July 31, 2004


I'm trying to figure out where this concept of the right-wingers about Kerry's "10-15 point bounce" came from.

Is there a historical trend here? Maybe I'm mistaken, but following the 2000 conventions I don't recally Bush beating Gore 55-40, or Gore leading Bush 50-37 in any kind of national contest. To the best of my knowledge, the furthest either candiate pulled ahead of the other in a head-to-head matchup in 2000 was when Al Gore had 8 points over Bush for a few days between the convention and the first debate.

It's kind of an example-within-an-example on Oliver's site, where he poses a very accurate point about the right wing's drift toward irrational explanations for the support of a Bush candidacy. As in many of these arguments, the whole "why isn't Kerry doing better, huh?" line seems to be the first thing thrown out.

I'm sure part of it is the whole defense mechanism thing- after all, a bunch of warbloggers who have shaped the entire fiber of their relevance around convincing themselves that absolutely nothing is going wrong in Iraq- are likely a bit puzzled as to why Bush isn't, you know, leading Kerry by over ten points in national polls. Or for that matter, leading Kerry by the margin of error. Or leading Kerry at all.

But clearly the main goal is the time-honored tradition of straw men: according to the right-wingers, Kerry is "supposed" to have a 10-15 point lead over Bush now following the convention. But he doesn't, a victim of that pesky cretter known as complete lack of any historical precedent, and the response from the right-wingers gets to be "Kerry flopped!"

To, to correlate with Oliver, yes. The hate does make you crazy. Unfortunately, it also makes you clever, and the whole line about Kerry not having some outrageous bounce he was never going to get is an example. Crazy, in comparison, is the stuff Oliver talks about that stems from the bloggers who have crafted their security blankets around the belief that George W. Bush is the only thing protecting them from terrorism. The real crazy will be when Kerry wins the election in November, at which point I think I'm going to stay away from the home cities of a lot of these bloggers for fear that they've snapped and gone looking for clock towers.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:26 AM

July 30, 2004

Berger cleared

Wow. I didn't expect this at all. I had just assumed that everything Matt Drudge, Glenn Reynolds, and the rest of the right-wing smear all-stars were saying was completely accurate and backed by evidence.

What are these people who know the facts thinking? Don't they know Berger is a master criminal? The webloggers do!

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:05 PM

July 29, 2004

Clean slate

"There is nothing more pessimistic than saying America can't do better."

After Obama, Edwards, hell, even parts of Sharpton, the conventional (no pun intended) wisdom was that Kerry was pulling a Dubya with his speech- in other words, letting the media forecast that Kerry would utterly fail to meet the standards of everyone else specifically to make even a turd look good by expectations by simply delivering it coherently.

We were given the more clever strategy of the speech actually being good.

Now, look. I'm not 100% in agreement with everything Kerry says. In fact, I don't even believe 100% of what he said twenty minutes ago. But the entire speech, including the buildup with the veterans, firemen, and Max Cleland, was staged to near-perfection to utterly crush most of the Bush anti-Kerry campaign.

There can, and will, be legitimate (and a lot of ridiculous) discussion about the foreign policy issue. As I said a few posts ago, there are Libertarian and Right-wing pundits and warbloggers who have structured their basis for supporting the GOP on the fragile belief that George W. Bush is the only thing protecting them from nuclear annihilation. Their problem with the argument is the slow and steady revealing to the world of how fragile that argument is. Tonight, Kerry shattered it.

Tax cuts good, tax cuts bad, okay. Beliefs in abortion, yadda yadda yadda. But the last six months of "Kerry's not really a leader" and "Kerry's not a true war hero" garbage is just dead. The image of Kerry being a "extreme liberal" and "against defending the country" doesn't even have much of an argument after Kerry laid it out. It's just wrong. And everyone knows it.

Deep down, conservatives saw this speech and realized that spin is going to become much more complcated. To depict Kerry as a weakling, they are going to have to lie. Because Kerry just spent 45 minutes explaining the truth about the Kerry campaign.

Whether you agree with it, and how much of it you support, is irrelevant. It's there.

The crisis facing the Bush camp now is the truth of the differences between Kerry and Bush. It's not about Bush being a better candidate than Kerry anymore, because everyone now knows it's simply not true. This is no longer about saying that Bush is better than Kerry; it's about providing examples. And I think the Bush supporters are realizing they don't have a lot of that.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:35 PM

Good for him

Okay, I'm being snotty here, but come on, this is the actual headline:

AP: Kerry to Accept Presidential Nomination

Well holy crap, where'd they get a scoop like that?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:45 AM

July 28, 2004

Thus begins the New York hatefest

The Republican National Convention- scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks- will have its opening invocation given by the man who said 9/11 was punishment for homosexuality.

Remember, though: Ted Kennedy doesn't respect the gravity of 9/11.

Update: A collection of Falwell's greatest hits, courtesy of Jesus' General.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:56 PM

....and we're done.

Greg sums up the Kerry NASA photo issue quite nicely, I think.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:23 AM

July 27, 2004

Eight-year-olds, Dude

Hey, the new ground rules for the Republican National Convention just came in: any speech that doesn't mention September 11th and/or implies through selective quotation that someone doesn't care about 9/11, immediately implicates the entire Republican Party as completely devoid of any insight into foreign policy.

You know, I thought I was just making a joke a few posts ago, but I just realized I'm completely right. Like reading the world's most web-saavy eight-year-old children.

Update: Michele responds with the single statement that "I don't get it." Really.

See, here's Kennedy's entire speech. Here's a more extended passage than the single line Reynolds used to exploit 3,000 corpses for a political snipe:

Our country demands a great deal from us, and we rightly demand a great deal from our leaders. America is a compact, a bargain, a contract. It says that all of us are connected. Our fates are intertwined. Fifty states, one nation. Our Constitution binds us together.

Yet in our own time, there are those who seek to divide us. One community against another. Urban against rural. City against suburb. Whites against blacks. Men against women. Straights against gays. Americans against Americans.

In these challenging times for our country, in these fateful times for the world, America needs a genuine uniter, not a divider who only claims to be a uniter.

We have seen how they rule: they divide and try to conquer. They know the power of the people is weakened when our house is divided. They believe they can't win, unless the rest of us lose. We reject that shameful view.

The Democratic Party has a different idea. We believe that all of us can win. We believe we are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. And when we say all, we mean all.

Today in this global age, our goal of the common good extends far beyond America's borders.

As President Kennedy said in 1963 in his quest for restraint in nuclear arms: "We can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."

Interdependence defines our world. For all our might, for all our wealth, we know we are only as strong as the bonds we share with others. The dangers of terrorism and nuclear proliferation our greatest challenges are shared by all nations. And our greatest opportunities from achieving lasting peace and security, to building a more prosperous society, to ending the ravages of disease and the despairs of poverty can all be seized. But only if the world works together, and only if America helps to lead in the right direction.And John Kerry has the skill and the judgment and the experience to lead us on that great journey.

The eyes of the world were on us and the hearts of the world were with us after September 11th until this administration broke that trust. We should have honored, not ignored, the pledges we made. We should have strengthened, not scorned, the alliances that won two World Wars and the Cold War.

Most of all, we should have honored the principle so fundamental that our nation's founders placed it in the very first sentence of the Declaration of Independence: that America must give "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind."

We failed to do that in Iraq. More than 900 of our servicemen and women have already paid the ultimate price. Nearly 6,000 have been wounded in this misguided war. The administration has alienated longtime allies. Instead of making America more secure, they have made us less so. They have made it harder to win the real war on terrorism, the war against al-Qaida. None of this had to happen.

How could any president have possibly squandered the enormous goodwill that flowed to America from across the world after September 11th?

Most of the world still knows what we can be, what only we can be, and they want us to be that nation again. America must be a light to the world, and under John Kerry and John Edwards, that's what America will be.

We need a president who will bind up the nation's wounds. We need a president who will be a symbol of respect in a world yearning to be at peace again. We need John Kerry as our president.


I have known John Kerry for three decades. I have known him as a soldier, as a peacemaker, as a prosecutor, as a Senator, and as a friend. And in every role he has shown his strengths. He was the right man for every tough task and he is the right leader for this time in history.

John is a war hero who understands that America's strength comes from many sources, especially the power of our ideas. He knows that a true leader inspires hope and vanquishes fear.

This administration does neither. Instead it brings fear. Fear of rising costs for health care and for college, fear of higher unemployment and lesser pay, fear for the future of Social Security and Medicare, fear of greater bigotry, fear of pollution's stain on our magnificent natural heritage, fear of four more years of dreams denied and promises unfulfilled and progress rolled back.

In the depths of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt inspired the nation when he said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Today, we say the only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.

John Kerry offers hope, not fear. The hope of real victory against terrorism and true security at home. Of good health care for all Americans. Of Social Security that is always there for the elderly. Of schools that open golden doors of opportunity for all our children. Of an economy that works for everyone. That's the kind of America we'll have with John Kerry in the White House.

Now, the speech may not have been a barnburner, and Michele, Reynolds, etc. may not have agreed with all of Kennedy's politics, but there's a pretty damn clear message in there.

Referencing FDR's famous quote, Kennedy made a speech about the war on terrorism, the threats to America and the world as a whole- something that would be perfectly understandable to anyone who actually listened to the entire speech instead of taking one line, fabricating their own interpretation of it, and declaring (once again) that Kennedy was clearly the spawn of all evil. Had one not focused on a single line to serve their own agenda, one might have noticed that Kennedy's speech was about how the benefit of America, including the war on terrorism, will come from refuting the tactics of fear and divisiveness in the national dialogue.

Tactics of fear and divisiveness in the national dialogue. Like, for example, shoving a picture of a burning building in our face and saying that it shows how Democrats don't understand the issues facing America. And suggesting that makes a great political advertisement.

Someone here "didn't get it." It wasn't me.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:32 PM

And now, your moment of hope mixed with cynicism

Dear god. Barack Obama is going to be President of the United States in twelve years.

Excuse me if this is the political equivalent of starfucking, but good lord, no one's topping that performance. Not Edwards, not Kerry. Obama is the official MVP of the Convention.

In the back of my head, for the next ten or eleven years, there's going to be a little voice over and over saying "please, Barack... for the good of mankind, please don't be doing something incredibly stupid that we don't know about."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:11 PM

Speaking of bad ideas

Yes. I've seen the Kerry photo. I still don't think it's as ridiculous as the denim-clad motorcycle ride onto Leno in January.

I also think it's interesting, though, how times change in punditry. When Dukakis had his, well, Dukakis moment, it was simply making fun of him in the tank. Now, the actual story is about how Republicans are going to make fun of Kerry.

Isn't it kind of sad that "Republicans plan to make fun of someone" is actually a story?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:24 PM

More on those shirts

As I kinda expected, I got some responses to the post about the abortion shirts. And I think it's more a matter of clarification than disagreement. For example, this e-mail from Steve Presutti:

I read one of your posts today and thought, "He's really missed it today..." It was your "Wow that's stupid" post about "I had an abortion" shirts. You determined that it was a poor idea. I disagree. I think you forgot to consider the alternative. Right now we have few ways to show that this option is a real and honorable choice for women to make. I see few other ways to demonstrate that this is OK option and normal as opposed to something of which to be ashamed. I agree is it in somewhat questionable taste, but what other options are there to advertise that many women make this choice and they are not alone?? I think you forget that part of the Pro-no-choice movement is to marginalize women seeking abortion and make them feel alone. Look at the methods they use: singling out women as they seek access and attacking them emotionally. A woman who KNEW that many other women, whom she respected and with which she agreed, had sought the same option, would be in a better position to make her decision in good faith.
As I said in the previous post, I agree with everything here regarding the intent of the shirt. My problem is the unbelievable lack of understanding in what the actual message these shirts are going convey is. Essentially, Planned Parenthood should know better.

Gauge the reaction to something like this online. Most "conservative" warbloggers are by almost every rubric, social Libertarians. They support gay rights, oppose right-wing theocratic policy, openly mock the "moral outrage" wing of the anti-MTV, anti-naughty language, anti-sex wing of the GOP, and are at least partially pro-choice. Their key leanings towards the Republican Party are the issue of the war on terrorism, a subject, admittedly, on which they generally adhere to right wing rhetorical talking points in a lockstep lockstep to a degree that rivals a Dance Dance Revolution championship. They vote for Bush because they believe he will defend America in ways John Kerry won't.

Now, skipping that much of the pro-war punditry in the eyes of the anti-war pundtrity emits logic representative of the world's most web-saavy eight-year-olds, the point is that these are the people who are fodder for stupid mistakes like the one Planned Parenthood is making with their shirts.

With Steve's e-mail, like I said I agree with the concept, but some of the arguments are just ridiculous to me. If "we have few ways to show that this option is a real and honorable choice for women to make," that doesn't mean we should make ways that do more harm than good. As far as "other options to advertise that women do this and are not alone" I can think of countless alternative ideas right off the top of my head. Websites. Advocacy campaigns. An infinite number of different messages. Jesus- what would be a better message to say women aren't alone? How about making the shirt say "You're not alone" with the Planned Parenthood logo? "We're here to help?" "I support your choice?" Anything else?

Steve is absolutely right. Part of the anti-choice movement is to isolate women. This shirt does a great job doing that. Instead of invoking rational debate about abortion, socially-moderate Republicans are disgusted at the shirt, providing fodder for the extreme anti-choice folks to spread their propaganda further than the pro-choice movement could spread theirs. Just one right-leaning blogger expresses her disgust at the shirt, and lo and behold, the woodwork of the comments section creaks with the scurry of ramblings ranging from your basic "abortion is evil" crap to suggestions that Planned Parenthood is a figurehead of a massive for-profit infanticide industry.

Long story short: yes, I understand how one can think the shirt is a good idea. I am unabashedly pro-choice, and I hope that all women facing the choice over their bodies can find the support they need. I think the message is, inherently, a good idea. Unfortunately, in practice, it's one of the worst ideas ever.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:44 PM



Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:15 PM

Monday convention coverage post of the night

Atrios's roundup. There is no way he wasn't drunk when he wrote this. It's beautiful.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:39 AM

July 26, 2004

Because I'm shameless, that's why

Just a reminder- selling stuff. Get your signed books now.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:47 PM

Wow, that's stupid

When I heard that Planned Parenthood was going to start selling t-shirts carrying the phrase "I had an abortion" to promote self-security and pride among women, I had to go prove to myself that they really weren't doing it. Turns out, they are.

This is one of the worst ideas I have ever seen in my life. And any cursory reader of this website knows how much of a supporter of women's rights- especially the right to control their own body- I am.

I am not against what Planned Parenthood is trying to do. Abortion is a deeply troubling psychological and physical burden for any woman who has to experience it. And there is nothing more important for support in such a decision that comforting and helping women who have to face such a choice. Women should be open about having an abortion and feel they can discuss their experience with other women.

But a promotional campaign of women wearing a t-shirt saying what they did as though they were promoting their favorite band demeans something that people in other countries are dying over. Wearing this shirt doesn't project the message "access to abortion is a good thing for women and society." It projects the message "abortion! I had one! Why don't you? All the cool kids are doing it!"

And I can't think of a message that's more destructive to the pro-choice movement than that. There is a difference between promoting discourse and getting in someone's face. Which statement would be more effective in a discussion with someone who opposes abortion- "Listen, I had an abortion, and I want to talk about how it affected my life and maybe correct some of your misconceptions" or "Oh yeah? Well I HAD an abortion! What are you gonna do about it?"

When I searched to get more information about this shirt, I had to field through a dozen right-wing anti-choice websites to get a link to PP's Yahoo! store for the picture. Free Republic and similar anti-choice sites bothered to mention this thing and link to it. There's no mention of it on Planned Parenthood's home page. In other words, the shirt is already more influential rallying the outrage of people against abortion than it is encouraging women in favor of it to express their views.

Having an abortion should be openly discussed. And it is not something any woman should feel ashamed of. But for many, it still is a difficult, and incredibly sensitive subject. And making it a fashion statement, or a snarky flip-off to people against choice, is simply tasteless.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:24 PM


Washington Post has a contest up where you, the readers, can suggest nominees for the best political weblogs.

You know, just in case there's one you like or something.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:24 PM

Bill O'Reilly's Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

I think we should make a special mention of Fox News' true showing of Patriotism. Amidst CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, and all local stations opening their convention coverage and pausing commentary to air the national anthem, Fox News again showed its true commitment to higher standards by muffling it in the background while Bill O'Reilly asked Dick Morris "why is John Kerry distancing himself from Whoopi Goldberg?"

Fox News- our nation salutes you.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:08 PM

Newest comic - "Yes. Yes you are."

This one's dedicated to Annie Jacobsen. Jacobsen, as any warblogger voting for Bush knows and has written about by now, is the brave little lady who survived the torrential ordeal of being on a plane with fourteen brown people- brown people who, had they actually been remotely connected to terrorism in any way whatsoever, might have merited even a fraction of the racist, intolerant, psychotic, and ignorant invective hurled at them for daring to want to fly in the United States.

Having become the darling of the usual coven of warbloggers who, at this point, I am convinced sleep better at night believing they're a terrorist target just so they can create a face to hate in their own paranoia-addled minds, the slight misfortune for Jacobsen's argument came in the form of everyone who actually knows what they're talking about saying she's an ignorant moron.

Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, "overreacted," to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS. The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service.

Jacobsen, a self-described freelance writer, has published two stories about her experience at womenswallstreet.com, a business advice web site designed for women.

The middle eastern men were identified by federal agents as a group of touring musicians travelling to a concert date at a casino, said Air Marshals spokesman Dave Adams.

"We followed up with the casino," Adams said. A supervisor verified they were playing a concert. A second federal law enforcement source said the concert itself was monitored by an agent.

"We also went to the hotel, determined they had checked into the hotel," Adams said. Each of the men were checked through a series of databases and watch-lists with negative results, he said.

The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen's actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves.

Air marshals' only tactical advantage on a flight is their anonymity, the source said, and Jacobsen could have put the entire flight in danger.

"They have to be very cognizant of their surroundings," spokesman Adams confirmed, "to make sure it isn't a ruse to try and pull them out of their cover."

Let's make sure we're clear on that: Jacobsen did not just "overreact," and she certainly didn't "make a case" for anything vis-a-vis racial profiling or better security. What she did do, and then take pride in doing for profit in her columns, was potentially endanger the lives of a hundred people.

Though I might do it occasionally, I'm not one of the "gotcha" gloating people on the weblogging circuit. That is to say, I'm not one of the webloggers out there who encompasses half of their content in the form of snotty, sarcastic links to evidence of my opponent's fallacy in a statement or accusation followed by a diatribe about how this proves the my idealogical opponents en masse are clearly peons to my superior intellect, which is why they're all living in a basement while I'm the most famous professor in the entire University of Tennessee. (But I could be talking about anyone.) But to be perfectly honest, this of one of those "actually..." updates to the original story that just felt good to read. Spiteful? Sure. But I give myself that every once in a while.

Annie Jacobsen, as I express in my strip, is exactly what I say in my strip. A stupid, ignorant twat. This isn't just an issue of political disagreements. She's a goddamn ignorant racist who now wants to be famous and loved for being ignorant and racist. She is, in a single entity, everything that is wrong about America. As for the warbloggers who lionized her prior to Federal Marshalls bringing them back to the real world in which normal people who don't think Arabs should have LoJacks installed up their asses "just in case," this is the point of the story where you apologize. C'mon. You can do it.

And on a side note, The drawings of the duck in the last two panels are two of the funniest things I think I've ever drawn. I have no idea why.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:19 AM

July 25, 2004

This has been today's piece of useless information

From the DNC's e-mail press statement about the convention:

The Convention will include an exciting finale - a cascade of more than 100,000 biodegradable balloons and half a ton of red, white and blue confetti. Using air inflators, a 75-person crew will spend the week before the Convention filling thousands of balloons.
It's good to point out that the DNC cares about the environment. I'd hate to think anyone was being wasteful and inflated non-biodegradable balloons with their high-powered electrical equipment that they'll be running non-stop for four straight days to fill them.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:25 PM