The Facts Machine

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

Monday, January 10, 2005


The last few days...

--Atrios provides some much-needed perspective on the aftermath of the Rather/CBS/documents affair.

--I went a sorry 1 for 4 on my NFL Wildcard picks. I got the Packers/Vikings score exactly right, only with the teams reversed. And I predicted the precise margin of victory for the Colts (25). But darn it, the home-team rule didn't exactly work, did it? Anyway, don't take anything I write to the bank, unless it's an endorsed check.

Picks for the Divisional Playoff round will be posted on Friday.

--Election in Palestine. Media goes apeshit at the possibility . . . that Brad left Jen for Angelina. Eh. In all seriousness, however, this is a great step. What we've seen is not only that the people of the Palestinian territories have chosen a peace-seeking, consensus-building, intifada-criticizing moderate in Abbas, but also that to win, Abbas was able to do a lot of the same sort of power-brokering that occurs in the long-standing democracies of the west. Though there was no Abbas TV commercial with puppies in it. Can't have everything, I guess.

I have a long thought on my mind about the election and what it means, but that can wait for its own post. In the meantime, I hope that these recent events help rid us of that tired argument about whether or not the Arab Middle East is fundamentally "able" to have open democracy. The left--at least the lefter-than-me left--has incorporated this debate into their opposition to America's role in the Middle East, saying that democracy is just a conduit for our imperialist, globalizing needs. The right--at least the administration and some of the neocons--has incorporated this debate into their case for the Iraq war, with Dubya tossing out an occasional strawmen about how racist it is that "some people" think Iraqis and other Arabs aren't able to engage in democracy. He doesn't say "racist", of course, but that's the obvious implication.

It's not that either side is wrong, the problem is that it's a dumb metric, and hopefully one rendered irrelevant by the Palestinian elections. Hopefully this bodes well for the Iraqi elections, less than three weeks away. Of course, that's a more complicated issue than Abbas' victory at the polls, and there will be much discussion of it. TFM continues to believe that the problem isn't whether or not there can be democracy in the Middle East -- of course there can -- but it's what kind of leaders the people there elect. Our actions in the last two years have rendered the election of Islamic fundamentalist theocrats more likely than they otherwise would've been if we had coupled our global war on terrorism with a genuine effort to reach out to mainstream Muslims with a leading edge that wasn't all bullets and bombs.

--Al Gonzales. Ha ha ha, Ted Kennedy, Chappaquidick, you guys are all so funny. What's Lindsey "I do believe we've lost our way" Graham's excuse, then? Wasn't he a House Manager in the Clinton impeachment trial?

--Three giant stars -- the largest known to date -- have been discovered by astronomers, each with a diameter of at least 1 billion miles. (the stars, not the astronomers, silly!) The most distant one is 9,800 light years away. So if you're a young-earth creationist scoring at home, that means the star in question, KW Sagitarii, is about 3,800 years older than the universe. Better get those warning labels!

--If it's just Armstrong Williams, I'll be really surprised. he doesn't think he's alone either. It's possible, though, that he was the One Poor Sap who used idiotic judgment and made a stupid decision, sort of akin to Dan Rather and the TANG docs. Then again, everyone, right to left, is throwing Williams to the wolves on this one, partially because they don't want to have to think about how an administration paying private journalists/commentators to say what they want them to is, you know, wrong and not particularly ethical/legal. It's reminding me of the sudden "It's all the CIA's fault!" chorus from the right immediately following David Kay's "We were all wrong" testimony. I hope some people are doing the requisite digging and making the right FOIA requests.

Who's it gonna be? Hannity? Ingraham? Dr Phil? Pat O'Brien? Vin Scully? Time will tell...


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