Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Huff Nitrous Oxide:

What is that line up there outside the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, just across the way from the Coliseum, for? Phineas and Ferb on Ice? Extra USC football tickets? No, but it does involve children and the University of Southern California.

See, volunteers from the schools of medicine and dentistry at USC, partnered with the organization Care Harbor, are currently giving free health and dental care to people who come to the L.A. arena. It started yesterday and will continue through Sunday.

Oh, the line-sitters? They aren't waiting to get in to see a doctor or a dentist. No, that only began Thusday. That line is from Monday, when they started handing out wristbands so that nearly 5000 people without insurance could get that lump checked or that cavity filled. Especially the latter, since many people who have health insurance don't have dental, the two things oddly not linked by most insurers.

People started lining up last Friday, sleeping out so that they could have a chance to see medical professionals. In one of the biggest cities in the United States in the year 2012. Whenever someone talks about people in other countries being "savages" or uncivilized, the Rude Pundit thinks of sights like this:

It looks like an evacuation center for a storm. But it's just thousands of people, probably most of them Americans, a good many of them children, getting the charity that Republicans like to talk so much about.

One last thing: the reason people lined up so early? That's obvious. Because the clinic only had so much time and so many volunteers. And people, sick people, hurting people, dying people, were turned away.

Elections have consequences. Once upon a time Mitt Romney would have said he had a solution to this problem. He doesn't claim so now. President Obama's solution, which certainly won't solve everything, but would get us a hell of a lot closer, is slowly coming into action.

Maybe, sometimes, it's a moral issue that moves a person, a feeling of disgust and despair that puts one in the mind of the poor and disempowered in our society. You don't wait three nights outside for a chance to see a doctor a few days later because taxes are too high or because Israel's prime minister is feeling neglected or because government-run health care won't give you your choice of doctors or whatever. You sleep in that line because you don't have anywhere else to go, except here, in one of of the biggest cities. In America. Right now.


How Republicans Think in One Easy Lesson:
Sometimes you need a simple story, a fable, even, to understand something much larger. You need it to understand the template for more complex and more expansive ideas. Follow the bouncing ball of inanity here, for it is an uncomplicated story that explains all you need to know about how Republicans envision their role in the political process:

In Staten Island, New York - aka "The Last Reliably Republican (White) Borough" - incumbent GOP Congressman Michael Grimm is running against Democrat Mark Murphy. The kindest thing you could say about Grimm is that he's a bit better than New York Rep. Peter "Muslims Is Everywhere" King, although Grimm pretty much gargles King's balls. Anyways, this isn't about Grimm's voting record. It's about politics and parties and opportunism writ small.

This past Sunday night, someone vandalized the campaign office of Rep. Grimm by smashing in its large windows (Grimm HQ is in a former car dealership). Grimm told the Staten Island Advance newspaper that whoever broke the windows also erased the hard drives on the computers by installing Linux on them: "All of my polling data, all of the data from my IDs of voters, and a bunch of other campaign information. But fortunately we had everything backed up from literally hours before, so we don't lose anything because we have backups."

Grimm went into full victim mode. "This is an attack against a federal campaign office, which is an attack on our democracy as a whole. It's an attack against what we stand for, for free elections," he said. Further, "You know, especially in light of what happened with Gabby Giffords, we're not in the world today where we can shrug things off." Yes, that's right. Rep. Grimm compared the smashing of his office windows to the attempted murder of Gabby Giffords. Calm down, Mary.

But Grimm wasn't done crying political foul. His campaign issued a statement that read, in part, "[W]e have never seen an attack on a campaign escalate to this level...I do believe this is a politically motivated crime." The statement also said that the broken windows were a cover-up for the hard drive corruptions.

Or, in other words, the Democrats did it. They're to blame, of course.

Almost immediately, though, the story started to fall apart. One law enforcement official told the New York Times that the computers were fine, actually. Another told the Post that the whole thing didn't make sense. Why not just steal the computers if you're gonna bother breaking the windows?

And it's because it doesn't make sense. And that's because it was a random act of vandalism by a couple of teenagers who thought they were breaking the windows at an abandoned building in the middle of the night. It was not, as Grimm, ever the drama queen, said, "a crime against the government." Nope, it was a 14 and a 16 year-old. To compare their misdemeanor to the attack on Giffords is like saying that a mosquito bite is the same as a bear attack.

Now what does this Chicken Little story tell us? Notice that Grimm didn't wait for any more information from the cops to leap into blaming politics. It's like when Mitt Romney didn't wait to get more information before opening his yap about the U.S. embassy protests in Egypt. More to the point, ain't this shit just par for the course for Republicans? There's some problem, something is all fucked up, and instead of trying to figure out what the hell to do, they just instantly blame Democrats. Rather than reason out some solution, it's just a fuck of a lot easier to say it's those sons of bitches ruining the country and they need to be stopped.

And the kicker to this story is just awesome. For, just as Republicans use blaming Democrats as a way to distract from how much they are responsible for the nation's woes, Rep. Grimm is under investigation by federal prosecutors for accepting illegal campaign donations.

Which makes one wonder what might have been on those hard drives that needed erasing, no? Or is that engaging in baseless accusations, like, you know, the GOP?


The Existential Uselessness of Discussing the Mitt Romney Campaign Anymore:
The Rude Pundit has run out of words to describe the utter failure of Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate, as a leader of any sort. The occasion that caused this complete breakdown in the ability to insult or condemn Romney was at a rally yesterday in Vandalia, Ohio (aka "That Strip Mall Town Where Dayton's Airport Is"). Paul Ryan had just finished speaking, and Romney leaped onto the podium and thanked his running mate, which caused the crowd to start chanting, "Ryan" over and over. Romney then really did say, "Now wait a minute. 'Romney/Ryan,' 'Romney/Ryan'" until the crowd apparently switched to that. "There we go," Romney complimented them.

He couldn't let it go? He's that petty? Christ. That's just...oh, fuck, could we please just put three bullets in the skull of this campaign and leave its corpse behind an alley for the rats and rabid dogs to devour its dessicated carrion? Mocking him at this point is not just shooting fish in a barrel. It's using a rocket launcher on it.

There is an unmitigated gloom that now hangs over not just the Romney campaign, but media coverage of the entire race. You can see that despair in the face of everyone on television, in the words of every writer who still has to act as if this is anything but a waste of time until we learn by how much Barack Obama beats Mitt Romney. And the existential despair here is that they - hell, we - are all damned to keep discussing it because there's still over a month left. It's especially keen on CNN, where the anchors and reporters keep up the pretense of balance. You can see the dead stare in Erin Burnett's eyes that says, "Why the fuck are we bothering? Please, let there be a war somewhere that we can be sent to."

On the right, the punditry and reporting ranges from resigned recognition of imminent failure, with a vague hope of stanching the bleed out in congressional races, to desperately hammering away at the same points against Obama because repeating lies has worked so well before. It's pathetic, like watching a wounded seal try to get back to the safety of the shore before the killer whale finishes it off.

On the left, even though champagne corks are shaking in their bottles, that range is from disbelief that it's been this easy to cocky "told-you-so" crowing (guilty as charged). Yeah, there's always that show-off orca that likes to toss around the seal prior to devouring it.

Either way, though, there's truly nothing else to say, not with most swing states now firmly in Obama's camp. Not with Mitt Romney bumble-fucking his way across America, behaving awkwardly, making ads where he sounds like the most sincere used car salesman in history, denying that his greatest accomplishment, Romneycare, would be useful for the rest of the nation. Seriously, what's more important? Having made billions of dollars for millionaires? Or making sure that a mom with lung cancer can be treated like a human being? Romney looks absurd and small.

But all of this is a waste of time. The most desperate on the right will pen simple-minded articles, ranting about how Obama is so godforsakenly awful that Romney will win just because. That's bullshit, and their frantic ululations and blood sacrifices to their awful gods - Reagan, Ayn Rand, and others - demonstrate for all to see that they have nothing but dead virgins to show for their mad rituals at the edge of this exploding volcano.

Really, at this point, barring the discovery of some piece of video where Barack Obama says that he wants to fuck young white girls in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the only thing the President has to worry about with Romney is a surge in the pity vote.


No, GOP, It's Not Us; It's You:
Oh, boo, oh, hoo, the whiny bitches of the Republican party are weeping like desperate middle-aged closet queens who badly want to get ass-fucked by one of the ripped leather dudes in lower Chelsea but suppress it so much that they mix sadness, rage, and unfulfilled sexual urges into a miasma of tears and snot and gasping sobs of self-loathing. Which, of course, brings us to South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

Regarding Mitt Romney's sinking chances of winning the election, Graham told reporters yesterday (and you should imagine Paul Lynde playing a Confederate general in a sketch on The Dinah Shore Show speaking this), "There's a reason no president has ever been reelected with an economy like this...It would tell me that it's more of a demographic race for president than it is a performance-based race. And that may be where we're at as a nation, and maybe where we are as a party, and we just don't know it."

So, according to Graham, the problem is there's too many non-white people voting. No, that's not an extreme interpretation. Graham himself said in August, "The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term." But now Graham has taken it to another level; it's a polite way of saying, "The stupid niggers and spics are fucking up this nice country for the rest of us. And they're gonna reelect that nigger president."

Unlike Graham, other Republicans know that the problem ain't just demographics. Sure, that's always an issue, but you don't see Democrats saying, "Shit, if there were fewer white people, we'd be golden." You don't see them trying to actively suppress white people from voting. "Demographics" as an excuse is just so much self-pity. If you haven't cottoned to the fact that there's less white people as a percentage of the voting population, then you are a stegosaurus with one foot in the tar pit.

What other Republicans understand is that the problem is that they nominated an unlikeable jack-off who has all the compassion of a sack of shit, who is an awful candidate, who can't reasonably explain his plans, who constantly says things that demonstrate he gives less of a fuck about the average person than he does his manicure. Mitt Romney is losing because he's Mitt Romney, and even NASCAR fans see that.

Another way to look at this is that maybe people aren't as stupid as Republicans need them to be. Oh, sure, most of the population is a fickle bunch of assholes who are exactly as dumb as you think they are. But you don't have to be a New Yorker-reading dilettante to get that Republicans are a craven bunch of motherfuckers who are either trying to protect the rich or enforce their Christian extremist morality. You don't need to have a Rachel Maddow poster on your bedroom wall to get that it's Republicans who have blocked nearly everything the President and Democrats have tried to do for three years. You don't have to get Media Matters updates on Twitter to get that Mitt Romney's calculated emptiness is frightening.

So, hey, Lindsey Graham, no need to get down with the darkies. You'd just look pathetic doing so. No, what the Republicans need to do is take a long look in the mirror and say, "Wow, we really are unmitigated dickheads." Or you need to admit, "Yeah, we are simply the party of the greedy and the crazy, and we don't know how to change that. Time to give up."

It's the first step back to some self-respect. Or you could just keep blaming those different than you. It's worked before for you guys.


In Brief: Romney in 2007: Some Fun Quotes from an Interview on ABC's This Week:
Back on February 18, 2007, Mitt Romney was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos's hair while at the beginning of his long journey to lose the presidential race this year. There's a few things in there that perhaps deserve to be quoted once again:

On being a missionary: "I was in a pampered home with great advantages. I went to France and I lived on a far more modest, humble basis. We made about $100 a week, we drew out of our savings to live there. That was food, clothing, transportation, housing, the whole bit. And I recognized that the opportunities we have in this country are absolutely extraordinary...Look it's hard. It's real hard being a missionary in France." (Note: Romney was a missionary during the Vietnam War, so, you know, compared to, say, John Kerry's 1968, it wasn't that hard.) (And another note: $100 in 1968 is now worth $658. Many people in this country would kill to make that.)

And here's another quote on his time in France. See, his father, George Romney, was a frontrunner for the 1968 Republican nomination when he went to Vietnam to visit the troops. He came back and said that he had received "the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get" from the generals and diplomatic corps there. It pretty much killed George Romney's presidential aspirations.

Asked if it was a "tough blow," Mitt Romney told Stephanopoulos, "It must have been but I wasn't around. I was lucky, I was in France. I was serving my church at the time. And so I saw from afar the statement and I must admit it didn't impact me as having such huge impact or moment."

You got that? The most degrading moment for his father, whom Mitt Romney has talked about idolizing, had no effect on him at all. That's some automaton-level sociopathic shit right there.

One more thing: You know that Romney was the president of the Boston area Mormon churches? That's right. He's used to being called "President Romney," fucker.

By the way, in 2007-2008, nearly every interview with Romney, including one on 60 Minutes, which he did again last night, focused on him being a Mormon. This time around? Almost nothing.

You'd think someone who has seen such progress in people's attitudes firsthand would be a bit more tolerant. Nah, not Mitt. That'd require compassion, and he left that behind like a snake's old skin a long time ago.
Late Post Today:
Oh, Deathstroke is gettin' all killy again. Better wake up Cyborg and get to work.

Back later with more Mittastic rudery.


Photo of an Important Protest You Haven't Heard About (Updated):

Really, the protesters in the Muslim world have been fanned into outrage over the bullshit Muhammad-fucking film by groups who need to destabilize the region in order to gain power. If they were rioting over drone attacks, then, well, sure, go at it. Warm yourselves over the burning flags. We deserve it. But if it truly is the crap video, then they can suck a bag of cocks.

So let's leave behind the conflagration in the Muslim world for a moment and head over to the former Soviet Union for a protest of something real - in fact, over another film. That picture up top, with its signs with colorful language, is from the days of marches by thousands of citizens of the nation of Georgia, in its capital, Tbilisi. They are angry because of a secret video, showed Tuesday on TV, that showed guards at a Tbilisi prison beating and humiliating prisoners, including raping them with batons and broom handles. People flooded the streets all over the nation, calling for justice. 15 guards were arrested, and President Mikhail Saakashvili promised a full investigation.

Which would be fine, except that the whistleblower, a former guard who fled to Belgium, says that the prisoners chosen for torture and abuse are "ideological enemies" of the Saakashvili regime. Says a former member of the Georgian parliament, "[The] policy imposed by Mr. Saakashvili’s regime calls [for] zero tolerance towards minors, towards those who raised their voice against Saakashvili’s government. There are so many cases, almost 99 per cent of the prisoners, to be precise 98.7 per cent, according to Human Rights Watch, the prisoners pled [sic] guilty." The people in the streets, now for the fourth day, are calling for the president and his Interior Minister to resign. Oh, and there's an election right around the corner.

Which would be bad, but fine, from the average American's perspective, except that the United Nations human right chief called for a wider investigation.

And then there's this:

In January, President Obama praised Saakashvili for Georgia's participation in the war in Afghanistan and promised greater trading between the U.S. and Georgia. Oh, and, "I wanted to say to the President that we appreciate the model of democracy and transparency that they’ve been setting not just for their own country but also for the region as a whole."

That last part is up for a hell of a test.

Update: The Interior Minister did resign yesterday.  And rude reader Sam, who studies the former Soviet Union, offers: "I agree that if the accusations of the prison guard are correct it bodes ill for Georgian Democracy. Problematically, however, evidence of Saakashvili being a closet dictator is very very rare. There is no history of suppressing protest during his presidency, nor of secret prisons or show trials. In fact Saakashvili's tenure has seen a marked decline in police corruption and brutality. Also during this time the Georgian constitution has been reworked to make authoritarianism less likely by removing powers from the president and placing them in the hands of the Prime Minister and Parliament. After the presidential election next year the President will be a mainly ceremonial position. Overall there is very little evidence to suggest that this brutality was motivated by repressive tendencies on Presidents Saakasvili's part."


Mitt Romney: Useless on Univision:
Yes, yes, ha-ha, it sure does look like Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney darkened his skin to appear on Spanish-language network Univision last night or, as the Romneys call it, "El Television de Gardeners." At least he didn't go full taquito and start Speedy Gonzalesing around the set. But, you know, he's still a dumb fuck.

However, as was once again made clear, Mitt Romney is a dumb fuck who either has no answer to issues or the wrong answers. If Romney was a fortune teller, his tarot cards would always show the Three of Whuh? crossed with Death. In answering the questions asked by the hosts and others on the "Meet the Candidate" forum, Romney's performance seemed to be more akin to a bad magician who ends up sawing his assistant in half for real, ignoring the screams and blood because that'd spoil the illusion.

Just a couple of examples: a college student wondered, "What specific steps will you take to — as President — to ease the debt burden of a million young people, and promote a better future for higher education?"

Romney responded like every rich puke whose parents bought an Ivy League degree for them: "The best thing I can do for you...is make sure that when you get out of the University of Miami, you have a job, all right." He added, "[T]he best thing I can do is not to — Hey, I’ll loan you more money. Here let’s loan you — I don’t want to overwhelm you with debts. I want you to make sure you can pay back the debts you’ve already got and that will happen with good jobs" and, blah, blah, blah, he will make sure there's a bunch of new, shiny jobs for her, like a rich puke whose parents have a job waiting for him. You might look at that and think that Romney didn't really answer the question and seemed to indicate he wanted to cut student loans (earlier he had said he likes Pell Grants, though). But then you'd just be another conniving liberal who is taking a man's inelegant words that were said off the cuff too seriously.

But beyond the non-answers and the vague answers rests the truly nonsensical and truly dangerous policies he says he's gonna institute. Sure, he embraced the Massachusetts health care plan, but only as a way of showing that every state should come up with its own. That's right: fifty different plans for fifty different states, all with their own rules and restrictions. No abortion in Alabama and you get charged more for drinking big sodas in New York. Or some such shit. Romney warned, "The idea of a federal government stepping in and telling people here’s the kind of insurance you have to have; you don’t get the choice of whether you want comprehensive or whether you want catastrophic. The government’s going to tell you what you have to have. The government is going to ultimately have a board that tells you what kind of care you can receive." Apparently, though, a state government and state board telling you these things is just fine because freedom, motherfuckers.

In assessing the education system of the nation, Romney said his plan is simple: "Under my federal plan, I’m going to take dollars that normally are sent to states and school districts, I’m going to instead say, 'That goes to the child to take to him or her to the school of their choice.' And let’s let students go to the schools where they think they’re going to get the best education." One hopes he means the dollars go to the parents or Uncle Touchy's School of Playstation is gonna get a lot of money.

It was tedious, useless, and limp as an old burrito (see what the Rude Pundit did there?). Romney said, "I care" a couple of times because nothings says one cares like saying one cares. He closed with the plea of a whore looking to give one last hummer to be able score some rock: "They never get the job done. You’d lose your job in the private sector if you didn’t get the job done. I will get the job done."

Romney's Hispanic minstrel show last night was as worthless as Romney, but it showed again that he may be dull and vague, but he's also gonna wreck the joint if he gets in.


Erick Erickson and the Right Are Tap Dancing as Fast as They Can:
This morning, the Rude Pundit's radio went on, as it does, early, piercing the tequila-induced fever dreams that generally involve things like him starving to death on a raft in the middle of the ocean with Colin Farrell and Scarlett Johansson, trying to figure out the eternal question, "Fuck or eat?" Eeny-meeny... Anyways, slamming into his brain was a whiny-voiced bastard in the middle of NPR's Morning Edition. "The hell?" he wondered. "Erickson? Who invited that creepy doughboy on the show?"

Yes, it was RedState.org's Erick "Erick" Erickson, a rape-eyed blogger who somehow has been granted a microphone, talking all about how Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (campaign motto: "Vote for Mitt or Kolobians are gonna invade your puny planet") should embrace his secretly recorded statements about 47% of Americans being parasites who will not be pried from their host. Oh-ho, oh-ho, Erickson wants you to know that he didn't like Romney, oh, no, until now. As he said on CNN just a little later, "This is so discombobulated for me to be here defending Mitt Romney. It's just not my natural state." 'Cause we all totally know how absurd that is.

On RedState, Erickson listed all the right-wingers who are so down with Romney taking on the freeloading 47%, all doing their jigs and leaps in order for it to be a net positive. They're making sure we know that Romney was totally misunderstood, speaking as he was in off-the-cuff koans and proverbs. Erickson told CNN, "Well, the 47 percent number also equates to people who don't pay income taxes. Now I don't think he was actually talking about all those people, but I don't think it matters." And he'd be right, except that it totally matters.

Back on that well-designed toilet bowl, RedState, after reminding us all that he is, for some stupid reason, still a CNN commentator, Erickson wrote, "What I explained to them and what I think the media misses is that many of the people the media would claim Mitt Romney described as 'victims' weren’t who Mitt Romney was speaking about. And those people intrinsically know it. They may technically fall into the category Mitt Romney described as government dependent victims, but they know he’s not talking about them. He’s talking about the people they also are talking about."

And that, right there, is pretty much a word picture of a nude, sweaty, baby-faced Erickson, slow-motion dancing, his loose flesh moving in undulating waves across his torso, the mesmerizing contortions attempting to distract you from seeing that, truly, he really is shitty at this.

Right now, Erickson's argument is that people are too stupid to know that Mitt Romney was insulting them. Back on CNN, Erickson continued, "There are a lot of people out there who technically are in the demographic of don't pay income taxes and government benefits who actually would agree with Mitt Romney on this issue." And that's why Republicans keep getting elected to fuck things up.

One last beef with Erickson comes from the following phrase he wrote: "Back when I was running political campaigns..." He uses this to give him some kind of street cred. Is he talking about when he ran for the city council of Macon, Georgia, a position he quit, Palin-like, in his first term to be on the radio? 'Cause whatever wisdom he got from appealing to rednecks and racists probably ain't enough for him advise anyone.

Actually, scratch that. It is enough to keep advising today's Republicans. And they deserve Erickson.


Note to Mitt Romney: Everyone Is Dependent on the Government, You Dumb Fuck:
Good on Mitt Romney for not backing down from the purity of his dickishness. What you get in that secret video released by Mother Jones wherein Romney speaks to a mansion full of rich cocks, cunts, and assholes back in May is undiluted, free and loose Mitt. He said, and he affirmed at his press conference yesterday, that 47% of people are government-dependent, clinging to Barack Obama for fear that Romney will deny them food.

It's not it was "not elegantly stated," as he said yesterday. It's that he has made this his position in the election. And, fuck, it really seems that we've finally discovered a belief, a real and honest belief, that Romney has: "It's us versus them. And we can write off most of them." Here's something else Romney said that didn't get as much play: "[Y]ou and I, we spend our day with Republicans. We spend our days with people who agree with us." He was talking about how to convince the disappointed Obama voter to join with him, but could you easily spend your day with people who agree with you, even if you tried? How narrow must your world be in order to have such a myopic view of human relationships?

What's most aggravating about Romney's dismissal of the 47% as those "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it," and, horror of horrors, pay no federal income taxes (which is actually true because of policies put into effect by Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes) isn't the stunning elitism. Oh, sure, it's pretty damned insulting to necessary voting blocs because, in order to reach 47%, he has to include all senior citizens and a good number of ignorant Obama haters on food stamps, the kind of people who watch this story on Fox "news" and nod that Romney is just a victim of the liberal media. However, the aggravating part is how fucking stupid Romney is in his bifurcation of the population.

See, we're all dependent on the government, you dumb fuck, so blinded by your elitism that you can't see that every place in this country, everybody doing everything is dependent on the government. Some depend on the government for food, others depend on the government to make their businesses possible. It's not two sides of the same coin. It's the same side of the same fucking coin, a coin, by the way, that was made by the government.

Follow the money, motherfuckers: Let's not even deal with roads that get us to work or regulations that make our food at least somewhat safe to eat. Let's take Republicans' beloved defense spending. How many millions of Americans are dependent on the government simply through defense contracts? Way fucking more than you think. Because let's go beyond soldiers and weapons manufacturers and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors. Let's go right to Mitt Romney's cold fucking heart: Staples. Yeah, fuckin' Staples, the company that was funded by Bain Capital and that Romney uses as a glowing example of his business prowess, which somehow, through some kind of right-wing magic, translates into being able to choose Supreme Court justices.

Staples is a major government contractor, providing pencils to those who would push them on paper pads procured through Staples. During the Obama administration, Staples has received over $13 million in contracts just from the Defense Department. Oh, and you want another kick in the nuts? "During the second quarter of 2011, the company received a $21 million cash tax refund." Drop in the bucket for a corporation that grossed over $5 billion during the second quarter of this year? Perhaps, but it affects the bottom line, which affects hiring and dividend payouts to investors like, you know, Mitt Romney.

Holy shit, what's left, huh? What remains to be said about Mitt Romney? In just two weeks, we've learned that he has no clue about how to lead on foreign policy (something that was reconfirmed by another part of the video) and that he simply doesn't give a shit about nearly half the nation. How much more degraded can this most dickish man be, an undoing of amazing proportions simply because no one apparently ever told him that he was just too much of a tool to be president?

Oh, wait. There's this: The video was taken at the house of hedge fund manager Mark Leder in Boca Raton, Florida. Leder made his fortune with his firm, Sun Capital, investing in companies that were failing and attempting to turn them around. Like, hey, look, a paper company, just like Romney's Bain Capital did. Yeah, according to the August 5, 2001 Palm Beach Post, "International Paper closed the plant in February and laid off the mill's 800 workers. Sun Capital renamed the plant Smart Papers and opened a few days later, rehiring 550 workers at wages that were 25 percent lower than their previous pay." Jobs saved? Sure (although it was more like half the workers hired back). Profit made? You bet, motherfuckers. And then they ran the Hamilton, Ohio company into the ground. It's closed now.

One other thing: Leder is also somewhat famous for being another one of those private equity bros who flaunt their wealth. He's not Mormon, so he doesn't have to waste his money on prancing horses or multiple cloned sons. Leder has sex parties in the Hamptons: "[G]uests cavorted nude in a pool and performed sex acts, while scantily clad Russian women danced on platforms. Dancers at the party also twirled flaming torches to booming beats." It's awesome that Romney doesn't care whose jizz-stained hands he shakes, as long as those hands are providing hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign cash. Seriously, at this point, Romney may as well admit that he'd blow an elephant for the entertainment of wealthy donors in order to become president.

By the way, you know why there's still beaches in the Hamptons and Boca Raton? That'd be because of work done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stave off erosion.  Yeah, the government. Or, as it's also known, us and them.


The Continuing Necessity of Occupy Wall Street (in Spirit, If Not Presence):
There were two disheartening things that the Rude Pundit heard/read this morning related to the actions going on with the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. The first was on an OWS Ustream feed where the incredibly diligent cameraman announced, "We are blocking the sidewalks!" as a kind of small victory, as if making bankers and brokers mildly inconvenienced is the same as shutting things down. Hell, walk on Fifth Avenue in December if you want to see sidewalks brought to a halt.

The other was the tweet "OWS Puppet Guild is performing in front of the National Museum of the American Indian" (which is actually right near the Museum of Finance). Goddamn the motherfucking puppets, even if this one is kind of a cool, grotesque Lady Liberty.

Again, one has to constantly battle one's natural cynicism to support Occupy. But this is not going to be another liberal ragging on protest.

The media is filled with stories now that ask some variation on "Whatever Happened to Occupy Wall Street?" The stories are about internal dissent in the movement or the dissipation of the energy and the activists. They talk about not having a central goal or real leadership. Essentially, it's pretty much the same thing that was written about the movement from its outset. And it's an empty narrative that leaves out the concerted effort by the FBI and police action to infiltrate and discredit, if not destroy, the movement, as they do every leftist movement in this country.

Here's the thing, and perhaps it sounds a bit like what the Obama campaign has been saying about its accomplishments: Change takes time. Yes, we are an impatient, informed-by-the-second, instant gratification-craving people now. What Occupy accomplished is to lay the groundwork for a future where protest is not only possible, but is part of the culture once again, something we haven't seen since the early 1970s. And it's hard to argue that the discussion of the economy in this election, especially for President Obama, wasn't seismically shifted by last year's long season of Occupy actions. But a real change in how the 99% relates to the 1% is gonna take a lot longer.

The movement, still in its nascent, wild phase, has had effects that have reverberated out from lower Manhattan. While the Chicago teachers strike might have happened on its own, one could argue that the support the teachers have gotten is part of that shift in the culture caused by OWS. Yes, once more, we can appreciate workers asserting their power. Eventually the movement will need to coalesce around some specific goals in specific ways. It will need to have, for instance, an Occupy candidate for Congress, like the antiwar candidates of the 1960s.  And that candidate might actually have to be a Democrat.

Obviously, New York City is taking the protests today very seriously, with the NYPD having already arrested over 100 people. But the greatest threats to OWS are not the cops.

Those threats would be the media tiring of the story and moving on to something new and the apathy of the mainstream left to the hippie dreamers in the streets. We here in Left Blogsylvania can actually have an effect on at least one of those so that even if OWS, in its current form, fades away, its spirit can continue to influence our politics.


Grappling with Obama's Un-Liberal Actions: A Voter's Conscience (Part 3):
The Rude Pundit has never been shy about admitting that, in 2000, he voted for Ralph Nader. It was neither a brave nor foolish action. He lived in a state that was so in the tank for George W. Bush that no candidate bothered to visit it in the general election. So the Rude Pundit was following the late, much-missed Molly Ivins' advice: in firmly Republican states, why not pull the lever for Nader so that he could get 5% of the vote and his party could receive federal matching funds in the next election cycle, thus creating a viable third party? Had the Rude Pundit lived in, say, Florida, he would have voted for Gore.

But there was one controversial part of Nader's campaign that did appeal to him. The Rude Pundit believed that there were more similarities between Bush and Al Gore than differences, as Nader and many other liberals said. That thought, so radical at the time, now just seems childish in retrospect, an indulgence of a time when the nation seemed so strong that no single president could drag it so very far down.

Just as childish is voting for the lesser of two evils because, at the end of the day, you're still voting for evil.

Shortly after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, you could read this headline over at CNN's website: "Drones expected to hunt for suspects in Libya attack." If your first reaction is "No shit," that you simply expect this nation to use "targeted" missile attacks to deal with every problem in the Middle East - you can be certain that the headline would not have been there had the attack been on the embassy in, say, Denmark - then you have an understanding of how little moral authority the United States can claim in the world.

If your reaction was "No shit" followed by "No wonder they wanna blow us up," then it actually matters to you that America under Obama executes people without trial constantly. And you can only sadly laugh when Mitt Romney or some right-wing spooge bucket says stupid shit like that the President sympathizes with Muslim protesters or terrorists. What the fuck else do they want to prove otherwise? Another war? Oh, wait, right. It never occurs to them that a little bit of sympathy might actually go a long way to stopping the violence.

On and on it goes with the Obama administration. After a ruling that placed a permanent injunction on a part of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that allowed the government to indefinitely detain anyone who glanced in the direction of someone, including citizens, who glanced in the direction of a terrorist organization, the Justice Department filed an appeal. You got that, right? Barack Obama is asserting the right to indefinitely detain Americans in military custody if they meet criteria the administration refused to define for the judge. So you don't even know what you'd have to do to get snatched by authorities and jailed in Who-the-Fuck-Knows, Romania.

Meanwhile, after ten years of detention, without charge, despite being recommended for release, a poor bastard named Adnan Latif died in custody at the prison at Guantanamo Bay naval base. In 2010, a federal judge ordered his release because he wasn't guilty of anything. It wasn't the Bush administration that appealed the judge's order and had it reversed.


There's this part of Robert's Rules of Order that is aggravating as hell but makes so much sense. It says that you can ask for reconsideration of a motion only if you voted for the winning side of it. The rule prevents the losers from being able to do so because it's only natural that they'd want to gum up the works. But if you voted for a motion and then want to reconsider? That has greater weight.

The Rude Pundit votes because that's what you do in a presumptive democracy, especially if when it comes to a presidential election. For him, not voting is simply not an option. He respects your right to take a stand by staying home, but that's not for him. He will not smoke that drug. He will not fuck that orifice. Everyone's got a line, and that's his. And, frankly, there's no third party candidate he gives a damn about to throw in with.

It's easy to attack the person you didn't vote for. The Rude Pundit did it for 8 years. It's a hell of a lot harder, and perhaps carries more weight, to attack the person who did get your vote.

When he votes for Barack Obama, he will do so in part because he does not want Mitt Romney to have the power that Obama has amassed, greater power than the kind we protested so vociferously in the Bush administration. That power isn't going away any time soon. We see that in the vote in the House to extend secret, warrantless surveillance on Americans overseas. We see that in the drone war. No one should be trusted with the power to kill anyone, anywhere, based on secret evidence. It needs to be stopped, but it's happening.

It ain't gonna change if Obama isn't reelected. It will get worse. And we would end up in a war with Iran along with tax cuts for the wealthy. That's an America that is far worse than anything we can conjure under Obama. And for this voter, that vision is enough to sway him.


The Chicago Teachers Strike Is for the Children:
So yesterday, charmless shitpile Jon Kyl, Republican senator from the so not-great state of Arizona, said that the statement put out by the U.S. embassy in Cairo when it was about to be attacked by protesters "was like the judge telling the woman, ‘You got raped, you asked for it because of the way you dressed.’ That’s the same thing. ‘Well America, you should be the ones to apologize, you should have known this would happen, you should have done’ — done what, I don’t know — but it’s all your fault that it happened." Kyl, who looks like he masturbates to snuff films involving chainsaw dildos and illegal immigrants, took the Romney campaign's complete misinterpretation of the Cairo statement, which didn't once apologize or regret or express sorrow, and grafted a worthless rape analogy onto it. What makes this story even more pathetic is that, just a few days ago, an Arizona judge, Jacqueline Hatch, apologized for blaming the victim in rape a case. Awesome place, Arizona.

We'll get back to Kyl and his wondrous rape imagery in a moment, but instead, let's focus on the Chicago Teachers Union's strike.

Of all the stupid shit that's been written against the teachers, including a New York Times editorial and a column from the normally more thoughtful Nicholas Kristof, as well as the bizarre number of people on the left and center who oppose the TCU (which probably mostly comes from fear of having to find day care should it happen to them), the most ridiculous is from the Chicago Tribune. The gist of its position is laid out right at the beginning: "Chicago Teachers Union officials aren't merely fighting City Hall. They're fighting the inevitability of education reform. They are denying the arc of history."

See, according to the editorial, it's too fucking late. School "reform" has happened: "Those vital reforms — evaluations tied to student growth and empowering principals to hire the best — aren't a whim of Mayor Rahm Emanuel or the Chicago Board of Education. These principles are set in law, federal and state. They're at the heart of the Democratic education reform agenda championed by the Obama administration in its Race to the Top challenges."

"Look around," the Tribune exhorts the teachers, "this fight is over." And it gives examples of how the country has moved, quoting the Times in saying, more or less, "give it up."

Imagine: 90% of the teachers in a major metropolitan area are either greedy motherfuckers or they honestly believe that school reforms that have been shoved down the throat by the corporate bullshit peddlers harm the kids and are willing to risk financial ruin and public scorn in order to take a stand rather than be squashed by the arc of history. The Rude Pundit will go with the latter.

This is one reason why unions exist and a big reason why the protections of tenure exist: so that you can actually do your fucking job without constantly being batted about by market and political forces (even if those forces always exist - it's a question of degrees). And the teachers in Chicago have put up with a lot of shit - from the rescinding of a promised raise to the reliance on charter schools (whose teachers are not unionized) to the cutting back of tenure guarantees to the attempts to go around the union. Again: 90% of the teachers voted to strike. Something was broken. And that was respect for the professionalism of the teachers.

You know what else was part of the arc of history? No Child Left Behind, a boondoggle that fell on the states that has been discredited by nearly every reliable measure. Hell, states are rushing to opt out of the requirements of that act because it failed in concept and action, like, you know, teachers said it would. But teachers had to do it. They had to change they way they taught, no matter how successful they had been, in order to make sure that the NCLB gods were obeyed.

Which gets us back to Jon Kyl. Or, really, to the proper use of a rape metaphor.

Because what else are the teachers being told than they may as well just lay back and take it?


Yes, the Book Is Coming:
The 2012 edition of The Rude Pundit's Almanack has gone to press. Why the fuck should you buy it? It's got 25 pages of never-blogged (and never-will-be-blogged), all-new stuff, including:

"Mitt Romney's Concession Speech"
"Herman Cain's Guide to Seduction"
"The Secret to Understanding Mitt Romney (and the Number One Reason Not to Vote for Him)"

That last one is not fucking around. It's a real deal thing you'll only see in this book. You will read it and think, "Yup. I get it now."

There's more that's new, and there's some minor fun shit done to the original edition.

So hang in there, everyone who pre-ordered. Get updates at the Facebook page.

No, sorry, no private handjobs, but you will be pleasured.
Romney Hooks Himself Off the Stage:
In every campaign, there's a moment you know it's all over. When John McCain chose Sarah Palin in 2008, for example. Or when Bob Dole became the GOP nominee in 1996. For Mitt Romney, there have been so many of these moments that it's hard to pinpoint which one is actually the hook or the card at the end of the movie that reads "Fin," which we know Romney would understand because he lived in a castle in France during the Vietnam War, something that would have automatically disqualified him from being a Republican nominee a couple of decades ago.

(Seriously, can you imagine how the right would spin a Democrat having gotten a deferment on the draft so he could hang out in Europe? Oh, right. It's one of the things they attacked Bill Clinton for in 1992, except, you know, he was a Rhodes scholar, not a door-knocking street preacher, and he was against the war.)

The Rude Pundit has long believed, going back to mid-2011, that not only would President Obama win this election and defeat specifically Mitt Romney, but that he would win by a big margin, not in an Ohio squeaker, not in a Florida clusterfuck, but by as much of a margin as he did in 2008, perhaps more. And that's for several reasons, the primary one being that, no matter what he tries to do, Mitt Romney is just an absolute dickhead. And by picking Paul Ryan, he actually fucked the GOP in way worse ways than simply being the nominee. Now, more people give a shit about what's in the Ryan budget. Most used to hear the phrase "Ryan budget" and believe the right-wing hype about it. By putting Ryan on the ticket, Romney pulled back the curtain to reveal that the wizard is just another bumbling man.

Today, this post was going to be about how Romney is trying to run on the innate goodness of himself, that, perhaps one last time, he could win because he's a competent white man, and shouldn't that be who leads us? Yes, this was going to be about the emptiness of the Romney campaign, the failure to offer even one goddamn example of a tax loophole that might be closed, the way that Romney and Ryan have to tell outright lies to even get anyone to pay attention to them, and more.

But then U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya were attacked, with the ambassador to Libya and staff members murdered (yes, murdered, and their killers should be treated as murderers, not elevated to warriors, as some on the right wish to do), and Romney demonstrated vividly and for all to see why he not only shouldn't be president, but why he has no business in politics. First, his campaign issued a statement that, as many have reported, read as if the unvetted, ass-saving statement by a frightened U.S. embassy in Egypt, just before it was attacked, was the gospel of the Obama administration, fucking up not only the source of the statement, but also the fact that no one had been killed when the Cairo statement was issued. Said the Romney campaign, "It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks." In other words, another fucking lie.

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a clear statement last night that condemned the attacks outright, saying, more or less, everyone needs to stop being such fucktards when their invisible sky wizard might be offended. That was followed this morning by an even more impassioned spoken statement by Clinton, which was followed by another statement mourning the deaths and condemning the violence by President Obama.

Wedged in-between those statements was a press conference called by Mitt Romney, and that, dear readers, was the end of the Romney campaign.

No, he didn't have to stand by the President. That would have been ludicrous. But Romney offered nothing that he hasn't already said repeatedly on the campaign trail: "An apology for America’s values is never the right course." Romney repeatedly condemned the statement of the embassy, even though, as Romney himself noted, "The embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach."

So let's get this straight: Mitt Romney believes that at that moment, with their lives perhaps on the line, the U.S. embassy employees still in the building should have said something that pissed off  the protesters further. He said, "I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation." The man really could have used a factchecker or two.

But forget that for a moment and look at this exchange:
Reporter: If you had known, if the Ambassador had died, would you have issued such a strongly said statement.

Romney: I’m not going to take hypotheticals about what would’ve been known, what and so forth.

At that moment, Romney could have repeated his condolences to the family of Ambassador Chris Stevens. He could have looked like he gave a flying fuck about it. He didn't even have to say he jumped the gun. A little bit of humanity goes a long way. But he looked like another corporate douchebag who thinks he's right just because he's who he is, not wanting to be bothered with the feelings of the employees he's firing, smirking and acting like the meanest bitch in the poodle kennel.

It's over. It's over because now that foreign policy is back in the mix, Mitt Romney cannot out-tough the man who kills Islamic terrorists with drones every week. Shit, a real candidate would run against that fact, but he's not. And Romney seems to have forgotten that he's not running against Senator Obama, who, by the way, still had more elected experience than Romney. He's running against the guy who took out bin Laden and helped take down Gaddafi. (By the way, the Libyan government, showing extraordinary class and balls, condemned the attacks.)

Now remind us all: what's Romney's foreign policy credentials? Cayman Island shell corporations? The fucking Olympics?


(Never) Forget 9/11:
Here's a picture that's being made public for the first time:

There are tons of personal pictures of September 11, 2001 and of the ruins left behind by the terrorist attacks of that day. This one, dated October 6, 2001, when body recovery was still going on in the pit at Ground Zero, shows the jagged remains of one of the towers of the World Trade Center. The Rude Pundit doesn't know who took the picture. It was given to him by a photo lab employee/friend a few years back. She said that someone brought a digital card in to get some snapshots developed, took one look at the pictures, and told the employee that she could keep them.

It is dusk, and the wreckage and the buildings behind it give it the feeling of the ruins of a gothic estate, as if you were wandering among the moors and came across a fallen castle, something so mighty destroyed by the barbarians with their primitive weapons.

There's many things we can talk about today. The worker who took that picture was in the pit. He was involved in digging through the debris, with its spice mix of poisons coursing through the air. If he doesn't have cancer or some lung disease yet, well, good on him. But at least a thousand others who do have 58 kinds of cancers can now get some monetary relief from the 9/11 health fund, from the Zadroga Act, if the bureaucracy ever gets moving faster than its current glacial pace.

We could talk about what journalist Kurt Eichenwald wrote in the New York Times today, about other national security memos that the Bush administration ignored, something that not only confirms the depth of incompetence of our leaders in the first part of this century, but also the pathological intensity with which the neocons wanted to test their worthless ideology by going to war with Iraq. With Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, they "were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat." What can you say to that but "Christ almighty. What else? What else?"

We could talk about the degradation of our nation, of drones and Guantanamo deaths, of wars fought, with one still ongoing for no good reason, even if it is winding down. We could talk about all the deaths in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Yemen, the civilians we don't really talk about. We could talk about a nation that pretends it not only isn't at war but that it hasn't been. We could talk about our diminished civil liberties, at airports, at protests, on the fucking streets of our fucking cities and towns, and our blind and willing acceptance of all of it.

Instead, look at this other picture you've never seen before:

God, isn't it strangely beautiful? That's the sunrise, reflected off the damaged, not destroyed, buildings near the Twin Towers, piercing the ash and smoke. It's so hopeful, as if there is a possible light in the future that can envelop all of us in its warm embrace. But that photo was taken on September 17, before the first one, in those mythical days of desperate hope and fake unity, a glow that faded so very quickly.


Photos That Remind the Rude Pundit That the Fight Never Ends:

The teachers in Chicago ain't striking just because they want more money or better health benefits or any of the usual shit. The Chicago Teachers Union went on strike because the very nature of their jobs is being changed without them having as much say as they should (which ought to be almost all of it).

This strike is also over the very real undermining of the authority of educators. The former executive director of the Illinois Federation of teachers puts it amazingly well: "Only when unions and school boards are engaged in collective bargaining is there clear communication about problems in schools, as when union negotiators can express concern about cuts in physical education and the sedentary life styles that add to childhood obesity; like layoffs of reading specialists, whose services are known well only by classroom teachers whose students are affected; like layoffs of art and music teachers that are not noticed except by parents whose children will never know the benefits of exposure to such teachers, or by the regular academic teachers who try in vain to fill the gap: like vacancies in counselors’ positions that are not filled and students go without help in preparing for life after high school; like early childhood programs that are threatened by elimination; like class sizes that are increasing each year with little notice except by teachers and the most alert parents, and on and on."

But collective bargaining for public employees is under vicious attack in this nation. This year, rules were changed so that it would take a vote of 75% of the CTU's members to authorize a strike. Jonah Edelman of the bullshit Stand for Children organization bragged that this would make a strike impossible. Which would have been true, except that nearly 90% of the CTU's members voted to strike, which means that there's a lot of friggin' pissed off teachers.

So this is a strike, yes, about money and benefits. Mayor Rahm Emanuel broke a deal that had been negotiated with the teachers for a 4% raise to make up for the extra time that had been added to the school day. It's about job security, including who decides what teachers are let go and how much student standardized test scores matter and what teachers are called back first after layoffs.

But it's also about class size, with the Chicago Public Schools not wanting to place limit on the number of students in the classroom, thus leading to overcrowding and shitty education. It's about the diversion of money to charter schools, that unproven fantasy of school reform advocates. And it's about air conditioners in hot, hot classrooms.

Let's have a knockdown, drag-out fight over this shit. It's about time. That hack Michelle Rhee and her worthless acolytes have had more than their say. Let's hear from the people who really matter.
Late Post Today:
The Rude Pundit won't tell you specifically what he has to do, but he will say that he'll post later.


DNC Day 3: Barack Obama Hopes He Hasn't Lost You Yet:
All the things that rise must land somewhere or they disappear into the ether. In 2008, Barack Obama was one with air and with fire. In 2012, he has changed his elemental identification. In 2012, at last night's Democratic National Convention, he spoke to us as a man very much of the earth, less like a deflated balloon and more like a man who leaped from a plane and has realized, once he hits the ground, that the rush is over and it's time to pack the chute.

There's a ton of shit we could heave at President Obama's nomination acceptance speech. Yes, it was light on specifics plans, with some of the ideas for his second term buried deeply in anecdotes or rhetoric that it was hard to suss them out. No, it didn't go nearly far enough in laying blame at the feet of the Republicans and didn't call at all for more Democrats to be elected to Congress. No, it didn't have much of a real vision for goals beyond "We need to keep fixing what was broken." Finally, no, it wasn't as good a speech as Michelle Obama or Bill Clinton delivered.

But let's put aside what the speech didn't do. We can't dwell in the realm of fantasy, of revisions of the past. We're not Republicans (unless you are, in which case let the Rude Pundit say, "The fuck's wrong with you?"). We need to deal with what actually was said, presence instead of absence.

President Obama made the case for his reelection by picking up on one of the most important themes of the convention, that we're all in this together, so why the fuck don't we stop being selfish pricks and start acting like we're interdependent. "[We] believe in something called 'citizenship,'" Obama said, "a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations." After listing various ways in which today's accomplishments not only owe those who came before but need to be building blocks to those who come after, he continued, he continued, "Because -- because America, we understand that this democracy is ours. We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only what's in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense. As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That's what we believe."

It's not pithy and it's not all that lofty. It's laying out a stark contrast between visions, between the GOP's America, where everything is done so that the individual can succeed above all, that Ayn Rand bullshit that's only for rich dicks, and the Democrats' America, where society's must constantly progress and built towards, if you will, a more perfect Union. (Caveat: this is all in the realm of theory, of course.)

In some ways, this Obama was a chastened man coming back to the people he abandoned to ask for another chance. One of the Rude Pundit's biggest complaints about the President has been that he did nothing with the energy that accompanied his election. He said he would ask for our help, but he never did, and instead we wandered off. Some believed the whole "I got this" myth, but what that did was disengage and distance us. This was equal with his failure to understand the depth of Republican hatred for him. So, like the star basketball player realizing that he needs to rely on his team to win championships, he came back to us last night and said, perhaps a little too calculatedly humble, "So you see, the election four years ago wasn't about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens, you were the change." But more importantly, "If you turn away now -- if you turn away now, if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn't possible, well, change will not happen."

This shit is hard, our President told us, harder than he ever imagined. He more or less dismissed the entire Republican platform as unworthy of discussion by adults in a nation with genuine problems, and that it is instead the wish list of deranged plutocratic children. Indeed, what he was trying to convince us with all of his talk of the "choice" was that it was not between him and Romney. It was between him and apathy because, and every so-called pundit everywhere knows this, if the energy of the electorate is within spitting distance of 2008, Romney is finished. Romney wins only through apathy and outright voter suppression. "Yes, our path is harder," he said, knowing that things got worse before they started to get better, "but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together. We don't turn back." And by saying that, Obama meant that there really is no choice. It was a serious speech by a sober man with his eyes open to the reality of what he faces, whether it's his diminished glow or the treasonous intransigence of his opposition.

This is the road we're on. He wants us to join him in continuing down it. Hope and change are still possible in this world. We've started to tilt in that direction. He put out his hand last night and asked us for ours to join him. He's learned hard lessons, just like all of us. He asked for us not to lose faith, that fickle partner of hope, in himself or in one another.


DNC Day 2: Bill Clinton in Full Bloom:
At some point, nine months from now, there's going to be a small baby boom among Democrats and probably more than a few independents. Why? Because Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention last night was an aphrodisiac so pure that it made oysters close in embarrassment. It was like Prince in his prime, the music you fuck to, and you can bet that more than a few condom packages were torn open, more than a few anuses penetrated and clits licked, more than a few morning after pills used, proudly, without regret, without recrimination, because, goddamnit, the Big Dog just makes you feel so good about being you and believing the things you believe that he's a walking tab of Ecstasy and you just wanna put it on your tongue and let the warm feeling take you over.

In substance (and, holy shit, that was a substantive speech - Clinton said more about specific policies than the entire Republican convention), what the former President committed last night was an act of vengeance against the vast right wing conspiracy that sought to destroy him and continues to try to destroy Obama. The theme of the speech was "I'm sick of this shit. Aren't you?" In simple, direct, compelling language, Clinton gutted not just the Republicans' arguments against Obama, but he dug in deeper and stabbed them in the soul. Too hyperbolic? Here's Clinton: "Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private- sector jobs. So what's the job score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42!" (And, by the way, those numbers are correct.) That one line undermines decades of GOP talking points.

And then, like a Democrat should, he brought the numbers back to something even more important, to the root reasons why Democrats succeed at creating jobs where Republicans fail: "There's a reason for this. It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics. Why? Because poverty, discrimination and ignorance restrict growth. When you stifle human potential, when you don't invest in new ideas, it doesn't just cut off the people who are affected; it hurts us all. We know that investments in education and infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase growth. They increase good jobs, and they create new wealth for all the rest of us." Clinton made the case that government is a force for moral good and offered proof, unlike Republicans who merely repeat that government is bad and have to lie to demonstrate the case.

On and on Clinton went, not going too long at all, bringing up every Republican lie against Barack Obama except birtherism and just wasting them. When he talked about the Affordable Care Act and student loans, there had to be more than a few people watching who thought, "Huh. Why haven't I heard about all this good stuff before?" He even made room to talk about the ways Republicans are trying to limit voting rights. It was the catharsis both he and the gathered delegates needed. The most direct act of vengeance of the evening was when Clinton went after Mitch McConnell, who had been one of the Senate's driving forces behind the impeachment and attempt to remove Clinton from office. Clinton said, "Now, we all know that [Obama] also tried to work with congressional Republicans on health care, debt reduction and new jobs. And that didn't work out so well. But it could have been because, as the Senate Republican leader said in a remarkable moment of candor, two full years before the election, their No. 1 priority was not to put America back to work; it was to put the president out of work." And then he got thousands of people to boo Mitch McConnell on national television. That's guns a-blazin', motherfuckers.

To put it another way, he was more Clint Eastwood than Clint Eastwood was.

Last night, perhaps more than at any other point in his career, Bill Clinton was a man in full, a confident, triumphant speaker offering what might be the valedictory speech of his career. And doing so in a gracious way that contained surprisingly few references to his own administration but did make room for high praise for Joe Biden and, even, George W. Bush, which is more than any Republican did. He worked the crowd like a throwback to another era of politics, knowing that his voice and his presence was more of a special effect than anything that could be put into an ad. He was such a confident showman that, at times when he was saying to the screaming audience, "Wait a minute" or "Now, listen to this," the Rude Pundit half-expected him to say, "You ain't heard nothin' yet." And as a bumper sticker writing machine (calling Romney "someone who will double-down on trickle-down," for instance), he isn't Slick Willie. He's the Don Draper of American politics.

Finally, Clinton made the case for the success of the first Obama term (and, yes, we can argue about that, but let's save such things for next week). All of his previous anger and resentment dissipated, he passed the second term baton, the last reelected Democrat telling America that this Democrat deserved that chance to continue the work. He continued the narrative begun by Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and other speakers: politics is not about transforming government into a cold business; it's about lives and bodies.

Clinton took it even further. Since it is about lives and bodies, he told us, don't you deserve to hear the facts? Don't you deserve to be talked to like grown-ups who participate actively in democracy, as a society, instead of being left alone? We have to live in the real world, said the man who spends his life trying to make it better and healthier, and we're all in this together.

(A quick note to the right: If you dismiss Clinton's speech by saying that he got a blow job in the Oval Office, then you deserve Mitt Romney as your president.)


DNC Day 1: Now That's the America We Know:
Occasionally, every now and then, the Rude Pundit feels a sense of transcendent love for his fellow humans. While most days, he pretty much feels like going on a stabbing spree and then getting rid of the bodies through the cleansing power of fire, sweet fire, there are times when he is in a group of mostly strangers, on the subway or at some event, some place where there's a diversity of races and classes, and everyone is just so tragically human and interwoven by circumstance, by space and time, that a warm feeling of love shoves aside the misanthropy and he thinks, "Yes, this is how we're supposed to be." And he feels uplifted, in a very real and physical sense, as if he's floating for just a moment. Then, usually, some asshole yells at a kid or some jerk gets too loud on a cell phone, and he hits the ground again.

When the Rude Pundit first turned on C-Span's coverage of the DNC (because fuck MSNBCCNNFox; he can think for himself), no one was speaking and the cameras just kept cutting to various parts of the crowd. "Jesus," he thought, "this is the America I know." See, unlike the incredibly white Republican National Convention, with the uncomfortably wedged in token people of color, here was the United States that most of us experience on a daily basis, including all those white idiots at the RNC. It is a constant stream of difference, of engaging with difference, of looking beyond difference in order to accomplish everything that needs to get done, whether at the workplace or the school or the grocery store when you just need to pay for your Pop-Tarts.

The RNC's narrative was based on a fantasy, that the country is made up of entrepreneurs and entrepreneur-wannabes, a bunch of gun-toting freedom loving men whose wives proudly give birth to whatever children are ejaculated into their wild, untamed vaginas, a white rural fantasia where all anyone needs is to be left alone in order to fulfill one's destiny, the chimera of rugged individualism so seemingly at odds with the true day-to-day lives of Americans.

The truth is something so very different and so very messy compared with the neat, white fictions the RNC laid out. The truth is that most people don't want to start businesses. They want jobs or better lives and if they get it through the government, then at least it's a fuckin' paycheck. The truth is that most people won't ever need a gun, even if they pretend they do. The truth is that this is a messy country, and stories move forward, into a hard-fought and unsure future, even if the GOP is stuck in a flashback to a nation that not only never existed, but could only exist in the most extreme dictatorial state. The RNC portrayed the citizens of the country as being in a locked battle with an evil government, as if the Obama administration was the Assad regime in Syria and they were just meagerly armed rebels, the better to appeal to the knuckle-dragging Tea Party, who were barely mentioned but whose neanderthal gruntings echoed constantly in the speeches. The Democrats, last night, at least, called "Bullshit" on their war.

And no one did it more beautifully, succinctly, and devastatingly than First Lady Michelle Obama. Speaking directly to the image of her husband as a brutal socialist totalitarian, she not only called out the lies of the right without mentioning them (always a more brutal tactic), but she laid out how a president, and a government, can affect the everyday lives of all Americans, embracing Obamacare by saying the President "did it because he believes that here in America, our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine...our kids should be able to see a doctor when they’re sick...and no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or illness." It's that last one that Republicans have no answer for at all.

She said, "[I]f our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us...if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button...then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids." At least two out of three of those occurred only because of government investment in research, science, and industry. Michelle Obama rebuked the notion that the greatest good is making money, that financial comfort and material accumulation is the only measure of success. There is more, she said, there is family and love and community, and, goddamn, isn't that worth more than another ten million? When Republicans tried to say such things, they came across as winking jokes.

People keep comparing Obama's speech to Ann Romney's, and, yes, they both played the role of supportive spouse. But a better comparison would be to Mitt Romney's attempts to humanize himself in his speech. Michelle Obama's emotions throughout her speech, and especially towards the end, her stutters, her repetitions came across as so very real, as if she was one of us talking to us. Mitt Romney attempted to appear dewy-eyed and sincere, but mostly he just looked as if he was patronizing an audience that thinks such patronization is identification; he was talking to a fake nation. Michelle Obama talked to a real America.

To bottom line it: At a jury trial, the Rude Pundit would want Michelle Obama as his attorney. And he'd love it if she'd face off against Romney.

Michelle Obama brought the soul. Tonight, Bill Clinton will bring the funk (and, frankly, you can bet that Mitt Romney is shitting himself over what Clinton is gonna say, no matter what the GOP says).

Note: "It's okay," the Rude Pundit told himself this morning. "It's okay to every now and again put aside the cynicism and the rancor and the doubts and just enjoy a good patriotic boner."


Paul Ryan Tries to Fuck Lies Into Truths:
Let us say, and why not, that you are young and deeply in love with an amazing man (and if you truly are, then mazel tov). Call him "Jim," and he's perfect in every way, except that Jim is HIV positive. You make promises to Jim, you tell him that you'll love him no matter what, that you'll help him with his illness, and that you'll get married in a year and move in together. And you mean it. You want Jim to be better, and you want a long life together. But then, a few months down the road, while you're out of town, Jim's murdered, just knifed on the street and left to bleed out and die. It's horrible, a tragedy, one that reverberates through many lives, as such tragedies do. And you? Well, you know that you couldn't have done anything about it. As for your promises, hell, you sigh and know that they will remain as hopes that circumstance took away from you and Jim.

Now, if Paul Ryan had his way, you would be bear at least some responsibility for Jim's death. If you hadn't walked into his life, maybe he wouldn't have been on that sidewalk at that time of night when the mugger stabbed him. In fact, Ryan'd call you out for not marrying his corpse. Yeah, you should not just marry that corpse, you should try to reanimate it, perhaps by fucking it. That's right. Because if you don't fuck Jim's corpse back to life and marry it, then you are a worthless piece of shit whose promises should never be trusted again.

"Are you out of your goddamn mind?" you might say. "It doesn't matter what promises were made once someone killed him." But Republicans would line up behind Ryan because that motherfucker isn't capable of lying and tell you how wrong you are. Corpses can be fucked back to life. You just are too much of a pussy to try.

What else can you say about vice-presidential candidate and GOP demi-deity Paul Ryan's insistence that President Barack Obama broke promises for having told workers at a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, when he was a candidate in 2008, that he wanted the place to be there for another hundred years? Should you say that he never explicitly promised the workers they would keep their jobs, which had already been slashed? That he actually said in February 2008 that if the SUV-producing factory shifted to more completely to hybrids in a green economy and "that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years"? That Ryan misquoted Obama in the first place by leaving out the part about retooling and transitioning? That in October 2008, the New York Times reported, "On Oct. 13, G.M. announced that its 90-year-old plant there, the company’s oldest factory in the United States, would build its last S.U.V. just before the Christmas holidays"? That the plant was closed on December 23, 2008? That Barack Obama didn't become president until 3 weeks later? That you can't fuck a corpse back to life?

Just today Ryan defended himself on NBC's Today show by saying, "What I was saying is the president ought to be held to account for broken promises. After the plant was shut down he said he would lead efforts to restart the plant. It's still idle." That itself is a lie on top of the original lie. Obama never said he would lead efforts to restart the plant after it closed. Period.

Of course, Ryan's ball washers on the right are jumping to defend their blue-eyed savior. Apparently, because GM didn't bulldoze the plant under, it was not really closed.

As Paul Krugman and others have pointed out, Al Gore was excoriated in the media for shit he did not say. But Paul Ryan is being treated with kid gloves even though we've all walked in on him fucking a lie and then telling us it's not what we think.

(Note: The Rude Pundit is feeling fine now. Thanks for all the get well wishes, which made vomiting away the previous week taste a little less vile.)


A Poem for the Laborers:


by Paul Martinez Pompa

That Lucia broke the machine twice in one week was evidence enough. He also offered
this—she’s no longer automatic, her stitches are crooked and once another seamstress
found Lucia’s “lost” sewing patterns in the trash. The security guard half listened as
Lucia gathered her things. Then the manager turned directly to her—what is it with
you? We give you work, put money in your pocket. She put on her best disappointed
face as they escorted her past rows of itchy throats, bowed heads, the refrain of needle
through fabric.

Every day Elena counts pig. A pageant of molded plastic rolling down the conveyor belt.
The task: grab Miss Piggy, pull gown over snout, fasten two tiny buttons, grab another.
With each doll Elena’s hands grow stiffer. Her feet grow heavy as the concrete below.
Dolls spit at her, or maybe this is imagined, but the ache in her legs might be real. The
supervisor brushes against her back when he patrols the floor. After standing for
hours, the room begins to blur. Her mouth opens like an empty wallet as naked dolls
march on.

What will settle in, what will rise from the lungs of girls who still burn weeks after
detox treatment at a local clinic. Speak of headaches, blurred vision, diarrhea. How
they suck air thick with sulfuric acid. Acetone working past unfiltered exhaust systems
and through their livers. Most return to work despite doctors’ orders. Back inside, the
tin roof and their steady perspiration remind them they’re still alive—together one
breathing, burning machine.

Like Celia’s pockets, there’s nothing but lint here. Lint & dead machines. The sound of
layoffs & profit margins. Yesterday this department droned an unsynchronized rhythm
of coughing girls tethered to well-lubed motors. Row after row of pre-asthmatic lungs.
Black hair buried under perpetual white. The decision was made across the border, he
tells them. Nothing I can do about it. Sometimes Celia would imagine the whole place
caught inside a tiny globe. Something she could pick up. Shake.

A perpetual conveyor, he patrols her mouth. The sound of unfiltered white. Breathing
margins. The task: grab Elena’s hands. Pull. Fasten. He also offered crooked patterns.
Put money in her hair. That Lucia broke. Was evidence enough? Molded vision as a
refrain. An empty wallet will rise. Speak. How they exhaust systems. Despite the
blurred other, the ache might be real. Something she could pick up. Across the border,
nothing I can imagine.

(Hat tip to the amazing Working Class Poems blog. The poem is from the 2009 book My Kill Adore Him.)