The Mentally Ill Appear at the Gun Hearing:
If you wanted to make a case for mental illness as a primary cause of gun violence, you could pretty much get all the evidence you wanted from yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on possible solutions to the mass shooting epidemic in the U.S. There were so many episodes of batshit paranoia and outright delusion from the anti-gun law speakers that diagnosed schizophrenics bowed their heads in honor. Honestly, if at some point the NRA's Wayne LaPierre had started scrawling a manifesto in his own shit on the walls of the hearing room, the Rude Pundit would have thought, "Well, that was not unexpected."

Let's just lay out the argument quickly. On one side, you have people who want to close a loophole in background checks on gun buyers and who want to ban some semiautomatic weapons and all high-volume magazines, all while making sure that law-abiding citizens and legal immigrants can purchase most every other kind of rifle and handgun, under the idea that some safeguards and minor limitations are not unreasonable. On the other side, you have "I dare you pussies to try to pry my right to buy a dozen AR-15s from my cold, dead hands, motherfuckers." So you can see how we might be at loggerheads here.

Honestly, the pro-gun (which is not really correct, since everyone on that committee is "pro-gun" to some extent) speakers veered between creepy and hysterical. Embodying the gun nut ethos was Gayle Trotter, a senior "fellow" at Who the Fuck Cares? Women's Group Against Women. Trotter had used the scary true story of a woman defending her home from an intruder by wielding a gun, and then she talked about how much women need guns and love the Second Amendment in a way they could never love a man.

Answering a question from Chuck Grassley, Trotter said, really, "An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon. And the peace of mind that a woman has as she’s facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home with her children screaming in the background -- the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened violent criminals. And if we ban these types of assault weapons, you are putting women at a great disadvantage, more so than men, because they do not have the same type of physical strength and opportunity to defend themselves in a hand-to-hand struggle. And they’re -- they’re not criminals. They’re moms. They’re young women. And they’re not used to violent confrontations." When Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse pointed out that the gun the woman in Trotter's story used was not subject to any of the bans being suggested. Trotter didn't care. Men can beat up the attackers, she inferred, apparently believing that every male has an inner Liam Neeson waiting to kick some sex slavers' asses. Trotter has been eviscerated by others already for her comments.

Throughout the hearing, we were in the realm of images straight out of every revenge fantasy movie. Lindsey Graham, who always sounds like the prettiest debutante at the Daughters of the Confederacy Ball just exiting a bathroom stall where she blew the captain of the football team, told another story of a woman using a gun, a woman who pumped five bullets into a potential assailant in her home, where she was with her 9 year-old twins. Graham offered, "Would I be a reasonable American to want my family to have the 15-round magazine in a semi-automatic weapon to make sure that if there’s two intruders, she doesn’t run out of bullets? Am I an unreasonable person for saying that in that situation, the 15-round magazine makes sense?" Yes, but what if there were ten intruders, a zombie army, and a shark driving a helicopter? Would one be unreasonable asking for landmines and an RPG launcher? The chance of any of these scenarios occurring is virtually nil.

He also outed himself, saying, "I have an AR-15 at home and I haven’t hurt anybody and I don’t intend to do it. But I think I would be better off protecting my business or my family if there was law-and-order breakdown in my community, people roaming around my neighborhood to have the AR-15, and I don’t think that makes me and on reasonable person." If you need a hilarious image in your head today, imagine Graham, firing away on his Bushmaster, laughing madly, girlishly, as he shoots the crotch out of a human-shaped target.

And as for Wayne LaPierre? The nation he describes all the time is a nonstop hellscape of horror and murder, with privately-owned semiautomatic weapons purchased without annoying background checks as the only thing standing between society and utter anarchy. At one point, responding to John Cornyn's recitation of stats on prosecutions of people who lie on background checks, LaPierre went nearly incoherent: "I mean, the fact is, in the shadow of this Capitol, right under everyone’s noses, in this building, right now there are drug dealers out in the street with guns, violating federal law, illegal. There’s all kinds of drugs and cocaine being sold. By God, gangs are trafficking 13-year-old girls. And it goes on day, after day, after day. What we’ve got to do is interdict these people. Get them off the street before they get to the next crime scene." Then he moved on to background checks for the mentally ill.

Which, as the Rude Pundit said before, all of these assholes should fail.


Hispanic Republicans to White Republicans: You Can Still Be Jerks, Just Not Such Big Jerks:
As we move towards the inevitable watered-down version of immigration reform that will contain just enough good stuff to make it worthwhile, but still be condemned on the right and the left as overly compromised, one thing is absolutely clear: non-Hispanic Republicans really need to stop acting like such assholes towards non-white immigrants or they'll never get the anchor babies to vote for 'em. Thankfully, here to offer guidance is the Hispanic Leadership Network, a "center-right" group that has on its advisory committee former Attorney General and torture enabler Alberto Gonzales, as well as current politicians and elected officials. Yep, the HLN has put out a memo to Republicans in Congress on that most important issue in immigration reform: the words that are used.

For instance, the Hispanics on the Hispanic Leadership Council advise the gringo/as that, when doing an interview on immigration reform, don't say "We are against amnesty," even if you are against amnesty. Why? Because peoples is just stupid motherfuckers: "Note," the HLN notes. "Most everyone is against amnesty and this is interpreted as being against any reform." See? Even if "everyone" is against it, it'll still send them into simian rage and cause them to want to vote you out if you say you're anti-amnesty.

Isn't this easy and fun? You can still be a total dickhead. Just don't sound like a total dickhead.

Another example: "When addressing securing our borders," the HLN sternly says, "Do use the wording 'enforcement of our borders includes more border patrol, technology, and building a fence where it makes sense.'" However, "Don't use phrases like 'send them all back,' electric fence,' 'build a wall along the entire border.'" And there's probably few circumstances where "moat filled with alligators that'll rape your ass before eating your face" would be appropriate, too. Also, do we even need to say anything about the stupidity of "self-deport"? It's not mentioned, so it's already dropped out of the lexicon of dickishness.

Some of this is gonna be really hard for the GOP as the immigration reform debate actually moves into a sane, post-election period. Don't say "illegals"? Don't say "aliens"? Don't say, dear God, no, "anchor baby"? Shit, Rep. Steve "The More Vile of the Kings in the House" King of Iowa used the phrase in press release a couple of weeks ago. And you're gonna have to pry the word "illegal" out of Rep. Lamar Smith's cold, dead mouth. A confused Marco Rubio wept.

It's kind of hilarious, no? How Republicans spent the better part of the last four years demonizing undocumented immigrants as subhuman drains on society, job thieves, and criminals, only to see their white asses handed to them at the polls? And now some of them have finally come around to thinking, "Oh, hey, I guess we need to throw a few bones to the spics"? And even those bones are pissing off a good many in the right-right of the GOP and causing Rush Limbaugh to undulate in anger? And do they think that Hispanics are so narrow-minded that all they give a shit about is immigration and not the other blatant cruelty of the Republican Party?

The best part of the memo is when the HLN gets all self-loathing and tells Republicans that they need to lock ol' crazy liberal Ronald Reagan in the cellar: "Don't use President Reagan's immigration reform as an example applicable today," it says, because it was way too compassionate for today's GOP. "That legislation was true amnesty; in addition, border security, fixing our visa system, and a temporary worker program were parts of the reform which were never implemented."

You wouldn't want to remind Hispanic voters that, once upon a time, Republicans weren't complete jerks. Now gnaw on these bones and say they're a meal.

One last one: Apparently, whites in the GOP need to be given strict instructions on how not to be racist pricks. Memos the HLN, "Don't characterize all Hispanics as undocumented and all undocumented as Hispanics." Louis Gohmert just stared at his computer screen, confused as he tried to figure out what that meant. His staff said he was still there, two days later, muttering, "It don' make sense. It jus' don' make sense."


Grappling with Zero Dark Thirty: Torture Works and the CIA Is Nothing But Awesome, Part 2:
Yesterday, the Rude Pundit wrote about the film Zero Dark Thirty's fucked-up attitude towards torture: it's bad, but, hey, we got bin Laden, motherfuckers. Today, with news that the Obama administration has now given up on even the illusion that it's closing Gitmo by shutting down the office that dealt with that possibility and with the military court trials of tortured detainees at Gitmo moving ploddingly towards their inevitable death penalty decisions, we can see that right now the nation, for the most part, has the same attitude as the film towards our American inhumanity.

Another aspect of Zero Dark Thirty that is connected to its attitude towards torture hasn't gotten as much attention. The movie is essentially a hagiography of the CIA, which gave Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal access to documents and agents, which allows the film to say that it's based on "first-hand accounts" of the events. It would have been more honest to say that it's a film about the CIA's perspective on the events, like The Green Berets for intelligence officers, devoted to making the CIA look as good as possible and to allay any fears that it did anything wrong in order to kill bin Laden.

Still, though, the agents are afraid that someone might disapprove of their tactics in the future. When Dan tells Maya, the agent protagonist, he is going back to DC because he's exhausted after torturing over 100 men over the years, he warns Maya that she needs to be careful because at some point someone might be held accountable for torture: "You gotta be real careful with the detainees now. Politics are changing and you don’t want to be the last one holding the dog collar when the oversight committee comes." Of course, we know now that his fears of prosecution are unfounded, unless he's a hillbilly doing cruel things at Abu Ghraib.

The opposition between the cruel-but-necessary work done by the CIA and the limitations of the rule of law is driven home a couple of times: we see our CIA heroes watching uncomfortably as President Obama declares that "America does not torture," and, later, when Maya says that they could ask detainees at Guantanamo Bay if they know the name of bin Laden's courier, she is told by an angry official, "Who the hell am I supposed to ask, some guy in Gitmo who’s all lawyered up?" and he asserts that the defense lawyer for tortured detainees would merely pass on the information to bin Laden. You want to know where the movie stands? That moment, more than nearly any other in the film, is about as clear as can be: due process, habeas corpus, defense lawyers, all are impediments to the goal of killing Osama bin Laden. The movie scoffs at them with no counterpoint, just like it presents torture with no context other than "Man, that sucks for that guy." The movie sets us up to root for the CIA, unquestioningly, so simplistically that it leaves out things like the CIA agents who were against torture, who wanted to follow the rule of law, as it was understood for nearly the entire history of the nation.

In doing so, it unequivocally comes down on the side of the most hawkish elements of the war on terror, whether Bigelow and Boal intended that or not. Of course, an artist doesn't have an obligation to show all sides. And we as an audience don't have an obligation to trust the artist or even like what she's doing. So fuck their intentions. They don't matter. It's like Edvard Munch saying he didn't intend his famous work to be a scream of horror or pain, but that it was the perspective of a dude delighted at a cute kitten, which is just out of the frame. "Well, you might have wanted to paint that, Eddy," you might respond, "but all I see is existential agony, not LOLcats." To accept the filmmakers view of the movie now that it's been criticized for its depiction of torture is to think that it's possible to make an apolitical film that shows torture gives only good information and civil rights get in the way. Shit, Dirty Harry was more honest about saying the same things.

The point here is not whether or not torture works. Obviously, some nuggets of truth will come out from some who are tortured. However, we know that the courier's real name wasn't gotten through torture, and those in the know say that we got his nickname from a detainee before he was tortured. But even if we take as a possibility that torture played a role, the real question is whether or not we could get information without torture, as we have in every other war. Zero Dark Thirty dismisses this when Dan says that Islamic radicals can't be bought off.

The more important questions are ones that the movie ignores, unless you want to overinterpret Maya's tears at the end: Is torture worth it? Isn't it just wrong, no matter what the goal? And, despite all the fucked up things the United States has done in its history, wasn't there some moral high ground in being a country that didn't believe in torturing prisoners and in keeping prisoners indefinitely detained? Torture may no longer be policy, but, sadly, the indefinite detention goes on, with no end in sight, no matter who is in power.  

Zero Dark Thirty asks us to ignore all of this and admire everyone, from the weary torturer to the dogged CIA agent to the lovable lugs in Seal Team Six, as if they are all equal in reaching the ultimate goal.


The Rude Pundit on Today's Stephanie Miller Show (With John Fugelsang):
Today, the Rude Pundit talked to guest host John Fugelsang about Sarah "When the Going Gets Tough, Quit" Palin, religion in your fookin' face, Hillary Clinton kicking ass, and more:

Hey, the Rude Pundit podcast is still out there for you to steal for free.
Grappling with Zero Dark Thirty: Torture Works and the CIA Is Nothing But Awesome, Part 1:
(Yes, there are spoilers. What did you think?)

Now that he's seen the film, the Rude Pundit is going to wade into the debate over the depiction of torture in Zero Dark Thirty. Let's approach this objectively (or, as the filmmakers would say, "almost journalistically") first. Torture scenes occupy a good chunk of the first hour of the two-and-a-half hour film. Plot-wise, prisoners tortured by the CIA, directly or through intermediary countries, give up the name "Abu Ahmed," the cover for Osama Bin Laden's courier, but they do not give his real name or a way to find him. It's not until a few year's later that a character who appears only once in the film tells Maya, the CIA agent protagonist and dogged Osama bin Laden pursuer, that she found the courier's name in a file that was part of a flood of information the CIA received right after the 9/11 attacks.

Simply put, the logical progression of the plot is that Maya and the CIA would not have known to look for the courier had it not been for what was revealed during the torture of multiple prisoners. Yes, detective work in the post-torture (or Obama) era led to the discovery of the real name and then bin Laden's compound, but the awareness of who to look for came from the tortured. As far as the story on film goes, torture works.

The torture scenes are not presented as anything other than brutal and degrading. In fact, the Rude Pundit watched those moments, where CIA interrogator Dan treats Anmar (based, probably, on Mohamed al-Qahtani) like a dog and where Anmar is, more or less, crucified, and thought, "I don't give a damn what side Dan is on. Any nation that does this to people as official policy is asking for payback. And I kind of wanna see Dan get killed." He is not. He gets to return to Washington and work there for the rest of his career, unpunished.

You have to deny what is presented on screen in order to think that the movie says anything other than "Torture is a tool to get information; it is not the only tool, but it is a tool." Director Kathryn Bigelow has said as much, even saying that torture is "reprehensible." But she doesn't say it's wrong or that it didn't work.

What's wrong with the film is that it pretends to be devoid of any moral perspective. By focusing, to the exclusion of anything else, on the hunt for bin Laden, the film wants you to see everything as part of that hunt, especially what gets results. But it's not objective. The torturers are humanized, like when we see Dan and his (no doubt ironically) caged monkeys. The prisoners and Pakistanis are depicted as evil others who are ultimately weak.

We are manipulated with audio of people who died in 9/11. We are shown multiple terrorist attacks, which is fine and relevant, if a bit overwrought. What's the purpose of that other than to say that that the means justify the ends? To show us that terrorists do bad things? No shit. In the context of Zero Dark Thirty, the reason to do that is to make us as driven as Maya to find bin Laden, even if that means beating a prisoner handcuffed to a table.

Later today (or tomorrow): How the CIA is awesome and what it all means.


Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Smoke One-Pot Meth Until His Teeth Fall Out:

The worker on that cherry-picker right there isn't putting "In God We Trust" in two-foot tall gold letters above a church. Oh, no. That's above the entrance of the Putnam County Courthouse in Cookeville, Tennessee. In fact, the phrase now stands mightily above all four entrances to the courthouse. The effort was funded through donations, and the words went up in November 2012.

Now, to be clear, the motto itself, "In God We Trust," is something that is part of American history, and, for nearly 60 years, it's been the official motto of the United States. So this is not a comment on the appropriateness of the words being on a courthouse, although you'd think that a god you trusted so goddamn much would reduce the amount of methamphetamine production and usage in Putnam County.

Still and all, it leaves a bad taste in the Rude Pundit's mouth that the whole effort was spearheaded by the pastor of the Colonial View Baptist Church in Cookeville. And maybe if they had put it on just one side with, perhaps, "Liberty and Justice For All" or some such nicely patriotic lie over another entrance, it wouldn't seem just so needy and clingy, like God's puppy or his jealous boyfriend.

Apparently, though, the god worshiped in Middle Tennessee has such an inferiority complex that those big fuckin' letters need to be seen no matter what side of the building the invisible sky wizard happens to be on. The Rude Pundit imagines a pissy deity floating over to the back door of the halls of justice, looking up, and nodding with satisfaction. "That's me they're talkin' about," he'd say to passerby. And he'd let Cookeville survive for another day.

And still do nothing about the meth and the poverty and the ignorance and...


Hillary Clinton's "What the Fuck, Rand Paul?" Face Will Make Your Day:

That's about-to-be-former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton up there, wondering what kind of bananas shit Sen. Rand Paul is crapping out of his mouth. "Really? Do you know what the fuck you're talking about?" is what that face says, and, indeed, as befits a man who looks like he jacks off while listening to cassette audiobooks of Carlos Castaneda and watching donkey porn, Paul was talking about one of the many right-wing nutzoid conspiracy theories about the "truth" about the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Paul asked, "Is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?" You don't want to know what the fuck he was talking about - something, something, something, arms to Syria, ambassador killed over it - because it's utter bullshit.

Of course, rather than saying "What the fuck now?" Clinton smirked at the question and then looked at Paul as if he had been fondling himself during his questioning and while earlier bragging about how he would have fired Clinton if he had been president, which he won't be, ever in the history of forever. "Nobody's ever raised that with me," she said to the unsatisfied dink from Kentucky. When Paul pressed her, she just said, "I do not know. I don't have any information on that."

Yeah, it was actually a banner day for Clinton, taking on the bellicose preeners and poseurs of the GOP. She was so strong against an obdurate opposition that was determined to find something, anything, to justify their narrative that Benghazi was a scandal worth more than a thorough investigation and some readjustment of security, that it had to point to institutional incompetence, if not outright deception. It reeked of the stink of projection, of people who hadn't questioned much after 9/11 trying to compensate now.

So, apparently, to Republicans, what one says on a Sunday talk show is the same as testimony under oath.  It's certainly the way they treated the things U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said on the gabfest after the attack. And when Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin tried to get her to admit that the administration screwed up on getting the "facts" out about Benghazi, Clinton hit him so hard that he was practically out of breath after her answer.

Emotionally, the smackdown of Johnson was the highlight. But check out what she said to John McCain. The Senate's nastiest leprechaun was a-puffin' away on his tiny pipe as he accused Clinton and the administration of providing "false answers" and not providing enough security to the consulate. The short version of Clinton's answer was "Suck it, old man."

The longer answer: "I will also tell you that since March 2011, Congressional holds have been placed on programs for many months for aid to Libya. We've had frequent Congressional complaints. 'Why are we doing anything for Libya? It's a wealthy country. It has oil.' Disagreement from some sources that we should never have been part of any U.N. mission in Libya. Currently, the House has holds on bilateral security assistance, on other kinds of support for anti- terrorism assistance." Yeah, talk to your buddies in the House Majority, motherfucker.

Man, Clinton must have spent the rest of the afternoon wiping bits of ass off her shoes.


Louisiana's Jindal to Abused Women and the Dying: Drop Dead:
When you live in Louisiana, you get used to a certain amount of Neanderthal savagery and brute stupidity. Sure, the education system is getting fucked beyond fucked and the state legislature thinks it's just jim-fuckin' dandy to teach that everything was created when an invisible sky wizard puked it all out, but, hey, how about that food? Sure, sex education is pretty much non-existent in a state where they have the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, but, man, ain't that band playin' some hot zydeco? See? It's a trade-off. A state with a high sales tax, including taxes on food and clothing, lottery, and gambling, along with a state income tax, can't stay out of the red because tax cuts for rich people are so fucking important, so why not raise the sales tax even higher? It's what you get for wanting to laissez les bon temps rouler.

Other than teachers (who are really just terrorists with tenure, but, gosh, shouldn't they be armed?) protesting the shifting of public school funds to private ones run by churches and cults, there's been no real outcry against Governor Bobby Jindal and his merry band of GOP scum weasels in the legislature. But now, with the frightening possibility of having their sick people die without palliative or other care, Louisianians are genuinely shocked to finally discover that Jindal is a weak-chinned shitsack who has no business running a state, let along trying to squeeze himself onto the national stage like the last dingleberry in the Republican sphincter.

Yep, at the end of the month, next week, in fact, the state of Louisiana will stop offering hospice care to adult patients on Medicaid. Why? Because fuck you, brain aneurysm guy, that's why. Budget cuts, bitch. It'll save $3 million bucks this year, maybe even $8.3 million next year. The budget's short $900 million bucks. Gotta find change under the cushions if we have to. Well, it'll save that money barring dying people going in and out of emergency rooms in order to get some relief. Yeah, see, Arizona, always on the leading edge of fuckery in America, tried to do the same thing. That state learned that it cost more to be assholes than to give a damn.

Of course, Jindal already cut funding for charity hospitals, so, you know, he really, really wants poor people to just die already.

Hospices and hospice care providers are dumbfounded by the cuts. But they just want that Medicaid teat to suck on while they give your mother or sister aid and comfort while she fades away because of ovarian cancer.  But even the mostly right-wing newspapers in the state are finding that there is a point where they can be appalled. "To balance the state's budget by eliminating end-of-life care is inhumane," says the Daily World of Opelousas. " Our most vulnerable citizens — regardless of means — should be afforded the most-basic palliative care by a society that has so much," says the Daily Comet of rural Lafourche Parish.

By the way, Jindal is also cutting funding for women's shelters because "the Jindal administration said the state was moving away from costly residential care for domestic violence victims in favor of short-term hotel stays and family care." You got that? Victims of domestic violence should stay with family where their abusers would never find them, obviously. The funding cut also hits sexual assault centers, too, because compassion costs too much.

Yeah, it's a cruel, cruel life in the Bayou State. But, hey, throw us some more beads, mister.


Obama to America: Now Is the Time to Stop Being Such Unapologetic Dicks:
Yesterday, President Barack Obama used his second inaugural address not merely to appeal to the better angels of Americans. No, he was more explicit. In essence, instead of conjuring the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, he said that it was time we all stop acting like such dicks, that we needed to toss the dicks and douchebags aside and get some shit done.

In one of the first lines of the speech, Obama told us who the biggest dicks among us are: "The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed." Now, putting aside that, yeah, a good many of the patriots of 1776 did kind of envision rule by white male landowners, what Obama was clearly doing was jabbing his finger in the eyes of both the wealthy oligarchy-mongers, like the Kochs, and the Tea Party, whose numbers are dwindling, but who have enough pitchforks and torches to fuck up the joint for the rest of us.

Obama's second inaugural was, as many in the commentariat have pointed out, one of the most genuinely liberal speeches he has given, with enough in there to make conservatives shit blood while progressives taste a moment of victory. The President offered a critique of the driving philosophy of modern conservatism, the isolationist individualism offered by the GOP. "[F]idelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action," Obama said. In other words, understand the government is the people, not the enemy of the people, and it's time to start acting like the federal government ain't the problem. It's the idiots who believe it is who are. "While the means will change, our purpose endures," he said, "a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American."

And the way to secure that, truly, is through the support of the very government that the conservatives scorn. Obama drew clear lines between the progress of the nation and progressivism. Indeed, the history he laid out was one where America advances only through the achievements of liberalism. In a final "Fuck you" to Mitt Romney and his crass critique of the poor as craven materialists, Obama said, "The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."

More importantly, when Obama said, "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall," it wasn't just that he was giving a shout-out to rights for women, blacks, and gays. It was that he was approving of the radical action and civil disobedience that are the means through which progress occurs. Yeah, it was awesome that he gave such full-throated support to gay marriage, but don't lose the larger historical meaning: Fuck shit up, if you have to, in order to ensure equality.

Unlike the Obama of 2009, who was caught up in the belief that we could all get along, this 2013 Obama is sick of the right's bullshit. He laid out the current progressive agenda - climate change, voter's rights, gun control, and more - in generic terms, but as part of the larger sweep of the advancement of the nation, the liberalizing of the country that has always kept us moving forward, except when the dicks stick out their stupid feet and try to trip us. And he asked us to work with him again to shove the dicks aside, to shove aside our own latent dickishness, inculcated in us by years of right-wing rhetoric. Let's hope he doesn't abandon us to try to do it all on his own, as he did in much of his first term.

We have a long, long way to go. The Rude Pundit is aware of the drone war that hangs over everything that Obama promises and accomplishes, casting a bloody pall on the presidency, making Obama seem more like LBJ than FDR. He is aware that the Obama administration has gone after some of the dissenters, like Bradley Manning and Aaron Swartz, among others. He is aware that it's all well and good to make the noble goals in the noble speech on the notable occasion.

It is something else entirely to follow through on the vision of a United States that is able to move out of the GOP-induced torpor into one that does something about the problems that afflict us.  The Rude Pundit has said that we are a nation of selfish assholes, a distinctly American egotism. That needs to be transformed into national activism in order to leave the joint in better shape than we got it.

Four years ago, the Rude Pundit was in DC, in the Arctic chill with a couple of million people, listening to the new president. We were younger and drunk with hope. This year, he watched on TV from his warm living room. He saw an older president, but one who seems ready to fight.  Let us hope that his follow through is as good as his punch.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Would Fuck Up the NRA's Shit:
You've been hearing bullshit about how Martin Luther King would have supported the NRA or gun laws or how he would have lived if he had been armed or whatever. You may have even read how he owned a gun and how he was denied a permit to carry a gun in his car in Alabama.

But did you know that he made a conscious decision to give up his gun? And that he turned away from even the idea of gun ownership? Yeah, MLK will always fuck up your tidy narrative when you want to make him less than a radical.

Check this out, from The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the chapter titled "The Violence of Desperate Men." The scene is Montgomery in 1956, shortly after King's home was bombed:

After our many friends left the house late that evening, Coretta, Yoki, and I were driven to the home of one of our church members to spend the night. I could not get to sleep. While I lay in that quiet front bedroom, with a distant street lamp throwing a reassuring glow through the curtained window, I began to think of the viciousness of people who would bomb my home. I could feel the anger rising when I realized that my wife and baby could have been killed. I thought about the city commissioners and all the statements that they had made about me and the Negro generally. I was once more on the verge of corroding hatred. And once more I caught myself and said: "You must not allow yourself to become bitter."

Midnight had long since passed. Coretta and the baby were sound asleep. I turned over in bed and fell into a dazed slumber. But the night was not yet over. Some time later Coretta and I were awakened by a slow, steady knocking at the front door. Through the window we could see the dark outline of a figure on the front porch. I pulled myself out of bed, peered through the curtains, and recognized the stocky, reassuring back of Coretta's father.

Obie Scott had heard the news of the bombing over the radio and had driven to Montgomery. He came in the house with an obvious sign of distress on his face. After talking with us a while he turned and said: "Coretta, I came to take you and the baby back home with me until this tension cools off:" In a calm but positive manner Coretta answered: "I'm sorry, Dad, but I can't leave Martin now. I must stay here with him through this whole struggle." And so Obie Scott drove back to Marion alone.

Just two nights later, a stick of dynamite was thrown on the lawn of E. D. Nixon. Fortunately, again no one was hurt. Once more a large crowd of Negroes assembled, but they did not lose control. And so nonviolence had won its first and its second tests.

After the bombings, many of the officers of my church and other trusted friends urged me to hire a bodyguard and armed watchmen for my house. When my father came to town, he concurred with both of these suggestions. I tried to tell them that I had no fears now and consequently needed no weapons for protection. This they would not hear. They insisted that I protect the house and family, even if I didn't want to protect myself. In order to satisfy the wishes of these close friends and associates, I decided to consider the question of an armed guard. I went down to the sheriff's office and applied for a license to carry a gun in the car; but this was refused.

Meanwhile I reconsidered. How could I serve as one of the leaders of a nonviolent movement and at the same time use weapons of violence for my personal protection? Coretta and I talked the matter over for several days and finally agreed that arms were no solution. We decided then to get rid of the one weapon we owned. We tried to satisfy our friends by having floodlights mounted around the house, and hiring unarmed watchmen around the clock. I also promised that I would not travel around the city alone.

I was much more afraid in Montgomery when I had a gun in my house. When I decided that I couldn't keep a gun, I came face-to-face with the question of death and I dealt with it. From that point on, I no longer needed a gun nor have I been afraid. Had we become distracted by the question of my safety we would have lost the moral offensive and sunk to the level of our oppressors.


Guest Post: Health Care, Female Veterans, and the Rights of Us All:
Today, the Rude Pundit is giving over the joint to Navy veteran and health and disability activist Karen Vasquez, who also happens to be a longtime reader of this here blog. You can read her stuff all the time at The Mighty Turtle. Check this out. It's compelling, funny, and infuriating stuff:

Perspective is a funny thing. It’s shaped by our experience in the present, and those who came long before us in the past.

I have been in the veteran’s healthcare system for eighteen years. At age 23, after my Honorable Discharge from The Navy, I was diagnosed with scleroderma at the Veteran’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. Later in 2007, I was finally diagnosed with Sarcoidosis in addition to scleroderma. Many of the symptoms are the same so it was tough to get that second diagnosis, but that’s a whole other post.

Little did I know that when my rheumatologists uttered the word "scleroderma," my odyssey began as "Mr. Vasquez."

During the early days of frequent visits to the Veteran’s Hospital, I shocked men the age of my father by admitting to them that, yes. I too am a veteran. I was a young, hot thing usually dressed in traditional college student attire. I didn’t look sick nor did I embody the textbook image of a veteran. In elevators, I was often asked if I was there to visit my grandpa. Then there was the problem with my name.

I suppose the name Karen and “female” in the gender part of a print out was not enough information to VA personnel reading said print out to understand that I was not a man. When being called in the waiting room, I would hear, “Mr. Vasquez?” The first time that happened, I looked around the waiting room to see not even a flinch from anyone else. Considering VA hospital staff almost exclusively saw men back in those days, it wasn’t all that shocking for me to be called "Mr. Vasquez." Eventually, I just got used to it. My name was butchered so much throughout my short military career, it was nothing out of the ordinary. ("Valasquez," "Vanquez," and "Sanchez," to name a few. Yes, Sanchez. I have no explanation.) Usually, it just boiled down to paying attention to see if someone was speaking to me.

Sure, it was the 1990’s and women’s equality was the norm...okay I can’t even type that sentence with a straight face. Women’s equality in the Veteran’s Administration was not the norm. Sure, women had served in some capacity since, oh, I don’t know, when we rebelled against England? But there were no programs in the very institution designed to take care of those who served to address specific needs of women. I did wonder if every now and then some radiologist was startled awake when one of my x-rays came across their light box in those dark rooms they hang out in and think, “Wow, that’s a really big prostate!” before taking a second look.

A woman not being considered a veteran in need of healthcare is in no way shocking, of course. Since the founding of this country, women have had trouble being considered anything other than property until recently. And more recent than you think. In the 1970’s, a woman could not purchase a car without showing she had permission from her husband. Pre-Roe v. Wade: A trip to the doctor for her lady parts required her to be accompanied by her mother or husband. Girls were told in one way or another that they were not in charge of their own bodies. If you find yourself thinking how this is relevant to veteran’s healthcare in the 1990’s, please slap yourself. Thank you.

I’m not going to bore you with my stories of public humiliation and degradation on active duty because I had a vagina. There are enough of those and many grislier than mine. I will dish a little: A certain Secretary of Defense who later went on to be Vice President once told me at a Submariner’s ball, “If they had girls like you in the Navy when I was your age, I would’ve joined.” Oh yeah, I’m sure all he needed was a pretty girl for him decline five deferments. Have another Coors light, Asshat.

The men I served with had their biases of women, not because they were hateful douchebags; it was because of how they were taught to think of women since birth. Many men I served with were good men. Hard workers whose team I wanted to be a part of, who taught me so much about body work and engine maintenance on boats, who encouraged my pride in a job well done. They just had a hard time wrapping their heads around serving with a female. Sure, they were responsible for their actions and words that degraded women, but their perspective was shaped by our fucked up culture of second-class citizenry being okay.

You would think that by the 1990s, the Veteran’s Administration would have read the memo that women had been “allowed” to serve and would be eligible for veteran’s healthcare. Nope. So, I learned to answer to "Mr. Vasquez" and to pick my battles and kick down some doors to get the care I needed.

Last month, while lunching at the VA Hospital’s cafeteria, CNN reported that the Air Force had ordered all material objectifying women be removed from work spaces. At first, I was furious that it was 2012 and that this even had to be ordered, but then I realized the timing was about right, when viewed in an evolutionary timeline. Those old timers who were offended that women be “allowed” to serve in “This Man’s Army” were dying off. The ones that were left were dragged with fingernails scraping the floor as they were being dragged into modern times.

I’m not delusional. These ignorant old timers are still around, some not so old and some just in different stages of evolution, like those assholes that accused Hillary Clinton of faking her serious injury and resulting blot clot.

These are the same types of assholes that called me a "sick bay commando" and other assorted colorful names. They think they are being cute and funny. But they are only exposing themselves for as the ignorant fucks they are. Now, I call them ignorant fucks and not products of their environment because there comes a time in everyone’s life when we get to choose how to travel down life’s path. We can choose to travel with an open mind to nurture a life of change and growth though new information, or we can choose to travel with our heads up our ass in fear. Sometimes, an enlightened path is chosen after people spend years inside their own anuses. Something happens, they emerge, and they choose to be decent human beings. And some learn nothing from life experience and maintain an existence of ignorant fuckery that would insult a caveman.

After 18 years in the VA Healthcare system, things are significantly different since I first entered its doors in 1994. I have had the honor of meeting World War II veterans and having the greatest conversations with them in waiting rooms. At my local VA, I made some amazing friends who are Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans and Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. The old timers I am friends with chose the path of enlightenment. I’m not an idiot, I know they have biases so old it’s a natural response at times, but they check themselves and they have shown me nothing but respect and make me feel as an equal. I am a better person for having them in my life. I am lucky to have met them; I would not trade their friendship for a million dollars. They teach me something every time we get together. I could’ve chosen the path of anger and resentment, but that is so much work, not in any way helpful, and I would have missed some enlightening experiences.

There is no way I can describe in one post my experience as a female veteran in the VA healthcare system these past 18 years, without first talking about my perspective. When His Rudeness told me he was interested in my perspective, I realized I have had a front row seat watching and participating in the evolution of the Veteran’s Administration from an organization that saw women as hysterical lunatics who needed to be appeased just enough to keep them quiet to a government organization that takes care of all of its vets. There is still plenty of work to do, but we have come a long way.

Yep, we have centuries of damage to undo. And it will take some time because the only way to change such biases so ingrained in the psyche of those who chose the ignorant path, is to wait for them to die out. As old administrators and patients die off, the door is open to change. It may sound a little harsh, but as someone who lives by the words "adapt or die," it’s just plain realistic.

I in no way wish the death of these people; it's just part of the circle of life. And though our civilization has surges of stupid, it has surges of intelligence and enlightenment. I am optimistic because I have seen it already. When my son was 5 years old, in 2009, he looked at a placemat of the US Presidents I had just bought him after President Obama’s inauguration. He kept turning it over, carefully examining each picture. I waited for the question about ethnicity and lack of diversity. He set down the placemat, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mommy, where is the girl president?”

The short version: if we teach our sons and daughters we are all equal it will be so. Someday.

So I will continue to write about the Viagra I take four times a day, go for infusions to keep my scleroderma and Sarcoidosis, stabilized. I will continue to use my Medicare coverage to visit specialists outside the VA healthcare system to recommend treatment because my doctors, the best at what they do in their specialties, asked me to see specialists outside the VA to help them treat me. My team of doctors at the VA want to ensure I get the best care, as they do for all of their patients, of course, but in their infinite wisdom, unlike private practitioners I have seen, they had the courage to say, “I don’t know" and help me find someone to get answers. The VA covers my medications because I have a 100% service connected disability thanks to scleroderma and Sarcoidosis. How did I get that service connection decision? Again a whole other post. Which brings me to TheMightyTurtle.com.

I write a blog about my 18 years of advocating care for my rarely heard of but not so rare diseases. I call it The Mighty Turtle because turtles are excellent examples of a species that has learned to adapt and overcome- they outlived the dinosaurs for a reason. Mitch McConnell is the exception when it comes to turtles. Just as I have outlived the dinosaurs that quickly dismissed me by diagnosing me with Hysterical Female Syndrome when I began reporting my symptoms. Had I given up and not continued to keep reporting those symptoms while still in the military, it would have been an even harder fight to get the life saving care I needed. So they called me Sick Bay Commando, Whiner, Stupid Female- oh I could go on with the terms of affection, but my point is: As upsetting as it was to go to see a doctor while on active duty, those symptoms ended up in my medical records, which gave me grounds to pursue lifesaving veterans' benefits that covered treatment most patients with my condition are denied by insurance.

I am lucky to be alive. And I am still here because of the lifesaving care I had to fight for. I write about it because I hope to save time for other patients with my condition(s). Everyone deserves the type of healthcare I get from the VA. I had to fight for the medical treatment because of m gender as well as the usually hoops veterans seeking a disability rating have to jump through, back in the 1990’s and now. I continue to get care in the VA healthcare system. And I can save other patients some time by sharing my experience. I have also had my time with private insurance. I know how to get meds outside the formulary. It’s no picnic, but it can be done.

One thing that irritates me is the idea that because I am a veteran, I deserve better care than everyone else. To me, that’s bullshit. Leading a long healthy life and having medical treatment when needed is a part of the pursuit of happiness. Lifesaving healthcare is a human rights issue, not something people should be pissed off about because they are afraid they might have to shell out a little extra on their taxes. I am tired of people vilifying the sick and the poor. That has to change and I aim to be a part of making that change happen. I could go on and I do at my blog. Stop by my Facebook page and say, "Hi," leave a comment, and/or ask questions. No topic is off limits. Especially to patients, their family, friends and caregivers. If I don’t now an answer, I will direct people to places or people who can help them get the answers they need.

I had to turn off the comments section of my blog because I was getting spammed into the next decade because I write about my experience with Viagra. I take it four times a day. Do you want to know if it makes me horny? I get that question all the time. If you want to know, I have a post about it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post his Rudeness so graciously allowed me to post, and have a great day. If you feel like making a difference today: Visit The Mighty Turtle’s Facebook page, read about scleroderma and sarcoidosis, and just by sharing what you have read, you will change the world by raising awareness. It’s that easy.


Obama to the NRA: Suck on This Executive Power:
For those of us who think few things are more fun than watching conservatives lose their shit over something, yesterday was like Christmas, New Year's, and St. Blowjob's Day all rolled into one. For when President Barack Obama took to the podium and announced the truly reasonable, eminently sane, un-radical changes to our gun laws and gun culture that he was going to propose to Congress and take through executive action, the right wing lost enough shit to fertilize all the rice paddies in China.

Truly, it was a parade of madness and garment-rending so appalling that you pretty much saw who shouldn't be allowed to pass any kind of mental health background check. The Rude Pundit's favorites? The not-at-all gay Matt Drudge posting a photo of a rain-soaked window looking at the Washington Monument and wistfully tweeting, "Cold rain in DC, tears from Founders above. 'America' has run its course. Bill of Rights evolving and dissolving..." One could also look at that photo and say that Matt Drudge craves wet, erect cock, but that would be too obvious.

You had your weepy "But what about the aborted babeeeeeez" responses, like Laura Ingrahamaham. You had all the "But he used the children as props" bullshit, referring to the kids who wrote letters to Obama about gun violence who he had on stage with him. Michelle Malkin crapped out an entire "column" about it. Because conservatives would never do something like that.

But for a pure blast of hatred and evil, you had to go to the main man, the source of all things vile and Neanderthal. Here's Rush Limbaugh trying to use logic to defend that ludicrous NRA ad saying that the President's kids get armed guards, so why not your precious snowflake?: "So here we have this authoritarian president and his acolytes in the media who now want us to think that he is deserving of special treatment. His kids are more important than your kids are. And when you think that your kids should have the same kind of protection his do -- or at least the same type of armed protection -- you somehow are being unreasonable." Does it need to be said, truly, that having armed protection for Sasha and Malia is not saying they're more important than other children? That we provide the President's kids with Secret Service protection because those kids are under more threats than anyone else's? That most other kids don't have to worry about terrorists wanting to kidnap them? Or is that just too much of a fucking leap?

Seriously, sometimes the Rude Pundit wants to shove his dick so far down Rush Limbaugh's throat that he's ass fucking the fat bastard from the inside. Rhetorically, of course. Of course.

And what does Obama want? Well, he'd like Congress to pass an assault weapons and large magazine ban. He'd like to expand background checks to include the 40% or more of gun purchases that aren't subject to them. Oh, and expand mental health benefits, get rid of armor piercing bullets, and fund the legal system so it can do its job on gun crimes. That's up to the NRA-owned shits in both parties to pass, which means most of it probably won't, at least until 2015.

As for the 23 executive actions, they can pretty much be summed up as some stuff about mental health, some stuff about law enforcement, some stuff about schools, and a couple of things that say to the NRA, "I'm not afraid of you anymore," including directing the CDC to study gun violence and saying that doctors can ask about guns in the home. That last one also has caused fits of shit on the right. Your doctor can ask you if you smoke or drink, both legal activities, but they think guns should be off the table, commie.

The great thing about Obama's announcement yesterday was that he pretty much called the opposition a bunch of craven assholes and cowards: "There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty -- not because that’s true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves. And behind the scenes, they’ll do everything they can to block any common-sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever." Generally, the word "motherfuckers" is more concise, but not as descriptive. Then he went right for the NRA's pocketbook: "The only way we will be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, their membership says this time must be different -- that this time, we must do something to protect our communities and our kids." Do you have a conscience, he asked, or are you owned by the NRA as much as the lowest worm politician?

Like Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who responded in the most dickish way possible, "The Second Amendment is non-negotiable. The right to bear arms is a right, despite President Obama’s disdain for the Second Amendment and the Constitution’s limits on his power. Congress must stand firm for the entirety of the Constitution – even if, but particularly so, when President Obama seeks to ignore his obligation to ‘preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ Taking away the rights and abilities of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves is yet another display of the Obama Administration’s consolidation of power."

That any of what Obama proposed would be considered controversial bespeaks an American savagery that this country seems all too ready to accept. He didn't call for gun registration. He didn't call for banning any handguns. He didn't call for licensing rules. None of that. If he "went big," as some in the media said, it was only because there was nothing bigger to compare it to.

There's one other thing Obama did yesterday that is encouraging. He didn't take the attitude of "I got this." He called on the nation that reelected him to stand with him and to get active. If we do, if we do get behind him and get even these minimal new laws passed, it bodes well for the rest of his term, for Obama, for us. Let's hope this moment doesn't get by us without us being part of it.


Republican Representatives: "Relief for Me, Not for You":
A little recent history lesson: Back in October 2004, the House of Representatives passed the Military Construction Appropriations and Emergency Hurricane Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2005. Originally, it was just a military construction bill, but when Florida got its orange ass kicked by four hurricanes in a few months, Congress added roughly $13.6 billion in disaster relief. The vote on the final bill in the House was 374 to 0.

Being a "Military Construction" bill, it was filled with pork, great, huge helpings of piggy meat that, pre-hurricane, the House had agreed to 420-1. Why? Because, as cannot be said enough, one representative's pork is another representative's vital project for the home district. And this one had "military" in its name and it was 2004 and Bush was president and you were a fucking traitor if you said one goddamn word about military spending. So barely a peep. In the entire Congress, only David Obey voted "no."

You know what didn't get any discussion in the hurricane part of the bill? Offsetting the cost by cutting elsewhere. Funny how that works. Not a single symbolic vote against the money spent on disaster assistance and reconstruction. Why? Because that's what the fuck you do when you're in Congress and someone else's district gets face fucked by Mother Nature with a tornado strap-on or earthquake or hurricane or blizzard. Because next time it could be your district's face getting fucked and you want others to want to get your constituents help.

Now, we could have a big bunch of fun listing all the Republicans who voted for a pork-laden hurricane supplemental back in 2004 who just yesterday decided to vote against relief for Superstorm/Hurricane Sandy victims, which, by the way, will also end up attached to a Senate bill funding military and VA projects. But let's focus in on just one GOP bag of douche.

Rep. Jeff Miller's district in the Florida Panhandle has some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation. Of course, when Hurricane Ivan hit his district hard, he was ready to offer assistance and to seek help from the federal government. Indeed, at a campaign rally for his reelection in Pensacola with Miller at his side in 2004, Dick Cheney assured Miller's constituents, "We want you to know the federal government is doing everything possible to help. The President has approved $13.6 billion for the people of Florida and other states hit by the hurricanes."

So you'd think it would be a no-brainer for someone from an area that gets bitch-slapped by hurricanes and tropical storms all the time to support relief funds for Sandy-hit areas, especially if you've asked for and supported those funds for your own people before. Not if you're Jeff Miller. The ass-lick who took over Joe Scarborough's seat voted against the Sandy bill. And that's pretty much the definition of "fuckery."

Another way to go with this is to look at places that have been hit by natural disasters that received federal relief funds and see how their representatives voted. Like Billy Long of Missouri's 7th District, where twister-fucked Joplin, Missouri sits. Or any of the other Florida reps who did the same. Fuck, even a couple of Republicans from Katrina-damaged districts in Louisiana voted against the bill, like Steve Scalise because, oh, dear, a bit of what he thinks is pork was in there.

As New Jersey Republican Representative Frank LoBiondo said to his colleagues and his own pathetic caucus yesterday, "[Y]es I'm angry, you're changing the rules for hundreds of thousands of people in the middle of the game. Florida, good luck with no more hurricanes, California, congratulations, did you get rid of the Andreas fault? The Mississippi is in a drought, you think you're not going to flood again? Who are you going to come to when you have these things? We need this, we need this now. Do the right thing as we have always done for you."

Let's go a little more Jersey here. What LoBiondo was saying was, "You want to fuck us? We'll fuck you right back." Things are gonna be fun at the next caucus meeting.


Asking Republicans to Act Responsibly Is Like Asking a Cat to Stop Licking Itself:
You know how it goes. You're at some dinner party with friends, and Shirley just had to bring her husband, Bobby, the Iraq War vet, who has compensated for his refusal to get help for his PTSD by becoming a completely bugfuck crazy Glenn Beck follower/teabagger/paranoid gun lover. Or, as he would put it, a real patriot. Sure, sure, most of the people at the dinner don't want to talk politics, but Bobby, man, he's all twitchy and shit, waiting for a chance to jump into a conversation with his dumbass beliefs. You can see it happen, when the woman you came with, call her, oh, hell, Jessiqua, starts to say that she didn't like the film Zero Dark Thirty and, boom, baby, Bobby is off, talking about how torture worked, how Obama wanted to stop the mission, rattling off conspiracy theories. Everyone else indulges Bobby for a few minutes because, you know, he's insane and probably jonesing to use a weapon on someone. Everyone else knows to let Bobby do his thing while you just wait to do yours when he gets to a stopping point or your drink is empty. Except for Jessi. See, she's got this thing where she believes that if she engages with Bobby, she might be able to reason with him. She may just be able to use facts and logic and that, perhaps, he would see the light. You can see her gearing up for it. You can see her getting ready for the fight. You wanna say, "Jessi, Jess, no, don't bother, back the fuck off, that way is only yelling and frustration," but she does it, time and again, playing right into Bobby's demented brain, thinking that this time, yes, this one time will be different than all the others.

At yesterday's utterly tepid news conference, it was sad to see how much President Obama seemed to believe that Republicans will eventually come around to the rational position of raising the goddamn debt ceiling without being dicks about it. Look at how much credit he gave them: "Republicans in Congress have two choices here: They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills; or they can act irresponsibly, and put America through another economic crisis." If he doesn't realize that there's a big number of assholes in the GOP who believe the responsible thing is to fuck up the economy by not raising the debt ceiling unless they're allowed to fuck up the economy by getting massive spending cuts, then he hasn't been paying attention. King Asshole John Boehner pretty much said that yesterday after the press conference.

It was adorable, really, truly, to hear the President say that he thinks Republicans should pay attention to the 2012 election results: "The American people agreed with me that we should reduce our deficits in a balanced way that also takes into account the need for us to grow this economy and put people back to work. And despite that conversation and despite the election results, the position that's been taken on the part of some House Republicans is that no, we got to do it our way. And if we don't, we simply won't pay America's bills." Does Obama not remember who he's dealing with here? Hell, he even referenced the last time they didn't raise the debt ceiling. For some in the GOP, that was a grand and glorious victory.

This would all be fine if Obama had not taken off the table any executive action: "[T]here is no simpler solution, no ready, credible solution, other than Congress either give me the authority to raise the debt ceiling, or exercise the responsibility that they have kept for themselves and raise the debt ceiling." Look, the Rude Pundit believes in the separation of powers, he believes in the rules of government, he believes all that good shit. But if there are legal means, even if they have to be fought about in court, that Obama can assert, then he's obligated to do it rather than wait for the assorted geeks, pinheads, and missing links in the House of Representatives to act.

Bobby doesn't give a goddamn if he embarrasses himself. He doesn't actually have the capacity at this point to understand how idiotic he looks. Jessi's got to learn: walk away from the crazy man. She's not his therapist or even his friend. The crazy man is just a crazy man, and you're not gonna change him with your awesome powers of reason and hopes that the obvious will just seem obvious because, shit, he's crazy.


Live Whiskey-Blogging the President's News Conference:
It's always a pleasant surprise when a president schedules a morning news conference. That means it's time to add some whiskey to the cup of joe and have an Irish coffee start to the day. This new Keurig the Rude Pundit got for Christmas is awesome because it leaves plenty of room in the mug for some Knob Creek Small Batch, a whiskey that's usually too good to dilute, but, hey, Wolf Blitzer keeps staring at me with his dead eyes and telling me that President Obama is having the last presser of his first term, a fairly meaningless thing, but, well, shit, it's worthy enough of celebration. (All quotes guaranteed to be wrong in words, right in spirit.)

11:39: And we're off to the races. Obama says that we've got shit to do and we can do it if Republicans stop being such mind-boggling cocks about it.

11:40: He says, "I've got a plan. Remember the last year? The election? The thing people voted for me over the other guy by 5 million votes?"

11:41: Throws down the deficit reduction street cred. "Suck on my budget cuts."

11:42: Says we need to "spur more growth in the short term." Is unclear about whether that means infrastructure spending or what's also known as "pork" to idiots.

11:44: "The debt ceiling is not a question of authorizing more spending;" it's about paying bills already racked up, he explains. Right-wing bloggers immediately tweet that it's about authorizing more spending. Right-wing blog readers immediately believe the lie rather than the truth.

11:46: Says that Republicans in Congress have two choice: act responsibly or act irresponsibly. Does Obama remember the legion of dolts, crazies, and charlatans who make up the Republicans in Congress?

11:47: C'mon, take the trillion dollar coin out your pocket.

11:48: First question: Gun violence, Newtown, assault weapons ban, gonna do that?, gonna do other things?

11:50: Obama punts. Says there's shit he believes, but he doesn't think he'll get all of them, which means that an assault weapons ban is not gonna happen.

11:51: Chuckles the Todd asking about executive action on the debt ceiling.

11:52: Obama: "We are not a deadbeat nation." Ah, but we are a nation of deadbeats, are we not?

11:55: Does Obama understand that he needs to do something that's out there in order to catalyze a real debate on the debt ceiling? The right response on the debt ceiling is to say that the assholes in the GOP are hurting the country and he won't let that happen, so fuck them, let's go 14th Amendment or coin or something. Let 'em take him to court. Let 'em try to impeach. It's bullshit to say that it's up to Congress and believe that Republicans will do "the right thing" when they think the right thing is to fuck up the economy.

11:59: If Obama believes the debt ceiling debate is a hostage situation, then he needs to get on the phone to Boehner and say, "I have a particular set of skills..."

12:01: Obama kills the not-paying-the-check metaphor by taking it a scenario too far.

12:03: "The debt ceiling has never been used in this fashion," Obama says. "It's like Republicans figured out another hole to fuck and now are insisting on fucking that hole even if you tell 'em to stop."

12:04: Can someone tell Obama that if he says, "We're not gonna blow up the economy," but has no threat behind it, it's an empty assertion?

12:05: Irish coffee number two is even tastier than Irish coffee number one. The touch of Bailey's helps. Hello, afternoon.

12:07: Another gun question, this related to assholes buying more guns because they think Obama will send cut black men to take away the assholes' guns.

12:08: "What executive action can he take?" You know, for a dude who thinks he has the power to stone cold murder the fuck out of Americans overseas on his whim, Obama's unusually reticent to use executive power to accomplish domestic goals.

12:10: Is he starting to fall asleep talking about guns?

12:11: On gun sales, Obama says, more or less, "Assholes will be assholes."

12:12: Ooh, shee-it. Julianna Goldman from Bloomberg asks why we should believe Obama when he's caved so many other times.

12:15: Obama says he's sick of "negotiating through crisis" all the time. So is he ready to kick the asses of the "small group of Republicans" who keep forcing him to do that? Will he really not cave?

12:16: He is laying the debt ceiling crisis completely at the Republicans' feet. It'll be interesting to hear Boehner simper about not getting cooperation from the president.

12:19: Dear reporters, there are other things going on in the world other than guns and debt. Syria? Jobs? Hagel? Climate change? (No, that last one's a joke - nobody gives a shit about that.)

12:20: The interesting thing, though, is that the more he's pushed on the debt ceiling, the more he gets pissy about Republicans.

12:21: Obama says Republicans don't give a shit about starving kids or sick grannies. And the American people said they do by reelecting him.

12:23: If you want to lower the deficit and debt, the Congress "has a partner in me," says Obama, unconsciously agreeing to a same-sex marriage.

12:24: Question about Obama's insularity and diversity in his cabinet. Bizarrely, reporter says criticism is that he doesn't get out and "socialize." Bullshit question, will get a bullshit answer.

12:25: Obama says he has women friends (and lists all of the ways in which he has appointed women to various positions). It's more or less, "Shut the fuck up."

12:27: "I'm a pretty friendly guy...and I like a good party," says Obama. Oh, yeah, but nothing like William Howard Taft, who liked a good naked party.

12:28: "I like Speaker Boehner personally," Obama says, marking the first time anyone ever has said that.

12:30: This answer is getting sad as he talks about being "lonely in this big house" and inviting GOP House members over. Michelle gently cries behind the curtain.

12:32: Aaaand we're done. What did we learn? That Vice President Biden will make some recommendations on guns and that Obama won't negotiate on the debt ceiling.

In other words, that was more useless than this empty mug on the coffee table.


Ladies, GOP Rep. Phil Gingrey Is Concerned About Your Tense Vaginas:
You'll get whiplash when you read Republican Representative Phil Gingrey's remarks to the Smyrna, Georgia, Chamber of Commerce. Seriously, the pivot here from rational to bugnuts is so startling that people with severe bipolar disorders could take lessons.

Gingrey and his disturbing head of auburn hair have represented the 11th district since 2003, and he has been a reliable GOP motherfucker of the first order. So it's something of a surprise to read his take on the background check loophole at gun shows: "What it is basically, if you go to a gun show and there’s somebody out there in the parking lot, and they’re getting out of their car, and they’ve got an A-15 on their shoulder or …. John Q. Public wants to sell a handgun or whatever, then there’s no background check. You know, you’re buying a used weapon from somebody and then basically no background check." That's, like, sane and thoughtful.

Wait until the NRA gets him on the phone. You can bet he'll be backing off that position like an old whore realizing that she can no longer put her legs behind her head without snapping her hips. 'Cause, see, you might think, "Gingrey, Gingrey, that rings a bell." Yeah, the congressman once upon a time criticized Rush Limbaugh. Within 24 hours, he was on his knees with Limbaugh's stomach on his head while he gave a slobbity-bobbity of apology, a profile in cowardice.

Of course, it was moments later that Gingrey remembered that he's a motherfucker, and he proceeded to fuck a mother right there at the Smyrna Community Center. Because he decided to defend Todd "Ovaries of Justice" Akin. Yeah, let's just let Gingrey sit on his balls here:

"Part of the reason the Dems still control the Senate is because of comments made in Missouri by Todd Akin and Indiana by Mourdock were considered a little bit over the top. Mourdock basically said ‘Look, if there is conception in the aftermath of a rape, that’s still a child, and it’s a child of God, essentially.’ Now, in Indiana, that cost him the election.

“And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that."

The article in the Marietta Daily Journal helpfully points out that Gingrey was a retired OB-GYN, having practiced for like 30 years.

Gingrey went on, no, really, explaining, "And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak."

You got that? Raped girls lie, juiced-up pussy juice can stop pregnancy, and women need some wine to loosen up. Gingrey's a great doctor, man. You can trust him. Hell, back in 2005, he was able to diagnose noted vegetable Terri Schiavo without even examining her, saying, "The tragedy of this situation is that with proper treatment, now denied, Terri's condition can improve." Then as now, he would have been right except for the fact that he was completely wrong.

There's gotta be more than a few women in Cobb Country today who feel just a little queasy about who they trusted to deliver their babies and take care of their oh-so confusing lady parts.


Sorry, Gun Nuts: Hitler Actually Relaxed Most Gun Laws:
Here's the deal, oh, sweet, stupid gun nuts: Have a history lesson. Gun control laws had nothing to do with the rise of the Nazis or the Holocaust. In fact, they were initially part of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I, punishing Germany by eliminating private ownership of guns. In the Weimar Republic, new laws liberalized gun ownership, allowing hunting rifles and more. The other gun control laws in Germany post-WWI were specifically put in to prevent armed takeover of the government by groups like the Nazi Party, which did not, in fact, stage a coup, but used electoral power to solidify its hold on the government (along with the Gestapo and the repression of demonized Communist groups). In fact, Hitler and the Third Reich opened up gun ownership even more, even if they did ban all Jews from owning guns. Yeah, the 1938 law said "a hunting license entitles the holder to carry firearms and handguns." That was new. It also lowered the age of gun ownership from 20 to 18 and changed one-year permits to three-year. 

Oh, by the way, the law also took away any "stabbing weapons" from Jews. And if the Jews had been more strongly armed and attacked the government, all that would have happened is that even more people would have turned on them because the propaganda that said that evil Jews wanted to enslave the country would have appeared to be proven true. No, the Holocaust wouldn't have been worse. But it would still have happened. (This leaves out the enormous amount of armed Jewish resistance against the Nazis.)

The Rude Pundit understands that there's a lot of people out there who like to fellate their guns and call it love. He understands that there's so many who are jonesing for that first rampaging black man to come bursting in during a race riot so they can finally find out what really happens when Bushmaster fire hits human flesh. He understands that there's a whole lot of people invested in chasing the phantoms of resistance, as if they could actually survive if the government turns on us.

If you think you need to be armed with assault weapons because you might have to fight a government that wants to take your assault weapons away through laws passed by a legally-elected body, you are a traitor and kind of a dick. And if that's the best you've got for your argument on why you need to have military style weapons, then you, dear, dumb friend, are believing a whole heaping shovelful of lies.

Come, fantasize for a moment about something other than Jesus with a strap-on shaped like a Ruger reaming your asshole. Fantasize that many non-Jewish Germans opposed Hitler and wanted to rise up against him. You know what would have happened? The enormous Nazi army would have massacred them. The Third Reich existed because the German people wanted it to exist. Give it up.

Fantasize now that the American government wants you dead. Fantasize about the sound of that drone carrying missiles. It's a nearly silent whoosh. You hear it? You think your semi-automatic whatever could stop it? Now imagine being turned into blood vapor.

Really, though, it's never gonna happen. And neither is the race war. And chances are pretty damn good that you're never gonna get to point a gun at anyone other than a family member or yourself.

But, if nothing else, give up the Nazi analogy. Considering all the Nazi shit that shows up at gun shows in an approving way, you just look like hypocritical yahoos attempting to be smart, and that's just fuckin' pathetic.


Fun with Terrorism in the Bible (A Brief But Special Post for Pamela Geller):
Motherfucking blogger Pamela Geller and her group of motherfuckers, called something like "Nutzoid Bitches and Bastards Who Want You To Shit on Their Faces Against Islam," have poisoned everyone's ride to work in New York City with their exhausting hatefulness. They've put up their second ad attacking Islam and the Quran. The Rude Pundit's not gonna post a picture, but it's got an image of the burning Twin Towers, which, you know, all of us up here like to be reminded about every second of every fucking day, and a quote from the Muslim book of faith: "Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers." It's been put next to clocks in the subway because, you know, the seconds are ticking away or some such shit. And, really, the subways have been far too safe for Muslims lately.

Hey, lookie here. Anyone can take some quote from some religious book out of context and a photo that enrages people, and party with some quick editing. You, too, can exploit a tragedy for your own skewed political agenda:

Man, if some Islamic group put up that as an ad, you'd see right wing heads burst in an anger aneurysm. And that's New Testament shit. The Old Testament is all kinds of nasty to unbelievers, like "I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust" from Zephaniah 1:17. (All of Zephaniah Chapter 1 is ass-kicking, OT style.)

Of course, Geller, the scribbler of the online puke sack known as Atlas Shrugs, and whoever she's blowing into giving her cash have the right to buy an ad that says the Mooslims is bad, bad peoples. But that free speech also allows us to say things like "Pam Geller is crazier than a shit fight in a monkeyhouse and dumber than a skid mark in a meth addict's underwear."

Just remember: if you wanna blame Islam for the sins of terrorism, you gotta blame other religions for the sins of their followers.


The Rude Pundit Talks to an Apache Helicopter Pilot:
The Apache helicopter pilot told the Rude Pundit that he lost count of how many people he had killed "once I got up to 40." The pilot had dreamed for years about flying the tight little attack copter, and his dream came true when he trained and was certified to fly missions going after the enemy in Afghanistan. The pilot had done his time over there, and he was sure he wouldn't be going back because the war would be over next year.

Although if you had been talking to the pilot, you would have known: he wanted to go back. When the Rude Pundit asked him if how it was to fly out over the American coast, expecting to hear how rapturous it was to be speeding above beaches. "It's boring," the pilot said. He was used to patrolling with multiple radios and audio, a constant barrage of information about where enemy combatants might be before heading out to take them out. Flying when you're just flying? Just dull. Don't even get him started about the tedium of driving a car.

The point of this is not to tell you about the daily life of an Apache helicopter pilot. The point of the conversation was not to argue. It was to hear what he had to say in that sleazy bar where they had met. And, yes, the Rude Pundit knows for sure that he was an actual pilot, an actual soldier, an actual warrior who had been in Afghanistan. No, the point is not even his belief, one that, actually, the Rude Pundit shares, that if you're going to go to something you're calling a "war," you can't do it without civilian casualties, that if you care so much about killing civilians, you shouldn't bother with the war because sure as shooting, you're going to kill them. And, no, he wasn't saying that he killed civilians, and he wasn't saying that he hadn't.

The real point of bringing up this beer and greasy burger conversation is that the Apache pilot told the Rude Pundit something that he hadn't heard before: the pilots who fly missions over Afghanistan hate the drones and they can't stand the people who launch them. "I've had to take evasive action more than once to avoid getting hit by our own drones," the pilot said. And when one goes down without hitting its target, somewhere in the mountains and plains, "we have to go out and retrieve them so that the other side doesn't get their hands on them." See, each drone contains a great deal of secret technology, secret information, things you wouldn't want your enemy to learn about your abilities. "They fail a lot," the pilot said.

He believes that the human element is crucial in the situation. And he also thinks it's bullshit that people who sit at a computer in California and program the drones to hit their targets get some of the same combat pay that he gets. Maybe the drone programmers who are actually on a base in Afghanistan. But not the guys at desks in the states playing a video game.

There are other things the Apache pilot said. "Everyone knows" that the real problem is Pakistan. "Everyone knows" that the drones just piss off the locals and make it more dangerous for the military there, something that retired General Stanly McChrystal also commented on recently. And the Rude Pundit and the pilot agreed that Iraq was just a huge distraction and waste of lives and money. "We'd have been out of Afghanistan by 2005 if we had just stayed focused," he said.

We're about to have hearings on whether or not former Senator Chuck Hagel should be Secretary of Defense and whether or not John Brennan should be CIA director. While the media has been focused on Hagel saying something vaguely not nice about lobbyists for Israel and how he doesn't want us to go to war in Iran for no good reason, Brennan has more or less gotten a pass, despite being one of the major advocates to President Obama on the use of drones. It bespeaks something awful and disheartening about America that we are told we should be more concerned that a nominee believes in peace than that one believes in endless attacks.

The Apache pilot will do what he's told, of course. He's in for a while longer, may even be a lifer, he doesn't know. Sure, he believes war is hell, but it sure is a rush.


A Letter from the Rude Pundit to Joshua Boston, Gun Owner and Fellow Epistolarian:
"Dear Joshua Boston,

"First, let me compliment you on writing a full-fledged letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein regarding your strong feelings on guns. The epistolary art is one that is fading in this electronically-mediated age. So, indeed, kudos to you, sir, for taking the time and effort to say something you believe using more than 140 characters at a time and mostly good syntax and punctuation.

"Now, that aside, I believe the only response to what you are writing is this: What fucking fantasy land are you living in? Seriously, it's like the NRA fucked Glenn Beck with a dick made of talking points and he shit you out fully formed, crazy, and ready to go, with Rush Limbaugh and Fox 'news' as your molesting uncles, fingering your asshole so that you only say what they fuckin' tell you to say.

"You wrote to Senator Feinstein, who actually just stood up for the right of the government to keep secret the extent of its surveillance programs from even basic scrutiny in the name of 'security,' a clear abrogation of due process guarantees. I'll bet you were fine with that constitutional ass-reaming.

"But no one better touch your guns, right, Joshua? You write, 'I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed, as I do not believe it is the government's right to know what I own.' So I take it that your car and home, if you own them, are completely off the grid, unknown to any government entity? You continue, 'Nor do I think it prudent to tell you what I own so that it may be taken from me by a group of people who enjoy armed protection yet decry me having the same a crime.' Tell you what. If you can prove that you are under the kind of constant threat from constant exposure at public events where you are the focus, like, say, a member of Congress or, you know, the president, you can have armed protection. Oh, and, by the way, if everything in Feinstein's bill passes, which it won't, but even so, if you register your gun, you don't get it taken away. See, the law would do the opposite of what you say it will. No, no, Joshua, don't start the slippery slope of bullshit. Read the proposal, not the propaganda that Sean Hannity earfucked you with.

"Now every pig-blowing asshole on the internet is saluting you for your 'bravery' or some such shit because you regurgitated the vomit that you were fed. You've been summoned to speak to the Doocy on Fox, where you said gun laws would turn us into Nazi Germany. Really? You don't think that sounds totally monkey fuck insane?

"Here's the other problem, though, with your letter, one that the conservative punditocracy and media have pretty much avoided. You say, 'I will not have some woman who proclaims the evil of an inanimate object, yet carries one, tell me I may not have one.' Now, put aside for a moment that Feinstein is a gun owner who witnessed, up close, the results of gun violence against elected officials, and put aside that perhaps those things might give her a bit of perspective that might be worthy of hearing out.

"No, instead, look at what you wrote next: 'I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free...I am the man who fought for my country. I am the man who learned.' You see what you did there? You said you won't have 'some woman' tell you to do something because you are 'the man.' I'm not making this up. I'm not overreacting. You fuckin' wrote it.

"That undercurrent of sexism should discredit you completely. Instead, you are now the commoner of the moment, the new Joe the Plumber, ready to be exploited and fluffed by every craven whore in the right-wing media."

"You end your letter by saying, 'I will not be disarmed to suit the fear that has been established by the media and your misinformation campaign against the American public.' Study after study, by people who, well, shit, study these things, disagrees with you and the gun industry and their lobbyists. But you have decided to live your life as a manipulated tool. What the hell, huh? It's easier than thinking for yourself. Enjoy it. If you hurry, maybe you'll get a weekend with Ted Nugent out of it."

"Best, RP"

(Note: The Rude Pundit did not discuss Boston being an ex-Marine because being a Marine has less to do with anything than how much action Boston might or might not have seen, which the Rude Pundit couldn't find.)