The Rude Pundit's Most Splendiferous Haiku Review of 2013 (Part 1)

The Rude Pundit's Most Splendiferous Haiku Review of 2013 (Part 1):
Yes, sir and ma'am, it's the end o' 2013, a year where we were trapped between the radiant angels of progress and the shit-stained ogres of regression. LGBT rights? Step up. Abortion rights? Two steps back. Health care? Forward. Income equality? Gun control? Privacy? Ten paces backwards. The Rude Pundit ain't got the time to recapitulate it all in tidy summaries. So let's make a mess of it with a bunch of sloppy-ass haiku, some from him and some from loyal rude readers. He'll start and then turn it over to the teeming masses, who made the Rude Pundit trawl through some 200 little poems to find the best ones.

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You
If you think Snowden
Is the story, you deserve
To get your ass probed.

Climate Change I
A typhoon gobbles
The heated oceans like our
Congress sucks crude cash.

Climate Change II
Pope Francis told flocks
To love thy neighbor. Jesus,
For once, did not weep.

And now a few from the mighty email inbox (with some spelling and other errors corrected because, fuck it, because):

From Jim-buh from Ciudad de Buenaventura:

Cowering white males
Fellate yellowed policies
And hope for no rain

From Rabbitearz in Los Angeles:

Paula Deen is not
Niggardly when it comes to
Butter and trans fats.

From Linda in Illinois:

Joe McCarthy fucked
Rats. Now he has grandchildren
Who look like Ted Cruz.

From DS in Toronto:

Rob Ford voters know:
"One of my drunken stupors"
Explains my ballot.

From Max R.:

When Apple Maps sucked,
Did Fox say, "See? The private
Sector can't do shit!"?

From Sasha in San Francisco:

Mandela is dead.
At least he lived to see both
Maggie and Ron die.

Tune in later today and tomorrow for more compact memories of the year that's dying tonight.

Things That Brought the Rude Pundit Unmitigated Joy in 2013

Things That Brought the Rude Pundit Unmitigated Joy in 2013:
Before the end of the year haiku spree tomorrow and before plunging into the miasma of NSA leaks and ACA numbers, the yin and the yang of the Obama presidency, the Rude Pundit wants to wax bloggily about a few non-political things that got his juices flowing and gave him intellectual and emotional wood:

1. In Berlin, Germany, on the fifth floor of a plain building decorated to look like a Las Vegas hotel by way of Fellini, the Rude Pundit found himself seated at a table with five other people while a fat, bald man wearing only underwear kept bringing us food and telling us about himself. He was Gluttony. Then an evil clown, who was the Devil, came over and punished him by having him strip naked, get in a tub, and get pissed on by a female demon. As they walked away giggling, the nude, pissed on Gluttony asked all of us at the table why did we not speak up for him. It was one moment from the immersive theatre piece Club Inferno by the group Signa, much of which the Rude Pundit didn't understand as he wandered room to room, from circle to circle of Hell, but it was everything he loves about live performance: dangerous, confrontational, and unpredictable. He was fucked with and it was fucked up in the best way possible.

(Other theatre moments that stuck: The cast of Sarah Flood in Salem Mass at the Flea Theatre swimming around the stage like a pack of beavers in a river; Ian McKellen as Spooner, pleading to stay at the home of Patrick Stewart's Hirst, at the end of Harold Pinter's No Man's Land on Broadway.)

2. You hear about these things, maybe see them on YouTube or elsewhere, but you rarely get to see them when you're at a concert. But on a beautiful night on the Hudson River in Hoboken (yes, Hoboken), New Jersey, Wilco was wrapping up its set as part of the Americanarama concert. They invited out the previous acts, My Morning Jacket and Ryan Bingham. They joined guitarist Warren Haynes and Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter for a cathartic version of "All the Young Dudes."

(Runners-up: The Flaming Lips at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ, finally doing a show that was free of gimmicks and giant hamster balls and dancing aliens and just rocking your tits off. The Roots at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn, because if you've seen the Roots, you know why.)

3. Two movies about the end of the world where (spoiler, spoiler) the world actually ends. This Is the End was the funniest movie of the year because it embraced the douchiness of celebrity (and Danny McBride and James Franco arguing about who ejaculates hardest actually hurt). And The World's End had more to say about the lives of middle-aged men than a dozen navel-gazing indy flicks. Also, Nick Frost can pretty much do no wrong.

4. Speaking of Danny McBride, the end of his HBO series Eastbound and Down, where he plays a washed up baseball player whose raging ego makes him destroy his life constantly, was almost the equal of the finale of that other show everyone was talking about this year.

5. Street art, man. Tons of street art. From all over the place.

Adios, 5Pointz. You were too cool to survive the greed of Bloomberg-era NYC.

Write Some Motherfuckin' Haiku for the Rude Pundit

Write Some Motherfuckin' Haiku for the Rude Pundit:
It's almost time for the Rude Pundit's annual Haiku Review of the year just ending. Instead of boring you with endless pages of "Hey, wasn't that shit fucked up" observations, he gets Asian on the year's ass in the form of the haiku, the 3-line poem of a line of five syllables, a line of seven syllables, and a line of five syllables. Like:

Miley's twerking ass,
Just like Janet Jackson's tit.
Fleshy distractions.

See? Like a gentle breeze across a rice paddy.

Next week, the Rude Pundit will post his own, and, as always, he invites rude readers to submit their own. The only rule is that it's gotta be a real haiku. Any subject is game.

Using his awesome ability to be a total bastard in his judgment, the Rude Pundit will post the best ones. In case you are chosen, give the name you want with it and a place (city or state or country, however vague you'd like to be).

And email 'em to rudepundit_at_yahoo.com.

End of the Year Note to the GOP: Suck On These Obamacare Success Stories

End of the Year Note to the GOP: Suck On These Obamacare Success Stories:
Hey, GOP, check this shit out:

From Florida:
"Susan, a self-employed 56-year-old decided to talk to a healthcare navigator, then registered on healthcare.gov. When she saw the better and cheaper plans available to her; her excitement was resuscitated.

"Susan said, 'I was doing handsprings and I was thrilled because its more affordable for me and it gives me an extra $75/month that I have in my pocket vs somebody using it on their golf course.'

"Susan got out of a plan that had a huge deductible, didn’t cover doctors visits or medications. By trading up to a better policy; she brought her monthly premium down from $258 to $150.

"Susan said, 'I get my mammograms, my colonoscopies for free. Before I did not and everything now that I’m paying out of pocket will go toward my deductible.'"

From Texas:
"Misty Parker took a job with Recycle Revolution near Deep Ellum in Dallas. It’s a small company that doesn’t offer insurance, but because of her Obamacare subsidy, she can afford coverage. Her bill is $38 a month — a subsidized rate available to someone like her making $12 an hour. It’s a bronze plan with a $6,000 deductible. 'If I had to pay that for some reason, it’s not going to destroy me,' Parker says."

From Montana:
"[Sue] Spanke, a self-employed artist in her 50s, found she was eligible for a federal subsidy. Her new insurance will cover her for a mere $30 to $40 a month with a deductible of only $500. She had been paying $350 a month for a Blue Cross policy with a $5,000 deductible. 'I went from a horrible policy that didn't cover anything, that was breaking me, to the best policy at the best price I've had since I was in my 20s,' she said."

Where else would you like to go on this tour of purple-to-red states? Pennsylvania? Wisconsin?

Oh, sure, sure, Republicans, you'll be able to pull out people whose premiums went up. Those exist, for sure. But they are the minority of cases. No, really, they are, sorry. The Rude Pundit has no doubt that you'll be flogging those stories like a star of S&M porn trying out newer, sharper whips to try to get any feeling at all from his overwhipped, flaccid cock.

The battle's over, motherfuckers. You lost. Tell your soldiers that are out in the jungle believing that the war will never end that you were beaten.

The more that neighbor tells neighbor, "Hey, this Obamacare isn't coming into my house and raping my dog. It's making me tea and asking if I would like a nice muffin," the more you will just sound like petulant assholes. Read those stories again. Read about all the people covered under expanded Medicaid. And drown on your own bitter tears.

So say goodbye to 2013 and welcome to 2014. When all these people start driving their shiny new insurance, you better tell 'em you like how it looks.

(Good liberal note: Yes, it should be single-payer. It ain't. So let's take our little successes where we can.)

Time to Submit Your Haiku for the Rude Pundit's End-o'-the-Year Posts

Time to Submit Your Haiku for the Rude Pundit's End-o'-the-Year Posts:
(Note: Very brief post because the Rude Pundit is stuck in the pig sty of Terminal A in the Houston airport and Boingo for wi-fi sucks monkey balls here. Terminal A, in case you've never experienced it, is the holding cell for we poor yokels who wish to travel to southern cities on United.)

Another ongoing tradition in these here parts is to not regurgitate the bile of the year that's coming to a close in a long retch. Instead, we look to the simple form of the haiku, the 3-line poem of a line of five syllables, a line of seven syllables, and a line of five syllables. To wit:

Soul-free GOP
Shits on the souls of Newtown,
Fellates NRA.

See? Isn't it like a delicate bamboo leaf?

Next week, the Rude Pundit will post his own, and, as always, he invites rude readers to submit their own. The only rule is that it's gotta be a real haiku. Any subject is game.

Using his awesome ability to be a total bastard in his judgment, the Rude Pundit will post the best ones. In case you are chosen, give the name you want with it and a place (city or state or country, however vague you'd like to be).

And email 'em to rudepundit_at_yahoo.com. (Do we still have to do that to the @ symbol? Just wondering.)

Continuing a Christmas Tradition (Now with Dachsunds and Weird Shapes)

Continuing a Christmas Tradition (Now with Dachsunds and Weird Shapes):
Like movies about Bedford Falls suicides and pole-frozen tongues and eyes almost shot out, 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 from 2004, updated with two new and horrifying photos:

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.

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.)

Don't Say You Never Got a Present from the Rude Pundit

Don't Say You Never Got a Present from the Rude Pundit:
There is only one contemporary songwriter who consistently creates amazing Christmas songs, and that's Sufjan Stevens.

And here's the best one.



Peace. Wherever.

The Utah Same-Sex Marriage Decision in Two Editorials

The Utah Same-Sex Marriage Decision in Two Editorials:
On Friday, in a surprise decision that made the bones of Brigham Young reach for his scalping knife, Judge Robert Shelby ruled that Utah's 2004 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. He did so without a trial because, as his decision makes clear, why the fuck bother? Is there really anything new to add to the argument? Does someone have evidence that gay dudes marrying is a secret conspiracy to castrate the straights? No? Then, to paraphrase Shelby, "Go fuck yourselves instead of fucking with the rights of others."

County clerks around the state started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and there was much muff-diving and cock-gobbling in celebration, especially after Sunday, when a federal appeals court refused to issue a stay of the decision.

It's all still up in the air, with hearing going on now to get Shelby to stay his judgment pending appeal, but two editorials in two Salt Lake City area newspapers pretty much lay out what's at stake.

Pounding the ground like a Fox "news" talking points-spouting gorilla, the Deseret News sets the tone for the anger at Shelby: "The essence of judicial tyranny is when a single, unelected federal judge declares the laws and constitution of an entire state null and void with an opinion clothed in the barest of legal precedent." It's probably useless to note that the Deseret News was cheering for the unelected judges on the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

But the most mind-blowing line is a logical twist that's the rhetorical equivalent of dislocating your hips so you can give yourself a rim job: "Gays and lesbians are not deprived of any rights they are due in a liberal democracy when a state, like Utah, through open democratic processes insists that marriage is between a man and a woman." You got that? You are not deprived of rights as long as people vote to deprive you of rights. Somewhere in Alabama, an old white man is looking at his fields and thinking, "If I could just get people to vote for it..."

Meanwhile, over at the Salt Lake Tribune, the angels of rationality are offering the idea that Utah should shut the fuck up and join the 21st century. They even couch it in economic terms, which is gonna confuse the fuck out of some conservatives: "Utah may be unique among states, but it’s still a state. If the governor wants to see real chaos, it would be a return to pre-Civil War America where states can define their own rights for individuals. Utahns work very hard to attract out-of-state workers and visitors, and that work is seriously undermined if we tell them they won’t have all their due-process rights when they get here."

First of all, "Utahns"? Huh, never knew that.

Secondly, the editorial is responding to its governor and the entire states' rights argument, that bullshit "let's let states determine what's best for them" thing you hear so often, which means, really, "As long as we can still discriminate, you go right ahead and become neo-Gomorrahs." Unfortunately, the U.S. Constitution won't let you do that. The Tribune offers the obvious but not stated enough counter-argument: We're a goddamned nation, and time moves forward. You may need to play catch-up, but you cannot say, "Fuck it. I'm heading back to the 1950s."

And that goes no matter what happens with the Utah marriage decision today.

Meanwhile, in Bizarro America...

Meanwhile, in Bizarro America...:
Every once in a while, it's good to get a gut check straight from the filthy heart of the torpid freaks who shit themselves and call it freedom. Today, in an editorial in the New York Times, Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, provides us with a bounty of nutsiness. It's like putting on glasses and seeing clown cars where there should be traffic. The gist of the whole can be explained in a grunt: "John Boehner bad; he mean to crazies."

Here's three choice morsels of insight (if by "insight," you mean, "the kind of devolved, completely selfish thinking you see in masturbating bonobos"):

- "There's a political axiom that says if nobody is upset with what you’re doing, you’re not doing your job. We’ve seen this proved time and again in the liberal attacks on conservatives like Sarah Palin and Dr. Benjamin Carson, who provide principled examples to women and minorities and are savaged by the left for doing that job so well." You can pretty much stop reading the editorial right there. Martin may as well have started by saying, "Punch yourself in the face repeatedly or we're gonna kill a bunch of kittens."

- "The job of Tea Party groups and other conservatives is pretty simple: to inform Americans about the need for restraint in spending, tax relief, pro-growth economic policies and individual liberty — and to support the men and women who pledge to promote these positions." And remember: individual liberty means being free to hate and discriminate against anyone you wish because Jesus.

- "[W]hen those who voted for them criticize their elected officials for not keeping their promises, and are then attacked for doing so, it suggests that Kurt Vonnegut was right in observing, 'A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.'"

You know, it'd be very easy to go on a rant about how Vonnegut would despise every molecule of the Tea Party. Martin should probably read more of his work than just what she can find on Wikiquotes. It'd melt her eyes.

Instead, let's let the man himself take care of it (from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater):

"Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun."

And, finally, just for the Tea Party Patriots, another Vonnegut quote on madness (from Mother Night):

"All people are insane. They will do anything at any time, and God help anybody who looks for reasons"

Regarding Phil Robertson, Homophobia, and Christianity

Regarding Phil Robertson, Homophobia, and Christianity:
The Rude Pundit wasn't going to write about Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson saying fucked-up things about gay people. But last night he tweeted a mighty tweet of snark, as one is wont to do, about how unsurprising it was that a backwoods bumpkin said homophobic things, and, lo, a bounty of bullshit was reaped. Since the load of shit is exactly how every discussion of this whole stupid thing is stupidly going, well, fuck, it's not like anything else of importance is going on.

In case you don't know, Duck Dynasty is about this family of rich hunters in northeast Louisiana (aka "Deliverance country " [the Rude Pundit's been there numerous times]) who do funny things. It's like The Beverly Hillbillies, except the Clampetts stayed in the mountains and aren't played by actors. Although, truth be told, for a "reality show," Duck Dynasty is awfully and obviously scripted. And the fuckin' show is huge, like to the tune of 14 million viewers a week.

And what did Robertson, the patriarch of this Hills Have Eyes with fart jokes clan say? In an interview with GQ, he let his fundamentalist Christian freak fly. "It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical." Shhh. Don't tell him about oral.

Late, in answer to Drew Magary's question, "What, in your mind, is sinful?" Robertson soliloquizes, "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” He then takes a page from Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right."

The Rude Pundit quoted all of that because one of the things people whined about was that Robertson's words were taken out of context. There it is. There's your context. Feel better? Or do you need the rest of the article where Robertson admits that he was too blind to see racism in the pre-civil rights south or that people who haven't found Christ are the ones who attack the United States? And this motherfucker has a college degree.

Some people said there was nothing homophobic about Robertson's beliefs. To that, one can only say, "How do you breathe since you are so fucking dumb?" Putting gay relationships on the same continuum as bestiality is pretty much the definition of homophobia.

But what was most galling is something the Rude Pundit hears whenever he says that some Christian belief is hateful (and this is a quote): "Well then you must be a Christianaphobic! shouldn't Tolerance apply to Bible believers?" The Rude Pundit's said it before and he'll say it again. It doesn't matter where you got your hateful beliefs - from your parents, from your government, from your partner, from your friends, from Allah, from Jesus, from your priest, your rabbi, your imam. Hate is hate. Fuck your hate. And fuck you for excusing it by saying, "Whoa, it's not me that's hateful. It's Christianity."

And to put it another way: you choose to believe in your religion. You can choose to believe or not believe various aspects of your religion. There's a fuck of a lot of fundamentalists who don't think that having gay sex is akin to greed and slander.

Let's bottom line this for the dimwits: You have a right to hate anything you want. No one has to tolerate your hate, no matter what you say to justify it.

Well, at least we have a good idea as to which Duck Dynasty guy is a closeted gay man. One day, he shall know the pleasure of cleaning semen out of his fluffy beard.

(Quick note on the First Amendment issues: Yeah, it does suck that someone can lose their career for their speech. Where the fuck were all of you when MSNBC's Martin Bashir was excoriated for implying that someone oughta shit in Sarah Palin's mouth? Oh, right. You were trying to get him canned for his words because he insulted your idiot queen.)
Photos That Show That India Should Probably Shut the Fuck Up When It Comes to the Treatment of Women:


First the facts of the case: When Devyani Khobragade, India's Deputy Consul in New York, applied for a visa to come to the United States, she said she was bringing a nanny with her from India. And she agreed to pay her household worker nearly $10 an hour, which was in line with New York City wages. Instead, she paid the nanny $573 for the month or $3.31 an hour. Khobragade paid her what she might have earned in India, where you can pay shit wages because, well, hell, talk to a bunch of U.S. companies about that. Unfortunately for Khobragade, she was in the United States, and you can be pretty sure that if an American went to India and tried to get American wages for domestic work, she'd be laughed at and then probably beaten.

So Khobragade was arrested and processed for violation of a couple of laws there, including lying on her visa application and, you know, paying $3.31 an hour. As part of being processed and jailed, she was strip-searched, which, yes, is problematic on many levels and barbaric for everyone arrested, American, Indian, or whoever. She was put in a cell with other prisoners, and she was swabbed for her DNA. No different than any other prisoner in New York City. She was bailed out within 2 hours of her arrest. Sure, spreading your ass cheeks under duress for strangers is an awful experience. But so is living on $573 a month in New York City.

Indian politicians and diplomats have gotten themselves all worked up about how Khobragade was treated "like a common criminal." Actually, India's lost its shit over this, especially because Khobragade kept yelling that she had "diplomatic immunity" to the U.S. Marshals who arrested and booked her. The Indian government is taking various punitive measures against our embassy and consulate workers, who, one should note, have not been accused of a crime. The Indian government removed security barriers at the embassy because allowing a car bomb to kill dozens of people would apparently be a fair trade-off for making an upper middle class Indian woman sit next to "drug addicts" for a couple of hours. There have been protests in the streets, probably the burning of an American flag or two, you know, the usual shit that sometimes we deserve and sometimes we don't. The protesters are saying that Khobragade's treatment was "an insult to all Indian women."

And that's where you lose the Rude Pundit, India. Because, see, that picture up there is from something that actually matters. It's a demonstration marking the one-year anniversary of the New Delhi gang rape and murder that so horrified the world and brought attention to just how fucked up are Indian attitudes towards women.

You wanna know what's an insult to women? "In Delhi, out of the 754 men arrested on rape charges last year, only one was convicted while the rest were facing pending investigations or trials." That's a fuckin' insult. The entire rape culture of India, while changing by baby steps since last year, is a fuckin' insult.

So between that and the sweatshops and the honor killings and the female feticide and the sexual exploitation and trafficking, you should just shut the fuck up about what degrades women, India.

And let's be honest here. If this had been some random poor woman, India wouldn't have given an elephant's fart's worth of concern. Indeed, in India, there's been more anger about Khobragade taking off her clothes than there has been at the actual charges. As Human Rights Watch reports, "[M]any commentators have leapt to Khobragade’s defense, saying she could not be expected to pay her nanny US$4,500 per month, more than her Indian government salary."

Yeah, India, by all means, let's have a conversation about who is degrading whom.

Obama, NSA Metadata Collection, and Our Right To Know Why

Obama, NSA Metadata Collection, and Our Right To Know Why:
There are two things that someone on the left can say that piss off unyielding Obama supporters: 1. Drone missile strikes are immoral and likely illegal in a "war crimes" sense (that's a discussion for another day), and 2. the blanket surveillance of the American people is an unconstitutional violation of privacy. And guess who could stop these practices with a wave of his pen? The motherfucking President.

"How dare you," they say, "how dare you question whether or not Barack Obama can be trusted." And when you point out that President Ted Cruz might not have earned such trust, you get silence. Principles like, you know, the Constitution, matter in these cases and trump your loyalty to one politician or another.

So all the Rude Pundit wants to say to every queasy person on the left, especially to those who called Edward Snowden a traitor or probed Glenn Greenwald's life and writings for anything to impeach his credibility (both of which totally miss the point of the leaked documents), is simple: Suck on Bush-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon's ruling that NSA metadata collection is probably unconstitutional and certainly goddamned scary.

You can go through the entire decision, which is filled with a breathtaking amount of steaming anger at government fuckery in the lives of everyone (yes, everyone). But, for the Rude Pundit, here's the money shot right in the face (from page 61): "[T]he Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature. In fact, none of the three 'recent episodes' cited by the Government that supposedly 'illustrate the role that telephony metadata can play in preventing and protecting against terrorist attack' involved any apparent urgency." Judge Leon then discusses how metadata was supposedly used in the three cases and concludes, "there is no indication that these revelations were immediately useful or that they prevented an impending attack."

And then, after kicking the government in the balls, he farts in its face: "Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation - most notably, the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative techniques - I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program." The plaintiffs (which means, yes, madman Larry Klayman) have a good chance of showing that the metadata collection violates their Fourth Amendment rights.

For the Rude Pundit, as it is for Judge Leon, as it should be for every American, it's always come down to that proposition for the government: Prove it. Show us you need this blanket surveillance. Show us that you need to keep years of this metadata. Show us that without it we'd have been blown up. (Implicit in there is "No, I don't trust you with my information. I don't give a shit who you are." Also implicit in there is "Yeah, you need to give up some fuckin' 'secrets' here.")

Which brings us back to President Obama. Ryan Lizza writes in The New Yorker about how a FISA judge who oversaw the metadata collection program believed, back in 2009, that the NSA was violating the rules governing its usage. He "was considering rescinding the N.S.A.’s authority to run the program, and was contemplating bringing contempt charges against officials who misled the court or perhaps referring the matter to 'appropriate investigative offices.'"

It gave the Obama administration an out. Fuckers were lying about how the data was being searched. Shut the fuckers down, right? No. In February, the Obama White House told the court, "The government respectfully submits that the Court should not rescind or modify the authority" of the NSA to throw a net over all the info, contempt or lies be damned.

The Rude Pundit doesn't give a damn how we got this information about our government's spying on us. What enrages him is being told he shouldn't worry about it, that he should just go about his business and let the professionals do their work. He naively believes that the failure to call "bullshit" on bullshit just because you like the bull is how you help democracy die faster.

This Fuckin' Pope

This Fuckin' Pope:
The nice thing about being an atheist is that you can say things like "Your god blows beagles" and not worry about lightning strikes frying you or earthquakes swallowing you up. Sure, sure, you gotta know your audience and maybe not say it to certain people's faces because they are delusional enough to think a magical sky wizard has commanded them to kill anyone who suggests that he blows any kind of dog. Another thing about atheism is it means you don't really have to give a shit what some high muckety-muck in a tall hat or turban tells you about how to live your life.

But the Rude Pundit's not an idiot and he's not so narrow-minded as to dismiss the words of leaders of different faiths, especially when those words can have an enormous impact on the genuine sheep who make up the flock. Let's put it this way: if just a word or two from a Zombie King could make all the zombies in the zombie apocalypse stop eating people and instead start organic gardens and go vegan, that would be a net positive. Sure, the world is still overrun with rotting zombies, but at least they're not trying to gnaw on your guts.

So, yeah, the Rude Pundit's finding himself more and more jazzed by Pope Francis the more he reads the things this fuckin' guy says. Like check out this interview he did with the Italian newspaper from Turin, La Stampa, last week. It's got the usual shit you expect from a, you know, Pope. God's love, prayer, blah-blah-blah.

But Francis is willing to get in the trenches and duke it out on issues of economics and public policy, with one important difference from, say, John Paul II, which we'll get to in a minute. Here's Francis on hunger in the world: "If we work with humanitarian organisations and are able to agree all together not to waste food, sending it instead to those who need it, we could do so much to help solve the problem of hunger in the world."

On anus-lickers like Rush Limbaugh who call him "Marxist," Francis says, "The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended."

On the uproar over his attack on trickle-down economics: "There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church. I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on. The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the 'trickle-down theories' which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefiting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger. Nothing ever comes out for the poor." (That's pretty much one of the most succinct, apt descriptions of the failure of American capitalism you're gonna read.)

On expanding the faith: "We must try to facilitate people’s faith, rather than control it. Last year in Argentina I condemned the attitude of some priests who did not baptise the children of unmarried mothers. This is a sick mentality." This led to a pretty amazing statement: "The exclusion of divorced people who contract a second marriage from communion is not a sanction. It is important to remember this." Conservative Catholic priests in the United States must have felt a kick in the taint. Francis says that he and the bishops will be dealing with questions of marriage and divorce in February.

On the relationship between the church and the political world: "Politics is noble; it is one of the highest forms of charity, as Paul VI used to say. We sully it when we mix it with business. The relationship between the Church and political power can also be corrupted if common good is not the only converging point."

Let's be clear here. Francis hasn't changed anything in any official sense yet. The Catholic Church still believes what it has believed about women, about abortion and contraception, about same sex marriage. And February's Synod might not change any of it. But here's the difference: while Francis did mention concern about "unborn children" in his Exhortation last month, it was in a larger context about the ravages of economic disparity. He wrote, "[I]t is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?" Within the context of Catholicism, that's pretty much the equivalent of selling all your possessions and joining the Peace Corps.

Compare that to John Paul II, who was all about condemning people for abortion, contraception, euthanasia, cloning, and more.

There's the difference. It's emphasis. You may be anti-choice, but if you see the problem as poverty and the need for more support and compassion for women, then we have something to talk about. But if you're preaching "genocide" and other JPII bullshit, then you can go fuck yourself under your robe. And if you actually wanna go after the moneychangers and the rich? Dude, we have a lot to talk about.

Yeah, the Rude Pundit's still got the problems with Catholicism that he's always had. But Francis has fucked with Catholicism's priorities in a way that hasn't been seen in generations. And if, as expected, he changes doctrine in February, well, if someone tells over a billion zombies to start planting seeds, it could be quite a garden that is reaped.

The Rude Pundit's Unproduced Second Amendment PSA

The Rude Pundit's Unproduced Second Amendment PSA:
(Note: This is from the 2nd Edition of The Rude Pundit's Almanack from 2012, which is 75% or more still relevant, and would make an excellent Christmas gift.)

Let's leave the people of Newtown alone today. Instead, let's attack those bastards who made Newtown and every other massacre possible: the 2nd Amendment absolutists who know exactly dick about the 2nd Amendment. Here's a script from a short film the Rude Pundit wanted to make, one of a series on the Bill of Rights.

Rude Pundit
Check this shit out.
(Walks up to a man holding a Revolutionary War rifle)
Tell me about this.
 
(Man #1 explains how the rifle works)
 
Rude Pundit
Thanks. Give General Washington my best.
(Walks over to man holding a semi-automatic assault gun)
Tell me about this one.
 
(Man #2 explains how the gun works)

Rude Pundit
Fuck, yeah.
 
(To the camera)
Here’s a demonstration.  (to the men) Okay, fellas, go for it.
 
(They fire at targets: a Redcoat and a hippie.  Man #1 starts to reload, but by the time he’s done, Man #2 has shot up the hippie and moved on to the Redcoat.)
 
Hey, James Madison, what did you think?
 
(Pan to James Madison, mouth agape)
 
Madison
Are you fucking serious?
 
Rude Pundit
Yes, we are, James Madison, yes, we are.  Back in Madison’s time, the major threats were Indians, tbe British, and bears.  We’ve pretty much eliminated all of those.
 
Scene 2:
(Rude Pundit is in a chair with a spotlight on him)
 
Sure, sure, some, like the NRA and a majority of the current Supreme Court, think that the first part of the amendment is a “just in case” proposition.  That whole “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state” thing.  You see, apparently “well-regulated” means that there can’t be any regulations beyond, “No, you can’t own a fucking rocket launcher.”
 
But you can own, after just a brief waiting period for a background check in many, but not all, purchases just to make super-duper sure that you’re not Charles Manson,
handguns
(a snub nose appears pointed at Rude Pundit’s head)
of various calibers
(a .45 appears, pointed at him)
rifles for hunting
(a hunting rifle appears)
competition
(same)
and killing people
(a double barrel appears)
 
You can own assault weapons, like an AK-47
(appears)
and an AR-15
(appears)
which is pretty much an admission that you have no dick at all
(AR-15 barrel points at his crotch)
Oh, right, I wouldn’t want you to have a dick, Cindy.
 
Most of these you can carry out in the open.  Some you can carry concealed, if you have a permit to do so.
 
The only regulations around now that matter?  There’s a couple of bullets you can’t buy.  You can’t have an automatic weapon, which is really just a matter of semantics and minor adjustments.  There’s a couple of rules about sales of guns, which are mostly ignored with impunity, as long as no one’s selling bazookas to Iranians.  And some states have some other laws dealing with registration, training, and limits on types of weapons and magazine.  We call those the “kind of rational” states. 
(Handgun is cocked and pressed against his temple)
We call those the “pussy” states.

There’s a good chance that people like Virginia’s Richard Henry Lee and George Mason really just wanted to make sure that Southern white people had the guns to stop rebellious slaves from fucking their shit up.  It’s pretty much the same reason as now.

Denial of Medicaid Expansion Is a Job Killer

Denial of Medicaid Expansion Is a Job Killer:
(This one is clean for the kiddies.)

A just-released report from the Commonwealth Fund shows how ideology has trumped common sense when it comes to the states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (aka "Pearl Harbor + The Civil War x Pol Pot to the power of Manson"). For, if you will remember, what the cruel Obama administration wishes to do is give states 100% of the funding for the first three years and, phased down over five years, about 90% thereafter to get health coverage for their not-quite-as-desperate poor, those in that not-exactly sweet spot between current Medicaid guidelines and qualifying for the insurance exchanges.

What are Bobby Jindal, Rick Scott, and other GOP governors forgoing? "The value of new federal funds flowing annually to states that choose to participate in the Medicaid expansion in 2022 will be, on average, about 2.35 times as great as expected federal highway funds going to state governments in that year and over one-quarter as large as expected defense procurement contracts to states."

How about putting that in dollars? So, for instance, the Rude Pundit's stupid home state of Louisiana would, if Jindal wasn't such a jerk about it, get $2.3 billion in 2022 for Medicaid expansion. For highway funds, the state gets $900 million. One of those numbers is bigger.

In that fantasy year of 2022, it would cost the state $280 million to cover over 240,000 Louisianians. In other words, the state would get roughly $9 for every $1 it spent. In otherer words, as a report in February from Family USA, the state is saying, "Hasta la vista" to jobs, too.

Remember how much Republicans want to talk about jobs except when it comes to actually creating jobs? Remember how Ted Cruz goes on and on about the "job-killing" Obamacare? Yeah, not so much.

Because, see, expansion of Medicaid in Louisiana is projected to create 15,600 jobs. Why? Because there's a couple of billion dollars involved. And what's even awesomer is that a chunk of that money will be spent on wages. The Rude Pundit is no high-falutin' economist, but he's pretty sure that means the wages will be taxed and spent, which is taxed also. That seems like a pretty sweet deal all around.

Now, can someone explain how this is any different, truly, than, say, a defense contract? Because it's all just federal money heading to localities that then turn around and create jobs doing something for the citizens of the nation.

Why do you think GOP governors like Rick Snyder and John Kasich have jumped on the expansion train? Compassion? Hell no. It's for that cash infusion at a time when the irrational budget sequester has circumcised the budgets of the states with no hope in the near future of spending returning to its pre-Tea Party levels.

Bottom line: If someone offered you $900 for the sweet price of $100, you'd be a total jackass not to take it. Thus we know why Gov. Bobby Jindal won't.

Teabaggers for Congress: Milton Wolf Is Your Bright-Toothed Asshole

Teabaggers for Congress: Milton Wolf Is Your Bright-Toothed Asshole:
So everyone's got their thongs all up in their ass cheeks over Rep. Steve Stockman, the blithering nutsack who is running in the GOP primary against Sen. John Cornyn. Stockman has twice been able to con the yahoos and idiots of racist southeastern Texas (motto: "What are you lookin' at, boy?") into voting for him. Honestly, Stockman has about as much chance as a Frenchman against Cornyn. The whole sad exercise just seems like a way for the incredibly dickish Cornyn to seem slightly less deranged.

But that's not the case for every nutzoid cocksucker for Congress running in primaries against already ludicrously conservative, obstructionist, backwards Republican Senators, some of whom actually have a chance to win their party's place on the ballot.

For instance, there's Dr. Milton Wolf, radiologist (so, yeah, sure, technically, fine), distant white cousin of President Obama, Washington Times columnist (which is like saying one is a shit taster), and candidate against Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas. Wolf is a raging anti-government wad of fuck who is unafraid to link to Alex Jones's Infowars if he wants to make a goddamn point.

Good-looking with a cartoon voice that sounds like Wayne Newton gargling balls, Wolf is a screaming drama queen about all things Obama-ish. IRS targeting conservative groups (even though it totally wasn't)? That's "naked tyranny...We fled a continent and faced unknown mortal dangers to escape it. We fought a revolution to remove it from our shores. Foreign or domestic, we will surely fight it today." If by "fight," he meant, "scamper away with Darrell Issa's tail between our legs," then, sure, yeah.

Of course, Wolf has been endorsed by something called "the Senate Conservatives Fund," a name that seems to require an apostrophe somewhere, but fuck that fancy punctuation.

But let's encourage this dink with good hair, this dumbass who hates "traditional" Republicans but loves him some moose pussy: "It’s time to take a page out of Sarah Palin’s playbook. It’s time to take on the establishment. For the sake of our party and the republic, it’s time to lock and load."

Sure, defeat Roberts and get the nomination. Hopefully, Democrats will actually run someone who has a shot. But even if not, how the hell worse can it get in the Senate?

Obama Doesn't Murder Raul Castro at Mandela Memorial; Conservatives Outraged

Obama Doesn't Murder Raul Castro at Mandela Memorial; Conservatives Outraged:


Admit it. The second you heard that President Obama shook hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at the memorial for Nelson Mandela, you got nauseous. Oh, not because you think there's any problem with two world leaders not currently at or near war exchanging pleasantries or some such nonsense. No, you felt your gut twist because you knew the shitstorm that was about to rain its fecal self down all over the internets. There was no way that this gesture was going to go uncondemned by the fucknuts of the right. And, indeed, you were correct because fucknuts will be fucknuts.

There's America's angriest shelf-elf, John McCain, saying, weirdly, "Why should you shake hands with someone who’s keeping Americans in prison? I mean, what’s the point? Neville Chamberlain shook hands with Hitler."

Mona Charen, who apparently writes things, said on the National Review online, "[T]o witness the handshake between Obama and Raúl Castro makes the stomach turn." And she's been alone in a room with Newt Gingrich.

Marco Rubio, in his continuing performance art piece, "Marco Rubio Hasn't Turned Invisible," smacked, "If the president was going to shake his hand, he should have asked him about those basic freedoms Mandela was associated with that are denied in Cuba." He then added, sadly, slowly, "No, really, I'm still here. Hello?"

At a fucking congressional hearing today, Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of, yeah, Florida, told Secretary of State John Kerry, "[W]hen the leader of the free world shakes the bloody hand of a ruthless dictator like Raul Castro, it becomes a propaganda coup for the tyrant." Kerry wanted to roll his eyes, but those muscles have long since succumbed to the Botox.

From Breitbart to Rush Limbaugh, from the halls of Congress to the microphones of CNN, a loud, long fart of manufactured outrage was heard echoing around the nation. What a fine day for freedom and compassion. Frankly, there's a chance that the Cuban people are gonna be pissed that Castro shook hands with the dude who drone bombs the fuck out of innocent people.

Let's give the last word here to another conservative, John Podhoretz, who wrote, sanely, "There's plenty to attack Obama for. Attacking him for shaking someone's hand at a funeral begins to descend into self-parody." The only thing to argue about there is the word "begins."

Late Post Today

Late Post Today:
The Brain thinks this latest plot involving egg nog and fake elves will work. Gotta fuck it up "accidentally."

Back later with more rudeness.

Minimum Wage, Unemployment Insurance, and Forcing Compassion on Capitalism

Minimum Wage, Unemployment Insurance, and Forcing Compassion on Capitalism:
This morning, the Rude Pundit was listening to the NPR, and he heard the usual Monday a.m. palaver between the host and longtime DC reporter Cokie Roberts. It was primarily about all the backwards ass racist fucks who crawled out of their swampy ditches to make comments on various websites and Facebook pages about how much they hated Nelson Mandela. Roberts said that some members in Congress were shocked, shocked that their base was actually made up of the aforementioned racist fucks. Then, to offer balance, she said, really, "And I'm sure the President is getting blowback [from the left] for bringing President Bush with him on [Air Force One to the funeral]." Later, she said, "We've seen a whole lot of the President reaching out to his base on income equality and raising the minimum wage."

Now, the Rude Pundit's no doyenne of les affaires du Washington, but he's pretty sure that if a vast majority of Americans support something, it ain't "the base." 76% of people polled by Gallup support hiking the minimum wage to at least $9 an hour. When Obama speaks, as he did last week, about raising that guaranteed hourly rate, he ain't some crazy leftist just trying to score points among the poors. In reality, he's merely stating what most everyone in the nation believes. In fact, by logical extension, opposing a minimum wage hike is pretty much an extremist position. But that sounds unbalanced, no? And we can't have that.

David Simon, creator of The Wire and other stuff, gave a speech last month at the Sydney, Australia, Festival of Dangerous Ideas. In it, he attacks the actions of American capitalists. The problem with income inequality in this country isn't capitalism - Simon says he's all for it - but how much rich Americans are such dickholes about acquiring ludicrous amounts of wealth. That dickishness is causing the nation to rot at its core. "A horror show," Simon calls it. "The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. It's a juvenile notion and it's still being argued in my country passionately and we're going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I'm astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?"

Capitalism fails once labor is taken for granted. Everyone is supposed to reap the rewards in the perfect capitalist model, not just the stockholders and the executives at the very top. If a company is profitable, it's supposed to pay its workforce, down to the bottom, more and give greater benefits because an investment in labor is an investment in the future good of the company. But many, if not most, companies (like fast food chains and Wal-Mart) don't see it this way. They see labor as a necessary but disposable evil. They will pay as little as possible, especially in a buyer's market for workers. And so we need a fig leaf or two for workers. That's why we have a minimum wage. That's why we havethe limited benefits of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act (which doesn't guarantee pay, just that you're not supposed to lose your job).

In other words, government is supposed to be a check on the excesses of capitalism, not an enabler of more. Right now, despite the protestations of yahoos and assholes about "regulations," we simply allow a grotesque amount of wealth to be held by an increasingly small number of people without telling them, "Look, motherfuckers, pony up or one day your ass is gonna be fuckin' eaten by your employees."

What else is it but savage cruelty for a country that has hundreds of billionaires to be discussing that an extension of unemployment benefits for over a million people might cost too much while still looking to cut food stamps further? We have public figures saying that it harms people to extend unemployment insurance. You know who it harms? The friend of the Rude Pundit who's 57 years old, laid off from a job in marketing over a year ago, trying to figure out how the fuck his family with two kids, including one in college, is gonna keep their apartment on his wife's small salary (which, thankfully, comes with some meager health insurance) even as he applies for and interviews for jobs every week that he can't get because they're entry-level and he's fucking 57 years old and he's about to run out of unemployment.

This ain't a heavy lift when it comes to economic and sociological theory. You wanna keep the place you live in nice? You spread the wealth. That ain't a dirty phrase. That ain't socialism. Shit, it's basic etiquette. And you don't spread it through charity. You do it through good-paying jobs because you can fucking afford it. You do it through social programs administered by the government, which is supposed to look out for people.

We're talking basic social contract shit here. As Simon said (heh), "We're either going to do that in some practical way when things get bad enough or we're going to keep going the way we're going, at which point there's going to be enough people standing on the outside of this mess that somebody's going to pick up a brick, because you know when people get to the end there's always the brick."

And if you wanna think really hard about that brick, read the New York Times' story about homeless children in New York City. It'll make you wonder why we're not rioting in the streets every day.

Nelson Mandela and This White American Kid

Mandela and This White American Kid:
On February 11, 1990, the white Rude Pundit was sitting at his then-girlfriend's family's house in New Orleans. He was at a kitchen counter, watching TV. Seated next to him, the white girlfriend's father, a fat white fascist, was watching, too. The girlfriend and her white mother were standing and watching. We were all focused on CNN, which was showing the release of black Nelson Mandela from prison after 27 years. The Rude Pundit was immensely moved by the sight. The fat white fascist said, "That man is a commie and a terrorist, and he should be in jail for the rest of his life."

As the Rude Pundit was inhaling for his response, the girlfriend, knowing what was coming, grabbed her mother and said, "We should go to the back of the house." They left, and the Rude Pundit launched into a loud, extended attack on the fat white fascist. In his early 20s and with even less of a filter than he has now, you did not fuck with the Rude Pundit when it came to South Africa.

You can read elsewhere about Mandela's extraordinary life, his importance to the struggle of people oppressed by racism worldwide, and more. You can read tributes and encomiums endlessly. But one aspect of the Mandela story, which is really the story of the fight against and eventual end of apartheid in South Africa, is personal to the Rude Pundit: his imprisonment and his cause became a rallying point for college students in the 1980s, especially as President Ronald Reagan spoke as an apologist for the white government.

In 1985, the Rude Pundit and a friend - whom he'll call "Toby" because that's his name - put together a presentation on South Africa and Mandela for a large organization of fellow students at our university. Mandela inspired many of us to look outward, sometimes for the first time in our lives, to the injustices in other countries, faraway countries. We were part of the divestment movement, which called for our colleges and universities to get rid of their investments in companies that did business with South Africa. (And let's give credit where it's due: Stevie Wonder invoking Mandela while accepting an Oscar in February 1985 brought the plight of black South Africans to a much wider audience. His music was banned from South Africa's radio stations for several years after.)

We who joined in the anti-apartheid protests were fully aware that, in Mandela, we were supporting someone who was for the overthrow of his government and who refused to renounce violence as a way to get there. We knew we were supporting someone who was accused of being a communist and in bed with the dreaded Soviet Union. We also knew that without some kind of seismic shift in South Africa, the place was gonna explode, and America's failure to lead with the necessary moral authority was going to be one reason it happened.

This wasn't a small movement. The divestment push happened in schools all around the country. At Columbia University in New York, students chained the doors of one of the main buildings shut and held rallies on the front steps. At Rutgers, Cornell, Berkeley, and elsewhere, protests took place and buildings were occupied and demands were issued. In June 1986, there was an anti-apartheid march in New York City that ended with a rally in Central Park with tens of thousands of participants. And one of the major demands of those all over the globe seeking an end to apartheid was the release of Nelson Mandela from Victor Verster Prison.

The Rude Pundit and Toby gave talks to different groups and classes, encouraging students to get involved. We don't know what effect we had in particular, but, try as many on the right did, the surge in youth intensity on freedom for South Africa could not be dismissed as merely trendy or shallow. The culture was getting behind it, with musicians and actors joining in with liberal politicians. There were definite results. Overriding Reagan's veto, Congress finally acted on the matter in 1986 by imposing sanctions on South Africa after failing to do so in 1985. You can bet that the divestment movement and college awakening had something to do with the nation discovering its moral bearings.

Nelson Mandela inspired us to fight for something that was so obviously, unequivocally right. He inspired the Rude Pundit to think globally, as they say now. And his release and his election to the presidency in South Africa proved to us that it is possible to unify and actually overcome evil in this world.

Fuck Everyone Involved in the "Little Girl Can't Sell Mistletoe" Story

Fuck Everyone Involved in the "Little Girl Can't Sell Mistletoe" Story:
(It's the Rude Pundit's birthday, so he gets to call the game today.)

Here's the story: Adorable 11 year-old girl with the uber-American name of Madison Root finds out she needs braces. To help her Oregon family with the $4800 cost of the things, she harvests and bags mistletoe at her uncle's farm. She heads to downtown Portland - you know, of Portlandia - to sell her Christmassy wares at the Portland Saturday Market, which happens right on the waterfront every, well, Saturday. Madison gets to the market, sets up shop, and starts making coin. Then a park guard at the market tells her that she can't sell, that she needs a permit and a membership in the market. Then he tells her that it'd be cool if she wanted to ask people for donations because that's protected speech. Says the crooked-toothed young entrepreneur, "I don't want to beg! I would rather work for something than beg." The market organization has invited her to become a member without paying the fee that everyone else has to. And people offered to buy her mistletoe and donate money to straighten those beaver chompers.

Should be the end of the story, no? No? No.

Because, see, then Madison, prompted, no doubt, by her outraged father, went full teabagger to a local news station: "It’s not about the mistletoe. And it’s not about me. It’s about all of us. It’s about how we’re raising wimps, how people would rather beg for money than work hard!"

And, before you could say, "No, dear child, it's actually about how laws apply to all people, even tweens,"  Right Blogsylvania and the conservative media went to DefCon Benghazi. How can you blame them, really? It's got everything: oppressed white people, overbearing government regulations, antipathy to the impoverished, and the War on Christmas.  Jesus, if you put a bloated hippo corpse out on the plain, would you not expect hungry buzzards to rip the rotting guts out?

Fox "news" was all over it like brown on shit. Megyn Kelly has already featured Madison, where the girl said, "What has society come to?" because people can beg but not sell in a market without a permit. It's all about personal responsibility, don't you know?

Oh, by the way, Fox's story says that Madison was told she "could beg for money to pay for her braces." Which would be sad and true, except that it wasn't. Her family is perfectly capable of paying for the braces, having insurance and money for that. This was a lark for someone who will hopefully never be in a position to need to beg. This ain't the Little Match Girl. It's more like Adventures of Young Sarah Palin.

Glenn Beck, who apparently still exists and is in some ways bigger than ever (no, really - just in a culty, under the radar way), had her on this morning in an interview that could best be described as phone molestation. Beck and the Beckettes in the studio were creaming in their khakis over Madison. It was, without a doubt, one of the creepier things you'll hear this holiday season.

But by now Madison knows how to play this game. Like someone who got read Bill O'Reilly's books as bedtime stories, she said, "I am working hard. I am trying to get something that I want, and I am doing something. I am applying myself. But now they are saying, ‘You don’t need to apply yourself. You can just sit down and beg for money.’" Beck has set up a website where you can buy Madison's mistletoe.

She has gone on about how she doesn't want donations. She wants to sell some motherfuckin' mistletoe, and she's sold a shitload online. Beck and Kelly and all the others extoll her go-getter work ethic and capitalist drive.

Really, though, and truly, fuck everyone involved in this story. Fuck Beck, fuck Megyn Kelly, fuck every conservative blogger jacking it to this little girl, fuck every media outlet making this into something more than "privileged white girl not allowed to do something." Fuck her father, fuck her uncle, fuck the Portland market officials who should have said, "Yeah, bitch has to buy a permit, like everyone else here who is legitimately selling shit in order to get by."

And, yeah, why not, fuck Madison Root. Not because of the attention. She's 11. She's loving this shit (but it's gonna be awesome in a couple of years when she looks back and thinks, "Why the fuck did my father do this to me?"). Fuck her because while she may pick and package the mistletoe, she didn't have to spend a fucking dime or put in any effort to grow it. She was lucky enough to have a relative to give her the plants for free. Fuck her because maybe she is learning about American capitalism: those who have only want more and they don't care about those who have nothing.

Oh, one last thing. Lots of people are leaving out one big detail. One idiot blogger writes, "So, the city of Portland has no problem putting a little girl out into the dangerous streets to wander around begging for money but the city won’t let her sell something useful to raise money for her orthodontics?"

Except that that guard didn't just tell her to beg. He told her that she could sell her mistletoe on the sidewalk outside the market. Indeed, anyone could sell stuff there.

But that's not as good a story, is it?

Republicans Have Reached Maximum "Shutthefuckup" on Obamacare

Republicans Have Reached Maximum "Shutthefuckup" on Obamacare:
Like many Americans, the Rude Pundit has reached the "ShutthefuckupShutthefuckupShutthefuckup" point when it comes to listening to critics of the Affordable Care Act, especially Republican members of Congress and ratings whore scandalmongers in the media. It's long past time for them to have shut the fuck up and tried to help make the law work better. Yet they will not shut the fuck up. They keep the fuck yipping away, each one trying to be the loudest little bitch in the chihuahua pen, hoping that bugnuts teabaggers will pick them up and pet them for their yipping.

The only thing that makes watching TV news tolerable is imagining Eric Cantor getting ass fucked by angry polar bears who don't even bother eating him. Just fucking the shit out of his ass while Cantor bumpily tries to accuse the Obama administration of hiding problems with the program. So the polar bears have to fuck his face to shut him up. Ahh, peace at last, except for polar bear grunts and distant whimpers.

Republicans are going to be increasingly desperate as the month of December wears on, not just because President Obama said yesterday, more or less, "Yeah, you can suck my dick and I'll still veto any stupid ass repeal bill you try to squeeze out, Boehner." No, the desperation is tied to what will happen on January 1.

The reality that's gonna slam the opponents of the bill in the face like a frying pan on a cartoon cat is that, no matter how many people have signed up by then, 100,000 or 10 million, the benefits are gonna kick off on New Year's Day. And very quickly after that some newly-insured constituent in a district of a GOP House member who opposes Obamacare is going to go to the doctor. And that constituent is gonna discover that being able to go to the doctor is a very good thing. And that constituent will let others know that he wasn't shivved by the ghost of Karl Marx, that he just got a prescription to clear up that skin problem that's been bugging him and all he had to shell out was his co-pay. And then every Republican in the country knows that, at that moment, it's game over, man, game over. You will take away people's Obamacare when you can pry it out of their cold, dead hands.

But, on the way to that moment, Democrats and supporters need a few talking points. So why not base them around this:

Does anyone have a rough calculation of how much money the GOP has spent trying to block or repeal the ACA? Sure, we got the $15-24 billion that the shutdown cost the economy. But what about all the other bullshit efforts? The dozens of votes, the ludicrous hearings that the vile, worthless Darrell Issa keeps having (even today)? What's it all costing the government and the nation? Now, imagine if that money had been used to make the law work better.

C'mon, Republicans. You're all about saving the money, mocking every program that costs pennies compared to tax cuts and wars. Why on God's green earth - oh, wait, sorry, you don't believe in being green - why the fuck did you waste time and money with all the effort to repeal something that was unrepealable? To make a point? Hoping that the Senate would say, "Ok, if they vote to repeal a 40th time, we'll do it, too"? Wishing that Darrell Issa was anything more than a laughable fraud? Well, shit, all that money tossed on the "I hate Obama" bonfire could have been used to reduce the deficit, something you and your Ryanesque gods jack it to constantly (or, you know, it could have been used on jobs programs or, shhh, on the ACA).

But, no, really, instead, go ahead and spend more of our (according to you) precariously perched tax dollars while you talk about runaway government spending. Try every way to block the law from having a positive impact.

Go on and, for instance, mock the idea that young, healthy people should have health insurance. How about next time some uninsured 27-year-old is diagnosed with cancer, they send the bill to Reince Priebus? Or Mike Rogers? Or whatever fucksack is blathering on endlessly about the ACA without offering a single rational idea for an alternative other than "let 'em die."

That hand has been overplayed. It might not seem like it yet, but come January 1, no matter how many problems there are along the way, one yokel with his prescription eczema cream is gonna fuck your world up.

David Brooks: Our Pretty White Heads Waste Too Much Time on Politics

David Brooks: Our Pretty White Heads Waste Too Much Time on Politics:
One day, when the mixed race Americans who survive the zombie apocalypse, started, no doubt, by the early failures of the Obamacare website, are looking to piece together a cultural history of this nation from the ruins of the United States, they might come across what David Brooks wrote today. Oh, how they will laugh as they realize that they have discovered what might be the purest example of the narrow, narcissistic thinking of the wealthy white male of the last days of America.

Because, truly, in his "column" (if by "column," you mean, "the delicately farted emanations of a powdered asshole") today, Brooks tells us that (really and no shit), "[P]olitics should take up maybe a tenth corner of a good citizen’s mind. The rest should be philosophy, friendship, romance, family, culture and fun."

Somewhere, a poor black woman in Arkansas read that on her break between her second and third part-time jobs cleaning toilets and thought, "Oh, yes, David, I'm definitely more inclined to think about what I'll say about Wittgenstein over champagne on the yacht off East Hampton this summer just as soon as I figure out how the fuck I'm gonna feed my kids and pay my rent, you elitist cockhead."

See, unless you're David Brooks or allowed in the clubs he belongs to, every moment of your day is political on a deeply personal level. Food stamps cut? That's political shit not affecting Brooks or the Brooksians. State not expanding Medicaid because your governor is an Obama-hating twat? Better fuckin' believe that's political.

Brooks reaches some kind of fever pitch of self-parody where he masturbates to "intelligent television talk" on the TV. "Shows would put interesting people together, like Woody Allen with Billy Graham," he informs us, "and they’d discuss anything under the sun." You know when that incredibly entertaining interview occurred? In 1969. You wanna go back to Stonewall riots and the daily carnage reports out of 'Nam? You wanna go back to Bloody Sunday and Soviet nuke threats?

That doesn't even get into the fact that the people who were watching Dick Cavett or Tom Snyder or Billy Buckley have these oh-so-intelligent conversations were mostly David Brookses because everyone else was trying the fuck to survive.

Brooks is right about one thing: the best government is a boring, functioning one. So why doesn't he talk to the motherfuckers in his party about getting back to that?

You gotta hope that one day David Brooks wakes up as a recent immigrant to the United States, his hands full of callouses and cuts from the day labor, living in a three-room apartment with ten or more others, his wife pregnant and his teenage son trying to go to school. Maybe he could tell everyone not to worry about politics so much before he's dragged to a detention center and beaten by guards.

In Brief: A No-Good Website That's Kind of Working Right Now, Goddamnit

In Brief: A No-Good Website That's Kind of Working Right Now, Goddamnit:
Let us say the good and necessary progressive thing to say whenever an actual progressive talks about the Affordable Care Act: it should have had a public option for insurance. Or it should have been single payer. Indeed, at this point, considering the titanic waves of bullshit that Democrats have had to surf and splash around in, Obamacare could have been completely socialized medicine with free hookers thrown in as a bonus or it could have been a bottle of aspirin. It wouldn't have mattered to the GOP. They'd've still hocked up the exact same loogies and spit them at the plan.

The lesson for Democrats oughta be that if you're gonna have to fight a war over something, at least make it a Democratic something that you're defending and not some Republican Frankenstein's monster you lightning bolted to life.

In the same way that it wouldn't have mattered what ACA was for conservatives, it truly doesn't matter if healthcare.gov can now wash your car, walk your dog, and fuck you real good. The hits from the nitwits on the right will keep coming.

For instance, here's Redstate's Erick "Erick" Erickson, who looks like a bloated mascot version of himself now that he's on Fox "news," scribbling bloggily about how cooperative Republicans should be with the Affordable Care Act: "We must deny them the opportunity to fix the law itself. Let the American people see big government in all its glory. Then offer a repeal."

By this thinking, if the Iraq War had been started by a Democrat, the Republicans in Congress would have denied funds for soldiers to have the right armor on their Humvees to take IED attacks. Republicans would have said that if we didn't completely withdraw immediately, it was the Democrats who were killing our soldiers. And Erick "Erick" Erickson would have bloatily slurred how the American people need to see war in all its bloody glory. (Note: Can you ever imagine Democrats saying, "Fuck it. We're not gonna let you do dick to fix a law that was passed by this body"?)

Of course, if right-wingers are saying stupid shit in public, then the Washington Post's chief torture apologist, former speechwriter and ballwasher for George W. Bush, Marc Thiessen, will be there to angrily try to compensate for all that acne in high school. The fascinating thing about Thiessen is his seemingly willful ignorance to who the fuck he actually worked for once, who he aided and abetted in wrecking the nation. So he can write, with a straight smirk, regarding the way he thinks the American people are feeling about some of the promises Obama and others made about the ACA, "They are angry about being lied to."

Even allowing that Obama fucked up in telling people that they could keep their shitty, overpriced plans, Thiessen, who helped craft some of the ways that Bush spouted his lies to the nation and the world, should probably look at his resume' every time he think about saying that people are pissed about lies. A self-aware man would nod at the paper and say, "Yeah, I'd be a hypocritical jack-off if I wrote that."

It'll be a fun few days, filled with conservatives dancing madly around fires fed by iPads with screens with Obamacare error messages. Oh, how they'll howl at the moon and cover themselves in Ann Coulter's menstrual blood in celebration of each and every glitch and stumble, how they'll laugh when you suggest that they might stop yowling at the void and do some goddamn work.

The Elf on the Shelf Wept: A Scene from One Black Friday Strike

The Elf on the Shelf Wept: A Scene from One Black Friday Strike:
In Ontario, California, a suburb that's part of the Los Angeles sprawl, warehouse workers for Walmart took part in a national Black Friday strike and protest for a living wage from the mega-retailer. Most of the 150 or so people there marched with signs and chanted their chants. However, some of the strikers blocked an intersection. They were joined by one particularly jolly man in red:


Of course, blocking a road with a sit-in is an arresting offense, so as expected, those sitting in were arrested. Either way, you wouldn't want to be this police officer when he gets home to his kids:


The sad part is all that Santa and the workers nationwide want is a guarantee that Walmart will pay its employees $25,000 a year. A mere bag of shells to a company that made $17 billion in profit.

So the question here is the inevitable: Who is naughty in this scenario? Who is nice?

A Thanksgiving Poem from the Conquered

A Thanksgiving Poem from the Conquered:
Kopis'taya (A Gathering of Spirits)
by Pueblo and Sioux writer Paula Gunn Allen

Because we live in the browning season
the heavy air blocking our breath,
and in this time when living
is only survival, we doubt the voices
that come shadowed on the air,
that weave within our brains
certain thoughts, a motion that is soft,
imperceptible, a twilight rain,
soft feather's fall, a small body dropping
into its next, rustling, murmuring, settling
in for the night.

Because we live in the hardedged season
where plastic brittle and gleaming shine,
and in this space that is cornered and angled,
we do not notice wet, moist, the significant
drops falling in perfect spheres that are certain measures
of our minds;
almost invisible, those tears,
soft as dew, fragile, that cling to leaves,
petals, roots, gentle and sure,
every morning.

We are the women of the daylight, of clocks
and steel foundries, of drugstores
and streetlights, of superhighways
that slice our days in two. Wrapped around
in plastic and steel we ride our lives;
behind dark glasses we hide our eyes;
our thoughts, shaded, seem obscure.
Smoke fills our minds, whiskey husks our songs,
polyester cuts our bodies from our breath,
our feet from the welcoming stones of earth.
Our dreams are pale memories of themselves
and nagging doubt is the false measure
of our days.

Even so, the spirit voices are singing,
their thoughts are dancing in the dirty air.
Their feet touch the cement, the asphalt
delighting, still they weave dreams upon our
shadowed skulls, if we could listen.
If we could hear.

Let's go then. Let's find them.
Let's listen for the water, the careful
gleaming drops that glisten on the leaves,
the flowers. Let's ride
the midnight, the early dawn.
Feel the wind striding though our hair.
Let's dance the dance of feathers,
the dance of birds.

Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Spike the Cranberry Sauce with Vodka and Roofies

Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Spike the Cranberry Sauce with Vodka and Roofies:


That's just part of the arsenal that Sandy Hook Elementary shooter Adam Lanza had on him. It doesn't include the Bushmaster. It doesn't include the shotgun he had in the trunk of his car.

While hindsight is perfect and all that nonsense, if you want to rattle yourself to the bones on this rainy, awful day here in the Northeast, check out the report on Lanza's fifth-grade work, "The Big Book of Granny," featuring a homicidal Granny and her sadistic grandson. Oh, it's also got a character called Dora the Berserker who says, "I like hurting people...especially children." And then Granny shoots and kills an entire troop of Marines.

The Rude Pundit will be driving past Newtown today on his way to a Thanksgiving feast. Chances are that he won't slow down. It'll be night. It might still be raining. As we do with every massacre, we will all eventually do the same. We will push Sandy Hook into the white noise of violence past, our national state of denial that wears us down and wears us down.