February 28, 2004

Huzzah for the old stomping grounds

Congratulations to the editors, reporters, and staff at my old NYU paper, the Washington Square News, for sweeping this year's New York Press Association Awards. The WSN carried off First Place in the General Excellence, First Place in the News Story, First Place in the Feature Story, First Place in Photography, First Place in the Web site category, and First Place in Editorial.

And to think it all mysteriously happened the year after I stopped being published in it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:34 PM

Garbage In, Garbage Out

A courteous dissent from reader "Aleck Smart" (cute), with the subject line "God-damned hypocrite:"

I can't believe you can sit there and say you wouldn't vote for Kerry because of possible waffling on gay marriage. After you go off on Ralph Nader for running because he has real, substantive complaints about the way the two-party system has hi-jacked democracy in the USA, how fucking dare you.

Sure, Kerry fucking sucks, but it was all those Dems afraid to vote for Dean because they feared "the scream" made him unelectable that brought it to this. Chickenshits get chickenshits. Bush is a menace to all life on this planet and that's not an exaggeration. Get off your high horse and hold your nose.

Let's get by that basic little one: how can I say it's bad to vote for Nader because beating Bush is more important when I then say it's bad to vote for Kerry because keeping civil rights is important? Excuse me, I'm going to go drink a gallon of Windex and stick my wang in an electric socket for fifteen seconds so I can reach the mental level Aleck's analogy so richly deserves. Be right back.

Okay, back. Now, this is a bit of a toughie, what with the flying monkeys now surrounding my brain screaming "your meat shaft is now well-done, so speaks the great lord Putt-Putt!" and all, but a slight... slight... guess might be that not supporting bigotry is a bit more fucking important that Ralph Nader's self-centered publicitiy stunt, isn't it?

How can I say it's bad to vote for Nader because beating Bush is more important when I then say it's bad to vote for Kerry because keeping civil rights is more important? Because BOTH OF THOSE ARE TRUE.

Keep in mind, of course, that my whole point of admitting I can't just be unabashedly behind Kerry is because it would be hypocritical not to after saying that voting for a man like Bush based on his position on gay rights is a detriment to American Democratic values. So clearly, that's the same thing as not voting for Ralph Nader for the allegedly equal principle of not wanting him to be president.

I know it might be a shock to the straight white males that encompass... oh, let's say, 100% of Nader's constituency, but there's a lot of straight people like myself in addition to a shitload of gay people like many friends of mine who suggest that maybe, just maybe, opposing a constitutional amendment that removes equal rights from a signifigant percentage of the country's populace might bee a teensie weensie bit more important than the horrors done to America by there being (gasp!) a choice of candidates that just happen to not include Ralph Nader just because of that whole "no one actually agrees with him" thing.

I don't plan to, and never did plan to in 2000, vote for Ralph Nader because Ralph Nader is unfit to run the goddamn country. I don't want to vote for him. That I feel I can't vote for Kerry because of his possible support of a Hate Law doesn't mean I'm obligated to vote for Nader now. It certainly doesn't make anyone like Aleck justified in believing that not wanting to vote for two people means I don't want to vote for them for the same reason.

The fact is, we are faced with several options in this race. The first is to vote for George Bush, and support a platform that actively seeks to strips rights from American citizens. There is a potential that Kerry might become the same person, and with an issue that great it's ample reason to refuse to support that either. As I said before, Kerry has some time to clarify whether or not he's a man who supports equal rights for gays. If he's not, then voting for him is not an option either.

Of course, the other option is to vote for Ralph Nader. And man, with condescending sniveling little pricks like this guy canvassing for him, well gosh, that just seals the deal right proper, doesn't it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:02 PM

Demonstrating genuine leadership... WITH A VENGEANCE!

Enjoy a violence-filled afternoon of action when George Bush (and a little help from Condi) literally becomes the only thing between freedom and the terrorists. (Flash required)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:56 PM

February 27, 2004

Must. Change. Pants.

Robert Rodriguez. Frank Miller.

Sin City.


Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:41 PM

February 26, 2004

Remember when there were candidates you liked?

John Kerry has essentially endorsed a state version of the anti-Gay Marriage Amendment, only with provisions for "civil unions."

First of all, to say that I'm not furious about this would be hypocritical. I've passed severe judgement on a few people in the last few days for claiming there's an excuse to compromise over something as demeaning as stripping rights away from people, and I'm not going to pretend that Kerry actually going through with something like the Federal Hate Amendment wouldn't cost him my vote. Yes, I know what that means, and no, I don't care. Call it a Litmus test if you want; I call it having a friggin' soul.

But I'm very confused about the issue. On one hand, the Massachusetts Supreme Court mandated that gays be allowed to marry. Kerry is, by endorsing this amendment, therefore supporting removing rights the courts have just granted to gays. There's no way around that.

On the other hand, this is theoretically leaps and bounds ahead of Bush's desires. The amendment is "Seperate but Equal," yet at the same time, unlike every other "defining" amendment, this is the first that, according to Kerry, would enshrine equal civil rights in the constitution. Instead of just saying "marriage is..." this would say "gay people get this..." and according to Kerry, it's equal to marriages.

Like I said, I don't care about semantics on paper, because the best part of the Constitution is the First Amendment with all that "we can call it whatever the hell we want" stuff.

But Kerry pandering for bigotry is inexcusable. And because of that, if the election was held tomorrow, I honestly couldn't say that I would vote for him. John Kerry just took a committed "anyone but Bush" voter and turned him into a clean slate. He's got an 8-month uphill battle to bring me back. And he sure as hell won't send me climbing over the backs of the persecuted.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:17 PM

Paved with intentions

There's no room for predjudice in the Democratic Party, and there's certainly no room for hypocrites. Which is why a lot of the commenters on Kos right now are being utterly ridiculous. I asked in my previous post how horrible the White House needs to be before Republicans realize winning isn't everything. The same applies to Democrats, and this pulls me away from one of them instantly.

The argument that Democratic House candidate Stephanie Herseth is still "okay" for supporting the Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment because "it will never pass anyway" is unacceptable. If that's your logic, why isn't it okay in your eyes for Bush to want the amendment? Surely he's aware it's as unlikely to pass.

When it comes to something as hateful as discrimination, posturing is in no way less significant than active participation. Stephanie Herseth supports what 24 hours ago most of Kos' readers unanimously agreed was a devestating and destructive attempt to rob the rights of an entire group of Americans. The hypocrisy of those pretending they didn't believe that now that bigotry emits from a Democrat "necessary" to recapture the House is hypocritical, and shameful.

Not only does this remove any support I had for Herseth, I see her support of the amendment as a shadow over every other candidate sharing space with her on many bloggers' BlogAds. Kos, as well as other bloggers who run them, may want to consider just what views they're willing to shill for.

And Kos, no offense here, but if you're calling it "the Hate Amendment" in your own post title, I don't think you need to be asking your readers whether you feel this is a deal-breaker for you or not.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:09 AM

February 25, 2004

Again with the whole "best at defending the country" thing

Fresh off the news that the House Republicans have en masse refused to cooperate voluntarily with the Valerie Plame investigation (which, as even they note, is a criminal investigation), the news comes in that Dennis Hastert has denied any extension of the Sept. 11th investigation panel. Why would he not want the investigation to continue?

President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, personally had appealed to Speaker Dennis Hastert to reconsider, and the Illinois Republican met on Wednesday with Bush at the White House.

But the speaker's spokesman, John Feehery, said Hastert told the White House and members of the House Republican conference that "it's a bad idea to extend the commission and ... that we're not going to bring any legislation up."

The commission wants a 60-day extension through July 26 to complete its final report on the attacks. Despite initial objections, Bush backed the extension and the Senate is moving forward with legislation.

But Hastert cast serious doubt on its prospects for passage in the Republican-controlled House. "He thinks the (commission's) report is overdue and we need to get the recommendations as soon as possible. He is also concerned it will become a political football if this thing is extended and it is released in the middle of the presidential campaign," Feehery said.

I think Kevin Drum said it best:

Aren't you supposed to at least pretend that you're motivated solely by what's best for the country? But here we have Hastert's spokesman blithely admitting in public that he doesn't want to let the commission do its job properly because it might be politically inconvenient for the president.

They don't even have the good grace to lie about this stuff anymore.

So, let's just check the tally here. In the last 24 hours, the core of the Republican Party has refused to cooperate with an investigation into potential treason, promoted a constitutional amendment that contrary to over 200 years of national history will enshrine the deprival of rights to an entire group of citizens, and refused to extend an investigation to the single largest mass-murder in American history because it might be bad for the president.

In case you haven't noticed over the last few posts, there's been a trend here with the campaign season starting. What is it going to take, guys? Is Bush still that much better at "protecting you" than anyone else could possibly be? Is the likehood that great? What will it take?

It's amazing how many people will still say keeping Bush is worth screwing so many people just because he hasn't shown up at their door personally yet and asked them to bend over.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:08 PM

Speaking of voting through fear

Billmon reflects on Dick Morris' analysis of Bush's "ideal campaign strategy" with an unprecedented eeriness to how direct he makes a concept that should be reserved for the deepest depths of psychotic fantasy.

Essentially, Morris believes that Bush's "victory" in the war on terror is a bad thing because it makes more Americans focus on Bush's obvious failures (mainly, everything else not involving invading other countries) which will lead to his defeat in November.

So does Morris suggest Bush address these failed issues? Of course not: Morris suggests we convince America we still should shit our pants about Al-Qaeda.

The solution for this, the footman says, is to scare the hell out of people -- every day and in every way:
The key is for Bush to heighten the saliency of terrorism as an issue.

After all, Americans are wrong to see terrorism as a fourth-place issue. Education or the economy or health care won't knock down buildings and kill 3,000 people. Terrorism will. It is the result of Bush's vigilance that we are all fat and happy enough to see optional issues as more important than the national preservation that terrorism places at risk...

Note that staggeringly huge leap from "knock down buildings and kill 3,000 people" to the "national preservation that terrorism places at risk." This is both a crucial component of the never-ending war hysteria and a tip off to just how cynical and manipulative the GOP's political technicians are about the actual risk of terrorism. By no stretch of anyone's imagination (not even bin Laden's, I'd wager) does Al Qaeda, or any other terrorist group, threaten the national survival of the United States. The very idea is so absurd, so freaking bizarre, that I'm constantly amazed to find there are people like Morris willing to try to peddle it.

I mean, was 9/11 so trivial that the political sleaze artists feel they have to inflate it into World War IV in order to terrify the American people sufficiently? Wasn't the reality bad enough?

Just off the top of my head, I can't recall ever encountering a more openly Orwellian political manifesto -- or at least one that wasn't the product of an overtly totalitarian regime. Morris isn't suggesting a campaign theme, he's outlining a strategy for making campaigns (and, eventually, elections) literally unnecessary.

And there, as I noted yesterday, you have it. The success of Bush's campaigning on the War on Terror is literally not based on reality- it's based on creating an illusion of fear to make enough people actually believe that there's a calculable difference between him and a Democrat in regards to a terrorist attack on America.

If your vote in November is going be based soley on your belief that Bush is the only thing between you and certain apocaylpse- a belief that Bush himself is being recommended to fabricate- then you have no right arguing your political priorities are based anywhere in the realm of rationality.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:39 PM

Newest comic - "Team Bush presents the five stages of grief"

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:28 AM

Live free or die?

Chris has eloquently pointed out what I think is soon going be obvious to everyone about the anti-gay amendment: the line has been drawn, and there is no middle ground. If you vote for George Bush, you are voting for a man who chooses to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to push an agenda against gays.

I've read, and replied with frustration, on a few blogs already that have tried to pretend this line won't exist. You see this mostly among what is know as the "9/12 crowd-" former Democrats and left-leaning Libertarians who have become Bush supporters solely on the illusion of security with Bush's post-9/11 foreign policy.

Copying from a few comment sections I frequented today, here's my main argument about this: it's irrational. It makes no sense at all. If you support gay rights, then you have no logical argument saying you still want to vote for George W. Bush.

My opinion on how Kerry might differ from Bush in terms of international safety are clearly speculative- I can give my case for Bush's failures as commander-in-chief as much as a Bush supporter can counter them. Any suggestion as to what the terrorists, or for that matter the president whomever it is, will do next year is speculative.

Bush's use of this amendment, his endorsing of the congressional filing, and his use of the bully pulpit to push it makes his intent clear: he wants to prevent gays from getting married. You don't know what John Kerry will do if president with Iraq; you know exactly what Bush will with gays. Bush will be your alleged "better protector" for four years, while driving to enact a permanent law.

Now, it's clear that Kerry in the White House isn't going to destroy our military. The army left by the allegedly-traitorous and philandering Bill Clinton, the one many on the right accuse of weakening our defense, is the same army in Iraq right now. So pick a side 'cause you can't pick and choose. Claiming that Kerry might be a weaker commander-in-chief is speculative opinion; saying that he'll lead to the defeat of America at the hands of Middle Eastern terrorism is just stupid.

The truth is that Chris is right. He, and you, and I, have every right to be offended at the concept that the actuality of gay rights being quelled isn't as significant as the illusion that America is weakening in the War on Terrorism. It's a rationale that is illogical, irrational, and above all, selfish.

It's as offensive as those who say "this isn't the time for this debate." It's as selfish as saying "we need middle ground for the sake of the election." There's no holding back and no middle ground. Do gay couples deserve equal civil rights? George Bush says no. That makes him, a man who claimed to "be a uniter," a man who claimed to center around "compassion," a liar. And yet the man proving himself a liar is still "the better choice to protect us" to some people acknowledging his desire to hurt others.

The idea that Bush will protect America better than a Democrat is a personal opinion. The idea that Bush is trying to ban equal rights for gays is a fact. Yet many are still saying that "it's more important to keep America safe than fight for gays rights." Or, as one website I read directly said, "defend first, offend later."

"Defend first, offend later" sounds a lot to me like "me first, you later." To put the hope of a "better" commander-in-chief for the next four years over rejecting someone who endorses the stripping of equal rights for gays sounds a lot like giving up essential liberty for temporary safety. Ben Franklin covered a long time ago what people who think that way deserve.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:17 AM

February 24, 2004

"I'll be a uniter, not a divider."

Remember, folks. Al Gore was the liar. The nice man on the teevee said so.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:24 PM

I thought Mary was the whore

The Passion of the Christ: Official Movie Merchandise.

Yes. This is real. And yes, those are pewter necklaces in the shape of nails.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:57 AM

February 23, 2004

For the ladies

Maybe it was just the way it caught me off guard, but this just made me laugh out loud for some reason. (via the FreeD)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:55 PM

Only without the interesting dialogue and lots more innocent dead people

Ahmad Chalabi's recent decision to join the 9/12 crowd- a hefty group of pundits, politicians, and bloggers whose core beliefs include the declaration that everything they believe is okay and every lie about Iraq doesn't matter because Saddam is gone- keeps reminding me of that intense scene in L.A. Confidential where Guy Pearce is wheeling the girl out of the hospital after killing the guys who raped her based on her lies accusing them of another crime.

It's a turning point in the film because you, as well as Pearce's character, have to deal with two things at the same time- these guys did something horrible, and they've been brought to justice... but because this girl lied to make her personal ends justify the means, another, possibly larger, crime has just been stripped of its lead. The girl lying about them being at the scene of a multiple-homicide at a diner has removed any suspicion as to the real criminals, who will now likely never be found.

I remember that scene when I hear statements like that come from Chalabi's mouth:

As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important.
Chalabi, as you might recall, is responsible for the majority of false and baseless "evidence" against Saddam justifying the invasion of Iraq which has since left over 500 Americans and countless Iraqi civilians dead.

Josh Marshall covers this rationale by Chalabi with the outrage it deserves, considering the opportunism and arrogance of this statement, and what his previous statements begat, are worthy of criminal prosecution. But I keep thinking about that scene where you realize that justice doesn't get served when one person only cares about their personal justice.

As for Chalabi, he might want to rent a copy of the movie. I don't want to spoil it for him, but he might want to know the criminals who exploited self-serving justice don't exactly have a happy ending.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:51 PM

Umm... whaaaaa?

Sadly, No! points to an article from WorldNetDaily columnist Kyle Williams, who pushes the boundaries of logic:

Yesterday, I was white, but today I am no longer � I am leaving the white race. I am redefining who I am. I was born a true Indian at heart and now is the time for me to go public, freeing myself and all others from the tyrannical rules of this society.

The point is this: There's no such thing as a white Indian and, furthermore, there's no such thing as a homosexual marriage � it's an oxymoron � only men and women get married.

Seriously. This is what passes for the argument against gay marriage.

This is the logic that comes from those who believe homosexuality is a choice rather than a natural status. Williams argues that choosing to marry- an action based on personal choice- is the same as choosing your race- an action that's physically impossible, you imbecile.

Of course, there can be white Indians, as Indian could be considered ethnic heritage while white a physical aspect of skin color. Charleze Theron is a white African- she's a white woman who was born in Africa. But Williams doesn't set up the argument this way- he clearly means Indian in terms of physical appearance alone. By doing so, he's got his silly straw man- it's impossible to be something that Williams defines soley in terms of the impossible. Because he's white, he can't be something he defines soley as being non-white. No shit, Sherlock.

Williams' arguement is, therefore, that people can't choose to do something (like get married) because they can't choose to do something that's impossible to do. As Sadly, No! notes, this isn't exactly a victory for supporters of home-schooling, is it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:46 PM

All creatures great and small

RIP, Spot.

President Bush's dog Spot, the 15-year-old English springer spaniel who had remained eager to please despite increasing health troubles, died on Saturday.

Bush and his wife, Laura, went along with a veterinarian's recommendation to put Spotty, as the longtime Bush family pet was known, to sleep, according to White House spokesman Allen Abney. She had suffered a series of strokes recently, including one this week, he said.

"The president and Mrs. Bush and the entire Bush family are deeply saddened by the passing of Spot," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Saturday in a statement. "A loyal and loving companion, Spot was a beloved member of the Bush family for nearly 15 years. She will be missed."

The president's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, could not attend the funeral, as he was busy at the time outlawing euthanasia for beloved family members.

Yes, I'm making one of those little points again.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:04 PM

"Republican" is Spanish for "taste"

Billmon reports on some GOP statements that won't be airing on the Spanish-language station ads any time soon.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:19 AM

February 22, 2004

Please refer to

Tom Tomorrow pretty much covers everything about Nader's lunacy (made official this morning) that I didn't the other day.

Okay, actually, I have one more side point. I think it's silly for people to attack me for saying that we should "choose the lesser of two evils." And it emphasizes why I feel that the hardcore Nader constituency is selfish. Putting Bush in the White House has caused over 500 Americans to die. There's a very strong chance that might not have happened with a President Gore. Currently, the leading Democratic candidates both present an alternative to Bush's foreign policy- in other words, one that's more likely to stop Americans from dying.

The idea that Nader presents in this election any set of ideals more significant than that is a bit of a hard sell, you think?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:08 PM