The Facts Machine

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

Friday, November 21, 2003


I finally got my copy of the November California Patriot. (Thanks, Laurie!) They have yet to post the issue online, and knowing them, they wont. Then again, if the sole purpose of them not posting it was to keep me from reading it (possible, but I'm leaning toward sheer laziness), they might as well post it now.

In other words, the Watch is back in action, at full strength.

So the RNC has put out it's first ad of the year. You can watch it through here.

It excerpts Bush at this year's State of the Union, saying grave and somber things about either terrorism, or Iraq as terrorism. Here's the transcript:
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: "It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known."
CHYRON: Strong and Principled Leadership
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: "Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power."
CHYRON: Some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?"
CHYRON: Some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others.
CHYRON: Call Congress Now
CHYRON: Tell them to support the President's policy of preemptive self-defense.
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ED GILLESPIE: "The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising."
CHYRON: Ed Gillespie
CHYRON: Chairman, RNC
CHYRON: The Republican National Committee paid for and is responsible for the content of this advertising. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.
First of all, Ed Gillespie's little McCain-Feingold-required blurb came out as badly as I've ever heard it. The Dem candidates have become very good at throwing in the approval-of-message bit pretty seamlessly.

But on to the substance, or what there is of it.

"Some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists". Okay, who's doing that? Who the fizzyfuck is doing that??? Howard Dean? He and just about everybody else, save for Barbara Lee (who isn't exactly a national figure and, last I checked, isn't running for president), supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the toppling of the Taliban. To a head, every Democratic candidate is a whole lot more serious than Dubya about bringing the actual perpetrator of 9/11, Osama bin Laden, to justice.

Naturally, this line only makes sense if it refers to the invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq. Let's think this through. Virtually no one criticized Bush for attacking the Taliban and Al Qaeda. A great deal of people criticized Bush for attacking Iraq. So Saddam's Ba'athist regime, and apparently only the regime, is being referred to by the Republican National Committee as "the terrorists". Are the bad guys? Yes. But isn't this setting the definition bar for "terrorists" pretty low? They're a brutal regime indeed, but they had nothing to do with any terrorist attacks aganst the United States, ever. And the only things they ever did that border on widely-accepted definitions of terrorism were done with stuff we gave to them! So let's all follow Bush and the RNC's example, and start referring to the leadership of Saudi Arabia, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, etc, as "the terrorists". Anything we can do to simplify the world order would be appreciated by our Dear Leader.

"Some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others." Uh, guys, you do realize that Bush is calling for a speedy transfer of power to the Iraqis and for America's troop numbers to decline significantly next year, right? So the next chryon: " this guy, George W Bush"?

The rest is the greatest hits of fearmongering to which Bush treated us in the SOTU back in January. The use of the "some have said we must not attack until the threat is imminent..." line is presumably part of the administration's recent campaign (with an assist from conservative hacks like Andrew Sullivan) to distance itself from the idea that they ever said Iraq was an imminent threat. Of course, that's a lot to throw down the memory hole.

I have to admit, this ad seems pretty easy for a Democratic candidate or opposition organization (MoveOn, ACT) to counter. In fact, they don't even have to edit it any differently. Just take the other fun bits from the SOTU, such as the aluminum tubes, the uranium from Africa, the chemical and biological weapons, heck, even when he says "peninchula" instead of peninsula, and intersperse them with headlines like "all proven untrue", "a systematic effort to distort the truth", and so on. Trippi! Lehane! McCauliffe! Get to work!

Wednesday, November 19, 2003


Someone at DU noticed that the Bushies' budget includes $28 million to have the Selective Service ready by June of 2005.

Apparently the previous year's budget had about $26 million for the Selective Service. I'm not sure what this means--if I had Clinton budget numbers around I'd have a better idea--but I hope it's not what some people think it means.
From the onion...
African Leaders Still Treating Clinton As President
NAIROBI, KENYA—Kenyan President Emilio Mwai Kibaki said Monday that his country continues to enjoy excellent diplomatic relations with former U.S. President Bill Clinton. "I have always enjoyed working with Mr. Clinton, and the recent international Agricultural Development Conference was no exception," Kibaki said. "And I know that [Democratic Republic of the Congo President] Joseph Kabila enjoyed meeting with him to secure an American commitment for humanitarian aid, as well." Kibaki said that none of the leaders have anything in particular against President Bush, but added that all the same, they'd rather stick with Clinton.

And from this week's What Do You Think?, make sure you read the comments of a Mr Robert Swenson, systems analyst.
(finally, all the drugs, distant tree violence and flashback irony I missed the first time around!)

First of all, you can get it here.

I watched it at a friend's house down the street from TFM's current internet-free headquarters. The total running time, with the extra stuff, stands at 3 hours and 43 minutes. Excellent. Among the best of the extras (highlight text to view)
--We get to see Merry and Pippin "swallowed" by the Ents.

--Was the thing with Eowyn offering Aragorn an awful stew in the theater version? I can't remember. Either way, her "really?" is priceless.

--An extended flashback sequence regarding how Boromir wound up in the Fellowship and not Faramir. This was context that many of the Tolkien-virgins who've only seen the movies might have needed.

--We get a song for Theoden's son's funeral. Okay, we all love how they stop for songs and poetry in the books, but I can see how this didn't make it into the movie.

--There's a line where Theoden says something like "I will not be buried here as my forebears were". And I just started giggling and couldn't stop. Theoden, what, praytell, happened to your four bears? I guess it's funnier when you hear people say it.

--The battle at Helm's Deep was left largely intact in the original...

--EXCEPT now we get to see the fleeing Uruk Hai's unfortunate fate at the hands of the Ents!

--Merry & Pippin gathering apples in the Ent-induced flood of Isengard, and stumbling upon, uh, a pretty significant stash.
There's probably more, but that's all I remember at first thought. Anyway, go get it! Only four weeks until RotK!

Bill Saletan has a pretty good piece on how the case for gay marriage can be made. The secret, he argues, is to emphasize the angle that social conservatives can (supposedly) understand: committment. In other words, to be pro-gay marriage is to be pro-marriage.
Once open, the debate is surprisingly winnable. Opponents of gay marriage will say it's really about homosexuality. But opponents of legal abortion made the same argument—it's really about abortion—and lost. Some anti-gay advocates will say marriage is for procreation. But that position is politically disastrous, alienating singles, infertile couples, and any married person who uses contraception. Other critics will warn of moral chaos. But moral chaos is what marriage prevents. If you want family values, the simplest thing to do is to let people form families.
Saletan makes a number of references to the abortion debate, about how proponents of legalized abortion framed the issue in the correct way: choice. That was probably the last time liberals have ever properly implemented the use of language for political ends.

Anyway, there is one problem, one difference from the abortion debate, and it comes early in the piece, while he's analogizing:
The answer lies in the emerging cliché that gay marriage is the abortion issue of 2004. The analogy is more apt than its purveyors recognize. Abortion started out as a losing issue for the left because Americans found the procedure repugnant. They still do. Yet today the legality of abortion is so untouchable that President Bush conceded last month, "I don't think the culture has changed to the extent that the American people or the Congress would totally ban abortions."

What changed? Liberals persuaded the public to separate abortion from choice. Choice, unlike abortion, is a broadly shared American value. You don't have to support abortion to support choice. A politician can say, "I'm pro-choice. The issue isn't whether you have an abortion. The issue is whether you have the choice."
See the problem? It might take you a sec...

Ah, there it is: "Abortion started out as a losing issue for the left because Americans found the procedure repugnant." Now I completely agree that abortion is a repugnant procedure, and I certainly hope that no one [euphemism]closely associated with me[/euphemism] has to go through it. However, homosexuality, on its face, isn't and shouldn't even be considered repugnant. The way this issue is weighted is different from abortion, in that it also requires a shift in value judgements from our culture regarding the concept itself. Straight sex, it can be argued, is equally as repugnant, or non-repugnant, as gay sex. The same goes for straight/gay couples going out for coffee. Abortion is something anyone would hope they don't have to go through. Is the same true for homosexuality?

That said, 1) I don't think Bill Saletan is homophobic, and in fact he calls himself a "card-carrying advocate of gay civil rights and gay marriage" in a recent article*. And 2) Despite the above paragraph, I still agree wholeheartedly with the political strategy Saletan outlines in his piece. The only thing I'd add is that larger cultural changes still need to be made.

* - Saletan is a political-implications-before-personal-beliefs kinda guy, and it shows in the other article, on the big Iowa Dem event earlier this week:
From the standpoint of the general election, the two most significant moments in this forum went overlooked by the media. The first was the singing of the national anthem, which was performed by the Des Moines Gay Men's Chorus. I'm a card-carrying advocate of gay civil rights and gay marriage, but for the millions of Americans who aren't there yet, entrusting the national anthem to a group of guys in black turtlenecks and neatly trimmed beards is way too in-your-face. It conveys a blindness to cultural reality that bodes ill for the Democratic Party in the red states.
It's okay, Bill, it was a Democratic audience, the chorus was from Des Moines, and besides, how is singing the national anthem "in your face"? Were they hitting on candidates? I just wonder what would have been said if the Chorus had applied to sing the anthem but was rejected.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


Here's your tree.

Monday, November 17, 2003


In as good an excuse not to campaign as I've ever heard, Wesley Clark is going to take a couple of days off . . . to testify against Slobodan Milosevic.

Good for Clark, showing Bush that the international justice system is something worth supporting.

Drudge links to this Roger Simon piece saying that retired General Hugh Shelton refuses to vote for Wesley Clark. He says:
"I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."
"I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat", eh? All I know is this: If you come out and say you're a Republican, you don't have a story. If Shelton were a Democrat, then the righty critics of Clark would be falling over themselves attempting to point that out. A retired general has no need for political impartiality, so this could only be a ploy to allow Drudge and Simon to say, ambiguously, that a retired general doesn't like Clark. So Shelton, by deductive reasoning, must be a Republican.

They might as well have told us that General Boykin won't be voting for Clark.

UPDATE: Oops! I think I got this one a bit wrong. But the funny thing is, the real truth is that much better. General Shelton isn't voting for Clark because . . . he's campaigning for Edwards! Digby questions his motives, but nevertheless this is a much more interesting story than the one Drudge and Simon crowed about.
More later, now, NAP!

This blog is so great because of how willing I am to keep you informed of my sleeping habits.
John Hinckley wants unsupervised parental visits.
A lawyer for John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, told a federal judge Monday his client is probably the least dangerous person on the planet and should be allowed unsupervised visits with his parents at their Virginia home.

Federal prosecutors are fighting the request, arguing in a pre-hearing memorandum last week that Hinckley, 48, cannot be trusted and would represent a danger to the community.

A doctor who has treated Hinckley over the last four years testified Monday that Hinckley's depression and psychosis -- diagnosed in the early 1980s -- are in full remission. Dr. Sidney Binks, the first of four witnesses set to testify, said Hinckley still has a narcissistic personality disorder, although it is improving.
Let him see his parents. Believe me, if there's anything out there that can cure narcissitic personality disorder, it's being stuck in a room with your parents. (heyo!)

Now let's all be good Americans, and let Ed Gillespie and the RNC decide this one. I'm sure Moonves agrees. Oy.
Rebecca and Andy review the new Strokes album, I review three not-Strokes albums, Paul tells us all why singles went down the crapper, Gary unmasks his love of bands named after WWII battles (or at least, a band), and everybody makes top five lists, all next door at If Six Was Nine! Go!

Sunday, November 16, 2003


...Paper calls, more blogging tomorrow. Until then, find the gray area.