January 2, 2004

John Kerry Announces Harlem Globetrotters

John Kerry Announces Harlem Globetrotters as 2004 Running Mate
"What choice do I have" says Massachusetts senator

Boston - Massachusetts Senator and 2004 Presidential candidate John F. Kerry announced today, shorty after the announcements of lackluster fourth-quarter fundraising and a $6 million loan to himself to keep his campaign afloat, has chosen the starting lineup of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters as his collective Vice-Presidential running mate.

"This is a thrill for all of us and a great day for America," said Globetrotters Assistant Coach "Sweet" Lou Dunbar. "In a fearful world striken with a lack of international respect, Americans need more than ever a symbol of hope and pride that is popular worldwide."

Added Guard Seth "Hot N' Fresh" Franco, "The Harlem Globetrotters have played in 117 countries before more than 120 million fans during their 76-year history. According to 2000 'Q' ratings, the Globetrotters are the most popular and liked professional entertainment team in the world."

Given President Bush's high PR marks on the War in Iraq and the War on Terrorism, it seemed clear that the Globetrotters' affect on foreign relations seemed a key point for Kerry's platform. However, some insiders linked to the possibility that Kerry was most interested in the Globetrotter's near-perfect record in any competitive event they've engaged in.

"Let's face it, the only way Kerry's winning anything next year if if he's on the same team as these guys," said an unnamed attende at the Boston rally where Kerry made his announcment.

Kerry staffers then played "Sweet Georgia Brown" over the loudspeakers as Kerry and his running mates left for another fundraiser.

Critics from opposing Democratic camps accused Sen. Kerry of playing to media hype. "This is, by far, the most ridiculous stunt I have ever seen coming from the Kerry campaign, if not any presidential campaign I've seen during my career in Washington," rival Dick Gephardt was quoted as saying.

Kerry campaign spokespersons rebutted later that Mr. Gephardt should remember that Sen. Kerry appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" only a few weeks ago wearing a leather jacket and riding a motorcycle, an action which was clearly more ridiculous than this, adding "perhaps the negative attacks from Mr. Gephardt should stop."

Sources from Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean were reported as "welcoming such a diverse and respectable addition to Sen. Kerry's ticket, now excuse us for a moment," at which point high-level staffers went behind a closed door and were soon heard audibly laughing hysterically.

Dean Campaign Manager Joe Trippi, as always, promises a press statement of clarification to come soon.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who hails from New York, could also not be reached for comment, which is a shame because it would most likely have been hilarious.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:32 PM

On the internet, no one knows you're the President's dog

The (ahem) "unofficial" blog for George W. Bush's dog, Barney.

I felt I should honor the creation of this blog by posting my personal favorite picture ever of Barney, seen here:

I don't ever recall ever seeing such a disparity between utter joy and abject fear in one photograph, do you?

(thanks to reader Kynn Bartlett for the blog link)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:50 PM

Yes, I'll try

A few readers have already written, only 24 hours after the contest ended, to find out where they can now view my Bush in 30 seconds ad.

The ad was animated, and since the original managed to get down to 4 MB, I'm sure that with some time I can convert the whole thing to Flash or something and make it suitable, size-wise, to post on xoverboard.com.

Of course, the "some time" is the issue, but I'm gonna try to do some possible resdeigning work over the next few weeks, including possibly setting up some CafePress stuff I, umm, promised to have two months ago and all that.

Update: No, the Christmas comic did not go away, just scrolled off the front page. I'll put up perma-links to it sometime later.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:39 PM

January 1, 2004

Because this story is true, and essential to tell immediately after getting home before I pass out and forget all of it

I caught the 3:30 AM bus out of the Port Authority going back to New Jersey; the last one for the night.

The packed bus was silent with New Year�s revelers, their adrenaline rushes from Times Square fading and their buzzes from the alcohol excess giving way to sickness and hangover when a voice from the middle of the bus broke the quiet aura of exhaustion.

"Anyone wanna hear a joke?"

A full minute of silence.

"So a guy and a girl are kissing. And the girl stops and says, 'you know, you�re a great kisser, but you keep passing me your gum.' And the guy says, 'Baby, I'm not passing you my gum. I've just got Bronchitis.'"

Another full minute of silence.

"Happy New Year, everyone!"

"Jesus man. That's just wrong."

As we pulled out of the terminal gate, the bus passed a man who had stripped off his pants and underwear and began to masturbate in the middle of a loading platform.

There is neither any army on this planet nor a force of a thousand psychopaths with a thousand bombs hell-bent on murder and terror that could ever prevent New York City from being the greatest place on the face of the fucking earth.

Happy New Year.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:28 AM

December 31, 2003

Silly hats only

If you're reading political weblogs on New Year's Eve you've got a lot worse things to worry about than anything you'd read on them. Posting on the site will resume after the year-ending festivities and respective sleeping-in-laden mornings-after thereof.

Before we close for the year, I'd like to thank all my readers as well as everyone who linked here accidentally while searching for pornography on Google. Considering that it's likely to disappear after the contest ends, I'd like to give special thanks to everyone who watched and voted for my ad at MoveOn's Bush in 30 Seconds contest, though given the way they set up the viewing process that apparently means "both of you." Looking at my stats, it appears that Moby won't be watching my ad among the top 15, but hey, it was fun when we thought the voting process would make sense.

There will be much more animation, and of course many more cartoons, to come in the coming months. Hope springs eternal; may 2004 bring us great things, from the removal of the current president to the second half of Kill Bill. Happy New Year.

Don't take life too seriously, son; it ain't nohow permanent.
-Walt Kelly

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:36 AM

December 30, 2003

Yes and no

Kevin Drum suggests that the minimum wage should be increased, and promotes an old idea of his that it should be tied to Congressional salaries.

Kevin is right on the main issue: the minimum wage is too damn low, it's lower than it was proportionally to the economy a generation ago, and it's insanely below what could constitute a living wage. However, the congressional linking isn't a perfect idea.

In my opinion, minimum wage laws are of of the few governmental issues that I really do feel are a state's rights issue. Kevin, as a California native, has written extensively on the California grocery store employee strikes, which have recieved much flak from non-Californians when the subject of the employees making over $15 an hour comes up. This debate is central to the realization that the required minimum wage for Southern California is without a doubt larger than that of, say, rural Arkansas.

The Federal tax code calculates formulas annually to determine the average income of a "typical" family, and calculates the standard deductions from it. I'm hard-pressed to believe it's impossible to make similar calculations for regional costs of living.

In my opinion, minimum wages should be established in a more precise way. The government should, on a regional (either by state or even by county) basis, calulate the average income factored with family sizes and, given farm and industrial regions, federal subsidies for cost reductions, and through that determine the region's likely cost-of-living for an individual. The work laws for that region should mandate a minimum wage within, say, 80% of that cost assuming a 40-hour work week.

For example, say it is determined that, after federalized programs and pork-barrel subsidy, it costs the average Pennsylvanian $25,000 out of their own pocket to pay for food, rent, and health care in Pennsylvania. That translates to $500/week over a 50-week work year, or $12.50/hour for 40 hours a week. Falling within 80% of that standard, Pennsylvania sets its minimum wage to $10/hour.

The biggest opponent of this concept, of course, will be the Wal-Marts of the nation, which thrive on exploiting a national wage level amidst a national retail chain. Walmart's ability to charge the same amount everywhere but pay someone in Arkansas the same amount as someone in California to sell it means Wal-Mart won't want any financial parity in California any time soon.

The other factor to consider will be the "underground economy" of Southern States and upper-class communities using illegal immigrant labor for below-minimum work costs. The answer to this, as if it needs arguing over, is punishing the hell out of companies that do this. The benefit of a localized wage rate is that fining those who defy it become much easier. Much like an internal tariff system, the penalty for subverting minimum wage law can be calculated at x-percent plus the estimated wages avoided paying. A corporation caught paying 100 immigrants at $8/hour below minimum wage for a year can face ($8 x 40 hours x 52 weeks x 100 people plus a 200% fine. (That's about a $5 million fine, if I did the math right.)

Rather than tie the minimum wage to Congressional salaries, it should be tied to the real world and the real needs and expense of Americans, wherever in America they are. States factor different sales taxes and expenses, there's no reason they should realize the differences in the financial needs of the average resident. The only thing most American workers share across the country is that they all don't get paid nearly enough.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:55 PM

Well, this solves everything.

Really, congratulations to the FDA for their decision to ban ephedra, due to its link to around 150 deaths.

We here at xoverboard.com recommend celebrating this with a nice trip to McDonald's, some booze and a nice smoke.


Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:38 PM

December 29, 2003

A good kind of irony

Anyone find it funny how The Daily Show used to jokingly give itself the tagline "the most important program on television, ever?"

Given this great Newsweek piece on the show, complete with the mention of Jon Stewart's team getting official press credentials for the 2004 DNC Convention, it's starting to seem as if they're not kidding anymore.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:36 PM

You couldn't even care enough to find 20 real ones?

Ted Rall proudly announces that he topped the list of some right-wing web site's "20 most annoying liberals of 2003."

What I find funny about all of it- certainly more funny than the content of the list itself- is that the list- mind you, of "liberals"- contains Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Cruz Bustamante, and Jayson Blair, who is apparently liberal because... seriously, not a friggin' clue. I mean, why not declare that guy from Survivor who lied about his dead Grandma a liberal just so you can fill a spot in the list? "If liberals had allowed Bush's Medicare reform to pass more easily there NEVER would have been the notion that his grandmother would have died so early!" Please.

You can see the list... oh, screw it. Seriously. I know you want to sometimes look at it "just to see what it looks like," but seriously. You're wasting your time. Like I said, the damn hacks couldn't even find 20 actual liberals to dislike, so really, if that's the case how bad could us liberals have been this year? Just go read Jesse's 20 Most Annoying Conservatives list. It's actually got 20 conservatives on it, and Jesse cared enough about it to make jokes that were funny.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:54 PM

Trust us, we're experts

Via reader Jesse Beller:

Experts after Sept. 11 - there is absolutely nothing wrong with the air.

Experts after Mad Cow - there is absolutely nothing wrong with your meat.

Double or nothing.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:39 PM

Collectively noted widespread anonymous always-present Persons of the Year

This story as a story sort of ended a week ago, but I wanted to throw in my two cents on the whole "The U.S. Soldier" as Time's Person of the Year.

The magazine lists this as their criteria for the "honor:" "the person or thing that had the greatest impact on the news, for good or ill - guidelines that leave them no choice but to select a newsworthy - not necessarily praiseworthy - cover subject."

Now, clearly Time proved over the last few years that this original notion is garbage when they declared with a straight and honest face that Rudolph Giuliani was a more influential person in 2001 than Osama bin Laden. Two years earlier, the honor went to the guy who created Amazon, and Time was so reluctant to face the obvious that Hitler was the most influential figure on the century that they had to print two articles within the issue explaining why they gave it to Albert Einstein.

The point is, people think it's an award, and Time has more than welcomed the notion of this as a sales boom than clarified it to emphasize a notion of journalistic statesmanism. Time looks glowingly back on MOTY/POTY with its online archives and tribute to itself to maintain a prestige of the issue. As said many time before though, it's clear to anyone who actually cares about it that the "honor" jumped the shark pretty much after Gorbachev took the Decade issue in 1990.

POTY is pretty much a glorified "People" annual at this point: a decision on what picture on the cover sells more issues. This isn't appealing to the world affairs crowd; it's an attempt to sell the "Yay soldiers!" image to people who would otherwise never be reading Time anyway. My point isn't that the GIs don't deserve praise; it's that putting them on the cover of Time wasn't done with praise in mind. They certainly haven't been praiseworthy of the troops the rest of the year now, have they?

Of course the American soldier does courageous and daring exploits. But, umm, isn't this kind of like making firemen Person of the Year? The Doctor? These soldiers are getting an honor for, essentially, doing their job. The fact is, these soldiers are usually newsmakers when they're not doing their job well- that is to say, dying in mass numbers or destroying mass quantities. The American soldier does many important things; this "honor" highlights few of them.

The mass-group honor is sort of silly to me. Like I said, "the army" getting an honor as the biggest newsmaker implies that in any other year the things the army has done hasn't been as impacting on the news. It's sort of like saying gay people should be Person of the Year.

You know, now that I think about it, how about that? Gay people. Gay people, as a group collective, had the greatest impact on the news in 2003. Think about it: the legal victories for marriage in Massachusetts, the overturning of archaic sodomy laws... tell me Bush hasn't suddenly been forced to turn homosexuality into the big news issue because of the movement for rights for gay people.

And it's affected the year's culture, too! The hit show of the 2003 television season? Five gay guys ordering straight men around. Okay, I understand that it's full of somewhat ridiculous and potentially-harmful gay stereotypes, but imagine a show starring five gay men being on the air ten years ago. And what about the undertones of the X-Men movie? For that matter, what about Ian McKellan? In the world of male-dominated and sexually-sensitive agressivism that is Science Fiction, the two biggest movies in that genre- X-Men and the Lord of the Rings movies, are headlined by an openly gay actor. Take that, Shatner and Heston!

So, being somewhat sacrastic, I've laid equal groundwork for a gigantic group of people who, albeit existing and striving for their goal year after year, constantly affecting the news year after year, Time chose to use a group that, contrary to the monthly stories about their failures, were clearly the most important subject to recognize in what the need to be their biggest selling issue. And they can put a big flowing flag on it too!

Update: bad grammar fixed. And I've been told Patrick Stewart is gay, too, which really puts the metaphor for X-Men into perspective.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:33 PM

December 28, 2003

Bill's getting letters.

You know, Doonesbury is one thing, but you know your presidency's in trouble when you can't even go without being mocked in Sunday's Foxtrot.

I'm not shooting down Bill Amend or anything; in fact, Foxtrot is one of only six or seven syndicated strips I read and find funny on a regular basis. But it's also so unbelievably wholesome and nuclear-family-friendly. Boondocks attacks Bush daily, but Foxtrot making a statement that half the country clearly won't like is like Billy and Jeffy suddenly discussing the Supreme Court's ruling on sodomy.

In retrospect, that last sentence sounds really, really wrong.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:36 PM

Random thought of the day

I think it would be an interesting bet to see which number is greater: the number of people officially registered to vote in the state of Vermont who plan to vote for Howard Dean, or the number of people officially registered to vote in the entire United States who plan to vote for Dennis Kucinich.

That's not really a snipe on Kucinich, though I'm sure his supporters will take it that way. I just honestly think those two situations are where the numbers are closest.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:25 PM

An excess on Limbaugh's excess

Following my pre-Christmas post about Limbaugh's recent "The Butler Did It" legal defense, World O' Crap posts this very witty and very informative analysis of both Limbaugh's defense and the hypocritical piece of shit that is the lawyer pushing it.

Jokes about the silence from the anti-trial lawyers wing of the GOP on this particular case aside, I think it's a real feat for Rush Limbaugh to be involved in legal cover-ups and you find the guy sitting next to him the more dispicable character.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:55 PM

If I may, perhaps you should tend to your families

The holidays lessened time around the site as it is, but I've also got some job interview stuff over the next few days and I'm fighting off a case of what's either a bad cold or, given recent news, Mad Cow Disease.

So, apologies to everyone sending e-mails (especially the warm praise for the Christmas comic, warm and gooey like the Elven blood that flows eternal on the killing fields of okay I'll stop now) but there's a small liklihood of major activity resuming just yet.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:24 AM