August 7, 2004

Lies and the lying liars who fail to book them for major political events

According to U.S. officials, Colin Powell will not be appearing at the Republican National Convention because "traditionally, cabinet officials do not speak at conventions."

Except, of course, for the cabinet officials who are speaking at the Convention.

(Sigh.) Ari Fleischer. Now he knew how to lie.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:43 PM

This just gets sillier and sillier

O......kay. Another member of the Swift Boat Partisans? Right-wing lunatic.

Some guy on Fox News? Right-wing lunatic.

Michelle Malkin? Super-crazy-ass right-wing lunatic.

Alan Keyes? Redefining right-wing lunatic!

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:27 PM

August 6, 2004

Bush video

Woo boy, that's gonna mess up the Google searches, isn't it.

Anyhoo, thank you to the handful of people who've written me since last night about ripping the video of Bush's convincingly Freudian slip about what he wants to do to the country. I have my own copy saved in the personal archives now.

As for yourselves, a site with a much higher potential to handle hundreds of people wanting to download a video file has taken the reins. The video is now available at the Smoking Gun.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:48 AM

Strike two

Veteran retracts criticism of Kerry:

[Y]esterday, a key figure in the anti-Kerry campaign, Kerry's former commanding officer, backed off one of the key contentions. Lieutenant Commander George Elliott said in an interview that he had made a ''terrible mistake" in signing an affidavit that suggests Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star -- one of the main allegations in the book. The affidavit was given to The Boston Globe by the anti-Kerry group to justify assertions in their ad and book.

Elliott is quoted as saying that Kerry ''lied about what occurred in Vietnam . . . for example, in connection with his Silver Star, I was never informed that he had simply shot a wounded, fleeing Viet Cong in the back."

The statement refers to an episode in which Kerry killed a Viet Cong soldier who had been carrying a rocket launcher, part of a chain of events that formed the basis of his Silver Star. Over time, some Kerry critics have questioned whether the soldier posed a danger to Kerry's crew. Crew members have said Kerry's actions saved their lives.

Yesterday, reached at his home, Elliott said he regretted signing the affidavit and said he still thinks Kerry deserved the Silver Star.

''I still don't think he shot the guy in the back," Elliott said. ''It was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words. I'm the one in trouble here."

Elliott said he was no under personal or political pressure to sign the statement, but he did feel ''time pressure" from those involved in the book. ''That's no excuse," Elliott said. ''I knew it was wrong . . . In a hurry I signed it and faxed it back. That was a mistake."



Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:22 AM

August 5, 2004

My god, I had no idea this was the case

Brace yourselves, folks. The Swift Boat Liars for Bush are- in fact- disingenuous. The only surprise here being how fast the mass discrediting started after they released their hit piece on Kerry.

One of the anti-Kerry Veterans, Larry Thurlow, has been accusing Kerry of lying about the conditions to which Kerry recieved his Bronze star, saying he was never in a situation that merited it. Turns out, the situation was the same one in which Thurlow also recieved his own Bronze Star. Which means... umm.... hey, over there! Kerry's the fourth most liberal oh hell with it.

No attempt has been made to return the medal, setting the time of... yes, that's right, 14 hours or so since the big coming out party for the first group member to be definitively proven as either a liar or a hypocrite.

Tune in tomorrow, as we get more updates about how John Kerry, and clearly no one else, is disgracing the military.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:23 PM

Umm... what?

Does anyone know where video or transcripts of today's bill signing might be available? I really want to know if Bush's flub was captured for posterity... that was hilarious.

Update: The story, but not the actual moment. And I doubt the White House's transcript will keep the line uncorrected:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
I want the video so bad.

Second update: Here's a link from the White House's web site (Real Player required). Scroll to the 8:00 mark and enjoy. No idea how long this will stay up... maybe that's why they use the hardest video format to capture and save.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:52 PM

The continuing adventures of Lil' Annie Panic

World O' Crap releases this week's update on Annie Jacobsen's complete and utter bullshit.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:08 PM

Ladies, he's available

As a resident of New Jersey Congressional District 9, I'd like to report that our Congressman is looking for love. Here's his J-Date profile.

And yes, it's real.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:26 AM

2+2=Orange

Ever since hearing David Cross joke about it on his new album, I had thought every now and then "boy, we really should just make a whole list of all the times Tom Ridge issued a terror warning and the events that happened 24 hours prior to them, shouldn't we?"

I'm not really a genius here; I'm sure a lot of other people were thinking that too. But this guy actually did it, and readers are submitting more every day. If this stays updated and maintained, it's going to be a very useful resource. Enjoy, and then shake your head in disgust.

(via TBogg)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:40 AM

Poetic justice

Andy Bowers writes in Slate that California may have actually banned SUVs from most streets without even knowing it.

I discovered this secret ban after noticing the signs at both ends of my narrow Los Angeles-area street (a favorite cut-through route for drivers hoping to avoid tie-ups on bigger roads). The signs clearly prohibit vehicles over 6,000 pounds.

I knew a 6K pound limit ruled out a lot of the larger trucks that routinely rumble by my house, unpursued by traffic cops. But then I got to thinking: Could some of those bigger SUVs exceed 3 tons? So I did some research, and I hit the mother lode.

It turns out every big SUV and pickup is too heavy for my street. Here's just a sampling: The Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, the Range Rover, the GMC Yukon, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Sequoia, the Lincoln Navigator, the Mercedes M Class, the Porsche Cayenne S, and the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup (with optional Hemi). What about the Hummer, you ask? Hasta la vista, baby!

It's no accident the automakers churn out so many SUVs that break the 6K barrier. By doing so, these "trucks" (and that's how they're classified by the U.S. Department of Transportation) qualify for a huge federal tax break. If you claim you use a 3-ton truck exclusively for work, you can write it off immediately. All of it. Up to $100,000 (in fact, Congress raised the limit from $25,000 just last year). Heavy SUVs qualify for similar state tax breaks in California (up to $25,000) and elsewhere. These vehicles are also exempt from the federal "gas guzzler tax" because they're trucks. (And you probably know that many SUVs are exempt from the tougher gas mileage and safety standards of cars because they're classified as trucks, but that's another story.)

Tax advisers actually warn their clients to make sure they buy vehicles that are heavy enough to qualify for the tax breaks. Some offer helpful lists of which SUVs will tip the IRS's scales.

Here's what few people seem to realize: By weighing in at more than 6,000 pounds, big SUVs are prohibited on thousands of miles of road in California. Cities across the state�including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Santa Monica�use the 3-ton cutoff for many or nearly all of their residential streets. State law gives them the ability to do this for very straightforward reasons: The heavier the vehicle, the more it chews up the roads, endangers pedestrians and smaller vehicles, and makes noise.

This isn't an arbitrary weight limit. 6,000 pounds has long been a recognized dividing line between light and heavy trucks. (For example, the Clean Air Act defines "heavy duty vehicle" as a truck with a gross vehicle weight "in excess of six thousand pounds.")

There's a list of things that are just flat-out wrong with this situation. Not the least among them being a tax break for trucks (of which SUVs are classified) thereby allowing Americans to save money by purchasing a vehicle specifically designed to be excessively heavy, increasing the frequency of accidents, road wear, and fuel consumption- all of which, of course, cost all Americans more in the long run.

And sadly, it's obvious that if this logic is enforced, the "solution" suggested will not be to reduce SUV sales or modify them, but to repeal the law forbidding 3-ton vehicles on the streets. Likely they'll make yet another loophole saying that it's for "commercial" vehicles only- which SUVs then won't be... except when you buy them. Are we making sense yet?

Kevin Drum saw the story and noted the true solution that of course will never, ever be implemented:

Yes, the real issue here is that SUVs are classified as trucks. Every problem that Bowers writes about would go away if they were classified as cars, as they should be. Of course, then they'd be subject to federal gas mileage rules, and we can't have that, can we?
More disturbing is the sheer magnitude of comments with Kevin's post about the "freedom" to drive an SUV and the outrage of "the liberals" suggesting curbing the American's god-given right to own a Hummer.

The Senate tried to vote on raising fuel requirements, and that was the actual argument. The destruction of the SUV. The Communist-like mandate to drive tiny hybrid vehicles. The erosion of American freedoms.

It amazes me how America doesn't seem to really be defined anymore by having "freedom." It seems to be defined by having excess. People don't even care about their rights anymore, just making arbitrary standards of patriotism by showing that because they can do something, they will. Washington and Jefferson, truly, are staring down on the guy in Montana weighing 400 pounds from a Burger King-based diet, smoking three packs a day, and driving a Ford Excursion full of his personal stash of assault rifles and shedding tears of joy... for he, truly, is an American.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:33 AM

August 4, 2004

Tease

Football season's comin'.


Arkansas all the way, baby.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:12 PM

Were we ever so young?

In honor of the joyous, hilarious potential that Alan Keyes may once again decide to enter politics and open himself to public ridicule debate, we bring you this XQUZYPHYR & Overboard classic strip from March of 2002.

By classic, of course, we mean "good god, I actually drew worse than I do now."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:47 PM

Well, that makes no sense whatsoever

Music publisher The Richmond Organization, owner of the rights to Woodie Guthrie's song This Land, is threatening a lawsuit against... you know where this is going, don't you.

That's right, they're threatening to sue JibJab.

You know the Jibjab thing I'm talking about, right? The flash animation movie swirling around the Internet with President George Bush and Senator John Kerry singing to the tune of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land."

The bit is hilarious. Unless you are The Richmond Organization, a music publisher that owns the copyright to Guthrie's tune through its Ludlow Music unit.

"This puts a completely different spin on the song," said Kathryn Ostien, director of copyright licensing for the publisher. "The damage to the song is huge."

TRO believes that the Jibjab creation threatens to corrupt Guthrie's classic -- an icon of Americana -- by tying it to a political joke; upon hearing the music people would think about the yucks, not Guthrie's unifying message. The publisher wants Jibjab to stop distribution of the flash movie.

This was something I noticed when those charming little children sang it at the Democratic National Convention- people seem to forget the full lyrics to the song, don't they? Here's the final two verses of This Land:

As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side ... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Ummm.... yeah. That's a real testament to patriotism there, isn't it. You can tell how dangerous it would be if Guthrie's song (written, by the way, as a protest to Irving Berlin's God Bless America) was misinterpreted as something that opposed American patriotic sentiment just because, you know, that's why he wrote it, you morons.

While we're on the subject of copyright infringement, here's the copyright notice from the liner notes of several Woodie Guthrie albums:

This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin� it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don�t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that�s all we wanted to do.
Kind of sad that the group who owns Guthrie's albums right now apparently never even looked at them.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:13 AM

August 3, 2004

TV remains worth watching, bitch!

Chappelle's Show to continue for two more seasons.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:45 PM

IT BEGINS

Vatican to start sports department.

Excuse me. I just remembered a project I was supposed to do months ago.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:30 PM

The crotch, down where your nuts hang

A historical record of President Lyndon Johnson ordering pants.

(via Political Wire)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:33 PM

A few from the mailbag

Mark writes in with an interesting observation about George W. Bush's "mountain biking" accident.

Bruce Webb offers this insight into the aforementioned "myth of the 15-point bounce" that Republicans fabricated as required for Kerry, or else he's a complete failure and will never become president ever, ha ha ha ha:

It is right from the horse's orifice: Matthew Dowd, Bush's 'pollster', and can be found on the main page of Bush-Cheney 2004. He is double counting. His historical research (alluded to but not actually, you know, put into evidence) shows an 8 point positive move for challengers coming out of a convention. Which in a head to head with relatively few undecided naturally means a negative move for the incumbent, Dowd's numbers showing 7 points. Presto 15 point change in the margin equals "15 point bounce". Now that's not how I would characterize this move, but if they are going to report it honestly I wouldn't have a problem. But they won't.
Finally, one more from Paul Henry on Lil' Annie Panic and her continuing adventures in terrified racism:

am writing to you about Annie Jacobsen.

I first heard of her on Salon.com, in an article written by their resident airline pilot. He was so aghast at this woman's behavior that he felt compelled to write about it instead of writing his normal Ask the Pilot column.

Her racism is, of course, troubling. She is an example of one of the worst parts of our society.

But there was one thing that really struck me in her articles that I have not seen any comments about.

She describes a policy limiting the number of "young Arab males" that can be held for "secondary questioning" because it is discriminatory. She goes on to bemoan this policy because there were 14 Syrians on her flight, and 12 would have not been searched. Then, in her follow-up article, she quotes some panic-mongers who, apparently, believe that all "young Arab men" ought to be strip-searched before every flight.

And then she gets to what is, to me, only slightly less disturbing than her outright racism: She refers to this policy of non-discrimination as "political correctness."

This brings us to the heart of the matter -- political correctness. Political correctness has become a major road block for airline safety. From what I've now learned from the many emails and phone calls that I have had with airline industry personnel, it is political correctness that will eventually cause us to stand there wondering, "How did we let 9/11 happen again?"
Political correctness refers to what was originally an attempt to replace terms that imply some form of gender or racial bias with unbiased terms. Using "fire fighter" instead of "fireman," or "fight attendant" instead of "stewardess." Saying that some event was "unorganized" instead of calling it a "Chinese Fire Drill." The idea was that such terms teach our children to compartmentalize people based on gender or race, and therefore promote racism and sexism.

But then came the first hijacking of the term. Members of the so-far-to-the-left-that-they-are-really-on-the-right segment of our society began to use the term in such a way as to cause a forced neutering of our language. They would prefer a colorless, almost newspeak language, that would be free of any but the barest minimum of description. The act of merely acknowledging gender or race was not "politically correct."

This led, naturally, to the second hijacking of the term. This time it was members of the angry-loud-conservative-left-hating segment of our society, who began to use the term to vilify any attempt to eliminate discrimination of any kind. Anyone who suggesting the most minor form of non-prejudicial thought or action was trivialized with the label "politically correct." It came to mean something along the lines of "soft-headed unrealistic wacko lefty tree-hugger." Labeling a concept as "politically correct" made it

In Jacobsen's articles, we see the term used in its latter incarnation. Because the Department of Transportation policy of non-discrimination does not allow airlines to subject every citizen of a Middle Eastern country to a strip-search, we are being endangered by "political correctness."

Stated this way, the implication is that the softheaded Left, through their unrealistic failure to profile all Arabs as hijackers-in-waiting, will bear the responsibility for the next terrorist act committed on an aircraft. This is, to me, a very very dangerous idea.



Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:27 AM

August 2, 2004

Dammit, M.

I saw The Village this weekend, and frankly I'm disappointed. And this is the guy who flat-out worships Unbreakable. (Advance note: this review is pretty much spoiler-free.)

True story- I actually met M. Night Shyamalan about two years ago at an advance screening of Signs. My sister and I, apparently the only two people on the planet who recognized Unbreakable as the masterpiece it truly was, spent a good five minutes assaulting him with our interpretation of the film, and how unfortunate it was that The Sixth Sense came out first automatically forcing Unbreakable to be compared to it in a way that would have been exactly reversed if the latter film came out first. What made the unabashed fanboy assault on Shyamalan so great was that he completely agreed with us. Also, Shyamalan is an NYU Film grad, and all NYU Film grads should recieve millions of dollars and international admiration. Cough.

What Shyamalan did for Unbreakable, the thing that I noticed, was just how much he cared about the story. This was a labor of love. And knowing that, it was so easy to tell that The Village was simply mailed in, almost devoid of concern about the overall quality of the film.

Don't get me wrong, the movie, as a movie, was great. The acting is phenominal, especially new Actress, son of Ron, and fellow Tisch '03 grad Bryce Dallas Howard. The actual setting of the film is great- the little 19th century village has so many detailed elements, from the forced absence of the "bad color" red deemed as such by the village elders, to the natural creepiness of the forest, to the honest realism of the colonial community that I haven't seen since Witness' Amish environment.

And then Shyamalan screws it all to hell with the dumbest, most lazy plot twists imaginable.

I hate- let me repeat, hate the general "oh I guessed the secret ending" people. You know who they are, you all know them. But goddamit, I was giving the plot of the movie to my friend Josh over lunch this afternoon and- having not even seen the trailer for the movie, let alone the movie itself, asked offhandedly "so is it going to turn out that-" and he guessed the exact ending to the movie. It's that unbearably predictable.

This could have been a great film if Shyamalan just didn't make the film about the twist at the end. Shyamalan's art is not even in his writing, but in the mood he creates with his film. Even knowing the endings to all his films, you can watch them and enjoy the experience. The problem is that afterglow- the moments when you've left the theater, it's daylight again, and you suddenly start considering all the nonsense in the plot. A lot of it didn't make sense, and what was explained by the ending was just silly.

I still watch the final scene in Unbreakable when Samuel L. Jackson whimpers out the line. I remember seeing it the theater and hearing him just cry out "They called me Mr. Glass!" and feeling like I could just kick whoever was sitting next to me's ass. It. Was. Freaking. Beautiful.

The exact opposite feeling comes from The Village. If I watch it again, I'm going to enjoy 80 minutes of a beautiful, well-crafted film, and then say to myself, "oh, here's where the entire thing just gets ruined." And it's a damn shame, because Shyamalan could have had another masterpiece on his hands if he just cared about it the way he cared about his other films.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:24 PM

Newest comic - "A word from Disgrace's promotional department"

This week's strip is a unique one; it's actually the strip I just sent over to Mike Amon, the editor of NYU's Washington Square News during my Freshman year- basically the guy who made the call to print XQUZYPHYR & Overboard for the first time. Odds are if I got shot down that first year, I would have just looked for something else to do and you'd have never seen any of the over 100 comics I've done since.

I sent it to Mike for the demo issue of Disgrace, a new magazine he's starting up along with a bunch of other former WSN editors and staffers. I know over half the people on the magazine's staff page.

The magazine's website is just starting up, but I think its mission statement makes the case- this is going to be a magazine that defies previous descriptions. Not just humor, not just opinion. I've worked with most of the guys on this magazine for years during my time at NYU, and because of that I really believe the 80's-movie-cliche of "old friends get together and make a business doing what they love" is actually going to work this time.

Oh yeah, and buy some crap, dammit.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:49 AM

August 1, 2004

Popin' aint easy

Pope John Paul II signals his bitches to raise the roof up in this here hizzouse. Having taken recent flak for the Vatican's recent outburst of misogyny the Pontiff responded "shit, yo, I'm just keepin' it real." In a statement on behalf of His Holiness, Vatican spokesmen suggested that offended women should just take a cue from the women J.P. be showin' his love for in his crew and let a player play. He then retreated to his crib in the Vatican, confirmed on a recent episode of MTV's Cribs as "the flashiest bling bling in Italy outside of Sean John's new threads during fashion week." Word.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:50 PM