August 28, 2004

Except when we can be snotty with it

This one's been bugging me for a little while. Why is it that the constant response from right-wingers faced with evidence that the Swift Boat Liars aren't telling the truth is that "Kerry should sue them then?"

One of the Swifties actually made this challenge, and now I've seen the same rhetoric on a lot of right-wing sites and comments sections of other blogs. Apparently, right-wingers feel that they can just spew whatever bullshit they want, and it's the obligation of the accused to disprove in a court of law any of their unfounded claims.

To which I confusingly ask: aren't these the same people attacking John Edwards for being an "evil trial lawyer?" I seem to recall about a week or so ago the idea that solving your problems through a lawsuit was considered the utmost of liberal horror.

Apparently, fighting against a company that sold equipment that disemboweled a small girl is being a "frivolous trial lawyer," while making baseless claims about a soldier's military record... well, in that case, it's Kerry's job to waste a court's time.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:14 PM

August 27, 2004

Bring it on

There's been a lot of talk about how the next phase in the Swift Boat Liars adventure is bringing up John Kerry's testimony in 1971 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Apparently, the idea is that selective clips of Kerry's statements will depict him as a traitor for speaking out against the horrors of Vietnam.

To which I say, go right ahead. In fact, I'll help. Here's Kerry's testimony. I think it should be read. I think it should be aired. I think it should be shown on prime time and to schoolchildren.

Kerry's testimony is seen by the Swift Boat Liars as an icon for their hatred of him- it represents their image of a man who betrayed his comrades and cast blame on the Americans in the Vietnam conflict. Now this might be a valid belief to them, but it's probably an issue of fear in the Bush campaign, because the Swift Boat Liars aren't the majority of America, and the majority of America does not cast the Vietnam War in a good light.

If there is a fantasy to top all Republican fantasies, it would be the idea that Kerry can be used as a tool to depict the Vietnam war as an intelligent, courageous, or acceptable decision made by any American presidency. It was a brutal conflict, in which bodies accumulated, lives were shattered, and yes- atrocities were committed by Americans.

Given the lack of Osama's capture, the failure of the "War on Terrorism," the nearing-1,000 dead Americans in Iraq, and the torturing and raping of children in Abu Ghraib, why, why, why in God's name would the Bush campaign want to call attention to Vietnam- the one single theme in American history that actually convincingly parallels every failure of his one credible campaign issue?

As I've said already, Bush is too cowardly to dismiss the Swift Boat Liars. But make no mistake- he wants this issue to end. Because bringing up Vietnam will bring up something much, much worse for him- everyone else bringing up Vietnam. And all that does is make people remember just why they hate war, and the people who push it.

Bush wants Americans to think about war- but he wants them to think about his war. He certainly doesn't want Americans to think about the negative aspects of war. And frankly, you can't really call attention to the negative aspects of war better than talking about Vietnam.

So please, by all means, bring up Kerry. Bring up the reminder that there's one man running for office who took the initiative in discussing what was wrong with a never-ending quagmire of American death for an unobtainable goal with an undetermined ending. Remind us that Kerry was talking about it... and remind us that Kerry was right, and people who thought then the way Bush was now weren't just wrong, but flat-out dangerous to democracy.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:47 PM

Good gravy, people are morons

Seriously.

MIAMI - Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy and sent to small groceries around the country before being recalled.

Lisy Corp., the wholesaler that distributed the candy, said Friday that the toys were purchased in bulk from a Miami-based import company.

The toys came in an assortment purchased sight unseen from L&M Import in Miami and included the toys depicting the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers, whistles and other small toys, said Luis Pedron, Lisy's national sales manager. The invoice said the toy was a plastic swing set.

A person who is paid to say they are an actual journalist just said, as if it was a fact, three times in this article that the toy depicts a plane flying into the World Trade Center. You can click the link to see the pictures yourself. If by "World Trade Center" you mean "two differently-styled buildings, neither of which look like the Twin Towers, used as a decorative way to hold up the hinge for a spinning plane toy packaged with candy, you nitwit" then yes, it's crashing into the World Trade Center.

But it can't be enough, can it. No, we have to make sure that the world know we're all idiots:

"I hate to blame the importer. He probably did not know what he was getting. He brings them in 40-foot containers. But whoever made it knew exactly what they were making," Pedron said.

Pedron said Lisy did not notice the small plastic figurines until two people complained, but there is no mistaking what the toys represent: At the bottom of each is the product number 9011.

My god. They did know exactly what they were making. I believe they were making product #9011. Which, if you try hard enough, kinda looks like it might be 9-11. And if you spin it backwards, the plane tells you the Jews murdered our Lord and Satan is the true master.

When the dolphins start growing opposable thumbs, I swear to god I'm joining their team.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:44 PM

Dammit, Notely

I was gonna do it. I'm sure others were gonna do it. Bob the Angry Flower did it first. So enjoy.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:05 PM

President Bush says Swift Boat group is lying

Bush: Kerry isn't lying.

President Bush said on Thursday that he did not believe Senator John Kerry lied about his war record, but he declined to condemn the television commercial paid for by a veterans group alleging that Mr. Kerry came by his war medals dishonestly.

[...]

Mr. Bush did not hesitate when asked about the central charge issued by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the veterans' group that has leveled unsubstantiated attacks against Mr. Kerry's record in Vietnam. "I think Senator Kerry should be proud of his record,'' Mr. Bush said. "No, I don't think he lied.''

But when pressed repeatedly if he would specifically denounce the advertisements, which Mr. Kerry has said were being run with the tacit approval of the Bush campaign, the president refused to condemn then. Instead, he said he would talk only of the "broader issue'' of the political committees that take to the airwaves with attack advertisements.

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth exists to do only one thing- cite claims that Kerry is lying about his Vietnam record. If Bush believes that Kerry isn't lying, then Bush has to believe the Swifties are.

He has to. You can't say he believes both Kerry and the Swift Boat Liars. If Kerry is telling the truth, they can't be. There's no possibility within the realm of human logic that presents otherwise.

So with that, the President can resort only to avoiding answering the question that everyone already knows the answer to. In some sad, bizarre way, it's almost funny; as if the Press Corps was playing a game with the White House where you have to answer the question without using the most obvious specific words.

"Scott, does the President know what two plus two equals?"

"The President has gone on record expressing his full support of the decimal system, and that the number two should be proud of its quantity. But we need to address the broader issue of shadowy variables, which don't immediately disclose their actual value until the algorithms are complete."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:36 AM

I'll call

Josh Marshall asks the pivotal question of Bush's (there's no other word to describe it) cowardly handling of the Swift Boat Liars ad issue: if Bush's position is how "bad" these 527 groups are, what specifically does Bush have as an example?

From 2000 to now, attack ads against Bush/GOP opponents have included accusations of secret bastard children, comparisons of triple amputees to Osama bin Laden, and proven, multiple lies about someone's military service record.

Not from talk show hosts, not columnists, not Michael Moore- but from an actual, IRS-classified 527 left-leaning political group, it appears that the most devestating, unfair attacks on Bush the right-wingers seem to actually specifically mention have been the 2000 ad of the family of a violent hate crime victim chastising Bush for being against hate crime legislation, and a privately-filmed comparison of Bush to Hitler submitted for a contest that was immediately rejected and never aired on television.

(The MoveOn contest Bush=Hitler ad, by the way, is indeed the new Godwin's Law. Of course, I mean that in that any conservative who still thinks it's a credible point has automatically lost the argument.)

Chris made a good point today about MoveOn and the 527s:

But on the hilarious subject of George W. Bush, The Campaign Finance-Reform Candidate, banning 527 ads is not some kind of noble strike against the forces of political corruption -- it's a direct assault on free speech. 527 organizations are created to have absolutely no ties to existing political campaigns (well, in theory, of course, since the Swifties have clearly broken that rule). Stopping them from airing ads is like preventing you and I from banding together to take out our own political ad. And how can you call an organization like MoveOn, which boasts two million members and which follows all FEC disclosure guidelines, a "shadowy group"? It's brilliant political rhetoric but it's a gross misrepresentation of the truth about what a 527 organization is and what it does.
Combined with Marshall's comments, it clues us in on Bush's strategery on the 527s.

Bush wants to equate MoveOn and other large, long-lasting organizations with the Swifties, who, while admittedly effective in their smears, are a petty group of petty men who will disappear once the election ends as quickly as they formed once Kerry won the Iowa primary. And for Bush to avoid this difference by, of all the pathetic things in the world, suddenly pretending to be a champion of campaign finance reform, only highlights... say, did I mention that Bush is a coward yet?

Marshall is right. It's time to call Bush's bluff. What specifically have 527s done to him? And more importantly, what makes anything they've done the same as the Swift Boat Liars?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:09 AM

August 26, 2004

"Shadowy groups"


Bob, there are people spending ads that say nice things about me. There are people spending money on ads that say ugly things about me. That's part of the American--let me finish. That's part of the American process. There have been ads, independent expenditures, that are saying bad things about me. I don't particularly care when they do, but that's what freedom of speech is all about ... You know, let me--let me say something to you. People have the right to run ads. They have the right to do what they want to do, under the--under the First Amendment in America.

-George W. Bush

Bush is either lying about how he wants to get rid of 527 groups' ads, or lying about his "respect for Kerry's service in Vietnam." Your pick, Mr. President.

(via TAPped)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:34 PM

Because they all look the same, right?

Hmm. According to a couple of readers Drudge apparently did find a picture of Margaret Cho, from about god knows how many years ago. Why that one, I don't know, but correction is necessary: Drudge, albiet a right-wing, lying nutcase, isn't racist. At least, not with this.

So I guess for now I'll delete the whole accusation. Matt Drudge, please forgive me for posting an unfounded, incorrect, unsubstantiated accusation. Cough.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:10 PM

Good

Judge overturns "partial-birth" abortion ban, citing lack of exception for health of the mother.

Look, even thought I'm totally 100% pro-choice, I understand how some people don't like the visual concept of D&X and D&E abortions. But to say a law that bans a procedure when determined by a doctor to be medically necessary to save a woman's life isn't wrong is inarguably sub-human.

And anti-choicers: stop calling them "partial-birth abortions." If that's what you think they're actually called, you don't know enough about them to have an opinion.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:00 PM

But... but... Cambodia? That's what matters, right?

1,300,000 more Americans than last year now live in poverty. People running for political office might, you know, want to make a note of that. Seems kinda important.

Graph here. You'll, of course, notice what years the lines went up, and what years they went down. I'm sure it's all a big, 64-year coincidence.

Update: Ezra not only saw the same article, but also cracks Cambodian. I'm never going to say "cracks Cambodian" again. That sounds like a really bad seafood dish.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:25 AM

Yeah, ummm.... no.

This USA Today op-ed makes no sense at all:

Now, at the last moment, Iraq war protesters (and President Bush-haters) want to hold their rally in Central Park instead. While this looks like a classic First Amendment issue, it is actually just a warmed-over version of the "bait and switch" tactic perfected by the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

In 2004, the purpose is not to "peaceably" assemble, but to make a GOP mayor look like an enemy of the First Amendment and to set up confrontations around the perimeter of Central Park, causing the New York police to look like jackbooted, blue-shirted stooges of the Grand Old Party.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has greater concerns than finding $18 million to replace the grass on the Great Lawn.

He knows what these same protesters (under different banners) did to downtown Seattle during the 2000 meeting of the World Trade Organization. Wearing ski masks, the WTO protesters turned over police cars, set fires, broke windows, disabled buses and fought with the police. That cost local businesses more than $2 million in damages and $9 million in lost sales.

New York City, which has a duty to keep its citizens and their property safe, knows that the protesters are more interested in violent confrontation than civil rights. And it is acting accordingly.

Okay, first of all, the writer has a choice: he's either ignorant or flat-out lying about the "last minute" part, since it's public record (as noted, for example, in numerous USA Today articles) that protest groups have been trying to get a Central Park protest for months. Saying that the groups wanted to protest "at the last minute" is as accurate as saying that the GOP was sitting around this weekend, decided New York would be a great place to get together and have their convention, and proceeded to buy 13,000 plane tickets on Expedia.

But more significant is the often-dispached fallacy that (typically right-wing) commentators make about protest groups. It's not a "victory" when they get their permits turned down, and it's especially not a "victory" for public order and property protection.

Why? Because even the most brief Google search will come up with the fact that people coming to protest the GOP are as spontaneous about it as the writer's fantasy world. They've been planning this for months. They have plane tickets. They're booking hotels, and when that fails they're sleeping on the streets if necessary.

Thousands of angry, agitated people are coming to New York, and whether or not they're ordered to keep off the grass is probably around 3 or 4 on the Top Ten Most Irrelevant Issues Ever list.

If you live in a major city, do me a favor and humor me with a little experiment. Go outside. stand on the street corner. Stare up. Don't move. For anything. Okay. Now, wait five minutes. Then leave. As you're leaving, you'll notice that, in five minutes, the act of you doing absolutely nothing but pretending to look at something has gathered a crowd of at least three or four people.

In February of 2003, I marched with 400,000 other people at the United Nations to protest the then-upcoming War on Iraq. The city had denied organizing groups permits for a march past the building and certain streets for a rally. So instead, 400,000 people went to where virtually no barricades were set up and choked several dozen blocks. People heard that's where the protest was. People heard that's where people were going. So that's where everyone went.

Several thousand people are going to gather somewhere in New York. That gathering is going to attract more people. The logical fallacy is that people seem to think protestors are going to go where they are permitted. It's a ridiculous notion- protestors are going to go where other protestors are.

Bloomberg has blown it big time, because he had, like he did two years ago, a chance to actually know where the protest is going to start. Now he doesn't. It can and will start anywhere, likely in multiple places at once. Denied the abilty to organize, disarray and anarchy has a much higher probability rate. And that, dear misguided USA Today editorial writer, is how the chaos as Seattle started.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:08 AM

August 25, 2004

We're off to see the Wizard!

From right to left: No courage, no brain, Toto, no heart, really wants to go home now.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:16 PM

Party of Hate

Bigotry to be included as part of GOP platform:

Republican leaders are pushing for a constitutional ban on gay marriage in the GOP platform, opening a new point of contention between social conservatives and outnumbered but vocal factions fighting to give the party's statement of principles a more moderate tone.

If the marriage plank is approved as expected, it would mark the first time the GOP has gone on record in its platform as supporting an amendment against those unions. The last platform settled for a more general statement supporting the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

"I'm a uniter, not a divider." Right.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:04 AM

August 24, 2004

Says it all, doesn't it

Kerry gives speech about GOP's negative campaign tactics:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry accused President Bush's campaign and political allies on Tuesday of conducting a campaign of "fear and smear" to avoid talking about jobs, health care and the war in Iraq.

"You can't lead America by misleading the American people," said Kerry, who has been struggling in recent days against charges -- denounced by Democrats as smear tactics -- that he lied about his actions in Vietnam that won five military medals.

"They have no plans, no positive vision and no understanding of an urgent and undeniable truth, a strong America begins at home," Kerry said in a speech blocks from the site of next week's Republican National Convention.

The Massachusetts senator's speech appeared part of an effort to refocus the campaign onto domestic and foreign policy issues, many of which trend his way in the polls.

He's right. The presidential campaign isn't focusing on either domestic or foreign policy issues. Perhaps Mr. Bush would like to start discussing those one of these days.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:31 PM

God

They just do. not. care. Do they.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:47 AM

August 23, 2004

Bush scared of his own convention

Via TalkLeft, it appears that the President won't even stay the night in New York for his appearance at the Republican National Convention. No visits to Ground Zero, no major New York Firefighter photo-ops, nothing related to all the beautiful plans from only a year ago.

It's becoming very clear that Bush and the GOP never gave a crap about New York outside of exploiting 9/11, and that they've realized they made the hugest mistake of their campaign thinking it was a good idea.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:17 PM

Compassionate conservatives

Apparently, members of the right-wing hate site Free Republic think the whole "right to assemble" part of the First Amendment includes tricking people into coming to New York City and pretending to offer them a place to stay.

Because, nothing says "hilarious" like leaving someone stranded with nowhere to stay in the middle of a major city. All class. All class.

To paraphrase the UCB, I don't even think this Freeper is a horrible human. He's just a somewhat intelligent monkey.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:37 PM

Newest comic - "Disrespectful of a sitting president"

The New York Times article in question is here, stupid comment from the Republican Party and all. Yet again, we are all saddened by the newsworthiness of stating the blatantly obvious- people protesting at the Republican National Convention don't have any respect for the current occupant of the White House? Tomorrow's Times: a glaring expose into the religion of John Paul II.

Another sign of disrespect: not checking out the merchandise. Buy some crap.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:41 AM