April 16, 2004

Ranking the hypno-tie

Jesse Taylor (of Pandagon fame) is writing a humor column for evote.com where he ranks the "top 10 players" in politics this week.

#4- Peter Coors. The chairman of Coors Brewing Co. declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate last week in Colorado. His announcement promised voters tax cuts, job growth�and twins. He�likes�voting for the bills�dealing on the hill�legislative thrills�and, yes, twins.
I damn near peed my pants.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:20 PM

Bueller? Bueller?

Hey, remember when all the right-wing bloggers tried to destroy Kos because of a comment he made?

So, they'll be even more outraged that Rush Limbaugh just suggested that John Kerry be murdered and dumped in a park if he wins the election, right?

Anyone?

Anyone?


Hello?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:15 AM

April 15, 2004

Teh Funny!

I celebrated my first paycheck this week by ordering cable back into my life, and having been deprived of Cartoon Network and Comedy Central for over nine months now it's like joy has re-entered my life.

But I digress: I found out Comedy Central is doing some kind of "Top 100 stand-up comedians of all time" thing, and I'm one of those people who just loves making lists out of every damn thing in the world. I was going to note my opinions on this when I discovered that Mark Evanier pretty much covered the ground I was going to.

I don't think Letterman will make the list, being so unknown for any of his stand-up work, but if he makes the list he deserves to make the top 10. So does Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, and Eddie Izzard. But those are just my personal favorites.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:00 PM

New friends!

Added a couple more links to the links page (as if they would go anywhere else), so go spread some love.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:52 PM

I'm a stinky poo-head, too

As many of you already know, I suck. I also, of course, despise our troops. Yessiree, I can't stand them. In fact, I was saying that just today with my best friends Abu Salaam-bin-Hama and this girl I met an an ANSWER rally who goes only by "starflower" because, according to her, it's the name the forest gave her. Just as we were discussing how the one hope for our children is to be murdered by an Israeli bulldozer driver we remembered it's been a whole three hours since we searched for something that makes American soldiers look good to shoot down. Then, after leaving the cafe carefully recycling the cups to our soy milkshapes, we kicked an old lady down a flight of stairs after converting her to Communism.

Yep.

Anyway, over in the real world there's an interesting discussion on MetaFilter about the merits of installing pro-US television media in Iraq. As I said in the thread, I think it's a bad idea.

Propaganda (and even as a good thing, that's what it is) is, without a doubt, effective. But not as a permanent tool for shaping opinion. It can rise and spike to a nominal degree, but realism and experience will likely be the more dominant factor. The Iraqis don't hate Americans merely because the radicals tell them to hate us. The Iraqis hate us because the radicals exploit the existing situation the Iraqis are in. That situation, for the percentage of which it is being corrected, is currently being exponentially worsened by the war.

There's an irony in the fact that amidst Donald Rumsfeld proven to be a liar by saying "the Iraqis will greet us with open arms," the response by the U.S. media was to simply say "that's not true. Go look at the good stuff we're doing." You may have noticed how that didn't stop a single damn soldier from dying out in the real world. How this same strategy of thinking that if we don't see it, it can't be true will work directly in Iraq is just ridiculous.

Americans are doing good things in Iraq. They're also killing civilians and bombing mosques, and they're not going to stop being angry about that because a TV station tells them so. My point, ultimately, is this: instead of spending all this money to create visual reports of rebuilding schools, why not spend the money on, you know, building more schools? Which one of these- regardless of what makes America look good, as Michele claims I hate to see, is actually better for the Iraqis?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:35 PM

Greeeeaaaaaat.

In the midst of the press conference follies, we didn't all notice that President Bush almost completely endorsed Ariel Sharon's vision for Israel the other day, which basically, as Josh Marshall notes, "overturned two generations of bipartisan American policy by endorsing the annexation of large parts of the West Bank by Israel."

Now, especially on the pro-war side of the argument there's much to be had about the merits of Israel taking whatever they damn feel like, but that's not really the point of this insane move. Bush's position doesn't actually solidify or strenghthen anything. The world opinion isn't going to be altered because (gasp! Who'd have thought?) the United States backed Israel on a major Middle East issue.

What this does do, and pretty much nothing more, is present an image to the Arab world of the leader of the U.S.- a country with thousands of soldiers currently in their backyard right now- standing side-by-side with the person they quite possibly hate more than any other man alive, as the result of a meeting on their fate which contained no Palestinian influence whatsoever. Israel and the U.S. got together and announced what gets to happen to Palestine.

This is making America safer? The only thing that has done has given a large group of already-unstable fanatics an open-ended invitation to self-justify anything they do to Americans in the Middle East right now. The audacity, and moreover the lack of care this president has for Americans in the Middle East right now, astounds me.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:29 AM

April 14, 2004

Umm... that's bad, you know?

It's interesting how the common reaction from the right-leaning pundits desperate- and I mean desperate- to cast Bush's performance last night as a triumph is to lambaste the "partisanship of the White House press corps." Why I find it interesting is because the theme seems to be common about media sources that these pundits disagree with- they automatically clearly are part of the left-wing media.

Now, argue that all you want, to whatever level you actually believe a silly concept like that, but note that the Right seems to have a fascination with ignoring whatever they just don't want to hear. This works very well in the blogosphere and other realms of punditry, but does that really work in the real world?

The "Emperor's New Clothes" analogies are widely used, especially with Bush's performance in front of the cameras without help from Karl Rove and others, but it really is important, or at least should be, to anyone who honestly wants Bush to be re-elected. How useful, exactly, is it to cast aside massive opinions negative of the president simply on the grounds that... ummm... these opinions are negative of him?

Right-wingers can feel comfortable all they want by listening only to Fox News and claiming everyone in the media is out to get the Republican Party, but it only works as a feasable strategy if it's true. Fox News gets three times the viewership of CNN in some demographics.... is the country three times as Conservative as it is Liberal? No. The reason is because, despite everything pundits try to tell you, the tone in this country isn't only relative to what you specifically watch on television.

Noting partisanship works on individual issues- a single story produced only by the Washington Times or the Village Voice is very likely due to a more-than-a-tad of creative license... but to cast aside the entire Washingonton Press Corps, or for that matter 80% of all television news, as "out to get the president" and think that actually changes the public perception is the very reason why Bush hasn't gone anywhere in actual public opinion.

This concept, as I've stated before, clearly doesn't apply to much of the blogging world, because left or right you can admit that blogs are in most cases an amplification of the desire to be correct above being objective. Nine out of ten warblogs attack everything liberal because to stop would negate their egos that led them to make a website in the first place- ditto for the numerous left-leaning blogs that just want to say "Bush is stupid" as if that's all they need to merit an anonymous PayPal donation.

My sister once joked about how she called "Democrat" her religion... the advent of punditry, both on television and now online, has shown that such a joke is much more a reality- more and more the art of political discourse has become a grammatical-error-laden attempt to accuse others of false gods. The level of desperation from the pundits to cast Bush in a good light over his press conference is a blatant example of the necessity for such a religion to protect the infallibility of its prophets.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:51 PM

April 13, 2004

A courtesy to right-wing conservative Christians

That MillionForChrist site a lot of the extreme right-wing blogs have been linking to is, in fact, a massive e-mail address-gathering spam harvesting scheme.

Courtesy of the "leftists" that you accuse MetaFilter of being made up completely of. You're welcome.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:18 PM

Go, quick!

Jesse and Ezra are liveblogging the Bush press conference.

My own personal notes, potentially altered as the speech goes on: I still don't get the stolid position on the June 30th deadline. It's insane to think that, in light of what's going on now, in light of what's happened in the last year, that ten weeks from now a free and stable Iraq will be capable of self-rule. It's becomming more and more clear that without bin Laden, without a decline in troop deaths, and so forth, that this magical June 30th moment is supposed to be hyped as some kind of victory for Coalition Forces. It won't look that way if U.S. soldiers are dying that very day. And hyping it over and over again will make him look just as horrible a leader as the WMD flap did when come the end of June, our rapidly-getting-shot-at asses aren't going anywhere.

And wow. Props to David Gregory for the loaded "can you admit to any mistakes" question. Interesting how Bush didn't actually, well, answer it. "I still haven't found weapon yet, but I know that we're still better off without Saddam Hussein." Soooo.... that's a "yes," right?

Second wow. Can we PLEASE get a clip of the response to the "why will you and Cheney answer questions before the 9/11 Commission together" question? And can we play it over and over again and laugh at it? I swear to god this was Bush's answer: "because it gives myself and Vice-President Cheney the opportunity to answer the Commission's questions, and we look forward to answering them. Next." That's a campaign ad in itself.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:57 PM

April 12, 2004

Ugh.

FTD's special flower arrangement for families of dead soldiers.

This arrangement takes red roses and carnations and surrounds them with blue larkspur and white mini carnations and snapdragons. Appropriate to send to a home or to a funeral.
There's really no way to be happy reading that, is there.

(via Billmon)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:40 PM

The city of Duh, population 8,000,000

With only a few months to go, the media begins reporting the mind-numbingly obvious about the GOP Convention.

The Republican Party's hope that its convention in New York would highlight a nation healed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks could backfire as the White House comes under fire for its handling of the crisis and the war in Iraq, strategists said on Monday.

President Bush's re-election effort is plagued with questions on whether his administration could have prevented the attacks, and holding his party's convention just minutes away from the World Trade Center, where nearly 3,000 people were killed, could make matters worse, they said.

"It was the wrong place to go from the beginning," veteran Republican political consultant Roger Stone said.

"They wanted to highlight the president's strong leadership in the days after 9/11, which includes the conduct of the war, and now that is going to be a contentious, hard-fought issue," he said, adding that, "The backdrop here has the potential to dominate the story."

Even more interesting than the pre-9/11 memos would be a copy of the pre-written speeches and rhetoric for the 2004 convention. Considering the tragic liklihood that Bush isn't going to get his July 1st pullout deadline, let alone a clear-cut victory in Iraq, the idea of celebrating foreign policy is going to be a tough one.

I noted this to a co-worker today, and it's a good one: regardless of victory in November or defeat, Bush's first term in office is going to be marked by a constant pattern of horrible mistakes. From the razor-thin election results, its ensuing legal battle, the downfall of Enron, 9/11, the stock market bubble burst, the success of the tax cut, and now the quagmire in Iraq, a re-election for Bush in 2004 would appear to be a validation of the man literally having the heaviest bundle of dumb luck heaped upon him in the history of the American presidency.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:26 PM

I don't get it

It escapes me why Ted Rall wants to delve back into making strips about "terror widows," seeing how it almost cost him his career a year ago the first time he did it. For a second time, he's taken the legitimate argument- that 9/11 and terrorism widows easily exploit the tragedy- and made it into an argument that just comes out callous. Or not. Hence why I don't get this one.

Reading this sequel strip, I'm about 75% sure that Rall's point with this one is sarcasm- the point being, to the best of my knowledge, that Daniel Pearl's wife hasn't done media appearances or hawked books, though I could be wrong. The only quote I have of Marianne Pearl is one she made in the week of Daniel's death, which I always will treasure for its strength and profoundness:

Revenge would be easy, but it is far more valuable in my opinion to address this problem of terrorism with enough honesty to question our own responsibility as nations and as individuals for the rise of terrorism. My own courage arises from two facts. One is that throughout this ordeal I have been surrounded by people of amazing value. This helps me trust that humanism ultimately will prevail. My other hope now--in my seventh month of pregnancy--is that I will be able to tell our son that his father carried the flag to end terrorism, raising an unprecedented demand among people from all countries not for revenge but for the values we all share: love, compassion, friendship and citizenship far transcending the so-called clash of civilizations.
Now I don't know about you all, but that's not exactly the rhetoric of a terrorism victim that the right wants to hype that much, is it? So my personal guess, being made before the usual suspects declare it's time for the two minute hate again, is that Rall's either trying to be ironic or just garner attention. If it's the former, I think he was too obtuse about it, and for the latter I can't see how anyone could enjoy the likely attention this strip will get.

As I said earlier, I've officially absolved myself from participating in the "do you like Ted Rall or not?" arguments, because they go nowhere fast. It just feels like there's two possible angles to this strip, and while I think the more likely one is a valid angle, it's far more likely we'll have Fox News declaring Rall the reincarnation of Satan by this evening again.

Update: according to some readers, apparently Rall is angry with Mariane Pearl for a multi-book deal about her husband, and repeated complaints about the 9/11 victims fund not compensating her because... umm... her husband didn't die on 9/11 or be killed by the 9/11 hijackers. Which, you know, makes sense. So apparently this is going to become Rall being insensitve versus Rall being completely right. Which, if you know Rall, is pretty much his style.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:05 AM

April 11, 2004

A service to readers

Today was Easter, so remember that tomorrow is the most holy of traditions: Cadbury Creme Eggs suddenly drop to about 25 cents a pop at your local CVS. Be you Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist, no matter what you believe in, to eat one is the edible equivalent of God touching you in your special place.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:04 PM

You ask, we deliver

Two quick additions to xoverboard.com: first, in the pursuit of reader demand, the Joe Lieberman Kuribo Experience is now available in all it's yellow-tinted goodness on a messenger bag. Apparently bike messengers take the phrase "the spike traps are useless" to a whole new level.

Second, the animation page has been slightly modified with links to the schedule for the Hanuman Dance screenings. I'm hoping I can make it to some of these things myself. Even if you're not interested in my film, or animation in particular, you might enjoy the NYU First Run festival and the Lincoln Center stuff.

Third, I don't know about you all, but I can't get enough of that new Diet Coke with the lime flavor. Everyone else I talk to says it tastes like twice-filtered sludge, but god help me it's tay-stee. They should put limes in your diet coke more often at restaurants. They only give you a lemon, and I'm sick of it. I want the high-quality junk now. I want my coke to taste like I bought it in a tiny glass for six bucks at an over-hyped trendy lounge in New York City.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:52 PM

Yeah, that pretty much covers it

Tom Tomorrow:

Now, it's true, as Condi Rice is quick to remind us, that this memo does not specifically warn that terrorists are going to attack the United States on September 11, 2001, by hijacking airplanes and crashing them into the WTC and the Pentagon. As the President has said, if he'd known exactly what was going to happen, exactly when, then he sure would have tried to prevent it.

Then again, that level of specificity did not seem to be the standard when it came to invading Iraq.

Heh.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:28 PM

Not to sound like a prude or anything, but...

I share in Oliver's sentiment that the current FCC and/or right-wing urge to censor television is a dangerous one for free expression and culture, but calling the cancellation of the Victoria's Secret telecast a victory in some kind of culture war is just silly to me.

And this comes from, for full disclosure, a fully-secure heterosexual young adult male who, make no mistake about it, isn't exactly against looking at attractive half-naked women. I think stuff like Victoria's Secret and flat-out pornographic stuff like Playboy pales in comparison to the dangers of shows like The Swan where the idea is convincing someone else that they're not attractive rather than exposing someone to something already deemed attractive. (Heidi Klum gets a couple million a year for men across the country to imagine they might actually be able to have sex with her one day. Seriously, who's exploiting who?)

But for all the arguments against the puritans fighting to get the VS show of the air, it's kind of a one-sided battle, isn't it? It was two hours of lingerie models. That's it. At least the NFL has a game going on and Miss America runs, so I've been told, a contest of sorts, usually after the swimsuit portion in the final fifteen or twenty minutes in which 80% of the audience has since turned off the television.

So basically, I really have to take a middle ground here. Compared to shows like The Swan and the "proud to know the loopholes since 1998!" quasi-rape that is Girls Gone Wild, complaining about a couple of fashion models is a bit hypocritical. But in light of the constant lack of funding for performing arts and the constant urge by moderates and right-wingers to slash public television, isn't it a bit silly to weep for the loss of, of all things, CBS running spank fodder during pre-bedtime hours? Upsetting, maybe, but "culture war," gimme a break.

Christ, it's not like you can't still get the damned catalog or something.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:24 PM