The "Pro-Life" Movement, in a Nutshell.

First, a big thanks to the Rude One for turning his site over to the ladies this week, and for inviting me to guest-post today. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week.

I blog regularly at Feministe, where I share a space with two fabulous co-bloggers. We focus on feminist/gender issues and other lefty stuff, but write about everything from disability awareness, law and LGBT issues to Middle Eastern politics, upcoming elections and our pets. I hope you'll drop by sometime. I'm currently in Istanbul, so if the characters or links come out wonky, I apologize and I blame the Turks. And I hope you'll indulge me as I go on an extended rant about the current Culture of Life in the United States, complete with intense blog-whoring, as my limited time in this internet cafe is preventing me from doing real research and it's easier to just utilize the Feministe search function.

This week, my co-blogger Zuzu writes about the most recent attacks against Planned Parenthood, in which the organization was accused of promoting beastiality -- for having animals featured in two of their online cartoons. Her post is one example of the lengths to which anti-choicers will go in order to attack reproductive rights -- all reproductive rights, not just abortion. This is about sex education, access to birth control, healthcare for all, the right to have children, and the right to have private sexual relationships with other consenting adults.

If you've been around Feministe, you probably know how I feel about reproductive rights and the so-called "Culture of Life" in the United States. We've heard a lot in the past year about how it might benefit the left if we over-turned Roe and left abortion up to the states; how progressives need to moderate on the abortion issue; and how "pro-life" people are really just trying to save babies.

It wouldn't, we don't, and they aren't.

The "pro-life" movement isn't about valuing life at all. It's not about babies, and it's certainly not about any other born humans. It's about social control, and dictating your sexual choices. Life has almost nothing to do with it -- rather, it's about limiting personal and sexual choices as much as possible, and using legal and legislative means to insure that there's only one choice available to everyone: Sex within the context of a heterosexual marriage for procreative purposes only.

This is part of the reason why they go after groups like Planned Parenthood. Yes, Planned Parenthood provides abortions at some of its locations -- but the organization dedicates far greater resources to education, healthcare and pregnancy-prevention programs. They just refuse to tell their clients that there's only one best way to live, and if you make choices that differ from a very narrow ideal, then you deserve the "consequences."

And the consequences of anti-choice policies are obvious. They cause more uninteded pregnancies, and therefore more abortions, than they prevent. They put women and girls in desperate situations, sometimes with tragic results. They kill women and girls around the world.

One of the more egregious anti-choice examples is the Global Gag Rule, a policy that is trumpeted as "pro-life" but which in fact contributes to the deaths of thousands of women every year. George W. Bush instituted the gag rule on his first day in office. It bars United States international family planning funding from contributing to any organization that so much as mentions abortion as an option to its clients, advocates for abortion rights, or performs abortions, even if they do so with their own non-U.S. funds (U.S. funds have been barred from paying for abortions abroad since the 1970s). So if a family planning organization in, say, El Salvador -- where women who terminate pregnancies go to prison for as long as 30 to 50 years, and if a botched illegal abortion requires a hysterectomy, the woman's uterus can be used in court as evidence against her -- petitions their government for abortion rights, they lose U.S. funding.

Today, 90 African women will die from illegal abortions. Ninety more will die tomorrow, and 90 more will die the day after that. While only 10% of the world's abortions happen in Africa, that continent accounts for about 50% of abortion-related deaths. One in 12 women who have abortions in Africa die. For every woman who dies, 20 to 30 women have their reproductive systems permanently damaged.

This is what happens when abortion is illegal and birth control is difficult to obtain. This is what "pro-life" policies bring.

In other countries, women go to jail for having abortions, and doctors go to jail for performing them. Because international anti-choice policies focus on marriage and abstinence, and de-fund organizations that don't tailor their programs to U.S. ideals, many women abroad lack access to information about their bodies and are unable to obtain a slew of other reproductive health services. After all, in rural areas of developing nations, the same clinic that provides information about abortion also provides HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention information, well-baby care, pre-natal care, condoms, and general healthcare. Shut down that single clinic, and you've cut out all of those services in the name of "life."

But it's become fairly apparent that "life" has very little to do with being "pro-life." After all, Viagra kills a whole lot more people who use it than RU-486, or the "abortion pill" (not to be confused with emergency contraception, the "morning-after pill") does. For that matter, so does childbirth. And one would imagine that if we wanted to lower the abortion rate, the best way to do that would be to prevent unintended pregnancies from occuring in the first place. We all know that dictating that everyone should wait until marriage to have sex isn't going to work -- as far as I'm aware, there has never been a society in all of human history in which that method succeeded in preventing fornication. But certain modern societies have been very good at decreasing the abortion rate. Belguim, the Netherlands, and various other northern European countries have the lowest abortion rates in the world -- and some of the most permissive abortion laws. Their secret? Sex education starting very early. Accessible and affordable contraception. Fewer taboos around human sexuality.

By contrast, a country like Brazil has one of the highest abortion rates in the world -- higher than the United States. And the procedure is illegal there.

Reproductive rights have done amazing things for American women and families. They've helped to decrease poverty, allowed women access to college and the workforce, and given us greater autonomy in our romantic and personal lives. But that doesn't stop our own anti-choicers from doing their damndest to raise the abortion rate in the name of all the little babies. They outlaw abortion in places like South Dakota, and only lament that the law is imperfect because it doesn't also ban contraception. They refuse to fill prescriptions coming from reproductive health clinics -- even prescriptions for antibiotics and pre-natal vitamins. They cut funding for contraception, because giving women the right to prevent pregnancy means that you're promoting promiscuity (married and/or monogamous women have apparently never tried to prevent pregnancy). Indeed, they've declared a full-on war against contraception. They oppose programs that give accurate information about reproductive health and sexuality, opting instead for failed "abstinence-only" ideology. Some of them even go so far as to oppose a cancer vaccine, because apparently preventing death from cervical cancer would remove one of those icky "consqeuences" of fornication, and that just ain't right.

And when it comes to abortion, there are some interesting positions. There are those who oppose abortion in all cases, even when continuing the pregnancy will kill the pregnant woman -- because after all, a woman should sacrifice for her children. And of course there are those who would outlaw abortion except for cases of rape and incest, which is perhaps the position that interests me most, as it's the most transparent -- it makes clear that outlawing abortion isn't about fetal life, but rather about making pregnancy a punishment for women. So if you didn't "do anything" to get yourself pregnant, then you have an out. But if, God forbid, you had sex because you wanted to, then you certainly deserve to deal with the consequences.

But the consequences of the anti-choice movement extend far beyond individual women and legally requiring us to carry pregnancies to term. The consequences of this very narrow worldview affect all of us whose personal decisions and identities differ from the hetero virgin-till-marriage, never-using-contraception mold. They affect science and progress, like stem cell research and in-vitro fertilization. They affect women who need to terminate pregnancies for medical reasons. After all, not every pregnancy complication will kill you, but they may make you go blind, or damage your kidneys bad enough to kill you later on, or force you have a hysterectomy. All of these things fall under the health exception to abortion laws -- that is, if an abortion procedure is illegalized, it must allow an "out" for the health and life of the pregnant woman. Anti-choice groups would like to do away with the health exception, claiming that it's a loophole. Which is why there is no health exception to the so-called "Partial Birth" Abortion Ban Act passed by Congress last year. Some loophole. They're also perfectly happy to compromise basic healthcare, lie to women and completely ignore medical ethics to save them some babies through their Crisis Pregnancy Centers -- until the babies are a year or so old, and then they tell the mother that she made her choice and she needs to take personal responsibility for it (and they're doing this with taxpayer dollars).

So what does the anti-choice movement want? Illegal abortion -- all abortion, no health exception. No contraception. No sex outside of marriage, and even within marriage, sex only for procreative purposes. And certainly no homos running around throwing a wrench in things.

One of the tricks to all of this is "natural family planning," in which you take your temperature before sex and moniter your fertile days to make sure that you only do it when you're least likely to get pregnant. It's one of the least effective contraceptive methods around and, in an interesting twist, perhaps the one that kills the most blastocyst babies. But that's ok because what matters are the good intentions, not the actual results (what do they say about the road to Hell?).

But then, this isn't a movement that's actually so opposed to killing. And they certainly aren't opposed to harassing, stalking and intimidating people who disagree with them. Think it's just the fringe anti-choice groups that do things like stalk abortion providers and threaten them with violence? Think again. The "fringe" organizations are well-supported by mainstream groups like Concerned Women for America and Focus on the Family.

Bottom line: The "pro-life" movement could give two shits about "life." And while the pro-choice movement isn't perfect, it does embody the basic values of human rights. It supports individual self-determination. Pro-choice advocates envision a world where all people have a wide range of reproductive options, and can make the decisions that best suit them at different points in their lives. This means comprehensive sex education, accessible and affordable contraception, abortion rights, universeal healthcare, aid to low-income families so that women can actually afford to carry wanted pregnancies to term, and a society which values all of its members equally.

Too much to ask? Maybe. But in the meantime, we can support pro-choice policies, and stop suggesting that overturning Roe would bring anyone any real benefit. And we can take a strong stance against an ideology that's more about controlling who, how and when we fuck than it has ever been about protecting life.

Allow me to introduce myself…

My name is AngryBlackBitch and my ass is guest posting for a certain Rude One this morning.

Shall we proceed?

Yes indeed!

Maybe it’s the heat…or maybe a bitch has watched one episode too many of the Dog Whisperer…but this bitch is beginning to think that motherfucker could end the current crisis in the Middle East.

Okay, maybe not end it…but some Cesar Millan-esque conflict resolving diplomacy couldn’t hurt!

If you don’t watch the Dog Whisperer this may not make sense. Cesar Millan is a dog shrink who works with people to help them establish positive dog relationships.

Anyhoo, each episode of the Dog Whisperer follows the same formula. They profile a conflict, introduce the players (dog and human) and explain each side of the drama. Cesar arrives and consults with dog and human…diagnoses the issue and helps them adjust in such a way as to establish a…well, a lasting settlement (wink) without any blood being shed.

The fascinating thing is that most dog aggression can be linked to a fucked up human in the mix. Mmmhmmm, some human guardian who has been enabling all manner of bad assed dog behavior gets tired of the mess they created and calls up Cesar, blames the dog for it all and then has the audacity to look shocked when Cesar turns to them and tells them they fucked that shit up...big time.

Cesar is quick to call bullshit…and he is also quick to establish a cease fire so that the underlying issues can be addressed. It seems that one can not address fear based aggression while the dog in question is aggressing. Calm the fearfully aggressive dog…introduce the warring parties and get down to the bitness of establishing a relationship and a dialogue (okay, not a dialogue but a series of butt sniffs and tail wags…shit, that’s how dogs communicate) then move towards building trust.

Mayhap we should give the Dog Whisperer a shot at it!

Fuck it all, at least he’s got a resume with some resolved conflicts on it.

And catch that knee before it jerks. No, a bitch is not so naive as to believe that peace in the Middle East can be achieved in one 30 minute episode of the Dog Whisperer…including several commercial breaks...and a promotion for some dog show that a bitch forgot to TiVo.

But this bitch is wise enough to know that dialogue doesn’t happen when two parties in conflict are actively at each others throats. Every bite…every painful wound results in lasting scars and makes the road between conflict and peace more difficult to navigate.

Bend Over, Baby, So I Can Reach Your Wallet
You really have to admire the frank fuck-you attitude of our elected representatives, who are taking a month's much-deserved vacation after the House said, yeah, you hourly-wage earning bastards can have an extra couple bucks an hour three years from now, but only if the Senate gives the people who really count a ten million dollar tax exemption. Oh, and the next fifteen million gets taxed at 15%. Which is only fair, because you wage slaves working for a generous $7.25 an hour will only be paying 15% on your annual (vacation-free!) income of $15,000! Which is well above the poverty line of $9,800. Really, who needs more than that?

Oh right, rich kids. Well, it's only fair, after all. Y'all on the minimum wage ought not be breeding anyway, and if you're gonna have kids, you really should accomodate their palates to dumpster food early. Whereas these parasites couldn't survive under such adverse conditions.

Plus, as long as you commoners are preoccupied with how to make fifteen thou a year buy enough gas to keep getting you to work on time--better not be late again, buddy, if you want to keep that minimum-wage job--you'll be way too busy to pay any attention to oh, say how the State Department's been keeping its books. Now that Ken Lay's "retired" to the Dick Cheney Underground Bunker (avoiding prison and protecting his estate, if you recall), he's got more time for teaching those seminars on pocket-lining, insider contracts, and accounting shell games, and we want to make sure that y'all keep our wage costs down and our interest payments up buying those plasma televisions keeping a roof over your heads.

So stop wasting your employer's time and money reading about "ballooning cost overruns" and "withheld information on schedule delays" and "federal audits," peasants, and get back to work. The NSA is reporting your blog-reading time to your boss, and your paychecks will be docked accordingly.


Fun With Republican Wives - Fran Dewine's Cooking Sucks:
Trawling through the websites of Republican candidates, as the Rude Pundit's been doing for the last few days, you can come up with some pretty wretched information, like learning about every town's festival where the candidates will justifiably show up. You can bet that if, say, Clute, Texas hosted the Dirt Farm and Syphilis Festival, Representative Ron Paul would be there shaking hands and eating mud pies.

By now, most of Left Blogsylvania has commented on ultra-creepy Senator Mike Dewine's ultra-creepy use of a doctored photo of 9/11 in a campaign ad. 'Cause, you know, if aesthetically the smoke of one of the burning towers isn't blowing the right way, what's a scum-sucking ad agency to do? Photoshop that horrible motherfucker. And, of course, per recent law, Mike Dewine said he approved the message.

So, yeah, that was bad enough. But if you head on over to ultra-creepy Mike Dewine's website, with an ultra-creepy image of Mike Dewine seated in front of changing Ohio images (which, you know, makes it look like he's visited places he probably hasn't), you can discover the proudly displayed handwritten recipe book of Mrs. Mike herself, Fran Dewine. And, man, oh, man, it's a list of every bland church picnic recipe you ever wanted, with the ethnic food having been drained of any hint of flavor or, say, ethnicity.

Yeah, the Rude Pundit's no food critic, he ain't givin' stars at Charlie Trotter's latest beyond haute cuisine establishment, and he's as likely to make a dinner of day-old hash brownies and milk as he is to treat himself to sushi so tender it's like feeling the labia of that incredibly generous schoolteacher he met the night before at the tip of his tongue. But he knows suck ass food when he sees it. And he can declare, without even making a single one of the recipes, that Fran Dewine's cooking sucks monkey balls. In fact, if you go to the Columbus Zoo and you see that the monkeys' balls are hairless, you'll know that Fran Dewine's been cooking nearby.

Take, for instance, her recipe for Amish Barn Soup. It's a rich combination of Velveeta cubes, chicken bouillon cubes, and frozen broccoli (presumably not cubed) cooked togther to create concoction so salty that it'd make real Amish people beat down tourists, steal their cars, and race to the local liquor store for twelve-packs of Schaefer's they can down to get the vile taste out of their mouths.

Or there's My Favorite Lasagna, a piquant casserole made with Prego or Ragu (mixed with water, because jarred Prego is just too rich) and cottage cheese (because...why? ricotta's too hard to pronounce?), the sort of thing that's served in the trattorias in Hell alongside platters of rat innards on bruschetta.

You may whine and complain and say, "Jesus, Rude Pundit, beating up on Mike Dewine's wife is sure unfair." And, after slapping you with overboiled lasagna noodles, the Rude Pundit would point out that once her "Family Favorites Cookbook" was posted, well, welcome to the party, motherfucker.

But also, the food a person eats says a lot about that person, and either Mike Dewine's a fuckin' liar who dines at the finest bistros Akron has to offer or he regularly eats crap denuded of flavor. And what could be more appropriate for a savagely anti-choice white guy, someone who on his issues page has "Learn More" only for his "Protecting the Unborn" crazyworld cred.

So what can we conclude about Mike Dewine, ultra-creepy-looking, photo doctoring, high-fat eating defender of the bewombed and/or frozen? That pro-lifers really just don't know how to live.

Note: The Rude Pundit's taking a week off (though, if driven to, he may drop by). However, he is leaving you in the incredible hands of nearly a dozen of the best practitioners of bloggery out there. Enjoy the many joyously rude voices here all next week.


Republicans Running From Bush, Part 3 - Wherein Michael Steele Meets Karl Rove's Sodomizin' Stormtroopers:
In the annals of punk-ass bitchery - an encyclopedic collection of toadies, cavers, and cowerers - an entire page will be devoted to Maryland's Lieutenant Governor and Republican Senate Candidate Michael Steele. For, indeed, if evolution worked the way Michael Steele does, early humans would have stood upright, bumped into a tree limb, and decided it was better to slink around hunched over. Surely, that is what Steele would have done, considering his collapse from mensch to putz in a little less than 48 hours.

Let us not praise Steele too much for his steak lunch with reporters where he went to town on the Bush administration and the Republican Congress he hopes to join. Because Steele decided to speak truth about the powers only on condition that he remain anonymous. Still, despite that pussy aspect of his interview, we can say, goddamn, it at least took a single cojone to say, as Steele did, that the Iraq War "didn't work. . . . We didn't prepare for the peace," that his being a Republican is a "scarlet letter," an R that he must wear. Asked if he would want Bush to campaign for him, Steele said, "To be honest with you, probably not." Hey, people have said far milder things under the veil of anonymity.

But, oh, when you are a Republican, and you tell the truth, well, you must get a visit from Karl Rove's Sodomizin' Stormtroopers. Dressed in black leather, with black-shaded helmets, bearing black batons and ten-inch black strap-ons, Karl Rove's Sodomizin' Stormtroopers are the flying monkeys of the White House, sent out by Rove to, well, fuck in the ass anyone who dares cross the President. Jesus, the horrible yowls that are heard around D.C. and Georgetown whenever their dreaded black Hummer o' Doom is dispatched. Ask Paul O'Neill, ask John McCain, ask poor Arlen Specter, who now leaves his doors unlocked because he was tired of replacing them - just look around that humid fuckin' city and you'll see politicos big and small walking like they just got off their stallion after riding the Oregon Trail. When the SS got a hold of Steele, they gathered his campaign staff around, under threat of mass sodomizin', and roughly gang-dildoed Steele, forcing him to fellate their hard plastic crotch rockets. Oh, yes, oh, yes, by the end, with a rectally-bleeding Steele curled up on the floor of his campaign headquarters, Karl Rove himself walked in, shoved a gloved hand into the African American Lieutenant Governor's aching sphincter, and whispered to him, "You're not only gonna make it right, you're gonna get all jigaboo, too. Georgie likes his Negroes to dance." Then, with a wave of his blood and shit-covered gloved hand, Rove and his SS disappeared into the Baltimore night.

It was simple. While Steele recovered - Rove sent his personal proctologist over (Rove is a savage man, but generous to a fault) - his scared shitless campaign quickly said that it was Steele who made the remarks, but, no, listen, he also praised Bush. And then yesterday, Steele himself, in an interview with a conservative talk show, shucked, "I've been quoted before as calling the president my homeboy, you know, and that's how I feel." He said he was joking about that scarlet letter stuff, and he more or less said that he loves Bush so much, he'd blow the President on stage. "I'm not trying to dis the president," Steele jived. Back in the White House, Bush said that he still supports Steele, especially now that he's been such a good boy. Karl Rove put his defiled glove in a drawer next to all the other ones he's got.

Steele also said on WBAL, "If I'm not free to share that as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, how can people expect me to share that and express that as a United States senator?" Well, sure, as long as he can express it anonymously, just like a good and brave Republican Senator.


Republicans Running From Bush (Part 2, briefly):
While the Rude Pundit continues to research the ways that Republicans in close races deal with the cement shoes that the Bush administration has put on incumbents, another interesting trend is the outright denial of the President by Republicans.

For instance, Rob Simmons of Connecticut, in a tight race with Joe Courtney, proudly displays his anti-Bush street cred in articles like "Even When It Means Crossing Political Lines in Washington," describing Simmons as a Republican who doesn't flinch from "crossing the Bush Administration and the Tom DeLay wing of the House of Representatives on tight, party-line votes." Oooh, he's a badass motherfucker every once in a blue moon when he doesn't follow marching orders from Rove.

Considering that for so many elections back in the 1990s, Democrats ran away from Bill Clinton like giant-craniumed scientists from a group of zombies, it's vaguely satisfying to see this President become, to at least some candidates, an electoral pariah, an albatross that's starting to rot.

More tomorrow.
Next Week: Big Time Fun at the Rude Pundit's Place:
Next week, the Rude Pundit's taking one of his twice (or so) yearly sojourns to Red State America. And this time he wants it to be at least a semi-vacation. So he e-mailed a few of his favorite rude bloggers to write some guest posts. Starting on Monday, July 31, until Friday, August 4, regular (and irregular) readers of this postage stamp of Left Blogsylvania will have the following to look forward to:

Monday, July 31:
Bitch Phd and Angry Black Bitch (it wasn't intentional to have a day of the "Bitch," but sometimes chaos works out that way)

Tuesday, August 1:
Jill Filipovic of Feministe and Egalia of Tennessee Guerilla Women

Wednesday, August 2:
Avedon Carol of the Sideshow and Shakespeare's Sister

Thursday, August 3:
Maryscott O'Connor of My Left Wing and Echidne of the Snakes

Friday, August 4:
Lindsay Beyerstein of Majikthise, Lauren Bruce of Feministe, and Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Pandagon

Oh, and before someone points out the obvious, yeah, they're all female bloggers. And they're major Buffy-style ass kickers. So while the Rude Pundit is wandering the byways of the South (including heading back to New Orleans for some firsthand reportage-type shit like in January), come on in to the house party, the beer in the fridge and the dope in the carved-out Bible is for everyone, and keep reading for a daily dose of awesome.

(Oh, before someone asks, the Rude Pundit will continue posting through Friday this week.)
Clark Kent Duty Calls - Late Post Today:
The Rude Pundit must put back on his dark-rimmed glasses, for Perry White is bellowing in the background. Later today: more scatterin' Republican candidates and a super-cool announcement.


Republicans Running From Bush (Part 1, Updated):
So, so, so Senator John Thune, the Republican who defeated Tom Daschle in 2004, had one of those rare moments of DC honesty last week when he said, "If I were running in the state this year, you obviously don't embrace the president and his agenda." And, if you look at the Republican candidates' websites in some of the truly close races, man, you can barely tell that a Republican is President.

Like, for instance, check out the site for Indiana congressman Mike Sodrel, in a tight race against Democrat Baron Hill, who proudly has a picture of himself with Bill Clinton on his home page. You can dig, into Sodrel's photo section, or the On the Issues section, and, while it may be there somewhere, damned if the Rude Pundit can find the words "George Bush," let alone an image of the man that's ostensibly Sodrel's party's leader.

But if you go back, via Archive.org's Wayback Machine, why you can find that back in June of 2004, why Mike Sodrel had Bush's grinnin' puss on his home page. Hell, Sodrel even touted his closeness to President Bush, with the chair of the Indiana Republican Party promising that Sodrel "will fight alongside President Bush" on defense issues. And, at one point, Sodrel had a section just for pictures of himself with the Bush/Cheney campaign. What a difference two years makes, huh? To go from proud and open butt boy to cowering closeted cretin in so short a time, despite the fact that there's little evidence that Sodrel ever actually opposed Bush on anything.

And that's the way it goes for so many Republicans, running away from Bush like so many rats on so many ships heading into the drink. Back in 2002, to continue picking on Indiana, Chris Chocola prominently featured Tom DeLay and Dick Cheney on his campaign site's homepage, with Bush mentioned throughout. Now, much like Sodrel, the Rude Pundit can't find hide nor hair of the President on Chocola's website in his campaign against Joe Donnelly.

Let's keep this party going - but, fuck, it'll have to wait because Archive.org just got all flaky and is rejecting the Rude Pundit's advances.

More as soon as it's back.

Update: According to Google, Chris Chocola's entire site mentions the word "Bush" only once. The same thing goes for Mike Sodrel's site. One mention. That ain't runnin'. It's screaming crazy to get away.

Thanks to rude reader Leighton for the heads up.


Umm, CNN, Isn't There Still a War in Iraq?:
Now, the Rude Pundit ain't a stinkin' head-up-his-ass nationalist, nor is he a "USA, USA" chantin' buffoon. But one doesn't have to be a pledge takin', anthem singin' xenophobe to think that it's just entirely fucked-up that the three cable "news" networks have decided to cover the Israel-Lebanon/Israel-Gaza conflicts almost non-fuckin-stop for the last dozen days while making the Iraq War - you remember, the one where nearly 150,000 Americans are fighting - a story that comes somewhere between Indiana highway snipers and how much M. Night Shamalamadindong's latest film twaddle sucks balls.

This is not to say that what's going on over in Israel and just above and below it isn't horrible. It is. It's fucking gut-wrenching and hideous, as every regional conflict is, as every time some nation blows the fuck out of another nation is. But it's a rerun, and even though summer is the time for reruns of our favorite TV shows, we should probably pay a little more attention to our long-running programs that don't take the summer off.

Seriously, check out CNN's transcript index for yesterday. The only story worth individual mention from Iraq is the hospitalization of Saddam Hussein. Otherwise, Iraq is shoved aside quite literally to "in other news" or one badly put transition or another. Check out the program This Week at War. On yesterday's edition, John "Behold My Magnificent Grey Helmet o' Hair" Roberts reported, like just about everyone else on the CNN payroll, from the border between Lebanon and Israel, and after going on a bit about that conflict, added, "There was also a lot of bad news in Baghdad. Some 50 people killed, 165 wounded in a series of suicide car bombings." He spoke for the next 15 seconds about Iraq before devoting nearly all of the hour to the Israeli battles, except for a few minutes about Afghanistan.

What the fuck? No, really, and, c'mon, what the fuck? Our little attempt to completely mash down and rebuild Iraq like it's so much Play-Doh on the kiddie room craft table has been relegated to afterthought, much like the post-invasion planning. And it certainly ain't just CNN. MSNBC and Fox "News" have more or less declared the Iraq War old and tired, while the Israel/Lebanon/Gaza blow-up is the new hotness.

It's like a form of denial or overcompensation. See, every group of friends has the pal who is so fuckin' good at solvin' everyone else's problems: "Oh, yeah, Greg, fuck that bitch - dump her and you'll be a new man. Of course you should take that new job, Julio; you're goin' nowhere fast at anonymous corporate entity #45. No, no, Tom, that just looks like a regular lump to me, but, you know, I'm not a doctor." Yeah, advisor-buddy can be awesome to have around, but advisor-buddy sucks at cleaning up his own shit - his refusal to stand up for himself at work, his dead-end marriage, his issues with his parents. But if he can't handle his own problems, the ones that he thinks will never go away, well, you know, at least he can deal with yours.

So we get to hear about every warning siren that goes off in Haifa, and the deaths of two U.S. soldiers and hundreds and hundreds of Iraqis now becomes "in other news," the explosions of cars and suiciders so much white noise against the rockets falling in Northern Israel and in Beirut.

Howzabout this: yeah, we know, we know, Iraq and Afghanistan have had their day in the media spotlight. But Americans oughta care first about our own messes. Maybe the news networks could put our story first - the Israeli conflicts can be a close second. But just for some kind of statement that the tens of thousands of Americans over in Iraq and Afghanistan, still risking their lives for the neocons quixotic nightmare, for the miasma of blood and violence we have created, still matter.


A Response To Ann Coulter's Plagiarism From One of Her Uncited Sources:
A Portland Press Herald columnist says that the newspaper's staff doesn't wanna call it "plagiarism," but they do find it curious. And he tried to ask Ann Coulter about it, but she wouldn't respond, so he just made up a conversation with her "since this newspaper is already in the business of putting words in your mouth."

(Tip of the rude hat to Richard Wolfe, who blogs at Random Punditry and Maine Liberty, for the heads up.)


George Bush Comes Down To the Quarters:
The worst thing about George W. Bush's speech to the NAACP yesterday is it was just a pussy speech. It was filled with an idiot's view of history, the kind of "Oh-shit-here's-what-I-just-learned" bullshit that you get in a college freshman history course, the kind of dawning enlightenment horny white dudes use at the bar to try to impress the black chicks they wanna bang. Talking about slaves as "founders" of America, Bush said, "These founders literally helped build our country. They chopped the wood, they built the homes, they tilled the fields, and they reaped the harvest. They raised children of others, even though their own children had been ripped away and sold to strangers." Oh, really? Hey, welcome to the party, motherfucker.

And then there were the usual absurd feints at religiosity, statements so self-evidently lies that somewhere up above, St. Peter gently held back Jesus's hair while he puked into the Ark of the Convenant (why not?). Said the President, "My faith tells me that we're all children of God, equally loved, equally cherished, equally entitled to the rights He grants us all." Somewhere, in a secret prison in Crazystan, Eastern Europe, a captured Afghani getting his nuts power-drilled by a CIA agent is awfully happy to hear that Bush's faith guides him in such a strong moral direction.

Taken as a whole, the speech was meant to demonstrate that Bush "gets it" or some such shit. See? He knows things sucked for black people back in the day: "Slavery was legal for nearly a hundred years, and discrimination legal in many places for nearly a hundred years more." See? He gets that the majority of the black community thinks Republicans are savage wannabe slaveowners who'd just as well create a legal caste system in the nation. Talking about the Medicare prescription drug "program," Bush said, "Look, I understand that we had a political disagreement on the bill. I know that." See? He knows it. He said he knows it. Don't start tellin' him he doesn't know it, 'cause he'll let you know: he knows.

And our goddamn President clings to a catchphrase like that old lady yellin' "Where's the beef?" until the day she died. Here's Bush on education: "I like to call it this: We need to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you have low expectations, you're going to get lousy results." C'mon, at this point it's like hearing Steve Martin say, "Well, excuuuuse me." Just sad.

The whole speech was just a campaign stop. Bush may as well have said, "Here's all the shit I've done for you people - with home and business ownership, with AIDS, with other shit, shit you know about. Why don't you negroes love me? Why?" No challenge, no confrontation, no defiance, just an incompetent attempt to appease and get some good photos surrounded by the darkeys.

If you go back to Bill Clinton's 1996 speech to the NAACP's national convention, you read the words of a man who doesn't need to try to demonstrate to African Americans that he understands the absolute basics of history and struggle. What you got was the moral authority (yeah, that's right) of a man who put race less in terms of "here's what I can do for you people" and instead in terms of a struggle that all of America has a stake in. Qualitatively, the difference between Clinton and Bush talking to the NAACP is the difference between listening to Carnegie Hall concerts by Gerry Mulligan and Kenny G. They're playing jazz on roughly the same instruments in the same space. But only one of them gets it.


Reminder To German Readers:
Or at least the ones in Germany. The Rude Pundit will be appearing on ZDF (a German TV network) tonight at 10:15 p.m. The show is titled Megacitys and is about a day of media in New York City. Although, really, the Rude Pundit has no idea how the thing turned out and if he'll be portrayed as a raving lunatic or a mellow lunatic. Either way, he speaks no German.

Drop the Rude Pundit a note if you check it out.
Ten Ways You'd Act If You Were the Republican-Led Congress:
(In honor of our hardworking members of the legislative branch)

1. If your pipes were leaking to the point that your basement was flooded and your foundation was going to crumble, you'd order out for pizza and argue with the delivery guy over whether or not you wanted anchovies on the pie. You wouldn't tip.

2. If your computer hard drive crashed, taking with it all the digital photos of your kids and your vacations, you'd write an angry letter to Ronald McDonald, demanding to know if the McDLT is ever coming back. You like hot and cold separate.

3. If a garbage truck ran over your foot, you'd go shopping for a new hat. A jaunty summer beret, perhaps.

4. If five men with clubs killed your sister's dog and then raped her, you'd reorganize your copies of People magazine alphabetically by cover celebrity rather than by date. You'd argue with your spouse over using first or last names.

5. If your credit cards were maxed out and your debit card was used to empty your bank account by someone who stole the numbers and you didn't have anything left to cover the cost of formula for your baby, you'd go sing Christmas carols at the Alzheimer's wing of the nursing home. Even though it's July.

6. If your car was on fire at a gas station with your three children unconscious inside, you'd play Tetris on your cell phone. You'd curse Jesus whenever you missed the chance to make three rows disappear.

7. If you caught your husband cheating on you with the 15-year old boy who mows your lawn, you'd buy flowers for Barbaro, the horse with a hoof healing. Even though Barbaro just eats every daisy he can.

8. If your doctor told you that you had inoperable breast cancer that had spread to your lungs and wrapped itself around your heart, you'd write a dirty limerick about two lesbian midgets that rhymed the words "dykey" and "psyche." You'd be upset that very few funny or dirty things rhyme with "midget."

9. If your parents committed double suicide with razors and left a note in blood declaring that they were doing so because they couldn't stand the agony of watching you die from your horrible disease, you'd hire a fat clown to do pratfalls for all the Korean ladies at the local nail salon. They need a good laugh.

10. If you were on your deathbed, all alone, everyone you know dead or gone, you'd watch infomercials until the final mortal pain gripped you. You'd die thinking you should have done more to clear up the blemishes on your skin.


The George Bush Merry-Go-Round of Fucktardery:
So we've finally come full circle in the presidency of George W. Bush, back to those heady pre-9/11 days, and just five murderous years later. Remember that summer beforeeverythingchanged? God, it was fun. When his job approval ratings hovered ominously near 50 percent and trending downward. When Comedy Central could have an entire show dedicated to mocking him (and it wasn't The Daily Show). When the issue of the day that Bush was considering with all the thinkin' his head could manage was stem cell research.

It'd be so fuckin' poetic if Bush used his first veto on August 9, the fifth anniversary of his bullshit little speech declaring the use of embryos for fetal stem cell experiments off limits for federal funding, acting as if he had really gone on some monk-like retreat, wandering into the Texas scrub to consider the ethical dilemma of the matter, delving into Kierkegaard and Aquinas as he sought a utilitarian answer to what he said he considered the most profound questions of the truths of existence, of the meaning of ethics and morality. Instead, he treated us, the citizens of the nation, like dogs that had shit on the kitchen floor, rubbing our noses in his bible, saying, "[I] believe human life is a sacred gift from our Creator. I worry about a culture that devalues life." At least there was an attempt at subtlety.

Now his thuggish press secretary is telling the media that embryonic stem cell research is "murder" even as a just-short-of-two-thirds of the Senate approves federal funding for the research after a debate that flirted with respectability. And because he can't actually issue a signing statement that says he thinks he can stop the funding because he is constitutionally empowered to protect the nation, Bush will use his first veto. As he promised back when he had just a smidge more power than he does now.

And as for the G-8 buffoonery, goddamnit, puking in the lap of the Japanese prime minister seems positively dignified in retrospect. Beyond the little bit of dialogue picked up by a mike, where Bush said, "Shit" (does he get fined by the FCC?) and he acted like the spazzy kid with ADD playin' the President at United Nations Day in third grade, there was his bizarro treatment of the elected Chancellor of Germany like she was a secretary who had typed too many letters. Look at the pictures of this President Bush as he heads over to Angela Merkel to give her a brief shoulder grab/rub. First look at his eyes, those dead, cold eyes, like Karloff's Frankenstein's monster, or the kind of eyes of someone so immune to human contact and warmth that he only wakes up when watching a particularly gruesome snuff film, where sick fucks jack off on the body parts of a Mexican woman they just chopped up. Look at his hands on her shoulders. He doesn't even know what he's doing. He doesn't even know that unless he warms up her shoulder muscles first, he's just gonna give her one hell of a cramp. Circular movements with the thumbs, motherfucker, not whole hand squeezing. Christ, no wonder Laura spends more time with her waterproof vibrator in the tub than in bed with her husband.

Merkel's reaction, though, is not just one of pain, not just one of "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" It's a look of frustration, of supreme irritation, of having picked up after a child time and time again but the little fucker just thinks it's funny to keep dumping shit on the floor. It's almost like she wants to say, "Focus, you dumb fuckin' shitkicker wannabe. There's goddamn wars going on and you're wanderin' around, acting like we're a toilet paper corporation deciding if we wanna put flowers or butterflies on our new brand." And then Bush walks off with his zombie stagger, blank stare drawing him to the next embarassment. Shit, Bush got off easy. If Ronald Reagan had tried to massage Margaret Thatcher, he'd've pulled back nubs.

So, if there was any doubt left, for anyone, all the shine and polish and spin in the world ain't gonna cover-up the fact that we are back to where we were, that pre-9/11 mindset that made us think, "God, just don't let him blow up the whole fuckin' world before he's outta there."


Why Bill O'Reilly Ought To Be Sodomized With a Stripper Pole:
About once a month or so, Bill O'Reilly's gotta get show some cock and/or poontang on his Fox "News" show, and he'll come up with any excuse to weave in some gently edited video of hotties while he conducts an interview on some subject related to the booty shaking. They are always in his pro-anal-sex titled "Back of the Book" segment.

Like last month, O'Reilly interviewed the frighteningly botoxed advice writer April Masini to discuss the pressing issue of whether or not certain girls have, in fact, gone too wild. Those girls would be brides-to-be, and the segment was "Are Bachelorette Parties Wilder Than Ever?" The whole thing was bizarre, as O'Reilly blithered and dithered, showing clips of women enjoying the pleasure of male strippers, as well as the always incredibly homoerotic image of Chippendale's dancers, saying he didn't really understand the topic as Masini chided women for being promiscuous. Said O'Reilly, "I am out of it. I mean, I don't know anything about this at all," which, of course, leads one to ask, "Why the fuck did you do a segment on it on your show?" Or perhaps it's just deep, deep denial that he wants to rub some falafel on a Chippendale dude's big pita.

But O'Reilly sure as shit knew about what was what in his segment last night titled "Is a Crime Wave Dancing Through Strip Clubs?" Talking with former strip club bouncer and author Brent Jordan, who looks amazingly like Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction, O'Reilly demonstrated all kinds of first-hand "understanding" about the ins and outs of stripper life. Unprompted, seemingly remembering a time when he was in the private room of a crappy titty bar in Duluth and, after dropping a hundy on the expensive champagne there, Mandy, the big-boobed Swedish girl who bobbed her thonged ass on his crank, stopped just short of his blowing a load through his jeans, so he went nuts and started slapping her unconscious before fucking her prone, slack body, tossing another hundy on her, and walking out into the icy Minnesota night, leaving his assistant to promise Mandy that her kid would have a college fund, one of dozens of kids O'Reilly is now putting through school, O'Reilly said, "So assaults against — people come into the club, and then they rough up the girls? They get drunk and they rough them up?"

Despite trying to insist that a stripper's life is sleazy and the club patrons are bad, the interview was interwoven with clips of really hot strippers in pretty clean lookin' places. And you know O'Reilly got wood so fast his crew rolled their eyes at having to edit out the thumping sounds under the desk when Jordan told O'Reilly, "[E]very stripper wants to shake your hand and give you a hug, you personally, because of the work you've done with Jessica's Law. OK, every single one of them," in reference to O'Reilly's bullying and degradation in support of passing a law in every state for harsher penalties for sex crimes against children.

Back in his office, the Factor taping done for the day, O'Reilly took out the loofa glove and coconut oil and faced his large, framed photo of Jessica Lunsford and thanked her before unzipping his pants, putting on the glove and inhaling deeply the tropical scent of the oil. He'll have to get his assistant to make a bunch of wallet-sized pics of him next to the photo, he thought as he took out his chafed member, closing his eyes and leaning back, beginning to stroke himself once again, so he can sign the pics to put in the thongs of the strippers instead of dollar bills.


Houston Postponed:
Well, the headline pretty much says it all. The Rude Pundit's dates in Houston, scheduled for August 4-5, are postponed until a later time, hopefully in the fall. Hopefully close to the election when the Rude Pundit could go to a potential Tom DeLay rally of doom.
Rude on the Radio:
The Rude Pundit will be on the radio tonight at 7 p.m. EST on WPVM-FM in Asheville, North Carolina, one of the Rude Pundit's favorite towns. He will be the not-so-rude (although possibly bleeped) guest on the program "Tips for Political Bloggers," hosted by Paul Van Heden.

You can click over to the station's website and listen in. In a week or so, the show will be archived for your techno-mixing pleasure.
Not About Israel:
Tell you what: the Rude Pundit's not gonna pretend to understand the what's and why's of the new two-front war Israel is fighting. It'd be like saying the Rude Pundit understands what it feels like to have one's clitoris tickled. There's only so much one get one's head around and the Rude Pundit'd rather not spout knee-jerk bullshit like: Israel should defend itself from terrorist savages, or, its converse, bloodthirsty Israel was lookin' for an excuse to start a regional war. (He's damn sure, though, that bombing the shit out of civilians who don't give a fuck about Hezbollah ain't gonna do a whole helluva lot of good, just as he's pretty sure that kidnapping soldiers and constantly threatening the neighborhood bully ain't a good idea, either.) Instead, what the Rude Pundit can say is this:

You remember the raid on Entebbe? Sure ya do, considering that this past July 4 was the thirtieth anniversary of it. Quick review: pro-Palestinian hijackers took over an Air France plane leaving Israel, forced it to land at Entebbe Airport in Uganda, where, aided by Idi Amin's government, they held 100 people hostage until a commando force from Israel came in, killed all the hijackers and a bunch of Ugandan soldiers, and saved all but three of the hostages. When Jimmy Carter faced the Iranian hostage crisis a few years later, everyone wanted him to pull off an Entebbe-type attack, which ultimately ended up in the sandstorm debacle. But, man, how we all were taught to worship Israeli ballsiness and toughness, as if we can say, "Fuck negotiation; let's kick some ass." It was, of course, an oversimplification of the situation, since Israel was negotiating with Amin and was prepared to give in to the hijackers' prisoner release demands if military action failed or was not possible.

So many on the right just fuckin' love it when Israel gets all rocket-y, cheering Israel on and not giving a good goddamn that, except for the constant repetition of the phrase "road map," the Bush administration has been a non-player in peace negotiations for some time. Bill "No, Having Been Alan Keyes' Senate Campaign Manager Shouldn't Have Any Bearing on My Credibility" Kristol masturbated loudly and mightily about it on Fox "News" yesterday, squeezing his balls and yowling, "[T]his aggression is a great opportunity to begin resuming the offensive against the terrorist groups. Israel is fighting four of our five enemies in the Middle East, in a sense. Iran, Syria, sponsors of terror; Hezbollah and Hamas."

This was just before Juan Williams, looking on in disgust at the tumescent cock of Kristol about to spray a concupiscent Chris Wallace with neocon jizz, slapped The Weekly Standard editor's dickhead and said, "[Y]ou just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. You wanted us in Iraq. Now you want us in Iran. Now you want us to get into the Middle East...[To you] Everybody is weak in the aftermath of Sharon, and so everybody has to prove what a man they are in the Middle East, including — you’re saying, why doesn’t the United States take this hard, unforgiving line?" Kristol, his ejaculation ruined, tucked his half-flaccid pecker back in his pants and shook his head in disgust; he'd have to wait for Israel or the United States to start bombing Iran or Syria before he could get it up again.

Williams also said, "Well, the hard and unforgiving line has been, we don’t talk to anybody. We don’t talk to Hamas. We don’t talk to Hezbollah. We’re not going to talk to Iran. Where has it gotten us, Bill?" These are sentiments also expressed by Joe Biden on Meet the Press, that it's not weakness for the most powerful nation to talk, to offer support to, say, the newly elected government of Lebanon back in 2005, when it might have mattered.

When George Bush stood next to Vladimir Putin this past weekend, Putin felt free to degrade the entire Iraq mission, leaving Bush flopping around onstage, in front of the media and the world, like a trout on a sun-drenched dock. The world knows that the Bush administration has wrecked the United States' credibility. All that's left is raw projection of power. And that is the weakest position of all.

Truly, powerful nations can start and fight wars. The truly powerful ones end them.


A Word or Two About the Whole Ann Coulter Plagiarism Blow-Up (Special Saturday Post):
The bottom line is, as always, the bottom line.

By any rationally-held definition, Ann Coulter plagiarized a great deal of her "book," Godless, as well as parts of (at least) several columns. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either profiting off Coulter or delusional or ignorant (willfully or genetically), or some unholy combination of two or three of the above. There's a thousand and one excuses you can give as to why plagiarism occurs, but, at the end of the day, you either did it or you didn't. Coulter did it. If you want a full explanation of how Coulter's "sloppy research" or "confused citations" actually are part of her plagiarism, e-mail the Rude Pundit, and he'll explain.

Her publisher has decided to remain righteously by Coulter's side, as is her syndicate, and, really, unless someone threatens to sue one or the other because Coulter stole from them, there's no reason for them to abandon her. It ain't gonna affect the bottom line, not as long as Newsmax is hawking the piece of shit books for five bucks each, sub-Wal-Mart prices (just agree to get four issues of their shitty magazine crapped into your mailbox for free). And as for any pie in the sky hope that maybe "ethics" or "integrity" would cause Universal Press Syndicate to toss Coulter, well, "integrity" is to Ann Coulter as "cleanliness" is to a dung beetle. Maybe more newspapers will follow the lead of the Cedar Rapids Gazette and drop Coulter because she's bugfuck insane.

The most fascinating part of this whole affair has been the reaction from many in Right Blogsylvania of "well, they couldn't attack her arguments, so they trumped up this smear on Coulter." Goddamn, there's entire websites devoted to attacking Coulter's "arguments," which are something not unakin to the mad bleatings of a psychotic ewe. (As the Rude Pundit has said before, it's absolutely useless arguing with Coulter. She has no real point of view and virtually everything she says is a lie or completely out of context.) As for "smearing" Coulter with plagiarism, well, fuck, how often has the charge of plagiarism been slung at popular right-wing writers, in a way that got traction beyond a blog or two? Not a whole fuck of a lot. Huh, that might mean there's some "credibility" to the charge.

But, no, no. At the end of the day, the vast majority of those on the right would rather cling to the crazy Ann Coulter, as she bespeaks the depravity and hate that underlies their sexually repressed violent urges and craven greed. They will simply ignore even the most basic questions, like "Do you, who judges the morality of so many others, have sex, Ann Coulter?" And they will ignore every intensely dated reference to Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick (there's like one a chapter in Godless - really) and every description of the ways in which various people can be killed or be blown up in a terrorist act. They will circle the wagons around each of their own that fails and fucks-up.

So, while the good, dogged Ron Brynaert of Raw Story will no doubt keep up the hunt (and the Rude Pundit will still spot check), we can be briefly, smugly satisfied that for a few days, Ann Coulter shit cannonballs wondering if she was gonna have to go to a less exclusive salon for her blonde dye job and Nazi-symbol bikini wax.


Arlen Specter - the Senate's Bottom:
So let's say, and why not, that you're a ripped gay man and you're cruisin' Washington Square West in Philadelphia, lookin' to do some fuckin'. You fresh-shaved your balls and your head and you got the black leather vest on, the studs, like a fuckin' signal flare, indicating that you are pitchin' tonight. As you hop on your Harley, you have one mantra for the evening: "Hey, that's great, but I'm still gonna fuck you." Because you are such a heapin' helpin' of man-meat, you pretty much get to place that cock anywhere you want. In the ass of some closeted soap opera star or in the mouth of a local legislator or on top of the head of some fucked-up guy whose father put his dick on his head in the shower one day when the guy was just a kid (thanks, Dad). You get the picture.

So you're doin' your best cruisin', hittin' the Bike Shop, the steamhouse, wondering who's gonna be luck enough to get a load of your man goo blown on his butt cheeks tonight. Suddenly, in a skanky back room leather bar, the kind without a sign, just surrepititious whispers lettin' you know it's there, you're approached by a wimpy little prison punkette who looks like he's just started workin' out and wants to give those muscles a try. He's kind of a twink, but then again, you kinda like hurtin' the twinks. The twink asks you what you like. You tell him all kinds of shit, involving scrotum pulleys and arm-sized dildos, things that make the twink sweat just thinking about, but mostly, you just wanna fuck some new meat. The twink doesn't say much, but wants to ride your Harley, says it gets him off, and you take him back to your Center City loft.

The twink says he's not really into all those implements and tools. It's late - you're willing to forgo the sphincter-spreader. You say, "Hey, that's great, but I'm still gonna fuck you." You get ready to throw him onto the stairs, but the twink says he wants the bed. You say, "Hey, that's great, but I'm still gonna fuck you." The twink says he'd like a big glass of gin first. You hand it to him and say, "Hey, that's great, but I'm still gonna fuck you." The twink says you're being rough, but you say, "You wanted to be the bottom; now you know I'm not raping your ass." You got him face down on the bed, ass high, ready for you, and the twink says he wants you to use a condom. You are not gonna let this little twink bitch get in the way of your pleasure, and you say, "Why don't we say it's an option?"

The twink thinks for a moment, prostate quivering in anticipation, and says, "Fine, go ahead and ream me out."

So it was that Arlen Specter "negotiated" with the White House over the oversight of warrantless NSA spying, if by "negotiation," you mean, "Surrender." In essence, Specter wore down the White House with his incredible compromise-creatin' skills and got the Bush administration to agree that it had the option to get the FISA court to say whether or not the program was constitutional. That way, of course, nothing would "lessen the institutional authority of the president," as Specter said. Oh, and in another magnificent use of his powers of persuasion, Specter got the White House to agree that they didn't have to make any decisions made by the FISA court public. In other words, Arlen Specter walked up to White House and agreed to let the White House do whatever it wanted, with the extra kick in the nuts that it has the glossy cover of congressional approval.

Maybe DC negotiations are too subtle for the rest of us to understand, but it sure seems like Specter walked into the dragon's cave, got his limbs burned to stumps, and declared he had stopped the beast. Specter added that this means the President doesn't have a "blank check." Well, no, Bush would pretty much have a signed and dated check with the figure left empty.

Leaving Washington, Specter, his work in DC done, heads to Philly to find that bald leather guy one more time. A he-whore's work is never done.


Ken Lay's Ashes:
Already, just a week after his timely death, Ken Lay's corpse should be rotting in its grave. There was a good chance that insects would have already made their way in, soon to be hungrily burrowing into Ken Lay's flesh before it turned to jerky. His clogged arteries killed him, but they wouldn't have stopped the eggs from being laid in his body, from the worms and maggots disintegrating him, leaving him quite the opposite of the shell of a man he had become. Unfortunately, though, Ken Lay was cremated, his body boiled away and the bones crushed to make what we call "ashes."

At his memorial service, Lay was compared, no shit, to JFK, Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., and racist dragging victim James Byrd. Said the Reverend Doctor William Lawson, "Ken Lay was neither black nor poor as James Byrd was. But I'm angry because he was the victim of a lynching." Except, you know, without the ripping off of skin and limbs in an agonizingly painful act, and with luxury houses in Aspen. Oh, and apparently, Lay was crucified. Except, you know, without the whole nails going through his body aspect and with beluga caviar.

And...you know what? Fuck it. The Rude Pundit was gonna go on a bit about what a wimpy piece of shit Ken Lay was, how everyone talking about what a great man he was sounded like the people who say that George Bush is very personable if you forget all about the whole "destroying the nation" shit. But instead, let's be brief here: Fuck Ken Lay. Fucker got off easy. The Rude Pundit's sickened writing this and sickened by the idea of a memorial for Lay attended by a former President. The proper memorial service would have been to hand his corpse over to former Enron employees so they could rip it into pieces and burn it for fuel in their homes.

More later.


Three Scenes From a Detention Camp:
In honor of the Bush administration's seeming reversal of policy on detainees and the Geneva Conventions, as well as a deep appreciation of California Republican Duncan Hunter, chair of the House Armed Service committee, who says that detainees have been treated in too lax a fashion, here's some excerpts from the report by the Center for Constitutional Rights on what the detainees and others say happens to prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. In poetic form:

Mopping Up
First they cuffed him with his arms in front
of his legs. After approximately half an hour they cuffed him
with his arms behind his legs. After another half hour they forced him
onto his knees, and cuffed his hands
behind his legs. Later still, they forced him on his stomach,
bent his knees, and cuffed his hands and feet together.
At some point, O.K. urinated on the floor and on himself.

Military Police poured pine oil on the floor and on O.K.,
and then, with O.K. lying on his stomach and his hands and feet
cuffed together behind him, the Military Police dragged him
back and forth through the mixture of urine and pine oil
on the floor. Later, O.K. was put back in his cell,
without being allowed
a shower
or change of clothes.
He was not given a change of clothes for two days.

Prayer Pants
Knowing that Arab men are required to be clothed
While praying, military police ordered all 48 prisoners
In Romeo Block to give up their pants.

Mr. Ait Idir told the guards that, as a Muslim,
He would be unable to pray without his pants on,
And so he beggd them not to force him to undress...

A colonel - with a flower on his hat - spoke with him
And demanded the pants. The officer told him the IRF would
Forcibly take the pants. The Colonel would make no accomodation

To allow Mustafa to pray in his pants. Mr. Ait Idir offered to
Give up the pants if the officer promised to return them for prayers.
The officer said the pants would not be returned for prayers.

When the officer left to summon the IRF, Mr. Ait Idir feared the soldiers
Would leave him naked. He tore off a portion of his pants
And left it in a corner of his cell...

The IRF came. Before entering they sprayed tear gas into
His cell...After the spraying stopped, the IRF - in full protective gear -
Charged into the cell...

Fake Limbs
The plight of people
Who have had limbs amputated
Is among the saddest of the
Conditions of this
Ugly camp.

I have twice been housed
Next to prisoners with
Prosthetic limbs. It was one of
The most depressing experiences
I have endured.

The prisoners were effectively
Blackmailed by their interrogators
Who said that they
Had to cooperate in order
To get their prosthetic devices back.

They are denied the toilet chairs,
The sticks they need to walk
And even the cream they need
To ensure that the wound will not
Become infected and inflamed.

The pain is apparently particularly
Great when they are denied
The necessary prosthetic socks,
So that the the wounds are exposed
To the extreme cold

Of the cells.


Praying Against People With Alzheimer's (Part of the "Christ Weary" Series):
As we get all geared up for the great and mighty Senate debate on stem cell research, over the Arlen Specter-sponsored "Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005(ish)," a bill already passed by the just-for-a-second sane House of Representatives, a bill that President Bush has vowed through Karl Rove to use his firstest everest veto on, it's always good to think about what God might want. And the Rude Pundit's got a line on that, because, as he's said before, the Rude Pundit's a member, under a nom de rude, of the Family Research Council's Super Duper Prayer Team.

Every week, we members of the Super Duper Prayer Team receive our prayin' orders in our e-mail inboxes, and we are some goddamned prayin' sons of bitches. This past week, glory hallelujah, praise his name in the highest, motherfuckers, our prayers were answered. Who'd of thunk that we'd be implored to "Praise God for good news from New York and Georgia" on gay marriage? Georgia, sure, but New York? Oh, shit, big Motherfucker in the sky moves Hisself in some mysterious motherfuckin' ways. Still, that battle ain't over by a long shot. Says Tony "Watch Me On Fox, Everybody" Perkins, "Wholesale abandonment of Biblical marriage, even by church denominations, is evidence of a dying culture." Now, the Rude Pundit's not sure if the "dying culture" is Christian rock "music" or Thomas Kinkade "paintings," but Perkins not only wants us to keep a-prayin', but to enlist others to the squeezy-handed cause: "Please help us enlist more 'prayer warriors.' We have several thousand praying men and women on the 'prayer team,' but want to see 'the team' grow. God's keys to national healing are our humility, prayer and repentance." Yeah, bitches, be all proud and show off your humility.

Of course, our attention is drawn to Arlen Specter's stem cell research bill, where Perkins asks, nay, yells, "May God intervene to stop passage of Specter's anti-life bill!" Now, it seems like God took his best shot at Arlen Specter, but apparently Satan wanted him alive. Also, we should be focusing our prayer energy on Little Ricky Santorum and Sam "My Last Name Isn't Code For Anal Sex" Brownback's bill on "fetus farming," which, strangely, doesn't involve tilling the earth and jacking off on eggs before covering them with soil. The Rude Pundit's tried it. It doesn't work. And there's no federal subsidy available for it. Instead, the bill just says that you can't make a fetus for the purpose of taking its lungs away later. (That'd be the job of the cigarette manufacturers - where's the rimshot when you need it?)

Perkins always gives the Super Duper Prayer Team Bible passages to guide us in our prayers. In this case, he goes with the obvious commandment quote, "Thou shalt not kill," and then a section of Psalm 18 - verses 25-28, which is some kind of blah, blah, blah bullshit about God smiling at smiling people and frowning at mean meanies. The real money shit is later in the Psalm, starting in verse 36 when David says to God, "Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed. I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet...Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me. They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the LORD, but he answered them not. Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets."

Aw, shit, yeah, that's where we should be directed to pray. That's a motherfuckin' bill-stoppin' intervention. Do us the Israelite on sinnin' asses. 'Cause if there's one thing the goodly, godly religious right has taught us is that it's okay to for some to die in order to save others, like sacrifices in a war. Of course, that kind of logic is exactly what's being used to try to stop stem cell research. But that'd require rational thought. And who has time for that when there's all this prayin' to get done.


Did You Honestly Expect Any Other Outcome? (Updated):
Universal Press Syndicate, which allows Ann Coulter to inflict herself on about 100 newspapers a week, has rejected charges of plagiarism against Coulter. Said Lee Salem, Universal Press president, "There are only so many ways you can rewrite a fact and minimal matching text is not plagiarism." Also, he said, "Universal Press Syndicate is confident in the ability of Ms. Coulter, an attorney and frequent media target, to know when to make attribution and when not to." 'Cause attorneys would never make a "mistake" like plagiarism, now, would they.

Remember, gang: Plagiarism is also not giving credit to where you got your material. And as for Salem's "so many ways you can rewrite a fact," here ya go:

Sigh. One last time. Here's how Coulter described a work of art in a June 2005 column: "A show titled 'DEGENERATE WITH A CAPITAL D' featuring a display of the remains of the artist's own aborted baby."

Here's how the Heritage Foundation had described it years earlier: "'Degenerate with a Capital D'...included 'Alchemy Cabinet' by Shawn Eichman, featuring the remains of the artist's own aborted baby."

Here's how the American Life League described the same work: "her own dismembered second-trimester aborted baby next to the obligatory twisted wire coat hanger."

You can rewrite facts. You just have to make the effort. But, mostly, it's just easier not to try.

Man, that cash-spewin' teat tastes all corporately creamy, don't it?

Update: And take a look at what happened to Baltimore Sun columnist Michael Olesker back in January when he was accused of writing columns that didn't have attribution for the way in which he rewrote facts. Man, the bar has to be set mighty, mighty low for Coulter.
(Olesker story from Are You Effin' Kidding Me?.)

(Yeah, yeah, non-Coulter shit was promised, but we'll move on tomorrow.)
Good Thing Ann Coulter Ain't a Dark-Skinned College Freshman:
From April 2006:
Steve Ross of Crown Publishers on Harvard student (and former Little, Brown author) Kaavya Viswanathan's plagiarism, in How Opal Mehta Got Kissed..., of several books put out by Crown, from an article titled "Harvard author's apology not accepted": "Based on the scope and character of the similarities, it is inconceivable that this was a display of youthful innocence or an unconscious or unintentional act." Ross went on to call Viswanathan guilty of "literary identity theft" for the "identical language and/or common scene or dialogue structure" between Viswanathan's work and two books by Crown author Megan McCafferty. This was in April of this year.

An example of Viswanathan's plagiarism:
From McCafferty: "Tanning was the closest that Sara came to having a hobby, other than gossiping, that is. Even the webbing between her fingers was the color of coffee without cream. Even for someone with her Italian heritage and dark coloring, it was unnatural and alienlike."

From Viswanathan: "It was obvious that next to casual hookups, tanning was her extracurricular activity of choice. Every visible inch of skin matched the color and texture of her Louis Vuitton backpack. Even combined with her dark hair and Italian heritage, she looked deep-fried."

Some examples are closer to verbatim; others are less so.

From July 2006:
Steve Ross on Crown author Ann Coulter's alleged plagiarism in Godless: "We have reviewed the allegations of plagiarism surrounding Godless and found them to be as trivial and meritless as they are irresponsible. Any author is entitled to do what Ann Coulter has done in the three snippets cited: research and report facts." Ross also points to the "nineteen pages of hundreds of endnotes" as proof that there is no plagiarism. He does not address anything beyond the "three snippets" cited by the New York Post.

A non-Post example of Coulter's plagiarism:

From the Parents Television Council: "[T]he presiding Judge said that it was 'inconceivable' that Tiffany Eunick’s injuries were caused by Lionel Tate mimicking wrestling moves. Indeed, since the trial ended, Lionel Tate’s new lawyers have filed court papers in which they admit that the 'wrestling defense' was, in their words, 'bogus.'"

From Coulter: "[T]he judge called it 'inconceivable' that Tiffany's injuries were caused by wrestling moves. After the trial, Tate's new lawyers admitted that the 'wrestling defense' was 'bogus.'"

Some examples are closer to verbatim; others are less so.

Steve Ross is a greedy, ass-covering prick who'll suck the cock of Hypocrisy as hard as he can if it means squeezing an extra penny out of his pathetic excuses for books.

(Tip o' the blog to rude reader Michael H. for the heads up.)

More non-Coulter rudeness later.
The Rude Pundit Live in Houston:
You heard it right. The Rude Pundit's gonna be knockin' on Tom DeLay's back fence.

See the Rude Pundit, blow-up dolls in tow, performing The Year of Living Rudely, featuring mucho new (non-CD) material, at the Axiom Theatre in Houston, Texas on August 4th and 5th.

The August 4th performance will be a benefit for the Harris County Young Democrats. The August 5th performance will be a benefit for the Rude Pundit.

More details (including ticket prices and such) as they become available.

Rude thanks (so far) to Jeff Miller of Infernal Bridegroom Productions and Ryan Goodland for the arrangements.

By the way, if you or your organization or theatre wants to talk about the Rude Pundit performing (with a new show in development, The Road To Rude), get in touch through the e-mail.

Oh, and Canada? The Rude Pundit'll be seeing you in a few months. More details later.


All Coulter Plagiarism Allegations in One Post (Bumped Up For Your Weekend Reading Pleasure):
Update: The biggest problem with nearly all of the denials of the plagiarism charges against Coulter is that those doing the denying (including Crown Publishing) are basing their assessments on the examples from the New York Post article alone. It's actually a great deal more than what John Barrie's software disovered. To wit:

From the Rude Pundit:
July 1, 2005 - on Coulter plagiarizing descriptions of NEA-funded art.

June 9, 2006
- on Coulter plagiarizing in the first chapter of Godless.

June 13, 2006
- on Coulter plagiarizing part of a 60 Minutes transcript.

June 14, 2006
- on Coulter plagiarizing while discussing the Willie Horton case.

June 14, 2006 - on Coulter plagiarizing on page 37 of Godless.

From Raw Story:

July 20, 2005
- Following up on NEA-funded art description plagiarism.

June 14, 2006 - on Coulter plagiarizing a list of adult stem cell treatments.

From the New York Post:
July 2, 2006 - Reporter Philip Recchia gets John Barrie to run Coulter's book through Barrie's plagiarism identifying software, confirming some of the Rude Pundit's findings and discovering more examples.

From Media Matters:
July 6, 2006 - follows up on the Post article and the Rude Pundit's work.

That's where we stand. Is it enough to get Coulter's book recalled and her column cancelled? We shall see.


How Defending Ann Coulter Is Like Defending a Serial Killer:
When historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was accused of plagiarism for her 1987 book The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, fifteen years after its publication, her early defense was her "extensive" research and citations. Ann Coulter's publisher, Crown, is making the same case, saying that Coulter's book Godless has "19 pages of endnotes."

And it's true, oh, so true. There's endnotes upon endnotes in this heinously awful collection of Coulter's columns strung together by the mucus of venomous spittle. Man, you couldn't even begin to check all these endnotes, nor would you, because, you know, you expect that an editor or, say, a publisher would have checked all this before. In her last "book," Slander, Coulter couldn't talk enough about how the thing was filthy with endnotes, which, she and others asserted, made it all valid and true and right. The fact-checkers out there can address what will inevitably turn out to be a mind-bogglingly random tossing of sources in at the end of Godless.

The problem, of course, is not what's cited. As Goodwin learned, it's not what you cite that makes you a plagiarist. It's what you don't cite. And, really, open up just about any random page in Godless, and, sure enough, there'll be uncited information, which, while not the word-for-word plagiarism that gets everyone all hard and ready to ejaculate at the book burning, is still sloppy and just objectively (you heard the Rude Pundit: "objectively") wrong.

Like, for instance, pages 204 and 205, in her chapter where Coulter supposedly disproves evolution. She summarizes and quotes from Michael Behe's evolution-questioning book Darwin's Black Box, yet her endnotes contain not a single mention of Behe's book. One might assume she never actually read Behe's difficult work. Then she quotes two evolution-supporting biolgists, Tom Cavalier-Smith and Robert Dorit, who "concede Behe's point." Yet, again, she offers no citation for these quotes. Could it be because what she's actually doing is quoting Behe quoting them from an article first published at the creationist Discovery Institute's website?

The entire book has page after page of uncited material, no matter how much she actually cites stuff elsewhere. To say that her endnotes prove her innocence is not unlike saying that the guy next door went his whole life without killing anyone until he blew a brain gasket and went on a ten-state hobo-stabbing spree. Crown Publishing is full of shit and knows it (unless you wanna publish a book by the Rude Pundit; then let's do lunch - you know how to get in touch), trying to protect a cash cow from being gutted. And it doesn't matter if it's just negligence or active theft and obfuscation. Coulter appears on television and is treated like an expert whose opinion is at least vaguely informed by more than a desire to keep appearing on television. (For, indeed, Coulter is the crack whore of the news networks.) Every network gives her the imprimatur of being knowledgeable.

So why has the Rude Pundit spent so much time on Coulter's plagiarism when there's so many other more important issues out there? Simple enough: because it's fun. And in the midst of summertime, we can all agree that a little bit o' fun is a good thing, especially if the end result is something positive, like daily jogs on the beach'll help you get rid of that spare tire or that tearing down Ann Coulter will make the United States a much more pleasant place.
Briefly Noted: The Awesomest Thing Said on CNN This Morning:
"Let's listen to this moment of silence." -- Carol Costello on London's observation of the one-year anniversary of the terrorist bombings of that city's transit system.


Coulter Plagiarism Goes Mainstream, But a Brother Can't Catch a Break:
With the New York Post article on Ann Coulter's plagiarism, Ann Coulter's cuttin' and pastin' ways have made it onto MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and other more journalistically-inclined places like Talking Points Memo's Muckraker. It's gotten to the point where Coulter's column-distributing syndicate is looking into it.

And the Rude Pundit's fuckin' thrilled that John Barrie, whose software unearthed more plagiarism than the Rude Pundit did, is gettin' mad props (although the poor New York Post intern who had to scan every page of Coulter's book into a digital document certainly deserves some credit). Let's keep this in mind, as Barrie said on Countdown: the Post asked for this to be done. Barrie didn't do it on his own. This was a New York Post investigation of Coulter's plagiarism. It's an important distinction.

At the end of the day, the Rude Pundit ain't John Aravosis of Americablog, and Coulter's plagiarism is not as important as man-whore Jeff Gannon's open access to the White House or the revelation that one could buy someone's cell phone records, things Aravosis uncovered. And the Rude Pundit's aware that the mainstream media outlets don't wanna give blogs any more credit than they absolutely have to because they're such pussies about blogs instead of welcoming them as sources for information.

Still, the Rude Pundit did break this story about plagiarism in Godless weeks ago and in a Coulter column a year ago, with examples that get cited constantly by others. Philip Recchia of the Post did a lot of the heavy lifting, but it was the wide mention, at Gawker and Huffington Post, as well as at MSNBC's The Scoop, of the Rude Pundit's June 9 post that really got the ball rolling on this story, along with the follow-up work by Raw Story. So, how about a nod over to Left Blogsylvania, Olbermann or Editor and Publisher?

The ultimate goal is a universal, objective good, no matter how it happens: bringing down Coulter. But if something gives more people a reason to join in the rude party here, then the Rude Pundit wants as many invitations out there as possible.