July 2, 2003

Time! Where is the device that lets me stop time???

Again, apologies if you see little to nothing from now until next week or so. The holiday weekend aside, I'm trying to finish up a freelance project, get some general family errands done, try to sell tickets to a concert I can't go to anymore, and apply for a few jobs and/or internships, all while arranging possible vacation time from all the work I seem to have, says the guy who complains about not having a job. Funny.

Sadly, unless you know someone who wants to buy 3 tickets to see Springsteen at Giants stadium on July 27th who can give me $275 by, like, next week, there's little anyone can do to help me get all this shit done, so again, please accept my gratuitous apologies for the decline in completely-devoid-of-profit content.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:51 PM

Waiter? I ordered the vegetarian budget. This one's soaking in irony.

There will be a little less "rockets' red glare" across the United States this Fourth of July, as some fireworks displays have been canceled or scaled back due to local government budget troubles.

With the national economic slowdown eating into state and local tax revenues, governments have less money to spend on the traditional displays, which can typically cost $1,000 to $2,500 a minute.

Anticipating that Minnesota would cut state aid to cities to deal with a $4.2 billion deficit, the city of Fergus Falls earlier this year canceled its $20,000 fireworks display.

Even privately sponsored events that depend on government help are suffering. Fireworks in Reno, Nevada, were rescued by sports network ESPN after Washoe County pulled its funding due to budget woes.

What a great country. Due to budget constraints which the administration openly excuses because of "the costs of the war on Terrorism," municipalities across the country now can't afford to celebrate our nation's independence. Does that strike anyone else as one of the saddest concepts ever?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:24 PM

Ann Coulter has gone completely insane

(Sighs) Oh, that takes me back. But I digress: Richard Cohen makes it official:

I am happy to report that Ann Coulter has lost her mind. The evidence for this is her most recent book, "Treason," a nearly unreadable slog through every silly thing anyone on the left has ever said. Coulter conflates dissent with treason, opposition with treason, being wrong with treason, being right with treason and just about anything she doesn't like with treason. If the book were a Rorschach test, she would be institutionalized.

In some ways, the nutso American brand of archconservatism mirrors traditional anti-Semitism. Jew-haters proclaim that Jews control the media, international finance and almost everything else of importance -- but, somehow, Jews have accumulated a 2,000-year history of expulsions, pogroms and, finally, the mass murder of the Holocaust. It is the same with American liberals. They control everything, and yet, somehow, the White House, both houses of Congress and, with the exception of several delis in New York, the entire business community are in the hands of conservatives. It's hard to figure.

But in a book that rehashes the McCarthy years, the Alger Hiss case, the House Un-American Activities Committee imbroglio, the Hollywood blacklist and everything but "I Love Lucy," Coulter finally heaves herself into the present and the war with Iraq. Mockingly, she excoriates the traitorous New York Times, which she cleverly calls "the Baghdad Times," for having said that there was "no reliable evidence" that "Saddam Hussein is connected to the Sept. 11 attack or to al Qaeda."

See, Cohen makes a point here. I think the difference in the invective towards Coulter really is based on the fear that she's a complete psychopath. If I was on some talk show handing Rush Limbaugh a new one over every ridiculous thing he's ever said, or (as Al Franken proved) Bill O'Reilly, they'd just slump into their seats, run away and complain the next morning about the durn librul media. On the other hand, I think I'd honestly be afraid to expose Coulter for everything she is live on the air because she would very likely grab a chair leg and lunge at me with it. My only chance would be in the fact that Coulter likely weighs about 45 pounds, and as such I could avoid the initial attack and if necessary could later use her as a battering ram to escape the studio.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:50 AM

They call me Dr. Moneypants

Howard Dean raises $7.5 million spread among 59,000 individual donors.

Now, I understand (as mentioned previously on this site) that this is about what Bush will spend in two weeks on the campaign trail, but Jesus. For an "unelectable candidate too far to the left to reach mainstream moderate Democrats with no chance of actually beating George W. Bush in the general election," Dean sure has a hell of a lot of of supporters.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:34 AM

Christian nation, huh

Reader Matthew Cand sends an article that goes straight to the "well I'll be damned" department:

Issues of sexuality and gender have long been the Achilles' heel of western Christianity. Indeed, in the earliest days of the church, Christians had a jaundiced view of heterosexual marriage, and saw celibacy as the prime Christian vocation. Jesus had urged his followers to leave their wives and children (Luke 14:25-26). St Paul, the earliest Christian writer, believed that because Jesus was about to return and inaugurate the Kingdom of God, where there would be no marriage or giving in marriage, it was simply not worth saddling yourself with a wife or husband. This, Paul was careful to emphasise, was simply his own opinion, not a divine ruling. It was perfectly acceptable for Christians to marry if they wished, but in view of the imminent second coming, Paul personally recommended celibacy.

The fathers of the church often used these New Testament remarks to revile marriage, with the same intensity as those Christians who condemn homosexual partnerships today. The fathers accepted - albeit grudgingly - that marriage was part of God's plan. St Augustine taught that originally in the Garden of Eden, married sex had been rational and good. But after the fall, sexuality became a sign of humanity's chronic sinfulness, a raging and ungovernable force, a mindless, bestial enjoyment of the creature that held us back from the contemplation of God. Augustine's doctrine of original sin fused sexuality and sin indissolubly in the imagination of the Christian west.

For centuries this tainted the institution of matrimony. Augustine saw his conversion to Christianity as a vocation of celibacy. "We ought not to condemn wedlock because of the evil of lust," he explained, "but nor must we praise lust because of the good of wedlock." His teacher, St Ambrose of Milan, believed that "virginity is the one thing that keeps us from the beasts". The north African theologian Tertullian equated marriage with fornication. "It is not disparaging wedlock to prefer virginity," wrote St Jerome. "No one can compare two things if one is good and the other evil." When one of his women disciples contemplated a second marriage, Jerome turned on her in disgust: "The dog has turned to his own vomit again and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."

The full article here. Now, where else have I heard about the horrors of "dog on vomit" action? Curse you Christian men everywhere, and your filthy, sinful wives!

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:13 AM

June 30, 2003

Maaaawaage.

Well, gosh. That only took about three days:

The Senate majority leader said Sunday he supported a proposed constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage in the United States. Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the Supreme Court's decision last week on gay sex threatens to make the American home a place where criminality is condoned.

"I have this fear that this zone of privacy that we all want protected in our own homes is gradually � or I'm concerned about the potential for it gradually being encroached upon, where criminal activity within the home would in some way be condoned," Frist told ABC's "This Week."

"And I'm thinking of � whether it's prostitution or illegal commercial drug activity in the home � ... to have the courts come in, in this zone of privacy, and begin to define it gives me some concern."

Asked whether he supported an amendment that would ban any marriage in the United States except a union of a man and a woman, Frist said: "I absolutely do, of course I do.

"I very much feel that marriage is a sacrament, and that sacrament should extend and can extend to that legal entity of a union between � what is traditionally in our Western values has been defined � as between a man and a woman. So I would support the amendment."

Okay, so first of all, Frist is an illogical idiot. He's trying to instigate "gay fear" by implying that the precedent set by the Supreme Court last week acknowledging the legality of a victimless action would lead to the justification of actions that are inherently illegal via arguments of privacy. This is, as the French would say, Le Bullshit.

But at least credit can be given to Frist for openly noting the real reason this ruling scares the shit out of "Western Values" fundamentalists, which for convenience we will abbreviate to the more common moniker of "Christian Conservatives" as to prevent Frist's obviously unintentional attempt to imply that opposition to homosexuality isn't primarily concentrated on one specific group of conservative, bigoted individuals.

The rough translation of Frist's statement is this: we are scared shitless about the possibility of legal civil unions equal to the rights of married men and women, because it shatters the concept of religous culture dominating the law of the state. In other words, to use a cultural analogy, Frist and other fervent Christian fanatics are terrified that the cultural recognition of "marriage" will be relegated to the same tone as a Baptism or Bar Mitzvah, while the legal recognition of "marriage" is broadened to the simple basis of "two loving, consenting adults agreeing to mutually endorse each other via moral and financial commitment."

Anyone with a modest sense of logic would see that there is absolutely no excuse for claiming two men or two women can't be a couple in the sense of a man and a women in regards to living together, tax purposes, medical connections, and so on. Civil unions aren't just as controversial as the issues of adopting children- they affect how your partner can have power of attorney is you're in a critical accident, how you can arrange family insurance benefits- almost every legal aspect of American life. And yet Frist's entire backing of preventing this is based on the cultural connection between the legality of union and the ceremony of marriage.

A wedding is not what makes two people married. Even if that was the case in biblical times, or in other countries today, it is not how people are defined as unioned in today's America. Frist and other Christian Conservatives realize this, and far greater than their simple fear of gays being recognized as equal human beings is their fear that the Supreme Court has made fantastic progress towards the seperation of religion as the dominating structure of modern law.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:47 PM