These Haiku Annihilate 2014! And They Are Everything!

As we continue with the haiku review of 2014, the Rude Pundit has a few to toss into the mix:

GOP Fault Lines

Ebola, ISIS
Benghazi, high gas, Iran:
It's Obama's fault.

Economic surge,
Gas way down, Putin is tamed:
No Obama props.


Between college rapes,
Cosby, and abortion laws,
Women's year was fucked.

On to the readers' haiku: For shits and giggles, let's stay west of the Mississippi today, with no California at all, just to show that Rude America really does go from sea to shining sea and is not just centered in the liberal wilds of the sinful Northeast or the whoredom that is Cali.

From Dan in Bellingham (that's in Washington and a damn pretty town):

Korean Ferry
It took the death of children
To unmask their greed

From Nancy G. in Olympia:

As the world heats up,
remember the people who
said it was a hoax.

From Liz in Utah:

ISIS slaughtering
children: your god's already
forgotten you all.

From Brian in Texas:

Ebola outbreak
Threatening America
Cured by the mid-terms

From Laurie in St. Louis:

"Grand jury decides.
What could possibly go wrong?"
Said Bob McCullough.

(The Rude Pundit is still going through the piles of poems he received. More to come. Maybe even one by you.)


You Won't Believe How Insightful Haiku Can Be! Click to Find Out!

The people have ejaculated haiku all over the place, with more than 100 emissions so far, from coast to coast and even the flyover states. Keep 'em coming. (Boo-yah - Orgasm trifecta.) The annual Haiku Review of This Goddamned Year continues:

From Radical Russ:

Pot's been made legal
In four US states, and yet
Sky remains in place.

From Doughty Wench in Oregon:

War in the Middle
East. Riots in Ferguson.
I'm going to bed.

From Mike in Cool, California (which he assures is a real place with a real zip code)

CIA torture
Cheney's aphrodisiac
Shameful policy

From Regina in New York:

Dick Cheney, fuck you.
George Bush paintings are torture,
But you are a taint.

From Tom in Granville, OH:

Mid-term elections:
Doing nothing, expecting
Different results


The Rude Pundit's End-o'-2014 Haiku Spectacular! Featuring Haiku! (Part 1!)

"More haiku!" the Rude Pundit commanded the masses. "Send me more haiku!" Sweaty and tumescent, the Rude Pundit wanted to be engorged with short poems from the rude readers. So far, he has received dozens through the magic of email (rudepundit_at_blogspot_dot_com - fuck you, 'bots). But he demands more, more, to be satiated.

Now, to remember this dreadful/was it really that bad? year, let's begin the retelling with a trio from the Rude Pundit:

A Bridge Not Far Enough

Christie's minions felt
Safe to dick over Jersey.
Their boss was "elsewhere."

Dear Vladimir
Putin won Right hearts
Because he fucked so roughly.
Oil chapped his ass.

Whitey Doodle
Bundy pointed guns
At the marshalls. "We can't shoot,"
They said. "He's not black."

More later. And, remember, if you send a haiku or five, include the name you want listed and a place, like "Jesus of Nazareth."


End of Year Housekeeping: More Joyful Shit and Some Motherfuckin' Haiku

1. Holy shit, the Rude Pundit can't believe he left out some of his favorite stuff from this past year when he was writing about, well, hell, his favorite stuff from this past year. Like Rick and Morty, the animated show by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, which was alternately fucked-up and poignant, sometimes both at once, as when Morty, the grandson of the mad, dimension-leaping, alcoholic scientist, Rick, buries a dead version of himself so he can take his place back in his family.

Or like Beck in concert, the first time the Rude Pundit's seen him live since the Odelay days. Playing guitar again like a boss after a long, painful recovery from spinal surgery, Beck didn't dwell in his mellow, beautiful new album. Instead, it was an old-school dance party, with Beck breaking into "Billie Jean" at one point. And he played "Debra," which brought the Rude Pundit no end of boogie-down bliss. What else? The film Nightcrawler? Thao with the Get Down Stay Down live? New Girl getting even funnier? The play Dry Land? Okay, moving on...

2. It's that time of year around this here bloggy parts. Every year, the Rude Pundit doesn't sit there and pen some naval-gazing bullshit about what roughly sucked balls and what gave a delicious hummer this year. Instead, he kicks the poetry jams with some haiku as a sharp needle to poke into the brain about the last dozen months. Like:

CNN's Lemon
Wondered, "Do black holes suck planes?"
Dumb anchor physics.

You see how that goes? Five syllables in one line, seven in the next, five in the last one. That's it.

So starting on Monday, the Rude Pundit will post some and then he invites you, the devoted and/or perverse rude reader, to contribute your own. The rules are simple: Real haiku (not some half-assed limerick) and a subject from this year.

Using his superhuman abilities to judge everything, the Rude Pundit will choose the best to be published on the blog. Your prize? Um, you get published on the blog. What the fuck else do you want?

Just in case that great honor is bestowed on you, give the name you want with it and a place (city or state or country, however vague you'd like to be). Like "Jennifer in Thailand" or "CockMonger in Poughkeepsie." (The Rude Pundit will Skype both of you today.)

And email 'em to rudepundit_at_yahoo.com.


Continuing a Christmas Tradition (Now with Gnomes)

Like movies about Bedford Falls suicides and tortured ghosts and pole-frozen tongues, some things are a tradition around the rude house. Reruns are good for the soul.

Before Twitter, Instagram, Buzzfeed, Pinterest, and many other places you can get your fix of weird shit, the Rude Pundit posted this Christmas blast back in 2004, updated with a new bit of freakishness:

Xmas - And, lo, a small teddy bear will lead them:
In the days before Christmas, the Rude Pundit roamed his neighborhood, looking at the displays in the charming stores and corner markets. There he saw the agony of so many dichotomous feelings about this holiday. One window had a kneeling, praying Santa next to a baby Jesus in the manger. Santa's hat was off. He was balding. Another display had the jolly old fat man landing his sleigh and reindeer on the roof of the manger. Surprisingly, neither Mary nor Joseph seemed rattled by the noise, although a camel was looking upward, as if asking, "What the fuck?" The Rude Pundit loved that camel.

Ah, sweet camel, what the fuck, indeed. Christ and commerce, Alleluia. The Savior has been born and he thanks you for your presents. Santa showing that he'll even honor the king of the Jews in the land of Islam. There's no telling what it means (and don't get all up in the Rude Pundit's face about St. Nicholas). Except this: we want to embrace both things, good deconstructionists that we are: Santa, who soothes our greed, and Jesus, who promises us peace. Either way, we want them both to tell us we're good people, nice people. And, of course, guilt-ridden Christians want to make sure that Santa toes the party line, you know.

For the holiday, here's a few of the Rude Pundit's favorite nativity sets, none of which are intended to be mocking of the event:

That right there is the Veggie Tales Nativity. In case you don't know, Veggie Tales are cute vegetables who love Christ and salad tossing. The newborn savior up there is a carrot. Get it? A baby carrot? What a delight.

Holy shit, that bear nativity is one of the creepiest fucking things the Rude Pundit's ever seen. Staring straight ahead with their dead eyes, it looks like a satanic cult sacrifice to some horrible bear-demon. Although, the three wise bears have provided snacks for the blood rite: salmon, honey, and berries. All go well with cub entrails.

You know how gnomes used to be just those creepy little bitches you put out on your lawn and forgot about? Well, now they can apparently give birth to the Gnome God's child, who will, no doubt, be crucified on a cute little cross one day for the sins of all gnomes. Oh, so many sins.

Speaking of entrails, here's the First Halloween Nativity Set, with Three Wise Zombies and Frankenstein's Monster and his Bride as Joseph and Mary. Who's that in the crib? Why, it's Dracula as Baby Jesus, ready to drink your blood rather than have you drink his.

That nightmare fuel is the dachsund nativity. Frankly, who needs to wage a war on Christmas when the supposed believers actually advertise an anthropomorphized birth of their Lord and Savior with "Bring the true meaning of Christmas into your house year round with the Wiener Dog Nativity!"

This is not to mention the Chickentivity, the Moosetivity, the Barntivity, the Native American Nativity, and the various Beartivities, all available unironically for your Christmas consumption.

And, finally, one for which the Rude Pundit has no words:

What the fuck is it? It's like Tim Burton shit out a nativity.
(Note: Previous editions of the nativity post have included the Dogtivity, the Boyd's Bears Nativity, and the Rubber Duck...oh, fuck, you get the idea.)


Things That Brought the Rude Pundit Unmitigated Joy in 2014

Before we dive into Christmas and New Year, before we leave this godforsaken year behind and only speak ill of it, if we speak of it at all, the Rude Pundit wants to show himself that it wasn't all terrible, that there were moments, culturally, of great beauty, of cathartic intensity, of sublime emotion. Amid all the terrible news, one can still find grace:

1. In a single day in April, at the Brooklyn Museum, you could go into one area and see the amazing, passionate protest works of "Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties." Then you could head into the atrium and be overwhelmed by "Submerged Motherlands," enormous works by the artist Swoon that exist in a world after the flood - Katrina, Sandy, the 2004 tsunami, or the next one. And then you could wander the rest of museum and see a career-spanning exhibit of the Chinese dissident and art celebrity Ai Weiwei in all his provocative, frustrating, and occasionally beautiful glory. That was one hell of an afternoon of art.

2. The Rude Pundit is still regularly listening to Lost in the Dream by the War on Drugs months after its release. It's a late night ride out of cities and into deserts and then back again, light and stars and light again. Deeply melodic, sometimes meandering, sometimes hook-filled, the band creates a rarity in the time of Spotify random playlists: a cohesive album that gets better the more you listen. But if you want to fill your speakers with great cuts, you should add "Miss Teen Massachusetts" by Skaters and "Eyes of the Muse" by King Tuff.

3. The moment in the Soho Rep's production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' An Octoroon when a black actor in white face abused a Latino actor in black face and a white actor in red face (as in "redskin") was subversive, hilarious, and confrontational, especially when the Rude Pundit looked around at the nearly all-white audience laughing at jokes about slavery. It's going to be remounted at the Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn in February and March. If you live up here or you're gonna be visiting, get your tickets. (Famous people performances that hit hard in plays the Rude Pundit has always wanted to see live: Holly Hunter and Bill Pullman as fucked-up versions of Ozzie and Harriet in David Rabe's classic Sticks and Bones; and Michael Shannon desperately trying to come up with meaning for life and death in the half-hour monologue that ends Eugene Ionesco's The Killer.)

4. Yeah, Jack White's nearly three-hour performance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival was insane and great and epic. But at one of the smaller stages the day before, the Cloud Nothings tore everyone's fucking face off with blistering, thrashing bass and guitar, savage drumming, and yowling vocals, with a frenzied, moshing crowd urging them on. It was cathartic rock and roll, as intense and sweaty and perfect a show as you could hope for surrounded by filthy kids in a stinking tent in a big, open field. (Runner-up insane moment: Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant climbing to the high balcony of Terminal 5 in New York City and swan-diving into the crowd.)

5. Broad City said everything that Girls is trying to say but does it by making you laugh your stoned ass off and not want to throw your remote at the TV. Silicon Valley was Big Bang Theory with writers who give a shit about more than selling "Bazinga" shirts. BoJack Horseman was one of the most satisfying long-games on TV. You have to make it halfway through the season before you realize "Holy crap, this isn't just about funny anthropomorphic animals. It's about deep sadness. And funny anthropomorphic animals." Also, it's got the best theme song on TV.

6. Nothing this year matched the sheer intensity of the film Whiplash, in which teacher J.K. Simmons abuses greatness out of drummer Miles Teller. No action film was more thrilling, no horror film was more frightening, and no ending was better. In fact, the last ten minutes of the movie may turn out to be one of the great scenes in movie history, a visceral, morally complex vision of what it takes to make music. You left the theatre feeling exhausted and ready to do anything to create art, even bleed. (Runner-up: The Babadook, which was about dread and depression manifested as a creepy-ass monster.)


Conservatives Don't Give a Fuck About Cops; They Only Care About Authority

Here's the deal, conservative spoogerags and twat mites: You sit there and talk about how much you fuckin' love cops, you love 'em so much that you just wanna suck 'em off, suck those cop dicks until they spray blue jizz all over you. But when it comes time to actually do shit that keeps cops safe and secure? You fuckin' close your mouths and act all prim.

The New York Post's Michael Goodwin, a lipless joke of a writer, said that "Mayor Bill de Blasio and the cop-haters" gave cover for Ismaaiyl Brinsley's murders. Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said the mayor saying that he told his biracial son to be careful when dealing with cops "set off this latest firestorm."

You know what cops hate more than politicians who mildly criticize the acts of violent officers? They fuckin' hate guns. They want to get guns out of the hands of people who shoot them at police. In fact, back in 2013, the International Association of Chiefs of Police supported a Senate bill that would have expanded background checks to gun shows and online purchases. Yeah, Ray fuckin' Kelly was for it, too. He said there are too many fuckin' guns in the United States. Back in 2006, you know who stood up and supported stricter gun laws in New York state? Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

What's gonna protect cops more? Locking up peaceful protesters? Or reducing the number of and access to guns?

For just one second, put yourself in an American cop's shoes. There are over 300 million firearms out there. When you see someone you want to arrest, you just assume that person has a gun. If you're an inexperience, poorly-trained, or just shitty cop, you're gonna mistake anything for a gun because you're expecting a gun. When someone reaches for a pocket, you expect a gun. Because that's America in the 21st century. This ain't to excuse cops who fuck up, but you can fuckin' well bet that cops in England don't automatically assume someone has a gun because it's England. Chances are that they don't. It's a different way of existing, being actually shocked by guns.

The NRA has caused more cop shootings than a nonstop parade of protests.

Conservatives don't actually give a fuck about cops as people, despite their moaning over the deaths of Officers Liu and Ramos. What they like is the authority and control the cops represent, the police force as a means of oppressing dissent (and, let's be honest, a lot of cops get off on the authority and control, too). If the right-wing did give a fuck, police would make a shit-ton more money, paid for by tax hikes, like Democratic Mayor Mitch Landrieu is attempting in New Orleans.

And maybe they'd not cut the pensions and benefits of retired cops like fake tough guy Chris Christie, who seeks to balance New Jersey's budget on the backs of the police and firefighters. In October, a retired police officer called into a radio show to talk to Christie. After brushing off the cop's attempt to criticize him, Christie jowled, "You're a guy that retired at 58 years old, with a full pension and free medical benefits for life, and you're coming on the air to complain...Pay your fair share." If President Obama said that, Fox "news" would cause riots.

What is hurting cops more? Mayor de Blasio saying that asshole cops should stop being assholes? Or Gov. Christie telling cops that their pensions might not be there in full when they retire?


Random Thoughts on Spreading the Blame for a Cop Killing

1. Yesterday, in a divey Brooklyn restaurant, the Rude Pundit watched as an African American couple approached the three police officers who were ordering at the counter. They wanted to know how the cops were doing in the wake of the murders of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, shot to death by a savage fucker who was kind enough to off himself. The cops thanked the couple, who thanked them in return. Later, walking through the Lower East Side in Manhattan, the Rude Pundit passed some fresh graffiti that read, "R.I.P. Not all cops are bad cops. #alllivesmatter." The zeitgeist of New York City yesterday was mournful, not regretful.

2. But the airwaves are filthy with opportunistic sons of bitches. The blood barely dry on the scene, Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, mouthed off, "There's blood on many hands tonight," he said. "That blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the Office of the Mayor." Then Lynch blamed those who think that cops shouldn't murder unarmed men, specifically "those that incited violence on the streets under the guise of protest that tried to tear down what NYPD officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated." Those who committed the small amount of violence during the protests are either turning themselves in or being turned in by other protesters, but, sure, why not blame them. Lynch also orchestrated the moment when cops turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio as he was heading to a briefing at the hospital where Liu and Ramos were taken. It was not a spontaneous shunning.

2a. Keep in mind that Lynch's and other unions are currently in contract negotiations with City Hall that could best be described as "acrimonious."

2b. And some cops are pissed off at de Blasio for defending his wife's chief of staff, who once was a spokeswoman for Al Sharpton and whose boyfriend called cops "pigs" on Facebook or something.

2c. This is on top of the cops who are angry about the change in the enforcement of marijuana laws that de Blasio enacted, shifting from arresting people for possession of small amounts of pot to giving a ticket. The head of another union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said that de Blasio "just doesn’t get it with this whole far-left agenda, and he’s putting (cops) in a bad spot." Oh, and if people aren't put in prison for a joint or two, it is "clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society." As if that's not drama queeny enough, there has been talk of a work slowdown by the NYPD to protest that and the changes to stop-and-frisk.

2d. So, you know, keep the cops' anger with de Blasio in perspective. If he had given them the raise they want, you can bet that most of this bullshit, self-righteous anger wouldn't exist.

2e. If also bears saying that, like crime in general, cop killing has been declining in recent years.

3. Many people from the protests have made statements in support of the police and condemning the murders, including Michael Brown's family, Eric Garner's family, and de facto protest leader Al Sharpton. Any time anyone speaks about police violence, they have to include some line that indicates they only mean the violent asshole cops and not the vast majority of police officers. This exclusion of most cops is even more pronounced now. Yet Lynch and others don't feel any obligation to say the vast majority of the protesters are peaceful. Instead, they freely blame protests for murder.

3a. And no cops have spoken out against the murders by police officers that are being protested.

4. Rudy Giuliani did more to ruin the NYPD than the most fevered fantasies of a militantly liberal Bill de Blasio. Giuliani should probably just the shut the fuck up and shove his vicious, hateful rhetoric up his savage ass.

5. In June, Jerad and Amanda Miller shot two police officers and another person dead in Las Vegas. They had come from the standoff at the ranch of Cliven Bundy, where a bunch of white shitheels actually pointed guns at federal agents and everyone went home without a shot being fired or anyone being arrested, despite Bundy being guilty of essentially the same crime as Eric Garner, except Bundy owed the government more than a million bucks in grazing fees and not a few coins on single cigarettes. The Millers were anti-government nutzoids who thought cops were oppressors who were gonna git their guns or some such shit. They left a note on the scene saying they wanted to start a revolution.

You know what didn't happen after the shooting? Police associations didn't say that Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman had blood on her hands. The cops didn't condemn the armed numbskulls at Bundy ranch, who were, you know, protesters. And the Vegas police unions most definitely did not say they were now a "wartime" department, as the New York City PBA supposedly did.

5a. Imagine the shitstorm that'd happen if the cops said that violent white people were the problem and they needed to be stopped. It would have actually made sense. The Millers were directly connected with the Bundy ranch uprising. The guy who shot Liu and Ramos was a solo dickhead with a Facebook page.

5b. But craven fucks like Giuliani and Joe Scarborough and others will use this as a chance to shut the marching blacks down.


A Farewell to Michele Bachmann

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is leaving Congress. She gave an exit interview to WND (motto: "Someone tell these voices in our heads to stop. Please, God, make them stop"). The Rude Pundit has taken the liberty of illustrating some of the quotes:

"I’ve never had a filter on my mouth at all! No, I was very free. And that’s what got me into trouble all the time."

"I worked until I’d go to sleep. And I think that’s what I am proudest of, because I put everything on the line… I couldn’t have worked harder."

"The congresswoman recalled she 'was at the tip of the spear' leading the charge against the adoption of Obamacare in Congress."

"The Republican Party always gets a bad rap, because there are not as many women in elective office. But it’s a tough business. It is public humiliation, public ridicule, constant criticism, when you’re in public office, if you take on the left."

Speaking for the left, we don't have to work that hard to humiliate you. This took, like, five minutes.

Adios, Michele Bachmann. The country will become just a little smarter without you in a leadership position.


Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Take a Deep, Relatively Clean Breath

That's a photo from 2012 in Tioga County, New York. The owner of that little bit of green mountain paradise really, really wanted to allow gas companies to come in and fuck the ground with hydraulic fracking equipment to get at the shale gas buried beneath it. But his dream won't be coming true, and the bald eagles and bobcats will be safe to soar over and roam the land because Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally made up his mind and banned fracking in New York State. The economy of the region on the border with Pennsylvania still sucks - the Southern Tier citizens were hoping to make money on fracking the way that their greedy, shortsighted neighbors across the state line have - but at least they won't have to worry about chemicals poisoning their water and drilling that causes earthquakes. Life is a series of trade-offs.

It's been a pretty good week for environmentalists in the United States, one of the better ones in a while. President Obama chose the fishermen and women over the oil industry by permanently protecting Bristol Bay, Alaska, from oil and gas exploration and drilling. His order covers 52,000 square miles, and it's groovy, but not that brave an act, considering that Bristol Bay is the center of the lucrative salmon industry and that petroleum companies had little interest in the area (although, you know, if they could have, you know they would have drilled that Bay with all the vigor and intensity of a gay porn veteran on a fresh, young anus).

Down in West Virginia, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin "filed criminal charges against six former Freedom Industries officials, and the company itself, for their roles in last January’s chemical leak that contaminated the Kanawha Valley’s drinking water." That was the leak that caused 300,000 people to lose their water privileges for weeks, including much of the city of Charleston. You talk to people down there and they'll say that, even now, they'll drink only bottled water.

Goodwin said, "Metal tanks don’t simply corrode overnight. Containment walls don’t simply disintegrate in a matter of days. These things take time and those matters have to be dealt with" before kicking the company in the balls. Attorney General Eric Holder followed up with a from-behind kick to the taint, saying, "They put an entire population needlessly at risk. Such conduct cannot, and will not, be tolerated. These law enforcement actions send an unambiguous message that compliance with environmental safety standards is an obligation, not a choice." And four of the executives face the possibility of real jail time, with the former chief operating officer looking at up to 68 years behind bars.

Hell, with a federal grand jury indicting former Massey Energy CEO Donald "Greasy 'Stache" Blanknship on four criminal counts related to the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster of 2010 just last month, it's almost as if rich white polluters might not be getting away with all the evil shit they do. Too bad they don't work on Wall Street, huh? Well, it's a start.

Every once in a while, it's okay to climb up a particularly beautiful hill, pause, breathe in deeply, and say, "Yes, a few good things can happen amidst the unending barrage of mayhem and hatred." Then you walk back down, into the smog, and get back to work.


Note to Cops: If You're Gonna Be So Thin-Skinned, You Should Stop Killing People

That's Andrew Hawkins, a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. He wore that shirt while warming up for his team's game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. As you can read, it calls for justice in the deaths of Tamir Rice, the 12 year-old who was shot to death by a Cleveland cop for holding a toy gun, and John Crawford, who was shot to death by a cop outside Dayton, Ohio, for the crime of holding a BB gun he had picked up while shopping in a Walmart. Both were killed within seconds of the arrival of the police, with no attempt to ascertain what was occurring. They are both awful situations that call for serious soul-searching by the police in Ohio, to hold the officers accountable in some way, to improve training so that such tragedies don't happen again, to perhaps confront the racism that seems to heighten the violence in these situations. That would all be meaningful and sensitive.

But it's so much easier to go batshit and attack Hawkins.

Yeah, like teenaged girls who just saw that bitch Tanya wearing that purple dress on Instagram when she knew perfectly well that Alicia was gonna wear the same one to the dance (god, Tanya, you don't even look good in purple), the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association stomped its feet and demanded an apology: "It's pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology." You gotta love the implied threat there: "Mighty nice stadium you have here. Be a shame if we let your animal fans run wild."

The truth is a little more complicated. As the police union's president, John Fullmer, said, it's not just that cops patrol the area because, you know, it's their fucking job, but "many Cleveland police officers work security for the Browns games and are employed by Browns." So if those security officers who are paid by the Browns are so upset, they can quit and not get extra paychecks, which they probably need because of the shitty wages they made, possibly because the president of their union is spending his time attacking a football player instead of negotiating for a better fucking contract. (Note: Yeah, that's totally unfair. So's criticizing a guy upset because cops gunned down a kid.)

What is it with all the sensitive fucking cops? You had the St. Louis police group pissed off at the St. Louis Rams for some players for putting their hands up in unity with protesters over the shooting of Michael Brown. You have various NYPD groups pissed off that Mayor Bill de Blasio isn't on his knees, sucking off each and every officer in gratitude. All the cops here want apologies because their feelings are hurt or honor or what fucking ever. Jesus, for a bunch of tough motherfuckers, they're acting like thin-skinned wimps being bullied by the mean old liberals.

Howzabout a day or two of humility for the police, huh? Howzabout not acting like killing Brown or Eric Garner was some kind of triumph, like you took out Bonnie and Clyde? Howzabout shutting the fuck up over the killing of a kid and an obviously innocent man? Oh, wait, you'd rather try to force John Crawford's girlfriend to incriminate Crawford than admit to a crime or, perhaps, apologize.

Hawkins, though, stood fucking tall, man. He addressed the media Monday, saying, "My wearing of the T-shirt wasn't a stance against every police officer or every police department," Hawkins said. "My wearing of the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason to innocent people...A call for justice shouldn't warrant an apology." That's being far, far more respectful of police officers than the police organizations and unions in all these situations. He's talking to them as grown-ups in a land that supposedly treasures free speech. The cops want to treat those who criticize them as children. They can't understand that to say some cops are shit doesn't mean all cops are shit. NFL players, about as much as anyone, understand how easy it is to be lumped in with your worst examples.

Yesterday, the Rude Pundit walked over to the spot where Eric Garner was killed on Staten Island. Unlike its portrayal in the media, it's not in some crime-ridden hellhole of a neighborhood. It's next to one of the busiest spots on the island, a short walk from the Borough Hall and NYPD headquarters, not to mention the ferry terminal. There's a great used bookstore right next to it where you can get vegan and gluten-free pastries.

A makeshift shrine has been erected there, with flowers and notes:

The Rude Pundit walked over to an evening protest led by Garner's daughter, Erica, who has vowed to lay down in the spot where her father died and lead protests several times a week. It was a drizzly, cold night. The numbers were a few dozen. The media attention was very little. Still, we chanted.

See, the police don't have to ask for an apology. They have to wait out the attention span of the American public. But hopefully people like Andrew Hawkins and Erica Garner will give discomfort to those who hide behind a motto of protection and service.


Torture? Cosby Rapes? Almost Everyone Is Missing the Point of the Rolling Stone UVa Article

Bill Cosby's wife, Camille, long a character in her husband's stand-up, released a statement yesterday defending her husband against the rape and assault allegations made by around 20 women. Camille Cosby is standing by her husband of 50 years, and, as a way of saying that the allegations are not true, she draws a media parallel: "We all follow the story of the article in the Rolling Stone concerning allegations of rape at the University of Virginia. The story was heart-breaking, but ultimately appears to be proved untrue."

People who are defending the CIA and the Bush administration against the Senate's torture report routinely cite the UVa story as proof of the dishonesty and/or blind credulity of those who think torture is wrong. Erick "Erick" Erickson, in his gracious fellatio of Dick Cheney, writes, "The very same people embracing the Democrats’ report as some fountain of wisdom and salve to wash sins away were only two weeks ago claiming there’s a 'rape culture' on American college campuses and anyone who dismissed Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s Rolling Stone article was siding with rapists." On Fox "news," mumbling commentator Brit Hume said what's become a talking point about the torture report: they didn't talk to the CIA officials who approved or did the torturing, just like Erdely didn't talk to the students who were accused of rape by "Jackie," the victim who claimed she was gang-raped at a fraternity party.

Obviously, invoking Rolling Stone's "A Rape on Campus" has become the way to introduce doubt into any story. Because serious questions have arisen about Erdely's telling of Jackie's story, as well as the editors' failure to fact check and follow-up on such an explosive allegation, just a mention of the article suggests lying and incompetence and mistrust and myriad sins. Which would be a fine analogy except for one major problem: the Rolling Stone article isn't just about Jackie and her story.  It's not a nonfiction retelling of a single incident. It's about rape on college campuses, with the University of Virginia as a prime example of how the schools screw over the victims.

There's the 1984 case of Liz Seccuro, who was raped at the Phi Kappa Psi house and had to wait until 2006 before her rapist was brought to justice. There's Emily Renda, who was raped after a party in her first year at UVa. There's this: "UVA furnished Rolling Stone with some of its most recent tally: In the last academic year, 38 students went to Eramo about a sexual assault, up from about 20 students three years ago. However, of those 38, only nine resulted in 'complaints'; the other 29 students evaporated. Of those nine complaints, four resulted in Sexual Misconduct Board hearing." There are other statistics and facts from other cases at UVa and elsewhere.

The Jackie story is no doubt the central example of the article and the most sensational. But whatever happens with the veracity of Jackie's story does not take away from the parade of awful incidents and the use of various academic studies in the article. This is not to let Rolling Stone off the hook. But even if Jackie's story turns out to be an utter fabrication that was left unchecked by Erdely and her editors, the larger truth of the article remains: Young women are treated as prey by predatory men at universities, and the administrations are often more concerned with their school's image than fair treatment of victims. In fact, that stark, depressing conclusion has not been challenged.

So invoking the article to make some pathetic point about how credible this or that report may be is an insult to the very real survivors of sexual violence, not just to crazy liberals who dared to believe Rolling Stone. And the comparison is not only unfair, it's doesn't work when you deal in the reality of the article.

See, with that reality in mind, Camille Cosby is implying that one of the women might be lying about Bill Cosby raping her, but that her husband is indeed guilty of raping multiple victims. And the torture apologists are saying that while one of the tales of abusive interrogations is not true, the CIA did have a program of torturing detainees. The discredited example does not change the overall point.

As for everyone else just outright dismissing the Rolling Stone article, get over yourselves. Perhaps the main victim misled a gullible writer (and, remember, the investigation into Jackie's story was done by the Washington Post, not by some conservative stooge), but the rape epidemic continues. Are you going to do anything other than crow over the bruised and battered bodies? Or sigh in relief that you can use "Jackie" as a reason to dismiss them?


Our National Shame: Dick Cheney Is Still a Free Man Today

Let us say, and why not, that American civilians were taken by another country like, say, oh, hell, howzabout Russia under the pretext that they might have information about Chechnyan terrorist attacks. Let us say, and, really, why not, that those Americans were treated like the CIA treated the prisoners it held at black sites around the world, that they were waterboarded, forced to be nude in cold temperatures, slammed around walls, forced to act like dogs, put inside coffin-sized containers, sometimes folded into ones even smaller, and were sodomized with tubes shooting food into their assholes. Let us say that at least some of those Americans were guilty of no crimes other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time and that they knew nothing of any help to Russian intelligence.

Let's say that some former leader of Russia, say, Vladislav Surkov, went on national television in Russia to declare that what the Americans suffered, even the completely innocent ones, wasn't torture and that they would waterboard and use tubes to anally rape the Americans again. And, say, Surkov, who could surely be seen as being Vladimir Putin's Cheney in some ways, continued that the people who did the torturing were heroes and should be treated as such.

Well, this is a stupid game, isn't it? Because we know that we in the United States would be outraged, we'd be threatening, some in Congress would want us to do all kinds of crazy shit to punish Russia. We'd call them "barbaric," we'd call them "subhuman," we'd call them "monsters," and we'd demand that the people behind it be punished. And, indeed, we'd be right to do so. Scratch that. Once upon a time, we would have at least been right to do so. Now, we'd just look like fucking hypocrites, even more than usual, because we know what it looks like to have an ex-leader say such callous, inhuman things without regret.

There is no reason to go back over everything the Rude Pundit said about former Vice President Dick Cheney and his savage response to Senate's report on CIA torture last week. But in the wake of Cheney's epically narcissistic and nationally embarrassing appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, it's worth noting a thing or two.

- Nothing is torture, Cheney said, unless it is equal to putting a man in a burning building and making him call his children before he dies. That's his bottom line. If you didn't die horribly, you weren't tortured. Or, in another part, Cheney brings up how the North Vietnamese treated prisoners, saying that if our actions don't sink to that level or to ISIS's, it ain't torture. No one would have blamed Chuck Todd if he had paused for a second and then said, "Why don't you fucking die already, you sucker of demon cock?"

- Cheney wasn't even asked a question about the president before he tossed George W. Bush onto the war crimes barbecue (again). Todd asked Cheney, "Do you feel as if they [the CIA] were telling you what you wanted to hear?" Cheney responded that the White House was well-informed and, apropos of nothing, added, "The suggestion, for example, that the president didn't approve it, wrong. That's a lie, that's not true." Cheney is evil embodied, so he can hold a long goddamn grudge against the man who didn't pardon one of his friends.

- Being Dick Cheney means having no regrets at all. None. Cheney just doesn't give a fuck about anything but the greatness and rightness of the interrogation program. He doesn't give a fuck if innocent people were tortured. He doesn't give a fuck if they were ass raped with food tubes. He doesn't give a fuck about anyone who questions its efficacy. He doesn't give a fuck if you think the Iraq war was a fuck-up. He doesn't give a fuck if he contradicted what he said about Iraq twenty years ago. Cheney doesn't give a fuck.

- And the second Cheney said that he would do it all again the exact same way is the moment that Chuck Todd should have, Chris Hansen style, brought in cops or FBI agents to arrest him. Or Todd could have at least slammed Cheney against a wall, ripped off his clothes, dragged him down a hall, put him into stress positions, shoved a hummus-filled tube up his ass, and slammed him on a slanted board to pour water on his Gorgon face.

Because, see, what Cheney is saying, and what every Cheney apologist is saying, and what President Obama is saying by not prosecuting the torturers is that we will do it again.  Maybe not now, but we're keeping it in our arsenal while we feign outrage. Why not? What's the penalty for officially sanctioned torture? Not a goddamn thing.


Before the Torture Report Disappears

It's already happening, no? The Senate Intelligence committee's report on the CIA's post-9/11 interrogation techniques, known colloquially as "torture," is in the fast fade from our news cycle and from our outrage churner. It's become like that hot fuck one torrid night on a Mexican vacation, when the tequila and ecstasy flowed and you went back to your timeshare with one of the local dudes and balled your brains out, in the rush, the hurlyburly and hustle of the three hours left between leaving the bar and the cruel light of dawn. Ah, that was something you did, you can say later, and then go on with your life. If it left you with a case of herpes, well, shit, people live with that all the time, don't they? At least it ain't the HIV. Where's the beach?

So it seems it will be with the torture report, something that stays with us the rest of our days, incurable, occasionally surfacing, but tolerated. Already, the media have moved on, to the CRomnibus, the Sony email leak, the floods in California. There will be more Eric Garner and Michael Brown protests, so we're not so brain-damaged that we can't have memory of something for more than a week or two. The Tamir Rice shooting is coming into sharper focus, too. And there's all that Christmas shopping to be done.

The Rude Pundit has never had any illusions. He never thought that any prosecutions or even arrests would happen. He never thought there would be a reckoning of any sort. Oh, sure, he hoped we might spend more than a few days pointing fingers. But we are a nation that simply doesn't like to look in the mirror. And if no one is there to hold our heads and point them straight ahead, then we are happy to glance and then gaze away, into the unknown, always blindly optimistic about the future.

Before we move on, though, the Rude Pundit wants to deal with a couple last things and then we can go back to snarkily saying, "Rectal infusion" and giggling, ignoring the whole ass rape part of the act.

Conservatives and current and former members of the intelligence community promised, swore up and down, that the release of the torture report would cause violence and protests against the United States. The White House was even worried. Except, of course, it hasn't. As Joshua Keating says in Slate, it seems like the extremists in the Muslim world are more upset about degradation of their faith, like pissing on Korans or making a shitty film about Mohammed, than they are about the treatment of a few score individuals. Or maybe it's just the lack of photos this time or a sad shrug that this is all shit they knew about.

Either way, why the fuck would it matter what the reaction would be? When the people supporting the cops defend the officer who killed Eric Garner, they say that Garner should have just allowed himself to be arrested. It's his fault that violence happened. If he didn't want something bad to happen to him, he shouldn't have done something wrong in the first place. Well, fuck, doesn't that also go for torture? The time to worry about what the Muslim world - if not the entire rest of the globe - thought about us is before you start torturing. Once you've done it, aren't you kind of just asking for it? The Rude Pundit doesn't want there to be any violence against Americans, but, Jesus, stop behaving as if we're so fucking special that, even when we do evil shit, we should not be viewed as an enemy. When did we start giving a fuck about the possible damage we might be doing? The number of civilian deaths doesn't stop us from firing drone missiles.

We're Americans, goddamnit. We act without expecting there to be any consequences because fuck you. George W. Bush called the torturers "patriots." Who are you to argue?

The torture supporters defend themselves by saying that they had to do whatever it takes to protect the United States after 9/11. They say that Americans - and especially Congress and the President- wanted our intelligence agents to go brutal if they had to, especially in "the emergency and often-chaotic circumstances we confronted in the immediate aftermath of 9/11." It was a "ticking bomb" scenario, they say. But did it keep ticking for five years?

Others talk about how scared Americans were. The Rude Pundit was a thinking adult on September 11, 2001. He talked to lots of thinking adults. We were gung-ho for getting the fuckers who were behind the attacks. But mostly we were just sad about how fucked up the world had become, and he remembers specific conversations with people about how we hoped the United States wouldn't act like assholes. As soon as the invasion of Afghanistan occurred (and not a small force just to get bin Laden), along with the opening of the prison at Gitmo, the Rude Pundit knew we were gonna be total dicks.

We tortured because we're big enough to be bullies without fear of real recriminations. We also tortured because we're cowards who demonstrated quite plainly that all that shit about freedom is readily cast aside when we feel even a bit threatened. We're forgetting about it now because we're also really good at pretending, a family that sweeps it all under a rug so lumpy that you have to walk around it to get across the room.


Thanks, Dick Cheney, for Incriminating George W. Bush (and Other Conservative Reactions)

Let us now praise infamous men. The desiccated husk of a demi-human that is named Dick Cheney, former Vice President of these here United States, dragged his decaying body and scent of rot into his home away from home, Fox "news" studios, to discuss the Senate's report on the CIA's program of torturing suspected terrorists. He was speaking with Bret Baier, who obviously must worship mad Lovecraftian gods in order to be in the presence of such a barren soul with such black eyes and a mouth torn to shreds by the speaking of endless lies without vomiting endlessly. How many sacrifices have to be made at an altar covered in the blood of Iraqi children to keep Cheney alive? How many virgins, fresh for fucking and devouring, did Baier have to provide Cheney in order to secure the interview?

However, oddly, Cheney ought to be thanked for what he told Baier. When asked about President George W. Bush's awareness of the CIA's interrogation methods, which the report says he was kept in the dark about, Cheney responded, "He was in fact an integral part of the program. He had to approve it before we went forward with it...I think he knew everything he needed to know and wanted to know about the program. There's no question... I think he knew certainly the techniques that we did discuss the techniques. There's nothing -- there was no effort on our part to keep him from that. He was just as with the terrorist surveillance program. On the terrorist surveillance program, he had to personally sign off on that every 30 to 45 days. So the notion that the committee's trying to peddle it, somehow the agency was operating on a rogue basis, and we weren't being told or the President wasn't being told is just a flat-out lie." Cheney totally and without hesitation said that Bush committed war crimes.

Now, one way to look at Cheney's remarks is to say, as several people have, that the former VP threw Bush under the bus, a kind of "Fuck you, I'm not taking the fall." But it's more than that. It's the beginning of a legal defense. Cheney may be an entity of concentrated malice, but he's not stupid. With United Nations officials saying that there need to be prosecutions for the crimes described in the report, with the potential for other nations to want torturers and torture architects arrested, even if the likelihood of anything happening along those lines is slim to "America is awesome," Cheney knows that he might need a legal defense. And the only defense for a vice president is to point the finger at the president and say, "That's where the buck stops."

While some on the right, like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and, really, The American Conservative magazine (seriously), have honorably stood up and said that the torture program was an unmitigated wrong, most conservatives have gone nutzoid in defense of the CIA. For instance:

MSNBC's host with the inbred eyes, Joe Scarborough, tweeted, "Senate Intel Report investigators refused to interview the accused. Sounds like Rolling Stone's journalistic approach on their UVA story." And that'd be totally true if Rolling Stone had had access to a treasure trove of documents from the students accused of rape at the University of Virginia. But the magazine didn't review six million pages of emails, memos, and internal reports from the alleged rapists, things that in a court of law are often seen as more legitimate than the recollections of someone years after the fact. There's 6000 pages more we haven't seen of the torture report, with, it's reported, tens of thousands of footnotes. You can bet that many of them are not just interviews with the victims - they include internal interviews with the people involved, including by the CIA's inspector general.

The whole charge is bogus because, as Dianne Feinstein noted, while the report was being put together, the CIA was being investigated by the Justice Department for destroying evidence of torture. The agency couldn't compel anyone to testify to the committee because "CIA employees and contractors who would otherwise have been interviewed by the Committee staff were under potential legal jeopardy." And Joe Scarborough can go fuck himself with Starbucks travel mug.

The rest of the conservative arguments against the report are equally bullshit filled. There's the "Who the fuck cares?" camp, who say things like, "Without a nation we have no values. And without torture, regardless of the latest politically correct views, we have no nation." (That's from Daily Caller tough guy David Lawrence.) There's the "It worked" argument, best exemplified by the desperate ass-covering of things like the website CIA Saved Lives, the Wall Street Journal editorial by former CIA directors, and torture-approver John Yoo.

Yoo is an especially skeevy cockknob about the report, which he calls "the Feinstein Report" (which will no doubt become the talking point). He wants to know what else would have worked to get information he claims stopped terrorist plots: "The Feinstein Report claims that the CIA would have captured all of these operatives anyway...Feinstein provides no reason to conclude, counter-factually, that the U.S. would have killed or captured these al Qaeda leaders without the high-quality intelligence from interrogations. The United States and its allies certainly had not done so before the interrogations started—it did not even know about many of them before 9/11. But we do know that armed with the intelligence from interrogations, the U.S. succeeded."

So his argument boils down to saying that burning down the house was the only way to get rid of the mice because we don't know if traps would have worked. In fact (and by "fact," the Rude Pundit means, "What happened"), we got all the intelligence we needed out of people like Abu Zubaydah before they were tortured, which proves the traps work, put the fucking gas can down.

There's two more arguments that the Rude Pundit will deal with tomorrow.


The Torture Report: The Game and How We Played It

The Rude Pundit wants to return to the story he told yesterday of Janat Gul, one of 26 men who were completely and utterly innocent, but were tortured by the CIA in order to squeeze out some "information" on some "threat." Others have discussed Gul now, about how he was grabbed in Afghanistan or Pakistan based on a single source saying, "That fucker, Janat Gul, he's into some shit," how some in the CIA thought he was a worthless target, how he was renditioned to a black site in Romania, how Condoleezza Rice her very own self signed off on his "enhanced interrogation," about how he was so interrogated until his interrogators were convinced he knew nothing, and how they were told to interrogate him some more.

The one thing that ought to be emphasized in Gul's story is that, when the CIA finally realized that Gul was "a very simple man" and not a big bad, the spooks decided to say that the interrogation had been worthwhile because it proved that their source was a liar. Once again: it was cool to torture the shit out of Janat Gul because it made them know not to trust another guy. That is some monstrous fuckery right there.

But there's something else afoot in the Gul story, indeed, in the entire report, indeed, in nearly the entire operation of our alleged counterterrorism industrial complex. Some in the CIA believed that there were terror attacks likely before the 2004 election and that Gul was the facilitator. Then-CIA Director George Tenet informed Rice, so the information went right to the White House. We know from then-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge that there was pressure from Bush advisers to raise the national threat level before the election, perhaps to panic people into clinging to the failed president. Hmmm.

One of the things we see again and again is that torture is for shit when you want new information, but it's excellent at getting people to say things you need them to say. The torture program was a failure at stopping any supposed "plots," but it was great to give our leaders something to talk about. We know that men were tortured into saying that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. We know we tortured men into saying other things to keep policies in place. We've known that for a few years now. And now we know that the CIA knew the information was bogus and that the method they were using to extract it was fucked-up (see the "Shh, Don't Tell Colin Powell" part of the report).

Sometimes you just want a reason to justify your existence to others. The CIA tortured one poor bastard into saying he made anthrax and then reported that they had discovered a guy who said he made anthrax. Except, of course, the true story, on page 82, is a bit different: "On August 1, 2003, Abu Bakr al-Filistini, also known as Samr al-Barq, told CIA interrogators that 'we never made anthrax.' At the time, he was being subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and was told that the harsh treatment would not stop until he 'told the truth.' According to cables, crying, al-Barq then said, 'I made the anthrax.' Asked if he was lying, al-Barq said that he was. After CIA interrogators 'demonstrated the penalty for lying,'al-Barq again stated that 'I made the anthrax' and then immediately recanted, and then again stated that he made anthrax." Now, either al-Barq was fucking with the people torturing him, which makes him admirably ballsy, or he couldn't figure out what the hell they wanted and would tell them anything.

Either way, the CIA reported on "Al-Qa'ida's Anthrax Program," so mission accomplished.

The Rude Pundit is no conspiracy theorist. But how are we supposed to take all this? Between the threat level manipulation, the bullshit FBI-created terror cells, and the use of the statements of torture victims to justify policy, what can we think but that this entire system exists to keep us paranoid and beholden to those in power in ways that make the supposed tyranny of the Affordable Care Act look like a laissez-faire carnival? What can we think but that this all existed and, in other ways, exists to keep people in power and, indeed, make some people very rich (someone's gotta make those drones)?

Someone's gotta pay. Someone's gotta go to jail. Someone's gotta be held accountable. It ain't enough to say that shit happened. Because then all you're saying is that "Shit happened." The torture report is worthless without at least some symbolic scapegoat - Rumsfeld, please?

There is a reason that you sacrifice people to keep the volcano gods happy. You don't do it because the volcano gives a shit. You do it because the villagers need to know that at least you tried something.


Working Through the Torture Report, Part 2: More Fuckery Than You Can Imagine

From page 110:
"After approximately a month of detention and the extensive use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques on Arsala Khan, the CIA concluded that the 'detainee Arsala Khan does not appear to be the subject involved in...current plans or activities against U.S. personnel or facilities,' and recommended that he be released to his village with a cash payment. CIA interrogators at DETENTION SITE COBALT instead transferred him to U.S. military custody, where he was held for an additional four years despite the development of significant intelligence indicating that the source who reported that Arsala Khan had aided Usama bin Laden had a vendetta against Arsala Khan's family."

From page 129 - No one is held accountable for mistakes that cause an innocent man from Germany to be tortured:
"The CIA director nonetheless decided that no further action was warranted against [the CIA agent], then the deputy chief of ALEC Station, who advocated for [Khalid] al-Masri's rendition, because '[t]he Director strongly believes that mistakes should be expected in a business filled with uncertainty and that, when they result from performance that meets reasonable standards, CIA leadership must stand behind the officers who make them.' The notification also stated that 'with regard to counterterrorism operations in general and the al-Masri matter in particular, the Director believes the scale tips decisively in favor of accepting mistakes that over connect the dots against those that under connect them.'"

You got that? It's better to just accept mistakes than hold anyone responsible for them. There is no indication that the agent was even demoted or reassigned. It was just easier to forget about it and move on.

Now, a quick catalog of lies from the CIA on the effectiveness of the torture:

From page 255:
"Contrary to CIA representations, the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques against KSM did not result in the 'discovery' of KSM's 'Second Wave' plotting."

From page 256:
"Contrary to CIA representations, the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques against Hambali did not result in the 'discovery' of 'the Guraba Cell' that was 'tasked with executing the "Second Wave"' plotting."

From page 264:
"A review of CIA operational cables and other documents found that the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques did not result in the unique intelligence that the CIA represented led to the arrest of Dhiren Barot or the thwarting of his plotting."

From page 290:
"Contrary to CIA representations, a review of CIA operational cables and other documents found that the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques did not result in otherwise unavailable intelligence leading to the discovery, identification, capture, or arrest of Sajid Badat."

From page 327:
"Contrary to CIA representations, there are no CIA records to support the assertion that Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, or any other CIA detainee played any role in the 'the planning and execution of the operation that captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.'"

From page 378 - They didn't just lie. They lied on a massive scale:
"Shortly after the raid on the Usama bin Ladin (UBL) compound on May 1, 2011, which resulted in UBL's death, CIA officials described the role of reporting from the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program in the operation—and in some cases connected the reporting to the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. The vast majority of the documents, statements, and testimony highlighting information obtained from the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, or from CIA detainees more generally, was inaccurate and incongruent with CIA records."

And now it's time for the late afternoon/early evening six-pack.

Working Though the Torture Report, Part 1: Janat Gul Tortured for Nothing

Page 11 of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report, "Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program":

"Conditions at CIA detention sites were poor, and were especially bleak early in the program. CIA detainees at the COBALT detention facility were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste. Lack of heat at the facility likely contributed to the death of a detainee. The chief of interrogations described COBALT as a 'dungeon.' Another senior CIA officer stated that COBALT was itself an enhanced interrogation technique.

"At times, the detainees at COBALT were walked around naked or were shackled with their hands above their heads for extended periods of time. Other times, the detainees at COBALT were subjected to what was described as a 'rough takedown,' in which approximately five CIA officers would scream at a detainee, drag him outside of his cell, cut his clothes off, and secure him with Mylar tape. The detainee would then be hooded and dragged up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched."

Also on page 11:

"CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families — to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to 'cut [a detainee's] mother's throat.'"

Starting on page 164:
"After being rendered to CIA custody on July [redacted] 2004, Janat Gul was subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, including continuous sleep deprivation, facial holds, attention grasps, facial slaps, stress positions, and walling, until he experienced auditory and visual hallucinations. According to a cable, Janat Gul was 'not oriented to time or place' and told CIA officers that he saw 'his wife and children in the mirror and had heard their voices in the white noise.' The questioning of Janat Gul continued, although the CIA ceased using the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques for several days. According to a CIA cable, '[Gul] asked to die, or just be killed.' After continued interrogation sessions with Gul, on August 19, 2004, CIA detention site personnel wrote that the interrogation 'team does not believe [Gul] is withholding imminent threat information.' On August 21, 2004, a cable from CIA Headquarters stated that Janat Gul 'is believed' to possess threat information, and that the 'use of enhanced techniques is appropriate in order to obtain that information.' On that day, August 21, 2004, CIA interrogators resumed using the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques against Gul."

You got that? At the CIA's detention site, where they were torturing Janat Gul, the torturers said that he had no information. CIA Headquarters demanded that he be tortured some more. Someone in a position of authority above the torturers said to continue the torture. And they did get something out of him eventually. See, Gul was accused of being a terrorist by a single source. Even though Gul gave no information on any plots, the CIA saw his torture as successful. Why? Because his inability to provide information under torture proved that the source who gave him up was a liar.

"[T]he CIA began representing that its enhanced interrogation techniques were required for Gul to deny the existence of the threat, thereby disproving the credibility of the CIA source."

That's right. He knew nothing. But he was forced to stand for 47 hours straight, wearing a diaper, with no sleep, just to prove he knew nothing. And the CIA decided to say that the glass was half-full.

Fuck us. Truly. Fuck us.

More later. The Rude Pundit needs a mid-afternoon six-pack.

(Note: The New York Times today features an editorial from an ACLU official calling for President Obama to pardon all the torturers and their enablers, thus implicitly indicting and convicting them. That's a great idea, one that the Rude Pundit suggested back in 2009.)


There's Never a Cop Around When You Need One

On Saturday, with protests still going on around the country and exploding at Berkeley over a Staten Island grand jury's refusal to indict the New York City police officer who choked Eric Garner to death, former St. Louis cop Redditt Hudson wrote in the Washington Post, "I was floored by the dysfunctional culture I encountered. I won’t say all, but many of my peers were deeply racist." The racism and abuse of power was so fucked up that it drove Hudson to quit after five years on the job.

Hudson concluded, through his own experience, "The problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police." (Cue the inevitable discrediting of him.)

Almost anyone would respond to Hudson with "No shit." But the piece brings up a point that the Rude Pundit has been making since Ferguson and even more so since the Eric Garner case. Where the hell are the cops on this? Where are the police officials and union leaders who are willing to condemn Daniel Pantaleo?

In fact, when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio made remarks asking for "positive change" in how the police handle cases like Garner's (or any of the many cases where the use of force has led to deadly mistakes), Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said, "What police officers felt yesterday after that press conference was that they were thrown under the bus." He pretty much accused the mayor of fanning the flames of racism because de Blasio said that he told his own mixed-race son (who has an awesome 'fro) to be careful when dealing with the police.

In one of those fucking stupid things that fucking stupid people say, one cop remarked, "Did he tell his son to be wary of his police bodyguards, that he should be afraid of them as they pick him up at school and drive him where he needs to go?" One can assume that the bodyguards realize that Dante de Blasio isn't an automatic threat because they aren't just driving up to him on the streets. It's a subtle but crucial difference. But the shit-for-brains commenters on cop message boards went nutzoid, as commenters generally do, acting paranoid and under attack by the public.

Here's the deal: If you don't want people to think you're racist psychopaths, then get rid of the cops who make it seem like you're racist psychopaths. Conservatives want to be free to fire teachers all the time if their students' test scores go below a certain number, no matter what the exigent circumstances are for the students and the schools. They demand that the teachers' unions accede to this demand and do what people who aren't even in education want. When it comes to the police, though, conservatives are ready to blow the boys in blue and make excuses for them. Christ, ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani, fresh off fellating the Ferguson cops, broke out the lip balm and knee pads for the NYPD, who, it should be noted, are very familiar with Giuliani's mouth.

The Rude Pundit knows all the arguments, valid and not valid: "You don't know all the facts," "Garner shouldn't have resisted," "Cops have to deal with the worst of humanity." And he's not going to pretend to know the effect of confronting the bullshit that the police see every day. But he's pretty sure that he wouldn't be out there, offering knee-jerk defense of someone who so obviously to so many people, at the very least, violated protocol and was indifferent to someone's humanity. He's especially sure he that he wouldn't defend a guy whose prior actions against black men have been problematic, at best, and outright illegal, at worst.

There is a huge trust gap that is not unjustified. One cop killing one man, even unintentionally, undoes a million positive actions. A pattern of harassment, let alone killing of non-whites? Man, that takes a fuckton of work to overcome. You gotta make that population trust you again.

Instead of whining about being thrown under the bus or putting up the blue wall of silence or whatever the fuck they're calling it these days, it's incumbent upon police officials to demonstrate that there are some things they will not tolerate. The police need to show they believe injustice doesn't lead to justice. And individual cops might not be able to speak out until they're off the force, like Hudson, but they sure as hell should be wanting their leaders to demand change, too.

Or you can retrench, insult, and bully. That's worked well for the police so far.


A True Story Involving the Rude Pundit and a Major Hollywood Star (Sorry, No Sex)

It's my birthday today, so, while acknowledging that blogging is, by nature, masturbatory and self-indulgent, I'm going to indulge a little more than usual and tell you a story. It's a true story, one that is just interesting, not gossipy or scandalous, certainly not political, really, just a story that gives a bit of insight into a few things that most of us never have a chance to take part in. Gather 'round the fire, children, and let the Rude Pundit spin a tale.

Two years ago, I was contacted out of the blue by a Hollywood production company. Actually, what's funny is that the email was in my spam filter and even had the subject line of "HELLO!" so I came very close to deleting it. The email said the company was actually led by a Major Hollywood Star and would I want to talk about developing a television show. I emailed back and, as one would, I said, "Uhh, yeah." The Executive wrote back to set up a phone call.

On the phone, I learned that the the Major Hollywood Star was turned onto this blog by a Really Good Movie Director (no, they are none of the names you're currently thinking of) and that the production company wanted to get people outside the usual Hollywood system to create television shows for a Big Cable Channel. The Star thought I might be someone who would have something up my sleeve. The Executive told me to work on some ideas and then we'll talk some more.

I've been here before, on the precipice of some breakthrough beyond the folds of Left Blogsylvania. I've had meetings with editors at giant publishing houses and obviously didn't say the right things. I can't count the number of times I've heard, "Oh, let's get you a show on SiriusXM." You live long enough and stick to one area of business for long enough and live in the right place and answer the right emails, and you get these kinds of mini-opportunities. And what happens every time is you think, "What if?" And you start to fantasize ahead about what happens next. And then you realize that just because someone hands you a lottery ticket, you have no guarantee of even getting a consolation prize. I had some perspective is what I guess I'm trying to say.

I came up with a few ideas, ones that I thought were kind of cool, especially an Orange Is the New Black-type show that was about the lives of women who work for a house and business cleaning service. The Executive and others in the production company had a Skype meeting with me, which was fascinating for the questions they asked and their not-very-enthusiastic responses to the ideas. But they said they would let the Major Hollywood Star know. I heard back pretty quickly from the Executive that the Star didn't like the ideas, but that he wanted to talk with me (yes, he is a he, but, no, it's not that one, either). I would get a call. Soon.

On December 23, 2012, my cell phone rings and it is the Major Hollywood Star. Not his assistant, not anyone arranging a time, just him. He was driving. We had a great conversation. He had some ideas that had to do with using the blog more in the TV show. We riffed, made each other laugh, and, holy shit, by the end, we had an idea that I was hyped to work on. I mentioned that I knew the writer of one of his films, and we talked about what a great person the writer is. 25 minutes or so and we were done.

I read a few pilot scripts - I've written for the stage and for film, but never for TV - and got down to work. I won't bore you with the details of the pilot or the series, except to say that it's about conservative talk radio, liberal blogging, racial identity, and gender politics, with the overall arc of the series following the fall of a white man and the rise of a Hispanic woman, all with dark, dirty, rude humor throughout. I was pretty damn happy with how it turned out. I knew it was at least better than The Newsroom, which isn't a high bar, but still.

Let's dispense with the next two years in short order. The Executive and the Star liked the pilot but thought it needed to be rewritten to simplify some things and to be "edgier." I rewrote. They still liked it but thought my inexperience showed through. They brought the pilot to the Big Cable Channel, which liked parts of it but passed, especially since I had never worked on a TV show. The Executive wanted to make sure that I was ok not being the show runner. I said it would be dumb for me to be the show runner since I had never done anything for TV beyond act in some commercials and was the voice of Thomas Jefferson for an A&E documentary done in Ken Burns-style (yeah, that's totally true). The Executive said that the production company had decided that my show was one they believed in and were going to work further on it, with the goal to pitch it to other channels. The Star was onto his next big movie project. The Executive asked if I minded if they brought in someone to be a show runner and co-creator. I didn't mind at all. They tossed around some names, including Someone You Like Very Much, but then he had a show picked up and was out. The emails dwindled to less than once a month, then once every few months, then once. The way things stand now is that the production company might abandon TV altogether to work exclusively on films - they've made a couple of great ones. And that's that, I suppose.

I have no reason to have any ill will to anyone involved, not the Executive, not the Star. All have been Genuinely Good People. If you know anything about the development of TV shows, it often takes years before anything gets going, and, at every step of the way, there is someone who can say, "No," and it's over. Every game has rules. I don't know them all. I may very well be breaking one now by just talking about Fight Club.

"What's the point of this?" you might legitimately ask. It's a funny little story: wacky blogger crosses paths with big money entertainment. It's a crack in a door that remains closed to nearly all of us.

And, well, it's a bit of a birthday gift to myself, like buying a scratch-off game. Hey, what is there to lose beyond a couple of bucks?

Because, obviously, the primary reason for writing this is to put out the word to any potential other producers or production companies that I have this pilot script and series idea that a Major Hollywood Star was willing to associate his name with, at least in the preliminary pitching phase, that successful producers were willing to have meetings with networks about. I still own all the rights to it - never signed anything. So if anyone in that world wants to know more, well, they can use that email on the side there to contact me.

(Note: Overwhelming self-indulgence done. Back to regular rudeness on Monday. )


Shut the Fuck Up Already, Ben Carson (Or How Carson and Eric Garner Are Not That Different)

Dr. Ben Carson, Fox "news" designated black man this election cycle, was probably a fine, fine neurosurgeon back when he was practicing. Hell, he might even be a great motivational speaker in the Joel Osteen/Tony Robbins "is he for real or is he punking us?" model. Cuba Gooding, Jr. played him in a movie, which is just super. But now that he is apparently amping up his presence on the national stage ahead of a potential presidential run that will do nothing but enlarge the coffers of Carsonco, it's probably beyond time for people to tell him to just shut the fuck up already. Stop fucking lecturing us in your smug, self-righteous way and go the fuck away, back into the prayer breakfast cubbyhole where you belong, paraded around by every white racist to demonstrate that they have black friends.

Yesterday, in a totally poorly-timed appearance, Carson was on CNN's Wolf, which does not involve various people having their throats ripped out by a raging, carnivorous animal, but is, actually, hosted by the bestubbled Wolf Blitzer. It was just before the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict the cop who killed Eric Garner in Staten Island, and Blitzer was asking Carson about some stupid fucking thing that Charles Barkley said because apparently ex-basketball players and ex-surgeons are automatically criminal justice experts.

Carson said, "Well, I think it's true that the police are our friends. And I challenge people all the time, imagine living for 24 hours with no police. People would be walking into your house saying, hey, I think I like that television, I'm taking that. I mean, it would be total chaos." No, really, he actually said that and acted like he made some kind of profound point, like a toddler proud of hitting the toilet when he pisses standing up. Is that really the choice? Irresponsible violence by cops or complete anarchy from having no cops? There's no in-between?

Chaos is something Carson fears a fuck of a lot. "[W]e have to, at some point, get to a point where we actually trust the system or we're just going to have chaos all the time," he told Blitzer after explaining how he trusts "the people who have all the facts." Later, talking about how the country has become more racist under Barack Obama, who just doesn't respect the rule of law, Carson explained, "Once we lose the rule of law and chaos ensues, you know, that is not going to be the kind of country that any of us wants to live in." Seriously, this guy's opinions are so simple-minded that it's no wonder Fox loves him. Oh, and he thinks that Obama was wrong to talk out about Trayvon Martin because he should have trusted how things would play out in the justice system, which worked so awesomely then.

Blitzer should have answered each and every one of these statements with "Oh, fuck you. Shut the fuck up. Why are you still fucking talking? Who the fuck is listening to you? Fuck them, too."

Instead, Blitzer got to something real. He asked Carson about remarks he made where he compared the United States now to Nazi Germany because "you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe. And it's because of the p.c. police. It's because of politicians." So not being able to say "faggot" in public freely is as bad as rounding up and killing all the gays in Germany. Got it.

Using his own version of "Shut the fuck up" (and getting freakily jingoistic), Blitzer said, "So you've got to explain that, because when I heard the comparison of the United States of America, the greatest country in the world, the greatest country ever, to Nazi Germany, I said, 'What is he talking about?'"

Then, in an answer that should be the epitaph to whatever political ambitions he might have, Carson replied, "Well, see, what you were doing is allowing words to affect you more than listening to what was actually being said."

Now, you might actually perk up at that moment and wonder, "The fuck? You said the fucking words. We're not making this shit up."

Well, Carson will explain: "Nazi Germany experienced something horrible. The people in Nazi Germany largely did not believe in what Hitler was doing. But did they say anything? Of course. They kept their mouths shut. And there are some very important lessons to be learned there." And then, shit you not, Carson's example of what horrible things are going on now is that the IRS slightly delayed the approval of tax-exempt status for a few Tea Party groups.

Finally, we get to Carson's game. See, when it comes to Michael Brown and, one presumes, Eric Garner, unarmed men being murdered, Carson believes we need to knuckle under to the force of the law. But when it comes to things like being "free to express yourself" without consequence, well, the government is just jack-booted thugs. Except don't focus on his words: "[Y]ou are just focusing on the words Nazi Germany and completely missing the point of what is being said. And that's the problem right now. That's what p.c.-ism is all about. You may not say this word, regardless of what your point is, because if you say that word, you know, I go into a tizzy. We can do better than that."

At that point, Blitzer should have said, "I'm going to call you 'Uncle Tom' for the rest of this interview and I hope you don't focus on the words."

In the actual interview, Blitzer asked Carson if he stood by his saying that Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery, which, of course, Carson did: "[W]hat needs to be understood here is that the way this country was set up, the people -- we the people were set up at the pinnacle of power in this nation. The government is supposed to conform to our will. By taking the most important thing you have, your health and your health care, and turning that over to the government, you fundamentally shift the power, a huge chunk of it, from the people to the government. This is not the direction that we want to go in this nation."

Is Carson really that blind? Does he not understand that the only difference between him and Eric Garner is who they stand with on the corner and how they're dressed? Eric Garner didn't want to give in to authority. Carson claims that he doesn't want government taking away the power of the people. Garner only had his corner to express his opinion that he was being mistreated by the law, which got him killed because the authority had to assert its power and could do so freely. Carson gets to go on national TV and say, essentially, the same thing without fear because he is protected by his conservative enablers and his own wealth. Put him in a t-shirt and shorts, surrounded by cops, and see who listens.

Blitzer then asked another variation on "Shut the fuck up." He pressed Carson, "[Y]ou say that Obamacare is the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. Worse than the Great Depression of the 1920s? Worse than the Vietnam War? Worse than 9/11?"

Of course, Carson had not a goddamn thing to say other than "Well, Wolf, I think it's non-productive to get into is it worse than this and worse than that, or maybe it's better than this and better than that."

Scratch what was said above. Yeah, he's the perfect Republican candidate.