The Facts Machine

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

Friday, September 24, 2004

James Wolcott has a startling report about another authenticity issue in a newsroom, this time CNN's.

Over at CalJunket, Rebecca writes one post criticizing (rightly) the idea of a UC Berkeley Multicultural Center excluding all except 'underrepresented minorities'...

...Predictably, the comment thread for that post, over a 4-hour period, became Berkeley-conservative flypaper.

No judgment here really, I just thought it was cute.
RollingStone interviews The Boss about the Vote for Change Tour.

One tidbit:
I didn't grow up in a very political household. The only politics I heard was from my mother. I came home from grade school, where someone asked me if I was Republican or Democrat, and I asked my mom, "Well, what are we?" She said, "We're Democrats, 'cause Democrats are for the working people." I was politicized by the Sixties, like most of the other people of that generation at that time. I can remember doing a concert when I was probably in my very late teens, helping to bus people down to Washington for an anti-war demonstration.
[righty bruce fans] I feel so . . . retroactively betrayed! [/righty bruce fans]

I was about to make an obvious, pithy, snarky comment in response to this Krauthammer column which accuses Kerry of not respecting America's traditional allies, but I think Marshall's post sums it up well enough.

Naturally Instapundit, Fuck France Central back in those heady days leading up to the invasion, links approvingly to Krauthammer without the slightest hint of irony.

Via Kevin Drum, Laura Rozen of War and Piece has a very interesting State Department map from late 2001.

While I think the ultimate test of whether John Kerry can sell his Iraq plan to John and Jane Q. Swingstate will come in the debates, this new ad from the Kerry campaign effectively illustrates the other problem that must be highlighted first: Our President is clueless and unserious about the problems in Iraq.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Going by these comments, I guess we know where Iyad Allawi gets his intel.

Of course, he could have made it even more clear if he just told Jim Lehrer to go fuck himself.

Yeah yeah yeah, Juan, I know, what Cat Stevens said in '89 about the Salman Rushdie fatwa was despicable, and Bill Maher's statement ("If you advocate the execution of novelists for writing novels, you and John Ashcroft deserve one another") is on target... but really, don't expect me, an introspective singer-songwriter, to get all worked up about that.

I still enjoy much of Michael Jackson's early work, and even the steadiest stream of kids couldn't change that.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go read about a giant taco...

(coming to you live from the 4th floor of the Davidson Library, deep within UC Santa Barbara)

I always knew those boys had a staggeringly huge hope for democracy in Iraq.

If we're to take Rummy's word, then those democracy-goalposts just got very, very wide:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday raised the possibility that some areas of Iraq might be excluded from elections scheduled for January if security could not be guaranteed.

"If there were to be an area where the extremists focused during the election period, and an election was not possible in that area at that time, so be it. You have the rest of the election and you go on. Life's not perfect," Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Under questioning on prospects for elections amid the rising violence, Rumsfeld first said, "I shouldn't be saying this because I just don't know enough about it. It's something the ambassador is working on."

But the Pentagon chief said there could be a situation where an election could be held in "three-quarters or four-fifths of the country. But in some places you couldn't because the violence was too great."
Is this music to the ears of all those starry-eyed neocons out there? Should it be?

If Rummy is to be believed, we're about to hold elections in Iraq in which very significant chunks of the country will be unable to participate, largely because we haven't secured the damn place. An election with that level of participation would be easily propagandized as bullshit by those who would want to see America and its coalition allies fail in Iraq. Securing the relevant areas further to increase voter participation would be the prudent thing to do. But that would require pushing back the election date a bit. Why wouldn't Bush do that? Oh, yeah, because of OUR elections.

Same pitfall that CBS News fell into: Quick trumps right.

But it gets better.

Let's cross reference those Rummy comments with some from June of last year:
'You got to remember that if Washington, D.C., were the size of Baghdad, we would be having something like 215 murders a month,' Rumsfeld said. 'There's going to be violence in a big city.'
Sooooooo, Rummy was comparing the crime rate in DC to acts of the insurgency in Iraq.

Is it possible, then, that the administration would apply a similar policy to our elections? That is to say, simply not holding them in places deemed too violent to carry them out safely. (in Bush's case, identifying some urban centers that way would be pretty tempting)

That's ridiculous, you say. There's no way they could or would do that, and that would disenfranchise a lot of decent, law-abiding people who want to take part in the democratic process. And you'd be absolutely right.

That's why Rummy's comments today are so fucked up.

If we hold elections in January, a big chunk of the country wont be able to participate, the results will not be viewed as legitimate by many, and the terra'ists win.

If we wait to hold elections until more of Iraq is secure, perhaps enemies of our efforts there will claim victory. But they wouldn't be able to, because they'd be too busy fighting off our armed forces, because we'd be attacking them (that's why we'd put off the elections in the first place). What's the problem, then? Resorting to these tactics on Bush's part would be an admission that the efforts to secure Iraq have not succeeded. And they just can't have that, not with an election here coming up!

Quick trumps right. I hope all the people harping over Dan Rather can grasp this.

And by the way, as of yet, not a word about this from Mickey "faster elections!" Kaus yet.

Found out yesterday that the Santa Barbara area now has an Air America affiliate, and it comes in quite clear and strong. (1340 AM)

Today is my first day of classes here at SB. I only have one today (PS188 - Modern Political Theory), but I need to run a few on-campus errands, and then move in to my new place this afternoon. (If you want to know more about my new place, go here) There will be blogging tonight, real serious blogging, if A) the internet really is as set up as the owners claimed, and B) two of my friends from out of town flake out and don't hang out with me and Aaron.

I feel like now that I have a livejournal I should more actively segregate my personal, day-to-day life from this blog. Oh screw it! (:

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


"I am playing to my base. Fuck you!"

Wednesday is a travel day for TFM. You could see some posting in the evening.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Okay, it's almost noon on Tuesday, it's finally time, sadly, to de-pirate-ify The Facts Machine.

I treated Talk Like a Pirate Day the way the students of UCSB treat Halloween: It lasts a few nights, and it gets kind of crazy.

Things are a bit stressful in TFM-land right now (moving), and blogging should be sporadic until, say, Thursday or Friday.

If anyone missed my extreme pirate makeover and wants to see it, I saved the template so just drop me a line and I'll switch it back for you to see. Or you can just wait a year, provided I'm still blogging.

What the fuck does Bob Scheiffer have to do with this?

They were fine with Condi talking to him.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


"We need to keep our infrastructure in place... where it belongs"

I saw the new John Sayles flick Silver City last night, here is a review in tidbit-format.

--Everything you've heard about Chris Cooper's thinly-veiled Bush impression is true and then some. In fact, there was no veil at all. The speech pattern, the pauses, the sentence fragments, the deer-in-the-headlights look, the fake cowboyism... it's all there. What's scary about it is that Cooper doesn't stray too far from our reality, and I think anyone, of any political affiliation who sees the movie would accept that observation. He plays the not-so-bright son of a US Senator, and is a candidate for Governor of Colorado.

--Just as delightful is Richard Dreyfuss playing the Karl Rove role. Between this and The American President (in which he played the Gingrich character), Dreyfuss sure enjoys pretending to be a Republican.

--Cooper's Bushian hamming eventually takes a backseat to an almost noir-ish mystery involving the body of a deceased undocumented worker that shows up in a Colorado lake. The ensuing investigation by a detective (Danny Huston, John's son btw) allows the story to evolve into a tale of corporate victory over such gruesome enemies as the environment and labor standards.

--The result is we get the standard John Sayles movie template -- a dectective-ish story involving race relations and the working poor -- with a biting political satire superimposed over it. Sometimes the contrast is jarring, particularly when one of Cooper's hilarious, platitude-laden speeches is followed by one of the more somber noir-ish scenes.

--Still, one is never bored, and there are a number of small but well-written roles filled by name actors. Check out Daryl Hannah as the candidate's fuck-up sister, Billy Zane as a corporate spokesman with a devilish grin, and Tim Roth and Thora Birch as the operators of a liberal website looking for dirt on the candidate, whose name is, comically, Richard Pilager.

--The end, while farcical, is (slight spoiler alert) something of a white flag in the face of the power of the corporate/political establishment, except on the interpersonal level.

There are some other nice touches (note the posters in the background at the website headquarters), but in the end, while the character development and the writing are outstanding, Silver City is not the most purpose-driven political film I've ever seen. A shade too defeatist for my tastes. TFM Grade: B-

However, the fake campaign website for Dickie Pilager is top-rate, though if they were really serious about Bush parody, they'd cover the front page with pictures of Pilager's opponent. Still, hilarious. Check out his issues page, here's a sample:
On Freedom

The world changed as we knew it on September 11th, 2001. Much like December 7th, 1941, the United States of America was slapped, and now we must all do our duty -- however small, however large – and slap back...
There's a lot more.

-- -- -- -- --

I will be away all day tomorrow on school-related business, so no posting until either late tomorrow night, or Tuesday. I will leave all this pirate shit up for one more day, for ye pleasure.

NBC is showing Titanic tonight for some reason. I guess after all those hurricanes, a movie about a boat and a big block of ice is a breath of fresh air.

Here's the thing: NBC won't show Kate Winslet's bare chest, yet they have no problem at all with showing an accurately drawn representation of that same bare chest in the very same scene. Apparently the folks at GE and the FCC think that America's youth is both corruptible and unable to put two and two together.

Which brings me to another question, about Kate Winslet. She has played flashback roles in two movies, Titanic and 2001's uberdepressing Iris. In the former, she grows up to look like Gloria Stuart, while in the latter she morphs into Dame Judi Dench. How can that be? Age notwithstanding, they're quite different human specimens...

Guess it doesn't quite work for me.

Word has it there's a sequel in the works for Eternal Sunshine in which her character grows up to be Marge Simpson...

By the way, the DVD release date for Eternal Sunshine is a week from Tuesday. Huzzah!

The Moderate GOP Senators came out swinging on Iraq this morning:
Leading members of President Bush's Republican Party on Sunday criticized mistakes and "incompetence" in his Iraq policy and called for an urgent ground offensive to retake insurgent sanctuaries.

In appearances on news talk shows, Republican senators also urged Bush to be more open with the American public after the disclosure of a classified CIA report that gave a gloomy outlook for Iraq and raised the possibility of civil war.

"The fact is, we're in deep trouble in Iraq ... and I think we're going to have to look at some recalibration of policy," Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We made serious mistakes," said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has campaigned at Bush's side this year after patching up a bitter rivalry.

McCain, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," cited as mistakes the toleration of looting after the successful U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and failures to secure Iraq's borders or prevent insurgents from establishing strongholds within the country.
And then McCain gets cute:
After the CIA report was disclosed on Thursday, Kerry accused the president of living in a "fantasy world of spin" about Iraq and of not telling the truth about the growing chaos.

McCain said Bush had been "perhaps not as straight as maybe we'd like to see."

"I think the president is being clear. I would like to see him more clear," McCain said. He said Congress was expected to hold hearings on Iraq soon.
And Lugar takes over on the reconstruction:
Sen. Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also criticized the administration's handling of Iraq's reconstruction.

Only $1 billion of $18.4 billion allocated by Congress for the task has been spent, Lugar said. "This is the incompetence in the administration," he said on ABC's "This Week."
What possibilities arr at play here?

Maybe the McCain/Lugar/Hagel crowd is genuinely concerned about the way the situation in Iraq has deteriorated. When you adjust their choice of words for the sliding "remember, they're from Bush's party" scale, those criticisms become much more harsh, even if they are coming from moderates.

Maybe they're looking to distance themselves from the administration for political/electoral purposes. Or maybe, to expand on the previous point, they know that the rosier Bush's "fantasy world of spin" on Iraq is, the bigger the albatross it could become for him (and the GOP), especially given John Kerry's intent to focus on Iraq for the remainder of the campaign. Thus, they're giving Bush a nudge to get out in front of the issue, to the extent that he can at this point. I'd say it's a bit of everything.

Not only has Tommaso suddenly returned to CalJunket, but he sure did pick the right day to offer praise of Moby Dick.

It's okay, you came to the right place.

Today (Sunday) is the 3rd annual Talk Like a Pirate Day, a magnificent holiday that originates from none other than Dave Barry.

So without further arrdo, feel free to take a gander around. Hope y'all like what I've done with the place.

Er, yarr! hope ye landlubbers and squiffys find me TFM Pinafore to ye liking!

(Pirate Ship Captains Bein' For Ye Truth is responsible for the content of this blog post.)

Oh, and by the way, this didn't take very much time to do, so hold off all of your inevitable diagnoses.