Bob Dole, Donna Shalala, and Bob Woodruff with a straight face yesterday, while they were delivering a report ripping the treatment of the fucked-up soldiers coming back every day, and declared, "We owe a wounded solider the very best care and the very best benefits and the very easiest to understand system."

With the Congress about to cite Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten for contempt, with the Senate about to investigate Alberto Gonzales for perjury, with the dessicated corpse of Tony Snow calling Congress "pathetic," what could possibly shame Bush? The answer is to hit him where he is most psychologically weak, with what might possibly rattle that emotionless demeanor. And, as ever, that is for Congress, in its hearings and discussions, to invoke Bush's father as often as possible. Yeah, yeah, George H.W. Bush was a motherfucker in his own right, but Daddy Bush is W's Achilles' heel. We just have to figure out how to fire the arrow.

The opening gambit would be to point to how Daddy backed down from his own executive privilege battle with Congress involving the Attorney General, a subpoena, and possible contempt citations. This was a dispute over documents and the Office of Legal Counsel. Yes, the 1991 dispute was part of a 2003 Congressional research document, but it's time to be more public about it. John Conyers should call Bush I's AG, Dick Thornburgh (another motherfucker for America), and get him to explain why they backed down in the face of a threat of contempt.

More on this tomorrow.


Gonzales Has No Shame, So Shame Miers (Part of the Positive Politics of Shame Series):
Yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales left the Rude Pundit wanting to make Gonzales run pantsless through fetid streets of DC, with citizen after citizen slapping his bare ass, pointing at his tiny dick and laughing, until that quiescent fucker, with his calm, smug little smirk, collapsed by the reflecting pool, with all the tourists pointing and laughing at him. From then on, all anyone would think of when they saw Alberto Gonzales is how his little cock twitched to life whenever he was smacked.

Throughout the whole ordeal (and by "ordeal," the Rude Pundit means for America), Gonzales sat there, implacable, the look of a man who knows his back is gotten, that all of this is just like a pornographic degradation fantasy, where George W. Bush looks on approvingly while Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter try to make him scream through his ball gag as they whip his balls, Gonzales serene knowing that Bush will let him masturbate if he's quiet. In that hearing room, Alberto Gonzales looked like he had a secret hard-on under his table, and, tee-hee, no one knew it but him.

Look at him in his exchange with Chuck Schumer over whether the President ordered him to stick his finger in John Ashcroft's gallbladder surgery incision to get approval for more domestic spying. Look at how he gleefully refuses to answer, only to repeat "We were there on behalf of the President of the United States," getting off on pissing off Schumer. Josh Marshall's right when he says, "It is quite literally contempt of Congress," and he's also right when he titles his post, "Gonzales to Schumer: Blow Me." Of course, this is Gonzales's modus operandi. But, then again, the default position for anyone in the Bush administration is "asshole."

And as disconcerting was his ability to lie without even a bead of sweat developing on his forehead, perhaps confirming his status as an automaton or, like so many others, as one who has sold his soul to Dick Cheney, Gonzales was even more disturbing when he said that he had to check with the White House about whether or not he could answer a question. That's right. The Attorney Fuckin' General, the alleged chief law enforcer in the land, has to see if he has permission to say whether or not Bush told him to annoy Ashcroft (and, again, goddamn them all for making us feel even an ounce of sympathy for John "Cover Those Tits" Ashcroft). Can anyone come up with a reason not to impeach Gonzales?

In the face of such shameful shamelessness, it's time to make the Bush administration sit on the whoopee cushion of justice. Yes, John Conyers and the House Judiciary Committee are playing a great game of chicken, but the ones who win the game are the ones who accept that, after they gun the engine, they're gonna crash. In order to shame the Bush administration properly, it's time to skip over the niceties of the process (we prepare the contempt citation, you defy it, we submit the contempt citation, you claim immunity and block investigation, etc.) and proceed directly to the end of the game, where there's a big fuckin' crash or someone goes into the ditch.

Much has already been written about inherent contempt, that Congress can have someone arrested and brought to Congress to face trial. It will as directly as possible provoke the constitutional crisis we need. It is the first step to shaming the Bush administration, something that is seemingly impossible to do.

And the key to that first step is Harriet Miers in chains, cuffed and frog-marched before the public. That's right: beat up the old lady (yeah, yeah, late-middle-aged, whatever). First of all, Harriet Miers ain't a sympathetic figure. In the White House, she was as incompetent as they come, a glorified clerical assistant. Outside the White House, where she was far more effective as a lawyer, she was always defending major corporations. The right hates her; the left doesn't give a shit. Drag her out of her office, fuckin' extraordinary rendition her ass from Texas to DC, hooded and everything, showing her what a motherfucking subpoena means. Try her, jail her, make Bush have to pardon her.

Oh, you may say, Rude Pundit, this will have the exact opposite effect - it will embolden the Bush administration, make them say Congress is out of control, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, but the real message it sends is this: if the Congress is willing to do this to poor Harriet Miers, what do you think is waiting for Karl Rove?

More tomorrow on the steps to shame.


The Positive Politics of Shame, Part 1.2: The Flintstones Paradigm:
Let's put this in terms that conservatives might understand: whenever Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble were about to go on a spending tear throughout the boutiques and department stores of Bedrock, they'd announce, like the cavalry coming into an Indian village, "Charrrrge it," and then go nuts. And who would have to deal with the results of them buying all the saber-toothed tiger skin coats and baby mammoth vacuum cleaners? Fred and Barney. See, Fred Flintstone would get his little gravestone-like statements from, what the hell, American Rex-press, and he'd wanna know what all his hard-earned cash at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company went to. Jesus, you work the goddamn dino-crane at a motherfuckin' quarry all day and you're gonna be pissed when your wife blows the wad.

And would you begrudge Fred Flintstone his anger? Would you say it's wrong for him to wanna know how Wilma spent the budget that he appropriated? Would you say that about Lucy and Desi? About Ward and June? About Ralph and Alice? (Well, maybe not Ralph and Alice - she'd take that fat fuck apart like he's made of lardy Tinkertoys.)

Congressional oversight does the same thing. Yeah, Congress approves a budget - the "power of the purse," as it's constantly called now. But once the purse is open, it doesn't mean go crazy. Here's a little something from Section 9 of Article 1: "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time." Now, hundreds of billions of dollars in expenditures takes a little more time to review than your average checking account statement. It might take committees of people who appropriated the money, staffs of those committees, and cooperation from those who got the cash.

See, one way to think about Congressional hearings into the activities of the White House, the various departments, the military, and more is that it's figuring out if the money was spent right, balancing the thousand-page check book, if you want. If, say, Karl Rove is using the time and space and personnel of various offices to hold meetings about elections, well, shit, that doesn't seem like the money's being used in the way it was budgeted. And if the Attorney General fires people because they weren't willing to purge voter rolls in the way the White House wanted, it's possible to see that as misusing funds. It's the job of Congress to make sure the budget follows all the rules and regulations and limits of that big ass document put out every time some appropriation is passed (and signed by the President). If the White House doesn't want to give Congress information about the Department of Justice or the Pentagon, then the White House is saying to Congress, "Fuck you. Just give us the fucking money and go about your little business of giving us more money." And that's pretty much eliminating the role of Congress.

In this context, nearly everything Congress investigates can be boiled down to wanting to know how the funding it appropriated is spent, from Katrina to Pat Tillman to the wars to goddamn postage meters. Why, why, dear right wingers, would you want to block the budgeter from knowing where the money goes? Unless, of course, it's about Al Gore allegedly making a couple of phone calls from his office, right? And if you want the money spent a different way, without oversight, just a mad dash to the treasure chest to see who can be corrupted by its gold, then change the rules, even amend the Constitution.

Instead, put yourself in Fred Flintstone's calloused feet. You can't get the money back. And no matter how many times you've told Wilma to keep the credit rock in the purse, she goes on a spending spree. You need to make sure that Wilma learns a lesson. You're a fuckin' caveman, and it's time to act like one. You know how to handle this. Ask Fred Flintstone: you've never done any real fucking until you've put your pebbles in the bam-bam of a hot prehistoric babe tied prone to a granite slab.

It's time for Congress to go all Neanderthal on the White House's ass.

Note: Yeah, yeah, the Rude Pundit promised Harriet Miers in chains today (so cold at the thought), but he wanted to wait until after today's Alberto Gonzales toad-fest at the Senate.


John Edwards Will Fuck Your Shit Up:
John Aravosis is right: John Edwards' YouTube video is absolutely kick-ass. It takes the bullshit tossed at him from the right and tosses it right back at them. If this is what he would have done to the Swift Boat Vets, then Kerry was even more of a fuckin' idiot not to listen to his running mate in 2004.

By the way, annoying as this YouTube debate thing on CNN could have been, it's far better than it has any right to be.
The Positive Politics of Shame, Part 1: Recent History:
When Bill Clinton left office back in the ancient time of 2001, he had the job approval of over 60% of the public, according to nearly every poll. Indeed, this rating never fell below 50% for his entire second term. Indeed, after his public apology for lying about getting fellated by Monica Lewinsky, most of the poll numbers went higher, even over 70%. Those are numbers that George W. Bush would rape a dying orphan to get.

Why? At what every pundit told us was the nadir of his presidency, when Joe Lieberman, a man who's never felt the luscious warmth of tongue on cock in his life, turned his perma-scowl on Clinton, when Republicans were demanding blood for semen, why did Bill Clinton still get the non-anally-inserted thumbs-up? Sure, you can say that the economy (for the middle and upper class) was shimmying along like a happy Betty Boop cartoon character, you can say that, even though Bosnia was a-calling and Rwanda was ignored, we weren't starting major wars, you can say that the Supreme Court wasn't destroying the Bill of Rights (much), and all those things are true.

But Bill Clinton benefited from the deeply purgative effects of shame. You remember shame? It's quite possible to have forgotten it in these shameless times. Clinton admitted he had lied, cornered though he was into lying, and he looked us in the face and said he was sorry that he had fucked up. And that was good enough for America. You take the measure of a man in those moments, and America understood that he had been shamed thoroughly. What the Republicans did after, abetted by some cowardly Democrats, was overkill. And the public knew it. If Clinton had not abased himself, the public would have turned on him, and, since Clinton is to politics as a leopard is to gazelle-slaughtering, he knew he had to bathe in his own shame before the people and the cameras. (By the way, this ain't about the destruction wrought by the Republicans' insistence on exploiting the Lewinsky distraction. It also ain't about the fucktarded circumstances behind the Starr investigation and the Paula Jones civil suit. Let's stay on a single subject here.)

For a long time, the left has ceded the notion of shame to the religious right, who mean it in terms of sexual morality, as if shame is only fit for harlots and adulterers, all to be put in the stocks so that tomatoes and shit can be hurled at them. What most people understand is that who fucks whom is a stupid measure for judging someone (unless there's deep hypocrisy and lawbreaking involved, Ms. Vitter). What the religious right gets is that shame is a way to destroy the powerful. And even though they have misapplied it, it can be a useful tool, a means to bring balance back to the world, a way to disempower the idiotic, the malevolent, and the misguided (or some heinous combination of the three).

So what the Rude Pundit is getting at here is that it's not just time for the Congress to use its constitutionally-granted powers to strip the Bush administration of the power it unilaterally declares it possesses. George Bush and his minions stand there and act without care, with a belief in their own imbalanced, uncheckable rightness, in way that makes people who criticized Bill Clinton's "arrogance" look like drooling nutbags at the filthiest, most rat-ridden asylum. It's time to shame them, to not only take away their funding, arrest their lackeys, and face them in constitutional crises, but to do it in a way that makes clear that they have done wrong and that they should be driven into the hills, stripped, tarred, and feathered. Rhetorically, of course, sure, whatever you say.

Roughly the same number of people disapproved of Bill Clinton's job performance at the end of his presidency as approve of George Bush's now. Let's just cut to the chase, call them Tories, and get to work.

It's all up to the Congress, for now. Over the next couple of days, barring anything particularly distracting, the Rude Pundit's gonna talk about how to bring the shame.

Tomorrow: Harriet Miers - the innate good of putting that bitch in chains.


Tell Us Again, Dr. Gupta, Why You Had To Criticize Michael Moore?:
Here's everything you need to know about what it means to have private insurance. On, ironically enough, CNN's House Call With Dr. Sanjay Gupta this weekend, guest host Elizabeth Cohen talked with patient advocate Nancy Davenport-Ennis and answered viewer/victim e-mails. Here's Davenport-Ennis's response to a question about what a patient needed to do after being denied coverage for a gallbladder operation because, the insurer claimed, of a pre-existing condition:

"In the case of Loretta, there are three or four concrete steps that she needs to take. Number one, she needs to get a copy of her health plan. Number two, she needs to ask the hospital for a copy of the medical records that were provided to the insurance company upon which they made the decision there was a pre-existing condition. She needs to go back to her files at home. And if she has a copy of her original application for health insurance, she needs to refer to that. If not, call the health plan. Ask for a copy of her application and ask for a copy of the health form that she filled out at the time she applied.

"If in reviewing all of these forms she finds that there is no mention and no evidence of a pre-existing condition, she's ready to sit down and draft her letter appealing this decision. And again, we encourage her to have her doctor support her in this process and write a letter of his own identifying the medical necessity for this care, and as her treating physician, indeed, he did not have any evidence that this was a pre-existing condition."

Sweet merciful fuck.

Be sure to read earlier in the transcript for the case of a couple at an in-network hospital whose newborn preemie had to go into the NICU at the hospital, but was treated by out-of-network doctors. It's $150,000 worth of larfs.


What the Rude Pundit Learned Standing in Line at the A&P:
According to the Globe, the President is so stressed from drinking, impending divorce, and unending failure, he's on the verge of a massive coronary. File it under "things that you know are probably not true, but that schadenfreude compels you to desperately hope are."

And For Real Fun
Michelle Malkin was completely bugfuck insane guest-sliming for O'Reilly on Fox "news" last night. Watch videos from it if you can. Between Juan Williams literally rolling his eyes and staring at her as if she had just eaten a panda cub and a Chicago reverend absolutely destroying her, Malkin was so far out of her league that if it was baseball, even the farm team would be looking to trade her for used gloves.


Fucked New Orleans (A Series That Has No Hope of Ending):
It's early-mid-hurricane season, and chances are that New Orleans will avoid the wet, windy smack this year. That's not a meteorological prediction; it's gambling odds, baby. So prayers and Ninas and Ninos aside, every year there's only a small chance that New Orleans will get washed out. But that doesn't mean that in ways big and small, every day brings more news of how New Orleans is fucked, yes, you know it can't be denied, fucked like a diapered David Vitter on his weekly visit to his favorite French Quarter whore.

For instance, the floodwall at the 17th Street Canal may be undermined by erosion. This is on the Metairie side of the canal, not the side that already was destroyed by flooding after Katrina. Apparently, the Army Corps of Engineers is trying to figure out what's causing "portions of the bank to cave in, or slough off." They hope to have the information they need to study by the end of the month. Then they'll study it, betting all the time that they don't get shat on by those long odds on another big-ass storm ripping through the floodwall like a charging rhino through wet tissue. And then they'll decide if erosion repair is their responsibility.

But the federal government's not really about taking responsibility when it comes to, well, shit, anything, and especially anything Katrina-related. A year ago, the Rude Pundit talked about a Sierra Club report on high levels of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers, used by tens of thousands of people in the post-Katrina hellscape of the Gulf Coast. Now, it seems, FEMA ignored calls to test the trailers itself because of possible liability if people get poisoned by the poison. And then FEMA withheld info from Congress on why people were getting sick in FEMA trailers. The director of FEMA said that more study is needed, but, hey, right now we've got a large scale experiment going on that'll demonstrate the long-term effects of formaldehyde exposure on children, so, on the balance, if you're in the Mengele school of medical studies, it's all good.

So let's just put this in perspective: you lived in New Orleans, believing that the levees and floodwalls were secure, but your house got wiped out because the levees were built on the cheap, and then, to make up for wiping out your house, the government gives you a trailer that can make you sick, not to mention the delays in getting insurance, loans, and grants to rebuild that wiped out house, and even if you rebuild after a couple of years of living in the poisonous trailer, there's a good possibility that most of your former neighbors won't rebuild. God bless America; laissez les bon-temps roulez.

Oh, and by the way, your property taxes will probably go up, too.

(Note: The Rude Pundit will get back to discussing our general state of screwed in the USA on Monday, but since Keith Olbermann already said half of what the Rude Pundit was gonna say today, he's working on another angle. The Rude Pundit hates to be derivative.)


The Failure of the CEO-in-Chief:
When Kenneth "Ken" or "Kenny-Boy" Lay became CEO of Enron for the second time in August 2001, since Jeffrey Skilling's stomach lining ate itself after taking over from Lay six months earlier, the energy behemoth was already hurtling towards its self-inflicted doom, having for years hidden its debts behind accounting trickery and outright fraud. But Lay was not going to allow that to be the story that its stockholders heard, so he was shimmying and shaking like a skeevy fifty-year old stripper, legs calloused from all the slides down the pole, making sure the truth didn't get out so that the shareholders didn't do what Lay himself was doing: dumping Enron stock like a Chinese factory polluting a river. Lay was like that, doing what it took to maintain power and wealth (especially wealth) even as he was raping the people of California, even as he was lying to his employees and investors. To keep them happy, you make sure you don't let them think anything is less than hunky-fuckin'-dory.

In her column last week, Peggy "Oh, Fuck, I Was So Wrong" Noonan wondered why Bush is so relentlessly upbeat despite the fact that he's, you know, commander-in-chiefin' a war that's gone to shit: "As I watched the news conference, it occurred to me that one of the things that might leave people feeling somewhat disoriented is the president’s seemingly effortless high spirits. He’s in a good mood. There was the usual teasing, the partly aggressive, partly joshing humor, the certitude. He doesn’t seem to be suffering, which is jarring." Of course, one answer to this is that, generally, severely retarded people smile a lot unless you hold their fingers over a fire. Then, god, how they scream.

But Noonan doesn't really have an answer other than "his good humor seems to me disorienting, and strange." To answer Peggy Noonan's question about why Bush is so fuckin' happy in public, look no further than his buddy Ken Lay just before Enron went into the shitter. He knew it was falling apart, but he still smiled and lied to keep the stock up at least until he could cash out.

See, Bush is treating us as shareholders, like he's busy running Arbusto into the ground or selling off his Harken stock just before the fall, making sure that the board is satisfied even as the stock price plummets. Unhappy investors demand answers as to why their money is disappearing. But if you smile and say it's just a bump, maybe you can tread water until things bounce back or you get your ass safely out of harm's way. That's where the Bush presidency is right now. It's all based on a wisp of hope and the inevitability of time. The wisp of hope is that somehow, something miraculous will happen to turn Iraq around. That's not gonna happen, but it's cute to see some have faith in it.

What is gonna happen is that the Bush administration will end (barring some mad theoretical power grab at the end of 2008). And every assertion of executive privilege is both a sinister expansion of the power of the presidency (and the vice-presidency's uber-presidency) and a delaying tactic. There ain't gonna be any negotiating with Congress for dick when it comes to Harriet Miers, Pat Tillman, or documents related to anything. Everything will be litigated in a way that'll make the Pentagon Papers case look like a day in Judge Judy's courtroom.

Why the hell not, huh? The beginning of this administration was a sham of a legal case masked as preventing a crisis. Why wouldn't the end of it be more of the same? It's like if the Dynegy deal had worked for Enron.

The problem is we are not stockholders in America, we citizens. We're the fucking board of directors. Maybe it's time we started acting like that.

More on this tomorrow.


Note to Fran Townsend: If There's "No Question," Why Are You Holding a Press Briefing?:
One of the things that we've learned from the Bush administration is that there is no such thing as doubt. Doubt is for mortals and the White House is, indeed, seemingly eternal (as in "Holy fuck, will this ever end?"). When Homeland Security Advisor Fran "The Hotness That Will Hurt You" Townsend gave a press briefing yesterday to talk about big butch al-Qaeda's regrouping in the wake of the publicity blitz the Bush administration organized for them in Iraq, she left the impression that no one should ask her dick because everything's just so self-evident. To wit:

"There should be no question in anybody's mind, despite our successes, this is an enemy that remains determined...there's no question that their objective. There's no question, in any war, whether it's this war or historical wars, that our enemy seeks to take advantage for propaganda purposes of activities on the battlefield...There's no question that everyplace they seek to fight, when they're fighting they are honing battlefield capabilities...

"There's no question the President has made perfectly clear if we had actionable targets anywhere in the world, putting aside whether it was Pakistan or anyplace else, we would pursue those targets...there's no question President Musharraf is taking on extremism...So there should be no question that Pakistan takes it seriously...

"Well, there's no question that we've watched developing tactics...There is no question that al Qaeda core -- bin Laden and Zawahiri -- have worked to regenerate their ability to communicate...There's no question that bin Laden and Zawahiri continue to be a threat to the security of the American homeland...

"Well, there is no question -- and when we talk about Pakistan and bin Laden, we're talking about the federally administrated tribal areas...There is no question, based on the statements of bin Laden, himself, not to mention others and al Qaeda, that they regard Iraq as the central front in the war on terror...there is no question that we have put extraordinary resources against finding him."

Nothing to see here, sweet gathered members of the malleable American media: no question about al-Qaeda's strength and ability to do evil evilness, no question that Musharraf actually gives a shit about anything other than his own power, no question, indeed, that we're spending a fuck of a lot of money. No question, just move along.

The other fascinating aspect of Townsend's briefing was this revealing little snippet about the United States' actions in Iraq being a propaganda coup for terrorist groups: "So we should leave them and we should not disturb our enemies anywhere in the world because they may use it for propaganda value? I don't think so." Perhaps Townsend's right, that we should just conduct our governmental and defense affairs without regard for the propaganda purposes it may be used for by our enemies.

Of course, maybe she should tell Dick Cheney, President Bush, and other pukes in the White House, who declare any time Democrats debate the war that al-Qaeda will use it for propaganda and emboldening. But that might introduce grey areas, or "questions," into the debate.
Late Post Today Due to Bad BJ:
Getting blown by this friggin' thunderstorm. Back in a bit with freshly-squeezed rudeness.


Conservative Columnist Kevin McCullough Hates Homosexuals a Bit Too Much:
Last month, the Rude Pundit first discussed conservative spooge bucket Kevin McCullough, a man who seems so deeply in the closet that the mice want him to get the fuck out. His bio, including the fact that he writes a "750 word" column and that his Christian talk radio show can be heard across the country on the Internet (what marvels, eh?), is such a sad conglomeration of wannabe, oughtabe, and willneverbe that you wanna tell him that you'd do a reacharound while giving him the ass-fucking attention he seems to so desperately crave. Anyone who calls his "movement" the "Musclehead Revolution" is either laughing with his gay friends about putting one over on the rubes with high-speed or is a goddamn idiot. Time will tell with McCullough.

McCullough is useful only in showing us how much of the retro-anti-liberal arguments are still in existence. Like his strange belief on how much Democrats want you to fuck. Last week, he wrote in "Democrats: Pandering to Perverts 101" (get it? They're teaching us how) about Democratic presidential candidates agreeing to a forum hosted by the standard bearers of equality for icky sodomites, the Human Rights Campaign. Writes Kev-boy, "Homosexual behavior and Christianity do not mix. From the standpoint of theory, theology, doctrine, and practice the two are totally and completely incompatible; as are adultery, pornography, bestiality, pedophilia, pre-marital sex, incest, cross dressing, multiple partner orgies and the list goes on." Man, that is some old-school gay-bashing. And ya gotta love calling Christian belief "theory," as if it's some scientifically testable idea. (McCullough bold-faced and italicized the first line of that quote. The Rude Pundit thinks that's fucking stupid, ergo the edit.)

Apparently, Democrats "have an insatiable lust for the sexually depraved among us." And widdle Kev-boy has a mission: "I personally will see to it that all 8000 churches in New York City are aware of their willingness to pander to perverts...That's not a threat. It's a promise!" No, dude, that's camp. And gay people love that shit.

Let's hope that McCullough shows up at Judson Memorial in Greenwich Village, one of the dozens of openly gay-friendly churches in New York City (this is not to mention the hundreds that just don't give a damn who's worshiping), and tries to convince parishioners to vote for the candidates who believe their very existence is an abomination. Oh, what fun will ensue. Chances are, we'll find Kevin McCullough on all fours in an alley off Barrow Street, pants around his ankles, face greasy with man-goo, beer bottle sticking out of his ass, yelling for whoever did that to him to come back, that the party's just getting started.

Or they'll just treat him like every other pathetic fundamentalist Christ screecher and shake their heads at how completely sad his little life must be.

(For bonus McCullough bounty of batshittery, check out his most recent scribble, which begins, "Liberals want your child to have sex." It's got oodles of the kinds of death-defying leaps of logic that'd make the Flying Wallendas say, "Oh, fuck, how is that even possible?")


Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want To Do Speedballs While Getting Waterboarded by an Illegal Immigrant She-Male Escort:

In his second tee-ball appearance in less than a month, the President of the United States "honored" Jackie Robinson and was given a shirt with Robinson's number on it. Apparently, if George W. Bush can't go to see Little Leaguers play tee-ball on the South Lawn of the White House whenever the hell he wants, then the terrorists have already won. Jackie Robinson's bones responded, "Are you fuckin' kidding me? If he had owned the Dodgers, he'd have pumped us so full of 'roids that we'd make Barry Bonds look like Olive Oyl." Over in Iraq, a soldier dove away from an RPG. It's like tee-ball on the South Lawn, but no make-your-own sundae stand at the end.

Meanwhile, back at the White House, Dick Cheney waited for one of the kids to twist an ankle so he could emerge, troll-like, from the bushes to devour them whole.

Tell the children: Cheney is always lurking.

More later?


Flunking Out of Presidenting:
Remember the Democrats' capitulation to the White House on Iraq war funding back in the distant spring? One of the charming aspects of the "deal" with the Bush administration (if by "deal," you mean, "bitchification") was that, after reporting to Congress on how the Iraqi government was meeting benchmarks, was that if the benchmarks were not met, funds were prohibited from being spent. And, with even the best-spun reports saying that progress in Iraq has advanced from a one-legged lizard to a two-legged skink, it should mean bye-bye funding. Except that the law "Allows the President to waive such requirement upon submission to Congress of a detailed justification for the waiver." In other words, it was the "Suck it, Congress" clause, and, yesterday, Congress, indeed, had to suck it as Bush waived the benchmark requirements and let the cash pour. It's kind of like you're supposed to give a book report on The Red Badge of Courage, but all you read was the first chapter, and you give yourself an "A" for effort, when what you deserve is a fat fuckin' "F" and getting smacked in the side of the head with a ruler.

Whatever policies his evil cabal of lawyers, Cheneys, and succubi have conjured, George W. Bush doesn't have a basic understanding of the government, or at least one that we might recognize. Maybe it's time we stopped attending Bush's civics class for megalomaniacs. At his press conference yesterday (or, as we in the real world call it, "The Recitation o' the Points of Talking"), Bush said of the separation of powers as regards the war, " I don't think Congress ought to be running the war. I think they ought to be funding our troops... Congress has all the right in the world to fund. That's their main involvement in this war, which is to provide funds for our troops. What you're asking is whether or not Congress ought to be basically determining how troops are positioned, or troop strength. And I don't think that would be good for the country." Beyond the fact that it's not really "in the world" that Congress has the right to fund - it's in, like, the Constitution, Bush's agreement or disagreement with that is a non-issue. It's like standing on the ground and pretending that you're giving permission for the clouds to move. It's cute, but worthless: those clouds don't give a fuck about your opinion.

But look at some of the underlying ideas there: that Congress should just appropriate a lump sum and let the Commander-in-Chief, because of his commander-in-chief superpowers and supersmarts, decide how its spent. Why are budget bills so fuckin' huge? Because the money is micromanaged. The Congress doesn't just say, "Well, fuck, howzabout we give the DOD a half trillion or so to fuck with whatever they feel like fuckin' with." Every appropriations bill says what money can and can't be spent on. Christ, Bush threatens to veto bills if they mention anything having to do with actual, real fucking, and not just abstinence. In other words, he won't allow Congress to just appropriate funds for U.N. reproductive health programs. He wants to say specifically what the money's spent on. How is that any goddamn different than Congress saying, "Hey, cockface, this whole war thing was fucked from the get-go and now we're only gonna give you money to get us the fuck out of there." Of course, that's antithetical to the whole neocon unitary executive bullshit theory that the stooges at the Weekly Standard and Heritage Foundation jerk-off to (until some relatively sane Democrat is elected).

And would somebody please ask Bush or Tony "No, No, the Cancer's Not Karma" Snow one simple question: did they support the Republican-led investigations and hearings into Whitewater and other events in the past of Bill Clinton and members of his administration? Did they think all that time and money spent in Congress was wise? 'Cause all these fuckers say now is that, when something's done, it's in the past and it's time to move on. Look at Bush's punk-ass statement on the outing of a covert CIA agent who was working undercover on issues of weapons of mass destruction: "I'm aware of the fact that perhaps somebody in the administration did disclose the name of that person, and I've often thought about what would have happened had that person come forth and said, I did it. Would we have had this, you know, endless hours of investigation and a lot of money being spent on this matter? But it's been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House, and it's run its course and now we're going to move on." "Run its course" being code for "Don't investigate." Or, once again in the real world, "cover-up."

Check out that attitude, that the whole thing was just a big goddamned inconvenience because of statements "people throughout my administration were forced to give as a result of the special prosecutor." It's not unlike saying you cut off your girlfriend's cat's head, and, yeah, it sucks for your girlfriend and, you know, for the cat, but, shit, think about how traumatic the whole experience was for you.

And isn't that what we're always supposed to take away from these little insights into Bush's mad, mad mind? How hard it all is on him? If we graded him for what he says this all does to him, all the labored thinking and understanding and listening, why he'd get a big ol' A-double plus good.


A Rude Funny and the Tip Jar (Corrected Version):
A do-it-yourself comic strip site based on Red Meat, the hilarious/disturbing/hilariously disturbing alt-strip, presents a concoction not by Red Meat's Max Cannon, "Karla Rove Prison Bitch Extraordinaire," the reverse of the Rude Pundit's series on Karl Rove's leather slave, and creamily delicious.
(Tip o' the scalp to rude reader Amberglow.)

Regarding the Paypal tip jar over there (that "Make a Donation" button), the Rude Pundit appreciates the tips that keep him tipsy (and, you know, keep his computer updated and his Internets tubed in), but please only do so if you can afford it. Really. The fuckers don't pay you enough, so, much as you may appreciate the juicy rudeness, treat yourself to some quality hash or a new porn DVD. (And, no, the Rude Pundit's not gonna say what prompted this donation disclaimer.)

However, if you've got the cash, and feel like clicking on a button...well, donate freely. The weekend's but a scant 36 hours away.

(Posted earlier but bumped for the hell of it.)

Correction: The earlier version attributed the comic strip to Red Meat creator Max Cannon. Thanks to a man named "Bud" for pointing out this error. With or without "Karla Rove," Red Meat freaks the Rude Pundit the fuck out every week. It's the stare, man, the fuckin' stare.
The White House Channels Chamillionaire:
It's always the saddest story, the one where we learn that a young girl or boy has been chained in a closet, fed scraps, regularly beaten, maybe sexually abused, but more often just left with open, festering sores, undernourished bones sticking through pale skin, crazed brain thinking that she or he deserves this for some reason. And the culprits always turn out to be some variation on Mom and Dad. Maybe it's Mom and skanky piece-of-shit boyfriend. Maybe it's Dad and his religious sister. Who knows. And then you find out the other part. That social services had been called to check on the kid before, that someone, somewhere walked around the house and decided not to do jackshit. Then the uproar when a neighbor sees the kid scouring her garbage for anything edible. It's always the same, a combination of neglect and active harm, but, truly, does it matter when the end result is so fucked up. We all learn the same lesson over and over: someone should have taken that child away, arrested the parents and/or guardians, done something to make sure that the young boy or girl doesn't have to live a life of deprivation and torture until he or she is on the verge of psychokiller status.

The Rude Pundit's said it before (yesterday, even), and he ain't just one of yer nutzoidal arm-flappers telling everyone to look at the bird shit to see that the sky is falling. But we have reached a point where the Bush administration is actively harming the majority of citizens in the United States. Not only are they spying on Americans and sending soldiers to die in a war they know is unwinnable (how do we know they know that? Because they're making political decisions on withdrawal), but now, as we've learned, they've allowed the real enemy to regroup and become at least as strong as it was prior to its last attack on the United States, that despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars, we have not even weakened al Qaeda (whatever, really, that is). There's no way to spin this, however desperately the right will try: the policies of the Bush administration are harming us. It couldn't be worse if Dick Cheney personally walked from house to house to shoot our faces full of buckshot. Shit, that'd take longer than it took al Qaeda (which is really a pretty vague, undefinable enemy to begin with) to gain back its strength, like at the end of Godzilla movies when the fire-breathing motherfucker would head back into the ocean to rest and regroup before wrecking Tokyo again.

And let's toss in the White House's completely reckless and random approach to adherence to the rule of law. Presidencies set examples. Bill Clinton made blow jobs en vogue (and able to be declared "not sex," thus doing more for saving marriages than all the couples counselors in the nation). Nixon made everyone wanna tape record each other. Taft made it cool to eat an entire buffalo in a single sitting. So if the White House can prevent creepy she-Bush Harriet Miers from even showing up to answer a Congressional subpoena and if it can proudly keep creepy Hispano-Bush Alberto Gonzales employed, then, certainly, we should all be listening to Chamillionaire and proudly declare the United States a "No Snitchin'" zone. For what else is Karl Rove declaring to any former staffers or wayward Republican members of Congress but "Russian Roulette, yep nigga bet the barrel will spin/ You hear that, yea nigga thats the sound of revenge" (sic, motherfuckers, sic). And if you're not snitchin', you're actually aiding and abetting crime, which makes you a fuckin' criminal. But in outlaw America, where the President gets to pick and choose which laws he follows, it's just the code of the street, gangsta, the code of the street. Voter roll purges or crack dealing, it doesn't matter.

When Sara Taylor, the latest blonde DoJ quasi-hottie we've met, quasi-testified yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she made what was not a Freudian slip, but was, rather, insight into the White House's sense of itself: "'I took an oath the president, and I take that oath very seriously,' Sara Taylor said in answer to a question early in the hearing.

"And right after a break, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked her if she was sure about that. 'Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?' Leahy asked."

No, she might say. One can imagine she was told her loyalty was to Bush. And as for that undernourished child? When is someone going to take her away from her incompetent, evil parents?


24 Hours of American Liars:
Here's what we've learned in the last 24 hours or so, none of it terribly surprising in and of each separate thing, but in the aggregate, quite, umm, bowel-releasing frightening. We've learned there's different kinds of lies:

Lies of Omission - The Surgeon General of the United States was ordered by the White House to lie to America about everything related to, you know, health. When Richard H. Carmona was the Surgeon General from 2002-2006, Carmona wasn't allowed "to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues" and to water down a report on secondhand smoke (something he actually resisted). He was discouraged from attending the Special Olympics, for chrissake, because of Ted Kennedy's involvement in it. Also (and this is the Rude Pundit's favorite part), Carmona "was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches." Apparently, George W. Bush is such a needy little bitch that he gots to get his props whenever he can force people to do it.

Let's not give too much credit to Carmona here. He was a complicit pussy for four years. Someone who cared less about his own hide would've said, "Kiss my Vietnam vet ass, Karl Rove," and spoken for science, and not the World According To Bush. Fired or quitting after that, at least he'd have some self-respect and not be like every other career-fearing demi-loyalist who stayed in the administration because - why? Because they thought they could do good? Or because they feared getting Paul O'Neilled? Shit, C. Everett Koop finally told Ronald Reagan to suck his Amish beard and sent out the HIV/AIDS pamphlet to every household in America. Yeah, it was a few years too late, but at least Koop decided not to be a liar.

Lies of Bureaucracy - Alberto Gonzales was shown, again, again, again, to have lied to Congress. In 2005, when he was testifying on the renewal of the Patriot Act (aka the "Let's Strip Search Grandpa" Act), he told Congress, "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse" under the Act. And that'd be true, except that he had been told, repeatedly, of, well, shit, civil liberties violations by the FBI acting under the Patriot Act. But, according to a Justice Department lackey douchebag, it depends on what you mean by "abuses." See, if it's intentional, it's an abuse. If not, it's just - what? A meaningless fuck-up? If the FBI agents know you're not a terrorist and still beat the shit out of you for fun, that's an abuse. But if they just get your name wrong and beat the shit out of you, that's an innocent mistake. Par for the course for this administration. No one is accountable for "errors." Mistakes are made, don't you know? They just appear in the ethereal realm and inflict themselves on us. Shit, next thing you know, Gonzales will claim the Devil made him do it. But don't worry, America, there's a-gonna be a hearing.

Just Plain Fuckin' Lies - When President Bush spoke in Cleveland yesterday regarding the war in Iraq and a bunch of other shit on which no one cares what he thinks, he not only told Republicans to go fuck themselves, he lied, "[B]y the way, al Qaeda is doing most of the spectacular bombings, trying to incite sectarian violence. The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is the crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children, many of whom are Muslims, trying to stop the advance of a system based upon liberty." As not nearly enough reports tell us, this just isn't true of about 90% of the attacks in Iraq. And, despite his feints at differentiating, really, "al Qaeda" is shorthand for "filthy Muslims" in Bush's lexicon.

In a "Fact Check" document put out by the White House, not only does the administration torture the details to make the case that we're fighting al Qaeda, it actually cites as progress "Signs of normalcy in Baghdad like professional soccer leagues, amusement parks, and vibrant markets." Now, the Rude Pundit's not totally sure on this, but he's pretty sure that we're not talking Disney World Ramadi here. In Iraq, an "amusement park" is just a glorified playground. Don't expect an "It's a Small World" ride any time soon. If you can't get electricity to power your A/C, you sure as shit don't want it wasted on Space Mountain.

So here we are: the Surgeon General, the Attorney General, the Commander-in-Chief, all lying to us. Add the "Lies of Necessary Fears" by Michael "Gut-Feeling" Chertoff, and you've got a government that is actually functioning to bring harm to its citizens. If this was a real democracy, we'd be out in the streets shutting the nation down until Bush resigned, taking Cheney with him. The unions would call for general strikes, as would immigrant rights groups, poverty groups, families of soldiers. All seventy percent of us. Clogging the cities and towns, demanding that we take back the country from the people who want to harm us.

But this is not a real democracy. It is a group of geographically tied together people with pretense to democracy, fearful of actual power because it means actual responsibility for themselves, for each other.


Dear Religious Right: Give It Up:
Let's explain this clearly to all the deluded religious bags of nuts out there who cling to their destructive versions of sexual morality: if you're a guy who goes to a prostitute, there's only a few reasons (other than the obvious "not gettin' it at home" excuse). You go to a hooker because you can be reasonably sure the hooker's not gonna talk to the press. You just have to make sure you pay that hooker enough for the sex and for the silence. Another reason you go to a whore is because, for the negotiated amount of time and limits (maybe no cutting, nothing that permanently damages the merchandise), you fuckin' own that bitch. That means you get to live out your most crazed, perverted fantasies. Sure, sure, you might just like the usual, plain vanilla fucking, straight sex, crying when you come (see the "silence" clause above) 'cause your wife won't suck you off ("Oh, Esmeralda, why doesn't she let me put my Saint Peter in her mouth like you do?"). You might want someone who'll let you fuck them in the ass. But, truth be told, there's a good chance that, especially if you go more than once, what you really want is to get your freak on, have that slut ball gag you and whip you like they whipped Jesus (well, maybe not that hard) or for her to let you piss on her pussy for foreplay, fuck her in a puddle of your piss, and then, instead of pillow talk at the end, you shit on her face. Or, even better, get her to shit on yours. (You can change that "her" to "him" at will.)

So, sweet fundamentalists who cling to family values candidates like scared children to Chinese-made stuffed animals, while you're abstractedly thinking about Republican Senator David Vitter visiting an escort service, regularly, your highly-regarded moral champion wasn't just unzipping his fly to quickly bang an escort under her skirt because of some forgivable male urges. No, no, chances are that Vitter was bare ass naked, face down and tied to bedposts, while a high-priced whore reamed him with a foot-long black strap-on as he screamed the name of his savior over and over not out of prayers for grace and mercy, but because the fuckin' just felt so goddamn good. Praise His name.

How many more fuckin' times are we gonna go through this same pathetic charade with presumptive leaders for the religious right? For moral values supporters? How many more men, for indeed, can anyone name a powerful woman brought down in a sex scandal recently? How many hypocritical Ted Haggards and Newt Gingriches and Mark Foleys and David Vitters, all, all, all men that the religious right counted on to lead them to the promised land of political power, to keep those homosexuals down, to punish Bill Clinton, to make abstinence and anti-abortion policies the rule of the country? How many more men who make a show of deep faith who are just assholes who wanna get their rocks off? Vitter is sooo fuckin' proud to be Catholic, that his kids are Catholic, that one imagines the confession booth at his church is filled with the echoes of Vitter telling his priest about how many rim jobs he got from his hooker.

When do we get to act like a nation of grown-ups where we can say, "You know, I don't give a fuck if my candidate likes to have his nutsack stomped by a cross-dressed male hooker in stiletto heels as long as he supports my issues"? And where those issues can be shit like war and education and health care and not bullshit like who's fucking who and for what reasons?

Welcome back to what it means to be human, David Vitter. Your constituents in Louisiana oughta learn that it means you love the fucking, just like nearly every one of them.


Sgt. Pepper and Sgt. Botta: The Twisted Treatment of Soldiers:
Soldiers have always been just stiff plastic players on the foosball game of politics. Which is why it's not even remotely surprising that Karl Rove is in any way, shape, or globular form involved in a decision on whether or not to withdraw troops from Iraq. As a few Republican senators up for re-election make noise like they actually have the 'nads to oppose the White House, Rove is telling Bush, as ever, to play like he's got the only bucket in the sandbox: you wanna build any castles, you gotta do it on his terms. Meanwhile, Iraqi civilians are killed by the score in the civil war that's supposedly not yet a civil war, despite calls for citizens to arm themselves because their cobbled-together military can't do shit against all the different opportunistic groups that have risen up or ventured into Iraq like it's the day after Thanksgiving at the Dothan, Alabama Wal-Mart. And the fucked-up part is, of course, that it's all our American fault.

But it ain't the fault of the soldiers, whose burdens we ought to be bearing with greater magnanimity and greater selfishness.

The greater magnanimity would be in the much-discussed treatment of the injured soldiers. Beyond your Walter Reed, there's the myriad bureaucratic fucktardery that the wounded have to negotiate. The Rude Pundit's favorite story from the past couple of weeks involves Sergeant Pepper. Army Staff Sgt. Jason Pepper lost his eyes - literally - in an attack in Karbala, Iraq in 2004. So Sgt. Pepper was left "blind, with shrapnel in his brain, a shattered right arm and a surgically reconstructed left hand." When he settled down with his wife in a house south of Nashville, Tennessee, Sgt. Pepper sought a "Specially Adapted Housing" grant for $50,000 to make his house more accessible because he was rendered, you know, fucking blind because of his service to his country. But all he qualified for, because of rules set up by Congress, in the years before surgery could save his arm, is $10,000. If he'd've lost the arm or had some other limb or limb part amputated, he'd've gotten the full amount. But his eyes are apparently worth a fifth of one leg. Frankly, it seems it'd be hard to take a normal piss either way.

Hey, congressional Democrats, you want a quick pro-military bill? How about a half-percent sales tax or some such shit where the funds go to support vets? Call it the "Patriot Fund," and dare Republicans to vote against it.

Greater selfishness means that we need troops at home, so we need the fuckin' National Guard, the goddamn Reserves, which have been broken like a bear that rides a bike in a Russian circus. For instance, a presumptive weekend warrior in Florida, in the seventh year of an eight-year Army Reserve stint, has been told to get ready for his fifth tour of duty, having already done one rotation in Afghanistan and three in Iraq. This is a reservist, Sergeant Erik Botta, who is proud of his service and deployed readily the last four times. This time, he risks not only his life and body parts, but his house, his job, his education. Let's get this right: he has been deployed four other times. The army struck down his appeal, and now Botta is suing the Army to stay his deployment. Sure, sure, you can say that Botta signed the contract, he's even using the GI Bill to go to college, so fuck him. But even prisoners get time off for good behavior. At what point does Botta get to say he's regular Army so he can get the benefits that come from that? At what point do we as a nation get to say to our leaders that this man has done more than any of them to "defend" the country?

So when Karl Rove inserts his putrescent pudgy puss into any discussion about whether or not the timing on troop withdrawal is politically expedient, someone from the military ought to walk in the Oval Office and beat him down like the rabid cur he is.

(Tip o' the rude hat to reader Mike for the Sgt. Pepper story.)


Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Chug a Bottle of Cheap Cough Syrup:

Today Paul Krugman asked what people like George Bush are doing to "sacrifice" for the war effort. That question is answered in a picture: the President of the United States, taking time from his busy schedule, for a little pre-birthday R&R, hanging out at a baseball game. Look at his face. Yeah, that's the demi-smirk of a man who is worried every day about the tens of thousands of men and women he's put in a position to get their heads blown off.

But, hey, let's be thankful for small favors. At least we're not forced (yet) to go to our town squares to sing "Happy Birthday" to his image on plasma screen TVs, celebrating 61 years of his foul polluting of the earth by his very presence.

The Bestest Letter the Rude Pundit's Gotten in a While
From rude reader JJ, about Independence Day at Disney World:
"I spent the 4th at MGM with my family. At the end of the day, they had a special fireworks show to celebrate the holiday. MGM normally does not have a fireworks show, though EPCOT and Magic Kingdom have them every night.

"When they introduced the show, they invited us to 'sing along.' Then, they played Celine Dion's performance of the Star-Spangled Banner. I didn't hear anyone singing, among the many thousands assembled.

"If you pick up any stories about how heartwarming and patriotic it was to hear thousands singing the National Anthem, I want you to know from me: It's bullshit - no one sang. We were just one sweaty bunch of weary park-goers at the end of our cash-hemorrhage Disney experience."

Of course, JJ wasn't over at the Magic Kingdom, where over a thousand immigrants became new citizens and were forced to listen to Lee Greenwood bless the USA as war planes ripped through the sky. Somewhere in the bowels of Cinderella's Castle, Aladdin was being waterboarded by Goofy.


Beware Our Thinking President:
Sure, we all know that George Bush says stupid shit all the time. It'd be charming if he was a character on a 1950s sitcom - Christ, think of the catchphrases - and not our goddamn president. But we should really be worried whenever Bush talks about something that he claims he's been thinking on (if by "thinking," you mean, "talking to people smarter than him"). The embryonic stem cell research restrictions, the Iraq war, the Scooter Libby commutation. These are the things the man does after he claims he's thought through all the possibilities; still, no matter how much thought he gives it, the outcome is hopelessly predictable.

It's sort of like if you're a manwhore who's been sucking cock all night in the bathroom of a bar, say, the Cellblock in Phoenix. You're covered in spunk, lips chapped, belly full, it's about 5 a.m., and, fuck, manwhores've gotta sleep, too. And in comes a trio of closeted Arizona frat boys lookin' for some leather-lovin'. They want you to blow them, say they've got sick cash for you. You tell them to let you think about it, maybe call a manwhore buddy, but, really, and, c'mon, you're gonna be taking the chowder. You're a manwhore. What the fuck else are you gonna do? All of a sudden say that three more cocks are too many? C'mere, boys, let's get suckin'.

Beyond what he thinks about, the truly frightening and just plain wrong shit that comes from Bush's mouth is the shit he's planned to say. Check out his speech yesterday on Independence Day in West Virginia: "Perhaps one way to differentiate between our thoughts is just think about religion. In the great country of the United States, we believe that you should be able to worship any way you see fit; that you're equally American, regardless of your religious beliefs. They believe that if you don't worship the way they see it, then they're going to bring you harm." Isn't the problem here that we're thinking too much about religion?

But wait. Bush goes on, "We believe in an Almighty, we believe in the freedom for people to worship that Almighty. They don't. They don't believe you should worship the way you choose. They believe the only way you should worship is the way they choose." Now, which Almighty is "that Almighty"? Which "Almighty" is the one that equally American people worship? The whole invocation of some big fuckin' Almighty, which happens to be the Rude Pundit's leather bar name, just fillin' our American skies with his Almightiness, plays into so much of what "they" think of us: imposing our Almighty on them at the end of our guns. So, just like Bush, they want their Almighty to win. You got that? Our Magical Sky Wizard is bigger than their Magical Sky Wizard because our Sky Wizard says that their Sky Wizard can exist. Fuck, you may as well be talking about leprechauns fighting fairies.

And that ain't even getting into the large number of "we" who don't "believe in an Almighty."

But maybe this is a new tactic. Bush will destroy every other part of the Bill of Rights. Shit, soon we'll be quartering soldiers. Yet he'll say his war is to defend freedom of religion. Another great and mighty cause. One that he'll be thinking about while continuing to gobble all those tumescent neocon phalluses.
Late Post Today

The Rude Pundit found a crack house going-out-of-business sale, and needs to find a way to balance Clark Kent duty with chemical enduced mind erosion. He'll be back later.


Thomas Paine Would Fuck George W. Bush's Shit Up:
You've read the frighteningly contemporary-sounding Declaration of Independence enough. On this Fourth of July, howzabout some words from the original American rude pundit, Thomas Paine, the ass-kickingest Founder. These are some motherfuckin' fireworks, all written between 1776 and 1783:

From The American Crisis V:
"If there is a sin superior to every other, it is that of willful and offensive war. Most other sins are circumscribed within narrow limits, that is, the power of one man cannot give them a very general extension, and many kinds of sins have only a mental existence from which no infection arises; but he who is the author of a war, lets loose the whole contagion of hell, and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death."

"Were government a mere manufacture or article of commerce, immaterial by whom it should be made or sold, we might as well employ her as another, but when we consider it as the fountain from whence the general manners and morality of a country take their rise, that the persons entrusted with the execution thereof are by their serious example an authority to support these principles, how abominably absurd is the idea of being hereafter governed by a set of men who have been guilty of forgery, perjury, treachery, theft and every species of villany which the lowest wretches on earth could practise or invent. What greater public curse can befall any country than to be under such authority, and what greater blessing than to be delivered therefrom. The soul of any man of sentiment would rise in brave rebellion against them, and spurn them from the earth."

In The American Crisis VI, Paine writes what could be the epitaph for the Bush administration:
"If you look back you see nothing but loss and disgrace. If you look forward the same scene continues, and the close is an impenetrable gloom."

Or maybe this, from The American Crisis X:
"It is strange that a nation must run through such a labyrinth of trouble, and expend such a mass of wealth to gain the wisdom which an hour's reflection might have taught."

This list could go on and on, without even getting into Rights of Man. From The American Crisis XII:
"That a nation is to be ruined by peace and commerce, and fourteen or fifteen millions a-year less expenses than before, is a new doctrine in politics. We have heard much clamor of national savings and economy; but surely the true economy would be, to save the whole charge of a silly, foolish, and headstrong war; because, compared with this, all other retrenchments are baubles and trifles."

But, of course, the real "Fuck you, King George" is in the first of The American Crisis papers. Read beyond the "times that try men's souls" beginning and you get to this nut punch that oughta be hammered to Dick Cheney's door or Bush's bible:
"Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America."

Thomas Paine. Today, he'd be shouted down by Bill O'Reilly for his treachery and oh-so preciously mocked by Maureen Dowd for his sincerity. But, as George Washington said, without him, we wouldn't have won the independence we're supposed to celebrate today.


A Genuine Question Regarding Joseph Wilson:
Has any right-winger, in all this time, come up with a legitimate reason for there being a need to discredit Joseph Wilson by outing his wife through Scooter Libby? Because if, as conservatives claim, Wilson was demonstrably wrong in his Niger report, it seems you'd just show he's wrong and leave his wife out of the whole damn thing. Unless...well, you know.

Anyone got an answer they can point out?
When It Says Libby, Libby, Libby on the Sentence, Sentence, Sentence:
There's a million ways we can sniff at the foul stench of the hypocritical fart that blasted out of the White House yesterday.

There's the What-if-Clinton...? gambit: While she was pardoned at the end of his presidency, you can bet that the same Republicans praising the Scooter Libby free pass would have been burning down the Capital if Bill Clinton had commuted Susan McDougal's prison sentence, which she served.

There's the Are-you-fuckin'-kiddin'-me? sentence injustice stratagem: While Scooter Libby gets to stay free no matter what happens in his appeal for lying to a grand jury, Genarlow Wilson can't get bail while appealing his conviction for having consensual oral sex with a girl two years younger than him. Or you could talk about most of the people in prison on drug possession charges.

There's the George-Bush-is-just-an-asshole obvious statement: Where you wanna go with this? Karla Faye Tucker? Any of the capital punishment cases that Bush took less than five minutes to decide were just? The prisoners who'll never stand trial at Gitmo? Lift any goddamn rock in the Rose Garden and you'll find examples where mercy is ignored and/or injustice stands in the considered legal opinion of George W. Bush.

But what's so goddamned annoying about the Scooter Libby commutation is that its so fucking, tiresomely predictable. Fun as it was to imagine Libby being sold for a pack of cigarettes and a couple of old, crusty Hustlers to a large-cocked guy who's serving time for murder after coming back from his third tour of duty in Iraq, there was never a chance that Cheney was going to allow Libby to be in a position to testify to the truth of the leak of Valerie Plame's identity. A pardon would have allowed him to speak, free and clear. Commutation is just about the sentence, not the crime or any connected crimes. The real dick move with the commutation is that it's a threat as well as a reward.

And the statement on the commutation was such a pussy move - not quite a pardon, not quite a punishment. Sure, Bush tried to make it sound like there was still some tough shit going on: "The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting." Yeah, and there won't be a cushy consulting job, the refuge of rogues and criminals, awaiting him. Man, the Rude Pundit wants to be punished with his work "forever damaged" by walking into a seven-figure job. It's like telling your kid that you're not gonna ground him, but, boy, you'll think twice next time he tells you he's just gonna take the car for a spin. Now, let's get ice cream while you think about what you did.

Also, a commutation allows Libby to keep appealing, which keeps the case alive, something a pardon wouldn't have done, which allows Bush and the rest of his merry band of fuckers to keep saying that they won't comment on an ongoing legal kerfuffle.

There's what we've learned: that George Bush doesn't believe in federal sentencing guidelines, that it's good to have friends with absolute power, that, as we have learned so many times from this administration, the rule of law does not matter. More chaos for our chaotic times.

Well, fuck, at least it took the British terror "plot" off the top of the news for a little while.

(By the way, if you've ever wanted to feel like beating down a man who wears glasses, check out David Brooks's column today. Yeah, it's behind the wall, but here's just a little taste: " The drama opened, as these dark comedies are wont to do, with a strutting little peacock who went by the unimaginative name of Joe Wilson." Oh, man, you just want to drop a bar of soap into a sock and head down to the Times, but we're not savages, right?)