The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, November 13, 2004


A hearty thanks to those of you who came to see my show! It went quite well, if I may say so.

Now don't get into too much trouble on the other side there, Dirt.

On the serious side, his mother released a touching statement:
"This evening I received a phone call that is every mother's worst dream," she said. "My son, Russell Jones, passed away. To the public, he was known as Ol' Dirty Bastard. To me, he was known as Rusty, the kindest and most generous soul on earth. I appreciate all the support I received. Russell was more than a rapper — he was a loving father, brother, uncle and most of all, son. With love, Cherry Jones.“

I can't not post this.
'Star Trek' actor Patrick Stewart has appeared in public for the first time with girlfriend Lisa Dillon - who is 39 years his junior.

The Hollywood actor, 64, and Dillon, 25, have been together for almost a year, but previously kept their relationship a secret, due to concerns over people's attitudes to their age gap.

However, the couple were spotted together on Monday night (08.11.04), attending a West End play in London, and happily stopped to pose for photographers.
The pair first met while working in the theatre last summer, when Dillon auditioned for a part in a production of Ibsen's 'The Master Builder', which also starred Stewart.

In October 2003, shortly after the play's run had finished, the actor announced his second marriage to television producer Wendy Neuss was over.
Well, dude, the sky's the limit. (link via fark)

Bush: 51
Kerry: 48

= "mandate"

But in the Senate,

Democrats: 51
Republicans: 47

= "mandate"

That's right, Democratic Senate candidates received over 3 million more votes than Republicans did.

At minimum, hopefully this fact will keep Fristy the Cat-Killer from touching the filibuster rules. (link via pandagon)

And the award for First Right-Wing Apology for a Lie About John Kerry goes to . . .

David Brooks! From the end of his NYT column today on the CIA:
Not that it will do him much good at this point, but I owe John Kerry an apology. I recently mischaracterized some comments he made to Larry King in December 2001. I said he had embraced the decision to use Afghans to hunt down Al Qaeda at Tora Bora. He did not. I regret the error.
Atrios points out that it wasn't just Bobo spreading that lie.

Still, congratulations to you, David.

The ball's in your court, John O'Neill!

Friday, November 12, 2004


Once again, there is now, as per usual, nothing interesting going on in Redwood City.

No, before you say it, Q-Zar closed down years ago.

Then again, you know what's worse than life in prison?

Living in Modesto.




Tonight's the night!

Come see me, Brendan Getzell, perform live! Here's the info:
Brendan Getzell
Java Jones
6560 Pardall Road
Isla Vista
Friday, November 12
8:00 PM
Again, I will be playing, at minimum, 6 original songs and 2 covers. I have yet to decide what my precise setlist will be, so if you're there, shout out some songs and maybe we can work something out.

Basically, if you're in the greater UCSB area tonight, you have no excuse not to be there. (: That means you, my two or three UCSB readers!

If you have trouble locating Java Jones, I've provided the necessary satellite photos, courtesy Microsoft's Terraserver:

(Brendan performs in the circle tonight!) Posted by Hello

I will have CDs with me, many of them featuring my music! For a small smattering of my recordings, go here and here.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Bob Jones on Bush's election. Hmm.

Digby thinks that at least among the Senate and the White House, the Arlen Specter Senate Judiciary issue is something of a tableau:
I'm not buying this good cop bad cop routine. Specter flexes a very tiny little muscle, the Reconstructionists howl at the top of their lungs, the Senate traditionalists tell everyone to settle down, Specter gives a public blow job and everybody sees that the Republicans aren't really in the hands of the Christian Right because Specter still has his chairmanship.
I agree that this is a pageant, though I do think the clamoring among the folks at The Corner and elsewhere is genuine.

Still, there's one detail in all of this that people have so far neglected, that might hold the key to where things really stand.

In the Pennsylvania Republican primary, Specter narrowly defeated hard-right, anti-choice challenger Pat Toomey, with a big assist from the Bush campaign's get-out-the-vote operation.

(By the way, the percentage results from that primary were Specter 51, Toomey 49, but you didn't hear Arlen talking about a "broad victory" or a "mandate" at the time)

What does this mean? It means that Arlen owes Bush for his continued political career.

With that in mind, I don't think Specter is going anywhere. He's much more useful to Bush politically as a "bad cop" than having a Culture-war yes-man as chair of SenJud would be, vis a vis abortion. To understand why, let's look at the issue in more detail...

Opposition to reproductive rights has been an effective minority position for the Republicans for a long time. Politically speaking, it's been best employed when there's an elected target at which to aim it, whether it be Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Arlen Specter. Opposition to choice looks a lot worse when there isn't a bogeyman in the government itself; that situation forces politicians into a position where they're more clearly opposing women's rights.

Most elected Republicans seem to realize this, the strongly "pro-life" ones included. Save for the brief Jeffords-induced Democratic renaissance in the Senate (analogous to, say, Hungary in 1956), Republicans had control over the entire Congress, plus the White House for 4 years straight. Yet only two notable legislative steps were taken by the Republicans regarding abortion: The Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and the ban on late-term abortions. (the appropriate phrasing, btw) Both of these acts were largely symbolic, the former piggybacking on a recent tabloid murder, and the latter nibbling on the edge of the issue. Heck, the Republican Congress has passed the same ban a number of times, the only difference now is that they had a President who would sign it.

This all seems very measured, calculated, and almost cynical coming from people who expend a lot of energy bemoaning the "slaughter" or "40 million babies". Sure, the Supreme Court isn't completely where the opponents of choice want it to be, but why would that stop them from writing bills, openly supporting them, and passing them based on their dear principles?

The reason why Republicans in Congress aren't passing broad legislation on abortion is the same reason Bush wants Specter heading SenJud: They're milking the issue. They know what their conservative, evangelical base wants, and their giving them just enough to ensure the level of electoral support they need.

In the case of Specter, Bush wants him to be the last line of defense, so much so that Bush hand-picked Specter over his anti-choice opponent in the Republican primary. Every time Bush nominates someone for a federal judgeship at any level, he can count on Specter to engage in some form of Kabuki act with him that leaves Bush as the pure pro-lifer and Specter in the dual role of Bush suck-up and embattled opponent of the pro-lifers.

The big questions are: How long will the Dobson/Jones/Falwell wing accept this act? And what happens when Justice O'Connor retires? The intersection of anti-abortion activism and procedural plausibility that Roe could be overturned looms on the horizon. We're going to learn a lot about the modern Republican Party when those confirmation hearings take place.

And this is all before whatever backlash occurs if abortion is banned. They may very well find out that opposition to abortion is a better way to take power than to keep it.

POSTSCRIPT: If you're saying to yourself, or to me, "Hey, those cynical Democrats milk things too!", I'd advise you to take a look at this:

See that card in Bill's hand? TFM happily invites you to take that card and shove it.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: And oh, by the way, abortions have gone up in Bush's first term, after dropping 17% through the 1990's.
One more time, for old time's sake.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Michael Jackson molested kids. Does that change your opinion of "Billie Jean" or "Beat It"? Should they take back his Grammys?

Should they take back Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize?

If you answer one way on one of those questions, you must answer the same way on the other.

First of all, a news-graphic contest:


Elegant! You'd think it was Reagan or Princess Di.


Blunt! Big block letters, and impartial adjective "pivotal". Note Arafat's furrowed brow; obviously he has fundamental character problems.

The winner?

Fox News! Their picture seems embedded in the background of the their main page, so I can't post it here, but it's the most evocative and balanced (!) of the three cable newsies.

Three representations of Arafat are shown: The young, sunglasses-donning Arafat raises his hands above his head. We see Yasser shaking hands with Rabin, with Bill Clinton presiding over the moment. And we see the older, frail Arafat of present day. Fox's photo essay in enjoyable too, in a "here's Yasser with..." sense.

Anyway, onward...

Yasser Arafat has embodied the best and the worst of the Palestinian cause. He made the single best choice in the past 15 years of the conflict, and he made the single worst choice in those same 15 years. Both of those choices came on American soil, interestingly enough, and within 100 miles of each other.

Best: 1993 at the White House. With a nudge from Bill Clinton, he and Yitzhak Rabin, upon agreeing to the terms of Oslo, embarked on a solitary action that had not been remotely dreamt of for a generation: The shaking of hands between the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians. For many, to see that happen was to believe that anything was possible. The sad flipside was that for the hopelessly entrenched from both points of view, to see that happen was to be struck with the fear that their cause for anger and bloody righteousness may be fading. This fear surfaced in the assassination of Rabin by a pro-settlement Israeli radical, yet on the Palestinian end, the ultimate sadness was that the very same fear came about through Arafat himself...

Worst: 2000 at Camp David. Yasser Arafat's decision to walk away from the table at Camp David, choosing instead to launch another intifada, was disastrous and wholly counterproductive. Anything, or certainly much of whatever was unsatisfactory about the offer made to him by Barak and Clinton could have been negotiated after the fact. At that time, Arafat thought there was more to be gained from an adversarial status quo, and by provoking the Israelis, through violence, to elect a more conservative government (Sharon and the Likudniks) and have world opinion turned against them. Not only was he wrong, but with the invasion of Iraq by the American-led coalition, Arafat's cause got swept under the rug, as the decision was made -- on all sides -- that there was a bigger fish to fry. It was a miscalculation on his part, one that has ended thousands of lives, most of them Palestinian Arabs.

All that said, the cause of Palestinian statehood remains a worthy one, and Arafat deserves credit for being the catalyst for the modern Palestininan nationalist movement. So, in this time of your passing, I say to you, Yasser, thank/fuck you.

(sorry, a lame Fiddler reference indeed!)

Jack points to a chart put together by the folks at RealClear Politics comparing the state-by-state popular vote in 2000 with that of 2004.

What Jack notices is that two states, Vermont and South Dakota, are "the only states in which George Bush received a smaller proportion of the popular vote in 2004 than in 2000".

Thus, in every other state, from California to Texas to New York, Bush had a better percentage total of the popular vote last week than in 2000. These results aren't entirely unexpected, given that Bush won the popular vote by a 51-48 margin.

This raises questions and invites speculation, but before we get into that, let's do the same comparison between Gore in 2000 and Kerry this year.

States in which Kerry gained ground proportionally (% gained in parentheses):
Alaska (7.4)
California (1.2)
Colorado (3.7)
Idaho (2.6)
Illinois (0.1)
Iowa (0.6)
Maine (4.0)
Massachusetts (2.3)
Minnesota (3.2)
Montana (5.2)
Nevada (1.9)
New Hampshire (3.6)
New Mexico (.9)
North Carolina (0.3)
North Dakota (2.4)
Ohio (2.0)
Oregon (4.3)
Pennsylvania (0.2)
South Dakota (0.9)
Texas (0.3)
Utah (0.2)
Vermont (8.5)
Virginia (0.8)
Washington (2.7)
Wisconsin (2.0)
Wyoming (1.4)
District of Columbia (4.2)
States in which Kerry lost ground proportionally (% lost in parentheses):
Alabama (4.7)
Arizona (0.3)
Arkansas (1.4)
Connecticut (1.6)
Delaware (0.6)
Florida (1.9)
Georgia (1.6)
Hawaii (1.8)
Indiana (1.9)
Kansas (0.8)
Kentucky (1.7)
Louisiana (2.7)
Maryland (1.2)
Michigan (0.2)
Mississippi (1.2)
Missouri (1.0)
Nebraska (0.8)
New Jersey (3.5)
New York (2.3)
Oklahoma (4.0)
Rhode Island (0.4)
South Carolina (0.3)
Tennessee (4.8)
West Virginia (2.3)
Hmm. It appears that while Bush gained percentage points in every state but two, Kerry gained ground in just over half of the country, while losing ground in the rest. One possible explanation for Bush's across-the-board gains is that given the moderate image Bush assumed in 2000, chunks of the Republican base did not turn out for him in 2000, but did so this year for the new, *improved* conservative Bush.

But let's take a look at those Kerry numbers...

Some of Kerry's largest gains (Alaska, Maine, Montana, Vermont) are partially explained by a decline in support for Ralph Nader, though given the increased turnout this year, that can't account for everything. Remember, Ralph tells anyone with a microphone that most of those Nader voters "would've stayed home" had he not been on the ballot. (this is probably true only for some of his supporters) That said, if Kerry and the Democrats were able to bring in former Nader supporters, that counts for something.

Anyway, in looking at these numbers, I noticed two trends.

1) A small but noticeable gain throughout the Rockies. Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, and even the Dakotas (particularly North) showed proportional gains for Kerry, many by a few percent. Obviously Kerry was never going to be that competitive in that region, yet the gains are there. Explanations?
-Former Naderites
-The civil libertarian tendencies of the region (i.e. concerns with the Patriot Act, and so on) yielded Kerry an extra couple percent.

2) Kerry gained in virtually all the swing states. With the glaring exception of Florida (-1.9), and a pretty-much even showing in Michigan, Kerry gained ground in pretty much the rest of the battleground states in this election: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The problem for Kerry, though, was that it wasn't enough: he lost 4 of those 9 states, effectively costing him the election.

Soooooooo, what's going on? One thought is that the Kerry campaign was more battleground-focused than Bush's campaign, which increased support across the board. Yet turnout increased across the board, so an inescapable factor in the election, overestimated youth turnout notwithstanding, must be that, as Eric Alterman put it on November 3rd, there are more of "them" right now then there are of "us". Not much more (51-48), but enough that 2004 was always going to be an uphill battle for the Dems, and perhaps some election polling obscured this reality.

Thanksgiving is coming soon, and Christmas is exactly a month after that. Both of those days probably mean large family dinners. But what o what are you going to employ as the centerpiece of your dinner table?

Via 100 Monkeys Typing, I can offer only one answer, from our expulsionist friends at Human Events:

Yes, it's the George W Bush "Preznit giv me turkee" action figure! 12 inches of inanimate fun, with our fearless leader holding a turkey just as plastic as the "real" one!

Peggy Noonan Spontaneous Orgasm doll sold separately.

(Why "expulsionist"? Try this)
Josh Marshall on James Dobson. Hmm.

Halfheartedly joking about moving to Canada these days, but generally intimidated by the amount of paperwork involved?

Still searching for an affirmative reason to head north? Has "anywhere but Bush's America" become what "anybody but Bush" was to you during the Democratic primary season?

The allure of deep snow, decent beer and awful baseball not enough for you?

Search no more! You're prayers have been Can-answered!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


My relationship with the world of visual media has been generally adversarial lately, as in "I've barely turned on the TV in a week."

Yet for about 15 unexpected seconds, I thought things might be turning around.

Randomly flipping on the television after returning from class this evening (around 6:50pm), I came across a college football game between Toledo and Northern Illinois (I think). Holding back tears at the association of Toledo with the state of Ohio in general (guess that must be my lefty emotionalism, hehe), I came across something odd.

Between plays, the rhythm section of the Northern Illinois University marching band was playing a swift beat, nothing out of the ordinary. Then, suddenly, the mic-man began repeating the following, in a high voice:
"do-DOOO do-DOOO do-do
do-DOOO do-DOOO do-do
do-DOOO do-DOOO do-do
do-DOOO do-DOOO do-do..."
Wait a minute... that sounds familiar. And then:
"The system... is down!
The system... is down!

Yes, the Northern Illinois mic-man was singing the StrongBad techno. On ESPN2.

For the uninitiated, here you go.

John "Operation Ignore" Ashcroft resigns.
A thousand words each: Sorry everybody!

Just a reminder that...

...Brendan Getzell is performing live!
Java Jones
6560 Pardall Road, Isla Vista
Friday, November 12th
40-45minute set

Don't miss it!

I'll be playing, at minimum, 6 originals and 2 covers. I'm open to suggestions on the covers, I will (and can) play just about anything.
Steve Gilliard with the rant to end all rants.

Monday, November 08, 2004


Lots of people have opinions on what issues put Bush over the top in last week's election.

The first bit of conventional wisdom was that "moral values" issues, positions held by evangelical types on "guns, God and gays", made the difference on November 2nd.

Then a bunch of other people chimed in, either due to new evidence or just a desire to be contrarian, saying "hey, it was terrorism after all!"

Still others came forward to tout the economy as the kingmaker issue for Bush. Oh come on, they're being silly.

The main camps on this one are the moral camp and the terrorism camp.

So who's right?


The day after the election, Kevin Drum identified the decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that gay marriage was constitutional there as the "most important event" in the 2004 campaign. Before the election he had chosen Kerry's trouncing of Bush in the first debate, but since Bush won anyway, a change was in order.

Identifying that event would put him in the "moral" camp on the issue of what put Bush over the top.

But there has to have been an event that created a synergy between both camps at some point, right? We've heard from some Christian right-ish pundits since the election that many of these voters "don't separate" the issues of Christian faith and fighting terrorism.

Near as I can tell, one event, one public statement in the entire last four years, wraps these two distant issues into a nice little package better than anything else has.

Let us time-travel back to September 13th, 2001. Take it away, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson!
FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."

ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.
Remember that? Those statements, harshly condemned by the left and the center, mildly criticized/distanced-from by the right, were from an episode of The 700 Club taped and aired two days after 9/11. Falwell apologized a couple days later, then went on to call Mohammed "a terrorist" a year later. Consistent, he.

One must wonder if there were just enough people who either made this assumption on their own or took Jerry and Pat's words for gospel (ahem), so as to render themselves wholly incapable of reasonable discussion about the relative merits of the two candidates' ability to combat Al Qaeda.

Perhaps this is also why the Bush administration dubbed this the "War on Terror". It's clear that the real enemy is radical fundamentalist Islam, while "terror" is an abstract concept. You know, like "shock" and "awe".

The reason it's the "war on terror" and not the "war on Islamic fundamentalists" has nothing to do with PC cultural-relativism. It's because labelling our enemy "terror" obscures the fact that we're fighting far-right religious fundamentalists. It obscures the common ground shared by Bob Jones and Mullah Omar, by Jerry Falwell and Osama bin Laden: Opposition to homosexuality, sex before marriage, women's economic/social equality, and so on.

The right didn't have this problem during the Cold War. That was a war against Communism, thus the enemy was atheist and, to say the least, not Adam Smithian. The American left-of-center, while never even remotely close ideologically to the Soviet Union, was the object of Red-baiting and of trumped-up scandal regarding Communism. Clearly the right was very comfortable with that conflict, both at home and abroad.

But now, the tables having turned, and with us being in a long-term conflict with ultraconservative religious extremists, Bush and the right have resorted to rhetorical subterfuge. The two-part strategy employed shortly after 9/11 by Bush and the televangelists was:

1) Bush disassociates the American religious right from the enemy by calling it a "war on terror".
2) Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson re-associate the American left with the enemy through the above-quoted statements.

This was no coincidence. In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush and the American right laid the groundwork for a state of mind that would hard-wire a substantial bloc of American voters to stick with the President and turn out for him on 11/2/04, regardless of any logical, reality-based debate. That groundwork translated into a support for Bush's "values", which were now a near life/death issue for some of the more Falwellist Americans. The importance of these "moral values" issues essentially "trickled down" from there to some strands of opinionated-if-not-informed mainstream Republicans and right-leaners. That's how Bush won.

POSTSCRIPT: On Saturday night, in between games of air hockey at Dublin's bar in Isla Vista, I heard a large blond sorority girl tell her date that she voted for Bush "because Kerry's a weenie!" That could be it too!

Bad Cop Brendan felt like passing this along.

There are also reports that Jeb the "Recused" might challenge Bill Nelson in the 2006 Senate race.

This gets the official TFM seal of approval.

If he runs and wins the seat, it wont look good for him to turn around and immediately begin his Presidential campaign. That would probably take him out of the running for 2008.

If he runs and loses, then even if he does run for President, the Democrats can feel pretty good knowing that a pool of voters large enough to defeat Jeb does exist in Florida.

But either way, the campaign would be expensive and bloody, and he might not come out of it looking all that good anyhow.

That would whittle down the GOP's 2008 prospects to . . . yay early speculation . . . Giuliani, Frist, Condi, Bill Owens, Ted Nugent, and uh, SpongeBob FlatTax.

The rumors have been circulating around the internets for a few days, and now they break in the form of a CBS affiliate reporting that Howard Dean is considering a bid to lead the Democratic National Committee.

Now, I'm not immediately opposed to this; I think he'd do a great job. However, a cursory glance at the list of past DNC chairs suggests to me that the position isn't necessarily a springboard to the White House, if Howard is thinking about 2008. Then again, there are also some quiet whispers that former DNC chair and current Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell might be a candidate down the line, so there are potentially two guys in that boat.

(pop quiz: Ed Rendell made a cameo in what award-winning film?)

On the major blogs, the selection of BlogAds will be more interesting.

(View from Larsen Peak in San Francisco, Photo from SF Chron)

Knowing that us San Franciscian types are in the mood to talk about anything, anything other than the electoral affairs of the past week, the SF Chronicle offers up a piece on San Francisco's status as the second hilliest city in the world.

Sooooo, what's the #1 most hilly city? Don't click on the link yet. One hint: It's in South America. Is it:

A) Rio De Jinero, Brazil
B) La Paz, Bolivia
C) Quito, Ecuador
D) Santiago, Chile

The answer lies in the link.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


The coast of Isla Vista, just after sunrise. I took this picture on the morning of election day, just after hanging fliers on every doorknob of the 6700 block of Trigo Road (where I used to live). Thought we might need something relaxing and beautiful to look at right now. Posted by Hello

Unfogged has links to a variety of election-related maps, which give us a better picture of how divided our country is. My favorites are the population-weighted county maps.

More specifically the links from Unfogged are here and here.