The Facts Machine

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

Friday, May 06, 2005

Today is a travel day for TFM, blogging possible tonight, probable tomorrow.

In the meantime, let's do one of those iMemes that are catching on...

Pressing shuffle . . . . . . . now!

Jeff Buckley - Dream Brother
White Stripes - Jumble, Jumble
The Who - The Seeker
Wilco - Kamera
Lennon - Asking You
Cake - Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps
Bob Dylan - Masters of War
At the Drive In - Mannequin Republic
Belle & Sebastian - Step Into My Office Baby
Pearl Jam - Spin the Black Circle

Catch you later yo.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Maaaaan. Studying for midterms for the very last time (and I mean it this time!) has really taken its toll on me. It has me in a strange, almost-hallucinagenic state. For example, I saw strange flickering lights . . . I could taste time . . . and I had this weird, crazy vision of Brit Hume issuing an on-air correction. That can't be right. I'm gonna wake up tomorrow and not remember whether it was real.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

"We are gathered on this most joyous occasion to witness Princess Vespa, daughter of King Roland, going right past the altar, heading down the ramp, and out the door!"

I have to ask: is the "runaway bride" story the dumbest thing to come across our major news networks in their history?

I spent a little while thinking about an angle, any angle, that puts the story in a greater context. If we must talk about it, then ponder this...

The story points to the BlueState/RedState divide in America. In this case, the divide is measured in the pressure to marry. If you're a reasonably serious couple of around 20-21 years of age in the American South, it's likely that the parents of both parties involved are bustin' down doors asking them when they're getting married. In the more secularized "blue" America, that pressure is certainly smaller, and many people have one or more committed long-term relationships before getting married. The upshot is that the state with the lowest divorce rate in America is Massachusetts, while the states with the highest rates can be found in the deep South. If you're a 32-year-old unmarried woman in Georgia? Just imagine what kind of shit you would've been put through! No wonder her situation was so weird!

Steve Gilliard is one of the few bloggers who has commented at length on the issue, here, here and here (in which he explains why he's covering it).

TFM throws his full support behind SB 840, currently making its way through California's State Senate. As long as we're gonna set the national standard on embryonic stem cell research, let's go for single-payer as well!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Instapundit calls my friend Ping "redoubtable".

Meet the new boss. Same as... you know where this is going.

Knight Ridder reports, via Atrios and the Cunning Realist:
A photographer for a Baghdad newspaper says Iraqi police beat and detained him for snapping pictures of long lines at gas stations. A reporter for another local paper received an invitation from Iraqi police to cover their graduation ceremony and ended up receiving death threats from the recruits. A local TV reporter says she's lost count of how many times Iraqi authorities have confiscated her cameras and smashed her tapes.

All these cases are under investigation by the Iraqi Association to Defend Journalists, a union that formed amid a chilling new trend of alleged arrests, beatings and intimidation of Iraqi reporters at the hands of Iraqi security forces. Reporters Without Borders, an international watchdog group for press freedom, tracked the arrests of five Iraqi journalists within a two-week period and issued a statement on April 26 asking authorities "to be more discerning and restrained and not carry out hasty and arbitrary arrests."

While Iraq's newly elected government says it will look into complaints of press intimidation, local reporters said they've seen little progress since reporting the incidents. Some have quit their jobs after receiving threats - not from insurgents, but from police. Most Iraqi reporters are reluctant to even identify themselves as press when stopped at police checkpoints. Others say they won't report on events that involve Iraqi security forces, which creates a big gap in their local news coverage.

"Tell me to cover anything except the police," said Muth'hir al Zuhairy, the reporter from Sabah newspaper who was threatened at a police academy.
There's more, here's the link again, read the rest there.

This must be that "filter" Bush likes to talk about.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Instapundit's little anti-NYT temper tantrum refuted by . . . Wolfowitz and Feith?

Glenn argues that yes, Bush was talking about democracy promotion as a before-the-fact justification for the invasion of Iraq. To make his case, he points to a post of his from a few weeks ago, quoting Bush at the UN general assembly in 2002, in the 2003 SotU address and an appearance on Newshour a month later.

The problem, though, is that you have to read what Bush actually said. The State of the Union Address is perhaps the most prepared and carefully revised speech in American discourse (consider the care that went towards crafting the famous "16 words"). Note that in all three cases quoted, including the SotU, Bush has a chance to say the D-word... and doesn't say it! It's not hard to guess the motivation here: Defining down "liberty" and "free" as "no longer ruled by Saddam". He had chances to talk about democracy promotion, and at each chance he hedged.

Where were the right's great powers of parsing -- so on display in the Clinton years -- when something as inconsequential as the justification for war was involved?


Max on Social Security.

Via Kos, check out this interactive Flash map of the UK's parliamentary districts and their current representation in the House of Commons.

Take a look at England proper (as in, not Scotland Wales or N Ireland, which have a number of regional parties that muck up the comparison). In England, for the most part you see the very same political map that you find in America: the left party (Labour) dominates the more urban areas, while the right party (Conservative, or Tory), dominates everywhere else. Just like on all those "Bush Country" shirts that NewsMax and their ilk were selling to missing-teeth-Americans back in 2001. Something tells me, though, that the Tories aren't about to start selling "Howard Country" shirts.

Also at Kos, this poll is pretty funny.

Pat Robertson yesterday:
Federal judges are a more serious threat to America than Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 terrorists, the Rev. Pat Robertson claimed yesterday.

"Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings," Robertson said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"I think we have controlled Al Qaeda," the 700 Club host said, but warned of "erosion at home" and said judges were creating a "tyranny of oligarchy."

Confronted by Stephanopoulos on his claims that an out-of-control liberal judiciary is the worst threat America has faced in 400 years - worse than Nazi Germany, Japan and the Civil War - Robertson didn't back down.

"Yes, I really believe that," he said. "I think they are destroying the fabric that holds our nation together."
Let's go back to 1981 and take it from there.

Presidents since 1981:

1981-1989: Ronald Reagan (R)
1989-1993: George H W Bush (R)

1993-2001: Bill Clinton (D)
2001-2005: George W Bush (R)

That means for 16.5 of the last 24.5 years, Republicans have controlled the White House, and thus, judicial appointments. The vast majority of the current federal judiciary was nominated and confirmed during this period. I don't remember any out-of-the-ordinary courtpacking going on during the Clinton years (though I do remember Orrin Hatch and the Senate Judiciary Committee killing a bunch of Clinton judicial nominees in committee).

The question is so obvious that it doesn't even get asked, except here: How can the judiciary possibly be a runaway liberal establishment?

And to the Reverend: Do you have a problem with the way Reagan, Bush and Bush Jr used their powers of judicial appointment? And if you have time for a second question, where was your buddy Antonin Scalia when the Schiavo case made it to him?

(Also, let's face it, any Carter and Ford appointees still serving weren't exactly waiting for these last couple years to "make their move" or something.)

The reason Fristy and company are going after the "runaway liberal judiciary" is simple: conservatives need a domestic enemy. This goes back decades, from HUAC to peaceniks to the "homosexual agenda" to illegal immigrants to Bill Clinton and his "lesbians in the White House!" Their conservatism doesn't work unless they can identify something threatening to oppose.

The problem for them now is, they don't have Bill Clinton to kick around anymore, at least in a direct fashion. The end of the 2004 campaign left a vacuum: Kerry was no longer a threat, and his inability to win neutralizes the effective power of Michael Moore, etc. They blew their wad in trying to label mainstream American liberals as being "in league with the terrorists" over the last few years, so much so that their credibility in doing so any further is, well, shot. The Democrats don't control anything on a national level, including the judiciary. Yet compared to the rest of the government, the judicial branch is the most abstract and mysterious segment of it; the robes, the lack of a partisan affiliation right after the judge's name in the paper, the lack of video and audio (when was the last time you saw a Federal Appeals Court case being argued on C-SPAN?).

Knowing this, the conservatives settled on the judiciary as their domestic enemy. All they had to do was cherrypick a small handful of decisions they don't like (the Schiavo feeding tube removal, Justice Kennedy's majority opinion on Lawrence v Texas), and weave them into their Big Lie. You'd think they would be more appreciative: After all, if it weren't for Justice Kennedy, they'd be busy bashing President Gore.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Great column from Frank Rich on the so-called, not-really-existent "South Park conservatives". What a short-sighted alliance on their part; these "hip" conservatives who have thrown in their lot with the peole who successfully lobbied for the cancellation of "The Reagans" don't fully realize that the people at the forefront of that effort are the same people who will push hardest for the "sanitation" of cable and satellite TV, including their beloved "South Park"... which has turned against Republicans anyway!

This is pretty fucked up right here.