The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Since everybody's getting all serious about the indictment, let's interject a little fun.

Pop quiz, hot shot:

Name both UCSB graduates who were mentioned in Patrick Fitzgerald's 22-page indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Hint: One of them isn't mentioned by name.

2nd Hint: They were members of the same graduating class.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Karl Rove's lawyer says his man is still under investigation.

I'm out for the rest of the day. This includes a Weezer / Foo Fighters concert at the Oakland Arena. That's a pretty good way to celebrate Fitzmas, Part One.

The air in the arena will smell like justice. Justice, and marijuana.

Josh Marshall finds something important deep inside the indictment which makes me think we haven't seen the end of indictments, and/or that in the long run, Dick Cheney is in a whole mess of trouble.

The text of Pat Fitzgerald's press release and indictments can be found at his DOJ webpage.

(continuously updated)

...He starts out by hammering home the point that Plame's CIA work was not known.

...Now he's talking about how secret the investigation has been. A subtle (or not so subtle?) jab at one Ken Starr. How fitting that the most leak-free operation in Washington has been an investigation into a leak.

...Talking about how Libby claimed he got the information. He claimed he got it from Pumpkinhead Tim. Hammering him in a very-easy-to-understand fashion. Says Libby learned about Valerie from govt officials. From a CIA officer, from an undersec of State, and the Vice President. Uh oh! Those two words are going to be big, big trouble for Big Time for the rest of Bush's term... if he's around that long.

...Libby talked about it a month prior to when he claimed to! How's that for a forgettery?

...Fitz is making it clear that these charges aren't technical, and that the crimes committed were central to the leak itself, a straight-up coverup.

...Now that Fitz has said all of this, Judith Miller is going to look like an absolute buffoon (or.... LIAR!) for her "I don't remember" story.

...Doesn't seem like there's a "Mr X" in the context of these indictments, as he says Libby was the first person to tell a reporter.

...CNN flashing on the screen that with the charges, Scooter Libby faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. These are not "minor technicalities," Senator Hutchinson.

...Completely coy on Rove. That will not help Turd Blossom sleep at night.

...I love this hilariously unsubtle photo-op speech Cheney is making with soldiers on the stage behind him. Thank you, Situation Room!

...And now there's a simultaneous Bush speech too! Somehow, not being able to hear it may just help him a little bit.

...On the "technicality" RNC talking point: "That talking point won't fly."

...Does CNN have any non-crutches pictures of Libby standing up?

...The reporters are running out of questions they can ask where Fitz is able to give full answers to. Now Wolf is cutting in. And now I must go to lunch. Merry Fitzmas!

UPDATE: Move over, Anderson Cooper!

UPDATE II: Kevin took his Tums and watched Fox when the indictments hit the wires, here's an interesting tidbit:
Fox says that Fitzgerald was planning to indict Karl Rove, but Rove's lawyer produced last-minute evidence that made him back off and decide to continue investigating.
Hmm. Sounds more like can-kicking than exoneration. I guess we'll have to wait and see...

UPDATE III: "Libby learned that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA from "an Undersecretary of State," which in context could only have been John Bolton."

Fitzgerald to hold press conference at 11 AM Pacific (2pm eastern). Word is Libby will be indicted, and Karl Rove won't be indicted today, but remains under investigation (in other words, no decision yet on charges for him).

For my purposes, I like this scenario. A high-level administration official is indicted, yet because Rove remains in legal jeopardy, the administration is still forced to pay lip service to the investigation, and their attack dogs are put in a precarious position. And it's not like this will help Rove sleep at night.

In other words, let's quote Joe Pesci as David Ferrie in JFK:

"They got me by the balls"

Mark Kleiman has more along these lines. His analogy of choice: "water torture". No problem for Cheney or Al Gonzales, no doubt.

It looks like Fitzmas may turn into one of those extended holidays.

Fitznukah. (proper spelling: Cfitznukah)


Or my personal favorite,


Thursday, October 27, 2005

No more blogging today probably, I'm busy this afternoon, and then tonight, against my better judgment, I'm going to a 311 concert. At least it's at the Fillmore. And at least I'll balance that out tomorrow night by going to see the Weezer (yay!), Foo Fighters (yay!) and Hot Hot Heat (yuck!) show in Oakland.

Harriet Miers drops class before week-4 deadline, intimidated by bad grade on first writing assignment, unwilling to resubmit her paper.

...Subject-changing mission accomplished . . . for one day.

And by the way, how bout that right-wing litmus test! And wait, doesn't she deserve an UP-OR-DOWN VOTE!? Frankly, with this whole Miers fiasco, Bush and the Republicans have blown whatever position they thought the "nuclear option" showdown gave them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


From the pen of Mike Luckovich:


That's two straight years of Blue State teams sweeping Red State teams.

Sooo next year... it's either Cubs over Rangers in four, or my beloved Giants get another shot at rings. Provided they find another left-handed power hitter to hit alongside the Flax Seed Bomber.
...or later today?

UPDATE: Nope, tomorrow.

Some good news that's lost in the shuffle right now:
The Bush administration will reinstate rules requiring that companies awarded federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina pay prevailing wages, usually an amount close to the pay scales in local union contracts.

Representative Peter King of New York was among congressmen critical of the administration's decision to waive the requirement and who met today with White House chief of staff Andrew Card. He said Card told them the wage requirement would be reinstated November eighth.

In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, President Bush suspended provisions of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, which sets wages for employees on federal contracts to ensure they are not underpaid.
It looks like Bush didn't have a choice anyway, as a vote in the House to reinstate the rules was likely to pass, with dozens of Republicans voting for it.

UPDATE: Congressman George Miller (D-CA), who was a force behind the effort to restore Davis-Bacon to the Gulf Coast, has more over at TPM Cafe.

SF Chronicle headline, Tuesday:
Governor on game in live forum
He appears at ease taking unscripted questions about vote
The fact that he was coherent appears to be cause for celebration in the Chron newsroom.

I have no idea what's going to happen tomorrow. If I had to put odds on the nature of the indictments, it's probably a better-than-even bet that Libby is going down. The only thing holding me back from feeling the same way about Rove is that it just... seems... too... good... to be true. The CBS report about a "Mr. X" who actually gave the name to reporters makes things even more complex, but I'm not sure that the fate of the person assigned to call reporters necessarily says anything one way or the other about the larger smear campaign against Wilson that included the leak. It's like saying the actual fellows who literally broke into the Democratic office in the Watergate Hotel were behind the whole thing. For all we know, the literal leaker may have flipped (hey, Bob Novak did). Whatever the case, answers will come this week.

All that said, enjoy this Fitzmas comic from The Editors.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Jedmunds and Shakespeare's Sister are absolutely right: The proposed Democratic Party slogan sucks donkey. (no political pun intended) The Hill reports:
House Democratic leaders are holding a closed-door meeting with members of their caucus this afternoon to discuss a new slogan for the 2006 midterm elections: "Together, We Can Do Better" or "Together, America Can Do Better," according to Democratic sources.

Although aides say the slogan has yet to be finalized and is still up for debate, it has already been in frequent use by Democratic leaders on both sides of the Capitol for several weeks.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) used it as early as Sept. 29, during a press conference on Hurricane Katrina relief, according to a search of an online news database. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) first used it in a similar Katrina press event Sept. 15.
This is so bad I can't believe people received paychecks for working on it.

Maybe it works in the context of the apolitical things a government does, such as respond to a major natural disaster. But "together, we can do better" as a slogan is completely unacceptable for a political party with a complex platform and philosophy.

The main problem I have: "better". It's a comparative adjective, between "good" and the superlative "best". And that's the thing: It's a word of degree, and not a word of contrast.

So if we go all Lakoff on this, the implication of the frame is, "The GOP is good, the Democratic Party is better". Regardless of whether that's true, once you make the concession that the opposition party is "good", you've really given away the game, haven't you?

The same problem goes for a slogan John Kerry used during the 2004 campaign: "A Stronger America". It conceded that "with Bush, we get a strong America".

Perhaps this is a minor issue. But consider right-track, wrong-track polling. For a long time, a strong majority of Americans, when polled, say the country is headed in the "wrong track" (56% in the latest Zogby poll, for instance). My question is, how does "we can do better" really appeal to that sentiment? Yes, the Democrats can make a competence and clean-government argument against the Republicans, but there are fundamental ideological differences between the parties, and "we can do better" doesn't immediately suggest a different "track".

Example? Nixon in '68. His position on conducting the Vietnam War, relative to the Democrats, was, well, it was essentially "we can do better". It ended up being a different shade of the same crap for four years.

As to meshing contrast with a positive message, that's a project for the House Dems to consider tackling. They'd be well-advised to start from scratch.

Digby, Saturday:
Many of us wrote a lot about certain memes the Republicans used to make the Dems look bad during the last few years. We are "soft" on terrorism, crime, morals --- whatever. Soft. It's a powerful primal image that they have used to great effect to put us on the defensive and turn the country to the right with coded slogans like "law and order" and "fight em there so we don't have to fight em here." It works because they've been saying it so long, and there is just enough truth in it, that people have internalized it.

But the Republicans have some baggage of their own that goes back just as far. They have long been associated with corruption and criminality in office and their poster boy is Richard Nixon, the father of the modern Republican party. "I am not a crook" has a resonance far beyond that moldy time. People know this, deep down, in their subconscious, just as surely as they know that Democrats are flip-flopping libertines. "Republicans are crooks." It just rings true.

These primitive heuristics cut both ways. If we choose to play that game, and we should, we have a perfect opportunity to portray the Republicans the way that people already think they are.
Gallup poll, today:
Only one in 10 Americans said they believe Bush administration officials did nothing illegal or unethical in connection with the leaking of a CIA operative's identity, according to a national poll released Tuesday.

Thirty-nine percent said some administration officials acted illegally in the matter, in which the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, was revealed.

The same percentage of respondents in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said administration officials acted unethically, but did nothing illegal.

The poll was split nearly evenly on what respondents thought of Bush officials' ethical standards -- 51 percent saying they were excellent or good and 48 percent saying they were not good or poor.

The figures represent a marked shift from a 2002 survey in which nearly three-quarters said the standards were excellent or good and only 23 percent said they were fair or poor.
There you have it. And this is an issue where only a fraction of Americans really know the full details, so this survey says just as much (if not more) about perceptions as (than) it does about actual conduct.

Keep in mind that, disapproval of the Miers nomination notwithstanding, George W Bush's approval rating does have a floor of sorts, and that floor is his conservative base, around 30-35 percent. Only 10 percent of respondents said Administration members did not act either unethically or illegally. This probably means that up to two thirds of Bush's base thinks Administration officials acted either unethically or illegally, or both. (It's also possible that much the remaining 12 percent of the survey -- probably "don't know" -- comes from Bush's base, but that still leaves around a third of his base, which is still significant.)

All future proceeds will go to his defense fund, no doubt.

And if you were ever wondering where Lewis Libby picked up the nickname "Scooter", here's the answer:
Libby's nickname of "Scooter" was given to him by his father who, upon seeing him move quickly across his crib, exclaimed, "He's a scooter!"
And now you know... the rest of the story.

So says Steve Clemons. (link via atrios)

I'll be hanging the stockings tonight.

UPDATE: And a "Mr. X", to boot.
Bill O'Reilly, meteoroseismologist!

He claims to have a "no-spin zone". From this, it's clear that something sure isn't spinning...

Monday, October 24, 2005


Did the leakers of Valerie Plame's name and role do what they did in response to Joe Wilson's op-ed in the NY Times?

Based on reports that Fitzgerald is looking at the 2002 Italian inquiry into the forged Niger uranium documents, Kevin Drum offers a counterhypothesis, which makes for an interesting read.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Via The Editors, The Tattered Coat brings to our attention the 'curing' of military blogger Daniel Goetz. Chilling.

Some of the Clinton witch-hunters are changing their tune quite a bit these days when it comes to the rule of law. Crooks & Liars points to two examples, Bill McCollum and Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

My blog is worth $12,984.42.
How much is your blog worth?


Tom DeLay's uncropped mugshot. See also Slate's explanation for why the mugshot had no numbers.