The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, November 02, 2002


From the Houston Chronicle...
An instructor at a Pasadena Christian school was charged with aggravated sexual assault Friday and is believed to be pregnant after having an affair with a 13-year-old student.

Lisa Zuniga, 27, a supervisor at Victory Academy, was being held in lieu of a $30,000 bond. She appears to be pregnant but denies that she is, Pasadena police Sgt. Tim Moon said.

Investigators will have to get warrants to conduct tests to determine whether Zuniga is pregnant and, if she is, whether the boy is the father, Moon said.

But even if she is not pregnant, he said, the charge will remain because the boy has given a videotaped statement acknowledging a sexual relationship that lasted from April to October.
Hmm, a Christian school. TFM's question: So when's the wedding?

Josh Marshall reports on the latest goings-on in the Republican BS operation in South Dakota.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Support for U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (news - web sites) Chairman Harvey Pitt is waning as the White House considers a call for his resignation amid political furor over his agency's accounting oversight, The Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The White House is considering asking Pitt to resign or may wait and allow him to step down after the Nov. 5 congressional elections, the paper reported, citing Republican sources.

The report cited rising White House dismay over controversy stirred up by Pitt's appointment of former FBI (news - web sites) chief William Webster and other members of the new Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

Pitt came under heavy fire on Thursday when it emerged he had failed to tell other commissioners and the White House before last week's vote to make Webster chairman that Webster had been involved with a company facing accusations of fraud.

President Bush (news - web sites) could strip Pitt of his chairman's title, but cannot force him to leave the agency, the paper reported.

The White House on Friday publicly reiterated its support for Pitt, while Republicans in Congress were noticeably measured. Democrats continued to demand he step down as SEC staffers privately complained of turmoil at the top becoming a distraction. (full story)
Hmm. As with the backing off on Iraq rhetoric in the UN a few weeks ago, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if a Fox News headline comes up that reads: "White House: No talk of Pitt resignation". I suppose that's how we'll know when he's gone.

UPDATE: Fox has an AP story saying that the White House is "perturbed" at Pitt. It's buried at the bottom of the "politics" section . . . while "Pentagon pumps up reporters" lingers among the headlines.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Republican Bill Simon found himself in the middle of another gay rights controversy Wednesday after he refused to condemn a GOP-funded, pro- Simon radio ad that claims Democrats are "teaching our children . . . homosexual practice is OK." (full story)
This guy just keeps getting dumber and dumber! In a way, it's too bad, because if somehow he had made this race more competitive, then Bush&co. would have devoted more time and money to it, diverting attention from other important gubernatorial (Florida, New Hampshire) and senate (South Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina) races.

Thursday, October 31, 2002


The Dems strike back with a sequel to their hard-hitting (and truthful) "social insecurity" flash cartoon from a few weeks back.

Happy Halloween, From the Machine!

(for those of you in Isla Vista who don't want to do something that requires a National Guard presence, I suggest the midnight showing of Rocky Horror at the IV Theater)

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Finally, someone with a soul, and without a pathetically cynical agenda has some things to say about the Wellstone service:
And so it came to pass. They came wearing jackets with the names of Indian reservations on them. They came in VFW caps and they came in traditional costumes from Africa and Asia. They came in union jackets and they came in wheel chairs. They came leaning on canes or carrying children bundled against the cold. They came and filled the old basketball barn to the rafters, spilling over into the women's sports pavilion, spilling out on the street, hugging, crying, laughing and applauding. Who ever had a better funeral?

Tuesday night's memorial for Paul and Sheila Wellstone and those who went down with them Friday was a combination funeral, campaign rally and old-time religious revival that kept the faithful in their seats for five hours but served its purpose by turning tears into a foot-stomping reaffirmation of the cause of their fallen leader.

As a demonstration of public grief — and as pure theater — I've never seen anything like it in Minnesota. And unless you are as old as Walter Mondale, you haven't, either. This was a raucous and rollicking people's farewell, an avalanche of grief and pride on the behalf of the countless thousands who, since Friday, had been waiting to let their hair down. Paul probably knew most of them by name. And he would have been proud of them last night. In line, inside the arena or on the streets, the people offered eulogies that came from the heart.
(link via the horse)
With a little exercise of recent memory, LeanLeft makes the Republicans' "outrage" seem all the more preposterous.
Asscroft's "Let the Eagle Soar", with a very appropriate flash video.

My roomate loves Atlantic Monthly, and even has a subscription. That is my closest positive association to Michael Kelly.

Kelly's most recent Washington Post column attempts to go after those who label a certain hybrid bird species -- "chickenhawks" -- for what they are.

I knew that his nonsense could be easily rebutted, and accordingly, I was glad to find that such has been done over at Uggabugga. They even have a helpful visual aid up!
I share the pain of Eric Blair:

"Every registered voter deserves to have confidence that the system is fair and elections are honest, that every vote is recorded, and that the rules are consistently applied."
-- President George W. Bush

No, really, cross-my-heart. George W. Bush said this. The same one, yes.

"That every vote is recorded" -- yes, he actually said that. More here.
I'll be sure that Dubya has a nice long look at the vote I cast in '04. He'll have plenty of free time to start new oil firms and run them into the ground after that.
TBOGG sees a very prosperous, uplifiting future for Governor "upset" Ventura.

RIP, Jam Master Jay
NEW YORK - Jam Master Jay, part of the pioneering rap trio Run DMC, was shot and killed Wednesday, the group's publicist said.

Publicist Tracy Miller confirmed the death of the 37-year-old rapper, whose real name was Jason Mizell.

A legal source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the rapper was shot in the head at a recording studio in the New York City borough of Queens. A second person was shot in the ankle and the shooter was at large, the source said. (full story)
So much violence. Damn.

Ok, Republicans, here comes another moderately high-profile memorial service. Repeat after me: "I have NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to criticize the person's family regarding how they wish their loved one to be remembered"

(cynical postscript: Does this mean that Charlton Heston will be holding a rally in Queens next week?)

JERUSALEM, Oct. 30 - Talks designed to prevent a breakup of the 19-month-old coalition government ended in failure today, resulting in the resignation of Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer.

The decision by Mr. Ben-Eliezer, the leader of the left-leaning Labor Party, presaged an almost certain vote by Labor representatives in Parliament against a budget proposed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. (Full Story)

This is a wonderful sign. There are large, moderate, peace-craving populations among both Israelis and Palestinians, who want to see an immediate end to all of this madness. On the Israeli side, this is the first time since the advent of the A-hole Sharon regime that such voices have taken a serious stand politically. Sure, it was a budget dispute, but it was also about Sharon's financial incentives toward settlers. Oh, and:
Labor has complained that the budget favors settlers over the poor, but Mr. Sharon has said he would dismiss anyone from his government who opposed his plan.(emphasis added)

Hmm. I have a feeling that the fellows out on Sproul Plaza who hand out the "free speech? only in israel" papers on pro-Palestinian-statehood, pro-divestment protest days don't stick that little tidbit in there! Ha!
WASHINGTON - One week before George W. Bush's now-famous sale of stock in Harken Energy Corp. in 1990, Harken was warned by its lawyers that Bush and other members of the troubled oil company's board faced possible insider trading risks if they unloaded their shares.

The warning from Harken's lawyers came in a legal memorandum whose existence has been little noted until now, despite the many years of scrutiny of the Bush transaction. The memo was not received by the Securities and Exchange Commission until the day after the agency decided not to bring insider-trading charges against Bush, documents show.

The memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe, does not say directly whether Bush would face legal problems if he sold his stock. But it does lay out the potential for insider-trading violations by Bush and other members of the Harken board, and its existence raises questions about how thoroughly the SEC investigated Bush's unloading of $848,000 of his Harken stake to a buyer whose name has not been made public. (Full story)

On that last point, well duh! Gee golly, who was President at the time?

Unfortunately, in the very next paragraph, the Globe repeats the lie that Dubya was "cleared" by the SEC in '91, which simply wasn't the case. Nevertheless, this is a very revealing story.

On his website, Michael Moore has written an open letter to Charlton Heston, who intends to hold a large pro-gun rally in Tuscon, just days after a student shot three professors before taking his own life:
When you showed up in Denver to hold your pro-gun rally just days after the massacre at nearby Columbine High School, the nation was shocked at your incredible insensitivity to those who had just lost loved ones.

When you came to Flint to hold another rally in the months after a 6-year old boy shot a 6-year old girl at a nearby elementary school, the community was stunned by your desire to rub its face in its grief.

But your announcement that you are on your way to Tucson today, just 48 hours after a student at the University of Arizona shot and killed three professors and then himself, to hold ANOTHER big pro-gun celebration -- this time to get out the vote for the NRA-backed Republican running for Congress -- well, sir, I have to ask you: Have you no shame?

Go Mike! Even better, Moore seems to have is eye on the ball as of late. From his website, he is now calling on his readers to keep the GOP from getting a majority in the Senate, and directing them to the campaigns of a number of Democrats.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Oh and by the way, it's not like an entire wing of the GOP (the Christian right) hasn't been politicizing the tragic death of someone they like (jesus christ) for their gain lately, right?

I see that Drudge has a big-assed scare-headline up, with the apparent response he hopes to solicit being one of outrage, that thirty thousand Minnesotans chose not to spend hours bowing their heads and crying, but rather to celebrate the life and causes of their fallen hero. So he puts up a picture of the Big Dog smiling with Mondale, with the intent to elicit the usual Pavlovian response from the wingnuts.

TFM's opinion? I have absolutely no problem with what went on tonight. Here, read for yourself the piece to which Drudge links. I don't object to a single thing said in the event. Remember that Wellstone was a guy who always put cause and principle before himself, the most progressive voice in the senate ("the soul of the senate" as Senator Tom Harkin aptly put it), and by a wide margin the most honest and least corrput person in the entire body.

He wouldn't have wanted a somber service with people burying their faces in their hands.

He wants the causes for which he fought to live on.

Reading the piece, I couldn't help but feel inspired. As Harkin puts it, "Paul never meant it to be a solo voyage. He wanted us all on board. Now we must continue Paul's journey for justice. So tonight, I ask you: Will you stand up and join together and board that bus?"

Rolling Stone has a piece up on Pearl Jam's upcoming album Riot Act (which just got four stars over at GForce, hehe). That's fine, but take a look at the pic of the band from that piece:

Eddie's mohawk is gone! Talking to reporters several months ago at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Eddie said he would continue to wear the mohawk "until America stops killing people around the world". Um Eddie, at best right now could be described as a lull. But if Iraq kicks into gear again, get out that razor!
It tops a U.S. Army most-wanted list, unleashes potent chemicals that suck the immediate vicinity dry — and it goes great with grape jelly.

The struggle to make the classic peanut butter and jelly combination battle-ready for soldiers in the field highlights an effort by top Army scientists to develop pocket sandwiches that will keep without refrigeration for three years. (full story)

And it goes on like that!

Should this be our highest priority? Should I be happy with such R&D priorities? And should my taxes be going towards this?

Furthermore, I would suggest that a three-year sandwich could have a much more compassionate and useful application than to just give it to some soldier or cadet.

And where o where does a soldier keep a sandwich if he's gets caught by the enemy and becomes a POW? Next to Christopher Walken's watch?
A good Friedman piece in wednesday's NYT, on the positive and negative steps taken by a pair of arab nations "in the (now-cliche beyond belief) wake of 9/11".

When I catch myself saying things like "other countries should be more like us", I recognize the inherent arrogance of such a statement. But of course, you must know what I mean: The Jeffersonian stuff, not the imperialist stuff.

President Bush will not be attending services for fallen Senator Paul Wellstone (a real populist, as opposed to Bush, a fake populist). He opts to send Cheney, to which the Wellstone family rightly said thanks... but no thanks.

What makes it worse is that Ari Fleischer saw the need to lie to the press, saying there was no precedent for presidents attending senatorial funerals. Nevermind Bill Clinton attending the funeral of Senator John Chaffee, a Republican, several years back.

Granted, in July of 2000, Clinton did not attend the funeral of Senator Coverdell. Of course, he had not one but two significant excuses, the first being that it came right in the middle of the Camp David summitt with Arafat and Barak, and the second being that it came during the G-8 summitt in Okinawa, Japan.

Monday, October 28, 2002

MWO has a very touching Wellstone tribute up.

And while you're there, they link to some visual perspective on a cause Wellstone fought valiantly against, that being the potential oil-war in Iraq.
Well, I'm back from the narrow depths of UCLA. Saw my sister being presented at Pi Beta Phi. I'll probably never set foot in a Greek organization building again, but that's just me. We shall be kicking it back into gear very soon.

RIP Paul Wellstone. America needs more people like you.