A Clown Not Smiling on the Inside:
You don't know where to start mourning today, whether for noted wife beater James Brown, Nixon's BFF Gerald Ford, or torture aficionado Saddam Hussein, not to mention residual tears for Augusto Pinochet and his magical people-disappearing act. So perhaps it's best just to send in the clown (really):

"Harpo T. Clown painted on a happy face, then stood sadly Friday in front of the church where Gerald Ford, the former president he called a friend, was being remembered by family and well-wishers.

"The colorful character wore blue and white sequins, a neon green fuzzy wig and white floppy shoes and stood just beyond the police barricade near the church.

"The clown, who is mute, nodded when asked if he was sad. He pulled out a scrapbook of photographs showing him standing alongside President Ford at various charitable events and golf tournaments in the area. He also attended the Grand Rapids, Mich., opening of Ford's presidential museum in 1982.

"Harpo, who lives in Palm Springs but won't divulge his real name, nodded vigorously when asked if he was a Republican and when asked if he missed his friend, President Ford.

"When Palm Desert police officers walked up to check him out, he maintained his silence and scribbled down notes which the officers read before walking away.

"To get into the church to pay his respects, Harpo would have had to go to a public staging area five miles away for a bus escort. He chose to stay close to the barricades outside the church."


Hanging's Too Good For Us:
Saddam Hussein. Now that's a fuckin' tyrant, an old school motherfucker, bereft of nation, of sons, of rights, defiant and tough, ready to be hanged in the savage wasteland that was once his savage golden empire, even leaving a message of peace to the people of the country he ruled with madness and murder. The world has precious few vicious dictators left with the stones to have such a final act.

And once he hangs, as he will any time now, once he's videoed pissing himself while dangling from the noose, maybe even a close-up on his last hard-on, then it's time to go to work. Cut that fucker's head off his corpse and graft it onto George W. Bush's right shoulder, so that it rots away next to him just like Iraq, so the President can watch the decay every time he looks in the mirror and smell it constantly. Rip out Hussein's bones and shove them up the asses of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, Michelle Malkin, and more and more - Saddam's got two hundred something bones, so line up a bunch of neocons and warmongering whores, bend 'em over, and give 'em a souvenir. Dry Saddam's organs and grind them into a powder and pour it into the water supply of the United States so we can each consume a little bit of the man who so drove our leaders crazy that they destroyed our economy, our military, our morality to topple him, yes, let us all drink that in, toasting the hanging of Saddam Hussein as a demonstration of what great and noble and righteous and merciful humans we are. Send his cock to Tony Blair so he can go fuck himself.

Then tan his skin and hang it just outside the Green Zone in Baghdad so that every day, Iraqis can walk by and wonder at the shell of the man most of them so despised. They can dodge suicide bombers and snipers and IEDs to see it and ask themselves over and over, that horrible, aching, awful question of whether they were better off with the madman inside the skin instead of the skin empty of the madman.

Side note: The Rude Pundit's punishment for Hussein would be something simple - put him in a cell with the remains of his sons. Lock door. Throw away key. Like old time Bedlam.


In Brief: Why Ann Coulter Is a Cunt, Part 3054 (Repeat Endlessly):
Because Coulter, in her latest "column" (if by "column," you mean, "Russian roulette played with an empty gun in front of a packed audience of baboons"), updates an old bag of her screeching about how much she really, really thinks we all should hate Kwanzaa because of the criminal activities of the man who started it and its relationship to the black revolutionaries of the 1960s. Leaving aside the obvious "argument" that, you know, Christianity itself wouldn't exist without the mad tales of its outlaw founder (who, the story goes, was sentenced to death, so awful were his crimes), all Coulter's done is staple on a new beginning and a line or two for her update. It's at least the third time it's run.

So, really, Coulter's "Kwanzaa: Holiday from the FBI" is like "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus" for those more deranged and needy than pre-pubescent children.

(Travel day - possibly more rudeness later.)


Dead President:
The nicest thing that can be said about the dead man is that Gerald Ford wasn't bugfuck insane, and these days that is not faint praise. He was a selfish pragmatist who gave one of the nation's great criminals a pass (and thus set up our politicians' queasiness at putting George W. Bush away). Yeah, he gave us Justice Stevens, but he tried to impeach William O. Douglas while in Congress. He helped inflict Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld on us, something that gets him extra time in purgatory. He got us the fuck out of Vietnam, finally, at last, and he offered clemency to draft dodgers, but he helped wreck the environment, told New York City to go fuck itself (as an example of an administration bereft of anything resembling urban policy), and was a fairly worthless ex-President.

And while you may hear about his pro-choice street cred as a sign of his moderation, here's Ford, perhaps pandering for votes, in a letter to the Archbishop of Cincinnati in September 1976: "Since 1973 I have viewed as the most practical means of rectifying the situation created by the Court's action a Constitutional amendment that would restore to each State the authority to enact abortion statutes which fit the concerns and views of its own citizens."

No, let's put it this way: the nicest thing that can be said about Gerald R. Ford was that he didn't fuck things up even worse in the wake of Richard Nixon.

Sidenote: The Rude Pundit has a letter from President Ford from 1974, thanking the young Rude Pundit for his interest in garbage recycling. Feel free to make your own joke here.


Things That Shouldn't Be Funny, But Are:
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger screaming like a bitch after breaking his femur on a ski slope in Idaho. Reason it shouldn't be funny: Well, a broken leg hurts like a motherfucker. Reason it is funny: C'mon - it's Schwarzenegger, who you know sounded like Fozzie Bear on fire when he saw the bone sticking out of his skin.

2. British and Iraqi forces raided and destroyed a police station in Basra because the prisoners were being tortured and were going to be executed by the police there, who had been "infiltrated" by militia members and criminals. Reason it shouldn't be funny: "More than 100 men were crowded into a single cell, 30 feet by 40 feet, he said, with two open toilets, two sinks and just a few blankets spread over the concrete floor." Reason it is funny: "The serious crimes unit was at the center of death squad activity" and "The two-story building, once used by Saddam Hussein’s security forces, was then demolished, in an attempt to remove all traces of the serious crimes unit."

3. There's gonna be close to $2 billion in fraud revealed on Katrina clean up and reconstruction contracts. This'd include no-bid contracts to corporations like the Shaw Group, the dicking over of minority businesses, and the general piggy-at-the-trough greed that accompanies every action taken by the Bush administration. Reason it shouldn't be funny: Ultimately, like in Iraq, the people who are fucked by the skeevy, sub-mob way that Washington and Louisiana politicians do business are never the executives at Bechtel. Reason it is funny: The Saints are having one of their best seasons ever. And people really seem to give a fuck about that.

Things That Should Be Funny, But Aren't (Dead Soldiers Edition)
1. John McCain's son could be sent to Iraq if the surge that the senator so frothingly desires comes to fruition. Reason it should be funny: Oh, irony is such a cruel whore. Reason it isn't funny: Because if Jimmy McCain goes, at least 20,000 other Americans are going there with him.

2. More American soldiers have died in Iraq than the total number of people that died on 9/11. Reason it should be funny: Well, not technically "ha-ha" funny, but more "wry-laugh-of-sad-recognition" funny. Reason it isn't funny: Because that's just American soldiers who died in Iraq. Not like the 9/11 total, which includes people from many, many different countries. Wanna factor in everyone who's died in the war so far, as if that'll make a balance on the ledger of doom? Whatcha got? Ten for one? 100 for one? What's gonna put us back in the black? Nah, we're damned to stay in the red.

3. President Bush is trying to assert himself in the days before the new Congress comes in, rejecting the Iraq Study Group's proposals and threatening the lives of many more Americans by sending them to Iraq. Reason it should be funny: Seriously, is there anything funnier than the pathetic sight of George W. Bush thumpin' his chest and actin' like anyone gives a happy monkey fuck what he has to say? It's like watching Elmer Fudd try to tell a bunch of Bugs Bunnies how to lay down and be hunted. We're just watching in giddy anticipation until he gets his pants dropped and them cheeks get a spankin'. Reason it isn't funny: Nine more dead over the weekend. And if we really think the Democrats have the stones to de-fund the war (the only thing they can do to stop it), well, then one presumes the joke's on us.


Happy Christmas (Christmas Is Nearly Over):
Okay, here's the deal: No one's allowed to sing John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" unless they actually want the war over. If anyone catches Sean Hannity singing along to the non-"War Is Over" parts, kick him in his jingle bells.

Otherwise, let's face it - the majority of people checking out the blog today are in a desperate search for pictures of the labia of a certain pop star (the Rude Pundit is still #4 on Google for this magical search - such bounty).

So instead, toddle on over to the ironically-named British blog, Only in America, where Himself has concocted a Rude Pundit-based quiz titled "If By Column You Mean..."

It's flattering and a little scary, like every good Christmas present for grown-ups should be.


How Can It Be a War On Christmas Without Bumper Stickers?:
It's upon us, the yearly celebration of the time that putative Christian savior Jesus Christ dropped from the uterus of his mother, Mary, passing through Mary's holy vagina, stretching open Mary's divine labia minora and hallowed labia majora, in order to enter the world, followed, no doubt, by his blessed placenta. Hope the goats and donkeys sharing that manger had their sores and hoof fungus healed by eating the afterbirth of the Lord. And, now, with the unholy rabble apparently, according to those who can manipulate two or three incidents into a national movement, attempting to take away the meaning of Christ coming out of Mary's vagina, one has to announce that it's not just some random "holiday." No, motherfuckers, it's Christmas, and conservatives wanna make sure you know it.

So over at WorldNetDaily (motto: "Loving the scent of our own taints for nearly a decade"), you can stock up on your "Suck it, liberals - Christmas rocks" merchandise. Things like magnetic bumper stickers that read: "Merry Christmas (with "Christ" highlighted): An American Tradition" or "This is America and I'm going to say it: Merry Christmas" (come to think of it, "Suck it, liberals - Christmas rocks" is way more fun). You can get a three-pack for the special sale price of $14.95, a two-dollar savings on the regular price.

Don't own a car or too stupid to drive? Then you can get all Lance Armstrong-y and wear a rubber bracelet that says, "Operation Just Say "Merry Christmas." According to the website, you'll be going all "In your face, Secular-Progressives" with this fancy trinket: "We have reached an all time low point in our nation's history when human sensibilities are elevated above offending Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is long past the time for Christians to stand firm in our faith." Because, as the website really says, "How would you feel if the people you loved - even gave your life for - celebrated your birthday but were afraid to mention your name?" Your answer might be, "Uhh, I'm fuckin' dead, why do I care?" or "Damn, that Jesus must be some egotistical prick to give his life expecting something in return." But then perhaps you're not the target audience.

Or maybe you just need to read the charming comic fantasy book Help! Mom! The Ninth Circuit Nabbed the Nativity! It seems that Johnny and Luke are having problems at their schools Christmas pageant: "[W]hen Senator Weary, Al Snore, Congresswoman Clunkton and the whole 9th Circuit court show up demanding an end to the fun and festivities in the name of diversity, global warming and stinky French cheese, all is almost lost until Johnny, Luke and an unexpected hero armed with a mysterious piece of paper unite to save Christmas." The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto calls it "an adorable story." Of course, Taranto called the suicides of three Gitmo detainees an act done out of "spite," so he would know adorable when he sees it.

So much merchandising, so short a season. For, truly, will not the "Merry Christmas, Not Happy Holidays" t-shirt be shoved in a drawer next to the candy cane-striped mint-flavored condoms and the Nutcracker tie in just a couple of days? As the good copy writers at Metrospy say, "Wear this shirt and take a stand against the secularization of Christmas," but after spending $17.99 on it, you'd just feel like a fucktard in January. But, then again, if you actually own this shirt unironically, you're pretty much a fucktard all year long.

And to all, a good night.

Note: The Rude Pundit is going to try to join the Great Migration to the new Blogger this weekend. Hopefully he'll have a better experience than Atrios, who was down for 16 hours during the transition.


Kofi Annan, the Razor Artist (with an Aside About Building Schools in Iraq):
Oh, sure, there's different ways to cut people. You can go with the thunderously obtuse machete or chainsaw, hacking off limbs and appendages. It makes a statement. Or you can go with the knife, stabbing or slashing, leaving the person bloody and punctured. But the real artists, the ones who want the slicing to hurt, but want to be subtle, even delicate in their work, are the people who use razors to open wounds. A good razor artist can cut you and you don't know what happened until you're looking at your viscera poking out of the slit in your gut.

At his final press conference on Tuesday, outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan wielded a razor and went to town on the Bush administration. First, when asked about his worst moments as SG, he said, "I think the worst moment, of course, was the Iraq war, which, as an organization, we couldn’t stop. I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it." And then came the arm slash. When he was asked about what's needed to help Afghanistan, Annan answered, "I think the question you posed is an important one, and it’s not only relevant to Afghanistan. It’s relevant in other theatres. Reconstruction can only take place where there is a reasonably secure environment. Where there is serious fighting, it is extremely difficult to proceed with reconstruction." Annan's saying who gives a fuck about schools being built if you can get blown up or cut in two by bullets walking to the brand new school.

(An aside here: Laura Bush mentioned the whole "schools are being built" as good news in Iraq again last week on her MSNBC tear against the media. Seriously, how many fuckin' schools do they need over there? 'Cause we've been told about all the goddamn splendiferous new schools for over three years now. Bush mentioned it in 2003 in his speech to the U.N. The raped corpse of Colin Powell talked about it in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox "news" in March 2004. Powell, like a good prison punk, talked about those schools again in a talk at Georgetown University in October 2004. The vile visage of Donald Rumsfeld spat it out in December 2005 speech at Johns Hopkins. It's been a talking point for every right-wing spoogebag that regularly takes the administration's chowder. Don't they have enough fuckin' schools there? What's the school to student ratio? Is that all that we do? We blow up someone's house, wiping out their kids, and then we build a school? Do we name it after the dead kids? Fuck, saying that school-building is good news in Iraq is like saying that it's cool that a fraternity gang raped that drunk co-ed because the frat guys hosted a blood drive.)

And on the issue of the uses of the Security Council, Annan said, "I hope that, when, next time, one is dealing with a broader threat to the international community, one will wait and seek the approval of the Security Council. As I have said, a country has the right to defend itself; but, when it’s an issue of broader threat to the international community, it’s only the Security Council that has that legitimacy to authorize action on that basis."

Goddamn, what an unpragmatic dreamer that Annan was.


Bush's Year-End Press Conference: It's the End of the Year Because the Year Has Ended:
Sweet motherfuck, let's take a gander at some of the patently obvious and blatantly bugfuck statements in this news conference:

Strangely seeming surprised that some people in the Iraq war are fighting against the United States: "The enemies of liberty responded fiercely to this advance of freedom. They carried out a deliberate strategy to foment sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shia. And over the course of the year they had success. Their success hurt our efforts to help the Iraqis rebuild their country, it set back reconciliation." So, in other words, in a war, the opposition fought back. Bastards.

Regarding the incoming Senate and House leadership: "We agreed that we've got important business to do on behalf of the American people and that we've got to work together to achieve results." So, in other words, they agreed to do their fuckin' jobs. Beautiful.

Dangerous questioning on what Bush might be planning on Iraq: "That's a dangerous hypothetical question. I'm not condemning you; you're allowed to ask anything you want." So, in other words, he won't send the reporter to Gitmo. Blissful.

History is soo 200 years ago: "[E]verybody's trying to write the history of this administration even before it's over. I'm reading about George Washington still." So, in other words, history is something that happened a long time ago, not yesterday, not three years past. Bountiful.

Goddamn, why hold a press conference if the only points you have are that one day in the future you're gonna make a speech about something that you won't talk about and that you'll work with your co-workers? George W. Bush's news conferences have become like fucking your partner of ten years: sure, you may be doing it in a hotel room in Zanzibar or in a cottage in the Hebrides or the same goddamned bedroom, but it's still the same cocks doing the same things in the same orifices. And even if you get to blow your load in his mouth, don't you feel just a little more empty each time? A little more curious about what it'd be like to bang the dude in the next hotel room, in the cottage down the coast?

Tell you what: next time, the press should bring out some sex toys, maybe some porn, to liven up the whole experience. That way David Gregory can ask about something important, like troop increases, and tickle the Commander-in-Chief's prostate with the very non-hypotetical Turbo-Charged Dimpled Vibrating Twistomatic (that ass reamer takes eight D batteries). Helen Thomas can ask about the mounting civilian casualties in Baghdad and before Bush answers, she can have him look at a DVD of Pierced-Clit Teen Gang Bang, Part 23. Why not, huh? Then at least the press and the President can pretend they still have some spark left.


A Surge (in Our Pants):
It is the plaintive sigh of thousands, millions of men every day, faced with the spam deluge that promises them penis enlargement, those goddamned annoying cock elongation commercials on TV, the occasional glance over at the pump while browsing through the latest issues of Tits and Clits or Big Asses Monthly at the porn store. It's a simple desire: "Just a little more, maybe 15 or 20% bigger, and all my problems will be solved." Yes, the deeply held belief that a longer schlong will compensate for every failing in one's life, it's fucked up the heads and lives of many a man.

Of course, the logic is bullshit. The big cock only comes into play once you're alone in the bedroom or bathroom or car or phone booth in Prague on that sidestreet off Straha Nerudova near the Italian embassy (Barbora, tell your sister that the Rude Pundit sends his transatlantic love). But it's got nothing to do with your game building up to the deliciously anticipated sound of the unzip. It ain't gonna make you funnier, better looking, or rich. You know, you can have the greatest tool set money can buy, but if you don't know how to drive a screw, it's all just a pathetic show.

The ludicrous debate over whether or not to have a surge of U.S. troops in Iraq is being approached with all the wishful thinking of any man who has ever received his package of peter pills in the mail. Besides, who are you gonna trust at this point? The Joint Chiefs of Staff - you know, the generals- or the President? Discredited idiots like Robert Pollock of the Wall Street Journal, who said as recently as September that he has no regrets about a policy of invading countries for "regime change," or desperate neocon savages like Frank Gaffney, with Israel crammed so far up his clenched ass that he wants a surge and an attack on Iran?

Nothing's stopping the decline into darkness in Iraq. Not a surge, not a further hacking away at our broken military. This ain't golf, although the rich executives running our country would like to take a mulligan. Because, see, you have to fuck a partner with the cock that you have, not the cock you might want.
White House Spokesdouche Tony Snow Says Everything You Need To Know About How the War Is Going:
"One thing you never do is announce when somebody is going to go to Iraq." From yesterday's press briefing, when the aforementioned spokesdouche was asked when the brand spankin' new Secretary of Defense might be going in person to check out the war he inherited.


Fucked New Orleans (A Seemingly Endless Series):
You may not forgive the Rude Pundit his cynicism, but he thought Herbert Gettridge's wife was going to die, along with Gettridge. Nearly a year ago, the Rude Pundit met Gettridge on his return to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans as two other men helped him gut his still-standing home. Gettridge's wife was ill and in Madison, Wisconsin, where they had gone upon evacuating their city because of Hurricane Katrina.

Now, in today's New Orleans Times-Picayune, Gettridge is interviewed as one of the only residents to return to the Lower Ninth. Writes Gwen Filosa, "'A lot of people can't come back,' said Gettridge, a stubborn 83-year-old who has been rebuilding to provide a home for his ailing wife, who yearns for him in Madison, Wis. 'In some cases, some people are better off now than they were before the storm.'" Filosa says that Gettridge's house is one of the few occupied ones in the Lower Ninth now, 16 months after Katrina.

Gettridge is besieged by thieves in the post-apocalyptic landscape that is his neighborhood. They stole his $800 generator that he had chained down. Here's how Gettridge lived after the storm: "For months, Gettridge captured water from ruptured pipes in the area and hauled it back to his property in buckets. Through the swampy heat, he used coolers instead of a refrigerator and cooked with a propane camp stove. Electricity came back only last month, and Gettridge became one of the region's last residents to receive a FEMA trailer. He's still waiting for gas service to be restored."

New Orleans is fucked, you know. In the time since the big storm took down the city like a lion bearing down on a three-legged zebra, yes, much has gotten better in that many people, many of them white, some not, can live an approximation of normality, a pretense of everyday life. But the future, oh, the future of the city is fucked like a drunk sorority girl on a Royal Street balcony at Mardi Gras. Here's how the Times-Picayune describes the current state of the levee system: it "could be likened to a patient who no longer needs life support but remains in intensive care."

Meanwhile, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, with a delicious sense of irony, is going to raze 4500 housing units in the city, making way for private development of the land and far less housing for the poor. It would cost less than a day in Iraq to repair the four largest complexes. Sure, they may have been shitholes, but a shithole to call home is better than no home at all. And it ain't as if the residents were promised fuckin' Valhalla in exchange for the demolition. The poor in New Orleans are like the Indians of old, removed from place to place when it becomes inconvenient to keep them where you put them in the first place.

But, shit, life ain't a whole lot better for the middle class. The wads of fuck running the Road Home Recovery program, a private corporation called ICF Emergency Management Services, were given a three-year contract worth $750 million to run the $8 billion program to get grants of up to $150,000 to homeowners so they can, you know, rebuild their homes. And, well, it's worked like seemingly every other privately-run government program: "Only 82 of the 87,000 homeowners who signed up for the grant program...have gotten final checks." The company's already made $60 million. So, like, that's less than .1% of homeowners and ICF's been paid about 9% of its money.

Oh, and even if you get the money, after waiting for months, chances are you're gonna be fucked by ICF and the Road Home: "Melanie Ehrlich, a founder of the New Orleans advocacy group Citizens' Road Home Action Team, said she has seen 15 yellow final award letters and found errors in 11 of them."

Back in the Lower Ninth, Emelda Skidmore, another elderly returnee, awaits her Road Home money. And Mayor Ray Nagin has said that market forces and private investment will power the recovery in New Orleans. But the Lower Ninth will probably be the last place to come back because it awaits "citizen investment."


The Rude Pundit Is Time's Person of the Year:
Of course, he has to share the honor with every Johnny Knoxville-wannabe racking his nuts on YouTube, every Dateline-baiting sexual predator on MySpace, and that horrible Atlas Shrugs chick.

But still, and all, it's nice to be recognized.


Christ Weary of Prayer Warriors:
Apparently, we've pissed off God. No, not the whole Tim Johnson thing - surely, if there is a giant sky wizard who gives a holy shit about earthly affairs, he'd've bled out Barbara Boxer or Mark Dayton, not low-key, conservative Tim Johnson. Nope, America in general has earned the Big Guy/Gal/Thing's ire. At least that's the implication of the latest Prayer Target e-mail the Rude Pundit has received from the Family Research Council (motto: "No, a Dozen or So Guys Wandering Around Together For Years Is Not Kinda Gay"). The Rude Pundit belongs to the FRC's Super-Duper Prayer Team under a nom de rude, and every week we receive our prayin' orders from the FRC's President, Mr. Tony "Please, Sean, Gimme More Face Time" Perkins. And this week, oh, man, we've got some grovelin' to do before the sacred sand-encrusted feet o' Jeeeezus.

Raves Perkins, "Secularism, liberalism and hedonism have made inroads into every sphere of American life. Beliefs and conduct condemned by past generations are now welcome, even in many churches and homes. America's survival is threatened." Now, while "secularism, liberalism and hedonism" are pretty much the ruling triumvirate at the Rude Pundit's on the weekends (two out of three only on weeknights), Perkins wants you to know that we're pretty much fucked unless we "STIR OURSELVES TO FIGHT for our families and to revive Christian culture!" (capitalization and exclamation point verbatim from Perkins). That's right. We're no longer just a placid, hands-together Super-Duper Prayer Team. Oh, no. We're "prayer warriors."

And what's making us go to war and blow some shit up (metaphorically, one presumes, because otherwise we'd kind of be jihadists - no, we're just warriors)? Is it the imminent return of Lucifer, who would presumably peel the skin off Tony Perkins from his smarmy face to his tiny scrotum? Is it an attack by joined armies of Jews, Muslims, and Hindus? Nope. It's that guinea Jezebel, Nancy Pelosi, and her hordes of godless Democrats who would dare "pass a spate of popular measures" including stem cell research. That's right, warriors. We now have to get all theological on their asses in order to halt the Congress from passing legislation that the majority of Americans want. Perkins fumes, "The next two years may bring the most profoundly anti-faith, family and freedom initiatives in the history of Congress."

So we gotta get up our prayerifyin' mojos. We have been given our marchin' orders: "Pray that God will multiply His prayer army during the next two years. May He train men, women and young people to be disciplined, focused, faith-filled and equipped to challenge whatever may come." And the great thing about training prayer warriors is that as they stand up, we can stand...oh, wait. Now the trick there is hopin' that God's a-gonna get off his ass and multiply that prayer army. Fast, motherfucker, because 2008's just around the corner.

And we've gotta do some prayin' fer that, too: "Pray that God will intervene to give America a President who knows and fears Him, who will lead our nation in righteousness and call Americans to the kind of prayer and to repentance that will allow God to restore his favor to America. Pray that Americans will rally to such a candidate." See? We've lost God's favor. And without that favor we're wandering lambs, favorless, bereft of favor, God's favor. Like some kind of favor-denied nomads in a secular desert with progressive cactuses pricking our non-favored flesh whenever we want to drink sweet cactus juice to slake our unfavored thirsts.

Sometimes you just gotta sit back and enjoy the panic on the Christian right since November. They're flailing around now, their leaders descending into madness because of their suppressed libidos and weakening grip on power, their minions running away, their politicians disappearing into the dark limbo of the loser's graveyard, their cause now nothing more than what it always was: steps backward, steps backward, when the unstoppable urge is forward.


Tim Johnson: He's Gotta Serve Even If He's Just a Marionette:
Towards the horrible end of his too-long life, Republicans made sure that the decaying corpse-that-rolled Strom Thurmond could still serve out his term so that the Democratic governor of South Carolina would not be able to name a replacement for him. While everyone around him, including the Republican leadership, lied about his ability to put together a thought that was more cogent than, "Ngah, pudding," Thurmond himself was merely an empty vessel shitting out his innards into a nauseatingly full diaper. That didn't matter to the GOP, clinging to a seat that would have to be re-upholstered every week because of the acidic urine stains.

God, the awful, nearly medieval ways they made it seem like Thurmond was anything more than a pile of cells that desperately wanted to die. They used metal rods to keep his spine straight so he wouldn't slump over in his wheelchair. They used epoxy and polyurethane to prevent his skin from drooping off his skull. They inserted small, hinged, electronically-controlled metal arms into his mouth so that he could smile or grimace at appropriate times, and also to make it look like his lips were moving in sync with words, sounds that were actually pleas to allow him to taste sweet death. But Karl Rove wasn't gonna let him die. As long as he could still shriek in pain when it was time to vote "Aye" or "Nay," with Trent Lott interpreting what the gurgling cries actually meant, then Strom Thurmond was gonna fuckin' show up in the Senate to do the bidding of the Republicans.

So, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah, hearts go out to Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota for needing surgery for a brain hemorrhage and to his family and with the hope that he recovers, yadda, yadda. But right now you can bet that legions of lawyers are getting ready to go to war over what seems to be a clusterfuck of statutes over what happens in SD should Johnson go turnip. While it's possible that there may need to be an election called in 10 days or 80 or 90 days, more than likely Republican Governor Mike Rounds would just get to appoint someone to finish out Johnson's term until 2008. And there goes the Senate, back to a tie, with the smirking visage of Dick Cheney tiebreaking.

Democrats better be ready to go at South Dakota with all the eviscerating force of a school of pirahna on a cow's stomach. Because while the right is, for the most part, keeping its powder dry on this one, offering mucho prayers and hopes for recovery, you can imagine that behind the scenes there's an attack plan being drafted to wreck any attempt to sideline an appointment by Rounds. But, considering his lack of subtlety, there's also a good chance that Rove'll waddle over to George Washington University Hospital to take out Johnson himself, and thus be called a "genius" once again.

The alternative for Democrats, of course, is that no goddamn matter how much Tim Johnson's brain has turned to mush, the Democrats pull a Strom Thurmond and wheel that drooling rutabaga-man out onto the Senate floor. Attach strings to him, making him fuckin' do interpretive dance to debate bills, cattle-prod him whenever it's time for a vote. Any fuckin' thing to hold onto the majority, which is, in fact, let's face it, and you know it, more important than Tim Johnson and his family.


Bill O'Reilly Fights the War on Christmas Titties:
Now, by Fox "News" host and self-described "big boob" lover (which means he must adore Sean Hannity) Bill O'Reilly's calculation, the Rude Pundit is just a dirty fuckin' SP (no, not "Sucker of Penises," but "Secular Progressive"). But if, say, the Rude Pundit had an hour every weeknight in which to offer commentary and do interviews on the news of the day, he doesn't think that he'd pay quite as much on-air attention to the travails of your everyday stripper. Not out of any dislike of strippers. It's a question of proportion, you know. Not Bill O'Reilly, though. If someone done a g-string wearing lap dancer wrong, O'Reilly's there to defend her dignity in the face of a world that just doesn't get it.

So last night, on his Fox "News" show (if by "show," you mean, "48 minutes of nut-grabbing, baby-eating, and spooge target practice"), after implying that Vermont and Boulder, Colorado don't give a shit about murdered children because they "are run by far-left secular progressives," O'Reilly hosted a discussion with two strippers from Scores in New York City (which Scores he did not say, for there is more than one, dear readers). In case you didn't know what he was talking about, O'Reilly laid it out for you: "[T]hey call them gentlemen's clubs. They're all over the country. Basically places where guys watch women undress on stage." There's about thirty jokes to make about that line, but why bother, huh?

Kelly Branton, in a cleavage-revealing ensemble, perhaps the better to breastfeed the baby Jesus, and the single-named Morgan, dressed more demurely, complained to O'Reilly that no charities are taking the money and gifts that the strippers have raised for Christmas. Except for the Marines Toys for Tots. Probed O'Reilly of Morgan, "Were you -- were your feelings hurt when they turned the money down? Were your feelings hurt?" And, in fact, Morgan's feelings were hurt.

As were Kelly Branton's. She explained, "[S]pecifically because the charities that were supposedly affiliated with the empowerment of women, and I feel that we as women doing what we do, a lot of us have children and a lot of us are single parents...And when we want to give back to the community, for a charity to say, 'We're not going to accept your donations because we think that it's degrading to women,' offends me because of the fact that I do this empowers me as a woman." In the video of this moment, about two minutes in, you can see O'Reilly trying very hard not to look at Branton's self-empowered tits. His eyes shift up and down faster than a rent boy's head in the alley behind the Manhole. But O'Reilly felt up Branton's pain: "I can tell you, just talking to you, you get a little emotional about this."

O'Reilly moved on to his "Most Ridiculous" item of the day before heading back to his office to break out the Jergen's to jack off thinking about getting a faceful of the young thonged ass of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Morgan and Branton presumably headed back to Scores to make men ejaculate in their pants. And thus Christmas was one step closer to being saved by the good works of Bill O'Reilly.


The Terri Schiavo President:
No, no, it's not fucking possible, not at goddamned all. This is what it's come to? The President of the United States, through his spokesdouche, Tony Snow, is having to proclaim that he gives a shit what his own generals and advisers have to say: "[T]raveling to State and traveling to the Pentagon obviously are making the point that the President is listening to key people in this administration." Then, oh, fuck, then, the press is actually forced into asking questions like, "[I]s he going to be listening to them?" and "What role is the Vice President playing this week in the listening?" One might think the proper answer to that question is, "The Vice President will be roughly sucking out the viscous goo inside each expert's head through their eye sockets before skull-fucking them because, you know, that's just what he does." But, no, Snow spurted, "Well, he's listening and asking some questions and he's participating in the conversations." Everyone's just got their big ears on now, at last, nearly four crazed years in.

And now those "key people" are also saying just how golly-gee-whiz open-minded Bush is being about the whole fuckin' thing. Said retired General Wayne Downing, an uberscary guy in his own right, after Bush's Listening Tour (really) took him to visitin' generals, "I found him very engaged. I think he's looking for some answers." Barry McCaffrey added that Bush was listening "intently."

Thing is, we've been here before, where the wishful, the hopeful, the liars, the spinners, the hucksters have all told us that an unmoving blob of flesh is a sentient being. Said one idiot doctor about poor Terri Schiavo, "Although Terri did not demonstrate during our 90-minute visit compelling evidence of verbalization, conscious awareness or volitional behavior, yet the visitor has the distinct sense of the presence of a living human being who seems at some level to be aware of some things around her." And, really, is that protestation of consciousness any different than what McCaffrey said about the President?

Or perhaps this: "Terri Schiavo smiles. She laughs, cries and moans. Her eyes appear to follow a balloon around the room. When a cotton swab slips into her mouth, she grimaces." See? She wasn't in a persistent vegetative state. She's listening. Like when Bush promises "when I do speak to the American people, they will know that I've listened to all aspects of government."

Terri Schiavo or the President on Iraq? Sure, everyone can say they saw him move, react, follow the balloon, but in the end he's just rotting away with a brainless smile on his face.


William Jefferson's Re-Election - Oh, Get Over It:
The analysis and fingerpointing over the re-election of Democrat William Jefferson of New Orleans to the House of Representatives, even after the FBI found $90,000 in a freezer at his house, even as he's under investigation for bribery, is hilarious to anyone who's ever paid any attention to the history of Louisiana and its politics. The fact that the state almost sent an unrepentant racist (which included pictures of said candidate in a Nazi uniform) to the Senate is just about the least appalling aspect of Louisiana politics.

'Cause, you know, c'mon, Louisiana is a state that honors, on multiple levels, a goddamn slave-trading pirate, Jean Lafitte. The old thief, who tried to establish a personal kingdom in southwest Louisiana and gave tons of money and goods to those who would protect him, has a town, a parish, and a festival named after him. Motherfucker has so many streets named after him, you'd think that he did something more than steal slaves from others and sell them by the pound (no, really). Instead of deploring and distancing the state from the buggering bastard, Louisiana sees him as some kind of Errol Flynn-type devil-may-care roustabout. Instead of just a thug.

Where d'ya wanna go from there? Huey Long? Fat bastard was Karl Rove crossed with Karl Marx, and for everything that he did for progressive politics and for the poor, he was a power-hungry savage who bathed in the dollars of patronage. Of course he was elected to the governorship and senate in Lousisiana. (It helped that the people who were trying to destroy him were far more reviled than Long could ever be.) Edwin Edwards? So beloved by blacks and Cajuns in the state that after being indicted for bribery and obstruction of justice, after a reputation as a proud Vegas gambler, he was elected for a fourth term by running against the aforementioned racist. In his final term, he worked tirelessly to get casino gambling widespread in the state. He's in jail now.

So what's the lesson here? We could go with the easy answer here: that Louisiana's just fucked-up, a mini-Florida just one fiasco away from madness. Or maybe we could go with something a bit more complex: the people of the state don't like to be bullied. And they don't like outsiders and political operatives telling them who to embrace (with the knowledge that Jefferson, Long, and Edwards all took full advantage of those who believe this). And that post-Katrina, in New Orleans, who the fuck cares what the federal government says is good and bad, right and wrong?

Besides, every cloud has a silver lining of cyncial opportunism. If there's a case to be made against Jefferson (and, really, c'mon, how can there not be?), then taking down a black congressman on their own would establish major street cred for the Democrats in Congress and for Nancy Pelosi to show she's serious about ethics reform. Or maybe he'll just be a sacrificial lamb to cover up for other, larger, deeper crimes. Either way, it's a win-win situation.

And since only 16% of eligible voters bothered to cast ballots, fuckin' get over it.


Advice To Young Bloggers Wishing To See Their Traffic Expand Exponentially:
Apparently, if one includes mention of a pop star's genitalia in the title of a post during a time period when said genitalia has been copiously photographed, oh, the bounty that will follow.


Fruit Salad With the Prime Minister (The Neediest President in History, Part 2):
And so it was that James Baker III, oozing the kind of reptilian evil that we expect from the half-men, half-crocodiles that slither from the putrid pools of 41's inner circle, said to a Senate Committee regarding his Iraq Study Group's list of nearly four-score recommendations: "I hope we don't treat this like a fruit salad and say, `I like this, but I don't like that, I like this, but I don't like that.'" Yes, Baker was there to save the nation from Iraq and 43 and 43 from himself, but no one gives a damn. When it's time for an empire to fall, it must fall. So when 41 became a weepy bitch over Jeb's imminent passage from public life, it was the pathetic whine of a fallen patrician, the end of the goddamn line.

For what was 43's press conference yesterday but a chance to hunch over in the ditch once more and toss dingleberries at the media, the degraded man, not so much a president anymore as a dalmatian, bred to be a proud-haunched firefighter mascot but merely capable of licking his own anus instead of actually saving anyone from an inferno.

Fruit salad? Hey, listening to Bush, Jr. yesterday one got the idea that we were watching a jiggly Jello mold with a coconut topping. It wasn't just the usual state-the-obvious-firmly lines: "[T]he Palestinian-Israeli conflict is important to have — is important to be solved." Or the bizarro dropped half-sentences that are more insulting than incoherent: "I talk to families who die." And it wasn't the moments where Bush demonstrated his ability to magically pull synonyms out of his ass: "I also believe we’re going to succeed. I believe we’ll prevail" (which was followed by a descent into Howard Hughes-like echolalia: "Not only do I know how important it is to prevail, I believe we will prevail. I understand how hard it is to prevail").

No, no, it was the nutzoid insistence on his ability to "understand" and "read" things that made Bush seem like he needed the approval of someone, anyone, at this point. From the ridiculous statement of "I understand what long deployments mean to wives and husbands, and mothers and fathers, particularly as we come into a holiday season" to the disturbing admission regarding the ISG report: "To show you how important this one is, I read it, and our guest read it. The Prime Minister read — read a report prepared by a commission. And this is important," it was part of a litany of demonstrating how great and wonderful he is, please love him.

But also how bugfuck insane. Said the President of the United States, once again, "And one of the things that has changed for American foreign policy is a threat overseas can now come home to hurt us, and September the 11th should be a wake-up call for the American people to understand what happens if there is violence and safe havens in a part of the world. And what happens is people can die here at home." Have we really, sadly, horribly not advanced in our thinking in the last five years past that?

Fruit salad? Hell, at this point, we'll be lucky to get out of the next two years without having all of our salads tossed.


In Brief: Why Ann Coulter Is a Cunt, Part 3240 (Head Injury Edition):
So, like, conservative carbuncle Ann Coulter scrawls the beginning of her latest "column" (if by "column," you mean, "the transcribed oinkings of a swill-sucking sow grunting from her shit-filled mud pit"), and it's all about the usual blah, blah, blah, Democrats are pussies 'cause they want people to not die, and, oh, gee aren't we all fucked because they were elected and by the way doesn't it suck to have to wait in line at airports. It's sort of like listening to a bad Dennis Miller imitator, which, because Dennis Miller blows monkey cock, so it would be pretty bad. Oh, and the Iraq Study Group - they're wimps, too, 'cause they wanna talk to people instead of shooting them in the head.

Then, seriously, really, starting in the fourth paragraph, Coulter absolutely abandons everything that she had spoken about previously to squeeze her nipples to erection over Matt Lauer's 9/11/06 interview with George Bush, and how Lauer aggressively questioned Bush over the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And then spends the rest of the column defending the action and mocking Lauer for daring to bring it up three months ago. The column ends with a brief nod to the Iraq Study Group, but, after that third paragraph, Democrats are never, never mentioned again.

The column is titled "Incoming Congress prepares to launch 'Operation Surrender.'"

Now this ain't about the morality or immorality of torturing evil people. This is about the responsibility of editors to look deep into the twirling eyes of their batshit insane writers and say, "Ann, the interview's old. And what the fuck does it have to do with the incoming Congress?"

Probably Coulter had a months-old pile of scrap notes laying around and she demanded that her assistant type it up, slap a couple of more recent references on the front, bring her the animatronic Sean Hannity robo-head with rugged tongue action, place it between her legs, and jack off while watching her squirm as Hannity's android head gives her head. Oh, and e-mail that column off to Universal Press Syndicate.


The Iraq Study Group Report - A Fig Leaf or a Bandage?:
Listening to the announcements and meetings over the report of the Iraq Study Group is a little like listening to a group of rape crisis counselors and social workers standing in the middle of a maximum security prison, informing the prisoners that it's just wrong for the stronger men to sodomize the mouths and asses of the weaker prisoners, that perhaps forcing some of the thin, feminine-looking men to dress as women and become "wives" is perverse and fucked-up. There's President Bush, sitting there like the beefiest motherfucker in the Aryan Brotherhood, nodding, all the while wondering which of his bitches to rape tonight. There's the Democrats, standing around like pathetic turn-outs, thinking they're about to get their sore asses some protection. And the guards? Why that'd be the American people, just shrugging their shoulders, wondering what they can do to stop all the butt-reamings and mouth explosions - no one listened to the whistleblowers in the first place, you know. Meanwhile, the counselors and social workers get to get the fuck out of the lock-up and head back to the 'burbs.

Sure, sure, just a search and scan of the 160-page report comes up with fun nuggets of wisdom, like "U.S. foreign policy is doomed to failure—as is any course of action in Iraq—if it is not supported by a broad, sustained consensus" of the executive and legislative branches, and the American people. And, even though the report's being hailed as one big cock punch to the Bush administration, there's more than fig leaves for the White House here: "The global standing of the United States could suffer if Iraq descends further into chaos. Iraq is a major test of, and strain on, U.S. military, diplomatic, and financial capacities. Perceived failure there could diminish America’s credibility and influence in a region that is the center of the Islamic world and vital to the world’s energy supply. This loss would reduce America’s global influence at a time when pressing issues in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere demand our full attention and strong U.S. leadership of international alliances." Or, in shorter terms, we're fucked either way.

The bottom line of the report, though, seems to be that it's time to pass the buck over to the Iraqis, after a few handy steps: "Iraqis may become so sobered by the prospect of an unfolding civil war and intervention by their regional neighbors that they take the steps necessary to avert catastrophe. But at the moment, such a scenario seems implausible because the Iraqi people and their leaders have been slow to demonstrate the capacity or will to act."

Call it the "sand nigger explanation": like slaves after the Civil War were more or less just expected to get over it and become good little demi-Americans, so must the Iraqis forget about the decades of deprivations under Saddam Hussein, U.N. sanctions, and, well, fuck, war, and just get on with it. It's there in Recommendation 21, the "No Iraqi Left Behind" idea: "If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government."

How can one completely poo-poo a report where the authors say shit like leave Iran to the United Nations and fuckin' talk to Syria, that sets a timetable of "milestones" for Iraq to achieve, that states "The United States should not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq," and more? Because the whole document, massive press coverage and all, carries about as much actual legislative weight as, say, the 9/11 Commission report.

Hell, in that case, we've been told that the vast majority of the recommendations have been carried out, which may be true, in the same way that chimpanzees are mostly the same genetically as human beings, 98.8% so. But, looking at all the nit-eating and shit-throwing, one might think that the remaining 1.2% is crucial.


The Neediest President in History, Part 1:
So it was that President George W. Bush and his lovely wife Laura yesterday invited to the White House the children of military men and women deployed overseas. It was a holiday reception, with the abundance of delectable treats and lavish decorations that only the President of the greatest nation on earth could provide while at war. Or, you know, a Sultan. Or a Czar. And a show, too, with cast members from the Kennedy Center's production of Willie Wonka doing a little song and dance for the kids. Surely, yes, the parents of these children would be delighted to know that their sons and daughters could have such pleasures in times of such emotional privation.

Before Laura introduced the show, George got up and said a few words. Among those words, were these: "[D]o me a favor and email your mom or dad who is overseas how much the Commander-in-Chief respects them, admires them and supports them." Seems so small, doesn't it? In the midst of an e-mail about all the 15,000 chocolate truffles and two tons of crab claws and, miracle of miracles, a singing Willie Wonka, a child would say, "Oh, and the President told me to tell you he supports you." Which, if you've sent them to die for you, ought to be a bare minimum requirement for what you say to a soldier.

Because it ain't really about the kids, oh, no. It's about George, who so needs approval, so desperately needs to think that others know he cares, who so needs the positive attention that such small gestures might bring, that he would tell children to write about how much he likes their parents.

Lately, there's been much ink and many bytes spilled over whether or not the President is insane. Instead, let's just say that he's a sad, needy man, a figure of pity, not in a tragic way, but instead just a "will-someone-change-his-diapers" at the old age home kind of way. We'll explore that over the next few days.
Birthday Demands:
Today is the Rude Pundit's birthday.

He wants a new TV so he can better make out Soledad O'Brien's pores.

So give him money.

That is all for now.

Back later with...well, fuck, it's the birthday boy's choice, innit?


Britney Spears's Pussy Saves the World:
Man, the Rude Pundit can't get enough of Britney Spears's pussy, plastered all over the Internet like a sideways grin. Or like a closed eye with a c-section scar brow. Yessir, everywhere you wanted to look last week, there was Britney Spears's pussy. You could turn on your MSNBC to check the latest way in which Gitmo-resident-in-training Keith Olbermann was pimp-slapping the Bush administration, and there, Tuesday, was a discussion, albeit a humorous one, of Britney Spears's pussy (if you are so inclined, insert a Paris Hilton joke here). Over on the Fox "News" program Heartland, host John Kasich plastic coated the studio and had Bill O'Reilly on to talk about Britney's pussy, even showing photos of said pussy and its owner with the offending slit blocked out (if you are so inclined, insert a Paris Hilton joke here). It wasn't just the ubiquity of Britney Spears's pussy last week; it was the way in which Britney Spears's pussy was transformed from just another shaved crotch to some kind of anthropological/cultural marker. There are places in Iraq that weren't probed for WMDs pre-war as deeply as Britney Spears's pussy was last week.

It isn't that Britney Spears's pussy's public appearances aren't in and of themselves interesting. The Rude Pundit supports genital revelation of all sorts. But it's just that, other than being attached to Britney Spears, being the stage curtain for the debut of two kids, and acting as the golden door to the slick caves of presumptive paradise, what exactly has Britney Spears's pussy accomplished? Yes, indeed, it's time to make Britney Spears's pussy earn its place in our networks of news, beyond the Page Sixes and Michael Musto columns (he's so bitchy, you know).

Yeah, Britney Spears's pussy needs to go down to New Orleans, and it can join in the searches that go on to this day for bodies in the Lower Ninth Ward. And if Britney Spears's pussy finds a body, it can pose next to it, like a trophy, and then we can all have an idea of how great Britney Spears's pussy is.

With that notch in its pouch, Britney Spears's pussy can head to Iraq to rally the troops. We know that Britney's a big supporter of President Bush, so with his popularity so small and her pussy's so big, Britney Spears's pussy can not only entertain the troops, but it can meet with the Mahdi Army, who will no doubt be as mesmerized as Americans by Britney Spears's pussy, willing to toss aside their weapons and higher concerns so that they can pay attention to Britney Spears's pussy.

Just imagine all the good Britney Spears's pussy could do, heading off to chain itself to a caribou to halt drilling in Alaska, or replacing John Bolton's newly-resigned cock as ambassador to the UN, or going to Congress to testify for...what? Well, would it really matter, because it's Britney Spears's pussy and it could probably stop the genocide in the Sudan if it would only apply itself.

Then, once Britney Spears's pussy has accomplished some or all of these goals, we can all give a rat's ass, a happy monkey fuck, a good goddamn about where Britney Spears's pussy is at any given time.


A Bit of Tony Kushner For World AIDS Day:
This is from the second part of Kushner's Angels in America. It's spoken by Harper, whose Mormon husband has admitted that he's gay and who has gone through a kind of breakdown that has given her visions of distant places and people. By this point, she has healed enough to talk about other kinds of healing:

"Night flight to San Francisco; chase the moon across America. God, it’s been years since I was on a plane. When we hit 35,000 feet we’ll have reached the tropopause, the great belt of calm air, as close as I’ll ever get to the ozone. I dreamed we were there. The plane leapt the tropopause, the safe air, and attained the outer rim, the ozone, which was ragged and torn, patches of it threadbare as old cheesecloth, and that was frightening. But I saw something that only I could see because of my astonishing ability to see such things: Souls were rising, from the earth far below, souls of the dead, of people who had perished, from famine, from war, from the plague, and they floated up, like skydivers in reverse, limbs all akimbo, wheeling and spinning. And the souls of these departed joined hands, clasped ankles, and formed a web, a great net of souls, and the souls were three-atom oxygen molecules of the stuff of ozone, and the outer rim absorbed them and was repaired. Nothing’s lost forever. In this world, there’s a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least I think that’s so."

More later.


Puppetry of the Persians:
Of course Geppetto wanted Pinocchio to be a real boy. The old puppetmaker was tired of plucking splinters out of his fingers, tongue, and cock. For no matter how much you sand the pine sphincter of a marionette, it's still just an asshole made of wood. But flesh, god, how Geppetto dreamed of young, tender boy flesh, even as he pulled Pinocchio to him tight and wept about how wonderful it was just that he had been cut from his strings. When that Blue Fairy finally granted the wish, when she made his sticks supple and changed his sap to blood, Pinocchio knew that he had to try, once again, to run away, even if it meant becoming a donkey. Better an ass than just a piece of ass for an old man whose breath stunk of Lambrusco. So, on his pudgy new boy legs, Pinocchio ran, with that vile cricket constantly pimping for Geppetto, whispering in the boy's ear that he would be better off home.

Geppetto, though, wasn't about to let Pinocchio free, oh, no. He'd faced the belly of a whale to bring him back last time. Pinocchio may have thought he was a real boy, just like he had wished for, but Geppetto was never going to let him forget that he wouldn't have existed without the hammer, nails, and cloth he was first constructed from by Geppetto.

Exactly how much did Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kanal al-Maliki speak at his joint press conference with President George Bush yesterday in Amman, Jordan? 'Cause even a quick scan of the transcript of the event reveals that not only did al-Maliki not have equal time with Bush, but that he was verbally swamped by the flailing Commander-in-Chief, who was making damned sure that everyone knew that puppet strings don't have to be visible to be very much present.

Here's one example: A reporter asked, "Hezbollah has denied that [its] forces trained Moqtada al-Sadr forces, but do you have any information if Hezbollah has actually trained the forces of Moqtada al-Sadr?"

Al-Maliki, who apparently doesn't realize that the key to answering questions of the press is not to answer the question asked, but to answer the question that the voices in your head have asked you, said, "[N]obody has the right, outside of Iraq, to interfere in the political or the security situation inside of Iraq. We invite everybody to cooperate with us, but as far as this issue related to training, Hezbollah denied and they're responsible for their denial." Not much of an answer, but, hey, at least it seems like he paid attention.

Then, without prompting, Bush jumped in, almost interrupting the Prime Minister, spewing talking points like a sliced jugular sprays blood: "Our objective is to help the Maliki government succeed. And today we discussed how to further the success of this government. This is a government that is dedicated to pluralism and rule of law. It's a government elected by the Iraqi people under a constitution approved by the Iraqi people, which, in itself, is an unusual event in the Middle East, by the way." And then, just to demonstrate just how deep his understanding of the region is, Bush started talking about al-Qaeda. Not Hezbollah. Al-Qaeda. Screeched Bush (no, really), "I know that we're providing a useful addition to Iraq by chasing down al Qaeda and by securing -- by helping this country protect itself from al Qaeda."

How embarrassing it must have been for al-Maliki, who had tried so hard just the day before to show that you can't treat a real boy like a puppet, to be dragged in front of the cameras with a hand shoved up his ass to make him turn and speak whatever the puppeteer had scripted. No wonder he couldn't manage a smile. No wonder he seemed a bit put off that Bush had let the whole thing go on longer than they had agreed, when he said, "We said six question, now this is the seventh -- this is the eighth -- eight questions," in response to Bush asking him if he wanted to answer more.

For al-Maliki, the whole event was the rhetorical equivalent of being forced to stand naked with women's panties on his head while the conquerors took souvenir snapshots.

Afterword: Yes, the Rude Pundit's aware that Iraq was not part of Persia, but the title, useless though it may be, made the Rude Pundit giggle. And, besides, are they not both Iran's puppets now?


Why Bill O'Reilly Ought to Be Sodomized With a Microphone (Civil War Edition):
Bill O'Reilly, Fox "News" host and a man whose pita is always covered in hummus, joins the White House in refusing to call the conflict in Iraq a "civil war." In fact, not only won't O'Reilly call it that, but he thinks that anyone who does is a wackoid leftist who wouldn't know a civil war from a loofah. See, it's really Iran, Al-Qaeda, and "organized criminals" who are wreaking havoc with the U.S. mission to bring democracy and American love to Iraq. Blows O'Reilly out of his ass, "Add all that up and you have violent, out-of-control chaos — not civil war."

Squeezing out another one, O'Reilly adds, "The problem in Iraq is not American. The problem is the Iraqis themselves. They're not fighting for their freedom in a way that puts the bad keys [sic] on the defensive. There is only so much the USA can do. If the Iraqi people are unwilling to challenge the bad guys, the bad guys will win — period." Don't you get it, you stupid motherfucking Iraqis? They don't want the great gift of freedom that we've dropped on them like so many bombs and missles. No, they want to cower in the corners and let the "bad guys" run rampant. Damn, that must be why the "gangs" of Shias attack "gangs" of Sunnis who retaliate against the Shia who re-retaliate... It's like the Crips and the Bloods, except less colorful and more stabby.

So one would think that if it was an Iraqi problem, then perhaps America oughta get the fuck out of the way and let the Iraqis deal with it. Oh, no, that'd be pussy ass bullshit, man. No, O'Reilly wants a better solution: the Bush administration "must consider allowing the Iraqi military to run the place, much like Musharraf runs Pakistan. Yes, that would be brutal, but clearly, the Iraqi people are not embracing freedom. So imposing order through a military strong man might be the only way."

See, it'll be different than Saddam Hussein because this brutal strongman will have the backing of the United States. Hell, we might even sell him WMDs as he fights back challenges from Iran. And he'll be our buddy until we're good and done with him.

One last note on the whole "civil war" thing: at some point, ain't it patronizing to the ethnic groups blowing the shit out each other to simply call it outsider-manipulated or gang-run chaos? Or just a "surge" in violence? It's like the Bush adminstration is patting the Iraqi militias on the head and demeaning the internal war. Goddamn, if you were out there watching your friends get set on fire by an ethnic group that wants to see you wiped out, wouldn't you rather they died in a civil war than in a kerfuffle?


The Rude Pundit to Invade Canada:
The Rude Pundit will debut his new one-rude-man show, The Road to Rude, at the 21st Annual High Performance Rodeo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. For three performances, from January 16-18, at One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre. He hopes that Canadian fans will keep him warm and well-fellated in the Alberta winter wind.

There's rumors (or "rumours") of an additional performance at a bar in Calgary, but more on that when the details are clear.

The Road to Rude is the Rude Pundit's second show, and it features a whole helluva lot of original, never-blogged material. And blow-up dolls.

Oh, before anyone asks, yes, the quote from author and Daily Show "expert" John Hodgman is for real. And, yes, that's a picture from the Rude Pundit's first show, The Year of Living Rudely.
In Brief: President Bush Promises To Kill More American Troops, Ejaculate Into Iraqi Vagina:
He's not pullin' out, motherfuckers, no way, not our President Bush, he ain't pullin' out until the job is finished. It's what he said today in Latvia: "I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." He's takin' the fundamentalist Christian fucker's approach to Iraq - the United States is married to that nation and deserves all the spousal benefits, including full on impregnating fucking. Why? Because that's what God wants. See, God apparently doesn't like it when you just halfway fuck and then yank your cock out - that's cuttin' and runnin' from the fuckin'. No, no, no spewin' of yer imperial jizz on the belly of your wife. All those little sperms o' democracy have gotta be racin' up the Euphrates canal to dive into the egg of...and, oh, fuck it, the Rude Pundit just got sick of the metaphor and of the image of Bush's saggy ass thrusting into the vast oil-filled deserts or into the cold, dead orifices of American soldiers.


Where Do We Put All the Iraqi Bodies?:
It's not a new story, not at all, that Iraqis are getting killed in staggering numbers. We've heard about the overflowing morgues, with their only partially functioning refrigerators, crammed with corpses like thirty-pound turkey cavities filled with stuffing. And yet the lack of space for the corpses doesn't seem to have stanched their flow. Now, with almost everyone jumping on board the civil war train, we can expect death tolls to continue into the thousands and tens of those thousands for at least a good couple of years. So there's a need for space in the morgues, god, just for the people who die of natural causes, which these days in Baghdad would be a death that doesn't involve a power drill or dagger. Just blown to bits? Natural enough.

For instance, Dick Cheney's not only got the Vice-President's residence, but he's got a huge ass piece of land in Jackson, Wyoming. One imagines that the snow pack of nearby Jackson Hole would lend itself to the keeping of a few thousand corpses, maybe just the victims from Sadr City, who can be lined up and frozen like an ancient tribe lost in the Peruvian Andes. We can even forget about them there, since it'd be on Dick Cheney's private property. Of course, if global warming gets the best of us, oh, Dick Cheney would be reminded regularly of the bodies that fertilize his lawn.

If not there, then what about just turning up the air conditioning at his residence in St. Michael's, Maryland, where the Vice President and Donald Rumsfeld can offer up their houses as meat lockers for, perhaps just the dead from Fallujah. That'll be the way to go. One city or region per space. Because Iraq needs to know it can securely store its corpses so that remaining family members can identify them. Since Rumsfeld's retired, and will obviously want to host dinner parties, he can just use the upstairs for the rotting dead. Just inform the guests to use the bathroom next to the kitchen because, well, there's just a mess up there.

It could be a pattern all over the nation, war supporters unwilling to send their sons and daughters (or themselves) to go fight for Iraq, but still opening their homes not to refugees, well, not living ones, but to the bodies and half-bodies and limbs and organ piles and bones and heads and eyes, goddamn, so many eyes, of the dead from their war. And it is their war. Here's a nice passive way to show how much it means to them: Joe Lieberman, all your kids have moved out. Tell Hadassah their rooms can now be spaces for three, four families worth of corpses from Basra.

What a plan, huh? Truckloads of corpses pulling up to the houses of Condi Rice, Bill Frist, Dennis Hastert, so, so many people. Hell, even William Kristol could use an office or two at the Weekly Standard for them. And here's the deal: you can put them somewhere that you don't have to see them if you don't want to. 'Cause it can be traumatic, to walk into a room filled with bloody, gory, dirt-encrusted, rotten bodies, all staring at you. No, no, not that. It's enough for the rooms to be filled and then closed. Just so that every time you walk past the door, you know what's on the inside, like the dogshit you dread cleaning up or the kitchen sink stacked with dishes you too tired to wash.

When all the houses are filled, for surely, they will be, that's when it's time to tell the President that his Texas ranch'd make a mighty fine mass grave. Instead of clearing brush on his vacations, he can dig trenches and holes, showing America, Iraq, the world, how much he's willing to work to ensure the dead peaceful slumber.


In Brief: No Matter What, It's All About George:
At times the stunning narcissism of George W. Bush just makes you wanna find the guy who bullied you back in elementary school and beat the shit out of him. Even if it's twenty years later and he's dying of cancer, you just wanna drag that motherfucker out of his hospital bed, yell, "What goes around, comes around, bitch," and give him a little fistotherapy.

Here's Bush talking to troops at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii this week: "You know, one of the jobs of the President is to surround himself with smart, capable, strong people -- and I have done so in Condoleezza Rice." Notice that? It's like he bought a slave. Condi's got no agency, no will of her own to decide whether or not she wanted the job. Bush just went to the auction, checked out the teeth of the slaves on the block, and chose the one with the best birthin' hips. After the applause, Bush followed up by saying, really, "I also did so at the altar."

As we learned this week, Bush's choice of exercise is mountain biking. He's the fuckin' President. Jog or use the goddamn gym we, the taxpayers, have graciously provided. Just like we wish Bill Clinton had kept his dick in his pants for the length of his presidency, shouldn't the remaining ten or so people in the country who still support Bush who aren't on his payroll demand that maybe he do something with less likelihood of broken bones or ripped face or, not that we'd notice, brain injury. (By the way, dear mountain cycling readers: this is not a criticism of the sport. But a large part of the world is not dependent on your health. And, really, c'mon, the man choked on a pretzel.)

Of course he's mountain biking, like he flew that plane onto the aircraft carrier. So much pathetic "look, I'm so good" begging for attention. 'Cause Bush is the type of man who likes to look at his own shit. Who brags about how big a turd he left in the toilets of the UN or the White House.


Prayers From the Conquered:
Just because a bunch of twee new age wannabes have bastardized them so they can sing them to their dreamcatchers doesn't mean that some Indian prayers don't still kick your ass. For Thanksgiving, here's a little something from the Wabanaki Algonquin writer Bedagi (Big Thunder) from the late 19th century - yeah, it's Canadian, but go with it:

Give us hearts to understand;
Never to take from creation's beauty more than we give;
never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed;

Never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth's beauty;
never to take from her what we cannot use.

Give us hearts to understand
That to destroy earth's music is to create confusion;
that to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty;

That to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench;
that as we care for her she will care for us.

We have forgotten who we are.
We have sought only our own security.
We have exploited simply for our own ends.
We have distorted our knowledge.
We have abused our power.

Great Spirit, whose dry lands thirst,
Help us to find the way to refresh your lands.
Great Spirit, whose waters are choked with debris and pollution,
help us to find the way to cleanse your waters.

Great Spirit, whose beautiful earth grows ugly with misuse,
help us to find the way to restore beauty to your handiwork.
Great Spirit, whose creatures are being destroyed, help us to find a way to replenish them.

Great Spirit, whose gifts to us are being lost in selfishness and corruption,
help us to find the way to restore our humanity.

Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind, whose breath gives life to the world,
hear me; I need your strength and wisdom. May I walk in Beauty.


Seven Things the Rude Pundit Doesn't Give a Shit About This Thanksgiving:
1. Kramer goes nutzoid then says he loves the niggers.
2. Whether or not America's Mayor tries to become the Mayor of America.
3. Karma taking the form of Argentinean criminals.
4. OJ in book or televised form, unless he was going to demonstrate "If I Did It" on Judith Regan.
5. The shaking finger of the Bush pater familias enacting his pater potestas on a bunch of damn, dirty A-rabs.
6. Turkey freedom.
7. Fucking Pilgrims.


Why the UCLA Police Taser Incident Matters:
When UCLA police officer Terrence Duren used his Taser on student Mostafa Tabatabainejad at the Powell Library last week, it was a brazen act for many reasons. See, when Rodney King was beaten by the LAPD, it was done in the dark of shadows, with at least the thought that no one was witnessing the actions. That's where these kinds of things usually take place: behind buildings, in isolated areas, in interrogation rooms, places where cowardice masked by bullshit bravado and unmitigated savagery can occur unnoticed - for the most part. But at UCLA, the campus cops didn't give a shit who saw what they did.

And in that way, in the week that George W. Bush visited the nation itself, we've finally come back, full circle, to the Vietnam era. We're back to when the National Guard could mow down students in broad daylight, when Mayor Daley's thug cops could beat hippies in front of TV cameras and not give a rat's ass who saw, and, indeed, they could be supported by large parts of the public.

The actions of a nation's government sets the bar for the power given to those with any kind of authority over the populace. It's why capital punishment is such a bullshit thing: hey, let's solve violence by killing people. If the government says that it can illegally bomb, say, Cambodia or Laos with no consequences to those who do it, then what does it matter if protesters get their heads bloodied? If the Congress of the United States actually negotiated to agree upon allowing certain kinds of pain and degradation as not torture, if no one of any standing is accountable to the law or humanity in general, then why not repeatedly tase an uncooperative student who was passively demonstrating against a school rule?

Are Mostafa Tabatabainejad screams any more profound than those of detainees at Abu Ghraib or at whatever shitholes the CIA uses in Jordan or Uzbekistan or where the fuck ever? Were his cries that he would comply once tortured heeded any more quickly than those who want to stop the drown reflex of waterboarding?

The Rude Pundit's said it before and he'll say it again: we live in Gitmo America. Sure, there's hope that in the future the cages will be rattled. But for now violence is out of the shadows and in our faces, and those who wish to create violence do so alarmingly without fear of reprisal.


The Myth of Johnny Maverick:
Johnny Maverick was a cowboy, they say, one of the last in the Old West, in a land where towns like Tombstone have names that echo off canyons, Grand and small. They say Johnny Maverick didn't have any loyalties to the gangs that roamed and rustled, that he only cared about his ranch, and the people abided and admired Johnny Maverick, who, the story goes, always paid his debts on time, who was a tough but fair bargainer when it came time to sell stock, who was unafraid to stand up to sheriffs or outlaws. Whether it was true or not, didn't matter. The story was enough to make the man a legend. Thing is, though, like every cowboy story, what's left out is the shit, the smell of shit, the piles of shit that are everywhere, the way in which, if you meet a real cowboy, the decadent odor of shit hits you because, no matter how hard you scrub, you can't scrub away all the horse and bullshit that a cowboy lives in every day of his life. It doesn't mean a man ain't a tough motherfuckin' cowpoke. But you gotta accept the heaps of shit if you wanna accept the man instead of the myth.

Let's remember that nearly every one of John McCain's supposed "maverick" stands against other Republicans has ended in capitulation on principle and action. For, truly, it was the allegedly revolutionary and long-fought-for McCain-Feingold Act on campaign finance reform that originally brought him the deep ire of the ultra-nutzoid right because pro-life groups were afeared of the soft money ban. The final bill, though, was a fuckin' sieve with big check-sized holes, a half-assed attempt to say the Congress tried something to remove the influence of cash on elections, when, in essence, it was at best a literal passing of the buck.

And on McCain's much flaunted forcing of a revision of the Military Commissions Act? One that used his scar-reveling prestige as a victim of torture back in 'Nam in order to get the Bush Administration to agree to a bill that purportedly outlawed torture? Well, shit, when it comes to McCain and Bush administration on torture, it's kind of like that twisted film The Night Porter, where a former female concentration camp survivor falls back into a perverse sexual relationship with the Nazi who tortured and assaulted her. To watch McCain proclaim triumph on a bill that pretty much guarantees the CIA can torture with impunity, to see him vote for Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, hell, to see him stand with the President at all, is like watching McCain beg to have his legs broken again and again because it's the only way he can feel.

So it was that McCain appeared on This Week With George Stephanopoulos's Hair yesterday and proclaimed that Roe v. Wade should be overturned and the issue of abortion returned to the states. Heavens to betsy, some declared, that certainly is different than something he said in 1999. See, in an interview then, McCain said he did not wish Roe to be repealed because it would harm women. Sweet merciful flip-flop, no? Except that McCain crawfished on the issue almost immediately after. A McCain spokesman said right after the interview came out that Johnny Maverick "has a 17-year voting record of supporting efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade." And by January 2000, he himself was saying that Roe should be overturned, with exceptions for the usual stuff.

Johnny Maverick got a 0% rating from the ACLU in 2002 and an 83% from the Christian Coalition in 2003. He is, right down the fuckin' line, a hardcore conservative who just seems a little more rational than Sam Brownback or a little less creepily evil (just a little) than Dick Cheney. So, like, seriously, can we all just stop acting surprised when intensely conservative John McCain says something intensely conservative? It's like, say, you're a lesbian who really wants to fuck this female co-worker, but she keeps saying that she's straight. And then, one night, at an office party, she has a little to drink and starts to talk about how she experimented with chicks back in college. Goddamn, how wet and horny it gets you to think that you can bring her back to the clit-licker fold. But, wait, is she leaving with the guy from accounts receivable?

And, as Cokie Roberts said this morning on NPR, his call for a pissant 20,000 extra troops in Iraq is a total political calculation, like virtually everything else McCain is saying these days. It's a way for him to say, when Iraq finally goes up in flames and we get the fuck out of there, that if everyone had listened to his worthless idea, we'd've won.

Yeah, McCain's done some badass stuff in his life. But ask any real maverick cowboy: it's hard to love a man who smells like shit.


UCLA Police Tasering..., Part 3:
From the Los Angeles Police Department's manual for its officers, Volume 1, Section 573:

"Approved non‑lethal control devices may be used to control a violent or potentially violent suspect when lethal force does not appear to be justifiable and/or necessary; and attempts to subdue the suspect by other conventional tactics have been or will likely be ineffective in the situation at hand; or there is a reasonable expectation that it will be unsafe for officers to approach to within contact range of the suspect." This section includes the requirement that officers must be trained in use of Tasers before using them.

While UCLA's police may not use the LAPD's manual, surely one can say that the officers did not attempt to subdue Mostafa Tabatabainejad by conventional tactics, like, say, lifting him up and carrying him away after he, according to the police report, went "limp."

Who trains the UCLA cops? Is there anything similar in their manual?
UCLA Police Tasering and the Free Hand of Law Enforcement, Part 2:
From the UCLA Police report on the tasering incident at Powell Library:

At approximately 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, a community service officer (CSO) employed by the library was performing a nightly, routine check to insure that all patrons using the library after 11 p.m. are authorized. This is a longstanding library policy to ensure the safety of students during the late night hours. The CSO made an announcement that he would be checking for university identification. When a person, who was later identified as Mostafa Tabatabainejad, refused to provide any identification, the CSO told him that if he refused to do so, he would have to leave the library. Since, after repeated requests, he would neither leave nor show identification, the CSO notified UCPD officers, who responded and asked Tabatabainejad to leave the premises multiple times. He continued to refuse. As the officers attempted to escort him out, he went limp and continued to refuse to cooperate with officers or leave the building.

Tabatabainejab encouraged library patrons to join his resistance. A crowd gathering around the officers and Tabatebainejad's continued resistance made it urgent to remove Tabatabainejad from the area. The officers deemed it necessary to use the Taser in a "drive stun" capacity.

More later.
UCLA Police Tasering and the Free Hand of Law Enforcement, Part 1:
Take a few minutes and head over to Americablog to catch the video of the UCLA student being tasered multiple times by UCLA cops for failing to show ID at a library computer room and then leaving more slowly than the cops might have liked (the UCLA police say he was refusing to leave altogether). Listen to the student's screams and the cop's threats to tase other students if they don't knuckle under to the campus cops' authoritah.

Then check out this report from the Northern California ACLU from September 2005 on the misuse of stun guns by California police officers. Scroll down a bit until you reach the section on "Standards for Taser Use." Check out how while some police departments only allow taser use for "credible" and "imminent" threats, others allow its use if verbal commands by officers are not followed. And how, despite Taser's own admission that it can affect breathing, very few departments have standards for how many times you can taser a person. And how out of 54 departments surveyed, only 8 had a policy for when not to use a taser. Many of the rest use the phrase "potentially violent," which means, one assumes, that police have to rely on their super-psychic abilities to figure out if a passive resister might go all Incredible Hulk on them.

More later on this despicable, but not unexpected, and not isolated, incident.