February 7, 2004

Well, that makes sense

Feds win right to records of anti-war group:

In what may be the first subpoena of its kind since the Communist-hunting days of the 1950s, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists.

In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said.

Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas, served by a local sheriff's deputy who works on the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyer's Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum.

The group, once targeted for alleged ties to communism in the 1950s, announced Friday it will ask a federal court to quash the subpoena on Monday.

Meanwhile, the President says he was never AWOL, and that's all the ditto-monkeys need to hear.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:56 PM

February 6, 2004

Stop it stop it stop it stop it

Okay, everyone, we've done this before: it's time to stop now. Between Cheney's lack of popularity and the ongoing investigations into Valerie Plame, the 9/11 intelligence, and the stolen DNC memos (good lord, the Bush White House certainly has a lot of potential criminal investigations on its plate, doesn't it?) the theory has officially been dropped that Cheney might not run as Bush's VP during the 2004 election. To add stupidity to injury, people who I respect and admire are even suggesting that Bush will replace Cheney with Condoleeza Rice or Rudy Giuliani for the ticket.

And then then Hillary will jump in at the convention and run against them with a magical unicorn that shits diamonds and break-dances as her running mate.

Since we've already addressed how ridiculous concepts like this are carried through the mainstream because the pundits, well, have nothing better to do apparently, I'd really like to believe this rumor will die quickly. But I doubt it will.

Bush is likely not going to replace Cheney in light of his potential upsoming misfortunes. First: dumping Cheney will lead to a month of debate about "why he really did it-" thus countering the notion that Cheney would leave to protect the White House. Adding an asterisk to a ticket that has the biggest asterisk available courtesy of Florida in 2000 isn't exactly a "plus" for Bush '04.

Second: the nominees people are throwing out are based pretty much on name recognition, and not, you know, sanity. The conservative base of the GOP will not allow Rudy Giuliani- a pro-choice, pro-gun-control adulterer- to share the spotlight at the convention in the city where hundreds of thousands will already have a reason to protest. And Condi, skipping the appeal an unmarried, ethically-tainted black woman will have to the Middle American voter (cough), has no electoral experience and could run only on her record of achievement and grad school degrees- since we all know how well elitist intellectualism wins presidential elections.

Third: Cheney is Bush '04. The odds are greater of Bush himself leaving the ticket than Cheney is. The only other person close to Cheney in direct control of the president is Karl Rove- a man who by leaps and bounds is in more of a hot seat than the Vice-President.

Personally, I think the "better VP scare" tactic is something that the GOP is leaking to suggest that the investigation of Cheney by "liberal" (translated: nonpartisan) investigators "out to get" Cheney should tone it down for their own good. There's no liberal conspiracy here, so I'm not going to start screaming about a conservative one. Neither should you.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:11 AM

February 5, 2004

Point to ponder, pt. 2

As if you expected anything less, Bush has officially signed on to the idea of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman only. Contrary to amendments forbidding discrimination based on gender and race- amendments that were designed to establish the rights of citizens of the U.S., this would be the an amendment to the constitution specifically designed to deny civil rights to people based on a physical difference.

This seems like a very prominent case of cutting off the nose to spite the face for the Republicans, doesn't it? What makes this idea so strange is that only the hardest of right-wing conservatives must actually believe that gays will never achieve civil rights in this country.

If this amendment passes (and it's very doubtful it ever would) then the notion of conservatives suggesting that this buries the drive for gay rights is as wrong-headed as the notion that Roe v. Wade forever ended the abortion debate.

Imagine, if you will, the idea of the Southern "Dixiecrats" of the 1960's who fled to what is now the conservative base of the Republican Party leading a conservative movement to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as "solely between two people of similar race, necessary to preserve the sanctity of culture." Had that passed, then in today's world the idea of the "Party of Lincoln" having a shred of clout in modern society would be close to nil.

Democrats need to understand this, instead of embracing yet another mushy-middle "compromise" attempt. (which in Tom Daschle's case usually means giving the GOP 95% of what they want)

Let the Southern/conservative Democrats know that Bush has drawn the line in the sand, and they have to choose which side they're on. If Bush wants an amendment banning gay marriage, then the Democratic Party must make outright opposition to it part of their 2004 platform.

Why? Because if this amendment gets off the ground, the message needs to start now: Republicans are the party that banned gay rights. Republicans are the party that said gays aren't equal to straight people.

If that happens, then decades from now, future Republicans will face a generation of apologizing for the sins of their predecessors. Because decades from now, Bush's moral stance is going to look as dignified as Strom Thurmond's.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:10 PM

And now, something I never thought I would say in my life

Jimmy Carter has a weblog.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:43 PM

Point to ponder

I noticed via Mikhaela that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney wants to push a bill through establishing a ban on gay marriage by "defining marriage as a heterosexual institution based on child-raising and procreation."

Now, here's where I don't see how this works. The MA Supreme Court's recent decision clearly indicates that the purpose of their ruling was to eliminate the concept of an inequality between the couplehood of two men/women and one of each. In other words, that very ruling, combined with a dash of the fourteenth amendment, seems to make it constitutionally illegal to write a law stating that a specific pairing of people are unqualified to raise a child based merely on gender. So part one is destroyed.

Part two is even easier: anyone with half their senses will call the charge of "child-raising" as the purpose of marriage ludicrous. The elderly, the infertile, and Britney Spears for 55 hours are are legally allowed to marry, and in each case the idea that these scenes are an institution based on child-rearing casts more of a light on how stupid many heterosexual marriages are.

Now, I'm sure what Romney and most other hard-right conservatives want to just come out and say is there's a moral issue with letting gays marry. But, of course, that can't be put in an actual bill, because making an amendment that used religious context as a rationale for limiting rights would somewhat infringe on that whole "no establishment of religion" concept.

In other words, Romney's wording of his pet anti-gay law shows the most striking aspect of the marriage opponents: they literally don't have a rational excuse for a ban outside of personal prejudice. And even the excuses they're grasping for pale in comparison to the application of civil rights to the issue of gays being allowed to marry each other.

Just to be clear where I stand, I don't even go through the argument about marriage vs. "civil unions," because I think the argument is moot. As far as terminology goes, it's all going to come down to what people say, not the constitution of any state.

Make marriage between a man and a woman, fine, whatever. As soon as civil unions are nationwide (which I don't think will be long from now) gays will just say they're married. So what if they have to check "civil partner" instead of "spouse" on their 1040, they can call themselves whatever the hell they want. What are you going to do, arrest them? (The Supreme Court says you can't, just in case you wanted to check, Mr. Ashcroft.)

"Marriage" isn't an institution- it's a freaking word. Just like "gay," the meaning of words change. You can't legislate that, no matter how scared of "the homosexual agenda" you are.

If Romney's ludicrous amendment actually passes, then the most that can happen is the eventual ruling of a later court stating the same civil rights concept- that gay couples cannot be denied rights of married couples merely because they're the same gender. Gays will, regardless of wording, have equal rights in this country. And all the legislation in the world isn't going to stop people like Romney from understanding the inevitable- that he's going to have to- and forgive the cliche- get used to it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:17 AM

February 4, 2004

Coming soon to the network that refuses to air advocacy advertising

Bush media firm to recieve government funds to promote Bush's Medicare plan:

A media firm working for President Bush's re-election campaign has a share of the administration's publicly funded $12.6 million advertising effort touting the new Medicare law.

National Media Inc. of Alexandria, Va., is purchasing $9.5 million worth of television advertising for a 30-second commercial that the administration intends to educate seniors about changes in Medicare such as the new prescription drug benefit, executives involved in the advertising campaign said Wednesday.

Critics of the new law contended the firm's involvement is evidence that the administration is mounting a political rather than educational campaign for the new law.

"There are hundreds of media buyers out there and they get the contract," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.

Emanuel said campaign media buyers typically are paid 10 to 15 percent of the cost of air time. But executives would not say how much the firm is being paid.

No wonder Bush's '04 campaign has so much money on hand. He's got all of us taxpayers to fund his campaign commercials.

And no, the title's not a joke up there: according to Atrios, CBS will in fact be among the networks airing the ads. CBS just has no shame, does it?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:09 PM

Newest comic - "Nipple: A Nation Recovers"

Hopefully, this'll be the last major statement on the whole incident. But I'll close with my favorite example of stupidity outside of what I mentioned in the comic:

On MSNBC tonight Dan Abrams had Jerry Falwell on, who shared the same sentiment as Michael Powell vis-a-vis the "outrage" of the nipple exposure: that of how their small child/grandchild was watching the game at the time and this was in no way something they should see.

To which I ask Rev. Falwell- you clearly object to the sexual imagery of cheerleaders, right? And the promotion of intoxicating spirits? Because those happened in the first two periods of the gave. In other word, Rev. Falwell, if those things bother you as well, then why was your small grandchild still even watching the Super Bowl at the time Janet Jackson flashed her nipple for two seconds? As a simple, secular man I'm assuming it has to do with you being a hypocritical blowhard. But I'm sure your rational involves mumbling something about liberals and their immorality and then avoiding the rest of the conversation.

Oh well. Everyone enjoy the funny.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:33 AM

February 3, 2004

This is one of the greatest ideas ever.

Okay, here's what's funny- my Dad actually did know John Kerry when they were younger. He worked for one of his first campaigns. And I'm sure he has tons of story about the guy. But I don't think he'll be sending them anonymously to the National Review.

Some people are, according to Ted Barlow. Or, more likely, NR is simply making them up. As Ted notes, "If you possess an email address and an eye-opening story, you've passed the rigorous fact-checking that has made National Review and the Penthouse Forum world-famous."

As such, Ted's started a fantastic contest, in which you and I can write our own "anonymous former friends of _____" letters to NR about one of the Democratic candidates. If your complete and utter BS gets printed, thus proving the limits of the Review's journalistic credibility, you win ten bucks at Amazon.com.

Petty? Hideously. But it's a fantastically hilarious form of petty.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:17 PM

How this plays out

Primaries tonight. Here's what the candidates need to happen.

Clark - Needs to win either South Carolina or Arizona. Pretty much the only two states he's got a chance in to win. If he can't pull in any of the states, he doesn't have the spin capability of the Dean Campaign to convince future voters he's "in the running." Dean wants to make this a Dean/Kerry contest. Clark needs to stop that.

Edwards - similar to Clark, only with South Carolina, obviously. He's in a worse position than Clark even if he wins, though, because he won't place high in pretty much any other state. Like I said earlier, Edwards is about 90% in reach of a guaranteed second spot on the ticket. The issue is if he'll take it- my guess is yes.

Kerry - Needs to not spontaneously combust. That's pretty much the only thing at this point that's going to stop him from winning most states. If he can win all eight tonight, the media's going to flat-out announce him as the candidate, regardless of all that "democracy" left in the primary. Other than that, he needs to have enough money to get through March; a big win tonight will do that.

Sharpton - Needs to win at least 15% in South Carolina. If/when he does, we're not really sure what he plans to do with the delegates, since they'd be far from enough to bargain with for time at the convention. But seriously, as a candidate, no one has any idea what Al Sharpton is thinking.

Lieberman - needs the voting machines to seriously malfunction, only this time in his favor. Other than that, he's dropping out after tonight.

Dean - needs Clark and Edwards to win Arizona, Oklahoma, and/or South Carolina. Dean certainly isn't going to be able to do it, and his only chance of having a chance against Kerry come Michigan and New York and all the way to the white house, yeeeeeah is for the success stories to be split. Oh, he also needs to switch to one-ply toilet paper in the campaign offices instead of thousand-dollar bills.

Kucinich - needs a hug.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:58 AM

February 2, 2004

Gentlemen! To evil!

Oliver Willis runs through Bush's latest budget.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:22 PM

Guilty of First-Degree Ignorance

In 2000, 18-year-old Matthew Limon was tried for having sex with a 14-year old. Under Kansas state law, the consensual, though illegal, act merited a maximum 15-month sentence. Except the 14-year old was also male. Last week, the Kansas appeals court ruled that because of this, Limon posed a "greater danger to the sexual mores of society," and ruled as such it was fair to sentence Limon to 17 years in prison.

State prosecutors applaud the decision as a victory against "the potential attack on Kansas' ban on gay marriage." Because, you know, that has nothing to do with anything. But why not say it anyway.

I hope they do try to incorporate this into the gay marriage debate, because it's a point that goes against the ignorant prosecutors of Kansas. The idea that changing a sentence from 1.5 to 17 years based on the gender of someone kind of casts a light on the need for equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, not the other way around, doesn't it?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:42 PM

Well, that settles it

MSNBC is currently discussing the cultural relevance to why the Bud Light ad featuring the horse igniting its fart was voted one of the most popular of the evening.

This occured thirty seconds after an anchor explained the problem of the Super Bowl, as a family event, having its wholesomeness of cheerleaders, violence, and beer commercials interrupted by someone's nipple.

I think it is now safe to say that America is one of the stupidest cultures on the face of the earth.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:19 AM

Jesus Holy Christ why do you people care about this there are children starving to death on American streets

So, in conclusion, the Super Bowl:

Violence, violence, violence, aggression, coach mouthing obscenity, beer commercial, cheerleader, cheerleader, beer commercial, violence, aggression, commercial with horse igniting woman with its fart, violence, cheerleader, beer commercial, DIRTY FILTHY TITTY MY GOD WHO WILL THINK OF THE CHILDREN, violence, aggression, beer commercial.

Tune in next year for what Howard Fineman referred to on Meet the Press this morning as "America's largest secular holiday."

Afterthought: Man, it's a good thing CBS banned an anti-Bush ad and refused to let Bono perform out of fear of raising some controversy, wasn't it?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:18 AM

I'll be making one soon...

...but for now, please note that Billmon's new design is purty.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:58 AM