June 18, 2004

Lies and the lying liars who broadcast them

Via Oliver: CBS is completely, utterly full of shit.

And seriously, let's not even play some kind of gotcha "oh you liberals!" game. Conservatives: you can do this. Come on. It's okay to agree with liberals on simple facts.

CBS said they don't run advocacy ads. They are now running an advocacy issue ad. They are full of shit. The anti-Kerry crowd may opt to refer to this as "waffling." This is acceptable, only because I know it's the most we'd be able to get from many of you.

Get off your asses and join the liberals on this one in pointing this out. We're pretty fun here on Planet Earth.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:22 PM

June 17, 2004

Random thought of the day

Is there a Publisher's Clearing House contest going on any time soon? I am completely out of address labels.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:38 PM

New blogger on the block

Go say hi.

Also, I've put a few more on my link page that I've been paying attention to more these days. Link love is becomming a complicated thing. For some reason, I was on Sadly, No!'s blogroll for 24 hours. Weird things like that.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:23 PM

More from the employee of the year

The AP reports that an Iraqi prisoner was held secretly by U.S. forces for over seven months.

In a rare admission of violating the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war, the Pentagon has acknowledged it improperly held an Iraqi prisoner in secret for more than seven months.

The military has held the man in Iraq since October without assigning him a prisoner number or notifying the International Committee of the Red Cross that he is a prisoner, Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said Wednesday night.

Both assigning a prisoner number and notifying the Red Cross are required under the Geneva Conventions, which the Bush administration acknowledges apply to the conflict in Iraq.

So to be perfectly clear, this comes directly from the Pentagon's admission: accusing "the liberals" of "outrageous things" like violating the Geneva Convention is not any kind of partisan speculation, but fact. We have violated the Geneva Conventions in Iraq.

NBC News goes a bit further in the inquiry, and lo and behold, the instructions for said violation falls on everyone's favorite disregarder of law:

Pentagon officials tell NBC News that late last year, at the same time U.S. military police were allegedly abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered that one Iraqi prisoner be held "off the books" - hidden entirely from the International Red Cross and anyone else - in possible violation of international law.
So NBC points out Rumsfeld did it, and the AP points out that this was definitively against the law. Perhaps we can get some insight into why Rumsfeld still has his job:


Pentagon officials still insist Rumsfeld acted legally, but admit it all depends on how you interpret the law.
Words fail me.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:47 AM

Getting to know what your candidates stand for

Via Billmon:

The Senate voted without dissent yesterday to require the Bush administration to issue guidelines aimed at ensuring humane treatment of prisoners at U.S. military facilities and to report any violations promptly to Congress.

Passage of the proposal by voice vote came after Republicans, facing defeat on the measure, agreed to raise no objections and offer no alternatives if the vote was taken by voice instead of putting all senators on record with a roll call, according to Democratic sources. (emphasis added)

You may recall from only a few days ago that this is the same GOP that insists on a roll call vote on a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage.

I know I'm pouring the "what is wrong with you" stuff on thick with the "pro-war = pro-Bush" warblogger crowd, but this is the GOP you're fighting for. In the name of a "safer America" you're aligning yourself with a party that demands personal accountability- for the purpose of villifying liberals- on one's position of equality for other human beings wanting to be in love with each other. Meanwhile, they can't even stand by their own feelings on whether or not torturing people is bad.

The GOP thinks it's more important to know how you stand on gays than it is to know how you stand on torturing people. And people want George W. Bush to stay president because, gosh, that's the type of America that will make our lives better.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:50 AM

June 16, 2004

Plunging the memory hole

I wrote last September about a column by Ann Coulter notable for her flippant introductory argument stating as a factual assertion that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the September 11 attacks. The problem, as most intelligent life forms quickly grasped, was not even the fact that Saddam was in no way involved with 9/11, but the fact that Ann's fact was, in fact, not a a fact.

So I'm not suprised that Bill O'Reilly is now deciding that Michael Moore is a modern-day Goebbels who believes in repeating a lie often enough to pass it off as truth while giving a pass to statements such as this:

Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that Saddam Hussein had "long-established ties" with al Qaida, an assertion that has been repeatedly challenged by some policy experts and lawmakers.

The vice president offered no details backing up his claim of a link between Saddam and al Qaida.

"He was a patron of terrorism," Cheney said of Hussein during a speech before The James Madison Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Florida. "He had long established ties with al Qaida."

If O'Reilly is accusing a linkage of Goebbel's actions to anyone, it's the guy who just stated what has been proven to be a complete lie, and demanding that people accept it because... well, because.

I'll repeat what I said about Coulter in September:

She's not suggesting that Saddam Hussein caused 9/11, she's telling you. And she's using her complete lack of backing for this to accent her attempt to convince the reader that what she just said must be true because of (ta dah!) the conclusiveness of what she just said.

Wither the right-wing pundits go the mainstream media points: by next week, Limbaugh will state Saddam as the 9/11 mastermind as fact. A few days later, Hannity and Brit Hume will have infected it into Fox News. Why should this be countered? It's easier to pass off something 70% of the country believes as fact than to refute it- regardless of the fact that, you know, it's complete and utter bullshit.

So bless you, Bill O'Reilly, for proving that Michael Moore is a master of propaganda, the way he clearly lies and spins using... umm... videotaped evidence. While Dick Cheney remains pure and unscathed in the light of his... umm... pulling of whatnot from ass.

God, I hate these people.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:58 PM

Well. That's interesting.

Review of Fahrenheit 9/11 comes out:

But once "F9/11" gets to audiences beyond screenings, it won't be dependent on celebrities for approbation. It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail.

As much as some might try to marginalize this film as a screed against President George Bush, "F9/11" � as we saw last night � is a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty � and at the same time a indictment of stupidity and avarice.

Man. What kind of left-wing shills must this site be to give such a biased review like that?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:36 PM

I'll also lose weight if I never open my mouth again

As always, the largest e-mail assaults come from the issues that are not political in any nature and simply random thoughts about a random subject. As such, here's some e-mails on the freakin' Atkins diet post. Enjoy, and stop bothering me about this now please.

From Margaret Lyman:

There's a local guy who wrote a book promoting the Caveman Diet -- only eat things you could catch or gather naked with a sharp stick. (Note: you don't have to actually get your food this way -- it's just the criterion for choosing foods) Likewise, don't eat anything that "has" to be cooked to be digestible (i.e. potatoes, legumes, grains), although you can cook any of the foods on the diet. The theory is that we've been away from the cave such a relatively short time (10,000 years or so) that our digestive systems haven't really adapted to eating these "cultivated" foods. The man who wrote the book had developed rhumatoid arthritis, incipient diabetes, and high cholesterol by his mid-30's, and came up with this diet in response to his health problems. According to him, all the health problems went away (including the high cholesterol, although the diet is of course heavy on the meat). He also doesn't eat anything fermented (including vinegar-based condiments) based on the same theory -- fermentation is an invention of settlers, not hunter-gatherers. I don't recall what he said about milk products, but probably they're forbidden, too -- they don't meet that naked/sharp stick requirement.

I must say I was attracted by the theory, but as it doesn't allow for tortilla chips, it's out of the question for me.

From Paul Hitz:

I am writing re: dieting. I see and agree with your basic point. I also feel that lack of self discipline is a major problem in modern society (for me at least). That being said there are two points. One is that not feeling like you are starving all the time makes it easier to reduce caloric intake. This makes it very helpful to not have your blood sugar level swinging wildly. The next point is that when you talk about grains being part of the main stay in organized society for at a minimum of several thousand years, you are talking mostly about whole grains. I don't think that the Atkins, or for that matter South Beach diets could really work for me either. I have instead tried to severely limit over processed junk from my diet and eat more natural and it has to a fair degree (up to this point) worked well for me. I think that you are right bread has a place in a balanced diet, but not Wonder bread. What is most important is people finding what works for them and losing the extra 20 (50?, 70?).
And from Tom Stinnett:
OK, I know you're getting mega shit from all of us who think there just may be something to Atkins and similar fads. But just think for a sec about this: as you point out, it is true that people have been eating bread for a long time (about 10,000 years; the same amount of time that large-scale agriculture has been around) and suddenly in the last 30 years or so levels of obesity have been skyrocketing; so whatever has changed in the last twenty years, it ain't the presence of bread.

But it ain't the absence of exercise, either. Because THAT has also been
going on for a lot longer than 30 years.

I share your awareness that starving people don't worry about the ratio of protein to carbs in their diet, and that there is something profoundly wrong
with a world that contains both large numbers of people like that and large
numbers of people like me who have been fighting obesity since childhood.

But another thing the starving people of Somasudafghalawirundia don't worry
about is counting the number of steps they walk in a day.

There are more ways of looking at Earth's obesity problem, Horatio, than are
dreamt of in the philosophy of stop-thinking-and-just-cut-the-Gordian- knot-because-it's-so-seductively- simple-to-avoid-actual-thoughtful- analysis-of-the-issues. That way right-wing-nuttery lies, and I turn to you, Mr. Pollak, for your glorious voice in the struggle against such pernicious refusal to think beyond Simplistic Is Better. Please continue to be thoughtful and angry; and don't dismiss things like Atkins. They are fads, yes; but they contain a kernel of truth and provide some relief for desperate people. If they didn't work at some level, they ouldn't be as popular as they are.

If you want more of my pearls of wisdom on this subject (I doubt you do; but I have lived my life fat and have had a gastric bypass and know more about nutrition and dieting than most doctors), I'd be happy to share it.

With no offense intended to Mr. Stinnett, I really, really don't want to hear about that at all. In fact, it only caps off my regret of starting a discussion about weight loss plans altogether.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:31 PM

The global village is declaring you idiot

I'm with The Talent Show on this one: Bush has everything to lose and nothing to gain by having the GOP push a vote on the Hate Amendment before the election.

Let's face it: anyone who's vote is riding on how you support gay marriage likely wasn't going to fall in the Kerry camp. Although a giveaway to the religious right, what Bush wants to do is appease moderates. That might make sense in the vein of local support, but Bush seems to be neglecting that most political coverage is run by national televised news.

In this cycle, weblogs are kicking in, but they still share the aspect with cable and the big three prime time cycles that they do not just localize themselves to Fayetteville, Arkansas, home of the Fighting Mother Teresas, where they can directly influence a handful of Bible-Belters.

The coverage, and subsequent debate- especially on the cable networks which have proven to simply not have 24 hours worth of content and need to fill it with arguing a lot- is going to reach core viewing audiences of major cites, and northeastern and west-coast high-density outlets. That's going to be a problem for Bush, big time.

Despite the wavering on the terminology of gay marriage and how it should be flat-out accepted, no one supports a Hate Amendment outside of a core unwavering Bush contingency. And despite his neglect to capitalize on all of Bush's other screwups, I find it very hard to believe that John Kerry isn't going to ignore something like an attempt to amend the constitution to divide people as the gift on a silver platter for his campaign it truly is.

Along with the national coverage of Bush's hatred for an entire group of people is that in the campaign, the Hate Amendment doesn't exactly invoke the Willie Horton fear aspect. Bush can push the amendment all he wants, but with what imagery? Middle-aged women holding hands? Throngs of smiling couples? The cast of Queer Eye breaking into your house to violate your daughter? That doesn't really work now, does it?

I could be wrong about this- the media could find a way to make gays evil in the news, and rally support against them. When this all started, I expected the global influence of the weblog world to rally the pro-war libertarians away from Bush with this once and for all- sadly, that was proven false; if the war escalated, even more warbloggers will sell out their souls to stay "right" with a Bush victory, despite every one of his domestic views being abhorrent.

But most of the potential defense against this political ploy relies on how John Kerry chooses to act about the Hate Amendment. But if he really does deserve to be president, Kerry needs to get a grasp of the divide Bush is trying to start here, and oppose Bush's divisiveness for the country. The whole nation is going to be watching this story, and if Kerry opposes the right wing's targeted bigotry, the nation is going to be behind him.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:26 AM

June 15, 2004

Correction

Reader Jeff Dubrule has informed me of the error in my rant about dieting the way Africans devoid of American indulgence-related fad diets do. As it turns out, some Africans have lactose intolerance. And by some, I mean, interestingly enough, almost all of them.

Hopefully everyone still understands my original point, but man, that's a fascinating fact, ain't it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:40 PM

June 14, 2004

THIS. IS. BRILLIANT.

The Allen Plan explains how to solve the troop shortage without drafting random Americans:

Wouldn't it be nice if we could deploy 35-50,000 trained soldiers to Iraq in say, three to six months? Ideally, these would be folks who want to be in Iraq and are already familiar with and acclimated to the environment. Even better, these folks would already have their own weapons and gear and actually be close to the "theatre of operation" as the folks in the military like to say.

A pipe dream you say? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you all the civilian contractors currently in Iraq.

One special act of congress and we could immediately draft the Halliburton, Blackwater, CACI, Tital, et al, employees. And what a bargain it would be. We are currently paying over a $1,000 A DAY for some of these people, and we could have them doing the same jobs for about $1,500 A MONTH!

These people went to Iraq because they wanted to. They have weapons and equipment, are familiar with the country and used to the climate. They are drivers, cooks, engineers, construction workers, oil specialists, doctors, nurses, and security guards. Once they receive their draft notices, they could be sent to our staging areas and bases in Saudi Arabi to begin basic training (after all, they have to learn how to march, operate as a unit, and adjust to life as privates in this man's/woman's Army).

Six weeks of basic should be enough [t]o get them accustomed to Army life and then they are back on the front lines doing the very same jobs they willing came to Iraq to do. Now they have the added bonus of showing their true patriotism by working directly for Uncle Sam, drawing a soldier's paycheck (which the commander in chief will appreciate since it would reduce the cost of the war and protect all those valuable tax cuts he gave wealthy contributors).

Somewhere, a right-winger's Patriotic Warhawk side and Venture Capitalist side have literally split him or herself apart into a spectacular mess. Star Trek has not failed us: logic continues to be the best weapon ever.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:40 PM

Oh please god no not more crap about special diets

Baker, angry with Atkins Diet, creates carb-heavy alternative:

A little math theory kneaded with biblical lore from "The Da Vinci Code" has transformed Stephen Lanzalotta into a dietary sage, answering the "carbohydrate question" with a series of lectures promoting a diet he has followed for decades to maintain a muscular 160 pounds into middle age.

Admittedly, he is neither a nutritionist nor a scholar � his background is in biology and biochemistry. But Lanzalotta argues that people have been eating bread for too long for it suddenly to be the reason everyone is fat.

"Human civilization and grain have ties that go way back. No municipal society evolved without grain, no matter what it was," said Lanzalotta, who kneads his dough by hand like ancient breadmakers. "Not that I believe bread is one of the most sacred foods, but it is one of the most important things we can eat."

Lanzalotta argues that bread forms the building blocks of the body and, in moderation, can lead to more stable moods, clearer thought and a rock-hard body, right down to the washboard stomach of a Renaissance statue.

The Da Vinci Diet is not published and is revealed primarily through the baker's lectures. It consists mostly of Mediterranean foods � the foods ancient thinkers and artists ate. Fish, cheese, vegetables, meat, nuts and wine, in addition to bread � none are taboo at Da Vinci's table.

You gotta love this guy. "Silly fad diet? I'll see you, and raise you another silly fad diet, with the additional theme of a fad book!"

I'm not going to start a fight with the Atkin's people, despite how much I giggle at my co-workers and their little styrofoam boxes of bunless hamburgers from the deli up the street. I will say this, though: I am currently in the middle of the second of the only two times I have actively sought to lose weight in my life. The first time, I lost over 20 pounds in four months, using what I refer to as "the Africa diet."

In the Africa diet, you stop wasting all your money on stupid diet books and realize that the United States seems to be the only place where people suddenly have magic metabolisms that don't require carbs. You begin the diet by realizing that in starving African villages, no one is on the fucking Atkin's diet. Nor is anyone lactose intolerant, nor do they give a shit if their sugars are white or brown.

Following that, you begin the rigorous ancient secret weight-loss mechanism that few have learned in this highly advanced culture: you eat less and fucking exercise. Concept!

Figure out how many calories you consume in a day. Ingest, in balanced levels of fruit, vegetable, meats/protiens, and- yes- grains, 500 calories less than that number. Factor in calories lost from exercise if need be. Congratulations, you're losing a pound a week.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to grab some dinner without checking the ingredients on it. Call me when I get a book deal for my brilliant revelations.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:21 PM

Max prints, you read (and then vomit)

Max publishes the Vicious Instapundit Blogroll contest winners, with some words to live by in classing the winners. If I may, a passage I'd like to refer to as "one of the most brilliant things ever written:"

We also observe in these quarters the sophomoric desire to shock liberals. The quoted bloggers express a desire to win the vote. They think their viciousness is a badge of machismo, like suburban white boys who affect ghetto gangsta postures. We had the Beastie Boys, and now we have the beastie bloggers. They try to act dangerous, but all they really want to do is become commodities, and they don't even know it. There is no reason to fear nameless little people with keyboards. Rather, the approach is clinical, like the study of bugs.
There's a handful of bloggers who write in their timid, black-and-white world, that write stuff that just makes you angry. Not just because it's so ignorantly wrongheaded, but because you know that it doesn't matter because these people are so stubborn that they'll stick to their ignorance just to avoid being wrong. I think I can bookmark this passage for reference anytime I read that. It makes me feel better.

Update: regarding some confusion in the title, the entries make one puke. Max is good.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:57 PM

Well hypocrisy hasn't stopped us yet, why should it now

Conservatives are up in arms about the report from the International Red Cross that Saddam needs to either be charged or released due to international law.

Saddam Hussein must either be released from custody by June 30 or charged if the US and the new Iraqi government are to conform to international law, the International Committee of the Red Cross said last night. Nada Doumani, a spokeswoman for the ICRC, told the Guardian: "The United States defines Saddam Hussein as a prisoner of war. At the end of an occupation PoWs have to be released provided they have no penal charges against them."

Her comments came as the international body, the only independent group with access to detainees in US custody, becomes increasingly concerned over the legal limbo in which thousands of people are being held in the run-up to the transfer of power at the end of the month.

The occupation officially ends on June 30 and US forces will be in Iraq at the invitation of its sovereign government.

"There are all these people kept in a legal vacuum. No one should be left not knowing their legal status. Their judicial rights must be assured," Ms Doumani said.

Saddam and other senior officials of the old regime are the only Iraqi detainees to have been given PoW status. Hundreds of other Iraqis have been seized since the war often, according to critics, on flimsy suspicion and held for long periods without charge, usually without their families knowing for weeks where they are.

Now, the irrational right wing reaction to that is/was of course outrage at the non-possibility of Saddam Hussein being released. This of course isn't happening.

It does, however, call attention to the massive abuse of international detainment of prisoners on behalf of the U.S.- an action that adds yet another notch to Bush's failed premises for the invasion in the first place. There were no WMDs, there was no al-Qaeda or 9/11 link, and the Iraqis did not welcome us with open arms. We've made ourselves hypocrites with so many other boasts about America's superiority; why not throw the credibility of "Saddam has no respect for international treaties" onto the fire as well?

We've reached the point where even trying to make the moral clarity argument with the warhawks is irrelevant: Saddam is bad, the Iraqi indurgents are bad, anything we do to them is A-OK, blah blah blah. They don't care about random civilians getting their genitals electrocuted; they're certainly not going to care about Saddam Hussein being locked away without Habeus Corpus.

But the U.S.'s plan to charge Saddam ex post facto only highlights that the U.S. doesn't have charges against him yet- something that in turn highlights the charges we've already accused him of that have proven to be fruitless. Thanks to President Bush, the United States currently lacks the credibility to detain a murderous dictator because of a lack of moral authority.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:22 AM

The Understatement of the Week Award

Powell addresses increasing violence in Iraq:

Kamal al-Jarah, an Education Ministry official in charge of contacts with foreign countries and the United Nations, was killed Sunday outside his home.

On Saturday, an Iraqi deputy foreign minister, Bassam Salih Kubba, was killed as he was driving to work.

Even with U.S. troops and private contractors aiding Iraqi security forces, "It's going to be a dangerous period," Secretary of State Colin Powell told "Fox News Sunday."

"It's hard to protect an entire government," he said.

Mr. Powell should know.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:03 AM

June 13, 2004

Manifestolicious!


Ridiculously Simple Graphs (and Other Observations from XQUZYPHYR & Overboard) - a selection of 32 cartoons from cartoonist/writer August J. Pollak. For those of you new to the site, that's me. (The title is based on one of the strips featured in the book)

The book will premiere at my tiny 'ol table at the MoCCA Art Festival - June 26 & 27 at the Puck Building in New York City. Copies will be available for purchase online in a few weeks, I hope.

The MoCCA Art Festival will be my first (and currently only that I know of) appearance & signing for XQUZYPHYR & Overboard. I'll be manning a table, pens in hand, to autograph copies of the book, notepads, babies' heads, and so forth.

Extra incentive is added in the form of about a kajillion other alt-/small-press artists attending the event, (My report on last year's event is hyeah) including most of the fellow cartoonist/bloggers you all know that I know and I know you and I all love. Or something.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:27 PM

Brownshirt thugs: the movie

Cosmic Iguana reports on the right-wing organizations orchestrating acts of intimidation against movie theaters screening Fahrenheit 9/11."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:52 PM

Bottemless barrels yeild infinite scum to scrape off

For all the accusations from the right that the media is "scraping the bottom of the barrel" for accusations against the Bush administration, there seems to be little defense in the face of the bottom never seeming to appear. Instead, years worth of scum is being scoured in months because of that same media's refusal to do it during the President's 9/11 "get out of disapproval free" card.

This case is no clearer than in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. Several right-wingers have declared that the media is "demanding to keep this story alive" because the simple truth that more and more evidence is being uncovered every day reminds them of how few day-to-day developments their own pet project- the "definite" Saddam WMDs- have been yeilded. The WMD hunt, Reagan's funeral, and various Kerry gaffes have all proven this: the warhawks could care less about how long a story is played out- they just care that it's a steady trickle of damning evidence against the President, and his cabinet's, competence in handling the Iraq war.

While many on the right have gone as far as to accuse the media of being "hypocritical" for saying that burying Ronald Reagan has been overplayed in the midst of the ongoing coverage of Abu Ghraib, the answer should really be understandable to anyone who's been in school past the third or fourth grade. Abu Ghraib is a ongoing story being there are ongoing developments. That's not scraping the bottom of the barrel. That's called journalism. Fox News viewers are, understandably, unfamiliar with this concept.

Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, was on the verge of death for years. He died last week. They buried him. It's over. There aren't going to be any further developments in the death and burial of Ronald Reagan, unless they plan to, I don't know, bury him again. (Who knows, they did give him about four funerals)

So, as people who actually care about the country and where it's heading have noted, the lies about Abu Ghraib and the cover-ups about what went on there are increasing. The "few bad apples" rhetoric now has water leaking through the cracks ready to bust wide open. And for those of you who want to pretend that accusing a liberal media of scraping the bottom of the barrel to keep old news alive, here's the news for you: Ronald Reagan is still dead.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:41 PM