Sarah Palin Sucks the GOP Dry:
Imagine, if you will, the Republican candidates, announced and unannounced, gasping to breathe in a small glass room with only one tiny pipe that pumps a stream of air to whomever is sucking on it. Now let us say, and why not, that a sentient machine is in charge of who gets to suck on the air pipe. That machine is a meter that measures ratings for television news networks, your CNNMSNBCFox hydra. Yesterday, Memorial Day, if you were watching a video feed from that room, you would have seen horrors.

You would have seen Tim Pawlenty, rolling on the ground, gasping, as he spent the day in Iowa, scarfing down pancakes with people at a breakfast in Waukee and then at a cookout in...oh, who the fuck cares. At one point, T-Paw was overwhelmed by "eight Iowans gathered in a semi-circle at a bakery in one of the more conservative pockets of the state." Yes, yes, the red faced Pawlenty would be on that video feed, wondering why he must do without precious oxygen.

You might have seen Michele Bachmann on her knees, close to passing out, as her eyes bulged and she pounded the glass, seeking mercy from the merciless machine (for, indeed, sentience does not give one a conscience - just ask Dick Cheney). In New Hampshire, she gave a speech where she said something idiotic and then she spoke "to dozens of GOP activists on the lawn of failed gubernatorial candidate Karen Testerman," which she must have done to be ironic.

Over in the corner, you'd have seen Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, already passed out, pissing themselves, having done nothing more than issue statements praising the troops and America and freedom and family and Facebook.

Chances are that you heard about none of these yesterday because the ratings machine deigned that only one person could suck on the air pipe. Yes, dressed in a black helmet and black leather jacket and posed on the back of a motorcycle on the way to a bus that she's probably not even riding in to surprise stops o' history, Sarah Palin not only huffed that pipe (and all the emissions therein), but she gobbled that fucker like a champ, like a young starlet blowing Louis B. Mayer for a bit part in a Busby Berkeley musical, stealing air from fellow Republicans, from veterans, from the crazy POW/MIA-loving chumps in the Rolling Thunder thundering roll into DC.

Yeah, whether she runs or not, Palin owns the GOP, and she knows it. Supportive media will follow her because of the backwards ass people who love her. Other media will follow her to be there when she inevitably fucks up. Either way, though, no matter how much money they're raising, no matter how many YouTube videos or Facebook updates or tweets the rest of the Republican field puts out, there's only ever enough air for Sarah.


The Rude Pundit and Many a Cool Person Live in NYC:
You know you wanna see "Rude Awakenings" on Tuesday, May 31 at 7 p.m. at Housing Works Bookstore in NYC.

You know you wanna hear the Rude Pundit read from The Rude Pundit's Almanack and get your copy signed by him (he promises that it'll be special).

You know you wanna see Sady Doyle of The Atlantic and Tiger Beatdown, Jill Filipovic of Feministe, Jeff Kreisler of Get Rich Cheating, David Rees of Get Your War On, and Rachel Sklar of Mediaite bring the funny and the outrage and the enlightenment.

You know you do. Plus, you can buy beer and wine. At a motherfuckin' bookstore.

So be there .
A Poem for Memorial Day 2011:
"So I Was a Coffin"

by Gerardo Mena

—For Corporal Kyle Powell, died in my arms, 04 November 2006

They said you are a spear. So I was a spear.

I walked around Iraq upright and tall, but the wind blew and I began to lean.
I leaned into a man, who leaned into a child, who leaned into a city. I walked
back to them and neatly presented a city of bodies packaged in rows.
They said no. You are a bad spear.

They said you are a flag. So I was a flag.

I climbed to the highest building, in the city that had no bodies, and I smiled
and waved as hard as I could. I waved too hard and I caught fire and I burned
down the city, but it had no bodies. They said no. You are a bad flag.

They said you are a bandage. So I was a bandage.

I jumped on Kyle's chest and wrapped my lace arms together around his torso and
pressed my head to his ribcage and listened to his heartbeat. Then I was full, so
I let go and wrung myself out.

And I jumped on Kyle's chest and wrapped my lace arms together around his torso
and pressed my head to his ribcage and listened to his heartbeat. Then I was full, so
I let go and wrung myself out.

And I jumped on Kyle's chest and wrapped my lace arms together around his torso
and pressed my head to his ribcage but there was no heartbeat. They said no. You
are a bad bandage.

They said you are a coffin. So I was.

I found a man. They said he died bravely, or he will. I encompassed him
in my finished wood, and I shut my lid around us. As they lowered us
into the ground he made no sound because he had no eyes
and could not cry. As I buried us in dirt we held our breaths together
and they said, yes. You are a good coffin.


Sarah Palin's Magic Bus:

You see that thing up there? That sweet ride all pimped out to show that its occupants are so got-damn Uhmerkan that everyone else can suck their patriotic fumes? That shit's so sick that it's got the motherfuckin' Constitution, words from the Pledge o' Allegiance, and purple motherfuckin' mountains majesty, like Lady Liberty's titties just thrustin' up all hard and ready for pinchin'. And who gives a damn if it looks like the tires are running over the American flag and gettin' it all muddy on rainy days? This is Sarah Palin's Magic Bus, motherfuckers, with her autograph next to the Liberty Bell. Yeah, lick the stiletto heels of her red, white, and blue pumps, bitches, and love it.

Imagine all the hot-ass groupie sex she'll be havin' in the back of the bus on her grand and glorious journey to "historical sites" all over the Northeast of the U.S.A. Man, you could fit at least three teabagger Hoverounds on that, and Sarah and Todd can get all freaky fucking the fat folds of their fans. Oh, yeah, rubbing clit on some manboobs, pokin' dick in that crease between dangling ass cheek and dimply thigh, while snorting Metamucil off the counter. It'll be like Motley Crue back in the day, except with more oxygen tanks and moist-crotched running pants. Groupies rock.

And, surely, the Magical Mystery Tour bus will stop at battlefields and monuments, Bunker Hill and the Lincoln Memorial, so Palin can nasally talk all about "freedom" and "rights" and "people doing things without government telling them what to do," the same bullshit that gets her slaveringly dumb followers all drippy and semi-hard, as she keeps SarahCo profitable for another quarter or two while she teases them with promise of an ass-reaming with the dildo of her presidential ambitions.

Memorial Day weekend 2011 in America, motherfuckers, kickin' off a long hot bitch of a summer.

(Note: You know that chances are this crazy kooz is gonna be private jetting into each town and then meeting up with the magic bus.)


The Quickest, Easiest Ad Against Republicans, Written by Republicans:
Oh, this is funny. Check this out from the House Budget Committee website's own FAQ page on the Paul Ryan budget, which is part of "Setting the Record Straight" on the Ryan Medicare plan. Read this whole thing, and see if you notice the punchline:

"Q: Does this budget reinstate the so-called Medicare 'donut hole'?

"A: This budget repeals the Democrats' health-care law, including provisions that increase prescription-drug prices for everyone. In fact, the CBO confirmed that the law’s new requirements will drive up health-care costs, at odds with claims made by its proponents. In a letter to Chairman Ryan last fall, CBO stated that '[The] increase in prices would make federal costs for Medicare’s drug benefit and the costs faced by some beneficiaries higher than they would be in the absence of those provisions,' and that 'the premiums of drug plans will increase along with the increase in net drug prices, so the premiums paid by beneficiaries will increase slightly.' Like the rest of this costly new entitlement, provisions that increase prescription-drug prices should be repealed.

"The real threat to seniors’ health care is the fact that Medicare is going bankrupt. The current trajectory of government spending on health care is unsustainable. Without changes, according to the CBO, the Medicare program collapses in 2021. Comparing any plan to save Medicare with the status quo means comparing real solutions to a false reality. This budget protects Medicare for current seniors by averting any disruptions and saves the program for future generations by providing a personalized Medicare program – like the one members of Congress enjoy – with more support for low-income beneficiaries and those with higher health costs and reduced subsidies for high-income beneficiaries."

Okay, to review: The question is (and, remember, this is Republicans asking what is a "Frequently-Asked Question") about whether or not the Ryan plan will reinstate the prescription drug "donut hole." That'd be the part of the Bush administration's Medicare prescription drug plan that forced senior citizens who reached $2840 in drug costs to cover the full amount for up to nearly $3000. That was changed by President Obama and the Democrats' recent health care reform law, with rebates and discounts built in, heading towards a full phase-out of the donut hole in 2020. Any change to the health care law would mean a change in the donut hole filling.

So it's a legitimate question, no? And what do Republicans answer?

Well, they don't. All they say is that they want to get rid of the health care reform law and put in their plan without actually addressing the question. They asked a "yes" or "no" question of themselves that they are refusing to answer. Which really means, "Yes. Yes, it does reinstate the donut hole. And we're not sorry about it. You like dog food, don't you, granny?"

Again, and this can't be emphasized enough: This is part of the GOP-run House Budget Committee's own website, under "Setting the Record Straight." This is not a Democratic talking point. This is not a marching order from Rachel Maddow. This is what House Republicans are saying about the plan.

So you guys have fun running on forcing the elderly to pay more for drugs again and not telling the truth about it.

(Creepy-ass bonus points: Why does the home page of the House Budget Committee have Paul Ryan making rape-eyes at us on the top banner?)


Eric Cantor Leads the GOP in Dancing Off the Cliff:
If things go the way they're starting to look, political history books in the future will say something like, "In 2008, the American people, sick of the bullshit they'd dealt with for the last 8 years, voted to decisively change the direction of the nation. In 2010, scared to death by Republican threats that President Barack Obama would personally murder their grandparents, voters cravenly ran back to what they perceived was the safety of the very people who had wrecked the country, giving the GOP a big ass victory. In 2012, remembering that 'Oh, shit, these are the fuckers who really do want to kill us,' they voted Democrats back into the majority in the House and reelected the President."

Sure, it's an incomplete history, at best, leaving out, for instance, Obama's own responsibility in not rallying the base for the 2010 election and Republican intransigence in the Senate. But mostly it paints a portrait of an electorate that is so horribly damaged by the endless post-9/11 rape of the nation by the Bush administration that it's desperately flailing about for help, less a turtle on its back than a fat man beating a candy machine that ate his last change.

Should the GOP go pouring off that high cliff onto the rocks of electoral failure, they'll have to thank chief lemming Eric Cantor for leading them there. For as skeevy a politician as House Speaker John Boehner is, as twerpish an asshole as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is, no one tops Virginia Republican and House Majority Leader Cantor for sheer creepiness and undiluted lunatic stupidity combined with a powerful position. He's a bespectacled ideologue who looks like every male high school science teacher who ends up boning a cheerleader on a lab table and losing his job.

As often as Cantor is predictably wrong on things like the auto company bailout and the stimulus, he has, to this point, been seen as the future of the GOP, a "young gun" who is gonna Gingrich this motherfuckin' party to the next decade. Inasmuch as one can use a single election to predict What Comes Next, after last night's big-ass loss in a rabidly Republican district in New York, Cantor has become a plague on his own caucus.

For Cantor has been desperately fluffing the Paul Ryan budget and, well, Ryan himself, saying that he'd support a Ryan candidacy for president. Not only that, but Cantor said that all the GOP candidates should announce their support for the Ryan budget. "What Paul Ryan is about is real leadership," Cantor said just a couple of days ago. And as for the actual candidates? "I'm looking for them to embrace our formula in the Ryan budget, I'm looking for them to embrace a leadership role that takes the tough positions," he said. So apparently the GOP's degraded definition of "leadership" is "killing Medicare so that taxes can be cut on the wealthy."

Which, of course, is why Democrat Kathy Hochul won in the same district that went for the madman Carl Paladino for governor of New York. Sure, Cantor said it wasn't about the Ryan budget and Medicare, but when the ultra-conservative Washington Times reports that "The loss could serve as a gut check for the GOP’s support of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan’s plan to slice trillions from federal spending in the coming years in part by transforming Medicare into a subsidy-driven program," it was about Medicare.

And, then, just to make sure that he's become a total jerk, Cantor told the Times that Joplin, Missouri, can suck his balls on emergency funding post-tornado bomb: "If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental." (Missouri Republican Roy Blunt of, you know, Joplin, responded by taking the "if" out of the equation.)

Cantor has gone all in on the Ryan budget and its destruction of Medicare, having forced the House members to all vote for it. This should be the clearest path to Democratic victory possible, especially considering how much irrational Medicare fears drove the 2010 election. Post-win last night, some Democrats are ready to use that to go on the attack, some are being predictably milquetoast about it, and some are, just as predictably, fucking it up.


The Rude Pundit on Monday's Stephanie Miller Show:
You want to hear a discussion of the merits of Chick-fil-A and how Tim Pawlenty is like Jeffrey Dahmer? Sure you do.

Enjoy the Rude Pundit's podcast, where you can hear new episodes of Cheater and the Rude, including last week's "Bad Accent Theatre."

Oh, and, hey, the Rude Pundit was on Citizen Radio with the righteous Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein, talkin' bloggery and The Rude Pundit's Almanack (which has all the shit about Tim Pawlenty you're hearing now - ahead of the curve, motherfuckers).
Scalia and Alito: Don't Treat Prisoners Like They're People:
Sometimes, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is such a dick that it's hilarious. A big, hairy cock when he writes a majority opinion, he's just a turtle-headed little prick when he's dissenting. Which is what he did in opposition to yesterday's majority opinion, written by vote swinger Anthony Kennedy, that said to California, in essence, "You've had years to fix your fucked-up, overcrowded prison system, to the point where you can't even provide medical care to the severely-ill inmates, but it's just gotten worse, so fuck you guys. If you can't fix it, set a whole bunch free. We're going on two decades of this shit, so do something about it." Or, in even otherer words, housing prisoners at 200% of capacity is inhumane. So the Supreme Court upheld a three-judge district court decision that told California to release over 40,000 prisoners. That's why we have courts, allegedly, as a place of final redress. The government won't take care of something? You go to court.

In his dissent, as he does any time the court grants rights to anyone not wealthy or powerful, Scalia went full douchebag in accusing the majority of "affirming the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history." Of the released convicts, Scalia says, "[M]any will undoubtedly be fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles pumping iron in the prison gym," apparently getting his view of prison solely from Oz and MSNBC weekend programming. Yes, Big Tony, those hard-bodied men are just so intimidating and ready to do nasty things to you. Makes a judge sweaty and throbbing just thinking about it, no? Oh, no, Big Tony, don't put your hand under your robe as you watch Lockup; don't let your desire turn into hatred for the very people you want to roughly ball in the group shower.

Scalia blathers on about "the inevitable murders, robberies, and rapes to be committed by the released inmates," as well as "the terrible things sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order," which would be true if it weren't in direct contradiction to the reason why California prisons are so goddamned crowded in the first place.

See, California loves locking up non-violent offenders. In fact, just back in April, Governor Jerry Brown signed an order transferring thousands of 'em to local jails or house arrest, once the state raised the money to help out the counties. Yeah, it seems that last year alone, the state prison system took in 47,000 people who were parole violators sentenced to a maximum of 90 days. That's 47,000 people to process, to examine, to fill the beds in the prison gymnasiums (which probably cuts down on the number of hunky cons for Scalia to fantasize about), to prevent real access to medical care. This is not to mention all the non-violent drug offenders given ridiculously long sentences.

In his punk-ass dissent, Sammy "Sobbin' Spouse" Alito said that the release would "have a major and deleterious effect on public safety." What Scalia and Alito leave out as they quiver like cold pussies is the deleterious effect that treating human beings like shit might have when those ripped felons get out of prison.

While Scalia refuses to even think about prisoners as anything other than scum who deserve nothing more than a blanket and a bowl and a cold space on a hard floor while getting raped and beaten constantly and then being forced to have one's torn anus heal without medical attention, Alito at least wants to do something about the health care received by the prisoners: "Is it plausible that none of these deficiencies can be remedied without releasing 46,000 prisoners? Without taking that radical and dangerous step, exam tables and counter tops cannot properly be disinfected? None of the system’s dilapidated facilities can be repaired? Needed medications and equipment cannot be purchased and used? Staff vacancies cannot be filled? The qualifications of prison physicians cannot be improved? A better records management system cannot be developed and implemented?" By the way, if the Supreme Court has to suggest disinfecting medical exam tables, then things have gotten out of hand.

It's delightfully cute to see Alito say what prisoner advocates have been saying for years. In fact, if any of these things had occurred in the dozen years since the case was first filed, it wouldn't have come to an order to release 46,000 prisoners. Besides California? Fuckin' broke, man. Welcome to years of Republican rule. And, as mentioned before, California was already moving towards prisoner releases and alternative incarceration.

Of course, then there's this: "In three years, a private-prison construction and management company, the Corrections Corporation of America, has seen the value of its contracts with [California] soar from nearly $23 million in 2006 to about $700 million three months ago – all without competitive bidding." Yeah, whenever there's some horror occurring to the poor and disenfranchised, you can bet there's a profit motive somewhere.


Tim Pawlenty: Another Motherfucker for America:
What is it with Republican governors of the upper Midwest? Tim Pawlenty, for instance, and Scott Walker both have the soulless, inbred, half-mast eyes of pedophiles staring at a school playground and masturbating inside a van. Seriously, if you saw one of these bastards in the woods, you'd fuckin' run because you'd feel sure that he'd saw off your head and skullfuck you.

Pawlenty announced yesterday that, no, really, seriously this time, he's a-runnin' for president (or, in the popular parlance, "losing to Barack Obama"). In a short video with choral music, like angels want him to be in the White House, Pawlenty tells us all about how he's not going to tell us he's running for president, except in the way that he's telling us he's running for president, and, boy, doesn't Obama suck, and, hey, look, he used Google to tell him how to announce. Go, Team T-Paw, go.

It's easy to dismiss Pawlenty as mind-thuddingly dull, but that doesn't give him near enough credit for how much of a typical Republican motherfucker he actually is. Not only was he elected governor twice with less than 50% of the vote (that's right: Tim Pawlenty couldn't even get half his own state to vote for him), but when it comes to taxes and budget cuts, the safety of rich people's wallets is more important than the safety of the lives of his citizens.

'Cause T-Paw (and that ain't mocking - this motherfucker calls himself that idiotic nickname, as if he's a rapper straight outta Eden Prairie) is goddamn proud of his budget-wrangling prowess. His website declares, "Tim set a record for vetoes and for using executive power to force necessary spending cuts." And what kinds of bills did he veto? Well, shit, ones that affected public works, like, you know, bridge repair.

See, Pawlenty was governor in August 2007, when the I-35 Mississippi River bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, killing 13 people and creating a huge economic headache for the region. As has been well, well-documented, the bridge was one of hundreds in Minnesota that were ranked as "structurally deficient" by inspectors.

So, no, Pawlenty couldn't have known that it would be that bridge that would collapse. But when a thousand or so bridges in one's state are fucked up, you'd think repairing them might be something you wouldn't scrimp on (and Pawlenty's not the only politician that sees infrastructure as a waste of money that offers no dividends in the next election). T-Paw, though, either spent way too little or just outright vetoed shit. In January 2007, Pawlenty proposed a budget for transportation needs that borrowed millions of dollars and contained no new gas taxes (which hadn't changed in 20 years). Hell, even after the bridge went underwater, Pawlenty vetoed a new gas tax.

There's lots of reasons Pawlenty's a motherfucker, like his pardoning of a child molester because the guy later married his victim. And there's a telecom bribery scandal that could bite him in the ass.

But, instead, the Rude Pundit just wanted to concentrate on the actual governing that Pawlenty did. If Pawlenty's major accomplishment is that he saved his state's citizens some coin while the infrastructure literally crumbled, then perhaps it says something about the craven, greedy Republican establishment that, at this moment, Pawlenty is one of the only viable candidates they have.


Family Research Council: Pray for the Gay-Bashing Fried Chicken Purveyors:
Holy Christ on burnt toast, we members of the Family Research Council's Super-Duper Prayer Team have got to save our waffle fries. The Rude Pundit joined the Super-Duper Prayer Team a few years back and every week we receive emails directly from Godjeebus givin' us our prayerphagia orders. Mostly, it's just about hatin' gays and lovin' fetuses, the usual shit from the conservative Family Research Council (motto: "You're not a religious person unless we say you're a religious person, Nancy Pelosi"). But, believe it or not, sometimes we fine, fine God soldiers in the SDPT are called upon to get on our knees before our Lord and stab that prayer spear for the good of capitalism.

So it was that, last week, the Rude Pundit received the following urgent message: "FRC President Tony Perkins has long warned that the Homosexual Agenda and Religious Liberty cannot coexist. Now homosexual activists are proving his axiom by their persecution of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain. Students at Indiana University, South Bend, have officially complained that their chancellor is violating the school's anti-discrimination policy by allowing sales of Chick-fil-A sandwiches on campus." Good fuckin' God, what more do homosexual activists want? They've taken away marriage and adoption and all the really good anal vibrators. Now they're coming for our delicious peanut oil-fried chicken breast sandwiches with the buttered buns and the delicious tangy, limp pickles on them? And our waffle fries? Oh, that's too far, man, too fuckin' far. Time for a line in the crispy coating.

It goes on: "The much beloved Cathy family, owners of Chick-fil-A, are widely known for their Christian faith, their Sunday store closing to honor the Sabbath, and their generous support for evangelism and other Christian causes," like contributing to anti-gay organizations. Imagine: people not wanting their tax dollars at a public university being used to support a business that gives to groups that discriminate against people. How absurd.

Say what you will about the action of the students and the banning of the restaurant, but one thing's for sure: we need some motherfuckin' prayin' about this. Luckily, the SDPT is never without the words for our prayturbation sessions:

"May Chick-fil-A gain far more goodwill than it loses as a result of these organized efforts. May the indecent treatment of such decent, respectable business people be an eye-opener for Americans. May these and future such efforts backfire," we're implored to implore. And we get, as usual, Bible verses to support our support of Chick-fil-A, because if there's one thing Jesus was all about, it was the ability of businesses to contribute to causes that offend their patrons without suffering any adverse financial consequences.

Or, perhaps, we should abide one of the biblical passages to back this shit up. Acts 10:1-4 is suggested after the prayer. Let's see what that is...hmmm...there's a dude named Cornelius, not the Planet of the Apes one, who gives money to the poor and prays, and an angel tells him to pray some more. Huh. That seems a bit redundant. Further on in Acts 10, Peter gets really hungry. Guess he could get him some Chick-fil-A, long as it's not Sunday.

Well, fuck, anyways, it's bad, and we gotta pray for profits made on fried chicken, because what else are you gonna bother prayin' for? Flood victims? That's soooo Old Testament.


The Rude Pundit on Monday's Stephanie Miller Show:
The Rude Pundit and Stephanie Miller contemplated how much the guy who shot Osama bin Laden is gonna get laid. And we talked education and other serious subjects.

You know, you really should subscribe to the Rude Pundit's podcast. It's free, fer fuck's sake.
Live Whiskey-Blogging Obama's Big Damn Middle East Policy Speech:
Breaking out the Bullheit, which is a good lunchtime sippin' bourbon, and getting all geared up for the latest biggest, most importantest speech o' the Obama presidency, most recently preceded by the biggest, most importantest speech on the economy. Pour a shot or two and get ready for the Middle East/foreign policy rumble, which the Rude Pundit is fairly sure he won't understand.

(All quotes pretty much guaranteed to be somewhat fucked up.)

12:03 pm: Jesus, does President Obama start anything on time anymore? It's like being in a club and waiting for a Lauryn Hill show to begin.

12:09: It's Hillary Clinton, dressed in the sky blue pants suit of socialist defeat.

12:11: First shout-out for "social networks." Somewhere, Mark Zuckerberg's gettin' wood.

12:12: Clinton: "Check out the old picture of the Tunisian dude on the back wall. Isn't that convenient for my rhetorical purposes?"

12:13: Clinton asks for a "sophisticated" understanding of issues, which means she's not talking to Americans.

12:14: Obama hugging Clinton reminds me of when Eisenhower would slap John Foster Dulles on the ass.

12:14: Hoo, baby. Obama calls Clinton "one of the finest" Secretaries of State.

12:15: Obama: "Our future is bound to the region" of the Arab Spring. Which means "oil." And tasty falafels.

12:16: We've started to wind down the wars, which would be awesome if we really started to wind down the wars.

12:16: "I got bin Laden. Did you hear about that?"

12:17: Al-Qaeda is getting "irrelevant," even pre-Osama face shot.

12:18: Reviews the self-immolation that started the Tunisian uprising. Tea Party members start to eye each other to see which of them will burn himself.

12:20: Crispy Tunisian had "no political party" that represented him. Based on that, we should all be pouring gas on ourselves.

12:21" Offers support for Israel, which will be interpreted as his Muslim desire to re-Holocaust Israelis.

12:22: Boo-yah. Second mention of "social networks" today. Just fuckin' say, "Facebook."

12:22: Students chanted, "Our night must come to an end." Did anyone tell them to wait a few hours?

12:23: Though non-violence, protesters got more done in a few months than terrorists have gotten done in years. Word.

12:23: "The question before us is what role America will play in all of this." Word.

12:24: Again offers support for Israel, which will be interpreted as his Kenyan desire to spear Jewish babies there.

12:25: Obama: "You're paranoid about us, and, hey, we're paranoid about you. Go figure. Howzabout some mutual respect?"

12:26: We need to support street vendors in Tunisia because their kebabs are especially delicious. (It's lunch time.)

12:27: "People themselves launched these movements" and those people will determine the outcomes, and sometimes America needs to not be pricks about it.

12:28: The United States opposes violence and repression against people, which, if you think about it, would only be surprising if he said the opposite.

12:29: Obama: "All the world over, so easy to see. People everywhere have got to be free."

12:30: There's also violence, like in Libya. Obama restates his position on Libya, that he heard "the Libyan people's call for help." Which was much, much louder than the Ivory Coast's.

12:31: On Libya, "the message was, 'Kill as many people as you need to maintain power,'" which is pretty much what happens in a war, no?

12:32: Syrians are gettin' all democracy-ish now, too, and he says that Syrians need to stop killing protesters.

12:33: Oh, snap. Now he's talking that Iran is all repressive. "Our opposition to Iran" is well-known. But there's way too many fuckin' people there to invade.

12:35: Bahrain, yeah, he's lookin' at you, too.

12:36: All of this is fine, but why is this billed as something important? Isn't Obama just laying out shit what we already do? Then again, the shot glass is empty, so let's refill.

12:37: "We must reach the people who will shape the future, particularly young people. Like exchange programs and civil societies. And we will follow you on Twitter and you don't even have to follow back."

12:38: We will support open access to the internet. (see above)

12:38: "America respects all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard, even if we disagree with them." (Somewhere, John Bolton's mustache just attacked the rest of his face.)

12:39: Expects respect for the rights of minorities, especially when it comes to how people talk to an invisible sky wizard of various colors.

12:40: Supports rights of women in countries where women are treated like veiled cattle. Good on him.

12:41: Must advance economic development (oil). "Too many people wake up in the region with few other ambitions than being able to make it to the end of the day." It's like he's describing mass depression.

12:42: Name checks Google. Says let's get down an get prosperous. "Focus on trade, not just aid." Hells, yeah, B-Obs throwin' down the rimez.

12:43: Mentions IMF. Legs in the room cross unconsciously.

12:44: We will relieve a democratic Egypt of a shitload of debt.

12:45: Oooh, look: an email with a Groupon on Burlesque Bikini Bootcamp. Oh, wait...

12:46: "Prosperity requires tearing down walls." Somewhere, a teabagger nods triumphantly because he knew Obama didn't want to build that wall.

12:47: Another cornerstone: pursuit of peace. Gonna go down Israel/Palestine road. Starting with the children of Israel.

12:48: Says that Palestinians "suffer the humiliation of occupation." Somewhere, Joe Lieberman's head explodes.

12:48: Calls bullshit on the "stalemate" in the peace talks.

12:49: Tells Arab countries not to be mean to Israel and to stop huffing on Hamas's ass.

12:49: Our devotion to Israel's safety is "unshakeable." Which means Bill Kristol will say he means the opposite.

12:50: But Obama says there cannot be "permanent occupation." And says that the Israelis and Palestinians need to work out their own shit.

12:51: Says that there needs to be a "state of Palestine." The Heritage Foundation riots.

12:52: Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself. Which is secret Indonesian code for "Death to Israel."

12:53: You know, snark aside, at least he's talking straight about the conflict, even if he's not offering the clearest path to peace other than, "Hey, fuckers, get it done."

12:55: Just said "hard" and "harden" in the same sentence. Arousing.

12:57: "We see reason to be hopeful" until Republicans destroy the world by not voting to raise our debt ceiling.


Ben Stein Rapes Himself:
Can we stop pretending that Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein is anything other than another savage buffoon of the right? Can we stop hearing his stoned-out monotone as a delightful character voice that appears in children's cartoons, fer chrissake, and realize that it's merely the soul-dead flatness of the sociopath?

Here's what Stein, who, by some accounts, is a raging lunatic asshole whose voice gets hysterically screechy when he's in an argument or he gets punched in the balls, wrote in the conservative magazine American Spectator (motto: "We're what happened when William F. Buckley fucked a sow") defending accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn, he of the IMF and who, even prior to these allegations, was le grand douchebag:

1. "If he is such a womanizer and violent guy with women, why didn't he ever get charged until now?" There's an entire ocean of breathtaking ignorance in that sentence. Has he never heard of his fellow Ferris Bueller's Day Off actor, Charlie Sheen? Has he never heard of, say, any of the entire history of violence against women?

2. "People who commit crimes tend to be criminals, for example. Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes?" Hmm. Well, let's see. University of Pennsylvania economist and professor Rafael Robb bludgeoned his wife to death, but that didn't involve sex, per se. But prior to that, Robb had not dishonored the profession of economisting. Besides, he's from Israel, so he probably gets a pass from Stein and the American Spectator, who lick Bibi's taint like it's candy.

3. "Did he really have to be put in Riker's Island?" Short answer: yes. Stein's right: Strauss-Kahn does deserve to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. And he's right when he says, "In what possible way is the price of the hotel room relevant?" Of course, if the price of the hotel room, and thus the economic class of the accused rapist, doesn't matter, then why should he be treated differently than any other accused rapist? Why does he deserve the expense of "home detention with a guard" and Johnny Poorboy does not?

Fuck the rest of Stein's sexist, elitist, bullshit "argument." Let's just put the final nail in the coffin of this fucker's idiotic career that has stretched way beyond its expiration date. Here's what Ben Stein, the great defender of the rights and treatment of the accused, like James O'Keefe, said in 2004 about the Abu Ghraib scandal: "Now we're in Iraq. Once we're there, we have to protect innocent life from terrorists. That means interrogating prisoners whom [sic] we think are terrorists, sometimes harshly." See that? Harshly interrogate prisoners on the belief, without proof, that they might be terrorists? As we beat and degraded them, many of whom were not even accused of a crime, let alone charged, Stein insisted, "We are the good guys."

Yeah, you gotta have principles in this world, don't ya?

Man, Stein pretty much just fucked himself with this column. No, he raped himself. He slapped himself, tackled himself to the ground, and fucked his own ass unwillingly. Quite a sight.


Newt Gingrich: "My Mandate on Individuals Is Not Like the Individual Mandate":
Let us give the Devil his due, shall we? Republican presidential candidate and author of World War II fan fiction Newt Gingrich says that he was taken out of context when media on the left and right pointed out that he had seemingly approved of individual mandates for health insurance, the centerpiece of the President Obama's health care reform law, on Meet the Press with the matching grey mane of David Gregory. So let's give him some context.

On Sunday, Gregory played a 1993 clip of then-elected Representative Gingrich saying, "I am for people, individuals--exactly like automobile insurance--individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance. And I am prepared to vote for a voucher system which will give individuals, on a sliding scale, a government subsidy so we insure that everyone as individuals have health insurance."

He then asked Gingrich, "What you advocate there is precisely what President Obama did with his healthcare legislation, is it not?"

And Gingrich said, "No, it's not precisely what he did. In, in the first place, Obama basically is trying to replace the entire insurance system, creating state exchanges, building a Washington-based model, creating a federal system. I believe all of us--and this is going to be a big debate--I believe all of us have a responsibility to help pay for health care. I think the idea that..."

Then Gregory interrupted, "You agree with Mitt Romney on this point."

And Gingrich continued, "Well, I agree that all of us have a responsibility to pay--help pay for health care. And, and I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy. I've said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond or in some way you indicate you're going to be held accountable."

And Gregory pushed, "But that is the individual mandate, is it not?"

And Gingrich said, "It's a variation on it."

So what Gingrich said was simple: Buy health insurance or put up money elsewhere, in an account, one supposed, where one keeps money that the government says you have to keep so you can pay for health care, but, no, really, as long as it's not "insurance," per se, it's not exactly an individual mandate for health insurance, just a mandate for money. Individually. That's not flip-flopping. That's noodle-dancing.

And it allows Gingrich's campaign to make this statement: "Newt believes it is unconstitutional for the federal government to impose an individual mandate requiring citizens to buy health insurance." And so he's right. But he apparently doesn't think it's unconstitutional for the federal government to make you post a health care cost bond, a kind of "insurance," if you will, that you will be able to afford that heart surgery.

If turds had legs, they'd be called "Gingriches" because Newt is simply one of the most vile politicians...no, no, one of the most vile Americans of the last half century. He is a bloated reminder of the depravity inflicted on the nation during the Clinton administration. And as for his much-vaunted "ability to work across the aisle"? Well, fuck, he only made deals with President Clinton because Clinton decided to triangulate the hell out of the right's positions. Or, in other words, in simpler words, Clinton veered conservative, and then Newt was ready to deal.

As Gingrich flames out, as anyone who paid attention during the 1990s knew he would, as he makes barely-coded racist statements, as he pisses off members of the cult of Paul Ryan and then offers to blow them, we can all sit back and watch the hubristic Hindenburg burn and say, "Oh, the inhumanity."


Heading Back to the House That J. Fred Muggs Built Tonight:
The Rude Pundit will join Ed Schultz tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET on his MSNBC show to talk the desperate scramble for Republicans to find someone who won't embarrass them too badly in 2012.
Photos That Give the Rude Pundit Swollen Lymph Nodes:

That up there is former presidential candidate and current ex-preacher, ex-governor, TV personality, and man who hears voices in his head, Mike Huckabee. He's on bass. On guitar is former semi-famous rock star and current assassination-fantasizing weapons enthusiast Ted Nugent. They are on Huckabee's Fox "news" program, the one with the convenient name of Huckabee. It's on Saturday night, which means it's for shut-ins and people in comas.

This song is what happened before the former presidential candidate announced that he would remain former. Jesus apparently told him, "Look, there's no fuckin' way your cracker ass is beatin' the black guy." When one gets such advice, one should heed it. Huckabee, not a stupid man, did so.

But Huckabee jammed with Nugent on the Cretin from Michigan's "hit" song, "Cat Scratch Fever." Some of the lyrics are: "I make the pussy purr with/ The stroke of my hand/ They know they gettin' it from me/ They know just where to go/ When they need their lovin' man/ They know I do it for free." It is a song about fucking a woman in her vagina with one's fingers or penis.

It might seem an odd, even hypocritical, song choice for a man who calls himself "evangelical" to play to an audience of zombies, since one assumes that the fucking of said pussy did not necessarily involve marriage. But, as a way of saying that he didn't give a fuck how anything could be interpreted, it was perhaps the clearest sign that Huckabee was out.

(This is not even to get into the bullshit hypocrisy of having Nugent on Fox while every other anchor was bitching about Common laying down some rhymes at the White House.)

(Note: It's not really worth noting, but Trump's out, too. His TV program, Wipe My Ass With Your Pride, continues.)
Late Post Today (and Fun Announcement Time):
Yeah, yeah, posting later. Feeling down about not having Huckabee to kick around.

But, more importantly, the Rude Pundit announces an awesome event connected to his new book, The Rude Pundit's Almanack:

On May 31 at 7 p.m. at Housing Works Bookstore in NYC, join the Rude Pundit, along with Sady Doyle of The Atlantic and Tiger Beatdown, Jill Filipovic of Feministe, David Rees of Get Your War On, and Rachel Sklar of Mediaite, with more guests to be added.

It'll be rude readings and rantings and more, like This American Life on meth. Come on out.


Your Bullshit Abuse of Teachers Is Killing Education (Series Part 5):
Let's conclude this week about how badly we've screwed with our children's education under No Child Left Behind (and whatever Frankenstein monster Arne Duncan and the President are stitching together) with a few words from some teachers. They were kind and gutsy enough to write into the Rude Pundit, and he will protect your identities (and do some minor edits). Offered without comment:

From C.E.:
"I taught art and English for 17 years in public schools. Art education used to be considered a vital part of a child's education. Art lessons can be used to team up different curriculum (like geometry, history, science, music, etc.) and illustrate new concepts to students. Art can 'demonstrate' how things work and help kids to use critical thinking skills.

"That said, everything changed under NCLB. Art class became the new "dumping ground for Special Education students. With the 'benchmarks' that threatened school closures, testing was king. NCLB was forcing core classes to 'improve' (according to the test results) and SE students were caught in the crossfire. What to do? Solution? Dump them into art class where the teacher could babysit them while the 'real learning' was going on in other classes.

"Soon, my art classes were filling up with SE kids who were repeating art classes they had already taken. In a typical day, I taught 150 kids. 47 of those kids were designated SE learners. Teacher aides were scarcer than hen's teeth. The 'funding' was poor and what little money for teacher aides did come in, was used up in P.E. classes (which had class sizes of 65 and needed locker-room supervision).

"Ever since 'mainstreaming' became the new vortex of energy/trendy norm, special education kids have been pushed into regular education classes. Some SE kids do very well there, but most do not thrive. The truth is that while it may seem discriminatory to keep the bulk of SE students in a self-contained classroom (like they did in the 1970s), moving them into the regular classroom does NOT significantly raise their abilities and it SIGNIFICANTLY slows the learning for the regular education kids. This is the KEY. This is probably the goal, as it keeps the masses from being successful in school. This is not just happening in art class. The SE mainstreamed kids are now in all core classes, excluded only from the advanced placement classes, such as high level math, chemistry, and college level history and English (offered in high school).

"A special education teacher once told me that the typical student needs 4-7 repetitions to learn a concept. A typical SE kid needs 1000-1500 reps! Most school days work on the 6-7 period day, which makes each class run about 45 minutes long. Average class size? 32 kids. Student limit per day per teachers varies by state, but in Montana, it was 150 kids per day. Given that, how much time does your regular education student spend (one-on-one) with the teacher when she is busy repeating concepts to a SE kid? So, let's do the math. In a 45 minute period, with a class size of 32 (ten of whom are SE kids) the amount of face-time per student is about 1 1/2 minutes per student. If the teacher has to repeat concepts with SE students, how much time do the regular education kids get in face-time? Less than zero."

From Carla:
"Not a single teacher I know, including myself, has anything positive to say about NCLB. Topping the list is stopping teachers from teaching, thus stopping students from real learning, thus teachers getting the blame, thus teachers getting further underpaid, losing jobs, and classrooms becoming more crowded as schools are unable to meet the percentages, and lose funding and more teachers; the entire original concept of NCLB is doing what is was designed to do: destroy the public school system, all said here in one long run-on sentence because I can."

From Sara:
"We spend about 6 weeks total in testing. That's 6 weeks I could be teaching chemistry and geometry. 6 weeks, a third of a semester, wasted on test prep and testing and then make up testing. If we must test I say set up Saturday testing centers and pay folks minimum wage to proctor all the testing. That way I can go back to teaching actual content."

From Dawn:
"I will give the last state test to my 6th graders tomorrow. It's in Reading, and I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Literacy: Reading/Language Arts. But my test results probably won't show it, because the kids will be tested on the biggest bunch of crap, NOT what I have worked with them on all year, to be readers and thinkers. NCLB has been a disaster."

From Judy:
"I taught music to grades k-8 in a large inner city public school. I had to retire early because my doctor felt that, if I continued teaching, I would have a stroke. He said most of his teachers were on blood pressure medication from September to June. Does that tell you something? No Child Left Behind reminds me of what our city did every time a new superintendent (now they call them CEOs) took the helm. They tried to reinvent the wheel. New books, new curricula, etc, and everyone was supposed to jump on board without question. Were we ever asked what we thought would work? Hell, no. Our opinions were not even worthy of a look-see. NCLB, is obviously a joke. What frosts me is that there are tons of research that suggest what works in education. Oh, how about lower class size, highly-educated teachers, parents who understand child development, higher academic standards, kids that go to bed at a reasonable hour, not sending children to school with money to buy bagfuls of junk? And on and on. A little respect for teachers would be nice as well. Obama's 'Teach for America' campaign is not much better. Arrogant young kids with little education who think they know the answers to education is not the answer. I heard someone ask Arne Duncan what were his qualifications to be Secretary of Education. I kid you not, his answer was - wait for it -'I went to school and my mother was a teacher.' Kind of makes one's head want to explode."

From Marc:
"I work as a teacher’s aide in New Mexico. Most of our schools don't meet up to NCLB standards, so when that happens they cut our funding and we lose teachers and EAs as myself. That's 'education assistant'- most of the time it means photocopy boy or sub. I'm in a program to become a teacher, and believe me when I say it isn't for the money that I want to be one.

"I feel that when people always blame the public schools for the failure of the students they always mean the teachers. And, yeah, in some cases you're always going to have those type of people who shouldn't be teachers. And NCLB sucks ass, that's true, but most teachers I know are always trying to find ways to subvert it. I believe that what NCLB is doing is hurting our schools. These high risk tests they make us give the children are completely unfair because there is no such thing as a standardized student. Why should we have fucking tests that expect them to be all the same when none of our kids learn the same?"

Thanks to everyone who wrote in, especially the thugs and criminals who belong to the NEA (if we're to believe Chris Christie). The Rude Pundit will get to parents and students (and more teachers and test graders) in the next few weeks.


The Rude Pundit on Monday's Stephanie Miller Show:
This week, the Rude Pundit and Stephanie Miller talked torture, tortured talk, and... taltured...torque?

Tonight at 8 p.m., the Rude Pundit and Jeff Kreisler will assault your ear holes with a new episode of Cheater and the Rude on the Progressive Radio Network.

Andthere's another event coming up: May 31 at 7 p.m. at the Housing Works Bookstore in New York City, the official official book release party for The Rude Pundit's Almanack. More details to come.
Your Bullshit Capitalism Is Killing Education (Series Part 4: True and False)
(Note: This was eaten by the Blogger machine during its recent mad robot breakdown. And, well, now it's back.)

Here's the most liberal thing that the Rude Pundit can say about how we should approach education in the United States: some children get left behind. It's just the way it is, as much as the conservative supposed school reformers want you to believe the opposite, that we can achieve universal success if only we make public schools "accountable," which really means "accountable to politicians looking to base their education street cred on the false 'miracles' that never really happened." Remember: it was the myth of the alleged turnaround in student achievement in Texas that helped burnish George W. Bush, launched Rod Paige into the Secretary of Education position, and gave us the soul-crushing No Child Left Behind legislation. The reality, of course, was that children got left behind. And they will. Sorry.

And the reason that's a liberal statement is that a true, real liberal understands that you can give kids vouchers, school choice, and charter schools. You can shut down "failing schools," give principals the ability to fire teachers at a whim, destroy tenure, and crush teachers' unions, the entire wish list of conservatives, and children will be left behind, no matter how much legislation says that, by 2014, none of them can be. You could let every school be taken over by the Koch brothers and make the curriculum all about how to be good little automaton consumers that should shut the fuck up and listen to their betters, and kids would still get left behind. That's because liberals understand that the whole fight is as fake as the test scores that Rod Paige and, later, Michelle Rhee touted to make their cases.

In order to even get your brain around any part of the current state of public education, with the constant attacks from Republican governors and, as usual, Democrats buying into the thinking that generic assessment-based education is the solution, you have to grapple with the fact that people who have no business going anywhere near a classroom keep making policies about how kids should be educated. Sorry, but schools ain't corporations. And no matter how much you made USA Today and New York magazine turn a profit, Cathie Black, you were a bullshit pick to be the Chancellor of New York City's schools and it's great that you were run out of office on a rail. Hiring someone like Cathie Black to run your school system is like hiring LeBron James to do brain surgery.

Let's get theoretical here: instead of dividing things between conservative and liberal, let's instead say that you can support the competitive society or the compassionate society. If you believe in the competitive society, then you see everything in crass goals of win or lose, as individual betterment with easily-recognizable markers to demonstrate it. You view government as a business that serves consumers of a product. When it comes to schools, you see the student and his or her parents as customers of the school system. Of course the customer must be pleased. Of course, in the competitive society, you need to be able to make schools compete with each other. Of course, your mantra has to be that the customer always comes first. And, as customers, especially when it comes to your kids education, you want to be able to choose something better.

See, this is where a little good Marxism comes into play: What if we think of the public school system as something we own? Proprietors instead of consumers? Then we want to make it better because, if we do, the whole society is improved. If we think of it as something that serves us, like a restaurant, then all we're gonna do if we get a shitty meal is go to a new joint. But if we own it? Then, yeah, we wanna make it better, rather than just abandon it for the new Cheesecake Factory down by the mall, which may suck as much, but at least the portions are bigger.

In the compassionate society, we recognize that competition is way the world works. But we understand that the classrooms in school exist as a way to prepare one to go out and compete, not as competition itself (even if, yes, there's lots of competitions in school). And we understand that childhood is more than just school. We know that in order to leave as few children as possible behind, we need to provide anti-poverty programs, childhood health programs, housing programs, daycare, counseling for parents, after school programs, nutrition programs, and on and on. In other words, like anti-choice people who abandon fetuses as soon as they're out of the womb, conservative education reformers abandon children at the school house doors. And, ultimately, the compassionate society knows that, no matter how much we do, some children are gonna fail, they're gonna fuck up, they're gonna fall through the cracks. So we make sure there are safety nets there.

Of course, we don't live in a compassionate society. We live in a nation where the federal government's latest education program is to make states dance for cash with the Race to the Top, the American Idol-like competition for a pool of money for jacking up kids' test scores, among other things. No wonder there's an urge to keep scores high, no matter how that's achieved.

So we get caught up in bullshit solutions that don't work, but they fit into an easily understandable capitalistic emphasis on easily-apprehended sales charts. And they certainly help make the case to privatize education so someone can make a real profit off it. It doesn't matter what the truth is: Charter schools are no better or worse than non-charter public schools. Testing hasn't made a difference. And demonizing teachers and tenure and their unions, for a group of people who, in most states, make shit wages for an enormous fucking job? That's just bullying and viciousness of the lowest order.

You wanna know the solution? It's easy: just let teachers teach. More on that soon.


Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Choke on a Pom-Pom (Education Series: Part 3):

In Marlborough, Massachusetts, a thousand students gathered yesterday for a pep rally to defeat a test. No, more precisely, to beat a score, 240, on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or, you know, test. In Massachusetts, in 1993, the legislature passed and Republican Governor William Weld signed into law the Education Reform Act, which created as series of outcome-based assessments, including the 10th grade test that determines whether or not the path to graduation is smooth, bumpy, or blocked off.

In the early days, tests were given in grades 4, 8, and 10, as a way of measuring progress. And, in a negotiation with Democrats, Weld even agreed to pretty much double the amount the state gave to local government for education in order to institute the "reforms," unlike the Bush administration, which just said, with No Child Left Behind, "Here's a big fucking mandate. Do it or we'll crush you." Yeah, back in the 1990s, with the introduction of charter schools as "competition" to general public schools, as well as a negotiated end to some tenure protections to teachers, it was the beginning of the wet dream for the public school destroyers on the right.

The Glee-ready kids up there, with their enthusiastic teacher, dancing and singing to Michael Jackson's "Beat It," are from 8th, 9th, and 10th grades, and they are the product now of a system that has told them that their worth is based, year after year, on a test. And they are also doing the bidding of the Marlborough schools, who, according to every new law crammed down their throats, need to maintain a certain level of achievement or face all kinds of penalties, including being taken over, no matter how many traditionally underachieving students a school might have (and Marlborough's median income is above the state average).

The Rude Pundit will return tomorrow to the discussion of the failure of a business model imposed on school reform, but, for now, he offers again that picture: students fighting to beat a test. As a professor, he can tell you: if you view a test as an opponent, then that test is worthless.

(Tip o' the rude hat to Gary Z for the pic.)
Keep the NCLB Stories Coming:
The Rude Pundit's gotten plenty of stories about the ludicrous state of our public schools. Keep 'em coming. Here's a question, though: Does anyone have anything nice to say about No Child Left Behind (or "Race to the Top" or whatever) assessment testing? Anyone, other than, say, Neil Bush?

Back later with more on the reaming of our education system by conservatives.


Your Bullshit Conservative Ideology Is Killing Education (Series Part 2: Personal Essaying):
Fuck terrorism. You know what the top security issue for the United States is? That our schools are turning out goddamned idiots. If you have a generation or two of fat fucks who can't read, write, do math and science, or understand how the government works, then you are a nation that is doomed, probably deservedly so. And if you don't care or don't believe it, well, you either have a vested interest in people being fat and stupid or you are too stupid to notice.

How does the Rude Pundit know for sure that students are devolving? 'Cause he's been teaching your kids for 20 years when they get to college, and he has watched them get progressively stupider (no, not you, dear student who might be reading this, but surely that kid sitting next to you in class), especially in the last ten years, since the ludicrous No Child Left Behind law was rammed down the throats of our public school systems, expecting some miraculous flourishing, as if somehow the nascent intelligence of humans was somehow going to just improve because we said it would. (No, really, NCLB, with its goal of every student graduating from high school, is the kind of utopian plan that, if created by a liberal, would have gotten him or her laughed out of the public discourse or treated like Ralph Nader.)

Look, there's a hell of a lot of books written on the subject of the horrors and humiliations visited upon the public education system of the United States. So, instead, here's a quick thumbnail version of how the Rude Pundit believes we got here (it's a bit complicated, but, hey, follow the bouncing ball and sing along):

1. Ronald Reagan gets elected president in 1980. As with virtually every awful thing that has happened to the U.S. in the last half-century, Reagan is in some way responsible for its origins. Reagan opened the doors of the White House, and thus the government, to evangelical Christians who, among other cultural issues, were all upset about how the kids were learning things that might transform them from useful Jesus-fellaters to free thinkin' Me generation hippie-lite secularists. They've been fighting curriculum battles since someone taught 'em to read.

At the same time, Reagan shifted many of the responsibilities of the federal government to the states or, more insidiously, to private companies (remember: the government giving massive amounts of money to corporations to hire people to do shit is capitalism; the government just hiring people to do shit is socialism). The idea was that Uncle Miltie Friedman-esque competition would make everything cheaper and more efficient. Like most theories that involve economics and, you know, humans, it fails, again and again, but it sounds good and full of freedom cream, so we do it, again and again, until it seems like it's the only way things are done.

2. Oh, by the way, prior to Reagan coming to office, there was a big damn recession. And one way state and federal governments attempted to deal with it was through cutting education budgets. As you might imagine, that affected the quality of public schools, especially urban ones (and, in this case, "urban" really does mean "city" and not "black"). So everyone was talking about the suckage of their school system, even if it didn't really suck that much.

3. Anyways, in a beautiful merging of economic ideology and crass vote whoring, Reagan decides the cool thing to do would be to apply a capitalistic competition model to schools, and he starts to push for school vouchers, which, simply put, create a massive transfer of public dollars to private schools, including, not shockingly, religious schools. Vouchers become one of the holy grails of conservative education "reform," and it was sold in crass terms that, again, if a liberal had used, it would have been called "class warfare." Essentially, Reagan and the pro-voucher crowd said that your filthy public schools suck donkey ass and don't your kids deserve to go where the rich kids go, whether that was a nice suburban (in this case, yes, it means "white") or a nice Catholic school?

4. While a national voucher program never got passed in Congress, it essentially set the tone for attacking the majority of public schools. So school systems scrambled for a way to try to compete with each other and with private schools. Now, you may think, "Huh. Don't public school systems have to spend money on the special needs kids, including like, autism, disability, and remediation? And private schools don't? That's hardly a fair fight." But you'd be a fucking socialist, so shut the fuck up.

5. But, of course, the one thing that we're told, again and again, is that money won't solve the problem. Closing bad schools. Firing bad teachers. That'll work. Providing toilet paper and pencils and non-moldy classrooms? Fuck you, that's socialism (or some such shit) and we don't want our tax dollars going for that when there's the communists/terrorists/random Middle Easterners to blow up.

6. The ultimate dream, of course, of conservative school deform...reformers is to get rid of Public Education As We Know It and to make as many people rich(er) as they can along the way. And then there's the crowd with OCD about assessment: we must be able to quantify shit. We must be able to create rubrics that we can put numbers in and demonstrate that Teacher A and Teacher B are doing well, while Teacher C ought to walk the plank. We must be able to take one of the most difficult things you can to assess and come up with a way to assess it and, no, really, we totally promise you that it'll make kids smarter. And start charter schools.

7. So let's test the fuck out of 'em. Starting in 5th, no, wait, 4th, no, no, 3rd, aw, fuck it, 2nd grade. Yeah, yeah, motherfuckers, and if a school doesn't make the cut, we'll shut the fucker down or fire all the teachers or sacrifice a goat to the idol of the Chicago School of Economics. Hey, Chris Christie, hey, other governors, jump on this fuckin' train (private train, of course, no government funding).

Your business model is bullshit. Your rubrics are useless. Your approach is nothing but a sham, and, to put it in your inapplicable vocabulary, it's micromanaging to the nth degree. And it has failed. And the Rude Pundit has to teach the results of your failure, kids about whom we used to complain, "They can't write an essay," and then, "They can't write a paragraph," and now, "They can't write a sentence."

Why? Because, well, see tomorrow.


Your Bullshit Tests Are Killing Education (Education Series Part 1: Multiple Voices):
From Facebook responses to the Rude Pundit's call for stories about how No Child Left Behind testing, currently going on around the country, is ruining the education system for teachers, parents, and students:

Sara wrote, "We spend about 6 weeks total in testing. That's 6 weeks I could be teaching chemistry and geometry. 6 weeks, a third of a semester wasted on test prep and testing and then make up testing. If we must test I say set up Saturday testing centers and pay folks minimum wage to proctor all the testing. That way I can go back to teaching actual content."

Blu said, "33 days of instructional time are 'devoted' to standardized benchmarks (pre-tests) and state mandated tests. Thirty-three in most school districts."

Meg added, "‎[In grades] 1-8: first two months of 'review' each school year followed by a benchmark test followed by three months of instruction followed by two more months of review for an end of year benchmark test. The last three weeks of school dominated by field days and assemblies, clean out your locker days, etc. For the kid who tested out of grade three years back, most of that time spent in the office for being disruptive because he's bored. Instead of teaching them to take tests, they should just be teaching each kid to their ability."

Ina said, "What I learned at a meeting on Friday is that children with cognitive disabilities also take the tests and have their scores averaged in. So even those kids who work with excellent teachers who enable them to make huge improvements in their abilities, they still don't even approach grade level work. So as more and more pressure is put on the test scores (the threats of taking over schools where the scores are lower), and especially using test scores in evaluating teachers, more and more teachers will fight to refuse to take kids into their classes who they know that even the best help cannot get them to grade level work. Another issue that others have pointed out is that the children who end up being 'left behind' in the teach-to-the-test classroom are the students who are ready to do above grade-level work. What a mess we've made."

You wanna know how much these tests are bullshit? Read the passage from the beginning of the 2009 Texas assessment test in reading for 6th graders. Did it? Now answer this question:

The author probably wrote this story to —
A. highlight the challenges of learning to play a sport
B. show the importance of communicating
C. describe a boy’s day from beginning to end
D. persuade fathers and sons to get along

The Rude Pundit's gonna pull rank here, since he's a professor, and say, "That's one bullshit question." The answer is B, but you could make a good case for D or A. But multiple choice is a cruel mistress. And "probably" is about as bullshit a word as you could use. Worthless. Just worthless.

More tomorrow. And keep on sending your tales of education system woes, especially regarding the standardized tests that are turning the kids into a nation of dumb automatons, to rudepundit-at-yahoo.com
Late Post Today:
The Rude Pundit is giddy that he's gonna have Newt Gingrich to kick around, so he's on a six-whiskey-brunch. Back later with more palliative rudeness.


Multimedia Rude Punditry From This Week:
Let's play catch-up (and do some housework):

1. The Rude Pundit's Almanack is available in the U.K. now through Amazon and OR Books.

2. The Rude Pundit on Monday's Stephanie Miller Show, the yang to Miller's yin:

3. On Sam Seder's Majority Report Radio on Tuesday:

4. With the magical Jeff Kreisler on their podcast/Progressive Radio Network show, Cheater and the Rude, this past Thursday:

5. Hey, look, the Rude Pundit on The Ed Show on MSNBC from Thursday, talking about Republican retreat on Medicare reform:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

(Yes, the Rude Pundit realizes that he should have posted these all week long. But what the hell else are you gonna do today? Sit and listen to these with your mom.)

Sign up for the Rude Pundit podcast or subscribe through the iTunes. It's free, so it's a perfect Mother's Day gift.
Three Things the Rude Pundit Won't Be Talking About (and a Request):
Sometimes the news is too stupid to breathe. Even if it's vile and evil, it can still be stupid, like a particularly vicious but brain-damaged hyena. So, screw it. Why bother wasting time?

1. The Republican debate last night in South Carolina. Because a) Fox "news" was its sponsor, b) none of them has a flea fart's chance in a hurricane to be elected, and c) fuck those guys.

2. The battle over the use of sorcery in the administration of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. No, really. By the way, if you can use sorcery, why the hell do you need nukes?

3. The House of Representatives passing a bill that redefines rape and could force the IRS to check to see if women had abortions for the right reasons. It's not that a brutal assault on the rights of women isn't important. It's not that we shouldn't bash all the Republicans, every one of them, who voted for it. No, it's that the House of Representatives has decided that it is merely going to publicly masturbate for its most extremist constituents, recklessly passing shit that has absolutely no way to get through the Senate, let alone the President. So whatever they do is merely fodder for nutzoid right-wing fundraising. They're already bailing on the Medicare "reform" they just passed almost unanimously. They're worthless, disembodied cocks and cunts.

A Request to Rude Readers:
Next week, barring the shooting of another important person in the face, the Rude Pundit is going to start a series on the fucked beyond fucked state of public education. He's going after testing, No Child Left Behind, the Race to the Top, the corporatization of the university, stupid fucking politicians, stupid fucking parents, and more.

So if you've got a story about you or your children being damaged by the public school system and its dunderheaded approach to "educating" your kids, send it on to "rudepundit-at-yahoo.com." The most interesting ones will be thrown up on the blog.
Note to Journalists Regarding the Tony Kushner/CUNY Board of Trustees Story:
Just sayin', but if the Rude Pundit was a good journalist and he was looking into why Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner was denied an honorary degree at John Jay College by the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York thanks in large part to trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld objecting to Kushner's criticism of Israel, he might look at this angle:

In 2007, the College of Staten Island, another CUNY school, gave an honorary degree to Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. Goodman, who, like Kushner, is Jewish, is routinely condemned as an anti-Semite for her views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indeed, not a week goes by without a report on Democracy Now about the mistreatment of the people of Gaza.

You know who was on the CUNY Board of Trustees, which has to approve all of these honorary degrees, at the time? Jeffrey Wiesenfeld.

Huh. Two people with the same level of criticism of Israel. Wonder what's different about Kushner. One wonders...

Now, go get 'em, tigers