A Defense of Paula Deen Followed By a Condemnation:
(Note: The Rude Pundit doesn't use the phrase "the N-word" because he's not a fucking child.)

Really, is there anyone who didn't think that TV chef and restauranteur Paula Deen didn't say "nigger" at some point in her life? Because the Rude Pundit's gotta tell ya, that revelation is about as surprising as James Gandolfini dying of a heart attack. The first time you look at or hear Deen, you know that a racial epithet or two, at least, passed through those lard-slicked lips. If you think that it was "shocking," you must live in a narrow little world of perfect liberals and you're more than likely white.

Unlike most people commenting on Deen's situation, the Rude Pundit has actually read the entire tedious transcript of her deposition in the harassment lawsuit filed against her and others by Lisa Jackson, an ex-general manager of one of her restaurants, and he has a few problems with the destruction of Deen because of the allegations of racism against her because she said a bad word.

One aspect here that ought to bug the shit out of everyone is that Deen confessed to saying "nigger" and other racist stuff while under oath. She was asked about conversations between her and Jackson. It would have been the easiest possible thing for her to simply deny everything. After all, there were only two people there. Yeah, it would have been perjury, but that would have been impossible to prove. Instead, Deen admitted that she had said "nigger" and that she had loved a restaurant with sharply-dressed black waiters who acted "professionally," even going so far as pondering how she might be able to do such a thing in a place of her own, but afraid that "the media" would misinterpret it. Again, take points away from her on many levels, but she said she said it. She owned her words, for good and for ill. The lesson for others is to lie, if you think you can get away with it.

This is the point where a white guy who was raised in the South tells you how it was. He doesn't do this to forgive anyone's sins or excuse anything. He does this to say that, unless you did grow up in the South in the 1980s, there's things you don't get. And he does this with full knowledge that he is white and that he cannot know how it was to be black during that era (or any era). All he can say is that this is how we lived because he lived it. There. Is that enough caveats? Fine. Then gather 'round, children, and listen:

In eighth grade, the Rude Pundit's social studies teacher in Louisiana, Mrs. Broussard, was talking about immigrants to the United States in the late 19th century and the harsh, Sinclair's Jungle-like conditions under which they had to live. She told us that she would have rather been a slave in the south than an immigrant in the north because, as she put it, "All you had to do was what they told you and you'd have a roof over your head and food to eat. You only got beaten if you did something wrong." No one, black or white, in that classroom disputed it, and, in fact, both blacks and whites agreed with her when talking about it later (although the Rude Pundit, upon reflection, decided that he'd have probably preferred to have the freedom to walk around and, you know, maybe make some choices of his own).

The Rude Pundit's high school, like most high schools in the district, gave out awards at the end of the year. Among those awards - and he cannot emphasize enough that this was in the 1980s - was "Best All-Around Black" and "Best All-Around White." A male and a female were voted on by all students for each. The thinking was, and he swears this is true and propagated by the teachers and administrators, no black student would ever have the grades to be best and no white student would ever be as good an athlete as the black students. No one thought there was anything wrong with this back then because students wanted that award. In fact, this "separate but equal" approach was seen as enlightened because it guaranteed that black and white students would get awards. (Fun fact: in the Rude Pundit's class, the "Best All-Around Black Male" is now a big-time lawyer in Seattle. The "Best All-Around White Male" is a bartender in Breaux Bridge.)

And, back then, if as a white person, you didn't say the word "nigger" yourself, you sure as shit knew plenty of white people of all ages who did. (Although, you know, the Rude Pundit has racked his brain for a time when he might have used it back then, but he can't think of one that wasn't a rap or Richard Pryor quote. Weird. When he started writing this, he was sure he was gonna confess to something. Huh.)

One other thing here: the Rude Pundit went to plenty of nice restaurants with black waiters in tuxes. Since most of the patrons were white, they were often playing up a kind of Old South vibe to please the customers. It always made him feel uncomfortable because it not only was fake, but the white people mostly either didn't know or gladly went along with the act, enjoying a few minutes being Massa.

Paula Deen was asked if she had ever said "nigger" in her life. She said she had. She was honest about whites in the South during a certain time period in a way that few whites in the South are. It doesn't mean that she or anyone gets a pass. But she should not lose her livelihood for that (and, remember, she's got something of an empire - if she goes down, other employees go down with her).

However, the deposition also makes perfectly clear that Paula Deen is a desperately stupid but lucky person whose vile family members, especially her brother, Bubba, fer fuck's sake, are the kind of ignorant, hateful motherfuckers who deserve nothing less than being forced to live in a ditch for the rest of their depraved lives. It is her blind loyalty to these cretins, people who, by Deen's admission, regularly spout racist shit now (not in the past) and are, at best, drunk, redneck shitheels who think their proximity to Deen makes them special.

See, the Rude Pundit has also read Lisa Walker's complaint. And if even half of what is there is true, Bubba Hiers should have been fired and made to wash dishes in a backwoods catfish joint. Deen's defense of Hiers and his racism at work is far, far worse than her admission of her own in private. Frankly, it's more offensive that she dismisses his use of "nigger" than that she herself said it 25 years ago.

One more story: The Rude Pundit worked in a warehouse, unloading trucks, for a couple of years. While African-Americans worked there, one of the crews had just a single black worker, Melvin. The warehouse's supervisor was a white relative of the Rude Pundit's who he had heard say racist things during more than a few family dinners. But when whites on the warehouse crew started to call Melvin all kinds of things, including "coon" and "porch monkey," Melvin, who trusted the supervisor, went to him to complain. Instead of dismissing it, the Rude Pundit's relative-supervisor came raging into the warehouse and tore into the whites, putting them on notice that if they said one more harassing thing to Melvin, he would fire all of them but Melvin. The harassment ended there.

Paula Deen apparently stood by while her brother and other employees degraded women and minorities at at least one of her restaurants. For that, she deserves what's happened to her.

(Note: The Rude Pundit's basic attitude is "Fuck Paula Deen." She made a ton of money getting people fat and getting them to believe that eating piles of fattening shit was somehow just fine. This is not to even get into the cultural colonialism of her appropriation of African-American cooking without an acknowledgement of it. Then, after it turned out she had diabetes because of the butter-rich slops she threw in a trough to gorge on, she hid her disease for a couple of years until she signed a deal with a pharmaceutical company. And her TV show was just awful. So, yeah, fuck her.)


Rick Perry Sucks Off Strange Wang:
Today at the National Right To Life Convention (motto: "Making women's lives hell since 1968") in Dallas, Texas, Governor and serial amnesia sufferer Rick Perry spoke to a small group of shut-ins, crazies, and, apparently, the members of Monty Python in old woman drag:

Perry's speech contained some odd statements, like mourning "nearly 80,000 lives lost before taking their first breath." You might think that "breathing" might be a requirement for, you know, "life," but then again, you probably want to kill fetuses with your bare hands. You don't want what Rick Perry wants: "The ideal world, of course, is a world without abortion," even though there's never been any such thing in the history of forever and never will be.

The Governor used the occasion to bring up State Senator Wendy Davis's filibuster of an anti-abortion bill that will, when finally passed, close 37 of 42 women's health clinics in Texas by forcing them, among other things, to have admitting privileges in hospitals within 30 miles. In Texas. Big fucking Texas. Of Davis, Perry said, "In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances, the daughter of a single mother and a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example: that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential; that every life is precious."

You get his magnificent logic there? Davis is a hypocrite because she didn't abort her child and look how great she did. Isn't it kind of Perry to pat Davis on the head? Shouldn't all women strive to be Wendy Davis? Except, of course, Davis had addressed this very thing in a speech at a rally for Planned Parenthood in March.

Said Davis, "I had a child when I was very young, and I was a single mother struggling to try to make my way into an education arena, starting at community college and, fortunately, making my way from there to TCU and then Harvard Law School...None of that would have been possible had I not been able to exercise decision-making about my own family planning in the future...Planned Parenthood — the clinic on Henderson Avenue in Fort Worth — for 4 to 5 years, was my only health care...Think about the women in Texas today who have relied so much on Planned Parenthood to provide those same services, women who we know now do not have that access."

You get that? Davis is saying that if you actually give a shit about women and children, you would give a shit about the clinics that provide them with health services, including, yes, sometimes abortion. Instead of helping women, Texas Republicans want to make sure that they suffer rather than be allowed a choice in this life. Rick Perry says, "Every life is precious" until the moment it breathes its first breath. Then fuck it.

After the speech, Perry had his bodyguards bring him to the Hidden Door, his favorite gay bar in Dallas, where a man can enjoy a drink in blissfully manly surroundings. After a couple of beers and a couple of shots, Governor Perry told the leather-clad bartender, "You know, I feel like sucking some dick. Tell some of the other fellas I'll be in the bathroom." He winked at his bodyguard, who rolled his eyes, knowing he'd have to stand there with his back to his boss, crammed into the stall, while Perry went at it. The bartender walked around to the scattered patrons, most of whom looked at who the cocksucker was and demurred out of a sense of self-respect, but a few strolled over to the back to at least have a look at what the action was.

Rick Perry sucked over half a dozen dicks today before he had to head back to the airport and back to Austin. One of the guys wanted to cum on his hair, but the bodyguard stopped him, saying, "No one touches the hair. Besides, the Governor's a swallower." Yeah, Rick Perry gobbled hard knobs for a good hour, suckin' all the chowder he could from big ones and little ones, from hairy ones and bald ones, even one from a dude who wouldn't put down his beer while getting blown by the governor of Texas. One wanted to fuck him in the ass, but Perry said, "No time, no time. Now fuck my face." For the dudes in the bar, it wasn't surprising. Everyone knew who Perry really was. Everyone knew that the conservative cowboy schtick was just a beard. Everyone knew what a sad, stupid man Rick Perry was. It just happened to turn on a couple of the patrons to do that guy.

When he finished, the guard blocked the door so Perry could jack off in private before washing his hands and face, adjusting his tie, checking his hair (perfect), and walking out. There was a special session starting Monday to strategize about and women who needed to be put in their place.


Antonin Scalia Viciously Opposes Your Social Progress:
The Defense of Marriage Act has long been one of the goddamnedest embarrassments of this nation. Passed in an election year, 1996, and signed into law by a president shit-scared that he would look too soft on the queers since he had tried to show them compassion in 1993 by attempting to get rid of the ban on gays in the military, an effort that was an utter failure. It passed Congress with no problems, with bipartisan support, 342-67 in the House, 85-14 in the Senate. Score a battle in the culture war for the dumbfucks.

So today, with time and shifts in demographics and culture, it would have been to the nation's deep shame if the Supreme Court had left DOMA standing. And the SCOTUS didn't, by an expected 5-4 decision, with the expected justices voting on the expected sides. Which means that we get another vicious, latently homophobic dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia.

The fun part is that so much of Scalia's reasoning in upholding DOMA could have been used to uphold the entire Voting Rights Act, a section of which was struck down yesterday by a 5-4 conservative decision. There, Scalia had absolutely no difficulty overturning an even more broadly bipartisan law (98-0 in the Senate).

Check out this shit and see if you just don't feel like saying to Scalia, "Wait, you're supposedly the smart conservative. You just sound like a desperate bitch boy attempting to get the conservative groups that fund your speeches and junkets to shove their cash rolls into your anxious asshole."

First, Scalia is aghast, aghast, motherfuckers, at the notion that the Supreme Court would dare to believe that it has the power to overturn the mighty Congress: The majority says that "judicial review must march on regardless, lest we 'undermine the clear dictate of the separation-of-powers principle that when an Act of Congress is alleged to conflict with the Constitution, it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.'" Then, with the kind of hyperventilating hyperbole that'd make Morton Downey, Jr. say, "Whoa, calm down there, big fella," Scalia vents, "That is jaw-dropping. It is an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive. It envisions a Supreme Court standing (or rather enthroned) at the apex of government, empowered to decide all constitutional questions, always and every-where 'primary' in its role."

Now, the Rude Pundit's no Supreme Court justice who probably should have died a long time ago from the weight of all the evil that he's caused over the decades, but he does know where to find the Constitution online. And, hey, look, it's little ol' Article III, Section 2, which reads, "The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority." In other words, the founders envisioned a Supreme Court which decides all cases related to the Constitution. But, fuck, why bother with shit that you could learn in middle school social studies classes?

Scalia's dissent is so filled with disdain for everything, angry in a King-Kong-gets-shot-by-a-biplane kind of gorilla rage, that you just wanna hate masturbate to it. "Oh, yeah, yeah, fuck you, Tony, suck on this cultural hegemony and tell us how much it makes you wanna vomit." And then, when he starts to get pissed at Justice Alito's dissent, we're into something that veers towards camp. Well, shit, he is usually wearing a gown.

Towards the end, he writes, "In sum, that Court which finds it so horrific that Congress irrationally and hatefully robbed same-sex couples of the 'personhood and dignity' which state legislatures conferred upon them, will of a certitude be similarly appalled by state legislatures’ irrational and hateful failure to acknowledge that 'personhood and dignity' in the first place." You got that? The dude who just told states to go nuts suppressing minority voters now thinks we should be worried that if the the federal government doesn't discriminate against the GLBT community, states will. Oh, dear. Whatever will they do? Pass amendments to their states' constitutions on the definition of marriage, like, you know, a bunch of backwards ass states already did? And then Scalia says that he's sure those laws will be challenged in court, oh-his-stars-and-garters.

The way Scalia concludes his dissent, he may as well be saying, "No, really, I have gay friends. I'm cool." He fumes, "In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament."

In the conservative majority's view, as revealed this week, racism has been nearly eliminated, so we can get rid of laws protecting minorities, and you can oppose same-sex marriage for perfectly valid reasons that have nothing to do with hating gays and lesbians. The delusions of straight, white, male privilege have rarely been put in such stark relief in the contemporary world.

Go down fighting, Justice Scalia, you hypocritical activist judge who declares you're no activist. Flail away at the waves of progress, and when the tsunami hits, you just have to hope, piece of shit that you are, that you're a floater and not a sinker.


A Reminder or Two About What Happened During the 2006 Voting Rights Act Reauthorization:
Reminder 1: In 2006, the renewal of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years passed the Senate by 98 to 0. That's how uncontroversial it was. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, both Republicans from Texas, voted for it. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, both Republicans from Alabama, voted for it. The bill they voted for contained the section that the Supreme Court struck down today. Were these conservatives wrong? Did they make a grave error in judgment? Hell, the case itself, Shelby County v. Holder, came from Alabama. Did Shelby and Sessions betray their state?

Sure, they had their troubles with the bill, especially the preclearance of new voting laws by the U.S. Justice Department in Section 5. But they could put those aside to vote for what they saw as an unimpeachable good. As Sessions said, "Although the Voting Rights Act is now 40 years old, many of my constituents have vivid recollections of discrimination at the ballot box, and they have strong memories of the civil rights movement that led to the most historic changes that were encapsulated in the Voting Rights Act. These are wonderful people. They love America and are proud of the changes in Alabama and our Nation. They have a strong attachment to the Voting Rights Act. All Alabamians want to see the progress continue. In light of the wrongs that have occurred in the past and out of respect for those who placed their very lives at risk for change, I will vote in favor of H.R. 9."

Upon its passage, Senator Mitch McConnell beamed, "America's history is a story of ever-increasing freedom, hope and opportunity for all. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 represents one of this country's greatest steps forward in that story. Today I am pleased the Senate reaffirmed that our country must continue its progress towards becoming a society in which every person, of every background, can realize the American Dream. With the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, we are recommitting ourselves to that Dream."

Indeed, you could find unanimous praise from conservatives, from moderate to nutzoid, in the Congress. The House had passed it 390-33, with a few southerners predictably uncomfortable voting for it.

Reminder 2: When he proudly signed it, President George W. Bush spoke on the necessity of the law: "In four decades since the Voting Rights Act was first passed, we've made progress toward equality, yet the work for a more perfect union is never ending. We'll continue to build on the legal equality won by the civil rights movement to help ensure that every person enjoys the opportunity that this great land of liberty offers. And that means a decent education and a good school for every child, a chance to own their own home or business, and the hope that comes from knowing that you can rise in our society by hard work and God-given talents." And he promised, "Today, we renew a bill that helped bring a community on the margins into the life of American democracy. My administration will vigorously enforce the provisions of this law, and we will defend it in court."

The majority in the Supreme Court today acted as if the Congress took nothing into consideration and merely rubberstamped the act as "Good until 2031." Actually, there were numerous hearings taking into account everything that the Supreme Court said ought to be taken into account.

Now that the Congress has devolved to the point of no return, you can bet that it'll be willing to say, "Yeah, we were wrong back when we did something right. Let's not do that again."


In Brief: Clarence Thomas Fights Against Discrimination (Against Whites):
If savage old Simon Legree had been standing behind Clarence Thomas while he wrote his concurring opinion in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, he would have kept his whip coiled at his side, so pleased he would have been at Thomas's contortion of history and law to do the white man's bidding. For while Justice Thomas joined the 7-1 (with Justice Kagan recused) decision today saying that affirmative action programs at the University of Texas could only be a last resort in achieving the goals of diversity on campus, the Court essentially decided not to decide on whether or not affirmative action is constitutional (and overturn previous precedent). It was, in just about every way, a punk-ass decision, and Antonin Scalia (briefly) and Thomas (at length) agreed but called "bullshit," saying they wanted to toss out the baby, the bathwater, and the tub.

Justice Thomas wrote an opinion that could have been penned by Bull Connor's lawyer. Indeed, in the future, students will study how Thomas calls affirmative action standards a type of "discrimination" against, presumably, whites and males. They will read with wonderment where Thomas says, "It is also noteworthy that, in our desegregation cases, we rejected arguments that are virtually identical to those advanced by the University today. The University asserts, for instance, that the diversity obtained through its discriminatory admissions program prepares its students to become leaders in a diverse society...segregationists likewise defended segregation on the ground that it provided more leadership opportunities for blacks." That is a motherfucking breathtaking leap of logic: because segregationists said something as it relates to total separation of races, it applies to efforts to eliminate the separation of races.

Is that a stretch? Then let Clarence Thomas explain it as clear as the cool water Emmett Till's corpse was tossed into: "There is no principled distinction between the University’s assertion that diversity yields educational benefits and the segregationists’ assertion that segregation yielded those same benefits." Truly, what the fuck does that even mean? It's like saying that because Jeffrey Dahmer raped corpses, sex is bad. Man, a white nationalist couldn't have spewed more perverse reasoning on a KKK comments page.

And then Uncle...sorry...Justice Thomas goes further. It's not just segregation that shows us how bad elimination of segregation is. Slavery itself offers us that example: "Slaveholders argued that slavery was a 'positive good' that civilized blacks and elevated them in every dimension of life." Again, follow the ball bouncing around the inside of Thomas's empty head. Affirmative action to end racial disparity that came from generations of discrimination is, in fact, discrimination. Therefore, if you say that affirmative action is a good, you are saying that discrimination is a good and saying exactly what slave masters and segregationists said. Therefore, the only real way to end discrimination is to never try to end discrimination.

"Indeed, Clarence," said Simon Legree, thumb rubbing the whip handle. "Indeed."


In Brief: On the Continuing Need to Shove a Can of PBR Up the Elitist Ass of David Brooks:
Every once in a while, New York Times columnist David Brooks strays into the Rude Pundit's 'hood and writes about the world of the university. The Rude Pundit, see, is a real and actual perfesser, not someone who playacts as one, as Brooks did in his recent stint teaching a course in "Humility" at Yale. (Here's a hint: if you own a $4 million dollar house because your $1.6 million house wasn't cutting it, you don't have the right to teach a brain-damaged dalmatian about humility.)

Today, in his column (if by "column," you mean, "the smug pronouncements of a dilettante intellectual fraud"), Brooks mourns the decline of "the humanities" at colleges. And who does he blame for the fall-off in humanities majors? Fuckin' professors, man, and their fuckin' politics. See, "the humanities are not only being bulldozed by an unforgiving job market. They are committing suicide because many humanists have lost faith in their own enterprise." Is that what we've done? That wasn't just existential nausea at reading Brooks?

Please, person who doesn't teach in the humanities, do go on and tell those of us who do what we're doing wrong: "The job of the humanities was to cultivate the human core, the part of a person we might call the spirit, the soul, or, in D.H. Lawrence’s phrase, 'the dark vast forest.'" Yes, indeed, it was always about idyllic afternoons, laid out on the manicured grasses of the quad, quoting Eliot and Schopenhauer just enough to soak the panties of sighing coeds. "The humanist’s job was to cultivate this ground — imposing intellectual order upon it, educating the emotions with art in order to refine it, offering inspiring exemplars to get it properly oriented." Until those pesky sexual harassment lawsuits put an end to all that cultivating by professors.

But we haven't gotten to the meat of the matter: "Somewhere along the way, many people in the humanities lost faith in this uplifting mission. The humanities turned from an inward to an outward focus. They were less about the old notions of truth, beauty and goodness and more about political and social categories like race, class and gender." That's right. Oh, for the days when white male professors could teach the white male canon and the universality of their whiteness.

Fuck, David Brooks is the Paula Deen of the Times op-ed page.

Here, Davy Boy, let this professor, one who doesn't teach privileged little shits how noble other privileged little shits are, give you a lesson: The "decline" of the humanities, from 14% of majors in the 1960s to 7% now, has happened not because the big, bad, evil cultural anarchists came in and demanded their pound of canonical flesh. No, see, what has happened to the humanities happened on multiple levels. Conservative fucks like you attacked them as invalid because we decided that things like race, gender, and class mattered because the university opened up to more people of different races, genders, and classes (and, you dunce, class was a huge category of study in the 1930s until red-hunting administrators got a few Marxist scalps and that approach to the humanities was squashed until the 1970s). Add to that the corporatization of the university: schools seek big-ass grants and donations, and those generally come from big-ass companies who want to fund things like business, science, and technology, not the history department. Add to that the destruction of secondary education by "reform" minded people, generally conservative fucks like you, which makes the humanities into another bubble to be filled on a yearly standardized test. Add to that the establishment of Education as a major area of college study, one that has exploded in the last couple of decades and has taken many humanities majors with it.

But, no, really, go ahead and blame those vile feminists and Marxists and multiculturalists and others. It's so much easier than actually solving the fucking problem.
Late Post Today:
Galactus is fucking up the Rude Pundit's schedule. 

Back later with more hammering rudeness.


Senator Ted Cruz's Father Came to the United States Through Illegal Means:
This morning, the Rude Pundit came into focus in the real world though a lingering whiskey haze, wincing as the radio went off with the sonorously calm tones of NPR reporter David Welna talking about Senator Ted Cruz, the bugfuck crazy Republican from bugfuck central, Texas. It was in the context of Cruz's harsh condemnation of the immigration reform bill's path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Cruz is the son of a Cuban immigrant, who, Cruz has insisted on numerous occasions, came to the United States "legally."

Here's the thing, though. Welna spoke to Papa Cruz, who also asserts that "I came here with a legal visa, and...every step of the way, I have been here legally." Technically, this is probably true. As far as U.S. law is concerned, his visa was stamped and he was allowed to leave Batista's Cuba, despite having fought with Fidel Castro against Batista's regime. You might think it strange that the Bastista government would be inclined to grant an exit permit to a communist revolutionary who they had previously imprisoned and tortured. But Papa Cruz was no shrinking violet.

He told NPR that, in order to get out of Cuba to attend college in Texas, "A friend of the family, a lawyer friend of my father, basically bribed a Batista official to stamp my passport with an exit permit."

Now, the Rude Pundit's not a Harvard-educated lawyer like man-o'-the-people Ted Cruz, but he's awfully damn sure that bribery is illegal, even in Cuba in the 1950s. Sure, sure, it might be often overlooked. But just because the cop didn't stop you for going ten miles per hour over the limit doesn't mean you weren't speeding. Papa Cruz got his exit permit because the law was broken.

In other words, to be clear, Ted Cruz exists as an American because of an illegal act, just not one in the United States.

And sure as shit, Ted Cruz is a hypocritical worm because he can say, with a straight face, that "if we allow those who are here illegally to be put on a path to citizenship, that is incredibly unfair to those who follow the rules." Indeed, yesterday on Rush Limbaugh's Jolly, Crude Cavalcade of Farts and Lowing, Cruz proclaimed, "My dad was an immigrant from Cuba with nothing. And many Hispanics believe in rule of law."

Except, by his own admission, Ted Cruz's own father. It might have been the laws of a dictator that were broken, but, you know, it's still the law. Papa Cruz is just lucky that his family and their friends had the means to bribe the right bureaucrats. Let's not even get into the fact that Papa Cruz spent eight years in Canada, where Ted was born a healthy baby, obviously with no thanks to the free health care system of the totalitarian socialist hellhole of Calgary.

Senator Cruz told Limbaugh, "We are all the children of those who risked everything for freedom. I think that's what unites us as Americans." Which is hilarious when you know that Papa Cruz became a Canadian citizen first. In fact, he didn't become a U.S. citizen until 2005, 48 years after he first bribed his way into the United States. That's how much it meant for him to be American.

Welna asked Papa Cruz why he waited so long. The old man answered, "I don't know. I guess laziness," which, if you think about it, does make him belong here.


A Brief Vignette From a Possible Death:
I had been warned that Mary's skin was going to look yellow when I saw her, but, no, I didn't expect such a vivid shade of dingy yellow to completely cover her flesh, smoothly, without splotches or shadow, like an exotic skink. She is lying in the ICU of a New York City hospital, gravity and bed rest giving her shape a settled look, as if she is slowly melting. She has the well-ordered tendrils of tubes around her, some with clear liquid, some with blood. Mary is on dialysis 24/7, and her liver has failed. If she does not get a donated, matching liver for a transplant in the next few days, the doctors have said she will not make it. "She is at the top of the list," everyone says - her sister, her mother, a friend. If she was strong enough to hold out until the Fourth of July, she'd have a better chance, they say, since people tend to have accidents around the Fourth. Fireworks, drinking, driving, barbecues, the usual.

We have never been great friends, Mary and me, but we have come to rely on each other. We are colleagues who have offices across the hall from each other at the college. We have been in the trenches, on the same side in the many petty battles that busy us in academia. She is younger than me, but she has been at the job a couple of years longer. We have hung out together, mostly in larger groups, been to a few movies, had a few meals, had a few drinks. We have talked about our lives and families, but most of our conversations have been about the various intense and perverse personalities of the people around us. She's hard to get to laugh, but I'm pretty good at it, mainly because she likes the occasionally too-honest assessment I'm willing to give about different situations. She is far more valuable than I am to the functioning of the department. We all rely on her. She bears this burden with great solemnity, even working up until the moment they brought her to the hospital and told her that there is a good chance she is going to die.

"Go to see her," said a poet friend of us both. She has a tendency towards the melodramatic. "If nothing else, just to say goodbye." So we went today, drove to the upper reaches of Manhattan, and entered the ICU to see her, yellow and still. Her wheelchair-bound mother backed up to let us have some room. Mary's sister told us that the hospital was giving their mother Valium when she got too upset. She told us, "Talk to her. The doctors say it will help keep her brain functioning." I don't know if that's true or if it's just something doctors say to give visitors some sense of purpose when they sit with the critically ill. But we did talk.

It was a good visit. Mary can recognize people now. The dialysis has given her some stability. She saw the poet and me and her eyes went wide, the whites also yellowed. It was, frankly, terrifying - the stare, unblinking, moving around. But she knew we were there. She acknowledged the messages the poet read her from Facebook and email. She smiled, barely, at memories from her childhood that some old friends had posted, nodding to acknowledge their truth when we asked. She even laughed at an unkind joke we made about another professor, adding a brief, cutting remark of her own, the only audible words she spoke. The poet and I were pleased. She lights up, her sister said, whenever her colleagues and/or friends visit. The poet had been there three other times. Each time, Mary had reacted positively.

All over our Facebook pages, people are saying that they may be atheists, but they are praying for Mary. I will not join them. This foxhole won't make me a believer. I want her to get better. I want that liver to be found. I want time and occurrence to converge to make it all possible. I don't want magic for her. I want medicine.

After a while today, we said our goodbyes to Mary, whose eyes were closing. The poet touched her and said she'd be back. I touched the blanket to give her a reassuring arm squeeze. The poet and others in the ICU room laughed. I wasn't touching her arm. I was touching a stuffed cat doll under the blanket. I started to make a joke to Mary when she opened her eyes. Moving more than anyone had seen today, she uncovered her yellowed arm and reached it out to me. I leaned in, and she touched my shoulder and gently pulled me towards her, whispering a "Thank you" as we embraced. I said, quietly, "You are loved in this world by many people. Get better." I gave her a kiss on her yellowed cheek and said I'd return soon, even if I wasn't sure if I would.

Standing by the elevator, the poet said that she was shocked when she first saw Mary, but now she's gotten used to it. I told her to forgive me. I couldn't respond. There was a lump in my throat. I hadn't expected that last moment.

If Mary survives, we won't become best buddies. We'll be across the hall from each other still, talking smack and plotting our minor revolutions that never come to fruition.
Late Post Today:
The Rude Pundit spent the afternoon visiting a dying friend. 

So, frankly, he couldn't give less of a damn about politics at this moment. 

He'll try to get something going later.


Republicans Love the Fetuses; the Women, Not So Much:
Oh, man, how Republicans and assorted right-wingers are concerned about the fetuses. "Don't let the fetuses get all abortified," say conservatives. "Dear lord, don't let the people have access to the abortifiers and make them womens keep them babies." So you get Ohio completely losing its shit over abortion. You get the motherfuckin' House of Representatives actually debating a bill outlawing a bunch of abortions, with one numbnuts from Texas saying that boy fetuses jack off and shouldn't be aborted so they can go on blowing loads inside their moms, pretty much a textbook definition of "motherfucker." We got to, got to, got to take tender lovin' care o' the fetuses.

But let's put aside abortion for a moment because, you know, there's real and actual people, some of 'em with fetuses inside 'em, who need care, too. On that front, the GOP and assorted right-wingers kinda don't give a holy fuck.

For instance, down in America's vestigial tail, Florida, Governor Rick "Spinnin' Eyes" Scott just happily signed into a law a bill that prevents local governments from enacting sick leave protection laws for workers. Why Disney World, which supported the bill, wants ill workers in Monsters, Inc costumes roaming EPCOT is a mystery. But it does seem to lead to a question: how can you profess to give a happy monkey fuck about the babies if you won't let their low-wage moms have a day off to stay with them if they're sick?

Now you'd think, though, that pregnant women would be sanctified since they are carrying the protected fetuses. Wouldn't a chick with child be like some combination of Mary, mother of Jesus, and that batshit crazy mom with, like, 20 kids on TLC? Yeah, well, funny thing: seems that conservatives don't want the fetuses aborted, but they don't give a shit about how the moms and their fetus cargo are treated otherwise.

At a Wal-Mart in Kansas - because, of course, it's a Wal-Mart in Kansas, which probably does most of its business in Sudafed and rifles - a pregnant woman was fired from her job for keeping a bottle of water with her, which she had because her doctor had told her to stay hydrated. Her story is a clusterfuck of bureaucracy and legal cruelty in which her pregnancy mattered not a whit when it came to enforcing the rules of the workplace.

As a report by the National Women's Law Center says, "[A]n employee who injures his back may be allowed to stop lifting anything heavier than 20 pounds," but if a doctor wants that for a pregnant woman, it's a problem. In another case, at United Parcel Service, a pregnant woman was refused when she said her doctor told her to only lift light things. Meanwhile, "UPS routinely gave light-duty work and limited lifting to other workers with medical conditions, 'such as high blood pressure, diabetes, vision or hearing problems, limb impairments, sleep apnea, and emotional problems.'" In other words, if you're morbidly obese, UPS would care more about your problems than if you're pregnant.

Currently, "only eight states — Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland and Texas — have laws to protect pregnant women" against discrimination at the workplace.

But Republicans in other states, like Ohio and Kansas, as well as Congress, will waste shitloads of time "protecting" fetuses instead of protecting the women who exist, apparently, merely as their vessels.


Random Observations on Dick Cheney's Fox "news" Sunday Appearance:
1. So it was that former Vice President Dick Cheney slithered from the vat of feces and baby tears in which he is kept preserved to heave himself into the studios of Fox "news" yesterday and speak, sputum spouting from his mouth hole, to Mike Wallace's product of a broken condom, Chris. Cheney was in full snarl, rasping about the damage done to American security by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who, it seems, Cheney wishes to snatch with his claw-tipped tentacles and pull him into an embrace so that the acid slime that coats Cheney can dissolve Snowden into an easily digestible liquid he can absorb through his skin.

2. Apparently, terrorists use Rolodexes. A Rolodex, children, was a series of notecards arranged in a circle that contained your friends' and associates' contact information. (Note: Look up "notecards" on your own.) Cheney said, "[W]e could get [Khalid Shaik Mohammed's] Rolodex and see who he was talking to inside the United States." Perhaps this is why we've caught so many terrorist - they use fuckin' Rolodexes. Who knows what information we'd find? (Although, many people found it odd that Mohammed kept ordering pizza from Little Caesar's.)

3. 9/11 is the alpha and omega of American history for Cheney. For this Dick, everything going on in the United States happened because of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and everything that we will do from here until forever will be influenced by 9/11. What? You don't remember 9/11? Well, Professor Cheney is here and school is in session. Line up, drop your drawers, and get your caning: "Two-thirds of the Congress today, Chris, wasn't here on 9/11 or for that period immediately after when we got into this program. And the reason we got into it was because we've been attacked -- and worse attack than Pearl Harbor. Nineteen guys armed with box cutters and airline tickets." Oh, that 9/11. Thanks, Dick.

4. No? You don't get it? 9/11, motherfuckers: "We made the decision based on 9/11 that we no longer had a law enforcement problem, we are at war." And thus the worst decision in modern American foreign policy history since "Yeah, fuck those North Vietnamese" was made.

5. Anyone who agrees with Snowden's actions would have told the Nazis that the United States broke their code, says Cheney: "If you think about what we were able to do in World War II, reading Ultra, the Germans' coded communications. Vital in our success in that venture. We could have announced it to the world, could have had this kind of debate, but obviously it would have destroyed the ability to collect it." By the way, anyone who calls World War II a "venture" probably has no business talking about World War II.

6. And on and on and on Cheney went, his vile new hog's heart was pumping away. Benghazi is a "cover-up." Obama blows turtles. The IRS thing is the worstest abuse of power ever. Wallace lapped it all up like cum gobbler in the center of a circle jerk. Fuck, Wallace even let Cheney get away with talking about weapons of mass destruction. How can you do that? How can you hear Dick Cheney use those words and not fall on the floor, pissing yourself from laughing so hard?
Late Post Today:
Stranded in Where-the-fuck, Connecticut, awaiting a car repair, no computer in sight. 

Back later with more road-weary rudeness.


Liberal NSA Apologists Can Take It All, Want More:
There's a sexist old joke the Rude Pundit's been thinking about since the revelations of the massive amount of data collection and, you know, spying on Americans and others being done by the NSA, FBI, Prism, and who knows who else - maybe the Chinese restaurant on the corner here. It's one of those jokes about dicks that 13 year-olds tell and laugh at as if they understand them. Here it goes:

A dude with a giant cock can't find any women who can take his entire huge prick when he's fucking them. He keeps fucking women, but they stop him because his dick is so big that, when he's fucking their pussies, it hurts, like he's gonna rupture something. So the dude is completely unsatisfied. He decides to take out an ad, challenging women to take it all. And women take up the thrown gauntlet. Woman after woman tries to fit his immense schlong into their cunts, but it's no-go. Suddenly, a small, old woman appears. (It's never made clear by the teller where this interview/boning session is occurring, but let's say it's a room at a Holiday Inn because, of course, it would be a room at a Holiday Inn.) She tells him that she can take the massive member, all of it. In fact, a giant cock is the only way she can get off. To himself, the dude scoffs. No way, he thinks. She gets on the bed and tells him, "Put it in halfway first so I can get used to it." Fuck that, the dude thinks, I'm gonna shove it all in and kill this old lady. So he thrusts it all in, quickly. The old woman moans, catches her breath, and says, "Okay, now the other half."

Rim shot.

When he was with his middle school friends, it was funny in a "Hey, that guy thought he was gonna kill a woman with his dick, but she showed him" kind of way. But when he thought about the joke in the last week, he felt sorry for the old woman, so used up by men that she could barely feel the fucking she was getting, no matter how big the cock, and he was sad that the woman put herself in that position, as if the ability to take an enormous prick was some measure of her worth and that she was apparently ready and willing to take more, even if it hurt. You might respond, "Yeah, but maybe she just wanted to get fucked." And the Rude Pundit would sigh and pop a Xanax with some whiskey to make you fade away.

Whenever someone who is presumptively on the left defends or brushes off the NSA/FBI spying on everyone, they become that woman. Jeffrey Toobin, Joe Klein, numerous Democrats in Congress, basically anyone whose reaction to the revelations was "So? They're keeping us safe," they all have taken the fucking and said they're ready to get the other half.

And with that is the number of people who attack Edward Snowden, the analyst who leaked the information (with more to come) as some sort of sociopathic rebel who wanted to betray everyone because that's what high school dropouts do or some such shit. Don't they get that it hurts their argument to attack Snowden? See, if Snowden is a misfit toy crossed with Rain Man, how the fuck did he get such a high security clearance? If he was such a loose cannon-in-waiting, why didn't the intelligence apparatus see that in him and not give him the ability to deal with Top Secret material? How good is an intelligence organization that can't successfully vet its workers? And if we can't trust them to read the tea leaves on the people who are being asked to read the tea leaves, how the fuck can we trust them to sift through our metadata or web histories?

But, no, go ahead, let that big dick fuck you and ask for more.

The point for people who are upset about the NSA scandal isn't that spying happens. No shit. We know it. The point here is that everyone was spied on. And we're supposed to have rules about that. And who fucking cares if a court approves it? Who cares if a secret court is making secret rulings on secret evidence that secretly let the secret finders find more secrets in secret? The Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United in a way that the left is savagely opposed to. Did everyone just throw up their hands and say, "Well, fuck me, guess the fight's over." No. Even President Obama told the court they were wrong.

But let's take Obama at his word. Let's really debate it. Now, tell us all how we can do that when the response to any questions is that something is classified and that we can't know what good is being done. Former NSA workers corroborate Snowden, and they all say this is just the "tip of the iceberg." Maybe we can have a debate with winks and high signs. Or maybe the government will just lie, like James Clapper to Congress.

Look, the Rude Pundit doesn't like that this is happening under a Democratic president. It did, though. So ask yourself, dear, sweet fellow liberals, many of whom oppose things like stop-and-frisk as invasions of privacy: If this was a Bush or a Nixon, would you be so blase' about it?

That old woman should have never gone to the Holiday Inn. She should have answered the ad with a letter that told the dude to take his big dick and go fuck himself with it and see if he can take it all.


Hatch Fears a Stiffing and Other Things Going on During the Immigration Bill Debate:
Yesterday, on the floor of his august body, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah revealed to everyone his greatest fear. "I don’t want to be stiffed at this time," said the Republican, "and I’m not the kind of guy who takes stiffing lightly." Now it may seem as if he was talking about the inconvenience of receiving anal pleasure from Harry Reid's hairy reed in the cloakroom while all the other Senators were listening, but it appears he was directing his serious disputation about stiffing towards the Democrats in general as regards voting procedures on the amendments to the immigration bill being debated right now.

See, Hatch is wary that Majority Leader Reid is going to tell the Republicans to go fuck themselves with their inhumane amendments to a bill that already carries an incredibly onerous path to citizenship. Those amendments include such enhancements to the legislation as Hatch's requiring "undocumented immigrants to pay back taxes for every year they have been in the country illegally," which would mean that people who earn cash from employers would be forced to come up with thousands of dollars before they could get legal status. There's also the John Cornyn amendment that says that the border would have to be secure before undocumented immigrants could get legal status. How do you know the border is secure? Cameras, motherfuckers, cameras up and down the border, one immense TV show. Oh, and a 90% rate of capturing and returning border jumpers. It's sort of like saying, "I'll let you into my house, but first you have to mow my lawn and blow me." That's unfair. It's way worse than that.

What's pissed off Hatch into backing away from the stiffing is that Reid has decided that Republicans can suck on their own filibuster procedures. Reid is requiring that all the amendments must reach the 60-vote threshold that Mitch McConnell has said is good for every other vote in the Senate. The GOP is trying to do a delicate pirouette on a pinhead with immigration reform: they have to pass it in some form or they'll have lost the Hispanic vote for a long ass time, but they have to make sure it's got some crazy in it or the Tea Party will hoot and holler about "Traitors" and then have another tedious tri-corner be-hatted protest and primary the Republicans with an inbred asshole who would be in a corner without pants and smoking bathtub meth if the teabaggers hadn't cleaned him up to run.

Yeah, they need this, but Reid has decided that bill doesn't need the needlessly cruel conditions and the bonus is that he gets to fuck with the Republicans. In objecting to ending debate on an amendment by Republican Chuck Grassley that's similar to Cornyn's, Reid said, "How many times have we heard the Republican Leader say on this floor and publicly that the new reality in the United States Senate is 60? So I just thought I was following the direction of the Republican Leader. I mean, this is what he said. That’s why we’re having 60 votes on virtually everything. And with this bill, with this bill, no one can in any way suggest this bill is not important and these amendments aren’t important." And his balls grew three sizes that day.

Grassley of Iowa lost his corn-filled shit over Reid's move: "There’s no reason, particularly in this first week, at the beginning of process, to be blocking our amendments with a 60-vote margin that’s required when you suppose a filibuster. Let’s start out with regular order." Then, the Senator who has joined in hundreds of filibusters in the last five years, really added, "This is a very provocative act."

So Reid hefted his balls, which reach this size only a couple of times a session, onto the lectern and said to Grassley, "Check out these balls. Are you not in awe of them, if only for today?" He added, "Provocative act? If my friend is so interested in regular order, why have we waited three months to go to conference on a budget, on a budget? That’s regular order. Now suddenly when it works to their advantage, I guess, they want to do away with the McConnell rule. What is the McConnell rule? 60 votes on everything." Reid gestured one more time at his balls before tucking them away.

Thus the most deliberative body in the world went on with its pissing match to legislation that most people support, with families, businesses and more waiting to see if it's going to be okay to finally come out of the shadows and join the nation they wish to openly be part of.

It was reported that Hatch waited in the cloakroom for Reid for some hours after, the time for a stiffing finally being right.


Thomas Sowell Thinks Women Shouldn't Be in Combat Because Men Will Rape Them:
There's a few reliable things on the right. One of them is that, no matter what, someone who is considered relatively mainstream (meaning: "newspapers still feature him/her") will say the most eye-rolling, shit-themselves ignorant thing about any topic. On the issue of sexual assault of women in the military, we get conservative columnist Thomas Sowell, whose photo looks like a cross between Atlanta child murderer Wayne Williams and Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained.

In today's column (if by "column," you mean, "the rasping whine of a patriarchy that has masturbated itself to near-death"), Sowell posits that it's simply not possible to have a military without rape and that's because the dudes and the ladies just can't keep their hands off each other:

"For thousands of years, people around the world had the common sense to realize that putting young men and young women together in military operations was asking for trouble, not only for these young people of both sexes, but for the effectiveness of military forces entrusted with the fate of nations... The real question is whether either sex functions as well with the other sex around. If you don't think either sex finds the other sex distracting, you are ignoring thousands of years of experience around the world."

The truly weird turn Sowell takes is that not only can you simply not stop the raping, but that you can't stop the false accusations of the raping, which Sowell spends enough time on to make it seem equivalent to the raping:

"How much of this country's military resources do you think should be diverted from preparing for, and fighting, battles involving life and death to adjudicating conflicting stories about who did what to whom, and whether it was consensual or not?...You cannot un-rape somebody after the fact. Nor can you restore the honor of someone unjustly accused and convicted to appease civilian politicians on a rampage."

Yes, the plague of women in the military accusing innocent male soldiers of rape must be stopped. And you can tell those women to stop beating their own faces and bruising their own vaginas. Obviously, the best way to do this is to punish women by reducing their role in the armed forces and not the men who are only following the natural order.

Note: We can also count on Democratic males who suck the dicks of generals to walk away from doing anything, too.


The Secrets and the Damage Done, Part 1: Regarding the Need to Care:
So here we are. Remember all that gut-wrenching, headache-inducing, knee-weakening vertigo we felt when John Poindexter wanted to keep a record of every midget bondage website we jacked it to? God, the outrage, as if the mass usage of a data streaming technology invented by the Pentagon for military use wouldn't, at the end of the day, be used by the military and by government intelligence operations. We sacrificed privacy for convenience, that the ability to iPad over to IMDB in order to settle an argument over who died second in Hostel was more important than spies being able to find us with a couple of swipes on a touchpad. Yes, we are here, now, all of use merely pre-criminals, waiting to give off the secret telltale signs that make it appear as if we have breached some invisible border between good and evil. For we have cut off our dumbass noses to spite our stupid fucking faces.

Even if we said we "knew" about government data gathering, we didn't know. Now we do. Now we have had revealed the surveillance state apparatus, the unholy mating of government and big business giving birth to a tentacled chimera that slithers into all the moldy corners of our dark lives. And then the IT guy gets to decide which of us needs to be targeted for greater scrutiny.

Whenever you argue with someone about whether or not there's something wrong with the government spying on everyone through phone records and online footprints, you either get someone condemning supernerd Edward Snowden for narcing out the NSA and his employer, Booz Allen, and perhaps writer Glenn Greenwald for breaking the story, or you get some variation on "I don't care. Just keep me safe."

Of course, of course, ignorance being bliss and all, it's par for the course for blissful Americans. The wars of the post-9/11 era, on terror, Afghanistan, and Iraq, have been fought on the down low, with the majority of the nation not having to confront their existence beyond pedantic Memorial Day speeches and shoes removed at the airport. We have been told to submit and then submit again and not to ask "Why?" because such questions will naturally lead to the terrorists winning. And so we don't ask. And because we don't ask, it's assumed that we don't care. And if we don't care, then why should we be informed of what's occurring? It's the tautology of manufactured apathy.

The other thing the Rude Pundit has heard is "I don't do anything wrong. Why should I worry?" He wonders how those who say such things know. Because, see, one of the upsetting aspects of this whole series of revelations is that we don't know the rules of the game. We're told that the rules have to remain secret so that we don't tip off the enemies. But in that case, everyone is merely a potential enemy. How is that a rational way for a population to exist? How does that comport with the putative "exceptionalism" of our democracy?

Tell us some shit, for fuck's sake. The secrecy is ultimately destructive to our quaint notions of liberty. You say that this program has stopped a terrorist attack? Prove it. Tell us how. Put the fuck up or shut the fuck up. And tell us how stopping that attack would not have been possible if it hadn't been for Booz Allen geeks wondering if one's online visits to Burqa Babe Bukkake is for blowing up buildings or blowing loads.

One last note for now: Obama owns this, from the National Security Agency's collection of phone records to the data mining being done online by the FBI and NSA. Sure, you can get pissed off at George W. Bush for the Patriot Act, but Obama reauthorized it in 2011 (with a majority of House Democrats voting against it). We on the left are right to blame Bush for many of the ills brought about that this president has had to deal with. Not this, though.

The Rude Pundit doesn't buy the whole "Obama is as bad as Bush" bullshit floating around. When Obama starts an illegal war, authorizes torture, and crashes the economy, we can talk. But the institutionalizing of mass data gathering in order to spy on Americans? Yeah, that's part of  Obama's legacy.


In Brief: Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Drink a Lot of Booze With a Dude Named Allen Hamilton:
So, apparently, it was a hell of a place to work:

Look at those nattily dressed, incredibly diverse, confident, walking bureaucrats there. Who wouldn't want to join them in taking the Fourth Amendment and wiping their asses with it before setting it on fire and inhaling the smoke like their shit smell is the finest opium?

NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden was employed, briefly, by one of Fortune magazine's top 100 best companies to work for. Yes, for Booz Allen Hamilton, the technology consulting corporation that makes billions from the U.S. government by, among other things, harvesting data about like a mad field hand with a dull scythe, analyzing it, and providing it to the government on a silver platter (or it had better be at those prices, right? High five!).

That's right. It's not spooks in a basement bunker in Nowhere Mountain, Virginia who are investigating the internet habits of (supposedly) foreigners and the phone records of everybody. It's white collar drones at private firms like Booz Allen, one of Working Mother magazine's best companies for, well, yeah. And one of Diversity, Inc's 50 most diverse companies in 2011 and 2012.

Essentially, Booz Allen would be a wet dream of a workplace for us liberals. Except, you know, for the whole spying on everyone from 69 secret locations (in addition to a ton of other military support operations for which it is rewarded handsomely).

According to NPR, Edward Snowden was one of "hundreds of thousands" of people, most in private industry, with the top secret clearance to look at whether or not we "Liked" My Little Pony on Facebook. Yessirree, man. Eddie, the creepy IT guy, got to look over your phone records and see what patterns emerged, like, oh, hey, Lizzie called Victoria's Secret a bunch of times. Gotta say: that doesn't seem like a very secure approach to, you know, security. Even Chuckles the Todd on MSNBC asks, "[W]hy is much of our national security infrastructure being outsourced to private companies?"

That one and more questions answered tomorrow.


All You Need to Know About Irrational "Self-Defense" Laws in Three Pictures (Updated):

That's Ezekiel Gilbert. He was acquitted yesterday in the murder of Lenora Ivie Frago, who had taken $150 from Gilbert for sex and then refused to have sex with him or give him the money back. So he shot her, not wanting to kill her (and it did take her a few months to die). But because Texas allows people to use deadly force in order to retrieve stolen property (and because the sex did not occur, despite prostitution being illegal, the money was considered stolen), Gilbert, for lack of a better phrase, got off.

That's Ralph Wald. He was acquitted last week for the murder of Walter Conley. Conley had been in the middle of having sex with Wald's wife, so, like any reasonable person, Wald claimed that he assumed his wife was being raped and shot Conley dead. His defense was Florida's Stand Your Ground law, which allows anyone who believes that he or she is facing danger in his or her home to use deadly force. Wald said his wife was in danger, so he shot first and asked questions later. Oh, wait, actually he didn't do that last part. He told police he was glad the guy was dead.

That's Marissa Alexander. Last year, in Jacksonville, Florida, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a shot in the air to warn her husband, Rico Gray, to back off her. He had been arrested previously for domestic violence against her, beating her when she was pregnant, and on that day in 2010, he "approached her in a rage" when Alexander drove up to their house to get clothes. She was trying to move out and get away from Gray. Before she fired the shot, he had chased her through the house, broken down a door to get at her, and cornered her in the garage. The judge said she should have fled instead of firing twice into the air. At trial, her Stand Your Ground defense was rejected because the jury did not believe she faced imminent danger. She was convicted of aggravated assault and given the mandatory sentence. She is still in prison.

Look at the pictures. Here's your homework assignment. See if you can figure it out: What is different about Alexander?

Update: Several rude readers have pointed out that Alexander was not necessarily the innocent victim her defenders maker her out to be, as if that invalidates the point here. Nope, sorry. She's in jail for 20 years for firing a gun and harming no one. Wald and Gilbert are free after murdering people and using bad laws to shield them from punishment of any sort.


NSA Phone Record Collecting and the Melancholy of Living in the Future (Updated):
Let us say, and why not, that you're a straight dude who just knocked up a woman after a one-night stand. Oh, sure, there were decisions you could have made along the way. You could have worn a condom. You could have not gone all the way, stopping with some good oral and a notch in the belt. But you just boned away and, now, a month later, you get the call. The woman is pregnant. She's reaching out to you, saying she's carry the pregnancy to term, wondering if you want to be part of the baby's life, telling you that she'll need financial help. She's explaining it all to you, clearly, maturely, even. Now, let's say that you are not rich. You can't just pay her off and make her go away. Sure, you can ignore her, pretending that it's not really happening, but at some point, you're gonna get that letter saying how much you owe. And, oh, you stupid idiot, what you set into motion with your wayward dick is going to hang around your neck the rest of your life. You can pretend to ignorance, but that's gonna fail. The only thing you can really do is learn how to live with it because whatever you thought about your life before doesn't matter because the world is different now, the landscape has changed, and the future ain't what it was supposed to be, it's just what it's gonna be.

The real significance of the court order that Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, and Spencer Ackerman reported on in The Guardian isn't that it reveals that the National Security Agency was getting millions of telephone records from Verizon in a fishing expedition for terrorists, maybe hackers, who knows. If you didn't think that that was going on, you're fucking blind and stupid. What's important is that we know that the order, from the FISA court, approved based on secret legal reasoning for secret goals, exists and forces us to confront, as we must again and again, the reality of the surveillance state we now exist in. You know it's there. What are you going to do about it?

We live in the post-privacy era, and, try as we might, unless you're gonna go Alex Jones-unhinged and live off the grid, our communications are now subject to constant intrusion and scrutiny. Fuck, the Rude Pundit believes that he is being monitored all the time. He knows that someone he doesn't know will have access to his email, his phone calls, his texts; that his movements can be tracked by cameras and satellites and the GPS in his iPhone; that every time he uses his EZ-Pass on the road, someone knows where he is. He accepts that as part of daily life in the West in the 21st century.

What the Obama administration did was completely legal. It was completely legal because the majority of the nation simply doesn't care about the vast array of powers granted to spy agencies under the Patriot Act. It will continue because there will be no outcry, there will be no outrage. There will merely be Democratic apologists for the president defending his actions; Republicans divided into two camps: clownish hypocrites who condemn Obama when they defended George W. Bush for doing the same thing without court approval and slavering hawks who don't give a shit how many rights are trampled on; and the uneasy alliance of libertarians and civil libertarians who are genuinely pissed off and scared by the confirmation of the secret surveillance of all of us.

The Rude Pundit doesn't fall into any of those camps. He takes the long view, backwards and forwards. Once the Patriot Act was passed and mass surveillance by the federal government was legalized, the cherry was popped. You can't unfuck the deflowered virgin. And, frankly, as soon as communications shifted from typed letters to whatever floats through the intertubes or in the ether, notions of communication and privacy shifted, whether we knew it or not. Mass adoption of new technology changes human beings' relationship with the world. Whether it's television's contribution to the death of other types of media and to much of the public sphere as a place of social and political interaction or cell phones changing how we speak and write to each other, it often takes a generation or two before we figure out just how the technology has transformed things (just in time for the new technology to change things again, of course). We need a new sociological and even linguistic paradigm for understanding our relationship to each other and our government in this post-privacy era.

No president is ever going to give back the powers that were granted to George W. Bush in 2001. If you're scared that Obama has them, well, shit, a bunch of us warned you that Bush wasn't gonna be president forever. And even if the Patriot Act were, through some miracle, overturned in court or legislated out of existence, it's too late: the web of surveillance has been put in place. You can bet that its future legality has already been set up.

It is a frightening thought, yes, that our responsibility as citizens is not to try to reclaim our lost privacy. What revolution will accomplish that? It ain't gonna happen. It's sad, frustrating, enraging, and ultimately exhausting and enervating. That boat has sailed, and it ain't ever returning to port.

What we are left with is merely electing people who we believe will be wise shepherds of this power to invade our privacy whenever they wish in order to "protect us" from "terrorists" or the fake existential threats of the future. That is a sad reduction of democracy. That is the opposite of hope, no? Merely wanting to be led by people who won't harm us?

Update: As the Rude Pundit was posting this, Salon posted an interview with NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who says essentially the same thing as here (without the pregnancy analogy). There is no turning back.


Congress Hears From Conservative Groups Who Were Forced By Jackbooted IRS Thugs to Fill Out Forms:
Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee held hearing number 750 or so on whether or not the IRS forced poor mom and pop political organizations to fill out too many forms so that they could be tax-exempt groups that keep their donors secret and thus get all the free money they can con out of people. The horrible burden was best expressed by the testimony of Karen Kenny of the San Fernando Valley Patriots, which is affiliated with the Tea Party Patriots.

The SFVP describes itself thusly: "Our aim is to promote–by education and political action–American principles of Liberty, Limited Government and the Free-Market in this Valley of 2 million just north of Los Angeles, CA." Just to be clear: the group itself says that it is engaged in "political action." Indeed, in its "Declaration" of purpose, it lists, "Defeat Republicans and Democrats that pervert or deny this Nation's founding principles. We are weary of corruption." And yet the IRS is a hideous monster because it wanted to be sure that it wasn't engaged in political activity in order to receive 501(c)(4) status. Now, you might think saying flat out that you are going to defeat politicians who disagree with you and that you take part in political action clearly points to an engagement in political activity. Well, fuck you, you hater of America. This chilling form-filing is like McCarthyism times Stalinism plus Hitler to the 4th power.

But, shit, why not let Karen Kenny speak for herself. Here's a sample from her opening statement to the committee: "In October 2010, the San Fernando Valley Patriots, a not-for- profit corporation in California applied with the Internal Revenue Service for a 501(c)(4) status as a tax-exempt social welfare organization...We heard nothing until February 2012, when I received a packet from the IRS exempt organizations office in Cincinnati, Ohio, which included a questionnaire with 35 items divided into 80 sub-points of inquiry. A cover letter indicated that we had 20 days to comply without penalty, including penalties of perjury for failure to answer all questions with facts that are true, correct and complete.

"Generally the questions were a demand, read like the chilling words from the 1950s, are you now or have you ever been? The IRS sought documentation of our meetings, rallies, events or candidate forums. That included video and audio transcriptions, notes, copies of all handouts, the political parties of speakers and an issues list."

And more, goddamnit, more information than anyone could provide, like "The IRS sought EINs and details on our association's tax-exempt organizations. These are our teachers. They have names -- the Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks and the National Center for Constitutional Studies, where we learn American history; the Tea Party Patriots, where we learn grassroots skills; and the West Valley Food Pantry, our charity." Yes, how dare the IRS want your tax i.d.'s.

But Kenny knows who the villains are: "This dialogue is about the jackboot of tyranny upon the field of our founding documents. To whisper the letters I-R-S strikes a shrill note on Main Street, USA. But when this behemoth tramples upon America's grassroots, few hear the snapping sounds."

Being a good patriot, Kenny also knows when to invoke the Big Guy: "Vox populi, vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God) is irresistible, but different in America. Our voice belongs to the free individual, not to the collective mob. Our voice is best heard when power kneels then whispers to liberty, 'Strength.' And when liberty stands under heaven, it shouts to power, 'Freedom.'"

And if you read that and thought, "What the fuck is this stupid asshole talking about? She's fucking incoherent," then you bite the heads off baby bald eagles.

Essentially, what happened is that, in the wake of Citizens United, a bunch of little groups decided that they wanted to try to jump on the train of tax-free glory, so each of these bullshit teabagger conclaves called themselves "social welfare" and applied for tax exempt status in order to teabag in as many ways as possible. But, lo and behold, an overworked, understaffed government agency can sometimes work slowly (talk to the INS about that shit). And, lo and behold again, the government wasn't rubber-stamping every group. Ask the 226 other groups that had to fill out extra forms.

Guess what? Sometimes forms are hard to fill out. Sometimes you need lawyers and others to do it. Sometimes, when you're a pipsqueak organization that wants to play with the big kids, you're not gonna be able to handle paperwork. Kenny admitted that she doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about when she was asked by Congressman Kind if she knew the difference between social welfare activities and political activities. Kenny answered, " I can only answer from my own experience since I'm not a lawyer. My experience is we were obeying the law. And our personal group is about education, about the political process."

Except, of course, by the group's own admission, it's not.

In the hearing, Kenny seems to indicate that she gave up: "I stopped the costly and exhausting IRS process in July 2012. We survive on my credit card and donations in our cake tin. Like patriots before us, we persevere."

But on the website of the San Fernando Valley Patriots, it says that the group "operates as a social welfare organization organized under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code."

Man, jackboots don't press as hard as they used to.


Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Use a Burning Nike to Light a Meth Pipe:

Yep, this is another goddamn blog post about the awful lives of the poor people in Asia who make all the useless shit that litters our Western lives. In this case, it's the Sabrina Garment Manufacturing factory outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The 4000 (mostly) women who work at the factory making sportswear for global monstrosity Nike went on strike on May 21 for slightly higher wages. Yesterday they attempted to enter the factory to protest, but 1000 cops confronted them with batons and cattle prods.

It's not the first clash in this strike, with a pregnant woman being beaten by the police in a previous confrontation.

Currently, the workers make $102 a month, which the company says is above minimum wage. Which means that for a little more than a month's salary, a worker could afford a pair of totally sick kicks.


Darrell Issa Doesn't Really Know What a Lie Is:
Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California, who is Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (or "Chief Motherfucker"), appeared on CNN's State of the Union with the Crowley variety of Candy yesterday and responded to questions about how he knows for sure that there's a scandal that goes all the way up to Washington, DC, involving the IRS looking a bit closer at tax exempt status applications for Tea Party groups. Crowley, to her infinite credit, called "bullshit" on Issa saying that he absolutely knew that someone at the IRS or elsewhere was lying. Where's the definitive proof? Issa couldn't offer it, so, instead, he just became a total twat and talked about lies and the "paid liar" of the White House, press secretary Jay Carney.

Most politicians avoid the word "lie" or "liar" because they're trying to leave wiggle room to be wrong. If you call someone a liar, then you are speaking definitively about intent and method. You are saying that the other person is being deliberately deceiving.

But Darrell Issa is a twat, and he knows that shit like "wrong" and "error" is for people who actually care about impediments like "truth." Issa has tossed around the "L" word several times, very pointedly, over the years.

For instance, in a December 12, 2011 editorial, he talked about "Lies, Green Lies, and Statistics," criticizing the Labor Department for putting money into training for green jobs. The lie? That such training would lead to a growth in jobs. At worst, from what Issa describes, it doesn't seem much like a lie as much as a failed project. But that doesn't prevent him from going bugfuck insane: "Rather being a boon to growth, green collar jobs are a green noose around the economy's neck, suffocating investment and hindering expansion. At a time when job creation is needed more than ever, wealth redistribution masked as radical environmentalism is nothing more than another in the series of baseless get-jobs-quick schemes that have come to typify Obamanomics." That's a whole lot of buzzwords crammed into a meaningless couple of sentences.

Or then there's this press release from September 25, 2009, "ACORN, lies and videotape" (Ha, it's a reference to a movie from 1989). He takes the complete falsehood of James O'Keefe's heavily edited pimp video as the real deal, and adds that "allegations of ACORN’s systematic fraud have been piling up. From concealing a million-dollar embezzlement by a top ACORN official, to voter registration fraud and the illegal use of taxpayer dollars, the problems with ACORN have been growing deeper and the calls for Congress to investigate, louder."

Do you see what he did there? He starts with the statement that there are "allegations" and then he lists those allegations as if they have been proven, case closed. Guilt by rhetorical inference. Or, you know, lies. And that's what Crowley was doing yesterday on CNN: showing Issa what a fucking liar he is. He has nothing on the IRS beyond a few employees grunting, "I dunno. Maybe someone in DC said to look closely at the new organizations with the word 'party' in their name to see if they're a political, you know, party."

There is no smoking gun. If there was, Issa would be brandishing it like a five year-old boy who just figured out that his dick gets hard. So, instead, it's just easier for Issa to call others liars and pretend that his lies aren't lies.