June 25, 2004

One Moore before I go

Yeah, a play on his last name. Very original. But I digress.

Probably little to no posting for the weekend after this, since any time I won't be at the MoCCA Festival Saturday and Sunday, I'll be sleeping off the MoCCA Festival or preparing for the next day of the MoCCA Festival. More astute readers may notice the trend here. So good luck to me and I hope to see some of you there. Preferably with money.

But before I go, I gotta make one last point about Fahrenheit 9/11. I'm going to make the time to see it this weekend. And if you even have the slightest interest in seeing this movie, you should go see it this weekend too.

Moore is already facing a PR assault from the right wing and, as laughably noted in the previous post, all reaches of the Republican Party who are confident that they "don't need to see this movie to know they'll hate it." If you have the ability to counter any potential boasts that the movie didn't sell as well as predicted, you should take it. Opening weekend sales indicate the interest in future opening at more theaters.

And let's face it, folks- if this thing loses at the box office to White Chicks, we're never going to hear the end of it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:47 PM

Good lord, these jokes just write themselves

White House on Fahrenheit 9/11:

"I can speak for myself and I can speak for the President, and I can assure you that neither of us have seen ['Fahrenheit']," said White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett. "We don't have a lot of free time these days and when we do have free time to see a good fiction movie, we'll pick 'Shrek' or some other enjoy[able] feature like that.

"Mr. Moore has every right to produce and show movies that express his very radical views. He's outside of the mainstream. ... This is a film that doesn't require us to actually view it to know it's filled with factual inaccuracies."

Ahmed Chalabi must have seen it and told Bush all about it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:35 PM

Nothing beats an Austrian leader requesting better ways to exterminate things

Gov. Schwarzenegger proposes more efficient animal-killing policies:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to repeal a state law that requires animal shelters to hold stray dogs and cats for up to six days before killing them.

Instead, there would be a three-day requirement for strays. Other animals, including birds, hamsters, potbellied pigs, rabbits, snakes and turtles, could be killed immediately.

Schwarzenegger has told the state Legislature that the changes could save local governments that operate shelters up to $14 million.

Also, because the little kitties and doggies were DEEMED INEFFICIENT VE SHALL DESTROY THEM NOWWW!

Earlier proposals for streamlining the stray animal population control included letting them loose in a remote jungle where an alien species could hunt them for sport, as well as a plan known only as "erasing."

Governor Schwarzenegger refused comment, then grabbed a hamster and ate it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:29 PM

Transformers breakdancing!

What, you didn't read it up there? TRANSFORMERS BREAKDANCING! GO NOW!

(via Burt)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:56 PM

June 24, 2004

Patriot Acts

From what I've read in some of his previous essays, Scott Kurtz, the artist/writer of PVP, is a pro-Bush, pro-war Republican. To be sure, this in no way whatsoever affects the quality of his comics, which would be well-drawn even if he was doing political stuff that I would likely disagree with completely.

He wrote today about how a character he created in an online game called City of Heroes was greeted with scorn from, shall we say, players of alternative political views:

I've tried just about every character type and I'm settling on my favorites. Last night, for fun, I decided to make myself a Captain America type hero...you know, go the whole patriotic route.

So I logged onto the Guardian server and created myself a Science origin Tanker with Invulerability and Super Strength. I dressed him in red, white and blue, adorned him and named him FLAG WAVER.

Once I got to a populated area, other people in the game started reacting to my character, but not in the way I expected.

"Ugh. I hate our country."
"How can you wave a flag of a country that kills other countries for oil we already have."
"Bush is an idiot."

I inquired if these people were from another country that maybe didn't look too kindly on the US. They all stated that they were Americans, but they just didn't really like America.

I have to say that I was flabbergasted. No. I was disgusted. I really didn't know what to say back to these other players. I certainly didn't log into the game to get into a political debate. If anything, I logged in to escape that stuff.

Okay, now granted I'm clearly of a different political mindset than Scott Kurtz. But he're the fallacy in his statement: Scott, entering a public area wearing American flag colors and calling yourself "Flag Waver" is also an instigation of political debate.

The left-right mediator in me wants to point out that 99.999% of the liberals in this country who say they "hate America" don't in fact hate the country, or want to destroy the Capitalist Republic structure on which the very tenets of the government are based. The people who actually want to do that pretty much consist of five or six guys in Wisconsin, most of whom vote for Lyndon LaRouche, and they're too busy creating 'Zines to play City of Heroes.

Part of me admits that, yeah, it's kind of crappy for anti-Bush folks to enter a game with a theme devoid of politics and attack someone for displaying American symbolism. But the other part of me points out a few things:

1. Since September 11th, the 50% of this country that identifies itself as right-of-center has essentially co-opted the meaning of the American flag to a pro-war agenda. Given that another 50% of the country, most of whom as noted still love this country despite what's going on in it, feel like they're cornered into being told "either you love the flag or you love bin Laden," might have some anger issues.

2. Scott wasn't playing as Captain America. He was playing as someone calling himself "Flag Waver." The term "flag waver" is, in fact, pretty much a term associated with one who actively pushes American Nationalism. Whether Kurtz is in this camp or not, the current climate in this country mandates that actively preaching the love of American means actively supporting George W. Bush and the war. Let me make this clear- if this was not what the flag was bastardized into meaning, I'd be waving one too. I wish I could. But as an anti-war liberal, I feel like the flag right now means something that I don't stand for. And I'm very sorry that it makes Scott Kurtz feel bad, but that the flag was pigeonholed this way was not my fault.

3. There are, agree with them personally or not, a lot of reasons to not be proud of America right now. That's not a statement that other countries are better than America, or that America is horrible inherently, or any of the crap that ignoramuses like Bill O'Reilly imply. Merely a reflection on a simple fact- there have been more plausible times to take pride in this country as a whole.

4. People will always be against stuff like this. If he created a character who looked like Michael Moore, he'd probably get the political beatdown too. (I think a superhero based on Michael Moore would have lots of guns and be able to shoot fire. It would just drip in humorous irony.)

5. Bush is an idiot. I mean, come on.

As far as Nationalism goes, I think there is a way to prove to Scott that people don't hate the flag as much as he thinks- Nazis. If the game has Nazis in it, fight them. There is nothing that brings Americans together cheering on America than kicking Nazi ass. It's great.

And on a final note, Scott should really keep in mind that this is an online computer game. Considering that the usual discourse in online gaming usually involves the words "fag" "cock" and "donkey", followed by competitions to see who can misspell the most words, the fact that Scott found political statements instead of thirteen-year-olds with digital Tourette's should be applauded.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:26 PM

Tooning in

The Washington Monthly has a detailed and really well-written article up right now on Adult Swim. Go read.

I'm enjoying the legislative job I got a few months ago, but still, I was an animation major. If I was offered a full-time job working for Williams Street... hell, I'd be on a plane to Georgia before they could even hang up the phone.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:43 PM

Chads, aged four years

Media Matters catches the Wall Street Journal pretending that George W. Bush definitively won the 2000 election in Florida.

I guess that, as the years go by, the right really wants to solidify the concept that Bush won without any argument. I know the exercise is, generally, pointless, as it was since the day Al Gore conceded, but amidst all the hanging chads and related silly rhetoric of the moment, the arguments about the broken machines and the mistake Buchanan votes and the supressed voter rolls all drive to a central point that even the anti-Bush positions seem to ignore: The majority of Floridians tried to vote for Al Gore.

I'm not going to start the debate again, and I'm not even in the petty "he's not really our President!" crowd, because it leads nowhere. But even four years after the fact, the idea that Republicans like to gloat about an obvious truth- that Bush won because of error far beyond the act of Americans exercising their right to vote- remains probably the highest moment of hatefulness and partisanship triumphing over democracy in my lifetime.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:38 AM

Pink elephants

Apparently one of the side effects of massive overindulgence on prescription medication is hallucinating entire conversations with elected officials.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:02 AM

June 23, 2004

Okay, civility over

Okay, that one drew the line for me. Ralph Nader is officially a douchebag.

Although his candidacy endangers Democrat John Kerry's run for the White House, Ralph Nader on Wednesday gave some friendly advice to his rival -- pick John Edwards for vice president.

Nader, running for president as an independent, sent a letter to Kerry urging him to select the North Carolina senator, who was Kerry's chief opponent in the race for the Democratic nomination.

So if Kerry decided to pick the currently most-favored option for VP, we get a combination of right-wingers who get to stain Edwards as "Nader's candidate." Additionally, a man who seems to be running for president for the sole purpose of preventing a Democrat from getting elected out of principle now has deigned to declare himself a relevant voice as to how Kerry should run his campaign. Jesus, what a spectacular asshole.

Later, Ralph Nader recommended that dogs chase cats and the sun rise tomorrow morning. Tune in a few hours from now to see if God has truly blessed Nader with His eternal powers.

Update: More from Ezra.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:43 PM
Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:25 PM

June 22, 2004

Inconceivable!

Desperate (adj.)

1. Having lost all hope.
2. Marked by, arising from, or showing despair.
3. Undertaken out of extreme urgency or as a last resort.
4. Reckless or violent because of despair.

Hairy Fish Nuts points out that, according the the President, Saddam Hussein and/or the terrorists have clearly proven their desperation at least 49 times.

"You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:31 PM

June 21, 2004

New stickers



Like other previously-mentioned new thingies, these will premiere at my table at the MoCCA Festival, the remainders to be available on the site once I figure out how to make that work. (These are big-ass stickers, by the way, measuring just about 4.5 inches square)

More additions to the CafePress merchandise is coming soon, too. Bear with me.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:39 PM

Look at the monkey! Look at the silly monkey!

Okay, seems simple enough: John Kerry attacks George W. Bush on the administration's measuring of ideology over science:

"We need a president who believes in science again in America," Kerry said. "We need to be prepared, and one of the first things that I will do as president by executive order immediately is reverse the gag rule and also move America forward to do stem cell research and begin to find the cures we need."

In a letter endorsing Kerry, 48 scientists who have won the Nobel Prize said the Bush administration is undermining the nation's future by impeding medical advances, turning away scientific talent with its immigration practices and ignoring scientific consensus on global warning and other critical issues.

"Unlike previous administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important to our collective welfare," their letter stated.

Stem cell research gained renewed attention earlier this month after the death of former President Reagan, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. His family, including former first lady Nancy Reagan, called for more research into the disease using stem cells. Fifty-eight senators � including Kerry � sent Bush a letter asking that he relax the restrictions he imposed by executive order in August 2001. The White House has rejected those requests.

The Bush administration places "politics over science to please their right-wing constituency," the Kerry campaign said.

Okay, so just so we're all clear: Kerry attacks Bush for diminishing U.S. stance in stem cell research becuase of personal ideology contrary to prominent Republicans and (much more importantly, mind you) a whole assload of Nobel prize-winning scientists. In light of such a basic and spot-on problem with the White House vis-a-vis science, the response from the Bush Campaign is, of course, to deploy the Chewbacca Defense.

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said the president's budget raises federal research and development to $132 billion in 2005, a 44 percent increase since taking office.

"Only John Kerry would declare the country to be in scientific decline on a day when the country's first privately funded space trip is successfully completed," Schmidt said, referring to the flight of a privately financed rocket over California.

Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, John Kerry makes a fine argument about Bush damaging the U.S.'s position on stem cell research. Why, I'm almost convinced he's a right-wing religious fanatic who doesn't care about the future of American scientific advantages myself. But Ladies and gentlemen, I have one last thing I'd like you to consider: this is a rocket ship. Rockets are associated with science. What does that have to do with stem cell research? Nothing.

Now, this spacecraft was privately designed, and the President wasn't involved with its design, construction, launch, or in fact any aspect whatsoever. So what does this spaceship have to do with the President's stance on blocking scientific biological research? Nothing. Why would I be talking about some guy flying a spaceship in regard to John Kerry pointing out that Bush is preventing research in a completely unrelated field because an invisible man in the sky says he should? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense!

If a man can build his own rocketship and fly into space, then George Bush is clearly not limiting valuable stem cell research. The defense rests.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:03 PM

I reads the comments

From the comments on Kevin Drum's recent post on SUVs and gas mileage:

No. No no. We should all use LIBERAL FERRET POWER. We must breed ferrets, only LIBERAL FERRETS, until they overrun all the "Red states". We can then all stick the LBERAL FERRETS in our pants. The resulting sexual excitement by having LIBERAL FERRETS tax our privates at progressive rates will make us all walk faster and eliminate the need for carz and SUV'z to get places. That is the excitement of LIBERAL FERRET POWER.
Alrighty, then.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:29 AM

How low the self-righteous hath fallen

Kos on Ralph Nader's escapades to get on the Arizona ballot:

They're still counting in Arizona, and it looks like the Democrats have anough invalid signatures to knock Nader off the ballot.

So I've already reported that over 90 percent of petitions were from registered Republicans. But, as it turns out, many of those petitioners probably didn't even know they were signing on behalf of Nader!

This is how it shook out:

The petition collectors were working for a GOP outfit, and were collecting signatures for two high-profile ballot initiatives. One is the "Protect Arizona Now" initiative, which is an anti-immigrant effort. The other is an attempt to repeal Arizona's landmark Clean Elections Bill which provides for public financing of political campaigns.

The actual Nader petition did its best to fudge its purpose. The petitioners only said they were collecting signatures for an "independent candidate". The words "RALPH NADER" were buried in the petition page in 9pt font.

So to make this perfectly clear -- Nader's petition effort piggybacked on both a xenophobic anti-immigrant effort, and an effort to roll back the state's public financing of elections.

As I've indicated more than enough times on this site, I never opposed Nader's 2000 run, even though I never had the slightest inclination of voting for him. I think the treatment he gets from the mainstream left is abhorrent and at most serves to make Democrats look petty (Randi Rhodes' disgraceful attack on Nader in April the most recent example from memory).

But I've also noted repeatedly that Nader's only chance to maintain any level of credibility or authority in any form in the political process is to preserve his dignity. And he's simply failed to do it. This was never about the Democratic Party embracing Nader. People can acknowledge the relevance of a candidate without supporting them. But Ralph Nader isn't even an acknowledgement anymore; he's an afterthought.

Progressives don't want him. Kucinich doesn't want him. Michael Moore doesn't want him. The Green Party doesn't want him. It's not a problem that Ralph Nader doesn't have anyone left to defend him. It's a problem that no one wants to.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:20 AM

June 20, 2004

Tech corner

Cory Doctorow (of BoingBoing fame) delivers an amazingly articulate address on Digital Rights Management and Microsoft, et al. and the current status of digital copyrights. It's a great read, makes coherent points, and is, as a final bonus, analyzes the problems with copyright protection in a manner completely devoid of any of the pathetic and pointless arguments about why Napster was good typically reserved for college students who didn't know what they were talking about and just wanted to steal loads of free music and makes you want to side with the RIAA just on the grounds that you could never be on the same side as those whiny pricks. But I digress. Go read.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:45 PM