July 9, 2005

What the hell?

Not to sound like one of those pretentious folks, but I honestly don't watch that much television ever since I moved down to The District. My only "routine" viewings involve The Daily Show and Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. (and of course Doctor Who, but I get that off the... umm... perfectly... legal... place)

I'm sure working 12-hour days has something to do with it too, but anyway- the actual point is that it was only yesterday I first saw a trailer on the teevee for this new movie that apparently a lot of people have already heard about. It's called Stealth. It stars Jamie Foxx. Just so we're perfectly clear on this, three months ago he won Best Actor at the Academy Awards. I felt this was something very important that you should remain focused on as I continue this passage. Foxx, apparently, plays an Air Force pilot who flies a state-of-the-art fighter plane, but now he's been replaced by a plane that's run by a computer, that has malfunctioned and is flying around the world killing people, and only he can stop it with his superior fighter plane skills.

I'm going to reprint that entire last sentence verbatim now.

Foxx, apparently, plays an Air Force pilot who flies a state-of-the-art fighter plane, but now he's been replaced by a plane that's run by a computer, that has malfunctioned and is flying around the world killing people, and only he can stop it with his superior fighter plane skills.

So in the span of three months, we have gone from non-stop coverage of the superior talent of Jamie Foxx, the inevitability of his Oscar win, the talent, the drive, and so on... to Jamie Foxx versus a robot plane. With lasers.

I really don't know what to say after that. I'm going to go lie down now.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:44 AM

Oh, yeah, by the way

Fox News? All douchebags. Most of the time.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:22 AM

July 8, 2005

An open letter to everyone sending me An open letter to the terrorists from London

Hello, folks. Some of you are going to send me this editorial. Some of you already have. It's quite popular. I'm now going to say something that's going to make you very mad at me.

Stop sending it to me. Not because I have already read it, but because it is complete and utter shit.

This is not some kind of attempt to be all cool and rebellious and insulting to the victims of the London bombings. I think what happened is horrible. And I agree with the emotion of the letter in that these people must be stopped.

That said, this editorial is complete and utter shit.

It's babbling, ego-fueling tripe meant not to comfort any actual victim of these terrible events but rather the people who weren't directly affected at all, who want some kind of emotional justification for what happened to someone other than them. This thing reads like the way most of us act in the first five minutes after a cop gives us a speeding ticket- rambling angry crap about what a fucker the guy is and how it's unfair and how we'll fucking fight these motherfuckers, they'll regret ever MEETING us let alone pulling us over, and then we get to the Blockbuster and back home again and actually sit the fuck down and start thinking like a rational human being again.

As a liberal, I was horrified when Bush made his "bring it on" speech that was, under the guise of some kind of morale boost, an open declaration that he wants more terrorists to try and attack us. I don't understand how I could applaud this article that basically embodies the exact same concept and not feel like a hypocrite.

If I want some truly poignant, emotional, meaningful words from the war-ravaged battlefields of England, I'll read Henry V, not this post-match WWE promo.

That these events were horrific and unforgivable does not affect that a kneejerk editorial response to them can be complete and utter shit. Both concepts exist on the same plane, as this article proves. As a gesture of goodwill, I will concede that I am grateful the author was at least not as kneejerk as Ann Coulter, who once wrote a kneejerk piece of shit editorial response to a terrorist attack that directly advocated genocide.

So hey, you've got that.

Update: Okay, so now I'm writing this post three or so hours later, after having a brief conversation with the guy who actually wrote the piece in one of those encounters only the internet can bring.

I'm standing by my point that the article was- at the very least by tangible means- shitty. And that it's knee-jerk, and that it's obnoxious in the context of a bunch of people uninvolved praising it with an "America- er- England! FUCK YEAH!" attitude. But, as I just told him, I really shouldn't have written that in a way that attacks the guy who actually was directly affected by the events. Plus, as opposed to Ann Coulter who reveled in her calls for genocide after 9/11, the author was a nice guy who could have easily called me on being a complete asshole toward his column but instead reflected on where I had an accurate argument.

I lived in New York during the 9/11 attacks and watched the honest, rational, compassionate response from New Yorkers who, despite fears to the contrary, did not riot in the streets and cause utter pandemonium across Manhattan. Instead, they lined up to give blood. Meanwhile, Ann Coulter did her part by sitting down and writing about how we now need to kill foreign leaders and convert Muslims to Christianity. That's what I read when I first got this article in my inbox, and it's an insult to the writer to compare he experience and reaction to someone like Ann Coulter. So I'll don the asshole hat for that line of thinking.

To rephrase, I shouldn't have said that this was MEANT as ego-fuel for the uninvolved, merely that people flagging it (and e-mailing it to me a dozen times) are the ones doing the ego fueling. I guess I picked the wrong moment to make a knee-jerk reaction about how horrible knee-jerk reactions are.

But for all the people forwarding it and cheering this kind of overall talk, the Bush analogy still stands, too: you can't cheer for this and condemn "Bring it On." It's the exact same bad idea.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:49 PM

July 7, 2005

Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap

I was just sent a media advisory to expect a possible statement from Chief Justice Rehnquist between 10:00 and 11:00 am tomorrow morning.

Grab the lube, America.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:02 PM

Oh no

Multiple explosions in London. Some confirmed dead. Sources starting to believe al-Qaeda involvement.


Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:01 AM

July 6, 2005


Fred Thompson

This dude is now responsible for picking the next Supreme Court Justice.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:07 PM

The Bring Back Public Executions Act of 2005

Republicans want to speed up death penalty. No, really, that's the actual title of the article.

Republicans in Congress have launched a new effort to speed up executions in the United States by limiting the ability of those sentenced to death to appeal to federal courts.

The "Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005," introduced into the House of Representatives by California Rep. Dan Lungren and in the Senate by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, would limit the ability of defendants facing the death sentence to have their cases reviewed by federal courts in what are known as habeas corpus appeals.

"You see delays in death penalty cases where they are allowed to drag on for 15 or even 25 years. Defense attorneys have come to believe the longer they delay, the better it is for their clients," Lungren said in an interview.

And damn those lawyers, looking out for their clients and all. What, pray tell, may be the reason they want extended appeals?

"It is critical. Often, the defendant's original lawyers are so poorly funded and so overworked that they cannot do the basic research that the case requires. That's why the error level is so high in death penalty cases," said one California defense lawyer, who asked not to be named.

A study headed by Columbia University statistician and political scientist Andrew Gelman of all 5,826 death sentences imposed in the United States between 1973 and 1995 found that 68 per cent were reversed on appeal.

The most common reasons were "egregiously incompetent lawyering, prosecutorial misconduct or suppression of evidence, misintruction of jurors or biased judges or jurors," said the study published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.

Federal courts examining habeas corpus appeals overturned 40 percent of the cases that had previously been upheld by state appeals courts -- a fact the authors called worrisome.

In other words, Republicans don't want to put restrictions on this because it "takes too long to execute" a prisoner. They want these blocks because people sentenced to death are being freed for pesky things like faulty evidence, inept public defenders, shoddy legal procedure and, oh yeah, not actually being guilty.

The fact that we have, by almost every fathomable use of logic, without a doubt executed numerous innocent people because we couldn't be bothered to put effort into it is a bit more than just "worrisome." The fact that Republicans want to solve it by sweeping corpses under the rug at a faster pace is simply sociopathic.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:19 PM

�You have to get them quickly�

For all the talk about the tactics army recruiters have had to resort to in order to meet quotas lately, you'll rarely see coverage of the actual day-to-day routine of soldiers assigned to keep the numbers up.

Well that's the subject of a new article up on Campus Progress, where Daniel Savickas spent the day at a Reno, Nevada military recruitment center.

8 a.m.

Sgt. Hunt began the day with the weekly meeting, talking to his staff about their recruiting techniques, focusing on the importance of timely follow up before outside influences could convince potential recruits not to join.

�You have to get them quickly,� Hunt said.

Later in the day Hunt told me that the hardest part about signing someone up for the army is getting his or her mother�s approval.

8:30 a.m.

Hunt granted the group a five minute break. Hunt came over and introduced himself to me and took the opportunity to sum up their morning meeting: �It�s all sales,� he said.

When the group reconvened, they read from an Army manual, which discussed proper recruiting techniques. The manual continually called the recruiters salesmen.

�I�m not a salesman,� said Sgt. Zirbel, who sat in the middle of the room. �I�m a soldier.�

Hunt explained that the manual was outdated and for the rest of the time that he read from the manual he tried to leave out the term �salesman.�

At one point in the meeting a man in his late 20s came in.

�I�m here to volunteer. I�d like to join,� he said.

Sgt. Martian explained to him that they were in the morning meeting and told him to come back in 15 minutes to half an hour. The man never returned.

Far more than casting light on the actual people who are assigned to do this job, it's an interesting look at the slow realization that the army itself is accepting: the military is more and more requiring this kind of marketing. The comparisons to salesmen are prevalent because we no longer are asking kids to volunteer for the army; we're trying to sell them the war.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:46 AM

Rock, scissors, abortion

I just read this headline on Yahoo! News:

Bush: Abortion Won't Decide Court Nominee

Well, golly, I hope so. They're usually a lot older than that, aren't they?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:59 AM


It's been less than five minutes since the IOCC announced that, to some surprise, London will host the 2012 Olympics and not Paris. And in that time, the right-wing blogs have already started talking about it in the context of "defeat for the French." A few of them were up even earlier than that to watch New York get eliminated and immediately start blaming Hillary Clinton, and not, you know, the fact that New York City has no Olympic stadium and a nitwit mayor with delusions of grandeur.

All in all, I could really give two shits about where the Olympics are being held- and if you really think the decision is in any context of the war in Iraq, I think your bigger issue is your subconscious assumption that there will still be a war in Iraq in seven years. I just think it's absolutely hilarious that a bunch of warbloggers made the effort to wake up extra early one morning because they heard they could get a head start on bashing Hillary Clinton and the French for no reason whatsoever.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:01 AM

July 5, 2005

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:50 PM

I officially hate freedom

The publisher of the largest newspaer in America wrote an editorial lamenting the lack of a strong, trusted voice in the media.

Words fail me.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:00 PM

July 4, 2005

Newest comic - "Donald Rumsfeld, MD"

The original concept I ran by some people- that people should celebrate, as per Rumsfeld's suggestions, the news that someone was in their "last throes" because it clearly meant long-term activity (as opposed to the opposite, which is what you're led to believe a "throe" means just because that's what it says in all those dictionaries) was met with looks suggesting that's the most tasteless idea I've ever done. So I felt attaching Dick Cheney to it was sort of mandatory, because I hate him.

Still a lot of work going on down here, so combined with today apparently being some kind of holiday in my area- I hear there may be parades of some sort- this'll proably stay up at the top through Tuesday. As always, feel free to buy some crap. It's the American Way.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:18 AM

July 3, 2005

If you weren't reading PowerLine, you'd think it was Stalin

Hugh Hewitt and Powerline have decided that they disagreed with an editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune defending Dick Durbin's "if you twisted my words around enough, you could suggest I called troops Nazis" statement. In response, they have launched a campaign to have people cancel their subscriptions and put the paper out of business.

So, remember folks- when you want to stand up for democratic, American values, be like Hugh Hewitt and Powerline- shut down free media that criticizes the ruling party.

Update: an e-mail from reader Greg Austin:

It's interesting that Hugh Hewitt would take such an interest in the Star Tribune--wait a minute, one of Hugh's regular radio show guests is Jim Lileks, one of the Star Tribune's humor columnists, who surely is biting the hand that feeds him. I'm sure that's not news to you, but it's one of the few connections I can make anymore in this mess and thought I'd write in on it. My wife is from Minneapolis, and we found Lileks' web page really funny and clever for a while, and I thought he was surely as liberal as the rest of the city, until 9/11 happened, and then the war, and then Lileks' true bizarro Felix Unger In A Bunker behavior reared its head. I wish the Star Trib could find a way to fire that ungrateful asshole. But since his wife is (or used to be) a district attorney in the city, I'm sure that is helping him keep his job.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:17 AM