The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, December 21, 2002

I will post a review of The Two Towers and maybe another movie or two on my archaic geocities website before the end of the night, I promise.
A Time-CNN poll says Hillary is the 2004 Democratic front-runner after Gore's withdrawl.

I really doubt she's going to run.

Again, these polls are meaningless. Remember that in 1998 Bush was polling 18% ahead of Gore, and ended up losing the popular vote by 500,000. So let's all hold our horses and check back in 6-10 months.
See, Cal does have one class for conservatives!

Friday, December 20, 2002


A Late Show with David Letterman "writer" tells us, on the show, his dissatisfaction with Al Gore's decision not to run for president in 2004:
"I'd like to direct my comments to Mister Gore himself. Al, like millions of Americans I am disappointed by your decision, but my disappointment is different from that felt by most. See, I'm a 58-year-old comedy writer, who's just too tired to work very hard. With you, we had a well-defined set of cliches: You're boring. You can't stop kissing your wife. For a while you were fat. You grew a crazy beard, and well, you're boring. If you're not in the race, I and other writers will have to learn about new candidates, and spend a lot of time writing new jokes, some of which might not even be cliches. Please, Al, reconsider..."
I wonder if Dave and his writers know that they could be talking about the American media in general, and not just comedy writers.

CNN did a little segment this morning on the state of Kentucky's decision to release hundreds of felons from their prisons in order to cut costs. There was nothing wrong with the story, except for the headline at the bottom of the screen:
I'm glad to see that Bruce Vilanch has been added to the AOL-TimeWarner payroll.

Here is a very compelling Times piece on the African child who was the inspiration for the child Jack Nicholson's character sponsors in About Schmidt, through which we learn a bit about the effects of these sponsorship programs.

Well, that solves it . . . or does it? Trent Lott has stepped down as Majority Leader.

No surprise that this took place on a friday. This is the MO of the Bushies, who like to get bad news out of the way every friday (seems really obvious these days huh?). But the problem is, this is just too big.

Lott wont be Majority Leader, but will he remain in the Senate?
Lott, a 30-year congressional veteran, said he would retain his Senate seat, but there was no evidence that he would receive a committee chairmanship or another high-profile job.
He says he's gonna stay, but as recently as earlier this week he said he wasn't going to step down as Majority Leader, so it's certainly up in the air. Certainly, he wont have any big-time leadership positions or chairmanships when the Senate reconvenes, so he wont have much to do outside of possibly delivering large helpings of pork back to Mississippi (and even that wont be as easy now).

My sense is, though, that this will not extinguish the problems that have been uncovered in the GOP. Lott not leaving the Senate means that the Republican still welcomes racists gladly into their body. Including into their leadership; the only reason Lott got into trouble is because he was openly and publicly racist. So as long as Lott retains his Senate seat, a stain remains evident on the Republican party.

Lott will eventually resign, I think. Because if he doesn't, we can go ahead and project the winner of the 2004 presidential race right about now:

Oh, and good for Bill Clinton to nail the Repugs for exactly what they are the other day.
Washington Moonie Times: Video cameras are going to monitor future D.C. protests.

To address parity issues, this means there will be cameras at the Cheney energy policy meetings and in the Enron back-rooms, right?

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Over at Uggabugga, some problems with a graphic on missile defense are discussed.

"There's only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids upon the death of their loved one. Others hug but having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug and that's me and I know what it's like." —His Royal Smirk, 12/11/02
The British Medical Journal said that researchers who studied England's 1998 World Cup soccer matches found that heart attacks increased by 25 percent when England lost to Argentina after a gripping penalty shoot-out.

"These findings support the view that heart attacks can be triggered by emotional upset, such as watching your football team lose an important match -- particularly those in which there is a penalty shoot-out," the journal said in a statement.

Researchers from the University of Bristol and University of Birmingham said that football fans would have experienced a fair amount of tension before and during the England-Argentina match -- both because matches between the two countries always produced intense rivalry and it was a shoot-out.

The researchers examined hospital admissions for heart attack, stroke, deliberate self-harm and road traffic injuries on the day of and five days after, England's World Cup matches, compared with admissions at the same time in previous and following years and in the month before the tournament.

They found that the risk of admission for heart attacks increased by 25 percent on June 30 -- the day of the England-Argentina match -- and the following two days. Admissions were higher among men than women. (Full story)
That's an interesting study, I must say. There's a significant problem with it, though. For the most part, Americans are almost wholly indifferent to futbol ("isn't that soccer with no pads? . . . wait"), yet heart attack rates are certainly higher in America than in Europe. We have no penalty shootouts! Does anything come close? Basketball has . . . drum roll . . . free throws! No increased infarction there! And hockey? Sure, the penalty shots are exciting. But really, how many Americans actually watch hockey?

Oh well, must be all that meat, fat and sugar. Anyway, off to The Two Towers. Nite!

mp3's of live versions of three new Radiohead songs can be found at this site, though it looks like the people who are running it are having bandwidth issues.

AOL has recieved a patent for instant messenging. Uhh, good for them? Um I don't know, we'll have to see. They say they aren't going to do anything with their patent at this time, so it wont cause them to immediately, say, raise their monthly rates.

Sometimes I think of AOL in the way that a lot of people may think of Democrats. I'm not particularly the biggest fan of AOL, but hey, at least they aren't Microsoft.

You know the expression "rain rain go away, come again some other day"?

What kind of short-sighted nonsense is that? I mean, on that "other day" when the rain comes again, will you welcome that rain with open arms? Most likely, you'll wish it away just as you are doing today when you say that whole deal.

As for me, rain helps me appreciate sun more, and vice versa.

Carry on, world!

It figures to be a relatively mellow birthday. I'm sure Two Towers will be involved. Wait a minute, of course I'm sure, I already got the ticket. That Fandango thing works like a charm. The ads before the movie are stupid though.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002


Half of the big T building is gone. Earlier today I snuck inside the perimeter, casually walked towards the pile of rubble (not attracting the attention of the halfdozen demolition men by the crane), casually picked up two bricks, and casually walked out. Yay theft!
Heavy Sarcasm Edition

This looks just like any normal razor.


According to the good people of Norelco, this is "James Bond's Shaver of Choice"

Can it fly? Can you shave underwater? Does it shoot missiles? Oh I know! Does it send low-frequency energy waves into your brain in order to steadily supply you with a large library of pithy, double-entendre comebacks? That must be it.

Anyway, that's uh, great. If we go by the movie (and not a good Bond movie was it either), Norelco could market it as "The Razor of Choice for Those Released from Communist North Korea in a Prisoner Exchange With Some Guy With Diamonds In His Face".

Now I'll sit and wait for my free razor.
I wonder how long it will be until I get a call from my father, who has by now, no doubt, read Tuesday's Krugman, asking me if I know anything about "the internet commentator Atrios".
Oliver Willis links to a disturbing piece of news, that Al Qaeda is not only back in Afghanistan, but has set up new terrorist camps.
Al Qaeda has recently set up several new training camps in eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan, the head of a United Nations group monitoring the flow of money to the network said on Tuesday.
Tell me again about how this whole "we can fight both wars at the same time" thing works...


We have finally discovered what Trent Lott meant when he said "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years". According to pollster Frank Luntz, what did Lott mean by "all these problems"?

You guessed it: Bill Clinton.
Chris Matthews: What do you believe [Lott] thinks those problems are that we've avoided or that we've incurred because we didn't vote racist back in '48?
Luntz: It has to do with problems that we've had over the last eight or nine years. I don't want to speak...
Matthews: He said we wouldn't have these problems if we had voted for Strom Thurmond in '48 for president, a segregationist who ran against Harry Truman. What is he talking about there?
Luntz: I think that some of the issues that he's talking about, quite frankly, and I don't know if he would agree or disagree, but I think some of it has to do with Bill Clinton and the things that happened in the 1990s, the moral decay of the country. The acceptance of certain types of behavior. If ...
Hmm, well they do say Clinton was "the first black president," so maybe Trent had a problem with that. Still, no matter how you slice Luntz's statement, it's absolutely preposterous. And Bush was getting DUI's and snorting coke long before the "moral decay" of Bill Clinton, just for the record.

...on opposite sides of the world, no less!

In India:
GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) - A herd of wild elephants driven berserk by country liquor trampled to death six people, among them four children, during a rampage in India's northeastern state of Assam, police said Tuesday.

The animals came out of the forest Sunday, attacking granaries and drinking country liquor stored by villagers in Tinsukia, about 340 miles east of Guwahati, Assam's biggest city.

"The elephants, after consuming huge quantity of country-made liquor, went berserk, killing six people on the spot," a police spokesman said.
In Miami, the very same day:
MIAMI (Reuters) - A 6,000-pound elephant smashed a rookie zookeeper against a rockpile at Miami's MetroZoo, badly injuring the man in what a zoo spokesman described as an attack to test dominance in the herd.

The injured zookeeper, Michael Embury, 31, was hospitalized in critical but stable condition after undergoing surgery on Monday, zoo spokesman Ron Magill said. He suffered a broken arm, two broken shoulders, gashes to the head and bruising of the spleen and brain in the Sunday attack but was expected to recover, Magill said.

About 50 spectators were watching when the attack occurred. Embury was feeding two female African elephants in an enclosed paddock when one of them, a 20-year-old named Flora, suddenly charged, knocked him to the ground and kicked him against a pile of boulders, knocking him unconscious, Magill said.

Are they putting something in the peanuts?

And couldn't they, for once, title an article: "Attachyderm!"

Tuesday, December 17, 2002


In a nutshell:

-If Lott loses his Majority Leader position but remains in the Senate, the GOP keeps its two-seat advantage there, but retains a blight on the party by having Lott remain in the body. Plus, it would further alienate moderates like Chafee, Snowe, Collins, McCain, etc. And it would give the Democrats a serious campaign issue, because it would signal that the Republicans continue to welcome racism with open (white) arms.

-If Lott leaves the Senate altogether (if this happens, Rove will probably have been behind it), then the Republicans will have innoculated themselves on the racism issue to the extent that they can (the damage has been done already no matter what). However it puts them at essentially 50-50 in the Senate, a very tenuous position whereby Chafee&co will have a lot of influence on the situation, and could derail any overly conservative agenda pushed by the Bushies by jumping ship.

-And besides, the GOP might not even be cleansed anyway, if Lott is replaced as Majority Leader by Don Nickles, who has some nasty homophobic statements and positions on his record (he led the charge to block the Hormel nomination a few years back). Bill Frist might appeal more to moderates, but the archconservative base of the GOP would not be happy with that. And Dubya (who doesn't want to follow his poppy's footsteps to one-term-dom) wants to keep his base happy.

No matter what, it will be interesting to see how these next few weeks play out.
Excuse me, George. We didn't vote for you. We don't want you here. Every statewide office is Democratic right now. Get out and stop fucking with our progressive environmental laws.

And as a part-time Santa Barbara resident, a big middle-finger to you, sir, for wanting to keep those eyesore oil drills.

So suddenly government intervention is all the rage among Republicans?

Or has it always been?
Uh oh, here comes missile defense again.
WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) on Tuesday ordered the Pentagon to have ready for use within two years a bare-bones system for defending American territory, troops and allies against attack by ballistic missiles.
Hmm, something tells me that this decision wasn't in response to the British dude who claims that Bin Laden has acquired 20 "backpack" nukes from a renegade KGB agent. Besides, our military has recently missed three of the last seven times when attempting to hit a target considerably larger than a backpack, just down the coast (or up it when I'm at SB) at Vandenberg AFB.

Then again, given that most of the Bush Administration players are held over from Gerald Ford, perhaps igniting a new arms race ("rogue states" and other nations update their offensive capabilities to overwhelm our defensive "upgrade") is in the best interests of Rip Van Rummy & Co.

So far, the only Al Qaeda act to take place above sea level was 9/11 (and that was only a thousand feet up), and that could not have been stopped no matter how much money Dubya diverts from education/socialsecurity/medicare/etc to put into SDI, which deals with threats from our outer atmosphere. Well, at least tries to.

For a technical explanation as to what a dumb idea the Administration's announced tact is, here's a piece from Slate on the matter. From Fred Kaplan:
What the president did not say is a) that we've been through this before, many times, with equal exuberance, enormous investments, and no returns; b) that as recently as 18 months ago, the program's top general said it was still at an early stage and warned against rushing things; and c) that, no matter how good defenses might get, any "rogue" with enough sophistication to build and launch a ballistic missile can easily maneuver around those defenses. On this last point, it is worth noting that U.S. weapons scientists and intelligence analysts have known about these maneuvering tricks for more than 40 years; that no one has the slightest idea how to deal with them; and that Bush's current test program does not even attempt to do so.
Anyway, here we go again.

Monday, December 16, 2002


Gore decided not to run. Doh!

Actually, I think it's the right decision on his part. I'd like to see someone new come to the fore, and also Gore could tell that if he ran, the press would give him much of the same shit they gave him two years ago ("He's reinventing himself again", "He's uncomfortable in his own skin")

As for endorsing anyone, TFM reiterates that it is mega-early. However, I am very interested in both John Kerry and Howard Dean. One of those guys, with Edwards, Landrieu, or congressman Lewis as a runningmate could be enough to oust Bush, what with the true spirit of the GOP coming out via Trent Lott. That fellow could have, with one "winged" remark, brought an end to Nixon's "southern strategy".
Colin Powell, uh, clears up the confusion on the Bushies' aim in Iraq.
WASHINGTON –– Secretary of State Colin Powell is assuring the Arab world the Bush administration's demand for regime change in Iraq aims at disarmament, not ousting President Saddam Hussein.

"If he cooperates, then the basis of changed-regime policy has shifted because his regime has, in fact, changed its policy to one of cooperation," Powell said in an interview with a London-based Arab newspaper released Monday by the State Department.

Powell said the policy of regime change in Baghdad was inherited from the Clinton administration by the Bush administration.
I love that Bush's "this will signal that the regime has changed" speech from a couple months ago has forced his administration into this corner where they have to be very "playful" with their words when talking about Iraq policy. Last I checked, "regime change" and "disarmament" are two very different things.

We all know what's going on though. The Bushies are trying to confuse terms here, to verbally hedge their bet, and take credit no matter what happens. The Republicans had some fun playing with the word "privatization" during the midterm campaign. Now they're merging "disarmament" and "regime change", and this could lead the way to making it easier for them to justify military action.

If a Democratic administration did this, would conservatives call it "Clintonian"?

I have a better word: Orwelian

War is peace.
Cut down trees to save the forest.
Disarmament is regime change.

Of course, given recent events within the Republican Party, could an Iraq invasion on the premise of "Wagging the Lott" occur?

Many are calling for the ouster of Trent Lott, a racist asshole.

Problem is, it is possible that he'll be replaced as Majority Leader by Don Nickles... a homophobic asshole.

And TalkLeft has done some reasearch on Nickles' voting record. (via Kos)

A necessary reminder from Joe Conason, that the neo-Confederate sympathy of some politicians isn't limited to Trent Lott.

Try John Ashcroft

Sunday, December 15, 2002

GeoCities isn't working right now, so I'll do my NFL picks here, really quickly, without turning on the tv, and right before I leave for the 49ers-Packers game.

Falcons over Seahawks, Bills over Chargers, Jets over Bears, Jaguars over Bengals, Browns over Colts, Bucs over Lions, Raiders over Dolphins, Saints over Vikings, Eagles over Redskins, Steelers over Panthers, Ravens over Texans, Chiefs over Broncos, Giants over Cowboys, 49ers over Packers, Rams over Cardinals, Patriots over Titans.

Any questions?