The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Over at Watch x 4, mr Gumble makes some good points about why we see Ann Coulter on tv a heck of a lot more often than Michael Moore. (hint: it's corporations, stupid!)

Here's MediaWhores Online's coverage of Pickering's perjury on segregation.

Roger Ailes (the non-evil one) rips apart an old WaPo editorial on Pickering recently flogged by Kaus. There you can find a number of links to other useful resources, near the top of Roger's entry.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 — A number of moderate Senate Democrats who were instrumental in helping President Bush pass a tax cut in 2001 said today that they opposed eliminating the federal tax on dividend payments, clouding the Congressional prospects for the central feature of the new Bush economic plan.

In 2001, President Bush was able to garner enough bipartisan support in the thinly divided Senate to pass his $1.35 trillion tax cut package. This time, however, even the president's Republican supporters predict a tougher road.

"There are a number of Democrats who voted with him on the last tax cut, and also a number of Republicans, who are not willing to just accept this one as a fait accompli and take it as it is," Senator John B. Breaux, Democrat of Louisiana, said in an interview, adding that the dividend tax cut would have to be "replaced and/or dramatically scaled down."

The support of Mr. Breaux is considered crucial to passage of any economic stimulus legislation by the Senate, where Republicans have the barest majority. In 2001 he helped the White House win 12 Democratic votes for tax cuts. (Full story)
We've already seen Chafee come out against the plan as it stands. Now John Breaux -- a man the Bushies were trying to lure into their cabinet two years ago -- slides his name over to the "no" side for the time being.

Between the "stimulus" plan and the Pickering nomination, drama is sure to ensue in the Senate this session. However, on the other side of the dome, the GOP-controlled House seems more bent on comedy:
A potential problem the White House may face in the House is the desire of some Republican leaders to enact more expansive tax cuts than the White House proposed. Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House Republican leader, said today that he would like to pass an even bigger proposal.

"I look at the Bush plan as a floor," Mr. DeLay said, "not a ceiling."
Given the current state of the economy, and the lack of any actual stimulus in Bush's "stimulus" plan, if it is a floor as DeLay suggests, then that floor is being eaten away by termites. Such a course of action by the House and by DeLay -- the self-described "Exterminator for Christ" -- could serve as an "Exterminator for Bush's re-election hopes". DeLay, as nutty as he is, is speaking for the wingnut base, saying "the GOP has all the power now, and you couldn't have made it this far without us wingnuts, now let's outlaw abortion and impose flat taxes, and let's do it now!". Perhaps Bush and level-headed conservatives know better than to come out with such eagerness and hubris. Whether they know or not, I think that they just can't help it.

But yes, the tax cut on dividends is a campaign contributor giveaway, and has nothing to do with helping the economy and average working Americans, so it has to go.

To me, it doesn't matter whether or not outgoing Illinois Governor George Ryan did what he did to deflect attention from possible corruption charges stemming from his time as Secretary of State. And to those who think that factored in, I'm inclined to disagree; I think he took a personal, moral stand against the fundamental unfairness of the current system of capital punishment.

Thus, kudos to you, Governor Ryan. You took a real step in taking a fresh look at the (stupid, immoral, vengeful) death penalty in America, as opposed to the fake steps which Sandra Day O'Connor recently said she was taking. Longtime TFM readers will remember my commentary about that. For some reason, I can't locate it in my archives. Oh well.
Dubya says operations at Area 51 to remain secret:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Citing national security concerns and ongoing litigation against the government, President Bush has chosen again to keep secret Air Force operations near Groom Lake in western Lincoln County.

Bush issued the presidential determination, made public last week, in a memo sent September 13 to the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Air Force.

In his memorandum, Bush said it was of "paramount interest" to exempt the base-also known as Area 51 - from the disclosure of classified information.
Look, Dubya, that's fine, I really don't care that much what goes on at Area 51 -- but how bout just a little peek at those Cheney energy files?

Years later, Bush campaign contributor Marvin the Martian, once affectionately referred to by Bush as "Marvy-boy", will be reported as being "very angry" when Bush distances himself from the diminutive fellow, referring to him as "Mister Matrian", and claiming he supported Ann Richards.


Say it ain't so, Pete!
LONDON (Reuters) - British rock star Pete Townshend, guitarist with legendary band The Who, on Saturday admitted paying to view Internet child pornography but denied he was a pedophile and said it was for research purposes.

The guitarist took the unusual step of issuing a public statement after a newspaper said police were investigating an unnamed music star as part of Britain's largest-ever operation against Internet pedophilia.

In the lengthy statement, Townshend said he had paid to enter an Internet site advertising child pornography "purely to see what was there" as research to fight the crime.

"I am not a pedophile. I think pedophilia is appalling," he said in the statement which was distributed by a woman to reporters outside his home in Richmond, south London.

"On one occasion I used a credit card to enter a site advertising child porn. I did this purely to see what was there," he said.

Townshend, 57, said he felt "anger and vengeance" toward those who found child pornography attractive, and said he believed he was sexually abused as a child but could not remember clearly what happened.

"To fight against pedophilia, you have to know what's out there," he said, adding that he was involved in an anti-pedophilia campaign that had fizzled out.
I want to believe him. I desperately, completely want to believe him. Fuck. It's disturbing and painful for me to think that such one of the most universally revered figures in the history of rock music could really be a pedophile. I would have thought that Townshend would be fully content with the usual rock excesses. You know, drugs, alcohol, groupies, and maybe some large fish borrowed from Zep. I really don't know. Pete Townshend strikes me as a lot of things, but child pornography enthusiast isn't one of them.

Obviously he has a chance to clear his name here. He very quickly released a statement after it was revealed he was a subject of the probe. Give the cops a look at your computer hard drive, that should help. And hey, get serious about being an anti-childporn activst. Again, my sense is that he's no Peewee or Gary Glitter*. This is his chance to show everyone that fact.

*- isn't it just lovely that every time a hockey player scores a goal, a pedophile gets money?
DES MOINES, Iowa - Some vegetarians, including the lead lawyer in the matter, are challenging how McDonald's Corp. will distribute $10 million to settle the mislabeling case involving beef-flavored french fries.

An Illinois Circuit Court judge in Chicago is to hear arguments next Monday on who should receive the money and why.

The Seattle attorney who brought the original lawsuit against the fast-food giant, Harish Bharti, said he will object to the company's list of proposed recipients in part because the selection process had been "rigged," favoring those who either don't represent the majority of vegetarians or who are sympathetic to McDonald's.

"I am deeply concerned that the funds not be allocated to a relatively small number of interest groups determined by ... lawyers with personal preferences or prejudices unrelated to the actual needs and concerns of the class members," Bharti said in a brief.

Bharti wants the court to appoint an impartial third party to draw up a new recipients' list. (Full story)
Slimyness and passive-aggressiveness are qualities easily associated with the fast food industry. Keep in mind, though, that both McD's and Burger King are in serious financial doodoo as of late, so they need all the help they can get, and thus all the available corners they think they can cut. As someone who has essentially kicked the fast food habit (as well as meat in general), I say stick it to 'em until they fly right.

In the meantime, check out (an organization with a significant interest in this case; its founder is one of the figures questioning the settlement distribution), and of course, get your booty over to your local book vendor and read Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation if you haven't already.

Friday, January 10, 2003


Don't you love all that wonderful restraint the GOP has been showing since the midterms?

The threats of ending various types of abortions? The unextended unemployment benefits? (for a while, at least) Trent Lott running his mouth off? Proposing to end taxes on dividends as an idea for stimulus, to go along with more massive cuts for those living a more plush existence?

Yep, the Repugs have been doing a good job to make sure not to alienate the moderate members of their party, particularly in the Senate.

Oh, wait a minute:
WASHINGTON -- Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee is the first Republican to announce he's opposed to President George W. Bush's plan to revive the economy.

Chafee gathered reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday to say he thinks the $670 billion economic stimulus plan may have trouble passing the Senate. He didn't say who else may oppose the initiative.
Dixie, we have a problem.

Ooh, and Kennedy & the Dems are promising a filibuster if/when Pickering comes to the floor. I'm all for that, but Ted, make sure that in all those hours of filibustering, the words "Trent-Lott-Judge" make it in there. Thanks, buddy!
Over at Daily Howler, it's a boldmine!
Over at Eschaton, check out this chart comparing Bush and the Democrats' respective economic packages. Then ask yourself which one is really a "stimulus" package.
i'm a little concerned that blogger is acting strange again.

Eight hours later, nothing is showing up since yesterday. I am frightened, shocked, and appalled. Is this what I get for being a cheapskate?

Thursday, January 09, 2003


Via Daily Kos, here's Zogby's latest polling data on Dubya's reelection prospects, to go with his apparent 63% approval rating:
A slim majority (51%) says Bush deserves re-election compared to 36% who say it is time for someone new. Another 13% are not sure. In October, 49% said Bush deserved re-election and 35% said it was time for someone new.

Slightly more than one in three voters (35%) say they would vote to re-elect President Bush regardless of who he runs against, compared to 56% who would not vote to re-elect Bush regardless of who he runs against.
Maybe that's a little confusing at first. But in short, the headline here is that 56% of Americans, according to Zogby (hardly a liberal), do not want to re-elect Bush regardless of his opponent. Zogby explains the difference between those two questions:
"They are two different questions -- one "soft" re-elect asks if GWB deserves re-election or is it time for someone new, the "hard re-elect" asks if voters would vote GWB regardless who he runs against. Two different measures; used all the time. They are useful to determine levels of support."
Rove & co. know that Bush's high approval ratings are largely a mirage, and they are significantly worried about his re-election prospects (Edwards scares them, for instance). A general public attitude of "he seems like a good guy, but i'm not gonna re-elect him" does not bode well for the Bushies.

There, enjoy that, and please, suck on that. I'm gonna go play cards now.

Over at Altercation, the rarely-annoying, almost-always right Nation man and author reminds us of some comments made recently by bestselling author and blockbuster movie star Al Franken:
Al Franken reminds us somewhere, I forget where, that the net job creation of BOTH Bush administrations is a grand total of ZERO. Six years, ZERO jobs. I suppose it’s all a coincidence. ZERO, by the way, is approximately TWENTY-TWO million fewer than the Clinton Administration created. Bush II has two years to catch up. Somehow I don’t think this rich person’s tax cut coupled with an unnecessary and unprovoked war is going to do the trick. (i think it was on Donahue -ed yeah, that's it!)
So let's see, 22 million jobs over 8 years, compared with 0 jobs over 6. According to the TFM Jobulator 3000, in order to catch up the Bush Administration needs to accelerate their rate of job creation to . . . well, shit, 11 million times infinity.

Well, uh, don't worry Dubya, at least you have that Laffer curve going for ya, right?

Good luck, it sure worked well the first time around. When the guy who invented supply-siding says it's a hoax, then you're probably up one-term creek.

Look what you can get over at BuzzFlash!

Here's more info. You can get the cutouts with a $15 donation to BuzzFlash.

Hail to the thief!

Wednesday, January 08, 2003


...but nevertheless, they are calling it the "trial of the century" in Mozambique:
MAPUTO, Mozambique, Jan. 7 — Every morning, a tale of assassins and money launderers, corrupt prosecutors and looted millions transfixes this impoverished nation. The riveting drama stars the president's son as the evil mastermind behind the murder of a crusading journalist who came too close to the truth.

This story of greed, betrayal and AK-47's has supplanted the popular Brazilian soap operas on battered televisions and crackling radios in this sweltering port city. It is compelling because the characters are real. For nearly two months now, the state broadcaster has been showing live, daily coverage of a murder trial that has revealed official complicity in the looting of two of Mozambique's biggest banks.

People are calling it the trial of the century. Six men are charged in the murder of Carlos Cardoso, a prominent journalist who exposed bank fraud and the ugly underbelly of a country often hailed as one of Africa's most promising democracies. Several of the defendants stunned the nation when they testified that the wealthy son of President Joaquim Chissano promised more than $50,000 for the killing of Mr. Cardoso, who was gunned down two years ago.

Mr. Chissano's son, Nyimpine, is not on trial, and he has vehemently denied the accusations. But he was called to testify last month after the defendants accused him of ordering the murder. Nyimpine Chissano, mentioned in Mr. Cardoso's investigative reports, has since been questioned by the police after failing to convincingly explain how his signed checks ended up in the hands of one of the defendants.
(I suddenly had a flash in my head and remembered that Dubya basically served as "loyalty enforcer" when his poppy was president)

Corruption in developing* African democracies* is nothing new, as for example Nigeria and Mozambique's next-door neighbor Zimbabwe (where Mugabe torches the buildings of the opposition press). Nor is it in many parts of the world, including here from time to time. It is encouraging, though, that the judicial system in Mozambique is being put front and center, and also that their economy is growing, though it still has a long way to go (especially since the beneficiaries of their economic growth have been rather top-heavy . . . hmm sounds like somebody's "stimulus" package).

Hopefully this trial will come to a just conclusion, not one coerced by bribes or threats. Also, might I add that I hope whatever the verdict is, that it will not discourage those within Mozambique, and particularly Maputo, from signing my geocities guestbook. (:

*-caution, loaded words

Four days a week, Salon has something worth reading that isn't a premium article. Bush's decision to renominate racist Pickering and nut Owen stems from his administration's logic on just about every issue or crisis that has come upon America in the past two years (yes, including that): Provide a high-profile but superficial solution to a deeper problem, then hope it fades from public consciousness. This was true with corporate corruption (arrest a couple guys without enacting any real reforms, and letting "Mister Lay" get off scot free), just as it was with investigations into 9/11 (finally turn around and support an independent commission, but appoint war criminal Henry Kissinger to lead it).

With Republican racism, the showy solution was to dump Trent Lott from the Republican senatorial leadership. But here, the problem is bigger. And with that in mind, here's today's Joe Conason.

Speaking of Joe, a busy man, check out his piece on the GOP's choice of New York for its 2004 convention.

This is mostly for Alex, who thinks weblogs are rather ugly (and he's kinda right), and also had an energetic discussion with TFM about the 49ers' rousing victory this past sunday. From Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback, the best sports column in the observable universe:
Two Cheers for Terrell Owens: What to make of Terrell Owens? After the Niners scored to take a 39-38 lead with a minute left, he committed personal fouls on successive downs -- first taunting, then a late hit. Either might have given Jersey/B excellent field position for a field goal to win, had not the Giants' Shaun Williams each time jumped in and committed an offsetting, equally boneheaded foul in retaliation against Owens. Williams ended up the Dwayne-Rudd-esque idiot of the game.

But imprudent as TO made himself seem, TMQ must note that when the Niners scored to make it 38-20 with barely more than a quarter remaining -- it's over, right? -- Owens went absolutely nuts, exhorting his teammates, screaming at them on the sidelines that they had to pull it out. He continued to be emotionally pumped throughout the contest, going nuts after almost every play. Owens' emotion might have helped the Niners more than any of his catches or deuces as the daughter of all comebacks proceeded. The football gods might not approve of dumb penalties Owens committed, but they smiled on his commitment. Great comebacks start with someone who refuses to lose.
Ok that settles it, hehe. Perhaps TO could set an example for the Democratic Party. They scored some victories, between Landrieu and the whole Lott situation. Let's get some energy going!

Bush renominates Charles Pickering for a federal judgeship, he of the "shaky" civil rights record. Oh and pro-life nut Priscilla Owen as well.

Hey GOP, don't forget, I warned you. You have control of essentially the entire government, and if you push for a hard conservative agenda (including nominating "strict constructionist" judges -- more lovely code-words to go along with "states' rights"), the backlash will be considerable, possibly going all the way up to the White House in '04.

Democrats: Do what Kos said. The second he comes up for debate, label Pickering for what he is: a Trent Lott judge. Do it in front of cameras. Do it in the papers. Hell, do it on the Senate floor! I know Lott won't like it, but right now he's much more concerned with the large thick knife that he feels Rove & co. stuck in his back. His non-acknowledgement of Bill Frist the other day is rather revealing in this matter. From CNN's Inside Politics:
As he walked back, Daschle was standing next to Frist to shake everybody's hands. Senator Lott went over to Tom Daschle. They shook hands, they embraced, they shared a laugh and then Senator Lott walked right by Bill Frist without giving him so much as a handshake. It was a very chilly moment. You could actually feel the chill up in the spectator's galleries in the Senate.
(both links found at the mysterious atrios . . . um go falcons!)

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Over at the refreshed MWO, they prominently feature (hehe just like my email) a snippet from a very entertaining exchange between Ari Fleischer and Helen Thomas:
MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, if you think that the people of Iraq are in a position to dictate who their dictator is, I don't think that has been what history has shown.

HELEN THOMAS: I think many countries don't have -- people don't have the decision -- including us.

You can read her entire exchange with Fleischer here.

Great piece from EJ Dionne on how the Bushies want to frame criticism of thier "stimulus" plan as "class warfare".

I especially enjoyed Dionne showing how Bush himself attempts to engage in "class warfare":
The president, for example, loves to bash the rich if they got that way by being trial lawyers.

Arguing for limits on medical malpractice awards in a North Carolina speech last July, Bush told the story of Jill and Chet Barnes of Las Vegas. "Jill is a student teacher," Bush said, "and her husband is a fireman." Because Nevada had such high malpractice insurance rates, Jill, who was eight weeks pregnant at the time, was having trouble finding a doctor -- "that's got to be really frightening to a young mom" -- and eventually got one by traveling an hour and a half to Arizona.

It didn't take long for Bush to describe the villain of the piece. He declared that "what we want is quality health care, not rich trial lawyers."

Yes, there's a lot to be said about the malpractice issue. And you felt bad for the young couple. But if setting up a teacher and a firefighter against "rich trial lawyers" is not class warfare, then Karl Marx is the current editor of the Wall Street Journal's editorial pages.
Well yeah, we already knew that the bulk of conservative criticism of liberals is obvious projection (Coulter, Kaus and others come to mind). Now we see how it goes to the very top.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel winner, goes after Tony Blair (and perhaps, Bush by proxy) on Iraq:
The archbishop said Mr Blair's support for the Bush administration, which yesterday put its troops on a war footing, was "mind-boggling". He said he was saddened to see the US being "aided and abetted" by Britain. "I have a great deal of time for your Prime Minister, but I'm shocked to see a powerful country use its power frequently, unilaterally," he said.

Asking why Iraq had been singled out and urging diplomacy, he told LWT's Jonathan Dimbleby programme: "When does compassion, when does morality, when does caring come in? I just hope that one day people will realise that peace is a far better path to follow."

Tom Daschle says he's not gonna run for prez.

A big part of me says "good!" The Democratic party already has two no-chance, completely unhelpful candidates, in Gephardt and Sharpton. They sure didn't need the soft-spoken, relatively-spine-free Daschle to throw his hat in the ring.

Then again... I'm kind of surprised that Daschle isn't trying. He already has a good team: It was his people who engineered the surprisingly successful reelection campaigns of South Dakota's Tim Johnson and Louisiana's Mary Landrieu (who was left for dead two weeks before the runoff).

So that leaves the field with: Kerry (good), Edwards (intriguing), Dean (his star is rising), Graham (hmm he's a popular Floridian!), Gephardt (doh!), and Sharpton (double doh! as MWO put it, he has "unelectable hair").

Also, for more info on John Edwards (more than just a "trial lawyer", you hate 'em till you need one), writer-blogger Oliver Willis has started an unafiliated campaign blog for the fair-haired North Carolinian. On another side note, I love the sub-title for Oliver's main blog: "Like Kryptonite to Stupid". hehehe

Monday, January 06, 2003


Looks like we have some more Iraq protests coming up, hitting the bigtime saturday the 18th, this time courtesy the hardworking folks at A.N.S.W.E.R.. The question, of course, is by what exponential power will the mainstream media grossly underestimate the size of the crowds. Start your threatening emails today! hehehe

Also, there will be local sister protests! There shall be one in San Francisco, starting 11am at Market and Embarcadero (near the Ferry Building, and that awful Justin Herman Plaza fountain, hehe), and marching all the way to the civic center. I remember marching a very similar route when I was just 10 years old, during the oil-lust prequel to this situation. My hair was about just as long then as it is now!

Anyway, make sure you go there! We need numbers! We can't be ignored or undercounted forever!

Paul Krugman rips apart the Bushies' "stimulus plan". He scores a lot of points here. Then again, finding holes or iniquities in a Bush economic plan (sort of a contradiction in terms, but hey) conjures images of a gun, fish, and a barrel.
Always one of my favorite things for killing time on mondays, be sure to try your hand at Matt Gaffney's weekly political crossword at Slate.

...Josh Marshall has been on a tear about the Bush Administration's handling of the Korean Peninsula situation.

(found via tbogg)

What the fizuck is this?

"The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush: 10 Common Sense Lessons from the Commander-in-Chief"

I am absolutely heartbroken that I didn't hear about this book before Christmas.

1. Never work a day in your life.
2. Make sure you have a really well-known last name.
3. Who needs actual academic merit to get into business school?* When your last name is Bush, Harvard here I come!
4. If you're running your energy company into the ground, make sure your daddy has some very rich friends.
5. If you know something that the other shareholders in your firm don't, then . . . shhhh . . . you didn't hear it from me.
6. Make sure your afternoons are nice and clear for hours of video poker.
7. Drink, drink DRINK!, until say, forty.
8. Identify a couple of flexible, one-note solutions and apply them to just about everything. Good examples are "tax cuts" and "Saddam is an evil man".
9. When adversity and crises strike America, make sure to "...get out of harm's way".
and finally,
10. Pretzels and football don't mix!

Ok, I think you are now ready to get out there and be the best commander-in-chief you can be! An added bonus is that I saved you the 20 bucks that this book would have costed you.

*- The University of Texas at Austin's business school rejected Dubya's application, since they make admissions decisions based on, you know, merit.