March 19, 2005

Jesus.

Via Steve M.:

ABC News has obtained talking points circulated among Republican senators explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case. Among them: "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited..." and "This is a great political issue... this is a tough issue for Democrats."
Scum. Absolute and utter scum.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:22 AM

March 18, 2005

No way!

Study: Homeless, unemployed favor malt liquor.

Malt liquor, a type of beer that is higher in alcohol than other brews, is largely a drink of the homeless and unemployed, and is likely to be abused, U.S. researchers reported Monday.

And malt liquor is heavily marketed to black and Hispanic youth, the team at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in California found.

Rhonda Jones-Webb, an expert in alcohol consumption and behavior at the University of Minnesota who reviewed the study, said she was concerned about the marketing of malt liquor.

The products are largely targeted to black and Hispanic youths and young adults, she said.

"Rap artists have been popular images in malt liquor advertising and 'gangsta' rap performers portray malt liquor as a sign of masculinity," she said.

What a scoop, guys! Cheap beer is the choice of poor people? And the kids with their "break-dance" records are imbibing these so-called "40s," you say? When did this happen?

Here's the part that really struck me from the article, though: Rhonda Jones-Webb is a professional "expert in alcohol consumption?" Holy shit, dude, are they hiring? Because I've got a friend who's looking for work right now, and as a Dartmouth graduate he's more than qualified.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 3:03 PM

Strange restricted-to-a-hospital-bedfellows

In a statement I'm sure you'll rarely hear me say again, if at all, Neal Boorz is a voice of reason in the Terri Schiavo debacle:

Republican Mike Enzi of Wyoming, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee, says that he is going to issue a subpoena today to Terri Schiavo ... a subpoena to testify before the committee. This illustrates the absurdity of this situation as nothing else can. Congress will subpoena a woman in a persistent vegetative state to testify. All we need now is for some sort of special arrangement to allow West Virginia's Robert Byrd to question her.

At the center of the Terri Schiavo tragedy is America's anti-abortion movement. Notice, please, the presence of Randall Terry. The fact is that the anti-abortion movement has seized Terri Schiavo ... figuratively kidnapped her .. and they intend to use this woman to further their anti-abortion agenda. They will entomb the soul of Terri Schiavo in her now-useless body as long as it suits their agenda.

The language of those who would continue the imprisonment of Terri Schiavo is odd, if not amusing. She's referred to as disabled, in a coma or just brain damaged. She is not "disabled" in the normal context of the word. Her body is, for all practical purposes, dead ... being kept alive solely through extraordinary artificial means. She's not in a coma. People recover from comas. Her condition is diagnosed as a "persistent vegetative state." There is no medical record of someone recovering from a persistent vegetative state. This is not a state of brain damage. It is, for all practical purposes, brain death.

The absurdities of this case would be funny if they weren't so pathetic. Terri's family said last year that they wanted to take her to the mall, and for other field trips. Of course, those trips never happened; just as Terri will never testify before a congressional committee. We also have the blatant attempts to turn the attention away from Terri's condition and to her husband. His crime? He says, and the courts have agreed, that he is merely carrying out wishes expressed to him by his wife. Listen to the Schiavo family and you will hear that her husband her condition was caused by a beating at the hands of her husband. It wasn't. You'll hear that her husband stands to rack up huge piles of money as soon as Terri dies. He won't.

The most recent news in this disgrace of the legal system is that Congress has now subpoenaed Terri Schiavo. Yes, the braindead woman who's been a vegetable for fourteen years. They're pretending that they have cause to subpoena her, for the sole purpose of preventing her husband from doing what every single court so far has agreed he has the right to do.

A few weeks ago I made an admittedly grotesque comment to some friends about the case, in that the Right is one step away from propping her body up on a pole and dancing her around to show how alive she is. Well, they're actually doing it now. Congratulations, democracy, you've really matured today.

Update: More from Oliver and Majikthise.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:42 PM

AOL thingie

A lot of people wrote in about my AOL Instant Messenger post- from what I've gathered from most of you, yes- AOL can monitor any IM transmissions, regardless of what client you use, but according to some, this policy actually means it's for their online chat forums, not for the actual monitoring of Instant Messenger. Take that as you will.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:25 AM

March 17, 2005

Shorter Sean Hannnity

The capitalist attempt to extract more profit from holidays by marketing them as secular rather than religious is all the liberals' fault.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:53 AM

This Divided State

If any of you guys out there are in the DC area, or want to let friends who are know about it, you should know that Campus Progress is having the DC premiere of the film This Divided State on March 23 at a free screening here in the District.

You can read the article we wrote about the film here, but here's a quick summary: this is a film documenting the student council of Utah Valley State College, in the heart of Mormon country, inviting Michael Moore to speak on campus, and the near-nuclear fallout that resulted. Fun events inclue the Michael Moore look-alikes, the somewhat insane people against the film, the somewhat insane people for the film, and a guest appearance by Sean Hannity.

A special word on Hannity in this film- odds are, if you're reading this site, you dislike Sean Hannity. It is vital that you watch this film, then, to get a better grasp of just why. You get to see a fifteen-minute piece on what he's like at a college speaking event, or, if you prefer the more traditional term, a hate rally. He pulls liberals up on stage and has the audience boo them. He makes the audience chant slogans in unison. He goes on and on about "Great Americans." It was by far one of the more disturbing things I've ever seen. (The bit about his demanding over ten grand from the school to pay for his private jet is fun too)

We're bringing the film around the country as part of a college event tour, but DC is the premiere, and we really need to pack the house. Plus, as I've noted a few times, it's just a great documentary in general. The article I noted above has some clips if you don't believe me. If you do believe me, and live in the DC area and want to attend, click here for more information and a link to the RSVP page.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:20 AM

March 16, 2005

It's an old-fashioned hole diggin'

This entry is cross-posted at the Campus Progress blog.

Rightly so, David Horowitz is being taken to task for his most recent assault on Liberal AcademiaTM which has proven to be, well, almost completely wrong. What's interesting- actually, hilarious- has been Horowitz's response that, as noted on Pandagon, is the website equivalent of digging one's self into a seventy-foot hole.

Enjoyable and annoying at the same time, but it's a more interesting example of the juvenile nature of the world of online punditry. In the real world, crisis is met with the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. For right-wing bloggers, the pattern is denial, anger, bargaining, and launching an unfounded attack againt liberals followed by proceeding to ignore the issue and waiting for people to stop talking about how wrong you are.

The most perfect example of this pattern is the recent actions of the right-wing blog Powerline, whose authors pushed an Ann Coulter column that suggested the "outing" of Maya Keyes as an example of how liberals will pore into personal lives for the sake of attacking conservatives. The problem in Coulter's accusation being that it was 100% factually innacurate was brought to the attention of Powerline, who, faced with incontroversial evidence of their mistake, proceeded to grow and harvest an entire field of straw for the sole purpose of grasping at it.

What ties these two incidents together is rather revealing- it's not the fact that each of the authors were proven wrong. All media and news sources are wrong. Most are forced to issue retractions and corrections- ironically, Powerline devoted itself to forcing this out of Dan Rather. What's telling, and frankly disturbing, is the almost physical inabilty for either Horowitz or the authors at Powerline to just freaking admit they were wrong.

Here's what gets me about the whole deal- webloggers and online pundits in general tend to pride themselves on their archives. With the exception of Matt Drudge, who deletes all his proven-false information, 1984-style, and therefore lies in a class by himself, most people who write on the internet keep an archive of everything they've written.

The relationship is somewhat perplexing- If I wanted to, I could go to Instapundit and look up something he wrote three years ago. Except I don't want to. In fact, no one does. I think it's safe to say that very few people actually go back and read the archives of a political weblog. By nature, they're topical, and people care about the current issues of the moment. If you wanted anything older than two weeks from many major newspapers, you'd have to pay them. For stuff several years old, you're talking microfiche at the public library, if at all.

And yet, while webloggers have without a doubt the best archival and retrieval functions out of any major media source, they are the most negligent in maintaining them. Forget the obvious point that webloggers rarely, if at all, issue retractions. The subconscious belief of the blogosphere is that any post older than about 48 hours is officially carved in stone. I'm sure there's an example or two, but the number of instances in which a weblogger- left or right- was called on a blatant inaccuracy of something they said a week, let alone a month or a year ago, and then corrected in their archives is close to nil.

It's that very belief that I think explains these actions from Powerline and Horowitz. They know that, if allowed a week to let their lies sit in a blog archive, they are no longer obligated to actually correct it. That's the magical, unspoken, mind-numbingly ignorant law of the blogosphere- on the internet, everyone is correct after 15 minutes.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:38 PM

March 14, 2005

This really isn't hard, children

Given the right-wing demands to "fight back against activist judges" who "legislate from the bench" and other rhetoric that right-wing bloggers have chosen to repeat verbatim from the White House, I'd like to note the following bit of historical education:

The judicial branch of government is established in Article III of the Constitution with the creation of the Supreme Court. This court is the highest court in the country and is empowered with the judicial powers of the government. There are lower Federal courts but they were not created by the Constitution. Rather, Congress deemed them necessary and established them using power granted from the Constitution. Courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they break the rules of the Constitution. A court's authority to decide constitutionality is called judicial review.
Oh. It appears that, contrary to the bleating of your favorite right-wing weblogs, the very purpose of the Judicial Branch is to regulate the validity of questionable legislation. Perhaps there's a rationale for this brash rise in recent history of judges doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing.

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention faced a difficult challenge. They wanted to ensure a strong, cohesive central government, yet they also wanted to ensure that no individual or small group in the government would become too powerful. Because of the colonies� experience under the British monarchy, the delegates wanted to avoid giving any one person or group absolute control in government. Under the Articles of Confederation, the government had lacked centralization, and the delegates didn�t want to have that problem again. To solve these problems, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention created a government with three separate branches, each with its own distinct powers. This system would establish a strong central government, while insuring a balance of power.

However, there are built in "checks and balances" to prevent tyrannous concentration of power in any one branch and to protect the rights and liberties of citizens. For example, the President can veto bills approved by Congress and the President nominates individuals to serve in the Federal judiciary; the Supreme Court can declare a law enacted by Congress or an action by the President unconstitutional; and Congress can impeach the President and Federal court justices and judges.

Wow, that's pretty controversial stuff. I'd hate to think how FreeRepublic or Wizbang would react if they knew that this kind of claptrap was being tossed upon our nation's youth.

Yes, that's right- our nation's youth. See, this information comes from a website called Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids. The information I've cited on the Judicial Branch is located in the section for sixth to eighth graders.

I'm not sure if it would be worth the time to mount some kind of national campaign to purchase 6th grade textbooks for prominent conservative webloggers- some of whom, I'm told, are actually college professors. But outside of something being horribly wrong with drinking water across the country, I'm not exactly sure why every single blogger who disapproves of a recent court decision suddenly forgets three entire years of grade school civics education.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:06 PM

Newest comic - "Pollish jokes"

The punchline to this strip made me reminisce to those innocent days of the 2000 election campaign when George W. Bush made that expected decision and, as estimated by every Republican internal poll, picked Elizabeth Dole as his running mate. Then, of course, the sheer excruciating pain from the flying monkeys trying to rip apart my bunghole to taste the sweet smell of freedom (which, whatever that smells like, has to be better than bunghole) woke us all up from the collective daydream. Or, in shorter terms- what are you thinking, people?

As for the VP race, much to the befuddlement of all my co-workers, I'm still waiting for that official notice that Cheney isn't going to run. Until he says otherwise, I'm still ranking the refusal to believe he's going to as the most illogical assumption in politics of the last eight years.

Oh, and yes. The "divorced from reality" line is deliberate.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:13 AM

March 13, 2005

Type what?

AOL has just updated the terms of use for Instant Messenger, which include among other things the following new rule:

Although you or the owner of the Content retain ownership of all right, title and interest in Content that you post to any AIM Product, AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating this Content. In addition, by posting Content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses.
Go read it. That's verbatim from AOL. They actually have terms of use that say "you waive the right to privacy."

Now I'm not a massive code wonk, but I'm assuming that technologicially, using a third-party system like GAIM or Trillian doesn't protect you from this. Clearly if AOL can monitor your chat sessions it's monitoring the servers, not the software. Am I wrong in that line of thinking?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:52 PM