The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, January 14, 2006


I don't know what America-hating America-hater in the bowels of the Homeland Security bureaucracy allowed Jose Padilla's Al Qaeda application to be leaked to the media. We need a DoJ investigation now!

Friday, January 13, 2006


Oh please, not again.

Cheers to the Maryland State Legislature for overriding Ehrlich's veto of their Wal Mart health care bill.
Maryland has become the first state in the nation to require Wal-Mart to spend more on employee health care or pay the difference into the state's Medicaid fund. Similar laws may be coming elsewhere.

The measure approved Thursday requires companies with more than 10,000 Maryland employees to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on employee health care or pay the difference into the state-supported Medicaid program. Of the state's large employers, only Wal-Mart spends less than 8 percent on health care.

Labor unions, who heavily pushed for the bill, said they would pursue similar legislation in at least 30 other states, focusing first on Colorado, Connecticut and Washington.

"The tide is turning because working people are not just fed up — they are ready to get active to set our country in a different direction, one state at a time," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a statement.

Maryland's Democratic-controlled Legislature overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

Critics of the legislation called it a dangerous precedent that ultimately would cost Maryland jobs.

The company employs about 17,000 Maryland residents at more than 40 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores, and about 1.3 million people nationwide.

A Wal-Mart executive called the bill a poorly worded mandate for a single company. Mia Masten, a director of corporate affairs, said the bill "could be the beginning of a slippery slope."

"We believe everyone should have access to affordable health insurance, although this legislation does nothing to accomplish that," said Masten, who said the retailing giant may partially pull out of the state if the bill becomes law.

She said Wal-Mart was unfairly singled out because of "partisan politics" and that Medicaid's problems go beyond the behavior of one company.
Cost the state jobs? Somehow, I have my doubts that Wal Mart will be closing any stores over this.

California had a chance to be on the leading edge of this campaign, via a ballot initiative in 2004, but it was narrowly defeated.

Anyhow, we can look forward to a bullshit press release from everyone's favorite corporation about "the need to stay competitive".

TBogg has more, including some early whining from the Club for Growth.
The incomparable quote-gatherer Billmon presents, "A Bipartisan Scandal".

And an amusing Rueters photo to sleep on, via Holden at First Draft.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ha! DiFi just nailed him. More soon...

Meanwhile, whatever the truth is about Alito's CAP membership, it appears we will indeed get to the bottom of it.

Not being willing even to say that Roe is "settled law" -- something Roberts, who may vote to overturn it, was willing to say -- clinches it for me.

Dick Durbin exposed him at the hearing, now it's up to him, the other Democratic Senators, and other progressive voices to make sure the country knows about it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


From Ping:
A Democrat gets up to ask questions and says, "Judge, i'm very disturbed by this opinion so-and-so, which you wrote in year so-and-so, because it suggests to me that you don't believe in principle X, which is important to me (e.g. the constitution, limits on executive power, civil rights, women’s rights)."

Alito says, "Oh, no. I do care about principle X. That case was N years ago, so i don't remember it that well, but — you misunderstood the case, you see — the case was not about principle X, it was about principle Y. And let me explain how my decision in that case was a perfectly reasonable judgement about principle Y. ..."

Then a Republican gets up to ask questions and says, "Judge, i am very impressed by you, and it upsets me that some people here are trying to distort your record. I think you are extremely well qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, and while i'm at it, let me quote aloud these N other important people who have also said that you are an absolutely fantastic person. ..."

Alito says, "Thank you."

...Or, the Republican gets up and says, "I want to know how you feel about X. And by the way, before you answer, let me tell you my opinion — i feel very strongly such-and-such, and i hope you do too."

Alito says, "Oh yes. I agree with you."
Heh. We're lucky if we get even those responses from Alito, as he can always pull out the old John Roberts Special: "I'm not going to answer that, because that issue could come before the court and my answering it here at the hearing my place some prejudice on my future opinions", or something. Then again, in the logic department, I file that one right next to "revealing our warrant-free spying program aids the enemy."

Hmm, I think posting a roundup would be a useful distraction from having to watch John "Box Turtle" Cornyn point to his deeply misleading charts as he lobs softballs to Strip Search Sammy.

Reaction to the hearings, and other Alito-related tidbits...

--Chris Bowers at MyDD thinks Alito's story about not remembering just what it was that Concerned for Princeton was doing, even though he pimped his membership when applying for work with the Reagan administration, is not truthful. Yeah. I'd forget that I was a member of UCSB Campus Democrats if I didn't have that link on the right side of this blog.

--Via TalkLeft, USA Today's Jonathan Turley, in the process of making the case against Alito's confirmation, laments the air-sucking effects of the abortion debate on confirmation hearings:
The obsession with abortion in American politics has had an anaerobic effect on past confirmation hearings, sucking the air out of other issues. For Alito, this may have the welcomed effect of obscuring a more troubling question from his past writings and cases: Alito's extreme views of government authority over citizens' rights.
I agree... halfway. In the hearing room, this is simply not true; it really wasn't until Senator Feinstein's 30 minutes earlier this afternoon that any Democratic or pro-choice Senator really went after Alito on the issue (though Specter tiptoed through Griswold for a moment this morning, and Schumer went after him a little bit). The media, as well as the rest of the peripheral debate on the nominee, including the efforts of issue advocacy groups, are the factors that make the abortion debate seem like the center of every Supreme Court confirmation process.

Personally, I think the executive power issue is the most pivotal one when it comes to this nominee, but the difference between it and the choice debate is that the latter is always pre-packaged and ready to go, with the combatants on both sides clearly identified, while the former is much more ad hoc and issue-specific. Remember, in the late 1990's we had a mutated version of an executive power debate centering around blowjobs. Now we have one dealing with illegal domestic spying, indefinite in prisonment without access to any legal framework, torture, extraordinary rendition, black sites, manipulation and cherrypicking of intelligence, and so on, and so on. Obviously the "sides" in this debate are very different from what they were seven or eight years ago.

Abortion on the other hand, in the eyes of the media, is always ready to go. I say "in the eyes of the media" because they tend to paper over the centrist, Clintonite stance of "safe, legal and rare", rather promoting an either/or debate that allows the anti-choice side to argue that pro-choicers are just pleased as punch when a woman gets 17 abortions in a year or something. It's also an emotionally charged debate, for reasons of which I'm sure we're all aware. Abortion is a very important issue, no doubt about it, but it's prominence as an issue in the media over the other pivotal aspects of the Alito nomination is as much a prodcut of media laziness than it is of anything else.

--Related to the Alito hearings is, of course, the FISA-free "King Bush" domestic spying. On that note, fucking CNN/Gallup:
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,003 adults found that 50 percent of those polled believe it's OK to forego warrants when ordering electronic surveillance of people suspected of having ties to terrorists abroad.

Another 46 percent said the policy is wrong, and 4 percent said they had no opinion.
"Forego warrants". Argh, what will it take for a poll question to mention directly that warrantless surveillance is illegal? When you phrase it as "forego warrants", your average poll respondent, who's probably seen one too many episodes of 24, will think that time is of the essence! We need info on potential terrorists! We can't wait for some bureaucratic process when lives are at stake! ...Of course, there's no mention in the poll that FISA warrants can be obtained legally after the fact, up to 72 hours later, if the need for surveillance is that vital. The media failed to properly inform the public on the non-existent Iraqi "threat", and they continue to fail us now.

Monday, January 09, 2006


"The legislature's job is to write law. It's the executive branch's job to interpret law." —George W. Bush, Austin, Texas, Nov. 22, 2000

And you thought it was just a Bushism.

Redd Hedd of Firedoglake is doing just that, just click and scroll.

Watching Lindsey Graham bloviate and bloviate and bloviate is a numbing experience. But then when I hear him utter the words "litmus test", I wonder if the rightward half of the Judiciary Committee has resolved to pretend that their de facto filibuster of Harriet Miers didn't happen.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Stuff like this is what I was hoping for when Howard Dean ascended to the DNC Chair. (Here's the CNN transcript)

Dean politely listens to Wolf pass along the GOP misinformation on Jack Abramoff's money, and then hammers it unequivocally. The stunned look on Wolf's face will make your day. He even sighs!

I can imagine an alternate universe where a MacAuliffe or a Frost getting bogged down in relativist nonsense, even as the facts support Dean's position.