April 24, 2004

Another random thought

Granted, I'm young, and only know about some of this from the history books. But wasn't the whole deal with Kennedy and Catholics something about how taking orders from the Vatican was a bad thing?

So forty years ago, the idea of a candidate being influenced by Rome was a reason to fear for his election. Now, when Rome is actually trying to influence politicians, the Republican Party embraces it for the sake of mocking John Kerry.

Not sure how that change came to be, but I'm sure Christian conservatives and their outright hypocrisy that pisses on whatever the Bible originally meant to teach has something to do with it. As far as delivering political messages goes, if the Catholic Church wants to tell political candidates that they have to vote according to church doctrine, by all means they're welcome to do so. Just start paying some taxes come Monday.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:47 PM

March for Women's Lives

There's no story more important this weekend than the March for Women's Lives sponsored by various pro-choice groups. (Saving of course for Bush deciding to conveniently choose to start a full-scale assault on Falluja during a moment when thousands would gather around Washington to address his faults on personal freedoms. But hey, that's just the conspiracy nut talking.)

As I've made clear in other posts, Choice is one of the most, if not the most, important issues for me in politics. It's one of my deal-breakers to which there is literally no argument. If the Democratic candidate did not support at the very minimum the principle of a woman's right to choose, he or she would simply not get my vote. Don't even bother arguing that with me.

Too many politicians believe that they need to be against abortion to emphasize their distaste for it. To me that's the height of ignorance and lack of thought. No one likes abortion. It's not an exciting concept, and it's not a care (or risk) free procedure. Pro- and anti-choice people for the most part share a common goal: reducing the number of abortions performed in this world.

Unfortunately, the battle is metered by those who want a reduction by force, and those who want a reduction by eliminating the desire to have on. Just like the attempts to ban alcohol, pornography, obscenity, and sexuality, the movement to "outlaw" a personal decision to engage in something is a battle that is eternally lost. There is, without a doubt, not a single law in the capacity of human endeavor that will stop abortions from occuring. Instead there exist, as we tragically learn every so often, laws that induce suffering, poverty, and emotional distress on the desire to have one.

If the right truly cared about reducing abortion, they would support things that actually... well... reduced abortions. What can be done to reduce abortions in this country? It's not that hard:

  • Increase the minimum wage. The right holds on to the fantasy that a pregnancy will create a dual-parent family unit, while the reality is that millions of young women across the country are faced with the horror of choosing between being able to take care of themselves, or take care of a child. Dropping out of school to get a full-time job for little pay, women learn the hard way a few months down the line that they'll soon be inable to support either.
  • End the myth of the "welfare mom." That we as a society would villify women for having children and asking for support for them is a stain on the humanity of America. America's economy is structured around a job market overflow- that is, we mandate a certain number of people in this country to be unemployed. To then say that these people just want to "leech of the government" is hypocritical. Chastizing poor and working-class women for having children is no incentive for them to consider having a child as a right idea.
  • Eliminate "abstinence-only" sex education and start funding programs that work. If you sat down with George W. Bush for a conversation about teen pregnancies, the first thing you should do is congratulate him on promoting the largest increase in the risk of global underage pregnancy for any president in American history. Bush has promoted a policy that essentially forbids schoolchildren from knowing about contraception- there is not a single instance of this working. Teenagers still have sex. Teenagers still risk pregnancy. The only thing Bush has done is endorsed the idea that more teenagers shouldn't know what a condom is, or how one works. Bush's plan is the safety equivalent of telling kids they should never drive instead of talking about seat belts- it theoretically reduces accidents, but makes one even more at risk when they realize they need to get behind the wheel. Sex education leads to less unwanted pregnancies. Less unwanted pregnancies leads to less abortions. That this is still an argument is ridiculous.
  • Legalize civil unions. There are couples out there who want nothing more than to raise a family. Right now in most states they are not considered families, and in most of those states hard-pressed, if capable at all of adopting one of the countless children in need of a home. The greatest incentive to allow a family to come into existence is to allow everyone who wants to have a family to have one. Children are out there who need homes. Women are out there who would rather see their child go to a caring home than terminate their pregnacy. America should support any desire to raise a child. Right now we forbid people for doing it because of who they love.

Odds are either victor of this year's presidential election will turn a deaf ear to any of these concepts. We live in a culture that begs to cast off others as lesser, and as such as those who need to be controlled, not encouraged.

Religious fanatics would rather argue that the morning-after pill is "evil" than accept that it gives them exactly what they want- a device for preventing women from having to choose to have an abortion or not. Conservatives will continue to demand that the government instill a freedom over its citizens by placing laws over them. But the real battle will be not over the existence of abortion. It will always exist. What will be argued is the level of suffering we as a people will allow to come with such a practice.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:31 PM

Shorter George W. Bush

It's insensitive and exploitative to use footage of dead Americans in their coffins for politically-motivated messages with the exception of when they're used in campaigns promoting my re-election.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:49 AM

April 23, 2004

Off to First Run

Seeing a movie tonight. Specifically, mine. If I'm not a complete slacker I might even come back with some pictures.

Update: Nope, I'm a complete lazy bastard and forgot to bring the camera. But a fun time was still had, and if you're in the NYC rea I urge you all to attend any of the remaining screenings. A lot of good stuff, both animation and live-action.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:02 PM

April 22, 2004

Well, this is clearly news

Read these passages from an article on John Kerry's ties to Heinz foods and the Republican outrage about outsourcing and see if you can spot the oddity:

Though John Kerry's wife is an heir to the H.J. Heinz Co. fortune, the food company and its executives are providing President Bush with money and a campaign issue - jobs flowing overseas - in this year's election.

Members of the board of the Fortune 500 company and its corporate political action committee have donated thousands of dollars to Republicans in recent years, including contributions to the Bush campaign. The corporate PAC has given nothing to Kerry.

The Republicans are accepting the cash even as they criticize the Pittsburgh-based company's job cuts and overseas moves � part of an effort to taint the presumptive Democratic nominee with the conglomerate's business practices.

While Teresa Heinz Kerry gained much of her $500 million portfolio through her Heinz inheritance, she does not serve on the board and is not involved with the management of the company. Even her late husband, Sen. H. John Heinz III, R-Pa., did not serve on the board.

No Heinz family member has been employed by the company or served on its board since H.J. "Jack" Heinz II, its chairman, died in 1987.

Heinz Kerry, who heads the separate Heinz Family Foundation and the Howard Heinz Endowment, owns less than 4 percent of the company's stock. Major Heinz stockholders include the company's top executives, led by Chairman William R. Johnson, as well as beer magnate Peter Coors and former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and pro football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann.

A look at the company's campaign donations shows a preference for Republicans. In the past six years, the Heinz company's political action committee gave more than $64,000 to GOP candidates, nearly three times the amount given to Democrats. It contributed $5,000 to Bush's campaign. It has shunned the Kerry campaign, but the PAC gave $5,000 to the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

Is this amazing to anyone else? This is an article headlining the "issues" that Republicans can use against Kerry that actually indicates why none of these issues have any merit in the same article.

The concept of this article is that Kerry's ties to Heinz reflects a hypocrisy in the issue of outsourcing in the upcoming election. That in mind, let's recap:

  1. The Heinz Corporation outsources.
  2. John Kerry and his wife Teresa have no controlling interest in the company. Ergo, they have no controlling interest over the actions of the company.
  3. The Heinz Corporation donates more money to Republicans than it does to Democrats.
  4. Among major shareholders in Heinz is Pete Coors, who is also running for political office- as a Republican.

Therefore:

"No, they don't run the company, but they still own a lot of stock. And Teresa has had a long relationship with the company," said James Glassman, a columnist and economic analyst at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. "I think it's absolutely legitimate to point to Heinz and say here's a company with a close association with Kerry that is doing exactly the thing Kerry is condemning."
Now other than it having no backing in reality, there might be a point to that. It's just that John and Teresa Kerry are the only people mentioned in this article who have almost no close association to Heinz whatsoever.

A more logical and accurate title to this article would have been "Bush campaign plans to distort non-issue that ultimately should make more Republicans looks bad than any Democrat." But, as we all know, that wouldn't really be news at this point, would it.


Update: straight from the bottle's neck, reader Allan Wall sent me a link to a statement from the Heinz Corporation where they confirm that Heinz, in addition to not having any influence with the Kerry family, does not, in fact, even outsource:

In light of some misleading speculation, the H.J. Heinz Company would like to make clear that neither Mrs. Teresa Heinz Kerry, Senator John Kerry nor any member of their family is involved in the management or board of the H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ). They have no involvement in the Heinz(R) Ketchup business or any of the company's other brands or products.

The H.J. Heinz Company, in accordance with its corporate governance policies, is a non-partisan organization.

Neither Mrs. Heinz Kerry nor Senator Kerry nor any of the Heinz trusts or endowments - either individually or collectively - holds a significant percentage of shares of the H.J. Heinz Company. In 1995 the Heinz Endowments and family trusts sold a large percentage of Heinz shares in a secondary share offering to diversify their holdings. As a result, their current holdings are under 4 percent.

There is no connection between any philanthropic programs of the H.J. Heinz Company and its Foundation and the Heinz family interests (including the Howard Heinz Endowment, the Vira Heinz Endowment, and the Heinz Family Philanthropies).

Currently, 60% of the sales of the H.J. Heinz Company are outside the United States and to accommodate those customers by providing facilities closer to those markets, the company maintains a number of overseas facilities that provide products for consumers in those markets. This allows Heinz to pack the freshest ingredients, tailor its recipes to local tastes and deliver the final products in a timely and efficient manner. In the United States, Heinz makes its flagship ketchup in factories in Fremont, Ohio; Muscatine, Iowa; and Stockton, California.

So, for the record, this makes the right-wingers... umm... yeah- completely wrong about this entire issue.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:18 AM

April 21, 2004

Bring it on

Oh yes, please. Let's go there, bitch.

Given Bush's record for miserable failure at spinning stuff to his favor, I'm betting that trying to spin Kerry's record against his wasn't the plan. The more the side-by-side comparisons get highlighted, the more I'm confident that Rove really, really expected Kerry to stonewall on releasing his papers.

Over to you, George.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:09 PM

Bush '04 - your tax dollars at work

The U.S. Treasury website, a Taxpayer-funded nonpartisan entity, is copy-and-pasting RNC talking points to address the current economic climate.

(via Josh Marshall)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:34 AM

April 20, 2004

Brave GOP Senator stands up for what is right

Finally. In light of the crippled economy as a result of the war in Iraq, a Republican Senator isn't afraid to stand up against his party and rally against the mainstream rhetoric of Bush's economic policy:

There's not an American ... that doesn't understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future," Senator Chuck Hagel told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on post-occupation Iraq.

"Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?" Hagel said...

You know, it's great to hear those words coming from a Republican Senator. The only thing that would have made them greater would have been if I wasn't lying about them right now.

See, Chuck Hagel didn't actually reflect on sacrifice and protecting our future in regard to the economy. He's actually talking about his suggestion to force thousands of young Americans to go off and die.

Sorry about that.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:35 PM

Well that didn't take long

John Kerry will release all of his service records. Not that the time length is a bragging matter, but that sure as hell took less time than it did for Bush to sorta kinda okay not really release his.

Now, as I've joked about before, I'm not one to celebrate how Kerry casually evokes how he's been to 'Nam in every imaginable instance, but it's going to be really funny to see the blatantly obvious hypocrisy that comes out of this.

Come tomorrow morning, expect at least a few of the major pundits to scour Kerry's records for evidence that he didn't earn his medals "as bravely as he claims he did."

Because, logically, John Kerry not serving in Vietnam as bravely as implied is a horrendous and cowardly thing to try and compare to the bravery of George W. Bush and his alleged stint defending the Gulf of Mexico from the Viet Cong Air Force.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:19 PM

April 19, 2004

Awesome.


Michelle Kirby, from Whitley, was stranded in Whitley Wood Lane when her Peugeot 206 ran out of petrol on Easter Sunday.

But our Batman and Robin appeared out of nowhere to save the day and push her car to the nearest petrol station.

"They just appeared. I saw them running down the road in Batman and Robin outfits � I was laughing so much," she said.

"They said, 'I'm Batman, I'm Robin' and I said, 'No, you're not' and asked them if they were going to a fancy dress party but they said they were going back to Gotham City."

After seeing Miss Kirby to safety, the pair disappeared along Basingstoke Road.

And Whitley Wood man Ray Cox, 61, spotted the caped crusaders at about 11.30am after doing his morning shopping.

"I said to my wife, 'It would make it a better and safer place with these men'," he said.

"There are so many muggings in Whitley and these two running down the road really looked great � get these chaps back."

"Batman was quite a broad chap. They would scare a few muggers off and I�d feel safer in Whitley."

Another shy caller, who wished to remain anonymous, claims to have been helped by the pair, who faced down somebody who was intimidating him.

There is no reason you should not be happy after reading that.

(Full article here)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:29 PM

Wow.

The Washington Times finally established a corrections policy.

You'd think they'd do that earlier than, you know, 23 years after their first issue.

Update: Jesse links to the Times' corrections page. You couldn't say it any simpler. Really.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:13 PM

April 18, 2004

Looking out for you

This and this are two of the most important links you should be reading right now. Except for maybe this one, too.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:35 PM