January 21, 2006
A statistical dead heat
I am pleased to report that responses have already come in for the 2006 George W. Bush Dead Kitten Survey. Though for all I know it's a fluke, two conservatives have responded within less than 12 hours- Dr. Rusty Shackleford of My Pet Jawa, and- believe it or not- Emperor Misha I of the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. While I'm sad that only one of them could be used in the final statistics, I'm glad to see we're getting some results.
January 20, 2006
A Modest Proposal for an immodest Presidency
As I've mentioned earlier, I planned to extend my recent dead kitten strip into something more concrete. I am proud to announce the culmination of this plan in the form of the 2006 George W. Bush Dead Kitten Survey.
While my cartoon was a gag, it asked a serious question about the limit of conservative admiration for George W. Bush and his policies of seemingly doing anything he wants. And while I am far from one to chastize the use of hyperbole, it may be of a legitimate interest to see if there is actually a limit to what Bush could do before right-wingers stopped supporting him.
So what I needed to do was suggest a premise that was not blatantly against the law (though I'm sure PETA will send angry letters) but enough of a dismaying scenario from the White House that would hopefully be deemed universally-indefensible. And I challenge conservatives to offer their response to such a hypothetical situation. In other words, I am asking conservatives openly and honestly how they would react if President Bush actually killed a kitten with a hammer.
Over the weekend, I will begin e-mailing various conservative writers and pundits based on some suggestions from you guys and my own research. We'll see what results we get and we'll take it from there. A copy of the e-mail going out is printed in full below.
Dear conservative writer/blogger/pundit-
As I'm sure you are aware, there is a growing view from those on the left, myself included, that President Bush has abused Presidential power and could very well be breaking the law in his actions, and defense, of such things as torture, detention, and surveillance of American citizens. You have been sent this letter because it was indicated that you support the President and his position on some, if not all, of these matters.
To emphasize my frustration at the seemingly-limitless extent many conservatives have supported Mr. Bush, I recently drew a political cartoon humorously questioning the reaction people would have if the President performed an act that was seemingly inexcusable: specifically, killing a kitten with a hammer.
However, while the cartoon was satirical in nature, I realized that in all honesty, I have no idea if this would be true. In fact, I and most others have no idea just how truly the average conservative thinker supports the President. If there is to be legitimate debate in this country, should the question not honestly be asked- would you, a conservative who supports the President and all his actions, still support him if he went as far as to kill a kitten with a hammer for no apparent reason? What if he killed several?
Therefore, I felt that this premise could be used as a template for an actual, concrete representation of the limit to which all Americans would oppose the unchecked actions of the Executive. Hence my humble request for your participation in the 2006 George W. Bush Dead Kitten Survey.
The survey will take a mere moment of your time, and consists of the following scenario:
I would like for you to imagine the President of the United States, George W. Bush, killing kittens one-by-one with a hammer. When doing so, please keep in mind the following conditions of this hypothetical scenario:
- The kitten will be killed by President George W. Bush. It will not be ordered killed, nor terminated in any way by a subordinate. You are to assume for the whole of this scenario that the reference to the killing implies a scenario in which President Bush will sit at his desk in the Oval Office, place a small kitten on the desk, and kill it by beating it with a hammer until it is dead, and possibly for a short time afterwards. No other means or individuals will be employed in the death of the kitten.
- The hammer will be a standard carpenter's hammer, of steel construction with a rubber handle grip. It is not a sledgehammer or any form of giant hammer that will guarantee the death of the kitten in a single blow.
- You are to assume that for every kitten death you accept, you will be willing to watch the actual act performed by the President. It will not be done privately or in any intimate conditions to which the act may be deemed "more humane" or "less graphic." Assume you will watch the full act of the President terminating the life of the kitten by one or possibly a series of blows with a hammer. You may determine the distance at which you are watching depending on your estimate of how messy the act may be and how much you may enjoy kitten parts being sprayed on you, if at all.
- You are not to assume the kitten needs to die, is already dying, or has a reason to require being killed with a hammer by the President. In fact, assume that the kitten is perfectly healthy and of normal temperament, and would be perfectly suitable living a full life in any normal American household had it not been selected by the President to die.
- Furthermore, no acknowledged benefit shall be suggested by death of the kitten nor any practical use be made of its remains. When the President has declared his satisfaction with his repeated blows to the kitten and a medical advisor concurs it is without question dead, an aide shall squeegee the remains of the kitten off the desk into a bag which shall then be incinerated.
- At no point will you be given a reason for the President doing all of this. The only statement that will be offered by the White House regarding the killing of kitten will be that the President was well within his authority. While you may personally surmise a legitimate reason, the President himself will give no reason for killing a kitten with a hammer other than his desire to do so.
- For the sake of this experiment, assume the President is not insane, nor of any unsound mind or condition suggesting a rationale for his actions above. Assume the President has decided that it is not only within his authority, but a necessity in his capacity as Commander-In-Chief, that he begin to murder kittens one by one with a hammer on the top of his desk.
Given the terms of the scenario described above, this Survey presents the following three questions:
- Were the event detailed above to occur, would you still support the Presidency of George W. Bush?
- If the answer to Question #1 is yes, is there a number of kittens President Bush would kill with a hammer that would change your mind?
- If the answer to Question #2 is yes, what would that number be?
At your earliest convenience, you may answer these questions by responding to this e-mail or by sending your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. While there is no established time limit to respond, the faster you respond, the faster an accurate assessment of the average stance from conservatives can be established.
I would venture at this point you're assuming I'm mocking you. I assure you I am not. This is a legitimate survey using a hypothetical situation that, albeit gruesome and bizarre, is no less hypothetical than other surveys asking one's opinions of a politician selling you a used car, or enjoying a drink with you at a bar- both actual survey questions used during the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. I am not asking all this rhetorically, and I am honestly accumulating all responses in the hope that all of you whom I have written will legitimately respond.
That in mind, please understand that like any other legitimate survey, responses that violate the accepted guidelines of a response must be invalidated. While I expect some responses that violate these guidelines- likely in the form of verbal abuse- they may not be incorporated in the final statistical results, although they may be posted in a full account of all received data.
I will be keeping a record of all persons I have submitted the Survey to, and will update the results accordingly on my site. In addition, I will be preparing official Certificates of Participation in the Survey to any participant I solicit who honestly and accurately responds with a set limit of kittens they would tolerate the President killing with a hammer. The Certificate will state the following:
Be it known on this day, ____ of _____ in the year 2006, that ____________ has stated for the record that, albeit a staunch supporter of President George W. Bush and his policies both legislative and military, such support would cease should the President kill ______ kitten(s) with a hammer.
Again, I thank you for your participation in this survey. In a time when the political climate is as divided as ever, I am hopeful that a honest consensus can be reached among the most left-leaning of Bush opponents and the most right-leaning of Bush supporters: that regardless of our stances on torture, wiretapping, and the extend of Executive power, maybe, just maybe, we draw the line at killing kittens with hammers.
August J. Pollak
Cartoonist and Executive Director 2006 George W. Bush Dead Kitten Survey
Disclaimer: this e-mail is a one-time solicitation. Should you decline to participate in the survey, your name has not been added to any mailing list, nor will you be contacted again by this address. This survey is solely the product of Mr. August J. Pollak, and is in no way associated and/or endorsed by any outside source or entity regardless of its relationship to the author.
January 19, 2006
I knew it!
The Senate may be the place for some former first ladies, but President Bush on Thursday categorically ruled out a run for office by his wife, Laura Bush.That explains a lot given the guy who ran for office, doesn't it.
"She's not interested in running for office. She's interested in literacy," Bush said during an appearance at JK Moving & Storage.
Sen. Kennedy's opposition speech
Yeah, so this wasn't exactly a surprise or anything, but it was nevertheless exciting to have Ted Kennedy come to the Center for American Progress today and deliver his declaration of his opposition to Alito. A transcript of the entire speech is here.
Update: video of the event now up, too. Link's in the blog post.
January 18, 2006
Ben Nelson makes it official: he's voting for Alito.
Well, it was all nice while it lasted.
January 17, 2006
In the wake of the Hillary Clinton "plantation" non-story, only one man in the Democratic Party can rise to use his unique talent of capitalizing on race-related nonsense in a fury of babbling verbal superiosity. As such, even the most aggravating of pundits might prove themselves useful in the wake of artificially generated right-wing outrage. And lo, Sharpton be thy name.
There is a defined line between winning against someone in an argument and actually taking their balls. Please enjoy this video of Al Sharpton castrating Ron Christie on national television.
One of the most disturbing yet most undiscussed aspects of the rabid support for Bush and his lawbreaking from right-wing bloggers is just how much of it seems to be based on a personal affection for Bush and not actual concern for any actual law. You can combine that with the general desire to let Bush have anything he wants solely because it makes them feel "victorious" over liberals ("If the ACLU is against it, Bush MUST be right!", etc.)
This seems almost painfully hypocritical considering how much the impeachment of Bill Clinton was "about the rule of law." After all, this was a moment when all those personal, partisan complaints about the President were completely irrelevant, and obviously had nothing to do with the importance of making sure that lying about an intern blowing you went punished lest the Republic fall. It makes you wonder- well it certainly makes me wonder- just how fast Bush's rocket-propelled astral explorations beyond the realm of legality would hold in the eyes of these strict jurists were Clinton still in office.
The right-wingers really only have two responses to the wiretapping issue. The first is to pretend to be idiots, and for this I can cite no better example than the special bus passengers that inhabit Oliver Willis' comments section, with fake-moron questions like "how can Gore be right about Bush stifiling speech if he was allowed to say that? Ha ha LOLZ!!!1!!" and "why duz Gore want to tell terrorists we're tapping them OH NOES" from people who are clearly not this stupid, because if they were, they wouldn't know how to use a computer keyboard.
The second, of course, is to pretend that there's absolutely nothing wrong with what the President is doing, which inspired last week's dead kitten cartoon and will come up again in the very near future on this site. And it's this part where we should start asking these pundits who want to hide behind unabashed Support for The President in a Time of War™- if Hillary Clinton were President right now, would you say the same thing? John McCain? Anyone other than George W. Bush?
If anything they say is the truth, then the answer would of course be yes. If it's actually legal to wiretap Americans without a warrant, if the rule of law allows the President this authority, then the GOP and right-wing media should be willing to stand by it in perpetuity: in fact, they should be asked to pledge right now that their position will remain the same regardless of who is President in 2009.
But they won't. Because this isn't about the President. It isn't even about Republicans. It's about Bush, and that's beyond irrational, it's medieval.
These pundits and politicians don't believe the President is above the law. They believe George W. Bush is. Aside from being incredibly creepy and highly pathetic, it's the most striking example of anti-democratic sentiment coming from people professing a belief in democracy.
These people aren't ranting about the authority of the Executive. They're professing fealty to Divine Right.
January 16, 2006
Random Golden Globe thoughts
1. Why does everyone look respectable and fashionable at the Golden Globes, but there are utter disasters at the Oscars? I'm not really obsessed with the fashion thing, and that I actually know who Ken Blackwell is makes me weep for society, but I really haven't seen any god-awful outfit during this thing. Even Pamela Anderson wore a decent gown, and she's usually wearing less than your average National Geographic documentary.
2. Gwyneth Paltrow goes home at night and cries because she's not actually British. Interesting how she was somehow able to remember the letter "H" in every instance of her speech except for when she mentioned "Antony" Hopkins' name. She's going to fart on camera one day and she'll have to kill herself afterwards.
3. The only thing more obvious that the unexpected win for Mary-Louise Parker as indicated by how far away her table was from the actual stage compared to the women from Desperate Housewives was how hard Parker was trying to pretend Chris Rock was funny for pointing out how cute it was.
4. Joaquin Phoenix apparently purchased and consumed every ounce of cocaine in California prior to the awards dinner. He looked like the pre-Darth Vader Christian Haydensen from the Revenge of the Sith trailer.
5. Clint Eastwood, God bless him, is a hundred and fifty-seven years old.
6. At one point in the past, Melanie Griffith understood how to perform in front of a camera. She not only forgot, but taught her daughter to not understand how to perform in front of a camera as well. It's becoming slightly bizarre that the talent in the family is the guy who dueled with a digital Sylvester Stallone in Spy Kids 3D.
Newest comic - "Great moments in judicial whimpering"
Despite the impression that this cartoon is all fun & games, or more accurately crack & putting resulting hallucinations on paper, painstaking research is sometimes done, which is then mostly ignored. But the point is, I try. The part that remained you'll see in this week's installment, mostly involving getting the dates and spellings of names correctly.
It's a credit to the research to reflect on the panels that were left on the cutting room floor. For example, my first draft used Lizzie Borden as another example. Except, thanks to that aforementioned "research" whodad, I discovered that Lizzie Borden was, in fact, acquitted of her murder charge, among other reasons being an emotional episode after seeing the bodies exhumed in the courtroom. In other words, history preceeds satire.
That said, I think the satire is much more entertaining. But that's because I enjoy mocking the choreographed tears of a bigoted right-wing extremist Supreme Court nominee's wife. I'm sure, you understand, that had we video of Hillary Clinton tearing up after the Republicans accused her husband of being Satan incarnate over and over again during the Impeachment trial, they'd be just as sympathetic, perhaps even more pained in their monologues what with the monkeys flying out of their ass.
Now, buy some crap.
January 15, 2006
Poor widdle Wal-Mart
Sharon Polidoro clarifies something I said in my previous Wal-Mart post, and it's an important element worth noting:
Just wanted to correct something you stated on your blog....about Wal-mart being the only company in MD with over 10,000 employees. Actually there are several other companies with over 10,000 employess, including Giant Supermarkets. Wal-Mart is just the only one of those that doesn't spend 8% of its payroll on employee health insurance. That's why they feel like they are being targetted. But in actuality it would not only make Wal-Mart put aside money for healthcare, but it would prevent those other companies from reducing or dropping their employee health plans. State taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill for any company that puts their bottom line and their stockholders ahead of the welfare of their employees.