The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Read this from Digby. And this from Billmon while you're at it.

I'll be out all evening, some blogging tomorrow perhaps? In the meantime, lefty listy clicky!

Since we're talking about Kansas, this is fine news.
The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday unanimously struck down a state law that punished underage sex more severely if it involved homosexual acts.

The court said "moral disapproval" of such conduct is not enough to justify the different treatment.

In a case closely watched by national groups on all sides of the gay rights debate, the high court said the law "suggests animus toward teenagers who engage in homosexual sex."

Gay rights groups praised the ruling, while conservatives bitterly complained that the court intruded on the Legislature's authority to make the laws.

The case involved an 18-year-old man, Matthew R. Limon, who was found guilty in 2000 of performing a sex act on a 14-year-old boy and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Had one of them been a girl, state law would have dictated a maximum sentence of 15 months.

The high court ordered that Limon be resentenced as if the law treated illegal gay sex and illegal straight sex the same. He has already served more than five years.
Chance of blogging low, but still a non-zero possibility for the weekend.

Friday, October 21, 2005

It seems we have another case of astroturf going around... and this time it has mutated and spread to unsigned editorials.
In ten seconds, with a simple quote, Gary Hart disposes of Sean Hannity.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

TBogg thinks he knows where the inspiration for Tom DeLay's mugshot grin came from.

UPDATE: or just good ol' "shit-eating"?

UPDATE II: Or was DeLay trying to deny the Democrats a juicy image for the 2006 campaigns? Maybe. But frankly, a Nick Nolte-ish mug, profile shot included, would have been a bonus; Tom DeLay is already, as they say, a target-rich environment to begin with. And hey, if he's convicted, the pictures will be even prettier anyway!

Frozen body found on mountaintop in Kings Canyon National Park.

TFM has an exclusive photo of the man who died on the mountaintop, before he froze:

No word yet as to the presence of bite-marks on his shoulder.


Were you ever this sure that someone was saying "you motherfuckers" through his teeth?

"Moderate Republican" governor Arnold Schwartzenegger has punted on every single issue he used to dupe voters into thinking "he won't be so bad", yet he goes to the mattresses to protect the rights of . . . tax evaders.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is putting the brakes on efforts to give state investigators more tools to hunt tax evaders, following a period of aggressive enforcement that has generated billions of dollars for California coffers.

The governor has vetoed several bills that would allow agents to go after more businesses and individuals who cost the state millions by cheating on their returns, or not filing at all. He said the measures were flawed and would have unfairly burdened employers.

The resistance from the administration comes as some of the state's most influential business and anti-tax groups charge that investigators have overstepped their boundaries and begun harassing Californians.

The organizations, including the California Taxpayers Assn., the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. and the California Chamber of Commerce, say officials need to find less invasive ways to reclaim about $6 billion in state taxes that are owed each year but not paid.

Supporters of the measures that Schwarzenegger rejected said they were common-sense reforms that would have closed loopholes that big businesses and wealthy individuals have been able to slip through.

"These vetoes basically say to these people that they can flout the law without repercussions," said Lenny Goldberg, president of the union-backed California Tax Reform Assn. "Ordinary taxpayers can't do that."

The governor blocked efforts to increase penalties on retailers who filch the sales taxes they collect, and on companies that don't collect taxes when they should. A proposal to help authorities garnish wages of convicted tax evaders for as long as their debt is unpaid also was vetoed.

State tax officials said another of the governor's vetoes could allow some people snagged by the Internal Revenue Service for dodging taxes to avoid coughing up California's share, costing the state tens of millions of dollars.
Whaddya say we send Governor TrueLies a message on November 8th?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Howard Fineman, MWO's "Whore of the Year" for 2001, and one the initial providers of the "Howard Dean is insane" meme, thinks that the tide is turning against Bush:
George W. Bush rose to power on the strength of a disciplined, aggressive, tightly focused, leak-proof spin machine — one that took issue positions and stuck to them, divided the world (including the media) into friends and enemies, and steamrollered the opposition with ruthless skill while the candidate remained smilingly above the fray. Sure of his social skills but not of his speaking ability (let alone his ability to speak extemporaneously), Bush (and Karl Rove) learned to stick to their bullet-item talking points, to operate through surrogates, all the while steering the initial course they had set for themselves.

But the machine they built may have run amok — at least that seems to be what Fitzgerald is examining, as he looks at the leaking of Plame’s identity and of other classified information.

In essence, the Bush-Rove campaign machine was redeployed in the service of selling of the Iraq war and, later, in defense of that sale. Did they go over the line in doing so? We’re about to find out.

In the meantime (and in another twist on the poetic justice them), the very discipline of the machine itself — its short internal supply lines, the consistently followed talking points, the focus on feeding friends and obliterating enemies — could be helping Fitzgerald. Tightly knit groups rise together, but they fall together. If the inner circle is small, it takes only one insider “flip” to endanger the rest.
And the word is that not one, but two aides have done so.
Mmmmmm . . . warrant...

Perhaps the Exterminator can rap in some of those local ads for Bad Boys Bail Bonds.

Remember that housewife in the Midwest who, a decade ago, was arrested for her involvement in the SLA a couple decades before that? Well, she's kinda like UCSB:
The University of California campus here has worked hard to shed its party image.

Chancellor Henry T. Yang has cracked down on notorious Halloween bashes and publicized the five Nobel prizes the faculty have won during the last seven years.

Playboy magazine isn't exactly helping his efforts.

First, it designated UC Santa Barbara as one of the country's Top 10 Party Schools in its September issue. Now, the men's magazine is auditioning and photographing coeds for a feature called "Girls of the Top 10 Party Schools," which will run in its May 2006 issue.
First of all, I'm not sure how building all the nice new dorms right next to the most notorious single street in all of the UC system constitutes "working hard to shed the party image."

Frankly, I never saw much evidence of this so-called "cracking down". Though I did notice in my final Halloween there that a smaller proportion of the boys on DP were wearing fake "Girls Gone Wild" t-shirts they printed in their apartments. Step in the right direction, I suppose.

The brief AP article goes on to note that "About 30 bikini-clad girls auditioned Monday . . . 70 to 100 more were to be seen by Wednesday."

Hmm. *glances at Facebook friends list* . . . no . . . don't think so . . . she'd never . . . she'd really never . . . oh if only . . . she wouldn't remember . . .

In other words, I don't think I know these people. Then again, I made it through my entire college career without really knowing anyone from the Greek community, so that must be why.
WASHINGTON - An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to Rove, who friends and even political adversaries acknowledge is the architect of the President's rise from baseball owner to leader of the free world.
That's the big revelation in a blockbuster story in today's NY Daily News. The immediate implication of this news?

--All those times Bush told people he had no idea and that he'd "get to the bottom" of all this? Bullplop.

--That time Scott McClellan told the press that Rove and Libby weren't involved? Well, that was bullplop already, but now it's bullplop with a Presidential seal of bullplop approval.

The one mitigating factor for Bush defenders in all of this, is that the lede suggests that Bush was indignant about the leak itself, meaning he wasn't involved in the committing of a crime. Yet further down in the story, we see this:
Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.

But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.

A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.

"Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.
(Emphases mine) Hmm. Sounds more like Bush was upset about them getting caught. Remember that for a few months in 2003, the investigation of the leak was in-house, essentially run by John Ashcroft, and none of these guys were furious at each other.

The article came up in today's McClellan briefing, with hilarious results:
QUESTION: Scott, is it true that the President --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Welcome back.

QUESTION: Thanks. Is it true that the President slapped Karl Rove upside the head a couple of years ago over the CIA leak?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Are you referring to, what, a New York Daily News report? Two things: One, we're not commenting on an ongoing investigation; two, and I would challenge the overall accuracy of that news account.

QUESTION: That's a comment.

QUESTION: Which part of it?

QUESTION: Yes, that is.

QUESTION: Which facts --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, I'm just saying -- no, I'm just trying to help you all.

QUESTION: So what facts are you challenging?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not going to comment on an ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: You can't say you're challenging the facts and then not say which ones you're challenging.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Yes, I can. I just did. (Laughter.)
Watch me!

(see also Josh Marshall's discussion of the name in the article's byline)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


If Stephen Hadley, a man whose name doesn't get thrown around much in all the Plame hoopla, thinks he's going to be indicted, then we may see more than just one or two isolated charges here.

Uh oh.
The case of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame is set to explode.

The New York Daily News is set to report in Tuesday editions that a well-placed source interviewed by the newspaper believes a senior White House official has flipped and may be helping the prosecutor in the case, RAW STORY has learned.

The Daily News will reveal that a top source believes that based on the questioning of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and his other contacts with the investigation, someone in the White House has turned.
Link via C&L.

UPDATE: Raw Story says it's Cheney aid John Hannah.

Monday, October 17, 2005

In which TFM goes 100 miles to eventually tell you not to vote for it

The major lefty bloggers in California are split on Prop 77, the Ahhnuld-supported initiative to take the congressional redistricting process out of the legislature and assign the task to a panel of three independent judges. Given that redistricting was part of the Rove-Delay crosscountry plan to solidify Republican power for a generation, it is understandable that some Democrats are reflexively opposed to a GOP-supported change in California's redistricting process. However, on the merits most people seem to think that an independent redistricting process is a good idea, myself included. So, what forms does the disagreement take?

On the pro-side, there's Kos, who quotes Chuck Todd, saying that such an initiative could have a ripple effect elsewhere:
Bottom line, California initiatives are like colds, they're very catchy. If this reform measure passes in California, every other state with an initiative/referendum process would likely follow suit. And there are far more gerrymandered states in favor of the GOP right now than the Democrats. Redrawing the districts in these states would lead to Congress being much more representative of the national mood.
Todd identifies Ohio and Florida as states where the ripple could really take effect, noting that both states are currently gerrymandered to favor the GOP, "grotesquely" in the latter case.

Dead-set against Prop 77 is Mark Kleiman, who frames his opposition strategically:
If you want the Republicans to keep control of the Congress next year, you should vote YES on California's Prop. 77, the Schwarzenegger redistricting plan. Else, not. If Prop. 77 passes, the Democrats have virtually no shot at retaking the House or the Senate.

And that's not because a redistricting would cost us seats in California. It might have the opposite effect; honest redistricting puts more seats in play, and 2006 looks like a bad year for the Republicans.

But redistricting now means, inevitably, creating lots of competitive races for incumbents who would otherwise walk back to Washington. That means that tens of millions of dollars in liberal money that would normally flow from California to places where it's needed will instead stay right here. If you want to have, Howard Berman (for example) raising money for himself rather than challengers for GOP-held marginal seats nationally, go ahead and drink that handsome Mr. Terminator's nice Kool-Aid.

Without that money, there's no way the Democrats can stay competitive nationally. And that means no Congressional investigations of the Bush/DeLay/Abramoff/Norquist Kleptocracy in the run-up to 2008.

Seems to me like a rather high price to pay for a transint warm and fuzzy feeling for having voted for good government and against gerrymandering.
Kevin Drum puts himself on (or at least, near) the fence:
All of this dithering, however, turns on the notion that Prop 77 truly sets up a neutral system. If it doesn't, then it's a definite No vote.
He decides against the propositino based largely on the observations of Brad Plumer, who notes that the initiative as written (PDF here) would screw urban centers, as the guidelines tell the panel to try to condense large urban areas into single districts.

And from The Editors (check out the flier when you click over):
I agree that this is a great proposition, and I urge the voters of Texas to pass it.
And beyond the merits of the initiative, that's really the crux of the thing for me. For a long time, particularly in these last 11 years, the Democratic Party has carried on a proud, illustrious tradition of taking it. It's one thing to be a principled loser, but it's quite another to be one and not know that the very people you oppose -- Bush, Rove, Delay, Arnold, etc -- are taking direct advantage of it, in a completely premeditated fashion.

The current makeup of the state-level governments in the states listed by Chuck Todd is a roadblock to this sort of initiative gaining traction there, in spite of the recent problems Ohio Republicans have had, and in spite of Jeb being term-limited soon. And this is all if one considered 77 to be more honest and fair than it actually is. I'll be more willing to support redistricting reform of this nature when:

--we reach the end of the decade and have new census data.

--when discrepancies between urban and non-urban areas are dealt with in a more even-handed fashion than they are in the wording of the initiative. And most importantly, when...

--Bush, Rove, Delay and Arnold are out of office, and the baggage of their national strategy to hardwire Republicans into permanent power goes away. The aim of Prop77 is best scene through the lens of most of the other ballot initiatives (which amount to union-busting for teachers, firefighters, nurses etc).

Lastly, the way I've heard people talk about Prop 77 reminds me of the way moderate Dems talked about Arnold himself in 2003. "He's not so bad" . . . "It's completely arbitrary that he's a Republican, if he had the same background and a (D) next to his name we'd all love him". And now with his redistricting initiative we hear the same things. "It's a good idea regardless". Yes, it is, but THAT version of it has got to go.

If we pass it, there are no guarantees that it will have any effect on any other state, the least of which being those with ridiculously gerrymandered Republican districts like Texas and Florida. We got duped into Arnold (well I didn't, but a lot of people did), let's not get duped again. I'm tired of taking it.