Bush Says We Better Beware of Enemies Because "They Believe Things":
It was one of those head-shaking, goddamned stupid statements that just makes you wanna disappear into a Bolivian village and tear up your guts with coca leaf moonshine and overcooked wild pig until you're so doubled over and shitting out your stomach lining that you don't give a fuck about anything but the sweet, slick kiss of death to take away the pain. Here's the President yesterday at a campaign dinner for Tennessee Republicans: "We face an enemy that has an ideology; they believe things." You got that? We're not facing a bunch of blank slates lashing out at all tabulas not rasa. They actually believe "things." What sorts of things, you may ask? George W. Bush has the answer: "The best way to describe their ideology is to relate to you the fact that they think the opposite of the way we think."

Now, a cynical person might respond, "Oh, really? So they don't think that it's okay to hold people without charge or access to genuine legal processes, to torture them to get any information no matter how outdated or worthless, to lie to their people about the progress of a war, to use force to impose an ideology on the population?" You get the idea.

A sarcastic person might say, "So, like they shit on plates and eat their dinners out of toilets? They marry their goats and milk their women? They call fucking their females 'jacking off' and yanking one out 'fucking'? They sit inside their televisions and watch the outside world through the screens? They screech words of love and whisper their curses?"

See, while the White House amps up the 9/11 rhetoric in the coming days (Bush mentioned it no less than five times in his speech; Cheney brought the 9/11 noise about a dozen times in his speech Tuesday at Offut Air Force Base), they're also amping up the demonizing propaganda: each of these things is like the other - al-Qaeda, Iraq, and, coming soon, Iran. There's no room for differentiation. Call it the Elision of Evil, the Axis of Yadda-Yadda-Yadda. When you're up against an ideology - when you're fighting theory and thought instead of people and nations - you don't have to worry about the niceties of reality like the lives of actual embodied people who bleed. You only need to worry about point A and point Z. B through Y are for non-believers. You only need to offer your own contrapuntal ideology.

And what is the ideology we're offering? Sure, sure, it's "hope" and "freedom" and all those gosh-darn-Miss-America's-pretty type words. But Bush lets you know who's in on it and who's out: "The United States of America must understand that freedom is universal, that there is an Almighty, and the great gift of that Almighty to each man and woman in this world is the desire to be free." You get that? The USA "must understand...that there is an Almighty." And that Almighty has, through its great and magical Almightiness, given every little non-almighty one of us a present. So, one might ask, like, does that mean, absent belief in an Almighty (or absent an Almighty altogether), we don't desire freedom? Atheism equals slavery? (And this doesn't even start to get into the clusterfuck of "what Almighty are you talkin' 'bout, Georgie?")

So our job, then, see, if we are capable of understanding the Almighty in the way the President apparently does, is only to reveal to all people of the world the gift of the Almighty. You might call it "evangelizing" democracy. It's not war, you see. We're just putting the missles into missionary work.

(For real fun, since the administration is doing its damndest to cast this war as a worthy successor to World War II, check out the vast array of details in FDR's fireside chat from two years into that war. Notice how he at least acted as if the people he was talking to were adults. Notice how he talks about fighting to stop "aggression." Oh, and by the way, now that we're all into the "Islamic fascist" name-calling, just so we can evoke WWII, let us remember that Mussolini actually founded the "Fascist Party" in Italy. When we fought fascists in the 1940s, it was because we were fighting people who called themselves by that name.)


New Orleans Has No Future:
Once he drove around and walked the haunted, empty streets of New Orleans, the Rude Pundit lost all hope for the city. When, just a couple of weeks ago, he went through two of the most devastated neighborhoods, Lakeview and the Lower Ninth Ward, he expected to see construction crews and clean-up crews and road crews every few blocks. What he saw was sporadic house-gutting and even more sporadic construction and only one actual city road crew.

It is often said (at least on TV) that the first 24-48 hours after a crime are the most important in being able to solve a case. That after the initial rush of information, things slow to a trickle, other cases come in, evidence becomes harder to find. What about in the coming years after Hurricane Katrina? If the first year after the storm didn't become punctuated by a massive reconstruction operation, when will it happen? Or, as it seems, will it just be haphazard until someone Trump-like finally says, "Enough. Give it to me"?

Sheriff Jack Stephens of St. Bernard Parish probably spoke for most of America when he said this morning on CNN, "We feel like we've been let down again. That we think that Mobile, Alabama, Gulfport, Mississippi, Biloxi, Long Beach, Waveland, Ocean Spring, Slidell, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, New Orleans, Calcasieu, Cameron are all worth more than Baghdad."

Just like every visit to the Gulf Coast by President Bush stinks of flop sweat and desperation, of trying to overcompensate for his aloofness and absence early in the crisis, every year that passes after this one may have feints at making things better, but, like all those feckless visits, very little of worth will occur. Besides, inevitably, the next disaster will come along, perhaps the next war, and that initial momentum will be a distant memory as we try to learn to care about someplace else.

No, today's episode of bloggery is not a funny little monkey post. It's not even particularly insightful or rude. It's just sad. Because New Orleans is gone, man, gone, as are so many little towns around it. It's gone because of the bureaucratic nightmare and rank incompetence on every level of government, because of the war-tightened/tax-slashed purse strings of the federal government, because of groups of people in New Orleans who are clinging to a hope of renewal that won't come and are preventing progress even at the edge of a bulldozer, because no one wants to build on what's still there, because there is no genuine will in a government that sees private enterprise and charity as the leaders in rebuilding, entities that are, for the most part, unaccountable to anyone.

The anniversary is done. In the coming year, for New Orleans, more people will move away; opportunists, good and bad, will move in; those who can afford the contractors whose prices have skyrocketed past what meager insurance and federal assistance has offered will rebuild homes so that the best blocks will be checkerboard neighborhoods; crime will rise; the poor will be told to be happy in their trailers; water and electricity will still be unavailable to many places. At some point, someone in the EPA will admit that, yes, the ground, the water are contaminated.

None of these predictions is awfully daring. They're pretty mundane. But they're nauseatingly probable. If you've ever experienced the steady glare of the Louisiana sun, you know that despair is just a sweat drop's distance from hopelessness.

(Tomorrow: Back to the funny monkey posts.)


Katrina and the Federal Government - the Problem and the Solution:
Watching George Bush speak yesterday in front of one of the only rebuilt homes in a Biloxi, Mississippi neighborhood was something akin to watching that flaunting, flouncing prison video of Richard Speck, who killed 8 women, prancing around in his prison cell wearing only panties, sporting hormonally-induced tits, fucking a fellow inmate, and snorting coke, saying, "If they only knew how much fun I was having in here, they would turn me loose." It was creepy, depraved, and sadly unsurprising, and it left the Rude Pundit wondering why he had to see it at all.

For, as with so, so many things, Bush made the slow recovery of the Gulf Coast about himself, demonstrating nothing so much as the ability to bend that svelte body over and fellate himself, methodically, mechanically, with nary a grunt or pause to indicate that he blew a load into his own mouth other than a surrepititious twitch and lip wipe. The constant invocation of himself was sickening: "I'm glad" and "I want" and "Laura and I really care for the people whose lives have been affected," one of those so-obvious-it's-depressing sentiments.

Then he said, "We understand the trauma." And someone in that audience, maybe the "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney" guy if he was around, needed at that point to answer the President with, "Oh, fuckin' really? So you lost your house, your job, and your neighbors overnight last year and have sat around waiting for some government somewhere to stop paying everyone but you to get the fuckin' work really going on making something like a life again until the next Katrina or Camille comes around and blows us the fuck off the map again in a few years? Is that the kind of trauma you're talking about? Or maybe you're just talking about that time the servants didn't bring you seconds on ice cream fast enough that one Thanksgiving?"

The blissful ignorance and goddamned willful blinders of the President to the reality of the entire Gulf Coast post-Katrina gets to be so nauseating sometimes that you think that the entire region at some point ought to just descend into madness. The problem, of course, is the problem that affects every goddamned aspect of Bush administration policy: the refusal to believe that government can be an entity for public good in and of itself (other than, of course, in issues of morality). Here's Bush once again pushing private enterprise: "We want to help. We want to help that optimism succeed. And so I signed legislation that creates what's called the Gulf Opportunity Zones. That means if you invest in this part of the world, you get tax breaks. In other words, they're using the tax code to say, come and invest your capital here." All fine and dandy for some point in the future. Bush wants local solutions to local problems: "I said, you develop the plan. We're not going to do it for you because you know better the local needs, and Mississippi stepped up." However, this ain't a local issue, and treating it like one ghettoizes and isolates the region, cutting it off rhetorically from the rest of the nation, which is ponying up for the presumptive reconstruction of the region.

But the use of contractors and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors for so much of the work is gonna suck that money dry or divert it enough to make a sad situation even more catastrophic. Says a report from Corpwatch, "The clearest instances of waste in Gulf Coast reconstruction are the contracting pyramids schemes – layers of subcontracting that turn an easy profit for the many middlemen. This layering creates distance between corporations such as Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) and the subcontractor that ultimately performs the work. It allows KBR, for example, to plead ignorance when labor abuses are uncovered, as happened when a subcontractor was caught employing undocumented immigrants late last year and accused of mistreating them."

You keep hearing about things like Marshall Plans or some such shit. You want a solution? Here's one straight from Franklin Roosevelt, who the right is constantly trying to co-op to prop up their causes. Use the Tennessee Valley Authority as a model. The federal government, under an ideology that believed that one region's problems were the problems of the entire nation, not to mention the need for jobs in one of the worst hit areas in the Great Depression, created the TVA to bring the Tennessee Valley into the 20th century, provide wholesale-priced electricity to the poorest people, and help with flood control. Man, what pissed off conservatives and private power companies most was that it worked. And it would take until Ronald Reagan came along for people to actually fully believe that the federal government works against its interests because, you know, Reagan made the federal government work against the interests of the people.

Is it idealistic or, heavens forfend, communistic to say that if you take out the profit motive by eliminating the contractors and subcontractors from the payroll and just using the departments that the government has, like after Hurricane Camille, that the $110 billion wouldn't stretch a whole fuck of a lot further? So be it then. How dare it be suggested that the Gulf Coast might be served better by an active (read: non-Bush) federal government than by Halliburton.

Tomorrow: On the President's return to New Orleans - you know it's gonna be embarassing and worthless.


Strom Thurmond's Zombie Wanders the Lower Ninth:
The zombie corpse of Strom Thurmond has a taste for dark meat. The legend going around is that the animated and surprisingly spry body of the dead Dixiecrat-turned-Republican Senator roams the abandoned streets of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, searching the houses endlessly for bodies he can dine on. Indeed, some believe that there are bodies that will never be found because zombie Strom Thurmond has thoroughly engorged on them and digested them in his rotting guts. Whenever former residents of the Lower Ninth, scattered to the whims of evacuation buses and relatives, in Houston, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, want to scare their children, they say that zombie Strom Thurmond is gonna get them.

It wasn't like this, of course, early on in the disaster. Surely, the cataclysmic destruction of the neighborhood awoke the two-year dead man. His body, so filled with chemicals to keep him alive for the last decade or so of his life, was amazingly well-preserved, stronger even, from the rest. But it was a long walk for a zombie from a grave in Edgefield, South Carolina to New Orleans. In the time it took him to dig himself out and creep across five Southern states, the pictures and stories of the poor and black created something of a second storm in the political landscape, where government officials and pundits alike were asking what can be done to help the destitute, old and new, what can be done to stop us from having to see all this dark impoverishment, that it might actually require more than just hoping they disappear again.

But then zombie Strom Thurmond arrived in the Lower Ninth, haunting the mold covered houses, digging through rubble, finding the bodies that didn't float up, wrestling alligators for particularly fat tasty women he can fuck before engorging, pulling out the limbs of children from under fallen roofs, eating delicious flesh of the men, hiding from the occasional recovery team, sometimes even dragging a corpse he found behind a crushed car. Zombie Strom Thurmond is covetous of his African American meals.

As zombie Strom Thurmond dined on his damp delicacies, he helped reduce the images, the stories, the number of times we all had to hear about bodies being found in some horrible circumstance. And once the bodies disappeared, the backlash began against all that caring, all that revelation of the pathetic abandonment of the poor and black. It was as if zombie Strom Thurmond willed it into being: we showed we cared for a little while; now we can be true to ourselves.

And thus. And thus. And thus. And thus. So it was, so it shall ever be.

Zombie Strom Thurmond is loose now. He's still picking through the ruins of the Lower Ninth. He's become a bit more brazen, stomping around in daylight, moaning that he wants more, his hunger never dying, his body never decaying.


Political Protest, Star Fucker Edition:
So when Ned Lamont came out to speak last night at Moveon.org's book launch soiree and Katrina benefit at Crobar in New York, the Rude Pundit finally realized why the dude is actually kind of appealing. Up until he saw Lamont live, he just thought the Lieberspoiler was an awkward geeky-lookin' guy who happened to be a millionaire, Bill Gates without the charm. But, plied with an open bar and forced to stand for two hours before the show started (what the fuck? Was Axl Rose gonna play?), when Lamont took the stage in the middle of a set by Moby, all of a sudden the Rude Pundit realized that Lamont is the perfect father figure for the net generation.

Yeah, he is awkward and geeky-lookin', but he's also passionate without being overbearing about it, smart, and authoritative without being punitive, just like Gens Y and X would like their fathers to be. No wonder he kicked Lieberman's ass. Lieberman comes across as a scolding, creepy uncle to Lamont's daddy charms. Sure, Lamont probably can't dance, and you wouldn't wanna see him try, but at least he was hip enough to show up.

The evening itself was devoted to the publication, by Moveon.org, of the book, It Takes a Nation, and, while the title's supposed to invoke Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village, for the Rude Pundit, he kept thinking of Public Enemy's "It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back." The book itself is about the tens of thousands of people and families, organized through Moveon.org's Hurricane Housing.org, who provided shelter for Katrina survivors. In photos and oral histories, the book tells the stories of the victims and the helpers. Throughout the evening, sections of the book were read by Rosie Perez (reading a Lower Ninth Ward resident's tale of survival in a community theatre Tennessee Williams production Southern accent that's got precious little to do with the people who lived in the Lower Ninth), Julia Stiles, and Black Thought of the Roots.

The music was awesome - the Roots kick more ass in ten minutes than most bands do in two hours, and they were backed by a funk brass band from Philadelphia. The people were significantly less annoying than usual at these types of things. There was the occasional moment of anger and passion on the stage, the bartenders didn't realize that Jack Daniels wasn't supposed to be in the open bar selection until three drinks in (when the bartender told the Rude Pundit that Jack was off the menu, he said, "Goddamn, liberals are cheap bastards," and proved it by switching to another drink rather than paying for more whiskey), and Moby wasn't nearly as annoying as he could have been.

Of course, when the Rude Pundit roamed the floor talking to people about why they were there, asking if it was the activism or the music, not a single person said it was the activism. In fact, everyone said, "The Roots." (When the occasional person would turn it around and ask the Rude Pundit why he was there, he would variously answer, "Julia Stiles' hot ass" or "Eli Pariser's manly nose." More often than not, it was a conversation stopper.)

Yes, yes, it was a splendid time at the converted warehouse in the nowhere land between Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen (sorry...Clinton), with paparazzi doing their thing, with scenesters mixing with old hippies, music geeks mixing with drunk dancers. Partying where working people used to toil, remembering the dead and destroyed below a giant disco ball. But at least the Rude Pundit got three sets of digits out of the night.

A Follow-Up Fuck You To Ann Coulter Followers
Yesterday, the Rude Pundit pointed out how seriously fucked it was that Ann Coulter screeched that all Gitmo detainees were caught on the "battlefield in Afghanistan," and thus deserved whatever treatment the U.S. thought was bad enough for them. Well, nothing takes a big ol' chomp o' ass like reality.


Why Ann Coulter Is a Cunt, Part 3121 of an Endless Series:
Some days life hands you lemons. Yeah, you're supposed to make lemonade, but what if you've got no water or sugar? Then all you're left with are those sour fuckers with their skin shrivelling and tightening over the next couple of weeks. That's the kind of mood the Rude Pundit's in today. And when he's in that kind of mood and it's still too early to hit the bar for the pretend comforts of faux companionship, he just feels like beating the shit out of something. Or someone. And today, that's gotta be Ann Coulter.

For in her latest "column" (if by "column," you mean, "the half-witted demi-scrawls of a hunched she-beast yowling from her dank cave where she feeds on the corpses of small Muslim children and uses their blood to ink her hooked claws"), Coulter once again props up fake liberal beliefs and humps those fuckers like they're diamond-studded gold dildos. This time around, she distills all the nutzoid bullshit tossed around by the right-wing media about how Democrats are allegedly "opposed" to fighting terrorists because they oppose some of the strategies.

One of the purest idiocies of Coulter's fans, including the begging-to-be face-fucked Sean Hannity, is that people attack Coulter personally (or point out her plagiarism) because they can't possibly have the rhetorical and intellectual acumen to actually take down her arguments. It's a little like saying Ann Coulter's male fans have to jack off to downloaded fake porn pics of Coulter because they can't get laid by real humans. So let the Rude Pundit address this well-worn comment thread that inevitably appears whenever anyone deigns to say something like "Attempting to find logic in Ann Coulter's writing is not unakin to trying to finger fuck a porcupine's asshole."

This week, Coulter says that Democrats "oppose the National Security Agency listening to people who are calling specific phone numbers found on al-Qaida cell phones and computers. Spying on al-Qaida terrorists is hampering our ability to fight the global war on terror!" Leaving aside the fact that exclamation points are pretty much the rhetorical equivalent of a backwards baseball cap, could Coulter or her supporters actually cite a single Democrat who believes that? 'Cause, see, "nuance" is to Coulter conservatives as germs are to the OCD sufferer. Let's say it again: most non-Lieberman Democrats believe that the FISA court should issue warrants, even retroactively, on domestic phone surveillance. It's not as fancy as "Democrats want Allah el-Omar to rape your daughters," but it's a great deal more accurate.

So that's why when, say, a blogger repeatedly calls Ann Coulter a "cunt," it's not because he doesn't want to "engage" with her "arguments." No, it's because there is no argument to engage with. Coulter is a messianic figure in this way: reality for her followers exists because she creates it for them. She writes, "The Guantanamo detainees are not innocent insurance salesmen imprisoned in some horrible mix-up like something out of a Perry Mason movie. The detainees were captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan." Now, say you point out that, for example, Sami al Hajj was a cameraman working with Al-Jazeera and was "captured" in Pakistan and then sent to Gitmo. No matter what al Hajj is accused of (mostly just being Sudanese at the wrong place at the wrong time), ya gotta admit: the man wasn't captured firing guns at Americans on a "battlefield in Afghanistan."

No, it's just a waste of fucking time and energy to argue with Coulter. Like trying to keep a four-year old boy from yanking his crank constantly. Instead what we're left with is the image of Coulter's minions standing below her gigantic pussy while she laughingly pisses down on them as they gratefully lap it up, drinking it in, using it to lubricate themselves as they jack off and finger themselves madly, closing their eyes and nodding in an orgy of hateful glee as she says things like "the U.S. military is killing thousands upon thousands of terrorists (described in the media as 'Iraqi civilians'...)"

Goddamnit, what scorn, what self-aggrandizement, what waste.


In Brief: Proof Positive That Hurricane Katrina Has Driven People Mad (Updated):
President Bush met today with Rockey Vaccarella, a Katrina survivor who lost everything in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, and who drove a mock FEMA trailer to DC in order to talk with Bush about Katrina relief. Unlike, say, Cindy Sheehan, Bush invited Vaccarella into the White House and had coffee with him. And then, as if to prove that the hurricane had made him batshit insane, Vaccarella offered this while standing next to the President: "I just wish the president could have another term in Washington... You know, I wish you had another four years, man. If we had this president for another four years, I think we'd be great."

In Louisiana and Mississippi, a giant vomiting sound was heard as the thought was contemplated. Oh, and, what the hell, when informed of the idea, Jesus wept. Some more.

Update: The Rude Pundit already knew that Rockey Vaccarella was a publicity whore fronting for a documentary of his journey (see the second link above). But now we find out he's a Republican activist, too. Which means that he was inclined towards insanity even before the storm. Katrina just pushed him over the edge.
Late Post Today - But Enjoy the Breeze:
The Rude Pundit will be back later, but for now, enjoy the Ultimate Fart Soundboard and use it to pretend you are a young White House staffer meeting the Leader of the Free World.

Goddamn, we're fucked.


Dances With Corpses:
They always knew it was worth it to keep JonBenet Ramsey's mummified corpse in a back closet, locked in a padded case, like Charlie McCarthy or Howdy-Doody (who were also dead children, but that's a horrible story for another time). Greta Van Susteren brought the case with her from CNN to Fox "News," with the understanding that the dead child's body was community property among all the news networks. But Greta, oh, Greta was her guardian. It was Greta who decided what kind of puppet JonBenet should be. A marionette would be too obvious - everyone would expect JonBenet's corpse to have strings attached to it. And the thought of creating a hand puppet, while tempting, would have made the corpse too fragile.

So Greta, in her infinite artistic wisdom, decided to go with bunraku style. For in a bunraku puppet, unlike the marionette or the hand puppet, the performance doesn't attempt to hide the puppeteer. No, the manipulating hands, bodies, and even faces of the often several performers are nearly always visible. True, the puppet itself is in front of them, but, damnit, the men and women moving the rods and joints are as much a part of the show as the puppet itself. Yes, Greta thought, bunraku it shall be.

And she worked for years on the body, snapping at people like Nancy Grace or Dan Abrams who would dare to offer assistance. No, this was hers and hers alone, her art, her grand goal. For, in her heart of hearts, Greta Van Susteren knew that the day would come when the JonBenet Ramsey bunraku puppet would make its debut and its glory would shine so brightly that it would outglow every other corpse around it. How could it not? With its porcelain glaze, bright blonde hair, and outfit of sequins and spangles. Greta revised the little girl's bloodied, garroted, assaulted corpse so that it would properly reflect back whatever light was shone on it.

Now, now, at long last, ten years later after she first received the surreptitiously sent body bag, Greta, working with Nancy and Larry and Tucker and Sean and all the puppeteers who had been honing their skills, could make that little beauty queen do the catwalk once again. At home, Dan Abrams weeps a silent tear that he cannot offer his manly hands to even make small adjustments to the puppet's head.

In heaven, JonBenet Ramsey, who, although her body stopped growing, has acquired the wisdom of ten years of soul-living, wonders why everyone is so excited to see her puppet dance, thinks it's grotesque and even a little embarassing for the same pictures to be trotted out. She asks, to no one in particular, how making her corpse dance, however prettied up it might be, can be so entertaining for hour upon hour, even if the image of her puppet body is interwoven with the immobile features of her alleged killer.

Two Marines and one sailor walk by her and hear the question. They are still trying to accept where they are. In the distance, they see a crowd of other soldiers who are waving them over. They pause behind JonBenet and watch the television she has on for a moment, and, it being heaven, a moment can be anywhere from a split second to four weeks. In that time, they see nary a mention of themselves. Finally one of the Marines tells her, "It's easier to make one single porcelain little girl dance than it is to make puppets out of three thousand grown-ups."


Random Thoughts About the Press Conference Du Jour (Regarding Iraq Only):
Did you know that what's at stake in Iraq is our soul? In his latest press conference, President Bush said just that, that (all quotes are approximate because, well, the Rude Pundit ain't a fuckin' transcribin' service and he was probably drunk), "If we lose in Iraq, we lose our soul." Now, the Rude Pundit doesn't recall anyone asking him to ante up his soul for this "cause." In fact, he bets that if Bush had held a whistlestop tour, with Dick Cheney asking every American to give their souls for, what?, well, fuck, for the sake of argument let's say, "democracy in Iraq," that Cheney would have struck out. For surely, unless there's money or pussy/cock or some combination of them, most people ain't gonna sign on that dotted line that says, "Sure, what the fuck? Throw my soul into the bubbling pot." Not even the demonic charm of the slithering, sweating, huskily breathing Cheney could convince the most self-righteous neocon to bet his soul on Iraq.

But there was something good to come at this latest example of Bush's ability to veer with whiplash speed from joking endlessly about a reporter's seersucker suit to pounding the podium about "freedom" in Iraq. (Indeed, some might call that "compartmentalization," but the rest of us in the real world would call that "fucking insane.") The DNC should put together a ten or fifteen-second spot that consists solely of the reporter asking, "What did Iraq have to do with the attacks of September 11?" and Bush answering, firmly, decisively, "Nothing." And air that motherfucker on every station where the election is even within pissing distance for the Democrats.

And a blast from the past got brought up when Bush was asked if the U.S. invasion of Iraq caused more problems than it solved, with Bush asking us to imagine a world where "Saddam Hussein had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction." That's not unlike imagining a world where hot human-feeling robots will service your every crazed fuck fantasy, from the simple, but eloquent blow-job to the upside-down biting tiger with a monkey tail twist. Sure, some day it might happen, but it's so goddamn far in the future that it ain't worth thinkin' about. Hell, the Iraqis might just like to imagine a world where they're not worried about constant car and suicide bombings, roving death squads, and civil war. But, shit, then we're really talkin' fantasy land.

There's always the unintentionally ironic things Bush says, like "We owe it to our children and grandchildren" to fight the war or, regarding the insurgents, "They want to achieve their objectives." And there was the constant refrain of "I understand that" or just "I understand." And the depressing statement of "Damage to innocent people bothers me." And the promise to send more American soldiers to their deaths with "We'll complete the mission in Iraq" and other words to that effect.

Really, though, in the end, when Bush said, for the umpteenth time about the Iraqi government, "We're gonna give them the tools," all the Rude Pundit could think was, Oh, so like when are you and the rest of your administration gettin' on Air Force One for that long flight to Baghdad?


Katrina Plus One Year, Part 5 - Outside the Renaissance:

The Rude Pundit was not allowed into Renaissance Village. Not that he expected to be able to. But, he figured, what the hell. He drove up to the gate of one of the largest FEMAvilles in the country post-Katrina, a small patch of dirt with nearly 600 small white trailers and 2000 residents in the far northeastern part of Baton Rouge. The Rude Pundit knew he was doomed when the Catholic Services van was stopped and thoroughly checked. The security men at the gate, with the "No Trespassing" sign in front of it, were polite, simply saying that they weren't allowed, FEMA rules, blah, blah, blah. These guys are paid by the subcontractor to the Shaw Group that more accurately runs Renaissance Village. There was no use trying any further just for the sake of an entry on a blog that reads, "The Rude Pundit was beaten by security guards..."

Not that East Baton Rouge was much to write home about before Katrina, but when you drive around the area near Renaissance Village, you get a glimpse of the careful planning of where to put so many people being asked to rebuild their lives. It's close to the Ronaldson Landfill, where construction debris is piled. It's just a little ways from the ExxonMobil Chemical and Plastics plants. Pretty close to a juvenile prison with razor wire on its fences. And its hard to tell what there's more of around there: churches or payday loan places. All of this, of course, is in the middle of what was a residential area pre-Katrina.

Outside the fence of Renaissance Village, you can see row after row after row of the omnipresent FEMA trailers, the ones that have high formaldehyde levels, the ones that can all be opened with one key (until recently). In the nearly 100 degree Louisiana heat, hardly anyone was outside because, hell, the trailers reflect the light endlessly. A few people had decorated the outside of the tiny homes with something akin to patios. Most, though, were plain. The white of the trailers and the gravel is only broken up by the occasional blue of a dumpster. The trailers themselves were on strips of green "lawn." Somewhere in there is a playground that the regional Rotary Club and others helped build.

The Rude Pundit's not gonna come to any kind of conclusions or grand pronouncements here (other than, "Well, at least the U.S. can point to places like Renaissance Village and say that we treat our displaced people better than, say, the Sudan"). While the intention may have been to create a gated community, what is there is not unlike a prison, both physically and mentally.
Katrina Plus One Year, Part 4 - A Brief Conversation With a Garden District Resident:
The upper middle class, nearly wealthy, family the Rude Pundit stayed with in New Orleans lived in an apartment in Baton Rouge for a couple of months after Katrina before moving back to their huge, virtually untouched Garden District home. They know they were extraordinarily lucky. They feel, as many in New Orleans do, that too much emphasis has been put on the Lower Ninth Ward and the city's black residents. They don't want to diminish the suffering of others. They just want to make sure that the suffering of all of New Orleans isn't washed away in the images of the battered black bodies after the storm. Surviving Katrina is a long-term proposition, and it affects everyone, they say. Even them.

Sure, the wife said to the Rude Pundit, they can easily live in a bubble where she and her husband can go from the Garden District to the Central Business District without seeing nary a bit of destruction. But vary a bit from that path, and it's just ubiquitous. She described the day-to-day life of those for whom Katrina didn't mean the ultimate sacrifices of homes, jobs, and lives. For instance, her kids' pediatrician moved his office to Metairie, and that which took only a half-hour or so to do now is a half-day excursion, with the neverending traffic on I-10. They're lucky. The pediatrician's group broke up with one doctor, the head of the group, committing suicide in depression over the storm, and the rest moving far and wide. New Orleans is bereft of medical care. There's other things. Sixty percent of the dry cleaners are gone, she said. And when she brought clothes to be dry cleaned, she was told by several that they had more clothes than they could handle and couldn't take hers.

And then there's the friends and family that have simply left. Every week, she said, someone in her office receives a job offer. "And if someone's asking you to move to San Diego or Atlanta, you think, 'You mean I can go to the supermarket or go out to eat without it being an ordeal?'" she said. And they move on.

Our conversation was cut short by her kids demanding her attention. It is a lovely home. They are kind and generous people. Yes, they have money and are luckier than so, so many others. They're not looking for pity. But to have faith in the city means pasting a collage life together from the pieces that are left, no matter who you are.

Later today: Beyond New Orleans - FEMAville.


Katrina Plus One Year, Part 3 - The Lifeless Lower Ninth:

At least the barge is gone. When the Rude Pundit was in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans this past December, a huge barge sat in the middle of the street closest to the levee. It had destroyed every house it had swept across, smashing them to piles of torn wood and drywall. Now the barge was gone. The wreckage was also absent, with only the foundations and front steps left behind of an entire block of homes. But at least the barge was gone.

In one of those so-ironic-you-wanna-throw-up moments, two white guys were digging through the rubble of a house on Claiborne, pulling out different wires and cables, looking for copper ones, perhaps. The Rude Pundit said to his companion, "Look, looters." His companion begged to differ. They were, she said, just searching through an abandoned house for garbage, not plasma screen TVs. "Or bread," the Rude Pundit responded. The pair found what they were looking for, coiling up some wire, picking up a framed picture, a spice rack, but deciding to leave it. Neither of them was on lookout. They didn't care if the cops came. And then they tossed the wires in their Camaro's trunk and sped off.

Throughout the Lower Ninth, more houses are gutted, but there is little, if any, reconstruction. The crushed cars that had been under fallen houses are piled in small stacks of four or five. And, like Lakeview, the streets are passable. But the only real life here is found in the cars of tourists weaving around, dumbfounded faces, photo taking fingers, and one or two city utility crews and a van of white teenage workers from an activist group.

We stopped outside a gutted church (what a word, "gutted," your insides ripped out) and went in. The Rude Pundit's companion pointed to a stack of dishes and said that she heard story after story about people who lost nearly everything but great grandma's china, which somehow became gently encased in mud. "Like Pompeii," the Rude Pundit offered. The church was hollow, but someone had propped up a painting in the corner of Jesus standing in a river. Or a flood. The decadent air was barely breathable as we wandered around that dark and fetid space. No cross, no altar, no seats, just echoes.


Katrina Plus One Year, Part 2 - The Lakeview Water Line:

On most of the homes of Lakeview, a large middle-class "neighborhood" that is in the north part of New Orleans, bordering Lake Pontchartrain, as well as on the gorgeous, old homes that line Canal Boulevard heading south, there is a conspicuous line, like in the bowl of an unclean toilet. Chances are, if you are standing on the ground next to a lined house, that line is above your head, whoever you are, however tall you are. Because, see, when the eastern levee wall of the 17th Street Canal gave way, water poured in. A few blocks away, the western levee wall of the Loudon Avenue Canal, which borders Gentilly, gave way, too. The coursing waters of the lake flowed out of the funnels, heading towards each other and then south. By the time all was said and done, Lakeview was the lake, under at least ten feet of water.

The Rude Pundit hadn't seen Lakeview the last time he visited, stopping then at the ghost town that was/is Mid-City. A year after the hurricane, the woman driving the Rude Pundit around told him, "At least the streets are passable," and that was true. We could drive up and down the miles and miles of streets where the storm's wreckage was still blatantly obvious. Yes, many homes were gutted, many more were for sale whatever state they were in, about one out of every twenty was rebuilt or in some stage of rebuilding, and so, so many were untouched since the storm, with a year of lawn overgrowth in the neverending Louisiana heat. Outside one home, the front lawn was filled with piles of pill bottles and packages, obviously tossed for lack of refrigeration. And across the street a small bulldozer flattened the earth around a plot of land where the home had been completely torn down. (They do not have basements in New Orleans.) There was one crew working to clean the streets this Saturday.

"There's rats everywhere," said the woman, as the Rude Pundit insisted that he cross one of the lawn jungles to look inside a house. A machete would not have been inappropriate. The door had obviously been hacked open by an axe, although the visible outside of the house bore none of the fluorescent spray paint marks that told you whether or not there was a body there. Even up the steps of the porch, the feces-colored water line was up to his chest.

Inside, the house looked like the waters had only just receded, except, of course, for the tell-tale mold and mildew that infects so many of the homes here. The Rude Pundit pulled up his shirt over his nose so he could breathe. The furniture, which was senior citizen-chic, was tipped over or shoved aside, mud was still caked in corners, and on the walls of the living room, the water line stopped less than a foot from the ceiling. If someone stayed behind in the that house for the storm, they got to endure that submarine film horror of the water rising and rising, wondering if it would stop before the breathing space ended. Flyers strewn on the floor and stuck to the door offered services for gutting it, hauling it all away, rebuilding. The flyers were being overtaken by mold.

"How was it?" asked the woman driving.

"It was someone's home," the Rude Pundit sighed, trying not to sound melodramatic, but wondering how one could help it since, for many, many thousands of New Orleans residents, it was.
Brief Interruption Regarding "Macaca":
As long as we're tossin' pictures around here:

The covers of the series of Spanish books about "Paca, la macaca" show a happy monkey engaged in various human activities, like cooking and going to market. Perhaps George Allen was making a reference, a tribute, even, to the joy monkeys seem to take in their anthropomorphization. Of course, put a little red hat on that fucker and nail his feet to a tricycle, and a monkey is still, you know, a monkey.

Coming up: More New Orleans.


Katrina Plus One Year, Part 1 - Everywhere a Sign:
The last time the Rude Pundit visited New Orleans, back in December of 2005 (chronicled in five parts in January of this year), he saw a place that simply wasn't a real city anymore. It was small islands of life in the middle of miles and miles of utter destruction and decimation. Ghost towns in a wasteland. The worst thing that one can say now about New Orleans, almost a year after the big storm and the broken levees, is that it looks a hell of a lot better than it did. If nothing else, you can get through the streets.

Over the next couple of days, the Rude Pundit will show you some places you've seen before and some you haven't, and he'll take you to the outside of one of the largest FEMAvilles in the country.

For now, some of the signs from around the devastated areas of New Orleans:

Outside a gutted house in the Lakeview area, where the 17th Street Canal's levee wall broke. In case you can't see it, the "Before" is of the house in its pre-Katrina state.

A just re-built house about a block away from the other one in Lakeview.

Outside a gutted church in the Lower Ninth Ward.

A "house" in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Tomorrow: Lakeview and the waterline.


Bush and Cheney: Not Part of the Conversation Anymore, Just Like They Want:
For so long, George Bush and Dick Cheney have isolated themselves like paranoid neighbors in their backyard bomb shelter, telling the clawing outsiders they don't have enough food or air for everyone. They have spoken, for the vast part of the last five years, only to audiences that are handpicked by lackeys or screened at the events themselves (and this doesn't include those who get to pay for the "privilege" at fundraisers). If you even get into a Bush or Cheney speech with a dissenting or bumper sticker, you will get the bum's rush. And that's been quite the success.

They've treated over half the country like parents who ignore their children, only breaking the silence to discipline the kids when they knock a vase over or refuse to eat their peas, and who are surprised when the kids get older and don't give a shit what their parents have to say. Because right now, when Bush and Cheney speak, they're only talking to thirty percent or so of the country, with the rest of the nation either saying, "Fuck them" or wondering, "Hey, who's the old guys and why are they so mad?"

So debased is the pile of vaguely humanoid slime that is Dick Cheney that Hillary Clinton can say of Cheney's slurping words of condemnation of Connecticut Democrats, "I don't take anything he says seriously anymore. I think that he has been a very counterproductive, even destructive force in our country." A writer with the Washington Post can say, "I'm afraid to say his utterances are losing their news value." And most of us can only nod, a bit sadly, a bit wisely, and say, "So true, so true."

Then the President, who has gone unchallenged by everything except reality, in his radio address this weekend actually said, "Unfortunately, some have suggested recently that the terrorist threat is being used for partisan political advantage. We can have legitimate disagreements about the best way to fight the terrorists, yet there should be no disagreement about the dangers we face." One could argue this or that, things like, "Umm, when RNC chair Ken 'Elastic Cheeks' Mehlman said on Sunday that 'the focus now is going to be who’s on the ballot? What are the choices? And I don’t believe Americans, in the middle of a tough war, as they see these plots, want to weaken the tools and surrender the tools that are critical to keeping Americans safe. I don’t think they want to weaken how we interrogate potential terrorists. I don’t think they want to weaken the surveillance. I don’t think they want to kill the Patriot Act, and I certainly don’t want to think that they give the enemy the kind of victory that the 9/11 Commission had said they would have if we cut and run from Iraq,' had he gotten the memo not to use the threat for political advantage?"

But that's useless. When the goddamn President can say, as he did on Saturday, "On September the 11th, 2001, they used box cutters to hijack airplanes and kill thousands of innocent people," well, what's supposed to be our reaction? Motherfucker's right. They did. Thanks for the fuckin' reminder. We could throw all kinds of crap at his bullshit statement that "Because of the measures we've taken to protect the American people, our Nation is safer than it was prior to September the 11th." We could ask about the attempt to cut money from explosive detection technology. We could ask about how the White House pressured the British to make the arrests early, so it could conveniently come right after primary day.

It's useless because Bush ain't talkin' to us anymore. He's only talking to those who could get into his public appearances, an increasingly small number. You wanna talk about the "polarization" of the nation? There's your bifurcation: those who can see their President speak in person and those who can not. Sure, sure, we can all watch him on the TV, but not when there's all those episodes of Laguna Beach on the Tivo.

The White House knows this - it's Karl Rove's modus operandi: fuck those who disagree. And it's what they want. By so diminishing the value of the public roles of the President and Vice President, they can go about their business in deeper secrecy. Nothing to see here. And we're just gonna keep sayin' the same bullshit, over and over, because you don't matter.


Pro-War Politicians Have Written a Check Their Asses Can't Cash, Part 3 - Wherein We Witness the Implosion of the Right Wing:
Pro-war conservatives have become the guys with tiny dicks who feel the need to compensate in some other way. You know the type: generally, you will know them by their accessories - the black Hummer, the diamond-studded grill, the big wad of cash. Anything shiny or expensive to take the focus off their shame over their wee peckers. It's a pretty damn strong rule: the bigger the bling, the smaller the cock. If you happen to pick up someone at the bar, well, the truth will be revealed soon enough. (And do not worry, dear small-phallused readers; this is only a condemnation of those who try to hide the truth.)

If the volume and viciousness of attacks by the right over Joe Lieberman's public de-pantsing in Connecticut are any indication, the cock of crazed conservativism is actually withdrawing into its torso.

Sure, sure, fer big laughs, you can look at Sean Hannity grinding his manly jaw in full-bore hysterical mode as Democratic consultant Bob Beckel stares at Hannity like he's watching the Wicked Witch dissolve into a puddle (and the disturbing Kellyanne Conway keeps trying to blow Hannity). Or even Bill O'Reilly's attack on the tens of thousands of Connecticut residents who voted for Ned Lamont (O'Reilly is infinitely more idiotic when he's attempting to sound "rational"). You could waste all kinds of valuable time over at that rhetorical shitcan known as Townhall.com. And you'll get the same bizarro statement: Democrats don't want to fight the "war on terror" because they want to get out of Iraq. Even though the opposite is true: Democrats want to fight the "war on terror" because they want to get out of Iraq.

Of course, they're all, all just toeing the White House line because the loss of Lieberman means that, if Lamont wins, the Bush administration loses one of its opportunities to say it's got "bipartisan" support for its policies. How pathetic does the Republican running for the Senate in Connecticut have to be for Dick Cheney to mourn for Lieberman's loss. Of course, Lieberman's sad slog to insignificance is just an excuse to accuse the Democrats of believing, as Cheney said, "that somehow we can retreat behind our oceans and not be actively engaged in this conflict and be safe here at home." (Again, it needs to be pointed out that oceans didn't really protect the Indians or the colonists or, fuck, Pearl Harbor.)

Beyond Lieberman, there's the near-hysteria by the right over the arrest of the terror suspects in England. Spinning like a spastic third-grader on the playground, President Bush said that the arrests are "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom." Beyond the completely erroneous use of "fascist," which is going to be part of the new right wing rhetoric so that it elevates Bin Laden even more to Hitler supervillain status, did anyone actually forget that America is "at war"? Did we need a "reminder"?

And right there is the problem that Republicans (and Democratic enablers) have going into the midterm elections. It's the reason that Karl Rove is done for - motherfucker ought to be getting his affairs in order and learning how to tie his own noose. Because, finally, at long last, Republicans have lost the frame. See, it doesn't matter if you lose an argument or if the facts go against you as long as you control the terms of the argument. To go all Lieberman, we could use a sports analogy: call it "the home team advantage." And once you lose the frame, everything you say is now interpreted through the new frame, and that which once worked for you will now be turned against you.

See, the Rove-cultivated Republican playbook is still fear and terror, but it doesn't play anymore because it's been played out. What happened yesterday at America's airports? Sure, there were long-ass delays, aggravations, and more. But any major freak-outs? Nope: everyone just sort of sighed, dumped out their mouthwash, and cursed. And that's because we've gotten used to this. So the reaction of the citizenry now to terror alerts and colorifically raised warning levels is, "Yeah, we know. What else ya got?" People actually took the Bush administration's words to heart: we have gone about our daily lives, just incorporating the "life in the time of terror" adjustment to our routines. Republicans have been framing everything for the last five years based on one big event. It ain't gonna work anymore. The 9/11 justification is gonna be met with comical eye rolls around the country.

So now when Bush or Cheney or whoever keep hammering away with "Democrats don't want to fight terror," it doesn't fucking play. Because, really, in the results column for the Bush administration, what do we have on terrorism? A few pathetic losers rounded up and disappeared. Arguments over what laws we don't need anymore. A great big fuckin' war that nobody fuckin' wants anymore. What? Fuckin' nothing. (And don't fall into the conservative trap of thinking that "Well, sure, they've accomplished shit we haven't even heard about because it's all classified and shit." Do you think that if American authorities made a real, major arrest that Bush would be shy about it?)

Republicans have lost the frame, and they ain't gonna get it back, not now. Because they have nothing else to run on. Ask senior citizens. Ask the unions. Ask the soccer moms. And even ask the NASCAR dads. It's done. It's not going too far out on a limb to think that more people on those security lines at airports were wondering why we're spendin' all that money in Iraq than were thinking, "Thank God fer George Bush keepin' us safe." That's Karl Rove's greatest loss and it's gonna wreck the Republicans in November with all the disproportionate force of a grizzly bear chewin' a bunny.

'Cause, see, the guys with the big dicks, they don't need to show off. Some guy with a giant johnson can ride up to the club in a beat-up old Ford Festiva, saunter over to the bar, order a Budweiser, toss his cock on the counter, and that guy is gonna get all the action he can handle barely sayin' a word.


Pro-War Politicians Have Written a Check Their Asses Can't Cash, Part 2 - On the Potomac Waterfront:
On the Waterfront is a great fuckin' film, one of the Rude Pundit's favorites. It taught the Rude Pundit nearly all he needed to know about cowardice, bravery, and everything in between, including having the 'nads to face the most powerful, ruthless motherfuckers. If you've never seen it, do it, now. If you're someone who's avoided it because of director Elia Kazan and his HUAC-blabbin' ways, don't be an idiot. The movie ain't about bullshit justification for Kazan rolling over like a five-buck-a-fuck whore in a bed full of sailor boys. It's about how the very people who are supposed to be looking out for the average person can become violent, power-hungry thugs only in it for themselves. And it's about how to take them down.

The Rude Pundit was reminded of On the Waterfront when he read this: "Karl Rove, a top political adviser to President Bush said on Thursday he had called Sen. Joseph Lieberman to wish him well in the Democratic primary in Connecticut this week." This would be the same Joe Lieberman who repeatedly accused his vanquisher, Ned Lamont, of using "partisan polarization" to win the primary (which, as the Rude Pundit said yesterday, is about as idiotic thing as you can say about a party's primary). Rove said, "I called him. He's a personal friend." Let's just let that sit for a moment: Ned Lamont, polarizer. Karl Rove, friend. Mmmmm, the fresh smell of horse manure and hypocrisy - bottle that shit and call it "Eau de Lieberman."

If you'll remember, On the Waterfront ends with a cathartic moment. Johnny Friendly, played by big damn Lee J. Cobb, is the corrupt union boss, and the men who get to work on the docks are the ones who obey Friendly and knuckle under to his will. It's a simple equation: you cross Johnny Friendly, you might get killed, but you'll at least be out of a job. After a bunch of events you can read about elsewhere, Marlon Brando's fallen boxer Terry Malloy fingers Friendly in court for ordering a murder, and he finds himself ostracized and out of work for squealing.

Malloy finally confronts Friendly, in front of all the other longshoremen, shouting at him and his goons, "You take them heaters away from you and you're nothin', you know that?...You take the good goods away and the kickbacks and the shakedown cabbage and them pistoleros and you're nothin'. Your guts is all in your wallet and your trigger finger - you know that?... You think you're God almighty. But you know what you are?...You're a cheap, lousy, dirty, stinkin', mug. And I'm glad what I've done to you." And then it's on.

Friendly and Malloy have a throwdown bare-knuckle brawl that'd do a Toughman Competition proud. When it looks like Friendly's losing, his men jump in and beat the shit out of Malloy, leaving him a bleeding, bruised heap. But then something remarkable happens: the longshoremen refuse to work without Malloy with them. They want Malloy to walk in to unload the ships, saying they'll follow if he leads. The film ends with a staggering, wounded Malloy entering the gate of a loading pier, with the others behind him, while an impotent Friendly screams in rage as they ignore his threats.

The midterm elections are a chance, a small one, to repudiate the politics of Karl Rove (and, by extension, the dark master himself, Lee Atwater). And the Iraq war is the final proof of how it has all spun out of control for the Rove-Bush school of political hardball. And Rove's about to be left behind screaming at a crowd he no longer can threaten.

Today: metaphor. Tomorrow: how.

Note: If you want to make Ned Lamont the Terry Malloy of this scenario, go ahead. But, if you know the film, it doesn't work. Besides, the Rude Pundit intended another analogy for Terry Malloy.
Obviously Late:
Late post today. The Rude Pundit was busy slathering himself with all his lotions, cooking oil, and toothpaste while drinking everything in his fridge and liquor cabinet just in case he needs to fly in the next couple of days. Back in a bit with more rudeness.


Pro-War Politicians Have Written a Check Their Asses Can't Cash, Part 1 - Good-Bye, Joe:
Ask any poor bastard who ever got caught cheating on his lover with the hot teenaged chick with the pierced tongue who works at, say, the neighborhood Starbucks. Shit, take a poll, if you want. You'll hear the same thing: that poor bastard should have just up and confessed to his woman, admitted he was wrong, instead of trying to weasel and con and accuse his way out of it. 'Cause he doesn't have to be caught balls deep in the face of a corporate barista for his longtime lover to know the score. At the end of the day, the poor bastard's gotta ask himself what he wants: is it feeling the delicious electricity of that tongue post glide up his cock shaft? Or is it the sweet love of that grown-up woman he's been seeing for two or three years that he wants embracing him? Either way, that poor bastard's gotta make a decision and stick with it and just be true to himself.

It's an easy lesson, but one that so, so many do not learn. 'Cause if he lies, if he keeps saying that he didn't fuck the pierced coffee pusher, or if he blames his mama issues or the fact that his woman doesn't blow him enough, that woman is righteously, rightfully gone, and his sorry, pleadin' ass is left on the sidewalk, blues-style, motherfucker, with nothin' but a lonely stroll down the pavement left for him. And here's the worst part - he can do all those things and still be left behind like so much curbside garbage.

Just ask Joe Lieberman. The man who preached compromise or capitulation to the Bush administration because Bush is gonna be president for the next couple of years, the man who never backed down from sayin' that the Iraq War was hunky-dory, the man who attacked part of the base of his own party in order to set himself up for an independent run, that man lost not just because he blindly supports a war that the majority of the nation (and Connecticut) no longer supports. Joe Lieberman lost to Ned Lamont because he refused to admit that he was wrong. You could say that Joe was honorable and stuck to his guns and all that shit, but at the end of the day, a politician must listen to the voters, or that politician will hear them on primary or election day. The best Lieberman could do was this in the desperate last days of his long climb to loserdom: "I think people are turning around and saying, 'Hey, we were thinking of sending Joe a message [on Election Day], but I think he got the message, and we don't want to lose him as our senator.'"

Lieberman lost because he was wrong, not because he was too principled or too "moderate" (whatever the fuck that means) or too Jewy or too any-fuckin-thing else anyone wants to come up with before admitting the truth. Lierberman lost because he was wrong, not because the mighty power of Left Blogsylvania smeared him or because Ned Lamont used his fortune to challenge Lieberman. Hell, Lieberman spent most of his time on the campaign trail reeling like a drunk man hit in the head with a Budweiser bottle, swinging and lashing out at phantoms, trying to portray Ned Lamont, a white bread millionaire, as some kind of crazed Bohemian.

Now Lieberman has the stink of loser on him. His concession speech was the last gasp of the man with cement shoes sinking into Long Island Sound, vowing impotent vengeance on those who did him in. Accusing someone of "partisan politics" in a party's primary is not unlike accusing a marathon runner of running a marathon. And sure, sure, Republicans and some Democrats will attempt to prop him up in his doomed "independent" run, but he's got no party machine behind him, only the hope that a three-term Senator can run as a heroic underdog rather than some pathetic figure who wasn't even good enough for his own party. Goddamn, it'll be sad. One hopes, desperately, that Bill Clinton'll show up on Lieberman's doorstep and get him to agree that the most noble thing is for a man to fall on his sword.

Lieberman lost because he was wrong, on the war, on indecency, on torture, on Social Security, and more, more, more. He lost not because he said he was right, but because he tried to say that wrong was right.

Lieberman lost like so many others will, mostly Republican, because they hitched their wagons to George Bush's star and that fucker went supernova.


Vicious Lefties Hurt Right Wingers Feelings:
The Rude Pundit is traveling home today from Red State America, and he has photos to show and stories to tell from New Orleans and from outside a huge FEMAville. But for now, a thing or two briefly:

Why is it that whenever right-wingers wanna criticize the "viciousness" of the left, more often than not, they use e-mails and blog comments instead of, say, the words of writers (bloggy and non-bloggy) and leaders? Like Lanny Davis in the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal, making some big and brave statement about "McCarthyism" on the left towards Shoeless Joe Lieberman as indicated by the well-considered and crafted comments on blogs and e-mail responses. The Lieberman-lovin' Davis writes, "The far right does not have a monopoly on bigotry and hatred and sanctimony. Here are just a few examples (there are many, many more anyone with a search engine can find) of the type of thing the liberal blog sites have been posting about Joe Lieberman" and then quotes the mean meanies of the left, like at Daily Kos. But not, you know, Kos, or Hunter, or McJoan, or DarkSyde, or any of the other posters. Nope, it's commenter "tomjones."

So tomjones and mean meanie e-mailers discredit all of Left Blogsylvania? That's not unlike Lanny Davis saying that he got crabs because of the itchy little vermin themselves instead of from all those hung guys who fucked him raw. (And by the way, causing conservatives to have a nasty crotch itch is a noble pursuit, dear commenters.)

When the Rude Pundit wants to go trawling for right-wing hate, he doesn't need to look to his hate e-mails, with their occasional threats of violence. He doesn't need to point to the comments on right-wing blogs. He can just point to the blogs themselves, or turn on the goddamn radio or the fuckin' Fox "News," or open the newspaper to read the vomitous rantings of every other conservative columnist talking about liberals despising and destroying America. They can only pick nits; we have to swat hissing cockroaches.

Tomorrow: Pro-war politicians who want to bomb "freedom" into the Middle East - here's how democracy works.


A Rude Round of Applause For the Ladies in the House:
A big damn thanks to Bitch Phd, Angry Black Bitch, Jill Filipovic of Feministe, Egalia of Tennessee Guerilla Women, Avedon Carol of the Sideshow, Shakespeare's Sister, Maryscott O'Connor of My Left Wing, Echidne of the Snakes, Lindsay Beyerstein of Majikthise, Lauren Bruce of Feministe, and Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Pandagon.

In their guest bloggery here last week, they kicked ass, took names, tracked those names down, and kicked more ass. It is much appreciated.
No Room For Israel/Lebanon:
It was two for one mojitos last night at the bar here in Red State America. So we drank mojitos, goddamnit, 'cause six shots of Cruzan Rum (three per) for six bucks is a fuckin' bargain no matter how you figure it. We toasted the redhead pouring them, who joked about us double-fisting our drinks, with a wink about "double-fisting" turning her on. We toasted Cuba, not Castro, just Cuba for creating such a magnificent leafy beverage. It was all happy, happy good times until one of the toasters, a young, drunk, missing a couple of teeth, tattooed welder guy, asked the Rude Pundit, "So what do you think about this Israel/Lebanon shit?"

By that point, the amount of non-rum in the mojitos was precipitously close to zero, and the Rude Pundit said, "Fuck Israel. Fuck Lebanon (or, more properly, Hezbollah). Who fucking cares?" The tattooed welder, who wasn't wearing any shoes, and who had insisted over and over to the Rude Pundit's demi-poet friend sitting on the next stool that he had lived a rough life, nodded, saying, "Yeah, yeah, you're right, we're fucked-up, who cares about anything."

No, the Rude Pundit said, he wasn't that drunk. He wasn't a pussy-ass Mel Gibson, yelping about demonic baby-blood-drinking Jews and then claiming it was the booze talking. If you asked the Rude Pundit that nine shots ago, he'd've said the same thing: Fuck Israel. Fuck Lebanon. Who fucking cares? "Look, there's only so much caring that can go around, and I'm fuckin' sick and even more fuckin' tired of everyone on TV tellin' us what we should give a shit about," the Rude Pundit explained. "I don't fuckin' care about Israel gettin' all up in Hezbollah's shit because I'm too busy givin' a damn about Iraq."

Tattooed drunk welder guy wasn't pissed; he wanted explanations, for reasons that'd become clear in a moment or two. "Yeah, but Iraq's done, man, it's all over there, we've fucked that up good." he said. Would that tattooed drunk welder guy had been right about it being over. But it ain't never gonna be over.

In Iraq, in Sadr City and other coalition-wrecked places, the Shia militias are capturing and killing homosexual men and kids forced into gay prostitution. In Baghdad, three more U.S. soldiers were killed. In Baghdad, they're trying the U.S. soldiers who raped a young girl and murdered her family. But at least it wasn't gay sex. That's not to mention the suicide bombings, insurgent attacks, all the boring repetitious shit that's become insignificant white noise, a fly buzz compared to the garbage truck roar of the Israel/Lebanon conflict in the mainstream media.

Meanwhile, at a Crawford, Texas middle school yesterday, National Security Stephen Hadley took questions from reporters, as did Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Not a single question even mentioned Iraq.

The drunk tattooed welder told the Rude Pundit that his father, a sergeant in the National Guard, had spent two years in Iraq, back a few months ago. Another guy at the bar described the welder's father as a "right-wing Republican." The welder said that his father, a mechanic, told the welder that if he was put in a position where he had to kill someone, even to defend himself, he didn't know if he could do it because he thought the war was "idiotic" and he didn't believe in it. But the sergeant father still went and did his job.

There it is. From drunks in bars. Not so much wisdom as the numbing reality of it all, of this forced march we're all on, of the inability, so far, to figure out how to get out of the single file line into the end of the flat earth. At many points in our recent history, we had the luxury of being able to care about every blip on the Israel rocket radar. For most of America, there's no room to give a damn about Israel and/or Lebanon because Iraq is consuming our hearts.


Extra Bonus Rudeness!

Decency problem, decency problem solved.

[Hat tips to Amanda, and Thad.]
Open Letter To The Doofus at the New Pornographers Concert

I generally take a dim view of large outdoor concerts, and last night's New Pornographers show in Central Park did nothing to improve my opinion these events. I don't like sunlight, noise, or plastic cups, okay? Also, chain smoking tobacco (!) is de rigueur at rock concerts in Central Park. Now, I've been known to savor the occasional cigarette--but I don't hotbox.

So, Mr. Doofus, I admit, I wasn't my usual tolerant, body-positive self by the time you started your little floor show. Who am I to tell you that it's foolish to wear two layers of synthetic, non-breathable clothing to a packed concert during a heat wave? What business of mine if you favor unflattering plaids discarded by more discriminating hipsters? Do I care whether you shave, shower, or use an efficacious antiperspirant? Is it my place to advise you on depilation? Ordinarily, not, Mr. Doofus.

However, I feel obliged to stress one critical point of concert etiquette: Flapping your shirt rhythmically is NOT dancing. We all have body image issues, and I understand that you may have been reluctant to doff your sweat-drenched shirt in front of several thousand buff New Yorkers. That said, having made that choice, stoicism was your only recourse. You could have been hardcore. Who knows? Your sweat-drenched visage might even have added a little extra realism someone's concert photos.

Your attempt to dry your shirt by popping a few buttons, pinching your breast pocket, and pumping your shirt like a bellows was ill-considered at best. Granted, you kept pretty good time and made some interesting rhythmic choices in your attempt to synchronize ventilation and gyration, but you also induced syncopated retching in your fellow music lovers.

If you're not going to strip, at least learn how to dance.


Queasy in Manhattan
Send Mel Gibson to Israel!

Michael Medved thinks it would be healing to send Mel Gibson to Israel:
At a time when Israel finds herself isolated as never before, imagine the impact of Gibson announcing a supportive trip to Jerusalem in the company of selected Jewish leaders--- with a reverent, remorseful stop at Auschwitz on the way.

What a great idea! The Israeli people are kind of on edge right now. These beleaguered folks deserve an opportunity to process their frustrations in a healthy and constructive manner (instead of murdering Lebanese civilians). It would be so therapeutic to deliver Mel Gibson unto the Jews of Jerusalem. Let them kick the everloving shit out a real antisemite. A beatdown might bring closure, the kind that can only come when Mel Gibson's shattered jaw is wired shut.
It's all about the sex

Actually, it's all about sucking dick and taking it in the ass. [Thanks, Rude Pundit, for giving me the forum to unleash that lovely coarse sentence.]

That's what it all boils down to for the fundies who spend days and nights thinking about homosexuals, you know, gay people men.

I spend quite a bit of space over at my pad, Pam's House Blend (and my other haunt, Pandagon) chronicling the endless parade of clowns of social conservatism, ass-backward religious hypocrites and homobigoted, homoerotically obsessed bible-beaters.

These folks are engaged in a holy war about the cock and where it goes, how often it is in action and whether the baby Jeezus might be aware of the Satanic forces guiding the love missile where no good Christian man should take it. At least not during church service -- and only then in dark alleys, motel rooms with the curtains drawn, or trucker rest stops -- with a healthy amount of self-flagellation afterwards to get right with the Big Guy for that ill-conceived moment (or 100) of carnal sin.

Take one of the fundies I've personally heard from, Peter LaBarbera, of the Illinois Family Institute. He's a professional homosexuality investigator for the bible-beating set, sacrificing it all for his audience, collecting gay porn (for research only), going undercover to male sexual subculture events such as International Mr. Leather, all to expose a threat to this culture greater than Osama and his band of merry-making terrorists. He's been "investigating" in this manner for years, asking for fundies to donate to the cause -- which to me looks more like an unusual and unhealthy preoccupation with sexual matters that most people, gay, straight or otherwise, don't think about in day to day life. From an exchange we had about one of the bathhouses he investigated:
Peter: Dare I say that you, too, would be highly offended at some of the activities that are "tolerated" there-such as a booth for the "Waterboys"-men who urinate on and in one another for sexual pleasure?

Pam: Quite frankly, I don't think much about this stuff unless I read it on bible-beating moralist news sites, why do you? While I personally don't find the idea of this particular practice appealing, I don't have to partake in it, nor do you or your fellow good Christians. This is about adult, consensual behavior (despite your attempt to pre-empt the use of this as a counter-argument). Why is this not a persuasive argument? Are you saying you would like to criminalize golden showers? How, exactly, would that be enforced? Hetero or homo participants or both?

...When you make multiple trips to "uncover" deviant acts by "going undercover" to gay pride events (or International Mr. Leather), this kind of effort doesn't tell your audience anything about the entire gay community, any more than heading to hetero swingers clubs, a frat house or the local meet-market bar tells me about straight sexual culture. Sexual subcultures exist along the entire orientation spectrum. Why are you so fixated on the sex? Is it because it is non-procreative? Explain this need to place yourself in these situations.
This man is a fucking cry for help. Another one that needs a strait jacket is Guy Adams of Alan (I kicked my lesbo daughter out) Keyes's RenewAmerica, who said in an interview that gays have sex with infants (it's a "new trend") and animals, and represent the "greatest danger facing America since possibly the Civil War."

It's strange, though. I just get the feeling that all this talk about gays -- and bestiality, in particular -- is a smokescreen by these fundies, masking an unhealthy obsession with fucking barnyard animals. Witness the all-too-true tales of our fellow citizens with a BIG problem:

* A man in Bainbridge, GA jumps a fence at a stockyard and porks a hog
* A Mesa, AZ fire battalion chief caught with his pants down in a barn assaulting a lamb
* A St. Gabriel, Louisiana seventeen-year-old was caught on tape committing unnatural acts with a horse.

We don't see colorful, down-home stories about bestiality like those above in metro gay meccas such as San Francisco, NYC, or Chicago -- well, there's not a lot of barnyard action to be found in these places, so perhaps I need some better evidence from our fundie friends about the direct connection between bestiality and the quest for civil marriage equality, for example.

The anally obsessed wingers sometimes have had to suck it up along the way. Look at poor Little Ricky Man-on-Dog Santorum. As his re-election prospects circle the drain, he must long for the glory days in the wake of the Lawrence v. Texas ruling overturning sodomy bans when he could unashamedly bleat to cheers: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

That same Little Ricky just signed a Gender Public Advocacy Coalition letter stating his office does not discriminate in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Can you feel the air going out of the fundie sails of the hardcore public homobigotry-promoting Senator from Pennsylvania? Maybe it has to do with the fact that he has an out gay communications director.


Women exist in the fundie universe only as holy uteri, to be padlocked away, guarded by virginity pledges made with Daddy's loving arm around them and Jesus-head chastity rings. Sorry to break it to the holy rollers, but among 20 percent of kids taking a virginity pledge, 61 percent of the consistent pledgers and 79 percent of the inconsistent pledgers reported having fucked before marrying. Dick and Jane are knocking boots in the bible belt -- and attending church.

But the fundies, to their credit, don't give up the fight -- every egg is precious, every fetus a potential addition to the heterosexual family fold. These days I am awaiting the issue of appropriate "burqa-wear" for today's modern young woman, because any flesh exposed, particularly the titty, must have an effect on the fundamentalist man of causing that potentially fatal four-hour boner the disclaimers warn you about on those Viagra, Cialis and Levitra commercials.

The evil of the titty must be stopped.

In fact, fear of the boobie is at such a fever pitch with these people that nursing your baby in public has been equated with urinating, defecating and --- gasp -- masturbating.

Even lifeguards are driven to distraction by the boobie, according to a Michigan Y, which banned a mom from breastfeeding at the pool because "there is no food or water allowed in the pool area." Women in this culture are now reduced to a classification of vending machines/public milk dispensers lest tender eyes are offended or sexually confused individuals are potentially aroused to life-threatening distraction by a mammary session.

Have you noticed that lesbians don't even exist in the fundie mission at all? We simply aren't on the radar except for the occasional whack job out there like the Reverend Willie Wilson of Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast D.C. He made me feel like a powerful and potent part of The Homosexual AgendaTM, with these statements in a sermon...
"Sisters making more money than brothers and it’s creating problems in families … that’s one of the reasons many of our women are becoming lesbians "

"But … women falling down on another woman, strapping yourself up with something, it ain’t real. That thing ain’t got no feeling in it. It ain’t natural. Anytime somebody got to slap some grease on your behind and stick something in you, it’s something wrong with that. Your butt ain’t made for that."
Again, it's all about those naughty orifices that have something to do with the sexual acts that are on the fundie mind 24/7.
Sluts Rock the Shocker
by Lauren, who proudly attempts to live up to this blog's tagline

In her article alternately titled "The Good Ol' Days: When Womanhood Meant Holding a Nickel Between One's Knees," Suzanne Fields writes:
Fashion reflects the times, and modesty and femininity are anachronisms in a world in which "slut" is no longer a slur. The word was popularized by gangsta rappers, linking it with "ho" and other denigrating descriptions of women. The rappers must now find another word. The New York Times reports that it has become a term of endearment between women friends, a "fun word" for ladies who lunch... But despite what bloggers call "the taming of the slut," all does not sound sound in Slursville. Leora Tanenbaum, author of a book called "Slut! Growing Up Female With a Bad Reputation," finds that the word, popular as it may be in certain lunching parties, still inflicts pain and humiliation.
Ho is so 1995, Suzie, and slut was not popularized by gansta rappers. Besides, who needs slut when we have tip drill and twiz? Jesus Christ. I'm taking the hip hop argument away from TownHall.

Amanda is too right about Fields -- Suzanne's primary beef is that slut is no longer effective to stigmatize young women away from seeking their own pleasure, sexual or otherwise. Traditionally anyone who cultivated or maintained a "facade of sexual experience," thanks Tom Wolfe, was thorougly branded. Now that the salad days are over Suzanne is beside herself. Why clutch your pearls over slut when we're still blessed with split tail and gash? Don't stop at shame, girl. Degrade!

I'm waiting for her next article wailing how awful it is that we no longer associate dicks with dork and flailing against the cruelest linguistic joke, that fuck is arguably the most versatile word in the English language. Preserve that from the Spanish-speaking influx, TownHall bitches.

Fields can fart out any explanation she wants for the impending apocalypse, but you and I know that pegging rappers and women for America's moral collapse is more than disingenuous. It's stupid.

Rock, rock, rock the shocker.

Anyway, her lamentation of losing slut as an insult reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend about The Shocker.* Contrary to Fields' assumptions, young people are not a monolith of stupid, and more shocking than the shocker, have been known on occasion to think for themselves, and even to flip, — as in "the bird" — the cultural cues meant to shame them. Reclamation of sexist and other hateful terminology is a topic I usually find horribly dry, but JC's research on The Shocker interested me. Juvenile, yes, but totally amusing.

It boils down to this: terms like slut and others can be terms of endearment and terms of denigration. It depends on:
1) context.
A short list. Boys learn the shocker as a kind of speech in an early homosocial context that seems relatively harmless to them but serves to Other the girls. The girls learn it too, and as they age use it among each other as joke, wink and nod unnecessary. Or as JC says in his paper, "Seven Plus or Minus Two in the Pink: Interrogating 'The Shocker'":
If it is the case that “the shocker” is a symbol for the oppression of women, then why, as I found, would females also use the gesture in a joking manner? ...I would argue that there are two spheres of usage with respect to “the shocker,” divided by their proximity to the imaginary and to the real (which represent varying intensities of iconicity). Similar to Gibbs and Izetts’ discussion of irony, where it is understood to “use contrast to highlight the discrepancy between expectation and reality,” I believe that it is the contrast between what is imaginary and what is real that makes “the shocker” humorous...
Who says a liberal arts degree is a waste of time? Another thing JC ponders is whether or not gestures like the shocker become less shocking as admissions of anal play become more common in both homo- and hetero- sexual narratives.

Words do hurt but genuine humor makes it less so -- taking the stigma away from bastard, bitch, faggot, cunt, queer and motherfucker, and admittedly, all those really, really nasty words that I can't bear to type for public consumption, is, to quote one immoral slut par excellence, "a good thing." We can talk about power hierarchies all the damned day long, and whether or not adopting such speech as our own is really truly empowering blah blah blah, and I will always come to the conclusion that removing hateful, sexist speech from patriarchal conditions is a better move than otherwise.

Plus, it's funny.

See, there's this fantastic thing that my generation is characterized by, from frank-talking bunny t-shirts to shitty Gen X movies, and it's a little thing called irony. So perhaps it is a generational thing, perhaps an idiot thing, that Fields can't understand why a relative dearth in young women's sexual humiliation isn't a bad thing. I, for one, am going to adopt the shocker (or for geeks, The Spocker) in describing people who belong at Club Cool.

The Rude Pundit rocks the shocker; Suzanne Fields kind of blows.

It is arresting when a young woman can chew up your admonitions real good and spit them back out on your shoes. We're making a cultural landscape in which humor is as critical as critical theory. See, Suze, when a young woman rocks the shocker or calls a friend a ho, she is not debasing her friends, herself, or her fellow females. She is giving a healthy ironic nod to the backward-ass throwback ideas that inspire your fake and heady tripe. She isn't mocking anyone but people like you.

* Wikipedia is our friend.