A Farewell to Michele Bachmann

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is leaving Congress. She gave an exit interview to WND (motto: "Someone tell these voices in our heads to stop. Please, God, make them stop"). The Rude Pundit has taken the liberty of illustrating some of the quotes:

"I’ve never had a filter on my mouth at all! No, I was very free. And that’s what got me into trouble all the time."

"I worked until I’d go to sleep. And I think that’s what I am proudest of, because I put everything on the line… I couldn’t have worked harder."

"The congresswoman recalled she 'was at the tip of the spear' leading the charge against the adoption of Obamacare in Congress."

"The Republican Party always gets a bad rap, because there are not as many women in elective office. But it’s a tough business. It is public humiliation, public ridicule, constant criticism, when you’re in public office, if you take on the left."

Speaking for the left, we don't have to work that hard to humiliate you. This took, like, five minutes.

Adios, Michele Bachmann. The country will become just a little smarter without you in a leadership position.


Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Take a Deep, Relatively Clean Breath

That's a photo from 2012 in Tioga County, New York. The owner of that little bit of green mountain paradise really, really wanted to allow gas companies to come in and fuck the ground with hydraulic fracking equipment to get at the shale gas buried beneath it. But his dream won't be coming true, and the bald eagles and bobcats will be safe to soar over and roam the land because Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally made up his mind and banned fracking in New York State. The economy of the region on the border with Pennsylvania still sucks - the Southern Tier citizens were hoping to make money on fracking the way that their greedy, shortsighted neighbors across the state line have - but at least they won't have to worry about chemicals poisoning their water and drilling that causes earthquakes. Life is a series of trade-offs.

It's been a pretty good week for environmentalists in the United States, one of the better ones in a while. President Obama chose the fishermen and women over the oil industry by permanently protecting Bristol Bay, Alaska, from oil and gas exploration and drilling. His order covers 52,000 square miles, and it's groovy, but not that brave an act, considering that Bristol Bay is the center of the lucrative salmon industry and that petroleum companies had little interest in the area (although, you know, if they could have, you know they would have drilled that Bay with all the vigor and intensity of a gay porn veteran on a fresh, young anus).

Down in West Virginia, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin "filed criminal charges against six former Freedom Industries officials, and the company itself, for their roles in last January’s chemical leak that contaminated the Kanawha Valley’s drinking water." That was the leak that caused 300,000 people to lose their water privileges for weeks, including much of the city of Charleston. You talk to people down there and they'll say that, even now, they'll drink only bottled water.

Goodwin said, "Metal tanks don’t simply corrode overnight. Containment walls don’t simply disintegrate in a matter of days. These things take time and those matters have to be dealt with" before kicking the company in the balls. Attorney General Eric Holder followed up with a from-behind kick to the taint, saying, "They put an entire population needlessly at risk. Such conduct cannot, and will not, be tolerated. These law enforcement actions send an unambiguous message that compliance with environmental safety standards is an obligation, not a choice." And four of the executives face the possibility of real jail time, with the former chief operating officer looking at up to 68 years behind bars.

Hell, with a federal grand jury indicting former Massey Energy CEO Donald "Greasy 'Stache" Blanknship on four criminal counts related to the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster of 2010 just last month, it's almost as if rich white polluters might not be getting away with all the evil shit they do. Too bad they don't work on Wall Street, huh? Well, it's a start.

Every once in a while, it's okay to climb up a particularly beautiful hill, pause, breathe in deeply, and say, "Yes, a few good things can happen amidst the unending barrage of mayhem and hatred." Then you walk back down, into the smog, and get back to work.


Note to Cops: If You're Gonna Be So Thin-Skinned, You Should Stop Killing People

That's Andrew Hawkins, a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. He wore that shirt while warming up for his team's game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunay. As you can read, it calls for justice in the deaths of Tamir Rice, the 12 year-old who was shot to death by a Cleveland cop for holding a toy gun, and John Crawford, who was shot to death by a cop outside Dayton, Ohio, for the crime of holding a BB gun he had picked up while shopping in a Walmart. Both were killed within seconds of the arrival of the police, with no attempt to ascertain what was occurring. They are both awful situations that call for serious soul-searching by the police in Ohio, to hold the officers accountable in some way, to improve training so that such tragedies don't happen again, to perhaps confront the racism that seems to heighten the violence in these situations. That would all be meaningful and sensitive.

But it's so much easier to go batshit and attack Hawkins.

Yeah, like teenaged girls who just saw that bitch Tanya wearing that purple dress on Instagram when she knew perfectly well that Alicia was gonna wear the same one to the dance (god, Tanya, you don't even look good in purple), the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association stomped its feet and demanded an apology: "It's pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology." You gotta love the implied threat there: "Mighty nice stadium you have here. Be a shame if we let your animal fans run wild."

The truth is a little more complicated. As the police union's president, John Fullmer, said, it's not just that cops patrol the area because, you know, it's their fucking job, but "many Cleveland police officers work security for the Browns games and are employed by Browns." So if those security officers who are paid by the Browns are so upset, they can quit and not get extra paychecks, which they probably need because of the shitty wages they made, possibly because the president of their union is spending his time attacking a football player instead of negotiating for a better fucking contract. (Note: Yeah, that's totally unfair. So's criticizing a guy upset because cops gunned down a kid.)

What is it with all the sensitive fucking cops? You had the St. Louis police group pissed off at the St. Louis Rams for some players for putting their hands up in unity with protesters over the shooting of Michael Brown. You have various NYPD groups pissed off that Mayor Bill de Blasio isn't on his knees, sucking off each and every officer in gratitude. All the cops here want apologies because their feelings are hurt or honor or what fucking ever. Jesus, for a bunch of tough motherfuckers, they're acting like thin-skinned wimps being bullied by the mean old liberals.

Howzabout a day or two of humility for the police, huh? Howzabout not acting like killing Brown or Eric Garner was some kind of triumph, like you took out Bonnie and Clyde? Howzabout shutting the fuck up over the killing of a kid and an obviously innocent man? Oh, wait, you'd rather try to force John Crawford's girlfriend to incriminate Crawford than admit to a crime or, perhaps, apologize.

Hawkins, though, stood fucking tall, man. He addressed the media Monday, saying, "My wearing of the T-shirt wasn't a stance against every police officer or every police department," Hawkins said. "My wearing of the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason to innocent people...A call for justice shouldn't warrant an apology." That's being far, far more respectful of police officers than the police organizations and unions in all these situations. He's talking to them as grown-ups in a land that supposedly treasures free speech. The cops want to treat those who criticize them as children. They can't understand that to say some cops are shit doesn't mean all cops are shit. NFL players, about as much as anyone, understand how easy it is to be lumped in with your worst examples.

Yesterday, the Rude Pundit walked over to the spot where Eric Garner was killed on Staten Island. Unlike its portrayal in the media, it's not in some crime-ridden hellhole of a neighborhood. It's next to one of the busiest spots on the island, a short walk from the Borough Hall and NYPD headquarters, not to mention the ferry terminal. There's a great used bookstore right next to it where you can get vegan and gluten-free pastries.

A makeshift shrine has been erected there, with flowers and notes:

The Rude Pundit walked over to an evening protest led by Garner's daughter, Erica, who has vowed to lay down in the spot where her father died and lead protests several times a week. It was a drizzly, cold night. The numbers were a few dozen. The media attention was very little. Still, we chanted.

See, the police don't have to ask for an apology. They have to wait out the attention span of the American public. But hopefully people like Andrew Hawkins and Erica Garner will give discomfort to those who hide behind a motto of protection and service.


Torture? Cosby Rapes? Almost Everyone Is Missing the Point of the Rolling Stone UVa Article

Bill Cosby's wife, Camille, long a character in her husband's stand-up, released a statement yesterday defending her husband against the rape and assault allegations made by around 20 women. Camille Cosby is standing by her husband of 50 years, and, as a way of saying that the allegations are not true, she draws a media parallel: "We all follow the story of the article in the Rolling Stone concerning allegations of rape at the University of Virginia. The story was heart-breaking, but ultimately appears to be proved untrue."

People who are defending the CIA and the Bush administration against the Senate's torture report routinely cite the UVa story as proof of the dishonesty and/or blind credulity of those who think torture is wrong. Erick "Erick" Erickson, in his gracious fellatio of Dick Cheney, writes, "The very same people embracing the Democrats’ report as some fountain of wisdom and salve to wash sins away were only two weeks ago claiming there’s a 'rape culture' on American college campuses and anyone who dismissed Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s Rolling Stone article was siding with rapists." On Fox "news," mumbling commentator Brit Hume said what's become a talking point about the torture report: they didn't talk to the CIA officials who approved or did the torturing, just like Erdely didn't talk to the students who were accused of rape by "Jackie," the victim who claimed she was gang-raped at a fraternity party.

Obviously, invoking Rolling Stone's "A Rape on Campus" has become the way to introduce doubt into any story. Because serious questions have arisen about Erdely's telling of Jackie's story, as well as the editors' failure to fact check and follow-up on such an explosive allegation, just a mention of the article suggests lying and incompetence and mistrust and myriad sins. Which would be a fine analogy except for one major problem: the Rolling Stone article isn't just about Jackie and her story.  It's not a nonfiction retelling of a single incident. It's about rape on college campuses, with the University of Virginia as a prime example of how the schools screw over the victims.

There's the 1984 case of Liz Seccuro, who was raped at the Phi Kappa Psi house and had to wait until 2006 before her rapist was brought to justice. There's Emily Renda, who was raped after a party in her first year at UVa. There's this: "UVA furnished Rolling Stone with some of its most recent tally: In the last academic year, 38 students went to Eramo about a sexual assault, up from about 20 students three years ago. However, of those 38, only nine resulted in 'complaints'; the other 29 students evaporated. Of those nine complaints, four resulted in Sexual Misconduct Board hearing." There are other statistics and facts from other cases at UVa and elsewhere.

The Jackie story is no doubt the central example of the article and the most sensational. But whatever happens with the veracity of Jackie's story does not take away from the parade of awful incidents and the use of various academic studies in the article. This is not to let Rolling Stone off the hook. But even if Jackie's story turns out to be an utter fabrication that was left unchecked by Erdely and her editors, the larger truth of the article remains: Young women are treated as prey by predatory men at universities, and the administrations are often more concerned with their school's image than fair treatment of victims. In fact, that stark, depressing conclusion has not been challenged.

So invoking the article to make some pathetic point about how credible this or that report may be is an insult to the very real survivors of sexual violence, not just to crazy liberals who dared to believe Rolling Stone. And the comparison is not only unfair, it's doesn't work when you deal in the reality of the article.

See, with that reality in mind, Camille Cosby is implying that one of the women might be lying about Bill Cosby raping her, but that her husband is indeed guilty of raping multiple victims. And the torture apologists are saying that while one of the tales of abusive interrogations is not true, the CIA did have a program of torturing detainees. The discredited example does not change the overall point.

As for everyone else just outright dismissing the Rolling Stone article, get over yourselves. Perhaps the main victim misled a gullible writer (and, remember, the investigation into Jackie's story was done by the Washington Post, not by some conservative stooge), but the rape epidemic continues. Are you going to do anything other than crow over the bruised and battered bodies? Or sigh in relief that you can use "Jackie" as a reason to dismiss them?


Our National Shame: Dick Cheney Is Still a Free Man Today

Let us say, and why not, that American civilians were taken by another country like, say, oh, hell, howzabout Russia under the pretext that they might have information about Chechnyan terrorist attacks. Let us say, and, really, why not, that those Americans were treated like the CIA treated the prisoners it held at black sites around the world, that they were waterboarded, forced to be nude in cold temperatures, slammed around walls, forced to act like dogs, put inside coffin-sized containers, sometimes folded into ones even smaller, and were sodomized with tubes shooting food into their assholes. Let us say that at least some of those Americans were guilty of no crimes other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time and that they knew nothing of any help to Russian intelligence.

Let's say that some former leader of Russia, say, Vladislav Surkov, went on national television in Russia to declare that what the Americans suffered, even the completely innocent ones, wasn't torture and that they would waterboard and use tubes to anally rape the Americans again. And, say, Surkov, who could surely be seen as being Vladimir Putin's Cheney in some ways, continued that the people who did the torturing were heroes and should be treated as such.

Well, this is a stupid game, isn't it? Because we know that we in the United States would be outraged, we'd be threatening, some in Congress would want us to do all kinds of crazy shit to punish Russia. We'd call them "barbaric," we'd call them "subhuman," we'd call them "monsters," and we'd demand that the people behind it be punished. And, indeed, we'd be right to do so. Scratch that. Once upon a time, we would have at least been right to do so. Now, we'd just look like fucking hypocrites, even more than usual, because we know what it looks like to have an ex-leader say such callous, inhuman things without regret.

There is no reason to go back over everything the Rude Pundit said about former Vice President Dick Cheney and his savage response to Senate's report on CIA torture last week. But in the wake of Cheney's epically narcissistic and nationally embarrassing appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, it's worth noting a thing or two.

- Nothing is torture, Cheney said, unless it is equal to putting a man in a burning building and making him call his children before he dies. That's his bottom line. If you didn't die horribly, you weren't tortured. Or, in another part, Cheney brings up how the North Vietnamese treated prisoners, saying that if our actions don't sink to that level or to ISIS's, it ain't torture. No one would have blamed Chuck Todd if he had paused for a second and then said, "Why don't you fucking die already, you sucker of demon cock?"

- Cheney wasn't even asked a question about the president before he tossed George W. Bush onto the war crimes barbecue (again). Todd asked Cheney, "Do you feel as if they [the CIA] were telling you what you wanted to hear?" Cheney responded that the White House was well-informed and, apropos of nothing, added, "The suggestion, for example, that the president didn't approve it, wrong. That's a lie, that's not true." Cheney is evil embodied, so he can hold a long goddamn grudge against the man who didn't pardon one of his friends.

- Being Dick Cheney means having no regrets at all. None. Cheney just doesn't give a fuck about anything but the greatness and rightness of the interrogation program. He doesn't give a fuck if innocent people were tortured. He doesn't give a fuck if they were ass raped with food tubes. He doesn't give a fuck about anyone who questions its efficacy. He doesn't give a fuck if you think the Iraq war was a fuck-up. He doesn't give a fuck if he contradicted what he said about Iraq twenty years ago. Cheney doesn't give a fuck.

- And the second Cheney said that he would do it all again the exact same way is the moment that Chuck Todd should have, Chris Hansen style, brought in cops or FBI agents to arrest him. Or Todd could have at least slammed Cheney against a wall, ripped off his clothes, dragged him down a hall, put him into stress positions, shoved a hummus-filled tube up his ass, and slammed him on a slanted board to pour water on his Gorgon face.

Because, see, what Cheney is saying, and what every Cheney apologist is saying, and what President Obama is saying by not prosecuting the torturers is that we will do it again.  Maybe not now, but we're keeping it in our arsenal while we feign outrage. Why not? What's the penalty for officially sanctioned torture? Not a goddamn thing.


Before the Torture Report Disappears

It's already happening, no? The Senate Intelligence committee's report on the CIA's post-9/11 interrogation techniques, known colloquially as "torture," is in the fast fade from our news cycle and from our outrage churner. It's become like that hot fuck one torrid night on a Mexican vacation, when the tequila and ecstasy flowed and you went back to your timeshare with one of the local dudes and balled your brains out, in the rush, the hurlyburly and hustle of the three hours left between leaving the bar and the cruel light of dawn. Ah, that was something you did, you can say later, and then go on with your life. If it left you with a case of herpes, well, shit, people live with that all the time, don't they? At least it ain't the HIV. Where's the beach?

So it seems it will be with the torture report, something that stays with us the rest of our days, incurable, occasionally surfacing, but tolerated. Already, the media have moved on, to the CRomnibus, the Sony email leak, the floods in California. There will be more Eric Garner and Michael Brown protests, so we're not so brain-damaged that we can't have memory of something for more than a week or two. The Tamir Rice shooting is coming into sharper focus, too. And there's all that Christmas shopping to be done.

The Rude Pundit has never had any illusions. He never thought that any prosecutions or even arrests would happen. He never thought there would be a reckoning of any sort. Oh, sure, he hoped we might spend more than a few days pointing fingers. But we are a nation that simply doesn't like to look in the mirror. And if no one is there to hold our heads and point them straight ahead, then we are happy to glance and then gaze away, into the unknown, always blindly optimistic about the future.

Before we move on, though, the Rude Pundit wants to deal with a couple last things and then we can go back to snarkily saying, "Rectal infusion" and giggling, ignoring the whole ass rape part of the act.

Conservatives and current and former members of the intelligence community promised, swore up and down, that the release of the torture report would cause violence and protests against the United States. The White House was even worried. Except, of course, it hasn't. As Joshua Keating says in Slate, it seems like the extremists in the Muslim world are more upset about degradation of their faith, like pissing on Korans or making a shitty film about Mohammed, than they are about the treatment of a few score individuals. Or maybe it's just the lack of photos this time or a sad shrug that this is all shit they knew about.

Either way, why the fuck would it matter what the reaction would be? When the people supporting the cops defend the officer who killed Eric Garner, they say that Garner should have just allowed himself to be arrested. It's his fault that violence happened. If he didn't want something bad to happen to him, he shouldn't have done something wrong in the first place. Well, fuck, doesn't that also go for torture? The time to worry about what the Muslim world - if not the entire rest of the globe - thought about us is before you start torturing. Once you've done it, aren't you kind of just asking for it? The Rude Pundit doesn't want there to be any violence against Americans, but, Jesus, stop behaving as if we're so fucking special that, even when we do evil shit, we should not be viewed as an enemy. When did we start giving a fuck about the possible damage we might be doing? The number of civilian deaths doesn't stop us from firing drone missiles.

We're Americans, goddamnit. We act without expecting there to be any consequences because fuck you. George W. Bush called the torturers "patriots." Who are you to argue?

The torture supporters defend themselves by saying that they had to do whatever it takes to protect the United States after 9/11. They say that Americans - and especially Congress and the President- wanted our intelligence agents to go brutal if they had to, especially in "the emergency and often-chaotic circumstances we confronted in the immediate aftermath of 9/11." It was a "ticking bomb" scenario, they say. But did it keep ticking for five years?

Others talk about how scared Americans were. The Rude Pundit was a thinking adult on September 11, 2001. He talked to lots of thinking adults. We were gung-ho for getting the fuckers who were behind the attacks. But mostly we were just sad about how fucked up the world had become, and he remembers specific conversations with people about how we hoped the United States wouldn't act like assholes. As soon as the invasion of Afghanistan occurred (and not a small force just to get bin Laden), along with the opening of the prison at Gitmo, the Rude Pundit knew we were gonna be total dicks.

We tortured because we're big enough to be bullies without fear of real recriminations. We also tortured because we're cowards who demonstrated quite plainly that all that shit about freedom is readily cast aside when we feel even a bit threatened. We're forgetting about it now because we're also really good at pretending, a family that sweeps it all under a rug so lumpy that you have to walk around it to get across the room.


Thanks, Dick Cheney, for Incriminating George W. Bush (and Other Conservative Reactions)

Let us now praise infamous men. The desiccated husk of a demi-human that is named Dick Cheney, former Vice President of these here United States, dragged his decaying body and scent of rot into his home away from home, Fox "news" studios, to discuss the Senate's report on the CIA's program of torturing suspected terrorists. He was speaking with Bret Baier, who obviously must worship mad Lovecraftian gods in order to be in the presence of such a barren soul with such black eyes and a mouth torn to shreds by the speaking of endless lies without vomiting endlessly. How many sacrifices have to be made at an altar covered in the blood of Iraqi children to keep Cheney alive? How many virgins, fresh for fucking and devouring, did Baier have to provide Cheney in order to secure the interview?

However, oddly, Cheney ought to be thanked for what he told Baier. When asked about President George W. Bush's awareness of the CIA's interrogation methods, which the report says he was kept in the dark about, Cheney responded, "He was in fact an integral part of the program. He had to approve it before we went forward with it...I think he knew everything he needed to know and wanted to know about the program. There's no question... I think he knew certainly the techniques that we did discuss the techniques. There's nothing -- there was no effort on our part to keep him from that. He was just as with the terrorist surveillance program. On the terrorist surveillance program, he had to personally sign off on that every 30 to 45 days. So the notion that the committee's trying to peddle it, somehow the agency was operating on a rogue basis, and we weren't being told or the President wasn't being told is just a flat-out lie." Cheney totally and without hesitation said that Bush committed war crimes.

Now, one way to look at Cheney's remarks is to say, as several people have, that the former VP threw Bush under the bus, a kind of "Fuck you, I'm not taking the fall." But it's more than that. It's the beginning of a legal defense. Cheney may be an entity of concentrated malice, but he's not stupid. With United Nations officials saying that there need to be prosecutions for the crimes described in the report, with the potential for other nations to want torturers and torture architects arrested, even if the likelihood of anything happening along those lines is slim to "America is awesome," Cheney knows that he might need a legal defense. And the only defense for a vice president is to point the finger at the president and say, "That's where the buck stops."

While some on the right, like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and, really, The American Conservative magazine (seriously), have honorably stood up and said that the torture program was an unmitigated wrong, most conservatives have gone nutzoid in defense of the CIA. For instance:

MSNBC's host with the inbred eyes, Joe Scarborough, tweeted, "Senate Intel Report investigators refused to interview the accused. Sounds like Rolling Stone's journalistic approach on their UVA story." And that'd be totally true if Rolling Stone had had access to a treasure trove of documents from the students accused of rape at the University of Virginia. But the magazine didn't review six million pages of emails, memos, and internal reports from the alleged rapists, things that in a court of law are often seen as more legitimate than the recollections of someone years after the fact. There's 6000 pages more we haven't seen of the torture report, with, it's reported, tens of thousands of footnotes. You can bet that many of them are not just interviews with the victims - they include internal interviews with the people involved, including by the CIA's inspector general.

The whole charge is bogus because, as Dianne Feinstein noted, while the report was being put together, the CIA was being investigated by the Justice Department for destroying evidence of torture. The agency couldn't compel anyone to testify to the committee because "CIA employees and contractors who would otherwise have been interviewed by the Committee staff were under potential legal jeopardy." And Joe Scarborough can go fuck himself with Starbucks travel mug.

The rest of the conservative arguments against the report are equally bullshit filled. There's the "Who the fuck cares?" camp, who say things like, "Without a nation we have no values. And without torture, regardless of the latest politically correct views, we have no nation." (That's from Daily Caller tough guy David Lawrence.) There's the "It worked" argument, best exemplified by the desperate ass-covering of things like the website CIA Saved Lives, the Wall Street Journal editorial by former CIA directors, and torture-approver John Yoo.

Yoo is an especially skeevy cockknob about the report, which he calls "the Feinstein Report" (which will no doubt become the talking point). He wants to know what else would have worked to get information he claims stopped terrorist plots: "The Feinstein Report claims that the CIA would have captured all of these operatives anyway...Feinstein provides no reason to conclude, counter-factually, that the U.S. would have killed or captured these al Qaeda leaders without the high-quality intelligence from interrogations. The United States and its allies certainly had not done so before the interrogations started—it did not even know about many of them before 9/11. But we do know that armed with the intelligence from interrogations, the U.S. succeeded."

So his argument boils down to saying that burning down the house was the only way to get rid of the mice because we don't know if traps would have worked. In fact (and by "fact," the Rude Pundit means, "What happened"), we got all the intelligence we needed out of people like Abu Zubaydah before they were tortured, which proves the traps work, put the fucking gas can down.

There's two more arguments that the Rude Pundit will deal with tomorrow.