The Facts Machine

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

Friday, June 27, 2003


Did I mention before that William Saletan is exceedingly nit-picky?

Slate has generally fallen out of my favor in the last year or two, and this does not deviate from their usual pattern of cynicism-for-sport.

The central critique of Democrats seems to be that they are weak, wishy-washy and do not act like a strong opposition party. Then a guy -- Dean -- comes along who's willing to call a spade a spade, and stands up to the bullshit being spewed at us by the administration and the Republicans, and Saletan's problem is that he comes off as "arrogant" and "overconfident"? What exactly do you want?

His criticisms seem to begin and end at:
-an adverb here, an adverb there
-a candidate who was essentially right about an issue telling people that he was right about it.
-one of his staffers wore a pair of shorts

Consider this:
Wednesday, Dean again laced his remarks with caveats. "Increasing numbers of people in Europe, Asia, and in our own hemisphere cite America not as the strongest pillar of freedom and democracy but, somewhat unfairly, as a threat to peace," he said. Of Iraq, he added, "Although we may have won the war, we are failing to win the peace." Somewhat? May have? Why the uncertainty? (emphases Saletan's)
Saletan did speak positively on the war in the run-up period. But just for him, here's a good reason for uncertainty: 59 US casualties, to date, since Bush stood on the USS Lincoln with the "Mission Accomplished" banner behind him. Photo-ops do not a war's end make. Lately, we've been averaging around a massacre a day. Even shopping is unsafe. To show incredulity that someone, a popular political candidate, says the war in Iraq may not be over or even fully decided, is just plain silly, or worse, ignorant.

In the eyes of many, Dean is becoming more immunized every day against whatever consequences there were supposed to be for his Iraq war stance by current events. Nevertheless, I think in terms of Dean, the right's strategy will still be to take him on by saying he's weak on national security. We've even seen that line of thinking from Kerry spokesman Chris Lehane, while misguidedly attacked Dean for his "we won't always have the world's strongest military" line. Certainly Russert's hack job on Meet the Press -- asking the White House for talking points, is that standard for this kind of thing? -- also lends to this sort of strategy.

Dang . . . it . . .
Every once in a while . . . a long while . . . the . . . guy . . . is . . . actually . . .
. . . readable

And very, very correct.

To sum up Sully's two main points:

1. Scalia is right that this ruling paves the way for constitutional grounds for same-sex marriage,


2. GOOD!
Paul mentioned, in the comments to a prior post, a line from Scalia's dissent in the Lawrence v. Texas case, which Fat Tony read aloud from the bench (an uncommon practice).

Political cartoonist Anne Telnaes has immortalized it in an appropriate manner...

Emma of Notes on the Atrocities has analysis of the MoveOn primary. She's a Kucinich supporter, and as a Dem who really likes Dennis but is leaning Dean, more power to ya.

And it appears, with your death coinciding with the SCOTUS decision on Lawrence, either way you have escaped prosecution:

Yabba Dabba Doo.

Who ever said he was a mean-spirited conservative idealogue?

(though I suppose the idea of Thurmond fraternizing with a citizen of the Stone Age is appropriate for multipule reasons)

And gee, guess who won't be eulogizing the man (hehe).

tbogg sums up his feelings on Strom's passing in a very pithy and appropriate manner.

Though, possibly as expected, Kucinich finished in a strong second:

DEAN 139360 43.87%
KUCINICH 76000 23.93%
KERRY 49973 15.73%
EDWARDS 10146 3.19%
GEPHARDT 7755 2.44%
GRAHAM 7113 2.24%
BRAUN 7021 2.21%
LIEBERMAN 6095 1.92%
SHARPTON 1677 0.53%
OTHER 6121 1.93%
UNDECIDED 6378 2.01%
Because no candidate topped 50%, there will, as yet, be no endorsement/money from MoveOn. Still, this continues Dean's momentum, especially since he nearly tripled Kerry's vote total, and CW about the primary season identifies Kerry as his "rival" among the "liberal" candidates.

Interesting that while Kucinich and Sharpton poll about the same in many states (1-2%), that Kucinich finished with big-time numbers at MoveOn while Sharpton finished behind both Lieberman and "other" (including behind the as-yet undeclared General Wesley Clark).

The 23% to Kucinich, while in the short term it probably kept Dean from getting the 50% and the endorsement/$, may be good news for Dean in the long term. The reason? When more consequential votes (primaries, caucuses, etc) come along, and rational voting choices will need to be made, I'd expect that a lot of Kucinich supporters may jump ship to Dean (as some, including actor Peter Coyote, already have). Because the imperative among most Democrats is to boot Bush from the White House, I don't expect that Kucinich will "Nader" Dean in the actual primaries. Of course, if he does, Kerry/Gephardt could have the inside track. I don't know, there's a long way to go.

Thursday, June 26, 2003


Lost in the hoopla surrounding the Lawrence decision by SCOTUS,


A year ago today, those kooky nuts from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Pledge of Allegiance to be unconcstitutional due to its direct invokation of "God". At the time, everyone and their mother condemned the decision, pretty much except for Newdow himself (and, not to toot my own agnostic horn, me). The ruling, in a slightly-revised form, still stands to this day.

Here's a one-year update.


No wait, I refuse to participate in Appropriate Michael Savage's Name For Your Own Purposes Day. I've only heard his radio show once, on a drive from the Bay Area to SB last september, and please, I have much better things to do on saturday afternoons than watch MSGOP, just as I have better uses for the space on my Tivo.

But you know what, America? It's hot out. Darn hot. So hot that you could fry a liberalfascist, feminazi, abortion-a-day ass-bandit on the sidewalk!

Of course, Michael Savage is to political punditry what Randy "Macho Man" Savage is to political punditry.

For a good time, go here, here, here, here, and here (hey, i've been there! didn't do that, though).

UPDATE: here, too

(via tbogg)

This goes out to Jess, who leaves for a summer in Seoul on saturday, and to Marissa who leaves for a 2-year Peace Corps stint in Cameroon, two months from tomorrow.

Get your American Traveller International Apology Shirt!

I'm sure the Canadian tourism industry is lobbying against this shirt, as I'm sure they have received a lot of merchandising revenue from American travellers wishing to pose as Canadians around the world.
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court struck down a ban on gay sex Thursday, ruling that the law was an unconstitutional violation of privacy.

The 6-3 ruling reverses course from a ruling 17 years ago that states could punish homosexuals for what such laws historically called deviant sex.

Laws forbidding homosexual sex, once universal, now are rare. Those on the books are rarely enforced but underpin other kinds of discrimination, lawyers for two Texas men had argued to the court. (full story)
Ok, everybody, it's time to play "Duh: The Home-Game"...

Quick! Name the three dissenting justices.

Of course, if they were really conservative, they should have been part of the majority . . . you know, not wanting the government to interfere with privacy rights and all . . . but do you really expect consistency from justices who used the 14th Amendment to disenfranchise the very people for whom the amendment was created, two and a half years ago?

And of course, we can't wait to see Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson predict the onset of more terrorism, with the court rulings further eroding "God's veil of protection".

Whatever, that's fine. Just one question: In what universe does No Doubt put on a better show than the Stones!?!?


I was unable to perform at Starry Plough on tuesday, due to, let's say, scheduling conflicts. Yeah, that'll do. But I will be there on tuesday the 1st! I swear!

Tuesday, June 24, 2003


Quiddity has some choice quotes from Bush's October 7 speech on Iraq that might be, uh, relevant right now.

As Q also notes, Paul Krugman's tuesday column discusses the very same speech.

You can read his speech here.

Sans press pass, your humble TFM correspondent went to the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero in San Francisco, to watch Dean's declaration speech on tape with around 1,200 people in the room (as well as over 30,000 people in various meet-ups across the country). Everything was buzzing, the energy level was very high, with everyone brandishing big Dean signs, donning buttons, arranging house parties, networking, and just being enthusiastic in general. The night was hosted by actor and overdub-guy Peter Coyote, who as memory recalls, had previously been a Kucinich supporter.

Dean's speech was received in the room much as it was received as it was delivered in a town square in Burlington, VT. Cheers on the screen coincided with cheers among us Bay Areaites. The speech itself was solid, and hit on the major themes of what looks like a spirited Dean campaign: Health care for all Americans, a foreign policy that reflects true American values, increased fiscal responsibility, and end to tax giveaways to the very rich few at the expense of social security and medicare, and above all, a general desire to take back our country. Later, Dean appeared live via videophone, and talked to the SF audience about the campaign, the utilization of the internet (for which Dean particularly stands out), and more.

One last note: as most recaps of the speech have noted that some shmuck was standing a ways behind Dean and holding a large sign that read "Nader: 7% in Vermont; vote Green Party". It drew a laugh in the room in SF, and it set off a brief melodrama as a number of Dean supporters in Burlington strived to obscure the Nader sign with their own.

I found the Green's action there to be inappropriate. I'm not alone in this opinion; ask the Vermont Green Party:
"Although it was a surprise to see that banner, we cannot control the actions of every Green, nor would we want to," stated Chevrier. "We don't want to limit anyone's actions, except for the use of physical violence. Ours is very much a grass roots movement. The appearance of opposition signs at political type rallies and events is a common practice and is part of our free speech rights in the United States. While the leadership of the Vermont Green Party may not agree with this particular action we respect the right of individuals to express their view points." (italics mine)
There you go. Anyway, I thought to myself, "wow, someone really wants to give Bush a 2nd term, huh?"

Dean is in a good position now. More important than state polls at this point in the process, is that Dean has the advantage of having more "buzz" than the other candidates, particularly on the internet; it is likely that he will finish very strong in the now-ongoing primary. He's in a virtual tie with Kerry in New Hampshire, and his stock is only rising.

Monday, June 23, 2003


As you may have heard, MoveOn is having their own Democratic primary tomorrow, in which they will poll all of their registered members, somewhere around 1.5 million people, by email.

If you haven't registered yet, you can do so through here.

You'll be able to vote from tonight at midnight through wednesday night at 11:59pm.

Why is this cool and/or relevant? Because the media has no part in this. We've heard for a while (that is, if you've been paying attention) that Gephardt shall win in Iowa and Kerry and Dean will duke it out for New Hampshire. The reason we hear this is that the media wants to concoct a storyline for the campaign, and when something is repeated enough, it becomes conventional wisdom. The MoveOn primary is an opportunity to express one's support for candidates without the filter of "conventional wisdom".

Anyway, get to it!

by the Supreme Court, though they did strike down UMich's point system.

What? They endorsed affirmative action? After the California Patriot devoted an entire issue to attacking it? After so few many overpriced baked goods were sold? How could the Scalia 5 ignore such striking rhetorical advances?

Jeralyn has a lot more.

I figure that, because it was a split decision, both sides are going to attempt to claim some measure of victory. On the other hand, things seem rather bitchy and nitpicky over at Volokh.

Whenever you think about this case, remember who the plaintiffs are:
In 1997, the year that two white students sued, the school had 13,500 applicants and selected 3,958 of them as freshmen.

The white plaintiffs, Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher, were Michigan residents with good grades and other qualifications when they were rejected at the flagship Ann Arbor campus. Both have since graduated from other colleges. (italics mine)
You mean another university let these go-getters in? How lucky for them! America is truly the land of opportunity, where even if you're white and are rejected by one school, you can get into another!

According to these brief biographies, Gratz attended and graduated from University of Michigan at Dearborn, while Hamacher attended Michigan State. Oh lord, what miserable years those must have been for them. Gratz moping around the Dearborn campus for four years, telling everyone within earshot how unhappy she was to be there, and believing herself to be doomed to work at the nearby Ford Motor Company plant. ("at least it's still running!" shouted a nearby documentary filmmaker) And as for Hamacher, did he not apply to any other schools in the UM system? But in general, all racial concerns aside, if your highschool GPA is 3.373 and you scored a 28 on the ACT, you might have a tough time getting into Ann Arbor, where you might be in the middle of the pack.

To them, I raise my glass (er, can of Pepsi One) and congratulate them on earning degrees from solid public universities!

And of course, no affirmative action case is complete without some photo-related irony and accidental humor:

("weeee shall overcommme some-daaaaaayyyy")

As an old instructor of mine used to say,

that's the sound of the *world's smallest violin* playing "my heart bleeds for you".

Sunday, June 22, 2003


That CNN scrolling dealie at the bottom of the screen sure says the darndest things!

I'm not upset that Renee Zillweger (who cares how it's spelled) is going to star in a Janis Joplin biopic.

However, one of the scrolling headlines mentioned that the big island of Hawaii (cleverly titled "Hawaii") is on the verge of instituting a comprehensive smoking ban. After this bit, it said that the business community was worried about the impact of such a ban.

I couldn't believe my quickly-scanning eyes.

Ok, real quick:

1) People who smoke die younger
2) People who don't smoke live longer
3) People who live longer, consume longer!


More posting tonight or tomorrow.