The Facts Machine

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

Friday, November 07, 2003


I was disappointed when Bob Graham announced that he wouldn't seek re-election to the Senate.

Now, my mood has shifted . . . towards mortified.
Published reports say Rep. Katherine Harris is "seriously considering" running for the U.S. Senate.

Harris became a Republican darling during the 2000 presidential election problems in Florida. She was Secretary of State at the time, but rode the wave to a seat in Congress.

Harris is still in her first term. But she tells the Orlando Sentinel she and her husband will "seriously consider" a run for the Senate.

Some observers say a decision to enter the race would make Harris the automatic Republican front-runner.

Sen. Bob Graham announced early this week that he would not run for another term, setting up primary dogfights in both parties.
Seriously, we need to stop this. We have three options:
1) a massive effort to get Bob to change his mind
2) is Dan Marino a Democrat?
3) turn Harris over to the custody of the state's child welfare system, and hopefully Jeb will lose track of her in there.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003


Look what we're doing:
The U.S. administrator of Iraq has decided to conditionally support the creation of an Iraqi-led paramilitary force composed of former employees of the country's security services and members of political party militias, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.

Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council wants the force, which would pursue resistance fighters who have eluded American troops, to include a domestic intelligence-gathering unit and to have broad powers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects. Such characteristics would make the proposed force different from those created under other security initiatives undertaken by the Americans, who until now had expressed opposition to the idea.
And the Iraqi Shi'ite majority in the south thinks to itself, hmm, in a decade or two...
Class, Matrix: Revolutions, Dean Meetup.

Full day!

Oh, and by the way, blogging is probably going to be light between now and, oh, monday.

Here are some disjointed thoughts on last night's "Rock the Vote" candidate forum. The event, hosted by the faux-cool Anderson Cooper of CNN, featured "young people" (18-30) asking questions of the candidates.

--Sorry, kid, but I really don't care whether a candidate prefers a Mac or a PC, it was cute nine years ago.
--Now, the pot question on the other hand, that's what I came for! If I recall, it was Edwards, Dean, and Kerry saying "yes!", Sharpton and Kucinich saying "nope!", Clark and Lieberman saying "what, are you kidding?", and Braun saying "no comment!" Hope they ask the cocaine question in the general debate.
--For the first time, the very first time, I was impressed by Wesley Clark. His remarks on gays rights, including military rights, were outstanding, despite the obvious Clinton namedrop. Only problem: why was he dressed like the cameramen?
--New explanation for Sharpton's hair: Somebody cut off the top of his skull, a la Kill Bill, and he's moussing it up to obscure that fact.
--Kerry went after Dean on the NRA issue, with a rather cheap applause line. Problem is, Dean's stock response (supports assault weapons ban, enforce it brady & others while states add extra laws as they see fit, and comes from a rural hunting state with the lowest murder rate in the country) makes Kerry's charge seem rather hollow. I've never hunted, and I never will, but if I were president I'd want those votes!
--The "missing the point" award, that is, the award for the candidate who stuck too closely to their usual campaign rhetoric in the anything-goes youth event, goes to John Edwards.
--One other thing I noticed was that...

Okay okay, I'll talk about the Confederate flag thing.

First of all, Dean's been saying that line for months, and now Kerry/Gep/Clark et al are upset with it? The first two fo them were at the DNC convention in California in February, they heard him use it there (I saw it on CSPAN), they must have known that it was met with wild applause and a standing ovation. Furthermore, if they are insinuating that Dean's comments suggested a condoning of racism, they are horrifically and completely wrong. I'll let Bill Saletan take it from here.

On the other hand, I did had a problem with how Dean handled the flag question in the forum last night. He had three chances to reply to a young man's question about it, and it wasn't until the third that he specifically referenced the flag. It made him seem evasive. There are ways to sound stubborn and defiant without sounding like you're ducking an issue.

Still, I am completely in agreement with Howard's bigger point. There are important issues on race in America that do need to be discussed, and we shouldn't wish them away as, say, Ward Connerly wants to do. Old wounds, lingering biases, both hard bigotry and [bush]soft bigotry[/bush], all these things still exist, and pretending they don't is not a path we should take. It's not enough for someone like Clark to just mail in the fact that he supports affirmative action. There has to be, as Dubya would say, an "honest and frank discussion"* in America on the issue, a discussion from which too many people cower.

Could Howard have made his statement about poor southern white voters without invoking the Confed flag? Certainly. But should the mere mentioning of a symbol -- especially since he was in no way endorsing it, and as Saletan points out, asking people to support him despite the flag and not because of it -- be grounds for faux condemnation from the other candidates? Particularly since they'd heard it used in context before and didn't have a problem with it then? Get real.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum puts the pot question in context:
It was a mere decade ago that Bill Clinton had to nervously fend off questions about youthful marijuana use with his famous waffle about "not inhaling." Last night the question came up at the Democratic debate and, after a bit of nervous laughter, the candidates all answered as matter-of-factly as if it were a question about their healthcare plans. Remarkable.
Sounds like we're gaining ground in the culture wars. In your face, Bill Bennet!

Monday, November 03, 2003


No, not that one. I mean Larry Miller.

Though I should note that by virtue of his appearance in Waiting for Guffman (as the mayor of Blaine), Larry has a better film career than everything Dennis ever did put together.
Al Franken stops by the DNC's blog (the wonderfully-named "Kicking Ass"), and gives us Dems the Knute Rockne treatment:
And this is crucial: support your Party. We must, we must, win this election. And the DNC absolutely needs your support. Money's good. Work's good. Did I mention that money is good?

This president and this administration is the most far right-wing group we've seen in the White House in the history of this country. During the 2000 campaign, when Bush said he was against "nation building," I didn't realize he meant only our nation. No Child Left Behind is the most ironically named piece of legislation since the 1942 Japanese Family Leave Act.

We need a president who knows how to create jobs, invest in America's future, and not alienate the rest of the world. And every one of us has to dig in, roll up our sleeves, and work and give for the next year. Fight, fight, fight!
I'm down! Right after this 12-page PS121 paper I'm working on...
wh 23.10.03 bb speech malreported china rectify

Apparently the White House is altering Dubya's speech transcripts on their site. In this case, it was the speech he gave to the Australian parliament, the one that was interrupted by hecklers a couple times. The altered line concerns china:
Old: "We see a China that is stable and prosperous, a nation that respects the peace of its neighbors and works to secure the freedom of its own people."

New: "We seek a China that is stable and prosperous, a nation that respects the peace of its neighbors and works to secure the freedom of its own people."
(italics mine)

So "see" became "seek". One little letter? Sure, but a whole lotta difference.

Is this the sort of practice that the White House intends to make habitual and customary?

Mickey, Mickey, Mickey:
...The point isn't that there are no voters who have soured on Bush, or that souring on Bush isn't a real phenomenon. The point is that reporters and editors at papers like the Times (either one!) are exquisitely sensitive to any sign that Democrats might win, but don't cultivate equivalent sensitivity when it comes to discerning signs Republicans might win. (Who wants to read that?) The result, in recent years, is the Liberal Cocoon, in which Democratic partisans are kept happy and hopeful until they are slaughtered every other November.
Gee Mickey, I seem to remember 2000 (certainly part of "recent years"), with the Democrats holding ground in the House and picking up a handful of seats in the Senate, not to mention winning the popular vote (and the electoral, depending on who you talk to).

And gee whiz, Mickey, I also seem to remember that in 2002 California, the home of the LAT, saw every single statewide office go Democratic.

Close, but no aircraft carrier, Mickey.

Very funny, AP.

Goggles on:

President Bush (news - web sites) speaks at
the dedication of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship's
Youth Education Center in Dallas, Texas,
Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003. (AP Photo/Charles

Sunday, November 02, 2003


Consecrated today as the first openly gay Bishop in any major Christian denomination.

Finally, some Christians who act, well, Christian. Except for these guys:
Assistant Bishop David Bena of Albany, N.Y., spoke for 36 opposing bishops in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. They said they and most bishops in the international Anglican Communion will not recognize Robinson as a fellow bishop.

Reading from a statement, Bena said Robinson’s “’chosen lifestyle’ is incompatible with Scripture and the teaching of this church.”

Bena spoke after Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold asked if there was “any reason why we should not proceed,” a traditional part of Episcopal consecration services.

The Rev. Earle Fox from the Pittsburgh Diocese also objected. But when he began citing specifics of same-sex behavior, Griswold politely cut him off, saying “please spare us the details and come to the substance.”

In all, the objections took about 10 minutes.
You know, if you graphically described missionary heterosexual intercourse in a church, those would be spare-worthy details in church as well. Heck, same if you described your last bowel movement. Even Jesus shat!

Soon enough, Falwell will be predicting more terrorist attacks, of course.

Anyway, kudos to the Episcopal Church! If this is what it takes to drag a faith out of the dark ages of sexual bigotry, then so be it.
And one . . . two . . . puke.

Via Jesse, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a very interesting piece on Dubya's use of language.

Of course, when I say use of language, I don't mean things like "The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the—the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice."

The article talks about his rhetorical techniques, of which there are a handful. Here's the skinny on one of them:
Bush, like many dominant personality types, uses dependency-creating language. He employs language of contempt and intimidation to shame others into submission and desperate admiration.

While we tend to think of the dominator as using physical force, in fact most dominators use verbal abuse to control others. Abusive language has been a major theme of psychological researchers on marital problems, such as John Gottman, and of philosophers and theologians, such as Josef Pieper.

But little has been said about the key role it has come to play in political discourse and in such "hot media" as talk radio and television.

Bush uses several dominating linguistic techniques to induce surrender to his will. The first is empty language. This term refers to broad statements that are so abstract and mean so little that they are virtually impossible to oppose. Empty language is the emotional equivalent of empty calories.

Just as we seldom question the content of potato chips while enjoying their pleasurable taste, recipients of empty language are usually distracted from examining the content of what they are hearing. Dominators use empty language to conceal faulty generalizations; to ridicule viable alternatives; to attribute negative motivations to others, thus making them appear contemptible; and to rename and "reframe" opposing viewpoints.

Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech contained 39 examples of empty language. He used it to reduce complex problems to images that left the listener relieved that George W. Bush was in charge. Rather than explaining the relationship between malpractice insurance and skyrocketing health care costs, Bush summed up: "No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit." The multiple fiscal and monetary policy tools that can be used to stimulate an economy were downsized to: "The best and fairest way to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place." The controversial plan to wage another war on Iraq was simplified to: "We will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people." In an earlier study, I found that in the 2000 presidential debates Bush used at least four times as many phrases containing empty language as Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush Senior or Gore had used in their debates.
I implore you to read the rest, if you're not busy writing a 12-page paper, like I am.
The Freepers are taking this morning's news rather well:
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You would think that these celebrations are being mapped for future hot zone targets? Damn, what are we waiting for... earlier I had read a post about reducing the Muslim Icons to dust... what better? Maybe then they would realize their "Mohammad" is no match for Uncle Sam. Let's do it and be done with it.

16 posted on 11/02/2003 8:53 AM PST by Terridan

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To: dread78645

No guilt here... just anger that I am not seeing numerous dust clouds over the Middle East....

17 posted on 11/02/2003 8:54 AM PST by Terridan

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Operation Glowing Haj

50 posted on 11/02/2003 9:31 AM PST by glaux

- - - -

would it hurt our campaign to win the hearts and minds of our enemies?

To bad we're not actually collecting those items as war trophies.
56 posted on 11/02/2003 9:35 AM PST by Tree of Liberty

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Just what the H*LL will make W finally decide to start playing Cawboy (sic) and Arab?

76 posted on 11/02/2003 10:28 AM PST by CathyRyan

- - - -

There's also this guy who suggests bombing Mecca. Cute. Oh, and I was entertained by this reasoning:
It's real easy to identify the enemy, they're the ones dancing in the streets. Shoot them and pretty soon there will be no one dancing in the street when Americans are killed.

79 posted on 11/02/2003 10:39 AM PST by McGavin999
But a special "alternate reality" award goes to this guy who refers to Fox News as part of "the liberal media".

I can't take anymore of this right now.
As you may have heard, Rupert Murdoch recently found himself on the verge of suing himself, after an episode of The Simpsons featured a mock FoxNewsChannel, complete with a crawler at the bottom of the screen.

Via Hit&Run and Bartcop, here is the complete list of crawling headlines that appeared in the episode:
RIGHT WING OF CHICKEN [cuts off here]
Heh. Hmm, I think that verse was Kemp 7:16.

This is horrible.
A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter packed with soldiers headed for a short-term break was hit with a missile and crashed in the field west of Baghdad on Sunday morning, killing 15 soldiers and wounding 21 others in the deadliest single attack on American forces since they invaded Iraq.

The shoulder-fired missile streaked through a clear blue sky and struck the dual-rotor helicopter in its rear around 9 a.m. as it was ferrying soldiers from a base in western Iraq to Baghdad's international airport. The impact sparked an explosion and a fire, witnesses said. Moments later, the witnesses said, the helicopter pitched upward and fell to the ground just south of Fallujah, a city 40 miles west of Baghdad where resistance to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq has been particularly intense.

The force of the impact decimated the 10-ton Chinook, scattering twisted and charred pieces of the fuselage over a wide area. Everyone on board was killed or injured, many of them severely, military officials said. Several of the wounded suffered serious internal injuries and extensive burns, the officials said.

"It was a tremendous explosion," said Arif Jassim Hadi, 30, a farmer standing along a dirt road near the crash site, which smoldered for hours.

One witness said he saw a soldier whose legs were on fire crawling away from the crash site with his hands.

The Chinook that was struck, apparently filled with its maximum load of 33 passengers and three crew members, was flying along with another Chinook. Both helicopters were carrying soldiers from the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 82nd Airborne Division. The soldiers were supposed to fly out of Iraq later Sunday for four-day breaks in Qatar, two-week holidays in the United States or emergency family leave.
Jeebus. Of course, those men can know they died for a good cause: They have shown, yet again, how "desperate" the opposition is. If Dubya trots out that line today...

UPDATE: now they say it's 16