Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Shove a Crumpet Up Someone's Ass:

You know, not much may come at the end of the day from the Chilcot panel's inquiry into what led Britain into the Iraq war. It may not lead to anything more than one more report saying generic "Mistakes were made" kind of bullshit. It may offer nothing more than one more ripped condom to sheath the diseased cock-politic that fucked the conscience back into the British people while infecting them. But, unlike over here in the good ol' USA, where we never look back because we don't want to see the wreckage we've left behind, at the very least, for a day, former Prime Minister Tony Blair was forced to show up and publicly explain what the fuck he did.

Of course, Blair didn't back down, didn't offer any mea culpas, and clung so tightly to George W. Bush's ballsack that he must never be able to get the smell of sweaty Texas taint off his skin. "The decision I took – and frankly would take again – was if there was any possibility that he could develop weapons of mass destruction we should stop him. That was my view then and that is my view now," he said of Saddamn Hussein. And he offered a telling comparison that indicates, without saying so, how shit was gonna play out no matter what. Blair said that there was really no difference wanting regime change in Iraq and wanting it to disarm, that "It's more a different way of expressing the same proposition."

You got that? Disarmament? No WMDs? Didn't matter. What it really was about was getting rid of Saddam Hussein, no matter the cost in lives and money.

There's protests going on outside the inquiry and angry families of dead soldiers thinking that Blair is a smirking fuck. Whatever may come of the inquiry, at a minimum, in England they have the guts to look back and try to make sense of what they did. They at least understand that their former leaders may have to live in disgrace.


The State of the Union Is "What the Fuck Do You Want From Me?":
After a bit of how-we-got-here exposition, Barack Obama began his first State of the Union mega-speech by asserting that he was right. Talking about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Obama said, "Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders. And we're on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year. The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act. That's right -– the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus bill." (Of course, these numbers can be argued with, but, for the most part, there'd be a fuck of a lot more unemployment without the Recovery Act.)

Now, you remember the way Obama approached putting together the Recovery Act? He wanted Republicans on board. For that reason, Democrats agreed to shift billions in stimulus to tax cuts, until it made up a third of the cost of the bill. And they agreed to make the bill smaller than what Obama wanted. The reward for working with Republicans? Not a single one voted for it in the House and just Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and then-Republican Arlen Specter did so in the Senate.

In other words, despite every attempt at true bipartisanship, Obama was rewarded with almost no Republican votes. Yet the Act worked. Obama's stimulus plan, passed by Democrats, worked as designed in staving off even greater economic strife, and it's still working. And, as he said without saying it last night, Obama and the Democrats were right and the Republicans were wrong. The problem is that he should have said it explicitly. He should have said that Americans have Democrats almost completely to thank for those two million jobs, for those new cops, for the roadwork, for the schools, for the tax cuts to families. And he should have said it because it was the truth. And, in an ideal universe, he should have added what the economy would have looked like had Republicans gotten their way.

Instead, what we got for most of the rest of the speech was Obama asking, "What the fuck do you want?" Like a man desperately trying to keep a betraying lover from leaving, he was willing to give and give: spending freeze, more tax cuts, c'mon, baby, what'll it take? On the other side, Obama gave liberals some meat, too, in the form of calls for equal pay and an end to Don't Ask, Don't Tell (although, you know, he could end it right now, if he wanted). The elusive hope of bipartisanship is gone, yet Obama keeps trying, as if he could will it into being like a crazed TV doctor jolting a dead patient with a defibrillator again and again until being dragged off and told, "He's dead." Goddamn, we think, that's one caring motherfucker; too bad he couldn't save that bipartisan dude.

It's becoming almost insane to keep trying. You look at the smug faces of those GOP cocksuckers watching the speech, laughing at stupid shit they say to each other, muttering bullshit so the cameras can see they're displeased, taking the olive branch and setting it on fire and shoving it up Obama's ass. They don't give a shit what Obama has to say. They don't give a shit what the majority wants. They have one mode, and it's not negation of what Obama is trying to do. That would require action. It's to prevent anything from occurring. Why?

Because when Republicans allowed one major piece of legislation to pass, it fucking worked. Holy shit, that's got to have scared the fuck out of Republicans: what if the Congress enacts the major initiatives of the President and they work, like the stimulus? What if health care reform actually reforms the health care system? What if climate change legislation actually creates jobs? What if they are wrong? It's better for nothing to happen and then claim credit for stopping a train wreck before the train left the station.

But Republicans needn't have worried about taking too much blame. Even his gentle swipes at Republicans and the Bush administration were too subtle for this dunderheaded nation. Obama said, "We can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side -– a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can," and he interjected, "I'm speaking to both parties now." Except he didn't have to say it to Democrats.

Obama keeps trying to unify us. He keeps trying to tell us how we need to give up cynicism about government and see beyond party labels and ignore the bullshit reductionism of contemporary media. At some point, he has to act without regard to pleasing all political parties. That means he has to just press forward with what he believes is right without making sure everyone's cool with it. And then his job will be to do what he almost did at the top of the State of the Union: to explain, "This is what we did, and this is how your life is better. And don't you want us to continue to do that?" Sharing in progress and results, that's how the country becomes united, not in figuring out how everyone can be right all the time. It's less important to change the tone in Washington than to change the policies. Change the fucking tone in your second term, okay?

This speech wasn't that kind of moment. It wasn't bad, it wasn't good, and it wasn't new. It's essentially what he told us at the Democratic Convention and on election night. He attempted to not piss anyone off. He rekindled a little of the old romantic fire with those of us who support him. "I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone," he said. Most of us didn't believe it would be easy. We just believed it would be possible.


A Quick Note on the State of the Union Speech:
He actually called out the media and the Supreme Court for dicking over the public. If only he had pimp-slapped Republicans so bluntly. More tomorrow.
In Brief: Five Fantasy State of the Union Speeches:
Everyone's giving Barack Obama advice that he won't take about what they think/hope the President will say at tonight's State of the Union speech. The Rude Pundit figures that if you're gonna waste your time, you may as well waste it on some fine fantasies:

1. Obama walks to the podium with Joe Lieberman's ragged-necked, bloody, disembodied head and announces that the Connecticut Senator has been kicked out of the Democratic caucus. He tosses the head at Mitch McConnell, who weeps as he fucks Lieberman's grotesque, frozen-in-mid-scream mouth. The President says, "The State of the Union is who's next?"

2. Obama introduces Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright as guests seated behind Michelle Obama, who fist bumps them both. The President says, "Scared now, fuckers?"

3. He has the Sergeant-at-Arms drag in a chain gang of men in striped prison garb, Joe Arpaio-style. The bedraggled men are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, and more. Obama asks children in the gallery to come down and pelt them with rotten fruit. The President says, "Now this is how you blame the current crisis on the previous administration."

4. Obama assures the nation that health care reform will not only pass, but that he will personally make sure that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are declared insane and a danger to themselves and others and made wards of the state. The President says, "We will start with electroshock therapy. But lobotomies may be needed."

5. He announces that he's sending tea partyers to assist in the rebuilding of Haiti as part of his jobs program. The President says, "It will also be an education program in what it's like to live without government."

(Tomorrow: State of the Union madness. Friday: Part 2 of "The Plight of the Liberal")
Late Post Today:
The Rude Pundit's gotta go burn all his journalist costumes - telephone repairman, high school student, whore - before he's caught.

Back in a bit with more concupiscent rudeness.


The Plight of the Liberal Under Obama, Part 1:
What do we do? That's the question the close-to-abandoned left has to grapple with for at least the next nine months. It's fucking exhausting, to work your ass off to get someone elected only to see them seemingly turn against the very reasons you worked in the first place. Those of us who strove to get Bill Clinton elected know the score: the tragedy of being an even moderately liberal Democrat in post-Reagan America is that you learn to suck it up and accept that true liberal advances will happen rarely. But you do that under the belief that, at some vague point in the future, some leader will actually, you know, lead based on the principles we subscribe to.

The Rude Pundit tried to remember the last time something truly transformational was passed by the Congress and signed into law by a president. Not a fake liberal thing, like No Child Left Behind, which imposed an outcomes-based business model on teachers trying to get students to want to learn. The Lily Ledbetter Act of 2009 was a nice bit of spackle to fill a hole in existing law. But you have to go back to either the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 or the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Notice: one of those was signed into law by a Republican, George Bush the Smarter. The other was signed by Bill Clinton in August of his first year as president, after being twice-vetoed by Bush.

A bit of history: 26 Republican Senators (and one Democrat) voted against FMLA in 1993, including a few still in the Senate, like Mitch McConnell. They saw it as an unreasonable burden on business. Indeed, when Bush, Sr. vetoed the bill in 1992, he said it was all about election year politics and "I object however, to the federal government mandating leave policies for American's employers and work force." He wanted "to establish an alternative, flexible family-leave plan that will encourage small- and medium-size businesses to provide family leave for their employees" through tax credits. In other words, no mandate on any business. The Senate overrode the veto, with Republicans joining the majority Democrats. The House did not succeed in its override vote. John McCain, by the way, voted for FMLA.

The point here is not simply that there used to be Republicans in the Senate like Lincoln Chafee who were willing to work with the majority Democrats (the balance was 56-44 in 1992), although that is certainly significant. Republicans attempted to filibuster the 1993 bill that led to the creation of Americorps, but a unified Democratic caucus and five aisle-crossing Republicans ended that.

Instead, the Rude Pundit asks: Does anyone consider FMLA controversial anymore? Other than some business groups and nutzoid conservatives, does anyone want it rolled back? Is FMLA something that in any demonstrable way hindered small business growth (especially since small businesses are exempt from it)? It was a law specifically directed at the middle-class, an easily explained benefit that there was simply no way for Republicans to scare people away from. And had Bill Clinton not been elected, there would have been no FMLA. Of course, that was at the beginning of his first term, and he wasn't facing nation-wrecking crises. That initial progressive streak, already compromised by the passage of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," would be crushed in the next year.

As we gear up for tomorrow's State of the Union speech, the media keeps telling us that Obama is going to offer "help" to the middle class through an initiative or two. He will also offer a limited spending "freeze" on some non-military, non-Medicare, etc. programs, many of which will be ones that directly affect the middle class (and those in poverty, but, shhh, we don't talk about helping them unless they incorporate and become "Poor Fuckers Need Food Amalgamated"). Under some misguided notion of populism, the White House has said that such a freeze would save $250 billion in three years. Economists who have been generally right about everything that Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, and Ben Bernanke have not been say, more or less, "What a stupid fucking idea."

And yet there's a health care reform bill that's dangling out there that actually has cost containment and deficit reduction in it. In other words, by any measure of "what the middle class wants," be it reducing the debt or providing greater access to health care coverage, the health care reform bill accomplishes it (and, no, no, it's not a great or even good bill - but you gotta get a foot in the door in order to pry it open).

As Clinton learned, it was the moment that the Congress bailed on his more progressive goals that the midterm destruction of 1994 occurred, not because of it. No one campaigned for overturning FMLA because it was done. Yes, we can maunder around in errors and recriminations (and we should), in the lost "ifs" of the situation, that if Obama had told Republicans and Max Baucus to fuck off and gotten a health care reform bill by July, if parts of the bill were put in place immediately, if the first person with a pre-existing condition was able to get insurance where she couldn't before was interviewed, we wouldn't be here.

But we are. And, like we saw 16 years ago, the liberal Democrat has gotta figure out how we negotiate this and not send ourselves out into the desert once again, even if the White House is trying to tell us to go there.

More on that in Part 2.


The Rude Pundit on Today's Stephanie Miller Show:
On her radio place o' residence, Stephanie Miller talked to the Rude Pundit about what happens in the wake of the Scott Brown victory. The Rude Pundit blames everyone. Everyone, damn it, except you, sweet reader.

Avoid blame by subscribing to the Rude Pundit's podcast. It's the way to tell everyone that you know how to download podcasts.
Harold Ford, Jr. and Fanning the Flames of Cowardice:
The Rude Pundit's goddamned sick of hearing about what the magical Massachusetts vote says about how piss poor a job Barack Obama's doing. That may be so, and the Senate Democrats couldn't fit more Republican balls in their mouths, but what the election of Scott Brown demonstrated is the selfish fickleness of independent voters. In Massachusetts, 57% of independents voted for Democrat Obama. This year, polling indicates that 65% of them voted for Republican Brown. By the Rude Pundit's mad calculator skills, that works out to a big fucking swing.

Now, you could look at that and say, "Well, obviously, this means that independent voters, beholden to no party, have made a judgment on the presidency of Barack Obama and the direction of the country." And just about every pundit who can slither his or her way onto any of yer CNNMSNBCFox "news" shows drooled out this crude bit of insight on the Sunday gabfests, as if somehow they were proclaiming the end of history. The problem is that Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress have actually done very little that affects the lives of most of those independent voters except it got a few of them jobs and started the rebuilding of some roads and sent a few of them off to Afghanistan (no small thing). It's the fault of the administration in not conveying that message: "Wait. Let us do some shit for you first."

Actually the message should have been, "Okay, here's why we had to save the banking industry first. You'll get your shit next." And whether or not you agree that saving the banking industry first was the right step, at the very least it would have indicated that the administration understood that what independent voters were saying is "I want my shit. Where is it?" It would have also shown that it understood that a bunch of scared, angry fuckers might act stupidly and desperately, even if it's irrational for them to vote for the opposite of what they voted for a year before. As the tea party protests and town hall screamers demonstrated, our delusional fucktards no longer have to stand on street corners in rags.

The Rude Pundit's caught hell from readers for saying that many people who voted for change became cowards when it came to making change, as if somehow that was letting the Democrats off the hook, as if Democrats can't be special interest-blowing, corporate-owned cheap whores at the same time that many voters are wimps, the kind of people who go up in a plane, bragging that they're gonna sky-dive and experience that rush, except when it's time to jump, they piss themselves and ask the pilot to bring them back to earth safely. (By the way, it also doesn't mean that the Rude Pundit is talking about you. Unless he is. In which case, stop being such a pussy.)

Which leads us, in a long, strange way, to Harold Ford, Jr.'s editorial in today's New York Times. In a few paragraphs that look cobbled together like a sculpture made of the turds shit out by Joe Scarborough and Joe Lieberman, Ford, who is threatening to run for Senate in New York, proposes, among other things, "First, cut taxes for businesses — big and small — and find innovative ways to get Americans back to work." He waxes rhapsodically about how tax cuts create jobs and allow small businesses to thrive, as if that wasn't tried already. You know what'd allow small businesses to be created? Relieving the owners of health care costs for themselves and their employees. But we don't talk about that because it's too daring.

There's a lot of cowards out there right now. Many of them run the country. And there's people who want to fight. But there's gotta be a principle to fight for, something beyond, "When am I gonna get paid?" More on that tomorrow.


A View of the Future in the Wake of Yesterday's Supreme Court Decision:
That's right. In addition to sucking people dry over the internet to make their own ads and instead of PACs doing their big-ass donors' bidding, politicians can count on corporations to throw millions upon millions of dollars into commercials supporting a specific candidate. First they took our bowl games. Now they'll get our members of Congress. Money is speech, motherfuckers. We always knew it could talk. Hey, maybe if they're willing to pass a couple of disclosure laws, members of Congress can all be honest about whose whores they are.

Senator Orrin Hatch is brought to you by the good people at Merck. Merck: Because Vioxx isn't the only thing we make that'll fuck you up.

Senator Mitch McConnell is brought to by the executives at R.J. Reynolds. R.J. Reynolds: Can you believe how much shit we've gotten away with?

Senator Lisa Murkowski is brought to you by the shareholders of ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil: Suck our pipeline and suck it good, America.

Congressman Jack Murtha is brought to you by the people protecting our nation at Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin: The reason why we fight so many wars.

Senator Joe Lieberman is brought to you by the fine people at Wellpoint. Wellpoint: Sorry for the rejection, but you should blame your family for that diabetes.

The Rude Pundit? Other than the fine, fine readers who sustain him with their contributions, you know who brings him to you:


Torture and Murder at Gitmo: A Risky Political Opportunity If Obama Is Willing to Take It:
The Rude Pundit has said it before, and he'll keep saying it: the Obama administration's failure to investigate and prosecute the crimes of the Bush administration will lead to its downfall. You wanna establish moral authority to "change the tone" in Washington? Then adhere to some goddamned moral code. The laws of the land are a good place to start. As so many members of yer progressive punditry are saying, Barack Obama has to make Bush and the Republicans own the crises we are now in. And one way to do that is to reveal the extent that the United States under Bush tortured innocent people. It's ugly, and it's awful, but, hell, most violent crimes are.

We've reached a point in the revelations about our American torture policy where it's like hanging out with a friend and digging into the layers of porn on the internet. Straight sex? "Sure, fine." Howzabout some anal? "Groovy." Gangbanging a midget? "Bring it." A woman blowing a horse while getting her ass branded? "Ummm..." Wait, howzabout a dude with flipper arms and Down's syndrome blowing a quadruple amputee tranny? "Oh, no." In a kiddie pool of shit? "C'mon, that's enough." And then, when they tranny comes, they're both killed by a masked dude with a chainsaw? "Enough, you sick fuck." At some point, it just becomes too ugly to bear.

When it comes to torturing brown people from somewhere filled with rocks and/or sand, it seems like Americans have a capacity to not give a shit. Yeah, bring on the kneecapping and electrodes on nipples. But maybe there is a line. Scott Horton's new report about the potential murder and cover-up of three detainees - Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, who was 17 when he was sold to the United States - would seem to be the limits. Three men, none charged with any crime, two of whom were on a list to be released, may have tortured and murdered by the CIA at a secret site at Gitmo nicknamed "Camp No," where, one imagines, the detainees weren't served chicken and rice while being allowed to read the Koran.

As you read Horton's piece, you eventually get through the violence and the cover-up (as suicides, called "a good P.R. move" by an assistant secretary of state) to the stomach-churning section where, it seems, the Justice Department of the Obama administration is refusing to investigate the case in more than a cursory way. Why? More than likely because of fear of wrecking bipartisanship and ruining that oh-so-precious comity in Congress, under the notion of always "looking forward, not backward." Which sounds so Cheneyesque that it's even more nauseating than the Republican crowing over Scott Brown's victory lap.

So, of course, these crimes exist in a political realm. Prosecute the officers involved and Republicans will accuse the White House of harming security. But let's put this in another way, perhaps too idealistic, but nonetheless: Obama squandered away his first year in office on a snipe hunt for bipartisanship. Nearly everything he did had as a goal luring Republicans into some kind of coalition. He sold out pursuing Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rove and Gonzales and Yoo and on and on, all because he thought being a mensch would gain him some favor in working with the GOP. A year ago, the Rude Pundit wrote this about Obama's overtures to Republicans on the stimulus:

"Republicans have nothing right now, which means they have nothing to lose by trying to drag Obama into their pit of shit. They'll smile and say it was a good conversation, but they're waiting in the back halls of the Capitol to fuckin' shiv Obama and laugh while he bleeds. And try to force Americans back into their crooked arms."

To be crassly political where lives are at stake, Obama has nothing to lose at this point by using the Gitmo murder cover-up as a way to keep the memory of the Bush administrations failures alive. It will galvanize the Democratic base, who want Republican blood spilled, and it will change the story in the press. Dahlia Lithwick asks in Slate, "Why aren't we talking about new accusations of murder at Gitmo?" And the answer is that the administration has locked itself into this bullshit notion of working across the aisle. Instead, the White House should be thinking about how to sell the public on the good of putting Dick Cheney on trial. Fuck, use Republican reasoning for impeaching Bill Clinton for a less-than-violent crime: he broke the law. Sadly, though, by getting George W. Bush involved in the Haiti recovery effort, it almost seems like Obama pities the man when he should be despised and exiled.

The Rude Pundit's father was a tragically hopeless Mets fan in the 1960s and 1970s. He said that he always bet against the team because, if they won, he'd be thrilled. And if they lost, at least he won the bet. At the end of the day, even if it does nothing to change the seeming tidal shift in public opinion on Obama, at least a few murderers and their enablers may go to prison. At least we can say that laws matter.


Random Observations on Last Night's Massachusetts Knockdown:
1. Oh, grow a fucking pair already, whiny goddamn Democrats like Anthony Weiner or Barney Frank. You still belong to the majority party, the big majority party. You should be out there shredding Republicans, saying that they want to take us back to the policies of the Bush administration. Put that shit on repeat and use it. The biggest failure of the Democrats since the election of Barack Obama is that they have not made Republicans own the presidency of George W. Bush. It should become ingrained that "Republican=Bush." And the fact that it's not at this point means that idiots are running message for the Democrats. Americans are, for the most part, historical amnesiacs. They've already forgotten how our condition of being deeply fucked was a result of the very policies that Scott Brown ran on.

2. Let's give credit where it's due. Scott Brown won the Senate race fair and square, by campaigning like the underdog son of a bitch he was until a week ago. Martha Coakley should have acted like Hillary Clinton did in her re-election campaign in 2006. Clinton went all out when she didn't even have a real opponent because she knew how quickly the tide could turn against an incumbent, even though she had a 20 percent lead in most polls, even though she won by 31 percent. That's what you do.

3. Briefly (because anger must be released): Fuck you, Massachusetts. Not just for Brown's election, but for voting for Coakley in the Democratic primary. And fuck you because you already have health care program in your state, which made it a fuck of a lot easier to not give a shit about the rest of the nation (and means that it wasn't really about health care). Fuck you, White House and DSCC, for not seeing this coming.

4. While we're bemoaning the loss of the super-duper majority, we have to remember that so many in the Senate Democratic caucus are weaselly fuckers. What were the odds that skeevy Joe Lieberman wasn't going to dick over the Senate Democrats again when it came down to actually voting for health care reform? Or that the cowardly Evan Bayh (among other weasels) wasn't going to cave?

5. Since we are amnesiacs, let's not forget: Among the reasons that Bush was able to get whatever he wanted through the Congress for over five years, two stand out: 9/11 and lying. Had the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 not happened, the Bush presidency was going to be a fucking joke of tax cuts for the rich, culture wars, and trying to figure out how to bomb Iraq. Remember Jim Jeffords switching parties? Remember the stem cell speech? 9/11 happens, and all of a sudden everything is crisis and fear and threats of recrimination and Democrats get rolled, repeatedly. As for the lying, that's not just the wars. It's also the way that Ted Kennedy got burned twice by Bush - on No Child Left Behind and on the Medicare prescription drug act. Kennedy believed Bush and the Republicans would behave honorably and fully fund things. He was lied to. But Bush got to say for the rest of his presidency that he did something for kids and old people.

So what's the lesson? That Obama needs a bomb to go off in a mall? That he needs to make promises he won't keep to Republicans? The sad part is that if a terrorist attack happened, Republicans would immediately start riots against Obama, just as they would have done had Al Gore been president on 9/11. And Republicans aren't even going to sit down at the table on major legislation Obama wants. So what?

6. The lesson is that, in nearly every election, fear works. How did Republicans turn so many people against health care reform (see note below) and against Obama? Because they scared them. Republicans can, with a straight face, call Obama and Democrats "socialist" or whatever bugaboo word they want and then say that Democrats are to blame for the lack of bipartisanship. That's some shameless shit there. But it works.

Rhetorically, Republicans were articulating this message: "You will die and the government will take your money." Democrats, meanwhile, were stammering, "But, no, wait, pre-existing conditions, insurance exchange, 'Cadillac' health plans." While he might not have been the slickest messenger, Rep. Alan Grayson had the message right: life and death. "What if you lose your job? What if your kids need the doctor?" That would have required a bill that was clear in its objective, instead of whatever mutant clusterfuck of a thing is shat out of whatever committee or negotiating group is trying to bribe someone into voting.

If Republicans had wanted universal health care, you would have seen commercials with heartless insurance agents stabbing babies and drinking their blood. You would have seen ads with desperate, laid-off old men offering to blow people for quarters so they could afford their insulin. You would have seen ads about how sad it is that a depressed middle-aged woman with a dream of a scrapbooking store is now suicidal over not being able to follow her small business dream because if she left her shitty office job, she'd lose her health care. The ad would have ended with a gunshot in darkness. People would have been begging for health care reform because Republicans would have made it seem like the world would fall apart without it.

Hope was a great message to get Obama elected. But it only goes so far. Conservatives used fear to create the teabaggers. Republicans used fear in Massachusetts. Fear of "terrorists" being put on trial in America. Fear of mythical higher taxes. Republicans are using fear on members of Congress, as in "Pass these things and you will be voted out." Fear fucking works.

(Note: the Rude Pundit is leaving out the angry progressives who oppose health care reform in its current form and think the Senate bill sucks [which it does] because it doesn't even contain a public option, let alone universal health care. That's a separate issue, and since health care reform is up in the air now, who the fuck knows where it's gonna land and in what form.)

7. Buck up, once again, once again, motherfuckers. It's flee, fight, or roll over and get fucked. And the Rude Pundit's not ready to flee. And he prefers to do the fucking. The problem is figuring out who to fight.


Americans Wanted Change But Have Become Cowards About Change:
Every once in a while, the Rude Pundit reads something from New York Times columnist David Brooks that is so ludicrously irrational that he wonders if Brooks was writing it while tripping balls on cheap acid and getting his asshole fingered by an overpriced Georgetown call girl. For in his latest "column" (if by "column," you mean, "bidet"), after drawing on Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan for some damn irrelevant point (which mostly seems to be, "Look, I read Leviathan"), Brooks opines about how Democrats don't understand the people of America: "Many Democrats, as always, are caught in their insular liberal information loop. They think the polls are bad simply because the economy is bad. They tell each other health care is unpopular because the people aren’t sophisticated enough to understand it. Some believe they can still pass health care even if their candidate, Martha Coakley, loses the Senate race in Massachusetts on Tuesday."

And then Brooks, seeing colors where there should be letters and getting his prostate massaged, unleashes this: "That, of course, would be political suicide. It would be the act of a party so arrogant, elitist and contemptuous of popular wisdom that it would not deserve to govern. Marie Antoinette would applaud, but voters would rage."

So, just to get this straight, a year ago, we inaugurated a President who campaigned on health care reform more liberal than either of the bills passed in the House and Senate. Nearly every campaign speech, nearly every debate, nearly ever interview with candidate Barack Obama contained the promise of a push for universal health care for Americans. You couldn't not know about it unless you actually blocked out the words from your brain. And we voted him in with a Congress that had vast majorities from his party precisely because we wanted his agenda to pass. That's what we did, a year ago. And tonight, should Scott Brown win in Massachusetts because Martha Coakley sucked as a candidate, Barack Obama will still be president with vast Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

Yet for Brooks, it would be "arrogant, elitist and contemptuous" for Democrats to do exactly what they were elected to do a year ago. He'd be right if he was talking about the exact opposite. It's actually contemptuous of the American voters for Democrats to ignore the results of 2008 because all of a sudden people are getting shit-scared of actual change and not just the fantasy of change.

No, what actually needs to happen is that Americans need to stop being such pussies about transforming the country. Yeah, yeah, there's plenty of time to pile on the Democratic Party and President Obama. But for the moment, let's talk about what pathetic little bitches many Americans have become since the election. It's like an average-looking dude who finally gets a chance to fuck a supermodel and can't get it up, so he blames the supermodel for being so intimidatingly hot that his dick is scared of failure. No, asshole, it's your fault.

A year ago, so many Americans were joyous because it seemed like we were actually going to make a big-ass turnaround from the despair that the Bush years had brought us. We declared that we were all ready to work together to bring the country back from the edge of the abyss. But then all of a sudden the potential changes in things like the health care system or our approach to climate change or tax codes or gay rights made too many Americans get the heebie-jeebies and run away, back into the open hands of Republicans, who nuzzled them, offering them a teat to suckle, and said, "It'll be okay. We'll cut taxes and that'll solve everything. Just drink this milk and you'll lose every bit of courage you ever had and you'll forget that we want to do the same shit that fucked us up in the first place." Goddamn, it's so comforting to curl into the arms of a myth and just make the hard work go away.

Brooks says that Obama is scaring Americans because he's trying to solve too many problems: "Driven by circumstances and self-confidence, the president has made himself the star performer in the national drama. He has been ubiquitous, appearing everywhere, trying to overhaul most sectors of national life: finance, health, energy, automobiles and transportation, housing, and education, among others." But that's because all those things needed overhauling after the neglect and damage of the Bush administration.

You want symbolism? Let's go to the heart of it. If you head over to downtown Manhattan, you can finally see something beginning to sprout at the site of the fallen Twin Towers. That fucking hole was created eight and a half years ago under the presidency of George W. Bush. It took nearly five years to clear the debris. And only now does it look like something might some day replace the destruction. The new place is scheduled to open in 2013, a dozen years after the damage was done. Hell, it's not until then that we'll know if we even like the joint. You got that? They had to haul away the wreckage before the building could even start on the hole left behind.

Brooks and so many others of the commentariati think that Obama needs to bend even further to the whims of the cowardly public, pissing themselves at the sight of distant change to their lives. They are wrong. That would be arrogant. That would be the President placing his re-election above why he was actually elected in the first place.


The Rude Pundit on Today's Stephanie Miller Show:
Today, the Rude Pundit offered that if the starving people of Haiti ate Rush Limbaugh for food, the oxycontin in his veins would offer some fine pain relief. However, the Rude Pundit is not a medical expert. That did not stop him from playing political doctor with Stephanie Miller:

If you prefer your radio rudeness in pod form, well, subscribe, motherfucker, 'cause it's free.
Martin Luther King Would Still Fuck Your Shit Up (A Call to Democrats to Sack Up):
Here's one you might not have heard: Speaking to a small group of protesters outside Santa Rita prison in California, on January 14, 1968, where he had visited Joan Baez and other jailed anti-war activists and draft resisters, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, in remarks that ought to resonate not just with President Obama, but with cowardly Democrats and everyone who thinks that moderation works:

"They have supported us in a very real way in our struggle for civil rights...I see these two struggles as one struggle. There can be no justice without peace. And there can be no peace without justice. People ask me from time to time, 'Aren't you getting out of your field? Aren't you supposed to be working in civil rights?' They go on to say the two issues are not to be mixed. And my only answer is that I have been working too long and too hard now against segregated public accommodations to end up at this stage of my life segregating my moral concerns. For I believe absolutely that justice is indivisible and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And I want to make it clear that I am going to continue with all of my might and all of my energy and with all of my action to oppose that abominable, evil, unjust war in Vietnam.

"Now let me say this: I see some very dangerous trends developing in our country, trends of oppression and repression and suppression, and I see a definite move on the part of the government to go out now and silence dissenters and to crush the draft resistance movement. Now we cannot allow this to happen...And let us continue to work passionately and unrelentingly to end this cruel and senseless war in Vietnam. I don't have to go through all of the things that this war is doing to corrode the values of our nation.

"Suffice it to say that the war in Vietnam has all but torn up the Geneva Accord. It has strengthened the military industrial complex of our nation. It has exacerbated the tensions between continents and races. The war in Vietnam has...played havoc with our domestic destinies. And I can never forget the fact that we spend about $500,000 to kill every enemy soldier in Vietnam and we spend only about $53 a year for every individual who is categorized as poverty-stricken in our so-called 'war against poverty,' which isn't even a skirmish against poverty. And I say that there is a great need for a revolution of values.

"And I say to you in conclusion that we must continue to stand up and we must continue to follow the dictates of our conscience, even if that means breaking unjust laws. Henry David Thoreau said in his essay on civil disobedience that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. And I do not plan to cooperate with evil at any point.

"Somebody said to me not too long ago, 'Dr. King, don't you think you're hurting your leadership by taking a stand against the war in Vietnam? Aren't people who once respected you gonna lose respect for you? And aren't you hurting the budget of your organization?'

"And I had to look at that person and say, 'I'm sorry, sir, but you don't know me. I am not a consensus leader. And I do not determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Leadership Conference or by taking a Gallup poll of the majority opinion.'

"Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but he's a molder of consensus. And on some positions, cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expedience asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?'

"But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?'

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right. And that is where I stand today and that is where I hope you will continue to stand so that we can speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters all over the world and righteousness like a mighty stream. And we will speed up the day when men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and nations will not rise up against nations neither they will not start a war anymore and I close by saying as we sing in the old Negro spiritual, 'I Ain't Gonna Study War No More.'"

Pieces of this would appear in speeches he gave until he died. Afterward, asked by a reporter about "escalated non-violence," King answered that anger must have a "constructive and creative channel of expression, we've got to escalate non-violence to the point where we make it much more militant, much more demanding, much more insistent, even if it takes on the dimensions of civil disobedience. I feel that non-violence must now be strong enough to be an alternative to riots on the one hand but also an alternative to timid supplications for justice on the other."

We forget, amid all the deification, what a tough bastard King was. We admire him because he was uncompromising and principled, and also because he fought like lives depended on it. Because they did.

Later a man asked King if he should burn his draft card. King asked the man if he opposed the war. When the man said he did, King told the man to resist, even though it meant breaking the law.


Some Thoughts from a Rude Reader (Sent from the Dominican Republic):
DS writes to the Rude Pundit:

"I was actually about 20km from the Haitian border when the quake happened. Surreal experience....I think you're missing some key facts about Haiti. The bottom line is this has been a long time coming.

"The roads were un-driveable before the quake. There's no infrastructure. No electricity. There's no forest. Nothing to hold back mud and rocks. It's impossible to just show up in Haiti and get around...Aside from the roads, towns with over 100,000 people haven't had electricity in years.

"Look up Pedernales [in the Dominican Republican, where DS was during the quake] on the map. The fact that I was that close to the epicenter and was completely unaffected by the quake should explain how long Haiti has been fucked. I don't even think any nation has taken steps to absolve their debt. Haitians were slaves, and in many respects still are. Part of the reason you don't see many Dominicans talking about it is probably because of the tremendous overt racism Haitians face here. Unbelievable."

DS offers a link for more information from scientists who have worked in Haiti.

Clarification: Earlier this week, the Rude Pundit said that MSNBC went forward with the programs of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow instead of going to earthquake coverage. According to reader Derrick B., the 11 p.m. ET edition of The Rachel Maddow Show was not a rerun (as it usually is) and was instead "devoted to the earthquake."
Things Important and Unimportant:
Because, even with the glaring distraction of the ongoing catastrophe, the American political process lumbers on.

Things Important:
1. That the Senate race in Massachusetts is even close is clear evidence of the incompetence of the DNC without Howard Dean running it. And since it got so little attention from Obama before, there's no way the President can wander into the Martha Coakley/nude guy race now.

2. Because if they screw up this race, they've screwed whatever health care reform might possibly get passed. Or at least the piece of paper that claims "reform" on it.

3. Republicans are actively preventing the executive branch from operating at full steam by blocking Obama nominee after Obama nominee for reasons petty and ideological. Whether it's Dawn Johnsen for the Office of Legal Counsel or Craig Becker for the National Labor Relations Board, the GOP has decided that any time it can, it will simply throw itself in the way as a roadblock.

Which is an indelicate way to bring up that people are so frustrated in Haiti by a lack of aid getting to them that they have, in two cases, used corpses for roadblocks.

Things Unimportant:
1. Anyone remember that idiotic debate over some damn Washington insider book?
2. Anyone still care who Tiger Woods was banging?
3. Are we actually spending time on who gets to host The Tonight Show?

That right there is a community of shacks and trailers that was also destroyed by the earthquake in Haiti. The shantytown in Port-au-Prince was the shithole people called home. Haiti has one of the greatest income disparities between well-off and impoverished in the Western Hemisphere, with one percent of Haitians owning half the nation's wealth. The people who lived in the Carrefour slum are as homeless as many of the rich who lived up in Petionville.


Why Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh Ought to Be Dropped Into Haiti as Food (Updated):
Seriously, did you think that Pat Robertson wasn't going to be a completely batshit insane fuckbag about Haiti? C'mon: natural disaster, scary black people, hoodoo-voodoo shit? It's the first Jesus boner Robertson's had in over four years, since he blamed New Orleans for being some kind of gay, sinning magnet for Hurricane Katrina. Robertson said that Haiti only overthrew colonial control because the slaves there made a pact with the devil. "True story," he assured us, despite the fact that it's false. (Sure, yeah, fine, Robertson's got relief organizations working in Haiti. Doesn't make him less of an asshole.)

By the way, if you wanna prove your God is so goddamn powerful, let him cause an earthquake somewhere that's not on a fault line, or let him whip up a hurricane in, say, the middle of the desert. Otherwise, shut the fuck up about how big and strong he is. In fact, Pat Robertson, you saggy, sick, senile fuck who needed to be ground up into soylent green about a decade ago or buried alive with Jerry Falwell's corpse, if your God is such a dick that he'd try to prove some bullshit point by flattening a country of poor, beaten down people, then fuck your God. Motherfucker oughta spend some time hanging with his son to learn how to treat the meek. (And as for Robertson's nodding sidekick there, Kristi Watts, others have put it quite nicely.)

Other ugliness will rear its ugly head, as is the wont of ugliness. And while writing about Rush Limbaugh twice in one week is like researching burn victim goatse (Note: don't), the man who sadly did not die a couple of weeks ago used the Haiti earthquake as a way to attack President Barack Obama in many bizarre ways.

- According to Limbaugh, there's some kind of equivalence between the deluded fucktard who sparked his balls aflame on an airplane on Christmas and a major catastrophe that has destroyed a country and probably killed tens of thousands of people: "Now, I want you to remember, it took him three days to respond to the Christmas Day Fruit of Kaboom Bomber, three days. And when he came out after those three days, he was clearly irritated that he had to do it. He didn't want to do it. He comes out here in less than 24 hours to speak about Haiti." It's a little like saying, "How dare those bastards in the ER deal with a code blue heart attack while I'm sitting here with an ass pimple that needs popping."

- Limbaugh joins his callers in making raising suspicions about going to the White House website in order to find out where to donate:
CALLER: My question is, why did Obama in the sound bite you played earlier, when he's talking about if you wanted to donate some money, you can go to WhiteHouse.gov --

RUSH: Yeah.

CALLER: -- to direct you how to do so. If I want to donate money to the Red Cross, why do I need to go to the WhiteHouse.gov page and --

RUSH: Exactly. Would you trust that the money is going to go to Haiti?


RUSH: Would you trust that your name is going to end up on a mailing list for the Obama people to start asking you for campaign donations for him and other causes.

CALLER: Absolutely.

RUSH: Absolutely right.

So the President gives people an easy way to get information on where to donate and, for Limbaugh and his ball-lapping listeners, it's some kind of conspiracy where Obama will end up breaking the law in order to get campaign contributions.

- Because, ultimately, as Limbaugh says, Obama coming out to talk about Haiti the next day is just a cynical political ploy: "This will play right into Obama's hands. He's humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, 'credibility' with the black community -- in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made-to-order for them. That's why he couldn't wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there." Does it even need to be said that Obama probably needs no help at all with the black vote in this country? That, at this point, he'd have to do something pretty fucking awful in order to lose it? It's not just a cruel statement by Limbaugh; it's dumb.

Oh, by the way, George W. Bush had a statement out about the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami within 24 hours of its occurrence. Guess that was just to burnish his credibility with Sri Lankans and Indonesians.

At this point, Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson need to be bundled up with some canned goods and dropped into Port au Prince in packages marked, "Meat." Griot up those motherfuckers. It's about the only way they'd be useful.

Update: Just to demonstrate how very fucked Limbaugh's remarks are, even the Rude Pundit's designated punching Townhall.com bag, Kevin McCullough, who mentions that he has an adopted son from Haiti, is urging his readers/listeners to donate to earthquake relief without any sort of political agenda. (By the way, Kevster, this doesn't mean that the Rude Pundit loves you any more than he already does.)


The Degradation of the Media: Racism, Sexism, and Sarah Palin:
1. What If It Had Been Sweden?: Last night was proof that CNN is doing something noble in facing down the urge to turn its evening programming over to commentary. Yeah, there's a fuck of a lot to criticize the network for, but at least it wasn't playing a rerun of an interview about Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno and NBC. That would be MSNBC at around 10:30 p.m. ET, when Countdown was on its second go-round of the night. And it wasn't showing whatever the fuck it is that Greta Van Scientologist does on Fox "news." Nope, other than about ten minutes of Larry King's corpse talking about NBC, the entire evening on CNN was all about trying to get information on the earthquake that wrecked a good chunk of Haiti. In other words, for two out of three of the supposed news networks, their prime-time personalities were more important than the actual news. As Lizz Winstead wrote last night, referring to MSNBC, "I wish a balloon was flying over Haiti. Maybe we would get some coverage on it then."

Now, the Rude Pundit doesn't wanna go all Katrina/Bush on this, but Haiti's a nation of nearly 10 million people. It shares an island with another nation, the Dominican Republic, that's got about 10 million people. But the Rude Pundit can't help but wonder what MSNBC or Fox would have done had this been an earthquake in Sweden, which has a similar number of citizens, or, hell, Ireland, which has less than half. So while we can certainly blame the pathetic degradation of international coverage and the craven ratings whoredom of GE or News Corp, there's something galling here about mostly ignoring a catastrophe in a nation of black people, as if Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow are more important than a disaster that has leveled a capital city in a country in which quite a few immigrants have roots, as if MSNBC and Fox simply didn't give a shit about the help.

2. Why Do Mark Halperin and John Heilemann Hate Women?: The Rude Pundit wrote yesterday (and Salon's Joan Walsh said the same on The Ed Show) that the too-much talked about book Game Change is rife with misogyny, at least in what's been reported in the press about it (in a five-day circle jerk that's gonna require a battalion of grumpy janitors to clean up).

Now, having read the section on the implosion of the John Edwards campaign excerpted in New York magazine, the Rude Pundit wonders if the objective of the writers was to punish women for daring to get involved in the man's game of politics. What you get from the tale is that Edwards would have been just fine if these nutty bitches around him hadn't been either feeding his delusions (like mistress Rielle Hunter) or denigrating him (and staffers) in a pseudo-Medea rage (like cancer-having, son-losing Elizabeth Edwards). Yes, Edwards comes across as a pathetic, egotistical joke, but Hunter and Elizabeth Edwards come across as succubi.

So add to that the portraits of Sarah Palin as a dim, manic-depressive religious zealot and Hillary Clinton as an angry, embittered failure, and you have to wonder why the media people clawing at each other to get Heilemann and Halperin to dish more haven't called them out on either their use of sources seeking payback or their own deplorable sexism.

3. What They're Watching in Hell: Actual exchange from last night's Fox "news" debut of Sarah Palin on Bill O'Reilly's show regarding the one time Palin met House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi:
O'REILLY: But did you chat with her? Do you have any idea?

PALIN: Chatted with her a little bit, yes. She was leading a group of school children through on a tour. And I thought, well, that's nice that she has that time on her hands that she could do that.

O'REILLY: Yes, but the school children need to be led. You know that.

PALIN: Yes, that's what I'm saying. It was nice.

O'REILLY: Now, do you think that she's a kook?

PALIN: I think that she, too, is quite disconnected from what her constituents are telling her — and constituents all over the country.

O'REILLY: But she's a San Francisco liberal. But — but do you think she's actually crazy?

Yes, the woman who quit as governor of the state that elected her in order to, among other things, get paid to be a Fox "news" commentator said that she thought Nancy Pelosi was wasting her time in showing schoolkids around the Capitol. And Bill O'Reilly's only follow-up was whether or not Pelosi was crazy.


The Rude Pundit on Yesterday's Stephanie Miller Show:
On Monday, the Rude Pundit and Stephanie Miller talked in graphic detail about the taint bomber. Among other things, the Rude Pundit revealed the devastating flaw in the bomber's plan: he set himself up to be punched in the crotch repeatedly to put out his cock fire. Somehow, that related to Harry Reid.

As ever, you can subscribe to the Rude Pundit's podcast. You can listen while you workout and sweat drips down your thighs. Also available on iTunes.

Quick note: Forgot to give props this morning to rude buddy MHC for his post-inspiring question yesterday, "Doesn't it mean that Hannity has to believe the Sarah Palin shit?"
So Rush Limbaugh Must Believe That Sarah Palin Is a Dangerously Unstable Idiot:
Mostly, the Rude Pundit doesn't give a frantic ratfuck about the supposed "revelations" in the book Game Change because it won't change anything. It seems like Primary Colors, except it's pretending to be truth rather than fiction. It'll make a fine HBO movie, and more people will read the index than the full book.

But conservatives nutzoids are leaping around like dolphins whose Sea World tank is a meth dumping pond about the unsourced, paraphrased (or outright created) comments of Bill Clinton (wow, did you know he wanted Hillary to be president really, really badly and might have said some mean things? It's true). And, of course, Harry Reid's comments are like a velvet-lined pussy to right-wing commentators, who have jumped on Reid to fuck away madly.

Rush Limbaugh gleefully danced like a gelatinous circus bear on his show yesterday over the Reid and Clinton parts of Game Change. Man, he couldn't get enough of it, even laying out a buddy movie with Robert Byrd and Harry Reid, involving shoeshining: "The shoe shiners are dark-skinned Negroes, just to highlight the stars' tolerance here. In the background you'd have a light-skinned Negro serving a young Bill Clinton coffee." There's more, but who the fuck cares because it's just not funny. By the way, Limbaugh wasn't using "Negro" in quotation marks. He was just using it.

The point here is that Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, in Game Change, also describe some pretty devastating scenes with Sarah Palin. Like that she was prone to wild mood swings and didn't know jackshit about anything: "She couldn’t explain why North and South Korea were separate nations and she did not know what the Federal Reserve did. She also said she believed Saddam Hussein attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001." And, of course, she kept calling the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate "Senator O'Biden." But that's just charming, you betcha.

Rush Limbaugh has called Sarah Palin "the most prominent and articulate voice" on the right, and he's defended her like a gelatinous bear might defend its brain-damaged cub. Yesterday, he dismissed the Palin sections: "There's nothing new in the book about Sarah Palin." Of course, he didn't mention any of those old things.

The parade of the usual conservatives are outraged, just outraged, over the Reid (and, to an extent, Clinton's) comments. But you can't have it both ways, motherfuckers. You can't embrace the book's supposed revelations about Reid, the Clintons, and the Edwardses without acknowledging that Sarah Palin is a fucking deranged, megalomaniacal retard, like Pinky without the Brain, yet still with an urge to take over the world. The book's either right or wrong, worth credit or discredited.

Oh, wait, that's right. You're conservatives. You can dismiss the stuff you don't like in order to fulfill your worldview and propagate a hypocritical path of self-preservation at all costs, even logic. Almost forgot that that's what you do.

A Note on the Sexism of Game Change
: The Rude Pundit hasn't read the book yet, but it sure seems like the narrative of it is based around the idea that "bitches is crazy." We have Palin, the possibly post-partum depressed moron; Hillary Clinton, the bitter wife who can't control her rogue husband; and Elizabeth Edwards, the hysterical control freak who demeans her man and underlings. Oh, and Cindy McCain might have been fucking around. Who the fuck wrote this thing? Norman Mailer? There's a boys' club nod-and-wink aspect here that's awfully damn disturbing.


Talking About What Harry Reid Said Without Talking About What Harry Reid Said:
In a 1995 New Yorker interview with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Colin Powell listed the reasons that he was more palatable a black candidate to white Americans than, say, Jesse Jackson: "One, I don't shove it in their face, you know? I don't bring any stereotypes or threatening visage to their presence. Some black people do. Two, I can overcome any stereotypes or reservations they have, because I perform well. Third thing is, I ain't that black." And he added, "I speak reasonably well, like a white person." He later clarified to another audience, "I am not that black as a physical matter."

Powell was stating the obvious: white Americans were more comfortable with Powell because of the shade of his skin. Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the same obvious thing about the continuing pathetic state of race in America. The actual quote from the book is a broken up couple of phrases that may have been cobbled together, but here it is: Reid "was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' as he said privately."

What in there is racist? It's okay to talk about race as a factor in the election. That's not racism. How many people used up gigabytes and ink to talk about the role race was playing in the 2008 election? In fact, Reid was actually more optimistic about Americans' ability to deal with voting for a black president than many on the left were. The Rude Pundit was told numerous times that Obama couldn't be elected because he was black. All Reid said was, more or less, that "Jay-Z couldn't get elected president, but Will Smith might," which, if you didn't realize that about America, you're an idiot or an opportunist, or you're in deep, deep denial.

Let's not be cute or coy about the phrase "Negro dialect," as Joe Scarborough was on Morning Starbucks on MSNBC today. Joey the Scar delighted in asking his guests what a "Negro dialect" was, as if we don't all know. Sure, sure, we can pretend and get huffy and defensive and say, "Why, all black people talk differently," but the second you read or heard the phrase, you knew exactly what Harry Reid was talking about. And that also says something about American racism, that we (whites, especially) can't get beyond the ingrained stereotypes that afflict our perceptions.

There's a fuck of a lot of great candidates who couldn't get elected because of their dialects, even if it doesn't seem to affect white males who run for office (although, elected as they were, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter still had to deal with hick stereotyping that placed them as outsiders). And as for any inability to use the English language, George W. Bush fucked up more sentences than Lil' Wayne on a pre-prison bender. So Reid was right to tie it to race. The word "Negro" is outdated and old-fashioned, sure, but Reid is 70, and, even if now they call themselves "UNCF," the United Negro College Fund still exists. And if Reid had said "black," it wouldn't have changed a goddamn thing about the reaction.

For this is manna from racial heaven for Republicans. They'll use it to whip up some kind of frenzy to demonstrate they care about black people, despite a century or so of demonstrating otherwise in action instead of words. Michael Steele will bark madly, and Newt Gingrich won't be called to task for also stating the obvious, too, when he said, "Michael Steele makes a number of old-time Republicans very nervous," specifically citing "he's African-American" as one of those nerve-wracking factors. They'll talk about Trent Lott until they realize it just reminds everyone of how much Republicans work against African Americans.

Eventually, we'll reach a critical mass of black people who have forgiven Reid. And Joey the Scar will realize he's spent enough time giving free publicity to a book by two of his regular morning guests. All of this will happen without any actual reflection on a nation that does still judge people by the shade of the color of their skin. There is a discussion to be had here. It is not whether or not Harry Reid is a racist.

Mostly, the Rude Pundit's sure, nearly ever American not invested in bloggery or media or Nevada politics is thinking, "Why is this a fucking story I should give a shit about?" And the sad answer is that they shouldn't, but they should.


Sunday Treats:
The Rude Pundit was on GRITtv with Laura Flanders this past week. It was a media panel with Liza Sabater of Culture Kitchen, Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel (on Firedoglake), and Dan Gerstein, formerly of the Lieberman office. It was fun, but not nearly as rude as it could have been. Check it out.

And tomorrow's Monday, which means the Rude Pundit will be palavering about politics with Stephanie Miller on her fine radio programme. Listen to the love at 9:30 a.m. ET/ 6:30 PT.


Obama Does What Bush and Cheney Would Not:
Since the nutzoid right has used as a bizarro talking point the fact that President Barack Obama didn't speak to the public until three days after the taint bomber succeeded in making scrotum fritters, let's use another measure of time. Remember the moment when George W. Bush's former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke appeared before the 9/11 Commission and said, "Your government failed you"? Remember the catharsis of that act, of the simple acknowledgment of blame? That was on March 24, 2004, which by rough calculation and use of complex algorithms is a fuck of a lot longer after September 11, 2001 than January 7, 2010 is after December 25, 2009.

Let's give some credit here amid our constant dismay on the left with the President: Yesterday, Barack Obama did something quite extraordinary in these weaselly times when he stood up and took blame for the fuck-ups that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to publicly turn his balls into boiled jizz bags. The President actually looked like a pissed-off boss when he spoke, like a man who understood what might have happened had Abdulmutallab decided to try to blow up the toilet instead of the flotation device under his ass. As Joan Walsh in Salon says, you can't imagine George W. Bush ever treating the American public with such honesty; you can't imagine him thinking he could trust Americans to reveal what went wrong on 9/11. Barack Obama was more of a real man, a real leader, yesterday than the faux macho George W. Bush was in his entire presidency.

Obama's speech was fascinating for many reasons, not the least of which was his saying that "the buck stops with me." There was a subtle thread throughout of a repudiation of the way the Bush administration treated terrorism. "We are at war," he asserted, but then in a fuck-you to those who wanted him to say the word "war," he added, "We are at war with al-Qaeda." That's an easily apprehended specificity, a group (however diffuse and ill-defined it may be), and not a vague notion like a "war on terror" or, as Bush said, a "war with extremists." What Obama could have said that he did not is, "Man, Bush left me with a shitty, hole-filled security infrastructure that's built with Tinker Toys and tape." Instead, he said what's fucked and what he's gonna do.

Most bracingly, Obama told Dick Cheney, "Go fuck yourself," by saying, "Here at home, we will strengthen our defenses, but we will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans, because great and proud nations don't hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. That is exactly what our adversaries want, and so long as I am President, we will never hand them that victory. We will define the character of our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women and children." In other words, don't go bugnuts just because one dude on one plane lit a fire.

(Let's put aside for the moment the administration's continuation of some of Bush's policies in the treatment of, say, detainees at Bagram prison in Afghanistan.)

The system screwed up. Security shouldn't come down to whether or not some poorly-paid airline worker types in a name correctly. Get some geeks from Google to fix that. But the President, not some rogue former administration member, admitted the screw-ups to us and said we're working on it. And he told us to not be children about security: "But even the best intelligence can't identify in advance every individual who would do us harm...there is, of course, no foolproof solution." One piece of advice to seal the openness and accountability deal: fire some people. Accept a resignation. That would make create a new paradigm.

As for Richard Clarke, you may remember that he was viciously denigrated by Republicans and smeared by the Bush administration as a glory hound trying to sell books. Yeah, he was trying to sell books. And he became a fucking hero for his honesty. It's possible to do both. And when he made his statement to the 9/11 families, he didn't know what would happen. That's a man with balls standing among the eunuchs. Disagree with Obama as you may, it's somewhat comforting in this cold landscape to know that this time around, that man is the one standing to talk to us all, that the leader is the grown-up in the room.


Why Ann Coulter Is a Cunt, Part 102,025 (Christian Redemption Edition):
Little-known rumor: Ann Coulter has had the image of dead Jesus Christ from the Shroud of Turin printed onto a latex blow-up doll and given it a hard, rubber dildo. See, in the same moment, she can fuck herself with both the dead and resurrected Christian savior. She's been known to entertain guests by hanging the doll on a cross in her dining room, next to her chair, so that the cock is right at head level. That way, during wine and dinner conversation, she can turn, look lovingly up at the Lord's son, and then lap on his dick like Lolita with a lollipop. She says it's so Jesus knows he's always welcome. When she gets really drunk, she tells her guests that there's only one way to redeem herself for her sins, and she deep throats Christ's dildo. She doesn't care if Christ can't come. She believes that what she's doing is banking her sins and that when she gets to heaven, Jesus will be there, and she'll take his holy peter in her mouth so Jesus can jizz down her throat for every transgression she has asked him to forgive. Buckets of Christ cum: the price of entering the pearly gates.

The Rude Pundit believes the rumor to be true because he's read Coulter's latest "column" (if by "column," you mean, "Sub-street corner Jesus ranting that'd make Jack Chick go atheist"), where she defends Brit Hume's Christ-can-save-Tigers-Woods remarks on Fox "news." Coulter agrees, like a whore whose pimp is God. In one of the great reductionist arguments in the history of arguments, the kind of thing that’d make Plato stop buggering a boy for a moment and say “What the fuck?” Coulter asserts, “God sent his only son to get the crap beaten out of him, die for our sins and rise from the dead. If you believe that, you're in. Your sins are washed away from you -- sins even worse than adultery! -- because of the cross.” Wow, Christianity sure seems like the McDonald’s of religions.

In fact, the entire "column" could be viewed as a sarcastic take on the bullshit version of redemption offered by some interpretations of Christianity. Rape a newborn and drink its blood? Just confess, and it's heaven for you. That's actually not much of an overstatement. Coulter quotes Romans 10:9 on confession and adds, "If you do that, every rotten, sinful thing you've ever done is gone from you. You're every bit as much a Christian as the pope or Billy Graham." Seriously, that looks like a sentence the Rude Pundit could have written facetiously.

It hardly needs to be said that if some broadcaster at a "news" network had said that Islam is the only path to redemption, he would be hounded out of his job. The second you say that your sky wizard is so very much bigger than other sky wizards, you have entered the realm of absurd. In fact, the only rational reaction one can have to Coulter or Hume is, "Hey, if Tiger Woods doesn't want to have to worry about anything, he should become an atheist and party on."

(Note: The link to Coulter's scribbles is from the Jewish World Review - motto: "Self-hating to oblivion.")
Late Post Today:
Because of the aforementioned appearance on GRITtv with Laura Flanders, the throbbing rudeness will be delayed until this afternoon.

By the way, appearing with the Rude Pundit will be Marcy Wheeler, the blogger's blogger of Emptywheel. And Dan Gerstein. He's one of the main reasons Joe Lieberman's in the Senate.


The Rude Pundit on GRITtv with Laura Flanders:
In his continuing quest to conquer the airwaves, the Rude Pundit will appear on GRITtv with host Laura Flanders on Thursday at noon to talk media reaction to Yeman, terrorism, and more. He'll be boning up on his Fox "news" tonight. You can watch it live.
A Few Questions Regarding Our Death Spiral of Anti-Terrorist Reactions:
The Rude Pundit's no counter-terrorism expert, and, unlike every other pusillanimous pundit puking forth, he ain't gonna pretend to be. But, you know, it doesn't take a degree from the war college to figure out that the same tactics, rinsed and repeated, are gonna get the same results.

1. Why is Barack Obama getting blamed for not dealing with Yemen? The USS Cole was attacked in October of 2000. That leaves a tiny bit of Clinton and eight years of Bush the Dumber to have, oh, who the fuck knows, actually done something about the collapsing state of Yemen. Bonus points: after 9/11, Bush sent 100 troops to Yemen for "training." It's a little like sending a mouse with a toothpick to face down a gang of cats. Of course, instead of doing anything about Yemen, other than the occasional Predator drone strike, we did something about Iraq, which...oh, fuck, never mind. Bonuser points: Obama was already sending drones to bomb Yemen weeks before the taint bomber ever lifted his nutsack to get the explosives. (That's not a statement on the legality of the drone attacks.)

2. Why does the United States have to lose its shit every time some blip occurs in our system? By the Rude Pundit's awesome mathematical abilities, he's figure out that, since 9/11, roughly 8 billion planes flights have occurred in America, carrying roughly 20 gajillion people, some of them repeatedly. And while you don't want a single plane to ever fall out of the sky or get its shit blown up, that's pretty good odds, and one Nigerian flame-broiling his balls out of so many gajillion fliers seems more a burp in security that needs to be corrected (with some firing and tightening of procedures) than a complete meltdown and holy-fuck-we're-all-gonna-die-let's-have-sex-quick. It just doesn't seem to warrant turning the crazy level up to "weasels fucking on meth." Naive? Sure. But the Rude Pundit's just sick of being told to be scared.

3. If we do lose our shit every time some Nigerian fries his junk, doesn't that mean that terrorists are winning? It barely needs to be said, no? That terrorism contains its purpose in its name. That the real result of 9/11 is that Osama bin Laden kicked our asses because we played his game, spending ourselves into domestic insecurity in order to deal with a ghost of a foreign threat. We've done practically everything the drama queens of al Qaeda could ask. Check out the goals of terrorism from a 2005 article by a real terrorism expert, Ernest Evans (who has been writing about this for three decades).

The Rude Pundit is not seeking to diminish the importance of screening at airports. He is not saying that it wouldn't have been terrifying to be on the plane with the smell of burnt cock in the cabin. But we're in an insane death spiral of tactics that have failed. All the idiots screaming for war forget that we've been doing war. In other words, even in the new administration, why are we damned to commit the same mistakes again and again?


It Shouldn't Surprise Us that Some Ex-Gitmo Detainees Want to Fuck Us Up:
Let us say, and why not, that you were Hani Abdul Muslih al Shulan, late of Yemen. And let us say, and, indeed, why not, that in late 2001, the Pakistani military, to which you claim you turned yourself in back in August when you realized shit was going down on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, gave you to the United States, who then sent you down to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility because you were carrying an AK-47 and you were wearing a kind of watch that al-Qaeda has used in bombs and you stayed at some Taliban safehouses along your travels from Yemen to a town just north of Kabul. You say you were looking for a job and were offered one. You say you were a chef's assistant and, no shit, you had a gun. Everyone in the barbaric mountains around you had one.

Maybe this is too specific. Let's make this a bit more abstract. Instead, let's say that you were held without charge or ability to contact your family for six years in, oh, hell, Belgium. There, you were beaten and placed in solitary confinement and forced to endure interrogations that involved blaring music and extreme temperatures and fear-up techniques, and you knew about jackshit about anything your captors wanted to know. Six years of your life, man, and you didn't do a goddamn thing. And the only chance you had to challenge your detention was in a hearing where you couldn't see all the evidence against you. Then, after that six years, you're returned back to your home country, and the people who do want to blow up some Belgians (because their delicious waffles are too tempting) get in touch with you and say, "Hey, man, those Belgians fucked up your world. You wanna fight 'em? We'll call it a job and pay you." Well, what the hell else are you gonna do?

Shit, in our movies, we get off on the protagonist going back and killing the people who tortured them. It's pretty much the plot of every other American action flick. More poignantly, the visceral rush of the South Korean film Oldboy, where a man is kept confined for 15 years and never told why, is subverted by its last act, when the price of vengeance is revealed to be so much higher than simply going on. But when Oh Dae-Su is beating his former captors with a hammer? That's catharsis.

Hani al-Shulan seems like the classic case of a loser being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Repeatedly, it seems, since he was killed last month in an airstrike. There's others, like Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad Arbaysh, who was sent to Saudi Arabia for anti-jihad re-education after five years at Gitmo. One imagines that it involved book work and electrodes on the balls. He escaped and went to Yemen to get his jihad on. This is not to pronounce guilt or innocence on any of the men. It is to say that guilt or innocence should have been pronounced.

The idea that some released Gitmo detainees might actually be pissed off at the United States, no matter how radical they were before their imprisonment without charge, has provoked huffy, self-righteous outrage from conservative commentators and politicians, especially in the wake of the Christmas taint bomber. David Limbaugh, Rush's vestigial tail, calls for Obama to stop sending detainees back to their homes. With its dying breaths, the Washington Times says the same thing, offering that "Obama sends reinforcements to al Qaeda."

We are incapable of dealing with the notion that whether you're the good guy or the bad guy is a matter of perception. And that sometimes the United States is the bad guy. Unless we're willing to confront that and do something about it (like, at minimum, apologize and offer compensation), then we shouldn't be surprised that Yemeni Mel Gibsons will seek to go all Lethal Weapon on us.