August 21, 2004

Hit me baby one more time!

I want to legalize gay marriage and then legalize cloning so I can marry Josh Marshall and have like ten thousand of his babies:

I say this is exactly where the Kerry campaign needs to go because it very powerfully captures a truth about President Bush -- namely, that he's a coward who truly lacks shame.

I don't say he's a coward because he kept himself out of Vietnam three decades ago. I know no end of men of that age who in one fashion or another made sure they didn't end up in Indochina in those days. (I quickly ran through both hands counting guys I talk to on a regular basis.) And they include many of the most admirable people I know.

He's a coward because he has other people smear good men without taking any responsibility, without owning up to it or standing behind it. And when someone takes it to him and puts him on the spot to defend his actions -- as McCain does in this spot -- he's literally speechless. Like I say, a coward.

Babies everywhere.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:43 PM

God, I love this country

Child ho costume.

That's what it says.

Yep.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:02 PM

Say it

After a year of GOP tactics to label the Democratic candidates as "crazy" or "wild-eyed" as a way to scold alleged negativity or irrationality of their campaigns, I think it's going to be the ultimate ot backfires on the right-wingers when the Kerry campaign actually gets pissed and retaliates, PR-wise.

Case in point is Kerry's new ad. It's not just the fact that this ad- a simple clip of McCain during a 2000 debate handing Bush's ass to him over dirty tricks similar to what the Swift Boat Liars are doing right now- it's that it's not going to be easy to deflect.

McCain, as he very well has the right to, could condemn this ad and the unfair use of him in it (we'll go with the high assumption that McCain didn't actually agree to this beforehand.) In which case, McCain will have to retract that statement in the clip about five Senators rising to defend attacks on McCain's patriotism.

I suppose this goes without saying, but I'm sure most of you can guess which Vietnam veteran and Senator was among those five- in fact, the one who organized the group to defend McCain. That's right- it was John Kerry.

This can't, and won't, be the single solution for the Kerry campaign against the tactics of the Bush campaign that, for all intents and purposes, we can legitimately refer to as "sleaze." And Kerry has now used "old tricks" and "dirty tricks" and other terms that are subtle but not direct. But the actions and rhetoric from the Swifties are very rapidly approaching the point in which partisan terms can be open game.

In other words, I believe we are approaching a moment when, unlike the backpedalling against types like Bill O'Reilly, it is going to be legitimate for John Kerry and his supporters to flat-out say "liar." And if they can use this term when it is appropriate, and highlights not just Kerry's anger, but that it is without a doubt true, then it will be the most devestating assault on Bush's campaign.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:49 PM

Acquired addendum

Reflecting on the comments I made yesterday morning, I endorse this as an addition. It's nice to know I'm not the only one getting a little fed up with all of this.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:48 AM

August 20, 2004

Oh, it's already been broughten!"

Assuming Kerry has the same evidence, perhaps more, that Kos just revealed, it seems that his campaign has credible evidence against the Swift Boat Liars for violating FEC laws. In other words, the Swifties are officially breaking the law, and Kerry has filed a lawsuit.

Outside of the inevitable trial lawyers flak which has been dealt with before, this looks like a good play for Kerry's camp. For one thing, given Kos' easily-presentable evidence, I think it's safe to say the allegations are true. SBVFT is a 527 political organization, which on this flier is clearly and illegally coordinating both actions and fundraising with an official member of the Bush reelection campaign. That said, there's only two outcomes: either the FEC rules against the Swifties, thus branding them officially as liars and hypocrites, or the FEC rules against Kerry, at which point I'm sure the fact that Michael Powell is in charge will become the new talking point of the cycle.

Update: I completely suck, as many have pointed out. Powell is the head of the FCC, not the FEC, which is currently run by a Clinton appointee.

Which means this could actually turn out very bad for Kerry. So let's hope he's got more of a case than a flyer.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:36 PM

Federally-funded Science Fiction

Via Kevin Drum, the CIA is now planning to, in the face of finding no WMDs in Iraq, write a report about "what Iraq might have achieved in its illegal weapons programs if the United States had not invaded the country last year."

There's a couple of issues here, the largest being that this is completely fucking insane. First of all, when you want a group to make accurate, logical predictions about Iraq and Saddam's weapons program, well by god you go straight to the CIA, don't you. You know, the group that practically went out of its way to screw up pre-war intelligence as much as humanly possible.

Second, in what world does the CIA's speculation matter? This report has the validity or a report on what Iraq would be like in 2008 had Saddam choked on a bagel and died a month before the invasion. Or what "could have happened" if Hillary Clinton orchestrated a military coup and took over the White House.

Third, there's a protocol to abusing governmental offices for campaign purposes. A Federal agency- especially the CIA, which is supposed to be full of covert experts- shouldn't really be this open about blatantly abusing taxpayer resources to push something that serves no purpose other than promoting the Bush/Cheney campaign. It's supposed to be done in a subtle way that lets bloggers bicker at each other and deliver clever one-up lines about their typos or physical appearance. When you just go right out and blatantly abuse the power of office like this it just takes away all the fun.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:04 PM

Screw the chalk drawings, I'm entering the Matrix!

Dick Van Dyke: computer animator.

Seriously, how freakin' awesome is that?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:03 PM

Bush's Brain

If there are any readers out there from Texas, tonight you might want to take in the premiere screening of Bush's Brain, the documentary about Karl Rove and how he's, well, the devil.

The producers of the film very generously provided my an advance copy of the film on DVD, which can also be purchased by the 99.99% of the planet not in Texas. (The film will also screen starting next week in New York, followed by a few more areas after that)

It's a very good documentary. Between this and Fahrenheit and that Supersize movie, there looks to be a really good competition at the Oscars next year.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:11 PM

Now's your chance, buddy!

You know, I think this is a prime opportunity for God to just come down and slap some people.

I'm an agnostic, but if there is a God, seriously, why isn't He reading this story about the 8-year old girl being denied communion because she's allergic to wheat and heading down to Earth to just slap some people?

I'm not asking for Divine intervention here. Just a flash of light, maybe some trumpets or Herald Angels or something to verfiy that it is, in fact, The Lord. Then God can just take the form of some dude. He can just be wearing slacks and a Docker's shirt and look kinda like David Caruso. Just walk in during the middle of this priest's sermon, wait for complete silence, and bitch-slap him.

Then leave. That's it.

It would be awesome.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:24 PM

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, until the lava cools

In 1995, the Carribean island of Montserrat was virtually destroyed as its then-dormant volcano began to erupt. You may recall relief efforts about the event.

292 refugees of Montserrat have lived in the United States as refugees for the last seven years. This week, the Department of Homeland Security declared that Montserrat will never stop erupting. So what's the U.S.'s response? Kick them the hell out of our country.

But 292 refugees, including Everson, eventually came to the United States where they were given "temporary protected status", meaning they could live and work here until the threat subsided.

But recently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stunned this small group of Montserratians by revoking their temporary status and ordering them to leave by the end of February 2005. Ironically, it wants them out precisely because the situation has not improved.

It declared that volcanic eruptions are "not likely to cease in the foreseeable future. Therefore it no longer constitutes a temporary disruption of living conditions that temporarily prevents Montserrat from adequately handling the return of its nationals."

In other words, because it's now clear that the refugees will never be able to return home, they can't live here anymore. Your tax dollars pay people to come up with logic like this.

Understandably, there is a discussion to be had about the U.S.'s obligation to accept all refugees and offer them hospice in America. But these are people who have lived in the U.S. and established familes and lives for seven years. And now, they are being told to vacate not because they have a home to go to, but specifically because they don't. In what America does the Statue of Liberty represent a concept like that?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:08 PM

House of cards

I could be completely wrong, but I think it's safe enough to say that the Swift Boat Liars have reached, shall we say, the 40-minute mark of their E! True Hollywood Story- that beautiful point in which the graphics all go gray and we hear the reassuring voice of Phil Crowley warning us that, after a brief pause to hear some fat man in glasses lose another loan to Dietech, trouble is on the horizon for our rising stars.

You know, if I could actually have a career writing ridiculous analogies, I'd retire at 30 a millionaire. But I digress.

From the last few days' news, the credibility, and the effectiveness, of the Swift Boat Liars is crashing down. Covering some stuff that we knew about and throwing a bit more in for good measure, the New York Times today unleashed the next assault on the Swift Boat Liars in the form of these pesky things called "facts."

Then there's the smackdown on the television front. As for Michelle Malkin, author of Oh, Grow Up, we Didn't Ruin the Lives of That Many Japs (or something like that), the video of her appearance on Hardball is available for you to examine yourself. I'm growing accustomed to not bothering discussing how someone was "defeated" in a televised debate, because no one ever convinces anyone of the other. Every left-wing blog is hyping how about how Malkin had her ass handed to her, and while I kinda agree with them, a quick jump to any right-wing blog will just talk about how Chris Matthews is a doofus- which I kinda agree with on most other occasions.

In a move that fools no one but, as proven in Malkin's field trip to MSNBC, has been officially endorsed by right-wing punditry, the Bush White House line has been to respond to calls for condemning the ad by claiming that "all 527s should stop ads." Bush's team is clearly referring to the MoveOn ads of a few months past, which for some reason the GOP had no problem immediately condemning, but hey, that was eight months ago, and if something happened over six months ago when Republicans do it we all know it doesn't count. Duh.

Now, in my opinion, this angle seems to be bad in many ways. For one thing, equating the Swift Boat Liars to MoveOn's rejected Hitler ad implies that these ads are not actually about concerns over Kerry but merely a smear in revenge for attacks on Bush. Since they, you know, are, it's hard for Bush to say that. For another, this line of response is so obviously ducking the question that Bush can't help but look like a giant pussy when having it said for him through an even more wormy minion.

Perhaps there's a more respectable way to analyze Bush's stance on the ads, but even Josh Marshall can't wrap around the cowardice and sneakiness of Bush on this one. I'd like to repeat that because of its significance: Josh Marshall- a man whose temperment makes Joe Lieberman look like a WWE wrestler- is calling The President of the United States a pussy.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:22 AM

August 19, 2004

The odd couple

TBogg catches the slight disparity in logic between President Bush and his significant other. Apparently, there's no reason to devote resources to stem-cell research because it might actually take time for it to cure diseases that kill millions, but it's perfectly logical to throw more money than most of us will ever see in our lives at a magical net made of rainbows that protect us from missiles by enchanted unicorns. Or something like that.

On a side note, I got a few e-mails complaining that Bush wasn't really making a "flip-flop" on Larry King because his logic is that an Amendment to the Constitution will clarify the already-existing definition of marriage, not change it.

Which makes no sense to me. For one thing, if there was a clear established definition of marriage, then Bush wouldn't feel the need for an amendment to the Constition. For another, the text he endorses not only declares marriage as man and woman only, it specifically forbids any equivalent being established- in other words, redefining marriage to meet an arbitrary standard he says already exists- except for the laws that, you know, disagree with him. It's a shame for Bush that rulers being allowed to issue decrees from Divine Right is so last millenium.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:12 PM

Swift Boat Liar: confirmed

I mentioned a few weeks ago about Larry Thurlow, one of the Swift Boat anti-Kerry guys who claimed Kerry didn't deserve his Bronze Star because the conditions didn't merit it... the only problem being that Thurlow also recieved a Bronze Star for the same day's events. Meaning that Thurlow was either a liar or a hypocrite.

Well, we have confirmation now. Turns out the answer is liar.

In newspaper interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry's claim that the Massachusetts Democrat's boat came under fire during a mission in Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969. Kerry won a Bronze Star for his actions that day.

But Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."

Last month, Thurlow swore in an affidavit that Kerry was "not under fire" when he fished Lt. James Rassmann out of the water. He described Kerry's Bronze Star citation, which says that all units involved came under "small arms and automatic weapons fire," as "totally fabricated."

"I never heard a shot," Thurlow said in his affidavit, which was released by Swift Boats Veterans for Truth. The group claims the backing of more than 250 Vietnam veterans, including a majority of Kerry's fellow boat commanders.

A document recommending Thurlow for the Bronze Star noted that all his actions "took place under constant enemy small arms fire which LTJG THURLOW completely ignored in providing immediate assistance" to the disabled boat and its crew. The citation states that all other units in the flotilla also came under fire.

He's a liar. Kudos to the press for making this a headline for once.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:10 AM

August 18, 2004

Oh come on, he's not even trying

My friend Josh told me about a new Bush flip-flop during his Larry King interview last week, but until I read the transcript I didn't realize he has less memory retention than Rick James did about Eddie Murphy's couch.

Here's the transcript. Please keep in mind made there are no cuts or deleted moments in this segment:

KING: Many gays in the Democratic Party. Many gays in America. You want a constitutional amendment to protect heterosexual marriage?

G. BUSH: Yes, I do.

KING: Why? Why do you need an amendment?

G. BUSH: Well, because I'm worried that the laws on the books that basically define marriage as between a man -- not basically, do define marriage between a man and a woman will be ruled unconstitutional, and then judges will make the decision as to the definition of marriage. And I think it's too important an issue for judges to make that decision. And I think that one way to guarantee that traditional marriage is defined as between a man and a woman is through the constitutional process...

KING: What about the union of gays?

G. BUSH: Well, that's up to states, you know. If states choose to do that, in other words, if they want to provide legal protections for gays, that's great. That's fine. But I do not want to change the definition of marriage. I don't think our country should, from the traditional definition of marriage that's between a man or a woman.

Could he have waited, y'know, maybe a commercial or something?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:24 PM

All of punditry desperation, commentors, truly desperate

I love it when someone starts a post claiming that someone "seems to" be doing something. It always means that they're actually not doing it at all, but the writer needs to reach for whatever point they have to make.

Case in point, one of Oliver's recent links to a story about a 55-year-old teacher being ejected from a Bush/Cheney rally because there was a Kerry/Edwards sticker on her:

Bush campaign staffers tore up the 55-year-old social studies teacher's ticket and refused her admission because she sported a small sticker on her blouse that touted the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards.

"I had my ticket and photo identification, but they would not let me in because of this sticker," said Mead, a teacher at Traverse City West Senior High, who said she has seen Queen Elizabeth and Pope John Paul in person.

"I have never found this kind of screening anywhere in my travels around the world. I can't imagine being denied access to hearing the president of the United States speak."

Gosh, Oliver "seems to" be pointing out the fact that Bush has been doing this frequently- the loyalty oath issue, the specialized rallies... in fact, it's actually unique among most Presidential campaigns in recent history. So a commentor on Oliver's site "seems to" be desperate to miss the point altogether:

Oliver Willis seems to have recently discovered that political campaigns are staged events. Look, I'm perfectly aware that Oliver is just doing his partisan duty, but are we really still pretending that political campaigns are not stage-managed commercials, masquerading as Reality Politics? Well, apparently, Oliver is...though it's hard to tell if he really believes it, or if he's just throwing red meat to the faithful.
Look, go ahead and defend Bush and all that, but you "seem to" be an obtuse hack if you're pretending that "staging a political event" is the same as only letting Bush supporters into what's reported as an open rally.

To their credit, the commentor responds to the reminder that Kerry wouldn't have turned a Bush supporter down after getting a ticket to a rally by linking to a story about Kerry officials rejecting a site for a political rally because it's a heavily-Republican area. Since inviting supporters to an event and kicking people out of one because you percieve them to support your opponent are two completely identical situations, it "seems to" not make him look so desperate its sad.

I just don't get it, honestly. Kerry holds private, PR-related campaign events, just like Bush. If that was an issue anyone was actually refuting, then maybe there's an issue here. But "it seems" as though Oliver's argument about people who aren't pro-Bush being turned away has been defended by the answer, "well, Bush only has events for pro-Bush people. Duh." The difference is that Kerry also holds actual political rallies. Where people show up and stuff. Without, you know, signing blood pledges. It "seems to" appear as if Kerry actually does, umm, have rallies that are more than "stage-managed commercials, masquerading as Reality Politics." Unless Kerry managed to get 40,000 people to sign loyalty oaths guaranteeing they all were going to vote for him- in which case, boy, Bush is really screwed, isn't he.

Meanwhile, Bush will only appear at rallies in which everyone attending has confirmed to support him... but please, let's see if more comes in about Oliver "throwing red meat to party faithful."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:12 PM

August 17, 2004

Alan Keyes is Completely F*$%ing insane, Day 9

Keyes: Abortions caused the September 11th attacks.

"Now, you think it's a coincidence that on September 11th, 2001, we were struck by terrorists an evil that has at its heart the disregard of innocent human life?" Keyes said in a May 7 speech in Provo, Utah. "We who have for several decades killed not thousands but scores of millions of our own children, in disregard of the principle of innocent human life -- I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a warning.

"I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a shot across the bow. I think that's a way of Providence telling us, 'I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?' "



Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:35 PM

American heroes

So not only are the Swift Boat Liars organized by an avowed racist, their Bush-fundraising smear book about John Kerry is published by a bunch of racists too.

Why exactly is Bush having difficulty condemning these guys again?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:30 AM

August 16, 2004

She wins the prize

I don't agree with her, and I think the Electoral College is an outdated, ancient system that became obsolete with the advent of railroads, let alone global instant communication and 2-hour cross-country flights. Nevertheless, Katy Atkinson takes this election's prize for the best PAC name ever.

A plan to scrap the winner-take-all system of allocating electoral votes in Colorado is heading to the ballot in November.

If passed, Amendment 36 would make Colorado the first state to allocate electoral votes proportionately according to the popular vote, rather than giving a winner all of the state's electoral votes.

Katy Atkinson, a spokeswoman for the opposing Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea, promised to challenge the measure if it passes and it is applied in this year's presidential race.

Man, that beats the hell out of "So-and-So for Some Kind of Integrity" and "Whats-Our-Names-for-Truth" and all that, doesn't it?

While I'm here, though... do people still believe the "the electoral college is the only thing bringing candidates to our state" argument? Because it seems to lack, you know, validity and stuff. The Midwest a lock for Bush, I've seen little campaigning from Kerry, and I don't recall Bush committing much of his resources to New England.

I don't mind people having a rationale for keeping the Electoral College, even if I disagree with them, but is there anyone out there who has a rationale that's actually true? Because unless I've been hallucinating the pundit-fests about the four or five states that decide the election every four years, I'm not exactly sure what the hell the defenders of unequal representation are talking about.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:41 PM

Newest comic - "I'm on the NyQuil"

And I am. So back to bed. Maybe later I'll figure out what was going on when I made this. But when I first pencilled it a larfed m'self silly.

However, remember to Buy some crap.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:06 PM

To Dream... the Impossible Dreeeeeam....

Astonishing for a race that two years ago people were deeming as a sacrificial post to merely line up 2008 for Hillary Clinton and her cyborg army of Communist murdering robots (or something like that), the blatantly obvious concept has finally started to enter the mainstream: Kerry is winning the election. In fact, Kerry could very well actually win the election.

It is important to say it this way, because over-zealous declarations of inevitable victory are (can you say 2002?) as noted, a very bad idea. But unless you have decided that the only polls that count are Survey USA and Fox News, with Zogby, The Economist, Rasmussen, the WSJ, the NYT, USA Today, CBS, NBC, OpinionDynamics, Strategic Vision, and the American Research Group all members of a collective left-wing conspiracy, (in which case, what are you doing worrying about MoveOn?) it should be an obligation for the blogosphere, and through them the rest of the media, to hammer at least the minimum of truthful talking points: Kerry is winning.

There's no harm in saying that, especially when it's true.

Most of this is very lackluster in terms of originality, but I'll give my piece anyway. I've been saying for a year or so now (and you can search the archives if so inclined) that this election will go only one of two ways: Bush by a nose, or Kerry by a landslide. The sentiment is clearly about opposing Bush, and it comes down to just how much people are going to dislike him and how many are going to state that hatred on November 3rd.

The entire relevant election is basically divided into three key areas: Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio. I say "areas" because Ohio and Pennsylvania can influence local elections and neighboring states, and vice versa: if West Virginia and Michigan go for Kerry by five points or more, there's no way Pennslyvania won't go too.

I'm far from the first and hardly the last to note it, but it really does come just down to that. Whoever wins two out of these three states will, by mere demographic logic, win the White House.

Update: Ezra and Oliver both made follow-ups to this; I made the following clarification in the comments at Pandagon:

Ezra and Oliver are both right. It's not a good idea to pronounce that Kerry has won the election. He hasn't. I, nor anyone else, can confidently say that Kerry (or Bush) is going to win in November. I wouldn't put money on Kerry winning right now, only that if he does win, he'll win big.

Using any model to estimate the outcome based on current statistics, there's no way to say Kerry wouldn't be winning the race right now- and that's because it's currently by a margin wide enough to be irrefutable. I think the bigger question lies in why the media and right-leaning bloggers that have spent the last few years talking about Bush as "the front runner" and "impossible to beat" President won't look at their own numbers and face the inevitable: Bush is losing this election.

This is especially ironic considering the near-orgasm the media had over the Dean campaign- not actually the candidate, but the constant barrage of "increasing popularity" and the record rally attendance and fundraising numbers. Why, when Kerry has done this and surpassed it, haven't they said so?

Oliver is correct- it's wrong and dangerous to say that Kerry is definitely going to kick Bush's ass. But Ezra is correct in saying that right now, that's what people should be saying. If the Bush campaign has any sense at all, it's got to be what they're saying right now.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:54 PM

August 15, 2004

My mortal human form sucks

Ugh. Puny hu-mans and their "diseases." Why must it take so many eons for the armada to arrive so I may assume my true Insectizoid form once again?

There will be a slight delay in the delivery of this week's cartoon, as I am going to go lie down to address the issue of my head feeling like it weighs as much as a Pontiac Grand Prix. As noted in the previous paragraph, other symptoms apparently include hallucinating that you are, in fact, a scout troop for the caterpillar-like Kykrktqz species of Triclosan-7.

Hopefully, progress will be more optimistic tomorrow. Or, my entire body could explode. I'm predicting somewhere in the middle depending on how much NyQuil I chug in the next hour.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:26 PM