How To "Be Happy" For the Iraq "Elections":
No, no, really, it's great, it's really, really fuckin' great that there were "elections" in Iraq. Really. Nothing was as inspiring as those lines and lines of men dressed in average, everyday Western-ish clothes and women in head to toe robes. 'Cause, you know, the Shia are a bit more conservative about the whole "women's rights" thing.

But, still, c'mon, how could you deny the power of the dyed finger, the jubilation of gunfire in the air. Holy motherfuck, you'd have to be "hardhearted" to not be moved to pissing yourself in joy and tears. Sure, sure, there were nearly deserted polling stations or none at all in the Sunni areas, with 1700 people voting out of the 400,000 in Ramadi, 8,000 out of the 200,000 in bombed-out, corpse-ridden Fallujah. But, you know, no one expected the Sunnis to vote. Sour grapes and all that rot.

So, join the parade of voices declaring, "Freedom, sweet road to freedom," loving the dyed fingertips that look like you anally probed Barney, shouting "Springtime came early to Iraq," and avoid the naysayers who say nay, like Fareed Zakaria, opining that elections do not a democracy make. Yeah, you know, all those voters got to go through that big damn clusterfuck of a ballot, pages and pages of "lists" of candidates, all secretive, but, c'mon, everyone knew what list to vote for, right?

No, really, let's celebrate the act of voting, even if, in the end, the election doesn't change much and is just another mile marker on the road to legitimizing the occupation. Even if there's still no plan to bring American troops home for at least another two years. Even if, even if . . .

But, c'mon, everyone. We should be acting like the proud parents of a baby, should we not? A severely disabled baby? We're just so thrilled to have a child, but, Christ, what hardship and heartache lie ahead. But it was worth it, right? Isn't that what we need to keep telling ourselves over and over, as more and more loss happens, that it was just fucking worth it?

Otherwise, the act of voting was just like watching a mime. See, there is no box, but it sure as hell looks like that fucker's trapped.


Cheney At Auschwitz:
Dick Cheney knows evil is real. So he told an audience in Krakow, Poland, the city in the shadow of two concentration camps, at the 60th anniversary memorial of the liberation of Auschwitz. Said the Vice President, "The story of the camps reminds us that evil is real, and must be called by its name, and must be confronted. We are reminded that anti-Semitism may begin with words, but rarely stops with words, and the message of intolerance and hatred must be opposed before it turns into acts of horror." At the ceremonies, sometimes huddled in the snow, sometimes in an auditorium, were Holocaust survivors, world leaders. The presidents of Poland and Russia spoke, but Germany's Horst Koehler remained silent and listened, for, indeed, what could he say.

At the outdoor ceremony, at the gate of the camp, through which no one knows how many hundreds of thousands of people passed on the way to gas chamber, the crematoriums, the world leaders sat in the falling snow wearing black overcoats, muted clothing and hats. Dick Cheney wore a green parka, embroidered with his name, with a bright fur-lined hood and a knit ski cap with the words "Staff 2001" on it. At least it didn't say "FCUK." As Robin Givhan wrote in the Washington Post, it was "the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower." One could argue, and one might, that Cheney was the only one who had dressed appropriately for the weather. But, you know, in the camps, the prisoners clung to each other in their threadbare outfits, curled next to each other, their thin flesh and bones providing scant warmth, hoping they didn't lose too many digits to the frozen Polish winter. Since their pain and despair was what Cheney was there to commemorate, perhaps a black wool overcoat would have been more, let's say, appropriate, if not quite as comfy.

The next day, Dick Cheney did wear a black overcoat when he privately toured the camp, his first visit to Auschwitz since 1975. Cheney walked past the preserved brick bunkhouses, the fences. He was shown the place where disobedient prisoners were hanged and left to dangle for all to see. He was taken to see the pile of hair, shorn off the prisoners to prevent lice, to insult them. Cheney breathed in deeply, feeling he could still inhale the scent of old European perfumes and sweat. God, how soft Himmler's pillows must have been, Cheney thought. He placed a bouquet of red, white, and blue flowers against the Wall of Death, where so many Jews were shot down. America cares, the bouquet telegraphed, we're here and we care.

Cheney was taken to the rubble where Crematorium I once stood. Nodding, a bit cold for lack of a furry hood, he asked his tour guide and his daughter Liz to leave him alone for a moment. Of course, of course, they said, seeing in Dick Cheney a man who bears the burden of fighting evil around the world, of course he could have a moment alone at what was essentially a mass grave. Who would not want such brief graces in the face of such horror, such madness. Alone, snow sticking to him, Cheney inhaled again. He said a thankful prayer that the Holocaust had happened because no matter how much murder and death the Bush administration might inflict on the Middle East, any comparison to this would make his crimes pale. Indeed, for men such as Cheney, the Holocaust always offers a respite: they may be bad, but they're not Nazi-bad.

A strange, but not unexpected stirring occurred in his pants. Cheney smirked. As Lynne knows, nothing gets Cheney up quite like images of torture and death. On the flat screen TV above their bed, Dick Cheney runs a montage of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo pictures. It's better than Viagra for Dick Cheney. At Auschwitz, Cheney looked around, making sure he was really, truly free of everyone, even his Secret Service detail. He reached his hand deep into his pants pocket and started fondling himself. He closed his eyes and thought about the perfection of the place, the process, from railcar to shower to cremation so quickly, so smoothly, save the healthy ones to bury the bones, build the SS's swimming pool. Save the children for Mengele. Cheney was hard, really hard, fully, his cock stonily erect, even in the sub-freezing wind. Finally, Cheney unzipped, thinking Hitler had the right idea: sometimes a brave government needs to decide that a certain people needs to be eliminated for the good of the living. God, what a fantasy, what power, how simple, if barbaric, a solution, oh, how fucking cost-effective. Cheney came as he thought of telling Rumsfeld to base the permanent prison buildings at Guantanamo on the Auschwitz model. His penis dribbled a bit of sour semen onto the Crematorium's remains. When Liz walked back to him, she saw her father's reddened face, bloodshot eyes, and kissed his head, telling him, "Yes, it is so sad." Cheney, catching his breath, nodded and allowed himself to be led away.

It is a burden, you know, to understand evil - truly, really understand it. You are left with only a couple of options: to fight it or to join it. Said Cheney in Krakow, "The death camps were created by men with a high opinion of themselves - some of them well educated, and possessed of refined manners - but without conscience. And where there is no conscience, there is no tolerance toward others ... no defense against evil ... and no limit to the crimes that follow." So true, so true, that real evil is a malevolence that can explain and justify its ways so that others will allow it to continue, unabated.


Spin That Reality:
The Rude Pundit's not sure, but at his press conference yesterday, did President Bush threaten to fuck other countries who don't adhere to some vague notion of "freedom"? Bush said, "I firmly planted the flag of liberty, for all to see that the United States of America hears their concerns and believes in their aspirations," heightening the effect with a mighty flag-planting gesture, much like the placement of a little banner in the eighth hole at the Crawford golf course. So, like, he's fucked Iraq and Afghanistan with his lil' Flagpole o' Liberty. Who's next? Iran? Drop yer panties, Tehran, 'cause George is gonna hoist his mighty flag and plant it right in yer ass.

The press conference was the usual revolting display of arrogance and paranoia. Is Bush right that elections in Iraq with a modicum of openness and threat of overwhelming violence are preferrable to being raped and tortured by the thugs of a dictator? Yeah, sure, leaving our own raping and torturing out of the equation. It's like asking if you, as an American, would rather be imprisoned for dope possession in Pakistan or in the United States. Either way, you're gettin' fucked, beaten, and sold for cigarettes, but, hey, in the U.S., at least your family can visit you.

There was the President's bizarro answer on race issues in American: "Civil rights is -- is a good education. Civil rights is opportunity. Civil rights is home ownership. Civil rights is owning your own business. Civil rights is making sure all aspects of our society are open for everybody," followed by the re-assuring "I believe in the promise of America." The obvious response is, "And that applies to gay people how?" But more troubling is that Bush is just lumping all minorities into one big category of colorful Otherness: blacks, Latinos, Asians, Indians, recent immigrants. Everyone who is not-white and not-Condi is simply an undefined entity whose specific concerns are so much bullshit in the shadow of big damn America and its "ideals."

Bush's platitudes are endless. He "believes" in the most obvious things: "I firmly believe that free societies are peaceful societies, and I believe every person desires to be free . . . I believe this country is best when it heads toward an ideal world . . . I believe freedom is necessary in order to promote peace . . . I believe that it is possible to do big things in Washington, DC . . . I believe that what I said was important." It's like saying he believes in frogs, central air conditioning, and cancer. Who the fuck's gonna argue with him?

And there's something the President wants you to know, and it's that he's not a stupid fucker, you know. Here's Bush, whining like a fat baby who needs tit-milk now: "As I said in my speech, not every nation is going to immediately adopt America's vision of democracy, and I fully understand that . . . the story today is going to be very discouraging to the American people. I understand that . . . Social Security has been an issue that has made people nervous. I understand that . . . I fully understand the power of those who want to derail a Social Security agenda by scaring people . . . I fully understand developing a democratic society in the -- adhering to the traditions and customs of other nations will be a work in process . . . I fully understand some people are concerned about whether or not this is affordable . . . I fully understand that accounts is not the only thing that will be necessary to make sure the system is permanently secure." You get it? He understands, he doesn't need anyone explaining it to him, he's smart, real smart, smart and strong, he's strong, man, watch him tear this budget bill in two, he's so smart and strong that he has comprehension of the things he believes.

And you know what, doubting motherfuckers? He'll make sure you and people all around the world see how smart he is: Seniors? "And so one of the things you'll hear me constantly doing is reminding our senior citizens that nothing will change and that we have a duty to act on behalf of their children and grandchildren" The Chinese? "I will constantly remind them of the benefits of a society that honors their people and respects human rights and human dignity." Pooty-poot? "I will remind him that if he intends to continue to look West, we in the West believe in Western values." Us? "I remind people that our own country is a work in progress." Other world leaders? "I will constantly remind them about our strong belief that democracy is the way forward." Us again? "I am going to continue to speak directly to the American people about this issue and remind them about the math; and remind them that if you're a senior, nothing changes." And again? "I want to remind people that family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River." He's not just the President of the United States, he's also America's nagging mother, standing there in his housecoat and curlers, telling us, like he's told us a hundred times already, to clean our fuckin' rooms.

Having just heard that 30 Marines had been killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq, one might have expected Bush to mention such a tragedy in his opening remarks. Instead, like a dung beetle trying desperately to roll his shitball home, Bush plowed on in with his usual blather about freedom and who the fuck cares what else. When he was asked about the deaths, he dismissed it with a curt, "I know that it's being investigated by the Defense Department. And, obviously, any time we lose life it is a sad moment," as if someone had just had their old, incontinent cat put to sleep.

Yes, yes, it was a useless 40 minutes or so, demonstrating the vicious Sherman's March to "victory" in Iraq, to "reform" of Social Security, and to whatever monomaniacal goals this administration decides to cram down the throats of an apathetic populace. Burn Atlanta, motherfuckers, the sea awaits the arrival of the armies of the cruel.


Not Quite Balls, But Not Quite an Empty Sack: 'Tis a sad sight, some might say, when a male dog has been neutered. 'Tis a pity to see the empty space where mighty testicles once bobbled between proud haunches, below perky anus. Oh, yes, we say, there's good in the castration of a dog - no spreading of seed, no aggression, no chewing up the couch or the two year-old who won't leave his fuckin' ears alone. And how we still love our dismembered pets, as they lick us with less enthusiasm, as they try to lick phantom nuts but only getting a tongue full of air. For the truly caring pet owner, the fine people at Neuticles have been there for a few years now, offering you the option of cosmetic surgery to put balls back where no balls currently reside. You can have nut implants put on your cat, dog, horse, or bull - they come in multiple sizes. No, they don't act like real testicles, but they give the illusion that the poor beast actually has balls. So it was that Democratic Senators took to the floor of their chamber yesterday, not to praise Condi, but certainly not to bury her. (Rice was just confirmed 85-13.) And perhaps feeling yearnings from their phantom balls, so long AWOL after 9/11, several of the Senators not only dissented from the pro-Condi majority, but called the Bush Administration out for its lies. If we're handin' out the Neuticles, let's give a big bull pair, 5.75" each, to Minnesota's Mark Dayton, who finally, at long last, trotted out the word "lie," as in, "Holy motherfuck, those are some lyin' cocksuckers, and Condoleezza Rice's smile glistens with a glaze of spooge daily" or, in Dayton's own words, "My vote against this nomination is my statement that this administration's lying must stop now . . . I don't like to impugn anyone's integrity, but I really don't like being lied to repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally. It's wrong. It's undemocratic, it's un-American, and it's dangerous. And it is occurring far too frequently in this administration. And this Congress, this Senate must demand that it stop now." Other Senators deserving Great Dane-sized Neuticles are Barbara Boxer, who kept up the fight she started in the hearing committee, saying, "[T]his issue of torture is one that matters. It matters to me for many reasons. The first is it is about our humanity. It is about our humanity. Second is that it is about our soldiers, who may find themselves in captivity and in a circumstance where they might well get treated the way we are treating people we capture. That is why the protective words here and living up to our treaties or obligations of our Constitution and international treaties are so important. It is not some vague academic discussion; it is very serious," and Michigan's Carl Levin, who threw down about accountability and said, "Voting to confirm Dr. Rice as Secretary of State would be a stamp of approval for her participation in the distortions and exaggerations of intelligence that the administration used before it initiated the war in Iraq, and the hubris which led to the administration's inexcusable failure to plan and prepare for the aftermath of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, with tragic ongoing consequences." And let's graft on some cat-sized Neuticles to Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who said, "Dr. Rice's nomination recognizes and represents a continuation of a policy which has us bogged down in Iraq while Iran and North Korea continue to advance their nuclear ambitions and while a diminished but still dangerous al-Qaida continues to plot against us." (Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy have such big, sagging, functioning balls that Neuticles would be an insult.) Meanwhile, Joe Lieberman continued his re-circumcising right there on the floor of the Senate by quoting Bush's maniacal Inaugural address. Then Lieberman decided to push it further, saying, in essence, vote for the poor black woman: "Dr. Rice, born in 1954 in the then racially segregated South, knew the sting of bigotry. No one on the day of her birth could have rationally predicted she would grow up to be the Secretary of State of the United States of America. But she was blessed with great natural abilities, with a strong family, with an abiding faith in God. She worked hard, as others worked in her time, to break the barriers of segregation to establish the rule of law to create opportunities. She has earned the nomination the President has given her." As the Rude Pundit said about Alberto Gonzales, fuck her story. Condi's suffering in the time of segregation doesn't mean she gets to create a continuing, cruel, murderous failure of a foreign policy. Man, Lieberman may as well have taken out his shrinking dick and said, "Look, Mister President, I'm cuttin' off a little more for you." Such a mensch, he is. The problem with yesterday, of course, is that while, yes, it's valuable to vent, in the end the Democrats were not unified enough to actually attempt to block Rice's confirmation, or at least to make a "strong statement." And with 30 Democrats voting for her confirmation, the effort yesterday was, at best, a set up for a real fight over Alberto Gonzales, who was passed out of committee on a strictly partisan vote (10-8). Right now the Democrats only have the appearance of balls. Maybe, with Gonzales and the Social Security fight, they'll earn the right to have their long-dormant, cryogenically frozen nuts surgically re-attached.
Late Post Today:
This morning, the Rude Pundit has his Wednesday primal scream therapy for leftist political junkies. Back this afternoon discussing what appears to be an evolution in the Democrats from invertebrates to . . . what?


The Authority of the Absolute, Part 1 :
If there's one thing that Republicans have taught us lately is the clarity of holding absolute positions. Of course, that's all a sham for the Bush administration, a well-documented hypocrisy. The Rude Pundit believes in absolutes. He believes clearly that some things are objectively right and objectively wrong. On these things, he doesn't make allowances for cultural relativity, moral codes, age, or interpretation. The Rude Pundit also believes one can state absolutely that some people are good and some people are bad. For instance, let's say there's a man who has beaten his wife. Beat the shit out of her. Can we not say, with certainty, that spousal abuse is wrong? Very few would argue with that.

Let's layer this motherfucker: let's say Hubby and Wifey are living in a country where beating a wife is not only allowed, it is seen as a necessity for keeping your wife in line. Some cultural relativists might give Hubby a pass, as long as he didn't kill her. But most everyone would say that, no, wife-beating is wrong and, slave of culture or not, Hubby should not be smackin' Wifey.

Let's try it another way: We're back here in the U.S.A. And let's say that Wifey's been fuckin' around - she's been fuckin' the neighbor, fuckin' the lawn boy, fuckin' like one of the stone-cold whores (or the whore-husbands) on Desperate Housewives. And the beating happens because Hubby walked in as lawn boy was zippin' up his jeans. There's a lot of fucking people out there who would say that Wifey just got what was comin' to her, that she deserved the beating, that they would do the same.

The law, applied correctly, wouldn't give Hubby a pass, and neither would the Rude Pundit. Because there are absolutes: spousal (or partner) abuse is wrong, in any circumstance, in any case. You know why? Because we're human fucking beings. And we have the capacity to act rationally. Sometimes we choose not to. Now, when we get to things like punishment for a crime, absolutism goes by the wayside. You want to consider mitigating factors, go for it. But that doesn't mean the acts of punching, slapping, and kicking are "right" or "good."

This post ain't about spousal abuse. It's about absolutes. Like this:

Here's what we know about Alberto Gonzales - what we know, not what we suspect, not what we infer: We know that George W. Bush was arrested for drunk driving in September 1976. We know that he lost his Maine driving privileges for nearly two years, restored in July 1978. We know that in 1978, with a suspended driver's license, he began his run for the House of Representatives (and lost). We know that in 1996 Bush, when he was Governor of Texas, was called for jury duty in a drunken driving case (involving a stripper, which just makes it extra fun). We know that the judge, the prosecutor, and the stripper's attorney have made written statements that Alberto Gonzales asked the judge, in private, to "consider" striking Bush from the jury pool, despite Bush's public statements that he was willing to serve. We know that Gonzales was asked about this in his Senate confirmation hearing and that Gonzales stated he did not recall a private meeting with the judge, but that he did not "request" that Bush be taken out of consideration. In other words, we know that either Gonzales is lying or three other men, in separate statements, are lying. Who would a jury believe?

There are other things we know about Gonzales. Definite things. We know that Gonzales, as the White House counsel, sought to justify various specific methods of "interrogation" which had previously been thought of as torture, like causing physical pain and the now-famous waterboarding, and re-defining torture to exclude such methods. We know he commissioned the memo that explained this position. We know that Gonzales, before the Senate, had a chance to clearly repudiate these "ideas," and declined to do so, and also offered the well-worn "do not recall" to many questions. We know that Gonzales sought to justify indefinite imprisonment without charge or rights of "detainees" at Guantanamo and elsewhere. We know that from 1995-1997 Gonzales gave then-Governor Bush at the very least less than complete information on prisoners facing execution in Texas.

These are all things we know: that Gonzales sought to get Bush out of jury duty, that Gonzales actively shifted U.S. policy to include methods that used to be called "torture" and to include indefinite detention, that Gonzales eliminated factors that might lead to clemency for death row inmates. We know that in each of these cases, Gonzales was given the opportunity to make the case for humane, responsible action, but in each he declined, instead seeking to comfort the powerful and justify their ways.

Fuck Gonzales's story of being born to poor children of migrants. Fuck his working himself up from poverty to make his Mexican family proud. That doesn't mean that Gonzales is incapable of enabling evil. That doesn't make Gonzales automatically a good person. And it certainly doesn't mean Alberto Gonzales is predestined to be Attorney General.

The Rude Pundit is not a fool: he knows that in this wonderful postmodern world of doubt and flux, even objectivity is subjective. But sometimes you gotta stop actin' like a pomo liberal pussy and stand firm.

Later this week: More absolutes on Condi and on torture itself.


Don't Fuck With Barbara Boxer (with a Side Note On the Need To Sodomize Bill O'Reilly With a Microphone):
You do not fuck with Barbara Boxer. The legends are far and wide throughout the valleys and cities and forests of California and in the echo-chamber halls of the Capitol: how when Boxer was first a member of the House in the 1980s, she force-fed James Watt trout from a toxic creek near Salinas - Watt nearly choked on his own vomit; how she brought a posse of Hell's Angels with her to meet with oil executives regarding drilling off coastal California - oh, how the bone-snaps and screams could be heard in the reception area, and, oh, how Boxer rode down the streets of Sacramento on the back of a screeching Harley, tossin' out broken cellphones like they were scalps. When George W. Bush's Texas was cozying up to the Taliban, Boxer threatened to castrate Mullah Omar for the repression of women in Afghanistan. Ask anyone who's crossed her and come out with some part of their asses handed to them: don't fuck with the Senator. Especially once she's gotten her teeth into the jugular of an opponent and tasted their warm, salty blood.

Right now, Boxer's still licking her lips at the taste of the flesh of Condoleezza Rice. After her big throwdown with Condi at the Senate confirmation hearing last week, Boxer's not backed down. She may not get to kill Condi's nomination, but Boxer wants to make sure that Condi's limping so badly that whenever the weather's too humid, Condi'll remember who gave her that still aching wound. Here she was talking about Rice yesterday on "Is Not My Stubble Resplendent" with Wolf Blitzer: "[S]he refused to answer [about the aluminum tubes]. Instead, she said I was impugning her integrity. You know, it's a very good debating technique. I mean, I've been in this debating business for a while now. And when you really don't know what to say about a specific, you just attack the person who is asking the questions . . . She turned and attacked me. It's fine; I don't care. But she has not corrected the record, and I worry about somebody who had a chance to correct the record who didn't do so." So there's Boxer, on Blitzer, tellin' Condi, "Bring it, bitch."

And, man, oh, man, the right wing media has gone nutzoid over Boxer daring to call into question the truthfulness of Rice's statements. The headline over at Newsmax (motto: "We're so fuckin' crazy, we eat our own shit") is the wonderfully comic, "Boxer: I'll Call Condi a Liar Again," which is not that far in insane interpretation from the Washington Times headline, "Sen. Boxer Takes Victim Role After Hearing For Rice." See, because Boxer says Condi attacked her, Boxer is acting as a "victim." Ain't that a cute use of anti-feminist rhetoric to, well, attack Boxer?

But leave it to Bill O'Reilly, a man who refers to his semen as "tzatziki sauce," to take an already debased rhetoric and toss it to the ground and shit on it. O'Reilly used his "Talking Points Memo" to launch into a vicious grumble about Boxer, whom he called "a far left partisan who has crossed the line into destructive politics." Then O'Reilly belched out a series of accusations against Boxer, concluding with, "The truth is that Boxer has no solutions to the War on Terror. And please allow me to pose this question. Is there anyone watching me right now, anyone, who would want Barbara Boxer calling the shots in the war on terror? No sane person would, which automatically disqualifies Ms. Boxer from being taken seriously." By O'Reilly's "logic" (and "logic" here would mean "If A=B, then B=turnip"), if, say, you go to a movie and you don't like the movie, you shouldn't criticize said movie unless you have the ability to make movies. Your movie criticism ought not be taken seriously. Or, let us say, you are a straight male who disapproves of how your female companion is sucking your cock. Should you have to become a cocksucker in order to offer constructive criticism or disparage your companion's fellatiotic abilities? Why, of course not. Sure, sure, you might be able to say something more along the lines of "No, no, do your tongue like this" instead of "No, wait, not that . . . okay, almost, no, sorry." However, no one would demand you learn how to bob on a crank in order to understand what gives you pleasure.

But that would be entering O'Reilly's world of horseshit, matched by the rest of the fucked-up attacks on Boxer as a politician and as a human being. Said Fox's John Gibson, playing the Rice-is-black card, "But ideology trumps racial progress in Boxer's twirly-gig world of Marin County, crypto-Dead Head, move-dot-dude Democrat politics." One can bet Gibson licked his lips with glee at getting to jack off on the air like this.

Boxer's seen the dive before. She's taken a few herself. But Boxer's seen Joe Biden, for instance, roll over before, on Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court, but Boxer was in the House then, not in a position of power in the moment of decision. No, no, no, unless Boxer has something up her sleeve, this will all change nothing when it comes to confirmation. But those wounds will ache, even as Rice's appointment causes the rest of us unending pain.


Inauguration Fun in Three Parts:
Fun with the Inauguration, Part 1: Let us say, and why not, that yesterday a six-foot tall steaming pile of shit was inaugurated President of the United States. There in the spankin' new Cadillac limo, cruisin' past all the protesters, was a six-foot tall steaming pile of shit which, being a six-foot tall steaming pile of shit, didn't really pay attention to the thousands of citizens who thought perhaps America might be led more competently if, say, a six-foot tall steaming pile of shit hadn't been elected. There, outdoors, in the cold, the six-foot tall steaming pile of shit was extra steamy. The onlookers were pleased at the chilled air because if it had been more temperate, well, then they would have had to hold their noses while the six-foot tall steaming pile of shit took the oath of office from the gasping visage of William Rehnquist, six-foot tall steaming piles of shit being noted primarily for their stench.

Then, the quarter million or so gathered, watched in awe as the six-foot tall steaming pile of shit made its inaugural address. Who would have thought a six-foot tall steaming pile of shit would understand such notions as "liberty," "freedom," and "idealism." There's a certain cognitive dissonance that must occur when one witnesses such things, for surely a six-foot tall steaming pile of shit has few purposes other than to rot. Oh, sure, sure, some would say, "That may be a six-foot tall steaming pile of shit, but that six-foot tall steaming pile of shit is my President" and give him a pass. Still others might say that the six-foot tall steaming pile of shit delivered one eloquent barnburner of a speech, that the six-foot tall steaming pile of shit needs only lay out a single path and consequences be damned. Many, though, would watch the speech and shrug and think, "Who the fuck cares what a six-foot tall steaming pile of shit has to say?"

Oh, how the six-foot tall steaming pile of shit, newly re-inaugurated, danced, danced, danced the night away before heading back to the White House for a well-deserved night's sleep, thinking, "My, how wonderful America must be, how great God is, if a six-foot tall steaming pile of shit could find itself here."

Fun with the Inauguration, Part 2: Hey, gang, let's take a couple of segments of Bush's speech and replace the word "freedom" with the word "cock," and then it'll all be perfectly clear what the next four years will be about. To wit:

"The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of cock in all the world . . . Cock, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities . . . Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of cock ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of cock comes to every mind and every soul."

Wheee, what fun. Look how au courant this line becomes: "The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: Those who deny cock to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

Or see how really tangible this goal becomes: "[O]ur country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of cock and the baggage of bigotry at the same time."

And then the end becomes a real rouser: "We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of cock . . .We have confidence because cock is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages, when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty, when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner Cock. . . we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of cock."

(Try it yourself with words like "cocksucking" or "boobies." It makes the whole speech go down easier.)

Fun with the Inauguration, Part 3: In some dirt and rat-shit covered corner of a hovel that doubles as quarters, a resting station, for heroin mules in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, transporting the drug from Afghanistan to Russia, perhaps a young Uzebki man named Rukhi listened in on a shortwave radio to Bush's speech yesterday. Let us say his travels between countries have led him to meet enough English speakers that he has some rudimentary understanding of the language, and words like "liberty" resound with him, stir something in him, a hope of some kind of future. It's much the same way he felt when he met with members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, who have offered liberty, idealism, and compatriotism of their own. Either path promises things they cannot deliver, Rukhi knows, but at some point he's going to have to make a decision on which path he'll take, because at 22, he's already weary of the constant treks to Termiz and then into Kazakhstan. And the IMU is the only one offering anything tangible, the only one who gives Rukhi hope through more than just words.


Democrats, Here's Your Talking Points:
Last week, the Rude Pundit offered the tender story of his own father's death and his ability to, say, live because of Social Security survivor benefits. While retirees make up the bulk of Social Security disbursements, a significant portion are survivors benefits, for widows, widowers, and children. Here's the simple math: you start taking the guarantee out of Social Security and make benefits contingent on long-term investment, how, really, are you gonna support survivors? Since politicians are so fond of rattling off stories about "ordinary people" who benefited from something they did or did not do, here's a bunch of 'em (with no vouching for veracity and minor edits, of course). If they all seem to sound the same, it's because that's the point: they fucking are. Consistency is a good thing, right? If it ain't broke . . .
From IR Nee: I also grew up on Social Security survivors benefits - my father (who was raking in the big bucks as a nonunion security guard) died suddenly leaving my Mom (with an 8th grade education and no work experience) with 4 minor children - I was 10. Things went from tight to real goddamn tight, but we had food and heat and the mortgage payment so we got by. My Mom is still getting Social Security survivor benes 40 years later. Couldn't have done that on 2-4% of my Dad's earnings up to his death regardless of how good (lucky) his investments.

From Chuck in North Carolina: My father died when I was six. He left five children (a normal sized household in those days), ages 6 through 15. After he died, our survivors' benefits literally put food in our mouths. My mother had to work two jobs to extend his benefits enough for us to get by Without those benefits, I don't know what we would have done.

Since I went to college, I received a monthly check until I turned 22. That means I received some sort of stipend for 16 years. With the monthly check and part-time jobs, all five of us were able to attend college and become tax-paying contributors to our economy, instead of welfare cases.

From Chris in Illinois: When I was 8, my father died suddenly from a massive stoke. That left my mom with my 6 year old brother and me to raise. The payments along with a life insurance policy my dad had allowed us to stay in our small home and put money away for both of us to go to college.

It was not a lot of money (a few hundred a month), but it made a difference for us.

From Laura: My dad got Social Security disability benefits (the health problems were his fault, to be honest) for a very short time just before Reagan kicked a lot of people off the rolls, so we didn't get much more than a year's worth of checks. But we did get a retroactive payment for the time that his application was pending that allowed us to move into a house in a better school district, pay off dental bills, etc. By the time our dad died, I was nineteen and in college, so I was "too old" for survivors' benefits, although his estranged wife's youngest kid got enough to subsidize her wedding that summer. The survivors' payments for my younger sibs kept our mom afloat, though-- she made maybe $16K a year, tops-- and got the second kid off to college with the basics. The most our mom got from the program was nine months of disability before cancer carried her off, so neither parent drew a single penny of Social Security retirement funds, and the disability/survivors' benefits were very short-term.

From Chris in California: My Mom and Dad were divorced in 1956, when I was 6 and had two younger siblings. My Mom had married right out of high-school, and had no college or job skills when she was left holding us three rug-rats. Daddy was an alcoholic and when he died seven years later, it meant the child-support checks (which I gather were pretty sporadic) were at an end--but my mom was then able to collect Social Security benefits for us. By then, my mom had gone to college, gotten her teacher's credential, and was teaching high school. We were never rich (Christmases were a pair of PJs, a new book, and oranges-and-walnuts from the bowl in the kitchen), but we always had food in the house--and the house, too.

From Paul: I was an unexpected surprise for my parents in 1951 when my mother was nearly 44 and father was 55. Nine years later when my father was contemplating retirement my mother passed away. Needless to say my Dad had to change his plans and continued to work until I graduated high school. Those survivor benefits helped him put clothes on me and contributed to my ability to go to college, with additional considerable help from the federal government through loans, grants, and work study.

I am a teacher now in a public alternative high school, and although I am aware of the shortcomings of government at times, my respect for the previous generations that cared enough to invest in my future remains strong.

From Art in Seattle: In the fall of 1968 I was 16 and a junior in high school. Two older brothers were away at college, a younger brother was a freshman and my little sister was in second grade. We had just moved to a new city in a new state and for the first time in his life my Dad was making $1,000 per month. We thought we were in fat city and then, on October 1, 1968, out of the blue my Dad dropped dead from a massive heat attack at the age of 55. My mom wasn't working and on that day all income stopped.

I don't remember the details, but somehow, someway we started receiving money from Social Security. My Mom got a job but it was a lot less than my Dad had been making and we didn't have a lot of savings. It was Social Security and maybe some pension or veteran's benefits that got us through the next few years and in the end all four of my siblings, and I made it through college.

Social Security helped get us through some very dark days and I presume it is doing the same today for similarly unfortunate families across the country.

From Nona: I was 11 years old when my mother died. She was the breadwinner of the family because my Dad wasn't well. Dad was left to raise two daughters on nothing but the benefits we got from the Social Security after mother died - that and something called surplus food which consisted of big blocks of American cheese and cans of Spam, mostly. I don't know what would have happened to us if we hadn't received that small income from mother's Social Security.

We had no health insurance, of course, and at age 13, I almost died from bronchial pneumonia. We didn't have a telephone, so Sad had to drive into town, find the doctor and bring him out to our house. An injection allowed me to breathe better and I never was hospitalized. We couldn't afford it.

This probably sounds crazy to you but we grew up in the Ozarks and this is all true. I'm almost 60 now.

From Rob: Dad died when I was twelve leaving my mother, my older brother and me with an old house and car and not much else. There wasn't a life insurance policy or money stashed away in a safe deposit box, and Mom, who was fifty, hadn't worked for twenty years. She got a job as a cashier in a department store and the benefits helped bridge the income gap. It wasn't a lot, but it kept us going even though my brother, who was eighteen and didn't go to college didn't receive any money. I went to college on scholarships and the benefits paid my rent (imagine $150 a month paying rent these days). Dad worked hard for thirty years and while he never benefited from his social security payments I was given a normal life because of them.


Please, Dr. Rice, Fuck Us Again:
Let's say, and why not, that you're an upper middle-aged white guy in D.C. who really needs to get fucked by a hot cock at the end of a ripped torso. You cruise the Anacostia waterfront, before all the meat markets are shuttered to make way for the fuckin' baseball stadium, hoping that you can find someone and get this over with quickly so you can head home to Georgetown, return your son's car to him, and kiss your wife "hello" after a hard day's work on the Hill. You see some fine damn pieces of ass, a rainbow of possible penises, but one really attracts your attention, a black dude, shaved bald, which is a pretty good indicator that his balls are hair free, in a muscle shirt that shows off that fine goddamn six-pack. You see the way he's leanin' on the wall, outside the video arcade, and you know that he wants some cash. Oh, shit, yeah, he's a top if there ever was one. After the negotiation, which was just a quick back and forth, and this one's just a c-note, you pull into an alley, your sphincter throbbing with desire, and as you're dropping your pants, you tell him you wanna see that monster cock of his. When he whips it out, you notice it's not as smooth as you would like (and not as big, but, hey, the clock's ticking). There's the tell-tale herpes marks, the faded warts, and you say to the dude, "Look, I'm gonna pay you to fuck me no matter what, but why don't you wear condoms?"

"You want me to wear a condom?" he says. "Whip out the Trojan, bitch."

Perhaps you're not being clear. "Yeah, I want you to wear a condom, but look at your dick. You think you oughta always wear condoms?"

"Fuck you, you little punk," he replies. "You can pay me to fuck you in the ass, and I'll fuck you good, but do not impugn my integrity."

You sigh, knowing that you want to get fucked and it's too late to find someone else. So you hand him the condom, enjoy the fucking, give him the hundy, and drive home, hoping that you will be disease-free in the morning.

So it was that Bush's house negro,Condoleezza Rice, was (and continues to be) questioned about her fitness to be Secretary of State. Oh, the right wing media was atwitter at Barbara Boxer's attempt to put some perspective on the greater glorification of Condi, but instead of dealing with any of Boxer's allegations (although this morning, CNN did get Joe Biden's back on the whole number of really, truly trained Iraqi security forces), all the "news" channels played endlessly was Condi's posturing at the end of Boxer's remarks: "Senator, we can have this discussion in any way that you would like. But I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity." Oh, yeah, go, Condi, don't take that smack from some liberal bitch from California (where Condi used to be, you know, Provost of Stanford). As usual, the media acted as if because Rice said it, it must be so. Boxer didn't back down, but Rice won the image war. Never answering a question, never admitting a mistake, rewriting history, and saying that she has integrity: Condi followed the Bush adminstration script to the letter.

Of course, since every Democrat on the committee opened his or her remarks with some variation on "Of course, you're going to be confirmed," much like in the Alberto Gonzales "hearing," the uselessness of the questioning was just this side of pathetic. With confirmation-denial off the table, why in the world would Rice bother fully answering a question? It's like a cop telling a dope dealer, "You're gonna walk out of here today, but tell us who your supplier is."

In his interview with the Washington Post, President Bush said he wasn't going to hold anyone accountable for all the "mistakes" leading to the Iraq war and Abu Ghraib and all that other seemingly criminal crap: "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections." While Ted Kennedy called "bullshit" on that remark the same day it was published, he could have relied on the most absurd moment of all the interviews, when a reporter from USA Today said to Bush, no shit, "You're obviously a student of history." Dude, even when Bush was a student, he wasn't a student of jackshit.

Bush oughta go to the American history textbooks, and maybe just the lil' ol' Constitution he's gonna swear to uphold tomorrow. The Legislative branch is equal to the Executive, according to, well, the document that created those branches. In other words, bitch, you don't get to decide when the "accountability moment" is gonna happen or who or how anyone's held accountable. Sure, Bush himself has a pass until at least 2006, but what about others? What about now?

Senate Democrats on the various committees could simply do this: they could say "No" to Alberto Gonzales, whose written responses to Senate Judiciary Committee members were essentially, "Fuck you" and "Go fuck yourself" and "Shut up, bitches and confirm me," or, more precisely and more frighteningly, that the CIA has free rein to sodomize "detainees" as they see fit. What if the Democrats said, "You know what, Condi, you were fucker-upper in charge, and we don't want you confirmed." The Democrats in the Senate could hold the line that if Bush isn't going to hold anyone accountable, they will. No one's sendin' Condi or Al to jail. It's a simple equation: you need our non-filibustering tacit approval, and if your fuck-ups led to torture and massive losses of life and limb, then, no, the American people don't need your services.

See the oh-so-clear path? You can tell the diseased whore to put it away. There will be no fucking tonight. You can just get in the car and drive off. Or you can just get fucked over and over again.


All the Cake Eaters:
During Thursday night's inauguration events, at the Commander-in-Chief Ball, the one new event this year, the President and the gathered attendees will salute 2000 "just-returned" or "soon-to-be-deployed" troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. There, in the Great Hall of the National Building Museum, the soldiers will be toasts of the town, having been entertained the day before by a concert hosted by Kelsey Grammer, starring Gloria Estefan and John Michael Montgomery. The Great Hall is a gorgeous space, like a Venetian square, and no doubt the buffet will balance exquisitely between beluga and buffalo wings, the bar between Busch beer and Bushmill's. One of the attendees will be Technical Sergeant David Lee of the North Carolina National Guard. He's done three rotations in Iraq and is heading back there in March, but he's thrilled to be in the presence of the President. Others will be soldiers who haven't seen any combat yet.

Yup, it's gonna be amazing, with all those fine, fine men and women in their dress uniforms, spit polished, looking around at those who look upon them as conquering heroes, and then there'll be that moment when some soldier who lost his leg in Mosul takes his wife onto the dance floor. God, how the Halliburton lobbyists will weep at such courage. How the Merck executives will nod their heads that they, truly, live in a great country. Behind the different columns of the first balcony of the Great Hall, secretly, others will be watching: it's where Sean Hannity will be getting a vigorous, yet surreptitious blowjob from the Fox intern he took to the ball, Hannity weeping, weeping at his transgressions; where Ann Coulter will be finger-fucking herself, shedding tears for the Crusaders below, yet alternately turned on by thoughts of their wounds, the screams of pain of their long physical therapies, and, god, yes, the nightmares, Jesus, how she's turned on by their pain, how she's dripping wet thinking of the horrors they have witnessed, how her clit throbs at how haunted those men will be the rest of their lives; where Bob Novak and Bill Kristol will be tonguing each other, whispering promises of liaisons to come at the W hotel, Novak telling Kristol he wants the Weekly Standard editor to pretend he's a wife waiting for Novak to come home on a two-week leave. And on the dais, George, maybe in one of his multiple Commander-in-Chief costumes, and Laura, in an exquisite gown by Who The Fuck Cares, holding each other, Laura jacking him off behind the podium as he smirks, winks, and salutes at soldiers in the crowd who catch his eye, how they'll think of God's graces that have brought them to this moment. Next to him will be Rumsfeld, squinting at the lights, his eyes too dimmed by cataracts and age to be able to truly see any of the individual soldiers. Instead, he'll just yank the chain around Colin Powell's neck and tell the outgoing Secretary of State to fetch him some cognac.

Maybe that soldier with one leg will feel a moment of deep disgust, remembering how laying in the next bed at Walter Reed was a guy who'll never stand again, how the wards of Rammstein Air Base are filled with the echoes of yowls and curses of the wounded. Maybe he'll see the black ties and designer dresses, and the smiling faces of the people in them, and he'll realize that he's the main attraction at Bush's freak show ball. "Dress 'em up and parade 'em around and make 'em feel like everyone else, but, you know, they're different from you and me, but it's so fuckin' touching to see them acting 'normal.'" Maybe his leg will ache, as it so often does, and he'll think about, as he so often does, how it was shredded there, at the calf, and the wonders of the body, his own body, were splayed out for him to see, like a lab model, like a Rembrandt painting he remembers.

Maybe he'll think about the millions and millions of dollars poured into this event, all of them, and wonder why Exxon/Mobil couldn't throw in for some Humvee armor if they could toss in hundreds of thousands for this ball and the others. Since it's too late for him, maybe for some other poor son of a bitch hitching his ass to sandbags and twine. He may wonder how well-armored Bush's parade Cadillac is. Maybe he'll feel disgust well up in him, or maybe it's just the dense stink from Ann Coulter's pussy and Bush's spooge, settling over the crowd like cheap perfume. Chances are he'll be a good soldier. He'll stay - his wife deserves such evenings - but he thinks he'll cut the throat of the first person who comes up to him and thanks him for his sacrifice.

Bush, though, will only be there briefly, quick enough to toast, thank, wink, ejaculate, and move on. He's got other balls: the Freedom Ball, the Patriot Ball, the Liberty Ball, the Independence Ball, all named after things that are anathemic to Bush's agenda, but, hey, it's a ball, it's a fancy costume party, really, it's all just pretend. Nothing as fun as the Black Tie and Boots Ball the night before, where Bush and the really big money spenders all get to pretend they're faux rednecks, licking their fingers as the ribs of Sunni Muslims are grilled up, basted in fine Babylonian oil, and served with a side of rice pilaf, 'cause, you know, we don't wanna get fat. Well, too fat. God, how they'll gorge themselves, T. Boone Pickens, financier of the Swift Boat Vets, perhaps commenting how Iraqi ribs are not as piquant as Vietnamese ribs; with former Enron President Rich Kinder and his wife perhaps playfully wiping the dripping fat off each other's lips. Oh, God bless America, man, God bless America.

Here's what oughta happen on Thursday while Bush is taking the oath of office, which says, in case we need to be reminded, "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God" (What a wonderful exit clause, "to the best of my ability"). There, above Bush and (perhaps) the decrepit, hunched shadow of William Rehnquist, with the Capitol behind him, there oughta be giant plasma screens broadcasting live from Fallujah, from Haiti, and from downtown D.C., so that we can see all the cake eaters everywhere, down on their hands and knees, begging, digging through rubble, killing for food. Bush won't even need to speak. Bush could just point up at the screens and say, "Lookee there, motherfuckers." Then we'll know what to expect for the next four years.

Washington, D.C. is a city in lockdown. Over a hundred planes are gonna patrol the skies. Thousands of armed officers and military will be on the ground, snipers, undercover agents. No one will be totally trusted. Fear has formed a canopy over the capitol. There is a threat to all of us, but is it from outside the tent or inside?


Martin Luther King Would Fuck Bush's Shit Up (2005 Edition):
Here's something you might not have heard before on MLK Day - From a sermon King delivered at New Covenant Baptist Church in Chicago on April 9, 1967 (taken from a recording - the parentheticals are the responses from the parishioners):
"I remember down in Montgomery, Alabama, an experience that I’d like to share with you. When we were in the midst of the bus boycott, we had a marvelous old lady that we affectionately called Sister Pollard. She was a wonderful lady about seventy-two years old and she was still working at that age. (Yes) During the boycott she would walk every day to and from work. She was one that somebody stopped one day and said, 'Wouldn’t you like to ride?' And she said, 'No.' And then the driver moved on and stopped and thought, and backed up a little and said, 'Well, aren’t you tired?' She said, 'Yes, my feets is tired, but my soul is rested.' (All right)

"She was a marvelous lady. And one week I can remember that I had gone through a very difficult week. (Yes) Threatening calls had come in all day and all night the night before, and I was beginning to falter and to get weak within and to lose my courage. (All right) And I never will forget that I went to the mass meeting that Monday night very discouraged and a little afraid, and wondering whether we were going to win the struggle. (Oh yeah) And I got up to make my talk that night, but it didn’t come out with strength and power. Sister Pollard came up to me after the meeting and said, 'Son, what’s wrong with you?' Said, 'You didn’t talk strong enough tonight.'

"And I said, 'Nothing is wrong, Sister Pollard, I’m all right.'

"She said, 'You can’t fool me.' Said, 'Something wrong with you.' And then she went on to say these words, 'Is the white folks doing something to you that you don’t like?'

"I said, 'Everything is going to be all right, Sister Pollard.'

"And then she finally said, 'Now come close to me and let me tell you something one more time, and I want you to hear it this time.' She said, 'Now I done told you we is with you.' She said, 'Now, even if we ain’t with you, the Lord is with you.' (Yes) And she concluded by saying, 'The Lord’s going to take care of you.'

"And I’ve seen many things since that day. I’ve gone through many experiences since that night in Montgomery, Alabama. Since that time Sister Pollard has died. Since that time I’ve been in more than eighteen jail cells. Since that time I’ve come perilously close to death at the hands of a demented Negro woman. Since that time I’ve seen my home bombed three times. Since that time I’ve had to live every day under the threat of death. Since that time I’ve had many frustrating and bewildering nights. But over and over again I can still hear Sister Pollard’s words: 'God’s going to take care of you.' So today I can face any man and any woman with my feet solidly placed on the ground and my head in the air because I know that when you are right, God will fight your battle."

By this point, King had expanded his fight to include all poverty and the Vietnam War. By this point, he had advocated for guaranteed income. Now, what the fuck do you think King would say about a debate over whether or not we can afford Social Security in its current form? And do you think torture would even be up for discussion?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all like to create our fantasy MLKs. Yeah, he was a philanderer and a man who loved dirty jokes. But the Rude Pundit once talked to a friend of King's from Birmingham, and he told the Rude Pundit all about how King would take off the suit and come alone to the local barbershop, how he would hang around all afternoon, sharing, no preaching, not pretending, just sitting there on Eighth Street, like anyone else, until he went to preach at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

And that's why King would fuck Bush's shit up, and the reason why Democrats oughta take a look at King beyond his having had a dream and his having been to the mountaintop and his having been assassinated. Because King knew - he fucking knew - that one thing that made him a leader of the disenfranchised is that he spoke their language. Even as those around him believed (and some still believe) that King made a mistake in his expansion of his movement, King knew that no one is truly free until we all are free. He had to bring whites into the movement on a broad basis or the fight was never going to end. He had to undercut the trump card of the powerful in their ability to divide the underclasses, and that meant owning the rhetorical God to the point that whenever God is mentioned, the automatic association is with the civil rights, economic justice, and anti-war movements (think of how successful the right is in the use of the word "Christian"). Look at the speech up there. King is not conditional here - he says, "when you are right, God will fight your battle."

The thing is that as Democrats scramble like rutting hedgehogs on the last day of the forest fuckfest to find someone, anyone who will represent them to "the people," they'd be wise to look at how King used "God" in his speeches. See, in the Sister Pollard story, "God" for King represents the poor, the beaten, the disenfranchised, and if that God is on your side, then how can the powerful win? If someone could genuinely lasso that rhetoric and have the balls to use God against Bush in very clear, unambiguous, loud tones, then the right will be thrown into disarray - what will they have if they don't have God? Bush? Oh, fuck, they'll be running into the streets of D.C., screaming, coming up with new gods to worship. There will be blood orgies at the Watergate the likes of which that town hasn't seen since Ronald Reagan smeared himself with pig feces and demanded the cherries of a dozen College Republican girls be popped in front of him as he masturbated slowly, deliberately, eyes glazed over with mad power and semi-deified glory.

Last year, there was a near riot when President Bush dared to lay a wreath on King's grave. This year, he'll be in a far, far more controlled environment, the Kennedy Center, where the noisy, violent life of King will be reduced to a consummable, pleasant hum.


Growing a Pair:
Democrats, still spitting out nut blood from the groin kick of the 2004 elections, are starting to puff up their chests about Social Security. As a New Republic article (via Daily Kos) explains, solidifying opposition to Social Security privatization is "one sign that the Democrats are learning how to be a true opposition party." Maybe we'll be spared the pathetic display of Democrats agreeing to some compromise on personal savings accounts, with Democrats saying, meekly, they "preserved" Social Security and Republicans braying like conquering howler monkeys on the tops of the trees, screeching out their triumph. Maybe there's a chance that we'll get to avoid that shame.

Maybe it's Burning Bed time for the Republicans. Maybe, just maybe, the drunk asshole husband that the Republicans have been for the last couple of decades is about to get his comeuppance. We all know the scenario. The asshole beats the shit out the confused, nowhere-to-turn wife for years. After all that time, all those bruises, all those rapes-disguised-as-marital-sex, something snaps in the victimized wife. A smart man wouldn't turn his back on his poor, beaten wife, not for a second, but, drunk on liquor and power, this asshole husband does, not knowing that, finally, at long last, the wife takes matters into her own hands, throws gasoline on the husband and his bed and sets that asshole ablaze. Who knows what drives someone to such desperate acts - the cumulative effect of all the degradation and pain reaching the tipping point? The husband started to beat the kids? Whatever it is, we in the audience may shake our heads that society, oh, society, let it get to this point, but, c'mon, we still love it that the motherfucker burns.

And as gratifying as it might be watching the Republicans go down in flames for Social Security, President Bush has already created a way to fuck Democrats over on Supreme Court nominees. When Bush nominated Michael "I Could Not Look More Like an Argentinean Torturer If I Tried" Chertoff to head the Department of Homeland Security, he said, "He's been confirmed by the Senate three times." In other words, no matter what comes out about Chertoff, he has, in some sense, been innoculated against deeper inquiry. When he's questioned on shit like John Walker Lindh, all the White House needs to say is, "Didn't the Senate Democrats do their jobs the first time?" Watch this pattern in further nominees, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court.

As for the torture AG nominee, sure, the political thing would be to wait until Gonzales is nominated to the Supreme Court to shitcan the vile, lying, murderous, hunchbacked, troll-like cocksucker. A little time heading "Justice" (and since Ashcroft, the quotation marks are a necessity) oughta give Gonzales enough chances to make up for his vaguely pro-choice decision when he was on the bench in Texas. But here's the thing: the way these fuckers work is that if the Democrats decide to mount a hypothetical opposition to a hypothetical Gonzales nomination to the SCOTUS (cute, innit? looks like "SCROTUM," which, you know, Gonzales is all for settin' ablaze with 'lectricity), then all the President has to say is, "Why didn't they demand these things when he was up for Attorney General?" See, Dems are playin' the nuance game again. Of course it's more meaningful in the long run if Gonzales in on the Supreme Court, but if Gonzales is given a pass in the name of "giving the President leeway" on picking a cabinet, well, it kind of spikes the use of the torture memos, the detention policy, and the Texas death penalty cases.

The other reason to filibuster against Gonzales is Gonzales's own words at his confirmation hearing: as Attorney General "I would have a far broader responsibility: to pursue justice for all the people of our great nation, to see that the laws are enforced in a fair and impartial manner for all Americans." So the Senate actually is all that stands between Gonzales and America.

If you're gonna bother to play "hardball," then play it for keeps.

Story Time, Again:
Since the Rude Pundit wrote about his ass being saved from starvation and certain molestation by Social Security's survivor benefits, he has received a few letters from others whose proverbial and literal asses have been saved. Since survivor benefits, which are tied into the same trust fund as retiree benefits, have been little discussed in the whole Social Security debate, let's open it up. If you have a tale of being saved by Social Security as a survivor, send it to rudepundit@yahoo.com. A selection of them will be posted next week.


A Brief Moment of Wonkdom:
Not to get wonky (and, assuredly, the Rude Pundit is not an economist), but reader David S., a former Social Security claims rep, did send a link to the Office of the Chief Actuary of the SSA. In the Summary of the 2004 Annual Reports on Social Security and Medicare, signed by the Boards of Trustees of the programs, including Secretary of Treasury John Snow, outgoing Secretary of HHS Tommy Thompson, and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, "Social Security could be brought into actuarial balance over the next 75 years in various ways, including an immediate increase in payroll taxes of 15 percent or an immediate reduction in benefits of 13 percent (or some combination of the two)." So if you increase FICA by 15 percent, it's all no problemo? Wouldn't this end up costing each taxpayer less than the "transitional" costs of "personal savings accounts"? And is the above recommendation even on the table?

Now, back to the rudeness . . .
Three Simple Strategies For Discrediting Social Security "Reform":
When the viscous visage of Dick Cheney oozes to the dais at some point today, he will declare Social Security a "crisis" that needs to be "dealt with now," just as the President and Secretary of the Treasury John Snow have already done. There's tons of numbers involved, oh, so many numbers, but, remember, except for words like "trillions," numbers are part of trafficking in nuance or, in the case of the Bush administration, deliberate obfuscation. What we should have learned from the election and from years of Rove-reaming that has resulted in many a sore liberal sphincter is that precise facts don't matter. In fact, the message really doesn't matter. What matters is the messenger.

The President talks endlessly about his political "capital" coming out of the election. This is a chimera, an illusion, a dry drunk's phantom of power, kind of like when someone declares they can fly before leaping off the top of the building, and then all that remains is to wait for him to become a puddle on the sidewalk. When it's over, all you can do is shake your head at the puddle and say, "Yeah, motherfucker, you really had some fuckin' wings, didn't you?"

Too much ground has been ceded already on this issue, to where it's standard for "news" people to talk about Social Security as if "everyone knows" it's in crisis. Fuck, Bob Schieffer said as much in the third Kerry/Bush debate: "We all know that Social Security is running out of money, and it has to be fixed." Now that groups are running ads supporting privatization of Social Security, it's no time to hold back. It's a rhetorical battle, you know.

As ever, the path to defeating Bush and the (increasingly fewer) Republicans who support Bush on this Social Security debacle is simple, straightforward, and expends little credibility or "capital" by those who use it.

1. The Reagan Gambit: Last week, the Rude Pundit talked about Ronald Reagans' Social Security Amendments of 1983 and the necessity of using Reagan against Junior Bush. This is a no-brainer (easy joke: much like Reagan and/or Bush). In fact, why isn't the Reagan action to shore up Social Security through a tax hike a major talking point in every appearance a Democrat makes on this issue? The scumfucks at Progress For America are using FDR in their ad for Social Security "reform" called "Courage." It fades from FDR to Bush. It's a weird, wacky world when the right appropriates Franklin Roosevelt for its purposes, but, hey, stock footage is fair game, so let's get those Gipper ads going.

2. The Fear Monger: Disability benefits come from a separate trust fund from retiree and survivor benefits, which come from the same fund. This means that, while one can at least pay lip service to no effect on disability benefits, there's no way around the fact that survivor benefits would be affected by any scheme that takes money out of the trust fund. Bush is good at sowing fear. Like a preacher trying to get you to accept Jesus by threatening you with eternal damnation, Bush promises you that you're fucked if you don't accept what he says: "By the time today's workers who are in their mid-20s begin to retire, the system will be bankrupt. So if you're 20 years old, in your mid-20s, and you're beginning to work, I want you to think about a Social Security system that will be flat bust, bankrupt" (a statement that, by any standard - factual, rhetorical, sensual - a lie).

Another Progress For America ad features images of Average People Who Are Supposed To Represent You looking pensively at the camera as a throaty voice threatens to take away their Social Security. Throw back at them this one: from reader Celita - "I was a recipient of survivor benefits after my Dad died -- I was 17 at the time. I only received them for one year, but they made all the difference in the world." Or others who survived because of Social Security. Sure, sure, Bush and the Bushettes'll say that they want that kind of thing to continue and you need private savings accounts to save Social Security, but you will force them to prove that they're not trying to dismantle Social Security.

3. The Goat Fucker Strategem: Let's tell the joke again, for those who have joined the brigade of rudeness only recently: A man is sitting at a bar, drinking, and he says to no one in particular, "A man can spend his life building bridges. Do they call him John the Bridge Builder? No. A man can spend his life raising crops. Do they call him John the Farmer? No. But you fuck one goat . . ." Applied to politics and culture, it means this: someone can do something so fucked up wrong that it taints that person for the rest of his or her life, no matter what else that person may do. Oh, the many goatfuckers in our midst: Woody Allen, Bill Clinton, and, of course, George W. Bush. Once you state clearly and unambiguously that Iraq has WMDs and that we're gonna find them, when we don't, then you, sir, have fucked the goat.

There is one easy way to defeat Bush on anything, and that means any fucking thing. You have to keep reminding people that Bush is a goat fucker. Once you've fucked a goat, you've lost all credibility. Easy ad: "George Bush said we would find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In December 2004, the search ended and no weapons were found. George Bush has said there is a crisis in Social Security that can only be solved with privatization. Tell your member of Congress that you can't trust George Bush with your retirement income." And, if this were a perfect world, there'd be a giant image of George Bush fucking the shit out of a goat, its beard flappin' from the fuckin', inside a red circle with a slash through it: no goat fuckers.

Is it unreasonable for someone like, say, Minority Leader Harry Reid (who has one of the great porn star names in the Congress, up there with Orrin Hatch), "Oh, really, that's what you're predicting about Social Security? Hey, remember when you told us about the WMDs and shit, you lying sack of sour jizz? Welcome to the resistance, bitch."


Survivor Benefits - Not Just For Reality Show Winners:
Yesterday, the Rude Pundit talked about the greed at the heart of Americans who support Social Security privatization. At his "conversation" (if by "conversation," you mean a lecture interrupted with sycophantic fawning and blow jobs a-plenty for the lecturer-in-chief) with the "public" yesterday, George W. Bush played right into that nascent greed. "If you hold that money for 50 years at that rate, it compounds and grows and ends up being a lot of money," President Obvious said in reference to compound interest rates. Everyone gathered in the auditorium nodded, impressed at Bush's ability to say what interest does.

The Rude Pundit also talked about how the Bush adminstration approach is to treat everyone as if they're at least middle class (and Americans' belief that no matter how dirt poor we are, we think we're at least middle class). Said the Prez yesterday, "I love promoting ownership in America. I like the idea of encouraging more people to say, I own my own home, I own my own business, I own and manage my health accounts, and now I own a significant part of my retirement account," except, you know, most people don't and never will own all that wondrous, amazing stuff.

When the Rude Pundit was an adolescent, his father died. His family, which had worked its way out of welfare, food stamps, and a very nice mobile home park, would have been crushed had it not been for one simple thing: the survivor benefits of the Social Security system. It wasn't a fuck of a lot of money, but between survivor and dependent benefits, the Rude Pundit wasn't sent off to live with creepy Uncle Marvin and his cold, cold fingertips. It was enough to pay the rent. It was enough to supplement Mama Rude's income. See, caught up in the whole debate about privatization is the fact that, really, retirement benefits only make up a portion of what Social Security pays out. In fact, between survivor and disability benefits, retirement makes up a smaller part of the SS pie than you might imagine.

Says reader David S, who was a claims rep for Social Security for 17 years, "Social Security is a social insurance system, with roughly 1/3 of payments going to the severely disabled and 1/3 going to survivors, and 1/3 going to retirees. Any disciplined fool could take the money and beat the retirement benefits today (though that wasn't true in the past), but it would take an astute person to beat the whole package. Disability coverage is freakin' expensive, and your Bushie investment plans aren't going to be much use for that." But we're not hearin' a fuck of a lot about disability and survivor benefits. Certainly not in the "Ask the White House" online chat with Special Assistant to the President on Economic Policy Chuck Blahous, who created the new mantra, "The President does not want to privatize Social Security," even though Bush does want private individuals to control where a private portion of their private Social Security is privately invested. And Blahous has a doctorate in Computational Quantum Chemistry from Berkeley, so random sequences of bizarre numbers are right up his alley.

In Bush's little "conference" yesterday on fixing "the problem" (oddly, the White House transcript of the event puts those words in quotation marks) with Social Security, not once were survivor or disability benefits mentioned. It was fearmongering of the nearly-lowest kind (the lowest comes when you sow fear in a population that then allows you to send soldiers off to die to soothe your mental demons). It was more of the same: A big kerfuffle over that pulled out of an accoutant's ass $11 trillion shortfall (which should happen sometime in the year 2607). A lot of patronizing of the poor, stupid people listening: "We're kind of throwing around these words as if everybody understands compounding rate of interest and rate of return, but what people need to understand is that the money that's now -- your money in the government is earning much less than it's capable of generating under safe conditions." A lot of straw men set up and knocked down: "Some would say, well, it's not bankrupt yet; why don't we wait until it's bankrupt?" And, of course, no talk or conference with Bush is complete without thuggish threats to anyone who opposes him: "I happen to believe people who have been elected to office who ignore problems will face the price at the ballot box." So, we're on the road to talking about Medicare?

All that's been said in the vague doublespeak of Bush's as-yet-unannounced plan, which, no doubt, will be massive and released in the middle of the night for voting the next morning, about Social Security's survivor and disability insurance is that Bush wants to "preserve" them. But the Social Security Adminstration's website says, "Most plans, including those put forth by the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, do not reduce the benefits of currently disabled beneficiaries." That's "currently disabled." In other words, lose a limb now, motherfucker, or you better start shinin' your coin cups. (Why is the SSA website promoting Bush's policies? Isn't that the use of government funds for partisan political purposes?)

The Cato Institute and others say that the focus of "reform" is solely on retirement benefits. But unless that comes under a completely separate budget, any adjustment to the funding of the retirement portion is going to affect the other two areas. To keep with the dismemberment imagery, if you lose one kidney, the other is gonna have to do double duty, and that just means faster death for the whole body.

Tomorrow: How to take down the whole plan and the President with it. (Hint: it involves goat fucking.)
Late Post Today:
Non-bloggy life calls. Back this afternoon with the tale of how Social Security saved the Rude Pundit's ass.


Taking the Fight To Where They Live, Part 3a:
There's one thing and one thing only that's driving any support among Americans for privatization of any portion of social security: we're a bunch of greedy fuckers who actually believe that some day we'll be rich. Every week, the Rude Pundit watches the pathetic sight of elderly people, day workers, and others head to the convenience store to pay five, ten, twenty dollars in scratch-off and lottery tickets. For the love of fuck, there's goddamn vending machines with scratch-offs. Once, the Rude Pundit asked Anonymous Decrepit Crone #58 why she spent so much on scratch-offs when she was obviously on a fixed budget. "Because it's fun," she said, because sometimes she wins ten bucks, and once, a friend of hers won a grand. It was sad, in an Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream kind of way, because you knew that, until the day she died or was so stroked out she was put in a chamber of horrors state home, ADC #58 was gonna spend those fuckin' pennies on the lottery, one of the greatest regressive taxes in the history of the country.

It's not so different for most Americans, who are so in denial about economic class that even the poorest backwards-ass country fucks shitting into holes in the floor think they're middle class. Cheap TVs, cheap cell phones, and cheap fast food are great equalizers, man. You jack that cheap shit into your veins, and, shee-it, you can watch Desperate Housewives while stuffin' yer face with Wendy's Triples and talkin' on yer Nokia camera phone, and, jee-zus, yer doin' just what nearly everyone else in the country's doin'. Of course you think you're middle class, asshole, because no one's gonna tell themselves they're poor. That's fer Paco, the illegal livin' in his apartment with twenty relatives, who picks your tomatoes for your Triples. You? You're a goddamned American, and while you can't afford a Lexus, you know that one day you're gonna make it big.

Except you're not. You're gonna live your life doing the same thing, every day, with little raises and constant cuts in your benefits, until the day you're forced to retire, if you're lucky, or laid off if you're not. Then it's the Wal-Mart for you, motherfucker, either way. Don't worry, though. Your speculation in Powerball tickets will pay off sooner or later. Gee, if only there was some kind of guaranteed income-- oh, wait . . .

President Bush and conservatives talk about the "ownership society," where individuals will have more control over their money and more opportunity to, well, own shit, like homes and retirement accounts. To believe in the ownership society is either denial in the extreme or, like WMDs, it's a convenient lie. David Brooks, who proves the rule that there's no conservative as pathetic as one who thinks he's doing good, tried to sell that fuckin' lie in his column last week. Privatization of Social Security (along with the flogging of the faux "crisis" in the fund) offers the same promise of the scratch-off: do this and you might get rich. (Check out Josh Marshall and Paul Krugman for all the details of this Ponzi scheme.) The notion is that all of a sudden you're gonna have a bunch of money to invest in the stock market where the miracle of capitalism is gonna enable you to spend your retirement on cruise ship sex tours of Thailand or in a Winnebago on Venice Beach instead of asking fat people if they need a shopping cart. It's gonna be like the Lotto, except with rising Alpo sales (there's a safe investment).

Yep, we're about to hear all about how fucked up Social Security is in the slash and burn way of the Bush administration: destroy something so it can be re-built in a conservative image. But remember this: you are not a rich person. Rich people have advisors, accountants, and others who help manage their money. You will have bureaucrats and Wall Street whores. You do not have the time or the knowledge to take care of this shit. The vast majority of rich people have diversified holdings, like real estate, bonds, offshore bank accounts, and more, so that if one part of their portfolio should fail, they have plenty to fall back on. You will have your other 70 percent of Social Security (and other retirement benefits, if corporate mismanagement hasn't dicked that over already). You can pretend you're rich or even upper middle class. But you are lying to yourself, and, you know, that's just pathetic, like a semen-covered feather queen on the men's room floor in a Boise gay bar.

You will never win the lottery. You will never get rich in the stock market, with your Social Security money or with your regular salary. Once you accept these ideas, the path becomes oh-so-shiningly, almost Zen-like simple and clear.

More on that path tomorrow.


The Horror of History:
It's been a while, but this morning, the Rude Pundit awoke on the floor in his underwear in a pool of vomit. He had a simple hope: that the vomit was his own. He gave simple thanks that he still had his boxer briefs on. Vague half-remembrances of the night before slapped him around like a corner dealer he had shorted on cash for blow. He knew there was something about a bottle of vodka, Polish vodka, the kind you could only get in Kracow just before Lech Walesa was elected, and the Rude Pundit was sure that someone else had been with him. He thought he remembered calling an escort service and demanding a hooker who looked like Helen Thomas, but that could be a vodka fantasy. He did not know. In fact, he had chills when he thought about if it was true. But that could be delirium tremens.

What the Rude Pundit did know was what had sent him into this alcoholic spiral was this article from Newsweek, in which it is revealed that the Pentagon (read: Rumsfeld) is giving serious consideration to "the Salvador option" in Iraq. That's Salvador with a "v" and that rhymes with "d" and that stands for "death squads." Yup, we're "giving consideration" (read: already doing) to setting up hit teams of Iraqi Kurds and Shi'a to capture or kill "insurgents." This'd include operations inside Syria by U.S. Special Ops, and, most chillingly, the murder of "sympathizers" of the insurgents. But, hey, at least Saddam won't be doing the killing and torture, right?

The Rude Pundit read this yesterday and some synapses fired off in his brain, sending him whirling into flashbacks of the Reagan era, when "sympathizers" in El Salvador included towns of peasants, as well as priests and nuns. The Rude Pundit remembered cornering a Democratic candidate for Congress and engaging in a heated discussion over death squads in El Salvador, getting the candidate (who would eventually win) to state clearly and unambiguously that he opposed Reagan's policies in Latin America. The Rude Pundit remembered protests, he remembered meeting Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of School of the Americas Watch, and talking about all the motherfucking vicious sons of bitches trained by Americans in the United States to kill their El Salvadoran countrymen because they dared to oppose the U.S.-supported right-wing government. Goodly men, not quite the "moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers," like the murderous thugs in the Contras, but certainly valiant men like 1984 SOA graduate Colonel Dionosio Machuca, who had over 300 torture cases attriubuted to him. The victims were insurgents, we were assured. Oh, how it all came flooding, flooding back, the cackling figure of John Negroponte hovering over it all. Jesus fucking Christ, he thought, do we have to go through this again? Of course the Rude Pundit broke out the good vodka and started shooting. Of course he called for specialty hookers. What else would you do?

You wanna know what's about to happen in Iraq and Syria, kids? Listen: here's the shit from the U.N.'s Truth Commission Report on El Salvador. Check out page 142:
"Shortly after midday on 23 July 1980, a group of approximately 100 civilians arrived at El Bartolillo hamlet in Tehuicho canton. Their faces were painted and they were dressed as peasants. They were very well-armed and dispersed throughout the canton. Witnesses identified Miguel Lemus, who was a civil defence member at the time.

"They identified themselves as guerrillas and called a meeting on the football field, supposedly to distribute weapons. As the operation proceeded, they started to force people to assemble.

"The villagers congregated on the sports field, where they were blindfolded. The strangers then identified themselves as a 'death squad' and accused the villagers of having links with the guerrillas.

"They proceeded to make a selection. Apparently they had a list. 'Orejas' identified people on the list and singled out 14 of them, 12 men and 2 women. The men were taken to a ravine, the two women were taken elsewhere. Shots were heard. Some houses were looted and burned.

"The bodies of the women and the men were found in the course of the night. There was physical evidence that they had been tortured." Government troops did not allow the bodies to be buried for three days.

Check out page 148 for a look at the policy of executing mayors of towns where the population supported the leftist rebels. Check out the whole document for the catalog of horrors that were perpetrated with the full knowledge of the U.S. government.

The problem with death squads, besides, you know, their whole raison d'etre, is that when they're comprised of local citizens, they bear their local grudges with them. Imagine if your neighbor who thinks your dog shits on his lawn everyday was all of a sudden given the power to determine whether or not you were an enemy sympathizer. How fast would your ass be Gitmo-ized? You get it, kids?

After washing the vomit off his face and putting on a robe, for God's sake, the Rude Pundit clicked on the TV, just in time to watch Fox "News" early morning show. There, former Green Beret Lt. Gen. Gordon Cucullu was interviewed about the Salvador option, which he believed was a misnomer. See, said Cucullu, who belongs to the neocon Center for Strategic Policy along with such ratfucks like Frank Gaffney, Douglas Feith, and Little Dickie Perle, the U.S. actually started this kind of insurgency elimination project back in 'Nam, with the Phoenix Program of South Vietnamese soldiers, backed by the U.S., kidnapping, imprisoning, and/or killing what Cucullu (whose name is uncomfortably like the HP Lovecraft monster "Cthulhu")called "insurgents." Of course, Phoenix was used by the President of South Vietnam to eliminate political enemies, as well as justification for the destruction of villages, farms, etc. You'll start hearing the term "neutralization" more often now. Cucullu said Phoenix was "a good model" for what should be done in Iraq, although the good Lt. General thinks it's already going on there. As Cucullu said, the good of the nation demands that these squads capture and "interrogate" or, "if necessary," kill insurgents. Frankly, the Rude Pundit would have rather been still lying in a pool of cold vomit, whether it was his own or not. History is nothing if not a constant spiral of horrors.

Ahh, that's the thing about the Bush Administration, and with the Republicans of the last fifty years: one doesn't learn and move on. If a bad idea fails, be it trickle-down economics or the torture and murder of civilians, try, try again. See, the concept is more important than the execution, so to speak. Theory is more important than practice. And, as always, everything old is new again.