September 11, 2004

Sigh

I guess 9/11 brought us denial, the first anniversary channel our anger, the second our depression, and now three years later we've simply accepted today as another day. So apologies to those who feel offended, but my lack of posting will likely be due to spending Saturday hanging out with friends, not any legitimate moment of pause.

And while I respect the concept of milestone, arbitary as it is, I think there's far more important milestones in current events than today being the third anniversary of something.

Here's the strip I made a year ago. Here's the essay I wrote two years ago. If there is any importance that should be derived from seeing them today, it should be the utterly aggravating truth that the points they make are both still relevant.

Another year older, no one the wiser.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:49 AM

September 10, 2004

Is it "resolved" yet, honey?

"If any definitive evidence to the contrary of our story is found, we will report it.
So far, there is none."

-Dan Rather, 6:40 PM EST.

See, this is why Dan Rather, problematic as he is, still gets to be called a journalist, and why random people with websites don't.

Welcome to the real world, "new media."

Update: a statement from CBS News via e-mail:

Thank you for taking the time to write. Your support is appreciated. As you can imagine, we've been inundated with negative emails. It's refreshing to hear from a viewer such as yourself. We strive for the highest level of journalistic integrity and will continue to do so, no matter what the cost. A free society demands free, unmuzzled media expression.
It's likely a form, but it's a good form. And you should go get your own. As Atrios says, reward good behavior. It'll take you two minutes.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:50 PM

Ahh, compassionate conservatism

We're dealing with some real angels here, aren't we.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:22 PM

They named him Gabe.

Congrats, Mike.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:29 AM

Ding dong, the witch is dead!

Eisner out; will leave Disney in 2006.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:37 AM

September 9, 2004

Argh. I lied.

Okay, I have one more, because it just occured to me in the shower. Hey, you want honesty, right?

It suddenly occured to me that no one else has seemed to take pause to the over-abundance of the letter S in the "forged memo" issue. By that, I mean the immediate declaration that all the memos released by CBS last night are faked.

This started mostly after Charles Johnson of LGF wrote out the text of one of the documents- Col. Killian's "CYA" memo- and discovered that the alignment of the text in Microsoft Word is the same as that on the 30-year old memo. I did it myself and I'm sure a lot of you also did; he's right. This doesn't mean as much as Johnson would like to, as two documents using the same font with a standard alignment would, well, align the same way. No one having the original, it's very hard for any document analyst, including the "expert" touted by a right-wing blog, to state the fonts are 100% identical, the kerning is dead-on, or that this is rock-solid proof of forgery.

But, let's play Devil's Advocate. (Being LGF, many could see this too literally) Let's assume that Charles Johnson is correct. Let's say that, using the Microsoft Word test, it's clear and convincing proof that the document was created simply by typing it out in Microsoft Word. As Johnson says in his own post title, let's say it proves that the "documents are forgeries."

If so, there's just one slight problem: Johnson's technique doesn't work for any other document, including all the other documents released last night by CBS.

This includes the memo in which then-Lt. George Bush is ordered- note ordered- to take his physical- an order, by Bush's own statements and accompanying documentation, that Bush subsequently disobeyed.

Go ahead, do the Word test. Open it up and start typing. You'll notice that any alleged fabricator would have had to do the following things: disable auto-listing, disable auto-truncation of the "st" in Bush's title, and re-kerned the text to align the text the same way as the memo.

In other words, if similarity to re-typing in Microsoft word proves conclusively that the "CYA" memo is a fake, then the exact same method proves conclusively that the other memos aren't. Johnson pushed, and the entire blogging world accepted, the statement that this proved all the other Killian documents to be fake. Funny, but I don't see Charles Johnson saying that O.J. is innocent because one of the cops was a racist... or for that matter, that the Swift Boat group are all liars because a handful have been proven as such. (I have stated the latter, but then again I'm not accusing media networks of libel because I started Photoshop Friday a day early.)

This would of course not include the possibility that the forger merely took these steps with every new document save the "CYA" memo; a feat which would be beyond stupid on his/her part.

But is this conclusive? Of course not. That, and not my partisan opposition to Bush, is what makes this infuriating. The chief progenitor of this entire issue, the blog Powerline, has, as noted several times tonight, grated our intelligence with statements such as "Charles Johnson has resolved the issue..." since writing that, the blog author(s) have recieved new feedback and updated that post alone nine times.

Nine updates means you haven't resolved a damned thing.

What this all appears to mean, again giving an extreme right-wing cabal of people devoted to the concept that CBS is a gestapo of liberal subversives the benefit of the doubt, is that the utmost extent of Johnson's valid arguments could be that the single memo titled "CYA" alleged to be personally written by Col. Jerry Killian has been fabricated in Microsoft Word.

In factual terms, Johnson hasn't proven by any standard that the document was created in Word, only that it could be. A professional analyst studying the original document is the only source that could claim the former- and apparently CBS was the only source that could/did do this. A blogger sending screenshots and rescanned PDFs to someone who is "really, really sure" simply doesn't hold water in light of the fact that being correct would implicate the CBS network in one of the largest charges of fraud and deception in this election cycle.

And, finally, let us remind all that the White House has, in no way whatsoever, alleged any of the documents to be fake. Furthermore, they have addressed the new memos as "proving Bush served and was honorably discharged." Why would the White House agree to the content of memos they didn't think were real?

But, as the planet will collectively heave, who cares? The comments section of every left-wing blog on earth will now have troll comments from right-wingers joking about the falsehood of the documents. The right-wingers have all they need. The issue has been resolved for them, and they'll hawk it as fact by the end of the week. This was a coordinated triumph of sleaze, but to a level at which even for sleaze you have to be impressed.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:55 PM

Last word on the Killian memo

I'm going to say my final piece (hopefully) on today's feeding frenzy that was the memo "forgeries."

Based on the right-winger's accusations about the similarities to a Word document, this may sound silly but it is the honest truth: reproducing a memo in Word doesn't mean the original memo is a forgery. It simply means that the memo could have been made in Microsoft Word.

Which means, to clear up any idea I may have been suggesting otherwise, that the memos CBS released could very well be forgeries. I don't think they are, not just because I see as many inconsistencies with the forgery clues as I do similarities, thus leading me to the conclusion that people are merely seeing what they want to see, but because of the logical fallacy of CBS' own self-interests.

For one thing, if it was this easy to fake the documents and find out they were fake, that tends to instigate that CBS wouldn't have fallen for it. The blogosphere loves to credit itself as smarter than all other "outdated" media sources, but considering the implications of what CBS could suffer should they have committed fraud, I find it hard to believe the documents weren't given at least a nominal smell-test.

As I said before, this was more about shifting the clear damage these documents do to Bush toward the damage the forgery implications could do to Kerry's campaign. The right, admittedly, is masterful at this art, and they've done it once again. Blogs have declared themselves authorites on things, and therefore when a blog declares "this issue is over," as I've noted that one blog obnoxiously did, people who want that to be true simply go along with it.

So are the documents fake? Who knows. It honestly doesn't matter any more, because Team Bush still got its damage control.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:56 PM

"The issue is resolved."

Look, Powerline, I get to sound like a moron too!

Greg and LeanLeft both "resolve the issue" of your and and Charles Johnson's "resolving the issue."

Awwww.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:23 PM

Un-freaking-believable

I've said this many times, but I'll say it again: I find no act more infuriating, more insulting, and more annoying than a smart person, or at the very least a coherent, rational person, deliberately pretending to be stupid for the sake of personal gain.

It's what makes Dennis Miller such a loathsome person, but it's also why people like Glenn Reynolds and Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs so popular: they pretend that they're not smart enough to show that they know damn well they're spewing complete horsecrap even while they're saying it. And their fans, searching not for answers, but just what they want to hear, lap it up.

Such is the case of the "announcement" mentioned today about the 60 Minutes documents related to Bush's TANG record. Here's a graf from CBS' story:

Col. Killian died in 1984. 60 Minutes consulted a handwriting analyst and document expert who believes the material is authentic.

Robert Strong was a friend and colleague of Col. Killian who ran the Texas Air National Guard administrative office in the Vietnam era. Strong, now a college professor, believes these documents are genuine.

Now, here's Charles Johnson:

I opened Microsoft Word, set the font to Microsoft�s Times New Roman, tabbed over to the default tab stop to enter the date "18 August 1973," then typed the rest of the document purportedly from the personal records of the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian.

And my Microsoft Word version, typed in 2004, is an exact match for the documents trumpeted by CBS News as "authentic."

And, as I noted in my previous comment about one conservative blog linking to this and being trackbacked over 50 times (it's now up to 110,) the fix is in.

In the sad world of online discussion, that's all it takes. "I can make a copy of this, therefore the original is fake" is courtroom-level factual rebuttal to a professional media organization hiring a professional document analyst.

Forget that this doesn't even pass the logic test- a professional painting restorer could, by Johnson's logic, duplicate a Van Gogh and claim it as proof that the original was fake. Forget that this accusation doesn't pass the rationality test- we're talking about the idea that one of the largest news organizations in the world not only faked evidence, but libelously claimed it as accurate. Consider instead, that this was done for only one reason- it's much easier to do than actually addressing the accusations against Bush the documents provided.

You may have noticed that you didn't notice that on Instapundit at all. Why would the right-wing blogs factually refute Barnes' accusations- it's much easier to declare victory by means of covering your ears and singing loudly in the form of saying the newest evidence doesn't count.

In a span of a few hours, the accusations about the records have ranged from the font not existing at the time of the original document (it did) to the typewriter used not being able to create certain characters. (it could) But it doesn't matter, because by doing this, the conservatives got exactly what they want- making the debate not about what the documents reveal, but if anyone should look at them in the first place.

Instapundit, LGF, the Powerline blog, all those right-wing blogs. They know this. They know they're simply throwing shit and seeing if it sticks. They're smart enough to know what they're doing- they'd have to be to do something this duplicitous. And they do it by pretending to be stupid about it. Bush possibly disobeyed a direct order from a commanding officer. The right's response? That CBS is clearly violating every tenet of journalistic integrity. Who are you going to believe- a worldwide decades-old media organization with professional analysts behind it, or the owner of a right-wing website who spent ten minutes playing Photoshop Thursday?

The answer, to the right, is clear. And frankly, there's nothing more disgusting than that. Pretending you don't know the truth by pretending to be too stupid to understand it- truly, a shining beacon for political discourse in this nation.

Update: TBogg calls it "the evolving smear." Which is much nicer than what I would call it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:54 PM

FUBAR

Everyone's talking about stuff on Kevin Drum's site today, yet everytime I try to link there, I get a 404 error. Is anyone else just not connecting to Political Animal today?

Update: Fixed now. Never mind.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:18 PM

RIP, Irony's twin brother, Irony, d. 2004

Apparently, the new memos released by CBS yesterday on 60 Minutes after their interview with Ben Barnes have, and I'm quoting a conservative blog here, are fake, and the "issue is resolved."

I absolutely love it when a blog says a political issue is "resolved." Why can't they just say "I found what I was looking for, and now I'm going to pretend it's over so I don't look like I was actually concerned when all the evidence proving me completely wrong was uncovered... oh I don't know, six minutes or so later?" Too wordy?

The issue was resolved because the documents were declared forgeries by Little Green footballs and posters on Free Republic.

Yet Barnes wasn't to be trusted in the first place... because of his partisan leanings.

Since I feel like shooting fish in a barrell for a moment, and to save you the trouble of reading LGF, here's the summation: the 30-year old documents are forgeries... because LGF made duplicates using Microsoft Word. That's right. It turns out thiese things call com-pyoo-tors can, using magical pixie powers, be used to duplicate documents from 30 years ago.

The mind. Freaking. Reels.

Update: Andrew Sullivan -Andrew Sullivan, for crap's sake- has pointed out the slight problem in LGF's throwing of crap to see if it sticks- the White House released exact copies of the memo they claim was a forgery. Umm.... oops.

I guess what's funny about all of this is that you if you scroll to the bottom of that first site's Trackback list, you've got over 50 right-wing blogs linking to it, most of which just by their post titles accept thae accusation of forgery as concrete, irrefutable proof. Truly, such a conclusion was given with equal consideration and analysis as the original documents to begin with. Riiiiight.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:01 PM

September 8, 2004

RIP Irony, d. 2004

Greg links to an article reminding us all of the sheer gall of the Bush campaign:

President Bush may skip one of the three debates that have been proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates and accepted by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Republican officials said yesterday.

The officials said Bush's negotiating team plans to resist the middle debate, which was to be Oct. 8 in a town meeting format in the crucial state of Missouri.

The audience for the second debate, to be at Washington University in St. Louis, was to be picked by the Gallup Organization. The commission said participants should be undecided voters from the St. Louis area.

A presidential adviser said campaign officials were concerned that people could pose as undecided when they actually are partisans.

Bush wants to chicken out of one of the debates, and his excuse is that the town hall meeting format- the type he demanded from Al Gore in 2000- might be open to partisan voters. Bush, as you may recall, makes voters sign loyalty oaths to attend his campaign stops and handles such difficult inquiries from the "independent" voter as "I have no questions, Mr. President, only three thanks yous."

Breathtaking.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:57 AM

Possibly relevant

The Log Cabin Republicans have decided not to endorse Bush. This doesn't mean they're endorsing Kerry, only that they will, for the sake of their tax bracket, continue to exercise self-hate en masse. I have a feeling this just means they want to be less open about it this election, but I this seems more like a PR thing than an actual danger to Bush's poll numbers.

Let's face it: people who plan to vote for Bush convinced themselves years ago they're going to vote for him. Log Cabin Republicans simply express denial in terms of Bush's hatred of their sexuality. It's no different from the vets who are in denial about Bush's slashing of their funds, the teachers who are in denial about Bush ruining the public education system even further, or the doctors who think Bush cares about them because of the nonsensical "tort reform" rhetoric.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:32 AM

You can say it, I know you can

I'm reading this article about the forced release of more Bush service records and I really admire the restraint the reporters have on stating the obvious.

WASHINGTON - Months after insisting it could find no more records of President Bush's Air National Guard service, the Defense Department has released more than two dozen pages of files, including Bush's report card for flight training and dates of his flights.
So... they lied.

The records, released under pressure of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The Associated Press, show Bush ranked in the middle of his 1969 flight training class and flew 336 hours for the Texas Air National Guard, mostly in the F-102A fighter.

The Pentagon and Bush's campaign have claimed for months that all records detailing his fighter pilot career have been made public, but defense officials acknowledged Tuesday they had found two dozen new records detailing his training and flight logs after the AP sued and submitted new requests under the public records law.

In other words, they lied.

"Previous requests from other requesters for President Bush's Individual Flight Records did not lead to the discovery of these records because at the time President Bush left the service, flight records were subject to retention for only 24 months and we understood that neither the Air Force nor the Texas Air National Guard retained such records thereafter," the Pentagon told the AP.

"Out of an abundance of caution," the government "searched a file that had been preserved in spite of this policy" and found the Bush records, the letter said. "The Department of Defense regrets this oversight during the previous search efforts."

We lied, but you caught us... sorry?

Democratic National Committee (news - web sites) communications director Jano Cabrera disagreed. "For months George Bush (news - web sites) told the nation that all his military records were public," he said. "Now we know why Bush was trying so hard to withhold these records. When his nation asked him to be on call against possible surprise attacks, Bush wasn't there."

The newly released records show Bush, a lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard, ranked No. 22 in a class of 53 pilots when he finished his flight training at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia in 1969.

Over the next three years, he logged 326.4 hours as a pilot and an additional 9.9 hours as a co-pilot, mostly in the F-102A jet used to intercept enemy aircraft. Of the 278 hours he flew in the interceptor, about 77 hours were in the TF-102A, the two-seat trainer version of the one-seat fighter jet.

The records show his last flight was in April 1972, which is consistent with pay records indicating Bush had a lapse of duty between April and October of that year. Bush has said he had permission to go to Alabama in 1972 to work on an unsuccessful Republican Senate campaign. Bush skipped a required medical exam that cost him his pilot's status in August of that year.

Bush's 2000 campaign suggested the future president skipped his medical exam in part because the F-102A was nearly obsolete. Records show Bush's Texas unit flew the F-102A until 1974 and used the jets as part of an air defense drill during 1972.

So, Bush lied.

It showed the unit joined a "24-hour active alert mission to safeguard against surprise attack" in the southern United States beginning on Oct. 6, 1972, a mission for which Bush was not present, according to his pay records.
Bush lied, and was absent when in a position of safeguarding the country.

My condensed version of this article is much better and reads more accurately. But that's just me.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:25 AM

September 7, 2004

Words fail.






One thousand.




I'm not really sure what else I have to say today.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:14 PM

September 6, 2004

Thursday's trip to the city

Pictures now up. Enjoy the wandering around the perimeter of Madison Square Garden experience.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:48 PM



Newest comic - "Less painful than a bowel disruptor"

Sans the fictional costumed characters ratcheting giant iron pegs into my head at extreme velocities (which, admittedly, is a lot) this is pretty much true to life. Amidst all the concepts of me trying to act as though I was some kind of cartoonist, I had never until this weekend actually read a single issue of Transmet.

When I lived with Chris at NYU he had a couple of issues laying around that I never bothered to ask to borrow. Finally thumbing through one at a Borders the other day I found myself, three hours later, tearing through the entire damn series, one by one. As soon as I re-acquire one of those things you do where you perform various tasks for financial compensation, Amazon will again claim a victim.

In fact, the Warren Zevon reference is sadly true as well. I only got around to borrowing a copy of My Ride's Here last year, and I'm now not just a fan, but genuinely angry that I never bothered to listen to it before, in a time where, as this week's comic describes, you could actually fawn over it and not look like an out-of-touch doofus.

As one who is notorious for aggravating my family with desperate attempts to steer any conversation toward whatever I really just enjoyed doing- in this case, discovering a comic series that ended last year- I'll consider this week's installment therapy for my inability to go into detail about how enjoyable old things are when they're new to you. My only other advice? Start watching The Venture Brothers on Cartoon Network. Now. When it's just started. Because if you wait until a year from now you'll be ready to turn the bolt gun on yourself.

Oh, and hopefully the comic itself made this point, but let's keep the e-mails about how much you love this show or that comic to a minimum. Just that if I have to go through any fanboy letters I'm gonna jump off a roof.

As always, show your love for the comic and buy some crap.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:06 AM