In Brief: Quotes That Mean as Much Now as When They Were First Said (With a Photo for Context)

The quote is from a just-released recording of former President Bill Clinton speaking to a group of business people in Melbourne, Australia, on September 10, 2001 (or "One day before everything changed forever and we lost our country"). Clinton was talking about how he might have been able to get to Osama bin Laden: "I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn’t do it."

You can tease that out and say that killing those 300 people would have created even more terrorists. Or you can say that those people were accessories to bin Laden by their proximity and that Clinton was a hypocrite because of other missile strikes he ordered or that Bill Clinton was a pussy whose inaction helped cause 9/11 (and then you can merrily go fuck yourself).

The photo is from the Gaza Strip in the last few days. The context is how intractably screwed people are when they don't give a shit about those innocent men, women, and children:


Democrats Are Totally Making Money Off Impeachment Talk and It's Awesome

Speaker of the House John "If You Don't Think I'm Drunk All the Time, You're Not Paying Attention" Boehner had one of his outrageous outbursts of outrage yesterday, one of those spasms of anger that must make playing golf with him like having lunch at the Home for Abusive Husbands. He insisted, goddamnit, "This whole talk about impeachment is coming from the president’s own staff and coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill.  Why? Because they're trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's election...We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans."

And he's totally right, except for the parts where he's wrong, like the fact that impeachment talk has been floating among the House teabaggers for months, if not years.

But, fuck, yeah, Democrats are using that shit to raise money. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has unleashed a stalker-like string of emails to supporters, each one more desperate and hysterical than the last, attempting to squeeze your wallets dry.

From "Nancy Pelosi": "If Boehner has his way, we might as well kiss all hope goodbye for the remainder of President Obama’s term." Today, "Nancy" scared us with "Boehner is clearly trying to get his chance to drag the President's good name through the mud."

From "Paul Begala": "This is no laughing matter. These are the same Tea Party Republicans that managed to shut down the government last year. They’re going to keep coming up with new ways to sabotage Barack Obama’s presidency. And for these guys, impeachment would be the pinnacle of Republican sabotage." The email was subject-lined "I'm Pleading" for extra pathetic effect.

There's a gentler note from "Michelle Obama," a leaderly one from "Barack Obama," and "Joe Biden" threatening to skullfuck you if you don't give money. 

And then this one, which reminds us that "Biden" and the "Obamas" emailed us because "They need your help because it's a critical moment" that might "lead to Barack Obama's impeachment."

So, yeah, the DCCC is fluffing the threat of impeachment like a merry gay porn set intern working the prick of a nervous leading man. And, yep,the chance of actual impeachment is somewhere between alien invasion and Nobel Prize-winning Kardashian. 

But you know what? It's still more in the realm of reality than what the GOP has been raising shit-tons of cash on. Has Obamacare straight-up murdered anyone? Have hordes of immigrants and Hottentots come streaming over the border to give us Ebola and decapitate our cops? No, but the Republican Party has made mucho coin off these lies and many more.

So it's awesome that the Democrats have found a scary, realistic-sounding hyperbole to raise cash on. It would be just beyond words for Republicans to have their asses handed to them because of fearmongering on our side.


Right-Wing Delusions, Part 1: Your Stupid Idea Is Stupid

Oh, dear, dumb, oppressed right-wingers, searching hither and thither for places to call home, good god, but you come up with some stupid, stupid shit to cling to, like a brain-damaged rat on a turd flushing down a toilet.

1. Apparently, Facebook was not a friendly home for at least some repellent anti-LGBT sentiments, so a couple of ambitious conservatives decided the time was right to take on Big Zuckerberg and launch a "patriot"-friendly place where you can freely like photos your inbred cousin posted of Barack and Michelle Obama's heads on monkey bodies. ("See? It's funny 'cause they're black!" you can comment.)

What might such a service be named? "Farcebook" is a little obvious. Of course, you'd name it "Reaganbook," after the greatest president ever to raise taxes, cut and run from the Middle East, and order people around him to break the law. Of course, your motto would be "We are tearing down walls" even as you support building a damn fence on the border with Mexico. Oh, and, of course, you would steal the colors, font, and layout of Facebook because you might not have built it, but fuck everyone who did. And when you get sued for copyright infringement, you can claim that you're just an innocent victim, like all your pussy fellow conservatives.

2. There really is a high school student in Richmond, Virginia, named "Alecsys Brown," whose parents oughta be slapped for misspelling her first name. (Mom: "Let's name her 'Alexis.'" Dad: "I like it. How do you spell it?" Mom: "It starts with 'Alec,' like that actor...") And Young Goodwoman Brown has a cause: Bring back the proper mascot for Douglas S. Freeman High School.

So Brown started a petition for their team, the Rebels, to once again feature a grey-uniformed soldier at its sporting events. Now, she's not crazy. She doesn't think they should go back to the days when the mascot carried a rifle and a Confederate flag. No, it should just be the soldier in the big moustache wearing, well, a grey uniform. The petition has gotten over 1000 signatures.

Brown doesn't see it as racist at all. As she explains it, "I think he really represents us as the Southern school that we are...Since Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, a Southern soldier really represents us as a school." Indeed, if you can't imply that it would have been better if your black classmates had remained slaves, what is freedom for?

One question, Alexi...sorry, Alecsys: You do realize that the Confederacy lost, right?

Big Thanks to the Hippy

Last week, for three days, Andrew William Smith, aka @presbyhippy, aka Teacher Preacher, aka Teacher on the Radio, took over this here blog thingy while the Rude Pundit indulged in a mucho-needed time away from political fucknuttery.

Now, some of you may wonder, "Huh. I thought this here blog thingy was stone cold atheistic. What gives with this Christian bullshit?"

The easy, dickish answer is "Umm, my blog, fuckers." But the Rude Pundit specifically wanted Andrew to write because he thinks we do a disservice to our causes by separating ourselves into worshipers and heathens. As Andrew demonstrated repeatedly, and it's something that religious people everywhere would do well to remember, the seeds of much of modern liberalism have been sown in houses of worship by the churchgoing left.

Let's not belabor the point. Instead, scroll down and read his stuff. Sometimes the rudest thing in this sad world is unabashed love.


California's Dry Fucking

That up there is a canal that is used "for routing flood water" through the farms of Merced County, California. In 2006, it was full of water and the ground around it was green. It's dry now, in case the dust devil in the back there didn't indicate it. But it's not just dry. It's also sinking.

"The ground is sinking because farmers and water agencies throughout the Central Valley are pumping groundwater heavily from far beneath the Earth's surface to make up for the lack of rain...And if the sinking isn't stopped, everything from house foundations to railroad lines - such as the high-speed rail planned for the valley - could suffer." Oh, and it might undermine a dam.

Californians gets between 40-60% of their water from underground aquifers. When they dry up, there is no gushing rainstorm that'll fill them up as the state goes through its worst drought ever, one that has no end in sight.

The people of the state are getting fucked without any lube, a dehydrated, uncomfortable fucking, by a nation and a world that has refused to do anything significant about climate change. And if California is fucked dry, then the rest of us will get fucked by produce prices and more.

(Note: The Rude Pundit is just back from a fine, fine part of a week in the mountains, hiking to waterfalls and riding rapids. He's still a little fuzzy from too much nature, but water is definitely on his mind.)


I Was a Teenage Pacifist, Kumbaya!

[Rude Pundit is still on vacation. @presbyhippy Andrew William Smith still filling in.]

I was a teenage pacifist. Weaned on Martin Luther King and John Lennon, I don’t remember not knowing the words to “We Shall Overcome” or “Give Peace A Chance.” If we’re holding hands, I cannot use my hands to hit you. If we’re singing together, I am not shouting at you.

I was a teenage pacifist. There might have been a brief time around 12-years-old when I thought perhaps I could give violence a try. A friend and I disagreed about the interpretation of a book (sick literary nerd that I am), so I suggested we settle the disagreement with a duel. Dumb idea. He was much bigger than me. One hit, I was down. That’s just to say my pacifism always had a practical side, not wanting to get my butt kicked, but this did not stop me from thoroughly developing my inner hippy, all about love and peace.

Pacifists in North America have some privilege, insofar as the police and the military like to suggest they are protecting your right to be pacifist. That changes when you engage in a direct-action campaign against atrocities being planned or carried out by your government. In the process of nonviolent civil disobedience as taught to us by the likes of Thoreau, Gandhi, and King, pacifists can lose their privileges. We go to jail, which is a rite of passage for pacifists. We need to be willing to do hard time or die to defend our right not to kill, otherwise we might not really be pacifists. As a teen and 20-something, I tried just that and managed to do a little jail time and leave that period of my direct action career without a criminal record.

As a middle-aged activist with a career and responsibilities I did not have when I was trespassing on military sites, I tend to prefer prayer as a form of direct action, and this modifies my pacifism. I would allow the police to defend me in a crisis, but I also know the police may arrest me or kill me. Idealism tends to get renegotiated as your hair turns gray.

Today, I feel powerless to stop the horrible atrocities in several hot spots of the middle East, so I pray for peace. This approach gets bad press from more militant activists, yet to out-of-hand bash the whole singing and holding hands bit has become a cliché all its own! I know this blog has a dark humorous streak on most days, but it’s sometimes okay to just balk on the bitter part and say enough with the snark and irony and cynicism already. Maybe we really need to hold hands and sing "Kumbaya"?

Even in the passionately optimistic book Love Wins (to which I referred yesterday), the Christian author Rob Bell makes a snide aside about salvation not really being “a universal hugfest where everybody eventually ends up around the heavenly campfire singing ‘Kumbaya,’ with Jesus playing guitar.” 

I’ve always thought that thees cynical remarks about a spiritual-woowoo-hippie-peacenik utopia where we-all-hold-hands-and-sing-“Kumbaya” should not be used so dismissively when others sincerely set out to achieve a cosmic vision of unlimited grace, pure peace, and perfect love.

As cheesy, easy, or breezy as some might say it sounds, this wonderful and scandalous and radical message of love locates at the core of the canon. Standing in a circle, holding hands, and singing “Kumbaya” may not instantly usher in world peace or even the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, but I maintain that it would be a good place to start.

I am not a middle-aged pacifist with the convictions of a teenage pacifist. I am a middle-aged peacenik who accepts moral compromise daily. I can think of some situations where self-defense makes sense or where I would allow those so professionally-trained to use force on my behalf. But I am also aware that the guns could be turned against me. I still don’t own a gun, still see flight as better than fight. Love and light are still the most radically disarming forces I can imagine as operative in the universe, and their practical application has yet to be fully tried.

You may not want to sing “Give Peace A Chance,” “We Shall Overcome,” or “Kumbaya.” Such actions may not stop the bombs and brutality in Gaza or dismantle the prison industrial complex or stop institutional racism or end mountaintop removal or guarantee civil rights for LGBTQ friends or provide access to birth control and abortion services for women. You may have had enough of praying for “peace” in a world that preaches it often and practices it rarely. I get that.

Yet somewhere, someone has ended a conflict with forgiveness or made friends with an enemy and somewhere, someone is better for it.

I cannot believe the Rude Pundit asked me to pen these blogs for the last three days, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Peaceout!


A Christian Confesses to the Atheists

[Your regular Pundit is on vacation! This is @Presbyhippy filling in!]

It came across my social media feed the other day that several states still have wording on the books to prohibit atheists from serving in public office. At least one article I consulted suggests that federal freedoms would trump those limits from ever being enforced, should an atheist ever attempt a campaign in one of those religiously steeped places, but it’s a chilling comment on the theocratic tendencies in United States culture that such laws ever existed.

In my experience, the debates and dialogues between skeptics and sincere believers tend to focus on who holds the correct viewpoint and searching for the most logical way to refute one’s ideological or theological opponent. Since I don’t see this as an argument that should or could be “won,” I sometimes tire from the stridency I see on all sides. In my experience, people in love with their own rhetorical convictions and persuasive powers can be found in religious communities and atheist circles alike.

These difficult but entertaining conversations got a much needed change-of-pace when Chris Stedman released his book Faitheist and began to seek out “interfaith dialogue” between atheists and theists. Stedman suggests, “I work to promote critical thinking, education, religious liberty, compassion, and pluralism, and to fight tribalism, xenophobia, and fanaticism. Many religious people are allies to me and other atheists in these efforts—and a good number of them cite their religious convictions as the motivating factor behind their work. I am far more concerned about whether people are pluralistic in their worldview—if they oppose totalitarianism and believe those of different religious and nonreligious identities should be free to live as they choose and cooperate around shared values—than I am about whether someone believes in God or not.”

Thinking about Stedman’s inclusive perspective and living in a state with discrimination against atheists on the books, I realize I probably have been guilty of disparaging remarks against those whose humanistic beliefs are in the minority here in the South or using my beliefs as a form of social credibility in this religiously-shaped culture. For this, I am sorry.

Further, I’d like to confess some of my motives for embracing personal spirituality and religion as a collective practice. I’d like to confess why I am not an atheist.

Religion and spirituality provide daily practices as much as vigilant viewpoints, mostly about saving oneself—not so much the burden of convincing you that my religion is correct or saving you from punishment or saving the world from itself. After years as a new age, hippy, Jedi, Taoist, neopagan, etc. spiritual seeker, my reconversion to Christianity included an introduction to writers and pastors like Carlton Pearson and Rob Bell, who in their books Gospel of Inclusion and Love Wins respectively, argued against more conventional ideas about hell. Relieved of what Bell calls a “toxic” idea concerning selective salvation and pervasive damnation, my faith can be motivated by notions other than converting all my atheist friends in order to save them from hell.  

I’m not an atheist because I believe that science and humanism, complete with an ever-changing and ever-expanding base of knowledge, and all the expected subjective agency of those, would require more faith (not less) than religious or spiritual disposition. Placing faith in something invisible, unknown, eternal, universal, and intangible (something that some of us choose to name God) might actually be easier than having faith in one’s own abilities and what can be rationally apprehended at any given time.  

I’m not an atheist because in the quiet rumblings of my head and heart, in my guts and in gravity, I regularly hear the gentle inchoate voice of God. For the atheist who hears similar whispers, I imagine there are ways to explain those voices, but I am guessing some of them involve medication and perhaps even hospitalization. Many people experience paranormal phenomenon; religion and spirituality can provide a benign context and interpretive matrix for dealing with these while maintaining sanity and perspective.

I’m not an atheist because I have a problematic and paradoxical view of human nature. We all contain some spark of the divine goodness, but many of us left to our own devices are selfish, greedy, power-hungry, outright jerks. That is, for me, atheist humanism has a higher view of human nature and even a loftier moral code than expected in religion. That sounds strange, but the spiritual path of my choosing provides a narrative mechanism to explain my failures and shortcomings, a mythopoetic language of sin and redemption. One does not need to read the Adam and Eve story from Genesis as historical document to take away from it profound truths about the limits of human subjectivity and our innate craving for collective reconciliation. Religious myth, religious community, and spiritual practice broker my relationship with the harsher aspects of reality in such a way as to provide some glimpses of peace and harmony.

I’m not an atheist because I am in recovery from alcoholism and other addictions. For more than five years, trying to follow the 12-steps by the book and in the context of a supportive community, I have remained sober and my life has radically improved. Coming to believe in a power greater than myself as endorsed by the programs of recovery fits well with the progressive Christian mystic path I am currently exploring. There are lots of helpful workarounds to the God language in recovery, so that we might remain inclusive of our atheist friends, but a whole-hearted embrace of God by surrendering and letting go of my previous ideas about God turns out to work quite well for this alcoholic.

Perhaps I'm not an atheist because I am just not smart enough or good enough. Perhaps religion is just another drug, and since I cannot do the other recreational drugs anymore, it is the one that currently gets me high.  

It turns out to my surprise that lots of Christians are atheists, and the idea of “supernatural theism” to describe an all-powerful magical-dictator-in-the-sky has fallen out of fashion among progressive religious thinkers of all faiths. That said, since the mysterious side of religious faith deals not just with the God within but also with that which is entirely other and unknown, I tend to focus on what could be called a higher or more traditional view of the Trinitarian God, but I try not to do so from the realm of dogmatic domination or apologetic argument. Part of following faithfully and falling into the mystery means allowing the mystery to be mysterious. 

Like Chris Stedman, I think that intelligent dialogue between the religious progressives and non-religious activists can be a force for good against totalitarian thinking and practice, and I am so thrilled that Rude Pundit saw this blog as just such a venue for that kind of discussion.

Mentioned here: http://faitheistbook.com/


My Hippy Jesus Problem

[Your regular Pundit is on vacation! This is @Presbyhippy filling in!]

Hello my name is Andrew, and I have problem with hippies and Jesus. That is, no matter how short I cut my hair or how punk is more my generation, I am an unrepentant hippy despite my sanity and sobriety. That is, no matter how much I respect Quakers and Buddhists, Taoists and atheists for the integrity of their worldviews, I am a repentant Jesus Freak despite my intellect and irreverence.

Last weekend, I attended the Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, that is because I missed my annual date with the Rude Pundit at Bonnaroo, due to my activism supporting the LGBTQ and divestment movements at the big Presbyterian shindig in Detroit (which you may have heard about in my last post for this site), which happened to fall on the same dates as the Roo. On Sunday, since I missed church due a very late Saturday, I decided to wear my “JC [Jesus Christ]: the original hipster” t-shirt (see picture) that I’d recently purchased at the liberal Jesus hippy answer to Burning Man, called the Wild Goose Festival, in Hot Springs, North Carolina.

While I loved the fist-bumps, “great shirt dude” shoutouts, and general spiritual mayhem made by wearing this shirt instead of say, a tie-dye, a paisley tanktop, a Replacements t-shirt (they were playing Sunday), or any other festival-appropriate duds, it cuts to the core of my hippy Jesus problem.

You see, in the phenomenon known as American Jesus as exemplified by a movie of that name recently released and book by that name from a few years ago, anyone can make their move with Jesus the way that the hippies and hipsters do. So, we get: gun-control Jesus and gun-toting Jesus, gay Jesus and gay-bashing Jesus, brown-skinned immigrant Jesus and the Jesus-loving hate-monger meeting him with an unwelcome wagon at the U.S.-Mexico border. Although some illusion about the attainability of an elusive Christian unity has always been implied as a necessary component of our faith, the culture war in America all but forbids it.

Some days, it seems I have something in common in terms of core values with everyone but the Bible beating bigots in the Bible belt. My anti-war, pro-choice, inclusive, civil rights, economic justice Jesus has enough cross-references in the Bible for me to feel I am following Him in all my leftish ways, but if one day, I were to wake up and find out that the deer-hunting, cage-fighting, forced-pregnancy Christians actually were the true Christians, I am pretty convinced I couldn’t stay on the team. 

On Sundays, I pay lip service to unity with my conservative Christian friends, because I want to be open-minded around them in hopes they will be open-minded around me. But there comes a time in those conversations where one of us ends up accusing the other one of serving Satan instead, if only in our private judgmental thoughts. That’s not nice, but it’s honest.

We can trace my hippy Jesus roots back to my parents and life in the early 70s when my preschool and elementary-school consciousness made sense of my family’s devout Christian faith coupled with our unwavering support of the farmworkers, the feminists, and George McGovern or Jimmy Carter. There was a split in the roots or lineage of the hippy-Jesus tree around that time.

Both left and right Christians of the era embraced the hippy clothing and the hippy music, the hippy commune and the hippy coffeehouse. That is, the hip lifestyle that included fantastic folk and rock music or health food and homebirth and happy homegrown DIY-craftiness all but transcended politics. Yet those same hip folks could divide quite contentiously when it came to politics.

On the left side, we were connected to the Beatniks, the Catholic Workers, and the anti-war movement. Writers like the great Thomas Merton or artists like Sister Corita were prolific and eloquent voices for the people from inside Catholic orders. On the right side, what is today known as the evangelical scene embraced the street people and ex-acid heads with such an embrace that once converted they bought into the fundamentalist, simplistic, anti-abortion, apocalyptic faith espoused then by the likes of Hal Lindsay and his book The Late, Great Planet Earth and with too many late 20th and early 21st century correlations to mention.

The original Jesus hippies had an organic appeal to them before they evolved into today’s crunchy conservatives. Today’s Christian hipsters are not that different, and here in Nashville, it’s hard to tell the right-wing hipsters and the left-wing hipsters apart until you start talking books and theology and voting trends. But some of the worst views in our world today about unquestioning support for Israeli and American militarism, wishing for the end times, trying to pray away the gay, disrespecting women and the environment, and damning all other religions or non-religions to an eternal hell, these devilish ideas can be traced in America not just to the far-right evangelical Christians but from within that community to specific trends within hippie Christendom, including those who were identified with the Jesus People in the early 1970s.

Because I cannot shake my hippy dippy Jesus Freak identity, and my tastes in all natural food and psychedelic folk rock music reflect this, it’s important for me in my research about the 60s and 70s to seek out the members of the Jesus revolution in American counterculture who kept their roots on the left side of the split. We are just the kind of people you will meet at a Wild Goose type festival or see stopping the water shutoffs in Detroit and advocating for immigrant reform and worker justice.

From the fog of war and weariness of economic exploitation, it’s sometimes difficult to find Jesus as liberator and life-force and unconditional love and not so much as culture warrior, even though we often need to choose sides in these battles if we are to defend what’s left of goodness and the democratic spirit, as power-mongers of every stripe find new ways to dominate. What love and what hope do we have that love and hope will stand up to all this monstrous and authoritarian insanity? 

mentioned in the blog:



Taking a Mental Health Break, Leaving You in Good Hands

The Rude Pundit has been feeling stabby as fuck lately and is taking a few days off to rest, relax, and recharge. That means drinking, sexual triathlons, and a drug buffet. Oh, and maybe a hike or two on some godforsaken mountain. And forgetting for a while about border fuckery, Russia's fuckery, and the GOP's fuckery, as well as avoiding the cackling whores who will be joyously celebrating the possible gutting of the Affordable Care Act.

He is leaving you in the more-than-capable hands of Andrew Smith, who represented for lefty Christianity in mighty fine fashion a couple of weeks ago. @Presbyhippy on Twitter, he's been aching to jump in again to this den of heathens. And he's got amazing taste in music. He's taking the reins for the next three days, and this lone blogger couldn't be happier for the quality of the company.

So enjoy Andrew. Treat him nicely. Read his blog, Unlikely Sunday School Teacher.

The Rude Pundit will be back next week.

A Lynching in Staten Island

That screenshot shows two New York City cops trying to convince the corpse of Eric Garner that he's not dead. Garner, 43 and black, died after being put in a chokehold by the police for not allowing them to arrest him for, as the NYPD says, selling cigarettes illegally. That is, he was selling individual cigarettes for 50 cents each from untaxed boxes, and he needed to be stopped.

No, really. That's why the police were confronting him in the first place, according to the cops involved. They could have written him a ticket. Instead, he was tackled and handcuffed by a group of cops who thought Garner, obese with asthma, was lying when he said, repeatedly, "I can't breathe." One officer was kneeling on Garner's head on the sidewalk as he tried to breathe. So he died and the white officers kept leaning in to talk to him to tell him to get up. Being dead, he could not obey the officers' commands. It's shocking they didn't arrest his body.

As more than one editorial writer has pointed out, Garner was not a threat, was unarmed, was not doing anything violent - people on the scene claim he had just broken up a fight, and was, at most, committing a petty crime. When he was on the ground, he received no medical attention, no CPR, no dosage of asthma drugs, nothing. It's still unknown if he was killed by a heart attack, asthma, or strangulation.

What is known is that Garner had been arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes before. What is known is that Garner had once handwritten a lawsuit claiming that he had been strip searched on the street. What is known is that the cop who put the chokehold on Garner, Daniel Pantaleo, had two civil rights lawsuits filed against him. One of them, where Pantaleo and another cop strip searched two Staten Island men in public, led to a $30,000 payout. Another case is about unlawful arrest and is ongoing. In both cases, Pantaleo submitted reports that were sketchy at best. Now, he's had his gun and badge taken away and he's on unpaid leave, as are the EMTs who arrived on the scene, took Garner's pulse, and did nothing else, which more than likely means he was dead already and there was nothing they could do.

By the way, chokeholds are prohibited by the NYPD. That's probably why the police report does not mention one. The report also says that Garner did not seem to be in distress, so "I can't breathe" must be something that cops hear all the time.

Garner's crime was a misdemeanor. His greater crime was his unwillingness to submit to the authority of the NYPD, who, seeing their authority questioned, had to destroy the questioner for fear of losing their terrorizing position. What other reason is there for what they did? What other reason is there for pulling down the pants of young men and groping their genitals and probing their asses in full view of everyone? What other reason is there other than a desire to assert power over those who, due to race and class, have little if no means to counter that power?

By resisting the police, Garner was resisting the status quo, Garner was resisting history, he was resisting the identity that had been foisted on him by the white establishment. Now, quite unwillingly, he is another martyr to the racist assertion of police power, joining the ranks of Eleanor Bumpurs, Amadou Diallo,  Sean Bell, and too many others to list. Of course, with the power of the police in New York City and around the country growing exponentially, despite all the talk of reform that will no doubt continue in the wake of Garner's lynching, we will be here again.

Unless we are willing to confront our law enforcement history, the abuse of civil rights by the police, and the policies that encourage it, yes, assuredly, we will be.


Thomas Friedman Wants You To Be Happy With Your Scraps

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is like your uncle who phones you up and tells you about this awesome new thing he's found called Netflix. "You can see whole TV series, one episode after another. I tell you, it's gonna change the way people watch television," he excitedly informs you. Now, perhaps Friedman thinks he's writing to an audience of those uncles, aunts, and various people in the "old, sweet, but kind of dumb" demographic, but when he says, as he does in his "column" on Sunday, that the lodging website Airbnb succeeds "a platform of 'trust' — where everyone could not only see everyone else’s identity but also rate them as good, bad or indifferent hosts or guests. This meant everyone using the system would pretty quickly develop a relevant 'reputation' visible to everyone else in the system," the first thing the Rude Pundit thought was "So you mean Yelp. Or Angie's List. Or the comments on Amazon products. Or every website selling shit under the sun."

Or, if you want to get down to the nitty-gritty of the history of the Interwebs, it was eBay that pretty much pioneered and popularized this whole "you're only as good as your comments and ratings" platform.

The rest of Friedman's examination of Airbnb is representative of a fuckin' awesome shift in the economic tide of the 21st century can be summarized thusly: Let us say, and why not, that you're getting fucked in the ass. Now, while getting fucked in the ass, you start to jack off because, let's face it, that prostate action is hot, but you can't finish before the dude is done fucking your ass. So the next time you're getting fucked in the ass by the kind of lover who won't give you a reacharound, who won't blow you or handy you in return, you try again to jack it to orgasm. And you get so close, but then, damnit, he's done, where's the towel? Sure, you can masturbate on your own, but that's got it's pleasures, but it's more of a hobby than an act done during sex with a partner or partners. You know that it should all be mutual, that your pleasure should be part of the whole act of fucking. But you choose shitty, selfish partners who don't care if you get off. Finally, sweet Jesus, you do it. You blow a load while getting fucked and it feels so awesome that you're ready to get fucked in the ass again and again.

For Friedman, the global economy is doing the fucking and Airbnb is allowing you to do the jacking off, but you're supposed to pretend that your little ejaculation is enough to change the world.

Oh, dear uncles and aunts, Airbnb is a website where you can go to rent rooms or apartments or homes or yurts for when you're on vacation. It's supposed to give you a more authentic experience of a place than a hotel or a bed and breakfast, although a good many bed and breakfast inns do use Airbnb (as has the Rude Pundit). Friedman interviewed one of the founders of the website, Brian Chesky, about what Friedman calls "the sharing economy," which is people using their homes or, in the case of Uber, their cars to make a living.

Friedman, using Chesky's words, romanticizes this whole concept. Quoting Chesky, Friedman writes, "There used to be a romanticism about ownership, because it meant you were free, you were empowered...I think now, for the younger generation, ownership is viewed as a burden. Young people will only want to own what they want responsibility for. And a lot of people my age don’t want responsibility for a car and a house and to have a lot of stuff everywhere. What I want to own is my reputation, because in this hyperconnected world, reputation will give you access to all kinds of things now."

In other words, you get to own nothing, says the very, very rich man to the very rich writer. Because, see, you used to be able to own your reputation and also be able to afford shit to own. You should be satisfied with a compliment online, a little bit of money from renting out part of your home because you can't find a job that pays you enough to just own, and the scraps of the world.

But for Friedman, this is the future, where he sees megacorporations yielding to hyperconnected small enterprises where people get to never stop working: "This will be a struggle between the 20th-century economy and the 21st’s. The 20th-century economy was powered by big corporations that standardized everything because they never really knew their customers, argued Chesky." Yes, giant consolidated corporations that have spent huge amounts of time and money accruing political power will no doubt be overthrown by a couple with a cute room that overlooks the beach. But at least you don't have to tip those now-unemployed bellhops, concierges, and waitstaff.

Airbnb and Uber are charming blips that will either die gruesomely or become part of the machine that they supposedly are attempting to confront. Ask anyone. Ask Microsoft. Ask Google. Ask Facebook. Every time we try to change American capitalistic paradigms, those paradigms just absorb and transform them into the same entities that ever were. And Chesky will get richer while you clean the semen stains from your sheets.

(Note: All of this ignores the smarmy little introduction that Friedman opens with, which says, more or less, "There's lots of bad shit going on in the world. But I wanna talk about how cool Airbnb is.")


What's Happening in Gaza: A Savage and Obviously Anti-Semitic Blog Post

According to the UN's Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of the end of the brief cease-fire by Israel to allow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to get food (which caused a run on banks and grocery stores) and medical attention, just prior to the start of a ground invasion:

"An estimated 57,900 children who have experienced death, injury or loss of home over the past ten days require direct and specialized psychosocial support."

"The total number of people in need of shelter assistance due to destruction of or damage to their homes is estimated to be 96,400 individuals."

"50% of sewage pumping and treatment centres are no longer available."

"More than 30,000 people in Al Junaina and Al Salam area remain without water for the past seven days as result of damage to the main pipeline."

"In total, 84 schools have been affected by shelling due to their close proximity to targeted sites and are in need of repairs."

This is not to mention the 23,000 who need food assistance, the destruction of farms, the damage to hospitals, and the damage to the water pumping system in the entire Gaza Strip.  At least 250 Palestinians are dead and nearly 2000 are injured, 70% of whom are civilians, so, you know, take that as your moral compass allows it.

Yeah, Hamas shouldn't be launching missiles into Israel. And, yeah, Israel has responded with the disproportionate force of an elephant stomping a frog. If it was Netanyahu's goal to create another generation of Palestinian insurgents, well, that child's room up there probably tells you that it's mission accomplished.

(Was that too harsh? Was it anti-Semitic to say what the United Nations says? Oh, gee, sorry if your pro-Israel sensibilities were offended by a simple listing of the effects of Israel's actions. You can pull the Rude Pundit from the Gaza beat.)


On the Immigrant Children: No, We're Not Really Better Than This

Here on the left, we like to think that because we believe in the better angels of humanity, that people aren't as vile as they so often seem. We can find peace, we like to think, in places where there will never be peace. Or we think we can find compromise with people who would rather plunge off a cliff than take our hand. "We are better than that," we say, referring to how people behave in certain situations, thinking that their initial reactions will not be borne out by their further actions.

It is the foolish net that we trap ourselves in time and again when the truth of the matter is that, as a nation, not on an individual basis, but as a conglomerate of the whole, no, we are not better than that. At best, we are exactly what we are.

Charles Blow, in today's New York Times, writes about "The fight over how to process and care for masses of children from Central America who have crossed into this country." He details some of the responses, from outright hostility to farce, like when Republican congressional candidate Adam Klansman...sorry, Kwasman protested a busload of kids heading to the Oracle, Arizona YMCA for camp because he thought they were filthy immigrants.

Blow Laments, "This is not the best face of a great nation. This is the underside of a great stone, which when lifted sends creepy things slithering in all directions. We are better than this. We are more compassionate than this. We are more honorable than this."

To which one can only say, "Have you met us lately?"

Now, the Rude Pundit admires the hell out of Blow and generally agrees with him. But this kind of wistful belief in the intrinsic good of Americans is simply not reality. Reality reveals that we're assholes (again, as a whole, not on an individual basis, although, you know...), that any good we stumblefuck into doing is accomplished only after much turmoil. The belief that, as a counter-protester in Oracle said, "We are better than that" is as much a myth for the left as the belief on the right that we can return to some kind of utopian past that never existed.

Obviously, anti-immigrant movements in the United States are not new. They go back at least to when those fuckin' Irish wanted to come here and fuck up our nice and totally not Indian nation. "But," you might respond passionately, "these are children. Children, goddamnit." Ah, yes, and that's why the fuckery of the anti-immigrationists has become even more intense. They can't just be child refugees who are fleeing horrific violence in order to avoid being killed, forced into gangs, or die from extreme poverty.

No, they must be secret drug criminals sent here to destroy our nation or they are disease-ridden creatures ready to bring Ebola to Texas. They must be wide-eyed invaders, here to establish a beachhead that will open the shores for the even more insidious influx of their, gasp, parents. They are political pawns of Democrats who want to push an amnesty bill through Congress, even though Congress won't do jack shit on immigration, so Democrats are tweeting, tweeting, motherfuckers, for undocumented children to come rushing through the border so they can grow up and vote Democratic, just like all those Cubans in Florida back in 1980, oh, right, they vote Republican, too, it's why we have Marco Rubio, but, hey, it must be evil Obama wanting to prove a point about his imperial power. Or some such shit.

Either way, there's hordes of mostly white people willing to bodily block buses carrying these kids and teens. There's people claiming that Jesus hisself would demand it. "It’s a gross mischaracterization of Christianity to apply it to tolerating the mass lawlessness, death and damages involved in illegal immigration," said one guy named Who the Fuck Cares. The fat ass Minutemen have declared "Operation Normandy" to stop the invaders (although someone should point out that if they're the guys on the shore firing at Tom Hanks on the beach, that makes them...oh, fuck it, don't tell 'em).

Yes, yes, there will be acts of kindness, no doubt, no doubt. Many are occurring right now. Many believe that we need to follow the law on how we treat kids from Central American countries and give them a hearing to see if they need asylum.

The Rude Pundit wishes we were better than we are. But we're not. In fact, chances are that we're far, far worse than that. We are now in the midst of one more moral test. Frankly, if this ends without a call for all the kids to be lined up and shot, it would be a fuckin' miracle and we can call it a wash.


Kansas Is Trying to Regain Sanity, But Rick Santorum Wants It to Stay Crazy

Earlier this week, former Senator and losing GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was the main speaker at two reelection rallies for Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Considering the various ways you can read their last names, it sounds as if everyone was coated with feces-laden effluvia by the end. Brownback is in a tight race with Democrat Paul Davis, who was just endorsed by over 100 current and former GOP officials.

The "moderate" Republicans all said, pretty much, that they were for Davis because "that asshole Brownback is fuckin' crazy, man. Him and his band of loony cockknobs in the legislature." See, Brownback, with the help of a mega-right-wing surge in the state legislature, passed huge income tax cuts two years ago that primarily benefit the wealthy and it's gutted his state's budget rather than, as Brownback promised, creating tons of jobs and letting everyone live 24/7 in golden farm houses with free pussy and dick just for the asking.

In Wichita, Santorum spoke at a movie theater after a benefit showing of Knute Rockne: All American. The 1940 film has fuck-all to do with Kansas and everyone pretty much dies in it, but it features the terrible acting of Ronald Reagan and was the flick that gave him his "Gipper" nickname. So, yeah, Reagan, motherfuckers, Reagan. Brownback is like Reagan, see, in that Reagan only ever cut taxes, except when Reagan was raising them. Fuck you, fuckin' facts.

Santorum's speech was the kind of overwrought nonsense that'd make Nicholas Cage tell the man to calm that shit down. Nothing less than "the future of the free world is at stake" in deciding who will lead the 34th most populous state and 32nd best economy in the nation, said Santorum. "Sam is a descendant of the American Revolution," he continued. "This man loves this country and cherishes the principles and believes those principles can work, not just in Kansas, but can work to help rebirth a great civilization in America."

And Davis? That swine believes in the principles of the French Revolution, which Santorum didn't really define, but, look, it's got the word "French," so, yeah, fuck the frogs and their belief in liberty and equality.

Then shit got weird. Santorum compared the election to The Lord of the Rings. No, he really did. He said, "The other side is like the Eye of Mordor. That eye that’s constantly searching. That eye does not have an eyelid. It doesn’t sleep, it doesn’t stop. It’s constantly searching to try to oppress and defeat." Now, the Rude Pundit fell asleep during all three of the films and, no, he never read the books (and, no, he's never going to read them so don't tell he absolutely has to), but he's pretty sure that makes Brownback a hobbit.

In a speech the day before, at a car dealership in Olathe, Santorum had declared that Brownback "takes on the dragons. He is the warrior." And, again, a hobbit. Seriously, Nicholas Cage was watching this and thinking he is a master of subtlety.

Meanwhile, Brownback has made cuts to education at all levels since his budget was passed in 2012 because he ain't raising no goddamn taxes. Meanwhile, the state has had a $338 million shortfall in projected revenue, which will lead to more cuts. Meanwhile, the Kansas Supreme Court, back in March, said that the state needed to stop dicking over poor school districts, which is going to cost more money, money the state doesn't have, and, fuck you, Sam Brownback ain't gonna raise taxes because Reagan and the American Revolution and Mordor and Knute Rockne.

They should have watched the goddamn Wizard of Oz at the Wichita rally to learn that even if you think the tornado is gonna take you to a magical land of witches and castles and Munchkins, all it really does is wreck Kansas.


Yeah, It's Pretty Much Time to Panic Over Climate Change (Miami Edition)

Last Friday, the Guardian featured a long article by science reporter Robin McKie. The title is pretty much a succinct summary of the entire piece: "Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away." Writing after a visit to Miami, McKie says that, due to rising oceans, "Tidal surges are turned into walls of seawater that batter Miami Beach's west coast and sweep into the resort's storm drains, reversing the flow of water that normally comes down from the streets above. Instead seawater floods up into the gutters of Alton Road, the first main thoroughfare on the western side of Miami Beach, and pours into the street. Then the water surges across the rest of the island."

He lays on the apocalyptic adjectives, calling it "calamitous" and "worthy of the Old Testament." He quotes local professors and scientists on how fucked Miami will be when the inevitable occurs (including a Fukushima-like event possible at Turkey Creek nuclear power plant), and he points out that most of Florida's major political voices are climate change denialists. It's a grim, shit-yourself, panicky article.

Miami Beach resident and Time magazine correspondent Michael Grunwald absolutely is in the "Yes, climate change is real" camp. But his response to McKie is curious, calling it "yellow climate journalism" and an overwrought bunch of hysteria. Yet here's his own description of what occurs, with regularity, in Miami Beach: "[I]t’s hard to see how some modest sunny-day flooding in my neighborhood at high tide justifies" McKie's warnings.

Now, the Rude Pundit is a former resident of both Florida and Louisiana. He's used to living in low, low land. He's used to floods occurring after storms. But during high tide on a nice day? Is that not seriously scary shit? Sure, sure, one can adjust to anything, but if you don't realize that "once-a-month ankle-deep water" is desperately wrong and deserving of immediate and serious responses, you're kind of deluding yourself.

Also attacking McKie and supporting Grunwald is Discover's Keith Kloor, who dismisses McKie as "hyperbolic" and "shouty." He rightly points out efforts being made already on protecting the area from the effects of climate change, citing a meeting of "the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact" where "several hundred officials and concerned citizens gathered in Fort Lauderdale (at just a few feet above sea level) to debate and plan for the inevitable rising of the sea." Very calm. Very rational.

Except that a month after that May meeting, on July 1, Miami-Dade County's Sea Level Rise Task Force released a report that said, in so many words, "Yeah, it's time to shit ourselves, panic, clean off, and do something now."

The Task Force, which studied the issue for five years after being put together by the County Commission, lays it out pretty starkly: Sea level rise is happening because of warming oceans and melting ice. "It is a measurable, trackable, inevitable reality. Without innovative adaptive capital planning it will threaten trillions of dollars of the region's built environment, our future water supply, our unique natural resources, our agricultural soils, and our basic economy."

Yeah, we're way beyond poo-pooing the occasional high tide flooding your streets with ankle deep water (which the Rude Pundit still can't get his head around as being something you rationally accept). Maybe we need a few more climate change writers like McKie to get shouty before the water reaches your knees, your groin, your chest...


We Love the Country More Than You: Why Jonah Goldberg Can Suck On His Own Poll (Corrected, Big Time)

This past Friday, bored while waiting around for someone at a pretty empty bar, the Rude Pundit got into a brief Twitter slap fight with conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg, who you might know as "Oh, that motherfucker?" The Rude Pundit was responding to a piece Goldberg had written that cited a Pew poll where, as Goldberg put it, "A majority (60 percent) of 'solid liberals' said they don’t often feel proud to be an American."

However, that's not exactly true. Close, but not exact. The Pew poll says that 40% of those solid liberals "often feel proud to be American." It does not say that the other 60%, as a block, said they don't. But 60 is a higher number than 40, so kudos, Jonah Goldberg, on the basic math skills.

Now, it'd be easy at this point to argue the obvious point: that you can like and even love your country without feeling particularly proud at any moment, just as a parent can love a child who is a blow job-offering meth whore. Just because you're not proud of your child's meth addiction and whoring, just because you want your child to get help to get off the meth, for fuck's sake, it doesn't mean you don't love your child. And you can make the case pretty clearly that America sucked off a whole bunch of skeevy johns back in the Bush era and that Republicans wanna keep the country on its scabby knees, in the filthy alley, cranked up from nuts to eyeballs.

Of course, Goldberg doesn't offer that. He says, "You wouldn’t think, five years into the Obama presidency, that so many liberal Americans wouldn’t like America." Then he gets into a whole bullshit thing about how Hillary Clinton's anger at the Hobby Lobby case means she isn't fond of the nation and that Barack Obama doesn't think that the United States is the most exceptionalist nation in the history of nations. Goldberg defines "exceptionalism" as "a complex concept describing the uniqueness of the American founding and American character." If you're rolling your eyes and thinking, "Oh, go fuck yourself, Jonah," you're the problem.

Do you get it? If you don't love America the way that Jonah Goldberg and other conservatives love America then you don't love America, liberal traitor scum.

Or we could look at another number from the same poll. 82% of solid liberals say that "Compassion and helping other are my core values." Only 65% of "solid conservatives" say that. So if the Rude Pundit was using this useless-to-the-point-of-nonsense data to make some great and grand bullshit point, he'd crap out a column saying that, obviously, from the Pew poll, liberals are far more compassionate than conservatives, who hate humanity in larger numbers. (The sad part there is how many conservatives would proudly agree.)

Or how about this number, from another Pew poll: only 33% of Republicans believe that the United States "stands above" other countries. Or maybe this one from Reason: only 16% of millennials identify themselves as Republicans. That's half as many as call themselves Democrats. Quite possibly, they feel that way because Republicans oppose nearly every fucking thing they believe in but act like braying assholes about the country.

You wanna throw poll numbers around? Then let's play. Because, Jonah, it'll bite you on the ass every time. Right now, someone is thinking of poll numbers that'll dick over the Rude Pundit's argument. Ain't punditing fun?

The Rude Pundit is sick of arguing that liberals love this country more than conservatives ever could. He's been doing it ever since at least the Reagan era, when the word "liberal" became demonized. He's sick of editorials like one in The Week last Friday by Damon Linker, a man whose headshot makes him look, truly, like a dick tip.

In "How Liberalism Became an Intolerant Dogma," Linker attempts to conflate "libertarianism" and "liberalism," two words that admittedly sound close, like "Dutch" and "douche," but have very little in common. (Unless you're buying a douche in the Netherlands. Anyways...) It pretty much invalidates everything Linker has to say since you could make the case that libertarians have more in common with Rand Paul than Bernie Sanders.

But he offers this as proof of what bastards liberals are: "On a range of issues, liberals seem not only increasingly incapable of comprehending how or why someone would affirm a more traditional vision of the human good, but inclined to relegate dissenters to the category of moral monsters who deserve to be excommunicated from civilized life — and sometimes coerced into compliance by the government." The Rude Pundit bets that you could read that exact line back in the 1950s about interracial marriage. Is it "intolerant" to say that a corporation owner can't refuse to hire people married to people of other races? What if that belief is based on a "more traditional vision of human good" or whatever fucked up phrase you wanna use to justify your bigotry?

Linker doesn't seem to understand what "intolerance" is. Most liberals would say, "Fine, groovy, worship whatever ghost king you want. Just don't force me to do the same." Why is it only the Left that is asked, time and again, to tolerate the intolerable?

If liberals aren't "proud" and are "dogmatic," maybe because, at the end of the day, there's only so much shit you can eat in the name of compromise. And when you've been forced to go back to the shit pot for refills while conservatives merely pick at their first plate, you might be understandably pissed.

(Correction: Deep, deep apologies to Jeffrey Goldberg. Because that was just dumb. Kind of hilarious, but dumb.)

Late Post Today

Trying to recover from an evening drowning the sorrows of Argentinean friends.  So enjoy the Rude Pundit on this morning's Stephanie Miller Show:

Back later with more humid rudeness. 


Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Toast with a Pint of Thornbridge Ale and Then Drink Until He Pukes

That up there happened yesterday in London. Similar marches occurred all over Great Britain. It's a strike and protest from anywhere between 500,000 and a million workers (depending on who's counting) in unions for teachers, firefighters, and other civil servants in response to the government's offer of a contract that gave them a 1% raise after wages were frozen in 2010. As huge trade union Unison put it, "The current government offer leaves most workers with pay worth almost 20% less than in 2010. Falling pay also means loss of pension for the rest of your life."

Unison explains its position: "Our members are not asking for the 14% pay increase company bosses and bankers are getting. Or the 11% MPs will see. They are just asking for a rise of at least £1 an hour." They were joined by "workers who serve school meals, clean streets, empty bins, carers and school support workers." The firefighters are striking to allow for retirement at 55, as their union in Ireland recently negotiated, instead of the current 60, citing the demands of the job that are too intense for someone in their late 50s. The National Union of Teachers is joining in because of unmet demands over workload, pay (including performance-related pay, as in the United States), and vacation. The head of the unfortunately-acronymed NUT said that she regretted the loss of the teaching day in a thousand or so schools around the U.K., but that it was necessary to get the government to give a damn.

How impressive was the turnout? What kind of impact did it have? Well, here's the front of the BBC's UK coverage right now, less than 24 hours after the action:

Ah, we're not so different on both sides of the pond, are we, when it comes to workers' rights.


An Immigration Crisis Conservatives Can't Handle

The other night on the Fox "news" program Sean Hannity's Phantasmagorium of Spite and Fear, with guest host Eric Bolling, Senator Rand Paul, who always looks like he just finished getting off by rubbing a ferret against his balls, was asked about the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central American nations trying to cross our borders by the thousands. Paul said, "Right now, we have a humanitarian nightmare down there, with every child from Central America wanting to come across the border. You can't have a beacon to the whole world to come unless you have a secure border."

First of all, "every child" from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras doesn't wanna come here. Just the ones who live in depraved poverty and murderous lawlessness. A 2012 Department of Labor report on Honduras said that child labor there is used for everything from cutting sugarcane to construction jobs to mining to fucking strangers. This is not to mention all the aforementioned murder. So maybe it's hard to blame 'em. But every child? No, sorry.

But it's the second sentence there that boggles the Rude Pundit's mind: "You can't have a beacon to the whole world to come unless you have a secure border." What the hell does that mean? You can't invite everyone unless the door is closed? You can't offer blow jobs to the entire football team unless you wear a mouth guard? Parse it out, and you've got the classic conservative clusterfuck of rhetoric. America is a beacon of hope to the world in all its glorious exceptional exceptionalism. Fuck, yeah. But, fuck you, you can't reach it, sexually-exploited Salvadoran kids, because Rand Paul has to sound tough on immigration. What are we? 'Cause, despite trying really hard to, you can't say you're that beacon if your light is only meant to shine on a few.

This is the knot many on the right are contorting themselves into: compassionate words with tough actions: "Isn't this a pretty, shiny dildo I'm going to force up your ass?"

America's grumpiest lawn gnome, John McCain, told Bill O'Reilly yesterday, "[B]y the way, if a child is in fear of being persecuted by the environment in which they live, then we should have them go to our embassy, go to our consulate, apply for asylum and we can expand those capabilities. Not have them show up at our border. Tell them if they show up at our border, they will be returned." Absolutely. Little Maria who has been raped and held captive most of her life must know all about how to fill out I-589 and submit it to the local embassy. It's so easy a child could...never mind.

Then there's the twat-faced Ted Cruz, who always dives to the bottom of the barrel and say, "Wait, what's that under the scum? I'll gobble it down." Cruz, speaking on Sean Hannity Rapes Your Ears Through the Radio, got off on describing just how horrific the lives of the children are: "They will force one little boy or one little girl to cut off the fingers or ears of other little boys or little girls." Bizarrely, Cruz, who, it should be pointed out, is a U.S. Senator, thinks that "The children will not stop coming, and will not stop being subjected to this horrific physical violence and sexual violence unless and until this administration begins enforcing our laws." How enforcement of our nation's laws will stop the mutilation of children in another country is left unexplained, but, hey, he went to Ivy League schools, so he must know.

And, just like Jesus would want a good Christian like Cruz to do, he wants to send the kids back to the places where they have their body parts cut off. That'll teach 'em.

But every once in a while, every now and then, someone surprises you, like an extra shot on the house from that cute bartender. Ya gotta give a clap or two to Glenn Beck, who is loading up tractor-trailers to bring the kids at the Texas border food, water, and toys. No doubt there's some dickish motive, but, hey, at least Beck is acting like this ain't just immigration season. It's a full-blown, where-the-hell-is-the-U.N. refugee crisis.


Yes, Everything Is Worse Than It Seems (Part 2: You Will Be Probed)

Yeah, of course, we knew - we always knew, right? - that the National Security Agency and the FBI were spying on American citizens without any cause more than "Name That Sounds Funny" and "Thinks Terrorists Might Be People." Here we go again, again, with documents provided by Edward Snowden that show that five American Muslims were the targets of months of surveillance. This would include Faisal Gill, a Republican who worked for Homeland Security under George W. Bush, and Nihad Awad, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Of course, of course, no one in the government is going to confirm the FISA-approved spying, which occurred until 2008, but you know - you always knew, right? - is still going on. Of course, of course, the targets themselves can never be told why they were the subjects of FBI surveillance because that's secret. Maybe their organizations are suspected of supporting terrorists or terrorist-related groups or groups related to groups that might be related, in some vague way, to terrorism. Besides, they know. Surely, they know. Or they wouldn't be targeted by our great and mighty state security apparatus that would never overstep its bounds or behave irrationally. Just ask Mohammed Raghead.

Yeah, see, someone in the intelligence community put out a document in 2005 showing how to format memos for FISA-approved surveillance (or, you know, "surveillance"). Under "Identity," the author created a mock name, a little ha-ha joke to show where to put the name. The author could have put "John Doe." He or she could have put "Terrorist Guy," if he or she was feeling perky. No, instead, the author put "Mohammed Raghead." Because of course they did. The Obama administration has promised to investigate to discover who is the spy/D-level comedian.

What's most fun is that if you are in any way associated with someone who is under surveillance, you will get swept up in the net, like we're playing "Six Degrees of Mohammed Raghead." And when they're tossing that fishing net into the vast ocean of the web, it'll pick up everything: "[M]edical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque. Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops."

The Washington Post got to check these Snowden docs out, and it found a whole spank bank of material being kept by the NSA. Remember: the spooks didn't glance at it and dump it. They archived it. By the way, "The material spans President Obama’s first term, from 2009 to 2012, a period of exponential growth for the NSA’s domestic collection."

It's wearying, innit, dear, sweet lefties, in a quite profound way? Trying our hardest to support President Obama, if for no other reason than those who attack him unceasingly are such worthless dunderheads who have undermined the presidency and the Congress, with the Supreme Court pretty close behind. Goddamn, we prop him up, we attempt to defend him even when his actions are mind-boggling and aggravating.

But then some of us, at least, turn a corner and run smack into the massive expansion of spying under Obama. Sure, we can go back to the old "We knew," the quiescent "So?", the assured "We trust him," the righteous "It's for our safety." But, at the end of the day, or perhaps always and at the beginning, the spying on Americans is far, far worse than it first seemed. And we're probably at the beginning of learning just how many of us and for what thin reasons were watched by our own government.

Maybe we'll be mature enough one day to be trusted to have the debate on how far our leaders can go in undermining privacy for the chimera of security.


Poll Naming Obama "Worst President" Since WWII Proves that People Are Fucking Idiots

Let's get this straight: we're supposed to take seriously a Quinnipiac University poll that says that 33% of voters believe Barack Obama is now the worst president since the Second World War, more than Bush II, more than Nixon. That's what we're supposed to do, right? Act like this is a real thing? That it wasn't just a bunch of fucknuts, shut-ins, assholes, mouth-breathers, and Fox "news" viewers who still have home phones? That if you look at the numbers, it's mainly skewed by people over 50, who might have a tendency to be a smidge racist, a tincture conservative, and a pinch cranky?

But, hey, why the hell not, let's just say for a second that it's true, that the poll is really reading the zeitgeist, that, despite inheriting two worthless wars, an economy in the shitter, and an opposing party that decided, "Fuck this coon," despite ending one of the wars and kind of on the way to ending the other, keeping us out of a bunch of conflicts, getting the economy at least out of the shitter (and making rich people even richer so that they're like hogs in a pool of filth made out of gold bricks), getting health insurance to an additional 10 million people and counting, expanding rights for gays and lesbians, all while being confronted by an opposing party that decided, "Fuck this coon," yeah, sure, people believe that Barack Obama is the worst president since 1945, the firefighter worse than the arsonist.

Well, the only rational conclusion, in that scenario, is that Americans are a bunch of fucking idiots who have the attention span of a brain-damaged beagle who wonders every day why a new nice lady feeds him.

Which leads us to the conservatives on the Washington Post's opinion page, two of whom, Marc Thiessen and Michael Gerson, use the poll as the basis of their "columns" this week (if by "columns," you mean, "various shades of vomit that come from different mouths but all from the same digestive tract").

Ever the rational rightie, Gerson is more realistic about the poll's overall evaluation of Obama, but he finds other polls just as damning of the president. "We already know that Obama is a highly polarizing figure," Gerson offers. And "Obama is solidifying a perception that he is out of his depth. Once made, such an impression is difficult to unmake." This is not to mention that "Public impressions of the economy seem set. Obamacare is enduringly controversial." Hmm. Wonder where such impressions come from?

Torture supporter Thiessen laps up the Quinnipiac results like he's the happiest cum whore in stocks at the leather convention. "Obama has presided over a recent string of disasters that make even Carter look competent," scrawls Thiessen one-handedly, the other jacking it hard to an old Billy Beer ad. Everything is a fucking nightmare now: "From his failure to enforce his own red line in Syria to the release of five senior Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay to the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea to the implosion of Iraq, the world is on fire." Here at home, everything is in tatters, motherfuckers, tatters: "We’ve had the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal . . . the flood of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children across the border . . . the epidemic of hard-drive crashes at the Internal Revenue Service after Congress began investigating the targeting of the president’s political opponents."

You could argue each of these. You could point out how he ended the Russia/Ukraine crisis without the whole thing becoming a regional war. You would say that it would have been useless to the point of masochism to intervene in Syria. You could say that Obama has deported...that the hard drives aren't...fuck it. Instead, it's just easier to stare with awe, wondering about Thiessen, "Goddamn, how can he gobble so much spooge? Doesn't he ever get full?"

The answer, of course, is "Are you kidding? He loves the jizz juice." So Thiessen gets into the horrors of Obamacare: "Obamacare remains deeply unpopular. In May, the law registered 55 percent opposition. Obama hopes that the law will be such a success that Americans will one day look back and decide that they were wrong about it after all. The more likely scenario is that Obamacare will go down in history not as the project that salvaged Obama’s legacy but the one that discredited big-government liberalism for a generation." We really do live in different dimensions in a standing multiverse, don't we?

Not once, not a single godforsaken time in their querulous scribbles do either Gerson or Thiessen mention the "Fuck that coon" Republicans as having any role in any of this. Not once do they say that Obama offered, again and again, to work across the aisle. Not once do they say that Obamacare was a Republican idea they once loved. The Republicans are blameless because that would fuck up the narrative, man. That would totally fuck up the "perception" that has been "solidifying" thanks to a media that would rather flog the illusion of balance than report reality. That would fuck with the absolute devotion of the right to declaring Obama better do things their fuckin' way or he is fucked in the ass without lube. And when Obama slaps the dildo away to try to do something, that's overreach, that's dictatorship. Refusing to compromise or bargain? That's standing on principle. The public believes that shit because it's easier to hate the president than to try to work to change things to support the guy you voted for twice.

In the Quinnipiac poll, 45% think that a President Mitt Romney would be doing a better job than Barack Obama. That's compared to 38% who said Romney'd do a worse job.

It's either all fiction or we have gone truly mad.


Yes, Everything Is Worse Than It Seems (Part 1: Hobby Lobby, Science, and You)

The Rude Pundit spent 4th of July weekend having a merry time in Chicago, one of his favorite places on this entire overheating planet. It was a mighty fine few days, filled with good friends, good weed, good food, good booze, good weather, and good music. He hadn't been to Chicago since 2007, so the Rude Pundit was thrilled to rediscover his love for that enormous town, spread out there like it's hugging Lake Michigan with two brawny, filthy arms.

Then he hopped on the computer this morning after sleeping it off last night to see that at least 60 people were shot, with at least 11 dead, in Chicago this weekend. The Rude Pundit didn't spend any time in the south or west sides of the city, where nearly all the shootings occurred. He isn't a young black or Hispanic male, who were nearly all the victims. It was hidden from view, in its way, the violence. While he was dancing drunkenly, he didn't realize that he was two-stepping on the edge of a pit, ready to plunge in.

Don't worry, people tell the Rude Pundit constantly, don't worry so much. It'll be fine. It's not so bad. Except it is. With every issue, with every thing, it's almost always as bad as it can be. For instance:

1. The Hobby Lobby contraception coverage case, we're told, isn't a disaster yet. It's only a narrow decision. It's only focused on supposed abortifacient drugs. It might not apply to other corporations, nonprofits, and colleges seeking exemptions from the rules of the Affordable Care Act and HHS. Except we already know it's worse. We already know that the justices have said that it applies to all forms of birth control for women. And it's going to get worse because of the Trojan horse in the decision that's gonna blow up like an IED with a truck heading its way.

See, the most insidious part of the decision isn't Justice Alito's assertion that if contraception offends your particular flavor of Sky Wizard, then fuck the Constitution and let's all bow down before your fictional delusion. That's bad enough, sure. But Alito wrote, "[A]ccording to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients." As the Rude Pundit wrote last week, "belief" trumps science. Faith trumps facts.

To tease this out a bit, it's not merely that your religious beliefs compel you not to use or fund contraception. It's that your religious beliefs compel you to disbelieve science. That's some scary shit right there. Because, see, it's another thing entirely for the Supreme Court to declare that science doesn't matter. And while people tell us to calm the fuck down, that this ain't that bad, no, fuck that. This Supreme Court is that bad, despite the noble efforts of the women on the Court.

Think about how that willful disbelief in science can apply. If Cargill, a closely-held corporation, says that its church doesn't believe that climate change is human-made, does that mean it can ignore pollution mandate? Can Chick-fil-A claim that its owners' religion says that homosexuality is a learned behavior, not genetic trait so, fuck you, queers, go home? Just think of all the laws you can toss out if you have a religious belief that is total bullshit, but sincerely held. Koch Industries was just told, "Go nuts, motherfuckers. Have blood orgies to your mad gods and sacrifice virgins to the oil demons, if that's what you believe." Walmart can finally make lard a sacrament.

Yeah, this shit's gonna go nuts. But not just because corporate Christians see a way to assert control over their heathen employees. It's because all of a sudden, logic, really, dictates that these entities are treated the same way that Hobby Lobby was. Of course, "logic" is a part of science, so maybe the Supreme Court doesn't believe in that anymore.