The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, October 11, 2003


On last night's Late Night Conan gave us some more patterns (where he shows four pictures and humorously explains that the progression of pictures is "more and more likely" to be or do something or other)

The highlight:
"Soggy meadow" (a picture of a soggy meadow, complete with flowers and marshes and so on)

"Scrawny Hindu" (a picture of a very thin man in Hindu garb)

"Shack and Leno" (a picture of Jay Leno standing in front of a run-down shack)

"Sack of Mentos" (a picture of a large, full sack marked "Mentos")

"Yes, these are more and more likely to be the way Arnold Schwarzenegger pronounces 'Sacramento'"
Heh! Okay okay, accent humor, but it's funny!

Friday, October 10, 2003

IF YOU WANT A LITTLE MORE OF ME TODAY, should check out If Six Was Nine and my good ol' California Patriot Watch.

Anyhoo, off to see Kill Bill! I'll have a brief review of some sort tonight or tomorrow.
Rushypoo admits it.
Rush Limbaugh announced on his radio program Friday that he is addicted to pain medication and that he is checking himself into a treatment center immediately.

"You know I have always tried to be honest with you and open about my life," the conservative commentator said in a statement on his nationally syndicated radio show.

"I need to tell you today that part of what you have heard and read is correct. I am addicted to prescription pain medication."

Law enforcement sources said last week that Limbaugh's name had come up during an investigation into a black market drug ring in Palm Beach County, Florida. The sources said that authorities were looking into the illegal sale of the prescription drugs OxyContin and hydrocodone.

Limbaugh, who has a residence in Palm Beach County, was named by sources as a possible buyer. He was not the focus of the investigation, according to the sources.

The radio talk show host said he first became addicted to painkillers "some years ago," following spinal surgery. However, he added, "the surgery was unsuccessful and I continued to have severe pain in my lower back and also in my neck due to herniated discs. I am still experiencing that pain."

He had tried to break his dependence in the past and has checked himself into medical facilities twice before, he said.

Limbaugh said that he is "not making any excuses" and that he is "no role model."

"I refuse to let anyone think I am doing something great here, when there are people you never hear about, who face long odds and never resort to such escapes. They are the role models," he said.
That's great. When's the trial?

--Edwards had his best performance, particularly in the latter "coats off" portion of the debate. That yes vote on Iraq is gonna be a tough hill to climb, but he really shines in these debates.

--Kerry got lost in the crowd a little bit, and again didn't do anything to distinguish himself, apart from his great line about Rush Limbaugh.

--Clark is still more presence than substance, and he had to do a bit of tapdancing when moderator Judy Woodruff challenged him on some old comments of his.

--Dean deflected criticism pretty well, and had some fun with it, joking that some thought he was too McGovernite to win, while others thought he was too Gingrichian to win.

--Deep down I really like Dennis Kucinich -- indeed, he is a man ahead of his time -- but for some reason he seemed more fringy than usual last night.

--Gephardt got loud, loud, LOUD. Like Edwards, he also has that yes vote to deal with, but he really hammered Bush last night, particularly on his economic policies.

--Braun sounded very good, it's a shame her campaign doesn't have more money or traction.

--Lieberman tied with Kerry for the going-over-the-time-limit award. Snuck one Hollywood moralization line in there. He is who he is, and he's sticking to his guns as a moderate.

--Sharpton didn't get a 5-star killer line in like he usually does, but he has been good for the debates.

Sorry, today is a busy day, otherwise I'd be more longwinded on this.

Thursday, October 09, 2003


When Arnold was talking about putting a transition team together, he said it would be a left-right mix. I was skeptical, knowing that Bush said some similar things after the Florida coup, and we wound up with 20 neocons and Norm Mineta.

But from the looks of the team he announced today, perhaps Arnold was serious.
California's governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger today named his transition team, listing personalities as diverse as former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

Standing next to Rep. David Dreier, who will head the transition, Schwarzenegger said he wanted the "smartest people in the state" to help him begin his work in the capital -- no matter what their party affiliation or political views.


Schwarzenegger also listed businessman Bill Simon Jr., a staunch Republican, and Democrats Susan Estrich, a professor, and Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, to join the others.
Those are some good Democrats there (though I wouldn't have minded seeing Leon Panetta in there -- on the other hand, the multi-level irony of putting a Clinton guy on Arnold's staff could be too much for some of his Republican voters to swallow). Willie Brown, former legislature big-man, knows everything there is to know about Sacramento, and could end up being much more helpful to Arnold than Dreier, who's been in DC for a while now and never served in Sacto.

Also included in the team is former State Treasurer Matt Fong, who was Barbara Boxer's last victim in the 98 election. Interesting that only some of the California GOP "losers" got an invite to this. Fong and Simon are in, while there's no sign of losers Campbell, Lungren, or Bill Jones.

The Brown appointment is a good indication that the split in the California GOP is alive and well, since some McClintock conservatives are already upset about this. Then again, c'mon! It's Wille Brown! He may not be a Republican, but he sure renovates City Hall like one!

I kid, I kid. Sure, Willie's no slow-growth or no-growth progressive, but he's still a Dem deep down.

Who says the UCSB Daily Nexus doesn't cover important issues?
A UCSB freshman living in Figueroa House at Manzanita Village set off fire alarms when he discharged a fire extinguisher in the residential halls Wednesday evening.

Sean Downing, 19, a business economics major, said he took the fire extinguisher that was mounted on the wall across from his residence hall room and sprayed it in the hallway. Fire alarms in the hall went off when sensors detected the gas from the fire extinguisher.

"I didn't think it would freaking turn on the alarms," Downing said.
Ahh, our disenchanted youth.

And the Nexus?
He said he tried to inform students that there was no fire, but their response was not what he expected.

"They laughed at me. Someone called me an ass," Downing said. "I got a lot of [people saying to me,] 'Why the hell did you do that?'"
Either Mr Downing is a grammatical nightmare or a paragon of vulgarity supreme. His choice of major makes me think the former, but you never know.

The opinion page of the Nexus seems mostly devoted to a daily ping-pong match between defenders of Israel and Palestine. Whichever one gets their piece printed on monday tends to *win*, 3 to 2.
It seems that a couple of years ago, Bob Novak had no problem revealing his sources when there was treason in our midst. Why not now?

If there were ever a long post that you should read from beginning to end, it is this one from Calpundit on the true nature and deeper goals of the Republican Party, and why we have to stop it.

...last night on Leno, he praised Arnold for his waffly apologies and attacks pertaining to the groping allegations, "unlike Clinton" who was "horrible".

Beyond everything else, what Clinton did was CONSENSUAL. He didn't harass or humiliate people, and get off (figuratively) on it.

The only reason I was watching Leno was because I was on the phone until about 1215 and TFM Housemate Ben was watching Leno, after Letterman proved to have lame guests. So no more Leno for me for a while.

On the other hand, one of the great positive consequences of Arnold's election is the sheer joy of the humor found a few minutes later, on Conan's show. Robert Smigel's Arnold impersonation has to be the funniest I've ever heard. And it didn't hurt that Conan had Michael Moore on last night, who was quite good, and managed to poke fun at GE, NBC's corporate parent. Moore confirmed that he's in the process of making his bombshell documentary Farenheit 911, still due out next year.

From the Moonie Times:
Jubilant Republican strategists said yesterday that Arnold Schwarzenegger's election to the California governorship has given their party a huge boost going into the 2004 elections and will force Democrats to spend more to hold on to the state.

White House and Republican Party officials said Mr. Schwarzenegger's victory in the heavily Democratic state was a successful political pre-election test of President Bush's core campaign agenda of lower taxes, a more robust business climate and faster job creation. The agenda attracted surprisingly strong support from the Democrats' core political base, with blacks, Hispanics and labor union members voting in large numbers to oust Gov. Gray Davis and replace him with the Republican movie star.
Au contraire! This optimism is, well, misplaced, on three levels no less.

In terms of 2004, the result of the recall election does not hurt Democrats one bit. In fact, it may even help them. The simple fact is that no matter who we elect governor here, George W Bush has zero chance of winning California. So the result of Arnold's victory is a sense of false optimism among Republicans that California is ripe for a Bush victory in 2004. As a result, it will be the Republicans who waste money and resources in California, potentially making actual battleground states like West Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Arizona and --yes-- Florida all better-than-even shots for the Democratic candidate.

At the heart of the Republicans' misjudgement on this is who the victorious governor actually is. He's Arnold friggin Schwarzenegger, a ridiculously famous movie star, who more or less ran as a ridiculously famous movie star, and not really as a Republican. Arnold's good fortune in California is not and cannot be a measuring stick for Bush's chances next year in the Golden State.

And for that matter, California booting Davis says essentially nothing about the state of support for the Democratic party in the state, and does not indicate even the slightest possibility of a Bush pickup.

But of course, I invite Bush to campaign in California with Governor Schwarzy. We can't wait to ask Bush what he thinks of Arnold's treatment of women, or what Arnold thinks (or at least, should think) of Dubya's record on jobs and the budget.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


Cuz if I were, and I saw what Calpundit saw on CNN, I'd be upset.
I just heard on CNN that the Justice Department expects the Plame investigation to take at least until the end of the year.
Of course, Bush could get this sorted out in a matter minutes if he really wanted to.

Will the story be kept alive? If the media doesn't do its part, I'm sure the nine Democratic candidates will.

And by we, I mean "California, except for me, Laurie, and maybe you, dear reader". From tomorrow's NYT editorial:
The exit polls did not shed much light on the California voters' feelings, except their profound sense of irritation. A sizeable chunk of the Schwarzenegger voters said they had voted on the issues, but agreed that he had not really addressed them.
Of course, the kid-gloves treatment Ahhnuld got from the media didn't help either.

Eric at the Hamster tell us that Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them will be back at number one this week, leapfrogging Bill O'Reilly, after only one week! Ha!
Tbogg has some wise, and rather comforting words about Arnold's election:
California women should be especially happy. If Arnold even looks at a woman's issue sideways he's going to wish he was making Kindergarten Cop II with Steve Guttenberg.

Governor Groper won't raise taxes and if he cuts services he's going to destroy himself and the ragged remnants of the Republican party in California. The Republicans that still hold office in California generally come from the shitty parts of the state as well as the Taliban wing of the party, and , outside of his Nazi connections which makes their nipples hard, they don't care much for him. Think of Arnie as the dog that finally caught the car. Now he has to figure out what to do with it.

This was a protest vote where people decided to cut off their collective noses to spite their face. It's not a Republican trend.
I don't know, I don't think raising taxes would be beyond him, despite his pledge. But thanks to the rigidity of the hard right in California, he's damned either way.

And while I was at Tbogg's site, I came across this Toles cartoon that made me laugh out loud, which is a bad thing to do in the HSSB computer lab:


Take a look.

Let's see, Lassen, Sutter, Placer and El Dorado counties were the only counties in the state, out of 58, that voted for Proposition 54. And none of the four were any higher than 53%.

A common thread between those four counties? Well, it ain't just the snow that's white.

(okay okay so it only snows in three of those counties, hehe)

(or in this case, our own party)

My distaste of Slate has grown over the last few months/years, but this is great:

Slate's Democratic Debate Drinking Game. (disclaimer: i don't drink)

A sample:
Richard Gephardt
Take a drink if he:
Refers to a Bush policy as a "failure"
Points at himself
Says he "led the fight" for something
Says "dad" and "Teamster" in the same sentence
Mentions Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich in the same sentence
hehehe. The rest are pretty good too.
So it was the low turnout that cost Davis his job.

You know what that means: Props 53 and 54 really, really sucked.

I thought it would at least take a week, maybe a few weeks, for conservatives to argue for reform of the recall system (now that they used it to their advantage, of course).


That's some cojones. From the conservative San Diego Union Tribune:
A series of changes is needed. Together, they would bring clarity to a constitutionally confused process. They would appropriately raise the bar for a recall movement successfully making the ballot, and for candidates who want to run. They would eliminate the prospect – one of the concerns about today's balloting – that an officeholder would be ousted by the majority and replaced by a candidate who did not receive majority support. They would inject a greater degree of fairness. And they would provide election officials with badly needed flexibility.
In Billmon's post, he has some good advice for the Democrats in the state legislature on this one.

It's tempting. The idea of booting Arnold out in March sounds very, very yummy. And we could do it, since unlike this election, Democratic turnout would be high in March (it would coincide with the party primary).

But at least for now, I'm going to side with Kevin Drum on this.
Trying to mount a recall against Arnold would be bad for California, bad for the Democratic party, and only distracts attention from the bigger task at hand: electing a Democrat to the White House in 2004. It's time for the circus to stop.

This is one time that we should accept defeat graciously and turn our attention to more important things. Remember, anger is only useful if it's focused and channeled on something worthwhile, and recalling Arnold isn't it. Let's not blow it.
This recall sucked a lot of attention away from the Democratic presidential candidates, and the Plame affair. The bigger fight is for the White House, to get those neocon criminals outta there. A 2nd California recall would steal the national focus all the way through Super Tuesday, and I don't think that's advisable.

If only there weren't an election year coming up. Because the Republicans deserve to deal with another recall. By using that portion of California law to get rid of Gray Davis -- a statute meant to be reserved for outright corruption, incompetence, etc -- the Republicans have opened the Pandora's box here. There would be nothing more pleasurable than to give them a taste of their own medicine. By the way, as Kos points out, since there'd already be an election going on, a new recall woudn't cost California anywhere near as much as this one did. And since Republicans started the recall effort because they couldn't get over Davis winning a fair-and-square election just a few months prior, why should we get over this?

ALL THAT BEING SAID, we need to go after the big enchilada, and that's George W Bush. That's what my priority is. Of course, my opinion on recalling Arnold could change, but not now.

Well, let me clarify that: I will not trumpet the idea that we should start a recall effort, I will leave that to others. But if someone hands me a petition, I will most definitely sign it.
The day after

Boy, I could really go for a philosopher king right about now.

Instead, we get this.


His very first act as governor-elect was arrogant. And what was that? He started his victory speech about 30 seconds after Cruz Bustamante started his concession speech. Naturally all the networks cut away from Cruz and went straight to Jay Leno (who is on serious probation for this) as he introduced Arnold. That's a real classy start there, musclehead. In his speech, which was fine given the circumstances, he talked about reaching out to Democrats and so on. But you just cut one off! And not only that, one with whom you'll be working quite closely in the next few years. (Cruz will still be Lt Governor during the actor's term)

But more fundamentally than that, his talk about reaching out and being "everybody's governor" sounds a shade hollow when you remember that he became governor through a partisan power-grab.

Nevertheless, I'm going to try and give Arnold a chance to win my support. As a current resident of Santa Barbara, I'm going to rely on one of my fellow Santa Barbarans: Rob Lowe. He's a Democrat and he supports Arnold. He must know something that I don't. If he gets turned off to Governor Arnold, then we will know that things really went wrong.

Where is Arnold's allegiance? The best we can hope for, articulated well by actor/activist Ron Silver on CNN last night, is that Arnold becomes something of a free spirit, not beholden to Republican or Democratic talking points, reaching out to everybody, and being an actual breath of fresh air in state politics. Looking at his website, his views aren't that offensive. Pro-choice, pro-gay (to a point), against offshore drilling, and with strong Democratic majorities in the Assembly and Senate, he couldn't cause that much damage even if his views were identical to McClintock's.

If he had a (D) after his name, I'd be pretty happy right now. Is that superficial of me? Not really. That (R) is really important. It means that he, on some level, will be beholden to the higher-ups of the California GOP. That means they'll pressure him to give that $9 billion in damages back to Enron after the state got gouged a couple years ago.

On the other hand, the factor that supports Ron Silver's hypothesis is that Arnold is ridiculously famous. Most likely, the Republicans couldn't have won this election without him (though Tom McClintock might disagree with that assertion). They've shown how awful they are at winning statewide elections in recent years. Arnold can say to the conservative wing of the GOP: "look, you couldn't have won without me, we're doing this my way". And McClintock would whine and scream as cooler heads like reasonably-good-guy Warren Buffet have Arnold's ear.

He's going to have a hard time coming through on some of his promises. Well, he didn't talk enough to make "promises", but hey. I'm referring to his pledge to neither raise taxes nor cut services and fix the budget problem at the same time. Good luck! You can reform worker's comp, then rereform it, then rerereform it all you want, that's not going to get you the money you need. Particularly if Arnold listens to his team more than to the GOP, we will see a tax increase somewhere, and the Republicans will be fractured yet again! What a state! Perhaps they can recall him.


Is this election the sign of any kind of shift to the right in California, or nationwide? In a word, NO. First of all, the Republicans could only win in California with a ridiculously famous celebrity in a short campaign for a special election. That's all they can do, and Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Miller would each get smacked down by Boxer. Secondly, if those Republican-backed ballot initiatives had won, or even came close to winning, then I'd be a bit more concerned. But no, both 53 and 54 couldn't even muster 40 percent. Arnold is nothing more than an anomaly, created by his own celebrity and the media.

Here's something I haven't seen anyone talking about (and I'm writing this post before reading any other blogs or likewise commentary, so I dunno). There is a long-term consequence of the groping revelations, in the LA Times and elswehere, that bodes very well for Democrats, particularly the nine of them who are running for President. Part of the Republican plot that led to this recall, even if they wont admit it, is the idea that a Republican governor would make it easier for Bush to possibly win California in the 2004 election. This would include Bush making appearances with Arnold and so on. But with the sixteen women coming forward, and Arnold acknowledging that some (all?) of the stories are true, Arnold becomes a bit radioactive in terms of conservative Republicans. Bush ran as the anti-Clinton, who was supposed to "restore honor and integrity" to the White House. The second he takes the stage with Arnold, he'll have to answer questions about Arnold's conduct. Thanks to the LA Times, our late-night talk-show hosts, LettermanLenoConanStewartKilbornKimmel, will be telling groping jokes for quite a while. Heck, Leno's still telling OJ jokes! In short, the Republicans wanted the governorship based on an even grander plan, and the saturation of the truth about Arnold's behavior towards women has stymied that plan. So please, everybody, send some flowers to the LA Times.


The longtime joke in California is how the state Republicans always shoot themselves in the foot, nominate unelectable candidates over electable ones, and become fragmented. Even in this campaign, the potential folly of the Republicans had been the split between Arnold and McClintock. But the real story of the recall was the split among Democrats. From the numbers, it looks like a full 20% of Democrats abandoned Davis, presumably for Arnold (and perhaps, Cruz, I'll explain below). Davis thrives in campaigns on a "look at the alternative" strategy, and it looks like it didn't work this time: Enough Californians, Democrats even, thought Arnold was a substantial improvement over Davis. We'll see if that proves true.

Bigger than that, the Democrats were split on both questions. On question 1, there were enough Democrats who thought Bustamante was a significant improvement over Davis, that a greater-than-zero percentage of voters actually voted for the recall and then for Bustamante. Latino voters? It's probably more complicated than that. In addition, there was also a split on question 2, independent from that first split. There were also plenty of Democrats, notably senator Dianne Feinstein, who opposed the recall, but on principle would not support any replacement candidate. So as a result, both Davis and Bustamante had their votes split. And that's even before you factor in Arnold.

Davis was not a popular governor, never really was, and that accounts for the split on question 1. And Cruz was not a great campaigner, and that partially accounts for the split on question 2. Then again, with the media fellating Arnold for two months straight (with consent, mind you), Cruz was in a tough position to begin with.

You can look at the election results here. Two notes:

--It looks like Arnold got more votes than Davis did (the "no" vote on question one), so Arnold won this election just about as fairly as one could, given its parameters.
--Congratulations to Georgy Russell, who finished in the top 35 with around 2000 votes. She's got a bright future! (selling thongs? getting beaten up by Arnold brownshirts?)

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Dubya changes his tune -- slightly -- on Plamegate.
President Bush said Tuesday he has "no idea" whether the Justice Department will catch the person who disclosed an undercover CIA officer's identity. "This is a large administration," Bush said. (my emphasis)
Okay, but then he said...
"I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official," Bush said. "I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth."

Bush said: "I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is."

But later, he seemed to contradict himself, pledging, "We'll find out." (again, my emphasis)
Okay, forget the apparent contradiction the wire reporter shows there. Yes, George, you do have a large administration. But you do say it's a senior administration official. There's only a handful of those! The size of the government doesn't matter! This could be a totalitarian government where the state has its hands in everything, but even if that were the case, the term "senior administration official" would apply only to a handful of people!

George, just make a few calls, and we'll have this all sorted out in time for bed. You'd even have time to write some more floral poetry for Laura.

The President now has his own blog.

And George W Bush posts on it everyday!

Oh, wait. Let me read that again:
Posted by
Headlines like "Tax Cuts Key to Economic Recovery" are enough to make one wonder if their chocolate rations went up or down this month.

As for substance, there appears to be nothing outside of "The Wall St Journal (subscription required) says that..." and "This New York Post editorial argues...".

Oh, and where are the comments? Don't you want a meaningful open dialog with your readers, Mr

Maybe this will put Reynolds and Sullivan out of business, as this blog renders them middlemen.

UPDATE: Over at the Dean Blog, Joe Rospars gives the Bush blog a good Bentsening:
Mr. President, I'm a blogger. I know blogs. Bloggers are friends of mine. And your site, sir, is not a blog.

Life imitates the Simpsons . . . again.

Someone at Democratic Underground posts a link to a Freeper thread discussing an interesting phenomenon: People are going to the polls to vote for Arnold, but forgetting to vote on the recall!One of them writes:
My neighborhood is comprised of middle-aged to older voters. Judging by the breakdown given to me by the Republican Party (I'm a poll watcher today) the area is predominantly Democrat. The workers said that for the first time they could remember there was a line out the door when they opened this morning! The only thing I'm a little nervous about is with all the Schwartzenegger buzz, people are forgetting to vote YES on the recall. It's the first question on the first page and since Arnie is on the last page people have the tendency of just going right to the page with his name. Even my husband almost forgot. People have been calling the radio shows saying the same thing. A few cried and said they forgot.
Oops! Ironically, our new governor will be Pat Buchanan.

Back on the Simpsons, Bart appeared to have won the race for class president over unpopular brainiac Martin Prince, yet all of his supporters forgot to vote, caught up in the hysteria of a recess party. Martin won the election, 2-0.

I still have no idea how this is going to end up. With 2 million absentee ballots, we may not know for a while...

Arnold supporters beat up Georgy Russell. And Arnold did nothing to stop it.
Gubernatorial candidate Georgy Russell was pushed, shoved, hit and kicked yesterday by supporters of Arnold Schwarzenegger at a rally in Pleasanton CA. She was repeatedly called a "bitch" and one of the Arnold Supporters wrote on her clothing with a permanent marking pen. The felonious abusers, who claimed to be provoked by remarks from Russell, were near equal numbers of men and women and no one during the incident came to Russell's aid. Schwarzeneggar and his wife Maria Shriver witnessed the attack and neither said or did anything to stop the abuse.

Russell, while disgusted with the behavior, thinks Arnold and his supporters deserve each other. "Some of Arnold's supporters apparently do not hesitate when it comes to using violence to accomplish their goals. It's not surprising that they support and defend a candidate who has manifested poor judgment and aggressive behavior most of his adult life. The behavior exhibited by Arnold's supporters is not simply an aberration, it is an MO that has it's roots at the top; it is reminiscent of the behavior of the thugs that were bussed in by Republicans during the Florida recount to perform much the same role as the bullies of yesterday and while that is no surprise to me I am nonetheless sickened by it all. This bully mentality was exhibited by Arnold in the debate in his rude treatment of Arianna Huffington and that the press offered little to no criticism of his behavior opened the door wide and gave a green light to his supporters to follow suit."
She's right, this is par for the course for those assholes.

Monday, October 06, 2003


...or at least it should. From Greg Palast:
The wannabe governor has yet to deny that on May 17, 2001, at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles, he had consensual political intercourse with Enron chieftain Kenneth Lay. Also frolicking with Arnold and Ken was convicted stock swindler Mike Milken.

Now, thirty-four pages of internal Enron memoranda have just come through this reporter's fax machine tell all about the tryst between Maria's husband and the corporate con men. It turns out that Schwarzenegger knowingly joined the hush-hush encounter as part of a campaign to sabotage a Davis-Bustamante plan to make Enron and other power pirates then ravaging California pay back the $9 billion in illicit profits they carried off.

Here's the story Arnold doesn't want you to hear. The biggest single threat to Ken Lay and the electricity lords is a private lawsuit filed last year under California's unique Civil Code provision 17200, the "Unfair Business Practices Act." This litigation, heading to trial now in Los Angeles, would make the power companies return the $9 billion they filched from California electricity and gas customers.

It takes real cojones to bring such a suit. Who's the plaintiff taking on the bad guys? Cruz Bustamante, Lieutenant Governor and reluctant leading candidate against Schwarzenegger.

Now follow the action. One month after Cruz brings suit, Enron's Lay calls an emergency secret meeting in L.A. of his political buck-buddies, including Arnold. Their plan, to undercut Davis (according to Enron memos) and "solve" the energy crisis -- that is, make the Bustamante legal threat go away.

How can that be done? Follow the trail with me.

While Bustamante's kicking Enron butt in court, the Davis Administration is simultaneously demanding that George Bush's energy regulators order the $9 billion refund. Don't hold your breath: Bush's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is headed by a guy proposed by … Ken Lay.

But Bush's boys on the commission have a problem. The evidence against the electricity barons is rock solid: fraudulent reporting of sales transactions, megawatt "laundering," fake power delivery scheduling and straight out conspiracy (including meetings in hotel rooms).

So the Bush commissioners cook up a terrific scheme: charge the companies with conspiracy but offer them, behind closed doors, deals in which they have to pay only two cents on each dollar they filched.

Problem: the slap-on-the-wrist refunds won't sail if the Governor of California won't play along. Solution: Re-call the Governor.
There's more, read it. On one level, California loses $9 billion it would've otherwise gain if Arnold is elected (slightly larger than our current budget deficit btw). On another level, if we elect Arnold, we elect a crony of those who screwed California. Good work everybody!

From Bruce Garrett, via atrios:
Someone on a gay mail list I'm on reminds us that the national protect marriage week President Sodomy Laws has declared, starts on October 12th, the same day Matthew Shepard was murdered. It's not just their way of pissing on his grave of course, its their way of erasing the memory of Matthew Shepard, of erasing the memory of what happened that day, of what can happen again to anyone else's son or daughter, and will if they have anything to do about it.
Hmm, I think I'll be upset the rest of the day over this one. Though I'm sure DeLay and Ashcroft are laughing it up.

Arnold is having trouble deciding whether to apologize or not.
"A lot of these are made-up stories," Schwarzenegger told NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw in a campaign-bus interview on "Dateline NBC." "I never grabbed anyone and then pulled up their shirt and grabbed their breasts, and stuff like that. This is not me. So there's a lot of this stuff going on.... "

"So you deny all those stories about grabbing?" Brokaw asked.

"Not at all," said Schwarzenegger, who apologized Thursday for having "behaved badly sometimes" toward women. "I'm just saying this is not — this is not me."

Campaign spokesman Sean Walsh would not clarify whether Schwarzenegger had ever groped women in the ways they had described. Schwarzenegger did not respond to a request made through Walsh for an interview.
Way to clear it up there, musclehead!

Washington Post:
THERE IS A THESAURUS'S worth of adjectives to describe the California recall election, but one in particular sums it up: appalling. The recall is a terrible idea; it is destabilizing to democracy to try to dump a governor who was elected less than a year ago. And the conduct of the campaign has only underscored the folly of the enterprise, with millions in special-interest money -- more than $11 million from Indian tribes alone -- sloshing into the system, a political circus substituting for serious policy discussion and a federal court unwisely intruding into an already chaotic situation.


Californians' dislike of Mr. Davis is understandable. So is their anger about the state's fiscal crisis. But surely a colorless technocrat is preferable to a political neophyte who so far has demonstrated more swagger than substance. Whatever happens Tuesday, Californians of all political persuasions would be wise to turn their attention to excising the recall provision from the state constitution. The last thing the state needs is "Recall: The Sequel."
New York Times:
In California's rule-by-referendum, the governor and state legislators have long been of limited influence. The recall campaign that is — finally — coming to a conclusion has further demeaned the governor's office into something resembling a civic ducking stool. Time and hope remain for voters to defy recent polls and reject the recall of Gov. Gray Davis as a sorry indulgence.


This weekend, Mr. Schwarzenegger is broadcasting a commercial featuring Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor. In what seems like crass trafficking in the 9/11 tragedy, Mr. Giuliani intones, "Sometimes history thrusts upon people roles they never thought they would have." It seems a bit strange that the campaign chose to have Mr. Giuliani remind the voters that Mr. Schwarzenegger is running his candidacy more like an actor publicizing a new movie than a man seriously offering himself as a potential chief executive of the nation's most populous state.

But California has managed to paint itself into a corner, one initiative at a time, until the governor has little power to fix any of its problems. The idea of choosing an action figure may have seemed like fun at one point. Now the entire recall process is coming to look like a very bad script.
Well, the Rudy ads worked so well for Bill Simon! Ha!


Question 1: Should Davis be removed from office?
Yes: 53.5%
No: 46.5%

Question 2: Who should replace him?
Arnold Schwarzenegger: 43%
Cruz Bustamante: 35%
Tom McClintock: 17%
Peter Camejo: 3%
Other: 2%
Question 1: Should Davis be removed from office?
Yes: 49.2%
No: 50.8%

Question 2: Who should replace him?
Cruz Bustamante: 41%
Arnold Schwarzenegger: 38%
Tom McClintock 18%
Peter Camejo: 1%
Other: 2%
This will be interesting, in a scary sort of way.

or, as Ahhnuld would say,


Well well well, California, we may have a big collective episode of buyer's remorse come wednesday. And when I say "we", I mean "you", cuz I'm not voting for that groping airhead.

But, hoping to stave off such a possibility with my microbe-size soapbox that I call a blog, I hereby present the TFM California 2003 Voter Guide:

RECALL: QUESTION ONE . . . This, of course, being whether or not to remove Governor Gray Davis from office. Yes, there is a reservoir of negative public opinion for Davis, and it was that reservoir that gave right-wing republicans the confidence that they could pull off this scheme. But then there are the facts. Recalling Davis will not do a thing to solve California's budget situation, Davis hasn't been corrupt or incompetent, and is really something of a moderate. The Dem-controlled assembly and senate are not going to lay down for Arnold, who would likely be a governor elected with a far lower percentage than those who vote against the recall. The recall is undemocratic, is being used for a purpose other than the prescribed one, and constitutes a right-wing power-grab, in the tradition of recent right-wing power grabs (Clinton impeachment, Florida 2000, Texas redistricting, crashing Wellstone's plane, etc . . . ooh did I say that?). So in short, vote against the recall. TFM SAYS: NO.

RECALL: QUESTION TWO . . . I'm an intelligent voter, at this point I've already voted no on the recall, so it can't hurt to pick a possible successor. Cruz Bustamante has run a pretty lousy and stagnant campaign. Other than his great work opposing Prop 54, he hasn't done a thing to help the Democrats in this campaign. His performance in the debates was passable, if not very aggressive. Some pundits initially seemed to think he won, yet many Californians found him "condescending" (read, "intelligent"). Cruz gets my vote anyway, for he is the only replacement candidate with a chance of winning who will work to safeguard all the liberal progress made in the past few decades. I was never going to vote for Arnold before this week's events (then again, I knew about that stuff already), and I sure as hell won't be voting for him now. TFM SAYS: CRUZ BUSTAMANTE.

PROPOSITION 53 . . . One of the usual "let's set aside such-and-such money and require ourselves to use it to such-and-such end" initiatives that finds its way onto the ballot. In this case, the relevant such-and-such's are $850 million and infrastructure. In the current budget pinch here in Cali, this is simply not smart governance. This money will need to be taken from other programs, and we'll still wind up at square one with all the same budgetary problems. We need more flexibility to get out of the mess we're in. TFM SAYS: NO.

PROPOSITION 54 . . . Ah, the stop-recording-racial-data initiative.

I am a friend of the dramatic arts, and with that in mind, I present: "BE PROP 54!" This is a three-step training program where any Californian can learn how to properly portray the ballot initiative in a dramatic setting. You can too, if you follow these three simple steps.
Step 1) Insert index fingers in ears
Step 3) Repeat without end
And just like that, you'll show the world that you can emobdy, precisely, the effort to curb the inherent racism in our society by simply pretending it doesn't exist! You can talk about whatever exemptions they put in there until the cows come home (even then, there are questions as to the scope of those exemptions), but this turns a blind eye to too many things, the least of which being job discrimination, medical research, educational trends, and so on. This will not lead to a more colorblind society, as Ward Connerly tells us, but rather, it will solidify and further institutionalize the inherent racism in our state society. TFM VOTES: BIG FUCKIN' NO.

So, to recap:
Recall 1: No
Recall 2: Cruz Bustamante
Prop 53: No
Prop 54: NO

See you at the polls tomorrow! I may be doing some doorknocking with the UCSB Dems.
The White House has ordered a major reorganization of American efforts to quell violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and to speed the reconstruction of both countries, according to senior administration officials.

The new effort includes the creation of an "Iraq Stabilization Group," which will be run by the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. The decision to create the new group, five months after Mr. Bush declared the end of active combat in Iraq, appears part of an effort to assert more direct White House control over how Washington coordinates its efforts to fight terrorism, develop political structures and encourage economic development in the two countries.

It comes at a time when surveys show Americans are less confident of Mr. Bush's foreign policy skills than at any time since the terrorist attacks two years ago. At the same time, Congress is using President Bush's request for $87 billion to question the administration's failure to anticipate the violence in Iraq and the obstacles to reconstruction.

"This puts accountability right into the White House," a senior administration official said.

The reorganization was described in a confidential memorandum that Ms. Rice sent Thursday to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet.

Asked about the memorandum on Sunday, Ms. Rice called it "a recognition by everyone that we are in a different phase now" that Congress is considering Mr. Bush's request for $20 billion for reconstruction and $67 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. She said it was devised by herself, Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Powell and Mr. Rumsfeld in response to discussions she held with Mr. Bush at his ranch in late August. (full story)
Because no one has their shit in order and can clean up a mess . . . like Condi "I really don't remember" Rice.

"This puts accountability right into the White House". But the administration's been running the show right from the outset; this statement makes me wonder if Bush is trying to distance himself from responsibility for the mess he's made up to this point. Though hmm, I should be beyond the wondering stage on this one. Nevertheless, it's enough to warrant a shout of "party of personal responsibility!"

As Kevin points out, this is a tacit admission of failure for the State Department (Bremer), just as Bremer's appointment was a big 'no' to the Pentagon (Garner). So if Condi fails to unscrew the situation, then what? I fear a sudden resignation from the Weekly Standard by Bill Kristol and a call being made to the White House...

Sunday, October 05, 2003


C student. Drunk off his ass until age 40. Failed businessman. Failed congressional candidate. Failed foreign policy. Failed economic policy.

And now, he's a poet??
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Laura Bush says her husband is a poet even if, uh, Americans don't know it.


She revealed that President Bush had penned a poem for her when she got back from a five-day solo trip to Europe, where she attended a book festival in Moscow and visited France -- getting two kisses on the hand from French President Jacques Chirac.

"President Bush is a great leader and a husband, but I bet you didn't know he is also quite the poet," she said. "Upon returning home last night from my long trip I found a lovely poem waiting there for me."

As her husband watched quietly, she recited it.
You might want to get up from your computer at this point...
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Oh my, lump in the bed
How I've missed you.

Roses are redder
Bluer am I
Seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.

The dogs and the cat, they missed you too
Barney's still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe
The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier
Next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier.
Go ahead, pinch yourself all you want, but he actually wrote this.

Obviously, the purpose of the carrier landing was to put it in a love poem. Well, uh, mission accomplished!

Despite his disdain for Chirac, I'm pretty sure Bush is happy she wasn't in California stumping for Arnold; with his affinity for certain "lumps", she would've soon become woman #16. Of course, if he did that, Laura would have probably run him over.

Can we add failed poet to the above list? Well, if Dylan Thomas were still around, he'd tell Dubya that you start writing poems first, then you become a fall-down drunk. So I guess we can.