The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Teagan points out that Karl Rove was wrong statistically speaking as well.

Weezer - Peace
Ben Folds - Rock This Bitch
Head Automatica - King Caesar
Bruce Springsteen - My City of Ruins
Fiona Apple - Not About Love
Cake - Satan Is My Motor
Modest Mouse - The View
Beatles - The Night Before
Radiohead - Go to Sleep
Flaming Lips - Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell

When I do this, my rule is to not stop until I've completed a shuffle where no band or artist is repeated within the ten songs. Trouble is, my iTunes library has a handful of complete catalogs in it, so this can take a while sometimes.

Three cheers for that Head Automatica song, which is one of the better anti-Bush tunes I've heard. Fiona's "Not About Love", from the embargoed Extraordinary Machine has some dazzling interplay between her piano and a lively string section.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

The first major Republican to distance himself/herself from Karl Rove's comments is . . .

. . . Rick Santorum!?!?

Says his spokesman: "Karl Rove speaks for himself. He doesn’t speak for the senator. On 9-11, there was no such thing as a Republican or a Democrat, and that’s what the senator believes."

(link via atrios)

The lie, perpetuated by Jonah Goldberg here, is that oh, Rove's comments weren't so bad, because he was talking about MoveOn.

Is he talking about MoveOn here?
Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.
I can't vouch for whether Dick Durbin has signed up to receive emails from MoveOn or not. What I do know is that he is an elected Democratic Senator.

Karl Rove is human slime, and Jonah... well, we know what he needs to do.

(and in case you haven't provided any thought to it yet, read the quoted excerpt and keep in mind that the White House is standing behind this statement)

Rest in peace, Shana Alexander

Greg at The Talent Show shows us the many ways in which the flag-burning amendment is, well, rather silly.

In November 2002, Helen Thomas, the veteran White House correspondent, told an audience, "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war" - but she made it clear that Mr. Bush was the exception. And she was right.
--Paul Krugman, "The War President", 6/24/05
"Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out."
--Bush, March 2002
On one side, the people who sold this war, unable to face up to the fact that their fantasies of a splendid little war have led to disaster, are still peddling illusions: the insurgency is in its "last throes," says Dick Cheney. On the other, they still have moderates and even liberals intimidated: anyone who suggests that the United States will have to settle for something that falls far short of victory is accused of being unpatriotic.
--Krugman, "The War President"
Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.
--Karl Rove, speech to New York conservatives, 6/22/05

Billmon puts Rove's speech in some context. Just go read.

"Landed" again?!?!?

Ben Folds made his second appearance in two months on The Late Show with David Letterman tonight, and for the second time in as many appearances, he played Songs for Silverman's lead single "Landed". I admit, it's a fine song, and I also admit that tonight's version, with it's full string section, was superior to the restrained rendition from April. But to play the same song on the same show twice in two months? Not cool, Zeus, not cool.

I was sooo pulling for "Jesusland". I'm just about done reading Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas?, and if you're familiar with both the book and the Folds song I just mentioned, then you know there's a bit of synergy going on. Let's sample some lyrics:
Take a walk
Out the gate you go and never stop
Past dollar stores and wig shops
A quarter in a cup for every block
And watch the buildings grow
Smaller as you go

Down the tracks
Beautiful McMansions on a hill
That overlook a highway
With riverboat casinos and you still
Have yet to see a soul
Riverboat casinos notwithstanding, this is a pretty apt summarization of chapter 2, "Deep in the Heart of Redness". The "beautiful McMansions on a hill" might as well be the corporate paradise of Mission Hills. The "dollar stores and wig shops", and city streets so deserted that you "have yet to see a soul", could very well be formerly-vibrant towns like Emporia and Osawatomie as Frank describes them (pp. 59-60):
Main Streets here are vacant, almost as a rule; their grandiose stone facades are crumbling and covered up with plywood--rotting plywood, usually, itself simply hung and abandoned fifteen years ago or whenever it was that Wal-Mart came to town.

The one business that consistently survives here, whether you're in Osawatomie or El Dorado, is junk stores. This is what people do on Main Street nowadays: they sell old stuff that in a more prosperous era would have gone to the Salvation Army or the trash. Leftover yarn. A bourbon bottle shaped like a CB radio. A box of National Geographics. Whom they sell it to remains a mystery. In each of the dozen or so Main Street junk stores I visited, I was clearly one of the only customers to come through all day.

...And you will start to wonder where the people are. To judge from the activity on the streets, every day looks like a Sunday or a holiday or 5 a.m. Go ahead, park anywhere; yours will be the only car on the block.
The song's second verse, discussing the conservative co-opting of Jesus' name, with "billboards quoting things [he'd] never say", goes well together with Frank's third chapter, "God, Meet Mammon".

I could go on, but I'll close by noting that before Folds, the first guest on Letterman's show tonight was Tom Cruise. I don't care about the Scientology that much anymore, and I've been turned off by Katie Holmes ever since this, but I do have one problem with Tom Cruise, and that is: He's clearly a nit wit. Either that, or he is chronically unable to transfer his thoughts from his brain into cohesive sentences.

Judd at ThinkProgress digs up a relevant Bush quote and compares it with Unka Karl's tirade.

Soooo when Ken Mehlman tells us that what Rove said "is true", is he calling Dubya a liar? Anyway...

Thursday, June 23, 2005


This week's future-themed Onion is pretty funny.

60 years for Edgar Ray Killen. Good.
Can somebody please stick cameras and microphones in front of the following people today:

John McCain
Chuck Hagel
Arlen Specter
Lincoln Chaffee
Chris Shays
Dick Lugar
Rudy Giuliani
Arnold Schwarzenegger
George Pataki (UPDATE: Hillary's going after him)

--"Pay no attention to those Iraq polls behind the curtain" . . . With opposition to the Iraq war nearing 60 percent, perhaps Rove's goal is to stir the pot. Every word from the administration is surely deliberate, so Rove's comments had an aim, ane one greater than just red meat for New York conservatives. His target audience was the very liberals he was branding as traitors. He wanted to stir the pot, albeit violently. He thinks that if the Democrats and others come out strongly against his comments, then the story can be boiled down to "partisanship", what they're always accusing Democrats of, and Rove can have some of the blamed deflected from him, while at the same time taking the spotlight off the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq. The timing of these comments was no accident.

--"Pay no attention to those British memos behind the curtain" . . . Same as above.

--The Valerie Plame Dark Horse . . . Perhaps this is a ploy for Karl Rove to make a dramatic exit soon, because he knows Patrick Fitzgerald is going to serve his ass with an indictment over the leaking of the name of an undercover CIA agent to Bob Novak in 2003. Not likely, but just throwing that out there.

--The 9/11 reflex . . . When in doubt -- when the polls are down, when the war's a mess, when Congressional approval is bottoming out, when your asshole UN ambassador nominee can't get confirmed, when private accounts seem dead in the water -- say "9/11"!

and of course,

--He's an all-around big dink.

And remember, Bush keeps reminding us that Iraq "is a central front in the war on terror." 59 percent of Americans disapprove of how Bush is handling Iraq according to the most recent Gallup poll. I'll let you fill in part 3 of this little fit of syllogism.

UPDATE: The administration and its allies are doing their part to boost the first of the above theories. Rummy:
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday, Clinton urged Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to repudiate the "insulting comment."

Rumsfeld replied that it "is unfortunate when things become so polarized or so politicized."
Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman, speaking in Puerto Rico, said there was no need to apologize because "what Karl Rove said is true."
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, asked about the Rove dispute on CNN, noted, "We have seen pretty hot rhetoric from both sides of the aisle lately."
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets in on the act, with a very timid condemnation of "partisanship", music the the administration's ears:
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican running for re-election in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, issued a statement urging both sides to keep politics out of the war on terrorism. "We owe it to those we lost to keep partisan politics out of the discussion and keep alive the united spirit that came out of 9/11," he said.
They're doing a dance for us, hoping that if they can turn this into a partisan-politics issue then the Dems will soon give up on going after Rove, while at the same time they are keeping the stream of bodybags in Iraq off people's minds. This could be a tipping point, though.

I think it took a night's sleep for me to really comprehend how offensive Karl Rove's comments yesterday were (Video here and here, text here)

Bush (through Scott McClellan) has flatly refused to repudiate Rove's remarks, so they are his position until he says otherwise.

It's becoming increasingly clear that anything anybody says about either Iraq or the greater war on terrorism that doesn't follow administration orthodoxy is tantamount to treason in their eyes. This is faaaar worse than anything Dick Durbin said. Needless to say, it's the most Unamerican statement made by a major Washington player since Trent Lott went to a birthday party.

Ideally, Rove must either apologize or resign. But to do either would require something possessed by Durbin, Dan Rather, and even Lott, but not by him: shame.

Found on's front page at the same time...

Save the whales!
Anti-whaling countries will try to thwart a Japanese-led attempt to abolish a whale sanctuary in the southern seas and condemn Tokyo for continuing to catch the huge mammals in the name of science.
Eat the whales!
With Japan under fire for plans to expand its whaling program, a fast food chain is offering a new product aimed at using up stocks from past hunts -- whale burger.

The 380 yen ($3.50) slice of fried minke whale in a bun went on sale on Thursday at Lucky Pierrot, a restaurant chain in the port city of Hakodate on Japan's northern-most island of Hokkaido.
(And of course, it should be noted that whaling has taken its toll on the minke whale population over the years.)

Digby writes of the administration (in response to an Atrios post):
They didn't believe in the WMD's they hyped either and we know this for a fact. Gene Lyons pointed out the obvious at the time:
The administration's strategy of loudly proclaiming that Iraq poses a dire threat to U.S. security while making a public spectacle of massing troops along its border as if it were scarcely capable of self-defense makes no sense.
Clearly, they didn't really believe that Saddam had any WMD capability. The governments of the US and Britain would have leveled Iraq before they put over a hundred thousand soldiers out in the open on the Kuwait border if they had. They knew.
Very, very true. And let me add a point to that: When we got in there and didn't find anything in 2003, those both within and outside the administration who professed to be "true believers" in Iraqi WMD didn't express any, you know, urgency that the supposed stockpiles of WMD's were on the loose.

Remember how every few months an article would surface at TechCentralStation or NewsMax suggesting that Saddam's weapons had found their way to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Remember also, that those stories never expressed any concern about WMD's supposedly being in a failed state which also happens to be a haven for anti-American and anti-Israeli militant groups. Instead, the stories only mentioned the supposed location of the weapons as a "gotcha!" against those who argued that Saddam didn't have any weapons and/or that our intelligence was flawed/fudged/fixed. (get used to that 3rd word)

In wanting only to be proven right, and in not being even slightly concerned that supposed stockpiles of weapons might fall into worse hands than Saddam, the administration and its media allies proved themselves to be wholly unserious about WMDs. The most logical conclusion from this is that they never believed they were there in the first place. Just as Digby says.

Thursday night on late-nite tv should be nice.

Daily Show: Howard Dean
Letterman: Ben Folds

Oh and somebody tell Unka Karl to bugger off. I seem to remember a grand total of 1 dissenting vote on the Afghanistan resolution. If you ask me, responding to a radical fundamentalist threat by invading a secular nationalist dictatorship based on flimsy and fudged intel, leading to a steady stream of death with no end in sight, when you predicted just the opposite? You're the fuckers who don't get it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Some people weren't happy about Dick Durbin caving to the conservatarian mock outrage brigade and apologizing for his Gitmo line from last week. Others like Sully and John Cole are above the mock outrage brigade and have identified Durbin's comments as being, well, not over the line, and for that they have reinforced their positions on my "A few righties who seem pretty civil" blogroll.

But did Durbin cave? Let's parse...
"Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line," said the Illinois Democrat, at times holding back tears. "To them I extend my heartfelt apologies."
Read that again.

"Some may believe". Could a small part of that be "some of you are deliberately and insincerely stirring up mock outrage, and as for you guys, you can go Cheney yourselves"?

Perhaps that's a bit too subtle to get his point across to enough people. Perhaps he's looking for his Goldielocks rhetorical equilibrium.

Not terribly surprising in and of itself, so let's look at two details of this story.

First, who was the principle sponsor of the bill?
“Ask the men and women who stood on top of the (World) Trade Center,” said Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham, R-Calif. “Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment.”
I think the proper SAT analogy is Cunningham : Flag-burning amendment :: DeLay : Schiavo. As in, a culture-war issue to pounce on in the hope that it will distract the country from one's own mounting ethical problems. For more, go to Josh Marshall's place and scroll down.

Second, take a look at the Yeas and Nays from the vote. It would appear the full progressive transformation of Dennis Kucinich is complete: He has been a vocal supporter of such amendments in the past, but one Presidential campaign and one love affair with the left flank of the party later, he has appeared to change his mind. There were signs of this last year, as he declined to state his position on the issue in the one Presidential debate in which it came up.

Lastly, tsk tsk to both of my Representatives, Tom Lantos (San Mateo County) and Lois Capps (Santa Barbara), for voting in favor of this affront to the First Amendment. I think I can explain the Capps vote: In 2003 Republicans in Santa Barbara County launched a recall effort against 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall. Why, you ask? Over a dispute involving the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings of the Board of Supervisors. The recall effort failed (in part due to my vote against it), but the final tally was close.

As for Lantos, he's a relatively moderate Dem, yet his personal experience (quite extraordinary), one would think, would give him a greater appreciation for free speech, particularly in opposition to the actions of one's goverment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Last week it was Pink Floyd, and now...
On the same day Billy Corgan released his first solo album, he revealed that he wants to reunite his band, The Smashing Pumpkins.

"For a year now I have walked around with a secret, a secret I chose to keep," Corgan wrote in a full-page advertisement published Tuesday in Chicago newspapers.

"But now I want you to be among the first to know that I have made plans to renew and revive The Smashing Pumpkins. I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams," he wrote.
A Perfect Circle just finished a tour, so James Iha is probably free. And Jimmy Chamberlin hasn't done anything of note lately. No matter what, I am sooo there.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Iraq war increasingly unpopular:
Nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the war in Iraq and a growing number of them are dissatisfied with the war on terrorism, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

Only 39 percent of those polled said they favored the war in Iraq -- down from 47 percent in March -- and 59 percent were opposed.
Obviously this is all Dick Durbin's fault.

...blocked again! And Voinovich voted with us this time!

Kaus' silly theory -- Dems secretly want Bolton to be confirmed because it puts him in a less damaging position than if he were in the State Department -- grazes against credibility until you remember that...

1) Bolton has already left the State Department. (And by the way, everyone working with the State Department couldn't be happier)

2) Democrats -- real ones, not faux ones like Kaus -- care about the UN.

3) We want Bolton out of public service altogether.

Now the battle over Bolton may come down to whether or not Bush is willing to spend that "political capital" of his on a recess appointment.

(Anyone else like early Nirvana?)

Today's Chronicle has a nice little game reset on where the Social Security debate stands.
President Bush has gone from threatening Democratic lawmakers that they'll suffer politically for not supporting his Social Security overhaul to cajoling Republican lawmakers with promises of campaign help if they do.

Neither tactic is working. Bush's poll numbers continue to sink, driven in part by his plan to add private accounts and reduce benefits in the giant retirement program.

Democrats appear on the verge of scoring a huge political victory over Bush by defeating what had been the centerpiece domestic policy of his second term.

Bush's hopes of salvaging even small private accounts now rest entirely on the two Republican leaders of the committees in charge of Social Security: former college professor Rep. Bill Thomas of Bakersfield, the shrewd and unpredictable chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee who is a master of the tax code and entitlement programs, and blunt-spoken Iowa farmer Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Both men face unbroken Democratic opposition and disagreement and resistance within their own party.

Nonetheless, the White House is relying on Thomas to craft a bill that contains some version of private accounts, which Republican leaders can then push through the House, where they control the agenda.

Grassley faces the filibuster rules of the Senate, where Republicans hold 55 votes, but need 60 votes to overcome the blocking maneuver by Democrats.

As bad as the polls look, Bush shows no sign of backing off.

"I spoke with several people at the White House this morning, and I just got off the phone with an aide to a senior member of the House leadership, all of whom assure me that the House is moving forward," Michael Tanner, a leading private-account advocate at the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, said late last week.

"As far as the White House goes, the White House is not seeking an exit strategy. The president still plans to be out there at least once a week, forever if necessary, to talk about this," Tanner said. "They are not pulling back any of their intentions at all."
I'm not sure if I would be as triumphant about the defeat of the Bush plan as the article says Dems are "on the verge" of being. There were rumblings a couple of weeks ago that Bush may, as a tactic, ditch the private accounts and go after a "solvency"-oriented plan (in other words, massive benefit cuts to turn Soc Sec into little more than a welfare program that can be cut even further in the future). I was skeptical about this taking place, since given the highly ideological nature of the administration I thought it was unlikely that Bush would remove the turkey from the thanksgiving platter that is his SS plan.

Something else to note is that we don't really have too much of a precedent to know exactly how this debate is going to end. This is really only the second time in Bush's time in office that we've had a dominant debate over a piece of domestic legislation. The first was the 2001 round of tax cuts, which Bush flogged mercilessly during the 2000 campaign and was, for the most part, unwilling to compromise on. I think looking at that debate may be instructive for how his private accounts will fare in the coming months.

February through May, 2001. Bush was coming off a modest electoral honeymoon. In spite of losing the popular vote, he was given something of a pass by the press, who fostered a general consensus that there was a mandate for some kind of tax cut. He insisted that Congress pass versions of a tax cut that were as close to what he wanted as possible ($1.6 billion, and that's a floor, not a ceiling), and to do so he was willing to push at least one moderate lawmaker (Jeffords) over the edge. The Democrats, sensing defeat, snuck in an amendment (the $300 and $600 rebate checks) which was more to their liking, only to see Bush and the Republicans take credit for it. We then learned, via Tom Daschle, that the Republican smear machine is capable of applying mud to anybody.

So how does the current political climate compare to that of tax cut season 2001? Not as good for Bush and the other privatizers. Bush is quickly quacking like a lame duck, as his power to influence both the electorate and Congress is fading fast. Bush's approval on Social Seucirty is scraping bottom; the highest recent poll I've seen is the 37% Ipsos has him at. Moderate Republicans are either jumping ship or talking "exit strategy". Bush is making empty threats that border on the absurd ("threatening Democratic lawmakers that they'll suffer politically for not supporting his Social Security overhaul"), and for once the Democrats are showing some discipline and backbone, to the point that any bill including private accounts would meet a quick, cloture-induced death on the Senate floor.

The divide-and-conquer tactics of Bush's Iraq and WOT politics don't translate well to the Social Security debate. Karl Rove's buddies at USA-Next didn't make the slightest dent when they launched their anti-AARP smear campaign. Calling a group that includes in its membership many Normandy beach-stormers (and their friends) anti-troops isn't gonna fly.

As I've discussed before in this space, the attempt by Bush to phase out Social Security was their big shot, their decaptiation attempt; if they could chop off the head of the Democrat-created welfare state, the body would go much easier. Problem is, we were ready for him. We know what this guy would say...


Sunday, June 19, 2005


"[T]he administration, I think, has said to the American people that it is a generational committment to Iraq."

It's been a couple months since the first Downing Street Memo was leaked, and only now is the story gaining any traction in America.

Even the conservatives know that the documents are potentially very damaging to the administration. How do we know this? Well, because some of them are trying to claim the documents are fake, when their authenticity has already been confirmed by both governments involved. Sorry guys, no Rather for you.