What Else Would You Do With a Dick in Your Face?:
Sweet, sweet mercy, what a long, luxuriant blow job did Larry King give Vice President Dick Cheney last night on his CNN "talk" show. How carefully, gently, tenderly, even, King took Cheney's mighty python of love out of his pants and lapped it around the head before plunging, full throttle, on to deep throating the whole cock. God, you thought the 400 year-old King's spine would snap at the neck from the ferocity with which he bobbed on Cheney's knob. The scariest part was not the sounds of King hungrily lapping at the scrotum that's one heartbeat away from the presidency. And, no, it wasn't King's superhuman repression of his gag reflex. No, no, the scariest part was Cheney barely fuckin' moved. He just sat there, with that stroke victim smirk, just a-grinnin' away while King sucked like a Hoover on the deep pile setting.

Yes, it was most assuredly one magnificent hummer, with Cheney going unchallenged on anything that he said, whether it was that John Bolton's just a great, great guy; or that the war in Iraq's gonna end some time before 2009. Sometimes Cheney treated King and, by extension, all of us like we're just simpletons. When King asked Cheney about North Korea (with the hyper-intellectual, "North Korea - where's that goin'?"), Cheney's answer was the same one he'd give a group of seven year-olds on a field trip: "North Korea is a major problem. They claim that they have developed nuclear weapons." No, shit, Dick? Now just give us our juice boxes so we can get back to the bus.

Of course, the worst was the way Cheney attacked Amnesty International for daring to say that torture is bad and judicial process is good. Cheney's reaction to the Amnesty report on abuses at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp was breathtaking in that Cheney essentially set out to discredit the organization. Dick was "offended by it . . . For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously." Which is stunning, if for no other reason than Amnesty International was cited copiously in White House background papers on how fucked up Iraq was under Saddam Hussein.

See, Dick says, America is good and right and kicks ass and frees people. How could anyone so good and right and ass-kicking and people-freeing even be open to criticism?

When King directed him to addressing Gitmo in particular, Cheney took out the Constitution, international treaties, and centuries of jurisprudence and wiped the sweat and spit off his balls with them: "Remember who's down there. These are people that were picked up off the battlefield in Afghanistan and other places in the global war on terror. These are individuals who have been actively involved as the enemy, if you will, trying to kill Americans." The natural follow-up would have been, "Umm, haven't some of the people we've let go been innocent?" But, no, no, Cheney has declared 'em guilty, motherfuckers, now get back to suckin'.

Then Cheney made this statement: "In a sense, when you're at war, you keep prisoners of war until the war is over with." So, like, if, in a sense, the Gitmo campers are "prisoners of war," then, in a sense, don't they get Geneva Conventions protections? Why, if you think that, then you don't know Dick. See, way back in January 2002, Amnesty and other groups pushed for the Gitmo guests to be classified P.O.W.'s. Rumor was that Colin Powell was pushing for this, too, but Rumsfeld and Cheney took him down to the White House basement so Karl Rove could work him over with a horsewhip and a ten-inch rubber strap-on. By the time Cheney appeared on Fox "News" on January 27, he could say, "We're all in agreement -- Colin, me, Don Rumsfeld -- that these are not lawful combatants, they're not prisoners of [war]." See, they're like prisoners of war, in that we're at war and they are our prisoners, but they're not, you know, "prisoners of war." Crystal-motherfuckin'-clear.

And then Cheney gave mad props to the soldiers at Gitmo for their "humane" treatment of the prisoners there. Oh, what a vicious sense of irony has this Dick.

When Dick Cheney finally came in Larry King's mouth, it was a thunderous explosion of semen, one that jerked the ancient interviewer's head back from its force. Cheney still didn't move. He nodded a little before he yanked King by the collar and made King lick him clean, which King did gladly. There was still twenty minutes left in the interview, and Lynne was about to join them. At the commercial break, King dutifully did his tongue exercises before he plunged into that cavern.


Alas, What Mighty Props Have Fallen:
On this Memorial Day, George W. Bush will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery, some time just before lunch hour, as he has done every year of his presidency, save for 2002, when he was speaking at Normandy. In 2001 and 2002, Bush's speechwriters had to rely on the dead of other wars in the humanizing anecdote sections of the remembrance. It was war orphans and D-Day soldiers in Europe. It was a list of Arlington corpses who in repose and rot were greater than the speaker: "President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert; General George C. Marshall; Second Lieutenant Audie Murphy of Kingston, Texas; General Chappy James; Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. of the Union Army; Captain Robert Todd Lincoln; Generals Bradley and Pershing; Admirals Leahy and Rickover; and three of the men who planted the flag at Iwo Jima."

Then, in 2003, Bush got his own props, the dead of his own pre-fab war. In that year, he talked about Army Captain James Adamouski of Springfield, Virginia; Staff Sergeant Lincoln Hollinsaid of Malden, Illinois; and Captain Russell Rippetoe. In 2004, he hid behind the bodies of Captain Joshua Byers of South Carolina; Sergeant Major Michael Stack; Master Sergeant Kelly Hornbeck of Fort Worth, Texas; and Private First Class Jesse Givens of Springfield, Missouri. At least three of these soldiers died because of improvised explosive devices that blew up their vehicles. One can't help but wonder if those Humvees had been properly armored if those men would have been available to be George Bush's Memorial Day props.

And, of course, one must wonder who'll make the cut this year, whose family is mourning properly, which soldiers had children they left behind. Which of the hundreds who have died since last Memorial Day will be invoked to humanize the speaker, to give the illusion that he cares?

Memorial Day, of course, began as Decoration Day, when the living would place flowers and flags and mementos on the graves of the Civil War dead. Today, some still do that, but mostly, like the change of the name, our active participation is now simply as ephemeral as a thought.

Update, Memorial Day, 2005: Now we know who this year's props are: Marine Captain Ryan Beaupre of St. Anne, Illinois; Army Sergeant Michael Evans of Marrero, Louisiana; and Lance Corporal Darrell Schumann of Hampton, Virginia. As he did before, Bush read from their last letters, including ones only to be opened in the event of their deaths. In the end, he made this bizarre statement: "A day will come when there will be no one left who knew the men and women buried here." Perhaps, yes, perhaps. But not in the years and years to come.


The Utter Uselessness of Thomas Friedman:
Oh, what a mighty stand New York Times columnist and "expert" on foreign affairs Thomas Friedman takes today. A supporter of and apologist for the Iraq invasion, Friedman makes the daring statement that the United States should "shut down" the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Man, Friedman is pissed at the P.R. nightmare that the torture there has been for America: "I believe the stories emerging from Guantánamo are having a . . . toxic effect on us - inflaming sentiments against the U.S. all over the world and providing recruitment energy on the Internet for those who would do us ill."

Damn those sodomizing Koran stompers for fucking up our good name. Damn those squealin' prisoners for making Gitmo a rallying cry for terrorist recruiting.

Friedman's cute, you know, with his oh-so-naive belief in the goodness and rightness of the American mission in the war on "terror" that he veers dangerously close to a blame-the-victim mentality in his condemnation of Gitmo. Sure, sure, he calls the torture "immoral," but he seems way, way more concerned with the way the neighbors see us than with the fact that we're beating the shit out of people. In other words, if a rotting hobo corpse was discovered in Thomas Friedman's yard, he wouldn't call the cops. He'd chop off its arms and legs and bury it in ten different places so that no one would ever know that there was a crime committed on his property, whether he did the killin' or not. "Goddamn, it's so inconvenient when a hobo dies in one's backyard. Now gimme that hatchet to chop off this hobo's head so people'll stop talking about the smell of rotting hobo flesh wafting across the fence."

The problem with Gitmo isn't its existence. The problem with Gitmo is that the Bush administration ever allowed Gitmo in the first place. The problem is that Gitmo is a walk in the park on a sunny goddamn day compared with what happens when the prisoners are "rendered" to Egypt or Uzbekistan. The problem is that Gitmo is just one of a number of places that can be rattled off for propaganda purposes, like Abu Ghraib or Bagram. The problem is that no one is ever going to be held accountable unless the Congress changes hands in 2006 and, maybe, just maybe, we can take an investigation all the way to the top to see who branded this hideous scar into our American body (and the horrible answer is how blithely complicit and apathetic the country as a whole has been, which has allowed this to happen). The problem is the torture, the denial of basic rights, the complete secrecy of the detentions, the entire policy. In essence, by not acknowledging the real and actual crimes that have been committed in Gitmo, Friedman is begging for a cover-up so that we can just put it into our great store of repressed history.

Friedman pays lip service to doing right by calling for trials or freedom for the 500 prisoners at Gitmo. But ultimately, Friedman's a little tiny man, throwing pebbles at a gigantic brick wall he helped build. Poor little, useless man. Doesn't he realize that only bulldozers and dynamite will break it all down?


He Ain't a Blastocyst, He's My Brother:
Here's a fun story: When the Rude Pundit was a red state pedestrian, he had many, many friends who were some level of fucked up fundamentalist Christian. Every once in a while, one would try to convert him, witness to him, or in some way make him take the Jesus suppository. One of his closest wacko fucked up fundie friends was, oh, well, shit, let's call him "Floyd," because the name "Floyd" makes the Rude Pundit giggle.

The Rude Pundit and Floyd had been to see the Who in concert in one of their many "our-last-tour-ever-suckers" shows. It was a long drive to the stadium and back. And it wasn't until on the long, long car ride home, in the southern summer heat, that Floyd decided to put on a cassette of rock music. The Rude Pundit wasn't listening that closely, but when Floyd asked, "What do you think?" the Rude Pundit, hearing a guitar or two, said he thought it was good. Floyd may as well have leaped out his seat because he said that it was a Christian rock band and they were singin' 'bout Jesus, the implication being that if the Rude Pundit was tricked into lovin' somethin' with Jesus in it, he must be a closet Christian or at the least conversion-oriented.

And then the drive got even longer. For Floyd decided he wanted to know why the Rude Pundit could support abortion rights. Long before Floyd had ever tried to make him believe he was in favor of murder, the Rude Pundit had accepted that to be for abortion was to be for the elimination of a potential life. Sure, sure, that life might turn out to be Jesus, might turn out to be Ted Bundy, but a potential life just the same. The Rude Pundit simply said he supported the Roe v. Wade decision, and that if a life cannot exist outside the mother, then it wasn't a life at all. (This was back when a five month-old preemie surviving was unheard of. Oh, and since so few third trimester abortions have ever been performed, the right hadn't shoved it down our throats as an issue yet.)

Floyd tried everything. When he brought up the Bible, the Rude Pundit stared at him like he had a third eye on his forehead. When he insisted that the in utero fetus was a life from the moment of conception, the Rude Pundit told Floyd that he didn't. Floyd pushed it: if it's not a baby, what is it? "It's a bunch of cells, that's all." Floyd was upset - he pushed, he prodded, he annoyed, it was fucking hot outside and the Christian rock was now revealed to be the bullshit it always was, so the Rude Pundit exploded, "Look, unless it can live on its own, a fetus is like a cancerous tumor, alright? It's a living, growing bunch of cells, and that's it." The Rude Pundit didn't believe this, but, fuck, he wanted Floyd to shut up. Which he did, for the rest of the eight hour drive.

The Rude Pundit is not going to try to outline the science for you. You can find some great primers on stem cells out there. But let's just say this: if you believe that blastocysts created for in-vitro fertilization should be protected as if they were living, breathing, walking, talking, shitting, fucking beings, then you should offer up yourself or your wife or your mistress or your daughter to be constantly implanted with these cute lil' babies to make sure they're all adding to your voting base.

As with the Terri Schiavo debacle, the over-the-top rhetoric reached its pinnacle with Tom DeLay, who said during the debate on stem cell legislation in the House of Representatives, "An embryo is a person, a distinct, internally directed, self-integrating human organism. We were all at one time embryos ourselves. So was Abraham. So was Muhammad. So was Jesus of Nazareth." And so was Hitler. And so was Saddam Hussein. And so was Tom DeLay. So the fuck what?

Doesn't it just hit you in the gut, like a sumo wrestler leaping on a wayward toddler, to hear George Bush say with a straight face and no sense of irony, "We should not use public money to support the further destruction of human life"? Bush tried so hard to not say that his crazed Christian beliefs were the reason why he threatens to veto the stem cell research bill. Instead, he used a tortured version of ethics, some fucked-up idea that it is more ethically sound to use leftover blastocysts for the occasional baby than for research that has the potential to help, well, every real and living person on earth. Somewhere, Benedict de Spinoza is screaming, "Are you fuckin' kiddin' me?" And, at bottom, Bush brought it home to "because I said so": he says the House of Representatives bill, modest though it may be, "violates the clear standard I set four years ago." If your memory is short, that standard would be "Fuck Science."

The game is on. And it is a game. When the bill comes up in the Senate and it passes by a veto-proof margin, it'll be a way for some conservatives to wave the banner of moderation. And since the House will sustain the veto, the conservatives never have to worry about it actually becoming law.

Meanwhile, South Korea has lapped us in research and is making us look like the backward-ass, idol-worshipping colony we've been aspiring to be.


Why Does Jesus Hate James Dobson?:
Oh, what a bad week it's been so far for we proud and many members of the Family Research Council's Super Duper Prayer Team. The FRC, while adminstratively separate for tax purposes, is for all intents the legislative arm of James Dobson's Focus on the Family. A few weeks ago, the Rude Pundit, under another assumed name, joined the Super Duper Prayer Team, and he receives updates as to what he should pray for every week. Generally it falls into two categories: prayers for or against legislation and prayers for money. We must pray, you know, because, as FRC President Tony "No, Really, I'm Not That Psycho Guy" Perkins wrote to us, "without fervent, sustained intercession we cannot accomplish all that God wants."

This week, the Super Duper Prayer Team was asked to pray against any deals that would leave the filibuster in place: "Please pray for the Senate to end the unconstitutional use of the filibuster against the President's nominees to our courts. Pray that no compromise will be allowed which will let this unprecedented use of the filibuster remain. Pray that Republican Senators will support Senator Bill Frist in his attempts to get an up or down vote on the President's nominees. God expects justice to be the guiding principle of our courts." We prayed, we Prayer Team members, oh, Lord, hear us, how we prayed. But, apparently, not hard enough.

We were also told to pray for the failure of the stem cell research legislation: "The House is considering approving federal funding of human embryo destruction. H.R. 810 is entitled the 'Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act' and would authorize federal funding of the destruction of human embryos after stem cells have been obtained. Pray that this bill would fail." Eyes squinted shut, arms held open, knees bent, we prayed. And the results? Damn.

What a sad week for the Super Duper Prayer Team. With our bottom lips stuck out, our Precious Moments eyes filled with tears of shame, shuffling our feet uselessly, we wonder what we did wrong. We look to our leader, Tony Perkins, and he offers us Hitler implications: "[S]even Republican Senators, playing the role of Neville Chamberlain, threw them overboard in the name of 'compromise.'" No, Tony Perkins, tell us how to pray harder.

Our e-mail o' prayers contains links to relevant Bible verses. Like this one for the filibuster - from Isaiah 10, in the New American Standard Bible: "Woe to those who enact evil statutes/ And to those who constantly record unjust decisions." In King James, it goes a little something like this: "Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed." When we're asked to pray for the passage of the Marriage Protection Amendment, we're given the story of the creation of woman from Genesis. It's handy, you know, in case you thought the Bible wasn't about legislation or Senate rules.

But our failure to stop either the compromise or the stem cell legislation can lead us to only one conclusion: Jesus hates Tony Perkins and James Dobson. And really fucking hates them. Hates them so badly that no matter what they make the Super Duper Prayer Team pray, Jesus'll make sure he does the opposite. In fact, Jesus hates us. All of us on the SDPT. What else could be the cause of our inability to block either the Senate or the House from opposing God's will. 'Cause, like, Tony Perkins told us we're doing "all God wants." How much more could God want from us?

Well, apparently, more money for Tony Perkins and the FRC. We've been asked to "Please pray for FRC as we continue to press forward on many battle fronts. Pray that we would have the resources necessary to sustain our efforts and even do more." Now, prayer can only get you so far, but cold hard cash or a well-worn credit card, that'll make the prayer-lovin' action happen. We are admonished to do so with this from Psalm 90: "Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;/ And confirm for us the work of our hands;/Yes, confirm the work of our hands." (Which, in the King James, reads, "And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us:/ and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.")

Yet, when you read the statement from Tony Perkins on the filibuster compromise, there's no mention of God or Jesus or prayer at all. Well, no wonder Jesus hates him. It's almost Pharisee-like, to cloak your faith in the secular or to cloak your secular desires in words of faith. It's hard to tell which one is the truth.

And it's hard to tell what the lies are anymore. Jesus must hate them, yes, this must be true. For the Jesus they profess to know understands what's in their hearts. He knows them by their works, right?


Not Quite the Day After:
Whenever dealing with politics, and, indeed, the Congress specifically, the best way to explain any votes, deals, and/or double-crossings is with the simple metaphor of trying to choose which gay male hooker to fuck that night. And so it must be with the "deal" to avert the "nuclear option" vote on the filibuster.

Let us say, and why not, that you are a D.C. gay guy cruising Fells Point in Baltimore after leaving the Eagle bar enlarged and weeping, having unsuccessfully closed a deal on a back alley blow job for free from this hot Cholo who teased you all night. Now you want release, big time, and you're willin' to pay for someone to let you fluff his duff. Here's your options: the fat, hairy, weepy cross-dressed queen who'll suck you dry after you've fucked his ass sore - cheap, skeevy, and in the morning you'll feel like shit, but at least you'll bust your nut on someone who just appreciates the attention. There's the hot black muscle mary, who will make you feel guilty after you've given him the salami colonic and you'll grudgingly allow him to give you a ram job when you're done and then he'll tell you about the crabs. And then there's the amazing Tom of Finland he-whore with the fuckin' popeye arms, dirty sanchez moustache, someone who wants to hurt you and make you thank him for it, a trader dick who'll fist you, fuck you, and steal your wallet. But at the end of it, you'll feel so fulfilled that you'll want to do it again.

It's a moral dilemma, innit? You wanna think that no matter what, everything will go your way, that you'll end up happy and with significantly less blue balls. We will come back to this conundrum in a moment.

So a compromise was reached on the filibuster, hammered out in Senate offices between men and women who the mainstream media calls the "moderates" in their parties. There's a few ways to bottom line this. There's the gratifying spectacle of Bill Frist going down in flames, flailing about in the Senate chamber, trying to swat the fires from his clothes as he expressed disappointment and felt his stomach heave at the hell to come for him. Despite the glass-is-half-full headline in the New York Times, there's the oh-so-satisfactory image of, just yesterday, President Bush saying about his judicial nominees, "I expect them to get an up or down vote. And that's what I expect" and now knowing he ain't gettin' that, and that, at a minimum, he'd better at least pay lip service to the "advise" part of "advice and consent." There's the gut-swelling happiness in watching the so-called "radical right" (which, let's be honest, is now the "mainstream right") thrash around in its anger at Republicans, tearing itself like Rumplestiltskin being called by his true name. John McCain is a political dead man now. He's where their vicious hatred will be directed. And Lindsay Graham better watch his back.

But then there's the pathetic fact that three citizen-hating wads of fuck will probably be confirmed to the federal appeals court. There's the fact that the so-called compromise, which did turn out better for Democrats than earlier ones that had been floated, does little beyond delay the coming war. Which, if it does until the 2006 campaign is looming more closely, is possibly good for the Democrats.

'Cause Harry Reid is right: this whole debate has revealed the radical right in all its ugliness. And it has shone a light on the naked power grab that the Bush administration is attempting to complete. They are motherfuckers in that they would fuck their own mothers in order to achieve their complete dominance. And sure as shit, Karl Rove is going to nominate the most batshit insane asshole next to try to break this deal.

So, back to our gay sex question and its relationship to how we should feel about the whole Senate compromise: if you're James Dobson, you would choose the Tom of Finland hustler; if you're a "moderate" Republican, you choose the muscle mary; if you're a "moderate" Democrat, you choose the fat transvestite.

And if you're a real liberal, you drive away to jack off, alone, at home.


If Stalag 13 Had Been Like Bagram:
Alas, Hogan's Heroes. And poor LeBeau. He never stood a chance. The second that Sgt. Schultz discovered the receiver in the coffee pot and then sputtered a report to Colonel Klink, who then discovered the comically obvious bugs in his office, LeBeau's fate was sealed. But there was so much to go through before the sweet kiss of death finally sucked the last breath from the ill-fated Frenchman.

Sure, when Klink called Col. Hogan to his office, Hogan expected to do the usual song and dance - flatter Klink, make implicit threats about the Commandant's status within the Luftwaffe, plant yet one more bug, wink at Helga, Klink's big-titted secretary (would Hogan have it any other way?), head back to quarters, and send more messages to the Allies about Nazi plans. Except not this time. No, when Hogan entered Klink's office, the monocle was off and Gestapo Officer Hochestetter was there with two big guards. Hogan wasn't sure what happened when the first rifle butt hit him in the nose, but the next thing he knew, his clothes were being cut off him and a hood was being placed on his head. He heard the Germans laughing at his cold, frightened, shriveled cock, disappearing like a turtle head into his body. Then Hogan made his biggest mistake.

Every other time Hogan had invoked the Geneva Convention (for instance, "Colonel Klink, I must protest as a violation of the Geneva Convention the private interrogation of my men by a Gestapo officer"), Klink had crumbled like a house of cards. But when he tried this time, he was slammed face down on Klink's desk as the Commandant exhaled a frustrated, "Hooogannnn. I'll show you what we think of the Geneva Convention." And then Hogan heard a thick sheaf of papers being rolled tightly. Well, this is poetic, Hogan thought, just before he felt the searing pain of the Geneva Conventions being shoved into his ass. Schultz protested briefly, but Klink asked the bumbling Sergeant what he would say to any investigators.

"I see noth-ink," he exclaimed. "I see noth-ink."

Hogan would not crack. He would not give up the names of anyone who had collaborated with him to enable the Allies to stop so many attacks, so many Nazi plans. By the time they threw him into the freezing cold cell, near the cells where LeBeau, Kinch, Newkirk, and Carter cowered, all naked, all chained into forced kneeling positions, Hogan had been beaten repeatedly, he'd had electrodes attached to his nutsack, he'd been half-drowned over and over, but he wouldn't give them a name. Even when they raped him with Klink's swagger stick, Hogan stayed true to his men, his mission.

God, the way the months progressed after that. The dogs they used on Kinch, the way they bundled Newkirk and Carter up in the middle of the night and sent them to Nazi areas of Northern Africa, where they would be tortured and mutilated until they gave up every bit of info they had and lied about so, so much more. How many times can you be hung by your ankles, had your balls pressed in a makeshift vice, your asshole probed with broomsticks, snakes, and ballpeen hammers, how much can you take until you are willing to say anything, sign anything, consign your family to death. Carter lasted about six months until the poor, dim bastard didn't have anything else to make up and he took one electric shock too many. It was worse for Newkirk. He lived until just about the end of the war, when, in a panic, the Gestapo sold him to a caravan of lonely Bedouins.

But LeBeau. The Gestapo decided to use LeBeau as a way to soften up Hogan, that tough motherfucker. They screamed at him, kept him awake for three, four days at a time. They forced him to stand for hours and hours and every time he fell, they would kick him in the side of his leg. They'd chain him by his arms and legs, a modified rack, and force him to sing "Deutschland Uber Alles," to call himself a "filthy Jew," and more. When he'd shit himself, they'd force him to roll around in his own shit and then hose him off with freezing water. They would take him down occasionally, to show him to Hogan, to question him some more. LeBeau would twitch, his muscles stretched to uselessness, uncontrollable. The twitching would enrage his interrogators, and they would beat him more. When Schultz finally started beating him, LeBeau just gave up. His official cause of death was a heart attack, caused by blood clots from all the torture. C'est la vie, eh?

Hogan was sent home after the war. When he is asleep, when he is awake, he hears screams, from his men, from himself. Fifty years of screams. And he thinks he's lucky.

Remember: Hogan's Heroes were guilty. They committed espionage. They thwarted the Germans every chance they could. The Germans in this version were being good soldiers, according to the paradigm the Bush administration has created. They were trying to stop imminent attacks on their own men. Hogan and the other prisoners wouldn't have given up any information if the niceties of the Geneva Convention had been followed, right?

And if they had been innocents, if LeBeau had simply been driving past Stalag 13, delivering wine, well, that's just collateral damage. It's a shame, but, god, don't you understand the price we must pay to sleep safely at night?


Filibustering and Fielding:
Let's try this perspective on the judicial filibuster: If you're playin' softball - amateur hour softball, but league play - you're gonna know that the opposing team has some strengths and weaknesses. Maybe your opponent has one helluva a right fielder - motherfucker can leap like a gazelle to catch fly balls that oughta be out of the park. And an arm that can get you tagged out at home in a single throw. If you're a decent team, when you're at bat, you know: don't hit to right field. If you hit to right field, chances are you're gettin' sent back to the bench. And you don't need to be told every time you're up to bat not to hit to right field. You just know it.

So, using this hangover Sunday analogy, the filibuster has been there in the Senate rules, so maybe the threat of the judicial filibuster has always existed, and because of that the President would nominate judges that at least had a chance of overcoming that implicit threat. The "civility" was not, in fact, because of Senatorial deference to the President's nominees, but it was, instead, presidential understanding that the executive and legislative branches are equally powerful in our system of government. In other words, the civility was a product of a President who wanted to maintain civility. The President broke the deal, not the minority party.

And now, ignoring previous Republican holds and filibusters of nominees to the federal bench, the executive branch is so devoted to disempowering the other branches of government that George W. Bush (no doubt in collaboration with right wing Senataors) decided on judicial nominees that would lead to the filibusters, and thus provide an opportunity to fuck up the balance of powers permanently.

In other words, if the Republicans were the at-bat softball team, they'd try to change the rules of the game to say that there couldn't even be right fielders.


So Democrats Are Like Nazis, Nazis Who Fuck Dogs:
The fatal flaw, which should have been mentioned a long, long time ago, in Dick Cheney's formulation that American soldiers would be "greeted as liberators" in Iraq is this: back in World War II, the famous images of American soldiers being showered with flowers, candies, and pussy are from France. Now, if you paid any attention in history class, children, France, a sovereign nation, had been invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940 in an effort to extend the Third Reich throughout Europe. When, in 1944, American troops defeated the Germans there and forced them to withdraw from France, the nation of France was returned from its outside occupiers to the French people, and thus the French were understandably jubilant. When the United States invaded Iraq to "liberate" it, the situation was not, in the least, analogous, in part because Saddam Hussein was an Iraqi. Was a dictator toppled? Sure. But no occupying power was ejected from the country. And there was no previous state apparatus to return to. Only chaos, motherfuckers, only chaos. And, well, shit, occupation.

So, like, Senator Rick Santorum, representing the batshit insane people of Pennsylvania, he of the famous "fags-and-dog-fuckers-are-the-same" line (or words to that effect), took to the Senate floor yesterday, and vomited out that Democrats using the filibuster rule to block extreme judicial nominees is "the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, 'I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city? It's mine.'" Left Blogsylvania naturally exploded, and why not, since Santorum had so recently condemned Robert Byrd for simply invoking policies of Hitler in a debate over the filibuster rules in March.

Santorum directly compared Democrats to Adolf Hitler (and if you watch the video of Santorum speaking, you can feel the chill as you watch his dead eyes and realize that there is an extremely stupid man flailing about, trying for the life of himself to be relevant). Byrd was offering a warning about unchecked single party rule:

"Witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. Historian Alan Bullock writes that Hitler's dictatorship rested on the constitutional foundation of a single law, the Enabling Law. Hitler needed a two-thirds vote to pass that law, and he cajoled his opposition in the Reichstag to support it. Bullock writes that 'Hitler was prepared to promise anything to get his bill through, with the appearances of legality preserved intact.' And he succeeded.

"'Hitler's originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.'

"That is what the nuclear option seeks to do to rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate."

You notice that subtle difference? Byrd is saying that the will to unobstructed power is the path to tyranny. Santorum said Democrats are like Hitler. Byrd is using history to create context and signal a threat. Santorum is saying that to use rules to block a few extremist judges is like taking over a country and deserving a bombing from other countries.

To extend Santorum's "logic," one would have to say that any time a country takes over a sovereign nation, that country should not be suprised if others want to attack it. Huh. So, like, say, the United States invaded and took over, say, Iraq, and, say, Jordanians or Syrians or Saudis, in "collaboration" with Iraqi insurgents, start to blow shit up, the U.S. would be foolish, like Hitler in Paris, to say, "How dare you bomb me. This nation is mine."

Or maybe one could say that if the leader of one's party creates a trumped-up threat as a pretense to invade and occupy another nation, like, say, Hitler with Poland or, say, Bush with Iraq, one would be best not to mention Hitler or Nazi Germany at all.

Or maybe we could just say this: Fuck Rick Santorum, the dim-witted savage who forced his living children to fondle a prematurely born dead fetus that was supposed to be Santorum spawn number 4. He's merely the loudest virus in the disease of the body politic, a tick on the American vein that needs to be yanked off and popped.


The "Fuck History" Option:
The Rude Pundit isn't sure 'cause, you know, he's no etymologist or Congressional historian, but it seems that overturning 200 years of history, tradition, and procedural precedent would be, well, shit, the exact opposite of "conservative." 'Cause, even if you buy the lie that Senate Democrats' filibusters of a Bush-nominated judge here and there is "unprecedented," the Democrats are still playing by the rules of the Senate.

In other words, let's say you play chess with the same person every day for 100 years without either of you castling. You never had any agreement you would never castle. You just never did it. Then one day, you decide to get out of a sticky situation by doing the whole rook-king do-si-do. Sure, your opponent may get upset, but fuck him. It's the rules. Tell him to shove his bishop up his ass and move on.

Just because you use the rules in a way your opponent dislikes doesn't mean you get to take a shit on the rules themselves. Unless, apparently, you are a Republican, where your washroom keeps toilet paper with the Constitution and the Rules of the Senate written on it so you can wipe your ass or your kooz on it or use it to jack off into, imagining Thomas Jefferson fucking a slave or two.

But, of course, the "unprecedented" line is a huge, stinking, skunk-sprayed dog of a lie, as Charles Schumer demonstrated yesterday when he confronted Bill Frist with Frist's own vote to prevent cloture on debate on a judge (also known as a "filibuster"). Frist, in one of those amazing "hominah-hominah" moments that the Republicans are getting good at whenever their pants are pulled down, tried to explain that, "No, really, the problem is partisan filibusters, otherwise filibusters are fine, but, oh, shit, you partisan fuckers, can someone bring me a cat and a scalpel 'cause I'm a-gittin' the jitters."

Josh Marshall nailed it yesterday when he said that Bill Frist's efforts "to assert that it is unconstitutional because each judge does not get an up or down vote by the entire senate you have to hold that the United States senate has been in more or less constant violation of the constitution for more than two centuries." History, though, doesn't matter. All that matters is unmitigated power, unchecked partisanship, and undiluted hate of the nation. In order to support a ruling that overturns the filibuster, you have to hate the history of America, you have to hate the minority, you have to be filled with nothing but disdain for the processes of government that have allowed us to exist as a republic.

The Democrats know that the Republican party is more vicious than anything Tricky Dick would have dared to allow himself to dream as he flogged himself nightly into ecstasy in the secret Oval Office cloak room. Still, it's disheartening to read that nearly every compromise that's been proposed involves the Democrats mostly caving in to the Republicans in order to maintain the appearance of cooperation. It's pathetic, like watching two parents who obviously hate each other stay together for the "sake" of the children when, really, all they're doing is fucking up the kids for good.

So the Rude Pundit says fuck 'em. Bring it, as Harry Reid, the smallest man with the biggest balls on the Hill, said. There will be hell to pay in 2006 between this, Schiavo, the war, Social Security, and more. Let the fuckers push the red button and see 'em get turned into shadows on the Capitol wall.


George Galloway's Bitch Slap:
A really good bitch slapping is a balletic work of art and motion. It's a series of gestures, postures, and movements. You see, an angry pimp grabs the bitch by the neck slams the bitch up against a wall, and slaps the bitch backhand, forehand, and backhand again. It's what makes a bitch slapping special. See, when a bitch fucks up - say, shorts you on a couple of johns or steals some extra crack from your stash - sure, sure, a simple smack would do. But if you're a business-minded pimp, you wanna make sure that not only that bitch knows he/she's been slapped, but that all the other bitches know it, too. And watching Norm Coleman slammed up against the wall of his Senate subcommittee's hearing room while British MP George Galloway bitch slapped him so hard that Coleman's perfectly coifed hair actually jiggled, well, that was a sight to behold.

Sure, sure, sure, it was grandstanding, it was showboating, it was everything that Galloway is known for in the U.K. (and beloved for in his district). But, really, and, c'mon, just because everyone stays all mellow and shit in the hearing rooms doesn't mean that grandstanding isn't the modus operandi of the Bush adminstration. Take the obvious: Bush's speech on the Lincoln or the bullshit "we-love-Tom-Delay" fest last week. So you know what? Give the Rude Pundit a few minutes of a socialist Scot berating the Senate since he's tolerated fuck-all in the showboating department from the right.

You can read Galloway's orgasm-inspiring opening statement. Less publicized has been Galloway's answers to Coleman's sad line of questioning. See, despite the protestations of Coleman and Carl Levin that Galloway was not a "credible witness," the Scot's walked this walk and come out on top. Motherfucker has been defending the Iraqi people from sanctions and Saddam for a long time now (as borne out by news reports, not just Galloway's words). He was viciously opposed to John Major's support of Bush I's Persian Gulf War and Tony Blair's enabling of Clinton's Baghdad bombing. And Galloway has been the victim of forged documents meant to discredit him before, winning damages and apologies from the media.

So perhaps he has some credibility when he doubts the authenticity of documents being used against him: "I had gotten used to the allegation that I was taking money from Saddam Hussein. It's actually surreal to hear in this room this morning that I'm being accused of giving money to Saddam Hussein. This is utterly preposterous, utterly preposterous, that I gave $300,000 to Saddam Hussein. This is beyond the realms of the ridiculous. No. The Miriam Appeals [Galloway's charity named after a young Iraqi girl who died of leukemia] finances have been investigated by the charity commission on the order of Lord Goldsmith. You'll recall him, Senator. He's the attorney general, probably the only lawman in the world, that thought your war with Iraq was legal, thought Britain joining your war with Iraq was legal."

For one brief moment, the mainstream media allowed an opposing voice to actually be heard on a widespread basis. When Wolf "The Glow of My Stubbly White Beard Will Hypnotize You Into Forgetting What a Hack I Am" Blitzer questioned Galloway later in the day, asking the MP if he "ever took money from the regime of Saddam Hussein," Galloway slammed Blitzer against the wall to begin the bitch slappin': "Well, I've just said on oath in front of the United States Senate that I have not. And I was never offered any money. I never asked for any money. I never took any money. I've never bought or sold a barrel of oil or anything from Iraq . . . the credibility of those throwing out the smear is pretty close to zero outside of the neocon bubble here in Washington. Nobody believes much that the British and American governments say about Iraq anymore because of all the lies that have already been unmasked."

Oh, sure, the right has been jostled into taking out its giant crayons to paint the picture of a madman in front of the decent Senators who are, for love of God and Bush, trying to eke out the truth. On Fox and Friends this morning, Steve "No, Really, I'm Straight" Doocy called Galloway a "bad Sean Connery imitator" (or words to that effect), thus mocking Galloway's not-really-Welsh-but-actually-Scottish accent. Meanwhile, Brian "No, Really, I'm Straight, Too" Kilmeade and E.D. "Behold My Glorious DSLs" Hill scoffed at the arrogance of Galloway, coming to "our country" to smack the U.S.A. down. Meanwhile, Norm Coleman appeared on the show to sigh and dismiss Galloway.

Meanwhile, let's all just bow our heads and say, "Please don't let them find a photo of Galloway handjobbing Saddam Hussein using fingers greased with Iraqi crude. Let us enjoy this one little bit of sunshine, please."

Galloway's testimony was like gettin' a pity blow job from your hot neighbor on a day when your dog died, your rent check bounced, and your car exploded. Sure, sure, there's tons of shit hanging over you, but, goddamn, it's always nice to get blown.


Flushing Credibility Down the Toilet:
Newsweek shouldn't have fucking retracted a goddamn thing about guards at Guantanamo giving the Koran a swirlie, which coincided with explosions of violence in Afghanistan. The press has become so used to being the Bush administration's crack whore that it doesn't realize when it's being fucked in the ass and the mouth by herpes-ridden cocks. And this is one of those times. What Newsweek has done is give Bush and the entire war apparatus a pass on torture. Dan Rather's "apology" on the Killian memo story effectively killed any questioning of Bush's Vietnam War punk out because those questions were tainted by the not-quite-checked-out documents rushed on the air.

Now the same will happen to any non-photographed allegations of torture or prisoner abuse. The Rude Pundit's ears bleed in anticipation of hearing Sean Hannity retch out, "Oh, you must be one of those who believed the Newsweek story" to anyone who says that prisoners at Guantanamo ought not be smeared with fake menstrual blood in order to get them to confess to anything. Once more, the Bush White House has stumbled into a way to divert the story away, away from systematic torture, away from false imprisonment, away from all of those horrors that have become the status quo for this America. Away from all the crimes committed in our names.

In its follow-up story, Newsweek quotes Col. Brad Blackner, Gitmo stooge, who says, "If you read the Al Qaeda training manual, they are trained to make allegations against the infidels." The Rude Pundit's actually read the Al-Qaeda training manual (readily available for your persual at the Smoking Gun), and it actually says nothing about making allegations against infidels. It does say that Allah disapproves of rumors. Oh, and the other thing about that? Many previously published and aired reports that talk about the desecration of the Koran are based on interviews with released Gitmo detainees. In other words, by definition they were not Al-Qaeda operatives. Unless, of course, now the military is saying Camp X-Ray is an Al-Qaeda training facility.

To wit (some of these and others are posted at Raw Story):
From ABC Radio in Australia, on August 5, 2004, said that David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, released from Gitmo, claim that "guards would throw detainees' Korans down the toilet and shave them, to try to get them to abandon their Muslim faith." It was denied by Australia's Secretary of the Navy.

From ABC News, John Berman reporting on August 3, 2004 quoted a British citizen released from Gitmo: "Asif Iqbal says guards would 'kick the Koran, throw it in the toilet, and generally disrespect it.'" Indeed, this allegation was made in an October 2004 lawsuit filed by the four Britons wrongly detained by the U.S.

In March 2003, the Houston Chronicle reported on 18 released Afghan men who claimed that "American soldiers insulted Islam by sitting on the Koran or dumping their sacred text into a toilet." The Washington Post that same week had this quote: "Ehsannullah, 29, said American soldiers who initially questioned him in Kandahar before shipping him to Guantanamo hit him and taunted him by dumping the Koran in a toilet. 'It was a very bad situation for us,' said Ehsannullah, who comes from the home region of the Taliban leader, Mohammad Omar. 'We cried so much and shouted, "Please do not do that to the Holy Koran."'"

A January 9, 2005 report in the Seattle Times on Captain James Yee, suspected of spying but later found guilty of being horny, paraphrases Gitmo's former superintendent, Command Sgt. Maj. John VanNatta about the reasons Yee, as chaplain, would be called upon by prisoners: "One of their biggest complaints was of guards kicking their Qurans, flushing them down the toilets and disrespecting their religion." This was back in 2002. From a camp superintendent.

The riots weren't about flushing the Koran or the words of an American newsmagazine. That story's been around for years now. But it's become the story, as has Newsweek and its pussy editors. Apologies won't matter for this White House and its "allies" in the Muslim world. The White House wants Newsweek to be the beheaded corpse outside the Fourth Estate - a warning to all who would fuck with them. This is a blood game, and, motherfuckers, if you're not doing the cutting, you're the ones bleeding to death.

Clarification and/or Fuck Up: On page 13 of the Al-Qaeda Training Manual, militants are advised, as part of a mission to "overthrow . . . godless regimes," to take part in "Spreading rumors and writing statements that instigate people against the enemy." (Thanks to reader John M for the heads up.) While the Rude Pundit was referring to actions taken while in detention, certainly misinformation and diversion are Al-Qaeda tactics. Of course, this would apply if the former prisoners making the allegations were members of Al-Qaeda.


And Opposing Tort Reform Is Like Inhaling Zyklon B:
Damn, it's good to have Nazis and the Holocaust around to use for your trite metaphors and analogies. Otherwise, really, what else would convey the emotion you need to make your cause seem so much more important than it actually is?

Take, for instance, the recent ad from a Wal-Mart funded group (approved by Wal-Mart's corporate office), Protect Flagstaff's Future. In a brilliant concept, the newspaper ad featured a picture of people burning books in 1933 Nazi Germany. The ad's copy read, "Should we let government tell us what we can read? Of course not . . . So why should we allow local government to limit where we shop? Or how much of a store's floor space can be used to sell groceries?" 'Cause, you see, Wal-Mart wanted zoning laws in Flagstaff, Arizona changed so that the local Wal-Mart could expand to include a grocery store. Local grocers didn't want that. The ad implies that to deny a major immigrant and worker-abusing corporation the right to expand is akin to the Nazi purges of "un-German" books through giant bonfires of books by Jews and others. Students participating in the book burnings often pillaged the fire's fuel from libraries, personal and public, as well as stores. Joseph Goebbels loved the fires, you know, and spoke at a huge rally in Berlin, saying, "German men and women! The age of arrogant Jewish intellectualism is now at an end! . . . You are doing the right thing at this midnight hour—to consign to the flames the unclean spirit of the past. This is a great, powerful, and symbolic act. . . . Out of these ashes the phoenix of a new age will arise. . . . Oh Century! Oh Science! It is a joy to be alive!" Of course, Goebbels meant a new age of lower prices on Fruit Roll-Ups and corn flakes. And, you know, no Jews.

That rally on May 10, 1933? The same one pictured in the Wal-Mart ad. Wal-Mart has apologized for using the image, not realizing that the book burning was a Nazi one (apparently, a random book burning would have been fine). Said one corporate lackey, "We did not know what the photo was from. We obviously should have asked more questions."

But, c'mon, why bother apologizing when the right is so fuckin' fond of trottin' out the Holocaust whenever they want to forcefully make an "argument." Remember when Grover Norquist compared the "fairness" of the estate tax to "the morality of the Holocaust"? That was sooo clever. 'Cause, see, with the estate tax, the government "discriminates" by taking some money from really, really rich dead people; and in the Holocaust, the Nazis "discriminated" by killing millions of men, women, and children and burning their bodies. You can see how readily the two are analogous.

This past Saturday, on CNN's The Capital Gang (and wouldn't we all love to see the Capital "Gang" in a rumble with the Latin Kings?), Bob "Behold the Permanent Sneer of Contempt On My Lips" Novak made the following argument against a Democratic offer to allow votes on some filibustered judges: "[It's]like going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber. You're not going to let the Democrats do that, say, We're going to -- we're going to confirm this person, we're not going to confirm the other person." (You can see the video at the invaluable Crooks and Liars.)

You get it? If the Democrats offer to allow votes on only some of the ten judges they are against, it's like getting off the train at Dachau. For Priscilla Owen and William Pryor, it'll be just like this: "After deportation trains arrived at the killing centers, guards ordered the deportees to get out and form a line. The victims then went through a selection process. Men were separated from women and children. A Nazi, usually an SS physician, looked quickly at each person to decide if he or she was healthy and strong enough for forced labor. This SS officer then pointed to the left or the right; victims did not know that individuals were being selected to live or die. Babies and young children, pregnant women, the elderly, the handicapped, and the sick had little chance of surviving this first selection." Except, you know, Owen and Pryor won't be led to buildings to be stripped and gassed to death.

Just think if the Nazis hadn't come to power and committed genocide. Christ, Wal-Mart might have had to make an ad with a photo of a woman's bloody corpse from a botched illegal abortion, saying, "Should we let the government tell us what we can do with our bodies?" Bob Novak might have said, "Choosing which judges to filibuster is like walking into a prison in the South and figuring out which nigger to lynch."

When Elie Wiesel (who, yes, is trotted out whenever anyone wants to make a point about the Holocaust, but, still . . .) visited refugee camps in Macedonia, he refused to compare the Kosovo tragedy to the Holocaust. "I don't believe in drawing analogies," he said. One doesn't need to contextualize horror in the shadow of other horrors. Each genocide can stand on its own.

Would that the right, with their feminazis and more, have such grace and restraint.


So, Like, These People Can't Afford Their Own Books?:
Follow-up to yesterday's note on President Bush's seeming inability to finish reading Tom Wolfe's novel I Am Charlotte Simmons: Time reports that an aide said that Bush was holding the book last Wednesday, despite having claimed to finish it twice before, because it was being returned to him by his biking partner, Mike Wood (an old friend of the President's who, one might assume, could afford his own damn copy). Bush is currently "reading" The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag by Kang Chol-Hwan, said the aide. Yup, it's all cleared up now.

Kang's book is about the horrors of being imprisoned for years without trial, without being able to defend oneself against unknown charges, and about the beatings and humiliations endured by the writer until he was released with no explanation. Oughta be an eye-opening read. Or it'll tell Bush how to make Gitmo even harsher.

Shout out to Taegan Goddard for the heads up.


So Speed Reading Ain't His Strong Suit:
Briefly noted: In the Washington Post, there's a picture of President Bush from this past Wednesday, May 11, from his bike ride of ignorance in the woods of Maryland. He appears to be holding the book I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe. It's a big damn book, nearly 700 pages.

Still, perhaps it ought to be mentioned that the Guardian newspaper on February 22 made note of the President's reading choice on a trip across the Atlantic: "Reporters accompanying the president on his European jaunt have been informed that he is reading Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons."

And it bears mentioning that a Los Angeles Times article from February 13 moved the timeline back somewhat: "Bush divulged just before last month's inauguration that he'd read Wolfe's new novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, and found the novel, a graphic romp through the sex lives of college students, 'somewhat shocking.'" Bush's reading of the novel at this time is also mentioned by Elisabeth Bumiller in the New York Times on February 7, in one of her White House mash letters.

What conclusions can we draw? That Bush liked the "shocking" book so much that he had to read it again? That he never really finished it in the first place? Or that, like so, so much about this president, the Tom Wolfe book is just another prop, another brick in the wall between the reality and the illusion of our own leader.


Why Bill O'Reilly Ought To Be Sodomized With a Microphone (The Bad Touches Edition):
There's few things more deliriously merry than watching the public meltdowns of bullies. When Edward R. Murrow wrecked Joseph McCarthy, the hearts of many lit up and rejoiced, dancing in the streets like crazed Munchkins proclaiming the witch was, indeed, dead. When, in the 1980s, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and other televangelists who had so loudly proclaimed the sins of others were shown on the air weeping, gnashing, thrashing, begging for forgiveness to keep that filthy lucre flowing, the Rude Pundit remembers sitting with friends and toasting the delicious tears of sorrow that flowed from the penitent eyes of those who hoped to live to bully again.

The ratings are plunging for Bill O'Reilly, Fox "news" show host, and a man who would gladly eat the eyeballs of fluffy bunnies if he thought it'd jack him up a share or two. And O'Reilly is begging people he despises to come on The O'Reilly Factor. He devoted an entire segment to asking why Angelina Jolie won't receive the O'Reilly falafel of love, questioning her work for the U.N., as if the only way something is legit is if O'Reilly can give it the imprimatur of his bile-ridden mouth-froth: "I have no idea what this Jolie's doing. I've seen her criticize the United States in her pronouncements overseas. I didn't like that. She won't answer to our questions. She doesn't publicize what she's doing. I have no clue."

O'Reilly allowed guest Jeb Babbin of the National Review (motto: William F. Buckley needs the blood of nubile CPAC members to keep living) to outright bash Jolie while O'Reilly appeared unable to do any actual research and needed Jolie to come on and explain it to him while he, no doubt, wasn't watching her thick lips, heaving breasts, and creamy thighs: "Even if I want to help those people, Jolie isn't telling me how."

But research and, indeed, truth goes out the window when a bully is on the verge of taking the big fall, when the whiffs of the flopsweat and stains of doom are becoming evident in the opening of the meltdown. O'Reilly is now involved in a kerfuffle with the Houston Chronicle. See, the Chronicle published an editorial on May 11 saying that Florida's new law putting satellite tracking devices on convicted sex offenders for life was a fairly useless, showboating act - just because you can tell that a sex offender was near a school doesn't mean you're gonna stop him from molesting and killing a kid. And, as the editorial points out, the vast majority of molestation is committed by relatives and family acquaintances. The Chronicle advocated a couple of no-brainer, practical ideas, like better parole monitoring, community watches, and, horror of liberal horrors, counseling. Part of the new legislation also mandates 25 years to life sentences for convicted child molesters - an aspect that the Chronicle didn't address positively or negatively - the paper didn't address it at all, concentrating on the GPS part.

O'Reilly used the editorial for a batshit insane attack on the newspaper. He claimed the paper said the law was too harsh, he said the paper's "taken a lot of shots at me" so it must be liberal, and then, while "interviewing" Austin criminal defense attorney Courtney Anderson, he took out the bunny and starting gulping down eyeballs like olives: "Counseling, community service projects, all of this touchy feely BS the Houston Chronicle's putting out there, because whoa, far be it from society to have zero tolerance against child molesters. We can't have that. This is the kind of pinhead stuff that's hurt this country." When Anderson dared to imply that what O'Reilly was saying was not, actually, in the article, O'Reilly bit the head off the bunny: "You're misreading this article. This article, number one, criticizes Florida for passing the law, says they don't like the law. The law is too harsh, all right, number one."

O'Reilly said, flatly, regarding the killer of Jessica Lunsford, "The editorial says it doesn't want Couey prosecuted 25 to life." Not only did the editorial never mention the "25 to life" part of the law, its only reference to John Couey was as an example of the need for better-trained probation officers. There's simply, factually, no way to infer what the Houston Chronicle editorial board would like for Couey's punishment. Unless, of course, you are crazy.

The Chronicle struck back at O'Reilly, saying that the editorial page had only ever mentioned O'Reilly once before, and that O'Reilly was lying about the editorial: "O'Reilly told his viewers that the Chronicle editorial said the Florida law was too harsh. He was mistaken. The editorial excerpts that O'Reilly projected on the screen said nothing about the harshness of the punishment. The editorial, citing extensive research on this subject, said hooking GPS monitors to sexual predators released from prison might prove less effective than closer supervision by parole officers and other low-tech strategies. The Chronicle did not call for lighter punishment; it called for the adoption of the most effective measures to protect our children."

O'Reilly said this to Anderson: "Let me just read you what they say, because you are misleading the audience, counselor. This is a quote from the editorial in The Houston Chronicle: 'Ultimately, the Jessica Lunsford Act makes a good headline and addresses fears of stranger danger, but essentially makes people feel like they can abdicate their responsibility to protect their children.' No, it doesn't. All right, it doesn't. It holds child molesters accountable." The problem here, as the Chronicle points out, is that O'Reilly's quote appears absolutely nowhere in the editorial. It is a completely fabricated quote.

But O'Reilly is not a man to back down from a good falsehood. Last night, O'Reilly stuck to his guns, only saying that he had "misquoted the editorial" on one occasion without really specifying what the misquote was. And demanding that the editorial board of the Chronicle address the 25 years to life portion of the law, which, again, they never mentioned: "Does the Houston Chronicle object to the 25-to-years-to-life punishment in Florida? Yes or no? If no, will the paper campaign for Jessica's law in Texas? Yes or no?" O'Reilly bloviated about how ludicrious "rehabilitation" is, he knowing more than every fucking study ever done about rehabilitating criminals. Then, asserting his flagging importance, O'Reilly declared, "The Chronicle is playing games because so many of its readers are angry over its editorial position. We know the paper's under tremendous pressure."

O'Reilly wants you to look at the two editorials on his website, iwantmypitainyourfalafel.org , and then you can vote on whether Bill is right or wrong. 'Course, the website doesn't have the transcript of O'Reilly's interview, nor does the Fox "News" website. For that, you need good ol' Nexis.

Goddamn, it's a great feeling to watch O'Reilly implode. He desperately needs his name in the news or it's back to "Levittown" with him, where he can seethe and spit at the "liberal" media with his trophy wife, screaming at the darkness and the void, his voice merely a tiny mouse screech in an uncaring universe.


Stupid Fucking Republicans:
The Rude Pundit has known some sexy animals in his time. Dogs that he thought winked at him, including this fine Irish setter bitch that would glare intensely at him while she licked herself. Cats that liked to nuzzle a bit too tightly in his lap. The Rude Pundit once lived on a corn farm in the middle of fucking nowhere, and the farmer would buy a new cow every year to fatten up for slaughter. Farmer Joe never named the cows (except "Sirloin" or "Porterhouse"), but early on, oh, sweet bossie, this one cow had some hot haunches, a quietly erotic sashay whenever it walked from one hay bundle to the next, inviting "lips" bemusedly chewing cud. Goddamn. Still, however much those animals appeared to be saying, "You know you want some sweet canine/feline/bovine 'tang," the Rude Pundit was never once tempted to open the barn doors to paradise. In fact, Farmer Joe's teenage sons never porked bossie, either. But maybe there was a problem. Maybe we all needed a mule.

'Cause, see, when the abortion doctor murderer enabler Neal Horsley told Alan Colmes that he had fucked farm animals, Horsley, honoring the first syllable of that name, specified that he had, indeed, fucked a mule: "When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule." (He has a picture of his parents posted at his website of hate.) Now, Horsley didn't say whether or not he brought the mule flowers or if he cuddled after fucking her, but Horsley got his country dander up when Colmes suggested that this was bizarre behavior. Said Colmes, "Are you suggesting that everybody who grows up on a farm in Georgia has a mule as a girlfriend?"

Horsley, not a man to back down when someone's talkin' smack about his squeeze, answered, "It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from the reality... Welcome to domestic life on the farm." Think about that. Think for just a second about what Horsley is saying: "liberals" must be disconnected if they don't realize that animals are being raped on a daily basis on the farms of America. And Horsley is waving the banner for proud mule rapists everywhere. In fact, for proud fucking Republicans everywhere, forcing their wives or the children of others to perform sex that Jesus might find, well, problematic.

And it's fuckin' everywhere, the fuckin'. It's gay fuckin', group fuckin', straight anal fuckin', just so much fuckin', where the repressed libidos of ranting right wingers runs rampant. Somewhere in heaven, Michel Foucault is laughing his sore ass off.

There's Jim West, wayward gay-bashing mayor of Spokane, who not only fucked men he met at Gay.com, offering jobs and gifts to young men he wanted to bugger, but he is being investigated for having fucked young boys back in the 1970s. West made his name by blocking and getting into a huff about gay rights legislation.

There's the appointee to the Bush administration's FDA advisor committee on reproductive health drugs, W. David Hager, who as an OB/GYN for Jesus refused to prescribe contraceptives for unmarried women and has written that women who suffer from PMS should pray for help. Apparently one reason Hager never worred about contraception is because he loves the ass fucking. He loves the ass fucking so goddamn much that he raped his (now ex-)wife's ass repeatedly for years. Said the former Mrs., Linda Davis, "I would be asleep and since [the ass fucking] was painful and threatening, I woke up. Sometimes I acquiesced once he had started, just to make it go faster, and sometimes I tried to push him off.... I would [confront] David later, and he would say, 'You asked me to do that,' and I would say, 'No, I never asked for it.'" Hager believes he was called by God to stop abortion and emergency contraception. But apparently God was too busy to slip into his calls to Hager, "Hey, Davey, by the way, stop raping your wife's asshole. It's fucked-up and, frankly, it's kinda gay."

The list could go on and on and on, with closeted gay Republicans, Bill O'Reilly's happy endings and desires for new beginnings, and more. Hell, this ain't even to mention the latest about John "Fuck You, You Democratic Cocksuckers" Bolton, who, it seems, allegedly forced his wife to swing back in the late 1970s, baby, and have group sex at the hot couples joints.

Somehow a blow job under the desk seems so quaint, you know? Next to the throbbing perverse desires of the right that explode in destructive behavior against those who love them and those they want to fuck, the simple placing of consensual lips around a consensual cock is so comforting. It recontextualizes everything, doesn't it, all this crazed fucking. No wonder the right wants to destroy the legacy of the old and new left. They're jealous that they never got to enjoy it. And it's going to send them over a cliff. Rome burned because the leaders were so busy giving in to their sex drives run amok that they never saw the barbarians coming.

Briefly Questioned:
Why the fuck was the President of the United States biking on a wildlife preserve in Maryland in the middle of the goddamn day? Isn't there a fuckin' gym in the White House? And why the fuck wasn't he notified until after "the danger" had passed about a suspected attack on Washington, which caused evacuations, including his own wife? Wouldn't you wanna know if your wife was being threatened with death? Did they know it wasn't really a threat? Was it a show? Or did they just not want to face that stomach churning blank stare of his as he tries to figure out what the fuck to do, stuck sweaty in his shorts in the suburban wetlands?


Disposable Roosevelt:
Here's a little-known secret about the White House: every once in a while, when the mood strikes, in the earliest morning hours, accompanied by a posse of Secret Service, President George W. Bush pays visits to the FDR Memorial near the National Mall. Bush bows his head in silent homage to the past President and then, remembering who he is, he tells his posse to turn their heads while he undoes his pants and pulls out his cock.

The Secret Service agents, who have been taught to ignore the worst horrors imaginable in defense of their charge, cringe at the agonized screams they hear with their backs turned to the President as Bush madly jacks off, howling at the crippled visage in front of him, so loud that one might expect the giant Jefferson and Lincoln to throw shoes at him. Then Bush orgasms, whimpering and giggling, giggling that staccato stroke victim giggle of his as he wipes his dick on Roosevelt's face and says, "I've got a New Deal fer ya. Lick me clean, you commie-enabling gimp." Then he zips up and tells his shaken phalanx of agents to take him home. What a fantasy it is for Bush, forcing FDR to fellate him. It's like the dream of generations of Bushes, having tolerated the Roosevelts for so, so long.

Like the statue, Roosevelt himself is a prop for the Bush administration and the right, ready to be taken out and praised whenever useful, paraded about and degraded whenever expedient. A couple of months ago, Bush was giving mad props to Roosevelt, saying crazed bullshit like, "I do want to applaud Franklin Roosevelt. I thought he did a good thing with Social Security," which is not unlike saying to a hooker, "I want to praise your parents. They did a good thing in giving birth to you" before you fuck her in the ass and steal her coke. See, invoking Roosevelt is a way for Bush to say that he's acting reasonably, responsibly, for the good of the entire nation. And this, of course, led to the parade of conservative motherfuckers using Roosevelt out of context on Social Security and outright lying about him in order to justify the ways of Bush to the nation.

Bush kicked out the Roosevelt jams one more time last week, at the National Day o' Prayer service at the White House. Once again, as a way of saying, "No, really, I'm not some psycho Jesus freak who sucks at the teat of the fundamentalist cash cow," Bush mentioned Washington praying at Valley Forge and, of course, "Franklin Roosevelt sent American troops off to liberate a continent with his D-Day prayer." 'Course, that prayer was for a special occasion, when the U.S. faced an enormous battle, not just a regular event. (Although the Rude Pundit prefers the kick-in-the-face Wartime Prayer by Eleanor Roosevelt.)

This week, over in Europe, Bush took out a bag of FDR's bones, dumped them on the dais, and shit all over them by blaming FDR and Winston Churchill for Soviet domination of Eastern and Central Europe. Said the President as he grunted to pinch out a loaf right into the eye socket of FDR's skull, "Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable." And when, before that Latvian audience, Bush called the Yalta treaty "one of the "greatest wrongs of history," one couldn't help but think, is the President dissing the United States while he's in a foreign country? 'Cause, you know, Yalta kinda helped end World War II. And Stalin kinda broke the agreement. And he was kinda already takin' over Eastern Europe. And, really, and c'mon, does Bush's boo-boo face apology do anyone any good?

Oh, sure, sure, soon it'll be back to the Social Security campaign trail, and FDR's bones'll be all shined up, ready to be put together like a puppet with a monocle and cigarette holder, as the right makes FDR dance in ways that he never would have imagined medically or ethically possible in his time.

(And, as reader Dem Kat points out, if we're gonna start apologizin' fer shit past Presidents did, let's at least be too legit to quit: "since Bush is in such a fuckall apologizin' mood perhaps we should expect these further apologies in short order:

"1) to the Lebanese people for Ronald Reagan abandoning them to civil war and Syrian occupation after the Beirut bombing.

"2) to the Afghani and American people for Ronald Reagan and George Bush I support and training of Osama Bin Laden and the mujahedeen who eventually became Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

"3) to the Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Iranian and American people for Ronald Reagan and George Bush I decision to arm Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran that eventually led to the gassing of the Kurds, the invasion of Kuwait and Gulf Wars I & II.")


Prayers For the Filibuster Busters:
Great googly-moogly, the Rude Pundit has been asked to pray, praise Jesus, praise his name. Signed up under a pseudonym, the Rude Pundit receives daily updates from the Family Research Council Action group, including the bi-weekly (which sounds queer, but really isn't) Prayer Points for the FRC's Super-Duper Prayer Team, of which the Rude Pundit is a proud member. Here's the most recent prayin' points memo, ready to be put into your nightly prayers right after "God bless Mama and Daddy and lil' Jesse with the gimpy leg and please take care of Aunt Nita's brain cancer 'cause the Medicaid won't." Clasp your hands, motherfuckers, and kneel down like a self-loathing closeted gay Republican at an all-you-can-meat basement leather club, 'cause you got your prayin' orders, straight from Tony Perkins to your Hotmail account - not one, but five, count 'em, five prayers on the filibuster. Fuck the starving, fuck the meek, fuck the homeless, fuck the plagues of the world, fuck it all - Jesus needs him some fuckin' judges. Here's the real, actual prayer directive from prayin' central:

"1. Please pray for an end to discrimination against people of faith who are nominated to serve in our courts.
"2. Please pray that the Senate will treat people of faith who are nominated to serve on our courts with fairness, giving them a 'yes' or 'no' vote.
"3. Please pray for the nominees who have been filibustered-that they will be encouraged, determined, and able to forgive their enemies.
"4. Finally, please pray for an end to the misuse of the filibuster by Senators who are hostile to people of faith.
"5. Please pray that the judicial activism in this nation is reigned in and that we will have judges who will not legislate from the bench."

Perkins tells we members of the Super-Duper Prayer Team, "I cannot thank you enough for your commitment to praying with us. This is the most important action we can take. May God bless you." Fuck voting. Fuck calling your member of Congress. Fuck petitions. Fuck all that and more. Praying is more important than any of that bullshit 'cause, you know, God needs to know that the people of America want him to directly intercede in the hearts of Chuck Hagel, John McCain, and other Republicans. What happens if we members of the Super-Duper Prayer Team fail in our prayerful heroic actions? Forgiveness? Fuck that, too.

We all know the growing mantra of the leaders of fundamentalist churches: our way or the highway (one presumes "to hell," but that would presume they listen to AC/DC, and that would be, well, foolish, no?).

Yeah, last week the President had the wife of Focus on the Family's James Dobson to the White House for the National Day of Prayer, where Bush closed his eyes tight, death gripped Laura, and at least gave the appearance that he was prayin' like a motherfucker. Said Bush in his remarks before the big time fuckin' prayin' started, "[W]e pray to acknowledge our dependence on the Almighty. Prayerful people understand the limits of human strength. We recognize that our plans are not always God's plans. Yet, we know that a God who created us for freedom is not indifferent to injustice or cruelty or evil. So we ask that our hearts may be aligned with His, and that we may be given the strength to do what is right and help those in need. We who ask for God's help for ourselves, have a particular obligation to care for the least of our brothers and sisters within our midst." And then he cut Medicaid and food stamps. But maybe he was being literal, and that just meant he was gonna pay Neil's legal fees.

Oh, perhaps the Rude Pundit's being cynical here. After all, his Super-Duper Prayer Team e-mail opened with a quote from 1 Thessalonians 5: "Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 'Course, it might be nice to read the rest of the chapter, which says, "Be at peace among yourselves . . . See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men." Now, the Rude Pundit's no Bible scholar, hell, he's barely a Bible reader, but it doesn't seem that Paul, the speaking character here, is calling for prayers over political procedures, but, instead, for a unified church. Indeed, one could argue, and one should, that Paul is saying that concerns that are extrinsic to the church should be put aside in order to create the most open place for worship (well, open to worshipping Jesus, not anyone else).

In today's crazed fundamentalist theology, that kind of belief doesn't have a . . . well, prayer.


The Damned Souls of Republicans:
Sunday mornings at Casa de Rude Pundit are quiet affairs, generally consisting of the brewing of a large pot of coffee, the disposing of a stray condom or two, the placing of the half-empty Chopin vodka bottle back into the freezer, and the grabbing of a bowl of Cap'N Crunch before jumping onto the couch to catch one damn Sunday morning talk show or another. Yesterday was no different, tuning into Tim "Behold My Glorious Pumpkinhead" Russert and his splendiferous Meet the Press. Still half-asleep, still waiting for the caffeine and processed sugar to kick in, the Rude Pundit heard former CIA agent Gary Schroen say this about the hunt for the 9/11 masterminds: "He did ask that once we got bin Laden and killed him, that we send his head back in a cardboard box on dry ice so that he could take it down and show the president."

Schroen was talking about orders he received from the CIA's head of counterterrorism, Cofer Black. Russert asked Schroen about where he would get dry ice in Afghanistan, there being no handy Baskin-Robbins around. Schroen replied, "That's what I mentioned to him. I said, 'Cofer, I think that I can come up with pikes to put the heads of the lieutenants on,' which is the second part of what he wanted done. 'Dry ice, we'll have to improvise.'" The Rude Pundit nodded, it all making sense now, put down the sweet cereal, the bitter coffee, and headed back to the freezer, for the day was no longer young and there was half a bottle to get through.

So the "war on terror" began with the call for an act of barbarism to answer the barbarism done to us. How retro. How Genghis Khan. And what would Bush have done with Bin Laden's head? Had it mounted and placed on the wall of the Oval Office? Passed it around a cabinet meeting? Taken it out at a press conference and fucked it until its eyes rolled out and told the world that the same fate awaited anyone who messed with the U.S.?

How much of the American soul has been lost to this war? That is a question for another day. Although it is sad to note that the revelation of the call for Bin Laden's actual, real head in a box has been met with not much more than a blurp in the mainstream media. But something fascinating, but potentially important, is happening to some Republicans.

See, when you realize you've sold your soul to Satan, you may party on for a couple of years without a thought of the damnation that is coming. But at some point, it's going to dawn on you that, oh, fuck, you're gonna have to live for eternity taking baths in bloody shit and being sodomized by screeching demons with pitchforked dicks and being ripped to shreds and eaten by all the people you've fucked over, only to be healed and go through it all again. Every day. Forever. So you may decide at some point you wanna repent, try to save your damned soul and ripped rectum. And a couple of Republicans have indicated they feel the flames licking at their toes and, please, Jesus or someone, rescue them.

It began when Senator George Voinovich stopped the voting on John Bolton's nomination to destroy the U.N. by saying, "My conscience got me." Which was one way of saying that he, like many others in both parties in Congress, have voted for shit without regard to their consciences, as if conscience was a one-night stand, ready to be discarded at the train station after fucking it into silence. Good thing we elect people and not parties, right?

Then, yesterday, Chuck Hagel, talking about the filibuster, said, on This Week, "The Republicans' hands aren't clean on this either. What we did with Bill Clinton's nominees -- about 62 of them -- we just didn't give them votes in committee or we didn't bring them up." Somewhere in hell, Satan belched in agitation.

No, the Rude Pundit is not blindly optimistic, and, yes, with the likely confirmation of Bolton, it could all be a show. But Republicans know from political damnation. They knew when to bail on Nixon to save their electoral souls. And if history teaches us anything, there are rats enough to go down with a ship that a few can bail to give rats a good name.


Christ Weary of Creationists:
Here's a tale of the Young Rude Pundit: Back in his high school in the South, the Rude Pundit caused something of a stir with his science fair project: "Evolution vs. Creationism - Which One Is the Truth?" In front of his wooden triptych, which was covered in pictures of Charles Darwin and images from non-Biblical creation myths, like a turtle with the Earth on its back, oh, and naked people and a stray ape or two, the Rude Pundit had made two displays. One was a cardboard box Garden of Eden, with lots of fake shrubbery, a tree with a clay snake wrapped around it, and two naked little white-skinned dolls he had stolen from his sister. The other was a piece of plywood with carefully crafted clay figures showing the development of humans from amoeba-like things to lizardfish to, eventually, us.

The Rude Pundit's presentation, given to students, judges and teachers, came down unequivocally on the side of evolution. Mostly the Rude Pundit did this project to piss off his churchgoing classmates, who kept shoving creationism in his face. And piss them off, he did, with students coming up to the Rude Pundit and asking him if he really, really believed he came from an ape and if he believed in God (that question was generally met with a "Yeah, why not" answer, which, strangely, pissed 'em off even more). Either way, the Rude Pundit, who was also a fan of Inherit the Wind, was proud to get all Clarence Darrow on their Christian asses. (Full, fair disclosure: there were as many people who thought the whole thing was "cool," "good," and "who the fuck cares" as there were people who were angered by it.)

One judge asked the Rude Pundit if one might reconcile evolution and creationism. "No," the Rude Pundit answered. "They can't be." The judge pressed. It was obvious that this question had ribbon-color meaning to it, so the Rude Pundit sucked it up and said, "Okay, how about this: God could have started the Big Bang. So you could say that God created the universe by setting evolution in motion." This much pleased the judge, and the Rude Pundit received second place and the privilege to go to the county science fair, which, his sister wanting her dolls back, the clay fishlizard cracking, he bailed on.

That was twenty years ago, give or take. The point here is that, for the love of fuck, why are we going through this again? What combination of desperate economic times and religion-induced dementia is making us fight this battle over and over? In Kansas, starting yesterday and continuing today, is a debate over whether or not to require the teaching of "intelligent design" alongside evolution. "Intelligent design" is such a cutely ironic name, in the "Clear Skies Initiative" school of obfuscative rhetoric, because you have to be a complete fucking moron to believe in it. It's Christianity without mentioning Christ, because, if, say, the universe was really just shat out of the anus of a dark Baal-like deity, it'd totally fuck-up the whole "intelligent design" thing (but, goddamn, what a laugh we could all have, no?). And speaking of obfuscation, the members of the Kansas Board of Education who called the hearing didn't even have the balls to say that the true purpose was to put some kind of god back into the science classrooms. They claim they simply want to ensure that "criticism" of evolution is mentioned. Huh. Wonder what you'd use to criticize it, other than fake science, flawed axioms of desperation, and the Bible.

If you look at the non-AP reports of the hearing in Topeka, what you get is a sense of tedium, boredom, and ennui about the battle: "Although there was a full house at the beginning of the hearing, most left well before the hearing ended," says David Klepper in the Kansas City Star. One high school senior, Leanne Coit, attending the hearing said, "It's just a silly debate. Science teachers don't shove evolution down our throats. We can make up our own minds."

The apparent strategies of the anti-evolutionists include equating evolution with "dogma" and elevating atheism to the status of a "religion," which would, one presumes, allow other "religions" into the classroom. And if you're trying to get your head around the idea of non-belief in deities or religions being a religion, then welcome to looking-glass America. Logic is illogical, science is faith, and faith is science, and, oh, shit, the Rude Pundit's brain just exploded.

The other strategy is the most common to the goodly, godly in our nation: it's a kind of numbing, brainwashing repetition. The whole thing goes like this: find some tangential way to push your fundamentalist Christian agenda, disguise it like a street whore in a nun outfit so no one's sure what the fuck's going on, repeat the same lines over and over until most of the citizenry is so sick of hearing it that their attitudes become, "Okay, okay, whatever you want, just shut the fuck up," and then you can smile and know that one more step has been taken towards the uber-goal of complete takeover.

The science side of the Kansas debate has decided they are not going to play this reindeer game. They're boycotting the hearings because they know the whole thing is a rigged detonator. Says one noble poindexter, "What anti-evolutionists are fond of doing is to take the disputes that exist in any living science and blow them out of proportion. These are brandished as evidence that evolution is a theory in crisis." So the Kansas Board of Ed's panel, led by a man who believes the earth is only 10,000 years old, can go fuck itself.

The only damage is that which is done to the students of Kansas, and elsewhere, as well as the fact that the rest of the nation will have to deal with the human results of the dumbed down standards of people who want us to return to the blissful ignorance of pre-Enlightenment thought, when the flock could be so easily, unquestioningly led.