February 5, 2005

Exciting new spending opportunities

I'm going to be adding/removing some items from the stores hopefully soon. Any particular demands? Please keep in mind that doesn't mean "oh, I'll sleep more soundly knowing that this exists, but that's it", but rather any items I can put up at CafePress that you would, in fact, actually buy once created.

Pending already are more Some Guy with a Website items, and maybe some gear with the sleeping R.C. on it that used to be on the main page.

Final note: the Joe Lieberman thing came and went, so I really don't see the need for three items with him on it. So now might be a good time to get those, because they'll probably be the first to go.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:19 PM

Almost there

Status of the site right now:

The good: The site appeares to have fully transferred over to the new host, and I'm assuming that this means my e-mail is working again. So I guess you can start sending me all your links to front-page articles on CNN that I clearly wouldn't have seen otherwise again.

The bad: Apparently, when importing the weblog (which, for those keeping count, is 1,170 individual posts since July 2003) the file that backed up everything didn't correctly back up the address tags for individual entries. That means all over the internet, anyone that links to an old post will link to the archive page for that week, but not the specific entry. To the best of my knowledge, there is absolutely no physical way to fix this. That sucks, but it could be a lot worse. People could actually read this damn site and notice what happened.

The ugly: I still need to make cosmetic changes to parts of the site. Which will probably mean I have to upload everything all over again. Such is life.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:24 AM

February 4, 2005

Testing... testing

Okay, just checking everything out. Looks like the archives are back up. Testing to continue over the weekend.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:51 PM

February 1, 2005

Think weblog

My fine compatriots at the Center for American Progress have launched the Progress Report's own weblog, Think Progress.

Campus Progress, of course, is coming as well- the next two weeks are gonna go by quick...

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:25 PM

Newest comic - "The Right-Winger's Guide to Pretending to Be an Idiot"

I'm sure with Iraq having its elections, we'll see quite a bit more of this on the next talk-show thread when any anti-war commentator is attacked by the host for being "against Iraqi democracy" or whatever.

As you might have noticed, I didn't really touch on the elections myself, because honestly would it have mattered? There's nothing the Left can say about the day's events that the Right would deem satisfactory, no suggestion other than the greateness of America acceptable lest it be considered "sour grapes" from "commies" who "wanted the elections to fail just to gloat-" suggestions from "people" who have "severe emotional and psychological issues and a lacking of self-validation."

Speaking of which, hello to all the right-wing lunatics visiting my site. As the comic implies, this handy guide is for you. Please, if you're going to visit at least consider buying some stuff.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:04 AM

January 31, 2005

How bad could this corner we're turning be?

I suppose, in some sense, it's a bit hypocritical to make a snarky jibe about the Iraqi elections in light of the disgusting attitude the Right has taken with them in the last 48 hours, apparently deciding that millions of Iraqis risked their lives for the thrill of letting conservatives gloat on the comments section of left-wingers' weblogs. That said, this blast from the past is worth keeping in mind.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:37 PM

January 30, 2005

Mailbag

Kevin Wohlmut wrote more than I could handle in one sitting on the Hillary Clinton abortion issue; here's his e-mail in full:

I doubt you wanted to start a full-fledged abortion debate from your post on Hillary Clinton, but I have a relevant statistic that you might want to use when discussing this issue.

I personally agree with you that Hillary uttered a rare, reasonable utterance, and that finding common ground based on quality of life _WOULD_ be a good approach to abortion. However, I estimate a 0.00% chance that such an approach will go anywhere. It's not like people have never suggested this before.

The reaon the Right doesn't want to approach abortion that way has been explained by... yes, I know, he's over-quoted, hot, trendy, fashionable... George Lakoff -- but from my own experience debating conservatives, I believe Lakoff is right. Recall that conservatives tend to support the death penalty, as well as unnecessary wars, and then they oppose spending money on prenatal and early child care. So when they say they oppose abortion due to "sanctity of life," there's really something else going on there. Even if the Right can't (or
won't) articulate it this way, I believe this is correct.

Lakoff argues that conservatives believe, humans _ONLY_ learn moral information through punishment and discipline. The ONLY way that people will act morally is if somebody Smacks Them Upside The Head.
Therefore, the point of anti-abortion laws for the Right is _not_ to prevent abortion, but to PUNISH "loose" women, for not adhering to the 1950's Christian nuclear family structure where sex only occurs on the honeymoon night, and then, statistically, on 1.7 other occasions thereafter during the marriage. The Right is not really looking to provide stable family structure or better living conditions, no matter what they say. Because adversity builds character, therefore adversity itself is not the problem.

The logical corollary is that if we actually do raise the standard of living and provide more security to young women, the Right believes we will actually have MORE abortions. Because that "type" of woman who gets an abortion, according to them, would simply take advantage of the freedom and security to act in a MORE morally degenerate manner, UNLESS she is "shackled" with a good proper Christian marriage.

Therefore I predict that Republicans will oppose any attempt to link abortion to womens' living conditions and care and prosperity. And the reason they will give is, that abortion is a sacred right-to-life issue which should stand alone on its own merits and not be sullied by economic calculations. What they really _mean_ is, the right of authorities to punish "loose" women is a sacred issue and must be enforced or else society will spiral down the drain of degeneracy. I wish we could achieve some sort of compromise on this, but for the life of me I don't see how.

Of course as usual the Right's beliefs have little to do with reality. And this is where my statistic comes in. Perhaps you will find this study useful in your own writings and arguments[:]

Abortion was decreasing. When President Bush took office, the nation's abortion rates were at a 24-year low, after a 17.4 percent decline during the 1990s. This was a steady decrease averaging 1.7 percent per year. (The data come from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life using the Guttmacher Institute's studies.) Enter George W. Bush in 2001. One would expect the abortion rate to continue its consistent course downward, if not plunge. Instead, the opposite happened.

Under Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates appears to have reversed. Given the trends of the 1990s, 52,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been expected before this change of direction.

For anyone familiar with why most women have abortions, this is no surprise:

* Two-thirds of women who have abortions cite "inability to afford a child" as their primary reason (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life). In the Bush presidency, unemployment rates increased half again. Not since Herbert Hoover had there been a net loss of jobs during a presidency until the current administration. Average real incomes decreased, and for seven years the minimum wage has not been raised to match inflation. With less income, many prospective mothers fear another mouth to feed.

* Half of all women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate.
And men who are jobless usually do not marry. In the 16 states, there were 16,392 fewer marriages than the year before, and 7,869 more abortions. As male unemployment increases, marriages fall and abortion rises.

* Women worry about health care for themselves and their children.
Since 5.2 million more people have no health insurance now than before this presidency -- with women of childbearing age overrepresented in those 5.2 million -- abortion increases.

... What does this tell us? Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without health care, insurance, jobs, child care and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need a president who will do something about jobs, health insurance and support for mothers.

[ - KAW Note: Of course, when Ralph Nader makes the argument that health care and living wage will help reduce abortion, Katha Politt calls him a mysogenist. But hey, maybe when somebody other than Ralph Nader makes this argument, people will listen.]

Also, one other issue: a few days ago I wrote, sort of jokingly, about how Bush keeps talking about the need to address the people "without the filter of the media" during... well... media appearances. Asking how that was possible, some of you actually did make some valid points. Scott Morris says the following:

[A] recent book called America's Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media to Take Power by Richard A. Viguerie chronicles the use of direct mailing and Internet in political fundraising and propaganda. I haven't read the book, but I've seen the man interviewed, and I am peripherally aware of conservatives using local government in order to build a movement that resulted in their recent rise to power. The left would do well for themselves to take careful note of the past movements of the right. We have a lot of convincing to do to reach across the aisle in today's political climate.

A first good step would be to come up with our own issues, preferably local issues, rather than continually reacting to right-wing issues. One example I read on your site mentioned the social security issue, and the necessity for democrats to come up with their own proposal. While social security may need revision, there are far more pressing matters at hand, and to continue the dialogue distracts from these other issues. In that regard, democrats should be solely focused on blocking Bush's agenda and no more.

A few others wrote in to mention that Bush's campaign relied heavily on direct mailing campaigns- some of which were notorious for how vile they were ("Kerry will ban the bible," etc.) and of course, the appeal from the pulpits- akin to the Arab Mullahs preaching jihad from prayer calls, Bush fueled a Bible-Belt revival of instructing parishoners to save America from the godless heathens of the Democratic Party. It's a wonderful time to be alive, and woefully ignorant. (Thanks to Ken and Keith, among others, for their points.)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:58 PM