The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Apparently there's a UPI wire story that the White House is "toning down" the recent terror warnings.

And hmm, just after Gore finished making his rounds on national TV... You're a genius, Karl!

On friday night's Late Show with David Letterman, President-Elect Al Gore told us a true story. This has probably all been vetted before, but for those just joining us (as well as those who buy the "librul" media narrative that Al Gore is some sort of pathological liar, and "uncomfortable in his own skin", as they put it), here is the chornology of that story:

DAY 1: Gore and his wife Tipper, driving around Nashville (their hometown) in a rented Ford Taurus, decide to have a meal at a reasonably-priced family restaurant, the local Shoney's. When they sit down to eat, one of the waitresses makes some commotion, and points out to another man in the restaurant that the former Vice President is in Shoney's with them. The man replied to her, "Look how far down he's come". (the Late Show audience laughed heartily at this point)

DAY 2: Gore flies to Nigeria to give a speech, which he starts by telling the story of what went on at Shoney's just before.

DAY 3: On his flight back from Nigeria, the plane stops on an island in the Atlantic to refuel. Gore sees a man on the tarmac, running towards the plane with a piece of paper. Gore wonder's what's going on, and the man says that there's "trouble in Washington".

What's the "trouble", you ask?

There were stories circulating that Al Gore was now running a family restaurant in Tennessee!

Did Matt Drudge link to it? Yes, and not only that, he made it a large-font BANNER HEADLINE!

Rueters soon retracted their story, the Drudge headline soon faded, and now you can't really find that report anywhere at all, except for one guy who saved it and emailed it to someone. (his link is dead)

But the damage was done. A story that was promoted by those who oppose Gore runs that feeds the bullshit narrative, but it's just trivial enough not to attack it. Just like the Springsteen-tickets story, which was utter nonsense. This restaurant story is very instructive as an example of how the media has treated Gore for years.

Friday, November 15, 2002


(via TAPPED):
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. -- A jury awarded the widow of teacher Barry Grunow $1.2 million from a gun distributor Thursday.

Pam Grunow's lawsuit accused Valor Corp of distributing a gun that was "unsafe, defective and lacked features that would have prevented a minor from using it."

"I hope that this will be a clarion call to other suppliers and distributors -- get that Saturday Night Special off your shelves," said Grunow's attorney Bob Montgomery (pictured, below right).

"This gun ... had legal uses, legitimate uses. It wasn't the piece of junk that we heard the plaintiff's call it. It was a good self-defense gun," said Valor attorney John Renzulli.

The case stems from the murder of teacher Barry Grunow by one of his students. Nathaniel Brazill, 16, shot Grunow to death two years ago in a West Palm Beach classroom. (full story)
Those of you who watch too much cable news probably remember Brazill's criminal trial. Anyway, this is good news, and a good precedent.

VH1 has just come out with its choices for the 100 greatest love songs
. Check it out and you'll find that there is much to complain about here. Let's take it in batches of twenty (just as they present it), and then move on to their unfortunate omissions:

100-81: When your introduction to a "100 greatest" list is Poison ("Every Rose Has Its Thorn"), then you know you're in trouble. Then again, that song gets points for its use in the Simpsons, when Otto proposes marriage by saying "I'm your rose, will you be my thorn?" Dido's "Thank You" is a suspect choice, given its use in "Stan", a song about a more disturbing kind of love. The appearances of NSync, Enrique Iglesias (and no Julio!) and Ricky Martin in the high-90's are not easily forgiveable, though one could argue that no worthy songs appear until Elvis Costello's "Alison" (#91). Wham!'s "Careless Whisper" (#85) appears despite this awful line: "I'm never gonna dance again / guilty feet have got no rhythm".
80-61: Kudos to VH1 for "Sweet Child O' Mine" (#79), "Whole Lotta Love" (#71) and "More Than a Feeling" (#68). Last time I heard "I Melt With You" (#64) was in a friggin Burger King commercial. Other than that and Frampton, this batch is a wasteland. And ooh, there's that Goo Goo Dolls song, the one that broke the singer's writers block.
60-41: There are NO excuses for "Let's Stay Together" being stuck back at #46. The Reverend has to be in the top 20 for that one. Meatloaf at #42 is great, that song really gets me. Oh, and there's "Mandy"! (#53) My boys Journey make it on with the stunningly overdramatic "Faithfully" (#59), though I'm not sure I could justify putting it one ahead of "Three Times a Lady". Other highlights include overly dramatic songs from The Pretenders and Foreigner. "More Than Words" (#43) belongs, only because over the last 20 years, so many teenage males have tried to get chicks by learning that song. Not me, though (: Oh, and the Dirty Dancing song is in there somewhere, that'll do.
40-21: They get Styx in there, but they pick "Babe" (#26) over "Lady"!?!? I doth protest. I have a similar problem with Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of my Life" (#31); I'd replace that with "I Just Called to Say I Love You". There's friggin Celine with "Because You Loved Me" (#30)... you have a feeling she's gonna make another appearance later on in this countdown? Kudos for including "You Are So Beautiful" (#25), "Wonderful Tonight" (#24), and the Carpenters' best song, "Superstar" (#35, though I like the Sonic Youth version more). John Lennon's "Woman" (#32) is an interesting choice, more on that later. One big problem: "Let's Get It On" needs to be a LOT higher than #28.
20-1: Let's go over each of these individually, shall we?
20 - "I Got You Babe", Sonny & Cher. Fair enough, for its historical relevance, they could do a lot worse here.
19 - "If You Leave Me Now", Chicago. Ah, one of the wussy-period Chicago songs. No reason to put it this high up, but it deserves to be in the top 100.
18 - "In Your Eyes", Peter Gabriel. This song would be in my top 5*. Yours too? Now let's all get frustrated at the songs VH1 puts just ahead of it.
17 - "Breathe", Faith Hill. Sorry, no soup for you. Guess I'm not a big Faith Hill fan.
16 - "Fly Me to the Moon", Frank Sinatra. Couldn't we find a better love song from the Chairman than this?
15 - "She's Got a Way", Billy Joel. Fair enough, though it doesn't make my top 20.
14 - "I Honestly Love You", Olivia Newton John. Riiiight. Well, if it makes it into those love-song compilation tv commercials, I suppose it deserves to be on the list.
13 - "Nothing Compares 2 U", Sinead O'Connor. A very worthy choice, absolutely heartbreaking.
12 - "How Deep Is Your Love", The BeeGees. They're the namesake for my old Rotisserie Baseball team, so by virtue of that, they're in!
11 - "At Last", Etta James. VH1 compensates for their picks of NSync and Ricky Martin with this transparently classy pick.
10 - "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing", Aerosmith. Oh great. You had to expect it. I like this song alright, and it sure beats the Faith Hill song from "Pearl Harbor".
9 - "I'll Be There", Jackson 5. There are kids singing, how could this possibly be a love song?!?
8 - "Your Song", Elton John. It's a little bit funny . . . this uh . . . this feeling... inside. (:
7 - "Endless Love", Lionel Richie and Diana Ross. Not in front of "Your Song", but I understand.
6 - "Unchained Melody", Righteous Brothers. Definitely top-10 worthy.
5 - "Maybe I'm Amazed", Paul McCartney. Wonderful choice. By a wide margin, Paul's best solo song.
4 - "Open Arms", Journey. If someone swapped the positions of this song and "Faithfully", would anybody notice?
3 - "My Heart Will Go On", you know who. Oy vey. That song sure worked, though.
2 - "Love Me Tender", Elvis Presley. For his one appearance on this list, they sure picked the right Elvis song.
1 - "I Will Always Love You", Whitney Houston. Hey, at least they can say that the #1 song is 30 years old! And hey, what did you expect?

As usual, the problem with this list isn't what's on it but what isn't. Let's start with the most glaring omission of all:
WHERE ARE THE FRIGGIN BEATLES!?!? Where are "Something", "Here, There and Everywhere", and my personal favorite, "Real Love"? (yes, the anthology song)
Where are the Rolling Stones? How about "Wild Horses", or "Angie"?
Think about it, appearances by Ricky Martin, NSync and Enrique Iglesias, yet no Beatles and Stones. Shame on you, VH1.
No sign of the Police ("Wrapped Around Your Finger", "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic", "Every Breath You Take").
How bout some Dave? ("Crash Into Me", or even "The Space Between")
I also noticed a lack of Jacko. Having seen those pics earlier this week, I don't mind.
"Fire and Rain"?
Where's Jewel?
And not one Burt Bacharach song??? Ok that's enough for now.

* Notice that I refer to a song popularized by a John Cusack movie by referencing another John Cusack movie, hehehe.
It didn't take long for Sully to go after Gore on the single-payer health plan idea.

Trouble is, he attacks Gore's Canada-style plan with anecdotal evidence about the Britain-style plan.

Matthew Yglesias explains the difference.
LEWISTON, Maine (AP) - A preacher led a group in shredding copies of Harry Potter books on the eve of the release of the movie "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."

"I feel like I'm in a cutting mood tonight," the Rev. Douglas Taylor told 30 supporters before bringing out the scissors.

Taylor said he had wanted to burn the Potter books in protest, but the city would not issue him a permit. He settled for the book-chopping party Thursday night at the Ramada Inn.


"It's no secret that I enjoy what I'm doing right now," Taylor said, ripping up a book. "Hallelujah," said supporter Walter Stradt as he tore and tossed a page out.


Taylor charges the Potter books were full of witchcraft and pagan religion.

"You get involved in this," he said, gesturing toward a Potter book. "It's gonna make you dirty." (full story)
First off, I hope you enjoyed your stay at the Ramada Inn. Was the local Motel 6 full?

Also, those Harry Potter books are much better reads than that old lunky text you're sellin. You rather that these kids were rotting their brains with video games 24/7?

This preacher fellow should probably read the books too, my guess is that he hasn't. As Ben Harper sings, "before you knock it, try it first". Then and only then should you talk about being made "dirty". I'd say that the Christian right is "dirty" in that it tries to force a political agenda down our throats, yet retains its tax-exempt status.

Mr Taylor, you should also, then, talk to my once-friend Mark at Sacramento State, who essentially tried to blacklist me a couple of years ago just because I disagreed with him on religion. He's a good-old homosexuality-is-unnatural Xian, yet he's a huge fan of "Star Wars", another fantasy world with a quite blasphemous concept (the force). By all means, go and tell him about the fire and brimstone he tempts.

This is all silliness of course. The new movie is gonna make gazillions of dollars around the world, and there's nothing a few backward nuts can do to stop it. I'm not the biggest HP fan, I must say, I'm more eagerly anticipating The Two Towers next month. (as well as Star Trek: Nemesis, hehehe)

(BTW, it should be noted that many of these protesters were actually politcal operatives from Middle Earth, and now have plum jobs on the Lord of the Rings filmcrew.)

Al Gore is doing interviews again, it's about time. The Washington Post's Dan Balz summarizes Gore's recent statements, and does so in a manner virtually devoid of all the narrative cliches the media and the right have stapled to him for the last five years, so he should be commended for that.

My thoughts: Good to see Gore taking the offensive about the SCOTUS 2000 hijacking. Problem is, this sort of talk certainly could have helped the Dem's before the election. It's not that the "we're pissed about 2000" strategy failed in the midterms, it's that such a strategy pretty much wasn't employed at all. The Democrats' plain didn't bother to sell it, and we got low turnout on the left as a result, and thus a Republican congress. It's not too late to be angry; no matter how many planes hit buildings, and no matter how much Iraq rhetoric spins around us, Dubya is still an illegitimate, unelected usurper.

Gore's move to the left on health care, while certainly in line with recent statements about his regrets on the 2000 campaign, could be politically dangerous. The last huge electoral defeat for the Democrats before '02 was 1994... right after the Clinton universal health care package was killed. Then, the Dem's lost on healthcare (and in the election) not because of the merits of the bill, but because of who controlled the dialog on it; in this case, conservatives, who were jolly enough to throw around the word -- gasp! -- "socialism" to scare xenophobic middle-America types.. I think the single-payer plan that Gore now supports is probably more true to his populist ideals, but if he's really serious, he's gotta sell it like a mofo come 2004.

It's waaaaay too early to either A) handicap 2004, or B) endorse anybody. TFM is intrigued by the sleeper candidate, Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Also, by Senator John Kerry. He doesn't use notes when he's on TV. Last major representative of the Democrats to do that was Gore attorney David Boies, and look what happened there. And I'm very much open to Gore. I'll get back to you late next year.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing Gore on Letterman tomorrow night, and on Saturday Night Live in december.

Thursday, November 14, 2002


Much buzz has arisen about comments made yesterday by Bush advisor/puppeteer Karl Rove. No, not about his bold description of the political implications of last week's election (though that was not without it's charm, if he wants to interpret the election as a monster shift to the right in the views of the average American voter, he does so at his own risk). The real jewel comes at the end of this NY Times piece:
Before his remarks on the election, Mr. Rove gave a 30-minute speech to an audience of about 600 on the qualities of a successful president, citing obvious examples like Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and some, perhaps, not so obvious, like McKinley.

The audience included several dozen protesters who held signs critical of various issues, including war against Iraq. But they were largely quiet and respectful. In the question-and-answer session, a woman politely asked Mr. Rove if the administration was concerned over the possibility that 200,000 innocent Iraqis might die in an American-led invasion.

Mr. Rove responded, "I'm more concerned about the 3,000 who died on 9/11
." (emphases mine)
Hey Karl, we know that you're pretty handy with PowerPoint, howbout whipping up a chart that shows how one American life is equal to about sixty-seven Iraqis, as you just said. Are there similar ratios for other countries, like North Korea? Syria?... Saudi Arabia? And can they follow your lead and have similar ratio policies to your own? You can imagine that upon hearing this, Crown Prince Abdullah or someone is saying to himself, "Oh boy, not only can I pre-emptively invade another sovereign nation if I want to, but I can also kill a huge amount of their civilians proportional to my own armed forces! Thanks, George and Karl!"

Furthermore, given the well-documented, uh, "connection" between Saddam and Al Qaeda, Rove might as well have said "I'm more concerned with the deaths of Lisa 'Left-Eye' Lopez and Elvis Presley."

Friggin chickenhawk.

If you're going to be in the Bay Area for New Year's Eve, and you're a fan of rock music, both past and present, then you're in luck. You have, at minimum, three choices:

-Guns n' Roses, at the HP Pavilion* in San Jose

-Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade, at the Fillmore

and a reintroduction of the old tradition,

-The Other Ones (Grateful Dead, minus Jerry), at the Oakland Arena

Of the three, I'd have to go to the Other Ones. Sorry Jess, you'll just have to call and tell me how Gn'R goes, hehe. (though given their new look/lineup, should they be called "Goth n' Roses"?)

As of yet, I'm not sure what my New Years plans are, but I'm sure they involve the wonderful LL. (...who is in the midst of finals and travelling in beautiful South Africa, and returns next monthness)

* Of all the hideous corporate names of sporting venues we have to deal with, HP Pavilion is by far the most clever, and given its locale (Silicon Valley), it's the one I can deal with the most.
laughing-my-ass-off edition

NOTE: As you may or may not know, I ran a blog prior to this which critiqued the last two online editions of UC Berkeley's local clumsy student-run conservative publication, the California Patriot. Ok here we go...

Let's give the Patriot some credit, they fight the fights they think they can win. Until now, most of their attacks have been aimed at the all-stars of the Berkeley left, some of whom have views that middle-America would find controversial (certainly, Berkeley is not middle America). They don't particularly have a philosophy of their own, but see fit to attack those of others. But stop the presses! (literally) It appears that the Patriot has found an adversary more worthy of their valuable time than liberals on campus: Pre-school children.

Read the article. When you're done rolling around in fits of laughter, please return to your chair.

Where to begin? Let's start with the fact that the schools these children came from were largely private, were specific afterschool programs (the Patriot makes an as-yet unsubstantiated claim that some kids were from afterschool programs of public schools) or were preschools with, as the Patriot put it, "alternative cirriculum[s]". That makes everything the parent's choice, sorry Patriot. I know conservatives love to meddle in the choices of potential parents, but you're just gonna have to deal with it.

What else... Let's say they're right about this being "exploitation". Then the Patriot should also be condemning Christian parents for taking their kids to church at a very young age, before they can make judgements and decisions of their own, and before they understand the gravity of their religion. Surely the parents (and more importantly, the religious establishment) have an interest in these kids as a means to advance the Christian political agenda. You guys don't want to look like hypocrites, do you?

Finally, you got a problem with peace and non-confrontational problem-solving being taught to young children? You don't think we need more of that? As Travolta said, "That's a bold statement".

And just for fun, would the Patriot have complained about a pre-school PRO-war rally? With little kids walking around with toy guns and knives? Is that what you want? Two words: Hitler Youth.

Way to go, guys, you have sunk even lower than irrelevancy. And don't lose any sleep hoping for a Drudge link. What's that? Oh, for only a few hours. For him, that's restraint. The SMHS Satan Club got two whole days.

Hey wingnuts, stop bitching about Reuters. They played right into your hands on this one:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Wednesday took on the Christian right core of his political base, denouncing anti-Islamic remarks made by religious leaders including evangelist Pat Robertson.

Bush said such anti-Islamic comments were at odds with the views of most Americans.

"Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans," Bush told reporters as he began a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites).

"By far, the vast majority of American citizens respect the Islamic people and the Muslim faith. After all, there are millions of peaceful-loving Muslim Americans," Bush said.

"Ours is a country based upon tolerance ... And we're not going to let the war on terror or terrorists cause us to change our values."
As you may have noticed, he made these comments in the presence of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, so obviously they served the purpose of making Dubya look good in front of an international audience, particularly the Muslim community.

But these comments had a more important, domestic purpose. Bush is trying to distance himself, publicly at least, from the far right wing Christian conservative base of his party, because he wants to avoid the appearance of not only "gloating" in the wake of last week's election, but also "overreaching" by being in bed with the kook right agenda.

Like I said, this is only a show for the cameras. Let's check back in a few months, and see how the conservative agenda is doing under Dubya...

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I put comments back in for some reason. I'm just starting out, and am not entirely motivated to be assimilated into the machine, but rest assured you have the opportunity to supply your opinions, whatever their nature.

Iraq agreed to the UN resolution, and is letting inspectors back in.

Good! Now what?

Will Bush lead us into war anyway, on the doctrine of "You didn't say 'Simon says'"?

But Bush doesn't care. He got exactly what he wanted out of the war fervor: A Republican congress.

From the looks of the dribble he put up today about "hawks and doves", I have a feeling that ol' Sully just doesn't wanna talk about this.

This all means, of course, that the Iraqi legislation's vote the other day was for show. We knew that already. But it served its purpose by extracting a hideously ironic quote from Dubya about the vote being "nothing but a rubber stamp for Saddam Hussein."

My guess is, thirty days from now, the Bushies will be saying that Iraq hasn't completely complied with the resolution, the French and Russians will be saying they've done an adequate job complying, and the debate will continue.

But I will stick to my bold prediction. Take notice, warmongers and warbloggers, you're probably not gonna get your war Xmas present. Better put that Swedish penis-enlarger pump back on the ol' list.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide if the government can restrict Internet surfing at public libraries, the third case pitting free-speech concerns against efforts to shield children from online pornography to reach the justices.

The court will resolve whether federal funding can be stripped from libraries that don't install filters on computers to block sexually explicit Web sites.

The decision would affect more than 14 million people a year who use public library computers to do research, send and receive e-mail, and, in some cases, log onto adult sites. (full story)
He's been looking forward to this one all summer, I imagine. But shouldn't he recuse himself? After all, Justice Thomas puts the "stain" in "abstain".

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, recent survivor of a White House-led smear operation, brings us a piece on the beginnings of possible tension between the Bush administration and the far right (in this case, Trent Lott), which mistakenly thinks it received a large mandate to shove its agenda down our throats:
Days after winning unchallenged control of the government, the Bush White House and the incoming Republican congressional leadership have scaled back their ambitious tax cut proposals and dampened expectations for an overhaul of Social Security.

So what was Trent Lott vowing in Churchillian tones? Homeland security legislation? An economic stimulus package?

Well, Lott wants those, too, but his vow was to pass a ban on what opponents of the procedure call "partial-birth" abortions. In an interview with American Family Radio the morning after the GOP midterm election triumph, Lott told the Christian radio network: "We will move the partial-birth abortion bill through. The House did it this year. Once again, Tom Daschle would not call it up. I will."

Such public pronouncements on the Hill worry Bush aides. It's not because the president objects to the policy -- he had said he would sign a ban on the controversial procedure -- but because he does not wish to be seen as a captive of his party's ideologues, as President Bill Clinton did when he moved quickly on gay rights in the military. "I don't take cues from anybody," Bush said at last week's news conference.

On Thursday, the White House held a conference call with social conservatives and pleaded with them to be patient. "They're saying the president's priorities are already known, but let's be prudent and not just aggravate the Democrats by putting it in their face," said Deal Hudson, the editor of Crisis Magazine and an ally of the White House. "It may not be the first thing that this administration pushes because it's not this administration's style to get the controversial thing out there at the beginning."
This is a very, very sticky situation for the Chimp In Chief. He doesn't want to repeat the perceived mistakes that Clinton made in his first two years (when he had strong Democratic majorities in congress). He wants to get re-elected in 2004, and to do that he'll need the backing of the wingnut conservative base of his party, you know, the Bob Jones types. But if he promotes too much of their kooky agenda, he'll piss off not only the left but the center, and that will hurt both the congressional Republicans in 04, but his own re-election prospects.

If he doesn't support enough of the far right's agenda, the backlash could come from the right instead; after all, Bush couldn't have been elected at all without support from the solid conservative base of the GOP, so they feel he owes them, especially now that there are no direct obstacles to their agenda getting rubber-stamped. He's damned if he does, and he's damned if he doesn't.

I think that, all things being equal, Clinton going for broke with the left agenda in 93-94 made a lot more sense than Bush pushing the hardline conservative agenda now. Why? Because if Clinton's actions resulted in him losing congress in 94 (which he did), not only would he have two years afterward to gear up for re-election, but he would also remain as a political check against a new opposition congress, thereby decreasing the risk of supporting universal health-care and gay rights in the military. Clinton and the Democrats had less to lose at the time, compared to Bush now, with the presidential election less than two years away.

That being said, I don't think such reasoning will matter to Bush and his fellow conservatives, and they will plot the same course of action that Clinton did anyway. Conservatives are too arrogant and self-righteous to admit they're wrong, so despite whatever moderate posturing Bush is trying to put forth at this moment, he will give in to the Falwell/Bauer/Lott types. This will be one of the major political storylines of the next two years.

For additional reading, check out this Milbank piece from last thursday, including a revealing quote from conservative strategist (and Blinded by the Right bit player) Paul Weyrich:
"I think he should push his agenda as far as he can push it," said Paul Weyrich, an influential conservative activist. "I think he's going to be pushing a conservative agenda."

In particular, Weyrich said, Bush should take a no-compromise view on welfare policy and judicial choices. If Bush stiff-arms conservatives, he said, "There would be consequences to pay."
Let the games begin, indeed.

(P.S. By the way, what's going on with Dana Milbank lately? He's acting like a real journalist again! Perhaps the thrill of taking on the Bushies a few weeks ago has resurrected his proper journalistic instincts? Who knows)

Monday, November 11, 2002

TBogg goes after Bush on Vet's Day in ways I only implied:
There is no mention in the article whether Bush found the name of the guy who went and died in his place after he first hid out in the Texas Air National Guard only to later desert. Bush did indicate that the Viet Nam war was a "very tragic era for America" which was why he stayed in a tequila-and-cocaine-fueled haze for the duration of the war.

Bush was scheduled to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery later Monday

...only if his anti-smirk medication is still working that late in the day.

I was right about what was on Josh Marshall's mind. Among other things he says:
What I am saying is this: If the Republicans see this as a mandate for their domestic policy agenda they're fools. Yet I think they will see it that way. Indeed, they're telling reporters they see it that way. There is going to be heavy pressure -- and pressure not bucked by the White House -- to push through a lot of very conservative and not-particularly-popular legislation. And that will hurt him.
Good point, Josh! (-:

I've heard a lot of armchair analysis (presumably Ikea-bought armchairs, of course) of the implications surrounding the ascent of Rep. Nancy Pelosi to the position of House Minority Leader. The idea is that this signifies a left turn for Democrats. Some Democrats (on tv, in blogs and elsewhere) warn against this, while Republicans (again on tv, in blogs and elsewhere) are licking their lips in anticipation of opposing a "San Francisco liberal".

TFM would like to say: Slow down there, Bessie.

Just because Pelosi voted against the Persian Gulf of Tonkin resolution last month, it doesn't make her a radical fringe liberal. And just because Pelosi comes from San Francisco, ground-zero for progressive thought in America, this does not signify a left turn for the Democratic party. TAPPED points out, for instance, that the leadership positions of house Democrats are more based in politics than specific policy positions.

Furthermore, Pelosi does NOT represent a turn to the left for the Democratic party. Thing is, it depends on what your definition of "turn" is, hehe. The core positions of the Democratic party have essentially been the same through the entire Bush presidency, and the entire midterm campaign. The problem was that those positions were blurred and obscured by the Democrats' timidity and reluctance to stand up to Bush on just about anything leading up to November, especially on Iraq. Hence we get bloggers all over the place pulling out that Harry S Truman quote, saying that if voters had to choose between a real Republican and a fake Republican, they will always take the real Republican.

Pelosi has expressed the viewpoint of the solid liberal base of the party, and voted against the Iraq resolution. She shows no timidity, while Gephardt Daschle etc have showed so much of it. Both Nancy and the boys share the same political ideology; the difference is that Pelosi isn't timid like they are. As a result, it appears as if Pelosi's ascent means the party is moving left, when in reality Pelosi is someone who unambiguously stands for the ideas central to the Democratic party.

In short, Pelosi represents a change in clarity, and not a change in ideology.

And this is what I mean by "pave the road". Pelosi and the Democrats in congress need to make their positions clear and strong, and have a positive agenda that stands in opposition to what the Republican majorities are going to shove down the American people's throats. The Democrats got screwed in last week's election in part because the road they were on was not clearly defined. They don't need to pick a different road. They need to pave the road. And Nancy Pelosi helps in that quest.

P.S. Oh, and the phrase "San Francisco liberal" is a slanderous relic of the Eisenhower-McCarthy days, and those who use it need significant mental help.

I was hoping that the good caption writers of Reuters would get a little creative, but it wasn't to be.

Still, things get even more ironic without a caption necessary:

If he had made a speech there, it would have been nice for him to end each sentence with " I didn't have to."

Sunday, November 10, 2002


Tonight's Simpsons was a vast improvement over last week's stale Halloween episode. The guest appearances were all excellent, especially Mick and Keith. But one line stuck out to me. It comes at a benefit concert ("Concert for Planet Hollywood"), where Homer (as an honorary roadie) gets front-row seats for a number of his friends:
Moe: I ain't had front row seats since my Moonie-wedding!
I would guess that as sophisticated as the Simpsons audience is, no more than 10 to 20 percent of them get that joke (and an even lower percentage of people my age). Anyway, this appears to be a reference to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, founder of two kooky things. One is the Unification Church (occasionally claiming himself to be a new messiah), a weird sect (sect: noun, "cult" with a large membership) that, among its quirks, holds large mass weddings. Sun Myung Moon is often referred to, primarly by his detractors, as "Moonie".

The other thing he founded was the laughably conservative "other" paper in the DC area, the Washington Times. That's the newspaper that happily promotes "journalist" Bill Sammon's silly BS-fest At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Presidency. Oh, and they still wont shut up about the Clintons. (For an very revealing look at the inner workings of this bogus, agenda-driven publication, read a couple of the earier chapters of Blinded By the Right). Anyway, detractors of the Times refer to it as "The Moonie Times".

Could this be a fun little swipe at the conservative rag by our liberal buddies Matt Groening, Harry Shearer etc? This wouldn't be the first time that someone in the visual arts took a swipe at the Moonie Times. Rob Reiner's The American President takes a shot at the paper by featuring it in a uncomplimentary, scandal-mongering light . . . and that's about right.

(In a related note, I was thinking about Planet Hollywood's bankruptcy, then I thought about Gray Davis' ads for his campaign this fall, and suddenly I saw the future: "If Arnold Shwartzenegger can't run a tacky theme restaurant, how can he run California?... paid for by Reiner for Governor")

One of the funny things us anti-war types say about Baby Bush's itchiness to go to Iraq is that he has a desire to not only maintain his daddy's honor, but, by Grabthar's Hammer, to avenge the attempted assassination of poppy several years back.

This instinct of Dubya's -- demonstrated in other places as well -- could be his downfall. I'm not talking about when the drunken 30something Bush approached Al Hunt in a restaurant and said "I'm not gonna forget what you fuckers did to us" after hunt wrote some pieces in the Wall St Journal critical of Bush Sr.

I'm also talking about lessons Junior learned from Pops. George H W Bush lost his bid for reelection in 1992, largely because in the eyes of many political observers, he alienated the conservative base of his party, by being to moderate and doing something as audacious as -- gasp! -- raising taxes (a very necessary step at the time), and building an actual international coalition before entering into a war with Iraq.

And what's the lesson that Dubya takes from this? Don't alienate your right-wing, conservative base. He will be especially conscious of this as the 2004 election nears. In fact, perhaps by that time, he will have rewarded the far right so much, by signing on to virtually all of their kooky agenda, that they will be the only voters he has left. An exaggeration? Yes, but potentially not that big, time will tell.

You've read about the Republicans' real agenda for the coming year (see previous entry also)...

...Now read a much more creative version of it, true to its spirit! (from Buzzflash)

I've been warning them, but have they been listening? Nope, a number of Senate Republicans have come up with wish lists on the upcoming legislative agenda. What's coming our way?

-permanent tax cuts!
-a permanent end to the estate tax!
-corporate tax cuts!
-blatant union-busting disguised as a "homeland security" measure!
(no whistleblower protection either)
-less possibility of a full investigation into what went wrong on 9/11!
-blind and arrogant support of bush's oil war in Iraq!
(then again, he may postpone until just before the 2004 election)
-sweeping confirmation of uterus-invading judges! (or "strict constructionists" as the fascists say)
-drilling in the arctic national wildlife refuge!
-more of our fogotten friend, nuclear power!
-a hollow, insurance-friendly prescription drug bill!
-gutting medicare!

and of course, need we remind you,
-privatization of social security!

Fun, huh? This is exactly what I thought would happen. First Gary Bauer, then Jerry Falwell, and now the Senate Rethugs themselves are becoming quite eager about the prospects of complete governement domination. Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Remember what happened to the Democratic congress of 93-94? Doesn't sound like Trent Lott and the boys do!

Message for Senate Republicans: Your agenda, on the whole, isn't popular. Your "sweep" this past tuesday was no landslide; out of many millions of votes, if you changed around 22,000 of them, there would be a solid Democratic majority in the Senate. If you force your kook right agenda, there will be considerable backlash in 2004, a backlash that could reach all the way up to 1600 Pennsylvania. Of course, you won't listen to me. You're self-righteous, idiotic conservatives, and you just can't wait to try to shove your agenda down us normal people's throats. Good luck, sir's and maam's (mostly sir's).

Message for Senate Democrats: This is your chance!!! The overeager Republicans have put their far right agenda on the table, now it's time to show some contrast. Talk about raising the minimum wage, and cutting the payroll tax, as well as the taxes of the middle class. Talk about protecting Medicare and Social Security, remind everyone where the economy and the stock market are. The GOP has the votes for most of their agenda, I'd say that the Dems should let them bury themselves with it (except for ANWR, please filibuster that).

Still, some of the things the GOP will do in the next two years will be very hard to reverse, most siginifcantly the judicial nominations. The Dems really have no one to blame but themselves for that. However, the Rethugs are showing all the signs of overreach here from the git-go, and if they continue to do so, Dubya's re-election hopes will be in doubt.
Good late night everybody!

I've added a couple of things to my archaic Geocities website, including a "thoughts" piece on my Halloween experiences in Isla Vista, as well as reviews of a number of movies, including Bowling for Columbine and The Ring.