The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Billmon is right: This list of harmful books put together by Human Events is cetainly in a bad spirit. The presence of Kinsey, Darwin and Freud in there is pretty telling.

SB 840 has passed the State Senate by a 24-14 vote, and now moves to the State Assembly, the larger body.

Because I'm too mired in studying to write a real post.

Talking Heads - The Big Country
Green Day - St. Jimmy
Beck - Farewell Ride
Stone Temple Pilots - Lounge Fly
Rufus Wainwright - Beautiful Child
R.E.M. - Nightswimming
Scissor Sisters - It Can't Come Quickly Enough
Ben Folds - There's Always Someone Cooler Than You
Nine Inch Nails - All the Love in the World
Silverchair - Spawn Again

I like this shuffle so much that I'm compelled to actually listen to it. Well, everything except the Silverchair song, though it is about singer Daniel Johns' veganism.

Friday, June 03, 2005


Slate hasn't done this one yet, though the Daily Show did last night. From his Press Conference on Tuesday, surprisingly unscrubbed on the White House site:
THE PRESIDENT: I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that is -- promotes freedom around the world. When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation.

In terms of the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees. It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report. It just is. And, you know -- yes, sir.
D'oh! (emphasis mine)
Hunter at DKos rips Noonan's latest to bits.

At least it was a column, and that doesn't require projecting a straight face. As for G Gordon Liddy, I don't know what sort of doublethink allows him to go on TV and say what he says.
That tattletale bastard Paul Revere...

Well it's Friday and you know what that means: The Bush administration is releasing bad or embarrasing news in the hope that nobody is paying attention. What does today bring?
The Pentagon on Friday released new details about mishandling of the Quran at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects, confirming that a soldier deliberately kicked the Muslim holy book and that an interrogator stepped on a Quran and was later fired for "a pattern of unacceptable behavior."

In other confirmed incidents, water balloons thrown by prison guards caused an unspecified number of Qurans to get wet; a guard's urine came through an air vent and splashed on a detainee and his Quran; and in a confirmed but ambiguous case, a two-word obscenity was written in English on the inside cover of a Quran.

The findings, released after normal business hours Friday evening, are among the results of an investigation last month by Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the commander of the detention center in Cuba, that was triggered by a Newsweek magazine report _ later retracted _ that a U.S. soldier had flushed one Guantanamo Bay detainee's Quran down a toilet.
(emphasis mine)

Remember, people in the Pentagon have surely known about this for a while, just as Rummy and Bush knew about the Abu Ghraib tortuers and abuses months before Sy Hersh broke the story (and that's even giving them the benefit of the doubt that Rummy didn't personally authorize the policies that led to all that). They don't care about the wrongness of what they do, but they care about those things being kept secret. Loyalty is morality to these people.

A little more sports:
Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace was fined $20,000 by the National Basketball Association on Friday for his comments following his team's Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.

The outspoken Wallace was reprimanded after his public criticism of officiating and also the use of inappropriate language, while addressing the media after Detroit dropped a 88-76 decision to the Heat.

He scored just two points while taking only three shots in 27 minutes of action.

"They (the league) want there to be a Game 7," a visibly frustrated Wallace said after the game.
(emphasis mine)

If you just read that and your name happens to be Ralph Nader, your ears probably perked up. Because three years ago...
Ralph Nader, America's best-known consumer crusader and a former presidential candidate, is morphing into a sports fans' advocate.

Incensed by what he called "notorious officiating" against the Sacramento Kings in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals on Friday, Nader has called on the NBA commissioner to order an independent review to address suspicions voiced coast-to-coast by fans and the media that the game was fixed.


During Game 6 between the Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers, Nader said, he could not believe the referees' calls that resulted in the Lakers shooting 27 free throws in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers' 106-102 victory forced a deciding seventh game, which Los Angeles won in overtime.

That meant the NBA Finals got under way Wednesday night featuring marquee player Shaquille O'Neal, a greater media draw than any of the Kings. In Game 1 on Wednesday, O'Neal scored 33 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the Lakers' 99-94 victory against the New Jersey Nets.

Nader said the officiating in last week's Game 6 was so "spectacularly egregious" that "the suspicions are that officials were inclined to make decisions that could lead to Game 7."

"How do you dispel that? By an independent inquiry."
Are the refs once again working to keep Shaq on people's TV's? Who knows. I just found this amusing, that's all. Oh, and I put a pretty strong emotional investment into that series back in '02. We hates the Lakers, we do.

If Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson does indeed decide to challenge Rick Perry in the Texas Republican gubernatorial primary, it will be an intersting campaign for a number of reasons. But the one I'm interested in is that we may see a spirited battle to see which of the two of them can disassociate him/herself the most from Tom DeLay. There must be some way the Dems can take advantage of this. Didn't Rep Frost or Stenholm get redistricted out of office? I think the Former has nothing to do.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


The Rude Pundit has Nixon's take on the Deep Throat unveiling . . . from Hell, of course.

Thank you Crooks & Liars for putting up video of Jon Stewart's hilarious take on Deep Throat.
Here's the unbelievably-expected long Bob Woodward piece on how Mark Felt became "Deep Throat". Makes for interesting reading. For whatever else there is to say about Bob Woodward, his writing style is interesting.

Coldplay, X & Y - ****

I love Coldplay. In this era of heartless, cynical minimalism in rock (Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, etc), Chris Martin and his bandmates have set out to find every crescendo, every evocative violin and organ part, and every ounce of naked emotion in existence, and weave them into their music. Their template has become more complex and more dramatic through their three albums, the quaint Parachutes (2000), the anthem-heavy A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), and now X & Y, 2005's best album to date, the album U2 couldn't quite make last year.

Chris Martin is something of a hero of mine. He has a beautiful voice, writes evocative music, and makes love to a beautiful UCSB student. Need I say more? (actually, if you ask me, she was only attractive in Royal Tenenbaums) My only complaint about him is that I like to write more specific lyrics than he does, but there's something to be said for universalism and inclusiveness.

There are a number of recognizable types of Coldplay songs. One of them is "cosmopolitan power-pop", represented on past albums by "Don't Panic", "High Speed", and "Politik". On X & Y the opener "Square One" is clearly in this genre, and it's quite a riveting piece at that; its hook, one I wish I'd thought of, is Martin vocally sampling "Thus Spake Zarathustra". Also of the genre is the album's closer "Twisted Logic", a 3/4-time venture into the state of the world, including this lyrical swipe: "Created, then drilled and invaded / If somebody made it, somebody will mess it up". Hmm.

Sometimes Coldplay finds a bit of a quasi-inspirational groove. Sometimes, though, they can overdo it. Case in point, "Fix You", which I found a bit lyrically overwrought and clunky ("If you try your best but you don't succeed..."). The music -- organ, followed by guitars and a buildup to drums -- is as close to cookie-cutter Coldplay as you'll find here, and is the only blatant misstep on the album.

But then there's the drama. Oh yes. And said drama has an added edge (so to speak), as the guitars bring with them the urgency of a primo Edge riff. In fact there's a big U2 element to some of the bigger songs here; the chorus of the lovely "A Message" really evokes this.

The standouts out-climax anything on the previous two albums, save for maybe "Yellow" and the magnificent "Amsterdam" (my favorite Coldplay song, for now). "X & Y" is Coldplay at their anthemic best, with its steady, synocpated melody backed up by a powerful set of toms, exploding into a majestic Floyd-meets-Beatles chorus: "You and me are floating on a tidal wave, together / You and me are drifting into outer space". For your sweet sentimental needs, there's "Swallowed in the Sea". But the real jewel is the bonus track "Til Kingdom Come", an acoustic guitar and piano-driven shuffle that I'm sure Zach Braff wishes were out a couple years ago so he could've played it in the background while making out with Natalie Portman.

I've yet to give X & Y a ranking compared to Coldplay's previous discs, but what I know is this: In a time when rock music has lost the bulk of its heart, we should all be fortunate that Coldplay is still pumping their beautiful music out of god's left ventricle.


UPDATE: Why did the brain trust at Rolling Stone let some 50 Cent and Limp Bizkit fan write their review?

San Francisco 49ers owner John York apologizes for that "media relations" video that was leaked to the SF Chronicle:
The 49ers' owners, John York and Denise DeBartolo York, apologized Wednesday for a players' orientation video that contained racist and sexist material. At the same time, players defended the video's star and producer, team public relations director Kirk Reynolds.

"The video was offensive in every manner,'' the Yorks said in a statement. "We regret that anyone from our organization would produce such senseless, inexcusable behavior. ... Policies are being put in place to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."

The training video showed Reynolds, posing as the mayor of San Francisco, cavorting with topless dancers when the topic of dealing with women in the locker room is broached, spoofing gay marriage, and talking with a man in Chinatown who spoke in an exaggerated accent while wearing glasses and buck teeth.
Offensive and classless? Of course. But, speaking as a devoted fan who bleeds red and gold, there are a lot of other things John had better start regretting, such as getting rid of the following people:

And even...

Many of my favorite early sports memories involve the boys of Candlestick. Montana to Taylor in Super Bowl XXIII. Montana to just about everybody in Super Bowl XXIV. Steve Young to just about everybody in Super Bowl XXIX. Even Young to Owens against the Packers in 99, and the comeback against the Giants in 2003. York had something going, and then he thought "say, I should get rid of my coach because he doesn't get along with my star player (even though I'll get rid of my star player one year later!), and replace him with a guy who took the best talent the team had since 1997 and went 7-9 with it!"

Yes, finals season makes me rant about football.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

United States soldiers killed in Iraq, January through May of 2004: 334
(Iraq Coalition Casualties)
United States soldiers killed in Iraq, January through May of 2005: 331
(Iraq Coalition Casualties)
"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
(CNN, Monday)

UPDATE: Kos finds a gem.

It seems that the Plumbers aren't happy with Mark Felt:
Aides to the late president Richard Nixon have said that former FBI deputy director Mark Felt, unmasked as the anonymous Watergate source known as "Deep Throat," had breached professional ethics by leaking information.

G. Gordon Liddy, a Nixon operative who engineered the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Campaign headquarters in the Watergate building in Washington, and served four and a half years in jail for it, said Wednesday that Felt "violated the ethics of the law enforcement profession."

"If he possessed evidence of wrongdoing, he was honor-bound to take that to a grand jury and secure an indictment, not to selectively leak it to a single news source," Liddy, now a popular conservative radio talk show host, told CNN television.
Nice of Liddy to cast the first stone there. Frankly, I don't want to hear these guys talking about honor, or for that matter about honor and ethics.

Who else came out of the woodwork?
Chuck Colson, the head of White House communications in 1972, Felt could have helped America avoid a wrenching political crisis, the ripple effect of which was felt in the country for decades, if he had gone through proper channels.

"Mark Felt could have stopped Watergate," said Colson, who served time in jail and is now an evangelical Christian broadcaster. "He was in a position of that kind of influence. Instead, he goes out and basically undermines the administration."
I coulda sworn that the Nixon administration undermined itself by breaking the law. But that's just me, I could be wrong. After all, I'm not an evangelical Christian.

The real reason Colson and Liddy are upset that Mark Felt did what he did clandestinely is that doing so didn't give the Nixon administration a chance to slime him. Remember, Colson is the man who brought us John O'Neill.
Former Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan, in an appearance on MSNBC television, bluntly said Felt was a "traitor."
Adding, "I'm really disappointed that it wasn't me. That would've been SO COOL!"

The article quotes David Gergen as being "relieved" that the guessing game is over. So there you have it: of the Nixon aides interviewed, only one has a decent sense of history. Okay, so that one aide didn't go to jail. However, Liddy and Colson didn't go to jail because of Deep Throat, they went to jail because of their own actions.

Patrick Fitzgerald, you're up...

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Did anyone else have an irony overload at the media feeding frenzy at the news that former FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt came out as being "Deep Throat"?

(I mean, aside from all those heavily-maintained female anchors on Fox and MSNBC repeatedly saying the code-name)

Watergate was the last great moment of investigative journalism in DC for the mainstream American press. Today's revelation would have been a lovely time to meditate on that, and see that we have an administration that has engaged in deception and, well, crookery beyond either an office break-in or a blowjob. But even the press' greatest triumph has been relegated to nothing more than a gossip orgy.

That said, Pat Buchanan would have been a lot more fun...


Sunday, May 29, 2005


The latest from Arnold "The Body" Schwarzenegger:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to a quiet San Jose neighborhood Thursday, and -- dogged by protesters -- filled a pothole dug by city crews just a few hours before, as part of an attempt to dramatize his efforts to increase money for transportation projects.

The choreographed press opportunity -- at least the governor's fourth recent event involving transportation issues -- seemed aimed as much at thwarting the demonstrators who have followed Schwarzenegger for weeks as grabbing new attention for his proposal.

Schwarzenegger strode toward television cameras on Laguna Seca Way to the sounds of the Doobie Brothers' "Taking it to the Streets,'' while flanked by 10 San Jose city road workers wearing Day-Glo vests and work gear. After speeches by the governor and city officials, a dump truck backed up and unloaded a mound of black asphalt and, as television cameras recorded the moment, Schwarzenegger joined the work crew, taking up a broom and filling the 10-by-15-foot hole, later smoothed over by a massive roller truck.

"I'm here today to let everyone know that we're going to improve transportation all across our state,'' said Schwarzenegger, highlighting his proposal to fully fund Proposition 42 and restore $1.3 billion in transportation money to the current state budget.

The governor's brief San Jose appearance, announced at the last minute, left some residents scratching their heads.

"For paving the streets, it's a lot of lighting,'' said resident Nick Porrovecchio, 48, motioning to a team of workmen setting up Hollywood-style floodlights on the street to bathe the gubernatorial podium in a soft glow.
Hmm. Politics as usual, I must say. This doesn't exactly do anything to help slow Ahhnuld's slide to sub-Davis numbers, or stymie the perception that he's a stage-managed empty suit. (albeit a muscle-bound empty suit)

Meanwhile, his poll numbers ain't lookin' so good either. Jingle all the way!

Warren? Phil? You got some terminatin' to do.